Thursday, January 31, 2013


When feeding the horses one day last week, Martha noticed that June Bug favored her right forefoot slightly.  "Nate, June Bug looks like she's limping a little.  You need to check her foot out."

But Nate is in class most days from 8:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening.  Often, he's on campus even later studying.  Leaves the house not long after daylight and almost always returns after dark.  Hard to find a horse back on the farm after dark, much less check her hooves.

Friday morning, June Bug hobble toward the barn when I was out feeding the chickens.  No longer "favoring" one foot, she was limping badly.  It was painful to watch her walk.  When Nate came in that afternoon, I told him, "Nate, you need to check on June Bug.  Make sure you find a way to make that happen this weekend."

Nate was out waaaay before sunrise Saturday morning, duck hunting.  Then helping a friend with a home-improvement project.  Then checking traps.

Sunday afternoon when Martha and I pulled into the driveway after church, we spotted June Bug back behind the red barn, lying down in the field.  Now, Little John - aka Fatty Lumpkin - flops down on the ground all the time to snooze and soak up the sunshine.  Occasionally, Tulip will even lie down for a nap.  Although I have seen June Bug lie down and roll around to scratch her back, I don't think I've ever seen her just lie down flat and motionless.  Yes, I was worried.

Nate had driven from church to a friend's house, so there was no telling when he'd be home.  Martha helped me haul in the dishes from the church dinner.  "I'll change and run check on June Bug," she said.

I called Nate.  "Your horse is down in the field.  You need to get home and find out what the problem is." In horse speak "back in the field" means "out there on the farm grazing somewhere."  "Down in the field" means "We have a problem."

To relieve your suspense:  June Bug was up walking around by the time Martha reached her.  No, she was not down, in the scary sense of the word.  But she was still limping very badly.

Nate came home and checked June Bug's hooves.  Found the problem.  He walked into the kitchen with a wood splinter, not much bigger than a toothpick.  "I think this is all it was."  The splinter hadn't punctured June Bug's frog, but had wedged in the groove next to it.  Each time she put weight on that hoof, the frog pressed against the small sliver of wood, causing her frog to bruise and grow increasingly tender.

Yep, that tiny sliver of wood was the problem.  June Bug is walking around this morning without a hint of a limp.

All this to say.....(You knew I was coming to it!)

A very small thing, a relatively harmless thing - something like a sharp comeback or a sarcastic response or a belittling comment or a piece of miscommunication - can so easily grow into a very big problem.  In fact, the pain and injury that result from unresolved "small things" can become crippling.

Yes, I realize how ironic it must sound for those words to come from the Queen of Not Dealing With Things.  But hey, I'm learning.

A couple of things hit me from this lame-horse episode.  First, if you are the person responsible for something - or some one - you have a responsibility to be aware of "small things" that could lead to big problems.  A responsibility to be engaged, to keep your eyes open, to ask questions, to be frequently checking things out to see if all is well.  In a relationship, maybe that looks like: "You seem quiet today.  Is every thing okay?  Have I said or done anything to upset you?"  Or maybe it looks like:  "I'd really like to know what's been on your mind lately.  Let's go out for coffee and talk."  That responsibility does not look like:  "I'll just wait and see if she gets over it."  Or, "It's his problem - let him deal with it."  Or, "I'm just too busy to deal with this stuff right now."  Or, "I'm tired and have problems of my own" - as if that justifies sharp words or a bad attitude.

Being engaged, being vigilant, taking the initiative - sounds like very hard work to me.

The second thing that hit me was:  How sad that June Bug had to suffer several days, when the splinter could have been easily removed early on.  June Bug is fine now and probably doesn't think at all about how sore she was last week.  But people - and hearts - are not so resilient.  I've learned from experience that when small things are left unaddressed, a heart grows calloused.  A barb is left to fester, then acknowledged only after it grows into a major problem - yes, there is perhaps some kind of healing and resolution doing things this way, but there is also a lot of scar tissue.  To touch a once-injured spot in the heart no longer causes pain, because, like scar tissue, that spot no longer feels anything at all.

To wind this post up:  Nate, check on your horse more often.

Husbands, own the responsibility of loving your wives.

Mothers, own the responsibility of nurturing your children.

Sisters and brothers, own the responsibility of loving the Church.

And let us give thanks to God for his Son, Jesus - that we have a Great Physician who heals all our wounds, even the very small ones.

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