Calling All Canoe Handlers for Help by Jo Russell

Red-faced with anger, twenty-something Marnie, hefted a 16-foot canoe on one shoulder. She stormed past her aunt with the watercraft, headed for the SUV with a roof rack.

While Aunt Geri tried to grab an end of the canoe, she chased her niece across the large lawn, crying out, “Let me help you!” Instead, Marnie shuffled the awkward shape from her shoulder to her head until the rocking red canoe looked like an outrageous hat the size of a car.

“I can take one end!” Aunt Geri offered. She was a genuine outdoorswoman and canoe handler.

“No!” Marnie steamed. “Bill and his brother, Wayne, were supposed to load this!”

“But your husband and Wayne are working overtime. I can help.”

“No, I told you the men were supposed to do this.”

“I’m not a 90-pound weakling. Let me give you a hand.”

“Absolutely not!” she emphasized. “I can get it. When I see Bill and Wayne, I’m going to let them have it!”

And Marnie loaded and tied down the canoe on top of the SUV in triple the time it would have taken with four hands and two people. Marnie hadn’t learned yet there is no shame in asking for or accepting help.

Working together and helping each other is part of God’s plan. He never intended for us to be totally independent of Him and others. But that’s the beauty of His plan of giving us a world full of potential friends just waiting to bless us with help and shared experiences.

Help. Young widow Ruth sure needed it. As she and her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, walked more than 40 miles from Moab to Bethlehem, they both thought and prayed about their needs. At the time, widow’s benefits were non-existent. Though many widows today are left in great need of extra help, women in Ruth’s time could not expect “Welcome Wagon” baskets,  free food boxes, windfalls or pension checks.

Footsore and tired, they needed help right away. Someone had to get groceries. In that time of harvest, as in some farming communities today, not everything is picked. For the gleaner willing to work, the scraps from the harvest are free.

Ruth rushed to a nearby field to collect grain. Naomi didn’t tell her where.

God grinned. No coincidence, the all-knowing Supreme Being guided her to a relative’s field. The wealthy man’s name was Boaz. When the entrepreneur noticed the hard-working foreign woman, he asked his workers about her. As the big man learned of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, he was impressed with her and invited the woman to glean right behind his workers. By the time he invited her to join him for lunch, he was fascinated and drawn into her humble heart. Again no coincidence. God was smiling.

So it came to be that the two widows in desperate need of help became the foundation of the redeemer’s story – that Boaz redeemed and married Ruth in the little town of Bethlehem. They produced a son, who was rootstalk in the line of David. Generations later, Jesus responded to our universal need. He was born from this bloodline – destined to be savior of the world—shouldering our need for forgiveness and a fresh start on life.

Help! It’s there for the asking and the accepting.

Just as thousands of years ago, two footsore widows needed help and were willing to work for it, God provides help for us. It can be big things – or small, like an extra set of hands to load a 16-foot canoe.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus’ Take on the Golden Rule By Jo Russell

One teen tall and awkward, the other short and skinny, Roberta and Connie sought answers to life’s persistence questions –like how to get a date for the school dance. “Let’s go to the homecoming dance!” suggested Connie. “That’s where the boys are!”

So as the close friends dressed carefully for the occasion, their hope grew that someday their princes would come! Why not at the homecoming dance? Someday, they both knew, the braces and pimples would be gone. Connie would be pretty and Roberta would find a boy at least as tall as she was. Her size twelve feet would grow into the rest of her.

Roberta remembered Billy, who shared many of her classes. Just the image of the handsome chiseled features, trim body and startling eyes made her heart flutter. All these months of emotion—now was Roberta’s chance. She felt she had her heart in the right place for love. Didn’t she write on the first page of every notebook her hopes and dreams?

Roberta and Billy

Billy and Roberta

Billy loves Roberta

Roberta loves Billy

Last she chanted, “Roberta and Billy sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g…First comes love, then comes marriage…”

Anxious for the chance to see Billy outside of classes, Roberta and Connie stepped into the large, throbbing darkened room. She pulled on her friend’s arm and shouted in her ear, “Look, Connie! He’s here!”

Far across the large room sparkling with lights, Billy, surrounded by friends, laughed and smiled. But more than an hour passed and both girls still sat together on the sidelines. Finally, Roberta prayed, “God, please, please, let Billy ask me to dance!” She persisted in her plea with the Creator. When at last, she saw Billy stride in purposeful steps toward her and Connie, Roberta caught her breath. “Thank you, God!”

As Billy came closer, the handsome boy’s smile blazed. When he stepped up to where the teen girls sat, Roberta stood and leaned forward to accept a dance–or a kiss.

But Billy’s first words startled her. “Roberta, I’d ask you to dance…if you weren’t so tall!” Then he turned to Roberta’s friend, “Connie, will you dance with me?”

Ouch!

Roberta wondered if she could ever trust prayer, God, or boys again. In time when she grew into her feet, Roberta began to understand that prayer is communion with God. He answers prayer yes, no, and wait – for good reason, even where Billy was concerned.

Then there’s Jesus take on The Golden Rule, ““Do to others as you would have them do to you” [Luke 6:31.] No, it’s not get even or some who interpret it, “Do unto others before they have a chance to do bad stuff unto you.”

Jesus gives much direction, detail, and modeling in these famous passages,” Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-29]. In his life, Jesus offered love and forgiveness to all–even those who mocked him, mistreated him, misunderstood him, and crucified him.

For he says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that…But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most high, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” [Luke 6:32-36].

Love is the answer. And the opportunity to show it comes up every day – even at homecoming dances.

[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.]

What? Road Kill Again? By Jo Russell

As Roberta turned into the driveway after being gone all evening, she saw the car’s headlights illuminate a dark, furry and very still shape.

“Chalk another one up to the coyotes,” she thought. Remembering the meat-eaters roam free in the country, Roberta figured that’s what it was. Road kill. Carnivore kill. Whatever. She sighed heavily as she steered around the shape and got out of the car on the other side.

“Not tonight, God. I just can’t deal with this. It’s too dark now.” The shape, size and color ruled out the remains being any of her critters, Roberta knew, but by morning, rigor mortis would turn the body into something as stiff as a stale pizza crust.

At first light, Roberta donned gloves and hoisted a shovel. Ahead was the unpleasant task of burying the furry shape in the driveway. It hadn’t moved, of course. Resurrection only applies to Jesus.

But in spite of the dread she felt as she approached the still shape, she got a close look. Then her fear and assumptions vaporized. She erupted in laughter!

For there in the driveway–dark, furry and very still–was a pair of her lined winter gloves that had fallen out of the passenger side door pouch when she cleaned the car earlier. It was just a bad case of mistaken identity.

Mistaken identity and drawing the wrong conclusions happen often enough.
How often do you fail to understand what you see or experience? Where is the reality?
How will you get around the latest knotty problem? You might be asking yourself, “Why is God doing this to me? “

It happens often enough during any journey, including one with God. Paul says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” [1 Corinthians 13:12] NIV

We can be assured that God sees the entire length and width of our life and our challenges. He knows the solution, the outcome, the journey and the end. God is there to help us through all. Someday we will see and understand all. Not now.

His love prevails over all the fears and challenges of our lives, including a decent burial for gloves in the driveway!

[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 and Amazon. For more chuckles, to hear a speech, read excerpts, check this website and also Amazon.com the second edition e-book just released. Free Mother’s Day download May 9 to May 12, 2013.]

Free Mother’s Day Gift for You, Friends and Family:
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Click http://www.button-to-god.com/?p=1107 to download free Kindle Application for your PC or device.

Are You the Real Deal? By Jo Russell

In a room crowded with country folk in cowboy hats as big as patio umbrellas–some wearing holsters with pistols–and the smell of savory, sizzling prime rib, the caterers worked quickly. The husband and wife team were serving the big cattlemen’s event in the rural mountain area.

Wrapped in a white apron and tall hat, Chef Ruth, barely five-foot-five, carefully cut the perfect beef slices into servings. Serving up plates, her husband, Bob–well over six feet–also wrapped in an apron, worked efficiently.

“Are you the chef?” one hat-wearing cowboy nudged Bob. The western-clad guest assumed that apron-clad Bob had created the gourmet meal. After all, aren’t nearly all chefs men?

“No,” Bob corrected him as he pointed with his elbow, “She is.”

“Well, now, Little Lady, are you a real chef?”

“Yes, I am,” the culinary school-trained professional affirmed. Then Ruth asked, “Are you a real cowboy?”

It would be easy to tell the cowboy from the chef by the way one rode a horse and the other created a meal.

In the same way, a person is not known to God by personal appearance, social or economic standing as he or she is for actions and words.

Jesus would call it fruit. “No tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its fruit…The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.” [Luke 6:43-45 NIV].

What is coming from your heart, mind, and mouth? God knows your voice, sees your heart as well as your actions. He never stops loving the unique creation you are.

Based on that, how would you answer this question:

“Hey, Big Guy, are you a real Christian?

“Say, Little Lady, are you a real Christian?

[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.]

Punishment or Physical Therapy? By Jo Russell

Anyone sentenced to physical therapy following surgery or an injury has a great example that God isn’t finished with us yet! Like physical therapy, God gives us exercises that stretch our muscles, skills and abilities. The final objectives from God and physical therapists are the same: mobility and new possibilities.

Recent surgery reacquainted me with P.T. This has given me hours of going nowhere and feeling guilty for neither doing anything nor burning a significant number of calories. The machines mimic skiing, bicycling, mountain climbing and marathon running. But all of them and I stay in one place.

So last time, I multitasked by memorizing some of the Laws of Physical Therapy posted on the wall:

“Never say, “I just want to go home – because you’ll just stay longer.”

Never say it’s easy – because we’ll make it harder.”

“Never lose count – because you start at one again.”

“Never complain – because we never listen.”

“Never scream or cry – because it just encourages us.”

“Never look like you are enjoying yourself – because we’ll put a stop to it.”

“Never hold your breath because if you pass out, we’ll have to do the paperwork.”

As if physical therapy and surgery wasn’t enough to qualify me as a glutton for punishment, in the fall, I took over teaching a Sunday group of tweens. After that, I was gone for a month because of saws-all surgery. When I returned, some of the experiences with the students illustrated the P.T. laws so well that I laughed aloud.

P.T. Law: “Never argue – because you don’t win.” One student always seemed to think he deserved another turn because his was “no fair.” He didn’t get another chance. He learned to do his best the first time.

P.T. Law: “Never say you can’t – because you’ll do it anyway.” Working in teams, each student learned to find passages in the Old and New Testaments in spite of the fact that the Bible is as thick as two of their school textbooks.

P.T. Law: “Never lie or cheat because we know the truth and you’ll live to regret it.”
When I returned, the students claimed they hadn’t gotten their fair share from the prize box. I learned the truth from the sub.

While having lunch with some of my friends, one asked if my new class lived up to the reputation of middle school behavior. That’s the kind that keeps the pharmaceutical business thriving and gives parents nightmares. My friends were expecting horror stories.

I smiled sweetly, remembering the famous passage: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28 NIV]. I thought of the children’s progress, participation, and enthusiasm. The passage fits and encourages. I also remembered in P.T. when the therapist high-fived me and said, “Great going!” I know how good that felt.

And then I answered with the most encouraging words of truth about God’s relationship with everyone, “Like us, they are all works in progress.”

God has great plans in who you are becoming. Give yourself a high five! God isn’t finished with you, yet!

[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.]

Only Get My Mouth Dirty By Jo Russell

The three under-eight children gathered around the table for an emergency strategy conference as if faced with a code red: costumes for the school carnival! Two brothers and a neighbor girl sketched out details. Soon, with scissors in hand, the three headed off for the scrap box and closets.

An hour later, the three returned, one in costume. “Mom, I am a prince this year,” one boy announced, patting the dark beret decorated with a fluffy ostrich plume. Wrapped in a black cape, he sported a new royal blue breastplate cut from a scrap of brocade pinned to his tee shirt.

“I can see that. But you need to take off your costume for lunch.”

“It’s okay,” the boy assured his mom. “I’ll only get my mouth dirty.”

His figuring he would only get his mouth dirty in all the feathers, fancy cloth, and cape, is like us figuring a little sin won’t hurt.

Sin is an old-fashioned word today. Some Christians would rather call it “immaturity,” “bad choices,” “bad company,”  “mental illness,” or “sowing wild oats.” Tombstones of several young adults I taught as children explained they had “lived hard and free.” But not happily–nor long.

Proverbs 4:4-6 contains timeless words of advice: “Lay hold of my words with all your hearts; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.”

It is not enough for the mouth to say, “Jesus is Lord.” The body must also.

 

Spots and Rash? Oh, No! By Jo Russell

Forget about spending the day with my best friend! Wrapping a hand with toilet paper for another round of sneezing and germ dispersing, I thought, “Better to get sick on a school day than waste a perfectly beautiful Saturday!” My pre-teen plans had been shattered.

“Maybe you should plan to stay in bed today,” Mom suggested as she felt my head. “Mmm. Maybe the flu?”

Sniffling through Friday’s sixth grade science and history lesson, I had been
fascinated by the disease that destroyed crews sailing across the ocean–all for lack of vitamin C. I remembered just a few of the symptoms, and then I checked to see. Sure enough, I was pale and I did have spots! (Alarmed, it never occurred to me that before the fever and sneezing hit, I had pre-existing spots–both freckles and bug bites.)

I proclaimed, “Probably just a touch of scurvy!”

Mom choked, coughed, and then turned to erupt in laughter at my self-diagnosis. She served balanced, healthy meals. No lack of vitamin C there! Also, my brothers and I often picked and snacked on the softball-sized oranges on trees in the backyard.

No wonder my mother, a trained nurse, laughed so hard!

My embarrassing moment came from holding onto only a small part of a body of facts. It was like picking a Bible verse without reading the entire context, and then making decisions “based on God’s word.”

Peter, who walked with Jesus, hearing his words first hand, advised: “… grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 3:18 NIV ]

How do you grow in knowledge? Learn the whole word. Read every day in the Bible. Invest time each day and your knowledge of the whole word of God will keep you from mistaking your words for His.

[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 Button-to-God.com.]

Poor Richard’s Almanac or the Bible? Answers By Jo Russell

The Answers: How did you do?
1. “Wise men learn by others’ harms. Fools scarcely learn by their own.” Poor Richard

2. “Therefore, ask [a] blessing humbly and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it…”Poor Richard

3. “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.” Proverbs 23:9, the Bible (NIV)

4. “They that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.” Poor Richard

5. “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel.” Psalm 106:13 (NIV)

6. “I, even I, am he who comforts you.” Isaiah 51:12 the Bible (NIV)

7. “But dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
Poor Richard.

8. “So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you.” Jesus’ words, Matthew 7:12, the Bible (NIV)

9. “A friend loveth at all times.” Proverbs 17:17, the Bible (NIV)

Whose advice are you following? Make sure you know whose words guide you before you choose your path. Read your Bible!

 

Congratulations to Dawn R. of Snowflake, Arizona, who not only had all the correct answers, but was the first to respond. Great going, Dawn! She is the winner of a stick-on panic button that will be a great feature on her computer or dash board!

 

[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 Button-to-God.com.]