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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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Catherine West: What’s Your Definition of Family?

Today I’m excited to host Cathy West, my friend and agent-mate. I met Cathy for the first time through ACFW and tried not to covet her residence–she lives on the beautiful island of Bermuda. 

Catherine West in an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com

Hidden in the Heart is Cathy’s second novel and can be purchased on Amazon: Hidden in the Heart

~*~

Once upon A time, because all great stories start out that way, a baby was born. As that baby grew, her Mom and Dad read this book to her.

As the little girl got older, she came to understand that she was adopted. Her Mommy and Daddy weren’t able to have children of their own, but God gave them the little girl, and made them a family.

Sounds like the makings of a happily ever after novel, right?

Well, that little girl was me, and yes, I did have a happily ever after, but it took a while for me to get there.

Growing up adopted was not always easy. Yes, I knew my parents loved me very much, after all, they picked me, how could they not? But deep down, I knew there was someone else, someone with no face and no name, who had given me life. Someone who, perhaps, didn’t love me quite as much as she was supposed to. Didn’t love me at all, really, because she gave me away.

Childhood thoughts are complicated, and often made light of. I never acknowledged those thoughts about my birth mother out loud. Never thought I should. Or could. And then one day, long after I’d married and had my own children, I was hit quite out of the blue by a fierce desire to know. 

For the first time in my life, I really wanted to know where I came from. And I prayed for the courage to find out. Because if I’m honest, it would have been easier to stuff down that feeling, brush it off as fleeting fancy, pretend it didn’t exist, and get on with life. But the longer I pondered, the stronger it became. When dreams are denied, they simply grow bigger.

With the support of my family and prayer partners, I embarked on the search that would change my life. I found my birth family. I found all the answers I needed, and God gave me the grace to accept them, and to know that in all things, He truly works for good.

Family is often too simplified. Mom, Dad, siblings, aunties and uncles and cousins…but family means so much more than that to me.

Family means home. Love. A place you can go any time and know you are wanted. Whilst I had a wonderful family growing up, and still do, I have gained extra family, and I am so grateful for each one of them.

My personal journey of search and reunion was not without heartache, but I have learned much through those times, and truly grown closer to God. I did not intend to write my story, but after a few years, friends encouraged me to do so, and Hidden in the Heart was born. I am so excited to have this book to share with you, and I’m always happy to talk adoption! 

Your Turn: What’s your definition of Family? 

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 Angie Arndt: Lemon Chess Relationships

Several years before she died, my mother-in-law asked me to name my favorite Bible story. I told her it was the story of Ruth. Not too many moments before we’d been having a heated argument about something insignificant – not a unique experience. My answer, the Bible story chronicling the love between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, left her speechless – definitely a unique experience!

By the time I’d married her youngest son, she’d been a widow for more than a decade. Her husband, a handsome Naval officer, died at age 54 after a series of heart attacks that began when he was just 32-years-old. So, as her friends were making travel plans with their retired spouses, my mother-in-law was learning to live alone for the first time in her life. In the eyes of those around her, she grew stubborn and hard-to-please. She was just as Naomi must have been to have changed her name to Mara … bitter. 

My mother-in-law was a typical Southern woman, accustomed to a rigidly-structured, matriarchal society. There were strict rules: “when ironing a dress shirt start with the sleeves first” or “homemade pie crusts are best.” As a newlywed and her next-door neighbor, at first I would quietly listen and then do whatever I pleased. (Someone had to keep the dry cleaners and grocery stores in business!) But later, I grew more confident. If she had a strong opinion on a topic, I had an equally-strong-but-opposite opinion. We argued about everything from careers to wall colors. (My poor husband!) 

When she developed cancer, I was given “the opportunity” to help care for her. I took that opportunity with much fear and trembling. As I watched her valiantly win that long battle against cancer, my attitudes changed. What I thought was stubbornness was actually courage and tenacity. What I took for offensiveness really meant she trusted me enough to be candid. Five years later, when she lost her battle to congestive heart failure, I realized that being able to care for her had been a gift from God. She had become my friend. 

I still miss her. I even miss our arguments. As I write this, I wonder, could Ruth have been strong enough to make it in a foreign land without Naomi? I don’t think so.

Here is my mother-in-law’s recipe for lemon chess pie. A little sour, a little bitter, but oh-so-sweet and worth the trouble!

Lemon Chess Pie

1 cup of sugar
½ stick of margarine or butter
2 eggs
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Unbaked pie crust

Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add unbeaten eggs, one at a time. Then, add juice and rind together with salt. Pour into pie crust and bake slowly for 20 – 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Makes one pie.

Your Turn: What about you? Do you have any Lemon Chess Relationships?

 

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Jessica Patch: Nothing Says I Love You Like Dog Poo

I met Jessica R. Patch online through her hilarious, yet spiritually moving blog, What Are You Doing Here. She’s one whom I can’t wait to meet in person. Her posts make me LOL and nearly bring me to tears. And I always leave with some nugget of wisdom. 

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance with plenty of mystery and suspense. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with heaping cups of caffeine in the form of coffee. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or speaking to a women’s group, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, beating her son at board games and contemplating how to get rid of her irksome dog (she hasn’t attempted any of them…yet). She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.

~*~

I woke up early, on purpose. Bible study, coffee, and reading a few blogs before Zumba and work. My husband was ten minutes to giving me my morning kiss and heading off to his job.

Naturally, my dog gets up when I do. I don’t know why. I’m an animal tolerate. I want to be an animal person. I’m just not.

I let her out to do her morning biz and proceeded to the brewed heaven. Before I had the chance to take a sip, Sarah (my dog) is at the door, nose to the glass ready to come in. But I notice something about my little Schnauzer/terrier mix. Something is clinging to her backside. A lot of something.

Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t let her in! But…

I go into the bathroom, hubby is standing at the sink–khakis, bare chest, a smidge of shaving cream still lingering behind his ear. “The dog has poop stuck to her butt.”

He looked at me through the mirror. “Ok.”

He makes no mention to help me out. I go back to the kitchen grab a wad of paper towels, roll up the sleeves to my picked, but favorite robe and step outside. “I hate you,” I muttered. I tried to pull it off, but it smeared into her fur. I gagged. Wiped.

Then puked all over my patio.

I came inside, turned on the water, rinsed my mouth and hubby came in and saw me. He was already running late. I fell against the wall, pulled a perfect Lucille Ball….waaaaaah! “I didn’t sign up for this!”

He went outside, got the dog and brought her in. Then he washed away the filth, cut off some funky hair and said, “I didn’t either. But I love you… Throw the scissors away.”

I sniffed, wiped my eyes and kissed my husband good bye.

And I realized the honeymoon is over, but my husband is still deeply in love with me. What else could it be?

And then I thought about God. Isn’t that the kind of love He has for us? When no one else wants to let us in because we’re full of filth and stankiness, He does. He loves us enough to not puke on the patio. To cut wash us clean, and to cut away funky “hair.”

When the poo hits the fan, that’s when love it tested. Or in my case, when the poo hits my dog’s butt.

Your Turn: What has your spouse or loved one done for you to show real love?

Lisa Jordan
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What Does Freedom in Christ Mean to You?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 NIV

The United States will celebrate Independence Day on Wednesday. To those of us who live in the States, it’s a day filled with parades, picnics, fireworks and good times with families and friends. The day celebrates our freedom. We are an independent country.

Christians around the world celebrate freedom on a daily basis–freedom in Christ.

What does this mean?

God loved us so much He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. In the Old Testament, when sins occurred, blood needed to be shed, so animals were sacrificed. 

With Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Old Testament ways were no longer necessary. Jesus paid the price for us. 

Humbling.

Being a Christian means being freed from our old lives of sin and being reborn to a new life in Christ. Many people think being a Christian restricts us with a lot of rules and regulations and “thou shall nots.” That’s not it at all.

Our time on Earth is temporary. 

Upon our deaths, we will receive the consequences of our actions. By accepting Jesus as our Savior, believing in only one God who created the heavens and the Earth, by confessing our sins and asking forgiveness, we will have an eternal home in Heaven. If we choose to continue a sinful lifestyle, the Bible tells us the wages of sin is death.

Just like the Declaration of Independence frees the United States from British rule, Jesus frees us from a sinful death through His sacrifice on the cross. And we need to celebrate that daily…fireworks are optional.

 

Your Turn: What does freedom in Christ mean to you?

 

*If you haven’t yet, please consider Liking my Amazon author page and Facebook author page.

*Photo credits:

  • Statue of Liberty photo ©Scott Jordan 2009 
  • Fireworks photo ©Patrick Jordan 2008
  • Light cross photo ©Mitchell Jordan 2011
Lisa Jordan
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