Don’t Forget the Stick

posted in: Holidays, Just for Fun | 10

“This day just keeps getting better and better,” I muttered as I-5 traffic ground to a standstill. I was driving husband Chris home from the Seattle VA.* Both his hands were in splints.

“The patient.” (It’s actually WORSE than it looks.)

Then we had a flat tire. In crush hour traffic. While the anesthetic was wearing off. Grumbling stomachs reminded us it was way past lunch. Was that thunder? AAA changed out the spare tire and we limped home. It took hours longer than usual.

A few days later, July spilled over the Olympic Peninsula like icing on a cake. Rhododenrons lit up fences like neon signs. I skipped around the house belting out I’m  Proud to be an American as we prepared for Independence Day.

Those plans soon went up in smoke. Chris  had July 4 off for the first time in over a decade. But his hands were still problematic. And our adult kids were either working or battling the flu. The sky spat mizzle. Gray clouds marched by like pachyderms on parade. A client had just stiffed me for a tidy sum (long, boring story).

“What a waste of a holiday,” I grumped, Eeyore-like, as my plans wilted like damp confetti.

“Let’s go to the lake for a picnic,” Chris suggested. “You drive. We’ll bring Kimber.” Kimber’s our three year-old border collie.

Kimber and her stick and Lake Quinault.

“Fine,” I sniffed, so not into the holiday.

We drove north to the Olympic Rain Forest and Lake Quinault. It’s a favorite local hiking site.

Upon arrival, Kimber raced to the lake and immediately went stick-scouting. She found a choice alder branch, picked it up and trotted over to me. Dropping the stick at my feet, Kimber cocked her head in that irresistible way dogs have like, “Well, you gonna throw that for me, or what?”

“You gonna throw that thing or not?” Kimber the Wonder Dog wants to know!

Kimber chased that stick most of the afternoon. Whenever I sat down, up she trotted with her stick, tail wagging like a windmill in a hurricane. Grinning from ear to ear.

“You gonna throw that thing or not?” Kimber still wants to know!

Here I was grousing about a “wrecked” holiday and Kimber was having the time of her life.

“Will you throw it already?!” asks Kimber. Look at that concentration!

My good dog was fully immersed in the moment, joyously chasing a waterlogged stick.

In Walking With God, author John Eldredge writes about a fishing trip that didn’t go the way he wanted:

Then I remembered something that God has been teaching me this summer – it’s not what he isn’t giving but what he is giving. We can get so locked onto what we don’t have, what we think we want or need, that we miss the gifts God is giving. Really, though the river had proved to be everything I hoped the creek would be – solitude, beauty, wild fish on a dry fly – I sulked halfway back to the car because I didn’t get my creek.”

Like John, I was so focused on what God seemingly wasn’t giving over the holiday, I missed what He was giving. Until Kimber reminded me. With a simple stick.

Indeed, once I stopped sulking about what I thought I didn’t have and settled into enjoying what I did have, the Fourth turned out to be  one of the most restful and relaxing holidays ever.

On the shores of Lake Quinault…

Along these lines, John writes:

“Father, forgive me. Forgive my demanding posture that life has to come to me on my terms. Oh Lord, how many gifts have I missed? Forgive me. That posture is ugly and narrow. I pray for a more gracious posture, to be open and grateful for what you are giving at any time. I pray to be yours.”

In other words: Don’t forget the stick.

*He was being treated for Dupuytren’s Contracture. The treatment is pretty painful, but necessary. If left untreated, hands become unusable.

10 Responses

  1. Jess

    What a great story! I think that is one thing that is great about dogs, they do teach us to “live in the moment”. I am a big dog lover and have 2 shih tzus of my own, and I know the head tilt, 🙂 I enjoyed reading about your day and sometimes things all seem like they are going wrong, but it sound like it really worked out in the end.
    From the Midlife blogging
    jess xx

    • HikerBabe

      Thanks for commenting, Jess! We even got a bit of sun toward the end of the day. ☺

  2. thisblondesshoppingbag

    Oh my goodness, your husband’s hands! Bless his heart, I cannot imagine. And that trip home – definitely sounds taxing. But you are so right and I am so glad you got the time to relax and remember what’s most important. Kids and dogs can really teach us a thing or two can’t they! Love how God spoke to you!

    • HikerBabe

      Thanks for commenting, Kellyann! I certainly would not want an encore of this trip home. But we made it safely without any further mishap after AAA changed the tire. Ordinarily, Chris quite cheerfully changes out flat tires himself. But on that day, with his hands in that shape? Not happenin’.

      Another blessing I didn’t include in this story: not long after we limped over to the freeway shoulder, a WA State Patrol trooper pulled in behind us to make sure we were okay. After he ascertained that we were alright, he asked if we needed anything. Chris gave him the brief story about his hands and why we couldn’t change the flat ourselves. He also mentioned that the anesthetic was wearing off and altho we have a First Aid kit in the vehicle, it didn’t include Ibuprofren. “I think I have some Ibuprofen in the First Aid kit in my car” said the trooper. And he did! Talk about a God-send. Just in the nick of time 🙂

    • HikerBabe

      Thanks for commenting, Christina. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Amy

    Wow! Just Wow! Thank you so much! I needed this today! A reminder to look at the good God is doing and to trust and know He is good and will work all things together for the good. I have not read any John Eldredge but maybe I need to.

    • HikerBabe

      Oh, yes! John Eldredge is one of my most favorite authors! Thank you for commenting! ☺