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If you’re joining me for the first time, you may not know about Twizzler. But rest assured, I’ve blogged about her a dozen or so times in the past year, so you have plenty of ways to catch up.. the first being here.. and while other posts about her are important, the most important one is here. Twizzler is my dog daughter. And today is her birthday.

She passed away exactly eight months ago. September 23, 2011… a day I’ll never forget. She was only four. She died of lymphoma. And while my heart aches just thinking of her, I know deep down that she is happy and healthy and playing fetch with Jesus.

As I woke up today, I couldn’t help but think of her and how much life would be different if she were still around. I’ve also caught myself thinking about whether we did everything in our power to keep her here on earth as long as possible. Regret. Lots of regret and lots of uncertainty. But thoughts like that only cause more pain. I have to have faith that God took her in His time and when she was ready. It doesn’t make the pain go away or make it any easier.. but I do know God is slowly healing my heart. And He started that healing process by giving us another wonderful dog named Goober.

We adopted Goober the March before Twizzler passed. You can read all about our announcement and his adoption here. We didn’t adopt him as a means of replacement, but to keep Twizzler in good spirits and to help us with the transition. While Goober immediately became a member of our family, I can’t help but look back and think he was shortchanged a bit over those final months Twizzler was alive. She took precedence – our world revolved around her.

Now, as I sit here and think about Twizzler, I think about her life and the love I had and still have for her. I’ll always miss her.. without a doubt, there won’t ever be a day that she doesn’t cross my mind. But I also know that today is not a day of sadness. It is a day of celebration. And tonight, we will celebrate. We’ll celebrate her life, the four wonderful years we had with her and we’ll celebrate how she brought us Goober. He definitely didn’t replace her, but he certainly filled a void that she left empty.

Throughout Twizzler’s battle with cancer, I learned many lessons.. but one of the most important ones was to celebrate life and to cherish those you love. As cheesy as it sounds, time is really a gift. Our time here on earth is a gift God gives us each and every single day. All too often we take it for granted. We take our life and the lives of those we love for granted. But our lives are precious. You may not be a “dog person” or understand that pain one feels when they lose someone close to them, but I pray that you understand the value of life. Cherish those you love.. live today to its fullest.. let God use you to work wonders in this world… celebrate life.

Won’t you join me in celebrating Twizzler’s birthday today? You don’t need cake and candles (we’ve got that part covered).. but celebrate her life.. celebrate the legacy she leaves behind as we all celebrate those we love today.