Skiing Only on the Colorado Slopes! Sticking to a Plan by Jo Russell

“Five feet of snow in 24 hours! Wow!” whistled the motel manager as he checked in a new guest and his family. The five visitors stood glumly in the tiny lobby of the mom-and-pop business.  With the main road as slick as a skating rink and the snow pile between lanes was as high as Paul Bunyon, they couldn’t go any further. The manager added with awe, “That’s never happened in October before.”

A tall teen boy looked around at the Halloween decorations and grumbled, “I guess we’re stuck here. How long before we can get back on the road? We’ve already traveled through two states to get here.”

“Dunno. Where are you headed?”


Dad piped up, “A ski resort. We’ve had reservations for months.”

Another guest stepped forward with his room card smiling at the family. “Well, I just live about 20 miles down the road and can’t get home today.” Roy piped up. “You know—we have ski slopes and a resort hotel not far away. You could go there tomorrow and driving won’t be dangerous. There’s a lot of nothin’ between here and Colorado and the snow here is plenty deep enough for powder skiing.”

“Absolutely not. We’re bound for Colorado. We have reservations for that snow, not this place! Whoever heard of going skiing in…What’s this place called anyway?”

“The White Mountains,” Roy continued. “It’s named that for the snow. You could also go snowshoeing not far from here. There’s a nature conservatory for wetland birds. It’s great!”

“No! Not here in the Red or whatever mountains! Colorado! It’s known for snow and Mother Nature. We have reservations to see all that and more.”

By the next morning after the all-night snowfall, the vehicles only appeared to be soft white bumps in the parking lot. No one could get cars out. So all met for breakfast in the conference room. Most were cheerful. The sun had come out! Roy and the Colorado-bound family talked again over scrambled eggs, fresh pancakes and sausage.

Roy was smiling. “Yay! The road home is open today. Still want to brave the route to Colorado? They haven’t got it completely cleared yet.”

“Yup!” replied the dad, “The only ski slopes and snow we want is in Colorado!”

And after two hours of digging out their van with four pushing it to the main road, the family headed off to the icy horizon with the hope to make Colorado or bust!

Planning adventure is a good start. But part of the adventure includes excursions along the way that God plans for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11]

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways higher than your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:8-9].

Just as from high in the air, we can easily see roads and routes, God’s heavenly outlook and path for us is the best for personal growth, a closer relationship with him and blessings.

And following his way is divinely better than reservations on the ski slopes in Colorado.


[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,]










Ways to Get to the Office and Heaven by Jo Russell

As Paul and Carol pulled up to the entrance booth at a national park, they noticed that the tall ranger in uniform was standing outside the booth. He had been checking a visitor’s trunk before a family drove out of the park.

Ranger Tom turned and smiled at the senior couple as he reached for the door of the small building.

“Locked?! Oh, no! Could you back the car up please?”

Paul eased the car backward and the white-haired ranger mumbled, “There sure are easier ways to get to the office!” He pulled himself into the window like a gymnast starting a routine, followed by his lanky legs. “All better now!”

Paul chuckled. “I hope that doesn’t happen very often.”

“Just the second time this week.”

Ranger Tom smiled, took their pass, handed them a map and waved the couple off as they headed to a beautiful shady picnic area.

Jesus points out that his way is the less traveled path and may even be through a window. But the son of God himself sees into the window of our hearts and the path we have lived including our failures and victories.

The less popular route takes commitment—to God and his commands and his guidance on the spiritual path he wants for us.

In the words of the Son of God, Jesus, he said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

But he will answer, ‘I don’t know where you came from.’”

Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

But he will reply, I don’t know you or where you have come from. Away from me, you evildoers!’”  [Luke 13:24-27]

Jesus was pointing out that following his way is a deliberate choice and not always an easy one.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father, who is in heaven.” [Matthew 7:21]

Jesus instructs further, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Matthew 7:13]

The truth in such harsh, clear words! Is it so hard to get to Heaven? No. Is Heaven so populated only a few residences and spaces are left? No. Will we find all the do-gooders and righteous people we know here and now in Heaven eventually? No. What, then, is keeping many out of Heaven and eternal life?

  • Good intentions not followed in action
  • One’s own agenda above God’s
  • Integrity issues
  • The true condition of the heart

For besides following God’s will and way, each traveler on the path to Heaven needs to constantly evaluate and acknowledge wrongdoing, admit it, and accept God’s forgiveness. This was paid in advance by his son, Jesus Christ.  For without changing from a wrong path and asking for forgiveness, a traveler is veering away from God on a path to destruction.

Constantly adjusting one’s path and aligning it with God’s plan for us is part of the journey. It makes us better people. It’s no different than a chef modifying ingredients in a recipe to make it over-the-top delicious; no different from a builder adjusting  plans for unexpected surprises–like taking out a load-bearing wall and seeing it needs a steel I-beam to support the weight of the structure. It is no different than a quilter or designer making changes to create a better final result.

Like Ranger Tom, your path to God and acting on his will for you may be through a window, but it’s worth it!


[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,]



Guided by God’s Starlight by Jo Russell

When Jolene showed up at the Ranger cabin at 6 for a short guided hike to the observatory in the tall trees, she and her sons had all the right equipment: rugged boots and socks, compass, flashlights, and even a lighted key chain!

But the first thing the smiling ranger told the group was, “You won’t need your flashlights tonight. You can leave them in the Ranger cabin. We’re going to walk in the starlight. It’s a good trail.”

“But..” protested one hiker holding a lamp the power of a streetlight.”

The Ranger challenged him, “You’ll be able to see once your eyes adjust.”

Someone flipped open his phone.

“You don’t need that either”

So all put lights aside and stood with the group in the darkness.

Soon they could distinguish the difference between the shadow of the trees, themselves and the starry sky. The ranger lead them in strong, confident steps up the soft slope. The trail was grey in the darkness, but clearly visible.

During the unique hike in the darkness, one of the hikers spoke with awe when he got to the observatory, “I never would have thought we could find the trail in the dark. But it is there and we can see the way.”

So it is with the ancient path to God. It is older than the rocks along the trail. It has been a clear path with defined boundaries to keep the hikers and us safe. It is lit with soft starlight each day and hour to guide travelers to a quiet place of peace.

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” [Jeremiah 6:16.]

Though the twinkling LED lights, shiny paper and most of the gifts of Christmas are put away, the greatest one remains – the Savior, Jesus Christ. The light along his path is soft and clear, like the stars in the sky that guide us during a nighttime trek. It is a good way.

And  Ranger Christ is the best guide ever.

[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.]