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When Rosie Couldn’t

It was a bad day for Rosie. She had woken up with a scratchy throat and an ache in her head, but that wasn’t the worst part. Mom had said that if everyone was well enough the family would go for a hike up Bayberry Hill and have a picnic for supper. But now she couldn’t go because she was sick. Rosie dragged her feet slowly when Dad called for family devotions, and she only mumbled her prayer.

At breakfast Rosie just pushed her food around. “My throat hurts,” she complained, and left her blueberry muffin half eaten.

“Please bring your dishes to the sink,” Mom said. “And, Rosie, dear, you will feel much better if you just try to be cheerful.” Rosie tried to lift the corners of her mouth, but she didn’t feel happy. I can’t smile anymore, she thought sadly.

“Girls,” Mom said, “while Dad is working outside with the boys, I thought we could clean up the house and do some baking.

“Irene, could you have Emma help you with the front room? Kyle and Rosie can work with me.” Rosie almost smiled to think of two-year-old Kyle working, but then she remembered her headache.

“My head doesn’t feel very well, Mama. I can’t work,” she said as she followed Mother down the hall.

Mother didn’t say anything, but poked her head into each of the bedrooms and opened the closet. “Here is a dust rag and a broom for the cobwebs. I will take care of vacuuming. When you’re done, Rosie, you can take Kyle outside for awhile.” Rosie was about to say that she couldn’t do that either, but she thought better of it.

Slowly Rosie pulled a rag over a dresser top; it caught around a stack of books. “I can’t dust when everything is in the way,” she said fretfully to herself. “And the bookshelf is too high for me.” When Mom came by the door, Rosie quickly began brushing off the bedpost. The lampshade was next, and then the toy box was given a few swipes with the rag. After the ceiling corners were poked with the broom, Rosie looked around. Down inside she knew that she hadn’t done her best, but she excused herself. “I’m not very big, so I couldn’t do it very well,” she said, and went on to the other rooms.

An hour later Rosie plopped down on the couch, blinking back a few tears. How can I help it if everything is too hard and I don’t feel well. Mom had just had to scold her for being careless and not listening. And it was the tears that made her throat start hurting again.

“Bring your socks over here, Rosie,” Mom called from the sewing corner. “Now is a good time for me to teach you how to mend them.”

Rosie sat on a little stool with Mom’s wooden darning egg in the toe of her stocking and watched Mom weave the thread in and out around the hole. “Be careful to make small stitches—just go under, over, under, over, like this.”

Rosie held the needle and looked at the smooth row Mom had stitched. It looked too hard and she didn’t feel like sewing. “I can’t do it,” she said.

“Rosie dear, I think you can if you will try,” Mom said patiently. “Just go up and down around that hole.” So Rosie did, but she went a bit too fast. Ouch! A little prick in her finger began bleeding, and she quickly dropped the darning into her lap.

“I can’t do it; it’s too hard.” She pressed the sore finger to her lips. Mom didn’t say anything. “Now my finger hurts,” Rosie murmured, with a little sniff.

“I am sorry it does,” Mom said without looking up from her mending, “but it doesn’t have to. I’ve sent Emma out to get the last red tomatoes, and if you’d rather help outside I think Dad will have something for you to do.”

Rosie didn’t want to help outside. She walked slowly to the piano and began tapping on the keys. “Rosie?” It was Irene from the kitchen. “If you’re practicing your lesson, at least play the right notes.”

“I’m trying,” Rosie said, blinking back the tears. I can’t do anything right, she thought as she stared at the black notes in her piano book.

“What’s the problem?” asked Dad, as he sat down in his big chair to take off his boots. “Is my little Rosy-posy having trouble with her lesson?”

Slipping off the piano bench, Rosie hurried to climb onto his lap. Dad’s shoulder felt strong and loving under her cheek; she brushed away her tears and began to tell him about it. At first she told about the hard music and her pricked finger and how she didn’t like mending socks. “Oh, I see,” said Daddy, and listened some more. She remembered her sore throat, how she couldn’t do anything, especially going on the picnic, and how terrible it all was.

When she was quiet, Daddy said, “So you just couldn’t do anything today? Only feel grumpy and sad? Well, that is terrible.” His voice was quiet when he asked, “Is that how you want your day to be?”

“No, Daddy,” Rosie began, “but I can’t do—”

“Are you sure about that?” Dad said quickly, with a little smile. “Let’s see, really, you didn’t want to eat breakfast and you didn’t want to do your work well and you didn’t want to listen… isn’t that so, Rosie?” She didn’t answer, so he continued, “You couldn’t do anything because you didn’t want to, so now how about not wanting to be grouchy? If you really want to, you can be happy, Rosie. You can ask Jesus to help you, but you first have to want His help.” Rosie thought of her mumbled prayer that morning. She thought of how many times she didn’t want to do things that day.

“Daddy, I don’t know,” she said slowly.

“Let’s pray then,” suggested Daddy.

When Mom called them for lunch, Rosie took her seat with a smile. How silly it was to be sad all morning, she thought. I’m going to be happy whatever happens, and Jesus will help me. Then she heard what Chad was saying.

“It’s a good thing we got the garden all dug up: it was just beginning to rain when I came in.”

“Oh, no!” said Daniel. “Now we can’t go on our hike.”

“And I made little pies just for the picnic.” Irene’s voice was filled with disappointment, and the others looked gloomy.

“Well, now,” said Dad, “there is something we can do.”

“What?” asked Daniel and Emma at once.

Dad’s eyes twinkled. “I think Rosie might know the secret.”