The Tarantula’s Tarantella of Worship by Jo Russell

“What a hot night!” Jolene mumbled while her children slept.

When the air conditioning is on full blast in a tent, it does not help much, especially in a remote area on the prickly desert floor. Jolene knew this from decades of camping in the desert. In tent terms, that meant all the screened picture windows, doors and skylight were unzipped to the moonlight. Dark outcroppings of bare rock still radiated the heat of the day on a spring night.

Her thighs were glued together with sweat. Late as it had been, Jolene heard her sons softly breathing. While they were catching zzzzzs, she couldn’t sleep. “It’s going to be a loooong night!” Jolene sat up and sighed.

Nearly as bright as sunup with a full moon, the land sparkled like mica. Jolene peered through the screened window, appreciating the quiet sounds of a peaceful night. A very small breeze touched the desert creosote bushes and the mesquite trees.

As Jolene listened and watched, she noticed a score of dark shapes each about the size of a fist crawl to center stage. Looking more closely, she noticed the shapes had legs.

“Wow,” she whispered to herself, tarantula spiders!”

Tuning up like an orchestra before a performance, the creatures began to dance in the moonlight like a troupe of professional folk dance performers! First, to the right, then to the left, spin around, strut and kick, dip and bow! Though Jolene learned later dancing is normal spring courtship behavior for the male spiders, she held to the idea that the tarantulas doing the tarantella as a way to honor their Creator and their women!

In the Bible, Moses reported God’s deeds of creation, “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” [ Genesis 1:25 NIV]

So the creatures worship God in their way, too. Our Creator gifts us with the command to rest and worship on the Sabbath. Today, that is Sunday. We can be renewed to begin again after rest, worship, and reflection. Just as the tarantulas took time out for fun and fellowship, so should we.

This day and holiday weekend, let’s take time to have fun, worship, as well as to honor the Creator. The payoff is worth it. By the next work week, we may find ourselves dancing with joy just like the tarantulas doing the tarantella.

[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.]

 

Mastering Fear and the Grill Master Blues by Jo Russell

Grill Master Paul could cook a juicy steak that would cut with a spoon and melt in your mouth with the savory flavors of smoked seasoning.

But now in the first month of his marriage and in front of an unfamiliar grill, the senior struggled with the impossible task his bride had given him: grill gourmet franks for dinner.

“But I don’t know how,” Paul admitted. “I always heat up hot dogs in the microwave. I’ve never grilled them before.”  And such a daunting request gave him the blues.

“Then you’ll learn,” Carol told him. “They’re pre-cooked, so just get them hot and keep turning them so they don’t burn on one side.”

It was a good half hour before dark as he struggled to cook the hot dogs coordinating knobs, controls and temperature gauges that seemed as numerous as those in a plane cockpit. He began to pray for help. He needed it.

Dusk turned to dark. No grilled franks.

Carol was beginning to worry.

Soon Paul poked his head in the door. “I can’t read the controls in the dark. Which way to turn up the heat?”

After enough time passed to bake a potato in a conventional oven, it was pitch black under a moonless night sky; Paul entered the kitchen with his victorious contribution: grilled gourmet franks.

With God’s help, Paul summoned his courage and had conquered the unknown.

Just as Abram obeyed God and left his homeland for parts unknown, just as Joseph faced the unknown from the bottom of a well, then rose from being a slave to Prime Minister of Egypt, just as the Lord commanded Moses to led the Israelites from the lush Nile Delta into desert, just as Joshua led troops against the enemy in an unknown land promised to his people, God was with all of them.

Ponder this promise: “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you’ I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  [Isaiah 41:10 NIV]

And those words can chase away the blues and take you through anything. Be encouraged, Grill masters! That includes mastering gourmet franks.

[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.]

 

 

 

Find the Joy and the Giggle By Jo Russell

Months before the seniors’ gala wedding, Bob found it nearly as much of a challenge as Mary and Joseph looking for lodging to find a hotel room near a popular national park. Would they be hunkering down in a cave? But no! Not for his bride. At last, Bob found one hotel had a room.

The senior bubbled with excitement as he told the proprietor, “It’s our honeymoon! We’ll be there! Count on it!”

The business owner matched his excitement with, “Your honeymoon? Then we’ll upgrade you to a suite. And what a view! You’ll be able to see the colors of the canyon! It will be an unforgettable experience!”

All along the honeymoon road trip, Bob thought, “Wow! The last will be the best of the trip! I can hardly wait to show my bride our suite!”

When after a long drive, Bob opened the door to their suite. Something didn’t match up. It looked like a standard room with a teeny love seat added.

“But the view will make up for it!”

He and Carol rushed to the window to see the spectacular view.

As the proprietor promised, it was indeed an unforgettable view: four older trailers being sided and remodeled. Stacks of lumber took the place of garden beds. A crackled toilet tipped upside down, plus a storage unit at the back and an 18-wheeler garage flanking the side completed the view.

But just as God is bigger than any of our concerns, the canyon was bigger than any garage. It rose above, leaving the edge of the horizon defined in sun and shadow.

The newlyweds grinned at the view included in this upgrade.

They giggled, then chortled, then laughed until they were doubled over with glee.

At last, the two turned the loveseat toward the window for pictures of gazing at the unforgettable view. No hot tub suite could match it and the glee it gave them. Bob and Carol had seized the joy.

Though promises and circumstances may not be what we expect, our joy is to be the center core of us, It is not dependent on feelings or challenges. Such an attitude is God’s will for all of us. And as an extra, “Oh, wow!” medical researchers tout the benefits in health of a positive and attitude of gratitude.

Paul wrote to advice and encourage the Thessalonians, a young church and new believers, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV]

If you don’t already, apply the three concepts here: look for joy, be thankful, and pray always.

And that will lift you even when times the magnificent view is not as promised. You’ll be giggling like honeymooners Bob and Carol.

[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.]

 

 

Just How Deep is the Water? By Jo Russell

Teenager Chris, the five-year-old twins and Jolene, boarded the ferry boat to travel over to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It was a new experience for the three of  them. For Chris, it was yet another adventure forging through the unknown with his crazy aunt.

Chris had come to think of Aunt Jolene as Sacagawea, guiding him and the twins  through the Pacific Northwest just as Lewis and Clark had done a century before.

“After three weeks of traveling and camping together, isn’t this great, having hot food we don’t have to cook and dishes we don’t have to wash?” Jolene looked around to see who agreed. The twins, their mouths surrounded by crumbs, nodded. Chris gripped the edge of his padded seat with white knuckles. He wasn’t appreciating the pincushion wooded islands on the blue water that were a stunning change from his desert home, where he had lived since birth.

“What can he be so afraid of?” she wondered. Perhaps Chris, being raised in a land-locked area, had never seen so much water. As the ferry’s motors rumbled and tickled his feet with the vibration on the steel deck, Chris let go of the seat and began to stand. Then he announced, “I’m going to take a walk around the outside.” The twins and Jolene watched him and noticed Chris stopped at each group of lifeboats.

When he returned, Chris asked his aunt, “How deep is the water here anyway?” Chris peered at the water. “I’ve counted them. They don’t have enough lifeboats for all of us!”

A half-hour later when they landed at the island, Jolene wondered if Chris stumbled when they got off the ferry, or had he stopped to kiss the solid ground?

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.” [Psalm 69:1 NIV] were David’s cries of distress in a time of great fear and challenge. David had confidence that  God heard him and would help. Such faith is the foundation for answered prayers. Believe. Trust. Know.

Some people have so much anxiety that it affects their walk with the Lord.

Do you feel that the waters around you are too deep? I do at times. A good strategy is to pray through worry. What if, during prayer, you breathe in Jesus and breathe out your fears?

No water will ever be too deep for you and the Lord to navigate together.

[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.]

 

Rescue from the Bear Boxes of Life by Jo Russell

Excitement spread as the family headed to Yosemite, a long way from Bob and Glenda’s desert home. Their sons, John, 5, and Jeff, 6, caught sight of the shady wooded campsite and cried together, “Wow! This is a ‘10’!”

Near the picnic table was something none but Bob had ever seen before: a heavy metal box with a hasp. “A bear box,” Bob told Glenda. The boys were fascinated.

While Bob was busy stringing tent poles together and Glenda made lunch, they hardly noticed when Jeff announced triumphantly, “John, you get in the bear box so the bears can’t get you.”

The campground strong box had been designed for food and other items with a strong smell that could attract bears, such as toothpaste and shampoo. To John and Jeff, the metal box captivated them as a new campsite amenity. From then until nightfall, the boys practiced for hours playing in the bear box.

First one boy went inside, then the other. But neither closed the heavy door and twisted the hasp.

The next morning, Bob and Glenda were busy packing up the car before 7:00 and they didn’t notice their boys practicing with the empty bear box for the last time.

This time, though, Jeff crawled inside and his younger brother, John, closed the lid and twisted the hasp. Then John wondered aloud in a quiet voice, “Now how do I get this unlocked?”

Jeff, inside the metal compartment, panicked, “AAAH! AAAAH! Help!” His screaming rang through the forest and bounced off the trees.

Though Glenda rushed over to turn the hasp and free Jeff so he could escape, the boy walked with shaky knees to the car.

After a quick conference with his dad, John yelled, “Hey, Jeff! I know how to use a bear box now!” But Jeff didn’t move from the back seat.

God is with us, as he promises, even in coping with the unknown. The psalmist Davis wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  [ Psalm 20:7 NIV] No matter how fearful any circumstance is, whether physical, mental or emotional, or one involving someone we care about, we can trust that

God is with us forever and always. What has worried you or someone you care about?

Will you give it to God today?  Partnering with Him is better than fighting bear boxes—or any other circumstance–all on our own.

[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.]