Marriage and Relationships: A Second Chance by Jo Russell

Marriage and Relationships: a Second Chance

“It’s pretty sad,” the clergyman shared with his congregation, “That one out of every two couples that I marry split up.  “The reason is usually summed up in these words by one or both of the newlyweds, ‘Marriage isn’t what I thought it would be!’”

From the audience, one bride of less than a year must have agreed. She laughed so loud and long that he stopped, stared, and addressed her, “Carol, you haven’t been married that long. What are you laughing about?”

Even though it has often been said, “The couple that prays together, stays together,” Paul and Carol had done that. They planned a budget together. The couple counseled with the pastor. At one long-time spouse’s suggestion, they remembered he advised, “The couple that paints the garage together is the real test. Can you still love your partner after a 15-hour day of agreeing on a color from thousands of shades? Then can you forgive the spills and spots of the one who isn’t that good of a painter or who stepped in the paint tray?”

Following that advice during their courtship, the two had painted a garage together. After that shared experience, they still planned to marry because compatibility seemed to be a sure thing.

Still, there were surprises. Some were great. Some weren’t. All the pets barfed on the rug at some point. Paul cleaned it up.

When Carol cooked, Paul always thanked her for the meal and added, “Kick back, Sweetie. Do anything you want. I’ll do the dishes.”

Maybe because of all the romance writers out there, new brides may expect something different. Somebody taller than her with a six-pack that didn’t come from the fridge.  In looks, the love interest guy is so strikingly handsome that he could be on the cover of G.Q. [Gentlemen’s’ Quarterly.] Kisses that are more of a dream come true than winning the Power Ball Jackpot. The fictional romantic man never makes any rude bodily noises, whether accidentally or on purpose.  Real life. That’s different.

Carol knew those attributes of romance heroes are no more real than the size 3 models representing the average woman in clothing catalogs – or the chisel-jawed men, slender, six feet or so in men’s clothing catalogs.

Mutual respect. It’s the foundation of Ephesians 5.

“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless….However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” [Ephesians 5: 25-27; 5:33].

Jesus taught and valued people of all levels of life, all races and denominations. He still does. Jesus may have healed their bodies as well as souls with forgiveness. He has modeled how to handle relationships.

Jesus also models tolerance and flexibility. Relationships require forgiveness at times.

When five adult siblings gathered after their mother’s death, four got in a fight over a teakettle each wanted. In the decades that followed, none of the four spoke to each other. One by one, they slipped into Alzheimer’s or death.

As each of the four would come before Jesus, what would he say about their relationship skills? Where had they failed each other? In failing to work on relationships and giving another chance.

The real man in her life, Carol decided, is the one who prays with her each morning, cleans up the messes on the rug and generally makes work and play more fun. He is worthy of respect, forgiveness, and a second chance. So are you.

[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 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.]

 

 

 

Handling People Prickly as Pine Cones By Jo Russell

“I wonder if our boxes came,” the rural teacher, Jolene, cried as she opened the school office door where she and other school staff received mail. While on vacation, she shipped treasures back to the school–souvenirs and mementos too large to travel more than a thousand miles in the sub-compact car.

Though Jolene and her sons were still basking in the memory of travel through the tall pines, the principal gave Jolene an account of his scorching summer and the latest issues with the testy rural mail carrier.

Jolene counted the cartons and commented, “They’re all here–all seven of them!” She exclaimed with joy, “Oh, boy! Even the pine cones came!”

Principal Phil cringed and his face reddened all the way down his neck. “Pine cones? Pine cones! I had to drive to the post office forty miles away to pick up pine cones?!”

The principal explained, “Caroline, the mail carrier, decided she wasn’t going to drop the boxes here! That’s her job! But no–anything to make my job more difficult.  Everyone else at the school is on vacation. I had to drive into town to get every box.”

Jolene imagined her boss, puffed up with anger, grasping a fresh tumbler of iced tea, his sweat-stained cowboy hat jammed on his head, heading down the highway for the post office. In the double-cab pick-up truck he drove, Principal Phil was calculating each trip at about seven gallons of fuel–much to the temperamental mail carrier’s delight.

The pine cones—Were they worth seven gallons of gas?

Phil continued rankling over the touchy rural employees, “No matter how much I argued about leaving the boxes to the address where they should go, she smirked and handed me a package slip instead. She didn’t even bring the boxes with her! She had the gall to drop a couple of package slips every day. And here’s another one!”  He waved the yellow card in Jolene’s face.

“It’s not mine!” she countered. She and her sons left with their boxes.

Until school started, Caroline continued to drop package slips at the school office, forcing Principal Phil to drive to the post office to retrieve packages. She counted herself the winner in the battle of wills.

Prickly pine cone people and relationships: they’re a part of life.

Such brittle hard  people can be anywhere: within a family, a marriage, on a job, among clients, at school, at church, or in the community. Apostle Paul certainly knew and had experienced the challenge of many sandpaper people by the time he was on this third missionary journey as he was writing to the church members in Corinth.

Like much of our own nation, Corinth boasted a prosperous business base that counted for power, influence, and immorality.

Just as it is today, standing by Jesus’ example of treating enemies with respect may be something we can’t do in our own power.

Paul penned this famous passage based on Christ’s principles and example, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” [1 Corinthians 13:4-5]

Jesus’ words remind us, “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.…If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, who are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavily Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:43-48]

Treating prickly pine cone people with an attitude of Christ is not something we can do in our own power. But we can with God’s help.

And the result may be full of surprises—maybe even fewer trips to the post office.

[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.]   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!]

Not Enough Allowance, But Plenty of Love By Jo Russell

“No fair!” seven-year-old Billy protested. “Tom got more money than I did!” Then the tears began to flow. His dry-eyed older brother, Tom, smiled, clutching bills that made him the richest kid under ten in the county.
“I told you that your allowance is based on how hard you work,” their mom calmly explained. “Let’s check the list.”

Billy and his mom compared the two lists of home and ranch chores. One was longer than the bi-monthly grocery list for trips to town. The shorter list, Billy’s, still had lots of space around the chores done after being scribbled on a sticky note. Still, Billy hadn’t yet seen the connection between work and pay.

“I hate my brother! He always gets everything!” cried Billy as he turned to Tom. “You can’t come in my room anymore. I won’t let you play with my toys!”
His mom sent Billy to his room to think and cool down.

But a few days later when the weekend came, affection and love resurfaced as the two brothers were head-to-head hatching a plan that required teamwork.

“I’m sorry. I don’t really hate you. You’re my best friend,” Billy admitted.

“You’re mine, too. Billy, I have an idea that if we put out money together, we can buy that truck we want. It works out for both of us!”

So they did. Alone, neither could have bought the toy truck of their dreams. Bonded together in forgiveness and love, they became an unstoppable team.

Remember this promise: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” [1 Peter 4:8 NIV]

Besides fights between siblings, that verse is useful to remember when having issues with family, coworkers, friends, and anyone who hurts us. Smother the world with love? Why, isn’t that the best way to prove we’re set apart from it?

Grown now, Billy and Tom think so. So do I.

[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 ande Amazon.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Need more time, joy and love as well as a funny bone?

 

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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.]   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.]

Tomboy? Outsider? Feminist? God Loves Us All By Jo Russell

Tomboy? Outsider? Feminist?
God Loves Us All
By Jo Russell

Tomboy. It’s a word not everyone loves. But God does.

While living in Sentinel, Arizona, population 17, my 9-year-old twins soon discovered that the only playmate in the community was an 8-year-old girl. While Marie’s mother struggled to keep her feminine, my boys dragged her off to do fort-building, fake shoot-outs, and pretend four-wheel-drive camping trips.

Their influence was evident when Marie asked her mother for six guns for her birthday. She got pierced earrings. She wanted a grenade. She got a tea set. She wanted a camp stove. She got brass doll furniture.

One day Marie returned from town with a loom and weaving set for making potholders.

She started to work right away and brought over the finished project to the boys.

“Handcuffs,” she said proudly. “I made them just for you.”

Tomboy? I’ve been accused of being one myself. After a shop class

with women students outnumbering men three to one, I bought myself a compound miter

saw for Christmas. It’s been fun!

Easy and quick as they are, labels just stick to the surface.

God doesn’t use them. Instead, he wants us to unfold with unique

qualities, talents, and abilities. They make each one of us one of a kind.

What encouraging words of acceptance between us and God, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” [Psalm 139:13-`14 NIV.] Add to that the power of God’s promise in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before you were born, I set you apart; I appoint you as a……”

With a glimpse of what you see of your life so far, you can fill it in….Or leave the blanks to God and let him surprise you! Tomboys! Outsiders! Activists! It’s all good!

[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.]