Fathers No Longer Have a Bad Rep by Jo Russell

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant past, fathers had the same kind of reputation as drill sergeants and Physical Education teachers who bellowed at the troups, “Drop and give me 50 push-ups! Also, add ten laps around the track!”  And with dads, the preamble usually began, “I’m telling your dad what you did! Wait until your father gets home!”

Other stereotypes of fathers may dominate the greeting card racks at this time of year.

They call the whole bunch fix-it guys and compliment them on their skills.

What if they aren’t? Do they still qualify as good fathers?

Ronnie doesn’t know how to put a new handle on the toilet or what a rubber plunger is used for besides a fixture in the bathroom. But Ronnie has always been an involved father. He and his wife raised their four children with Christian values from birth to adulthood. The couple taught their children to make choices that modeled integrity, responsibility, hard work, fairness, compassion and caring. Ronnie invested time from their first cries in the delivery room until now – as adults.

Another father who does know a toilet plunger from a tomatillo still doesn’t qualify as a fix-up guy. Anthony had a late start in life becoming both a first-time husband and father at age 42. As he became a dad, he grew in parenting skills, patience and love. But his passion is his daughter and grandchildren shows in the time and thoughtful deeds. Grandpa is remembered for cooking special meals to share with his grandchildren and reading them stories that left them tickled their funny bones. Those memories and experiences have become a legacy.

Make room today for many fathers who want to be there for their sons’ or daughters’ first cry to lifting them to the flight into adulthood.

A big thanks to the generations of fathers bound in parenthood with commitment, love, listening, and persistence.

What a difference in families, communities, and nations.

Today, “Wait ‘til your father gets home” isn’t what it used to be – thank goodness.

Dads, you touch the world!

[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 Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

Grounded? Be Thankful! By Jo Russell

“You know that when all of us and the relatives sit down at the table, Mom and Dad are going to ask us what we’re thankful for,” Maggie reminded her siblings as they searched for the stash of cookies. Their mom had made the treats for holidays and the Christmas programs.  She started every October.

Now that the three of them had found the treat stash–which was moved every year—the children were planning the best strategy for getting to the cookies.

This year, while Mom was at the grocery store, they found the sweets in tins on the very top shelf of the hall closet.

“I’m thankful Mom always makes extra cookies so we can sample them.” Even though the children were bigger and hungrier than years past, they felt entitled. Their mom wouldn’t notice a few less cookies.

“I’m grateful Mom is such a good cooker,” Robbie volunteered. “But the cookie stash is up two chairs high this year,” Robbie observed.

“I’ll get a ladder,” suggested his older brother, Ralphie.

When the three worked together, they each enjoyed a fistful.

“How many did you get?” Robbie, the ladder holder, wanted to know.

“I think about six,” Ralphie responded.  “But I had to get the ladder and climb it! That’s worth something.”

“No fair!” cried Maggie. “I only got four. I need some more.”

“Then I’ll make sure we each have had six,” Ralphie promised as he climbed the ladder and opened a tin.

After that, each was able to satisfy their sweet tooth on their own.

Thanksgiving dinner came and Mom smiled around the crowded table at family, relatives and friends crowded together, and offered, “We have delicious cookies for desert along with homemade ice cream. Give me just a minute and I’ll bring them out!”

But when she got on the ladder and brought down tin after tin, she found just three cookies total.

Strange that her children didn’t raise their eyes from their plates of turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce. “I don’t suppose you know what happened to all the cookies?” she ventured.

All three answered, “Dunno, Mom.”

Later, she informed each that they were grounded until Christmas. Their punishment was to help make more cookies—as well as wash every messy dish and clean the kitchen, too.  But again, the three had the opportunity to be thankful. For the advantage of their punishment was that they got to lick the bowls!

Far from any cookie stash, Paul wrote these words, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” [Philippians 4:12.]

An attitude of gratitude is a deliberate choice, for there is much to thank God for each day—even for the last three cookies and the children who enjoyed the rest.

[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 Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

Slow Motion – It’s Okay By God by Jo Russell

“Something’s wrong with our Jasper,” his excited mother cried with alarm in rapid-fire sentences. “He needs help!”

“What seems to be the trouble?” Mrs. Brown, the reading teacher, responded.

“Everything he does is in slow motion!” Angela explained.  Her words hit the air as fast as machine gun fire.

Mrs. Brown stopped multi-tasking and tuned in to listen carefully.

“Everyone else is normal! But Jasper–he reads slowly, eats like he has three weeks to finish his food.  He talks so slow that we need to take a day off to hear the end of his sentences! Why, he’s the only little cowhand in our ranch who has fewer miles on his cowboy boots than any 7-year-old in the entire county!”

“Why is that?” the teacher wanted to know.

“Because he walks slower than a turtle on the run!”

So Jasper was enrolled in Mrs. Brown’s reading program. His family’s wish was that he would move a little faster so he was more useful on the ranch. They wanted him to be “normal.” But would he ever speak as fast as the rest of the family?

Mrs. Brown wish was that he read faster. The State Department of Education required all second-grade students to read at a rate over 100 words a minute. Still, there were a lot of things she could do to speed him up. Smart wasn’t the issue. Speed was.

When Jasper came ambling into the reading room for the first time, he had a broad smile on his face that was perfect for school picture day. But he didn’t make it all the way into the room – in slow motion, of course – until after he admired a ladybug on the door frame.

“Ummm.” he smiled. “She’s………….a………….beauty!”

Mrs. Brown noticed this happy little boy savored his words as if they were bites of a juicy rib-eye steak.

Over time, Mrs. Brown tried every skill and technique she knew. Still Jasper, always with a satisfied smile on his face, read at his same speed, taking the time to chew up and savor every word before he finished.

It was obvious he loved what he read, “Wow!” he would exclaim – in slow motion of course.

Jasper never did speed up.  He discovered reading even helped him running a ranch as he grew up to be a successful rancher, husband, father, and reader. But never fast.

Jasper’s wife would tell you he still loved to savor each of his words like a rib-eye steak. “So when he tells me ‘I love you with all my heart, Marnie’, it means even more.”

God created Jasper with all the gifts in place that He wanted him to have. Jasper’s speed was never an issue with God. He had patience with the man Jasper would become. Though Jasper may never have read fast enough for the State Department of Education or move fast enough for his siblings and parents, he was perfect in God’s eyes.

Jesus himself tells the parable of the kingdom of Heaven in terms of seed and growth. “A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” [Mark 4:27-28 NIV.]

So our personal skills and spiritual growth come along slowly – perhaps even without realizing it, we grow. Eventually, we produce a bounty out of the gifts God gives us. And God is pleased.

And if everything we do is in slow motion, that’s okay by God.

[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 Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

Honor Your Father and His Biorhythms By Jo Russell

While mothers have their maxims of wisdom, fathers leave behind memorable tidbits that span the generations.

Some are downright impressive.

“Anyplace worth going on vacation is worth leaving at 4:00 in the morning,” Jan’s dad, Leo, announced to the family before their two-week camping trip to Yosemite. “We’ll be leaving at exactly 4:00 a.m..” He hoped his wife, Jeane, and their three children were listening closely. “Be sure you have your gear packed and you’re in the car by then.”

Twelve-year-old Jan packed right away and laid out her clothes. So did Mom. Both remembered Dad’s power word was “early.” Perhaps coming to life early was in his biorhythms. He was a morning person. Scientists theorize such tendencies begin at birth.

Did Leo ever mean that the family should rise when the rosy sky heralded the sunrise? Nope.

In the pre-dawn’s darkness of vacation day one, Bobby, the six-year-old, couldn’t find two socks that matched and had packed his duffle himself – full of toys and stuffed animals. Without Mom’s help, he quickly buttoned his green shirt in the wrong holes, pulled on purple plaid pants and sat shivering in the back seat. Next to him was his fully dressed and alert 12-year-old sister, Jan. She had been waiting for ten minutes. Dad had the car’s engine warming up for the trip.

Jan’s older brother, Tony, didn’t wake up well or quickly even when roused by Mom. With slept-on hair sticking up like a whisk broom, he sprinted barefoot through the gravel toward the moving sedan pulling out of the driveway at exactly 4:00 a.m. He dived into the back seat in his pajamas and forgot his suitcase entirely. Fortunately, wearing pajamas at the mall had become the benchmark of fashion.

Dad’s power word “EARLY” dominated the weekday routine as well.

While it was hours before dawn, and because he had to be at work early, Jan’s dad prepared sizzling sausages to go with fried eggs, stacks of pancakes, and hot cereal for the whole family.

His love glowed through his time listening and teaching. As the children became teens, Jan’s father mentored them through the important phases of moving into adulthood – including getting up before sunup to make the best of one’s day – or anyplace worth going on vacation is worth leaving at 4:00 in the morning.

As we celebrate Father’s Day today, remember God’s take on parents in Exodus 20:

“Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12.

And whether the father in your life is a morning person or doesn’t come to life until evening,

honor him and his biorhythms. His life woven with yours is a great gift.

[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 Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

Words Carved in Granite By Jo Russell

Words carved in granite on monuments are thicker in Washington D.C. than souvenir kiosks, Roberta concluded. Visiting America’s capital for the first time, she noted that tourists reading quotes seemed immobilized in awe. The quotations were inspiring, patriotic, and wise.

The carved words included America’s first president George Washington as he left this thought, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.”

Former President Dwight Eisenhower wrote, “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”

Thomas Jefferson stated, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

General Douglas MacArthur was known for this: “Duty. Honor. Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt fueled America’s hope during the Great Depression with, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke this about character, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Words from everyday life fall flat by comparison.

It caused Roberta to wonder, “If every American had some of their words carved in granite, what wisdom would they choose to share?” What about her pearls of wisdom remembered by her offspring? Would they generate more inspiration and buzz than an energy drink? She doubted it. To her teens, she had said, “Any more raids on the secret grocery stash and you’ll eat pancakes every meal until payday. I’d kill for olives about now.”

Immortalized in print, the late journalist Erma Bombeck, stated, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”

“Never have more children than you have car windows.”

To her offspring, “I told you the tooth fairy is writing checks because computerized billing is easier for the IRS.”

“I’ve exercised with women so thin that buzzards followed them to their cars.”

Roberta rethought her own quotes. Had they inspired, brought out patriotism and showed wisdom?

“If you don’t wash your ears, you’ll have a plant start growing out of it.”

“If you’re too busy to clean your room, you’re too busy to need an allowance.”

“Another day. Another dent. Logs don’t jump up and hit cars. Give back the car keys.”

Roberta reflected on the things she did right, too. George Washington inspired a foundation for a government as well as a family unit in these words, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”

Roberta had been governing her family with God and the Bible—teaching a spiritual and moral foundation. Close to her heart, Roberta believed this verse “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26. Roberta had raised her children in the way they should go.

The entire family knew and believed these words of the familiar 1860 hymn that begins “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

Those simple words of faith are worth carving in granite. They are the words that inspire and show wisdom for all time. Jesus loves you. Do you know? Yes, the Bible tells you so.

[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 Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

Do Not Pass Go! Do Not Collect $200.! By Jo Russell

Date Night at the movies! What a rare treat for Pastor Rick and his wife, Shannon! The couple with grown sons exercised veto power on most films due to ratings, subject matter, and their own lack of time juggling many programs at church. But the humorous new release with a well-known star and PG rating made it irresistible.

“Welcome! Enjoy the show!” Employee Wayne smiled as he tore the couple’s tickets and directed them to the right theatre. With only two theatre complexes in a thirty-five mile radius, Wayne recognized most movie-goers. Some came from 60 miles away. With a short-staff schedule, Wayne and other employees had at least four jobs. He couldn’t remember Rick and Shannon’s usual choice of movies, but from the audience’s laughter erupting from the theatre during that film, he thought they’d enjoy it. 

But after Pastor Rick and Shannon worked their way through two buttered popcorns, cold drinks, advertisements, and previews, they settled in to watch the movie. The opening scene tracked a beach party with an abundance of enthusiasm, skin, and adult activities. It seemed to rival what had been written about the party the Israelites staged while Moses was up on Mt. Sinai getting God’s commandments. After five minutes, the film left much room for improvement. Pastor Rick and his wife trekked back to the lobby.   

Wayne was now manning the snack bar, taking tickets, sweeping up popcorn, and getting ready to clean the restrooms. “What can I get you? More popcorn? Sodas? Candy?”

“No, we want our money back,” requested Pastor Rick.

Now the theatre employee remembered them! Wayne studied his watch, and then crossed his arms.  After he checked the time, he announced, “I can’t do that.”

“Why not? I’ve only seen five minutes of the movie. I didn’t like it. I want you to call the manager. ”

 “Today, I’m the manager, ticket taker, snack bar server, and janitor. You can’t get any higher than that. See, I remember you’ve been here before. You were five minutes into the movie this time. If it had been three, I could give you your money back.  After five minutes, you cannot pass go and cannot get your money back. My decision is final!”

So was Pastor Rick’s. The husband and wife looked at each other and laughed. Wayne didn’t.  Then Rick and Shannon left holding hands in their quest for another venue for Date Night. 

Walking upright with the Lord takes a real man. Forget about popular signs of manhood: nice aftershave, owning a pick-up truck, opening doors for ladies, working hard, supporting a family, as well as remembering birthdays and anniversaries. It takes courage and commitment to submit to a life mentored by God.  God decided that a man’s role is also to be the spiritual leader of a family.

As a father of three sons, Pastor Rick took his role seriously as the God-honoring leader in his family. While raising their children, he and Shannon modeled what they wanted to see in their sons’ choices in adulthood, challenges, and spiritual life and growth. Pastor Rick taught his congregation and his family from the Bible, and took to heart the passage, “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.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 [NIV].

On Father’s Day, we honor men around the world for their important role in families – changing the future by shaping, teaching, and modeling character and integrity for children, whether their own or in their care as leaders. Add to that God’s take: There is nothing of higher value than a father who models and walks with His Creator. It takes courage to make big decisions as well as small ones – like taking a stand on what makes good entertainment on a Date Night.

Many blessings on you guys out there who know how to be fathers to your and others’ children. Happy Father’s Day! God bless you all!

[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 Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]   

 

 

 

 

 

A Dead Egg or a Live Savior? By Jo Russell

Eight boys between seven and fourteen squeezed into Grandma Brenda’s tiny trailer kitchen. Around a table the size of a placemat, they bumped into each other and cups of dye and eggs. More flats of colored eggs filled the counter, the living room sofa, and lawn chairs on the sandblasted porch. There was no place left to sit inside or outside of the silver bullet-shaped home on the barren desert. All the dyeing was in the name of the community Easter egg hunt for the widespread population of ranchers and farm families. Just the 100 folks who loved holiday fun made it all worthwhile.

With standing room only, the troops began to complain. “Grandma, this is girls’ stuff. These are foo-foo colors. Why do we have to do it?” Gene grumbled.

“Yeah,” replied Nat. “We still have four flats to go, and we’re sick of eggs.”

“Because you’re my special grandsons, and I love the way you are helping.”

The fourteen-year-old, Billy, didn’t buy the flattery. “You shouldn’t have volunteered us! It’s not fun anymore. We’ve been doing this for hours.”

“It was the right thing to do!” Brenda reveled in her new role as a community volunteer. How many other people can help their neighbors when they are working on the farms so many hours?”

As soon Grandma Brenda excused herself to run to the store, the boys put their heads together and came up with a team consensus. They mixed the dyes together and ladled the balance of the eggs into it. They were colored in no time and ready all at once!

Not just that, but on the two-acre desert plot punctuated with sagebrush, tumbleweeds and snake holes, the camouflaged eggs would be hard to find. For all the group-dyed eggs were a perfect grey-green, the same as the resident horned toad population.

When the enthusiastic egg-hunters finished, Event Leader Rex, announced, “There are still twelve eggs out there!” But try as they might, none of the children found any more until a month later when Billy was walking his dog. Roxy sniffed out a hole nearly invisible under a bush. A rotten egg lived there. It was dead and smelled like it.

Though the idea of egg hunts originated in pagan rituals to celebrate spring and new life, they are a reminder of the new life of Christ, with differences.

Christ was not reborn after having been killed. He was whole, still pierced by the nails and the spear from his crucifixion.

“He is not here,” stated an angel to the women who came to tend to Jesus’ body. “He has risen, just as he said.” [Matthew 28:6 NIV] The angel instructed them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where they would see Jesus alive again. But the women saw him first, then Mary Magdalene later, thinking he was the gardener, but recognizing him as Lord Jesus.

Just before Jesus did appear to the disciples, Thomas spouted out “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” John 20:24. That’s when Jesus showed up and invited him to do so.

Jesus concluded, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
Christ’s sacrificial death offers us new life.

To believe in him as the son of God is to open the door to a new life. He forgives our mistakes and bad choices and gives us another chance. A future with help from Jesus as Savior is like celebrating the arrival of a new and precious family member.

So while enjoying today’s celebration, ask yourself, are you embracing a dead egg or a live Savior?

[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, www.button-to-god.com, and Amazon.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Truth or Consequences? By Jo Russell

Preschooler Vicki was approached by her older sister, Sherry, who was carrying an egg. “Want to hatch an egg?” her big sis asked. Second grader Sherry was learning all about eggs and science. While most of the time, big sis considered Vicki a pest, she wanted to share secrets with her.

Vicki felt overwhelmed. “What do I have to do?”

“Take this in the living room. Make a nest for it on the carpet. Then sit on it to keep it warm. It’s easy!”

Vicki carried the egg carefully to the living room, found a good place for a nest, and lowered herself onto the egg. But immediately, she felt her pants wet with goo. The yellow yolk also oozed onto the carpet. She screamed with surprise. Her mother came running.

“But, Mom,” the preschooler explained between tears, “I did everything Sherry said and the egg didn’t hatch. I shouldn’t get in trouble for messing up the rug!”

So much for science between siblings. Whether an event is passed off as a joke, a trick or a little lie, it tears away the foundation of trust in relationships.

Wouldn’t it be great to invest in a relationship one can always count on?

There is one based on consistency and truth and promises which are always kept. We serve a God of truth who never lies–not in the past, present, or future. A God of His Word, he is a great example for living.

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” [Deuteronomy 32:4. NIV]

When comes to hatching, God created the chicken and the egg – no carpet or little girls needed. He has just the right answers.  

[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, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Ban the Guilt Gene Forever By Jo Russell

Any day now, I’m expecting scientists to announce the discovery of a gene specific to women—the guilt gene!

Sue rushed through the after-dinner clean-up, filling the dishwasher and slapping the control panel with an elbow–only to hear a strange thumping noise. She stopped the machine! Staggering out of the maze of plates and silverware was a wet and soapy pet–the family ferret, Ferdinand. She might have thought, “Oh, good, he needed a bath!” But instead, as the children wailed, “Mom, how could you do such a thing!” she felt the ill-effects of the guilt gene. She would never live this down.

Jill whipped up a batch of pesto to take to a potluck when she looked down and noticed that one new acrylic nail was missing. She hastily ran the pesto for the group through a sieve. “Don’t eat the pesto in the fridge!” she called out as she dashed through the door. “I lost a fingernail! I’ll find it when I get back.” Her husband and son, intent on the sports channel, may not have heard her while eating chips and dip. Her guilt gene kicked in for the next three hours. She worried about them choking on the plastic piece the size of an almond.

A tour guide, Lacy, rattled off a regional housekeeping fact, launching a dozen women in the crowd into a guilt gene-driven tizzy. “Even though the average rainfall here is thirty-one inches and it rains nearly every day, the women here wash and polish their windows three times a week.” There were gasps. One woman mouthed, “Three times a week?” How long since she had washed her windows? Like me, maybe she couldn’t remember.

When I took a clean bathrobe with me as a prop for a humorous speech at a crowded restaurant, I donned the robe to make a point. Floating to the floor was a pair of my lacy underwear. It was a one-of-a-kind experience for the standing-room only lunch crowd. I could have thought “Wow! I’ve been wondering where those were. I’ve been looking for them forever.” Or, let the guilt gene kick in, “You should have used a dryer sheet and it wouldn’t have stuck.”

“Does the guilt gene ever fade away?” I wondered as I called a friend to ask, “Do you ever feel guilty for the things you don’t get done now that you’re retired?” She cupped her hand around the phone so her husband would not hear her answer, “Oh, yes! Absolutely.”

However, God immobilizes the guilt gene with a needed remedy: praise and encouragement. In Proverbs 31–a record of major multi-tasking, the Bible refers to the assets of women, “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” [NIV] Sweet words for the guilt-plagued.

Though scientists may discover sound evidence of a guilt gene, God recognizes women as an important component of the family and the world. “Give her the reward she
has earned, and let her bring her praise at the city gates.” Amen to that. How have you praised a hard-working woman today?

[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, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

What’s in a Name? Daddy, Papa, Abba Father By Jo Russell

At first, the request seemed tougher for twin 8-year-old brothers than deciphering Egyptian. Or being challenged to build a suspension bridge spanning the Mississippi only using popsicle sticks and bubble gum. Make a Father’s Day card? It left my sons more confused than ever.

In their summer enrichment program at the university where I was taking summer grad classes, a cheerful counselor explained the cards would be their project for the special occasion.

But how? And who should get it? Since boys had been infants, their biological father had excused himself from their lives. They had never known him. But the boys already knew that with God everything was possible.

“We can do this!” the two cried together and set to work as a team. Remembering how much their mom and grandma meant to them and their gifts to both for Mother’s Day, the twins encouraged each other making a card. Even though they didn’t know where to send it, they proudly put their best efforts into it. An hour later, drippy with glitter glue and foam hearts, the message they created read,

“Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Russell.
Wherever you are,
We love you.”

They gave it to me. My eyes grew wet.

Yet even at that point, my sons’ sentiment truly belonged to an entire team of men who invested time and faith in them as well as nurtured the boys. It continued through the teen and young adult years.

One father, a coworker/coach, persuaded my sons to try cross country running. Coming out of shyness, one twin enjoyed competing throughout high school and earned athletic letters. He experienced a runner’s high and radiated confidence. Great job, Coach!

A middle-aged deacon pedaled across town on a racing bicycle. He stood at our front door and invited my other teen to bicycle our steep hills and dales with him. From then on, the boy was crazy about bicycles, racing, and building bicycles. It became his passion and livelihood. Thank you, Don!

One shop teacher/ father welcomed my sons after school for rock climbing practice at his house. He also urged the twins to join the student team of builders constructing a house on campus, which would be auctioned and moved. One became student foreman. Both teens learned building trades. Thanks a million, Bob!

Calling them “our boys,” Ben and Jan spent hours guiding my sons in careers, challenges, and tough adult decisions. Thanks so much!

Later as an Army recruit, one son was mentored into manhood and adulthood by a young officer and husband. High five for Todd!

The common denominators in all these fathers included caring, a strong belief in God and in my sons’ value. It didn’t matter that there was no direct family connection. The Christian mens’ concern for non-family members overcame the lack of blood relation.

Like God’s bond with us, caring, time and commitment provided the glue.

To all you fathers out there, thanks for all you do!

[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, Intermedia Publishing 2011. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]