When Surrender is a Good Thing by Jo Russell

Bruce left work smiling. “Interesting woman!” he decided. He’d asked the trim, attractive brunette for a date in the great outdoors and she said she would go fishing with him the next weekend. From the first, she had been a mystery to him, working two jobs and showing up for work at the convenience store in nicer clothes than fit the job.

He knew Dee had fled across an ocean and a continent. Why? Bruce didn’t know yet. He only recognized that this bouncy, stunning woman had brought sunshine into his life and work–whether day or night shift. Life was good.

But it wasn’t an hour later that he grabbed the phone at home and Dee announced, “I’m really not into the dating thing. This is really structured. I’m more spontaneous. I just can’t go with you Saturday.”

When he was convinced after much debate she wouldn’t be swayed, he closed the conversation. “But I’m not giving up,” he said aloud to no one in particular. Then he thought of an answer.

When ringing jarred her awake at 3:30 the next Saturday morning, Dee fumbled to find the phone.

“Dave and I are going fishing. We’d like you to come along. We can pick you up in 30 minutes,” Bruce announced. He then added, “Is that spontaneous enough?”

Dee scrambled from bed, got ready for the outdoor adventure in 20 minutes flat.

But conceding to a date did not include surrendering her independence. She thought she would never, ever again throw a white flag into the battle between the sexes.

Once they stopped near the stream, she volunteered, “I’ll carry the ice chest.”

I’ll help you,” Bruce’s friend Dave offered.

“No, I’ll do it myself,” Dee insisted.

A few steps into the stream, tottering with the weight of the cooler, she slipped on the wet rocks.  The white foam ice chest shattered. It was like Abraham’s descendants – pieces that were more numerous than the sands. Bits of the chest bobbed downstream, along with a pint of fishing worms, potato salad, and bagged, seasoned steaks.  The cold sodas were intact, however.  Dee heard coughing on the shore. Both Dave and Bruce were doubled over with their faces turned from her – or were they laughing?

So began the zany, zigzag journey of Bruce and Dee’s courtship. It led to the realization that they  needed each other and God. The Bruce and Dee Team have been happily married more than 20 years now.


Feeling independent and competent? Like Dee, I find that feeling doesn’t last for long. I need God.

It’s not a new idea. Around 500 B.C., God asked the prophet Jeremiah to walk into town for a message. He was to go to the potter’s house, watch and learn. [Jeremiah 18: 1-3] As Jeremiah studied the skilled craftsman working, he saw the process of making a useful vessel isn’t always right the first time. Sometimes a pot is marred and needs to be reshaped. Or sometimes, it needs to be redesigned. A potter pushes it down and begins again with a hunk of clay. And what he or she creates then may be beautiful and perfect for its purpose. It is the same with us and God.

Jeremiah understood. None of us may stand cemented on the pedestal of independence and stay there on our own. We are dependent on God, the Master Potter. We are the clay.

Do you find yourself saying or thinking, “No, I’ll do it myself.”

Isn’t it time to let your Creator help? For what better purpose is trading independence to becoming the remarkable vessel that God makes us to be.

[I originally posted this blog 8/23/2013. I have reposted it in honor of Brad and Deedo of Pinetop, Arizona, the upbeat couple who inspired many and always maintained a positive attitude. Former Red Hat Queen Deedo of the Pinetop Prissies has been fighting cancer for the past year and is not expected to survive another day. God bless them both!]

[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.]

 

 

“Old Fogies, Go Home!” by Jo Russell

“These old fogy visitors need to go home!” Carlie complained about the seasonal visitors to her mother as she battled for a place on six lanes of highway heading to her destination in the heavy metro traffic. “A turtle could outrun and outmaneuver that one! Just look at the way they drive! They need to get off the roads when the rest of us are trying to get someplace! Just look at that! Bet they can’t see for their cataracts!”

Her mother, Patty, turned her head to look. “Which old fogy is bugging you so?”

Carlie pointed to a gas-saving economy car piloted by a bespectacled, grey-haired driver.

That’s when Patty’s mouth dropped in astonishment. “Old fogy? Honey, those people are younger than I am! I’m a senior, too.”

Her daughter was speechless. She stammered to redeem herself, “But Mom, you’re not like them! You drive faster! You have great hobbies! You travel! You’re a granny extraordinaire!”

Grandma Patty couldn’t help but think that love and shared experiences colored her daughter’s idea of her own age and usefulness. But the old fogies crowding the byways are somebody’s fabulous grandparents, too.

In Jesus’ time and culture, many felt that others didn’t deserve compassion and kindness, such as the old fogies in with everyone else who were hungry at the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus looked on the crippled, ill, blind, disabled, and unemployable, had compassion and healed them. His words and assurance of care—still with us now—bring hope, healing, and relief to the innermost being. We are loved!

Just as love and compassion colored Carlie’s view of her mother, Jesus showed us that love is the key to make strangers into friends. Jesus stated the most important commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:29-30].

If  Jesus made room in his heart and mind for old fogies in his time who didn’t drive, we can do so in ours. It’s worth it. Love can change of one heart at a time in the world and make it a better place.

[For your information, Jo Russell is a bespectacled old fogy, too, who doesn’t drive as fast as metro residents when she travels to new places or when the GPS is acting up.]

[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.]

Freeze the Cookies? Never! by Jo Russell

Paul stepped off the bathroom scale at home with a smile on his face as he shouted his cry of victory, “Since the last time I weighed, I lost four pounds! Inches, too! Wow! This hasn’t happened for a while!”

Once Paul and Carol decided to win their personal battle of the bulge, both had given up candy, French fries, cake, and decadent desserts. It was tough. Instead of ice cream, the newlyweds satisfied their cravings with kisses, hugs, fruit, healthy eating and trips to the gym. Still, the scale had become a serious contender for their time and attention.

“I’m proud of you!” Carol, responded to Paul’s achievement. Now and then, Carol baked goodies with reduced amounts of sugar and oil. “Does that mean you want me to freeze the rest of the chocolate chip cookies I made yesterday?”

“I didn’t say that!” he gasped. “Freeze the cookies? Never!”

Long term commitment takes gumption and determination—whether it’s changing a habit, a lifestyle, or a life. It’s tough, but takes one to the finish.

In the same way that following God’s laws means making a long term commitment that is worth it.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” [Joshua 1:7-8]

And power like God’s can overcome even the worst of contenders – and the best of cookies.

[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.]

 

No Pressure Too Great ! by Jo Russell

“I don’t want to go alone to buy a car, Wanda, so come with me and share the experience!” Sherry suggested. “Besides, if I buy today, you can be the first to ride in it! Then we’ll go to lunch—a divas’ day out!”

Sherry plunked in the driver’s seat and stacked her research, facts, brochures, and written questions in the back seat. She had memorized the important specs. Sherry evaluated the extras, the price, and the best place for financing. Before beginning, she quizzed the salesman, “Just how much experience do you have with these cars?”

Satisfied that he would do, she sat down with him and fanned out her materials. Three hours later, his palms were beginning to sweat with all the questions. Though he tried closing the sale numerous times, she persisted to know more before signing on the line.

“One more thing. What about…” Sherry began. But she was distracted by a new red sedan careening around the corner with Wanda driving!

Sherry was horrified. She stood and called out at the door, “Wanda! What’s gotten into you? Why did you buy this car?”

“I love the color! Don’t you think it looks good on me?”

Dealing with big ticket salespeople, who are trained to close the sale, is like peer pressure on steroids.

Though Sherry planned and needed to buy a car, Wanda didn’t. For Wanda, signing on the line just obligated her to five years of additional debt—because she liked the shine, smell and color of a new car.

How often do we face pressure to do, join, sign, or buy, that are not in our best interests? Every day. Pressures come from our entire world of work, friends, and family. God gives us the guidelines for life, the courage to choose the best path and the strength to stay on it.

Many examples of this span the time line of the Bible. Caleb reported to Moses that they could take the land of Canaan while the other Israelite spies said it couldn’t be done. Joshua trusted God with his unusual instructions for battle against the residents of Jericho – without traditional weapons or strategies and took the city easily.  Joseph had the courage to take Mary as his wife when she was pregnant with God’s son, though the village residents wanted to stone her for infidelity. Joseph trusted God and the angel who gave him the news she was carrying Jesus, the Messiah.

Infused into our lives can be these words of courage and conviction: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he mediates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. [Psalm 1:1-4 NIV].

And those words of strength can overcome all manner of peer pressure – including big ticket salesmen!

[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.]