No Bankers Hours for God by Jo Russell

Clare, visiting a tiny community in Canada long before ATM’s and debit cards, needed to get some cash. A must: she took into consideration bankers’ hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekdays only.

But it was 11 on a Tuesday. That should work! Clare headed for the bank, the only one in town. But the 800+ residents were entirely focused on something else: a gala annual event on the main street celebrating the town’s pioneer history.  On the front door of the bank was posted scribbled sign, “Gone to the parade! Be back soon.”  Ditto with a half dozen other main street businesses–closed until they got around to reopening.

Clare could do nothing else but go to the parade, too, returning when the bank’s employees returned and unlocked the doors.  But it was fun. When the float for the bank rolled by, she recognized the bank president in period attire from bowler hat down to a pocket watch across his vest. The VIP waved to the crowd. They all knew him.

Two hours later, Clare was able to get cash at the bank when it reopened.

Communicating and getting things done today is not often in person. Mostly transactions involve the electronic devices functioning and in working order, batteries charged up enough to operate cell phones and cameras, back-up devices working when computers threaten to crash and internet service up and running.  Today, as long as the devices and internet work, the bank is open 24-7. It works nearly always, except if it’s too stormy, out of the service area, or when someone damaged the tower and connection with a four-wheeler.

Communication and help with God doesn’t depend on whether his batteries are up and charged, whether or not a call comes to him during working hours and whether or not a parade is going on in Downtown Heaven.

He is available all hours and days—for praise and appreciation; just for you to talk and him to listen; for him to talk and you to listen; to bring to his attention your most urgent needs; or in asking for a needed insight, intervention or miracle.

Has proof of that already have happened in your life?

Even if you don’t yet have a personal history of his astonishing presence and answers, the Bible affirms many other instances of calls to him outside of bankers’ hours:  when Daniel (changed by the king to Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meschach) and Azariah (Abednego) came to Babylon and were commanded to eat rich foods forbidden to them (Daniel 1) and with God’s help got to prove that their diet made them healthier than the other youth. Another instance of God’s help came up when the king ordered Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego to be thrown into the furnace for not bowing down to worship his golden image.

They replied confidently, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

At the time they were thrown in the fire, the advisers to the king noted that there were four men in the fire walking around, not three who had gone in. When the young Israelites walked out, they were whole and healthy. They didn’t even smell of smoke.  God had been helping and working on their behalf even outside of bankers’ hours.

Joshua, successor to Moses, was defeating the enemy and asked God to have the sun stand still above Gibeon for a whole day while Joshua and his troops defeated his adversaries led by five kings. God did.

“The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!” [Joshua 10:12b-14]

That’s above and beyond the call of prayer.

It is astonishing to realize that God is up to hearing, listening and communicating any time at all, while he has your back and your back-up plans.

So go enjoy the parade and God will take care of the rest!

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

 

 

It is Good to Be Paul Bunyan by Jo Russell

Cindy spun the truck around to an open bay at the builder’s supply and looked around for the wheeled lumber cart with her husband’s shed door loaded on it. No cart. No brawny man. She stepped out of the truck and peered into the work area. Lots of doors lying sideways in a rack over a story high. She checked for a flatbed cart as well. No cart.  Where was customer service? Had everyone left the building because it was lunchtime?

No. A young man nearly a foot taller than her stepped confidently out of the bay with the door on his shoulder. His plaid flannel shirt and suspenders made Cindy think of the legendary lumberman of East Coast fame, Paul Bunyan. The smiling giant hefted the door as if it had been a piece of kindling for a campfire. Cindy didn’t have to do a thing. He loaded the door so easily and tied down the load that Cindy thought the door wasn’t heavy.  He waved her off to her husband’s do-it-yourself project.  Paul’s big Blue Ox? Nowhere to be found, but Black Angus cattle grazing across the street would do.

Cindy backed into the drive at their house and hit the horn for her husband, Rick, to help.

When the couple cupped their hands on the bottom of the door and lifted, Cindy dropped her end. “Sorry! Heavy!” she apologized. “I had no idea! And I think I sprained my wrist!”

With more starts and stops than a rural mail truck, Cindy and Rick got the door leaned against the shed as the sun was setting. Paul Bunyan and his Black Angus cattle wouldn’t have even been tired. But Cindy and Rick collapsed and sent out for pizza, hoping to have enough energy left to answer the door.

It is good to be Paul Bunyan! But in lieu of his muscles, even Paul’s life would bring many challenges for feats of strength in other areas–not just the kind for manhandling doors.

Let these words remind you of who can handle it all.

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” [Isaiah 40:28-31]

Look to a champion even stronger than the legendary lumberman! For God comes through in all cases requiring strength of body, mind, and spirit. The great “I AM.” When he runs, he will not fall, even when carrying a custom door. It’s good to be Paul Bunyan, but it’s even better to trust in God and in his help through all things.

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

 

 

 

When in Quicksand Up to the Armpits By Jo Russell

“It’s good to conserve and protect the land and forest,” Ben summarized in a monthly meeting. The metro-based group focused on saving evergreen trees from demise with the building of malls and condos. So far, so good. Ben smiled. In a high-rise, downtown building, the dozen members greeted each other warmly for the monthly meeting.

“Look what we’ve accomplished so far! He recounted the projects, progress and trees saved so far.

After the meeting, Ben suggested, “So what about a trip to the Last Frontier to see even more ways to save the earth? It’s untouched wilderness. That could bring us a vision and objective on what to do next.”

“Great idea!” enthused Eric. “The experience of a lifetime!”

And it was so.

As plans finalized for the adventure, six metro men signed for the wilderness experience to become face to face with Mother Nature in a week-long raft trip, camp cooking promising to rival statewide cook-offs, and a short stint in an authentic bush plane.

Adventure that it was, the trip was a surprising experience. It was further between settlements than two states in the west. After hours bumping along a dirt road far from the frontier metro airport, one grown man in the back seat couldn’t help but ask, “Are we there yet?”

“Not yet.”

Twenty-five miles later, any could have asked the same question before they reached the starting point.

“We really respect wildlife,” Eric mentioned as he noticed their guide, Perry, hefting a shotgun to load with the gear. “What are you going to do with the weapon?”

“Required for wilderness trips. Bears. Moose. Wolves. Some are mighty grumpy at this time of year. They don’t like to share the water with us. I, for one, don’t want to share the raft with them. Do you? ”

A unanimous no. Though the wilderness was far different than home, all enjoyed great cooking with an outdoor aura that was luxurious. Hot cocoa and beer around the fire in the evenings. Morning coffee with slabs of ham, eggs and hashbrowns.

Then the annual precipitation sputtered into action two days out. Droplets turned to sheets, transforming to little balls of hail, snow and sleet. But primarily, it was wet and rained, rained, rained.

“Whoever heard of having to wear long underwear under rain gear?” complained visitor Eric.

“Good thing we’ve got you in good gear. You’ll stay dry,” Perry, reminded them.

Adding two more days of rain, Perry paddled the raft to the take-out point. He studied the bank, and then gingerly poked an oar into the wet turf on the bank.

“Quicksand,” he concluded. “We will have to go further for another take-out point. I’ll let the pilot know. We have good cell reception here.”

“What? We paid all this money to do is sit in the rain in a raft? We don’t have quicksand at home.”

Ben from the visiting group quipped, “Eric, I, for one, don’t want to be up to my armpits in quicksand. Think safety.  These guides are looking out for us.” Still, he prayed for the adventure to end on a positive note.

Twenty-four hours later, the sky squeezed out even more rain than the men saw in six months at home, bringing colder temperatures and less food. With the water rising from the storm, the river’s surface was choppy and gray. It sloshed into the raft.

From the reaction of one shortage, the bad news for the visitors could have been as catastrophic as a forest leveled to make room for a mall. But this one hit city dwellers where it hurt, “No more hot cocoa. We’re out.”

“No hot cocoa! That’s practically un-American! Whoever heard of a camping trip without cocoa?”

“Lewis and Clark?” the guide suggested, “1804 to 1806 in the northern U.S.”

When the bush pilot arrived, the visitors confirmed he hadn’t brought hot cocoa either. In fact, he let them know “I can only take some of you at a time. I’ll make two trips. Sit tight.” The men and guide huddled under a slick tarp, the rain drippling off into puddles on the ground. Hot cocoa by then was as far as the east from the west, thousands of miles over land or sea.

But not long after, all were warm and dry inside a lodge with steaming mugs before them. It had, indeed, been the experience of a lifetime; a nose-to-nose encounter with Mother Nature.

Ben realized with a grateful heart how much more the trip had been than hardships and weather. They were safe—never sinking to the armpits in quicksand, never sharing the shore with a grizzly bear, never having hand-to-nose combat with a near-sighted moose having a bad day.

Indeed, God is good and answers prayers.

“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble.” [Psalm 32:6-7]

Ben knew that as the truth. For even when the hot cocoa was gone, God wasn’t.

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

 

 

 

Where is the Locksmith When you Need Him? By Jo Russell

Jenny drove carefully over the icy roads to her second job on the weekend.  Though It had snowed most of the night, the roads had melted to a soft slush in the winter sun.

Safe! I’m here and it’s a beautiful day that looks like a Currier and Ives Christmas card! What could be more of a blessing! This is going to be a great day!

During a short break, Jenny purchased items for her home and family and then locked them in her vehicle. Shortly after, Jenny remembering needed something from her car.

That’s when she noticed that there were no keys in her locker. Instead, two sets of car keys sparkled in the sun on the front seat along with her bagged purchase. A third set were tucked under the seat with emergency supplies. Locks and keys everywhere, but apart from each other, they’d never open anyone’s car doors.

“Can anyone recommend a locksmith?” she asked her coworkers.

“Nah. Good luck with that on a weekend! Around here, many shops close up at noon and service businesses aren’t open on Saturdays. They’d rather be having fun with their families.”

That turned out to be true. Jenny left messages with all five locksmiths in her rural area. Hour after hour went by. No one to unlock the door.  No one returned her calls

At last, she called her close friend, Dolly, who lived miles away in the country. “What happened to the other three sets this time?”

Jenny explained.

“Know what?”  Dolly responded, “I think Ned and I will just bring the kids along and we’ll go sledding while we’re out with your extra keys. Funny thing is, we might run into a few of the locksmiths and their families in the sledding area! But by then, we’ll have the door unlocked and you won’t need them!”

Locks and keys. They are made to secure places, people and things.

Where are they in the Bible?  Several places, all pointing to the same answers, lock and key.

“Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They [his disciples] replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’

‘But what about you?’ he asked, ‘Who do you say I am?’

Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.’” [Mark 8:27-29]

 

More locks, keys and answers from the book of Revelation: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” [Revelation 1:8.]

In Revelation, the Alpha and the Omega, begin and the end of the Greek alphabet. It represents the whole and complete answer. The Lord God is complete. He is both the lock and the key to all wisdom, answers, and power. All in the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit.

Where else are keys?

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, 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]

To Apostle Philip, who had further questions, Jesus asked, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” [John 14:10-l1]

No need to wonder which locksmith takes calls and emergencies on a Saturday. For the Divine Locksmith in the Lord God is available to all of us. Keep looking to him with your questions and needs.  He’ll answer them and unlock the mysteries. Alpha through the Omega: the whole of God and his blessings. He’ll open the door wide for you—even on weekends.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Looks Ain’t Necessarily So by Jo Russell

Someone was pounding on the door. It was hard to hear with rain pelting on the roof spilling over the rain gutters to the yard that now looked like a lake. A week of hard rain.

“Answer that, Sweetie!” Maria called out to her daughter, “Grandma and I are emptying buckets right now.”

When young Julie answered the door, she gasped at the stranger. The woman at the door dripped with rain from her droopy, pointed hat to the black rubber boots that encased her wet socks and feet. Red muddy water sloshed into the room, staining the carpet like blood.

But the girl had only noticed the pointed nose and the wart on it. She couldn’t speak. She stared at the specter. I’ve never seen a real one before. Yikes!  

“Child, close your flood gates! Tell your family to close the flood gates!”

Can I take the word of a witch? Julie backed slowly, unable to speak or close the door.

“Julie, what is it?” her mom called, replacing the bucket and wiping her hands on a

dry towel.

“Floodgates!” The woman hollered, “Close your floodgates! The canyon is flooded! Help is on the way!”

Julie whispered, “Mom, can you really believe what a witch tells you?”

It only took a glimpse for Mom to see the danger. Mom and neighbors wrestled the gates shut, pushing away broken tree branches and floating trash cans.

When Mom came inside again, she was shivering and wet “Julie, that lady isn’t a witch. She owns the motel! It was good she warned all of us.”

No long after, more familiar rescuers pounded on the door: the United States Marines.

“We need to take you and your family out of the canyon!”

Julie and her siblings were lifted into a high vehicle with big wet tires. They did the same for others. Water to the bottom of the doors didn’t stop them. The soldiers lifted Julie, her grandma, mom, the other children and neighbors into the vehicle. The uniformed soldier guided it, parting the deep water into a “v.”

After a long drive in the dark and hard rain, the vehicles stopped and taken out of the canyon to a safe, dry place. Soon the families from far from the flood, wrapped in blankets and settled into a motel for the night.

God hears prayers always. He answers without fail. We can count on him as our rock and fortress even today. David wrote, “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortess to save me.” [Psalm 31:2]

One can count on God to rescue, remembering the Lord’s declaration in Isaiah, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” [Isaiah 55:8]

And his ways to warn and rescue may include a dripping wet woman in a pointy hat with a wart on her nose. A witch? It ain’t necessarily 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 from Amazon.com and her speaking engagements. [Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

No Sleeping in on Saturdays! by Jo Russell

“Mew! Mew! Mew!”

When her owner didn’t respond to her pitiful mews for breakfast for at least 30 minutes, Penny Kitty wound up like a siren and pressed her mouth right to the crack under the bedroom door.

“Meowyyyyrrrrlll!  Meowyyyrrrlll! MEOWRLL!”

Penny realized that tactic worked just like a megaphone! She kept that up beyond all limits of patience and love. Persistence really packs a wallop when it’s 4:30 in the morning! It got the fur ball the desired effect: the bedroom door opened.

Carol stumbled to the kitchen and headed to the refrigerator, slapping the bowls on the counter and feeding the four-legged family as if she were on auto pilot. By then, she was fully awake.

I would have liked to sleep in on a Saturday.  She glared at Penny Kitty.

When it comes to those living in the country with critters, sleeping in, retirement, vacation, or a day off gets a paws, claws, and hooves down–and not just for Carol.

During the summer with windows open, a neighbor’s rooster starts a wake-up call before sunup, but that’s topped by the burro braying who’s hungry. The cattle low. Horses whinny. Meantime, Penny Kitty and the other eager four-legged critters howl at the bedroom door. The message is the same: get up and feed us!

Consider if furry critters as little as eight pounds can commandeer attention with persistence, what more can we do with persistent prayer?

Jesus himself tells the parable of a friend coming to his neighbor at midnight for a loan of three loaves of bread for a guest who has come to visit. Showing hospitality in that culture was the heart of honor and welcome. Not to do so would be a great insult.

So the friend persisted even though it was highly inconvenient for his neighbor to climb over all his children to get to the door in addition to finding and sharing the food.  He would certainly be wide awake after that.

“…yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  [Luke 11:8b-9 NIV]

Persistence in prayer showcases the importance of a request over time. It changes us and fortifies faith. We may get a glimpse of God’s timing in the process.

Do you have examples of the powers of answered prayer in your life? Of course. Many.

In New Mexico history comes the story of the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. After great hardship and death of the Mother Superior during the Catholic sisters’ trek across country to Santa Fe, the nuns grew the church to the point it needed a building in the late 1870’s. After the chapel was constructed, the builders told the nuns there was no way to construct a stairway to the choir loft over twenty feet from the floor. The sisters persisted in prayer for a staircase God would provide, for they believed in a God of miracles. He was. He is. He will always be.

The carpenter who showed up did so with a donkey and simple woodworking tools. He built the spiral staircase with 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. After six months, he left with his tools and donkey without pay and without waiting to be thanked. The mystery carpenter was an answer to persistent prayer.

If the nuns of Santa Fe and Penny Kitty both get what they want and need with persistence, what can God do for you when you ask?

[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 from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

Resist the Terrible by Jo Russell

“What’s that on your mouth?” Paul asked as he pecked his wife on the cheek after coming home from the office. Carol had run out to meet him at the car.

She touched the sticky place next to her lips. “I think it’s that the caramel apple in the refrigerator. It was terrible.”

“How much did you save for me?”

“None.”

“Why didn’t you save me any?”

“Yuck! It was terrible! Whoever made it should have known better than to use a tart baking apple for that. I had to throw it away and eat the caramel. Even that was like peeling the tread off a tire.”

“But you ate it anyway?”

“Not the whole thing. Besides aren’t you supposed to be on a diet this week?”

“I’ll guess I’ll have to find something to snack on.”

“Good luck. I thought we had three boxes of gourmet crackers, but I couldn’t find any at all.”

Paul blushed.  “I went to a lot of trouble organizing all the cupboards to find them. They weren’t all that good.”

“But you ate them anyway?”

He reddened again, “I guess.”

A whole lot of foods end up on the American’s no-no list because of the popularity of  trying to lose weight. Like Carol and Paul both, some get eaten anyway, even though they agreed neither was worth the calories.

But tempting foods is only one form of fighting to do the right thing.

In teaching the disciples to pray, Jesus said, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one.” [Matthew 6:13 NIV]

Jesus included temptation in his model prayer because it comes in many forms to hit people up in their weak areas. Besides Halloween treats, this can be in money, food, time, lust, envy, greed, pride, choosing bad company or activities, not listening or doing what God wills us to do or giving up. Satan has scores of other options for every holiday, season, and occasion.

But God can strengthen us to be strong enough to fight temptation and win— even over caramel apples.

[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 from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

Where, Oh Where, are the Plates? By Jo Russell

“For our dinner date, “Holly began, “I made reservations for The Pointe in the city. “It will be a very special place to celebrate our anniversary.”

“The Pointe? You’re going all out. Sure. I’ll even wear a tie.”

“Thank you. I’m getting dressed up, too.”

When they arrived at the restaurant, Chip wanted to know why a man took the truck keys,

“Where is he going with our pick-up? Chip demanded. “It looks like a Black Hole in space!”

“We’ll get it back. They keep track of the cars and bring them back when you’re finished. It’s called valet parking.”

Inside the dimly lit restaurant, candles illuminated the elegant place settings on a linen tablecloth. After they ordered, the waiter came and placed a salad on the china plates, a total of three. Then he took the whole stack away.

Chip gasped in a loud voice. “Where is he going with our plates? Doesn’t he know we need some for our dinner?”  Other diners looked over to assess the commotion.

Holly blushed red.

Two plates again for the soup. When the main course was ready, the waiter again returned, this time with more plates.

“Ahhh! Good thing we don’t have to wash the dishes with all those plates!” he concluded.

The lack of plates isn’t a singular problem in fancy restaurants in metro areas.

A thousand miles away, Len had been sweating over welding up the pinholes in his four-wheel drive gas tank. To celebrate finishing the job, he invited his mother and sister for a 4WD experience and beach-front cookout. But in his haste to get going, he forgot a few things.

Minor details! The gas tank was the important thing.

The four-wheel drive stalled out at the beach. It coughed and died. Len started the engine again. It coughed, hiccupped, and died.

By the third try, Len announced, “We’ll have the picnic here. I’m going to get help in starting the truck.” He had to go further than the next campsite where a resident shade tree mechanic announced, “Crud in the fuel lines.” Nothing the two tried worked. The adventure attracted even more spectators. But no one could get the truck going.

While Len hitchhiked into town for his second vehicle, his mom and sister, Joy, looked around for the disabled truck for the gear for their cookout. No plates. But the meat was wrapped in wax-covered butcher paper. They tore it into plate-sized pieces. No barbeque tools, but an open-ended wrench and one fork served as tongs to turn the meat.

By the time Len returned with a vehicle that ran, the ribs were sizzling nicely. It didn’t seem to matter that the tender meat was served up on torn pieces of paper. The three licked the sauce from their fingers.

God provides.  He also offers the opportunity for a bountiful life—with or without plates.

Jesus’ words John 10:10: “The thief comes only to kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief mentioned in Jesus’ words is the destroyer Satan, author of negativity, doubt, despair, and a life that ends with the death of the body. But Jesus offers instead life to the fullest~richer and more full of hope because it leads to eternal life. He offers overflowing forgiveness, love, and the path to life with him forever.

And whether we have too many plates or none at all, he answers prayers and meets needs.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

 

Turning Pumpkins and Perils Over to God by Jo Russell

“Ever since the Garden of Eden, folks like me have to battle it out with the soil, the storms, and the multi-legged enemies in our gardens! Beetles and bugs—Yuck!” Cheryl lamented over the phone to her friend, Jenny. Cheryl wrung out a tissue as she wailed, “I don’t know what else to do!”

“About what?” her friend wanted to know.

“The worry! The work! The possible attack of the killer bugs! Am I too hopeful to count the pumpkins—or will the squash beetles get them still?

Jenny was the wrong person to lean on for empathy. Jenny thought about Cheryl’s lush yard and raised bed gardens. Could even be a cover shot for Better Homes and Gardens. But Jenny was happy with her own back yard – bare dirt. The front yard sported a lawn the size of a wading pool with one struggling rose bush along a fence. A few blooms came out under duress once a year. The only packaged seeds around Jenny’s house were for jazzing up salads.

“The garden is driving me crazy,” Cheryl sniffled. “Is it too early to think my pumpkins will survive another month? Just like last year, I have plans. soup, pie, cookies, ice cream, lots of wonderful things! Last summer, I went out just after sunup every day to fuss over the pumpkins. I counted them, measured them, and one day, ka-blam! The squash beetles got them and all the vines were dead. ”

Jenny responded, “But they look good to me this year. Most of them are already orange. I know what your problem is! You’re doing all the worrying. You’re doing all the fighting. Give God some room to work, too. ” Jenny was right.

A famous quote from Michel de Montaigne states, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”  He was a statesman, author, and French philosopher of the 1500’s. Recent studies prove it that worry is worthless. To let go of worry means improved health and longevity. But Jesus knew that thousands of years ago.

He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” [Matthew 6:25-27 NIV]

As far as battles with the enemy, experienced warrior and King David reports, “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart…My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.” Psalm 9:1 and 3-4 NIV]

Worrying about enemies and conflicts ahead? God has it handled. And that includes squash beetles.

Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to a half dozen  anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul – the Power of Forgiveness. Her award-winning book, Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, is available from Amazon.com, her website [http://www.button-to-god.com] and at her speaking engagements.

 

HELP! Plumber? Police? Anyone? by Jo Russell

As the two women searched the plumbing aisle in a home improvement store, their faces were pinched with concern and distress. The middle-aged woman held tight to an elderly woman leaning on a cane.

As a red-vested employee stepped up to them, he asked, “How can I help you?”

“We need to fix the bathtub,” the middle-aged woman stated. “And we can’t afford a plumber.”

She turned to the woman, “Mom, hold onto my arm and stay right with me. Don’t go wandering around.”

“Tell me what’s wrong with it first,” the employee queried. “Is the bathtub cracked and leaking?

“No.”

“Does it drain okay?”

“Sure. It drains a lot. That’s why we can’t take a bath.”

“All the water goes out,” the elderly woman added.

“What kind of plug does it have in the drain? There are three kinds. Here they are.”

“No, that’s not it,” the younger woman explained. “When you look down in the bathtub hole, you see the dirt under the house. And it’s all wet.”

It would take a labyrinth of pipes, connectors, drain and trim parts to fix the bathtub – and a plumber.

“You’ll need to call a plumber.”

“But we told you, we can’t. We don’t have the money. We’re both widows on disability.”

Recently, the employee had remembered a large order from an agency in their area for many building and plumbing materials. He remembered, That organization focuses on helping those in need. Pulling a file, the red-vested employee wrote out a name, phone number and handed it to the younger widow.

As the women left the store, both walked a little taller, knowing that help for them and their bathtub was on the way.

When we’re up against a wall needing help, where can we turn? Plumber, police, fire department, or God? Which call for help brings in one service provide that doesn’t cost money, is available 24-7, is never is stopped by the weather, doesn’t ever lose contact when cell phone service is out, makes it over impassable roads. Who is that?

God. The Lord. Jehovah Jireh. Yahweh.

This is a steadfast promise. “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” [Psalm 121:5-8.]

He even takes care of bathtub problems. Lean on the Lord. Trust in him. See what happens.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]