"Churk, churk, churk!" That was Red, Lucy's pet rooster, waiting for he at the gate. He ran back and forth with excited little squawks and warbles, for Lucy usually saved a few tidbits from her lunch just for him and he was anxious to peck them up.
But Lucy ran right on past and into the house with an indignant, squawking rooster at her heels. "Mom, I'm home," called Lucy. "Can I have a cookie?"
"Hi, Lucy!" greeted Mom, "Yes, you may have a cookie, then please take that pesky rooster out to the barn. I declare, he makes an awful racket! How did you first day of school go?"
"Fine, Mom," answered Lucy between mouthfuls of ginger snap. We're learning Matthew 5 for our first memory work. We have to pick a verse to practice, too." Lucy rummaged through her lunch box for leftovers for Red.
"That sounds good, Lucy. Which verse have you picked?" asked Mom.
"I don't know. I'll take Red out, then I want to read it over."
Lucy walked slowly to the barn with an excited Red at her heels. She chuckled as Red quickly picked up the bread crust, strutted to a safe distance, and proceeded to peck away. He was such a funny pet. She had picked him from a batch of motherless chicks and nursed him along because he was smaller and weaker. And now look at him! Mom had threatened to cook him but Lucy didn't think she could bear to eat her pet. Lucy paused to watch Red a bit more. She squatted down and held out her hand. "Here, Red, come," she said softly. Red stretched his neck to swallow the last curst, then he walked instantly toward Lucy. Lucy stroked his soft feathers and Red closed his eyes. They often spent time together this way and Lucy would tell her pet all kinds of things.
Lucy could hear her two older brothers, Tom and Jeff, at work in the barn. The cows snuffed in the new hay while the pigs grunted and squealed for their supper.
"Lucy!" That was Mom. Lucy jumped up, startling Red, and headed for the house.
"Could you please peel these potatoes, Lucy?" asked Mom. "We've having David's over for supper."
Lucy sighed, "I hoped I could read Matthew 5, Mom, but I can do it later."
"How about if I quote some of the verses I remember while we work?" asked Mom. "Maybe you could get my Bible to help me."
"My! You do good, Mom!" exclaimed Lucy a few minutes later.
Mom smiled, "I learned it long ago in school, too," she said. "Now let's get supper fixed."
The evening went quickly for Lucy. David's had a girl named Jane a year older than Lucy. So Lucy and Jane played. But Jane was so bossy! Lucy couldn't do anything right. She tried to play nicely but inside her heart, she felt hot pricks of anger.
Later she asked Mom, "Why is Jane so bossy? I don't like her!"
"Lucy," Mom spoke gently. "I think I just thought of the verse you need to practice. It's this one: 'Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.'"
"But Mom! She acted ugly to Red and she broke one of my plates!" cried Lucy. "How can I love her?"
"What does the verse say?" asked Mother, sitting down and opening her Bible. "Love them, bless them, pray for them, do good to them.... Looks like you have your work all laid out for you, Lucy." Mother's eyes sparkled. "Who knows, Lucy? If you practice this verse, Jane might change and be nicer. Anyhow, it won't hurt to try. Want to?"
Lucy mumbled, "I guess so."
"Don't forget to ask God to help you," reminded Mom.
Days passed. Lucy nearly forgot her verse, but now and then she would see Jane and she'd wonder how she was ever going to love her. Jane loved to be the leader. She wanted to direct the games. She insisted she was right. Lucy played with other friends, so how could she practice on Jane?
That is what she asked Mom one night after supper.
"You can play in her group and get lots of practice," suggested mom, her eyes twinkling.
Lucy wrinkled her nose and sighed. Jane's group was just little ones because the bigger children didn't like to be bossed. But Lucy decided to try it. She had been praying for Jane, now maybe she could find a way to do good to her.
Next day Lucy walked slowly over to Jane's group. "Hi, Jane!" she called. "Can I play, too?"
Jane's mouth dropped open. Then she smiled and said, "Oh, yes! Just take a spot there by Benny. We're playing 'Drop the Hanky'! It's our favorite, isn't it children?" All the children nodded eagerly and Lucy found her spot. As the game went on, Lucy had to actually admit that it was fun, even though Jane told everyone what to do.
"That was fun," Lucy said to Jane as they walked toward the school. "The little ones really like you, too, don't they?"
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Jane. "I love little children." Then she lowered her voice. "Someday I'd like to be a teacher."
Lucy looked surprised. "Why I think you would make a really good teacher, Jane," she said sincerely.
Jane's eyes sparkled. "We'd better hurry or we will be tardy," she said and the two girls ran the rest of the way.
Lucy was all excited after school. "Mom," she called. "Mom, it worked! I did good to Jane! And it was even fun!" Then she told Mom what had happened. Mom smiled and nodded. "So Jane wants to be a teacher. That's a good thing to work toward."
"Yes," said Lucy. "And I think she'll be a good one. She loves little ones and they love her and she handles them really well."
"So you found something good about Jane, didn't you?" asked Mom.
"Yes," said Lucy. "I'm glad I did what you said. Now I can understand why Jane is the way she is, and I won't have such a hard time getting along with her. I'm glad I decided to practice Matthew 5:44."
Return to children's index