Gideon’s “Life Day” and a Puppy Named Jake (Part Two)

To read more about “Life Day” and the backstory to these photos, see Part One

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Should I go ahead and add this day to the “Top Ten Memories” file in my brain?

Yeah, I think so, too…

After spending Sunday night and all day Monday with his sisters at Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house, my parents dropped Gideon off at our shed and went driving around with the girls so we could have a moment alone with our son.

And our photographer friend.

(Told you I have a sickness).

It was a sweet reunion. Gideon was simply happy to be home. We, on the other hand, were about to burst with excitement!

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“Why can’t we go inside the house?” he kept asking.

“Just because…” I kept hedging.

Finally, we sat down with him and Mr. Gore explained all about his “life day” and that we were celebrating the gift of Gideon with a special surprise.

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Gideon likes surprises.

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We prayed and thanked God for our boy, and I somehow managed to keep from bawling like a baby…

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And then it was time for the blindfold. We wanted the puppy to be a secret until the very last minute…

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My  job was to keep him from peeking and to make SURE he couldn’t see!

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Almost there…

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Before we took his blindfold off, we let him feel his gift to see if he could guess what it was. Our calm little doggy kept so still and quiet. Good boy!

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Gideon told me later that he thought it was a stuffed animal. He still had no idea what was on the other side of that blindfold…

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When we took the blindfold off, he was, in a word, dazed. As a 4 -year-old, I distinctly remember him asking as he surveyed a pasture full of cattle, “Why did God make all these animals and not give me any?” This boy has been waiting a LONG time for a pet of his own…

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I noticed when I looked back at the pictures that his little cheeks were flushed with excitement (be still, my heart)…

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and for sure his “eyes were waterin'”.

Gideon’s eyes water a lot. He gets that from me.

p.s. I love this picture. (and all the ones after it).

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“What do you want to name him?” we asked, gently recommending the name ‘Huckleberry’, the name of his first stuffed animal, a little white puppy from FAO Schwarz, or ‘Jake’, his most favorite name for as long as we can remember.

“Jake” he said, confidently.

Even though we were secretly rooting for Huckleberry, we were pretty happy with that, especially since “Thunderfire” is his second favorite name.

In retrospect, I don’t think I can fully express how fulfilling it was to watch my son receive this gift. What a joy it is to care for someone so deeply, to know their deepest wishes, to understand their heart like no one else, and to bless them accordingly…

and so I think that experiencing this day with Gideon brought me a little bit closer to the heart of God; how our Heavenly Father must love us! We don’t give Him enough credit in our crowded, complicated, grown-up worlds.

So that just left one last thing…

After giving Gideon a moment to get acquainted with new best friend, we called my parents and told them to come back to the house. Gideon and Jake hid in the shed so he could surprise his sisters with our newest family member.

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“Close your eyes!” we told them, “Gideon has a surprise for you…”

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(Betsie ALWAYS peeks).

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I’ve never seen the whole lot of them so excited about something. It was a full-out dog party in our yard, and our household has consequently been abuzz for DAYS…

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I have so much more to talk about concerning pet ownership, about the similarities between puppies and babies, about how this little pup has stolen our hearts, but for now, I’ll just leave it at this…

Welcome to our family, Jake.

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We’ve been waiting for you for a very long time.

Gid's Puppy 1843

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I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge Benjamin Grey Photography once more for these precious, precious pictures. What a gift it is to have talented and generous friends who will wake up early to minister to your family before a long night working the late shift. You blessed our hearts, Ben and Leslie, more than you’ll ever know. Thank you.

And special thanks to the sweet family who sold us this puppy and took such good care of him for us. You were a joy to work with! (and our daughter has already put in a request for a GIRL puppy on her 6th “life day”…)

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Remember or share it on Pinterest!

Surprising a boy

Gideon’s “Life Day” and a Puppy Named Jake (Part One)

We had huge plans for Gideon’s 6th birthday.

I mean, aside from the awesomely vintage Word War II-inspired birthday party we hosted for him…

But as it turns out, building complicated backyard fences and finding the perfect puppy take a little bit of time.

A LOT of time, actually.

So the dog we intended to present to our firstborn on his 6th birthday in March didn’t actually join our family until two nights ago, the last Monday in July, at 7:00 p.m. I’ll tell  you all about it, but first I have to pose a couple of questions…

Do you believe in the sovereignty of God?

Do you believe that God cares about even the smallest details of our lives?

Call me crazy, but I really do.

And, even though this puppy is seemingly joining us at the worst possible time, one month before my due date, one month before homeschool starts and two months before Mr. Gore’s back surgery and 3-month recovery (I’ll explain later…), I can’t help but recognize the hand of God in this entire situation.

If you’ve been a reader at Mrs. Gore’s Diary for very long, you know that I am pretty big on “moments”. Few things are done around here without intention, and while most of our days at home are very simple and boring and nondescript and familiar, the big days are…well, BIG. I dream about them, I pray about them, I plan everything out with painstaking detail, and most importantly, I wait. One of my biggest fears is that I will introduce my kids to every good thing in life before they are cognizant enough to realize, remember, or appreciate it.

Thus, presenting Gideon with his first dog has been something we have anticipated for years. We wanted him to remember this day. We wanted him to be ready for it. We wanted his extremely tender little heart to be in exactly the right place to receive this monumental gift. And we have been praying for a long time that God would intentionally use his first dog to build something substantial in our son’s heart…a deeper love and compassion, a sense of responsibility, a wellspring of gratitude…

but I honestly never dreamed that God would make this moment even sweeter and use our first puppy to teach our son about the sanctity of life. Let me explain…

It has always sort of bugged my husband that mankind, in general, and Christians, in particular, only celebrate the BIRTHday of a baby. “If we really believe that life begins at conception,” he would say, “then why do we ignore those 9 months in the womb? Why do we say a child has been alive for only a year when they have been very much alive for a year and 9 months?”

He mentioned it often, and as these thoughts continued to ruminate in his mind, he finally came to me with a suggestion a few months ago. “Let’s start celebrating our kids ‘life day,'” he said. “Nothing big, and we don’t have to have a party or stop doing regular birthdays, but I just want them to know that we were celebrating and anticipating them from the very beginning…”

You know I loved the idea. Another day of the year for celebrating? Sign me up! And seriously, how amazing would it be for our kids to grow up with an awareness of the fact that, 9 months before they were born, God was already knitting them together, forming their specific features, crafting their unique (and whackadoo, in our case) personalities?

After a little bit of discussion we decided that we could commemorate their “life day” with a really special and thoughtful gift each year… something that would make them feel expressly cherished and special. So get this…

Gideon’s “life day” was in July.

Right about the time we finished our backyard fence.

A couple of weeks before the Golden Retriever puppy our friend found for us on Craigslist would be old enough to come home with us…

And as it began to dawn on me that the presentation of this HUGE surprise to our most beloved boy would coincide with his “life day” and would serve as a testimony to the graciousness of God in crafting his very existence, the tears started flowing.

I couldn’t even think about this day without breaking down, sometimes in the car, sometimes in bed, and one time talking to my husband in the backyard; I just laid my face down on our new fencepost and started sobbing.

But if I’m being completely honest, I think I would have been crying without the added bonus of “life day”. I love my son. I love his tender and complicated heart. And I’ve known for a long time that, while owning a pet would be a special thing for any of our kids, this was going to be a true rite-of-passage for Gideon. The thought of what this puppy would do for his heart did CRAZY things to my own…

And the most exciting thing of all is that Gideon had absolutely NO idea what was coming. Even though we built and painted a huge new fence for him. Even though Grandpa and Grandma delivered a giant kennel to our backyard. Even though there were cans of dog food hidden in the pantry…

he was in for the surprise of his young life!

And because I obviously have a sickness, I decided to just go ahead and make this into a bonafide event, complete with matching clothes, a photographer, and a 4th of July theme, so we would always remember that Gideon’s “life day” was in July. Life isn’t “all about the pictures”, but if you’re going to observe a monumental occasion, and one of your very favorite photographers goes to your church, you might as well take advantage of the blessing, right?…

And believe me, when you see the photos that Benjamin Grey Photography captured for us, you’ll be so glad that I’ve decided to keep my disease for at least the unforeseeable future. I can’t wait to share them with you…

Tomorrow! (Read Part Two here).

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Want a sneak peek? Alright. You twisted my arm.

To help your children understand the sanctity of life, start celebrating the time of year that God starting knitting them together!  A VERY special family observance.