Celiac Advocate, Dog Lover and Person of Faith

I went to a great conference in Denver a few weeks ago. The Food Allergy Bloggers Conference was a chance to better understand myself, my followers and my fellow bloggers. It made me take a hard look of the current focus of my blog and the steps I need to take to better define myself as an advocate.

One of sessions was about Twitter, admittedly a social media platform that I need to learn more about and use more successfully. One of the things Twitter guru Missy Berggren talked about highlighting your blog strengths in your Twitter profile, as well as some unique items. If you follow my Instagram at all, you'd notice that if my pictures aren't about food, they're about my two adorable dogs. As someone who has never been able to get pregnant, our dogs are our children.

So I'm going to take a big step and write about something personal, that has nothing to do with food, restaurants, or Celiac Disease. It's brave bloggers like Gluten Free Girl that do this exact thing that endear her writing to me and give me the bravery to do the same thing. So, I'm going to write about my dog.

We just found out that our beloved pet, Midnight, has an enlarged heart and the beginnings of congestive heart failure. We took him to the vet a week ago, thinking that he had kennel cough. After an unsuccessful week of antibiotics and cough suppressants, I took Midnight back to the vet. It was then that Dr. Shaker noticed a heart murmur and took an x-ray. His little heart is literally two times larger than it should be. There were signs of something in his lungs, so the vet prescribed heart medication and albuterol for bronchial dilatation.

And now we wait.

I'm pretty active in my church. Every Sunday I sing in the choir and my husband plays guitar. And all through service today, tears streaming down my face, all I could think about was being at home. At home, holding my sweet little buddy and telling him how much he is loved.

This Christmas, I feel the need to hold all of our family a little bit closer. In all honesty, it's been a bit of a long few months. I've had two surgeries with prolonged healings, my dad has been diagnosed with oral cancer and had major reconstructive surgery, and my step-father has had a shunt put in his brain. It feels that I've seen more doctors for myself and others since August than I have in my whole life.

And in my desire to hold them all so close and near, I think of Christ wanting to do the same for us. How God promises to be close to the broken-hearted. How when Jesus entered Jerusalem, he mentions the desire to gather us to him, as a hen gathers her chicks to her chest. How when Jesus weeps when he sees the pain and grief Martha and Mary are going through, as they've lost their dear brother. How God has gone to great lengths, just to show us how much we are loved.

And in reality, that's the true meaning of Christmas. Not to go into debt getting the latest gift that will be broken in a few months, or stress about having the best decorated house in the neighborhood. It's about showing intentional love. It's about being present with those who we love and those who may get under our skin. It's about giving of ourselves for the joy and peace of another.

So this Christmas, I'll be focused on the little things. Focused on a little 18 pound dog whose eyes show he doesn't feel so great, cleaning up after him when he makes a mess, and telling him in spite of it how much he is loved. I'll be focusing on making memorable moments for my husband and my extended family. And I'll treasure all of these things in my heart, thanking God for the joy and the grief, and wondering how he loves me, you and everyone in greater ways than I can accomplish.