“Frankie and the Rake”
Life changes quickly when you step on an upside down rake.
Frankie had been searching all over the house for a missing Lego set. And now, in the dark corner of his garage, he spotted it. Keeping his eyes on the box, he stepped over the mower.
The rake glanced off the bill of Frankie’s ball cap and the side of his head. It made a loud thud, but only stung for a minute.
A funny thing happened; Frankie lost interest in the Legos. The old rake pounded a better idea right into Frankie’s brain.
Frankie believes that God sometimes whispers ideas into his heart. But if God wants to use a rake, that’s his prerogative, he figured.
The thought of helping neighbors gave him a smile,
so he told his mom he’d be gone for awhile.
He snagged a bottle of water, a handful of trash bags and the rake, which he had now forgiven.
Frankie bounced down the sidewalk, full of the energy that comes from a good idea.
The knock, knock, knock on the door did not catch Old Mr. Evans by surprise. He had watched from behind his curtains, as Frankie neared his house.
Mr. Evans was always watching, always looking out for trouble. He was sure he’d found it.
Yanking the door wide open, he barked, “I’m not giving you any money!”
Frankie wasn’t sure what was more unsettling: Mr. Evans mean voice, grumpy eyes or coffee breath.
Frankie stumbled off the porch;
he did not expect to get torched.
“I, I, I just wanted to be nice and rake your yard,” he stammered.
“I know your type,” Mr. Evans growled, waving his long finger in Frankie’s terrified face. “You always ask for money. Now get out of here before I call the police.”
Frankie was on the move before Mr. Evans finished his threat. Frankie had never run so fast.
By the time he’d passed the Anderson’s house, he was safe and sound.
A giant could even hide behind the pile of leaves on their front ground.
Their yard was a mess!
“Deep breath, here we go again,” Frankie whispered to himself.
Knock, Knock, Knock on the door of the people he’d surely be helping soon.
Squeak; the door opened just a tiny bit. Two little eyes squinted through the crack in the door. Then little Peggy Anderson belted out, “Mom, the kid from down the street is here; he has a rake.”
Frankie heard Mrs. Anderson trotting down the stairs.
After tucking her long hair behind her ears, she sweetly said, “Well hi there. Your name is Frankie, right?”
“What brings you here today?”
“Well, I was looking in my garage for a toy when I stepped on this rake. I had on my boots, so it did not hurt my feet. But it swung up and whacked me in the head. And it gave me an idea too. I realized that the rake and I were both pretty useless this morning. We were both just sitting around. So I decided to make us both useful.
“Soooo, can I help your family by raking your yard.”
Frankie did not know that Mrs. Anderson is both a procrastinator and a perfectionist. She waits until the last minute to bake a cake for family birthdays, but it has to be just perrrrrfect. She painted a wall last week; she’d bought the paint three years earlier. She put 4 coats of paint on it, because it had to be just perrrrrfect.
Her lawn received similar neglect. She had procrastinated raking all spring; she’d lacked the time needed to make it just perrrrrfect.
She could have made her kids rake, but it annoyed her that they did it all wrong. They raked the yard from right to left, and did all kinds of other unspeakable things.
Frankie, she figured, would not do it perrrrrfectly either. “Over my dead body,” she thought.
“That’s so sweet of you,” she said, smiling at Frankie, “but we’re OK.”
“Really, I would be glad to rake it,” Frankie pressed.
“It really is sweet of you, but I was planning to take care of our leaves tomorrow, and I need the exercise. So, ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ You should ask Mr. Evans.”
“Oh dear,” Frankie thought, but not for the reason you might think.
He blurted, “Is something burning?”
“My cake!” screamed Mrs. Anderson. And with that, she scrambled to the kitchen, while Frankie lowered his shoulders and walked away.
Trudging down the sidewalk, he was lost in his thoughts:
“Why will nobody let me help? Maybe it was a bad idea. Maybe I should go back to my Legos.”
But something inside him told him to try one more time. His purpose was to serve God. Some neighbors rejected his help, but surely his efforts pleased God.
So he made himself a deal, “I’ve got two strikes; if I get my third, I’m out.”
Frankie straightened his back and walked to the house belonging to the newest neighbors on the block.
They’d moved to the city from an Oklahoman farm
Knock, Knock, Knock, hope the third time’s a charm.
Pause. Wait. Nothing.
It’s a guessing game really – knowing how long to wait after you knock the first time. You don’t want to stand there forever. But you don’t want to knock right as they are reaching to open the door either.
Frankie quietly and quickly sang Happy Birthday to his rake, figuring the song would give anyone enough time to answer the door. And then he knocked again.
The cheerful, “Hi there,” caught Frankie by surprise. He jumped, composed himself and then returned the greeting to the frail man and woman who came hobbling around the side of the house.
“I hope you haven’t been knocking long. We were on our back patio, and our hearing isn’t too great anyway.”
“Oh, I’ve just been here a minute,” Frankie replied. “I live two houses down. I think you met my parents last week.”
“Ah yes, of course. You have a very nice mom and dad.”
“Well, I don’t need any money or anything; I just wondered if I could rake your yard for you?”
The older couple glanced at each other, as smiles spread across their faces. It was almost as if they had just been talking about the leaves in their yard, almost as if they knew they needed help.
And with that, Frankie and his rake became very, very useful.
And for the old couple, his plan to help was just perrrrrfect.