Need a Helping Hand? Try Teamwork by Jo Russell

Nell was used to doing things for herself for decades. Her working motto was “If you need a helping hand, look at the end of your arm.”

But Nell’s last attempt at loading up tree and lawn cuttings as well as tumbleweeds nearly made the front page of her rural newspaper. The annoyed motorists who trailed behind her got the experience of their lives – three times.

Nell had worked for some time cutting and pruning, but when it came to packing her green load, she thought, It’s only two miles from home, I can do it myself. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Though the cuttings and branches still teetered above the cab, Nell considered, I’ll just drive slow.

She tossed a rope, but couldn’t get it over the load. She stretched the elastic spider, but it only stretched around the end of the load.

That’s works about as well as a thong!

As she started driving slowly away, she turned the corner as tumbleweeds rolled over the tie down onto the roadway.

Nell waved the cars around her and she pulled over to repack the weeds. The tumbleweed tumble had stopped traffic three times. By the time she reached the entrance to the green waste site, her load was somewhat smaller.

What a nightmare! Nell decided.

A few months later, the next seasonal trimming resulted in Nell having an even larger load of cuttings and branches. I’m not very good at this. I need help.

Bill, will you help me? I think this will only take ten minutes,” she asked her husband on a lazy Saturday when he didn’t have to go to his office. Being a former contractor used to hauling materials, he first sorted them by size and shape. Then he got out a saw and cut some of the thick branches and small logs into a manageable size. Bill compressed the branches and stretched the elastic spider over it all.

But thanks to teamwork, their trip to the green waste site was without tumbleweed troubles. All it took was a little of the right kind of help.

Teamwork makes all jobs easier. A perc is also to see and appreciate each other’s gifts. Another is a better plan with two or more working together.

Nell was challenged by loading up her truck, but Bill helped make it an expert job. Paul writes, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” [Romans 12:4-6 NIV].

In all good things including telling about God’s goodness, he urges us to work together as Christians and teammates. It’s the path that tames tumbleweeds.

[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, her speaking engagements and website, She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]




Where, Oh Where, are the Plates? By Jo Russell

“For our dinner date, “Holly began, “I made reservations for The Pointe in the city. “It will be a very special place to celebrate our anniversary.”

“The Pointe? You’re going all out. Sure. I’ll even wear a tie.”

“Thank you. I’m getting dressed up, too.”

When they arrived at the restaurant, Chip wanted to know why a man took the truck keys,

“Where is he going with our pick-up? Chip demanded. “It looks like a Black Hole in space!”

“We’ll get it back. They keep track of the cars and bring them back when you’re finished. It’s called valet parking.”

Inside the dimly lit restaurant, candles illuminated the elegant place settings on a linen tablecloth. After they ordered, the waiter came and placed a salad on the china plates, a total of three. Then he took the whole stack away.

Chip gasped in a loud voice. “Where is he going with our plates? Doesn’t he know we need some for our dinner?”  Other diners looked over to assess the commotion.

Holly blushed red.

Two plates again for the soup. When the main course was ready, the waiter again returned, this time with more plates.

“Ahhh! Good thing we don’t have to wash the dishes with all those plates!” he concluded.

The lack of plates isn’t a singular problem in fancy restaurants in metro areas.

A thousand miles away, Len had been sweating over welding up the pinholes in his four-wheel drive gas tank. To celebrate finishing the job, he invited his mother and sister for a 4WD experience and beach-front cookout. But in his haste to get going, he forgot a few things.

Minor details! The gas tank was the important thing.

The four-wheel drive stalled out at the beach. It coughed and died. Len started the engine again. It coughed, hiccupped, and died.

By the third try, Len announced, “We’ll have the picnic here. I’m going to get help in starting the truck.” He had to go further than the next campsite where a resident shade tree mechanic announced, “Crud in the fuel lines.” Nothing the two tried worked. The adventure attracted even more spectators. But no one could get the truck going.

While Len hitchhiked into town for his second vehicle, his mom and sister, Joy, looked around for the disabled truck for the gear for their cookout. No plates. But the meat was wrapped in wax-covered butcher paper. They tore it into plate-sized pieces. No barbeque tools, but an open-ended wrench and one fork served as tongs to turn the meat.

By the time Len returned with a vehicle that ran, the ribs were sizzling nicely. It didn’t seem to matter that the tender meat was served up on torn pieces of paper. The three licked the sauce from their fingers.

God provides.  He also offers the opportunity for a bountiful life—with or without plates.

Jesus’ words John 10:10: “The thief comes only to kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief mentioned in Jesus’ words is the destroyer Satan, author of negativity, doubt, despair, and a life that ends with the death of the body. But Jesus offers instead life to the fullest~richer and more full of hope because it leads to eternal life. He offers overflowing forgiveness, love, and the path to life with him forever.

And whether we have too many plates or none at all, he answers prayers and meets needs.

[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, her speaking engagements and website, Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]






Turning Pumpkins and Perils Over to God by Jo Russell

“Ever since the Garden of Eden, folks like me have to battle it out with the soil, the storms, and the multi-legged enemies in our gardens! Beetles and bugs—Yuck!” Cheryl lamented over the phone to her friend, Jenny. Cheryl wrung out a tissue as she wailed, “I don’t know what else to do!”

“About what?” her friend wanted to know.

“The worry! The work! The possible attack of the killer bugs! Am I too hopeful to count the pumpkins—or will the squash beetles get them still?

Jenny was the wrong person to lean on for empathy. Jenny thought about Cheryl’s lush yard and raised bed gardens. Could even be a cover shot for Better Homes and Gardens. But Jenny was happy with her own back yard – bare dirt. The front yard sported a lawn the size of a wading pool with one struggling rose bush along a fence. A few blooms came out under duress once a year. The only packaged seeds around Jenny’s house were for jazzing up salads.

“The garden is driving me crazy,” Cheryl sniffled. “Is it too early to think my pumpkins will survive another month? Just like last year, I have plans. soup, pie, cookies, ice cream, lots of wonderful things! Last summer, I went out just after sunup every day to fuss over the pumpkins. I counted them, measured them, and one day, ka-blam! The squash beetles got them and all the vines were dead. ”

Jenny responded, “But they look good to me this year. Most of them are already orange. I know what your problem is! You’re doing all the worrying. You’re doing all the fighting. Give God some room to work, too. ” Jenny was right.

A famous quote from Michel de Montaigne states, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”  He was a statesman, author, and French philosopher of the 1500’s. Recent studies prove it that worry is worthless. To let go of worry means improved health and longevity. But Jesus knew that thousands of years ago.

He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” [Matthew 6:25-27 NIV]

As far as battles with the enemy, experienced warrior and King David reports, “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart…My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.” Psalm 9:1 and 3-4 NIV]

Worrying about enemies and conflicts ahead? God has it handled. And that includes squash beetles.

Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to a half dozen  anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul – the Power of Forgiveness. Her award-winning book, Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, is available from, her website [] and at her speaking engagements.


Away from the Wind Tunnel to a Quiet Place by Jo Russell

Paul was still hoping to coax more miles out of his beloved car. It’s “best if used by” expiration date was long past. It burned oil. An engine light flashed on the dash. Only some of the electric windows worked. The air conditioner had gone caput.

Though the four-door former luxury sedan served well on fishing excursions and road trips less than twenty miles, going beyond the limit brought certain excitement. Any driver should heed the warning, “Do not pass go. Do not get paid. Go straight to the shop and pay $200.”

To anyone who would listen, Paul chimed, “It’s still a good car.” He had faith in his wheels.

On the way to church in his favorite four-door model, Carol shouted over the wind noise, “Is this about the same as your rides in the Air Force helicopter with the doors open?” Because the car windows had to be wide open in the heat and a most recently broken window taped up with plastic and duct tape flapped, the roar was louder than ever at highway speeds.


She repeated the question cupping her hands around her mouth.

“Probably. Yeah, I guess so.” Paul shouted as he looked at her. “But this is a quiet car! Just wait and see.”

As they pulled to a stop at a light, Carol continued hollering, “Do you have any ear protection in your trunk along with the fishing stuff?”  But slowing down, the car quieted down so much that she thought the engine stalled.

“Ear protection? Why are you shouting?” Paul wanted to know. “See, I told you, Carol. This car is quiet!”  He added in a whisper to prove his point, “and it’s still good!”

Too much noise! It’s common these days. When a cacophony of sounds clash in our everyday life, it challenges all in the chance to think and reflect.

The author’s interpretation of people’s hierarchy of needs includes food, water, shelter, love, fun, and laughter, but also quiet time.

At least on the quiet time, Jesus and the author agree. It does a body good. It is a gift. It is also a necessity for hearing God and fostering personal spiritual growth.

Getting into a routine is a good thing—such as quick devotionals at the breakfast table. But seeking God and growing, regardless of whether married or single, takes time to oneself, prayer, and a place to listen—away from media, traffic, or the wind noise of a car.

After the Old Testament prophet Elijah had a great day with God incinerating Elijah’s sacrifice with a column of fire followed by a torrent of rain after a lengthy drought, Elijah was threatened by the evil queen, Jezebel. He was afraid and ran for his life.

Under the quiet of a desert broom tree, he brooded, thought and prayed. And he heard God.

“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” [1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV]

And that gentle whisper is often how we hear God’s voice.

So put the noise of the world and Paul’s car behind you. Seek a quiet place. God will be there to touch and encourage you.

[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, her speaking engagements and website, Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]