Norma Elliott, the Cowboy Pastor’s Wife: Are You Smarter Than Your Tools?
I’ve often heard the saying, “You gotta be smarter than the tools you work with.” And I wondered if the person who came up with this, has ever tried to start our chainsaw? I wondered if they have had to take it out to do the toughest jobs of all. A cord of wood to feed the stove for winter, the thick Catclaw that waits to snatch a ranch trailer tire at the entrance. I know I’m smarter than the toothy gal. She smiles so innocently as I load her in the truck, I put in the little tool that tightens her chain, I mix up a sweet drink for her, the little black bottle of elixir plus a gallon of gas. I bring along a stiff little brush to give her a spa treatment before she begins her edgy work. She looks pretty as the morning, all ready for the work ahead…
Or that’s what I thought anyways. I set her down so gently on the ground while I slip on my worn work gloves, we’ve been here before…I know she likes a gentle tug. Because I’m not as strong as my husband, I work best with one foot in her handle, I prime her up, switch her lever to “START” and quickly pull on her corded handle, she bellers a teasing rumble. I get excited thinking a few more pulls and she will be mine. Her low alto voice will be singing away! No such luck! I have now worked up a sweat, I think I have tennis elbow, and I’m cussing the gal for leading me on once again!
Did the fellow who came up with this saying own my chainsaw? I think not and I want to kick him! I want to kick anything right now and the truck tire is the nearest thing. I draw back my pointed boot hoping to release my frustration, powering towards the tire I realize immediately it was a mistake, as a sharp pain radiates up my leg. Now I’m limping around with a injured toe and tennis elbow. I imagine I look like someone’s stuffingless scarecrow in midwinter and hope nobody has been watching my mindless fit.
The best thing I can do at this point is to take a break and nurse my wounds. I’ve flooded the gal and she is intoxicated with the sweet smell of gasoline and I think I heard her laugh! I wonder why must I go through this dance every time we go out together. She’s not a good friend at all!
But here we are, the job must be done…chainsaw one and me nothing and I refuse to let her win. Sober up old gal, we got work to do and I muster up enough dignity to grab her tightly one handed and yank her cord with more confidence than I had before and what do you know. SHE STARTS!
So am I smarter than the tools I work with? I am not sure but for today anyways I have won and I start in on a beefy branch lying next to the road. I feel just a touch of fall in the air and I am reveling in victory. Me, my chainsaw and pickup all ranchy looking. These gals are workin’ and our toothy grins are full throttle, that’s until I look down and see her belch out some oil, there’s black smoke, plus the chain needs tightening!
So sir, please come to my house, I live at ranch road 25 in Brewster County. I have a chainsaw for ya! She will be waiting by the gate and I will even throw in her favorite beverage. You let me know if you’re smart enough to keep her running.
Sometimes I look like that chainsaw, slow to start, drinking up the Word but not producing the work the Lord has for me. Sometimes it takes God getting a firm hold of me and cranking my engine before I see the obvious, a friend who’s struggling, a husband who needs my encouragement, a job He wants me to do. The difference is this: I can be smarter by following His counsel and he never leaves me at the gate, and for that I’m extremely thankful!
“ I’ve even become smarter than my teachers since I’ve pondered and absorbed your counsel.”
I do care more about what God says anyway than a person I’ve never met! So with that, I’m off to buy a new chainsaw!
Thank you for reading….thecowboypastorswife
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the July 24, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News