Hunting My Own Way or Following Directions? by Jo Russell

“First born! A leader! Why, he’ll catch on and show the rest of the pack how to retrieve birds on a hunt!” Carrie rubbed his soft head and smiled into his brown puppy eyes.  She earmarked the puppy and four of his siblings for “Hunting School.”

But several weeks into the hunting program, she had second thoughts.  On a trip to the lake to practice retrieving birds, Carrie watched Suede and expected him to show the others how it was done. He was fine with birds landing on solid ground.

But in the water? Sure he could swim, but he didn’t want to get his feet wet unless it was necessary.  He demonstrated his own way.

“Suede, retrieve!” But instead of swimming out to the bird, he watched to see where the critter would float to shore in the current. He ran to that destination and planted himself and waited.  Sure enough, the bird would come to him. Easy breezy!

Carrie shook her head. Suede was setting a bad example for the other lab pups.  Carrie decided to sell him as a pet instead of grooming him for hunting. He thought he was too smart to follow instructions.

On the job, Suede’s behavior  would be insubordination. Not listening, not following directions. Dozens of times, the Lord calls his chosen ones “stiff-necked people.” That means, like Suede, they are and were doing their own thing.

But submitting to authority has its place. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. …Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience.” [Romans 13: 1-2; 5.]

That puts a whole different spin on following directions. For which employee, volunteer or leader asserts more of a solid Christian walk to others? One who  thumbs a nose at authority or one who does his or her best each day and submits to authority?  What more will God do with you as one who obeys?

Though Suede will make a fine pet, what more could he do as a hunting dog?

[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,]



When the White Flag of Surrender is a Good Thing By Jo Russell

Bruce left work smiling. “Interesting woman!” he decided. He’d asked the trim, attractive brunette for a date in the great outdoors and she said she would go fishing with him the next weekend. From the first, she had been a mystery to him, working two jobs and showing up for work at the convenience store in nicer clothes than fit the job.

He knew Dee had fled across an ocean and a continent. Why? Bruce didn’t know yet. He only recognized that this bouncy, stunning woman had brought sunshine into his life and work–whether day or night shift. Life was good.

But it wasn’t an hour later that he grabbed the phone at home and Dee announced, “I’m really not into the dating thing. This is really structured. I’m more spontaneous. I just can’t go with you Saturday.”

When he was convinced after much debate she wouldn’t be swayed, he closed the conversation. “But I’m not giving up,” he said aloud to no one in particular. Then he thought of an answer.

When ringing jarred her awake at 3:30 the next Saturday morning, Dee fumbled to find the phone.

“Dave and I are going fishing. We’d like you to come along. We can pick you up in 30 minutes,” Bruce announced. He then added, “Is that spontaneous enough?”

Dee scrambled from bed, got ready for the outdoor adventure in 20 minutes flat.

But conceding to a date did not include surrendering her independence. She thought she would never, ever again throw a white flag into the battle between the sexes.

Once they stopped near the stream, she volunteered, “I’ll carry the ice chest.”

I’ll help you,” Bruce’s friend Dave offered.

“No, I’ll do it myself,” Dee insisted.

A few steps into the stream, tottering with the weight of the cooler, she slipped on the wet rocks.  The white foam ice chest shattered. It was like Abraham’s descendants – pieces that were more numerous than the sands. Bits of the chest bobbed downstream, along with a pint of fishing worms, potato salad, and bagged, seasoned steaks.  The cold sodas were intact, however.  Dee heard coughing on the shore. Both Dave and Bruce were doubled over with their faces turned from her – or were they laughing?

So began the zany, zigzag journey of Bruce and Dee’s courtship. It led to the realization that they  needed each other and God. The Bruce and Dee Team have been happily married more than 20 years now.

Feeling independent and competent? Like Dee, I find that feeling doesn’t last for long. I need God.

It’s not a new idea. Around 500 B.C., God asked the prophet Jeremiah to walk into town for a message. He was to go to the potter’s house, watch and learn. [Jeremiah 18: 1-3] As Jeremiah studied the skilled craftsman working, he saw the process of making a useful vessel isn’t always right the first time. Sometimes a pot is marred and needs to be reshaped. Or sometimes, it needs to be redesigned. A potter pushes it down and begins again with a hunk of clay. And what he or she creates then may be beautiful and perfect for its purpose. It is the same with us and God.

Jeremiah understood. None of us may stand cemented on the pedestal of independence and stay there on our own. We are dependent on God, the Master Potter. We are the clay.

Do you find yourself saying or thinking, “No, I’ll do it myself.”

Isn’t it time to let your Creator help? For what better purpose is trading independence to becoming the remarkable vessel that God makes us to be.

[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, her speaking engagements and  website, Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]



Who is the Boss of Me? By Jo Russell

It’s bound to happen in any family, even the close-knit. “You’re not the boss of me!” The angry words rang out between the ten-year-old twin brothers–red-faced and nearly nose to nose. They had been setting up a sale of their hand-crafted items at an RV park rec hall. Things had been going well. Not now. You could say it was girl trouble.

“Whatcha doing?” a shapely 10-year-old had poked her head inside, her golden curls silhouetted in the sun. She sported a healthy tan, sparkling blue eyes and tidy pastel shorts and shirt.

“I’m Allison. Can I help, too?”  Not much was going on except a lot of giggling.

Months before when the boys learned they would have to earn the money for their own new bicycles, Bruce and Brent had prepared to put on a craft show at this RV resort where their own family would be camping for a week.  

Now the boys bristled at each other competing for small talk with Allison. She looked from one identical twin to the other, coyly flashing her eyes and lowering her eyelashes.

Though it is common in identical twins to share a sentence – one to start and the other to finish, the twins were getting annoyed with each other. Finally, tempers exploded.

“My turn to talk! I was telling her.” Brent quipped.

“She wants to talk to me, not you! Bruce countered.

“You’re not setting that up right. It looks dumb.”

“You’re always trying to be the boss of me! I’m smarter, that’s what!

Still jockeying for who was the boss and whose turn it was to talk to Allison, the twins stopped when their mom, Sylvia, interrupted, and then suggested, “I think Fletcher, needs a walk.”  

It was a win-win situation. For the family pet, a short-legged basset hound with red-rimmed eyes, Fletcher decided there was no such thing as too many walks–nor treats. Bruce took his turn first with Allison, and the canine returned with crumbs of hamburger around his mouth. Next was Brent’s turn and the dog was still chewing up a leftover grilled bratwurst. The third round, manned by Allison alone, Fletcher returned with a dog smile and an oatmeal cookie.

Allison suggested advertising along with dog-walking. “Let’s take Fletcher and go tell everyone about your craft sale. I’ll tell my family first!” One twin at a time and Allison spread the word, and it wasn’t long before the boys and their wares were sold out. Working together, they were winners. But Fletcher, a few pounds heavier and happier, felt like the hands-down champion.  

Who is the boss of you? Start with the question, “Who should be?”

God first. “He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church, he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” [Colossians 1:18. NIV].  

Second are authority figures, some of whom make it tough to enjoy work. “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 [NIV] . That makes sense. If you’re a Christian, what does your behavior at work say about your values?  If a boss finds you hard to handle, how much energy does it take to channel it into the conflict?  If you work with them, you will find a boss has a better attitude and so do you.

As Bruce and Brent grew into adults, they rarely fought between themselves over who was the boss. As adults, they faced many bosses, just as we all have. Some supervisors make it difficult to adjust to  hard task master tactics. We may wonder: “Who’s the boss of me?”  

You couldn’t find a better master than Jesus.

[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, her speaking engagements and  website, Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]