A year already?

April 8, 2014. 1:28am.

I can't believe that Doug has been in heaven for a year! It is insane to think that is possible. A year ago my family sat around my brother's bed, trying to make him comfortable, we laughed, we cried, we had "sleep overs", we joked, we played music, and we prayed. 

It's interesting how your prayers change from, God we beg you for a miracle, for a healing to take place to God take this child because his pain has consumed every part of his physical being.

Some people tell me it will get easier and thinking about him every day will become less painful as the years go by. It is true that this day last year I could not comprehend that I would be where I am today but I have thought about Doug in some way or another, every day! Sometimes it is in the form of laughter. Some through tears! Sadness. Happiness. Thankful that I had 43 years with this soul but the pain is still there. Sometimes it doesn't seem real. But it is SO real. 

Sometimes it is the smallest things that will trigger a memory. I was in Target the other day and at the end of an isle there was a display of small fans. I immediately texted Melissa a picture. Melissa purchased this fan for my brother to keep on the table next to his bed. The air circulating on his face helped keep his breathing under control. The fan was a part of his collection of things he had near him like his flashlight and lip balm. :)

I am most grateful for Doug's testimony and his love for Jesus. The little brother of this big sister prayed for me to be at peace when I wasn't. Prayed for me to not be angry with God. There was a time when Doug was very far away from the love of God. Thank God he was the one not far from Doug. Because of Doug's surrender he lives in heaven today with Jesus. 

Thank you to our faithful family and friends that prayed Doug would see Jesus for who he was. Faithful. Loving. Generous. Forgiving. And...Healer. Not necessarily the way I wanted him to be healed but in God's perfect healing and timing.

I miss you Doug just as much today as the day you left us here on earth. The day you were healed and made perfect. I will never let your memory fade away. I promise! 

April 24, 2015 we are participating in a relay for life at Lilburn Park at 5:00pm. If you would like to contribute to cancer research in honor/memory of Doug, please click on the link to donate. main.acsevents.org/goto/DougHale

God is Hope

I came across this quote today on my friend @livingingraceland instagram.

While our hope is fragile, God himself is hope.
— Pete Wilson

This very moment my hope is fragile. I am full and can't give one more ounce of me to anything. I am tired, physically, mentally and emotionally.

This is a great reminder. As in my brother's words, "I am clinging to Jesus." God is my hope.


Love wins!

Easter has always had significant meaning for me. A day that stirs my heart to think about what God did for us. For me. Amazing!

In my reflection, I wonder. Do I live a life worthy of the sacrifice? The beating. The torture. The nails. The thorns. Probably not but I am always moved to be a better person. The person, the child, God intended me to be. 

I was excited for Sunday. It was going to be a warm day. A sunny day. A day I consider to be perfect.  I was apprehensive to go to church. Everybody would be there. The entire cadet body  and staff would be there which meant the seat I usually sit in would be occupied by someone else. There would be visitors. None of which would know me or my story.

I slipped in late to the sunrise service. I had to stop for coffee :) I sat in the back not to draw attention to myself. I tried to avoid people in between the services. I didn't want to be bombarded with the question, "how are you doing?"

Easter will never be the same for me. For my family. There is another level of meaning. One of heartache and dare I say rejoicing. Doug is with Jesus. We should be jealous. But it is also bittersweet because we miss him so much in the physical.

The worship was awesome! It was the way I like to worship.  There were many "non-traditional" worship songs and I love that. I love to hear Sheena sing so sweet and pure. I was deeply moved. 

The theme was Love Wins.  Everything was based around the song by Marty Mikles for transMission entitled Love Wins. The words of this song spoke to me and the tears streamed down my face. Death is dead, sin defeated. Our God has won! 

The vision of Doug entering heaven, a perfect being, living eternity with our Savior was more than my mind could comprehend and that thought was so overwhelming. I could not contain the emotion.


photo credit: lauradake 

photo credit: lauradake 

In the end, when death has come and taken us away. And life is lived beyond the years no longer in death's sway. When time is over, these bodies worn, and we all shed this skin. This is how it ends, Love wins.

We will stand before God's throne, judged by the things we've done. Then, in His mercy, pardoned if we were known by His Son. And enter in the blessed rest for every victor crowned. This is how it ends, Love wins.

Go to transmission.virb.com to listen. Your heart will be blessed. Thank you Marty Mikles for your gift of music.

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

The words to this song keeps playing over and over in my mind. This song was sung at Doug's Celebration Service. I have been deeply affected by my brother's faith, life and death. It is so close to Easter and it seem no coincidence. The Easter story is such a moving story.

Today's devotion talked about how the Father raised His Son from the dead. Christ's work was complete. Sin and Death defeated. The grave is not our final resting place. There is a celebration that awaits us in heaven.

I can't fathom the love The Father has for us...for me. The last verse really tugs at my heart. It says,

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

 "How Deep The Father's Love For Us"

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


I don't have adequate words today to describe the emotions that fill my heart. It seems we are in the last hours or day of what would be Doug's earthly stay on this earth. God is preparing Doug's new home.

I said to a friend today, as stubborn as Doug has been to Nurse Pam about what he wanted or didn't want, she started to tear up. He has touched so many peoples lives. He will never know. My friend said, "He is a living testimony and will always be remembered for his strength and his faith and his stubbornness." She said she believed it's that stubbornness has in fact renewed my faith. And that because of that, my change has touched other people too, especially her.

She also said that soon Doug will be an angel. In my eyes, he already is.

The Hospice Chaplin came today to offer prayer and she read John 16:33 to Doug.

It made me think of the Jeremy Camp song, Overcome. I've actually been singing it for weeks now.

Seated above, enthroned in the Father's love
Destined to die, poured out for all mankind
God's only Son, perfect and spotless one
He never sinned but suffered as if He did

All authority
Every victory is Yours
All authority
Every victory is Yours

Savior, worthy of honor and glory
Worthy of all our praise, You overcame
Jesus, awesome in power forever
Awesome and great is Your name, You overcame

Power in hand speaking the Father's plan
You're sending us out, light in this broken land

We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb
And the word of our testimony, everyone overcome

Your Will, O God

In the devotional book Revealing Jesus by Darlene Zschech, today's devotional is entitled Your Will Be Done.  God doesn't force his will on us. He offers his unconditional love, but it's our choice to accept or reject it.

In the humanness of Jesus, he asked God if the cup that contained all sin, all evil and all the pain of mankind could be avoided. He didn't wait for a response. He knew his mission. He simply restated, "your will be done." Jesus showed us how to completely trust. He also teaches us the most important prayer we can utter: Your will, O God.

photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

I don't want to be selfish. Watching my brother fight for every day, every moment, every breath is so difficult to watch. Even though it's difficult I would not want to be anywhere else.

I watch this man whose funny loving spirit is inside of him but is masked by so much pain. I am afraid of the void he will leave behind. For a wife. A parent. A sibling. But I'm comforted to know that he loves Jesus! He prays constantly to God Our Father. Even in the pain and suffering. There is no doubt that he will see Jesus and look into his Glory. 

So through tears, a broken heart, I need to pray like Jesus prayed. Your Will, O God! 

A New Day Is Dawning

Fear can paralyze. Knock you to your knees. Sucker punch you square in the face. Take your breath away.

That's what happened yesterday evening. After a series of events my brother found himself frustrated, an elevated heart rate (170 beats per minute), unable to breathe, and I imagined scared to death. The ambulance came and transported him to Fair Oakes Hospital. They were able to stabilize his breathing (130 beats per minute) although still above normal but stabilized. Chest x-ray, ct scan and other tests were done. Fluids were pumped into him. Since Friday, swallowing has been difficult so he hasn't had much to drink and hasn't been able to take medication. His white blood cell count is high. Not surprising because he hasn't had treatment since January.

I asked my mom why hospice wouldn't give him fluids or a feeding tube but that isn't the job of hospice. They just make you comfortable and try to manage the pain. There is a part of me that thinks this quick decline could've been prevented. That there has to be a different level of treatment between chemo and hospice.

Maybe I'm grasping at straws or trying to blame somebody because I want my brother to live. Maybe God's plan is coming to fruition just the way He planned. I'm having a difficult time trying to understand why God, the loving God, the Healer, the worker of miracles, the God of second chances isn't saving Doug. 

I believe, God, I do. Doug has been brought to you time and time again. You gave him second chances. You give all of us second chances.  He came back to you, chased after you and loves you. Then out of no where...BAM...sucker punch.

I've claimed hope. I've been inked as a reminder but as a friend reminded me today, the greatest of these is LOVE.

Deep in my heart I know Doug will be made perfect when he gets to meet Jesus face to face. He won't be in pain and he will have his beautiful infectious smile on his face. But for those of us who love him here on earth are left with a deep void. God, help me see you in all of it. Help my heart so that it doesn't become hardened. Keep it tender.

So, today we wake up. Today is a gift. I can only live for today.  

The transMission song, All Things New, is playing in my head. It's amazing how much the music and lyric can speak truth and cause your heart to be stirred. Thank you to my friends that have the ability to hear God's voice and produce melodies.

photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

All Things New
Words & Music by Phil Laeger
Arranged by Marty Mikles

In early twilight when the day is breaking, edging out the night

My song will rise to You, my life will sing Your praise and breathe Your light

Your perfect love is like this radiance that warms the day anew

And I will join with all creation, singing, "Glory, God to You"

Your mercy and compassion

They are new every morning; a new day is dawning

Your faithfulness and Your tenderness

They are drawing me to You

And You are making all things

Your mercy and compassion

From time eternal Lord Your spoken Word brings everything to life

Your Spirit hovers over chaos, separating dark from light

While we were dead in sin, Your Shepherd voice was calling us apart

You shine the knowledge of the glory of Your Son into our hearts

Shine Your Son into our hearts