Order, Organization, or Guilt? By Jo Russell

With any piece of time off work, Jolene fretted over disorder and wondered where to start. The busy multi-tasking professional and mom sometimes just had to stop, rest, and feel guilty.

Jolene was suffering from the calling of the unsorted. So strong an urge was her focus on disorganization that she had nightmares about clutter in her sleep. Not that she was born with a gene for order. No one is.

Jolene had never had time to worry about boxes in the shed or garage with chewed corners, water damaged flaps, and unknown contents. Who did? It was tough enough to find a pair of scissors around the house that no one had used for cutting barbed wire.

Jolene sought out help. She needed order without guilt. She needed to find the lint brush. She wondered where she would find a pair of matched socks. The busy lady turned to God’s word, the Bible, for answers.

She began in Genesis. God faced a worse mess than Jolene’s shed. He changed chaos to order. From a dark formless mass, God created his materials and started organizing.
Day 1: He created the heavens, earth, and light. “God saw the light was good.” [Genesis 1:3]
Day 2: God separated the water and sky.
Day 3: God divided land and water, plus added plant life. He even included built-in seed-bearing pods for reproducing. The plants would keep on making more plants. “And God saw it was good.” [Genesis 1:10]
Day 4: God created the lights in the sky to mark the seasons, days, and years, like stars, moons, suns. “And God saw that it was good.” [Genesis 1:18.]
Day 5: God created creatures that lived in water as well as birds for the skies. “And God saw that it was good.” [Genesis 1:21.]
Day 6: God made all kinds of land animals, “And God saw that it was good.” Then he went on to create man and woman, designing them in his own image, and blessed them. “God saw all that he had made and it was very good.” [Genesis 1:31.]

Jolene was awed. God modeled order, logic, and great interdependent systems. No gaps or mistakes anywhere. Though God had created her and the rest of the human race in his image, and proclaimed his creation “very good,” she still felt flawed when it came to order. Just juggling the many responsibilities of work, home, family, and community, threw her in a tizzy.

Five organizational books and much guilt later, Jolene found one author’s advice that was less painful than surgery.

“Most organization systems fail,” the author wrote, “not because of room. Ninety percent of the time, the amount of room isn’t the problem, but how it is used.” Then the author assured the reader that organization systems are to be tailored to the individual and his or her lifestyle if they are to work.

Jolene felt better. With God’s help and a new system, there was hope.

After a fair test run of the new whirlwind plan of organization, Jolene believed in modern miracles! All the cleaning, washing, tidying, was done! She was helping her children with homework, finishing a project for a college class, and wrestling with the “junk drawer” until it was no more.

Jolene had even made a special trip to the hardware store for three duplicate sets of keys for the car and house. No more getting locked out!

Early the next morning, Jolene rushed to work, stashed her purse behind the seat, locked the vehicle, and slammed the door. Perfect organization! A 100% improvement over the past week! Then she noticed a set of keys sparkling in the sun on the bench seat. The other two sets were tucked in her purse behind the seat. Though bank vaults are open Saturdays, not a single rural locksmith is!

Well, nearly perfect organization! Jolene and we are still a work in progress. But we can continue to be in awe of God, the Supreme Being of Order and Creation!

[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.]

Getting Over Messiness: God Can Do the Impossible! By Jo Russell

“I’m Jo and I’m a slob.” I could just imagine standing up in a 12-step meeting and admitting this horrible habit. Before God stepped in, I figured I was helpless to overcome this behavior. I’m a great test case for God’s promise that with Him all things are possible. [Matthew 19:26.]

Now and then, I felt guilty when I remembered a friend who has an immaculate home 24/7. She never battles disorder, dirt, and chaos. Her children learned to give themselves a bath,19:26. make their beds and fix their own meals by the time they were four. None ever showed up in a mud-covered trash bag after being towed on an inner tube behind someone’s four-wheel drive. That was my sons’ style.
Messiness seemed like our family’s shared gene. “Dear Lord, I know you can heal me of anything. Please guide me and help me over my sloppiness.” It wasn’t long after my prayer that I forgot I’d asked Him. If you pray for God to heal you of your messiness, then stock up on cleaning supplies and rags. I didn’t.

God has a sense of humor, you know that?

One day, the doorbell rang and I answered wearing my project clothes covered with a layer of drywall dust, which I’d tracked through the house. On the porch were two women: Miss Beauty Contest Winner with immaculate hair and manicured fingernails, tiara, heels and hose, plus a designer dress. Her sponsor stood beside her with her mouth open. I’d completely forgotten this day I was coaching the scholarship candidate on her public speaking. The appointment was in my day planner, but I hadn’t looked at it that day. My fingernails were as ragged as the Grand Teton range. Dusted white were my face, glasses and clothes. Two tufts of hair stuck out through the leg holes of an old pair of underwear over my hair. The two women were stunned.

Grand Mal Embarrassment set in. It was time to be serious about changing my habit for good and turning to God for help, not just with the house, but with organization. God got busy right away as I overhauled my day planner. Then I changed my habits after painting a few houses during the summer. I went to the first house to work. The dust bunnies were big enough to knit together into a Volkswagen. To say there was disorder in that house was like calling a boat wake the same as a tidal wave. After that 15-hour day, I went home, vacuumed, cleaned toilets and washed dishes. “I can actually do this,” I realized.

The next two houses were about the same.

“Very funny, God!” I told Him. “What’s next?”
Over time, I changed for the better. Though I would like to use the word “spotless,” that’s entirely too strong a word. What I did learn was if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. You can tackle all messes a little at a time this way.

There is all planning and no disorder in God’s world. Having an uncluttered house helps to have an uncluttered life. God smiles down at us when we don’t have to make a second trip to the hardware store for cup hooks because we couldn’t find the ones we just bought.

God had indeed done the impossible with me, and with a sense of humor at that. He healed me of my sloppiness, just as I asked Him!

[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.]



Seek and Find A Logical Place By Jo Russell

One afternoon Melody manned the office supply store by herself, phone to her ear. While the employee listened, she scanned every surface, the tops and inside of every machine, and the work bench. Panic was etched in her face. As she finished the phone call, Melody scribbled a message. She cried, “I just hate it when that happens! Now, where is the paper I just had in my hand?”

Poor lady. That’s the common syndrome of putting things in a logical place, only to have them turn up in the refrigerator or disappear forever without a trace. This cognitive condition doesn’t seem to be limited to age, just multi-tasking.

For Melody is nineteen years old!

Just in one week, I had been searching for logical locations where I had stashed a lock box key, my briefcase containing a map and schedule for an out-of-town conference, and dark dress socks that weren’t snowy with lint. But then, what good are the socks when I am still pondering where I put the lint roller?

Helen complained when she stood at the cash register to pay for her meal, “Honestly, I had my billfold when I left home. I flipped through everything in my purse to find it. I am so embarrassed! It’s not here!”

The hostess pointed, “It’s in your other hand!”

We seek our entire lives: relationships with family and friends, the right mate, children, a good job with benefits, fun, happiness, health, answers to problems, and misplaced lint rollers.

In my youth, my search was for anything but God. My idea was the Supreme Being hefted a sledge hammer, ready to clobber me for any mistakes. Opinion, of course – and many bad choices with natural consequences I brought on myself. Once God had my attention, I learned to seek him. The keys to action: read, study, and pray. He became a friend.

In Jeremiah 29:13, the Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” [NIV] That search begins with seeking his face, not just his hand. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus talks about provision and advises, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [NIV].

So no worries about the car keys I need in the next twenty minutes, or the grocery list or the bills due. I believe God will help me with every need—and even guide me to the lint roller.

What about you? Where is God on the list of the things you seek?

[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.]