Ricky, Public Speaker Extraordinaire  

This week my Ricky was asked to speak on Sunday to singles at church, on Wednesday to his largest crowd yet (close to 300?) to current students, faculty and alum at our old High School, Westside Christian, as an “Honorary Alum”, and then on Friday to 22 murderers at the Oregon State Correctional Institution. What a range!

He also got word of a Wash.Co. Drug Court participant who wrote a paper on HIS book, PCS & PHD, quoting parts of it that meant a lot to him in his journey toward sobriety and rehabilitation and success in life. Seems like he even quoted Proverbs from each chapter of Rickys book without even realizing that they were from The Bible. Hope is Hope and when God anoints it, it changes hearts. So much hope being released in Jesus’ Name. So, so proud of my husband.

   

    
    
 

The email from Ricky about the Drug Court participant is as follows:

 First, know I’m not tooting my horn 🙂
Everyone in Drug Court has to write a short paper on something they’ve learned in Drug Court before they can Phase to the next level (5 Phases total). 
This guy chose to write his paper on my PCS&PHD book. He’s not a Christian but he loves my book and shares it with people. I’m not sure he knows the “quote references” in my book are from Proverbs but he’s still getting the Word! 
There are so many different ways we can mentor/disciple people. Don’t underestimate yourself!!! 🙂
Read below for the letter he submitted to the court to move to Phase 3:
503-505-0995 • http://www.rickyrussjr.com
Begin forwarded message:
From: Stephen M

Date: December 21, 2015 at 10:01:21 AM PST

To: “abcruss@gmail.com” <abcruss@gmail.com>

The book I chose to read and relate to my life is PCS & PHD written by Ricky Russ
Each chapter in this book I’ve already used and can use in the future to help me in my recovery and lead me to positive choices and outcomes in my everyday life.
Chapter 1. Yesterday

Ive never liked to focus on what can’t be done, rather what can be accomplished. Not to say being realistic isn’t important in recovery it is. However when taking advice, especially from someone in a mentor role I seem to get much more out of a positive approach, rather then someone telling me I can’t do A,B or C because of my past. I realize I have to be responsible for my past and the the things I’ve done but the longer I let that dictate my future the longer it takes to get back to where I belong.”Fear based decisions have a shelf life. Their results are short term,whereas hope-based decisions bring life”. I’ve been given some tools to deal with the things I’ve done and put people through in my past. I’ve learned that as long as I remain true to myself and make that next right choice good things will come. “The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them; Honest people are relaxed with confidence bold as lions(28.1). “There will always be those who mistake your confidence for attitude. Stay humbly bold. The author also mentions “Transparency” in this chapter something that is encouraged in drug court. I feel me being an addict this is so important. I need to be open and honest with myself and the people in my support group in order to remain on even ground.
Chapter 2. Today

What I take out of this chapter is that I have to surround Myself with positive influences. My environment is essential in continuing to grow and form positive relationships. “If your serious about discovering all thats inside you, you’ll find a place to do so. Find people and places that strengthen your plans”. I also take out of this chapter the importance in time management and being prepared. If I want to be successful and be able to deal with the problems in my life that will come up, and they will, I have to be willing to go the extra mile even in the things I sometimes don’t want to do. “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you farther behind.”(14.24). 
Chapter 3. Tomorrow

I take out of this chapter that while technology is great, and should be used, theres a lot to be said for good old fashion do it yourself education. I should learn from my elders, take advice from those who have, been there, done that. I should listen more and not be afraid to ask for help.”The wise accumulate knowledge-a true treasure; know-it-alls-talk too much-a sheer waste (10.14).
Chapter 4. Haters

This chapter is Important for me and my recovery. I use to take things personal, and ill admit i still do ,this is something I continue to work on daily. However its up to me how I react and their opinion doesn’t change who I am or where I’m going . “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that(29.25). This part of the book also helped me realize how important discipline is.”Discipline produces something that cant be bought”. I have to be disciplined in my everyday choices to stay on the path of remaining clean and sober. 

Chapter 5. Advice
I learned that advice comes in all forms. I don’t have to like what advice is being given or the person giving it ,however I shouldn’t disregard it I should always consider it and try and use it to better myself. ”Although spite isn’t the best motive for not doing wrong it can work. If you choose to put “spite” in the passenger seat, be sure to let respect and honor ride in the back seat as well”. Im working on listening to any advice that comes my way because my ego and closed mind has caused me to miss out on a lot of good advice I should of taken. ”Simpletons only learn the hard way, but the wise learn by listening”(21.11).

   
    

Southbound – a poem on child sex trafficking

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Southbound

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She used to be a sturdy branch, proud and blossom-bearing.

Now she is a piece of firewood, split with an ax and used to warm a man for a moment.

She stares from the backseat down a crowded freeway and ponders the irony of that word.

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Westbound

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Cut from her life-source, now unable to bear the weight of fear, it gets so heavy that it crushes young bones.

It leaves her whiskey-scented, terribly fragmented.

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At the Border

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She recalls the shaky voice of her Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Ray, “all things work together for good” and asks herself if this journey could be included in the glorious idea of  “all things”.

Good, at one point surrounded her; it is now a speck on a mountainside with no road leading to – or from – it.

Her one piece of ID is taken. Soon after, another piece is stolen, never to be returned. This one, much more sacred – a blend of body, mind and potential.

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Eastbound

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Her eyes watch the signs blur by and the pavement turn to gravel to dirt

An unsuspecting field her suite, flowing curtains made of wheat

A client tries, her eyes to meet as she lets them close, recalling a song her Mamma lulled, “turn your eyes upon Jesus”.

She waits for things of earth to grow strangely dim.

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Southbound

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Split with an ax by one more of hundreds.

Wholeness is a far-fetched dream of which she cannot afford to let go. There would be but one option left.

Stories of rescue, of raids and redemption resound with hope just palatable enough to grasp in her small hand.

She opens her eyes and discovers what was clenched in her hand: the corner of a stained sheet. Could have sworn she was in a field.

Knuckles turn white from this plight. If her spirit weakens any more, her hope will be reduced to a thread, spinning and taut.

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Southeast bound

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She hears a wrinkled woman humming a hymn & the words come back to her.

Its truth thickens the thread.

She recalls when that freeway used to be a free way,  summons the courage to imagine a listening, loving God and wonders if anyone is praying to him on her behalf.

And just in case they are not, she whispers, “I still believe in you. You are all I have. Free me. Please.”

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Southbound

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hillsong with another new power-packed ballad, desert song

is your soul in a dry season…a desert? i just thought i’d break from my short series on “raising the bar” to highlight some great songwriting. Continue reading

a new song: storm’s a-brewin’

this one’s for kids (or grown-ups), kinda big-band style. just click here, but come on back when you’re done! storm\’s a-brewin\’

braylon (5) helped me write it earlier this week just after we looked out our kitchen window & noticed the sky was changing fast. it does that a lot ’round these here parts!

oh – a few side notes: he wanted to say that after the line “in the mean time, i’ve got my umbrella” he voted for: “in the mean time, i’m holdin’ on to my fella”. cute, but it sounded a bit co-dependant to me. : ) i ended up with ‘i’m not alone’ cuz it could mean i have my family w/me, or better yet, i’ll always have God by my side. (and…vs.3 i have to give credit to pastor judah smith for inspiration. heard a sermon about change 6 mo. ago & it stuck).

compassion is…touching childrens’ lives from across the globe

i’m writing once a month about a fave & trusted organization (compassion international) to help spread the word, so that we can spread the hope.

the first time i heard about it was years ago from mac powell himself, lead singer of third day (who just landed a gig on ‘the tonight show with jay leno’, on july 29th! -mark your calendars!!). it happened to be about when i remember praying, ‘enlarge my territories!’ from the ‘prayer of jabez‘. well, we finally got to trusting God enough to supply us the funds to support this cause, & it turned out to be pretty darn easy. we don’t even miss the $32…in fact, God has been really rewarding our efforts to give, in ways we never thought he would! i’m not kiddin’. we’ve seen major increase. you test it out & see for yourself! here’s all we did:

i just sat at the computer w/braylon, & together we picked a child his exact age. i signed up (choosing auto-withdrawal). soon we got a welcome packet w/the basics, wrote our 1st letter including a picture of braylon & a picture he colored for his new friend, & ba-da-bing! a few weeks later, how special did my little boy feel when opening a great lil surprise in the mail – his first letter back (translated from spanish by a tutor) & a picture drawn by his sponsored kid/penpal! it’s been wonderful.

today we get to send him a birthday package (we were able to choose a boy whose 6th birthday is the same week as braylon’s!) ~ ‘jhonatan’ will be opening up a gift: spiderman stickers & a card game to go with bray’s hand-written birthday wishes & verse. i am so thankful for this new way to share w/my kiddo how compassion & perspective can change lives.

does the blood of Jesus cover the blood of suicide?

thanks, dad, for your permission to write about gramma.

my gramma was so wonderful to be around. she was kind, always had a hug. she loved “the peoples’ court’ and ‘hee-haw’ and ‘mama’s family’. we used to camp with her in her pop-up at wallowa lake & roller skate on her wood floor. she nursed my first bee sting i got (in my belly button) while lounging in a hammock in her backyard. she baked us a bunny shaped coconutty cake every easter. she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind & boy, could she be blunt (i got that gene). she doted on her weiner dog, trudy (sister to ours) was devoted to the Lord & loved her husband. she lost grampa ted after over 50 years of marriage. that next year brought with it the greatest test of endurance.

emotional stress turned physical & chemicals in her brain started getting off-balance. no one knew her depression had gotten severe. no one knew about the thoughts. not the cuban refugee family she took in to her home, not her pastor, not even her two sons. they would’ve removed the guns from the home.

i was called with the request to drive to her house as “there had been an accident”. i pulled up in my white vw jetta & my mom held me & told me then…gramma was gone. i was confused. i sat on top my car hood with my knees up to my chin & rocked back & forth. there was no accident. she’d stripped her life from herself probably not b/c she wanted to die, but b/c she no longer wanted to live…and in doing so, stripped her life from everyone else who loved her. the tears just streamed as i watched her pastor & the elders haul off the carpet they’d ripped out of that tiny room. i’m just glad it was dark out. i’m even more grateful i wasn’t the one to discover her. i loved my gramma & respected her. i honor her even today. i just wish she was still with me & i could share my life & family with her, like we do w/rick’s grandmas (that seems like a selfish reason, doesn’t it). she sure loved family. there are so many great memories i can recount, that the awful details are usually overshadowed in my mind…

but for the sake of discussion, honest reflection, & hopefully peace to a reader who’s lost someone this way, let’s bring the topic out into the light.

do people who do this go to heaven? to seek some answers (cause i know i have far from all the answers), i went to the Bible, God’s Word. it says that to be absent from our bodies is to be present with the Lord, and there are so many that display his abounding mercy…but i didn’t take much comfort in this passage: he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. ~ 1 Corintians 3:15-17.

this is the only place in the Bible where it refers to what may be suicide, although, it doesn’t even state it as such, specifically. no where else in the Word {Christians’ one & only true source of God-breathed, Holy Spirit inspired ancient text} does it state or even imply that suicide in & of itself, is a sin worthy of eternal damnation…an unpardonable sin. sheesh, even in judges 16:28-30, samson is granted by God the strength to do this. suicide, if unpardonable, would be not just mentioned as such, but woven throughout text.

i know from experience about the kind of God i serve. i don’t care if people call me biased or subjective. everyone of us is, really. God is just & merciful & kind. he is the essence & exemplification of love. he reaches to us beyond the point of our carnal death & gives us a chance to be judged, for the good, bad & ugly. not one of his kids will escape accountability. committing suicide? yeah, that too. they’ll have to answer for it to their Creator himself. sin cannot go unpunished. it was his life to make, & his to take, in his time. but for him to ‘sentence’ hell because of this would be unjust & uncharacteristic.

our lives are so valuable…often underestimated…& extremely important to God! read Psalm 139. to me, suicide can be the ultimate act of selfishness…but i think our Father looks beyond the sin at the time of death, & sees what mere man cannot: the whole person, their lifestyle, their love for him. he takes into account their suffering from mental illness or severe depression & applies the blood of his Son, Jesus to that final sin. so what if they aren’t alive to ask for it!?! his grace reaches beyond that technicality. his grace always looks at the heart.

his blood is not partial. it does not flow down our hearts full of sin avoiding a few choice acts. it cleanses all. that’s why i love to sing songs about it. the suffering & the blood of Jesus is worth squat if we humans can determine that some sins it does not cover (“how could he forgive a child molester or murderer?” “how could he forgive one who doesn’t ask for it because they’re dead now?”), & some it does cover. what if i’m saved, (i’ll use a lame example for lack of time) i’m driving & completely envying the person driving next to me. i end up rubber-neckin’ & crashing into a pole & i die? would a gracious God just look at my last sin of envy & say to me at the throne, ‘well in spite of your life of obedience & humility and your heart of love toward me & toward the least of these, you never repented of that last sin…so, since the wages of sin is death…’

absurd. that clearly goes completely against his character displayed throughout the entire Bible.

we all tend to ‘heirarchy’ the wrong we commit to help us feel better about our ‘little pet sins’, but to God, it is what it is ≈ that which separates us from him, and calls for a perfect atonement. envy, greed, suicide, homosexuality (sexual sin is different, but not worse to God. see 1 corinthians 6:18-20), disobedience, slander, drunkenness…you name it, it’s all sin. if we live this way, refusing to acknowledge/accept Christ’s atonement, it is serious business (see 1 corinthians 6:9-11).

the Word states there is o n e sin that’s unforgivable, unpardonable & results in hell: blaspheming the Holy Spirit ~ (my paraphrase: completely & permanently denying Christ, even after you know the truth in your spirit). this may seem contradictory to the scripture above naming many sins that can lead to eternal separation from God, but this one refers to a blanket statement, covering all of those listed, as examples. hell is for the unrepentant of heart that denies Christ. anyone who has guilt for their sin, confesses with humility & repents…(“such WERE some of you” oh, please don’t miss that part!)…he is immediately restored to right standing with God. my heart leaps for joy to read this again.

Christ words on this sin can be read in mark 3:22-30 & matthew 12:30-33 . dr. henry morris & author & theologian, dr. f.f. bruce shed some further light on that ‘unpardonable’ sin ~ to read their insights on the subject, click here (but come back!).

so yeah, i’m biased here. i miss her. but not so biased, i’m blind. i have faith (evidence of what i can’t see) that the saved don’t have to worry about heaven vs. hell when they die. they are free of every pain in their new bodies, enjoying the gift of eternal life. in my humble opinion, this is the bottom line: whether it was a life of a Christian taken by God in his timing, by someone else or by their own hand, that life…that blood is covered by the blood of their Savior. period.

oh…my gramma’s name?

grace.

now, as for whether or not we know if someone’s really saved before they die?! …well, that’s a topic for another day. i’m way past my wordcount on this one, but i’d loooove to read any comments on today’s.

the global food crisis ~ compassion ~ & you

i have the privilege of writing for compassion international (for more info about them, see my ’causes’ page) as a compassion blogger so as to help spread the word about their involvement in the ease of suffering all over this planet. today’s post is about the global food crisis.

WHAT IS THE GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS?
The World Food Program calls the global food crisis a phenomenon, a “silent tsunami,” that is affecting families in every nation on every continent. Food prices for popular menu items like rice, wheat and beans have doubled in the last year. Though increases in food prices have hit all budgets, it’s the poor who bear the brunt of price inflation. The higher prices are forcing people who survive on just $1 a day to spend upwards of 80 percent of their budgets just on food. As a result, many people, including millions of children, are going hungry. The longer food prices rise, the more people will be plunged into hunger and poverty.

WHAT IS CAUSING THE CRISIS?
Since 2005, food prices have risen a whopping 80 percent because of…
• rising fuel costs
• rising food demand from populous nations like India and China
• natural disasters destroying crop yields all over the world, including the United States
• growth of biofuels

The global food crisis is forcing poor families to spend more of their household budgets on food, leaving little for anything else. In Bangladesh 95% of the 11,782 children Compassion serves there are affected. Many children are eating only at the church-based center (also known as a Compassion project). In Haiti, inflation rates have risen 40%, pushing up food prices. All 60,000 children served by Compassion in Haiti have been affected by the food crisis there.
Experts predict the combination of a weakening dollar, soaring oil prices, and reduction in food production will not dissipate. They are predicting this long-term crisis will tighten its grip on poor countries, causing more children and families to suffer.

ABOUT THE GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS FUND
Compassion International has launched the Global Food Crisis Fund to bring aid to those most adversely affected by rising food costs. More info.’s available and donations can be made here!

Donations to the fund will provide:
• food vouchers to children and families needing immediate relief.
• seeds and agricultural tools so that families can grow their own food as well as earn extra income.
• supplemental nutrition services offered at Compassion-assisted centers around the world.

thanks to all who have taken the time to read this & espec. to those who’ll be helping with their funds & prayers. c.i. is a trustworthy cause. our faith with our works to help ~ will bring life & health.