She Thought He’d Run Away by Jo Russell

Carole, new to the senior discount class, announced to her long-time friend Paul after their first lunch together, “I’d like to have a friend, but I’m not interested in dating anyone. I swore off dating five years ago.” She thought he’d run away.

The newly widowed man thoughtfully nodded. Then he commented, “How about going to church with me? You could hardly call that a date. You always go to church.”

“Okay.”

“We’ll go to breakfast first because we both have to eat.”

“I knew there was a catch, but that’s a good point.”

When the skilled do-it-yourself woman who knew her way around a circular saw couldn’t figure out how to build a food prep table the same height as her barbeque, she asked Paul if he could show her how. “I’m not trying to be coy. I just don’t know how.” She fixed him lunch.

Her admirer sawed, constructed and finished the table. The last hour, the rain drizzled over his head and dripped down his pearl-buttoned shirt.

“Yum!” Paul commented after the first bite of the hot lunch. “You’re a good cook. I haven’t had home-cooked food in ages.”

“Don’t read anything into it.” she explained. “I like to cook and I love to have company over.”

Carole thought he’d run away when she told him, “Stop proposing every week. It’s a relationship killer. You’ll have to wait a year.”  But he kept coming around.

Carole thought he’d run away when she told him she couldn’t date anyone her age unless he got a shingles vaccination. The next day, Paul waited three hours and paid three bills to get the shot.

She thought she’d run him off when she said, “I can’t possibly consider a serious relationship with anyone unless I know their credit score.”

He printed it up and handed it to her. As they exchanged credit scores instead of rings, Paul mentioned he wanted to see her more often. “How about Saturday?”

“I’m busy Saturday with a mission project for a widow.”  But Paul volunteered to come along with a smile and a tool box. He didn’t even mind that the widow added four extra chores to the “honey do” list.

Carole thought he’d sprint for the nearest internet dating site when she was out of town with her freelance business.

“That’s okay. I miss you, but I’ll just call you in the afternoons. Does that give you enough time?”

Carole kept thinking he’d run away. But like the new formula wood glue that held Paul used to bond her barbeque table tight, the man stuck fast, determined to win at the game of love.

Even Paul’s steadfast commitment to the relationship pales when compared to God’s stick-to-it-iveness that spans lives and generations.

God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He gifted Abraham and Sarah with a baby boy when everyone said it could never happen at their age. He did the same for Zechariah and Elizabeth, senior-aged parents of John the Baptist. God protected Joseph when he had been sold into slavery as a teen. God groomed him as Prime Minister of Egypt. All nations but his suffered from drought. God was with Daniel in the lions’ den. He enabled an orphaned child to become the Queen of Persia and save her people from extinction. He was with Apostle Paul through a handful of shipwrecks on the Mediterranean Sea.

But perhaps in spite of all those ancient stories of God’s steadfast watch care and miracles, you’d been thinking it’s too late for a relationship with God. Surely, He would run away when he knew what you had done. Does He need you? Nope. Do you need Him? Yep.

Maybe you’d been thinking, “I thought God would run away when I told him I was going to do my own thing and didn’t have time for him.”

But He just waited.

Maybe you’d been predicting that God would run away when you stopped going to church.

He just waited.

It could be that you wondered if God would run away when you realized you had a job to do and you didn’t know how to do it.

When you asked for help, He was there with more power, strength and know-how.

You just knew that God would run away when you made a bad choice and got into trouble.

But He stood beside you.

Over 1400 years before the appearance of Christ, the psalmist wrote, “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” [Psalm 33:20-22 NIV].

In those days, as is today, God stands firm, waiting on you. And He won’t run away.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calling All Canoe Handlers for Help by Jo Russell

Red-faced with anger, twenty-something Marnie, hefted a 16-foot canoe on one shoulder. She stormed past her aunt with the watercraft, headed for the SUV with a roof rack.

While Aunt Geri tried to grab an end of the canoe, she chased her niece across the large lawn, crying out, “Let me help you!” Instead, Marnie shuffled the awkward shape from her shoulder to her head until the rocking red canoe looked like an outrageous hat the size of a car.

“I can take one end!” Aunt Geri offered. She was a genuine outdoorswoman and canoe handler.

“No!” Marnie steamed. “Bill and his brother, Wayne, were supposed to load this!”

“But your husband and Wayne are working overtime. I can help.”

“No, I told you the men were supposed to do this.”

“I’m not a 90-pound weakling. Let me give you a hand.”

“Absolutely not!” she emphasized. “I can get it. When I see Bill and Wayne, I’m going to let them have it!”

And Marnie loaded and tied down the canoe on top of the SUV in triple the time it would have taken with four hands and two people. Marnie hadn’t learned yet there is no shame in asking for or accepting help.

Working together and helping each other is part of God’s plan. He never intended for us to be totally independent of Him and others. But that’s the beauty of His plan of giving us a world full of potential friends just waiting to bless us with help and shared experiences.

Help. Young widow Ruth sure needed it. As she and her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, walked more than 40 miles from Moab to Bethlehem, they both thought and prayed about their needs. At the time, widow’s benefits were non-existent. Though many widows today are left in great need of extra help, women in Ruth’s time could not expect “Welcome Wagon” baskets,  free food boxes, windfalls or pension checks.

Footsore and tired, they needed help right away. Someone had to get groceries. In that time of harvest, as in some farming communities today, not everything is picked. For the gleaner willing to work, the scraps from the harvest are free.

Ruth rushed to a nearby field to collect grain. Naomi didn’t tell her where.

God grinned. No coincidence, the all-knowing Supreme Being guided her to a relative’s field. The wealthy man’s name was Boaz. When the entrepreneur noticed the hard-working foreign woman, he asked his workers about her. As the big man learned of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, he was impressed with her and invited the woman to glean right behind his workers. By the time he invited her to join him for lunch, he was fascinated and drawn into her humble heart. Again no coincidence. God was smiling.

So it came to be that the two widows in desperate need of help became the foundation of the redeemer’s story – that Boaz redeemed and married Ruth in the little town of Bethlehem. They produced a son, who was rootstalk in the line of David. Generations later, Jesus responded to our universal need. He was born from this bloodline – destined to be savior of the world—shouldering our need for forgiveness and a fresh start on life.

Help! It’s there for the asking and the accepting.

Just as thousands of years ago, two footsore widows needed help and were willing to work for it, God provides help for us. It can be big things – or small, like an extra set of hands to load a 16-foot canoe.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing for Lawn Chairs By Jo Russell

Longing for Lawn Chairs

Four child-sized plastic lawn chairs, one loveseat, and five adult-sized plastic chairs held a special place at Jolene’s next door neighbors’ ever since the summer when Henry, Marie, and family moved in with Henry’s mom, Grandma Susanna. Now that everyone in the family had three days off for Veteran’s Day, Jolene sighed.  Their lawn furniture would be full of family for the weekend. Her own patio chairs would be empty.

Though the outdoor furnishings were heavy-duty, color coordinated with thick cushions that made them comfortable as living room furniture, Jolene’s unpredictable work schedule and grown children far away meant her chairs were perches for the birds most of the time.

The neighbor’s lawn chairs themselves were not what she longed for. Jolene envied the relationships. The neighbors’ plastic furniture was often full of family members. Their laughter and barbequed burgers make everyone in the neighborhood smile.  Compared to Grandma Susanna’s where four generations shared experiences and closeness, Jolene’s home seemed empty.

Exodus 20 states God’s original commands to Moses and the people. In modern terms, it might read, “Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s husband or significant other, vacuum cleaner or dishwasher, newer truck or car than yours, or anything that belongs to your neighbor–like his lawn chairs.”

Suddenly, Jolene remembered that Henry and Marie moved there because their dream home they’d spent years building had been taken by the bank. The four generations together were making the best of their world imploding. When the housing market crashed and Henry’s construction business slowed to a crawl, Henry and Marie lost their home.

These ancient guidelines in Exodus 20 give us the best tools for life. How can we apply them to our thinking, choices and actions?

Focusing on God and a relationship with him far exceeds focusing on lawn chairs.

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dog, the Dark, or the Unknown by Jo Russell

As off-duty teacher Roberta reined in Ginger from a walk around the community park,  she spotted her student, Jeffrey, and waved.

“Hi, Mrs. Jackson!” the boy hollered.

“Hey, Jeff!” she noted he was coming from the cabana where the community harvest party just ended. “Did you have fun at the Halloween Party?”

“Yeah, but I got to get home now.”

“How far do you have to go? It’s getting dark.”

“I live in Shumway.”

“Eight miles away,” she remembered. “Are your folks coming to get you?”

“Nope. They’re at home watching TV.”
“I’ll give you a ride. Ginger’s friendly and she’ll stay in the back seat.”

Jeff sized up the dog. Her paws the size of dish pans took up most of the upholstery. The dog’s tail waved against the window on one side and wet nose smeared the window on the other side. Her tongue was as long as a beach towel. The pony-sized animal was a whole different canine than the three yappy, tail-wagging dogs at his house.

“You’re not afraid of dogs, are you?”  Roberta asked.

“Nope, we’ve got three of them.”

“Good. Ginger doesn’t bite. She loves people.”

As Jeff got into the SUV and Roberta began the drive down the country highway, Ginger edged between the seats and nudged the boy with her furry, ham-sized jaw. As Jeff got a close-up view of dog dental plaque, his eyes grew wide as he thought of the husky, “My, what big teeth you have!” And Jeff leaned closer to the window.

With him giving her more room, Ginger shouldered her way even further between the seats. Jeff noticed what big ears she had as the husky pressed her face against his. He got a close-up view of her blue eyes with them cheek to cheek. With two miles to go, Jeff flattened himself against the passenger door while the 90-pound dog edged beside him. Though car manufacturers never intended a bucket seat to provide space for two fifth-grade-sized warm bodies side by side, the husky wasn’t about to move.

Roberta assured him, “Jeff, the dog doesn’t bite. She just loves attention – and your side of the car! That’s where she usually rides.”

When they reached Jeff’s home, three dogs ran out to greet the visitors and Ginger barked her happy hello as she compressed Jeff even tighter against the door.

Jeff peeled himself off the windowpane, sprung the door open, and stumbled out with a sigh of relief. He’d take his yippy small dogs anytime. He would trade his seat for his life. Ginger smiled a big, toothy grin.

Fear: It’s an emotion that can change our perspective and limit our opportunities by its very paralyzing power. It can arise over anything.

It reflects God’s inspired verses and situations showing Him as the ancients’ advocate and ours: how He brings help when it is needed.

King Solomon penned these words, “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” [Proverbs 3:25 NIV].

God advised the prophet Jeremiah, “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.” [Jeremiah 1:7b – 8]

To a senior thinking he was too old to father a child, an angel appeared beside Zechariah, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.” [Luke 1:13].To a young virgin, an angel assured Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” [Luke 1:30-32]

Our fears are not so different from those people and situations in the Bible: our anxiety about freedom, relationships, resources, needs, emergencies, and the unknown. But God is with us. And when He sits beside us in the front seat, He’ll still leave us plenty of room.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]