Words and Actions Work Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly By Jo Russell

As teen Laura Jeane and her younger sibling, Betty, cleared dinner dishes at their home after a meal for more than ten, Mama swiped a strand of hair from her forehead wet with sweat and sweetly asked the girls, “Could you two please wash the dishes tonight?”

A large dinner with extra guests like this was common for the family of five who ran a hotel. But back in the days before automatic dishwashers, the chore meant much soap, time, commitment, and hot water.

Sixteen-year-old Betty smiled and replied, “Of course, Mama! You’ve worked hard on this meal. I’ll be glad to help. But I need to make a phone call first.” An hour later, Betty was still giggling on the phone with her significant other.

Dishes seemed unimportant compared to, “And what do you want me to wear for the anniversary of our first date?” she queried. “Oooo. I can hardly wait!  You’re bringing a corsage, too?! Gee whiz! That’s swell!”

In spite of her great smile and promise, Betty never made it to the suds in the kitchen.

Laura Jeane did. She scrubbed the plates so hard, she nearly demolished the delicate design. Then slamming the clean plates on the counter, she groused aloud, “Just because I’m the oldest, I get stuck with chores to do by myself. It’s not fair! When will Betty get in here and help me?”

Betty was a total no-show. Though Laura Jeane finished cleaning the dishes and the kitchen as well, the teen verbalized a non-stop string of complaints about child labor, oppression, dictatorship, and unpaid overtime.

Her mother heard every word even as she reminded her daughter, “Remember, Dear, a smile goes a long way. Words and actions go together like peanut butter and jelly.” She couldn’t decide whose words and actions made her more angry.

Which of her teens’ actions was closer to what Mama wanted–promising but not doing or doing and complaining the entire time?

What is God’s take on this?

Jesus himself has the answer in this story in the book of Matthew, “There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

‘I will not,’ he answered, but later changed his mind and went.

Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

Which of the two did what his father wanted?” [Matthew 21:31]

Jesus explained that saying one will obey [God’s will] and not doing it is a mismatch between words and action. It was common in Jesus’ time and can be today as well.

Does keeping one’s promise count even count today?

King David advises, “Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them.” Psalm 76:ll.

Jesus shined with integrity and boldness. He always kept his word and promises, even in giving his life as a sacrifice.

The responsibility of saying we will do God’s will and just going through the motions doesn’t fool the Creator. He can always see the truth in our hearts. Words and action go together like peanut butter and jelly, like hamburgers and fries, like socks and shoes—even like a dishrag and soap.

When Laura Jeane washed the next mountain of dishes at the hotel another day, she had the help of her sweetie, Gus, who reminded her, “You meet the nicest people doing dishes, and you’re one of them.” And theirs turned into an even better match than peanut butter and jelly.

[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.]

 

 

 

Words Carved in Granite By Jo Russell

Words carved in granite on monuments are thicker in Washington D.C. than souvenir kiosks, Roberta concluded. Visiting America’s capital for the first time, she noted that tourists reading quotes seemed immobilized in awe. The quotations were inspiring, patriotic, and wise.

The carved words included America’s first president George Washington as he left this thought, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.”

Former President Dwight Eisenhower wrote, “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”

Thomas Jefferson stated, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

General Douglas MacArthur was known for this: “Duty. Honor. Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt fueled America’s hope during the Great Depression with, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke this about character, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Words from everyday life fall flat by comparison.

It caused Roberta to wonder, “If every American had some of their words carved in granite, what wisdom would they choose to share?” What about her pearls of wisdom remembered by her offspring? Would they generate more inspiration and buzz than an energy drink? She doubted it. To her teens, she had said, “Any more raids on the secret grocery stash and you’ll eat pancakes every meal until payday. I’d kill for olives about now.”

Immortalized in print, the late journalist Erma Bombeck, stated, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”

“Never have more children than you have car windows.”

To her offspring, “I told you the tooth fairy is writing checks because computerized billing is easier for the IRS.”

“I’ve exercised with women so thin that buzzards followed them to their cars.”

Roberta rethought her own quotes. Had they inspired, brought out patriotism and showed wisdom?

“If you don’t wash your ears, you’ll have a plant start growing out of it.”

“If you’re too busy to clean your room, you’re too busy to need an allowance.”

“Another day. Another dent. Logs don’t jump up and hit cars. Give back the car keys.”

Roberta reflected on the things she did right, too. George Washington inspired a foundation for a government as well as a family unit in these words, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”

Roberta had been governing her family with God and the Bible—teaching a spiritual and moral foundation. Close to her heart, Roberta believed this verse “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26. Roberta had raised her children in the way they should go.

The entire family knew and believed these words of the familiar 1860 hymn that begins “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

Those simple words of faith are worth carving in granite. They are the words that inspire and show wisdom for all time. Jesus loves you. Do you know? Yes, the Bible tells you so.

[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.]

 

 

 

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 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.]   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. [http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL32492.pdf]  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 Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com, check her website options to enjoy chuckles, tips, excerpts and speeches.]   

 

 

 

 

 

How the Tarantula Tarantella Honors the Creator By Jo Russell

Summertime celebrations can be hot. When the air conditioning is on full blast in a tent, it does not help much, especially in a remote area on the prickly desert floor. In tent terms, that meant all the screened picture windows, doors and skylight were unzipped to the moonlight. Dark outcroppings of bare rock still radiated the heat of the day. Roberta’s thighs were glued together with sweat. Late as it had been, she heard her sons softly breathing. While they were catching zzzzzs, she couldn’t sleep. It was going to be a loooong night! The woman sat up and sighed.

Nearly as bright as sunup with a full moon, the land sparkled like mica. Roberta  peered through the screened window, appreciating the quiet sounds of a peaceful night. A very small breeze touched the desert creosote bushes and the mesquite trees.

As she listened and watched, Roberta noticed a score of dark shapes each about the size of a fist crawl to center stage.  Looking more closely, she saw the shapes had legs. They were giant tarantula spiders, tuning up like an orchestra before a performance. Then they began to dance in the moonlight like a troupe of professional folk dance performers! First, to the right, then to the left, turn around, strut and then kick up their legs! Though she learned later dancing is normal courtship behavior for the male spiders, she thought on the tarantulas doing the tarantella as a way to honor their Creator and their women!

Though these creatures may not be our favorite pets, they are good in God’s eyes. So are we.  

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.: Genesis 1:25 [NIV]

Every day, we have to make a commitment to dedicate our minds, bodies and spirits to honor the Creator. Our actions truly reflect what is inside.

How will you honor God today?

[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.]   

 

 

Mothers Change the World with Love, God and Cookies By Jo Russell

From the baking smells that flowed into the chapel, there was no guesswork in why the visitors dreamed of chocolate chip cookies instead of listening to the clergyman at the podium. The children’s class, headed up by teacher and mom Jan, had baked dozens of cookies for Mother’s Day. Jan stood guard over the warm sweets.

One deacon complained, “I tried to sneak some cookies, but Jan stood at the kitchen door with a knife in her hand!”

When it comes to influencing children and plying them with food, mothers have the market cornered. Grandma Brenda showed up to be construction supervisor over her grandsons, who had staged a sit-down strike. Work started up again as soon as the teens saw the praline-filled cookies tucked under her arm. She needed no other tools.

When Rene and her sons returned home from a three-day camp-out, one teen announced, “I don’t need a shower and you can’t make me take one.”
“That’s too bad,” she countered, “Because there are fifteen pieces of hot French toast and you won’t be eating any of them.” She heard him running the shower right away.

Food and moms are blended together like bread and butter. In Proverbs 31: “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family….” [Proverbs 31: 14-15] NIV. She may also be up late making lunches or prepping a meal for the next day.

But Moms do much more than ply the generations with food. They teach. They model. They shape the future. Paul writes of Timothy, chosen as a pastor, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” [2 Timothy 1:15] NIV. From wise King Solomon, “Listen my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” [Proverbs 1:8] NIV.

Mothers that you and I know have altered the future with love, God, and cookies. That’s just the way God planned it should be.

Honor the women in your life with words and actions that give them a high-five of appreciation. Each deserves it.

[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, available from her website and Amazon. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog. Remember the free e-book download of Which Button on Amazon today for Mother’s Day!]

Teamwork is the Answer ~ What is the Question? By Jo Russell

Seven-year-old twins Trey and Josh proved that most of the time, two heads are better than one. They worked together finishing each other’s sentences, sharing their allowance, and dividing the chores.

Saturday’s chore was to vacuum. With both boys determined to do a good job, they plotted their strategy for the living room. But older sister Cindy was laying on the rug with her long hair spread out like a fan.

“Move, please,” Trey asked nicely.

“You can’t make me,” the girl grinned at her brother. “I’m staying right here.”  With Mom and Dad on a quick errand to the nearby grocery store, the children had to handle things their own way.    

“Okey-dokey.”

The twins split up the vacuuming. Josh tackled the edges of the room and around the furniture. Trey took over in the center and the space around his sister.

Soon her screams reached neighbors for a country mile! The first neighbor pulled open the door and rushed to Cindy. As tightly as if her locks were wound up for a perm, the girl’s long hair was tangled around the vacuum brush.

Teamwork proved to be the solution to Cindy’s freedom. The twins and several neighbors worked together with tools and patience to free Cindy’s locks without scissors. The girl learned a new respect for vacuums after that – and her brothers.   

King Solomon praises teamwork for its obvious value. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up….Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” [Ecclesiastes 4:9-12] NIV.  

With the support of a team or good friends, it is easier to stand strong. Teamwork has been a winning strategy in business, sports, and education for centuries. Just some of the benefits include better ideas, higher quality work, and bonding between members.

Apostle Paul writes, “Now the body is not made up of one part, but of many.” [1 Corinthians 12:14] NIV.  As he explains that each part makes up the body and cannot represent the whole by itself, he illustrates working in harmony.  

When we, the members, work together, we become the body of the church with feet, hands, heart, ears, eyes, and amazing capabilities. With each person fusing strengths and weaknesses with others in a group, the team is able to divide up the work. No one feels overwhelmed. It’s a win-win result. 

A team member and neighbor knew how to remove the roller brush to untangle Cindy’s hair.

The Teamwork Challenge applies to all of us: work together!  It’s God’s answer to life’s most persistent questions.

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Money Maul and Other Fun Games By Jo Russell

“It’s about time the kids learn about money,” Chrissie decided while looking in on her sleeping toddlers. As a first-time mother, she was wild with excitement when they had graduated from diapers forever. Now they could now walk and talk. Recently, the preschoolers had graduated from cribs to regular beds. Her sons were even learning to help at home. “Now it’s time for them to learn about an allowance and about handling money!” she decided.

“You get money for helping,” Chrissie explained as they put away their toys, dropped clothes in the hamper and helped smooth out their bedding.

The young mother made a special trip to the bank for their first payroll–one hundred new pennies each totaling four wrapped packages.

Chrissie sat on the bed with her sons and a couple of piggy banks. First, she showed them how to count out ten pennies from each dollar that they would give to God. “You put this in the basket at church. The rest is yours,” she said “Dad, Momma, and Grandma buy you toys and food and clothes. Now you can buy something, too.”

She showed them how to drop the coins in the piggy banks. With each clink of the coins, her sons giggled. It was better than a toy!

“You can buy ice cream or a toy or do whatever you want with it. You understand? Okay? ”

They nodded.

But that afternoon Chrissie opened the door to a surprise after her sons’ nap. The boys took her for her word when she said they could do anything they wanted with their money. The shiny pennies were everywhere – stuck inside the pillow cases, glittering in the toy box, slam-dunked under the bed, and speckling the floor like confetti.

If money could talk, it would confess that toddler’s penny-shooting battle ended in a draw – and disorder.

God thinks that money is important enough that there are over 2,000 verses connected with it in the Bible. The advice connected with money, blessings, possessions, and wealth revisits a recurring theme of trust in God from the time of Moses.

“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9 [NIV].

The modern application may not involve grapes, olives, or wheat, but instead good health, relationships, manageable bills, paychecks, deposits, savings, bonuses, retirement plans, capital gains, or earned interest income. Will God bless you today as you trust him and honor him first with your tithe and attention?

I wondered if that really worked when I first tried it three decades ago. Ever since, I’ve been watching in awe how God met every physical need and bill when raising my twin sons from diaper-clad newborns to strapping six-footers as a single mom without financial help.

Through the years, I knew God took me through the uncertainties of parenting, health, and career challenges. He always came through. Even though my own uncertainties are slightly different now, God hasn’t changed. Nor has the sage advice of money-handling in the Bible. First, tithe, and second, stay out of debt.

A friend asked, “What’s the difference between a family living on welfare and one living entirely on credit? Solomon points out the common thread between the rich and poor is that God created them both. [Proverbs 22:2] Is someone living entirely on credit rich or wise?

Interesting that King Solomon asked God for wisdom, not wealth, when he took the throne in 970 B.C. Yet he was known for his wisdom, wealth, and wives. He attributes wisdom and his relationship with God of the highest value. “For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”[Proverbs 2:6] So wisdom with money is essential.

Dave Ramsey paraphrases Proverbs 22:7 often as he restates, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” Well-known financial guru on today’s scene, Ramsey is author, radio show host, and founder of the Financial Peace University. [DaveRamsey.com] He says he has helped more in America get out of debt than anyone else. Ramsey explains he starts with wherever they are. But at the top of every client’s budget plan is their tithe, to be paid first to God — all other bills after that. Does honoring God work? Has it brought blessings?

More than you and I can ever count.

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

When to Celebrate the Savior? Anytime! By Jo Russell

Some say that Jesus wasn’t really born in December, so while parties and celebrations unfold all over the world, celebrating in mid-winter could be what my family would call an “un-birthday party!”

For example, during a boring weekend at the isolated hardship teaching post where I had lived with my school-aged sons, three of us were left by ourselves in the tiny settlement. Nearly everyone else had taken off for town for the weekend. A dust storm was sandpapering us to grit, making the boys and I feel rough and on edge. I wasn’t surprised when my twins suggested, “Mom, how ‘bout you bake a cake and we’ll have an un-birthday party?!”

Now that was something we could do anytime at the drop of a party hat! The boys dragged out a packed tub filled with all the supplies and fun. Just an hour later, we were wearing party hats, shaking noisemakers, singing loudly, and eating cake on birthday plates. We played games inside and laughed much. We celebrated life!

When it comes to Jesus’ birthday celebration, many enjoy the party. Except for Evelyn. She’s a Christian acquaintance who eliminated the holiday entirely from her life, her husband’s and her family’s. No crèche. No cards out or in. No Christmas letters coming or going. No gifts accepted. Even a bowl of pinecones in the house with a ribbon is forbidden. Stems of mistletoe? Absolutely not! What about a sticker that reads, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”? Nope, not that either.

It isn’t that she doesn’t believe in Jesus, the Savior of the world.

“Jesus wasn’t born in December, and it was a pagan holiday that just got converted to a Christian one. It’s not accurate. I OBJECT!” Evelyn finished.

Theologians suggest the shepherds would not have moved the sheep to the hills unless it was hot in the valley, just like in the southern U.S. across California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Consider also how scantily baby Jesus was dressed. So it was probably spring. From my years in the southern U.S. states, spring with moderate temperatures lasts about three days, and then it rises gradually into chili-roasting temperatures. Southern Arizona residents claim there are only two seasons, “summer and hell.”

But does it really matter what time of year Jesus was born?

To Evelyn it did. She kept right on objecting for about an hour. She would sprinkle the conversation with the question, “Don’t you agree?”

No, I couldn’t. She had been spending much of her time at her church trying to get others to cancel Christmas as well. I even heard she’d circulated a petition. Last I heard, no one had signed it–not even her husband.

I interrupted, “So when do you celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world?”

“We don’t.”

“No other time of the year, either?”

“Never.”

I thought back to the silly family un-birthday parties with my sons. We didn’t need a date or a season to celebrate, we just did.

So can you in celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world! Anytime is good! Christmas is good, too! In Isaiah 9:6, the prophet’s words, later used in Handel’s Messiah, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulder, and his name will be called, ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” [KJV]

Now Jesus’s coming and value is worth a party, un-birthday or not!

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Do What? Look for What on the Playground? By Jo Russell

The school secretary punched the speaker phone to answer as she put a second call on

hold, and noticed the small child entering the office. She had to deal with it all. A

parent’s voice came over the speaker.

“Mrs. Ford here. I need to talk to Jason’s teacher. It’s really important.”

“The teacher is busy with her class at this moment. Could I have her call you back? She has a break in about 35 minutes.”

“No, this can’t wait.”

I rarely interrupt our teachers.”

“This is something like an emergency. I have to talk with Jason’s teacher.”

“Can you tell me the nature of the emergency?”

“No, I really must deal with Jason’s teacher herself.”

“Okay, I’ll transfer you to the classroom phone.”

Startled to hear the phone ringing when it wasn’t recess or lunch, the teacher stopped her

lesson. The call had to be important to be transferred during class time.

“Mrs. Ford here. This is an emergency!” she began. “Jason lost one of his gloves on the playground. Could you find it for him?”

To Mrs. Ford, her need for Jason’s glove outweighed children’s learning.

God is the creator and savior of the world, our protector and provider. When we put our urgent prayer requests before Him, how do we sound?

Consider the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11, which begins, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name [calling his name sacred and holy]. A third of the prayer adores God. The rest is about asking for forgiveness and needs, but honoring God receives first place.

Mary, sister of Lazarus, honored Jesus when he came to visit once by bathing his feet with about a quart of expensive oil worth about a year’s wages. Jesus affirmed it was the right thing to do.

John the Baptist honored our Lord when he told the religious leaders, Pharisees and Sadducees, that he would baptize with water for repentance, “…after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” [Matt. 3:11].

How do we honor God when we pray? Let your honor and respect for God begin with Him. Our lost gloves can wait.

[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 and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips; check her entire website options and weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]