The Rat-a-Tat-Tat of Prayer

Dolly was devastated. Her aging car with high miles had a new sound down by the floorboard. It was rat-a-tat-tatting like a drummer in the school band. She drove fast. She drove slow. She drove up hill and downhill. The sound was still there.

What’s it gonna be this time?  She wondered as she explained the problem, handed over the keys and left the car for an oil change and check-up.

She hoped and prayed that it would be a repair she could afford. She’d been saving for a vehicle, but she had six months more before she was ready.

The next afternoon, when Dolly went to the shop with credit card in hand, the secretary smiled and said, “Hector, our mechanic, wants to talk to you.”

Uh-oh!   

One of her well-meaning male friends had suggested, “Maybe it’s a blown head gasket. Let’s hope not. That’s mighty expensive!”

Yet she trusted God to answer her prayers and needs.

At the shop, Hector greeted her while twirling the keys around his finger. He threw his head back and laughed until he doubled over with glee. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!” Then he explained, “There was nothing wrong with your car. We did the oil change. I drove it. All that rattling was the stuff under the seat, like the star wrench, the jack, The Club, the paperclips and the Pringles. I hope you didn’t mind, I had some of the mixed nuts. They were a nice touch. I moved the stuff around and the noise went away like magic!”

Pray boldly and confidently. God does know your needs and meets them with unexpected bonuses, like Hector’s laughter. God is love and has much grace for us.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our hour of need.”  [Hebrews 4:16]

Whether that need is for strength, basic necessities, cheap repairs or just the need to clean the junk out from underneath the car seat, God is there!

[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.]

Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche

It was a sea of navy-blue t-shirts bulging with brawn as firemen gathered around the buffet table for the awards luncheon.

The Chief’s opening comments brought applause, “It’s been a great season thanks to your hard work! You went the extra mile! You worked together as a team. Great job!” When he wrapped up his comments, he excused the crowd to the buffet table.

But although the catered food looked and smelled delicious, the muscled men loaded up barbeque, chocolate cake, and herbed rolls. But each took one look at the egg-rich quiche topped with cheese and passed it by.

Phil, owner of the catering team, noticed this right away.  “How about you try this?” he urged a fireman.

But the mens’ response was the same no matter how many times Phil offered. “No thanks.”

Without words, the brawny men were saying, “Real men don’t eat quiche.”

Phil changed his approach and he served himself a plate with quiche and chomped a bit of the delicious gourmet creation. “Guys, come and try this. It’s good stuff!”  That did it. Phil had put it in their language. The real men stepped up to the table for seconds. There was nothing of the quiche left but crumbs.

Good stuff. Real men can eat that without any damage to their reputations or their physique.

Good men.  But will they still be real and good men if they are spiritual leaders in their family?

God is crystal clear. In spite of today’s demands on everyone’s time and the impact of the latest American Feminist Movement [1960’s to 70’s], the man has a serious responsibility to actively lead, act and model as a follower of God.  He is the spiritual leader. 

 

In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy written by Moses more than thirty-four hundred years ago, God impressed upon Moses these words: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” [Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV]

 

What a spiritual leader does is talk about God, his love, his commands, and the Creator’s   expectations. A man who is a spiritual leader honors God with his time and attention.

He also lives God’s commands in his thoughts, choices and behaviors.

 

As spiritual leader, a husband should take the children to church even if his wife doesn’t go. Male children imitate their dads. If Dad stays home to watch a game on Sundays, works overtime, plays golf, or creates things in his workshop instead of going to church, eventually his son(s) and children will do the same. That is because Dad demonstrates loud and clear what is more important than God. Mom taking the kids to church just doesn’t have the same impact. Dads need to model and lead.

 

Joshua, the successor to Moses stated, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” [Joshua 24:15 NIV]

 

Be a spiritual leader. It will show at home—in prayer, choices, and shared activities. That behavior desires a standing ovation, Dads. Happy Father’s Day!

 

[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.]

God Sees All who Walk the Plank

A play day at the beach! What a treat for the two moms and the six children!

Cousins Vera and Jeane, now adults and living hours away from each other, relished the spa resort moments as they sipped lemonade on the hot summer day. They enjoyed the sun from their chairs while watching their kids.

“Hey Cousin!” Jeane chuckled, “Look at us in a ‘spa resort’ for the weekend!”

Vera shook with laughter, “Yeah, isn’t it?”

For their weekend getaway was just an economy motel sharing one room with two beds and several roll-away cots. By the time they’d checked in, the ladies could only get a second-story room.

Both moms watched all the kids from six to nine years old carefully as their room was right next to the stairway—a new experience for the children! Still, the weekend was the ladies’ gift—their husbands had given them the time away from home while the two men moonlighted for family vacation money.

“Mom! Look at me! I can jump down the stairs!” cried Bruce.

“And me! I can skip down the stairs super fast!” and Josie bounced down and ended up with a skinned knee. The girl howled with pain.

In the middle of all the racket, Mark, behind the moms’ chairs, topped it all. Once and for all, he proved that myth is false—that moms have eyes in the backs of their heads.

“Hey, Mom! Look at me! I’m walking the plank!”

And the wee boy in wobbly sandals was balancing on the edge of the balcony railing!

Jeane gasped. Had it been her own child, she would have come up with a string of never-to-be-forgotten consequences. Threats like that today would be called child abuse.

Vera seemed to remain calm as she passed up all threats and settled on, “Mark,” she began slowly. “We frown on that!”

Jeane held her breath, We frown on that?! What kind of discipline is that?

“Ah, Mom, I wanted to walk the plank!”

Perhaps it is surprising with risks children sometimes take that any survived to adulthood!

It also may be surprising that parenting and discipline take so many forms. Frowning. Threats. Isolation. Loss of privileges. Kid’s stuff?  Not always. Every choice has a consequence, even for grown-ups.

God disciplines us because he cares for us. He corrects us to hone us into the men and women he wants us to be. Our Creator is our GPS [Global Positioning System]. He gives us free updates and maps in the Bible.

From King Solomon’s wisdom come these words: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” [Proverbs 3:12]

God does have eyes in the back of his head. He cares enough for us that he watches us “walk the plank” and gives us the right consequences to remind us to follow him. When you’re wobbling as you walk the plank, reach out for him!

[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.]

Moms Don’t Cry: Comfort Through Everyday Battles

Sadie and her brother, Dan, moped alone in each of their rooms, patting those things into place that looked untidy. Both had been sentenced to their rooms until Mom said they could come out.  Worst of all, they were missing out on their favorite activity with mom—making cookies together.

“Stop that squabbling, hitting and crying!” Mom had told them all morning. They didn’t.

Too much fun!

Finally, Mom’s patience disappeared with a summer dust devil. “Go to your rooms, clean them up, and,” she stopped for a breath, “Stay there until I say so!”

Sadie looked at her closet door. “Uh-oh. There’s stuff sticking out.” The school-aged girl’s idea had been to take all the messy stuff, jam it in the closet and yank the door shut. Now Sadie opened the door and gave the stuff another little push with her foot. No one’ll see it now.    

The cookie making was going well. The treats were nearly ready to bake. But Mom was going it alone. From their rooms, the two siblings heard the beater going. They listened for the sound of the cellophane crinkling as she opened the chocolate chips. Their mouths watered as they heard the mixer begin again, stirring the sweet chips into the thick oatmeal batter.

“Mom, can we come out now? Our rooms are clean. You can come see.”

Instead, they heard a cry, “Help me! Help me!”

When Sadie and Dan rushed to the kitchen, they found their mother’s fingers of tangled in the beater blades. Tears were running down her face.

“Mom! Mom! What do I do?” Dan cried.

“Pull the plug!”  Unlike today’s models, this old-fashioned type mixer had beaters that whirled in place while the bowl turned. Could it be an accident waiting to happen with fingers?

Still Mom’s tears fell into the cookie dough as she wiggled her fingers until they were free. No blood, though. The cookies were safe!

It had been a long, long time since either had seen their mother cry.

“Sorry, Mom!” Then Sadie offered, “We can lick the bowl for you. We won’t fight any more.”

“Yeah,” Dan, offered. “We know how to put the cookies on the sheet and in the oven. We’ll even wash the dishes.”

Still, Mom’s tears wet her face and she sobbed. It wasn’t just her throbbing fingers. It was everything. Too much to do. Few breaks from the kids. Not enough money. Not enough time. No help. Her Marine husband overseas.

“Does it hurt? Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?”

Funny how the small gestures of comfort to children are sometimes just what grown-ups need, too.  Kissing to make it better.

A daily balancing act with responsibilities for any mom, fortified with the superwoman syndrome, makes it quite a battle both physically and emotionally.

Kids think that moms don’t cry. Children perceive their moms never get tired, hurt or feel like giving up.

Maybe moms don’t cry on the outside, but sometimes on the inside.

God sees and knows.

Be encouraged!

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” [Isaiah 40:28-31]

God does know how to renew energy, kiss and make one better and still leave the greatest pleasures—hope that in him as a guide, things will be okay. He always meets our needs. God may even leave a bowl to lick!

[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.]