Order from Chaos: God’s Plan by Jo Russell

“Go ahead and watch a Christmas movie. I’m going to fold the clothes from the dryer,” Paul offered.

Carol was stunned. Not only had her husband offered to do a job she hated, but he was tackling  it with a smile. But she wondered. Does it take that much time to fold clothes?  “Isn’t that just one load? It shouldn’t take much time.”

“I’ll join you when I get done. I’ll even put your clothes away.”

That’s a pretty unusual offer from a CPA, she thought.

By the time the movie was winding down to the end, Mr. Organized returned. Paul had always folded his undershirts carefully enough to display at a department store sale rack. They would have fit inside the original packaging if he had saved it. But he finished with those and started taming other chaos: Carol’s.

Carol hung up casual clothes for the gym only if they didn’t wrinkle when wadded up in the drawer. Eventually, every drawer became a jumble with surprises around the edges.

“Where’s your sock drawer?” Paul wanted to know.

“It’s either the second or the third one down. You can’t miss it.”

Later, when she opened her sock drawer, she laughed out loud. Instead mounds of socks resembling foothills, Paul had paired the socks and in tidy rows aligned exactly east and west.  There were no mounds or surprises left. Everything was organized.

The Bible states that man is made in God’s image: [Genesis 1:27]. Even at that point in creation, God had demonstrated his creativity, spiritual nature, intelligence, moral expectations, as well as organizational skills. He didn’t start with a sock drawer, or even a sock. He began with nothing.

After Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden because of their sin, God planned to give humans a second chance to follow the way to heaven through his son, to be named Jesus. God was organized and knew just when it should happen. He didn’t manufacture a goal sheet or use a Gantt chart for achieving his plan at the right time. God began through the prophets hundreds of years before Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world.

Isaiah’s news was about 700 years before Jesus’ birth: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” [Isaiah 9:6b-7]

And God’s organized plan for giving us forgiveness and a new beginning through Jesus is longer lasting than a CPA’s. For the invitation to accept Jesus stands for everyone for all time.

That forever gift is even better than Paul organizing Carol’s sock drawer in perfect east to west order.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

God’s Backpack for Every Need by Jo Russell

Even Jolene’s work-outs at the gym with barbells hadn’t prepared her for this: her purse weighed as much as a Smart car, and was nearly the size of a carry-on bag, but without wheels.

As she sorted through her emergency supplies intending to lighten the load, she found all the must-have things inside for today’s woman:  a tape measure, tool with 40 attachments, portable toothbrush, lipstick, extra shirt, pantyhose, underwear, first-aid kid, knitting, a how-to  book on organization, monthly devotional,  an adjustable wrench the size of a teaspoon, travel tissue, family and pet pictures, plastic money, date book, and Christmas cards. Jolene hoped she’d be able to get out her Seasons Greetings before Valentine’s Day this year.

She faced the organizational challenge of the century: How could she make it smaller and lighter and still be prepared for every emergency?

When Charlotte’s son got a bee sting and needed drawing salve to get out the stinger, Jolene stammered, “Why I don’t have any!”

That day, she faced the possibility of tarnishing her reputation as Competent, Professional Resource Woman!

God is prepared for every emergency, and he packs it all into a super-light backpack in fashionable royal and navy blue. Inside are all the tools of love and leadership wrapped up in Jesus that he offers to us:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting  Father, Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9: 6]

This season, we can choose. For God has the backpack that is filled with all the right things for every emergency. And it doesn’t weigh as much as a Smart car.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

“A” Is For a Work in Progress by Jo Russell

As I scanned the desktop searching for a stapler and paper clips under a tidal wave of school papers and assignments, second-grade student Adam came around with a clipboard. He had finished his work already, plus a learning center activity and a fifth-grade level library book.

“So, Adam, what are you up to?”

“I’m the desk inspector this week.”

That had been his assigned classroom job. “You’re doing great!,” I remarked, remembering how he had worked side by side by a student whose desk always looked like rubble after a bombing. Now the student had papers grouped neatly and a pencil box visible. When I asked the students to get out a pencil, crayon, tissue, or math book, Cindy could actually find hers.

In addition to helping the students clean their desks, Adam handed at slips that gave them a grade. Most of them got “A”s or excellent.

“I’m inspecting your desk, too, Mrs. Russell.”

I groaned. If organization is a genetic gift, Adam had it. I do not.
But I keep hearing that organization is a learned skill. I’m willing to learn.

“But I have to say after seeing all the teachers’ desks,” he decided, “That yours is the best of the grown ups!” He handed me a paper with an “A” on it.

The rest of the day, I soared, even though I still hadn’t found my stapler.
I realized that we are all a work in progress, and Adam was expecting the best and helping everyone to do it.

That is the same with God. He has plans and tasks for us, expects the best, helps us with the challenges, and applauds our improvements along the way.

Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Think on God’s confidence in you and your future. It’s not, “Needs improvement!” but instead, “A celebrated work in progress!”

[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 blog every week on Button-to-God.com.]

Planning – Too Much of a Good Thing By Jo Russell

My world-traveling friend laughed when I told her I had already packed six months before my first overseas trip. For months, I also had been knitting scarves and hats for the perfect color-coordinated spring tulip tour.

“When do you pack?” I asked the world traveler.

“The night before.”

“And you don’t forget anything?”

“Never.”

I pictured my friend knitting in noisy airports when the airlines lost her luggage, moved or cancelled her flights. She had been as calm as a water lily when hotel shuttles had stopped running and taxis had been scarce. My friend can live out of her knitting bag for a season without running out of anything — except yarn. To counter the threat of that catastrophe, she always carries a list of yarn shops in each of her stops and destinations.

When it had come time for my trip, I had checked everything one more time and packed a carry-on knitting bag with necessities. It had been so compacted the bag’s contents could fill a banquet table with enough merchandise to start a small boutique.

“Did I forget anything?” I thought and then decided, “Never!” At the overnight stop before the Atlantic crossing, my cousin, Vera, joined me and got out her toothbrush. That was when I looked for mine. No toothbrush. I went to the desk of the hotel.

“Sorry. There has been a run on toothbrushes,” the clerk told me.

I brushed my teeth with a Q-tip. On the cross-Atlantic flight, no luck, either. I rinsed and spit. The upscale hotel next to the cruise port? Fabulous gym, breakfast buffet, and even a slide on the television: “Welcome, Josephine and Vera!” But no toothbrushes. I dredged out a plastic fork and a tissue to pick granola out of my teeth. The cruise ship? Plumb out. Fortunately, a fellow passenger had an extra.

Planning ahead is wise, but it can be too much of a good thing.

A widely publicized return of Jesus posted on billboards all over the U.S. predicted May 21 was the end. Some people took the date so seriously they took their own lives.

But 6 a.m. on May 21 came and went. Had those who believed the publicity read a Bible, they would have known from Jesus’ own words, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard!….Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.” Check it out for yourself in Mark 13:32-37 and Matthew 24:36-44.

So prepare – with your spiritual portfolio ready for review at all times.
And for your travels? Be sure to pack a toothbrush!

[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.]