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.]




The Character that Counts By Jo Russell

January 29, 2012

In just a few days, some school child in the under-twelve group demonstrating the shiniest sterling character of the month–helpfulness–would be a star! Announced by the principal and featured on the office bulletin board, the Character Count kid got more fanfare than those on the honor roll. Competition was fierce!

At lunchtime, just as Robert’s orange fish crackers slipped out of the bag and speckled the concrete around a picnic table outside, his brother dived on his belly and slid to the center of the cracker spill. “Wait, Robert! I’ll help you!” Billy promised.

In no time and without a broom, the seven-year-old tidied up the large area while a crowd of envious boys and girls watched Billy in action.

“Wow!” Peggy told her friend, “Lucky Billy! I wish I got to the crackers first.”

“Teacher! Teacher! Look what I did!” Billy exclaimed soon after. He pointed to the clean concrete. “Robert spilled his fishy crackers. I helped him clean them all up by eating them!”

Billy’s motivation for his helpfulness was to be the star of the month—and he got a snack, at the same time!

What had started as a good idea had snowballed into little people doing things mostly for the attention.

Jesus himself said, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1.

Being helpful in secret? That is truly the character that counts.

[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, check her weekly blog weekly on Button-to-God.com.]

Sieze A Sizzling Slogan! By Jo Russell

After riding nearly every roller coaster in an amusement park that stretched to the horizon, my grown son wanted to board one last car. “Come on, Mom! This will be fun!”

All I could imagine was another shake-up, bone-jarring thrill of the afternoon. “No, sorry.” No wonder he kept expecting me to share a car. Starting with the first ride, I had pulled us into a fast, scary trip zigzagging through dark tunnels at speeds tested on the Salt Flats.

My son searched for the right words. He wondered what could be as motivating as “God Bless America!” and Sam Houston’s “Remember the Alamo!” Finally, the intelligent young man appealed to history and science, “But this is one of the old wooden models modeled after the Cyclone roller coaster on Coney Island in New York! You just have to ride this one for the experience!”

“Nope. I think I’ll sit out the ‘Judge Roy Scream.’ You can ride this one yourself. Have a great time!” I noticed the seats looked just right for a skinny eight-year-old. But I am as far from size eight as the east is to the west.

Having been raised with a mom who resembled a modern-day Sacagawea, my son stared at me in disbelief. I had packed the family in the car for thousands of miles and experiences in camping and road trips. At last, my young man parroted the words he had heard growing up, “Where is your sense of adventure?”

That did it! I straightened up. My joints clattered like dry bones in Ezekiel, and I squeezed myself into that small seat. Afterwards, still riding on an adventure high, I made it to the parking lot on my own two legs. My son didn’t even have to carry me.

Like the words that got me on the last roller coaster ride, this season, let us remember the angel’s words that spur us to focus on the core of Christmas: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” [Luke 2:11 NIV.] Now those are words worth keeping in our hearts all year.

Celebrate Christ the Lord!

[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.]

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.]

Anticipation or Procrastination? By Jo Russell

“Anticipation! An-ti-ci-pa-a-a-tion is making me wait!” The popular ad for catsup flaunted the idea of having to wait for the tomato finishing sauce to come out on the hamburger. And you could hardly wait for this delicious thing!

Procrastination has the same number of syllables and the same ending.
But instead of it being a delicious and positive thing, it ranks right up
there in business circles with insufficient funds, lawsuits and lice.

Fear gripped me so tightly I thought I would have to cut it off me like
clothes. The cause? A new assignment thickly frosted with new skills and

After all, I just learned how to burn a disc (Throw it in the fireplace?),
enter more than 420 characters on Face Book (It’s called a “note.”
How old-fashioned!) and followed the iPod road to the Emerald City for
the first time.

Before I faced my impossible giants, I thought of all the signs of
– You’re ironing the creases in pants that you have already ironed.
– You’re cleaning the shed when you just organized it on Monday.
– You’re peeling the caulk off a caulk gun that has been stuck
to it like glue for five years.
– You’ve done everything on the “Honey Do” list except top billing.
– You’ve started the great American novel and can’t stop
until you finish (either writing or reading it)

Before I dived head first into the fearfully unfamiliar territory of
the Black Hole, I reminded myself that God promises, “I am with you always
even to the end of the age.” [Matthew 28:20 NIV]. We know that with Him,
we can do anything. Sure enough, we did. I finished the task and did it
well in thirty minutes.

What task with week will you tackle with God as your partner?

[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.]

Let’s Make a Deal! By Jo Russell

Anxious to be noticed in the crowded television audience, the woman was outfitted in a bright yellow fuzzy suit with orange feet the size of  beach umbrellas. She chirped nosily through a varmint caller and bounced up and down in her seat while waving her wings to the melody.

Sure enough, the Master of Ceremonies pointed and cried, “Come on up, Tweedy Bird!” She bounced, shrieking up to the stage.

What could be a more perfect companion than another contestant decked out as Sylvester Cat? “Come on up!” the M.C. invited.

The band played a rockin’ tune while Tweedy Bird flapped her size 24s on the stage, swayed  and waved her tail like a chorus line pro. Sylvester tried hard, but didn’t quite make the cut. He fell off the stage into row one on top of Paul Bunyon, Babe, and the costumed cast of “Cowboys and Aliens.”
“Tweedy Bird, are you ready to make a deal? I’ll give you $$$$$ and a gift
certificate to your favorite grocers or….You can choose the mystery box!”

From there, Tweedy Bird jumped with excitement. The box could contain nothing or everything! Would she risk everything on the box or go home with the money? The crowd swayed with anticipation. Some swallowed their gum. Some bit their nails. The moment was tense.

“Ohhhhhh.” came a moan when Tweedy Bird chose the box and it only contained a chocolate-chip granola bar. No new four-wheel-drive Tweedy-Mobile. No vacation to Taongi Island. No diamond toe-rings.
This account is fictionalized based on my very limited view of seeing cable at the gym. The purpose of the blog is to teach, not to offend.

Early in my relationship with God, I was out to make a deal. “If you do this, I will do that.” I prayed for God to intervene when I had been dating a man who told me he didn’t like and didn’t want kids. But I was sure with God’s help, I could turn him around with how cute and well behaved my twins were. Instead, in a public place where he volunteered his time, his dislike intensified when mine both broke out in bellows and I had to take the toddlers out of the building.
Without having to put on a costume for God to notice, we are all picked to make a choice of a safe offer or the mystery box. It’s a matter of trust. The mystery box is filled to the brim with bonuses. Unlike the game show, no one gets a peek.

The contents of the mystery box are uncovered in Jesus’ own words: “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields, and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30 [NIV].

It is a risk worth taking. What choice have you made 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 Button-to-God.com.]