Counting the Cost by Jo Russell

Sherry approached her customer with a smile who was scanning the rainbow of colors in the spray paint section. Sherry tied on her work apron as she commented, “Beautiful choices, aren’t they? What project are you working on?”

“I’m changing the color of my outdoor chairs,” Customer Dottie told her. “It’s just a matter of what shade to pick.” After a time, the customer held up a can of aqua spray paint that would transform everything from rubber duckies to fire engines to a stunning new color.

“Wow!” Sherry responded appreciatively. “ That’s gorgeous! How big is your patio set you’re painting?”

“It’s a table and six chairs.”

“You’ll need about seven cans of spray to change the color and paint it evenly.”

“No, I’ll just take one. I want to try it and see how it looks,” Dottie decided.

One can of spray paint didn’t go far, especially when the wind came up.  Dottie succeeded in painting her sandal-clad feet, legs, plus the seat and three legs of one chair.  My granddaughter could have done better Dottie thought as she headed back to the store for paint thinner for her aqua-colored feet and more spray paint for chairs.  This time, she bought seven cans.   

Another  DIY (do-it-yourself) color enthusiast was painting the outside of her house before the weather got cold.  She had picked the color and asked Sherry to mix up the soft butter yellow paint.

“How big is your house? We can figure out how many gallons you need from the size.”

“It’s four bedrooms, two baths and a half bath.”

Sherry helped her figure the square footage and needs, “You’ll need six gallons of the base color. How about the trim? What color do you want for that?”

“Oh, I’m not doing the trim right now, and I’ll just have you mix up a gallon. I want to try it out and see how it looks.”

The one gallon painted two outside walls of the garage. The soft yellow over the dark gray house stood out like an elephant wearing bunny slippers in the middle of a shopping mall.

Neighbors couldn’t help but notice. The homeowners association even left her a note.

Did either of these DIY dreamers count the cost of their color transformation?

Jesus teaches about cost from examples all builders and DIY painters all understand.  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” [Luke 14:28-30]

Jesus examples point to the cost of following him. Giving one’s all in spirit and mind; loving God and following his commands; becoming willing to follow his nudges in all areas of our lives and relationships—even before family.

The Cowboy  10 Commandments summarizes it this way: “Put nothin’ before God.”

What level of commitment to Jesus’ way do you have right now? Where do you want to be? Count the cost. Recommit to the God of creation everything that you are and where he takes you.

Ahead is a life of trust, faith, and DIY projects.  Only God helps you along the way. He never leaves you short of paint, either.

[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 and e-books are sold.  Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now released on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kickin’ It to High Heaven by Jo Russell

Pastor Dan was having a challenging day already. As his wife kissed him goodbye and headed out the door to teach a workshop at a women’s conference, their wee daughter, Carrie, sniffled.

“Mommy will be back tonight and Daddy will take good care of you,” she kissed the girl on the nose rushed out. “Dan, you and Carrie will have to fend for yourselves for dinner, okay?”

“Okay.”

That’s when Carrie broke out in a wail. Dan came to investigate. Carrie held out her favorite teddy, now with the nose chewed off and stuffing coming out.  The puppy had struck again.

At least he’ll be out of the chewing stage soon.

Dan recalled what he’d been telling his neighbor, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23. He’d been trying to teach him for months that life goes better with Jesus.  His neighbor wasn’t yet convinced.

“Carrie, hold this one tight.” He handed her another stuffed toy. “We’re going to go to the park for some sunshine and a run. It will be so much fun!” Daddy Dan assured her as put on one running shoe and looked for the other. A quick search took him to the backyard where puppy was chewing on the rubber sole. Pastor Dan took it away, disciplined the dog, and gave the pup a proper chew toy as he inspected his damaged shoe.

At least it’s mostly still intact.

He loaded up the stroller, his daughter, the toy and a bottle of juice. Pastor Dan noticed the wind had picked up. He ran loops at the park with a headwind as pushy as a hurricane. But as he pushed against Mother Nature with the stroller, Carrie cried with delight.

At least she’s having fun.

After he got home, Pastor Dan checked to be sure the puppy had fresh water, proper chew toys and was secure in the yard. Dan counted his blessings.

At least he didn’t sprint out of the gate today.

Dan dropped Carrie at day care and headed for the office, where he had two back-to-back counseling sessions with couples in troubled marriages.  It didn’t look good.

By the time he finished at the office, he knew this topped the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day of the century. Pastor Day remembered to stop by a fast food place for dinner before picking up his daughter. His wife wouldn’t be home for a few hours.

Pastor Dan unloaded his daughter and the stroller, rolled her into the entry way and went back for the hot food. He balanced the bag in the car and down the sidewalk to unlock the front door. That’s when the hamburgers, fries and shake tumbled onto the sidewalk. The bottom of the bag, gooey with goodies, broke.

I’d like to kick this bag to high heaven! That’s how mad I am! He clenched his fists and was ready to wind up for a record bag clobbering rivaling any star quarterback’s goal post kick.

That’s when Pastor Dan glanced around and noticed his neighbor waving and watching him and his angry face. What had Pastor Dan shared lately? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  [Romans 5:8]

More powerful than words in the Bible were Pastor’s own words and actions. Does life go better with Jesus? He had to prove that even on a horrible, terrible very bad day.

For actions really do speak louder than words. Apostle Paul writes, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” [2 Corinthians 3:3].

Even through the horrible, terrible no good very bad days, how are you doing showing, modeling and writing on human hearts today?

[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 and e-books are sold.  Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now released for pre-sales on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

How God Clothes His Own in Rich Garments by Jo Russell

Gene dropped into a chair in the employee lounge with a grunt. “I never thought I’d earn combat pay on this job. Go figure!”

“What do you mean? It’s not that busy,” another retail coworker commented.

“It was the red light special. Apparel has tank tops on sale for $1.00,” Gene panted, “If the flying tops had been bullets, I’d be dead! They were everywhere: women and flying tank tops! Two hit me in the chest, three at my feet; one at my head! It was hand to tank combat! I’ve never seen anything like it!”

Clothes. In the Bible, clothes are mentioned continually as booty after a conquest as well as valuable gifts. Isaac wooed Rebekah with gold, silver jewelry, articles of clothing as well as expensive gifts for the girl’s brother and mother. [Genesis 24:53]

When Joseph was prime minister in Egypt and his brothers came for grain during a famine, Joseph identified himself as their brother, gave each a new set of clothes, but to his younger brother Benjamin, he gave five sets of clothes. [Genesis 45:22].

Even Samson offered a sweet prize to any who could answer his riddle: “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.” He promised thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes to any who could answer within seven days. [Judges 14:13-14].

Without machines to weave and sew the fabric, it was time and labor intensive to come up with even a loincloth. Today, clothes fill closets, laundry hampers, garage sales and thrift stores. Oh, the garments started off as the perfect outfit for a date, work or business meeting, vacation togs, or even a costume. Some even sport designer labels. But all wear out and end up in places where they are not regarded with any more value than paint rags.

With outlet stores carrying overstock and clearance garments for less than the cost of fabric, it is easy for anyone today to respond, “Clothes. Big deal.”

But the Bible also talks of another kind of clothing that is priceless, permanent and free.

How can that be?

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” [Isaiah 61:10] Written more than 2500 years ago, those words ring true today.

Do clothes make the man or woman? In the case of garments of salvation, it does. That’s how God clothes each in rich garments who love, obey and accept him. Nice to know those priceless clothes never wear out and have more value than any designer label.

[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 and e-books are sold.  Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now released for pre-sales on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

Kamikaze Kate ~ Always in a Hurry by Jo Russell

The 30-something woman wearing work-out clothes with her hair pulled into a quick ponytail careened into the deli aisle at the grocery, pushing aside the other shoppers.  Then she forcefully stepped forward at the cheese case.

“Darn! Where is that block cheese that was on sale in the flyer?” she said out loud to no one in particular.

“Right here,” shopper Rosalie pointed out as she reached for a bag of already grated cheese for herself.  “You’re buying the cheese in bulk to save money, right?!”

“Yeah.” She grabbed the cheese and scurried off to the dairy case in search of the next items on her list. As Rosalie watched the young woman’s progress across the store, she was glad she wasn’t in the way. It was downright dangerous.

Kamikaze Kate” that’s what I’ll call her, Rosalie decided.

At the dairy case, Kamikaze Kate scattered the shoppers as she pushed forward to retrieve her flavor and brand. Kate accidently knocked a yogurt out of a shopper’s hand as the other person was reading the label.

“Sorry. I’m just in a big hurry this morning.”

While the shopper retrieved it from the floor, she noticed the yogurt didn’t suffer any injuries.

As Rosalie made her way shopped her way down her own list, she noticed Kamikaze Kate’s route zig-zagging through the store to the produce aisle. Kate had just collided with a senior lady holding a live basil plant and it fell to the floor.

Rosalie noticed that the senior had picked up the plant, tenderly dusted the leaves of loose potting soil and smiled at Kate. “Fresh basil like this really wakes up spaghetti sauce and anything with tomatoes. It’s great! Smell this!” She herself sniffed the fragrant leaves. You want to try this one?   I’ll pick up another.”

“Sorry. No time.”

Close by, another senior lady was carefully inspecting the portabella mushrooms in a basket, turning them over and checking the stems when Kate stepped up next to her, grabbed a handful and jammed them in a bag.

“You can tell how fresh the mushrooms are if you check the bottom of the caps,” the senior shopper told her. “They should be closed, not open with the underside showing. It makes a world of difference in flavor and cooking.”

“Sorry. I’m in a hurry,” apologized Kate. “Maybe another time.”

Kate rushed out of the store, nearly taking out a couple of shoppers with her basket as they strolled in.  “No time,” she complained.

Time. Each of us has the same 24 hours. Yet in today’s demanding world, compacting time and multitasking leaves little left for what God thinks is important. But what is important?

Described are the characteristics of Christ: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “ [Galatians 5:22]

Even when pushing a shopping cart through the local grocery, those traits can shine on others. None are downright dangerous like getting in Kamikaze Kate’s way. Time. Invest it in God’s plans and ways. Take time to smell the basil and enjoy wherever God takes you.

It’s worth it and so are you. In a subtle way, you are touching the world one heart at a time.

[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 and e-books are sold.  Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now released for pre-sales on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]