Teamwork is the Answer ~ What is the Question? By Jo Russell

Seven-year-old twins Trey and Josh proved that most of the time, two heads are better than one. They worked together finishing each other’s sentences, sharing their allowance, and dividing the chores.

Saturday’s chore was to vacuum. With both boys determined to do a good job, they plotted their strategy for the living room. But older sister Cindy was laying on the rug with her long hair spread out like a fan.

“Move, please,” Trey asked nicely.

“You can’t make me,” the girl grinned at her brother. “I’m staying right here.”  With Mom and Dad on a quick errand to the nearby grocery store, the children had to handle things their own way.    


The twins split up the vacuuming. Josh tackled the edges of the room and around the furniture. Trey took over in the center and the space around his sister.

Soon her screams reached neighbors for a country mile! The first neighbor pulled open the door and rushed to Cindy. As tightly as if her locks were wound up for a perm, the girl’s long hair was tangled around the vacuum brush.

Teamwork proved to be the solution to Cindy’s freedom. The twins and several neighbors worked together with tools and patience to free Cindy’s locks without scissors. The girl learned a new respect for vacuums after that – and her brothers.   

King Solomon praises teamwork for its obvious value. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up….Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” [Ecclesiastes 4:9-12] NIV.  

With the support of a team or good friends, it is easier to stand strong. Teamwork has been a winning strategy in business, sports, and education for centuries. Just some of the benefits include better ideas, higher quality work, and bonding between members.

Apostle Paul writes, “Now the body is not made up of one part, but of many.” [1 Corinthians 12:14] NIV.  As he explains that each part makes up the body and cannot represent the whole by itself, he illustrates working in harmony.  

When we, the members, work together, we become the body of the church with feet, hands, heart, ears, eyes, and amazing capabilities. With each person fusing strengths and weaknesses with others in a group, the team is able to divide up the work. No one feels overwhelmed. It’s a win-win result. 

A team member and neighbor knew how to remove the roller brush to untangle Cindy’s hair.

The Teamwork Challenge applies to all of us: work together!  It’s God’s answer to life’s most persistent questions.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]   











Getting Over Messiness: God Can Do the Impossible! By Jo Russell

“I’m Jo and I’m a slob.” I could just imagine standing up in a 12-step meeting and admitting this horrible habit. Before God stepped in, I figured I was helpless to overcome this behavior. I’m a great test case for God’s promise that with Him all things are possible. [Matthew 19:26.]

Now and then, I felt guilty when I remembered a friend who has an immaculate home 24/7. She never battles disorder, dirt, and chaos. Her children learned to give themselves a bath,19:26. make their beds and fix their own meals by the time they were four. None ever showed up in a mud-covered trash bag after being towed on an inner tube behind someone’s four-wheel drive. That was my sons’ style.
Messiness seemed like our family’s shared gene. “Dear Lord, I know you can heal me of anything. Please guide me and help me over my sloppiness.” It wasn’t long after my prayer that I forgot I’d asked Him. If you pray for God to heal you of your messiness, then stock up on cleaning supplies and rags. I didn’t.

God has a sense of humor, you know that?

One day, the doorbell rang and I answered wearing my project clothes covered with a layer of drywall dust, which I’d tracked through the house. On the porch were two women: Miss Beauty Contest Winner with immaculate hair and manicured fingernails, tiara, heels and hose, plus a designer dress. Her sponsor stood beside her with her mouth open. I’d completely forgotten this day I was coaching the scholarship candidate on her public speaking. The appointment was in my day planner, but I hadn’t looked at it that day. My fingernails were as ragged as the Grand Teton range. Dusted white were my face, glasses and clothes. Two tufts of hair stuck out through the leg holes of an old pair of underwear over my hair. The two women were stunned.

Grand Mal Embarrassment set in. It was time to be serious about changing my habit for good and turning to God for help, not just with the house, but with organization. God got busy right away as I overhauled my day planner. Then I changed my habits after painting a few houses during the summer. I went to the first house to work. The dust bunnies were big enough to knit together into a Volkswagen. To say there was disorder in that house was like calling a boat wake the same as a tidal wave. After that 15-hour day, I went home, vacuumed, cleaned toilets and washed dishes. “I can actually do this,” I realized.

The next two houses were about the same.

“Very funny, God!” I told Him. “What’s next?”
Over time, I changed for the better. Though I would like to use the word “spotless,” that’s entirely too strong a word. What I did learn was if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. You can tackle all messes a little at a time this way.

There is all planning and no disorder in God’s world. Having an uncluttered house helps to have an uncluttered life. God smiles down at us when we don’t have to make a second trip to the hardware store for cup hooks because we couldn’t find the ones we just bought.

God had indeed done the impossible with me, and with a sense of humor at that. He healed me of my sloppiness, just as I asked Him!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]



Reach for the Sky By Jo Russell

Long before landscaping help and a watering system transformed my yard to lovely, it was a jungle of weeds and grass. Weeding on the installment plan simply had not worked. The yard was way past weed eaters and pruning shears. Now I needed a crew with machetes to break the trail, followed by a bulldozer.

My first spring in the house, I looked outside at a bed full of silk flowers among the weeds. Who would have put them there? Having been raised in desert where wayward eggs fried on the summer sidewalks, I knew nothing of tulips but wire-enforced leaves and fraying cloth blossoms.

But as I touched them, I realized these felt just like flowers! In fact, they looked  real! Mother Nature’s bright tulips turned the brittle brown landscape to red, yellow, white, purple, fuchsia, and rainbow! Only the beauty of the flowers had been camouflaged by the grass that cupped around them like a wall.

Once I had the materials to transform the yard and finish a walkway next to the bed of flowers, I weeded the spring bulbs so you could see their lithe stems and thick leaves. But without the grass around, they collapsed! They lay splayed on the ground like roadkill. I felt terrible!

The next morning I considered what to do. Bamboo skewers and twine would keep the flowers upright. I gathered them up and covered my eyes as I peeked around the corner at the tulips. But after a night of rest, the colorful blossoms were reaching to God! They didn’t need the grass to hold them up any longer, only the chance to stand on their own. They became stronger, more beautiful and larger than ever before.

The flowers that now stood on their own reminded me that sometimes we need to pull away from relationships that keep us from God. I thought with sadness of some of my family members and friends’ grown children who were influenced into addictions by those around them. Some broke ties with the friends who led them into bad habits; some did not, causing continued pain to themselves and all around them.

It is painful to break ties, but God gives us strength to stand, grow and flourish. He guides us to new relationships and a new direction so that we become stronger and more beautiful than ever.

For spiritual strength, you need to persevere through tough times, too. Read Hebrews 12:11 in the New Testament: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

How can unhealthy relationships in your life be pruned for better results?