My world-traveling friend laughed when I told her I had already packed six months before my first overseas trip. For months, I also had been knitting scarves and hats for the perfect color-coordinated spring tulip tour.

“When do you pack?” I asked the world traveler.

“The night before.”

“And you don’t forget anything?”


I pictured my friend knitting in noisy airports when the airlines lost her luggage, moved or cancelled her flights. She had been as calm as a water lily when hotel shuttles had stopped running and taxis had been scarce. My friend can live out of her knitting bag for a season without running out of anything — except yarn. To counter the threat of that catastrophe, she always carries a list of yarn shops in each of her stops and destinations.

When it had come time for my trip, I had checked everything one more time and packed a carry-on knitting bag with necessities. It had been so compacted the bag’s contents could fill a banquet table with enough merchandise to start a small boutique.

“Did I forget anything?” I thought and then decided, “Never!” At the overnight stop before the Atlantic crossing, my cousin, Vera, joined me and got out her toothbrush. That was when I looked for mine. No toothbrush. I went to the desk of the hotel.

“Sorry. There has been a run on toothbrushes,” the clerk told me.

I brushed my teeth with a Q-tip. On the cross-Atlantic flight, no luck, either. I rinsed and spit. The upscale hotel next to the cruise port? Fabulous gym, breakfast buffet, and even a slide on the television: “Welcome, Josephine and Vera!” But no toothbrushes. I dredged out a plastic fork and a tissue to pick granola out of my teeth. The cruise ship? Plumb out. Fortunately, a fellow passenger had an extra.

Planning ahead is wise, but it can be too much of a good thing.

A widely publicized return of Jesus posted on billboards all over the U.S. predicted May 21 was the end. Some people took the date so seriously they took their own lives.

But 6 a.m. on May 21 came and went. Had those who believed the publicity read a Bible, they would have known from Jesus’ own words, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard!….Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.” Check it out for yourself in Mark 13:32-37 and Matthew 24:36-44.

So prepare – with your spiritual portfolio ready for review at all times.
And for your travels? Be sure to pack a toothbrush!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on]

About Jo Russell

Jo’s humor, inspirational stories, articles and devotionals have spanned more than 40 years, with several national writing contest awards for humor. She's a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Soul—Shaping the New You and Heavenly Humor for the Dieter’s Soul.

Contact Jo

Find Jo on Twitter and Facebook. To schedule Jo as a speaker or to discuss your writing project and receive a free quote, call her at 928-536-2479. Or contact her using the website Contact Form.

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