Bell Boys, Valets and Rhubarb by Jo Russell

“Wow! A trip to the city and the school district is putting me up in a nice hotel! And I get to see my friend, Carla! It’s a conference I’m loving already!” teacher Ginny told her coworkers in the teachers’ lounge. She was thrilled.
Vacations had not been the norm during her busy days and years as an educator. Even during summer, she took graduate classes, which often left no time or money for a side trip. But when her rural school district sent her to conferences and paid for lodging in a nice hotel with amenities, it became a luxury event!

When Ginny rounded the corner of the high-rise downtown hotel in her muddy pick-up truck, she wondered where she would be parking. The lane disappeared into the guts of the hotel. But behind her the cars were piling up, luxury models sparkling with wax and clean windows.

I guess none of them live on a dirt road in the country.

A young uniformed man sprinted to her and held out his hand.
She shook it. Hmm. He has a firm handshake.

“Your keys,” he said, “I’ll park your car.”

“I can do that.”

“In this hotel, we do that for you.”

“I’m a good driver, even in tight places, but I guess you guys are, too. But how do I get my truck back?”

“Just come down here and we’ll bring it out for you.”

“Okay, but let me get my suitcase and things first.” With rainy weather on her trip to the city, she had to pack everything inside the cab. Ginny unloaded her gear from the passenger seat, suitcase, ice chest, clothing bag, briefcase, lunch box, and two grocery sacks of rhubarb, their fresh green crinkled leaves on red ribs peeking from the plastic.

She found that a bell boy was piling her bags onto a brass luggage cart. He looked puzzled as he studied the bags of rhubarb.

“Just put them wherever you do for other people,” she told him.
There was an embarrassed silence from the bell boy. “For my friend, Carla,” Ginny explained as she walked beside him to the mirrored elevators. He still held the bags. “She doesn’t have a garden here in the city like I do. Do you grow anything in your yard?”

“No, I buy food at the grocery store.”

“Just hang the bags on those hooks.” The bell boy strung them up where a clothing bag might hang.

“Then I imagine that you don’t have too many guests here who bring garden produce with them to the room.”

“First time ever!”

“Great! A new experience for both of us!”
New experiences. Changes. Surprises. They are part of life. But one thing that is steady, dependable and unites us all is the love from God for us.
In Jesus’ own words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” [John 3:16-17]

And that gift shows how much love and value God puts in all of us—bell boys, valets, rich or poor, country or city folk alike.

[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 and her speaking engagements.]

I Honestly Love You Always! By Jo Russell

As her mother and father danced around the living room in each others’ arms, Shawn sat cross-legged on the sofa, flipping his skateboard while listening to the words in the music.

“I love you, I honestly love you…”

Her mother reached up and touched her dad’s face with a smile on her face. He pulled her closer as the music continued,

“That’s coming from my heart and not my head, I love you, I honestly love you…”

When the song was over, they looked at each other, still smiling.

Shawn wanted to know, “When the song says, ‘I love you,’ does it mean me? Somebody loves me?”

His mom smiled and explained, “The writer of the song was thinking of someone they love. But the song goes out for all the people in love to enjoy.”

“I’m not in love. And how do I know anybody loves me? I don’t get the biggest pile of valentines in class.”

“You don’t have to. We love you!”

“Yeah, okay.”

“But bigger and better than that is that God loves you! He made you as a one-of-a-kind boy. That makes you really special! Even though you’re not in love yet, God honestly loves you every minute and every day of your life! That’s better than all the valentines in the school!”


For those not “in love” dancing around the living room, or those who have lost or never found their true love, Valentine’s Day can bring the question, “How do I know anybody loves me?”

Someone has always known and loved Shawn even before he was born. That love is for you, too. The source: your maker, your creator, the King of all Kings: God.

In John’s words, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! [1 John 3:1.]

Our divine creator offers Shawn and you the best valentine ever: love that spans the ages and generations. God loves you, he honestly loves you!

[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 and her speaking engagements. [Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website,]







Love Shining Through Rush Hour By Jo Russell

Though Paul and Carol had just settled into their hotel and took a breath, shaking the rain out of their hair and clothes. It had been a long drive to the city through rain, sleet, and snow. Paul felt like a modern-day Pony Express rider. He was ready to kick-back and see what was on TV.

But Carol waved a computer print-out in front of Paul, “We can make it to the shoe store and go out for dinner at the same time! They have a pair like none of the others I have.”

He looked at Carol with love in his eyes. Anyone who already has seventy-five pairs of shoes doesn’t need another. But he wasn’t going to say it. “Okay,” he smiled, “because I love you.”

As a country resident of wide open spaces, senior Paul was not used to driving in the city. One right turn later, he realized they were in rush hour traffic on a one-way street! The GPS told him to turn left. Impossible. Right. Sure death. U-Turn. Not allowed. After twenty-six  “recalculating” warnings,  a tour of the city and residential neighborhoods sparkling with Christmas lights as well as an overview of the street layout, Paul reminded himself he was doing this for Carol. The after-work traffic had thinned out and the GPS directed him to a building so high it blocked the moon and stars. “Arriving at address…” the robotic voice volunteered.

“Huh?” Paul gaped at the skyscraper.

Fifteen floors up, Carol and Paul made it to the shoe store before it closed and Carol found her new pair of shoes.  Carol smiled at her husband, “Thank you, Paul. You’ve shown me again what love looks like!”

The lasting look of love is not in passionate kisses or words. It is actions involving the heart, mind, and body. Paul had demonstrated this taking on traffic in an unfamiliar city for the love of his life. Action says it all.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” [1 John 3:18]

John continues within this New Testament book, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for ou sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” [1 John 4:7-12]

Though frustration, traffic, and daily life, let your love shine on others. For God’s love fills you to overflowing. Sometimes that may include another pair of shoes! His love in action continues each day of your life! God loves you!


[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 and her speaking engagements. [Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website,]






Loving God and Others

While Jolene was getting ready for her next week in the classroom, she left her seven-year-old sons Trevor and Rick at home close by. They stayed busy for hours with their newest project in the living room—a camouflage tent or a giant spider web—as long as the yarn held out.

“Look at this! We’ve got a whole basket to use!” they decided.

In the rural area far from town, the boys and the other teacher’s family were the only ones on the school ground on weekends when the families didn’t travel into town.

When Jolene came home from the classroom, she faced a labyrinth of her yarn from the ceiling to the walls woven and tied like a spider web stretching from one end of the room to another. Any knitter would have been able to make three long-sleeved sweaters from their raw materials.

“What is this?” Jolene wanted to know.

“It’s to keep Mattie out. She’s a pest and comes over about six times a day. No girls allowed! We don’t like them!”

Jolene choked down her laughter. That will change. “Now, boys. Mattie is your neighbor and the only other kid to play with for miles around. Besides, doesn’t Jesus tell us we are to love others?”

“Yeah,” the twins answered together.

“Scaring her away on a Saturday when the three of you have the whole weekend to play doesn’t sound like love to me. She gets lonely, too. You have each other. She’s the only child in her family.”

Just then, the doorbell rang.

Trevor answered the door without enthusiasm. He wasn’t excited to see his neighbor. “Oh, hi, Mattie.”

The smiling blonde batted her blue eyes at her playmate. “What a cool thing you’ve built here! What is it?” She leaned in to admire their work.

Each of the boys stood a little taller. “It’s a camouflage tent. But no girls…”

From the kitchen, with a loud cough, Jolene reminded them of their discussion of love.

Trevor finished, “…have ever been in it before.”

“I have an idea!” Mattie suggested. “What if we have a tea party inside? I can bring my tea set.”

“That sounds sissy to me,” grumbled Rick in a low voice.

“But we can have a camping party instead,” Trevor suggested. “You know, hot cocoa…and ah… cinnamon toast! Yum! Mattie, my brother can show you how to make the toast, can’t you, Rick?”

“I guess.”

But the boys’ love and hospitality bloomed during the project and all three had fun together.

God is about love. His love is the beginning and it’s for always.

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” [1 John 4:19-20]

All need love to survive physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even scientists agree. Showing and telling someone you genuinely love them is as important to nurturing relationships as food, shelter, water and air.

Babies thrive with love and cuddling. Men and wives need to show in actions and tell each other often how much they love each other. Love and positive appreciation for growing children makes the difference between their soaring and just scuttling along.

God’s love is more than just the average dose. It’s huge, boundless and beyond the limits of anyone’s imagination. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”  [Ephesians 3:17-18]

Have we thanked God for this gift of love? Have we thanked him for Christ? Have we told him how much we love him?

Along with praise and thanks in our prayers, can we tell God and Jesus how much we love them?

Loving God and others can begin with the words “I love you.” Add a camouflage tent made of enough yarn for three sweaters, showing love to a neighbor and you’ve got it all!

[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, her speaking engagements and website, She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]