Diffusing the Dieter’s Dilemma by Jo Russell

January 3. It’s an official day of winding down from a frenzy of frosted treats.

A day of fasting for dieters like me, like Paul. Carol couldn’t handle the pressure.

Even before her husband left for the office, she was toasting cinnamon bagels dripping with honey. “What?” Paul cried, “Toast for you and not for me?”

“Not today. Remember our New Year’s resolution.” Carol usually waited until he headed out on his commute. “We’re going back to our diets. No pudding! No cheesecake! Forget the cookies! I’m hiding your stocking stuffers! We seniors are supposed to eat less and sugar is a big no-no!”

“But can I have part of your bagel?”

“Nope. This is my last farewell to sugary food. It’s still within our 1200 calorie limit.”

“What about mine?”

“You’ve got sweet pickles with your lunch plus cinnamon-flavored toothpicks. See! You still get to enjoy sweets!”

After Paul left, Carol sighed as she checked the freezer. “Hello down there!”

It echoed with emptiness. Gone was spiral-cut ham with raisin and orange sauce, tender turkey with gravy and stuffing. The only thing left were lean and healthy adult meals in boxes the size of city phone books.

This can’t be so bad, Jolene thought. We shouldn’t have withdrawal over this. The cover photo shows meat dripping with gravy. The veggies are shiny with butter.

But it wasn’t so. Close to dinnertime when Jolene actually unboxed the meal, she gasped. Inside was a grid of plastic spacers. In the very center was frozen meat wrapped with a teaspoon of icy gravy the size of a sticky note. The veggies spilled over the meal like frozen confetti. No butter.

Paul smiled at the dinner table. “How nice! Appetizers!”

“No, it’s dinner.” Though Carol served their tiny dinner on small plates decked with a sprig of parsley as big as the meat, they weren’t prepared sizing down this much.

“Look at the bright side, Paul! I didn’t have to cook and there are only two plates to wash!”

But soon after, Paul asked, “What is there to snack on around here?”

She offered, “Carrots? Celery?”

After Paul went to bed, Carol lay awake counting Christmas cookies and marshmallows roasted over an open fire. [The grocers didn’t have chestnuts.]  She tiptoed into the kitchen and searched for easing herself into 1200 calories a day.

There it was: a recipe for double chocolate biscotti! She could indulge in one and a half cookies!

New Year’s resolutions have a way of billowing up guilt because they aren’t in small enough steps to be realistic for a year – sometimes not even for a day, as Carol discovered.

Yet God knows our slip-ups. He loves us anyway.

“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” [Psalm 139 2-4]

This is from the beautiful passage of Psalm 139, which focuses on the wonder of God’s creating us and the intricate details of his thoughts and love, such as “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.”

God loves and guides us as his child – and that love isn’t dependent on New Year’s resolutions or 1200 calories a day.

[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.]

 

Is There Any Place Like Grandma’s? By Jo Russell

“Gramma!” the toddler cried with glee and took unsteady steps into the everlasting arms of the smiling lady who loved him and saw Robert often.

Later, as the Robert began the uncertainties of the unknown as he entered school, his mother, Jolene, walked him there and stopped – right at Grandma’s house.

Robert followed the scent to her kitchen – to find it full of cinnamon rolls and encouragement.

Somehow, Grandma made everything look as if it were possible. On the way home, he stopped to show her his schoolwork and pictures.

“I’m so proud of you! Look at your neat handwriting! Look at this math! You are so smart!” Her encouragement helped him to grow strong and confident.

And that helped him through difficult times for a long time. But by the time he became a teen, his family had moved far from Grandma. Where was his refuge now? Fifteen for him was a tough age, full of uncertainty and unfolding wings for flight. At least, Grandma had a summer home in their community and lived there six months of the year. But right in the middle of his current crisis, she was gone for another five months.

Did it matter that his mom told him often, “Robert, you’re our free bonus gift! I love you so much!” Somehow, it didn’t mean as much as when the words came from Grandma.

Robert had his doubts. But he knew Grandma loved him from the moment he was born. He needed a refuge. He needed to be at a place where he knew he was valued. So Robert announced he was running away to Grandma’s summer home for Christmas break. It was the coldest month of the year and the heat was off. But Robert determined that with electricity, phone and water, it wouldn’t be bad. With Grandma’s stash of canned goods, he had enough food for months.

Packing up his largest pack, outdoor magazines, and a compacted case of dehydrated food, Robert headed out, not looking back. It was a short hike to Grandma’s, and he wore new boots he had worked for and had bought himself.

Robert didn’t answer the phone when he saw his home phone number on caller ID. His mother, Jolene, then showed up at the door. The first day she checked on him, she found Robert comfortable on the sofa bed in the living room. It was all of 50 degrees inside as the heater and gas were off. Robert was stretched out on it wearing sweaters, a jacket, plus two pairs of thick wool socks. Rob was reading his outdoor magazines: each grouped by title. His large pack was leaning against the bed. He showed no signs of moving back home.

“Hi, Robert!” Jolene greeted her son cheerfully.

“Hi,” he said glumly, not looking up from his magazine.

His conversation consisted of one-syllable answers, “I guess” and “Who cares?”

“Are you ready to come home? Your brother and I miss you!”

“So?”

You can guess he wasn’t ready.

Each day Jolene stopped by to check on him. Then one day, Jolene came over and mentioned, “Grandma wants to talk with you. You know the phone is working.”

She dialed the number and handed him the phone. Robert listened to Grandma and her sage advice, though this end of the conversation sounded like “I guess,” grunts, and “Okay.” After he hung up, Robert packed up his things to come home, ready to rejoin his family. Grandma’s words were magic. It was as if they encircled him again with the scent of cinnamon rolls, encouragement and hugs. And he could go on.

Robert came home a man with a purpose, with honor and self-respect. He went on that year to win a school-wide short story writing contest. His essay on honoring parents was published in the newspaper. He earned a letter in track and won “Who’s Who in American High Schools.”

As we move on the journey of our lives, there could never be a more steadfast refuge than God.

He is as loving and encouraging as Grandma, but his care spans all the days we have.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…The Lord Almighty is with us’ the God of Jacob is our fortress.” [Psalm 46:1-3; 7] NIV

There is always a refuge for us in God. The Almighty God will be there for us with a safe place. It’s even better than Grandma’s!

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

New and Improved? Or Timeless and Dependable? By Jo Russell

As the family of four pushed open the door and entered the warm café, eight-year-old Carrie cried at the specials board in the entry way. “Look! New apple pie!”

Wee daughter Sarah–just four–chimed in, “New apple pie! That’s just what I want, too!”

After hot lunches, the girls both ordered “new apple pie.” But when the waitress placed the perfect flakey pie wedge in front of the younger girl, Sarah’s voice dropped with disappointment. “It doesn’t look new,” she frowned. “It’s just like other apple pie.”

“Yeah,” agreed her older sister, Carrie. “If this is new apple pie, what was the old one like?  Grandma’s is better.”

“New!” is an attention-getting exclamation drawing attention to change.  Is it always an improvement? Maybe not. When it comes to a better taste, a more effective product, or a work-saving device, new may make things easier. But sometimes new is like a hot waffle stuck fast to the griddle.  The “New and Improved” mix only ends in dry crumbs even after excavation as skillful as experts at an archeological site.

Some want empirical facts before they become willing to try out God as a new product. But He is not a new brownie mix – or apple pie that will shine above all other desserts at a potluck.

Consider these words from that assure that God is timely, dependable, and amazing:

“In the beginning, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.

Like clothing, you will change them and they will be discarded.

But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” [Psalm 102: 25-27 NIV]

New is not needed when it comes to God and His promises. You don’t have to wonder what the old one was like. You don’t have to rewrite the agenda to make room for changes. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And His presence is the improved recipe in all the days of your life.

And that’s better than “new apple pie”!

[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.]

 

 

 

 

Shall We Fast Forward to the Good Stuff? By Jo Russell

On the rare occasion that Joan watches thrillers, she holds up her hand over her eyes and peeks through her fingers when the action gets tense.

Her husband, John, sat beside her on the sofa one evening ready to enjoy one of his action-filled dramas. Joan screamed, reacting to the scene on the screen that was pitching with overturned cars, gunfire, blood, and flames.

“Honey, it’s not scary!” John pulled her closer to him. “Don’t you think you’re being silly? This is only the preview!”

It is no secret John likes action films. It is also common knowledge among their friends that Joan likes chic flicks and comedies. Fortunately, the couple’s preferences in media do not present a difference of opinion in their marriage any more serious than one liking cream in his coffee and the other liking it black.

Joan sighed, got up, and apologized, “Sorry, John, I’m a ‘happily ever after’ kind of gal. I leave you to your movie.”

Sometimes late at night when Joan has the remote control to herself to watch movies of her choice, she finds herself hitting the fast-forward button. Zip! The painful parts of the story disappear and the film speeds to the end where everyone is smiling and kissing.

What if screenwriters and novelists didn’t include conflict? Joan wished it were so. Writers will tell you it’s an essential part of fiction story-building. If there weren’t a problem, the reader or viewer would be too bored to turn the page. In real life, problems help us to grow. Second chances also give us a new lease on life. But how often do we want to fast forward to the happy ending? Can a story move to a happy ending without conflicts and challenges?

What about Adam and Eve? When God created the idyllic Garden of Eden, he provided an underground watering system, great, loose soil full of nutrients, and lush fruit-bearing plants and trees. The couple didn’t have to mix up Miracle Grow, amend the soil, compost, dig out rocks, foxtails, goat heads, or worry about drought. A gardener’s dream! Lots of yield and not much work! It was all the fruits, nuts, veggies, and variety that a person could need. At that time of grace and favor, no animals were carnivores, nor did the first couple kill any for meat within the garden.

God planned on the couple to keep on living and to raise a family. He had given them a bigger brain than all the critters, plus the opportunity to reason and choose. They and we are created in His image, after all.
If I were watching a movie of Adam of Eve messing up, like Joan, I would be tempted to fast forward through all the pain and hardship they brought on themselves and look for a happy ending. In their lifetimes, Adam and Eve might not have found it.

But soon after the conflict, God stepped in with a solution. First, he demoted the serpent, pledging that the clever creature would crawl on its belly the rest of its existence.

But God really did plan a happy ending for man and womankind, and He introduced it in the Garden of Eden.

While talking with the serpent, God promised, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 [NIV].

It was the promise of a second chance for all generations. God told the serpent Satan that would be defeated. Satan would try, but Christ would crush the creature’s head, resulting in a fatal injury. The final blow came when Jesus defeated Satan and death by being raised from the dead.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. [NIV]. The ultimate gift of love.

At the birth of Christ, an angel cried with happiness, “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.” Luke 2:10-11 [NIV]. Three decades later, Christ, the Savior recognized the time had come to finish God’s promise.

Conflict: bad choices. Resolution: another chance. It all came with Christ. Though the creation and Noah’s ark weren’t set in a time frame we understand, scholars established a reference point after that to the time Christ came. It was more than several thousand years. But the Savior was worth the wait.

If we fast forward from the conflict in the Garden of Eden to now, we’re missing out on the good stuff. So put down the remote take it slow. Savor the gift from the Lord of All. A gift for all to open: a second chance of a new beginning and a clean slate through forgiveness.

[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.]

Money Maul and Other Fun Games By Jo Russell

“It’s about time the kids learn about money,” Chrissie decided while looking in on her sleeping toddlers. As a first-time mother, she was wild with excitement when they had graduated from diapers forever. Now they could now walk and talk. Recently, the preschoolers had graduated from cribs to regular beds. Her sons were even learning to help at home. “Now it’s time for them to learn about an allowance and about handling money!” she decided.

“You get money for helping,” Chrissie explained as they put away their toys, dropped clothes in the hamper and helped smooth out their bedding.

The young mother made a special trip to the bank for their first payroll–one hundred new pennies each totaling four wrapped packages.

Chrissie sat on the bed with her sons and a couple of piggy banks. First, she showed them how to count out ten pennies from each dollar that they would give to God. “You put this in the basket at church. The rest is yours,” she said “Dad, Momma, and Grandma buy you toys and food and clothes. Now you can buy something, too.”

She showed them how to drop the coins in the piggy banks. With each clink of the coins, her sons giggled. It was better than a toy!

“You can buy ice cream or a toy or do whatever you want with it. You understand? Okay? ”

They nodded.

But that afternoon Chrissie opened the door to a surprise after her sons’ nap. The boys took her for her word when she said they could do anything they wanted with their money. The shiny pennies were everywhere – stuck inside the pillow cases, glittering in the toy box, slam-dunked under the bed, and speckling the floor like confetti.

If money could talk, it would confess that toddler’s penny-shooting battle ended in a draw – and disorder.

God thinks that money is important enough that there are over 2,000 verses connected with it in the Bible. The advice connected with money, blessings, possessions, and wealth revisits a recurring theme of trust in God from the time of Moses.

“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9 [NIV].

The modern application may not involve grapes, olives, or wheat, but instead good health, relationships, manageable bills, paychecks, deposits, savings, bonuses, retirement plans, capital gains, or earned interest income. Will God bless you today as you trust him and honor him first with your tithe and attention?

I wondered if that really worked when I first tried it three decades ago. Ever since, I’ve been watching in awe how God met every physical need and bill when raising my twin sons from diaper-clad newborns to strapping six-footers as a single mom without financial help.

Through the years, I knew God took me through the uncertainties of parenting, health, and career challenges. He always came through. Even though my own uncertainties are slightly different now, God hasn’t changed. Nor has the sage advice of money-handling in the Bible. First, tithe, and second, stay out of debt.

A friend asked, “What’s the difference between a family living on welfare and one living entirely on credit? Solomon points out the common thread between the rich and poor is that God created them both. [Proverbs 22:2] Is someone living entirely on credit rich or wise?

Interesting that King Solomon asked God for wisdom, not wealth, when he took the throne in 970 B.C. Yet he was known for his wisdom, wealth, and wives. He attributes wisdom and his relationship with God of the highest value. “For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”[Proverbs 2:6] So wisdom with money is essential.

Dave Ramsey paraphrases Proverbs 22:7 often as he restates, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” Well-known financial guru on today’s scene, Ramsey is author, radio show host, and founder of the Financial Peace University. [DaveRamsey.com] He says he has helped more in America get out of debt than anyone else. Ramsey explains he starts with wherever they are. But at the top of every client’s budget plan is their tithe, to be paid first to God — all other bills after that. Does honoring God work? Has it brought blessings?

More than you and I can ever count.

[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.]

Don’t Wait for An Emergency! Contact G-O-D! By Jo Russell

“You’ll need to be at the school board meeting tonight,” the principal announced. It was a reminder to teachers Barbara and Lisa of their 24-7 commitment as both single moms and teachers in their isolated rural community. The children would be home alone, but the meeting was only 40 yards from their homes.

Barbara rounded up her two sons and Lisa’s daughter to review the rules. “Your mom and I will be at the board meeting. It’s just over at the cafeteria. All of you can watch cartoons and play with your toys. DON’T come to the cafeteria unless there is an emergency. Remember what an emergency is?” Barbara quizzed her sons, who were 8 and 9, and Lisa’s daughter, Marie, also 8.

“Somebody gets sick or hurt,” Rick told his mom.

“A pipe breaks,” her older son, Sam, added.

“Fire,” Marie quipped.

“Great!” she assured them, leaving the three children to play together.
An hour later, pajama-clad Rick tiptoed up to his mother, Barbara.

Barbara’s neck hair pricked in panic! She was terrified of what crisis would bring him here!

Her frantic thoughts dissolved when Rick whispered,

“Mom, where is the popcorn cooker?”
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It was, however, a testimony to their close relationship as a family that even small child “emergencies” warranted two-way communication. As in all close relationships, the family knew that communicating continuously–talking as well as listening–are necessary.

How would you evaluate your two-way communication with God? Is it only in the case of an emergency? Is it only one way? Do you read His word to hear His voice? An essential element in the relationship with God is to honor him with communication, including listening.

In the time of Haggai, the people called to rebuild God’s Temple grew tired of the effort after a time. Too much overtime? No benefits? They wore out all their sandals walking in the rubble? We don’t know. But they made a decision to put themselves first and ignore God. That included shutting down communication with Him. The volunteers went home to their own honey-do lists. Working on their own houses, they put God on the back burner. He wasn’t pleased. The result was little to eat, few warm clothes and not enough money.

God offered to change the order of things if they would honor him first. “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, [The Temple] so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD [Haggai 1:7 NIV]. He explained they expected much and got little because they did not honor Him. God assured them blessings would come if they would listen and do what He asked.

What does that message mean to us 2500 years later? That God’s promises are  unchanged. Keep close communication with Him. Don’t just wait for an emergency. Pray and listen. Do what he asks you to do.

What’s in it for you? A close, loving relationship that spans forever and is full of many blessings.

What could be better than 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, 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.]

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.]

Truth or Consequences? By Jo Russell

Preschooler Vicki was approached by her older sister, Sherry, who was carrying an egg. “Want to hatch an egg?” her big sis asked. Second grader Sherry was learning all about eggs and science. While most of the time, big sis considered Vicki a pest, she wanted to share secrets with her.

Vicki felt overwhelmed. “What do I have to do?”

“Take this in the living room. Make a nest for it on the carpet. Then sit on it to keep it warm. It’s easy!”

Vicki carried the egg carefully to the living room, found a good place for a nest, and lowered herself onto the egg. But immediately, she felt her pants wet with goo. The yellow yolk also oozed onto the carpet. She screamed with surprise. Her mother came running.

“But, Mom,” the preschooler explained between tears, “I did everything Sherry said and the egg didn’t hatch. I shouldn’t get in trouble for messing up the rug!”

So much for science between siblings. Whether an event is passed off as a joke, a trick or a little lie, it tears away the foundation of trust in relationships.

Wouldn’t it be great to invest in a relationship one can always count on?

There is one based on consistency and truth and promises which are always kept. We serve a God of truth who never lies–not in the past, present, or future. A God of His Word, he is a great example for living.

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” [Deuteronomy 32:4. NIV]

When comes to hatching, God created the chicken and the egg – no carpet or little girls needed. He has just the right answers.  

[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.]

No Fair! By Jo Russell

The boy had opened his conversation with his mom on a summer trip to the grocery. “NO FAIR! These round things without seeds aren’t watermelons! What happened to the other kind with a zillion black seeds? That’s the only kind I want!” the eight-year-old protested.

At the start of the season, Mike realized he had been robbed of his championship status in an event important to him as Olympic competition. Watermelons had changed forever! New and improved? Not to him! No longer could Mike and his brother compete and set a seasonal record for long-distance watermelon seed-spitting from the porch. What was Fourth of July without it? Or the start of the school year?

Appreciating his new interest in ethics and issues his mother asked, “So what are you saying about seedless watermelons?”

“They’re un-American!”

By Halloween, I wonder if scientists’ enthusiasm for genetically-altered fruit means that “grapples” (grapes + apples) take over the floating fruit for “apple bobbing” and pluots (plums + apricots) crowd out grapes and peaches. Whatever happened to God’s originals? And what was wrong with them anyway?

God, the Creator, called plant life “good.” For the Bible reads, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their kinds…And God saw that it was good.” [Genesis 1:11] God, Mike, and I would agree.

Though scientists have played around with DNA on veggies, fruits, and even livestock, in the name of improving the product or the genetics, changing them forever, God doesn’t change.

Need proof?

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27 ~written nearly 3,500 years ago.

“I the Lord do not change.” Malachi 3: 6 ~ penned nearly 2500 years ago.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 ~ recorded over 2,000 years ago.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 70 A.D. ~ written also over 2,000 years ago.

God is a stable foundation in our lives as he had been since the beginning of creation of the earth, of man, of apples and watermelons.

As for Mike and me, we’re hooked on watermelons with big, black seeds – and the contests that go right along with them!

[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 Fail-Proof Security System by Jo Russell

The newest park ranger found it hard to locate a rental in an isolated small town. After many months, he found a perfect rental: tidy, small, and fully-furnished and with all snow removal as part of the rent. The apartment was tucked below the landlord’s two-story house. Its spacious yard was lined with tractors and trucks used for snow removal in town. The avid sportsman landowner also left shot-up clay targets along its flowerbeds.

As the young ranger paid the deposit and first month’s rent, he asked for the apartment keys. “Keys?” the landlord responded. “We don’t need keys here. We have guns!”

In the time that followed, the park ranger found he didn’t need keys, an alarm system, or motion lights. As a security system, the landlord’s guns worked just fine.
Though that “gun system” worked against break-ins and burglaries, where can one find a truly comprehensive security system that also cover floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, uncertainties, and personal challenges?

God!

For thousands of years, God promised and showed the way through uncertainties for Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Jacob, Elijah, Elisha, Ruth, Mary, Jesus’ disciples, Paul, and scores of others. His promises still stand today.

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the seas, though its water roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1-4…7)

The cost of “God’s Comprehensive Security System”? Trust. Faith. Prayer. Communication. A lifetime commitment taken one step and one day at a time. His system never fails and neither does He.

[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.]