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).



My Visit to the local Women’s Prison, Coffee Creek

Well, I used to visit Coffee Creek Correctional Facility many years ago, when Grace Community started their prison ministry… (’01?) When we moved to Medford, I had to uproot from that ministry, but the Lord gave me a really cool opportunity to revisit, now that we’re  back in the NW. A few nights ago, I went with 3 others from Grace (now Horizon) Community Church, to be a part of and witness their annual baptism service. I had to remember the dress code: NO blue or red clothing. No jeans. No shorts above the knee. No jewelry, No flip flops & No under-wire bras.

What a wonderful time it was. My friend, Mary even asked me if I wanted to help baptize the last few gals (I think she was getting tired!); it was my first time doing that – very, very cool experience!  I sure wish they’d let us bring cameras in. God did an amazing work out there in the courtyard of that women’s prison. I was teary, and lifting my hands in praise…especially after each time a lady came up out of the water, and when I realized how many of them accepted Christ and wanted to follow Him for the rest of their lives.

For details, Beth Yancy wrote a report about what happened:

We had such a wonderful baptismal service at prison last night.

inmates attending = 40; ministry team = 4; salvations = 8; baptisms= 16

It was a beautiful, warm evening last night in the outdoor worship center at Coffee Creek.  Mary Dirksen and Chelan Russ joined the team to lead in worship.  Megan, our guitar player, had an emergency at the last minute, so all our singing was a capella.  All our voices praising the Lord was a wonderful way to usher in the Lord’s presence.

We had held a baptismal class last month, and 8 inmates had signed up to be baptized.  Six showed up, one had to work, and one was reportedly sent “to the hole” (maximum security for bad behavior).  Many more showed up who wanted to be baptized.  Chaplain had told us there would be a couple extras, so I planned to meet with them prior to the service and do a “mini” class.  Since there were so many, I decided to do a baptismal review along with encouragement from 1 Peter 2:9 in my message. We clearly explained what it means to make Jesus Lord of your life, choose to follow only Him the rest of your days and enjoy the benefits of being brought out of the darkness into His wonderful light.

When we prayed for salvations at the end of the message, about 8 ladies responded.  I was a little surprised, as some of them had towels with them and were obviously anticipating being baptized.  It’s a little tricky in prison because they want to do whatever they can to gain attention and stand out.  I do think these were genuine conversions though, as there were many tears of repentance and the Holy Spirit was moving.

We then sent around a sign-up for ladies who agreed with our criteria that they are now true followers of Jesus Christ and wanted to  be baptized.  Ten others signed up.

While we baptized the 16, the others all stood around cheering, hugging and giving encouragement when each one was baptized.  Some of our regular attendee were surprised at some of the baptisms, because they had just made commitments for the Lord that night and no one else knew.  They were all kind of amazed and definitely celebrating the goodness of God.  It was glorious.

We closed by praying for one of our regular attendees who was also baptized and will be released before our service next month.  She was in tears all night as the Holy Spirit was moving.  We sang another hymn, and then encouraged them to look around to see who other believers were who could pray and walk with them.

One interesting conversation I had was with one of the lesbian gals who had walked out of service two months ago.  She was all smiles and told me about her Pentecostal baptism in a creek as a child…

…I’m still rejoicing at the goodness of God,


hmmm, maybe God’s trying to tell me something

Thursday Nov. 13th, 11:13pm
my husb. & i got into a great discussion about why we do what we do. i love to sing. he loves to create graphics. but why? and for whom? when are we most fulfilled? when we’re in tune to God’s purpose. he mentioned when i used to sing in a women’s prison or to the ladies at the Gospel mission. it made me look inside and ask, why then am i rehearsing an entire set of Christmas songs…for just those at coffee shops? sure, i think it’s a cool atmosphere. but it’s not for me. so why stop there?
Friday Nov. 14th 2:01pm
wrote an email to a friend, and here’s some of what it said:
i want to be 100% open to God’s agenda this Christmas.
so what’s on God’s agenda? the hurting. the more i thought about it last night, i wondered why we’re limiting ourselves to coffee shops and a poss. restaurant. sure, we want to reach people that aren’t average church-goers. that’s kinda the def. of OUTreach. but austin is FULL of that demographic. according to statistics, about 85% of adults are lost, seeking, or simply resistant to any form of church or “organized religion”. for over two decades, this city has been one of the most UNchurched in America! we can go anywhere & people will be impacted.  but if we are Bible-believin’ musicians, we know that Jesus tells us in matthew 25 to do (or minister) unto the “least of these”, and we will do the same unto Him. who are the least of these? he speaks specifically of the hungry, thirsty, strangers without a place to go, naked, sick and imprisoned. what about in this area, at this time? i can think of a few…
  • those who are homebound, unable to get out on their own to hear musicians and who rarely have loved ones visit them (a nursing/convalescent home, jail or prison)
  • those who have been victims of abuse and who’ve had to move for protection, or are simply homeless w/no money for food or clothing (a shelter)
but is it too late to consider any of these? i don’t blv so. we only have one booking so far. and these don’t have to be a weekend gig. heck, we could even sort of treat them as rehearsals, but give them as much heart & soul, ya know? 
last night another idea came to me to intro a couple of songs with a comforting scripture…not nec. referenced with book chapter and verse, but some kind of non-pushy-sounding scripture….for (my favorite Bible passage in Is. 55 says that:) the Word never returns to the Father void, but ALWAYs accomplishes the purpose which He gives it – & unlike a general intro i could come up with, it has the power to be alive & active, energizing & transforming. i have NO IDEA who could have put that crazy idea in my head! (j/k!) but it’s worth a shot, in order to really make a positive impact on our listeners...i think.
Saturday November 15th, 1:34pm
placed a few calls – to the williamson county sheriff’s office to see if they would be interested in having a free Christmas concert for thier 650 inmates…cap’n burtlang sees no way it can happen across three floors (something about it being a “security nightmare”), but i’m not giving up that easy. and i called a local assisted living facility.
Sunday November 16th, 10:32am
walked into church after getting a drink of water, to hear the pastor preaching – his text & message was matthew 25:34-46 – serving and reaching out to the least of these…then, saw a media video 5 minutes later about the impact we can have, reaching out & giving of ourselves to those behind bars in the state of texas. prisoners’ lives are being completely transformed!
ok, God i’m listening…