Book Excerpts ~ Something Old, Something New, Something Funny

Now available for pre-sales in all e-book formats and print version wherever books are sold, including Amazon and Ingram Book Publishing. Release date: September 25, 2017. Discounted pre-sale price on e-book at $2.99 (regular $3.99); print book discount at $11.99 (after Sept. 24, $13.99).

What’s this book about?

With tips and L.O.L. stories illustrating the biblical take on hot topics of time and financial management, coping with change and growing spiritually, Give Us This Day our Daily Grin: A Fun, Practical Guide for Spiritual Living and Growing  is a must have.  

Who needs it? People struggling to find joie de vivre, that’s who. Who isn’t at times smothered under too much stress, responsibility, work and worry?

Award-winning author/speaker Jo Russell brings an encouraging message reviving the reader with hope.

 

Chapter 1: God is Challenging You to Say “Yes” to More of Him!

  Knowing the Unsinkable: Choosing God Day by Day

“At last, I got a new boat for work!” Park Ranger Rick shared his exciting news with his Coast Guard friend, Mark. “With budget cuts now in the past, I get a new boat! Headquarters brought it in last night. Want to come see it?”

Though Ranger Rick had responsibility for marine parks as well as land locations, he had been using the small aluminum boat equipped with an engine that worked as well as a can of shortening for propelling the craft over open waters. Often, it oozed to an oily stop. That being Standard Operating Procedure with the small craft, Rick knew the Coast Guard very well.

“Sure!” Mark replied, matching his enthusiasm.  “Let’s meet at the dock!”

The ranger responded, “You’ll be the first person to see the new boat! No more rescues from the harbor or the marine parks!”

Coast Guard Mark and Ranger Rick converged at the end of the dock. Masts and top decks of larger boats dwarfed the much smaller craft. But when the two found the boat slip where the Park Service boat should have been, neither saw it. Getting closer, the two only discovered the craft was filled with ocean brine to the waterline. In less than 24 hours in its new home, the boat was sinking.

“So when you said ‘new boat,’ you really mean ‘new to you,’ right?”

Ranger Rick sighed, “Obviously.”

Both tried to bring the pump to life, but it didn’t work. Then Rick and Mark grabbed buckets and bailed the boat. But their efforts were futile. In the next twenty-four hours, the craft proved comfortable at water level, not above it.

“Just a minor glitch,” the park supervisor decided. But not even the top mechanics at the harbor were able give it the “Seaworthy Seal of Approval.”

It can be naive to put faith in those things of the world which seem dependable and absolute—like boats that sink, hurricanes that destroy, as well as stocks and investments that lose their value.

What is dependable and unsinkable through all time? Where are you with the unsinkable God of the universe?  What have you gained from his words?

In Jesus’ own words, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” [Mark 13:31 NIV].  In an unstable world, we can depend on God’s word and his love. What he says, he means. What God says stands firm. What he says is forever.

That’s a truth worth thinking about.  What can be a better investment than the eternal truths of the Bible?  No longer is a spiritual journey dependent on someone to read or interpret the Bible for you. You can do it one-on-one. For the length and depth of a spiritual journey is ultimately yours–no one else’s. It’s not about a church. It’s about a relationship with God through two-way communication and learning from his word.

The Word? How can I bring more of it into my every day life? A great benefit of technology today is that the Bible as well as apps for commentaries can be loaded on smartphones or other devices. An associate pastor new to this type of technology was issued a smartphone and a tablet. “Wow!” he gushed. “Ten thousand words of the Bible downloaded onto my phone! And there’s room for lots more stuff!”  Like many, he also discovered how easy it was to access commentaries on the verses.

Many versions are easy to read and understand. One can still also use printed copies. Because I write often devotionals on assignment, I have about twelve.

Author Alice Camille wrote “Read the Bible? Me?” for Catholic Digest. She commented, “Don’t we get our multivitamin of Scripture with three readings and a Psalm on Sundays… and do we really have to know more than Father has to say about it all in the homily?” She went on to summarize that “you do get the Biblical multivitamin at Mass, but no one mistakes the multivitamin for the full pleasure and experience of a meal. To consume more than the basic nutrients of Scripture, we must engage these stories more personally and completely. Not because we have to, but because we’re missing something wonderfully good if we don’t.”

http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/faith/praying/2010/08-16/read-the-bible-me

 

Wonderfully good. Not just the adventure, mystery, and thrill, but the stories of faith and miracles all through the Bible. God is there for us. We can find Him anywhere, but we hear from Him in our quiet moments, prayer, and by reading the Bible. We’re not alone. Though God’s defense doesn’t show on the outside like a military parade, it does show in our strength on the inside and faith in Him as our warrior and defender—forever and always.

 

Enrich your present spiritual journey with a commitment to read the Bible each day. Or if you already do, decide and plan for more time to study, pray and listen. But how can a busy, stressed-out you make room for any more tasks in a 24-hour day? Chapter 2 illustrates choices and examples that work for effective time management. That is a start to growing more.

Is what is taking most of your time and attention dependable?  Is your boat only comfortable at water level? Don’t wait to step into a sinking boat to decide.

God is waiting for you to say yes to adventure and his path ahead. Top of Form

 

 

Renewing a Christian Commitment to Break Through the Comfort Zone:

Out with the Oil-Stained! In With a New Beginning!

Long before she married Paul, Carole knew long before they married that he tended to drive cars way past their expiration date. Not that he couldn’t afford to replace them—he just wanted to milk every moment of use out of his cars before he parted with them.

As friends and family hinted that he buy a newer vehicle, Paul countered each objection with, “It’s still a good car!”

“All you need,” Carole teased, “is foam dice hanging from the rear view mirror, leopard-spotted seat covers, and fur on the dash! What a show stopper it would be!”

But Paul came back with an icy stare and a resounding “NO!”

While driving to the trout-rich pond on their first fishing date, Paul and Carole had to shout over the pounding sound of the engine, which reminded her of the throaty mufflers on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The front-end vibration that signified pure V-8 power caused Carole to screech when her coffee sloshed over her jeans.

“That’s the all-weather tires,” Paul explained. “But it’s still a good car!”

On the way home, the engine light went on. “Maybe you should check that,” Carole suggested.

“Naw. It’s just a sensor that costs $$$.  Doesn’t mean a thing. It’s still a good car.”

Paul came into marriage with Carole with love, optimism, a smile, and the “still good” car he dearly cherished. The car adventures continued. Carole flipped the visor mirror down, but it wouldn’t open.

“Spring’s broken,” he explained.

Paul was always a real gentleman, opening the passenger door for Carole. But that continued into their marriage because, as he explained, “Lock’s broken on the inside.”

A dark spot decorated the driveway. “Needs oil. It uses a little—but it’s still a good car.”

As the spring weather grew warmer, Carole fanned herself and pushed a button on the dashboard. Paul stopped her, “The air conditioner doesn’t work—but it’s still a good car.”

At what point should Paul consider a newer car?

At what point do I need to take stock of my life? Do I need to replace a habit or try something new? Do I need a new outlook? A new attitude?

Often enough, it’s easy for us to think, “I live a good life. I am good to other people. Look at the help and time I’ve given others,” and leave it at that.

But periodically, our old life, which may have been plagued with breakdowns, needs to be retired. As Christians, we may find ourselves repeating old mistakes, tripping over the same attitudes, or stuck on the side of the road with a spiritually dead engine.  It’s time to get out of the rut!

A good example is from a small church that vocalized their need to build the numbers of people attending. As members died, many seats remained empty on Sunday morning.

“I’m all for more people coming,” one member commented, “But understand this—I don’t want anyone here who is too young, too poor, disabled, homeless or tattooed. We don’t want people who have weird hair or any single parents. This here is our church we built for us, not for the riff-raff.”

“Amen,” some agreed. And their church continued to lose members and numbers because their focus was on a building and an elite membership, not on Christ.

Their church had become like Paul’s cherished, but oil-leaking car. His car would only run short commutes, never long distance. The same happens when another agenda tops God’s will for life-changing plans, growth, and experiences which can change hearts one at a time.

Where are the treasures of heaven? In you. In others. In God’s people.

But know that God’s changes will be outside of your comfort zone. Uncomfortable as it may feel, God’s sometimes painful plan for you is the path to growth.

Leaning on God for a Trek to the Less Comfortable Path: Fashion or Comfort?

A woman’s scream coming from the shoe department pierced the quiet atmosphere of the large retail store.

Sprinting over to her friend, Clare, Susie cried, “What’s wrong?”

Clare had been doing nothing more dangerous than trying on shoes. Clare’s latest choice was a pair of four-inch heels decorated with an acrylic heart-shape. When she stood up in the open-toed shoes, the woman gasped and then screamed. Clare limped back to a bench, easing herself down. “I think I pulled a muscle!” She paused as she regained her composure. “Susie, how do you think those shoes look on me?”

Though Clare had always been willing to make sacrifices as a Fashion Diva, Susie was the Queen of Comfort. Oh, how Clare suffered for fashion! Her great look often only survived for a short period of time because of discomfort. But at two seconds flat, the acrylic sandals set a new record. Clare bought them anyway.

Susie was enjoying the shopping trip as she was inspecting the shoes on display. With her large feet, she could never find her size at stores. “Look, you can use these pointy little numbers for killing cockroaches in corners—or for self-defense!” Susie commented as she picked up leather pumps on display. She checked another pair, “Maybe these could do double duty as a hammer for quick home repairs!”

“Susie,” Clare reminded her friend, “you could probably use a fashion update, and it shouldn’t be just in shoes!” Clare suggested. “I know you can’t find your size in stock, but the grungy sweatshirt, green knee-high wool hunting socks and hot pink garden shoes are out!”

Comfort and women’s fashions seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Yet we all need comfort in the highs and lows of life. New shoes won’t do it—nor sweatshirts and fuzzy slippers during the winter. Not even fluffy fleece pajama bottoms will satisfy the needs of our souls. When it comes to a need for comfort, we may not find it in friends or family. Often, we feel alone. But we are not.

Our comforter is always there: God.

Think on this famous passage: “I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” [Psalm 23:4 NIV]

What is the significance of the staff?  Jesus called himself “The Good Shepherd.” A shepherd used the staff for defending his own from enemies, for representing his authority, for guiding and nurturing the sheep, and also for a walking stick.

Creating a word picture of God’s care for us, his sheep, Jesus told the parable of losing one sheep, leaving the ninety-nine in an open field and looking for the lost sheep until he found it. [Luke 15:3-7 NIV]. Jesus said there is much rejoicing in Heaven when lost sheep are found. They are the people who turn back to God.

God is always present in our need for comfort and joyful in our relationship with him.

But the well-known term “comfortable” may not apply to fashion or a relationship with God. Like a good shepherd, he keeps his sheep from harm, but also pushes their and our limits. Followers may walk further than they think they can, eat less than they think they need, or learn something they didn’t think they needed to know.

That is the same with us. God does push us beyond what we believe are our limits. That brings out the best in us, because there is no limit to a growth spurt with God as supervisor. He makes it work for good—ours and his.

Is fashion or success giving you the style and comfort you seek? Or are you ready for the warm embrace of God’s assurance each day as you move into the unknown?

It can seem scary. But God is with you.

God is Your Advocate, even on Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Days!

“With liberty and justice for all,” are moving words included in the American Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Life may not seem that way to any of us at times, and certainly to seven-year-old Kevin when he found himself outnumbered.

Though he was smiling when Kevin realized his Sunday teacher was absent and he would be joining the older church class, the second grader’s grin disappeared when he opened the door and realized his guy friends were absent, too.  As Kevin’s eyes scanned the room entirely full of females, all who were taller than he was, he thought, “No fair!” Outnumbered, outwitted, and out-voted! From a seven-year-old boy’s perspective, there was no chance for him.

“I need someone else on my side,” he protested when the teacher paired him up with a girl for the bean-bag team game. His idea of an ally wasn’t someone who was wearing jeweled sandals, toenail polish and pierced earrings. Kevin felt all alone. The girls knew all the answers.  He didn’t. Kevin felt like crawling under the table. Instead he leaned back in his chair so far, it fell over with him in it.

Things got worse as the group shared a table making bookmarks and cards for the church project.

“You can’t use that kind of paint on the bookmarks!” scolded one girl.

“I like it,” countered Kevin.

Teacher Jenny Brown added, “So do I! It’s creative!”

Then Kevin’s paint pencil ran out of ink and there wasn’t another good color to choose from.

When it was cookie time, Kevin was sniffing a homemade cookie and accidentally dropped one of his on the floor and it broke into pieces.  None of the girls lost their cookies. The second-grader’s cloud of doom grew like a summer thunderstorm.

Finally after the girls left, Kevin’s tears mixed with his wailing to the teacher, “I just don’t like it when the class is all girls!”

Teacher Jenny Brown pulled him close and ruffled his hair. “God loves boys. I raised a couple of them myself, and I love them too.”

Kevin needed not to feel alone, nor should we when the odds seem impossible. For in the New Testament, God adds a fuller job description to the powerful promise that he is with us in the Holy Spirit. He sends a comforter as well as a counselor to his support us. The counselor’s job is not only advice, but as a Paraclete, a representative in a court of law. Just as Jesus promised a comforter in the Holy Spirit, knowing his disciples faced a hostile world, the Holy Spirit is also referenced as an advocate speaking for and to us.

Kevin and we need to remember John 14:16 when Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.”  [NIV]. More than a title, it’s a forever promise that even when the odds are against you, you have a friend who will always be there—even when it looks like you’re completely outnumbered!

Believe the Good News and that the Treasure is in You!

Take a step forward. Take a risk. Step into adventure. Remember Jesus grew his church with the young, the poor, the disabled, the unskilled and the riff-raff. Social status doesn’t matter. Family background. Education. Achievements. Nothing matters to God but your knowing and obeying his work, praying, listening and communicating with him and building faith in him. It takes  humility and a willingness to follow him along an unfamiliar route. Your agenda doesn’t mean anything to God; but his agenda for you means everything, and he will equip you for it. For with God’s help, anyone can rise above all barriers. God can take us higher and further than we can go by ourselves.

We are precious to God. He made us. He loves every cell of us! God’s love brings healing. His unconditional love fills in the gaps. He can break destructive patterns and habits.

No matter if problems, hurts, or addictions in our families and relationships span generations, God can change everything. His forgiveness covers failures, screw-ups, bad choices, and backsliding. God’s love breaks the cycle of conditional love held captive based on actions and achievements. He believes in us and our potential. His love is unconditional—here, in Heaven, and forever.

But talk is cheap. What is real?

I’ve experienced this myself and in raising my twin sons. God guided and helped us to a new life.  Until the cycle of family addictions was broken in my path, I saw the tragedies unfold in past and present family history. It spanned five generations beginning with a father to sons. Love was conditional, reckless and often withheld pending approval of actions or decisions. As a young adult, I was on the “outs” of approval most of the time with family.

The tragic results of the family history besides scarred relationships included incest, untimely death, as well as continued addictions in family members in generations which followed.  One twenty-something family member had lost all hope. He committed suicide leaving behind two pre-school children. By the time the abandoned young son was a teen,  he imitated his father’s modeling. Dropping out of school, substance abuse, trouble with the authorities and time in jail; these are predictable, but not inevitable, possibilities in single parenting where there is no positive or strong male mentor.

But God provided me a new life. His love built bridges. I could lean on him totally. I could learn to trust through him. His love opened a door for a new life. It has been a successful journey for me as well as my grown sons.

Anything is possible with God in your world, your life, your family, your marriage, your career. He is a healer. Besides the body, it’s the whole of you—the soul, the mind, the spirit.

But to begin with the treasure of you in God’s eyes, think on the following well-known passage. It is often used as a foundation of thinking and defense of the unborn for the Pro-Life Movement.

“For you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”  [Psalm 139:13-15 NIV]

Wilson A. “Snowflake” Bentley photographed snowflakes around the turn of the century in his native Vermont. His careful observations and some 5000 photographs proved none were alike! Yet even in the winters and snowflakes he experienced, Bentley’s evidence of the number and variety can’t compare to the one-of-a-kind God designed in you. Even identical twins are not identical!

God made you a wonder yourself!

God loves variety and that’s why we are all different. He loves us the way we are.

How many men look like the covers of Gentlemen’s Quarterly? In terms of monetary holdings, who has the portfolio the world calls success?

When looking over the big lady catalogs I use to supply my nuclear-sub sized shoes, I am astonished at the smiling models who are sized 5, 7, or 9 when sizes start at 12W. Though Marilyn Monroe was a size 14, the loose-fitting big lady clothes are bound at the back with safety pins for the photo shoot. This makes these clothes look good before the camera clicks. But no one looks like Marilyn Monroe in those size 14’s.

The real deal is that God loves you and he loves variety. He wouldn’t have made so many shapes, sizes, colors, and combinations of skills, talents and abilities in the people he created.  That certainly keeps things exciting.

While the world focuses on lack and benchmarks for measuring up, God shows a picture of wonder of our unique combination of gifts. His concern and care comes in a lifetime of love, bounty, provision, love, and miracles yet today.

It doesn’t have anything to do with the world’s value system.

Here’s the good news about your life: God’s not finished with you yet. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” [Psalm 139:16 NIV]

In this book are many specific ideas about maintaining and growing your relationship with God. Prevent mental plaque in your spiritual life and touch the circles of friends, family, children, community and co-workers.  To begin, know that it will be out of your comfort zone, but you aren’t alone. God is with you. Not only that, you are his rare collector’s edition!

And God’s gift–a new life free of breakdowns–beats any four-wheeler out there that is “still a good car!”

Chapter 1 Summary; Pondering Life’s Persistent Questions…

Investing in a spiritual journey with God involves trusting in his unsinkable, divine character and promises. Make no mistake: the trek will be outside your comfort zone. A solid beginning comes with a commitment to study, pray and listen to his words in the Bible and in prayer. God is with you. He gives you the tools and skills to achieve his plan for your life ahead. You are precious! 

In what ways might you be stagnant and comfortable in any of your habits or roles in the community, at work, or in the church?

What area(s) would you identify as one God needs to work on in your life?

How would you rate yourself on flexibility in handling changes of plans?

 

What is this book about?  

Breaking the pattern of serious devotionals that could bring up the need for Prozac or Excedrin,  author Jo Russell leads the reader on a step-by-step skip to the yellow brick road for a closer  relationship with God.  This book has spanned the generations and helped thousands of women remember God’s wisdom, love and provision. It will encourage you to love God and your life wherever you are along the way!

Week 1: Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out?

(Week 1, Day 1)

Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out?

Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

The rural high school student seated at the computer card catalog looked puzzled and exasperated. All lunch period, the pretty, dark-haired sophomore had been there in front of the screen. Other students came and went around her.

Noticing this, Linda, the librarian, approached the girl. She wondered what the student was researching. Why didn’t the girl look around the library for the listing she had on the computer screen?

“Another English class research project?” Linda wondered. “Probably.”

The student seemed stuck. Linda moved closer and asked her, “May I help you?”

“I’m trying to find this book.” The student pointed to the screen.

“Yes,” the librarian replied, “and the book you want is here in the library. No one has it checked out.”

Still the teen sat in the chair scanning the screen, the keyboard, the hard drive, looking for anything that would give her a clue as to what to do next.

“Do you need more help?” Linda asked.

“Yes,” the student said. “I really need this book! Which button do you push to get the book to come out?”

Even without looking for a button, we can find the way, the truth and the life. The button to push that brings God is the Bible. He speaks to us through it and gives us directions for a better life. Tried it your own way? I did. Try it God’s way. Let him surprise you. His answers aren’t even in the A-Z alphabet!

Thinking you’re going to hit a wall? God moves it!

Rough times and smoother ones are part of the journey. Why not let him guide you every day and laugh at his surprises with me?

Further study: Psalm 19:7-8

(Week 1., Day 2)

Can An Almond Be Your Source of Joy?

Jesus said, “If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy will be in your and your joy may be complete.” John 15:10-11

Something fell off the kitchen counter in the middle of the night and bounced.

Home alone, Gracie listened in the darkness, and then heard a furious clack, bang, and crash!

The police had posted a notice on the doors of her neighborhood that summer. What did it say? Lock your doors and windows! A burglar hit seven homes in the neighborhood, mostly by just walking in. On this hot night, she had passed out with exhaustion after work and had fallen asleep in her clothes.

Gracie’s heart thumped and she felt icy as her life flashed in front of her eyes!  She clasped her hand around heavy metal. It wasn’t a Smith and Wesson, but a fitness pack full of drinks, work out clothes, bras, and underwear that could pack a wallop. Gracie sat up and listened for footsteps. None.

Tiptoeing out of bed, the woman took her defensive stance with the gym bag. More clack, clack, bang! No footsteps. She flattened herself against the walls close to the kitchen, scanned the room and the next, and another, and then returned to the kitchen where the noise continued. Gracie flipped on the light and backed away quickly to avoid a bullet. Nothing! Where was the large, clumsy intruder who had entered the house with such a clatter?

An almond shot by her feet. Then a grey streak zig-zagged across the room chasing it until the nut bounced off the baseboards.

“Tigger!” Grace thought as she stepped forward. Something brown and hard pushed into her bare feet. She was afraid to look. What is a cat litter box for anyway? Gracie lifted her toes off the mound. But it was only a Brazil nut Tigger had propelled across the room.

Gracie growled irritably and scooped up the energized feline. She purred.

The overworked lady concluded, “I am taking life’s lessons from a cat. She can be perfectly happy just playing with nuts!” Almonds, that is.

What did she learn from this? The pure joy of simple experiences. Being loved and held in God’s hands every day does bring joy!

Is your life more work and not enough play? Have you missed moments of joy? Like Gracie, have thoughts, plans and worries about the past and the future kept you in a numb state?

Tigger taught Gracie to wake up to the joy of today and a thankful heart for each moment in time. God gives us the present. It’s a panorama of beauty and experiences like a gift. Tigger had the right idea. Enjoy life now—right down to the last almond!

Where do you find joy today?

Further study: Psalm 84:11; Isaiah 55:9-12

(Week 1, Day 4)

 You’ll Never Be a Pest in God’s Eyes!

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6.

The seven-year-old proudly brought her pet in a fancy insect cage to show off at school.

“It’s a caterpillar,” Carlie explained to the teacher. Then she told how this amazing creature would turn into a butterfly and look beautiful. She carefully held the squirming creature in her hand so all the class could pet its smooth, striped skin and let it curl with delight in their hands.

“I’ve been letting it sleep in its cage by my bed,” she added.

There was a whole room full of “Ooos” and “Ahhhs” as the boys and girls moved forward to take a closer look. They thought they probably had seen something like this in the dirt before, but Carly gave them reason to take a second look. How long before it turned into a butterfly? They all wanted to see!

Recognizing its special qualities, the children took the pet for a walk and picked fresh leaves for the caterpillar’s afternoon snack. In the afternoon, Carly and her friends said, “He’s feeling so lonely! Just look at that sad face!” So they brought it out again for another round of petting and admiration.

Never had a pet had a life like this! Late in the day, Miss Nelson got a close look at Carly’s pet while it was sleeping. To the children, the creature was perfect. But she knew his type: this pampered creature was never going to change to a butterfly.

It was, in truth, a cutworm!

The cutworm is famous in gardening circles, taking first choice of juicy vegetable plants. Gentle gardeners everywhere premeditate its murder using poison, a trowel, a bucket of water, or a garden tiller. There’s nothing left for even a decent burial.

Miss Nelson knew the facts well. She was a gardener. She’d killed cutworms, of course. If Carly knew that “murderer” was stamped across Miss Nelson’s forehead, she’d never leave her pet with the teacher for a minute.

Carly would never allow any kind of bad end for her pet.

Nor would God wish bad for us. We are all precious creatures in his eyes. Even those of us who act like cutworms are unique and appreciated. In the same way that Carlie and the children loved and cared for their caterpillar, God cares for us.

God doesn’t think of us as too stressed, too busy, or too sick to be loved. We’re not! We are just what God wants: someone who is one of a kind and who is a custom-designed piece!

You deserve the best and he has it for you. Cutworms, slugs, and squash beetles may be the hungry, the bad, the ugly. They’re part of God’s universe. You are one, part of God’s flock, never, ever to be left behind.

Further study: Genesis 1:26-27

 

Look for this new e-book in late 2017:

What is this book about?

Humorist and award-winning author Jo Russell brings you original, laugh out loud stories of real life in rural America. Seamlessly spanning experiences for all ages, Jo categorizes her anecdotes into red-faced moments, getting lost, romance, cars,  aging and others. She includes the health benefits of belly-laugh moments and facts from the medical authorities. Reader beware: This read will be fun and good for your health too!

Excerpts will be posted in the late fall.

Also coming soon in late 2017: 

Bring on the Blessings of Baskets:

Easy, Personalized and Ministry Outreach Gifts

[cover pending]

The Tea for Two (unwrapped) and Cold Weather Celebrations collections are shown here. These are two of over 35 collections pictured with how-to instructions, where to shop, message, gift card additions and ministry application. A special bonus which distinguishes this from other ho-hum how-to books that put the reader to sleep is the feature, “Tickle My Funny Bone.”  Now, wouldn’t you like to know why the story following the wedding and anniversary collections is called, “Couples Massage? Yikes!”

This will be available for pre-sales in October, 2017, with more excerpts and the cover added at the time.

What’s this book about? The “Wow” Factor in Minutes

Is there ever an easy gift you can gift that stands out from the others? There are craftsy types who would toil over a basket for hours to make it special. Uhhhhhhhhhh! In your dreams!

Who has the time?

This book is a how-to on quick, attractive container gift collections. It does give you an easy and personalized way to give the “wow” factor to others for all occasions.

By quick, the author suggests once you have the gifts and container, you can assemble a gift basket in ten minutes or less.

With about 80% of greeting cards being purchased by women, the baskets shown here are primarily gifted to women and usually created by women. However, the author will give you a number of choices for men’s collections based on interests and needs.

Ministry and Outreach

A second purpose is helping those interested in using container gifts as an outreach ministry from a church or organization. You’ll see ways to customize the gifts to touch the sick, the discouraged, the shut-ins, to celebrate with others special occasions or to expand outreach bridging an organization and the community.

So on each type of container collections, the author will include instructions and materials plus an outreach application.

After being involved for six years in a weekly outreach ministry based from a church, this author learned how to make a large variety of gift baskets. She also learned what worked and what did not in the program organization, leadership and procedures. With each type of gift, the suggestions will span both purposes: individual gift giving and ministry outreach.

But the first important action in planning gifts to listen to hear and watch what the person wants and needs. That gives each thoughtful gift the personal touch.

Longfellow, the family Basset puppy, decides the Loving the Landscape basket doesn’t have anything good to eat inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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