Rachelle pulled her shoelaces as tightly as they could go. Last Friday, her laces had come undone, and she had tripped with her lunch tray. Now as she stretched them with all her might, she silently hoped that she wouldn’t be embarrassed again.
Pop! Rachelle fell back on her bed, holding a broken shoelace in her hand. She didn’t want to cry, and the tears that started in her eyes only made her mad. Taking the shoelace, she hurried to the kitchen and held it out for Dad to see.
“Oh no!” Dad frowned. “I don’t think we have any more. We’ll just have to tie it together and hope it holds that way.”
Rachelle threw the lace on the floor and angrily stamped her foot. “All the bad things happen to me!”
Dad chuckled. “Sometimes it does seem that way.”
Rachelle didn’t see how her father could laugh. Now she would probably trip with her lunch tray again. If she did, everyone would think she was really weird. “It’s not fair. Why am I the only one with bad luck? Why don’t I get to have blessings?”
This time when Dad answered her, he was more serious. “I know that sometimes life seems to have a lot of troubles. But I think that if you don’t see the blessings in your life, it’s because you’re not looking for them.”
“I looked,” Rachelle argued. “There aren’t any there.”
“Honey,” Dad gently scolded. “There are blessings everywhere. Really, you have more than you imagine.”
Rachelle rolled her eyes as she sat at the breakfast table. She watched Dad finish spreading butter on her toast and stir her orange juice again. Usually by now, he was getting ready for work. Today he was helping Mom, instead.
“Was Mom up all night with the baby again?” Rachelle quietly asked.
Dad nodded. “Now, there’s a blessing we all enjoy; however, he just doesn’t enjoy sleeping at night like the rest of us.”
When they had finished eating, Dad helped Rachelle read out of the Book of Mormon. They knelt together for prayers, and then Dad helped her put on a jacket and her backpack. When she turned around to give him a kiss good-bye, he held her face in his hands and said, “Rachelle, I want you to do something for me today.”
“Sure, Dad. What?”
“Look around you all day long and try really hard to find blessings the Lord has given you. Write them down in your notebook and share them with us tonight during family home evening.”
“That sounds like a school assignment.”
“In a way it is,” Dad answered. “Just as you sometimes do schoolwork at home, this time I want you to do home work at school.”
Heaving an exaggerated sigh, Rachelle promised that she would. “But don’t be surprised if my paper is blank,” she called over her shoulder as she left the house. She heard her dad chuckling as he closed the door behind her.
When Rachelle was joined by her friends Misty and Stormi, she almost completely forgot about her assignment. But she remembered it when Misty grumped that they lived just too near their school to not be included on the bus route. It seemed like the walk to school was always too long.
“You see,” Rachelle announced her thoughts out loud, “of course I have to walk to school! I’m just one of those people who don’t get any blessings. This is going to be one of the easiest assignments I’ve ever had.”
Misty and Stormi looked at each other, but neither of them said anything. Whatever was bothering Rachelle would most likely be forgotten by lunchtime.
In a way, they were right. By noon, Rachelle had not written anything on her paper for family home evening. She was happily eating her green salad and chatting with Misty and Stormi in between bites, when a loud noise and a lot of laughing caught her attention. At the front of the lunchroom, where everyone could see, stood the new boy. His hair was a mess as usual, his clothes looked dirty, and even though his face was turning red, his ears and neck looked like someone forgot to remind him to scrub them.
All the kids in the lunchroom were pointing and laughing at him because he had dropped his tray.
“Wow!” Rachelle exclaimed. “I sure am glad that wasn’t me.” She remembered how worried she had been that she would drop her tray. But the shoelace Dad had fixed had held just fine, and she hadn’t tripped. “I’d better write that down.” She took a piece of notebook paper from her pocket. “I didn’t drop my tray, and my shoelace stayed together.”
The new boy walked quickly to a seat in the lunchroom. He passed Rachelle’s table on the way. She noticed something else about him. He didn’t have any shoelaces.
“I guess I ought to write that, too,” she mumbled to herself. “I have shoelaces.”
“What on earth are you doing?” Stormi asked.
“Oh, it’s just an assignment my dad gave me today,” Rachelle explained. “I have to write down all my blessings.”
“Why?” Misty wondered.
Rachelle shrugged. “I don’t know. I think it might be because my dad doesn’t think I’m grateful or something.”
“Uh-huh.” Stormi nodded. “My dad does stuff like that to me, too.”
“So you wrote stuff you have that the new boy doesn’t?” Misty guessed.
“Isn’t he in our ward?” Stormi asked.
Rachelle and Misty shrugged.
“I heard my mom say that his only family is his grandma,” Stormi told them. “Mom said that they moved their trailer house here last week. I guess they move a lot.”
“Does he have any brothers or sisters?” Rachelle asked.
Stormi shook her head. “There are just him and his grandma.”
Rachelle wrote, “I have a house to live in” and “I have a baby brother” and “I have a mom who takes good care of me” and “I have a dad.” She looked over to the table where the new boy was hungrily eating. He didn’t seem to notice that no one was sitting by him, and some kids were making rude faces at him. He ate his food as if it were a feast for a king. Rachelle wrote, “I have a nice school lunch” and “I have good friends.” She was quiet as she looked at her paper. The list had gotten really long in just a short time.
“Come on, Rachelle,” Misty called. She and Stormi were standing by the table, ready to scrape their trays and go outside.
“Um, I’ll come in a minute.” Rachelle was glad her friends left without saying anything else. A lump was forming in her throat. How could she have complained about anything? She was probably one of the most blessed girls in the whole world. Rachelle felt really ashamed for her grumpiness that morning. She found where she had written, “I have a dad” on her paper and added “who puts up with my complaining.”
That night in family home evening when Dad asked for her paper, she unfolded it and tried to read. But the lump started to form in her throat again.
Dad smiled understandingly. “I can tell by the look on Rachelle’s face that she has done her assignment very well.”
Rachelle nodded and turned her paper over so her parents could see. “It’s a lot more than I thought I would have,” she admitted.
Mom held a small sack out for Rachelle to take and said, “Rachelle, Dad told me you needed new shoelaces, so I managed to get to the store to buy some for you today.”
Taking the laces out of the sack, she asked, “Mom, would it be OK if I gave these to someone else?”
Mom and Dad looked in surprise at each other, and Dad asked, “Who?”
“There’s a new boy in our ward who doesn’t even have any broken laces to tie together.”
Mom nodded. “I think I know who you mean. That’s a wonderful idea, Rachelle.”
“The idea is really Dad’s,” Rachelle told her mother. “He wanted me to see that I have all kinds of blessings and shouldn’t complain.”
Dad picked up Rachelle’s paper and wrote something down.
“What are you writing on my paper?”
“I’m just adding something that you missed.” Dad handed her the paper.
Rachelle read, “I have a giving heart.”