Standing Out with Hello and Howdy by Jo Russell

Excited but exhausted from an intensive 10-day retail sales workshop, the two tall ladies in their 60’s  stepped inside the elevator at their metro-area hotel. Susie and Marnie had still been rehearsing in their minds how to get better at greeting customers to increase business at their store. Susie was outgoing; Marnie found it more difficult. The training tips were still spinning in their heads when the two boarded the elevator headed to their room.

Seeing they were not alone, but sharing the elevator with a tall man dressed in boots and jeans, Susie smiled and blurted out training tip #3 automatically, “Well, hello and good evening!”

The startled stranger was used to silence in the elevator, even with other passengers inside. He looked her up and down, then responded, “Well howdy to you, too.  Want to join me for a drink after you get off work?”

Susie’s face turned redder than ripe summer tomatoes. Marnie bent over with laughter. After Susie’s talking and training all day, she was speechless!

But Susie’s heartfelt greetings to all in her work, church and community world was well known in her home town. She sparkled with love and caring  as she reached out to others. The reason was evident: she was an ambassador for Christ.

As Jesus said in his own words, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16]

All of us can do the same.

And so can Susie who will just keep smiling and greeting with more hellos and howdys!

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing for pre-sales July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

God and a Parent’s Love from Base Camp by Jo Russell

“Are we going camping this weekend?” tall, sinewy teens Rick and Ron wanted to know. Anything would be more fun than cleaning their rooms.

“Why, do you want to?”  their working mother, Jolene, asked as she vacuumed.

“Always. Our favorite spot should be just right or close to there,” Ron responded while his brother nodded with approval.

So as the small family packed the gear and food, she noticed the teens’ backpacks bulged with all their gear and an extra tent.

“What’s this?” Jolene wanted to know, “Are you running away from home when we get there?”  She had just opened the car door for the family dog, Fletcher, to join the outing.

“Nope.” Rick explained, “But we thought we’d hike off on our own. You can stay in base camp with Fletcher.”

“Yeah,” Ron agreed. “We’re practically grown up. We don’t need our parents to decide everything for us.”

Teens. They get to the point that parents are just old fogies. I guess we’ve reached that point, Jolene decided before she answered, “Base camp, huh? Will I see you at all during the weekend?”

“Yup. You have to drive us there and take us home. It’s too far to walk.”

“Besides that?”

“Probably sometime.”

Later that day after Mom set up base camp on a flat area under the evergreens, Ron and Rick had set up their camp a mile away. Not long after, both cast a shadow over Jolene in her folding camp chair. “Yes?” She looked up from her book with so much excitement she dropped it in the dirt. Did her offspring come to visit?

“We came to fill our water bottles. It was hotter out there than we thought.”

“Oh.”

They hiked back with full bottles the way they came, leaving nothing behind but the rustling of a breeze in the pines above base camp.

Early the next morning while Mom was fixing breakfast, the tall teens tramped into camp again.

“Want some breakfast while you’re here? Fletcher thinks it’s good.”

“Nope. Just a dirty laundry dump. We’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

So the rest of the day, she and Fletcher were alone in the woods. It was so quiet, she couldn’t relax. That night, Fletcher led in the snoring division while Sue stared at the gear loft in the ceiling of the tent. Is this what an empty nest will be like? Raising children is like giving them wings, she reminded herself.  Mine are trying theirs out. But will they come back?  

Of course.

Teens, like us, are precious though we may be gone from parenting for a time. No matter where we are, we continue to be a precious child and creation to God. “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.”  Psalm 147: 4

God does the same with us. He gives us wings. He lets us try them. During some times of our life, we may emotionally and spiritually leave God in base camp while we try out things on our own.  But our lifeline is base camp—a place to seek wisdom, answers and needs.

In Jesus’ own words as he talked about needs, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33.

Just as he calls us by name, we know his and are wise to seek him again. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

God’s is a base camp to count on for all time. Stay close and continue seeing him each day.

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing for pre-sales this month wherever e-books are sold, with print copies to follow. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

Hunting My Own Way or Following Directions? by Jo Russell

“First born! A leader! Why, he’ll catch on and show the rest of the pack how to retrieve birds on a hunt!” Carrie rubbed his soft head and smiled into his brown puppy eyes.  She earmarked the puppy and four of his siblings for “Hunting School.”

But several weeks into the hunting program, she had second thoughts.  On a trip to the lake to practice retrieving birds, Carrie watched Suede and expected him to show the others how it was done. He was fine with birds landing on solid ground.

But in the water? Sure he could swim, but he didn’t want to get his feet wet unless it was necessary.  He demonstrated his own way.

“Suede, retrieve!” But instead of swimming out to the bird, he watched to see where the critter would float to shore in the current. He ran to that destination and planted himself and waited.  Sure enough, the bird would come to him. Easy breezy!

Carrie shook her head. Suede was setting a bad example for the other lab pups.  Carrie decided to sell him as a pet instead of grooming him for hunting. He thought he was too smart to follow instructions.

On the job, Suede’s behavior  would be insubordination. Not listening, not following directions. Dozens of times, the Lord calls his chosen ones “stiff-necked people.” That means, like Suede, they are and were doing their own thing.

But submitting to authority has its place. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. …Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience.” [Romans 13: 1-2; 5.]

That puts a whole different spin on following directions. For which employee, volunteer or leader asserts more of a solid Christian walk to others? One who  thumbs a nose at authority or one who does his or her best each day and submits to authority?  What more will God do with you as one who obeys?

Though Suede will make a fine pet, what more could he do as a hunting dog?

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing for pre-sales July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

Drenched in Streams of Living Water By Jo Russell

It was only because retirees Jim and Marney were next to the Grandstand at the end of the parade route that they got a peak at the map and the route confirming they were setting up their chairs in the “Splash Zone!”

Already, volunteers were adding sawhorses to the sides of the street labeled “Splash Zone!” right in front of them.

“Sounds like a good idea, Jim, to get wet in this hot weather. Or do you think we should move?”

“We’ll just wait and see.” He planted his folding chair in a good spot to see the parade, unconcerned about the possibility of being soaked to the underwear.

When a few hours later, the parade wound down to the fire pumper truck followed by the chief of police and clowns scooping horse apples.

For the hundreds of children in attendance, the splash zone meant a great gift from the firemen putting down a hot and humid summer day. Jim and Marney couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The couple leaned forward in their seats.

The pumper truck roared its diesel engine and raised the nozzle to the tree level. Children sprinted to the street their hands raised in praise and excitement. They waved, shouted with glee, danced in the shower and jumped on the pavement as it cooled down in the spray.

Jim and Marney were so transfixed they didn’t move and felt the cool sprinklings of a man-made shower. It felt great!  Their first experience with “the Splash Zone.”

In hot summer temperatures, an impromptu shower, dip in the pool, trip to the water park, or careening down a “Slip and Slide” in the front yard all serve to give a refreshing restart to the day.

But all are just temporary. We get hot again. We get thirsty again.

The Bible has a number of word pictures of water that are easy to remember:

“He leads me beside still waters, he refreshes my soul” [Psalm 23: 2-3]

Through all the rough waters, he leads us, smoothing the way. We become new and refreshed. We can go on!

As Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman, he said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  [John 4:13-14]

The living water he describes is what refreshes, teaches and satisfies. That is, God’s living word, the Bible, and Jesus’ teachings and words penned in those pages, satisfy the soul more than  food and water meet our needs.

Another reference to water comes from the sons of Korah, “As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” [Psalm 42:1-2]

No matter what you do for God at this time in your life, have you asked him, “What do you want from me?” The answer may be “More!”

With his guidance and plan for your growth dive deeper! Get wetter! Experience his splash zone! Learn more! Rise to the challenge that he asks of you! For the living water Jesus offers doesn’t just cool you off in hot temperatures, it lasts, refreshing your mind, body and soul from here to Heaven. It’s better than the Splash Zone any day!

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing for pre-sales soon in July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

Life’s Freedoms and the Bonszai Water Slide by Jo Russell

Celebrating the hot weather and Independence Day, Carol  stepped up to the ticket to the water park.

“One senior, please!”

Right after that, the older woman sprinted to the gala water features with enthusiasm. As her children had long been grown and gone, she was enjoying the water park without family along this time.

This will still be lots of fun! she decided.

Subject to sunburn, she worn a tank top with a shirt tied over it and cut-off jeans that covered her bony knees. After slathering on sunscreen, Carol had the frosted carrot cake look. But each of the features were more fun for her without being left crisp and burned like overdone barbequed ribs.

It was all so enticing: the float route, the wave pool, the bobbing lily pads to balance on across in a shallow pool,  and  the inner tube slide down twisted tubes of wet fun.

But her eyes strayed back to the longest line in the park: at the Bonsai. The same kids stood again and again in line waiting to be propelled across a pool at supersonic speed.  Each swimmer shot down the watery tube like a space shuttle. Each bounced feet first into the cushioned end of the pool.

The more Carol noticed the ride and the more times she passed it to do something more tame, the more appealing the Bonsai became.

After fortifying herself with lunch, Carol got be in the long line to wait.

“I’ve gone on this six times,” one school-aged girl wrapped in pink spandex and a tan giggled. “How many times have you done this, Sherry?” And the other girl with her wet pony tail dripping on the towel over her shouldered topped it with “Ten! This will make eleven!”

Carol noticed that she wasn’t just the tallest one in line, but the only one wearing something more than a spandex bathing suit.  When she stepped up to the water slide, she smiled and she began to climb in to the tube.

An attendant shot out his arm to stop her, “You can’t go on this ride!”

“What? Don’t tell me—It’s my age! That’s prejudice! ”

“No, I remember another old—I  mean senior—person doing the Bonsai.  It’s the jeans. They take the wax off the slide. You’ll have to a spandex suit to go on this ride.”

So Carol sadly dragged herself away from the giggles and squeals of those enjoying the Bonsai. She hadn’t even brought a suit today. But next time! Watch out! And the next time, she would get the shot-from cannons experience without jeans that takes the wax off the slide.

Just as the water park employees can’t allow a swimmer to ride the Bonsai in jeans, God sets up some boundaries for the journey and ride to heaven.

The Creator cannot look on sin and allow wrongs and bad choices from breaking his commandments. In days of old, the practice was for the priests to offer sacrifices to make up for wrongs so that a relationship with God might be possible.

As Hebrews writers explain, every priest had performed his religious duties and offered the same sacrifices, which could never take away the wrongs. “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time, he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…

Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” [Hebrews 10:12-14 and 10: 17-18]

A mediator making a way where there was no way is Jesus.  Accepting his gift of sacrifice and forgiveness makes a new way for all who accept him down all the paths including the Bonsai.

That is the ultimate freedom—to have a clean start from wrongs and to have another chance.  It’s even better than the Fourth of July because it is offered each day, not just once.

When Carol came to the water park again, she remembered a spandex suit. The Bonsai was the ride of her life. So is a life with Jesus.

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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing for pre-sales June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]