A New Look Inside and Out by Jo Russell

A new look. That was Marnie’s destiny once a month when she went to the beauty salon. For work, she pulled her hair into a pony tail and jammed her hair under a baseball cap with the company logo on it. Simple and fast.

But for her once a month hair appointment for a trim and style, Marnie steeled herself to go without a hat—at least for a day or two.

Annie, her hairdresser, did an especially great job on her hair this time. Though Marnie was forced to leave the baseball cap off when she was ready to leave the salon, she looked in the mirror at the salon and noticed, Why, I’m pretty. My hair looks beautiful! Will anyone notice?

When she reported for work with a new hairdo, Marnie’s boss greeted her with a quizzical expression on his face.

“There’s something different about you.” Long pause. “Did you lose your hat?”

The value you are to God matters more than anything. He loves you and me and cares for us regardless of our appearance, our assets or achievements. Whatever standards the world uses to measure value, such as appearance, assets or achievements, our maker doesn’t see us that way.  God knows us so well that he can name the number of hairs on our head—whether our hair is thick or thin–at any age.

Jesus himself said, “Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” [Luke 12:7] We have value in his eyes each day. He gives us a new look inside and it spills over to the outside that others can see.

God’s love and care can give us the courage to face the future and have confidence in his meeting our needs on good hair and bad hair days. There’s plenty of his love to infuse into each day, whether it’s a baseball cap day or not.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Kind of Drug Problem by Jo Russell

“When I was growing up, I had a drug problem,” Sam started. His audience of fellow fathers stopped in mid-bite on burgers at a local hangout. They stared.

“What? You?” Charley asked. He was astonished! Sam’s standing as a man of integrity, church leader and a Christian spanned all the years the men had known each other. He was a model of clean living.

“Yeah. I got drug to church every week. But it was the finest blessing I’ve ever had. I learned values. I learned about God. It was at church and at home how to be a man and a spiritual leader like my dad.”

Getting drug to church every week?  What does that have to do with child rearing?

Some parents vocalize that children should have the choice of choosing to go whatever church they want to with their friends or not to go at all.  Often these parents don’t attend church at all themselves. The message is clear: church is not important or essential. It is an extra, like dessert.  What values do they themselves teach and model at home and in every day life?

Children “getting drug to church” every week by their parents, guardians, or caregivers see that church is important to the grown-ups. Wee ones can figure out if the adults think if church is worth their time. Little ones can also see if the grown-ups are trying to live by God’s values.  When they themselves grow up, how will they live?

The Bible has much to say about God’s values in Christian parenting: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” [Proverbs 22:6].

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; 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]

“Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” [Ephesians 6:4]

Men, step up to the plate as spiritual leaders.  It’s okay that your children get drug to church every week. It’s a good kind of drug problem!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and an award-winning book. Look for more tips on men stepping up to the plate as spiritual leaders in Jo’s new release, Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing. Find it on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print edition coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

Communication Problems? Not with God by Jo Russell

Three college students performing a skit during a beginning language class took their places on stage. It was week four, but their skill level was shaky as the scene opened with the three talking together at a grocery store. The dialogue was in Spanish.

A few lines into the skit, one player rubbed her tummy, looked at the audience and slowly pronounced the words “Tengo hambre.” [I am hungry]. Instead, Sherry’s words came out as “Tengo hombre.”

That’s when the skit came to a dead halt. The students on stage smirked and those in the audience laughed out loud and kept laughing. She looked at the other players and asked, “Qué?” She didn’t have a clue why the skit stopped and everyone was laughing.

A tall young man in the skit pulled her backstage and whispered in English, “You didn’t say, ‘I am hungry’ or ‘I want hunger.’ What you did say was ‘I want a man.’” The single coed blushed as he continued, “That’s the difference between hambre and hombre. Just the way you say the vowel.” He continued, “But now that I know what you think, will you go out with me Saturday?

Both in Spanish and English, Sherry was speechless.

A communication problem? It’s easy enough for it to happen to Sherry or any of us when it comes to an unfamiliar language.

But when it comes to God, communication has come in thoughts, prayers, face-to-face meetings, dreams, and in his words of guidance for life in the Bible.

In Jesus’ own words, “But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:33].  He had been talking about our worry about basic needs, such as clothing and food.

David wraps up all needs along life’s path with these words, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” [Psalm 105:4]

Whether you are hungry or need something else, God understands your language, communication and need.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

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.]

 

 

 

No Feelings for Onions, but What Of People? by Jo Russell

As teenager Tommy stepped up to help his mother in the kitchen by chopping the onions for the casserole, he asked her, “Know what the secret is for not tearing up when you slice onions?”

“Those special googles?” she guessed. “I saw some in a cook’s catalog.”

“Nope,” Tommy smirked. “The secret is don’t get emotionally attached.”

The teen grinned. During the rest of the onion chopping, his tears of laughter ran down his cheeks.

Not getting emotionally involved. It’s a safe way to do things. But is it God’s way?

Jesus himself told the parable of the good Samaritan to teaching about being emotionally involved in our circles. When a traveler was robbed, beaten and left for dead beside the road, time went by. A priest came by, but he passed the man by on the other side. Ditto the next church leader, a Levite.

Why? Just guessing—both didn’t want to be made unclean by touching what might be a dead body; they didn’t feel they had the time; both already had plans. But mostly both didn’t want to be emotionally involved.

Jesus described the one who rescued the traveler as a Samaritan, a person of mixed race and beliefs that separated him and all of his kind from the Israelites. Samaritans were considered low life, unworthy. Such compassion as the Samaritan showed is an example to us all: get emotionally involved when a need comes up.

At the end of the parable, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The experts in the law could not choke out the word “Samaritan.” So one answered, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” [Luke 10:36-37]

Show love in action. This applies to those of all races, social and economic standing and net worth. People are valuable to God. He made us all. There is no reason to refuse to help if you are able.

No need to be emotionally involved in the life of onions, but be there for people, especially those in need. Jesus said so.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing Life Abundantly or the Value Menu by Jo Russell

As the honeymooners Herb and Marnie seated themselves at the table in the café for breakfast, they pushed two paper tickets to the center.  “Complimentary breakfast included,” it read from the Best Value Inn next door. They had booked and counted on lodging along the way which offered free breakfasts. So far, the places along the way gave them great food and plenty of it.

While she waited at the cafe, Marnie admired with wonder her new husband and also the homey décor from the red checked tablecloth to the warm wood plank walls decorated with western art and photos. It was the only café open for breakfast within an hour’s drive.

“Oh, you’re from the motel,” the waitress commented as she stepped up to the table. “You can choose four items on the menu for your meal this morning.”

His wife studied the menu and smiled at the waitress. “I’ll have pancakes, sausage, and a cup of fruit. That’s just three.” Marnie added, “You can bring me ice water with a slice of lemon also.”

“Do you plan on having syrup on your pancakes?

“Sure.”

“That’s one of the items. So is the water. So you have five items. Do you still want all of them?”

“Is that okay, honey?” she queried as she studied her husband.

“There will be an extra charge.“

“That’s okay. Hmmm. I’ll have scrambled eggs, coffee, bacon and a sweet roll,” Herb told her.

“Do you plan to use the salt, too?” the waitress wanted to know.

“Why, yes, of course.”

“That’s one of the items.”

“I’ll have the salt anyway and the rest of the things.”

“There will be an extra charge.”

“Okay.”

When the meal arrived, Herb’s pile of eggs was small enough to fit on top of a button and his one slice of bacon was the size of a stick of gum. The sweet roll was a mini like a small donut.  All three would still have lots of room even if served in a puck-sized ramekin.

“Refills on coffee are an extra charge,” the waitress announced as the plopped the plate down.

Marnie’s pancakes were average sized, but the sausage was smaller than a grub worm. She poured the thimble-sized container of syrup the waitress on the pancakes.

As they left the cafe still hungry, Marnie commented, “Say, why don’t we go for a drive and get some lunch?”

“Right now?”

“Yep.”

“Good idea! You’re worth it! ”

Life abundantly or living with the value menu? Jesus offers us a choice. In his own words, “The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” [John 10:10 NIV]

What does that mean? Jesus gives life, not only as the son of God and creator, but in his offer of the pathway to Heaven. Life after death has already been offered from Jesus’ own life. Forgiveness each day and circumstance that we experience; God’s love forever and always; guidance from the Holy Spirit. Life that we can see and experience with joy because it’s not the end, just part of the journey; abundance not dependent on the menu, the circumstances or challenges. We are reaching higher and taking his hand. And Jesus takes it, steadying us along the way and giving us what we need to do what we can’t do in our own power.

Abundance of joy, gratitude, humility, guidance on the road to eternity.

Those gifts are only the beginning. God doesn’t limit it to four like the value menu. He includes plenty of free bonus gifts and surprises.

[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 August, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

Stinkin’ Sin by Jo Russell

“Howl! Bark! Howl! Howl!” crooned the hound dog with glee at three in the morning after an extra lap around the yard and returning to the sunroom where he and his companion canine slept.

“Yip! Bark! Yip!”  Maggie agreed. They’d done good.

Soon the barking woke up the people of the house and one staggered in her pajamas to the glass door.

“What?!” Sherry rubbed her eyes and checked on the dogs in the sunroom. “What was worth waking us all up at this hour?”

She opened the door and both dogs charged into the house with joy. The smell of skunk perfumed up the house faster than a bug bomb. As was their usual routine, they jumped their dance of joy, frisked about, wrestled and then sat expectantly in front of Sherry for a treat and a bowl of food. It was with their usual message, “Here we are, you lucky people! Breakfast time!”

Instead, Sherry dragged them one at a time into the shower for a good sudsy cleansing.

Fortunately, she had written down the formula from the vet: ¼ cup of Dawn dishwashing soap, ¼ cup of peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda—all mixed together in a gallon jar of water. It worked.

Both dogs had been unaware that in putting down their black and white intruder, they smelled, stunk up the house and woke their owners extra early. Unlike other times, even the people who loved them were not enthusiastic about seeing—or smelling them just now.

It’s like the aroma of sin in God’s eyes. King David asked for forgiveness in Psalm 51. He finally realized with prompting from Prophet Nathan that his serious choices were no secret from God with just consequences to come. He was guilty of both adultery and murder. He asked for forgiveness, was genuinely sorry and took responsibility for his actions. He humbled himself and begged for forgiveness. David pleaded with God,“…blot out my rebellion. Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge….Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” [Psalm 51:1-4; 7-10]

Cleansing—a priceless gift offered from our creator and God. As we review, reflect and are renewed each day in time with God, let us also be humble and ask for a cleansing. Stinkin’ sin: it crops us more often than a skunk. Deliberate choices, not doing something God prompts us to do, failing to forgive, worrying, acting on our own without listening to God’s guidance.

Asking for forgiveness, being genuinely sorry, and accepting the consequences is a continuous process on the road from here to eternity. Such actions last longer than a soapy skunk bath and strengthen our bond with God himself.

[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.]