I feel that familiar stomach-heart drop, the drop that all parents know. Her little brother, who had also just entered the house, passes by me on the way to his bedroom. Alarmed, I ask him what's wrong with her.
"Oh, she's got wood in her foot," he answers, looking for his Nintendo DS.
"I've got a SPLINTER!!" my 10-year-old sobs. Severe distress.
I know I thing or two about splinters. I've been doing splinter surgery for the past 10 years on little people that live with me, and I must say I'm pretty good at it at this point. But lawdy, it's always so dramatic.
She has thankfully reached the point where she trusts me now when I wield a sterilized needle at her. It wasn't always that way. We've been through many battles together - me soothing, bribing, threatening, and her jerking her extremities away from me in utter fear.
I examine the offending foreign object, a gigantic splinter embedded in her heel. It had sliced through her sock while she was playing on a neighbor's hardwood floor.
"OK, sweetie," I tell her, trying the soothing tactic first. "We've been here lots of times before. You know I'm good at this. You know I can get this out. You gotta trust me, though. Nothing would make me happier than to get this thing out for you."
Her face is red and puffy, her nose running, tears rolling. But she puts her heel up in my lap. Willingly.
I begin the tedious procedure. Pick, pick, pick with the needle. Ever so gently. I can tell from experience that this is not one of those that is just going to pop right out. This is one of those that's going to take a lot of time. Like, for-EV-er. Pick, pick, pick. Prod, prod. Pick, Pick.
"Have you almost got it?" she asks after a while, leaning forward awkwardly to try to get a peek.
Not even close.
I tell her so. She doesn't seem to mind. She knows I've got a proven track record.
Finally, glory hallelujah, the tip of the splinter emerges from the tiny hole in her skin that I've made, and I yank that sucker out with tweezers. We both stare at the thing for a minute, the tiny piece of wood that was causing her so much pain, and then she wraps her arms around me.
"Thank you, Mommy! Thank you so much for getting my splinter out!"
She did some happy dancing and kept thanking me all evening, even when I tucked her in.
And I realized this - what happened in the bedroom with the splinter - that's a picture of my life right now.
I am facing a severe problem myself - one that I agonize over, lose sleep over, and cry over. One that, like the insidious splinter, reminds me of its presence constantly. I am all splintered up inside.
But I go to my Father, and He says the same things I was saying to my own little girl - I know this is hard for you, I know you are in dire straits. But I have a track record of faithfulness. You've got to trust me. This is one of those things that is going to take some time. A lot of time. Like your sterilized needle gently working over your daughter's heel. Pick, pick, pick. Prod, prod. Let me work.
We'll get there.