God’ll Leave the Light on for Ya!

Seven-year-old Trevor speeded up to get to the classroom after recess after playing with friends around a huge shade tree on the playground. “Wait!” he had hollered as he stretched his legs into a sprint. But Trevor didn’t make it.

A firehose-sized tree root caught his foot. His body slammed to the ground with a “Booof!”  By then, the boy was circled with a crowd of classmates..

“Are you all right?” his brother asked and offered a hand up.

“I think so.” Trevor tried to hoist himself up, but whimpered, “It hurts. Maybe not.”

Trevor’s teacher-mom, Jolene, sent him home to their house just outside the playground. He stayed there the rest of the day with his arm wrapped and tucked into an ice pack.

Jolene considered that the doctor, hospital, and emergency clinics were 100 miles away. She had no one to take her class while she finished the work day at the isolated country school.

His mom checked on him throughout the school day. The boy wasn’t any better.

Jolene was stunned the phone was working when called the clinic on the party line before she took her family to town.

“We’ll stay open after closing!” the doctor promised. So just like Motel 6, Jolene noticed as they pulled in, “We left the lights on for ya!”

“Hairline fracture,” the doctor concluded. “That’s a broken arm. We’ll get your son fixed up quickly and he’ll heal up nicely.”

A few weeks later as Trevor was playing with his brother at home, he swung the cast-covered arm overhead to bonk his sibling on the head. “You’re not the boss of me!”

Things are back to normal. Jolene concluded, I guess he’s feeling better already!

Life happens. It’s full of blessings along with happiness mixed in with conflict and sometimes pain.

Difficult situations and changed circumstances happen to all. They may last a long time instead of pointing to a quick answer or recovery. Or it may only be a short time before life seems normal again. But the journey doesn’t need to be a lonely one, but a trek with constant companionship and help as God matches each step. He is worthy of our trust and praise. He knows the path ahead.

These words are the banner of the believer: “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]

Our great God is there through every fracture—hairline or not. And he always leaves the light on for us!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

My God is a God of love!

“Dad, would you pick up Jamie from her swimming lessons at the pool? She’ll be finished at 10:00 this morning.”

“Anytime I can spend more time with my granddaughter is great!” Grandpa Gerry answered.

When he got to the pool parking lot, Gerry saw something going on just outside the main entrance. Hair flying! Gym bags sailing. The chants “Fight! Fight!” as the pee-wee crowd gathered around.

As he got closer, he found 10-year-old Jamie in the middle of all of it. Gerry’s granddaughter had her fist drawn ready to punch a girl in the face who she had pinned to the ground. Jamie shouted, “Take it back! You can’t say that about God! He is a God of love!”

Like any of us, Jamie is a work in progress.

“We love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command. Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” [1 John 4:19-21]

Gerry had work to do with his granddaughter, Jamie, for the famous “love passage” begins, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered…” [1 Corinthians 13:4-5]

And that could begin now. Grandpa Gerry guided Jamie to lose the fist and help the girl up.

That was a great beginning!

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

Begging for Waffles and Living the Truth

“I know you don’t usually like waffles,” Wendy commented to her small dog whose attention was focused on Wendy’s plate, “but these are delicious! Try this, Maggie!” Wendy handed over a half round piece of waffle. Maggie held it tight. It framed the pet’s mouth like a smile!

But, as Wendy guessed, Maggie didn’t eat it. Instead, the dog carried the morsel around in her mouth from the kitchen to her bed. She used it as her pillow. Maggie then carried it from her bed to her lookout point. She sat on it after that so no one could take it away.

Maggie was still carrying the waffle around day two and it looked less like a smile. “Snarl, grrr!” Maggie responded to the curious cat who sniffed the waffle and tried to paw it.  There was not much left of it for Maggie to guard.

By day three, the waffle began to crumble, leaving bits of toasted treat on a path through the house like Hansel and Gretel dropping crumbs to find their way back to their beds.

Who got the benefit of Maggie’s waffle?  Only Wendy. She got to vacuum up the crumbs.

If Maggie’s possessive actions over the waffle represented God’s ten commandments (Exodus 20) and instructions for Christian living, would keeping them to herself be the right choice?

Holding fast to God’s word is a beginning. “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and mind; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  [Deuteronomy 11:18-19]

More advice. This came from Solomon: “My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.” [Proverbs 7:2]

Study, learn, teach, share. That’s what a Christian does. That’s how a Christian grows.

Jesus concludes in his own words, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” [Matthew 7:24]

And the wise who learn and share God’s teachings in words and actions in everyday life will find it leads to joy and hop. Never will it turn to crumbs along the path like Maggie’s waffle.

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

The Bear Truth of God’s Protection

“Jamie, I’m so glad that you’re my wife! We get to share this camping experience on our honeymoon!” Harry pulled her close in a hug and kissed her.

“This short hike has been worth it!  Look at this beautiful campsite high in these trees! It’s a ‘10!’”

The couple set down their gear and Harry expertly put down a ground cloth and put up their small dome tent. They hadn’t the money to buy a better tent before their wedding, but as long as it didn’t rain, the tissue-thin fabric would hold up and kept them warm in the high country.

“Because this is bear country, we’ll put all our food in a tree far enough from the tent we won’t have trouble with bears.”

Jamie smiled. “Great! I’m glad you know so much about camping! I love it already! Just the two of us! I’m so in love with you!”

Nighttime came and the forest quieted down with the only sound being the wind swaying the tops of the pines. Jamie and Harry cuddled and slept with their arms entwined.

But sometime during the early nocturnal hours, Harry and Jamie awoke to the sound of heavy breathing, huffing, and stomping!

“A bear!” Harry whispered.

But the bear didn’t stop at the food in the tree.

The two quieted their breath and held each other even tighter in suspense.

Mr. Black Bear, all 350 pounds of him, liked the looks of their tent. He lowered himself onto the side of the dome, bending the flexible tent poles and flattening most of the rest of it.  Harry and Jamie realized the tent ceiling was now two inches from their faces. The shelter of the car was far away! They could only wait to see what would happen and earnestly pray!

Mr. Bear huffed and puffed some more. Fortunately, after a time, Mr. Bear decided to move on. The tent creaked and sprang back into shape as the large furry predator heaved himself to his feet and lumbered off.

In the years that followed, Jamie and Harry invested in a better tent—and parked the car much closer to their campsite. But as far as sleeping entwined in the others’ arms, that was a keeper.

Still, they remembered the fear and the threat of harm.

Such are elements infused in life’s journey through the adventures from beginning to end. But aside from bears, fears and threats can come in relationships, in economic downturns resulting in loss of income or career, in loss of family or close friends. Overshadowing fears can even arise in legal disputes stemming from false accusations, traffic accidents, and liability claims, or heirs scrabbling over their share of the money after a benefactor has died. Life can change in a minute!

If we know we must face fear and enemies, how will we cope? Who is our adversary?

Paul explains, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Taping into God’s power, Paul continues, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” [Ephesians 6:13].

What equipment does one need to stand firm in life’s trying circumstances? Paul describes this with poetry and straightforward instructions: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace, a shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”  [Ephesians 6:18.]

With this foundation, all fear and battles will go forward with God having your back. That’s the bear truth of God’s protection. And that’s even more powerful than overcoming a 350 pound black bear!

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

Celebrating Life with Cookies and Service

As the summer forest fires raged out of control, every third truck in the pine-studded mountain community was light green. Hotshot fire fighter crews crammed the insides. Most consisted of young men and some women in their twenties.

I’m going to do something to help them! Karen decided as the fire threatening her community approached the third week, so she showed up at the “Command Center” headquarters. The wind- whipped fire still was only 20 percent contained. Her town was on a pre-evacuation warning. Karen snagged a volunteer and offered her idea to provide cookies for the young wildfire fighters.

“Sorry, Miss. All the food here has to be approved by the host organization. It’s government, so you know how lo-o-o-o-ng that takes.”

But the volunteer paused and added while tapping her temple, “But you know. They leave here about six in the morning and they go down First to this other street.” By this time, the woman had pulled out a map. She pointed, “Then this is the route they drive to the fire. It takes them about twenty minutes to get through town.”  She smiled. “Yup! Just about twenty minutes, or six-thirty or so they would be here. Thank you and good luck!”

Karen got the message and did something about it. Using social media including Facebook, Karen spread the word for the need for cookies the next morning. She baked some herself.

And the sweets poured in within twelve hours. One hundred dozen. Twelve hundred cookies!

Karen set up a table that Saturday morning on the main drag. Her powers of persuasion brought her help. From the church’s youth group Robbie, Pete and Janey got up early to pass out cookies.

They didn’t just pass. The three teens waved down the fire trucks to stop and handed over cookies through the open windows.

“This is more fun than the car wash, the community barbeque and the painting days put together!”  Robbie cried with enthusiasm. The other youth volunteers agreed.

As the green trucks continued to the fire, the weary Hotshots waved their thanks with a salute and a smile.

One fire fighter blurted out, “Thanks a bunch! I’m here all the way from Wyoming! This is a real treat!” He paused and then asked with hope, “When will you be doing this again?”

Karen responded to need with what she could do. Organize. Bake. Work. Serve.

That is Jesus’ way and example. Service. Not an option or suggestion. Jesus’ teaching: giving of self.

At the Last Supper after Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, a task for the lowest of house staff in those days, he asked, “Do you understand what I have done for you?…Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” [John 13:12-17 NIV]

And whether serving others is making a meal, visiting the sick, praying for or with someone, or wrangling up twelve dozen cookies for fire fighters, it’s all part of living the Jesus’ way.

Don’t kid yourself. Just as everyone with a zest for life knows, no time of day or night is too early for goodies. Every cookie helps.

[Much thanks for the story, act of service, creativity, and thinking out of the box from Kara of First Baptist Church of Pinetop, Arizona. She headed up this impromptu act of love and service for the Hotshot fire fighters during a recent wildfire near Show Low, Arizona.]  

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]