Joy and Thanksgiving for Daily Gifts and a Purple Lincoln by Jo Russell

Joy at Thanksgiving. Fat chance of that, thought third grade teacher Miss Becker. She was far from feeling it. She had to finish this lesson on money and the economy before the excited children sprinted off to enjoy the holiday break.

As she noticed the permanently scuffed wooden floors, desks leftover from days when students dipped pens and pigtails in ink, and the stubborn windows that refused to open properly during the summer or close completely during the winter, she sighed.

It would be nice to work in a better neighborhood and more modern school. Maybe next year.

But when her class wrote out their thanks, many wrote, “You are my favorite teacher, Miss. Becker. I love you!” and “Thanks for being our teacher. You are so nice!”

That’s music to a teacher’s ears. Miss Becker smiled and was thankful. I have a job. It wasn’t easy. But the children here are precious.

Another bonus of this old school was that the children all had jackets and sweaters. In poorer schools, the students had few. These children bundled in the warm garments during the winter from the time they left home until they stepped in the front door again. All had jackets and sweaters.

As Mrs. Becker scanned the notes of thanks on the bulletin board, she choked down tears. One wee girl had written, “I’m thankful for my Grandma and Grandpa. They love me.” That was from a child whose abusive parents abandoned her, leaving grandparents to raise her from the time she was two.

With blustery winds gusting outside, all the little ones in this class burst with smiles and joy. Thanksgiving break was here! The paper turkeys decorated the walls with red, yellow and orange tail feathers, a reminder of the food, family and fun ahead!

“I’m thankful for my mom and dad and sometimes my baby brother.” Another wrote.

Miss Becker continued to pull the children’s attention back to finish her lesson, “Most people are not rich and they are not poor. They are in the middle. I am guessing that most of your families have a Ford or a Chevy like I do. Does anyone here have a Cadillac or a Lincoln?

Penny’s hand went up. “It’s a Lincoln. A purple one.”

“Purple? Lincolns are usually black, beige or white. How did you get a purple one?”

“It was white and all scruffy and my dad fixed it up. It runs good. A couple of people gave Dad some paint, like grey and red, and he mixed it all together and got purple. It’s the only purple one I’ve ever seen! I’m thankful we get to ride to my grandparent’s house in the purple Lincoln for Thanksgiving!”

Mrs. Becker reflected on the leaky windows, cold and scuffed up classroom, and Penny’s purple Lincoln.

She realized as the children did that with love and gratitude, everything is colored in a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an attitude that can infuse each day of the entire year. Beginning a day with gratitude and thanks to God is a healthy habit mentally and spiritually.

Jesus himself teaches the pattern of prayer of praise and thanksgiving with what is commonly called, “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:10 [NIV].

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

The prayer begins with praise, honor and thanksgiving for the King of Kings! Just as the children in this classroom experienced, God had provided them day by day with coats, food, care, and love, as he does us.

Life can be an adventure wrapped up in an attitude love and thanksgiving ~ even if you don’t drive a purple Lincoln. Give thanks each day!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and her recent Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now in print and e-book on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords. She is author of several other books, including award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is the Phone? Where is God? by Jo Russell

 

Like a circus performer on a tightrope, newly widowed Rita struggled with her phone and the key for the apartment while juggling a bulging bag of frozen vegetables in one hand and a tipsy sack of paper towels and napkins in the other.  What would it take to get in the groceries before the first snow fall?

I need a hotel-type luggage cart —or six teenaged boys.  No cart. The grandsons live  far away now.  I guess the only way left to do it is the hard way—two bags at a time.   

Day by day, she lamented the loss of her long-time sweetheart and husband.

I sure miss Sam! All those years, we had such a system. I shopped, he brought in the groceries and put them away for me. He helped me so much! So many ways I miss him!

Just as she managed to close the door and open the freezer, her cell phone rang. She finished the call, put away the frozen foods and headed downstairs for more of the sacks.

Collapsing in a chair an hour later, Rita felt a sense of accomplishment. I really did it myself this time!

But after a rest, Rita wondered as she looked at the bags on the counter, Where in all of this is my phone?

Another hour later, after much looking and not much else, she was frantic. “Elsie,” she asked her next door neighbor. “I can’t find my phone and I’ve looked everywhere. I think it’s in the apartment. Could you please call me?”

“Sure, Rita, anything to help! I’ll help you find it.”

Both could hear the muffled ring of the phone as soon as they entered Rita’s apartment.  Elsie followed her ears while Rita checked again under the sofa cushions.  Elsie opened the freezer. There between the green beans and the limas like a veggie and tech sandwich was Rita’s ringing phone. The device was like the Pony Express, getting the message out through rain, snow, hail, sleet, bandits and freezing temperatures.  But there’s something even better.

A universal cry worldwide for many may be “Where is my phone?”  With contracts, fees, contact information, schedules, reminders and internet capability, there is a real investment. Forgetting where the phone is may be added considered in the future as another list of crimes and punishment.

But more important than the phone is not forgetting God.  He looks to love us each day and help us with our needs.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” [1 Peter 5:7] He never forgets, always cares and always remembers.

Where is God? He is as close as a whispered prayer or a thought. He’s even available on speed dial between the green beans and limas.  Keep in touch with the awesome Creator God with prayer, studying his words and guidance in the Bible and making each decision based on his guidelines. You’ll never be lost again, though your cell phone might be now and then.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and her recent Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now in print and e-book on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords. She is author of several other books, including award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

Eyes and Hands that See and Understand by Jo Russell

As Marnie walked along the path at the park with her two dogs, a couple of pre-teen boys slowly came toward them. One limped, but held the other boy’s arm tightly, keeping him safe while coaching him on where to feel with his cane. The second boy could not see except with his hands. His friend, Jack, had physical problems, too, but could see well and was a protector.  “Look and listen ahead, Bobby. There are two dogs on the path.”

Marnie stopped her dogs, had them sit and waited for the boys to come closer. “You can pet them if you want to. They are friendly.”

Bobby bent down and touched one curly small dog and then Jack petted her. Bobby reached out for the other pet while Marnie explained, “That one’s a hound dog. You have your hand on his neck.”

“I’ve never seen a hound dog before!” the blind boy responded with excitement.

“Then you just have to pet him all over. Try feeling those ears. They are as long as his face.”

“Yeah! I see that! Is the crusty stuff on the ends mud?”

“Nope. He just helped too much when I was painting inside yesterday. It’s on his tail, too.  You’ve got to feel his tail.”

“It curves up!”

“Yep! Like a CB antenna. My son said his tail wagging all the time when he walks means he can use the call letters Basset, Basset, one-niner, one-niner!”

Then Bobby stroked the long dog’s body and smiled. “I really have seen a hound dog now! Long ears! A fat neck! A tail like a broomstick! A very long body! He feels shiny.”

That’s when the hound howled with appreciation. Bobby and Jack burst out in laughter. “I never heard any dog make that noise!”

“Now you really have seen and heard a hound dog!” Marnie echoed the boys’ excitement. She got a kick out of Bobby, who was blind, using the word “see” so much in his conversation.

Jesus taught with parables and would conclude with an appeal to the senses, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” [Mark 4:9] and to his disciples, “Do you have eyes, but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” [Mark 8:18.] At that point, they had seen many miracles, heard Jesus’ parables, and had been walking and living beside him for much time. Still, they did not understand. Someday, they would.

Paul writes, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” [1 Corinthians 13:12]

It’s a matter of keeping the faith. Someday, Bobby will see everything, including a Basset hound. For now, he is excited to see the dog with his hands.

Someday, we will see, hear, and understand God’s perspective. In the meantime, it is our job to keep learning, growing and studying with Him. Enjoy the journey and the sights along the way!

[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 in print and e-book on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]