Freedom Isn’t Free By Jo Russell

People say it so often and without expecting a response, they could be saying, “Have a good day” or “Thanks for shopping at Wal Mart.”

The phrase, “Freedom isn’t free” shouldn’t have the ho-hum meaning and flavor of already been chewed gum. Such a mindset has to change. Apathy destroys all relationships, including one with God. Let’s also remember and honor our Armed Forces.   

With a war currently in progress and my being in Washington, D.C. for Independence Day, I decided to trade that worn-out sentiment for the power of proof.

Every generation since the Revolutionary War has been touched by the commitment it takes to buy freedom. Just establishing the United States as a separate country cost over 25,000 lives. But think beyond statistics. They had been husbands, fathers, farmers, ancestors, business owners, entrepreneurs, craftsmen, builders, and men with a dream. Other wars have followed, touching every generation

How many of the 58,000 names listed on The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall were men of dreams under 30?  Check the numbers yourself. []  No monuments, medals, plaques or awards will ever bring back to life those who died or those, like my father, who returned from serving in war and was never the same again.

On a memorial in a small Arizona town is the name of a woman who died in the Persian Gulf War. With less than 400 dead, and just a few names on that marble slab, one might speculate, “Big deal.” But the reality struck me in my classroom where I taught the two motherless girls.  

Another for-instance. No post-war picture of my father ever reflected the same spark in his eye or smile as in the pre-war photographs taken before he left his fiancé for a battlefield an ocean away. Sacrificing the precious time when his children were young, my father experienced the consequence – not knowing his children.

When a tall, gaunt man in a pressed green uniform had stepped in the door of our house, my mom exclaimed, “Your dad is home from the war, at last!”  I was about five. When he had held out his arms to me, I did not run into them. Instead, I held tightly to my mother’s legs and wondered who the stranger was – and why he was moving in with us.

As a military professional, Dad’s being home for a long period of time only happened toward the end of his career. He balanced two demanding worlds: a commitment to defend the United States and a desire to protect, guide, and provide for his family – often long distance. My father had proved his bravery in two wars and a full military career, receiving Silver and Bronze Star as well as many other campaign medals. 

Many have made the same promises to the Armed Forces as well as to their families. Consider that freedom isn’t free and think of the other effects for service men and women away from safety, a familiar culture, old friends, home, families, spouses, and children.

All serving or at home can invest and believe this promise: “I call on you, God, for you will answer me…Show me the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.” Psalm 17:6-7.

Truly freedom isn’t free. God bless our Armed Forces. Pray for them. God guide them safe and bring them home — forever and always.   

 [Jo Russell is a Christian author, speaker, contributor to antholgies, articles, and author of 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,, check her website options to enjoy chuckles, tips, excerpts and speeches.]   






The New Meaning For a Lower-Case ‘t’ By Jo Russell

Mrs. Davis was teaching her kindergarten students letters and sounds. As she reviewed the letter of the day, one five-year-old raised his hand and waved it wildly.

“Mrs. Davis! Mrs. Davis! I remember our letter today. It’s ‘t!’ Did you know that Jesus died on a lower-case ‘t’?”

Yes, He did. The boy’s insight touched Mrs. Davis and she felt tears in her eyes.

Think about it. A man walked the earth and proved God’s power. How?

By healing many of diseases that still stump medical researchers today.

By healing the mentally or physically ill, leaving no side effects except joy and wonder!

In  bringing the dead back to life on at least three occasions.

When Jesus healed the mentally or physically ill, there were no side effects except joy and wonder! There was no further need for medical treatment, check-ups, tests, or medicine.

But more important than his miracles and death was His resurrection. Angels at Jesus’ tomb told the women who had arrived first, “He is not here! He is risen!” [Luke 24:6.]  Without a trace, Jesus left the tomb behind to return to Heaven, a whole person–not as a spirit. As son of God, Jesus overcame death—one more proof of his deity.

Jesus said to Martha, sister of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25

Like the people of Jesus’ time, all of us need to determine the answer to this important question: Who is Jesus? Man or God? And who is He to you personally? Man or Savior?

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on]


Grief and Potatoes By Jo Russell

“While the organ peeled potatoes…” the blend of voices included my mom and school-aged twin sons. “Lard was rendered by the choir. As the sexton rang the dish rag, someone set the church on fire!”

My young sons rolled in their beds with laughter. ‘“Holy smokes!’ the preacher cried,” they all continued singing, “in the rain he lost his hair.” More chuckling.

You would never have guessed her age because Jeane, rejuvenated by a purpose, had became the auxiliary parent helping me to raise her twin grandsons. They had been born not long after she had been widowed.

Jeane lived with a sense of humor and advised all to “Exit laughing.” In spite of the grief of losing a husband, grown son and young-adult grandson, she looked for ways to laugh.

In her cookbook for one, for example, Jeane added her quips under the “Empty Nest Advantage:”
“Nobody starves when you skip a meal.”
“Cobwebs no longer make you feel guilty.”
“It is easier to live with muddy footprints on the clean kitchen floor if they are your own.”
“No kayak paddles clobber you whenever you open the closet door.”

She focused on the very things that Paul advised in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you.” [NIV] Jeane would have added, “Whatever is funny….”

My mom counted her blessings, savoring quality time and memories with her grandsons as their three voices bidding good night finished the silly song, “Now his head resembles heaven, for there is no parting there.”

Jeane had modeled the peace that comes from God. She deliberately chose laughter and a good attitude through life’s journey.

What is the best kind of attitude adjustment you can make today?

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on]