Same Sharing, Same Together Thoughts by Jo Russell

“Because we know that the Governor is coming to visit our small community next week, we’re asking your help in getting things tidied up—and having a great time as a family at the same time!” The community leader announced the work project as a thing of honor and grandeur. It would be the following Saturday.

“After all,” he continued, “our main street town is known for dozens of beautiful historical homes and businesses.  That makes it unique!” He ended with enthusiasm, “and we know how much shared family time means to all of us!”

“Do we haveta?” a small boy whispered to his dad.  Denny nodded.

The chairman addressed Denny and asked, “Will you pass the word onto the Nelson family bout our family activity? We’d appreciate their help, too.”

“Sure thing,” Denny responded. But he really felt like mimicking his son’s comment, “Do we haveta?”

As Denny drove up to the Nelsons, long-time residents of the town, he noticed the flat dirt yard pounded by feet, trucks and horse trailers. “Looks just the same,” he decided. Not one blade of grass anywhere. Not for years. It’s almost an embarrassment to the town.”

After he told Martin Nelson about the shared family time project, the man his toe in the dust and smiled. “That’s quite a sell for picking up trash on Main Street as a family. But we’re doing something else together.”

And they did. Saturday morning dawned sunny and bright and right after breakfast and chores, many in the community were lining Main Street picking up litter and cutting weeds.

But the Nelson family gathered outside for another type of family sharing. Volleyball. Lots of laughter and glee. It drew a crowd. The lively rounds soon included cousins, neighbors and lots of kids.

At the end of the community cleanup and the volleyball, all participants had shared time with families, but with different activities.

It would be easy for the clean-up group to criticize the Nelsons. Some did. Why? Because most lived in well-maintained houses with green lawns. So far, the Nelsons never had a green lawn. But their contribution to the town was even more important: regional and national awards for rodeo wins that even the Governor would notice.

Besides excellent horsemanship, the Nelsons certainly knew how to have family fun.

Peter advises: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing because to this you were called that you may inherit a blessing.” [1 Peter 8-9]

Harmony: It’s God’s idea that we work together, even when we’re blessed with other gifts, and sometimes on a different wave length no matter what activity is the goal. Look for it! Have fun together!

[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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

Skiing Only on the Colorado Slopes! Sticking to a Plan by Jo Russell

“Five feet of snow in 24 hours! Wow!” whistled the motel manager as he checked in a new guest and his family. The five visitors stood glumly in the tiny lobby of the mom-and-pop business.  With the main road as slick as a skating rink and the snow pile between lanes was as high as Paul Bunyon, they couldn’t go any further. The manager added with awe, “That’s never happened in October before.”

A tall teen boy looked around at the Halloween decorations and grumbled, “I guess we’re stuck here. How long before we can get back on the road? We’ve already traveled through two states to get here.”

“Dunno. Where are you headed?”

“Colorado.”

Dad piped up, “A ski resort. We’ve had reservations for months.”

Another guest stepped forward with his room card smiling at the family. “Well, I just live about 20 miles down the road and can’t get home today.” Roy piped up. “You know—we have ski slopes and a resort hotel not far away. You could go there tomorrow and driving won’t be dangerous. There’s a lot of nothin’ between here and Colorado and the snow here is plenty deep enough for powder skiing.”

“Absolutely not. We’re bound for Colorado. We have reservations for that snow, not this place! Whoever heard of going skiing in…What’s this place called anyway?”

“The White Mountains,” Roy continued. “It’s named that for the snow. You could also go snowshoeing not far from here. There’s a nature conservatory for wetland birds. It’s great!”

“No! Not here in the Red or whatever mountains! Colorado! It’s known for snow and Mother Nature. We have reservations to see all that and more.”

By the next morning after the all-night snowfall, the vehicles only appeared to be soft white bumps in the parking lot. No one could get cars out. So all met for breakfast in the conference room. Most were cheerful. The sun had come out! Roy and the Colorado-bound family talked again over scrambled eggs, fresh pancakes and sausage.

Roy was smiling. “Yay! The road home is open today. Still want to brave the route to Colorado? They haven’t got it completely cleared yet.”

“Yup!” replied the dad, “The only ski slopes and snow we want is in Colorado!”

And after two hours of digging out their van with four pushing it to the main road, the family headed off to the icy horizon with the hope to make Colorado or bust!

Planning adventure is a good start. But part of the adventure includes excursions along the way that God plans for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11]

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways higher than your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:8-9].

Just as from high in the air, we can easily see roads and routes, God’s heavenly outlook and path for us is the best for personal growth, a closer relationship with him and blessings.

And following his way is divinely better than reservations on the ski slopes in Colorado.

 

[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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Truth Under the Drama by Jo Russell

After Grandma died, four-year-old Kirby didn’t know what to make of this visit to Grandma’s church. His mom called it a “funeral.”  All the boy realized was that he would have to dress up.

Mom had said, “I know it’s hot, Kirby. Too bad. That’s why you have to wear these clothes. But it’s only for a little while.”

But he couldn’t stop thinking, Today would be better in a bathing suit. It was steamy outside. It was hot inside.  Even the flowers bent over in the heat.

At first Kirby settled on the bench behind his mom in the front of the church.

“Sit still,” Mom had told him. Kirby knew how to do that. He sat still for a while.

But Mom was reading from a black book and the words were so hard, she stopped and stumbled. He couldn’t hear her words over the clickety-clickety fans and the roar of the air conditioner.

Boring! Kirby decided to liven things up. First, the boy swung his legs in high arcs. People noticed. Next, he made faces, pulled his eyelids up, then grinned and looked around. Yup! They saw me, all right, but Mom didn’t.

Then Kirby quietly hoisted himself to his feet on the bench and looked around at the crowd. He pumped his arms skyward and moved his feet like a champion street dancer. Hmm. They seem to like that, too. Kirby marched up and down the padded pew, peering over his shoulder to see the crowd’s reaction.  Soon, he unbuttoned his vest and twirled it around. He scanned the audience and grinned, but his mom kept reading, her eyes and thick glasses locked on the tiny print on the pages.

I wonder if they’ll like it if I take off my shirt?

But about that time, Mom suddenly she stopped when she saw people looking over her shoulder.  She turned and caught Kirby swinging the vest around on his finger as he grinned at the audience. His mom riveted him with a look that would stop even the most hardened criminal from the heist of the century.

Mom pointed to the front row. Kirby served the rest of his sentence sandwiched between his uncles. But in his short period of experience and freedom, Kirby learned how to attention-getting behavior got the people to notice him instead of the truth and enlightenment in the words of the Bible. But no one had been able to hear the words.

Besides the noisy fans and Kirby’s antics, many other distractions steer people away from God’s words and his son, Jesus.

Jesus himself cautions his followers, “Watch out for false prophets. They come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly, they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs, or thistles?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” [Matthew 15-17]

The fruit of true followers? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” [Galatians 5:22-23]

In seeking a church or spiritual study group, if it’s more about Jesus and his teachings from the Bible, and members shine with the fruits of the spirit, you’re in exactly the right place!

[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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

Seeking the F.B.I. and God by Jo Russell

Stumpy climbed off the forklift in the warehouse and stormed into his co-workers office, his face puffy and red with anger. He slammed his hat on Billy’s desk for emphasis.

“It’s gone! How could they steal it! Can you imagine anyone stealing from a secure government warehouse like this one!” he stopped for a breath. “I need the number of the F.B.I.!”

“Stumpy, what’s missing? Are you the first to know about this? How serious is this that the Federal Bureau of Investigation needs to know about it?”

“It’s downright low!  Someone stole my lunch! A baloney sandwich, cheese chips, a Coke and a brownie. Now I don’t have anything to eat and no change for the snack machine! Let me have the number for the F.B.I!”

Billy turned to hide his face and his chuckling. Surely, the FBI with case files on international espionage, murder, treason, and terrorism doesn’t need to find Stumpy’s thief.

“Here, Stumpy. Lunch is on me today,” Billy offered as he handed over a bill.  

“But justice must be done! I need some answers!” Stumpy continued to be convinced that in his search for a lunch-stealing criminal, he needed the expert services of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Jesus provides words of wisdom in those seeking God’s answers, his kingdom, his wisdom and his vision for us. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks find; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” [Matthew 7:7-8]

So seekers, don’t be discouraged with what may seem a tortuous path of mystery leading to God and his path. He reveals it a little at a time along the way, sometimes like one clue at a time. The idea is not to give up, but to continue to seek him, in his word, in prayer and communication, in your personal and group studies of the Bible, and listening to hear his directions in time alone with him.

You will find the answers. When it comes to persistence, finding what you seek, and solving mysteries, God does even better than the F.B.I.

[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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

God’s House–So Big! So Clean! by Jo Russell

With a lollipop bouncing from his lips, four-year-old Rory skipped to Grandma Linda’s house. It would be the first time he met his neighbor and saw her house.

“Grandma Linda!” he cried as he knocked on the door. “Grandma Linda! Julie and I are here to see you!” The boy’s shaggy hair just touched the doorknob as he pushed open the back door and granddaughter Julie tumbled in behind him.

He scanned the kitchen with awe noticing the spacious room with table and chairs enough for family and neighbors plus plenty of frosted cake in the middle of the table.

“Grandma Linda! Your house…so big!”  Rory breathed.

He stepped into the living room with astonishment. “Your house…so clean!”

Grandma Linda doubled over with laughter at that. She generally thought of her house only in terms of clutter and dust and how much damage control to handle before the next batch of family and friends came over. It had been a constant battle.

Yet Rory thought of Grandma Linda’s as a great place. Think of God’s Big House. So big! So clean! No one there has to cope with clutter, dust, dirt, organization, or keeping God’s house spotlessly clean.

From the very words of Jesus come this comforting picture, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would not have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” [John 14:1-2].

The place that God is preparing for you is one of honor and free of dust—coming to you by faithfully serving him in words and actions.

So big! So clean! What could be better than a such a home prepared for you in Heaven?

[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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]