A Squirrely Situation

8 Oct

We had an unexpected and uninvited guest at our house this week — a brown bushy-tailed squirrel. Remember when I told you that my son taught our dog how to climb trees this summer? Well, of all the trees in our backyard that this squirrel could have made himself at home in, he chose the one tree that our dog Ranger is best at climbing. How’s that for an unfortunate decision?

Ranger was outraged that a squirrel would have the nerve to invade his territory. He barked ferociously and climbed up into the tree. Being a much smaller animal and possessing the God-given ability to climb trees, the squirrel was able to climb higher in the tree than Ranger could. He hopped from twig to twig, shaking his tail at Ranger and chittering incessantly.

This went on for three days.

On the fourth day, the squirrel apparently decided to make a desperate run for it. He waited till three o’clock in the morning when Ranger was sound asleep in his doghouse as all dogs should be at 3:00 a.m. Then he crept down the trunk of the tree, scampered across the yard, and almost made it to a small cluster of aspen trees in the far corner before Ranger figured out what was taking place.

3:00 a.m. just happens to be one of my family’s most favorite times to sleep. But at that point, no one anywhere in our neighborhood was enjoying sleep. Because Ranger was barking and yelping, scratching at the aspen tree trunks and howling in frustration. You see, about a month earlier, my husband Dan and I had trimmed the aspen trees by cutting off the low branches. And although Ranger could jump up and reach the lowest of the remaining branches, they were still too high for him to pull himself up into those trees. If dogs were able to say bad words, I’m sure Ranger would have needed his mouth washed out with soap.

All this ruckus over an itty-bitty squirrel reminded me of how, like Ranger, we sometimes let the annoying little things in life get the best of us. A few years ago, I had an unexpected, uninvited and most unwelcome visitor – breast cancer. I’m not saying that breast cancer is a little thing. It’s not. I am thankful that I survived. But survival has a price.

Cancer left behind lots of little things that can really get to me if I let them. And when I let them, it often leads to resentment which festers inside me until I start feeling like my crazy dog did when the squirrel visited. That’s when I need to remind myself to let go of the little things, and instead, focus on the good things in life.

One of my favorite Bible verses is in Paul’s letter to the Philippians – “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Notice that Paul doesn’t mention squirrels at all. Nor does he mention breast cancer and the little things it leaves behind. So I’m not going to think too much about those little things. I’m going to think about the good things.

Now, if only I could teach that Bible verse to Ranger…

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