Marnie’s Maid and Cook When Rich and Famous by Jo Russell

As Marnie’s mother worked in the kitchen, she called out, “Marnie! Come in the kitchen and I’ll teach you how to make a southwestern meat loaf.”

“No, thanks,” the teen responded. So far, her mom was the Kitchen Fairy, responsible for great food and service. ”I’ve already got a scholarship. I hate to cook. I’m going to be rich and famous, hire a maid and a cook, so I don’t need to know how to do that.”

Marnie didn’t understand why her mother smirked just then. “You think so? Hmm.” After a long pause, Mom added, “You still have to eat between now and then. Could you put together fruit bowls as our dessert. It’s easy.”

“I guess. What do I have to do first?”

“Open a can. Drain the extra juice. Sprinkle nuts from a package on top.”

“Opening cans and packages. I can do that.”

Numerous times during her growing-up years, Marnie’s mother attempted to persuade her to learn to cook. But Marnie’s commitment stayed with cans and packages as she continued to respond, “I’m going to be rich and famous and I don’t need to know that.”

God smirked and took over then. For who stays the same after the teen years? Maturity and growth are a better result.

Marnie found herself having to budget, do her own shopping, wash up dirty dishes and figure out easy meals. Later, her work took her to places far from any grocery store and deli. She had to learn to cook. After becoming a mom herself, Marnie struggled to feed her ever-hungry sons. She learned to bake, cook and create money-stretching recipes—a few her own.

As she turned out a trio of golden brown multi-grain breads that her neighbor taught her to bake, she thought, This could be a little bit fun.

Decades later, she still had the talent, but neglected to hire a cook or maid yet. With more money and time for fiddling with food, Marnie took cooking lessons. She found that she enjoyed it—creating mouth-watering meals and plating the food so it looked as well as tasted like fancy fare from a top sous chef as well as sharing the food with friends. That, she learned, had more wow power than a cook or a maid.

She bought a few kitchen gadgets. She sought out spice blends in the grocery store. What’s happening to me? I hated to cook.  

In James’ time, hardship and extra duties produced much growth within followers of Christ.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” [James 1:2-4]

What had happened to Marnie was God’s touch. He smirked and followed through laying out circumstances and challenges to mature and change Marnie for the better.

Besides using her talent, God worked to make her well-rounded and useful to others. That turned out to be better than being rich, famous and having the means to hire a maid and a cook!

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

Steak or a Senior with Five Lives by Jo Russell

Sandra nearly ran into the butcher with her cart as she peered at the fresh-cut ,  t-bone steaks he was stocking in the refrigerated case at the grocery store.

“Just what I needed!” she cried. “You only had one, but now all these choices!”

The white coated employee replied cheerily, “What timing! How many do you need?”

Sandra peered over his uniformed sleeve at the beef steak prices and stammered, ”Ah…” It sounded as if she couldn’t decide. Instead she thought, Why each of those are as much each as a ticket for the Ice Capades!

Sandy would have to settle for beef that was marked down. But that hadn’t turned out very well last time. Dry meat as stiff as a telephone book. At least the critters liked the table scraps. They were entertained all afternoon.   

The “last chance beef” she bought last time had revealed five labels, one on top of the other.

By then, the beef steak that began as a red, juicy hunk of meat at home turned gray as someone needing last rites.  Do I need to call in a priest?  Sandy speculated as she turned over the meat as stiff as a telephone book.

Grilled? Out of the question. Cut into chunks for beef stroganoff?  It wasn’t up to it. What about stir fry? Even smaller pieces would still be like adding silicone to the tender vegetables. Not a good mix.  Hmmm. I wonder if the beef was slaughtered about the time that the first cattle drive that ended in Kansas? Or when a Pony Express rider galloped across the wide open west?

She thought over the steak and decided the five-label kind had lost its value.    

Those of us who have acquired at least five labels over the decades may feel as if we have about the same value as a steak with five lives. Just good for table scraps. In time, a senior may feel physically and emotionally weary. Call it “getting old.”

But God doesn’t see us that way. What may look worn-out is fresh and renewed in God’s eyes–ready  for the next adventure.

This promise still holds: “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]

Believe and hold fast to a promise of energy that endures and lasts! You will be renewed through the Lord. Continue to be more of a delight at dinner, work and the community than any fresh-cut, t-bone steak.

God’s not finished with you yet!

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

Appreciating Mom by Jo Russell

As his mom gave her high school teen, Ronnie, a printed list of weekend chores, she heard the tall boy complain with the comment, “Anarchy!”

A few days later, “It’s your turn to wash the dishes,” she reminded him with a smile.

“Oppression! I’m oppressed! Nobody else has to work at home and wash dishes!”

“Well, you do as long as you live and eat here.”

“No fair!”

Then the teen spouted off a list of privileges of an unseen presence and answer to all of life’s persistent questions from a teen point of view.  The unseen presence: Nobody else.

“Nobody else has to clean their room. Nobody else has to do homework on weekends. Nobody else has chores. Nobody else has to be home by 9 p.m. “

Then he concluded with another presence who justified everything he wanted to do. It was “Everybody.”  That would be “Everybody else gets to drive the family car. Everybody else gets cash for their birthdays. Everybody else goes to Disneyland and Six Flags for vacation.”

Not long after, word of his discontent and rebellion reached his grandma’s ears. She wrote her response in a letter.

My Dear Grandson Ronnie,

Bet you don’t know how many years ago God gave us the Ten Commandments first written down. One of the commandments is “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is going you.” [Exodus 20: 12]

In many ways, Grandson, dear, my father was not a particularly honorable man—especially where his own children were concerned. But he was my father. He gave me life, brown hair, brown eyes, a sense of humor and dimples!

Like your mother, mine had to raise us children with little or no help from my dad. Although she didn’t have to go out to work when we were small, her days were filled with trying to grow enough food, bake enough bread and keep a roof over our heads. We always had chores to do. They were never any fun. Even picking cherries or apples is fun only if you don’t have to do it!

Later on, when we were teens still in high school, my dad got the hotel job and we moved out of state. It was just after the Great Depression and nobody had any money. So he was buying the hotel with his hard work in exchange for shares. He recruited all of the family to keep up on the work of running the hotel. With a shortage of help, as well as a shortage of hotel rooms, my younger siblings, Dicko, 14, and sister, Gordie, 16, had to change beds and clean rooms when guests moved out on weekends or at night. Dicko also was the janitor. He had to vacuum the lobby, furniture and floor, dust the hallways and carry out all the garbage for the 100-room hotel. Gordie, and I were charged with washing all the towels, pillow cases, bedspreads and blankets. As high school students, we got up at 3:30 a.m. and fixed our own breakfast after our work was done. Usually Dicko went to the bakery next door for pastries while Gordie and I fixed our own lunches. If we didn’t have time, we did without. One night, Dad sent Dicko to with $10,000. in cash for a bank deposit. It was all bills rolled up in a newspaper. [In today’s money, that would be about $40,000.] That’s a lot to expect of a young teen just starting high school.

So washing dishes, doing homework, and keeping your room clean don’t seem very hard.  Also, you’re not quite old enough to drive. And no, we didn’t get to go to any fancy vacation spots.

Why am I telling you all this? It wasn’t so tough, although I have never really forgotten that Dad often reminded us, “You don’t pay any room and board around here!”

I think one thing that my early life taught me is that parents are not always right, but they are always parents. Then, too, a certain amount of hardship when you’re young makes life a lot easier when you get older. There are several jobs I’ve had that I disliked more than doing hotel chambermaid or laundry work. I’ve had lots of bosses who were as unreasonable and ungrateful as my father.

My mother was entirely different than Dad. She worked hard at the hotel as any of us, as she was there all day and all night. She operated the radio for the puddle-jumper airlines, met the planes, distributed the newspapers as well as doing the hotel housekeeping and hiring and firing maids.  There was one time Dad was away and she couldn’t get to bed for 54 hours. She was our mother, but she also had to be the hotel manager.

You want to know what being a mother is like? I’ve been one for almost 50 years! Every time I think I’m no longer needed or important, something comes up that reminds me that mothers have to do more than keep up with the groceries, the laundry and the letter writing. I still have to do all that, even thought my children and grandchildren are not underfoot.

A mother is someone who can love. She loves her children. She also loves her children’s friends, her friends, other people, and even dogs and a cat—but that’s a different kind of love.

She worries when her children are sick, when they are away, when they are in danger and when they are having trouble. When they are disrespectful or rebellious, the hurt is deep. She prays that they will realize that this is a childish stage and that they will soon outgrow it. But how soon?

A single mother has a double burden. She thinks she has to be both father and mother to her children while working full time, providing a home, food, clothing and companionship to her children. She has no strong man to fix the car, carry out the garbage, glue busted furniture back together or tinker with the heater when its freezing outside until it works again. Nor can she count on anyone to help provide food for her ravenous brood.

When she is sick, she worries that she might not be able to continue to support her children, or worse, that she might not live to see them grow up. That’s love!

Honor your mother and love her. She is doing a good job of training you to be a respectful, responsible man full of compassion who also knows how to work hard.   The Bible says, “She watches over the affairs of her household and she does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and called her blessed; her husband also. And he praises her.“  [Proverbs 31:27-28] Even in those days, a mother’s value wasn’t measured by trips to Six Flags or driving the family car.

Love, Grandma

Happy Mother’s Day to all! Thanks for your mission of loving, guiding and raising your children to be the best they can be. 

[Much thanks to my mother, the late Jeane Gottsponer, who wrote this insightful letter to her grandson, age 15, at a time he needed to be reminded of his mother’s love and commitment. ]

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

God and the Boys are Being Mean to Me! By Jo Russell

Eight year old Marcie never realized that being an only child and that could be lonely at times. Her parents did, though. Until they moved, she and her older cousins shared birthdays, egg hunts, picnics, and activities with Grandma and each other. From birth, they had lived a bicycle ride away from each other. Now that the twin boys had moved  across the state,  Marcie saw them just a few times a year.

Once school was out, Marcie’s dad announced, “I’m taking you to spend two weeks with your cousins Rick and Ron up north. We know you miss them. We’ll drop you off there. You can learn all kinds of things and get to know your cousins better.”

“Oh, goodie!” she exclaimed, and she reached for her pink duffle. She packed her special dolls in the bag first thing. She also made sure she added some lacy leggings and pink high-top tennies for events requiring fashion.

But the older twin cousins, neither of which were into fashion and lace, were not quite as enthusiastic learning about the baby of the brood of cousins spending that much time with them.

“She’s a sissy,” remarked Rick to his mom. “We’ve already got plans.” Rick and Ron rattled off their adventuresome agenda for the first few weeks of summer. None included tea parties with dolls nor a hot pink, high-topped tennies fashion show.

“Okay,” Mom agreed. “But be nice to her anyway. Let her join in whenever she can.”

Marcie arrived with a squeal  as soon as she stepped out of the car. The girl squeezed the twins in a group hug.  Not being able to tell the identical boys by name, Marcie just called out, “Oh, twins! I have missed you since you moved!”

After lunch, Marcie wanted to play dolls. Rick and Rob wanted to build their tree house. The tree house won out. The teens  worked on the structure for hours. Marcie played at ground level with her dolls.

“Can I help?” Marcie wanted to know.

“Can you use a hammer?”

“Nope.”

“But I want to put my doll, Sonny, in there. He’ll love it!”

“No dolls in the tree house.“

“Can you lift me up there? I’ll leave Sonny here on this blanket.”

“Nope. You have to climb the boards like everyone else. Or you can heft yourself up by this rope.”

“I don’t know how. “

“You have to try. Board ladder,” Rick pointed. “That’s the deal. It’s a great view up here!”

“But I don’t know how,” she cried and ran inside. With tears running down her face, Marnie grabbed her dolls while the pounding and sawing went on and on.

Marcie called out, “Aunt Jan! Aunt Jan! The boys are being mean to me!”

Aunt Jan wiped Marcie’s tears and put her to work in the kitchen making cookies. As Marcie sobbed out the story, Aunt Jan commented, “Why, Marcie! They’re just treating you just like a sister!”

Her jaw dropped in astonishment. “They are?”

“Yes! That means they care about you.  And you have to try if you want to get to the tree house. Nobody is going to lift you up, but we can teach you how.”

“Oh.”

After cooling the cookies from the oven, Aunt Jan and Marcie prepared a plate for her twin cousins.

“See twins! I can make good cookies!”  Each climbed down and to taste test the treats. Marcie passed muster.

“I’m ready to try to climb the ladder. You’ll help if I need it, right?”

“Right!” the cousins agreed.

And Marcie climbed the boards nailed to the tree trunk, grabbing the branches on the way up until she sat on the platform. All gave her a standing ovation.  Marcie beamed, “Easy breezy!”

Marcie had insisted earlier, “The boys are being mean to me!”  How often do we feel “God is being mean to me”?  Just as with Marcie, God picks experiences to push us to grow and trust him facing the unknown. When challenges come up above our skill and ability level, it’s easy to summarize with “I don’t know how!”

But the unknown is just where God wants us—to have the courage to step up to the challenge and master new situations he gives us. What looks to be the answer for us may be entirely different from God’s view. For those things we can’t do in our own power, we can with God’s help.
Imagine the captive Israelites’ astonishment they were protected and prospered while the plagues of Egypt hit Pharaoh and the Egyptians hard. By the time the Pharaoh’s first born son died from the last plague, Moses got the message that Pharaoh now said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”  [Exodus 12:31-32]

And as the hundreds of thousands of freed slaves walked away, taking Egypt’s wealth with them, they faced the unknown ahead. It wasn’t about where they were going–it was about who they were following to get there.

What is ahead may be more difficult than climbing a board ladder to the tree house when you don’t know how, but God leads us as he has all those who believe and trust in him. With his help, it’s easy breezy!

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]