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A Pretty Penny: My Life Has Gone to the Dog

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

Roger Caras 

Last August our family experienced another change in our lives–our youngest went off to college, leaving Hubby and me with an empty nest.

By day, our house is filled with noise and chaos because I own and operate a family childcare program.

Once that last Little Darling leaves for the day, and dinner is over, I sit in my comfy chair in the living room to pick up where I left off with my current WIP (work-in-progress). With only Hubby and me at home, I’ve noticed something very annoying…the ticking clock hanging on the living room wall.

Holy cats, that thing is loud!

When our boys are home, and the Xbox is being played, then the ticking is drowned out by whatever gaming chatter. 

Then I realized something else…I missed having someone to care for. Hubby doesn’t count because he’s quite self-sufficient, and my Little Darlings don’t count because they leave before dinner. 

I needed someone or something to take care of, so I started talking to Hubby about a dog. 

We had a beautiful yellow Lab about 14 years ago named Samantha Jane. Due to our son’s allergies at the time, and Samantha’s size with my Little Darlings, she wasn’t the best fit for our family. She ended up moving to a farm to live with a couple who had another dog and wanted a playmate for her. 

Anyway, Hubby wasn’t too excited about the dog thing and suggested we wait until spring.

For her birthday, my mom adopted a sweet little chihuahua mix dog named Penelope, who may be older than the 3 years the shelter claimed. This little sweetheart burrowed herself into my heart, especially after I became Penny’s official dogsitter when my mom was hospitalized two different times for heart issues. I kept telling Mom I was going to dognap Penny for good. 

In fact Hubby had said, “If only we could find a dog like Penny…”

I had been praying and asking God to provide us with the right pooch at the right time. 

Well, in January, my mom had another heart issue. Due to some concerns afterward, Penny came to live with us full-time. 

So as Carolyn mentioned on Monday when she took over my blog–I’m a new puppy mama. Isn’t Penny just the sweetest thing?

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Caring for a dog is like caring for kids, except dogs can’t speak, and kids shouldn’t be doing their business outside. Penny demands attention like a kid and insists on getting up in the middle of the night for a potty break. 

I’m remembering those early years with my kids. Unfortunately my body has aged 20 years, so I’m more tired now, but we love Penny so much and wouldn’t give her up for anything. 

Your Turn: Do you have any pets? What’s your favorite part about being a pet owner? What advice do you have to share with this new puppy mama? 

 

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Amy Reece: Parenting a Child with Special Abilities

I haven’t had the privilege to meet Amy Reece yet, but I’m very close friends with her fantastic sister Melissa Tagg, whom many of you know and love. Melissa and I share a common bond–we are aunties to the most amazing kids. My niece Lilly is my sunshine, the light of my heart (or blueberry if you read my acknowledgement in Lakeside Family). Melissa’s nephew Ollie is a beautiful child with a constant smile. One look at him and you will fall in love. I asked Amy to be a guest on my blog to share her joy in parenting a child with special abilities. Yes, children with special abilities face medical and physical challenges, but they possess such an amazing joy that is so contagious.  

My son was laying on his back with his hands in the air, and was opening and closing his hands as if he was trying to sign “book” to me.  He had a strong look of concentration on his face, so I just watched him for several moments.   When he stopped, I asked if he would like to read a book.  He didn’t quite seem to make the connection, so we proceeded to another activity. 

A short time later, I asked him again if he would like to read a book.  He looked down at his hands and very clearly and deliberately signed book to me three times in a row!

My heart melted and tears came to my eyes as I realized I had just witnessed my son discovering a new word of communication!

My son, Oliver “Ollie” Lelan Reece was born two years ago with Down Syndrome and two major internal and external heart defects.  In Ollie’s young life he has endured two hospital stays totaling close to eight months, and survived four open-heart surgeries.  In addition, Ollie battles vocal cord paralysis, congenital heart disease, hypothyroidism, low muscle tone, tracheal malacia, reflux issues, developmental delays, and requires the aid of a ventilator, trach, and G tube. 

Because of all these factors, Ollie sees a multitude of doctors and participates in a substantial amount of therapy.  But despite all these difficulties, Ollie lives life with so much vitality!

While my son faces so many challenges, he is still like any other child full of smiles, energy, and the desire to explore his world and conquer new skills. 

It seems often when people find out that our son has a disability and medical needs it can make them uncomfortable.  

My husband and I have always felt that the term special needs or disability should instead be referred to as “special abilities” because we see Ollie as Ollie, a child full of amazing talents and a phenomenal personality and attitude, not as a child defined only by his Down Syndrome.  

My son is truly one of the most amazing people I know. I feel so privileged and honored to be his parent.  While I am able to teach Ollie skills like a new word in sign language, Ollie teaches me to never let challenges or differences hold me back from living life with great passion and joy!! 

Your Turn: Are you a parent or a relative of a child with special abilities? Or maybe you have a friend who parents a child with special abilities? How have these amazing children helped you to view life?

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Krista Phillips: Until…it is you.

I met Krista Phillips online through ACFW–American Christian Fiction Writers. When I learned of her struggles with her fourth child Annabelle, my heart ached. I loved her transparency in her blog posts. I loved her ability to hold on through the storm. I loved rejoicing with her family’s victories. Now Krista and I are agent mates. Her debut novel, “Sandwich With a Side of Romance,” releases in September (she’ll be back as a guest blogger then too!), and I couldn’t be happier. 

Krista writes inspirational romantic comedy. She believes a sprinkle of laughter (and a wee bit of chocolate) makes everything a little better! She blogs regularly about life as a wife, mother, follower of Jesus, and mother of a child with a rare congenital heart defect at www.kristaphillips.com. Her debut novel, “Sandwich, With a Side of Romance,” releases in September, 2012.

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You hear the stories about those sick babies, see the prayer requests,  and your heart aches. Yet a tiny part of you is relieved. It’s them. It’s not you.

Until… it is you.

This was us when we had an ultrasound at 26 weeks with our 4th child. Our hearts crashed to the floor as the doctor drew us this ultra simple version of our daughter’s very sick heart.

They give us 70% odds of her survival to age 5.

Friends would say, “70%! That’s good, right?”

But all I could think of was that 30% chance. It haunted me for the next 12 weeks.

Nothing could have prepared me for the reality that we’d be faced with. 5 heart surgeries, including a heart transplant, several cardiac arrests, a total of 355 days in the hospital, 308 of them from birth until 10 months of age when Annabelle went home for the first time.

People ask me all the time, “How did you do it?” Or remark, “I could never do that. I’m just not that strong.”

Here’s the thing.

As a mother, there’s no other option. Sure, I get tired. I’ve struggled at times with depression, and have had my fair share of frank discussions with God, giving Him my blunt opinion on the matter.

God gives me strength for each day. No more, no less. Even now that we’re home and working on pushing through the hurdles that 355 days in the hospital creates, most times I’m still living on my own fumes and God’s  limitless strength-supply.

And oh-my-goodness. The rewards for “keeping on” are HUGE. Every snuggle, every smile, every milestone… with all children they are wonderful, but when you’ve fought so hard for those milestones and hugs, they are even that much sweeter.

Annabelle still has a ways to go. She’s 2 now and just learned to walk. She doesn’t talk yet, although her favorite babble is, “Mamamamama!” This Momma doesn’t mind that a bit! She doesn’t eat, is fed by a tube in her belly because she wasn’t stable enough to try food until she was a year old. B y then, she wasn’t very pleased at the thought.  So eating is a big hurdle.

But I have faith that she’s going to leap over that one any day.

And I have faith that through it all, God is cheering her on with us. I can totally see Him up in heaven doing this massive fist pump in the air, shouting, “Go Annabelle!”

Your Turn: Life is full of trials. Share a time when God’s strength was the only way you could get through each day.

Lisa Jordan
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What Would You Do For Your Children?

 In my newest novel, Lakeside Family, Josie will do anything to save her daughter’s life…even if it means facing a man from her past–Hannah’s father. 

When I brainstormed Lakeside Family, I had to give Josie a good enough reason to want to find Nick again. After all, the man broke her heart ten years ago. Despite the pain and resentment she felt, she knew she needed to put that aside and find him. He was her daughter’s last hope.

As a mother, I would do anything to keep my boys safe. That Mama Bear instinct kicks in and I’m all ready to tackle the world on their behalf. Wouldn’t most parents do the same for their children? 

So why do we think God is different? Why do we put God in a box and think He couldn’t or wouldn’t do something for us?

We are God’s children. 

The Bible is filled with stories of His grace, His protectiveness, His “Papa Bear” instinct. 

And like our own children, we become angry or disappointed when God doesn’t give us what we want when we want it. Would we give in to our children over everything they wanted? No. So why do we expect God to do the same for us?

Positive parenting allows children to develop and grow into responsible adults who understand right and wrong and the consequences of their actions. 

We serve a loving God who wants the best for us. He is the role model for positive parenting. He is our Heavenly Father. And He wants the very best for us…whatever it takes. 

Your Turn: If you are a parent, what would you do for your children? If you’re not a parent, what have you seen your parents do for you? How does your parenting style or upbringing correlate with God’s parenting?

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**Be sure to comment on my Lakeside Family Book Release Celebration post for an opportunity to win fun prizes!

**My sweet friend Roxanne Gray interviewed me on MBT Ponderers. Stop by and comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Lakeside Family.  

Lisa Jordan
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