God and the Boys are Being Mean to Me! By Jo Russell

Eight year old Marcie never realized that being an only child and that could be lonely at times. Her parents did, though. Until they moved, she and her older cousins shared birthdays, egg hunts, picnics, and activities with Grandma and each other. From birth, they had lived a bicycle ride away from each other. Now that the twin boys had moved  across the state,  Marcie saw them just a few times a year.

Once school was out, Marcie’s dad announced, “I’m taking you to spend two weeks with your cousins Rick and Ron up north. We know you miss them. We’ll drop you off there. You can learn all kinds of things and get to know your cousins better.”

“Oh, goodie!” she exclaimed, and she reached for her pink duffle. She packed her special dolls in the bag first thing. She also made sure she added some lacy leggings and pink high-top tennies for events requiring fashion.

But the older twin cousins, neither of which were into fashion and lace, were not quite as enthusiastic learning about the baby of the brood of cousins spending that much time with them.

“She’s a sissy,” remarked Rick to his mom. “We’ve already got plans.” Rick and Ron rattled off their adventuresome agenda for the first few weeks of summer. None included tea parties with dolls nor a hot pink, high-topped tennies fashion show.

“Okay,” Mom agreed. “But be nice to her anyway. Let her join in whenever she can.”

Marcie arrived with a squeal  as soon as she stepped out of the car. The girl squeezed the twins in a group hug.  Not being able to tell the identical boys by name, Marcie just called out, “Oh, twins! I have missed you since you moved!”

After lunch, Marcie wanted to play dolls. Rick and Rob wanted to build their tree house. The tree house won out. The teens  worked on the structure for hours. Marcie played at ground level with her dolls.

“Can I help?” Marcie wanted to know.

“Can you use a hammer?”

“Nope.”

“But I want to put my doll, Sonny, in there. He’ll love it!”

“No dolls in the tree house.“

“Can you lift me up there? I’ll leave Sonny here on this blanket.”

“Nope. You have to climb the boards like everyone else. Or you can heft yourself up by this rope.”

“I don’t know how. “

“You have to try. Board ladder,” Rick pointed. “That’s the deal. It’s a great view up here!”

“But I don’t know how,” she cried and ran inside. With tears running down her face, Marnie grabbed her dolls while the pounding and sawing went on and on.

Marcie called out, “Aunt Jan! Aunt Jan! The boys are being mean to me!”

Aunt Jan wiped Marcie’s tears and put her to work in the kitchen making cookies. As Marcie sobbed out the story, Aunt Jan commented, “Why, Marcie! They’re just treating you just like a sister!”

Her jaw dropped in astonishment. “They are?”

“Yes! That means they care about you.  And you have to try if you want to get to the tree house. Nobody is going to lift you up, but we can teach you how.”

“Oh.”

After cooling the cookies from the oven, Aunt Jan and Marcie prepared a plate for her twin cousins.

“See twins! I can make good cookies!”  Each climbed down and to taste test the treats. Marcie passed muster.

“I’m ready to try to climb the ladder. You’ll help if I need it, right?”

“Right!” the cousins agreed.

And Marcie climbed the boards nailed to the tree trunk, grabbing the branches on the way up until she sat on the platform. All gave her a standing ovation.  Marcie beamed, “Easy breezy!”

Marcie had insisted earlier, “The boys are being mean to me!”  How often do we feel “God is being mean to me”?  Just as with Marcie, God picks experiences to push us to grow and trust him facing the unknown. When challenges come up above our skill and ability level, it’s easy to summarize with “I don’t know how!”

But the unknown is just where God wants us—to have the courage to step up to the challenge and master new situations he gives us. What looks to be the answer for us may be entirely different from God’s view. For those things we can’t do in our own power, we can with God’s help.
Imagine the captive Israelites’ astonishment they were protected and prospered while the plagues of Egypt hit Pharaoh and the Egyptians hard. By the time the Pharaoh’s first born son died from the last plague, Moses got the message that Pharaoh now said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”  [Exodus 12:31-32]

And as the hundreds of thousands of freed slaves walked away, taking Egypt’s wealth with them, they faced the unknown ahead. It wasn’t about where they were going–it was about who they were following to get there.

What is ahead may be more difficult than climbing a board ladder to the tree house when you don’t know how, but God leads us as he has all those who believe and trust in him. With his help, it’s easy breezy!

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

Scared? Trust God in Facing the Unknown By Jo Russell

Dressed in his work uniform, Sam stood at the door of the women’s restroom waiting. He imagined scores of screaming women sprinting out of the stalls! One look at the unwelcome reptile and they’d be gone. Though the remote rest stop offered a warm, clean facility for travelers, Mother Nature’s critters might sneak inside to have a look.

Jolene was the first out of the women’s rest room. She wasn’t screaming or sprinting.

“Did you see the snake?” Sam asked in terror. He clutched his long-handled mechanical hand and fingered the grip. He wondered to himself, “Will it hold a snake away at a safe distance?”

“No, I didn’t see one,” Jolene told him. “What is it–like a garter snake with a yellow stripe? I have a ton of those in my garden.”

“Nope. It’s a rattlesnake.”

“Then why haven’t you gone inside to chase it out?”

“I’m waiting for all the women to leave.”

In such a sparsely populated area, Sam would never see the line-ups of ladies such as at popular stops in the city. Still he hoped he could wait a little longer before going inside.

“I’ve already left,” chirped one lady sipping a cold soda from the vending machine.

“And I’ve already left, too,” Jolene countered. “There’s nobody else in there.”

Sam hesitated at the door, his snake-catching equipment trembling in his hand.  He drew a breath and reached for the door.

Facing the unknown can be an unsettling experience for anyone.  Each chapter in life melts into the next, bringing surprises and challenges: beginning a new job or career; facing unemployment or retirement; moving to a place far from friends and family; starting a business; starting over when you think you can’t.

Like Sam, you may feel as if you’re battling a rattlesnake alone and you don’t know how.

But the unknown ahead–beyond our level of experience and skill—is possible with help that’s just thought away. It brings God to our rescue.

Take a breath. Let go of fear. Reach for the door. Trust in this promise: “With God, all things are possible. “ Matthew 19:26.

And with Him as your guide, you’ll never be alone in facing any rattlesnake–or anything ahead in the unknown.

 

 

[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.]

 

 

 

Mastering Fear and the Grill Master Blues by Jo Russell

Grill Master Paul could cook a juicy steak that would cut with a spoon and melt in your mouth with the savory flavors of smoked seasoning.

But now in the first month of his marriage and in front of an unfamiliar grill, the senior struggled with the impossible task his bride had given him: grill gourmet franks for dinner.

“But I don’t know how,” Paul admitted. “I always heat up hot dogs in the microwave. I’ve never grilled them before.”  And such a daunting request gave him the blues.

“Then you’ll learn,” Carol told him. “They’re pre-cooked, so just get them hot and keep turning them so they don’t burn on one side.”

It was a good half hour before dark as he struggled to cook the hot dogs coordinating knobs, controls and temperature gauges that seemed as numerous as those in a plane cockpit. He began to pray for help. He needed it.

Dusk turned to dark. No grilled franks.

Carol was beginning to worry.

Soon Paul poked his head in the door. “I can’t read the controls in the dark. Which way to turn up the heat?”

After enough time passed to bake a potato in a conventional oven, it was pitch black under a moonless night sky; Paul entered the kitchen with his victorious contribution: grilled gourmet franks.

With God’s help, Paul summoned his courage and had conquered the unknown.

Just as Abram obeyed God and left his homeland for parts unknown, just as Joseph faced the unknown from the bottom of a well, then rose from being a slave to Prime Minister of Egypt, just as the Lord commanded Moses to led the Israelites from the lush Nile Delta into desert, just as Joshua led troops against the enemy in an unknown land promised to his people, God was with all of them.

Ponder this promise: “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you’ I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  [Isaiah 41:10 NIV]

And those words can chase away the blues and take you through anything. Be encouraged, Grill masters! That includes mastering gourmet franks.

[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.]

 

 

 

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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Procrastination is Not a Town in Texas By Jo Russell

“Perfect pet door!” Jolene, my master, had decided as she slid open a ground-level window. It would make a temporary pet door in our country home. Collecting dust in the shed was the box with a weatherproof pet door. Jolene needed to get someone to put it in. She smacked her thumb last time she used a hammer. No wonder she put off messing with the new pet door.  She isn’t much of a carpenter.

But I wasn’t worried. As the hard-working resident guard dog, I, Adobe, personally guaranteed no one put a paw in who didn’t belong. I couldn’t speak for the cats. Snoozing through the summer with four paws in the air was what each of the two called work. They only came to life for meals. All night they partied with their friends. Now and then, one would leave a furry trophy inside where everyone would notice.

My hound dog nose is packed full of talent and skill. Right away, I liked the open window pet door.  It was easy. Simple. Barely having to raise a paw, I could step inside the Garden of Eden Hilton, which is what I call home. Food fare is delicious and service is five stars with a smile most of the time. I am thankful. Country dogs like me know which side our bread was buttered on – and hope someone drops a slice butter side up. “Biting the hand that feeds?” Never!

But one spring evening, I sprang to action with non-stop frenzied barking. “Intruder! Break-in!” I warned Jolene loudly.  Burglar! Traitor! Thief! Infidel! Terrorist! Opportunist! Freeloader!”

When Jolene peeked around the corner, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open.

The four-legged thing was furry, but odd. A white stripe divided its black back. Glaring at me with shiny black eyes as it ate pet food, I noticed it had a pointed black nose. Its tail trembled.

“It’s a skunk, Adobe!  Get back! Don’t let any of them in!” .

With a broom, Jolene nudged the black and white varmint toward the open door. As she closed it, she sighed, “Good job, Adobe!”

But more seasons went by until it was warm out again. The boxed pet door still collected dust. Jolene had put it off again. The open window pet door reigned. It was okay by me.

During my early evening sentry duty next to Jolene’s chair in the office, I was resting my eyes a little. Suddenly, my nose stood at attention. I barked, yipped, yelped and growled out threats of the terrible fate for intruders. This time the force was with them: Mama Skunk and four of her kits showed up. But just as skillfully as a cattle dog, I drove Mama and three trespassers outside. Then I took off after the fourth, cornering it in the living room.

“No more break-ins or food foraging, for you, Runt!” I snarled.

.Winding up with an especially terrifying bark and series of yips, I noted the kit had raised its tiny tail to fight dirty. With no warning, it was over. I took no prisoners. Never have I or the rug ever smelled the same again.

If only Jolene had put in the all-weather pet door!

******************************************************************************

Putting off is procrastination. It’s isn’t a town in Texas or anywhere else.

Just as an envelope or e-mail may begin, “Urgent! Immediate attention required.” so our Creator stresses immediate attention to challenges in all aspects of our lives:

Work: “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” Proverbs 12:24.”

Relationships: “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” [Ephesians 4:26.]

Longevity:  “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” [James 4:13]

Eternity:  “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts …” [Psalm 95:6-8]

Have you addressed the most immediate and important of all decisions–Who Jesus is to you?

But if you’ve handled that with skill and speed yet still face a skunk problem, God and Adobe would also agree that you need to give it your immediate attention. For when it comes to consequences, skunks are loaded to deal with life on earth, and not in Heaven.

[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.]

 

 

 


 [J1]

What? Road Kill Again? By Jo Russell

As Roberta turned into the driveway after being gone all evening, she saw the car’s headlights illuminate a dark, furry and very still shape.

“Chalk another one up to the coyotes,” she thought. Remembering the meat-eaters roam free in the country, Roberta figured that’s what it was. Road kill. Carnivore kill. Whatever. She sighed heavily as she steered around the shape and got out of the car on the other side.

“Not tonight, God. I just can’t deal with this. It’s too dark now.” The shape, size and color ruled out the remains being any of her critters, Roberta knew, but by morning, rigor mortis would turn the body into something as stiff as a stale pizza crust.

At first light, Roberta donned gloves and hoisted a shovel. Ahead was the unpleasant task of burying the furry shape in the driveway. It hadn’t moved, of course. Resurrection only applies to Jesus.

But in spite of the dread she felt as she approached the still shape, she got a close look. Then her fear and assumptions vaporized. She erupted in laughter!

For there in the driveway–dark, furry and very still–was a pair of her lined winter gloves that had fallen out of the passenger side door pouch when she cleaned the car earlier. It was just a bad case of mistaken identity.

Mistaken identity and drawing the wrong conclusions happen often enough.
How often do you fail to understand what you see or experience? Where is the reality?
How will you get around the latest knotty problem? You might be asking yourself, “Why is God doing this to me? “

It happens often enough during any journey, including one with God. Paul says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” [1 Corinthians 13:12] NIV

We can be assured that God sees the entire length and width of our life and our challenges. He knows the solution, the outcome, the journey and the end. God is there to help us through all. Someday we will see and understand all. Not now.

His love prevails over all the fears and challenges of our lives, including a decent burial for gloves in the driveway!

[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. For more chuckles, to hear a speech, read excerpts, check this website and also Amazon.com the second edition e-book just released. Free Mother’s Day download May 9 to May 12, 2013.]

Free Mother’s Day Gift for You, Friends and Family:
Amazon.com Promotion: Free download of the second edition of
Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out?
Starts Thursday, May 9 through Sunday, May 12, 2013.
Click http://www.button-to-god.com/?p=1107 to download free Kindle Application for your PC or device.

Jenny’s Puddin’ Pies By Jo Russell

Jenny’s Puddin’Pies
By Jo Russell

“Jenny is one sick three-year-old,” commented Nurse Nancy to her coworker at the local hospital. The youngster had had abdominal surgery. The heavy dose of antibiotics left her listless and grouchy.

“She won’t eat, and we’ve been trying,” added Nurse Janet.

“Yep, and we can’t even ply her with goodies.”

But her pediatrician, Dr. David, had to keep Jenny fed in some way, so he had the girl hooked to a feeding tube. She didn’t like it and let everyone know.

Days went by and still the nurses coaxed Jenny to eat. “Ice cream?”

She shook her head.

“Hamburger?”

Nope, not that either.

“Pudding?”

Jenny put her hands over her face and hollered, “NO!”

Children bounce back, but Jenny didn’t seem to. No sparkle. No joy of life. No smile.

Dr. David was concerned. He had already been by to see the wee patient when his colleague, Dr. Morris, checked the girl. The woman doctor decided on a novel treatment.

Later that day when he checked on her again, Dr. David expected to see a listless Jenny moping in bed in a spotless room. Instead, her heard giggles and found the three-year-old sitting on the floor with a messy cafeteria tray in front of her. Jenny’s smile was outlined in brown, which also had dripped on her gown and sprinkled in a circle around her on the white floor. Jenny had been eating the wet dirt, her own puddin’ pies. It was more fun than at home!

“What is going on?” Dr. David fumed to his nurses. “This is not a medical procedure! Who gave her these mud pies?”

The nurse blushed, “Dr. Morris, sir. She said that Jenny’s intestines have none of the good intestinal bacteria left because of the antibiotics. She told me that if Jenny’s body needed it, the girl would eat the mud.” The nurse paged the woman doctor to explain.

Dr. David and Dr. Morris shared a quizzical look as Jenny finished up her mud pies. Soon, the nurses restored the room and Jenny to order. Time would tell if the oddball treatment worked.

Just a few days later, the girl was glowing with a smile. After she finished all the food on her lunch plate, the little patient demanded, “Ice cream with gummy worms!”

With her defense system back up, Jenny was soon well enough to go home.

Jenny’s defense system was up to a fight with the good bacteria inside the same way that infusing ourselves with the Bible inside of us provides everything needed for inspiration, guidance and defense. God’s words start on the outside, but stay on the inside. They transform the body, mind and soul. Just as the good bacteria helped Jenny fight her way back to health, holding the Bible’s words inside provide a solid defense. Nothing could stop Jenny. Nor can anyone a Bible-infused you.

But some distance themselves from the Bible. Because they don’t read the Bible much, the words of God are faint inside. A few words or phrases are just not enough input in a spiritual life. Just as Jenny’s mud pies restored a balance of immunity and defense to fight for her health with just enough mud, a reader needs to build God’s words up inside as a defense against all types of attacks.

Somewhere in between too much and too little is a balance. Wherever you are, to get closer to God, you need to know Him. To know Him is to read His word, the Bible.

Author Alice Camille wrote “Read the Bible? Me?” for Catholic Digest. She commented, “Don’t we get our multivitamin of Scripture with three readings and a Psalm on Sundays… and do we really have to know more than Father has to say about it all in the homily?” She went on to summarize that “you do get the Biblical multivitamin at Mass, but no one mistakes the multivitamin for the full pleasure and experience of a meal. To consume more than the basic nutrients of Scripture, we must engage these stories more personally and completely. Not because we have to, but because we’re missing something wonderfully good if we don’t.”
[http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/faith/praying/2010/08-16/read-the-bible-me]

Wonderfully good. Not just the adventure, mystery, and thrill, but the stories of faith and miracles all through the Bible. God is there for us. We can find Him anywhere, but we hear from Him in our quiet moments, prayer, and by reading the Bible. We’re not alone. Though God’s defense doesn’t show on the outside like a military parade, it does show in our strength on the inside and faith in Him as our warrior and defender – forever and always.

It’s easy. No need to eat mud pies. Just use the Bible to build up the fighting forces inside you for optimum spiritual health.

[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.]

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.]