Flying Horseshoes and Friendship by Jo Russell

“Jen is good at everything! She beats us at all the card games, she is as good on the internet as anybody I know. Just because she finished her Master’s at an Ivy League school doesn’t mean she is all that. I can hardly wait for her to go back home,” complained cousin Carlie to her mother. Carlie was just starting high school. Her older cousin, Jen, had just finished a grad degree and came to visit for the first time.

“Nonsense,” Carlie’s mother countered. “Everyone is good at something.  She’s worked hard at college.  You work hard in school, too.  We’ll get used to her and she’ll get used to us. We will have fun together sometime soon!”

“I don’t see how.  She beat all of us in the family card games. I’m not the champion any more. “

“That’s because she picked up on all of our mistakes. Besides, you think you’re all that as champion.”

“Nah, I don’t do that! What about Clue? Jen was sharp and fast. She fingered Mr. Green killing in the library with a candlestick. Scrabble? She knows all the tricky words and triple word scores. There just aren’t any family games left for that stuck up show off to play.”

Carlie’s mom sent the teen pouting to her room.

But Uncle Ray pulled the family together later as he challenged his niece to a new match, “Jen, come outside for a friendly game of horseshoes. We’d love to play you.”  Of course, Ray and his family had been hefting and playing horseshoes from the time they graduated from baby booties.

“I guess I can try it.” Jen agreed.

“We’re going to set up the course with less space between the posts. That will make it easier.”

Ray threw a ringer his first toss and the second was close enough for points. Carlie beat her dad with better throws and even more points. Then it was Jen’s turn just as a pick-up truck was driving by.

Jen ‘s first throw bounced off the truck’s massive tire while the astonished driver swerved onto the sidewalk.

After that, the family ducked to keep from being assaulted with a blunt object—Jen’s horseshoe.  The honor grad’s next one first hit the telephone pole across the street square in the middle.

Another horseshoe arched high and landed two lanes away on the sidewalk across the street. The horseshoes were as far as the east is from the west. Any further out and they’d drop into the Pacific Ocean.

“Guess they didn’t teach you how to throw in college,” Carlie observed.

“No. No sports at all. I was good at other stuff, though.”

“We know that. Do you want some help with the horseshoe toss?” Carlie offered. “No offense. Our neighbors like their windows intact. So do we. Just let us in on your secrets for winning Clue.”


By the time the next pick-up truck drove by, thanks to Carlie’s and the family’s help, Jen’s throws were staying within the yard. Sometimes she even scored.

Board games inside following were a more even contest. Jen didn’t always win. Carlie began thinking more kindly of her cousin. Though the Ivy League grad may never become as skilled at horseshoes as her country cousins, with her help with Clue and technology tricks she taught them on their electronic devices, Jen proved that teamwork and family are a winning combination.

Jesus had taught, “Do not judge, or you, too, will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” [ Matthew 7:1-2]

While Carlie had described her cousin as a “stuck-up show off,” she didn’t think of herself in the same way. But the teen had put up walls around any chance to bond and appreciate each other.  It was only when both dropped their initial judgement of each other and worked together that they became friends as well as cousins.

Teamwork, family plus God: It’s a winning combination that makes us all champions.

[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 and her speaking engagements. [Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website,]