Rotten Egg or Live Savior? By Jo Russell

Eight boys between seven and fourteen squeezed into Grandma Brenda’s tiny trailer kitchen. Around a table the size of a placemat, they bumped into each other and cups of dye and eggs.

More flats of colored eggs filled the counter, the living room sofa, and lawn chairs on the sandblasted porch. There was no place left to sit inside or outside of the silver bullet-shaped home on the barren desert. All the dyeing was in the name of the community Easter egg hunt for the widespread population of ranchers and farm families. Just the 100 folks who loved holiday fun made it all worthwhile.

With standing room only, the troops began to complain. “Grandma, this is girls’ stuff. These are foo-foo colors. Why do we have to do it?” Gene grumbled.

“Yeah,” replied Nat. “We still have four flats to go and we’re sick of eggs.”

“Because you’re my special grandsons, and I love the way you are helping.”

The fourteen-year-old, Billy, didn’t buy the flattery. “You shouldn’t have volunteered us! It’s not fun anymore. We’ve been doing this for hours.”

“It was the right thing to do!” Brenda reveled in her new role as a community volunteer. How many other people can help their neighbors when they are working on the farms so many hours?”

As soon Grandma Brenda excused herself to run to the store, the boys put their heads together and came up with a team consensus. They mixed the dyes together and ladled the balance of the eggs into it. They were colored in no time and ready all at once!

Not just that, but on the two-acre desert plot punctuated with sagebrush, tumbleweeds and snake holes, the camouflaged eggs would be hard to find. For all the group-dyed eggs were a perfect grey-green, the same as the resident horned toad population.

When the enthusiastic egg-hunters finished, Event Leader Rex, announced, “There are still twelve eggs out there!” But try as they might, none of the children found any more until a month later when Billy was walking his dog. Roxy sniffed out a hole nearly invisible under a bush. A rotten egg lived there. It was dead and smelled like it.

Though the idea of egg hunts originated in pagan rituals to celebrate spring and new life, they are a reminder of the new life of Christ, with differences.

Christ was not reborn after having been killed. He was whole, still pierced by the nails and the spear from his crucifixion.

“He is not here,” stated an angel to the women who came to tend to Jesus’ body. “He has risen, just as he said.” [Matthew 28:6 NIV] The angel instructed them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where they would see Jesus alive again. But the women saw him first, then Mary Magdalene later, thinking he was the gardener, but recognizing him as Lord Jesus.

Just before Jesus did appear to the disciples, Thomas spouted out “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” John 20:24. That’s when Jesus showed up and invited him to do so.

Jesus concluded, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
Christ’s sacrificial death offers us new life.

Every person on earth will someday face Jesus with the answer to a question. As Jesus had asked his disciples late in his ministry on earth, “Who do you say that I am?”  By then, they had seen him feed thousands starting with a portion smaller less than a Lunchable, had watched him heal the sick of all diseases, and even raise the dead on several occasions. Yet only Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

Who do you say that Jesus is?

To believe in him as the son of God is to open the door to a new life. He forgives our mistakes and bad choices and gives us another chance. A future with help from Jesus as Savior is like celebrating the arrival of a new and precious family member.

So while enjoying today’s celebration, ask yourself, are you embracing a dead egg or a live Savior?

[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.com.  Look for her new book, Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Growing and Living coming out June, 2017 wherever print and e-books are sold].

No Trespassing or Come on In? by Jo Russell

As the sprinklers dribbled out like the last of a canned soda, Betsy stepped into the yard to investigate.

Why aren’t they working now? I just fixed them. Then she noticed water bubbling from a hole in the ground. Another sprinkler gone. That’s a dozen times that somebody took parts off. She knew who it was. My new neighbors certainly have room for improvement. She sighed.

Betsy had welcomed them with cookies and fresh bread when they moved in. So did the other neighbors. With the latest missing parts, she’d gone to their door to talk to the family. A doll was tossed aside in their front yard. They had no girls. The dog was chewing on fresh corn cobs. They had no garden.

As she had reached down to retrieve the parts on their porch, a family member snatched the parts from the elderly lady’s hand and snapped, “We bought these! The receipt is around here somewhere.”  Only Betsy had a receipt because she bought them.

Now Betsy knew she had to do something different.

The dark-uniformed police officer advised, “Put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Then we can pick up the one who is doing this next time he comes in your yard.”

So she put up signs on every side of her fence.  A few went missing.

A week later, Charley from across the street asked, “What is going on down our street? Have you driven south on our road lately?”

“No.”

“Check it out. You have to see it to believe it.”

Betsy drove the length of her street. Every house had “No Trespassing” signs on the fences. The new neighbor’s house with her sprinkler parts not only had three signs across the front of the fence, but bright yellow and black tape across the length of the yard, blocking the driveway, and making yellow stripes between the trees.

Guess the new neighbor doesn’t want anyone stealing back their stuff, Betsy concluded.

Though none of the neighbors left things out in the yard for the taking anymore and had already judged the new family on the block, God is the righteous judge. He believes in the value of everyone and gives them a chance to turn their lives around if they choose to. He also gives them just consequences if they don’t.

Remember the convicted criminal on the cross next to Jesus, with just hours to live, confronted the other criminal who had been mocking Christ. “’Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’

Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”

“Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” [Luke 23:40-43]

Some wonder just how fair is that?  But Jesus’ gift of sacrifice and forgiveness touched this man at the last of his life. The criminal was truly sorry for his life and knew Jesus as Messiah, Savior and the Son of God. Such an act is an example of God’s compassion and love.

It is an offer for everyone—even those whose dog is chewing on fresh corn and they don’t have a garden. But they must make a change in direction, thoughts and actions. No trespassing? No, God’s offer is more like “Come on in!”

[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 and her speaking engagements. [Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

Old and Junky or Priceless Gifts of Christmas by Jo Russell

“Surprise! We get to come for Christmas!” Shirley dropped the phone as she learned that less than a week from the holiday that her grown son and his wife would celebrate with her.

Because Shirley had been planning a quiet Christmas at home, she had projects in progress in nearly every room. Chaos reigned. Instead of a warm home ready for Christmas in four days, her place resembled a D.I.Y remodel in progress. Exploding with ideas, she was choosing new color palettes, painting furniture, walls, making new furniture covers and moving all the pictures around.

That’s what happens when you watch twenty or thirty of those home and garden shows.

Still, Shirley could rise to the occasion of Jesus’ special day, even squeezing in decorating and getting ready for family around working full-time. Shirley pondered the type of tree her son and daughter-in-law might appreciate.

Yes! Something infused with memories and meaning!   

But when Rob and Janet settled in, Shirley heard Rob whisper to his wife, “When I see this old, junky stuff on the tree, it makes me feel funny. Why doesn’t Mom get something new?”

Shirley had plenty of Christmas glitz that was new. But she wanted to include those hand-made ornaments that reminded them of shared times.

What’s so junky about this tree? A few folded and slightly bent snowflakes, cut dough reindeer with childish color accents, and picture ornaments of the children smiling through missing teeth. What’s the big deal? Janet’s family’s tree is decorated just like this with dough ornaments.

Other decorations on Shirley’s tree were collected from family trips. From them, she could hear the bells of Christmas. Shirley could have chosen from one or more of her color-coordinated trees decorated to a theme that puts Martha Stewart to shame. But she decided on a memory tree instead.

And my son calls it “junky!”

In Jesus’ time, many waiting for the Messiah looked for the new and the shiny, not the junky and  ordinary. For this King of Kings was born in a place so small lodging filled up quickly. It left the Holy Family only with the old and crummy: a stable. It was there that the newborn son of God was born and wrapped in cloths. He wasn’t laid in a crib with a thick mattress resting on soft sheets within a color-coordinated nursery. The Messiah’s first human visitors at the manger were not people of position and power. The shepherds smelled like animals and were considered the lowest of life in that culture.

Yet the herdsmen knew this truth from the angels, “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 2:11-12 NIV]

Generations had waited to see him! The Messiah! He was most wanted.

Jesus was a wanted child, all right. Herod wanted to kill him. So just in time with an angel’s warning, Joseph took the Holy Family to Egypt to escape Herod’s mass murder plans.

Everything about Jesus’ birth, life and death seemed unfit for a king. Jesus didn’t deserve a junky birthplace, ordinary lifestyle and the opposition to his ministry as an adult, plus being sinless, but killed like a criminal.

But he came for all of us, to offer all of us forgiveness regardless of levels of life and lifestyle.

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due in his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness,” wrote David in Psalm 29:2. That applies today as well, about 3500 years later.

Can we see anything junky in Jesus’ crown of love and scepter of peace?  His modeling of love, forgiveness, and compassion gives meaning and memory to relationships.  What better way to infuse memories than to include 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.]

 

 

Black Friday–Lost and Found! by Jo Russell

Carol was buzzing with excitement to go shopping at the big store in a nearby town. I haven’t been there for months! Black Friday and payday together—what could be better?  Christmas decorations! Live potted evergreens! Yard displays! Stocking stuffers! Oh, wow!

Carol liked to park near the garden shop entrance.  But all the spaces were taken. If she had been in a stadium that held 20,000 fans, she would be in the top row and need binoculars to spot the super store. In her haste and excitement, she forgot how big the parking area was and forgot to pay attention to the numbers on the rows or any landmarks around her parking space. None of the stores in her area had numbers, pandas, or alligator rows.

After an exciting couple of hours of checking out new merchandise and visiting with friends inside, Carol strode confidently out of the garden center to the parking lot with her purchases.

She checked near the garden entrance. No car there. Where could it possibly be? Did someone steal it? What an inconsiderate thing to do!  After a moment, she thought Or…am  I lost and forgot where I parked the car?

After an energy bar and an extra 15 minutes of exercise jogging up and down each row, Carol found her car parked just where she left it.

In church circles, the words “lost” and “found” may be used as freely as salt and pepper. It doesn’t mean that someone has misplaced their car in the church parking lot, which is considerably smaller than a super store.

“Lost” means that a person may never have heard about or accepted Jesus Christ as messiah and the son of God. His teachings, all through the New Testament and penned in his words, reflect unique and wise guidelines for living a spiritual life. For those eyewitnesses who saw him bring the dead back to life, heal those with birth defects, cure mental illness or make people whole who had missing parts, the crowd was astonished. But did they get it? Jesus wasn’t just a prophet. For scholars who then and now have realized Jesus’ birth and life fulfilled more than 300 prophesies, he was more than a man. For those who witnessed the risen Jesus who appeared to them after he had been crucified, died, and was buried, they knew no one else had ever risen from the dead. Jesus Christ was who he said he was—the Messiah, the son of God, the Savior of the world.

Jesus himself stated, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no man can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30]

At the end of his life, a discouraged, but still wealthy and powerful King Solomon wrote the chapters of Ecclesiastes, concluding that youth, vigor, wealth, civic projects, nearly everything he’d tried and could name was…”’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’” [Ecclesiastes 12:8].

But he concludes, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecclesiastes 14:13]

But more than being lost is the joy of finding—your car in a huge parking lot—or a new steadfast friend and Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. Say yes to Jesus today.

[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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

Easter Isn’t Just for Kids by Jo Russell

“Remember that I’m expecting an Easter basket from you on Sunday, Paul. I’ve already got yours together.”

“That’s kids’ stuff,” the senior retorted.

“Not anymore. Easter is for everyone.” Carol was charmed that her grown children and their spouses surprised each other with colorful baskets on Easter morning.

“Do you have a basket I can use?” the senior wanted to know.

“Yup. Here it is.” Carol answered as she slapped a woven container on the table.

“Why, that looks like a salad bowl! I’ve got to have something with a handle or it isn’t an Easter basket.”

“Guess you get to go shopping.”

“Do you have any grass?”

“Out front. But the lawn’s not very green yet.”

When Paul arrived at the discount store, he felt as if he were in a rain forest surrounded by bright layers of Easter basket stuffers. The top canopy arched over him in pastel-colored balloons. Next came the lop-eared bunnies the size of wheel barrows nearly blocked the neon lights. Paul found like cellophane “grass” in every color in a crayon box except for real fescue, and baskets with handles as long as a garden shovel.

Some were already wrapped and ready. The stair-step display of themed baskets was as high as the bleachers at the Little League field. There seemed to be something for everyone: baskets for football fans, ones for boys wanting to be fire fighters; Star Wars stuff for the sci-fi crowd, and doll-filled baskets for girls. He had to elbow his way through chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, malted milk eggs, jelly beans, and egg-coloring kits.

But in spite of the choices, Paul returned to the house empty-handed to say, “They didn’t have anything good.”

When it came to good stuff for Carol, Paul was absolutely right. For she was a treasure to him.

She should have something special he kept thinking.

But the real significance of Easter is even more of a treasure than Carol.  No store can match the valuable gift that God offered over two thousand years ago. There is no expiration date. The offer stands today.

The true gift of Easter is free. It’s for all seasons. It’s for everyone. And it’s sweeter than anything on the Easter basket aisles.

Many already know the story and the reason: Jesus offers us the gift of forgiveness and a path to God and heaven. It’s because he laid down his life for us. His love and sacrifice covers our sins much more thoroughly than marshmallow crème and Easter goodies. But he didn’t just give up his life on earth. He came back to life and appeared to many before ascending to Heaven and his father, God.

These much-quoted verses spell out his promise in Jesus’ own words:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

What if you want that Easter gift? What does it take?

  1. Admit to God you’re a sinner. Change your ways and focus. [Acts 3:19]
  2. Believe that Jesus is God’s son. Accept God’s gift of forgiveness. [John 3:16 quoted above; John 14:6]
  3. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. [Romans 10:9-10; Romans 10:13]

For those who know Him, God isn’t finished yet.

Let God use and guide you and you’ll always be up for new experiences—never stagnant. He wishes us to grow through all the steps of our daily journey and the work he gives us to do. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-3].

Paul is still pondering Carol’s Easter basket. But whether he does find a basket with a handle worthy of her, malted milk Whoppers, a chocolate bunny, or Jelly Bellies, the senior couple celebrates the best Easter gift of all: Jesus.

Happy Easter!

[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.]

 

 

 

Guided by God’s Starlight by Jo Russell

When Jolene showed up at the Ranger cabin at 6 for a short guided hike to the observatory in the tall trees, she and her sons had all the right equipment: rugged boots and socks, compass, flashlights, and even a lighted key chain!

But the first thing the smiling ranger told the group was, “You won’t need your flashlights tonight. You can leave them in the Ranger cabin. We’re going to walk in the starlight. It’s a good trail.”

“But..” protested one hiker holding a lamp the power of a streetlight.”

The Ranger challenged him, “You’ll be able to see once your eyes adjust.”

Someone flipped open his phone.

“You don’t need that either”

So all put lights aside and stood with the group in the darkness.

Soon they could distinguish the difference between the shadow of the trees, themselves and the starry sky. The ranger lead them in strong, confident steps up the soft slope. The trail was grey in the darkness, but clearly visible.

During the unique hike in the darkness, one of the hikers spoke with awe when he got to the observatory, “I never would have thought we could find the trail in the dark. But it is there and we can see the way.”

So it is with the ancient path to God. It is older than the rocks along the trail. It has been a clear path with defined boundaries to keep the hikers and us safe. It is lit with soft starlight each day and hour to guide travelers to a quiet place of peace.

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” [Jeremiah 6:16.]

Though the twinkling LED lights, shiny paper and most of the gifts of Christmas are put away, the greatest one remains – the Savior, Jesus Christ. The light along his path is soft and clear, like the stars in the sky that guide us during a nighttime trek. It is a good way.

And  Ranger Christ is the best guide ever.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

Appearances Can be Deceiving by Jo Russell

“I don’t suppose the tow truck driver will give me a ride home too?” Jolene suggested as she talked with the auto shop about towing in her pick-up truck.

“No? Doesn’t matter. I’ll just ride my bike back,” Jolene chirped to the shop’s office manager, “It will be good for me!”

“Okay. If you say so.“

“It would be pretty shameful if a senior woman my age couldn’t make it the distance across our little town .”

“Uh-huh. Hmmm. And you’re how old? Sorry. We’re not supposed to ask women their age.”

At the shop, Jolene slung a leg over her bike and headed out.  She thought of the great adventures in American history as she peddled up and down the hills: Lewis and Clark’s two-year journey of exploration– without bicycles. Johnny Appleseed’s trek through the mid-west – on foot without a dirt bike. Her own pioneer ancestors’ travels to the Pacific Coast – without two-wheelers.

 No matter I haven’t ridden for a few years.  This will be a piece of cake!

But it wasn’t. The north wind blew in her face. The traffic was heavy. No one stopped to pick her up, which often happens in a small town full of pick-up trucks.

Jolene focused on the beacon at the top of the next hill: Artie’s, a fast food eatery. It sparkled like a lighthouse in the sun. Besides, Artie’s advertised a pumpkin spice cheesecake shake this season. The praises included it promised to rejuvenate, energize and satisfy through New Years! And that was only one part of the meal deal!

Jolene was gasping for air as she pushed the bike up the steep slope to the parking lot. She stumbled in the door and nearly fell on her face with exhaustion. She held her hand over her chest as she collapsed against the door frame.

“Should we call 9-1-1?” asked a worried staff member.

“No, just an order for a pumpkin spice cheesecake shake and meal deal,” she choked out.

After a fresh and crisp sandwich, curly fries, and shake, Jolene pedaled downhill, whistling in the chilly breeze. That’s when her gym partner, Lee, pulled up beside her, giving her two thumbs up and mouthing through the closed truck window, “Way to go!”

What he saw was she was burning off calories, improving her cardio, as well as fighting senior aches and pains with a bicycle ride!

But appearances can be deceiving! He knew nothing about the fries and the shake. She certainly wasn’t going to tell him. Even her trip across town wouldn’t have burned off those carbs!

When it comes to Christmas, looks can be deceiving, too. Lights. Ribbons. Shine. Twinkle. Santa Claus. Cards. Bell Ringers.

None of it aligns with the real Christmas. Because the King of Kings, Redeemer of all mankind, the Savior of the world, came in humble and impoverished packaging. Songs and readings sometimes make the stable where he was born too clean. Why, some would consider it shabby chic décor!  But it was a home and shelter for work animals. Such a stall would have to be mucked out and new straw scattered inside as often as any today.

Perhaps God chose the setting and circumstances to prove how everything is possible with him and it is for all people. The shepherds heard the news first. How could this be? They were considered unclean low life in Jesus’ day. But God counted them worthy to see his son, Jesus. How can a boy born in a stable grow strong in body, spirit and character who leads people then to now to accept him and his priceless gift of forgiveness? With God. He was called Immanuel! God with us!  This child born of a virgin whose birth was prophesied generations and centuries earlier.

From the book of Luke came the beginning of miracles: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 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.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” [Luke 2:8-14]

When it comes to appearances, the venue around the arrival of King Jesus, Son of God, seemed deceiving. But make no mistake: his message is for all people. His gift is offered to all.

And that has more sustaining power and rejuvenation than the promises of a pumpkin spice cheesecake shake!

[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.]

 

 

 

In the Name of Love By Jo Russell

“Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a clean car,” read a prominent marquis in front of a business.

“Somehow, a trip through the automatic car wash is not what I had in mind for love,” Connie  lamented. She was thinking that flowers and candy were more to her liking for Valentine’s Day. But to the busy professional, her thoughts followed, “Who would give them to me?” For it was another dateless weekend.

“Not me, either,” remarked her long-time friend, Carol, also dateless. “Besides, a trip to the car wash would mess up the appointment reminders I stick all across the dashboard.

Both professional women thought about the red, white, and pink aisles of flowers and greeting cards at nearly every store in the area—and they felt a twinge–missing out on love.

But one afternoon much time later, Dr. Connie was surprised at her busy medical practice with the presence of a process server, “You’re being sued,” he smiled. Her life was just as insanely busy, but also included a persistent male admirer.

“Oh, great,” Connie groaned. “That figures. It has been that kind of day.”

And she dropped it on her desk with other papers that needed attention before closing time.

But later on that day, she opened the subpoena. It turned out to be from her District Attorney boyfriend.  Written in the legalese with each line numbered, the three-page document detailed a proposition for marriage. Because the DA had met the approval of her dog, mother, family, best friend, as well as having fallen in love with Connie [and her feelings had seemed to be mutual], Rick proposed that he would get down on his knee [the good one] and request the honor of Connie’s presence in his life as helpmate and marriage partner forever after. That was more than 25 years ago.

Long after, Carol joined Paul for lunch at his house when in the presence of the canine witnesses Star and Maggie–one from each family.

He began, “Carol, sit down. I have something important to say.” The dogs thought that was their signal to plant themselves on each side of him for snacks.

“You’re sexy and beautiful,” he began.

“Yowrr. Rrrr,” Star responded, cocking her head and showing off her dark eyes, which means, “You bet!”

Paul persisted with several canine interruptions then earnestly gazed into Carol’s eyes, “I need you in my life and want you to be my wife!”

But Star interjected, “Bark! Yip! Bark!” which means, “Sure, but only if you give me more sausage.”

And with a “Yes,” the match was made: a new family of four, man woman, and two dogs. As far as the canines were concerned, as long as the sausage supply held, the covenant was unbreakable.

Though the two true stories described above bring a sigh and a smile, they both require a partner and the “Eros” kind of love—which leaves a lot of people out.

But there is a greater love offered to everyone: God’s unconditional love and light of forgiveness.

This comes in the gift of Jesus Christ.

Here it is in God’s valentine:

For God so loVed the world,
    That he gAve
       His onLy
       BegottEn
           SoN
             That whosoever
    Believes In Him
      Should Not perish,
    But have Everlasting life.

[John 3:16]

 

What a gift! It’s even better than a car wash, roses and candy!

*Much thanks to Kay Alderton of the Pinetop Prissies Red Hats for the unique acrostic!

[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.]

 

 

Expecting a Snowman–Or Savior? Predictions and Prophesies By Jo Russell

The mid-week forecast sounded brutal: “90% chance of snow tonight  – up to 18 inches, with freezing temperatures tonight. A severe storm warning is in effect. Roads will be dangerous.”

By the time the news hit the grocery store, it got bigger. Rural resident Ernie announced to anyone who would listen, “Three feet of snow by tomorrow morning! Why, this is just like ’67 when no one could get out of town for two weeks! I’ll be ready this time!”

Selena overheard in the check-out line and added, “I’m bringing in more wood for the fire! We always get more snow than you folks in town! Why, with five feet of snow in 24 hours, we could lose the power and heat!”

All the snow shovels sold out in 30 minutes.

As the Superintendent of Schools Brown listened to the media and checked the internet reports, he investigated the facts, not opinions.  Then Dr. Brown noticed that snowflakes as big as Pearl erasers were pelting to the ground. “We’ve never had to call a school day since I became superintendent,” he commented to his assistant, Roberta. “But maybe this time. Icy roads means it’s dangerous for the busses and children.”

At last, he sighed. “I’m calling the radio station and newspaper.” He started the calls on the phone tree to his teachers. Soon his decision was on the air, “No school tomorrow due to inclement weather.”

The administrator commended himself. His decision was sensible. “This is serious. It’s safer for three hundred employees and nine schools of school children to stay home and watch it snow,” he explained to Roberta.

But the next morning turned into a surprise. By 9:00 a.m., clouds disappeared. Intense blue skies  brought sun sparkling on the snow-packed roads—and school children coming to life.

Brown’s assistant, Roberta, her husband, and their two young children slid down the Little League field dozens of times on a cookie sheet and a plastic sled. Scores of other families joined them skidding over the slick surface with cardboard, plywood, and sometimes plastic discs. Roberta’s baking sheet sled was never the same again.

More numerous than dandelions on a summer lawn, snowmen spouted in yards all over town.

Around noon, when the roads were safe but still snow-packed, Dr. Brown headed to the school district office to work. On the way, he passed three of his high school teens in a beat-up pick-up truck. One youth drove and the other hung out the window to check their passenger—towed behind the truck on a tire. Snow and mud spewed the lad with goggles who was dressed in dark trash bags duct-taped in the right places to keep him dry.

“This is hilarious!” the spotter hanging out the window cried, unaware of the superintendent sharing the road, “We need more snow days like this!”

By the next morning when Dr. Brown arrived at the office, he and his staff were red-faced. But for the school superintendent, it was because of the embarrassment of calling a snow day when the weather prediction was completely wrong. For his staff, red faces simply reflected their  sunburns on a mid-week day off everyone would remember.

Predictions, forecasts, and even prophesies are often wrong as Superintendent Brown experienced.

But the prophesies about Jesus as Messiah were entirely correct. Every one of them came true. Numbering over 350 covering everything from his birth in Bethlehem from a virgin, his sacrifice of his life for our sins, and his resurrection after death, most were foretold in the Old Testament hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. Nothing could be more intentional than the predictions of God’s promise of a Messiah. They came in one man who walked the earth and proved himself in miracles, teaching, and prophesies that all came true: Jesus is the Christ.

Consider these words written nearly 500 years before Jesus’ birth:

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

See, your King comes to you,

Righteous and having salvation,

Gentle and riding on a donkey,

On a colt, the foal of a donkey.

…He will proclaim peace to the nations.

His rule will extend from sea to sea

and from the River to the ends of the earth.” [Zechariah 9:9-10b]

 

As you listen to winter weather predictions, remember Superintendent Brown’s surprise on a snow day. Then think on the prophesies and promises of God that came true in Jesus. Which can we count on through all weather and all time?

[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.]

 

 

Martha Stewart has Left the Building! By Jo Russell

“Oh, how I tried to have this home always tidy and a benchmark of decorating!” the newly-married Carol lamented as she pushed a canvas drop cloth out of the path through the sunroom. “But Martha Stewart has left the building!”

You might assume that her husband, Paul, had left the mess. Wrong!

While she and Paul had been dating, Carol had managed to keep her measuring tape, power saw, paints, and DIY projects under cover. He never saw anything from his fiancé’s home but the perfectly set table, polished floors, candles glowing in the living room, and a fire dancing in the woodstove.

“If only Paul knew what I’d gone through for him! Love is…Well, the romantic flames took two hours, 53 pinecones, paper, and a starter log to produce the cheery warm glow.”  Her furnace worked just fine for keeping the house cozy.

But now that Carol and Paul married and lived in utter honesty, her DIY (Do It Yourself) projects peeked forth and showed themselves in all corners of living spaces.

Carol’s impression as a perfect Martha Stewart homemaker became  fractured when Paul saw her projects and asked what she wanted for Christmas.

“Clothes? Jewelry?” he suggested.

“No, I have a better idea instead. I need a minute to put my thoughts together.”  Nearly all of Carol’s wish list could be found at the local home improvement store. “A Porter Cable Christmas would be ideal,” Carol thought to herself, “but that’s like – in my dreams!”

“Let’s see,” she gingerly suggested, hoping Paul would accept her choices, “A cordless drill with two battery packs, not one; a drill bit set with all the pieces, router and router table (unless you let me use yours), portable sawhorses, and a gift certificate for the electrical supply store.” She paused to explain, “That’s because the inside of the shed is my winter project.”

At first, his face was frozen with shock. Then he smiled.

“Just so you know I’m still all woman, I like this coat, too,” she finished as she handed him a page from a catalog.

When Christmas morning came, Carol was surprised that nearly every package rivaled the free weights at the gym. A coat couldn’t weight that much! But inside was pay dirt! It really was a Porter Cable power tool Christmas! Paul had acknowledged that she wasn’t just a woman, but a competent DIY model.

Just as Paul accepted his bride as a whole woman, along with her projects and power tools, God celebrates our differences as individuals with gifts, skills and abilities. All together, we  contribute to the His plan for us and to the body of Christ.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all give the one Spirit to drink.” [1 Corinthians 12:12-13. ]

Jesus broke down the walls of prejudice from his time on in opening the door to Heaven to all. That happened because of his sacrifice and love for us. The Messiah came for everyone. Team Jesus includes everyone from all races and professions who accept Him as Savior.

Jesus loves each of us- –including the imperfect whose projects and drop cloths are evidence that Martha Stewart has left the building!

[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.]