In this episode, Host Annette Hines welcomes back Author Jess Ronne to the show to discuss her newest book, Lovin’ with Grit and Grace that was just released in February.  In addition to being an author of 3 books and the blog “Jess + the Mess”, Jess is the CEO of the nonprofit The Lucas Project, a caregiver advocate, and a mom of 8 children, one of whom, Lucas has profound disabilities due to an in utero stroke.

She starts by saying that she didn’t want to write Lovin’ with Grit and Grace, but was asked to by her publisher due to the success she and her husband Ryan have had in their marriage despite the trauma that their blended family has faced. Both Jess and Ryan had a previous spouse who passed away from brain cancer and experienced the challenge of managing their grief while parenting young children. Her story of losing her previous spouse, Jason, the strength of her faith to help her survive those difficult times, and meeting her husband Ryan are detailed in her memoir, Sunlight Burning at Midnight.

Lovin’ with Grit and Grace captures the perspectives of both husband and wife with the topics based on the acronyms HIS/HERS:

Health • Intimacy • Sex (HIS)

Household tasks • Excitement • Romance • Spirituality (HERS)

Jess explains how her and Ryan’s discussions about these issues helped to uncover the differences in how they each approach their relationship, how they view their own needs and desires, and how in learning about each other, they can enjoy a healthy and fruitful marriage together that honors them as well as God.

For families parenting children with disabilities, Jess and Ryan also address issues in their book like how they often can’t get away for date nights because it is so hard to find a babysitter for Lucas.  She talks about the creativity component necessary to finding time together as a couple with a large family and a child with disabilities. Plus, she explains her desire to share her experiences and understanding about how her and Ryan’s perspectives differ to help other couples explore these topics together and find the right path for them personally–Jess does not claim to hold the secret to a perfect marriage, but simply the keys to identifying what works best in each family’s unique situation especially for those who parent a child with special needs.

You can listen to the previous Parenting Impossible episode with Jess Ronne here:  Episode 126: Caregivers Need Our Support with Jess Ronne