Monday, August 18, 2014

"He's Our Dog."- The fate filled story of Maximus Prime (aka Max)

I always wanted a dog as a kid.  I begged my parents for one, but they really had no interest in taking on the responsibility that would inevitably end up being theirs.  At one point in my childhood I’m pretty sure I knew every single dog breed and plastered posters of dogs all over my walls.  I had a very dog-less childhood, but now as an adult I don’t blame my parents for that.  Unless it was something they had really wanted, they shouldn’t have heeded my request.  The funny thing is as soon as I moved on to college they ended up adopting a sweet black Flat-Coated Retriever puppy that wandered into their garage one rainy night.  They adored her for the 13 years she lived on this earth.

Living in the city I never desired to have a dog.  Four kids in a small apartment were enough.  Adding an animal would have driven me over the edge.   Still any time I felt sad or stressed out I used to look at pictures online of puppies.  One day we were walking back from the playground and saw the most beautiful dog I think I had every laid my eyes on.   He was so pretty I stopped the owner to ask her about him.  She told me he was a Hungarian Vizsla (VEE-sh-luh) and was wonderfully sweet with children.  I came home and showed Ricardo pictures of Viszla puppies.  We both agreed that was the dog for us.  But after doing some research on the breed I realized that any puppy would be way too much for us with young kids, especially an exuberant Viszla puppy.  Too bad.  Maybe someday.  : (

Within a few weeks of moving to a big house with a yard, the dog bug bit me hard.  I knew Ricardo was going to have a very busy month in September and wanted a companion for when he was working late or staying overnight in the city.  He advised me wisely that we should wait until we were more settled in.  In typical fashion I ignored him and insisted I wanted to get a dog now.  We would not get a puppy.  That was way too much work, but we would rescue a full-grown dog that needed a home.  Ricardo agreed to let me get my dog because he knows I can be stubborn and need to learn the hard way. 

I searched and searched online and inquired about a few rescues.  I found a lab mix who caught my eye and emailed the couple who was fostering him at their boarding facility on a farm nearby our home.  The woman, Liz told me that she wouldn’t have been a good fit for a family with young kids.  Appreciating her honesty, I moved on.  I began to think about how much we had loved the Vizsla we had met so I looked into a rescue for that particular breed.  I didn’t have much hope that we would be chosen to adopt one because they seemed to go to homes with owners that had experience with the breed itself.  We had neither breed nor dog experience at all.  Still I figured it couldn’t hurt to fill out an application.  When I was nearly finished with it I got an email from Liz asking me if I had time to chat. Confused, I asked her why because she had already told me it was a no go with the lab mix.  The email that came back to me blew me away.  She said in fact the lab mix would not be good for us, but they had another dog they were boarding and were pretty sure was going to be surrendered by his owner and would we be interested?  He was a 2 year-old Vizsla.  She attached this picture with the email:



I honestly couldn’t believe it!  Of course I was interested!  We met Max a week or so later and while shy, he warmed up quickly.  We decided to give it a trial run.  Boy was I in for a surprise!

Believe me when I tell you, we got a great dog!  But I have never owned one before and didn’t anticipate how exhausting it would be.  It was like having a new baby all over again!  After one night I was ready to take him back.  Believe me again when I tell you that I probably would have tried to take J. back to the hospital too in the days after his birth if I had actually had the opportunity.  Luckily Liz and Ricardo convinced me to stick it out a while longer.  With some really sound advice and support on the end of the amazing people that took care of him for the last five months, we waited to make a final decision.  I hemmed and hawed about what we should do and ultimately begged Ricardo to make the decision for us.  He was truly kind to me.  He had offered his advice before we had started this whole process and I hadn’t taken it, but this time I promised I would go in whatever direction he felt was best.  His words gave me peace.  “He’s our dog”, he said. "It’s too late to turn back.”

Bottom line, I should have listened to my husband.  The timing on this has sort of sucked.  But amazingly and mercifully we have been gifted with an incredible creature that is perfect for our family.  I can already tell he will bring our family so much joy!

I also really can’t say enough about the people we have worked with to get Max, aka Maximus. If anyone in the Tri-State area is ever looking to adopt a rescue dog or need help with your dog's behavior in some capacity I highly recommend Urban Paws, the store Liz and her partner Nick are affiliated with. 




Here’s a link to their website:  http://www.shopurbanpaws.com These amazing people go to high kill shelters and get animals on the “to euthanize” list.  They then rehabilitate them on their farm until they are ready for adoption and care for them until they find the right family.  They also run a bootcamp for dogs as well rehabilitate dogs with behavior challenges.  Truly incredible work!


Here’s a few more pictures of our newest family member:





Isn't he the most beautiful guy in the whole world?!!!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

"The Shirt Off His Back"

Everyone knows that expression.  It’s used to describe really generous people.  Yesterday we were invited by some new friends to go swimming and hang out.  We’ve actually been overwhelmed by how friendly everyone is here in our new home.

 So we arrive at the pool play date.  The kids have a blast.  The grown ups hang out, and then it’s suggested that we go get ice cream.  Everyone is on board.  We begin to get ready to go.  J. comes up to me with a distressed look on his face.  Seeing as this happens regularly a few times a day, I am not highly alarmed.  He tells me he forgot to bring his shoes.  He’s upset because now he can’t go into the ice cream store with no shoes.  Really what kind of a mom doesn’t even notice that her kid got in the car, arrived at the house, swam etc… all without any shoes on his feet?  I must raise my hand, because apparently that mom was me yesterday.   The host of our get together notices our plight. J’s nearly in tears and I’m basically chastising him for coming without footwear.  She leaves and returns from her car with a pair of flip-flops.  “I found an extra pair in the trunk”, she tells me.  I’m so relieved.  On to the ice cream store we go.

So that was really generous of her and we’ve probably all done that once or twice; given up an extra pair of shorts or t-shirt or diaper to another mom in need.  But my story doesn’t end there, because when we arrive at the ice cream store and walk in both Ricardo and I notice that her son the same age as J. isn’t wearing any shoes!  She had literally given me her son’s only pair of shoes.  I was floored. 

 It was a gesture that only the most generous soul would do.  It’s what Jesus would do.  It really touched me to the core.  I hope I can be more generous like that.  It was an amazing lesson for J.  We noted to him later that his friend was walking around without shoes so that he wouldn’t be upset not to have them.   I think we all need to challenge ourselves to be more like that, to give not just the extra that we have, but to give sacrificially to others.   I know giving J. a pair of flip flops might not be quite on the same level as the poor woman in the bible who gave the last of her small amount of money, but it's the same concept. 


“ All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”  Luke 21:4 NIV

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Our New House!

The story of how we ended up in our new home is long.  It’s really four years long because that’s how long we pondered, prayed, and worked to get here.  We didn’t know where God was leading us for the majority of it.  We didn’t know when or how He would do it.  But in the end, He did. 

Four years ago we found out we were having a third child and knew that at some point in the nearish future we would want to move out of our apartment and give our kids some space and much needed fresh air.  That began a roller coast of emotions for me. I spent a lot of that time wondering when God would move us, how He would do it, where we would go, how we would afford it etc…  Ricardo remained steadfast and certain that God’s timing would be perfect and we must wait for that time before so much as lifting a finger. 

We looked at a lot of communities before and after we visited the town where we are currently settled.  This one just felt right.  Still there were some logistical challenges to living here, mostly centered around how far away it is from work/church.  We waited and prayed some more. 

A year and a half ago we drove by what is now our home and Ricardo immediately fell in love.    Truthfully, it really was beautiful, but to me I just saw something way out of the ballpark for us.  We admired it from the outside and drove back to New York.  Unbeknownst to us the home was almost sold that spring to another family, only to have the deal fall through at the very last minute.  It went back up for sale and a year ago we decided to tour the inside of some other homes and apprehensively I told our realtor we'd like to look at the inside of this home too.  Ricardo again was in love with this house.  I worried that it was too big, would require too much upkeep, and quite frankly was just way too wonderful for us. 

So many things had to fall into place in order for us to even consider this house a possibility, and amazingly they all did.  We had an offer accepted in March and then waited for our apartment sale to close before we would officially be able to purchase this house. 

Everything on the apartment sale went smoothly until the very end.  Our buyers had to get approval from the board as we owned a co-op apartment and at the very last hour we were told they might not be accepted.  Basically the majority of the board was voting “no”.  They were having one final meeting and if one person changed their mind it would go through and if not, we would be without a buyer and stuck in our apartment. 

I knew right then and there that God was with us.  He was going to give us a clear answer on this move.  Either He was going to shut down the whole thing or confirm for us that He was with us in buying our new home.  At 11:30 pm, four hours after the start of the meeting, we got the call that our buyers were approved!  A few days after that we were able to buy this house!


We’ve been here three weeks now.  I have a ton of boxes I’ve given up on unpacking for now.  But it’s been confirmed in my heart with every new person we meet and when I see the joy in the faces of my children, that we made the right decision.  We belong here!  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.  Our home is beautiful and it will be shared with everyone we know.  We know He didn’t give it to us only for our personal enjoyment, although personally I can say we are enjoying it very much!

Here's a few pics of our first week in our new digs:

                                 Last moment in our apartment.  So many memories!
The new digs!

Lots of great neighbors!
Love the wildlife!



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Our Amish Swing Set

Updated pic of the new swing set!!!  
Ever since we moved two weeks ago (and actually for some time before that), I’ve been obsessed with purchasing a swing set.  I think probably it has something to do with the last 8 years of schlepping kids, stroller, scooters, snacks, diapers, change of clothes, toys, band aids, etc. to the play ground by our apartment.  Now that we are settled into a house, the idea of shooing them outside to play on their very own swing set feels so very simple and easy. 

I’ve ordered one, and then canceled it, spent hours pouring over websites that sell them, and even tried unsuccessfully to buy a few used ones on craigslist.  Somewhat on a whim yesterday I called a place that helps you design custom sets that are then built in Lancaster by the Amish.  We went on an adventure to the guy’s store about forty-five minutes from here.

Ultimately this blog post has little to do with the cool swing set we ended up ordering, and everything to do with the interesting gentleman who sold it to us.  As we sat in his office he began to tell us about how the Amish rely on outsiders such as himself to advertise, order, make phone calls etc. for them as they are forbidden to do those things.  He then shared with us that he and his family had in fact left the Amish community themselves about 16 years ago.  Knowing only a little bit about the Amish, I was surprised at his answer when I asked them why they left. 

It turns out our swing set salesmen had literally never made a phone call or driven a car 16 years ago.  He was a devout member of the community.  However, one day a close friend of his decided to become a missionary and leave the community to share the gospel overseas.  His choice, led members of the Amish community to shun him because they believe that it is both faith in Jesus Christ and complete devotion to the Amish that gets you into heaven.  This event rocked our swing set seller’s world.  He began asking questions and looking to the bible for answers.  He told us that the Amish are forbidden to read the bible for themselves.  I don’t know if that’s accurate, but that’s what he said.  When he read verses such as “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations.” he was blown away.  Ultimately it was contradictions between scripture and what he had been taught that led him and his family to leave the community.

This man has maintained a deep respect for his former community and his family members who are still part of it.  He applauded them for their strong sense of family and family values.  But ultimately he said, “Jesus isn’t just for the Amish.  Jesus is for all people.”  I think that’s important for us all to remember.  Jesus doesn’t just love one group of people.  He didn’t die just for Americans, or straight people, or people who try really hard to be good.  He died for everyone.  Every single one of us. 

It was a great day meeting a very interesting individual and scoring a really cool swing set.  When we get it in three weeks I’ll include a picture of it on this blog post. 


For anyone in blogger land who has wondered where I’ve been the last few months (Dad that’s probably just you even though you are well aware), we’ve obviously had a ton going on with our move.  We’re settling in now and I’m hoping to share a lot about that journey as well as get back into writing a bit more often.  Stay tuned!