The Valentine’s Day Hype By Jo Russell

When Valentine’s Day comes, Roberta often feels a pang of longing to be kissed by someone, to feel a warm body curled around her legs, and to be showered with dark chocolates from Brussels.

But she once said, “Who doesn’t when you’re over twenty-nine and still good looking?”

It did happen, but not in the form she was expecting. Her poodle, Lady Star, puckered up and showered her with kisses and enthusiasm. One cat curled her luxurious fur coat around Roberta’s feet. The chocolates? Roberta would say this is a do-it-yourself project with cream, butter, cocoa, sugar, and time.

One time, Roberta remembered feeling relieved when a truck pulling in the driveway wasn’t an electrician, plumber, or carpenter. It was a florist’s delivery van.  “Must be in the wrong driveway,” she thought and waved him away. But he didn’t go. Instead, he came to the door carrying a vase of flowers exploding in her favorite color: purple. The one-time gift surprised the single lady. Roberta’s grown children had ordered them for her for this special day of love.

Paul mentioned that single people are valuable in the ministry when he wrote “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs:  Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in body and spirit.”  [1 Corinthians 7:34]

Singles can often be the odd one out during events geared for couples.

At Roberta’s Sunday class, someone popped their head in to ask the widows, divorcees, and singles, “Anyone want to go to the Valentine’s Banquet put on by the men this year?” With a vengeance that would go with a question like, “Does anyone want to go sky-diving?” three responded, “NO!” But after the door closed, Vera had an idea. It only took a few minutes for the Faithful Friends Class to plan a Valentine’s activity that included everyone, and which allowed someone who needed a visit to have the party brought to her. It was a win-win situation!

What can you do to remember a single woman on Happy Hearts Day?

[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.]

 

 

All In the Name of Love By Jo Russell

Like many young couples in love, Rick and Marian were confident of their relationship. They were beginning their life together without so much as two Smart Phones to rub together.  

 

But Rick did have a brand new pick-up truck. He was a macho man and his truck said it all. More than just for hauling hay and loads of building materials in the rural ranching area, his shiny four-by-four pick-up had testosterone written all over it. 

 

Like many before him, Rick had used his pick-up as a bargaining point in his and Marian’s relationship. Now and then, he would let Marian–first as girlfriend then as fiancé–drive the pick-up. For all who saw her behind the wheel in the four-wheel drive macho mount, they could appreciate Rick’s claim on her. Many more would notice the three-quarter ton truck over a little bitty ring on Marian’s finger.  

 

Pastor Bob noted that when he and God bound couples together, a groom was all for sharing their worldly goods. You know–the bed, the bathroom, a lint brush, toothbrush, horse, tack, or hound dog with ear mites—anything, but not the pick-up.

 

 

As the pastor led Rick and Marian through their vows during the ceremony, the groom repeated the words, “I, Rick, take you, Marion, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day on through sickness and health, and with this ring, I share my life and all my worldly goods…”

Pastor Bob added, “Except my pick-up…”

Everyone laughed.

He asked Marian to repeat the vow, “I, Marian, take you, Rick, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day on through sickness and health, and with this ring, I share my life and all my worldly goods…”

The bride responded confidently to the amended contract with, “I do.”

Pastor Bob chuckled and asked if that was her final answer.

“Yes!” she affirmed with a twinkle in her eye.  

 

The next day, Rick did what no newly married man in his right mind and with a new pick-up had ever done before in the entire county. Maybe after his wedding night, he wasn’t in his right mind! It was unthinkable! But it also was thoughtful and loving! He gave the pick-up to Marian. Too far to walk to commute from their place with her not-too-dependable car, he knew she needed it.  

 

Rick realized that the truck and their marriage really wasn’t about him, but them. He had learned to look at the needs of his wife, just as Christ guides us to do.  For in Philippians, Paul advises, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” [Phil. 2:3-5.] 

 

It’s about the other person, not us. That’s the essence of real love in relationships.

 

[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. 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.]   

 

 

 

 

 

Words Worth Fighting For By Jo Russell

The winter storm pinged against the windows like handfuls of gravel, keeping the small twin sisters stuck indoors. Normally friends, Mandy and Angie had shared a womb, then a room, and hours of play together.

Soon a loud thermometer of sisterly love rang out, “You’re not the boss of me!” You can’t play with my toys any more!”

Imaging this could soon erupt into a hair-pulling fist fight, Grandma headed down the hall. One twin catapulted towards her, and nearly knocked Grandma down. The twin’s loud wails pierced the quiet house.

“What’s the matter, Sweetie?” Grandma pulled her close and stroked the girl’s hair. She studied the twin’s clothes to see which of the mirror-image granddaughters she held before calling her by name.

Sniffling and hiccupping, Angie finally cried out the hurtful words, “My sister said that I am ugly–and she is beautiful!”

Grandma called the siblings together. “Nonsense, Angie. God made each of you special and neither one of you is ugly. You look just alike.”

Both looked at each other with amazement as if for the first time.

“That means you are both beautiful!” Grandma declared. “Besides I need you girls to help me with the cookies. But first you need to fix your words and thoughts.” She helped the girls see the power of words. Soon, the twins were crying out apologies and clinging to each other. Friends again, Angie and Mandy headed to the kitchen, ready to fix the rest of the world’s problems with chocolate chip cookies.

King Solomon summarized the potency of words in Proverbs 12:18: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” [NIV]

During the holiday season, television sitcoms present fictional families with problems, solutions and fuzzy warm feelings all wrapped up in a tidy 30-minute package.

In real life, words can begin a conflict that is not resolved in a half hour, perhaps not in half a decade. Each thought, attitude and word has even greater weight with people you may only see rarely.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord,” advise the writers of the book of Hebrew 12:14. [NIV].

 Think on the words that may have given you a glow:
“I love you.”
“I’m proud of you.”
“You are such a special person to me.”
“I pray for you every day.”
“Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness.”
“You are really good at this!”
“You look great! Are you working out? Have you lost weight?”

Now those are words worth fighting for!

[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 Proper Use of “Y’All” By Jo Russell

“Hey, y’all, somebody needs to make the fish tacos. Who knows how?” My cousins’ eyes all zeroed in on me.

“Who’s y’all?” I wondered. With an apron on and cilantro and cumin in hand, I was whipping up Mexican rice and beans. In the first few days at a women cousins’ reunion, I had shown my skill cooking from scratch. When the electricity had gone out at a cousin’s farm, the hungry crowd was wowed when I whipped out a camp stove and prepared a full meal without breaking into a sweat.

As the only one of thirteen women first cousins who was raised out West, I spent about three weeks trying to figure out the proper use of “y’all.” Did it mean “you,” “everyone,” or “none of the above?”

“Y’all come in! Dinner’s ready, and we’re glad you’re here!”

“Hurry up, y’all, take the picture! I’m bent over like a bobby-pin!”

And on the radio, “Head down to Get Y’all Fashion for the ‘Foth’ of July sale!”

Linguists have taken sides nearly as vehemently as in a country feud. Some oppose “y’all,” saying that it is not correct English, while others demand it be accepted. Though “y’all” originated from the south, people who have mastered its use move around enough that “y’all” has been included in conversation all over the U.S.

After much Southern hospitality from cousins and family, I believe I now know what “y’all” means – an enthusiastic welcome, as in “Come in! Are you hungry?” Or, “I made southern b-b-q for just for you.” It translates to smiles and a place to stay. It offers love to extended family, reaching out with time and a hearty welcome.

“Y’all” knots love and welcome together just like Jesus’ words: “Love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

So, y’all, how are you doing at that?

[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.]