Susannah’s Really Messy Room

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Susannah May Farmer’s room was a little messy. Actually, it was a lot messy. OK, the truth was, the goat stall looked better!

It had been bad enough before camp meeting. But that week, which was Susannah’s favorite week of the whole year, was also one of the most frantic. Every day they drove to the academy where camp meeting was held, getting in as many meetings and potlucks and visits with friends as possible. Then they drove home again and took care of animals and tried to keep the weeds from completely taking over the gardens. It seemed to Susannah that all she did was drop dirty clothes and put on clean ones.

Now camp meeting was over and normal life was resuming, and Susannah’s room was a certified disaster area.

On Sunday, Mom asked, “Susannah, did you clean your room yet?”

“No, Mom, but I will today,” Susannah promised. And she did pick up a lot of those dirty clothes. Underneath one of the piles, she found the library book she had been reading before they’d left. It was overdue—she had to finish it!

On Monday, Mom asked, “Susannah, how’s your room coming?”

“Better, Mom, really. I’ll finish today,” Susannah said. She picked up all the books and papers and straightened her bookshelf. She dusted and put a doily on top of the bookcase with a vase on it. But the vase needed flowers, so she went out to pick some. That led to a walk over to the El-Charifs’ “castle” and a visit with Solly. He let her have some of the flowers in their yard too. Then she had to arrange them in her vase.

On Tuesday, Luke had a cold, and Mom forgot to ask Susannah about her room. Susannah intended to clean the rest of it before Mom asked, and surprise her. But she found the poem she had started for an English assignment and finished it instead. It was a great poem. Mom liked it. Susannah set it to music and sang it to Luke to help him sleep.

“You’re a good girl, Susannah,” said Mom, kissing her.

Susannah felt guilty and went up and made her bed. Then she thought she really ought to change the sheets, so she pulled the bed apart again and pulled off all the bedding. Johnny came in, and she made a fort with him, using the bedding, some chairs, some boxes, and the bed. Mark and Matt heard the laughter and joined them, adding their own bedding. That night Susannah had to make all the boys’ beds, so she never got around to her own. She slept wrapped in a blanket.

On Wednesday, Mom stood in Susannah’s door with her hands on her hips. “Susannah May Farmer, I’ve asked you 50 million times to clean this mess up! You’re not leaving this room today until it’s done.”

Susannah waited till Mom had gone before she pouted. It was her room, clear in the top of the old house. Nobody came up here very much. Why did it matter what it looked like? Grumpily, she started all over again with the bed.

Mom came up later, looking tired. “It’s improving, Susannah. But I’m afraid you won’t get it done today. I forgot it’s Wednesday. We have to go to town, and I need your help. You may finish tomorrow.” So the family piled into the van, did about a million errands, and then went to prayer meeting. When they finally got home, Susannah helped Mom get the little kids to bed while Matt did barn chores. Then she dropped her clothes on the floor and went to bed. She’d pick them up tomorrow.

On Thursday, soon after breakfast, Mindy and Madison, who were staying with their grand-parents down the road, came over. They looked a little droopy. Susannah sat on the porch steps with them. “What’s up?”

“After you left the other day, we watched that movie, remember, the one we weren’t supposed to watch?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Gran was right. We wish we hadn’t watched it,” Mindy said.

“Not only that, but you were right about another thing too,” Madison said. “When Gran found out, the look on her face was so sad. I kept thinking of what you said. When we disobeyed her, it hurt her feelings.”

“What’s the matter, Susannah?” Mindy asked.

Susannah hoped she wouldn’t cry. All her fine talk about obedience! “Well,” she gulped, “I said all kinds of great stuff to you two, but I’m not doing so well myself. My mom’s been begging me all week to clean my room. You should have seen her face yesterday when she realized I still hadn’t done it.” She stood up. “I can’t play today. I’ve got to get it done!”

“We’ll help you!”

“What?” Susannah asked surprised.

Mindy looked eager. “Really, we’re great at cleaning rooms.”

“No way! You don’t know what it looks like in there!” Susannah said.

“Oh, come on, it can’t be worse than ours gets sometimes! We don’t care, I promise. We want to help.” Madison actually looked as if she meant it. “Besides, we kind of owe you.”

“Owe me!”

“Yeah, we were pretty mean to you,” Mindy said.

“Come on, please?” Madison begged.

Susannah hesitated. “Oh, all right, but if you take one look and run screaming, I won’t blame you!”

The three trooped up the stairs, where Mindy and Madison didn’t seem at all upset by the disorder that greeted their eyes.

Mindy exclaimed over the view from Susannah’s high window, and Madison loved her old iron bedstead and ruffled bedspread and curtains.

“Mom and I painted the bed and made the other stuff.”

“Wow, really? You have a cool mom!”

They set to work, and the time seemed to fly while the room magically got clean.

Then they lay on the bed and talked. “Do you really think God cares what we do?” Mindy asked.

“Sure, He cares about everything about us! He promised all kinds of blessings if we love and serve Him with all our hearts.” Susannah showed the girls her primary lesson and explained the Bible texts.

Mom looked in a little later and smiled.

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