Where is the Phone? Where is God? by Jo Russell

 

Like a circus performer on a tightrope, newly widowed Rita struggled with her phone and the key for the apartment while juggling a bulging bag of frozen vegetables in one hand and a tipsy sack of paper towels and napkins in the other.  What would it take to get in the groceries before the first snow fall?

I need a hotel-type luggage cart —or six teenaged boys.  No cart. The grandsons live  far away now.  I guess the only way left to do it is the hard way—two bags at a time.   

Day by day, she lamented the loss of her long-time sweetheart and husband.

I sure miss Sam! All those years, we had such a system. I shopped, he brought in the groceries and put them away for me. He helped me so much! So many ways I miss him!

Just as she managed to close the door and open the freezer, her cell phone rang. She finished the call, put away the frozen foods and headed downstairs for more of the sacks.

Collapsing in a chair an hour later, Rita felt a sense of accomplishment. I really did it myself this time!

But after a rest, Rita wondered as she looked at the bags on the counter, Where in all of this is my phone?

Another hour later, after much looking and not much else, she was frantic. “Elsie,” she asked her next door neighbor. “I can’t find my phone and I’ve looked everywhere. I think it’s in the apartment. Could you please call me?”

“Sure, Rita, anything to help! I’ll help you find it.”

Both could hear the muffled ring of the phone as soon as they entered Rita’s apartment.  Elsie followed her ears while Rita checked again under the sofa cushions.  Elsie opened the freezer. There between the green beans and the limas like a veggie and tech sandwich was Rita’s ringing phone. The device was like the Pony Express, getting the message out through rain, snow, hail, sleet, bandits and freezing temperatures.  But there’s something even better.

A universal cry worldwide for many may be “Where is my phone?”  With contracts, fees, contact information, schedules, reminders and internet capability, there is a real investment. Forgetting where the phone is may be added considered in the future as another list of crimes and punishment.

But more important than the phone is not forgetting God.  He looks to love us each day and help us with our needs.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” [1 Peter 5:7] He never forgets, always cares and always remembers.

Where is God? He is as close as a whispered prayer or a thought. He’s even available on speed dial between the green beans and limas.  Keep in touch with the awesome Creator God with prayer, studying his words and guidance in the Bible and making each decision based on his guidelines. You’ll never be lost again, though your cell phone might be now and then.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and her recent Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now in print and e-book on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords. She is author of several other books, including award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

A New Look Inside and Out by Jo Russell

A new look. That was Marnie’s destiny once a month when she went to the beauty salon. For work, she pulled her hair into a pony tail and jammed her hair under a baseball cap with the company logo on it. Simple and fast.

But for her once a month hair appointment for a trim and style, Marnie steeled herself to go without a hat—at least for a day or two.

Annie, her hairdresser, did an especially great job on her hair this time. Though Marnie was forced to leave the baseball cap off when she was ready to leave the salon, she looked in the mirror at the salon and noticed, Why, I’m pretty. My hair looks beautiful! Will anyone notice?

When she reported for work with a new hairdo, Marnie’s boss greeted her with a quizzical expression on his face.

“There’s something different about you.” Long pause. “Did you lose your hat?”

The value you are to God matters more than anything. He loves you and me and cares for us regardless of our appearance, our assets or achievements. Whatever standards the world uses to measure value, such as appearance, assets or achievements, our maker doesn’t see us that way.  God knows us so well that he can name the number of hairs on our head—whether our hair is thick or thin–at any age.

Jesus himself said, “Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” [Luke 12:7] We have value in his eyes each day. He gives us a new look inside and it spills over to the outside that others can see.

God’s love and care can give us the courage to face the future and have confidence in his meeting our needs on good hair and bad hair days. There’s plenty of his love to infuse into each day, whether it’s a baseball cap day or not.

[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 and e-books are sold.  Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now released for pre-sales on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Four Words Ever: You Belong to Me! by Jo Russell

As Troy pulled the tangled sheets out of the dryer at the laundromat, he cried, “You belong to me! I thought I’d lost you forever!”  But he wasn’t talking with his girlfriend or wife. He said these words when he retrieved the match to his other Nike bike sock.

The right words, the wrong meaning. You belong to me? Maybe what made it fall short of his heart was that as much affection as he had for his bike socks, they couldn’t love him back.

Mark had a different take on those magic four words. As he strolled through the aisle at the pet rescue center, he looked intently at each canine to see which would be his perfect pet and companion.  When he hesitated in front of one cage, the furry animal with soft ears and a wildly beating tail wiggled with pleasure. She barked and licked Mark’s fingers through the fencing.

“I want to hold this one,” he told the volunteer worker. Soon, man and dog were bonded, and he petted the dog and said to her, “I’m calling you Caramel. You belong to me!”

But somehow, those magic four words need to be more. Can they meet the needs of readers who buy more than 72,000 romance novels a year?

“You belong to me?”

It’s not fulfilled in the context of fiction.  People need to be truly loved, to experience the real deal, genuinely valued in a two-way relationship.  It can’t come in socks, pets, or romance novels.

Next to the best three words ever, “I love you” come the best four words ever: “You belong to me!”

Love. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, number one and two are food, shelter, safety, security, then comes love and close relationships. Everyone needs love.

What if love was available to all without qualifying with looks, money, achievements, and   conditions? It is. God offers us the gift of love—free and clear—along with forgiveness and a caring friendship forever.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” [1 Peter 9-10]

“You belong to me!” The most important words in our language. As God speaks them and cocoons us with his love, we know that his care is forever in a two-way relationship.

You belong to me! From God, those four words are the real deal.

[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.]

 

Preparing a Mansion for You, Me, and Boots by Jo Russell

As Bernice and Ben moved into their fix-up home, Bernice heard a terrible racket at the front door.

“What is that? It sounds like a scream!” The sound wound up like a siren, demanding her attention immediately.

When Bernice peered through the locked storm door, her eyes dropped to the source of the sound. It was a furry creature the size of a handbag. A cat. The medium-sized calico wasn’t even pretty.

The feline waved its white-tipped tail like a flashlight. The cat limbed slightly on four weary white feet.

“Shoo! Go on home!”

But the cat wouldn’t go. To Bernice, it sounded like “Meow! Meow! Meow!”

But the calico may have been saying, “My house! My house! My house!”

Finally, Bernice sighed and told the feline, “Just a minute. I’ll get you something to eat.”

When Bernice returned with some chopped chicken, she unlocked the door, but before she opened it wide enough to leave the dish, the cat squeezed in, headed for the sofa, and curled up on a cushion. The feline purred herself to sleep.

In the morning, Ben put the cat outside in the cold. He sprayed and cleaned the part of the coach where she snoozed the night before. “Go on home!” he told her. But the feline just stayed around the yard, hiding in the bushes. She was still there when the couple got home from work.

“Ben, that cat’s still around. Maybe we’d better feed it something until we can find its owner.” So, the two worked together as they fixed a bed in the garage.

“Cat’s got to stay outside. Lots of feral cats have ringworm.”

“Right. No animals inside. We’ve got enough to deal with just with the house.”

But in the next few days, winter temperatures dropped to the teens. Bernice shook Ben awake after midnight when Ben rolled over with the blankets. Bernice realized how chilled she was.   “That cat must be cold in the garage. Can we let her in just for the night? We can close her up in the bathroom.”

No one claimed the stray. Ben had the idea the cat might belong to the previous owner of the house.

When the man answered the phone, he spat, “That cat? The ugly old one? That’s Boots. We took her with us. Darn cat! We live eight miles away from the old house. I guess she walked there. Haven’t seen her for days. We thought the coyotes got her.”

“Do you want to come get her? We weren’t planning on having any pets.”

“If she wants to come home, she’ll have to walk. I’m not coming to get her. Let her go to the wild. She doesn’t want to live here. I don’t want her, either. One less mouth to feed. Got other animals to look after.”

The ho-hum looking calico Boots had found her mansion. She lived with Ben and Bernice the rest of her life while they prepared the place for her–and for them.

To Ben and Bernice, Boots became beautiful in their eyes because she was one of a kind. What courage it took for the senior feline to journey to their doorstep! She had chosen them. She had come to them, knowing the home she would find there.

Just as Boots was secure in her true home, we can feel confident of the mansion that Jesus has prepared for us. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one is too ugly or old or sick. All are wanted in heaven to share eternal life with God the Father and Jesus.

This is the promise in Jesus’ own words, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” [John 14: 2-4]

Just as Boots discovered with Ben and Bernice, that way is paved with love.

[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.]

 

 

When Life is An Oxymoron By Jo Russell

My brother, Tony Gottsponer, had a life that was an oxymoron. That word means two concepts are stuck together that are opposites.

Like this: Some say Tony had been a comparatively unique person. I would say he was a completely unique person as every one of us is. Tony Gottsponer sported a dry sense of humor only a few ever experienced. Some remember Tony’s opening line in his speech at our mom’s 80th birthday celebration. “Living with Mom was a moving experience.” Then he kept the audience smiling as he told of the many places she had lived in more than three decades in Yuma.

Most remember social occasions with Tony shyly sitting quietly by himself reading a book. The rest of his family visited and talked.

To begin with our parents, Jeane and Leo Gottsponer found a dream come true in Tony. As a young bride, before Jeane was nearly pregnant, she had wished for two children. A year after her and Leo’s marriage, dream # 1 came to them.

A boy.

A post-war baby boomer.

Handsome. Smart. Big-boned. Intelligent eyes.

Another year later came dream #2 – a daughter.

Then a few years beyond that, a surprise indeed! and another son. Tony had become a vital part of a family of five.

But he had his challenges. Tony didn’t walk until he was nearly three. Far luckier than others infected before the wide use of polio vaccine, Tony survived a light case of polio. He had only minor problems and learned to deal with them. A serious head injury as a toddler changed Tony forever on the outside.

But the inside continued to amaze everyone. Tony’s intelligence. His skills. His reducing tough problems to a few steps.

No one else in the family was a whiz at math. Someone once said that Tony was so left-brained it should be against the law.

Computers were putty in his hands. So simple!

Not for the rest of us.

As an adult, Tony planned to work in technology in the Navy. He predicted he would follow his father’s footsteps in the service. But Tony’s skin disease disqualified him. God wasn’t finished with him yet. Tony didn’t give up on himself or life. He worked hard, investing more than twenty years with the local A.J. Bayless store. He was an employee with loyalty. He worked for Lujan Tax Service for nearly 25 years.

In Tony’s younger years, he noted those were the days of cheap gas – a thin quarter was all it took for a gallon of gas. But Tony beat it down with an even harder bargain: as a young adult, he rode a bicycle everywhere – for commuting, fitness and the sheer fun of saving money.

Tony was nearly forty when he almost surprised the family by bringing home an attractive lady from church. Even Tony’s then two-year-old nephews Lance and Travis turned from their toy trucks to witness the miracle. Tony and his friend, Betsy, were holding hands.

A few days later, Tony became something that left us drawing a blank. Tony was no longer a member of the Loner’s Club.

None would ever have predicted Tony’s new roles:

First, he was a fiancée,

shortly after, a husband,

and a year later, a father to Bethany.

He become a Yuma Toastmaster and a barbershop chorale member. Known also for his passion for gourmet cooking, Tony was often surrounded by prep bowls of tasty ingredients. Betsy commented that after 30 years of Tony’s cuisine, she is just learning to cook.

Add to Tony another recent role: grandfather: the blessings of three strong and handsome grandsons: Robbie, R.J. and Randy.

When a life hastens slowly to a close, it can bring fear or acceptance. With Tony, I believe it brought wonder. A sense of awe that he had become so many new things at a time in life when others learned only their hair was thinning and their arches were falling.

In the absence of Tony , we are faced with a thunderous silence. But I believe that up in Heaven today, Tony is celebrating that he is now better than new.  

Jo Russell, sister to Tony

[Tony Gottsponer, aged 69, died at home June 30, 2015, in Yuma, Arizona. After his recent stroke a short time ago, he learned he had terminal cancer infused in many of his major organs. God blessed him with the time to say goodbye and to pass quickly without further pain.]                 

What Will You Do with Life’s Lemons? By Jo Russell

Aunt Hattie got up early Saturday before her husband and dawn’s early light to be sure to have space and time to herself. Beauty treatments were part of her routine.

“It’s hard work! I’m a ‘work in progress’ every day,” Hattie thought as she applied a pasty green masque. What I go through in the name of beauty! How ugly and embarrassing! But no one will see me at this hour.”

She lamented she could do nothing about her bone structure. But she worked around it at the rest. Even without sparing any expense, Hattie would never be a beauty, others decided. The treatments didn’t help much.

Her husband never saw the magic masques, the miracle creams, or the tool that ripped unwanted hair out by the roots and left her with a spotty rash.

In the semi-dark kitchen, Hattie let out a long sigh. Just after she cut and cupped a half of lemon under each elbow, she heard footsteps headed in her direction. Would she have time to wipe off the colored facial? Not a chance. Her niece, visiting for the weekend, had already spotted her aunt peeking out behind a green mask.

“Why, Natalie!” she cried. “It’s very early. You can sleep in this morning!”

Natalie was astonished to see her aunt leaning on the table with each elbow in a lemon. Her mouth dropped open as she queried, “What are you doing?”

“The lemons make my skin soft and beautiful,” she explained to the pre-teen girl. “One day you’ll understand how important that is.”

As Natalie grew into womanhood, she remembered her aunt’s beauty formula – but decided against it. She didn’t believe that lemons or any other beauty treatment had to be number one. Natalie liked to use the yellow citrus for lemon meringue pie, a tangy taste on fish, and for lemonade.

Still Natalie grew into womanhood known for her beauty – not just her clean-scrubbed, confident look and attitude, but with a focus on inner beauty–something God, her mother, and grandmother admired.

Natalie smiled as she remembered her mother and grandmother for the experiences, love and time they shared. Now gone, she thought of those women’s outstanding contribution in showing love. Not their wrinkles as they grew older. Sometimes each had caressed her cheek and wiped her girlhood tears with rough hands from much hard work. But they left in her memory a legacy of love, compassion, kindness, and service to others.

Aunt Hattie continued to invest in the promises of anti-aging creams, and more lemons, of course. She never knew of any other kind of beauty.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.” Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:11, “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”  [1 Peter 3:4-5]

When Aunt Hattie died, she took life’s lemons with her. But nothing else.

What more glowing complexion could one have than an aura that reflects the love of God and kindness to others? Aunt Hattie never knew what she was missing.

What is God seeing of your inner beauty?  Lemons or love?

[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.]

 

 

 

Treasure Hunting on Earth and in Heaven by Jo Russell

“I just want something to remember Kathy by,” Patricia wailed as she asked Wanda for the solid cherry dresser from the deceased’s bedroom. “Oh, and can I have her dishes, too? The ones with the ivy. That would mean so much to me!”

The executrix agreed as she thought, “The cherry dresser is about the only furniture of worth anywhere in that tiny trailer.” However, she loaded the dresser and the dishes in her truck and took them over to Patricia’s house. Hansel and Gretel’s cottage in the woods was larger.

“How about some iced tea?” Patricia offered as she carried the dishes into the kitchen and waved toward a seat.

Wanda noticed Patricia pondered for a few moments at the sink wondering where to put the dishes. When she opened the cupboard, Patricia scanned the cabinets for space. Where most people had canned goods, she had dish sets for every occasion. Patricia finally piled the dishes on the counter.

When Wanda looked for a seat in the living room, that’s when she noticed the seven recliners jammed together side by side in a circle around a TV.

“Where do you want this dresser?”

Patricia said, “On the patio, I guess.”

So the vintage piece, preserved inside for decades, was now housed under an aluminum awning open to storms, sun, and weather.

Jesus had much to say about money, collecting things, and attitude. The Son of God walked the dusty desert in worn sandals. He had no earthly possessions. But his treasures were priceless. As he said himself, his kingdom is not of this world. Jesus invested in people,   showed compassion, patiently mentored his followers, and taught many about faith and miracles. Just as he does with us, Jesus loves us through all our moments—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Perhaps the most astonishing give of love from Jesus is his divine influence opened the doors of heaven for many – then and now.

Remember his words: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, … For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also. Matthew 6:19 -21 NIV

When helping others or giving money, our attitude is the most important focus.  Who are we doing this for? And hoarding? Jesus tells the truth: possessions on earth are subject to wear, destruction, or theft. Consider Jesus’ teaching as you invest.

May you always remember the best way to invest and never have to wonder, “Where am I going to put this?” For the treasures of heaven don’t take up any space – except in our hearts.

  [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.]

 

 

     

 

The Best Dressed Award Goes to… By Jo Russell

At the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., a half circle of ladies pressed close to the glass to see the manikins decked out in Presidential First Lady gowns.

Spanning a hundred years, all the formal dresses stood out with custom designer touches.

“That would make me feel like Queen for a Day,” one commented. “Look at the beadwork!”

“Love those fabric roses! How unique!” another women cooed.

“What beautiful draping!”

“Wow! What a dress to wear to a ball!”

Not all in the crowd agreed. If ever there was a test case for the differences in viewpoint between male and female, this was it. Two school-aged brothers scowled. The taller one clamped his arms over his chest and looked up at his mother, “Can we go, Mom? This is boring.”

“Not now.”

“Know what I think?” The older son interjected in a voice that drowned out the ooos and ahhs. He uncrossed his arms and pointed to one gown at a time in a row and commented, ““Ugly! Ugly! Ugly! And…” he started, “AW…” then his younger sibling cried with him“…FUL!”

“AWFUL! Yeah!” they repeated. The two boys affirmed their opinions with a high-five and a smile.

“Now can we go? We want to see the trains and cars.”

Transportation was a hands-down victory over ball gowns.

It seems that the world most often evaluates a person’s value by their financial statements, clothes they wear, position, or possessions. Like the boys in this story, opinions of value may vary.

But the best dressed on earth and in Heaven are those close to the Creator, who loves us all. The best dressed shine with a heart close to Him, for the value is in the relationship and the person he created. Each is a unique designer piece with no equal. By comparison, the Presidential designer gowns look like burlap bags.

Jesus himself said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs on your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” [Luke 12:6-7]

More on God’s provision and value comes in Jesus’ words from Matthew, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you… So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ for the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”?” [Matthew 6:28-33]

The richness of relationship with God trumps transportation and clothes. And with that, each of us gets the Creator’s The Best Dressed Award. And what could be better than that?

 

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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come Anytime, Come As You Are, But Come! By Jo Russell

“Where are you going dressed like that?” the school principal quizzed his newest teacher, Roberta, as she crossed the school ground from the teacherage to the school gate.

The last few months, the single teacher thought the whole settlement seemed like one that time left behind. With ten buildings and a handful of mobile homes, the tiny community housed and served the entire population as well as travelers along the highway who stopped out of desperation for repairs or cold drinks.

“The country store, of course” the teacher told her boss. She thought to herself, “Where else is there to go around here without driving fifty miles?”

“You can’t leave the school grounds dressed like that!”

“What?! But I’m off duty.”

“Not around here. You’re a teacher. People here expect that teachers are a cut above the rest. You’ll have to wear something else.”

She looked down at the orange and black tropical design that was perfect for a patio party. In this remote area where casual was the buzz word, Roberta saw many who showed up for church in worn Levis or cut-off jeans. Still, the halter-topped casual attire had passed muster by everyone else – but they lived in town a hundred miles away.

“What about yoga pants?” she offered. Remembering the continent-wide enthusiasm for the snug, comfortable pants, Roberta noted yoga pants became the just-right attire for any event just short of black tie.

The principal shook his head.

“A long dress, bonnet, and a hoop skirt?” she ventured with a grin.

“Not necessary,” was his terse reply.

Roberta’s last choice for the trek across the schoolyard was a new tee shirt and slacks, ironed nicely. This time, she was able to pass the principal’s office without his sending her back home to change.

Clothes: Do they make a man or a woman?  For until Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Life, they didn’t have to worry about clothes, closets, hangers, chests of drawers, boots, fashion trends, or color draping. Life was simple au naturale.

But when it comes to a relationship with God, one doesn’t have to wear clothes that are just right. Those in the tiny settlement who came to church in cut-off jeans – the best that they had – knew that. It’s attitude that counts – one of humility and acceptance of the most high God, Creator, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Jesus himself said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew. 11:28.] Can you imagine the hug that is infused in those words of love and comfort?

Have you ever thought it was too late for you to know God or Jesus? Recall the picture of the three crosses on the hill where Christ was crucified. One of two convicted criminals said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” [Luke23:42-43]

And Jesus’ reply was, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Even though the convicted man’s life showed him as a hardened criminal, Jesus knew the man’s honesty and humility at that moment. At last, Jesus was to him the Savior who had been promised.

It’s never too late. Come to Jesus. Come as you are, but come.

You won’t even need to change your clothes.

[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.]

 

 

 

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When the White Flag of Surrender is a Good Thing By Jo Russell

Bruce left work smiling. “Interesting woman!” he decided. He’d asked the trim, attractive brunette for a date in the great outdoors and she said she would go fishing with him the next weekend. From the first, she had been a mystery to him, working two jobs and showing up for work at the convenience store in nicer clothes than fit the job.

He knew Dee had fled across an ocean and a continent. Why? Bruce didn’t know yet. He only recognized that this bouncy, stunning woman had brought sunshine into his life and work–whether day or night shift. Life was good.

But it wasn’t an hour later that he grabbed the phone at home and Dee announced, “I’m really not into the dating thing. This is really structured. I’m more spontaneous. I just can’t go with you Saturday.”

When he was convinced after much debate she wouldn’t be swayed, he closed the conversation. “But I’m not giving up,” he said aloud to no one in particular. Then he thought of an answer.

When ringing jarred her awake at 3:30 the next Saturday morning, Dee fumbled to find the phone.

“Dave and I are going fishing. We’d like you to come along. We can pick you up in 30 minutes,” Bruce announced. He then added, “Is that spontaneous enough?”

Dee scrambled from bed, got ready for the outdoor adventure in 20 minutes flat.

But conceding to a date did not include surrendering her independence. She thought she would never, ever again throw a white flag into the battle between the sexes.

Once they stopped near the stream, she volunteered, “I’ll carry the ice chest.”

I’ll help you,” Bruce’s friend Dave offered.

“No, I’ll do it myself,” Dee insisted.

A few steps into the stream, tottering with the weight of the cooler, she slipped on the wet rocks.  The white foam ice chest shattered. It was like Abraham’s descendants – pieces that were more numerous than the sands. Bits of the chest bobbed downstream, along with a pint of fishing worms, potato salad, and bagged, seasoned steaks.  The cold sodas were intact, however.  Dee heard coughing on the shore. Both Dave and Bruce were doubled over with their faces turned from her – or were they laughing?

So began the zany, zigzag journey of Bruce and Dee’s courtship. It led to the realization that they  needed each other and God. The Bruce and Dee Team have been happily married more than 20 years now.


Feeling independent and competent? Like Dee, I find that feeling doesn’t last for long. I need God.

It’s not a new idea. Around 500 B.C., God asked the prophet Jeremiah to walk into town for a message. He was to go to the potter’s house, watch and learn. [Jeremiah 18: 1-3] As Jeremiah studied the skilled craftsman working, he saw the process of making a useful vessel isn’t always right the first time. Sometimes a pot is marred and needs to be reshaped. Or sometimes, it needs to be redesigned. A potter pushes it down and begins again with a hunk of clay. And what he or she creates then may be beautiful and perfect for its purpose. It is the same with us and God.

Jeremiah understood. None of us may stand cemented on the pedestal of independence and stay there on our own. We are dependent on God, the Master Potter. We are the clay.

Do you find yourself saying or thinking, “No, I’ll do it myself.”

Isn’t it time to let your Creator help? For what better purpose is trading independence to becoming the remarkable vessel that God makes us to be.

[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.]