Thursday, March 3, 2011

There... in the Small Stuff

I've got to admit that in the darkness of the early morning, preparing to wake my children with bad news, I briefly wondered where God was in all this.  Today was my daughter's 15th birthday.  But in the wee hours of the morning, while the kids slept upstairs, Carl and I had rushed our family dog to the ER.  As we'd knelt over her in the darkness, Carl had immediately realized the date, the importance, and cried out "Not today!"  Now, several hours later, I woke my daughter up not with a "Happy Birthday," but with the news that her dog may not make it through the day... and she needed to get dressed to come with us to the ER if she wanted to see her.  Not a good start to a birthday.

Her birthday had actually already taken a hit even before Ava's trip to the ER.  The kids were originally to have the day off from school and I'd scheduled a fishing trip for Jess.  But I'd canceled the trip when our school board had unexpectedly changed the day into a makeup day for a previous ice day.   Disappointing.   And now... now I had to tell her that today may be the day she has to say goodbye to her dog. Not the kind of news you want to break to your daughter.  Especially on her birthday.

As the kids one by one came down the stairs, still grappling with the news, my youngest pointed out that we hadn't had a chance to make a pawprint with Ava.  For all three of our previous dogs, we'd known the end was coming and had dipped a paw into a concrete stone with the kids, decorating the stone as only kids can do, and etching the dog's name into the wet concrete.  With Ava, there'd been no warning.  No time to make our traditional pawprint.   It was something Carl had already thought of in the wee hours of the morning, but I'd pointed out that our vet's office had given us a pawprint with the last dog we'd said goodbye to -- and it was much nicer than what we we had done, anyway.  I thought the problem was solved.  But Kayla stood before me and told me it wasn't the same.  The pawprint the vet would give us wouldn't be decorated.  And we wouldn't be able to set it out in a walkway like we could the others.  She was right.  So I told her maybe we could take the one the vet gave us and set it into concrete -- making our own stone, decorating it, but with the print from the vet as the center.  Quietly, to myself, I wondered what the vet would think if I asked for TWO pawprints -- one we could set in concrete and the other to sit on our mantle with the other.  I hate asking for things, though, so I let it go. We headed to the ER to pick up Ava and transport her to our vet.  Our vet recommended trying some different medications, so we left Ava in her care and went home to wait... and sleep... and I never gave the pawprint a second thought. 

I guess maybe I still didn't quite believe what was happening, because later in the afternoon when we received the call from the vet letting us know that there had been no change for the better and that a decision had to be made by that evening, the questions came full-force.  I wondered, "Why today?"  Where was God that He'd let this happen on my daughter's birthday?  ANY other day, but today.  But today?  Why on earth today?  He had the ability to push back the events of this day by just one day.  But He didn't.

We grappled with the decision in front of us -- knowing, really, what had to be done, but just not wanting it to be THIS day.  Jess, with tears in her eyes, and a tremor in her voice, proclaimed that it wasn't fair to Ava to hold on till tomorrow.  So our family of five filed into the vet's office at 6pm that evening to hold Ava for one last time as we helped her the best we could.  As I filled out the necessary paperwork, the receptionist asked me if we wanted a pawprint made.  When I answered yes, she asked what color.  I knew to expect the question -- I'd seen them ask another patient just a week before.  But I hesitated for just a moment as I tried to think how to describe the last one they'd made for us - kind of a marbled/streaked brown and tan.  In that moment of the slightest hesitation, though, the receptionist looked at me and offered, "We could do two of them if you would like."  Shocked to hear my earlier, unspoken, thought voiced by someone else, I blurted out "That'd be great" and then went on to describe the color.

Two pawprints?  I hadn't said a word to anyone about the thought I'd toyed with earlier that day.  I hadn't even thought about it in recent hours!  Two prints was not standard, I knew.  And yet... there was the receptionist, standing in front of me, asking if that's what I'd like.  Where was God in this day?  He was in the small stuff... showing He cared even in the midst of grief and ruined birthdays.  I still don't understand why it had to be that day.  But I do know He was there... in the small stuff.

And that fishing trip?  We rescheduled it for that Saturday.  Our guide had told us that the forecast was for moderate fishing at best, but Jess was anxious to get out anyway.  As we walked out to the dock, though, the weather wasn't what had been forecasted.  It was overcast and breezy.  That little weather change meant I was chilled, but it also meant the fishing was much better than anticipated!  We pulled in 45 fish, twice as many as the "maybe 18-24" that our guide had told us to expect.  And pulling up to the dock after our trip, I heard two different parties say they'd come in with just 1 fish.  Wow.  I know part of the reason for our success was our guide (Bob Maindelle of   Part of it though... I really think... was a God with a fish story of His own... giving my daughter something to grin about.  There... in the small stuff.