Ruby and Amber were curled up on the couch together. Both girls had their Bibles open and were studiously writing in their notebooks. They had been doing a Bible study with their mom and needed to finish their homework before they met again the next day. Ruby sniffed the air and then jumped to her feet.
“I think something is burning,” she cried before making a hasty exodus from the room. In the kitchen, she went straight to the stove and jerked open the oven door. Two pans of lasagna were just beginning to turn a golden brown, red sauce bubbling up around the melted cheese. Puzzled, Ruby closed the oven door.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mrs. Randall, carrying a bag of french bread into the kitchen.
“I smelled something burning,” Ruby explained. “But the lasagna looks fine.”
“Probably a little juice bubbled over and is burning in the bottom of the oven. But you can go ahead and turn the oven off. We don’t want them to get too done now since we’ll need to heat them again closer to supper time.”
Ruby turned off the oven and looked around the kitchen. “What else do we still need to do before the Edwards come?” she wondered. Mrs. Randall’s gaze followed Ruby’s around the kitchen.
“I think everything is under control. I’ll make the salad now and toast the bread after they get here. You can go back and finish your Bible study if you want.”
“I’ll make the salad,” Ruby offered quickly. She was tired of sitting still and impatient for their guests to arrive. When Mrs. Randall saw that Ruby really wanted to make the salad, she let her go ahead.
Humming to herself, her mind on the games she would play with her friends that evening, Ruby chopped a juicy tomato. She was making a buffet-style salad with a big bowl of lettuce and all of the other vegetables in separate small bowls. Her fingers flew, breaking lettuce into small pieces.
“I should go back and finish my Bible study,” she thought, dropping the last lettuce leaves into the bowl. She looked at the cabinet and saw its array of vegetable peeling, empty bags, and a cutting board speckled with tomato seeds. Then, although she often thoughtlessly left bigger messes than that in the kitchen, Ruby decided to clean up the kitchen.
“Mom will be surprised and glad,” she mentally commended herself. As she wiped the counter, she once again thought of her uncompleted Bible study. “I will go and finish that now before – but wait. I should go get out the games we will want to play with the Edwards. That way they will be ready when we want them.” Her Bible study forgotten, or at least shoved to the back of her mind, she tossed the dishrag over the side of the sink and hastily left the kitchen.
She opened the hall closet door to survey the games. “Hmm, what do we usually play with the Edwards?” she mused. Ruby pulled out several games, smiling as she anticipated the fun evening ahead.
Jasper was passing through the hall. “Did you get the survival game?” he asked Ruby.
“Of course.” She nodded at the yellow box in the stack she was balancing. “The Edwards love that game.”
“I saw Mica reading the cards the other day. I think he may have left the game in a jumble, so you might want to straighten it.”
“And you didn’t straighten it when you saw him?” Ruby grinned at Jasper’s wry face he made on his way out the door. She carried the stack of games into the living room.
Amber was on her way out of the living room, carrying her Bible and notebook. “Oh, are you coming back to finish studying?” she wondered. “I’m done, but I could read a chapter if you want company.”
“I’ll be ready in a few minutes. I have to organize this game first,” Ruby explained quickly.
“I’ll help you so it will go faster and you can have time for-” Amber looked at the clock. “Aren’t the Edwards coming at 5:30?”
“Yeah, I think so.” Ruby looked at the clock too. “5:15?” she gasped. “Where did the time go?”
Not wasting another minute, the two girls quickly sorted the game and then headed for the couch. Ruby had just opened her Bible and clicked her pen when she heard a knock on the front door. “They’re early,” she cried. Both girls raced to their room, put their books away, and flew back to welcome their friends.
It was a fun evening of fellowship for all. The parents sat in the living room and had a quiet talk while all of the young people and children gathered around the dining room table for games. Sooner than anyone liked, it was over. The house felt still and empty after Edwards had gone.
Everyone was tired, but Ruby went into the kitchen and wiped down the counters. “It will be nice waking up to a clean kitchen,” she sighed contentedly.
The family had prayer together, and each one headed off to their bedrooms. Ruby rubbed her eyes as she trudged to hers and Amber’s room. She did glance at her Bible as she climbed into bed. “I have to get that Bible study done in the morning,” she told herself. But the morning was full of breakfast, chores, and the usual activities.
Before Ruby had time to realize it was coming, her mom said, “Girls, are y’all ready for Bible study?”
“I have to grab my Bible and notebook, and I’ll be ready,” Amber said.
“What about you, Ruby?” Mrs. Randall asked when Ruby didn’t answer.
Ruby looked at the flowers on her mom’s dress. “I still have about half of my lesson left to finish,” she confessed. At that moment, how she wished that she had finished her lesson with Amber.
“What were you doing when Amber was doing her lesson?” Mrs. Randall probed.
“A lot of things,” Ruby said eagerly. “I made a salad, cleaned up the kitchen, and got out the games so they would be ready.”
Instead of scolding Ruby, Mrs. Randall told her to go finish the study. Amber worked on math and Mrs. Randall folded a load of laundry while they waited on Ruby. Half an hour later they were all settled on the couch together with their books.
“Last time we did the introduction to Proverbs 31:10, and now we are ready for the second half,” Mrs. Randall began. She read a little way into the lesson. Partway through, Ruby heard something that made her pay close attention.
“It is clear that physical strength is not a requirement for being a virtuous woman. So what about having time to do everything? If I don’t have time to do everything listed in the Proverbs 31 passage, can I still be a virtuous woman? Yes, of course you can! In the story of Mary and Martha, who was the virtuous woman? Was it Martha, the one who was bustling about and making sure that everything got done?”
Mrs. Randall’s voice went on. “Actually, Martha was the one whom Jesus gently scolded. Jesus said that Mary, the one who sat at His feet and listened to Him, had chosen the good part.”
She continued reading, but Ruby’s mind was on the last part. “That’s like Amber and me yesterday,” she thought. “I could have finished my Bible study if I had wanted to.” She reined in her thoughts enough to listen to the rest of the chapter.
“What stood out to you, girls?” Mrs. Randall put in the bookmark and shut the book.
“I think I’m too much like Martha,” Ruby admitted.
“I’m glad you thought of that,” her mom smiled. “Don’t be discouraged. You can learn from this and continue growing in your relationship with Jesus. Plus, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be like Martha. God has given you your personality and heart to serve. You just need to have balance. And, Martha was a devoted follower of Jesus who boldly proclaimed her faith in Him.” Mrs. Randall turned to John 11:27 and read it aloud.
She (Martha) saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
Amber had been thinking. “It wouldn’t be good to always sit learning and never serve anyone else,” she pointed out.
“Thank you for being so patient with me,” Ruby smiled.
“We all have room for growth, Mrs. Randall said encouragingly.
Feeling much better, Ruby breathed a prayer to the Lord, asking Him to help her spend more time quietly learning from Him.
Do you enjoy encouraging stories that also teach a lesson? Sign up to be notified about a new story every month!
What topic would you like to see a story about? Are there any ways that you feel like you can relate to Ruby?
Until next time, spend some quality time with the Lord, and look for an opportunity to serve someone!