Blessed by His guidance

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After years in the Regular Army, followed by a few years in Shreveport, Louisiana, I moved back to Opelika in August 2009. A bad case of shingles and four months later, I had to hug my dog Chyna goodbye for the third time as I headed back to the land of sand.
In 2010, during that last all-expense paid trip to Iraq, the powers that be at the Observer reached out to me to see if I was interested in writing a column for the paper. Operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom had slowed down considerably, so at that time, I was not all that busy. I had ample time and was most definitely interested in the opportunity, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what in the world to write about. So, I respectfully declined.
I got home from Iraq in late January of 2011. Of my three tours, it was the first time I’d actually returned to Opelika. The other two homecomings took place at Fort Lewis, Washington, and Dothan, respectfully, but Opelika was the greatest of all. After all, it is home.
Family and friends greeted us as we marched into the armory, which is a memory I will take with me to my grave. Another great memory that I have is of the love and affection I received from Chyna when I walked into my house. She and I had a special relationship. I got her when I was 24 years old and had her until I was 40. We grow so much as adults during that span, and she was there with me, at least in spirit, every step of the way. Sadly, I couldn’t take her to Iraq.
On July 30, 2012, I had to make the painful yet right decision to have her put to sleep. I couldn’t let her suffer, so I didn’t.  It hurt me so badly. I’d never felt such loss. As a way to cope with my loss, I began to write about our life together and posted them to my social media accounts, and, by all accounts, they were positively received. Some people suggested that I write for the Observer.
Once again, I was interested but wasn’t sure what to write about. After giving the matter much thought, I decided I’d give it a go. If I was meant to be a writer, be it for one week or indefinitely, God would give me guidance, and that’s exactly what He did. The week of my first column just happened to coincide with International Stuttering Awareness Day. As a lifetime stutterer, I could write about stuttering all day long.
That was four years ago this week, and not only am I blessed to continue to write for the Observer but the blessings continue in nine additional newspapers, six Chicken Soup for the Soul books and a couple of magazines. His guidance continues. If you read my column on a regular basis, then you know I’m blessed with a new dog and cat, too. Ruby is now three and half. We think Abbey is about four and half, and I’m pretty sure I’m 44 and a half.
I’m incredibly thankful to everyone at the Observer for allowing me to be a small part of our hometown newspaper, but I’m even more thankful for all of you, the readers, who support me and everyone else who has anything to do with the paper. It means the world to me whenever I’m out and about to have people walk up, hug me, and tell me how much they enjoy reading my column. I never could have predicted that in 2012. Thank you.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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