It is Good to Be Paul Bunyan by Jo Russell

Cindy spun the truck around to an open bay at the builder’s supply and looked around for the wheeled lumber cart with her husband’s shed door loaded on it. No cart. No brawny man. She stepped out of the truck and peered into the work area. Lots of doors lying sideways in a rack over a story high. She checked for a flatbed cart as well. No cart.  Where was customer service? Had everyone left the building because it was lunchtime?

No. A young man nearly a foot taller than her stepped confidently out of the bay with the door on his shoulder. His plaid flannel shirt and suspenders made Cindy think of the legendary lumberman of East Coast fame, Paul Bunyan. The smiling giant hefted the door as if it had been a piece of kindling for a campfire. Cindy didn’t have to do a thing. He loaded the door so easily and tied down the load that Cindy thought the door wasn’t heavy.  He waved her off to her husband’s do-it-yourself project.  Paul’s big Blue Ox? Nowhere to be found, but Black Angus cattle grazing across the street would do.

Cindy backed into the drive at their house and hit the horn for her husband, Rick, to help.

When the couple cupped their hands on the bottom of the door and lifted, Cindy dropped her end. “Sorry! Heavy!” she apologized. “I had no idea! And I think I sprained my wrist!”

With more starts and stops than a rural mail truck, Cindy and Rick got the door leaned against the shed as the sun was setting. Paul Bunyan and his Black Angus cattle wouldn’t have even been tired. But Cindy and Rick collapsed and sent out for pizza, hoping to have enough energy left to answer the door.

It is good to be Paul Bunyan! But in lieu of his muscles, even Paul’s life would bring many challenges for feats of strength in other areas–not just the kind for manhandling doors.

Let these words remind you of who can handle it all.

“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 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]

Look to a champion even stronger than the legendary lumberman! For God comes through in all cases requiring strength of body, mind, and spirit. The great “I AM.” When he runs, he will not fall, even when carrying a custom door. It’s good to be Paul Bunyan, but it’s even better to trust in God and in his help through all things.

[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.]

 

 

 

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.]

Navigating the Mountaintops and S-Curves by Jo Russell

As dusk fell greyed the familiar mountain road, fog clouded the scene, leaving the pavement wet with mist. Jolene neared the end of an all-day trek across the state and noted, “Wow! Roads more curvy than a plate of spaghetti!” Her teens, both with learners’ permits, took the role of backseat drivers. She looked beyond their frequent advice and remembered a teacher’s tip for staying alert.

“Forget the caffeine. Eat sunflower seeds,” the coach advised. “It will keep you awake into the wee hours.”  He spent hours and miles driving a van filled with teens to school athletic events.

So Jolene was now mastering the coordination of a stick shift, sunflower seeds, and S-curves. While Jolene downshifted, she turned the wheel with one hand, cracked the seeds with her teeth, she dropped the shells in a paper bag with her free hand.

The teens in the backseat had their own opinions.

Just as Jolene was powering into a curve, a youthful voice cried out in a loud voice, “Dear God, please get us home safely–even though–YIKES!–It doesn’t seem possible right now!”

A few miles later, another of her offspring interjected, “Mom!”

“What?!”

“Your driving! Pay attention! That skunk wanted to cross the road! It had the right of way!”

She mumbled to herself between sunflower seeds, “Leave it to someone who has 26 miles of driving experience to have all the answers!”

Road, weather, and opinions in the backseat improved in the next few miles and the family got home safely with a big thanks to God.

Life is never dull because of all the challenges, mountaintops, and valleys we travel.  Leaning on God in all situations is not weakness, but strength. For God is many times stronger than we are. He can help through anything – health, family, relationship, career challenges – even curvy roads.

God’s plans for us will include things that are difficult and beyond our abilities. But with his help, God evens up the odds and helps us to the goal. He is the most steadfast and powerful friend anyone could have. He can be your team leader.

When a bicyclist races, he or she counts on the team to break the wind. That strategy conserves energy and allows the bicyclist a burst of speed at the finish. A racer needs his team.

In the bathtub races through the open channel between Nanaimo, B.C. and Vancouver, a full-sized boat smoothes the water in front of the small watercraft fighting its way across the open sea. For safety and to make it across the rough water, a bathtub racer needs help.

God smooths the path before us. He is our support team and leader who makes us strong to the finish.

The great warrior and King David wrote, “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:28-29. This followed one of David’s many victories.

Victory in everyday life with God’s help may even make it simple navigating with a stick shift, sunflower seeds, and S-curves.

[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.]

 

 

 

What Every Competent Woman Needs By Jo Russell

“You’ve come a long way, baby!” was the popular advertising slogan around the time of the second wave of the women’s movement. The idea was to move women closer to “fully equal partnership with men.” But feminists blew it by overlooking two essential additions to every competent woman’s handbag.

For equality to be complete, any multitasking, do-it-yourself woman needs to pack a pocketknife and a measuring tape.

After finishing out my working career in building trades, I know that every man who is worth his salt carries a pocketknife and a measuring tape on him. Though the measurements of cabinets were shown on the tag, each customer had to measure just to be sure. It is a good idea.

“This tag says it’s eighteen inches wide. It’s really seventeen and three-quarters.” a male customer would tell me.

The pocketknife? I am forever grateful for those who carried them, as my store had given us rounded tipped cutters because they were afraid of our employees hurting ourselves. So when it came to customers who needed fat, thick vinyl tubing that I affectionately tagged “the python,” I knew the customer who was worth his salt would slip out a pocketknife and cut it for himself.

Some companies have gotten the idea, like the long-standing European knife company who had outfitted the military with their multiuse tool. Now they offer a pink model out of respect for competent women. But I ask you, where is the measuring tape that goes with it?

You can bet that inside every handywoman’s handbag are the real equalizers: a purse-sized measuring tape and a pocket knife.

Consider Proverbs 31:17: “She sets about her tasks vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Those guidelines for a good wife were written close to 3000 years ago by King Solomon, guidelines for a good wife. Whether or not you are a wife, you can be a God and Bible-powered woman.

A spiritual woman is a strong one—yesterday, today and tomorrow. You don’t have to tote cement blocks or patio paving stones to be the strong woman of character that God sees in you. He takes you as you are and goes from there. And God is with you in your journey for confidence and competence outside of your current comfort zone. You’re an amazing creation!

[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, keep checking her weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]

God Bless and Keep Our Servicemen By Jo Russell

When a tall, gaunt man in a pressed green uniform had stepped in the door of our house, my mom exclaimed, “Your dad is home from the war, at last!” I was about five. When he had held out his arms to me, I did not run into them. Instead, I held tightly to my mother’s legs and wondered who the stranger was – and why he was moving in with us.

Being career military, Dad’s being home for a long period of time only happened late in his career. He balanced two demanding worlds: a commitment to defend the United States and a desire to protect, guide, and provide for his family – often long distance.
He took his home role seriously. Dad rose before dawn to cook breakfast for the family before he went to work. As he balanced a pancake on the spatula, “Jo, don’t you want another pancake? You’ve only had thirteen.”

As we became teens, we siblings sometimes thought Dad was hopelessly old-fashioned. He was the one who insisted I change my clothes when I bought a dress so short I could not bend over. (“Everybody else lets their kids dress the way they want,” I would wail.) He was the one who insisted we all work summers to save money for college. (“Everybody else gives their kids big allowances and let them stay home during vacations.”) No one else’s dad butted into their lives, but Dad spent hours guiding us through the tough decisions of moving into adulthood. No stranger now, he had truly shown us his love with his commitment and time. We had grown to love him, realizing that boundaries are part of a good father’s job.

My father had proved his bravery in two wars and a full military career, receiving silver and bronze star as well as a nomination for the President’s Medal of Honor.

When cancer ravaged his health and lifestyle, he fought for more time and saw all of three of us grow to adulthood.

God bless fathers who currently serve both country and family. God keep you safe and bring you home — forever and always.

 

[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, keep checking her weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]