Where is My Fair Share? By Jo Russell

Sweaty from a bike ride, the lean, hungry teens loomed over the warm applesauce cake their mother had baked that just out of the oven. Carbs and calories! Just the ticket to hold them over before dinner.

“Mom, do you want any of this?” Bob wanted to know.

“Nope, go ahead. I made it for you,” his mother answered, waving them toward the wonderful aroma of the spicy cake.

“This has got to be fair,” Bob declared to his brother, Sam, who had a knife poised and was planning to eyeball and estimate each piece. “Hold it! To be fair, we’re going to use science and math.”

“Okay. It will be even Steven,” the sibling agreed as he put his high school math lessons to work. Sam grabbed a building square, two plates, and figured the number of inches of cake divided by two.

“The perfect calculation right down to a sixteenth of an inch! What could be fairer?” Sam cut the snack right down the center line, ready to serve up his part.

“Not so fast!” Bob insisted. “One more measurement will make this equal!” The boy rummaged through the cabinet until he found his mom’s food scale, which bottomed out under the weight of half a cake. He then slapped a bath scale on the kitchen floor, weighed himself and the cake, subtracted and calculated the sum of the portion.

After measuring and weighing, the two divided the cake on two dinner plates. The snack held them over for sixty minutes when the family gathered around the table for dinner when fairness and measurement, once again, was a prime teen consideration.

In Proverbs 11:1, King Solomon wrote, “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.”  But much before that was the challenge of integrity and its value in business and professional dealings.

More than 3500 years ago, God commanded Moses to teach about the people, “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.” [Leviticus 19:35-36].

What was in it for them? Many blessings, including respect
from around the known world. Talking of God’s laws, Moses wrote, “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the as the Lord your God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” [Deuteronomy 4:5-6]

How is this relevant to us today? Because honesty and fairness in action in everyday life speaks louder than words. What others see is what we are to them. Character is a ripple effect impacting our coworkers, families, friends and children.  What others don’t see, God does and knows. Can others trust us? Can God?

If fairness takes a building square and a scale as it did with Sam and Bob, let the honesty of your character and spiritual life shine and grow. You’ll even sharpen your math skills!

[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.]

 

 

 

The Valentine’s Day Hype By Jo Russell

When Valentine’s Day comes, Roberta often feels a pang of longing to be kissed by someone, to feel a warm body curled around her legs, and to be showered with dark chocolates from Brussels.

But she once said, “Who doesn’t when you’re over twenty-nine and still good looking?”

It did happen, but not in the form she was expecting. Her poodle, Lady Star, puckered up and showered her with kisses and enthusiasm. One cat curled her luxurious fur coat around Roberta’s feet. The chocolates? Roberta would say this is a do-it-yourself project with cream, butter, cocoa, sugar, and time.

One time, Roberta remembered feeling relieved when a truck pulling in the driveway wasn’t an electrician, plumber, or carpenter. It was a florist’s delivery van.  “Must be in the wrong driveway,” she thought and waved him away. But he didn’t go. Instead, he came to the door carrying a vase of flowers exploding in her favorite color: purple. The one-time gift surprised the single lady. Roberta’s grown children had ordered them for her for this special day of love.

Paul mentioned that single people are valuable in the ministry when he wrote “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs:  Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in body and spirit.”  [1 Corinthians 7:34]

Singles can often be the odd one out during events geared for couples.

At Roberta’s Sunday class, someone popped their head in to ask the widows, divorcees, and singles, “Anyone want to go to the Valentine’s Banquet put on by the men this year?” With a vengeance that would go with a question like, “Does anyone want to go sky-diving?” three responded, “NO!” But after the door closed, Vera had an idea. It only took a few minutes for the Faithful Friends Class to plan a Valentine’s activity that included everyone, and which allowed someone who needed a visit to have the party brought to her. It was a win-win situation!

What can you do to remember a single woman on Happy Hearts Day?

[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.]

 

 

The Secret of Spring by Jo Russell

As the two volunteers showed up at the busy youth camp to help, the mother and her teen hoped to quickly get over their status as “the new kids on the block.” With long days filled with serving and working with hundreds of guests each week, the Liz and Robert had seen little of the 82 acres of the camp set like a jewel in the forest.

At one early morning staff meeting, one of the counselors piped up, “Hey, Liz and her boy haven’t been to Iron Springs! They’ve got to see it!”

Camp Director Bill agreed, “Absolutely! It’s a site they’ll never forget!”

“Amazing!” another counselor commented.

“Awesome! It’s great! Unforgettable!”

And there were smiles all around.

“And it’s such a short hike! We can do it after we serve breakfast!” offered another youth leader.

“Done!” Camp Director Bill agreed. “Brady, you and Marcus take them up the hill,” he directed two of the counselors.

“You don’t need much water,” Marcus told them.

So with one nearly-empty canteen slung over her teen’s shoulder, Liz and Robert began the zig-zag climb on the dusty trail up the mountain, their bare legs scratched by undergrowth.

“How much farther?” panted middle-aged Liz, contemplating her cellulite earned by years invested in parenting instead of work-outs.

“Just a few more bends in trail,” grinned Counselor Brady as he led them upward.

But the path turned into more bends in the trail than in a card of bobby pins.

“I can see it!” Marcus shouted. “Just ahead! We’re here! Come see Iron Springs!”

As Liz and Robert rounded the turn in the path, they spotted the springs, which made them thirstier than ever: A pile waist-high of bed springs, screen door springs, car springs, and all other sizes and functions of springs known to man. All rusty and dry sitting on a leveled out piece of dusty grounds. No water anywhere.

“I told you. You just had to see this!” Marcus cried. He and red-faced Brady laughed until they were bent over, coughing with glee.

Liz wasn’t so amused, especially as she and her son hiked the two-miles down. It felt like twenty, they’d drained the canteen and were still thirsting for water.

Liz remembered that researchers discovered that by the time a person feels thirsty, he or she is already dehydrated. She was parched.

Water means life – for all. But Jesus offered another type of water which never leads to thirst or dehydration.

To the woman at the well in Samaria, he said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” [John 4:13-14]

The spring water offered by Jesus brings life forever.

As spring approaches with the promise of new life, consider these words of prophesy written nearly 700 years before the birth of the Messiah:

“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” [Isaiah 61:11.]

In addition to feeling satisfied with the living water he offers, the Messiah brings righteousness– a bonded relationship between him, us, and all our relationships.

Leave the rusty springs and empty water bottles behind. The path to the Messiah bubbles with hope and life-giving water.  Those are the springs worth the entire journey.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

The Chair That Wanted a Home By Jo Russell

“Wow! A record!” Lucinda thought as she glanced at her light-colored dress and jacket that were still clean after a ladies’ luncheon. She marveled she was spot-free around all that food without wearing the tablecloth or a full body cover. “White–and I stayed clean for more than fifteen seconds flat!

Contorting herself into strange positions to get inside her husband’s pick-up without getting smudges on her clothes, she muttered, “Ridiculous! I can hardly wait to get home to my jeans!”

But on the way, she spotted a boutique and remembered a friend’s vintage tea cup collection and upcoming birthday.

No tea cups. But instead, Lucinda’s gaze rested on a striking sturdy wood and upholstered chair that would grace the lobby of any southwestern resort–and/or the family room. What a find!

Two of the store staff loaded the heavy chair upright in the pick-up bed while Lucinda stayed spotless.

As Lucinda had just turned down the wide-open highway marveling she was still clean, she checked the rear-view mirror and gasped with the realization, “No chair!”

Lucinda steered the truck to the shoulders and looked back to see the regal throne upright in the middle of the northbound lane.

Without further thoughts of her white clothing, she sprinted for the chair to save it from being a hit-and-run fatality.  As she pulled it to safety, another furniture-loving motorist helped her load the chair and tie it securely on its back into the pickup bed.

Now smudged and soiled, Lucinda had ruined the clothes. But the chair, slightly damaged, was worth it. Truly, it had wanted to follow her home.

Even more of a desire to follow us home is God’s desire for a relationship with us. Even from His walks in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, God reached out in love.

At the last supper with his disciples, Jesus prayed to God for them and his future followers with these words, “I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” [John 17:26 NIV].

What a promise of both love and having Jesus in us!

God’s love spans all smudges, generations, ages, social and economic levels. He forgives and opens his arms and heart to everyone – even those who lose things out of the back of their pickups.

Even more than the chair who wanted a place in Lucinda’s home, He is the God who wants a home in your heart.

 

[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.]