Counting the Cost by Jo Russell

Sherry approached her customer with a smile who was scanning the rainbow of colors in the spray paint section. Sherry tied on her work apron as she commented, “Beautiful choices, aren’t they? What project are you working on?”

“I’m changing the color of my outdoor chairs,” Customer Dottie told her. “It’s just a matter of what shade to pick.” After a time, the customer held up a can of aqua spray paint that would transform everything from rubber duckies to fire engines to a stunning new color.

“Wow!” Sherry responded appreciatively. “ That’s gorgeous! How big is your patio set you’re painting?”

“It’s a table and six chairs.”

“You’ll need about seven cans of spray to change the color and paint it evenly.”

“No, I’ll just take one. I want to try it and see how it looks,” Dottie decided.

One can of spray paint didn’t go far, especially when the wind came up.  Dottie succeeded in painting her sandal-clad feet, legs, plus the seat and three legs of one chair.  My granddaughter could have done better Dottie thought as she headed back to the store for paint thinner for her aqua-colored feet and more spray paint for chairs.  This time, she bought seven cans.   

Another  DIY (do-it-yourself) color enthusiast was painting the outside of her house before the weather got cold.  She had picked the color and asked Sherry to mix up the soft butter yellow paint.

“How big is your house? We can figure out how many gallons you need from the size.”

“It’s four bedrooms, two baths and a half bath.”

Sherry helped her figure the square footage and needs, “You’ll need six gallons of the base color. How about the trim? What color do you want for that?”

“Oh, I’m not doing the trim right now, and I’ll just have you mix up a gallon. I want to try it out and see how it looks.”

The one gallon painted two outside walls of the garage. The soft yellow over the dark gray house stood out like an elephant wearing bunny slippers in the middle of a shopping mall.

Neighbors couldn’t help but notice. The homeowners association even left her a note.

Did either of these DIY dreamers count the cost of their color transformation?

Jesus teaches about cost from examples all builders and DIY painters all understand.  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” [Luke 14:28-30]

Jesus examples point to the cost of following him. Giving one’s all in spirit and mind; loving God and following his commands; becoming willing to follow his nudges in all areas of our lives and relationships—even before family.

The Cowboy  10 Commandments summarizes it this way: “Put nothin’ before God.”

What level of commitment to Jesus’ way do you have right now? Where do you want to be? Count the cost. Recommit to the God of creation everything that you are and where he takes you.

Ahead is a life of trust, faith, and DIY projects.  Only God helps you along the way. He never leaves you short of paint, either.

[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 and e-books are sold.  Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now released on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marnie’s Maid and Cook When Rich and Famous by Jo Russell

As Marnie’s mother worked in the kitchen, she called out, “Marnie! Come in the kitchen and I’ll teach you how to make a southwestern meat loaf.”

“No, thanks,” the teen responded. So far, her mom was the Kitchen Fairy, responsible for great food and service. ”I’ve already got a scholarship. I hate to cook. I’m going to be rich and famous, hire a maid and a cook, so I don’t need to know how to do that.”

Marnie didn’t understand why her mother smirked just then. “You think so? Hmm.” After a long pause, Mom added, “You still have to eat between now and then. Could you put together fruit bowls as our dessert. It’s easy.”

“I guess. What do I have to do first?”

“Open a can. Drain the extra juice. Sprinkle nuts from a package on top.”

“Opening cans and packages. I can do that.”

Numerous times during her growing-up years, Marnie’s mother attempted to persuade her to learn to cook. But Marnie’s commitment stayed with cans and packages as she continued to respond, “I’m going to be rich and famous and I don’t need to know that.”

God smirked and took over then. For who stays the same after the teen years? Maturity and growth are a better result.

Marnie found herself having to budget, do her own shopping, wash up dirty dishes and figure out easy meals. Later, her work took her to places far from any grocery store and deli. She had to learn to cook. After becoming a mom herself, Marnie struggled to feed her ever-hungry sons. She learned to bake, cook and create money-stretching recipes—a few her own.

As she turned out a trio of golden brown multi-grain breads that her neighbor taught her to bake, she thought, This could be a little bit fun.

Decades later, she still had the talent, but neglected to hire a cook or maid yet. With more money and time for fiddling with food, Marnie took cooking lessons. She found that she enjoyed it—creating mouth-watering meals and plating the food so it looked as well as tasted like fancy fare from a top sous chef as well as sharing the food with friends. That, she learned, had more wow power than a cook or a maid.

She bought a few kitchen gadgets. She sought out spice blends in the grocery store. What’s happening to me? I hated to cook.  

In James’ time, hardship and extra duties produced much growth within followers of Christ.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” [James 1:2-4]

What had happened to Marnie was God’s touch. He smirked and followed through laying out circumstances and challenges to mature and change Marnie for the better.

Besides using her talent, God worked to make her well-rounded and useful to others. That turned out to be better than being rich, famous and having the means to hire a maid and a cook!

[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.]

 

 

 

 

Treasure in Scratched, Nicked and Marred! by Jo Russell

“The movers will be here tomorrow to pack and load our family’s stuff, Jamey, so get your toys together. We need to do everything ahead of time to help because Dad has to be at work getting ready for his new job.”

“How do you want me to help?” the seven-year-old wanted to know.

“Maybe you could put the toys in the toy box and the dolls in the cradle.

“Okay.”

When the movers showed up with a truck that looked to Jamey about as big as the living room, the girl was astonished.

But the two men weren’t. One popped gum as he twirled a pen over a clipboard. Both wore dark baseball caps pulled low over their foreheads. This was everyday stuff for them.

They started in the bedrooms, with one recording the items as they both packed up.

“One doll cradle, scratched, nicked and marred, full of worn-out dolls.”

Jamey felt offended. Well-loved dolls.

“One twin bed with wooden headboard and foot board. Scratched, nicked and marred.”

Every piece of furniture in every room she could heard them calling out, “Scratched, nicked and marred! Scratched, nicked and marred! One set of bunk beds, scratched, nicked and marred.”

When the movers got to the dining room, Jamey expected another tune. For the old oak table was surrounded by new chairs. She expected them to have respect for the pieces.  After all, her mother had bought them one at a time one a month since summer.

But as they lifted the newest edition, one called out, “Solid maple captain’s chair, scratched nicked and marred!”

Jamey ran to her mom to ask, “Mom, doesn’t ‘scratched, nicked and marred’ mean ‘crummy?’”

“Maybe. Who’s asking?’

“The movers. They even called your newest chair ‘scratched, nicked and marred!’”

“Well, the stuff has been used a lot.”

“Whoa! That means the movers think our whole house and all our stuff is crummy!”

Jesus has a different take on “Scratched, nicked and marred.” He didn’t choose the rich, famous, community movers and shakers, or those in high places for his work. Just the opposite. When he started his ministry, he chose fishermen from one of more than two dozen fishing villages along the Sea of Galilee. Though their profession gave them plenty of practice with hard, physical labor, entrepreneurship, and rotating shifts through all kinds of weather, they were simple men with simple lives. With their base of experience, no one would have expected them to do anything else.

But Jesus did. He planned for them to teach and speak about the Son of God as Messiah, his miracles, and God’s teachings. “’Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” [Matthew 4:19-20]

God has a job for everyone who follows him, including the scratched, nicked and marred. Never are we crummy. Scratched, nicked and marred? Why, God counts it a sign of character and worth!

[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.]

 

 

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?”

“Colorado.”

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 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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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.]

 

 

Doorbells and Back-up Plans by Jo Russell

“I tried to ring your doorbell, but it didn’t seem to be working,” the neighbor commented when Marilee opened the door, letting the late afternoon sun light up the entry. The neighbor continued, “I brought you fresh squash and tomatoes. But the doorbell, I thought I saw the electrician’s van here a few days ago. Didn’t he fix that, too?”

“Nope. He couldn’t. He said he’d have to tear out the wall to find the trouble in this old house, and it was easier to have a back-up plan. The electrician gave me some ideas, but instead my back-up plan never fails.” Marilee explained, “Every afternoon when the sun shines on it, the doorbell stops working.  An old house is worth it, even with its quirks. I knew you were at the door.”

“What? How?”

“My little doggie in the window.  See that table in front of the picture window? That’s Boots’ special place.”

The curly black dog wiggled and smiled for the neighbor and gave her owner a bark. It was time for Marilee to pay the dog in jerky treats.

“It’s a win-win situation. Cheaper for treats than the electrician tearing out a wall, better looking than a battery-operated add-on, louder than a bell, and Boots never fails to let me know someone’s at the door—even when the doorbell is working!”

Even more reliable than Boots as one who watches over our lives is God. Even when it seems that our life only seems to work part of the time, God is there 24-7.

Written by David, whose teen and young adult life was full of serious ups and downs, he pens these words that we can still count on today: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever.”

[Psalm 7-8 NIV]

Whether the trouble is as serious as life-threatening situations or as seemingly small as a non-working doorbell in the afternoons, God and his care are there for you always. His love and back-up plan are even better than having Boots on the lookout.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handling Change with a Smile by Jo Russell

Jeannie laughed out loud in the waiting room when she read the headlines on the front page of her small-town  newspaper: “Caution! New Stoplight on Main Street!”

So? I’ve seen it, but it’s not working. How desperate are they for articles that the paper would feature a stoplight as a news item?

She chortled and choked until residents sitting around her stared.
Jeannie was still smiling as she drove back home through the new stoplight. As if she were on auto-pilot, the long-time resident passed through the intersection – and right through the now-working red light!

When it came to changes in her life like the stoplight, Jeannie had been a creature of habit. Could she change or is she a hopeless case? Is her future carved in granite?

Not to God.  His plan for all of us is full of potential, growth, even adventure!

Think on this scene at the Sea of Galilee when Jesus spotted two brothers who were professional fishermen.

“‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once, they left their nets and followed him.” [Matthew 4:18-20]

From there, he saw James and John, sons of Zebedee, drawing in their nets and he called them as well to become fishers of men.

Did they know how to do it? Did education or experience pre-qualify them as disciples of Jesus? No. These men often worked in solitude and may never have addressed crowds. They learned hands-on. Could they teach? Jesus taught them an entirely different profession. These fishermen, with God’s help, changed the world.

The next time change or an opportunity comes your way, welcome it! God has something better in mind for 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 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.]

 

 

Order from Chaos: God’s Plan by Jo Russell

“Go ahead and watch a Christmas movie. I’m going to fold the clothes from the dryer,” Paul offered.

Carol was stunned. Not only had her husband offered to do a job she hated, but he was tackling  it with a smile. But she wondered. Does it take that much time to fold clothes?  “Isn’t that just one load? It shouldn’t take much time.”

“I’ll join you when I get done. I’ll even put your clothes away.”

That’s a pretty unusual offer from a CPA, she thought.

By the time the movie was winding down to the end, Mr. Organized returned. Paul had always folded his undershirts carefully enough to display at a department store sale rack. They would have fit inside the original packaging if he had saved it. But he finished with those and started taming other chaos: Carol’s.

Carol hung up casual clothes for the gym only if they didn’t wrinkle when wadded up in the drawer. Eventually, every drawer became a jumble with surprises around the edges.

“Where’s your sock drawer?” Paul wanted to know.

“It’s either the second or the third one down. You can’t miss it.”

Later, when she opened her sock drawer, she laughed out loud. Instead mounds of socks resembling foothills, Paul had paired the socks and in tidy rows aligned exactly east and west.  There were no mounds or surprises left. Everything was organized.

The Bible states that man is made in God’s image: [Genesis 1:27]. Even at that point in creation, God had demonstrated his creativity, spiritual nature, intelligence, moral expectations, as well as organizational skills. He didn’t start with a sock drawer, or even a sock. He began with nothing.

After Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden because of their sin, God planned to give humans a second chance to follow the way to heaven through his son, to be named Jesus. God was organized and knew just when it should happen. He didn’t manufacture a goal sheet or use a Gantt chart for achieving his plan at the right time. God began through the prophets hundreds of years before Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world.

Isaiah’s news was about 700 years before Jesus’ birth: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” [Isaiah 9:6b-7]

And God’s organized plan for giving us forgiveness and a new beginning through Jesus is longer lasting than a CPA’s. For the invitation to accept Jesus stands for everyone for all time.

That forever gift is even better than Paul organizing Carol’s sock drawer in perfect east to west order.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

Will You Be Fishers of Men? by Jo Russell

Pastor had just returned from a fishing vacation and called the children forward for their special lesson. He scanned the crowd sitting around him and held a yard stick over his head.

When he had the children’s attention, he asked, “What would it take to catch a fish this big?” He added, “My brother caught a Northern pike that was even bigger than this. What would I need to land a fish like that?”

Among the small ones, some proved to be experienced anglers:

“Yummy bait.”

“For sure,” he agreed.

“A fishing pole.”

“Yep, that, too.”

“A fishing chair.”

“That would be good.”

“A tackle box.”

“Absolutely. You’ve got to keep your fishing gear in order. Anything else I need to catch a fish this big?”

One novice pint-sized angler cried out, “Nine minutes!”

The pastor stammered, “Well, when I….” and he may have started coughing–or was he laughing?

“Nine minutes!” she insisted. “Can I have a candy now?”

In any crowd, whether anglers, hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, there is a vast range of experience.

But it doesn’t matter to God, for he looks on the inside. No previous experience is necessary when he chooses you.

‘“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  [Matthew 4:19 NIV].

He was addressing Peter and Simon, both professional fishermen. The two “sons of Zebedee” James and John had a successful enough fishing business that they managed a staff of employees. Matthew was a tax collector, which was viewed in the same light as outlaws in the Old West. All who left their professions to join Jesus learned to lean on God for their needs, and he never failed them.

Though some of the original 12 had made their livelihood fishing, none were experienced as  fishers of men who pointed the way to Jesus and Heaven. However, Jesus trained them and enhanced their natural abilities. They gained boldness to tell about miracles, the Messiah and the son of God.

He does the same for us, stretching and expanding what we can do. The answer is “Yes, I can!”  Focusing on the positive, we each have a part and a gift to share. It’s not based on memorizing Bible verses and being able to spout them off.

It’s about our lives as the most powerful witness – and sharing what difference God has made in our lives.

Though it will likely take more than nine minutes, you will truly be a fisher of men and have a record catch that will make God smile.

[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.]

 

Favorite Day of the Week By Jo Russell

Miss Johnson had worked hard with her rural kindergarten students on exit skills. Though far from the sophistication of big city schools, the kindergarten/first grade children – five in all — did well.

The youngsters mastered their numbers to 100. They could count by twos, fives, and tens to 100. They could rattle off the months of the year in order. They used capital and small letters correctly in sentences. Now Miss Johnson was testing the kindergarten students’ skills in the days of the week in order.

“Boys and girls,” Miss Johnson began to her small group. “I want to hear how well you know the days of the week. Then you can tell about your favorite day and why you like it.”

Susie told the class she liked Saturday because she could play with the other ranch kids nearby. Carlie liked Fridays because her family went into town on the weekend to see uncles, aunts, and cousins. Eugenia liked Sundays because her mother curled her hair and the family went to church together.

When Miss Johnson was sure each of the twins mastered their days of the week in order, she noticed by their wiggles they could hardly wait their turn to share their favorite day of the week.

But when it was time for the twin boy students to answer, they didn’t name anything Monday through Sunday.

Together they answered, “Payday!”

“It’s better than any day of the week!” one twin added. Payday meant allowance, a trek to Grandma’s in town, and the toy store.

Just as the twin boys’ answer was a surprise to Miss Johnson, so God’s answers often come in an entirely different way. We may feel puzzled. Walking with the Lord shows us the way on His off-the-beaten path. We could feel lost at times. But He knows the destination. We may feel we are smart and have the answers ahead. But His wisdom spans time from the beginning through the end.

The Bible sums it up in these verses: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” [NIV: Proverbs 3:5-7]

The trek from Earth to Heaven is founded in His ways, His path, and His understanding. And trusting him provides mastery of the exit skills from Earth to Heaven.

[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.]