Faster than a Speeding Smartphone by Jo Russell

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Superman! Though that intro said it all for the comic book character created in the mid-1930, its archived history today.

Now, amazing feats are packed into Smartphones.

“My cocktail mixing program just wished me a Happy New Year!” quipped one excited customer at the crowded phone store on New Year’s Eve.

“And mine just fed the dogs!”

A young family with four children in tow stepped up to the window for help with three phones stacked together like an order of pancakes. Mom told the associate, “I’m so excited! We’ve watched our little Chelsea get her baby teeth, learn to crawl and walk, and now she is old enough to text! We are so proud of her! She’s growing up fast! We need to upgrade these and add another phone.”

With the worldwide statistics showing that if Facebook were a country, it would be India. All but four percent of the 30-something population access Twitter, Facebook, and social networking. Much of the communication is accessed from computer-like phones, thus they have taken an important place on wish lists and in suggested survival gear.

“This is truly a dinosaur,” Barb told her newly-retired friend as they stepped up to order a custom-designed computer phone. The younger woman commented, “I don’t know how you got by all these years on call with just an old phone like this!” Perhaps it was amazing. The doctor had cared for patients for thirty years, had been on call most of the time, with only an ordinary wireless phone. The cover was broken, so the battery was held into place with cellophane tape.

After Barb and her friend left with the new model, the retiree cried, “Hey! I can text! How about that!” She had risen to the same new-skill level as preschooler Chelsea. They’d both become part of the world of worldwide communication at its fastest.

But without any need for wireless connections, towers, Wi-Fi, or a hi-tech device, God listens and answers our communication with Him. His power is never down nor ever out of range. God has been communicating without ceasing for thousands of years. But it begins with you turning on the power button with your mind and heart. “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” [Psalm 105:4 NIV] Think, pray, praise, and study the Bible. You’ll attain a new-skill level that surpasses any computer phone user.

[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.]

The New Meaning of Apples and Blackberries in the Age of Technology by Jo Russell

Fruit has taken on a whole new persona in the technological world. While many think in terms of electronic gadgets, I’m still stuck in Farmer’s Market mode when it comes to apples and blackberries and bites blended together in the fall celebration of harvest.

Recently, my grown sons reminded me, “Sometimes, you’re so old-fashioned you could have been the first human life on earth three million years ago!” To keep my relationship intact with them, I had to ditch dial-up internet and get up to speed. I had to upgrade. I began to rethink my definition of fruit.

Today, I find myself and others emerged in Apples, Blackberrys, Dells (definitely not the “Farmer in the Dell” type) and ever present pods (i Pods) that have nothing to do with pole beans or peas.

Some skillful users of technology are able to chew gum, talk on the phone, and navigate down the highway with a G.P.S. (Global Positioning System) guiding them with a robotic voice, “Turn left at the next exit…Missed it. Redirecting. Go point five miles and turn right at exit one ninety six. Then turn left at…”

Competing for road space on the rural roads are determined runners, in-line skaters, bicyclists, and horseback riders. Truly these extreme sport enthusiasts are taking their lives and cardio workouts into their own hands thanks to multi-tasking drivers outfitted with Bluetooth headsets, iPods, or phones.

Once, I received techie advice from a friend, “I give myself two weeks to master a new piece of technology. You need to do that, too!”

God didn’t give me that much time. Monday, my computer flipped on its back, waving its hard drive components in a death rattle. I had to order a new computer. Wednesday, I was chosen as a regional speaker with traveling orders to unknown places. No longer could I figure in wiggle time for getting lost in every area populated with more than twenty residents. That includes the dogs and skunks under the porch. Out with driving by landmarks and printed internet directions! In with a G.P.S.! Saturday for a keynote speech, I turned on a digital recorder I hadn’t used much. When I pushed the “start” button to record, the machine started playing back another speech for my audience of sixty-five women!

All of the technology has great capacity for making difficult tasks faster, more organized and more easily accessed. But to me, it sometimes falls into the same category as assembling a backyard gym set without tools or instructions.

Compared to technology, God’s message is simple and quiet. It’s an uncomplicated gift.
He loves you. Here’s the proof: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16 NIV.]

While you’re struggling with the fruits of technology, remember God’s simple assessment of you. You’re a top banana and the apple of his eye!

[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 this 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 on www.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
technology.

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
procrastinating:
– 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.]

The Technology-Driven Life by Jo Russell

Jo's publicity photo

Author Jo Russell

For two weeks I tried every evening to reach my long-time friend, Jamie, but the phone just rang and rang. Where was the robot that quipped, “The party is not available but thrilled you’re calling. He or she will call you back. Press one to leave a message in English, two for Spanish, and leave your personalized message for up to 45 seconds or no more than 120 characters… ”

Without an answering machine, I had to guess when I could find her home among demands of work, grandkids, and being caregiver for her aging parents.

Cell phone? Uh-uh. Though I discovered pay phones have become as rare as white tigers, I learned Jamie didn’t feel she needed cellular service.

What about e-mail? Face book? Twitter? Nope. No computer.

As a last resort, I sent her a letter. For those who sneer at stamp-decorated postage, know that she got the snail mail faster than I could reach her by phone.

When I arrived at her house, Jamie had my note on her table. I then spotted Jamie’s spotlessly clean phone in olive green on the coffee table. It was an original, not the retro reproductions of today. Also, it had a rotary dial, straight out of the Kennedy era.

“Why don’t you have an answering machine?” I wondered, thinking how desperate I had been to reach her.

“I don’t need one.”

“What about your missed calls?”

“I can tell who called. That’s all I need.”

With only a rotary-dial model, what does she do for vital transactions requiring a push-button phone? I seem to need buttons every day.

When my phone rang today, I learned of all my options from a recorded voice. Unfortunately, the menu excluded pushing a button to talk to a real person.

“Thank you for your recent purchase. I’m calling to tell you the great features of the product. What do you want to do? Press or say 1 to hear more, Press or say 2 to add theft protection, Press or say 3 to get a free first aid kit, Press four to enter the sweepstakes… ”

“Hang up,” I said.

The machine responded. “I didn’t hear that. Was that a number 1?” Before it said “good-bye” and hung up on me, I pushed the off button.

Recently, I have added more technology to my world. In addition to a computer, e-mail, attachments and cell phone, I have connected to Face book, a blog, a website, PayPal, and MP-3.

“Maybe I need a G.P.S. too,” I considered. After relying on an old-fashioned road atlas to guide me on a recent trip of nearly four thousand miles where I got lost in every metro area, I thought of the popular navigation system. Actually, maybe what I need more is another kind of G.P.S.—God’s Perspective System–as I chose how many complications I want to juggle.

Is Jamie’s life less complicated because she is free of continual changes and technology?

Does my life work better because people can reach me?

We all choose our complications. But as we make decisions, we can benefit from studying a balanced look through God’s Perspective System.

[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.]