Eatonton, Georgia

I’m a city girl at heart. I didn’t grow up in a big city but having lived in Washington DC and Atlanta, I have enjoyed all that a big city has to offer.

Yesterday we travel 90 minutes east of Atlanta to Eatonton on Lake Oconee for a beautiful wedding. When we were driving to the church, we drove through the center of town where there was a huge festival happening on a perfect day. The church was exactly what I expected.

It was great spending time with friends celebrating love.

 

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laurajdake  

laurajdake  

A Story of Hope

A week and a half ago I was taken to the ER by ambulance. I was prescribed what I thought to be a normal antibiotic but my body was not having it. It started to reject it and put me into anaphylactic shock.  

At the hospital the doctors couldn't believe that a simple antibiotic would do this to my body. My white blood count was four times the normal number. Fluids were being pumped into my body by an IV along with Benadryl, nausea medicine etc. A chest X-ray and CAT Scan were also ordered. The ER nurse administered an EPI pen, into my arm and not my leg, and the result was less than favorable. The needle hit the bone and bent. A numbing agent was shot into my arm so they could get the needle out without me screaming my head off. 

Finally around 1am, I was taken to a room so the nurses and doctors could watch over me. They continued to take my vitals and give me fluids. I stayed all day the next day. They wanted me to eat three meals. They wanted to make sure my system was getting back to normal. I was exhausted for the next week. This ordeal zapped the life out of me!

The other part of this story is my husband was out of town in North Carolina and my parents were on vacation in Florida. Luger was home by himself all day long. I was leaving work early because I didn't feel well so my boss thought I was already home. I texted Mrs. Mockabee to tell her what was happening and her secretary, Ruth was still there so she came to my rescue. The Mockabee's turned right around and came back to the office. 

So many people helped us and I can't begin to thank them for being selfless (and I hope I don't leave anyone out. I was out of if for a while.) The Mockabee's who stayed with me until Bernie arrived and saw me at my worst. I owe them a lot! The Westmoreland's for giving Bernie their car so he could drive from NC. Brad and Emma who helped with Luger. Chris and Meagan who came to my house to sit for hours so that Luger wasn't alone. Sunshine who was at the ready, waiting to see where she was needed. Melody Rowland for coming by the hospital to pray with us. The Argot's who provided food for us to eat when we got out of the hospital. There are so many more that I'm sure I don't even know about but especially for the texts, calls and for the prayers. Wow! I am blessed and felt the love. 

On Thursday morning while the nurse was taking out one of the IV's I had in my arm she saw my hope tattoo and said, "that's a nice reminder." I was able to share my testimony and tell her about my brother. I was able to share our story about hope. Even though the outcome wasn't what we wanted for Doug, God's plan is greater. Our hope is in Jesus and Doug now lives in heaven! Praise the Lord! I shared with her the bible reference that Bernie and my father have on their arm...Jeremiah 29:11

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Later that morning my nurse Rita, came back to my room with Mara, my day nurse. She asked me what that reference was and she opened the bible app and read it out loud. When she finished she looked up and said, "that is cool."

This  experience was awful and I hope I never experience it again but I am so grateful for the people in my life who love me and for the opportunity to share my story of hope.

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For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah29:11 [NLT] 

Two years...

2014 was one of the hardest years I have experienced in my life. It was full of loss. Learning how to pick up the pieces and go on with life because life doesn't stop. The grieving process begins.

Two years ago on this day Osa crossed the rainbow bridge as they say. I like to think that she is in heaven. :) My heart was so broken but I knew that I did everything in my power to give her the best life she deserved. She lived a long life according to German Shepherd standards and she couldn't have been loved any more than she was. 

We miss her so much. We remember you everyday. We we always love you sweet girl!

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For Good...

We went to NJ and NYC for the weekend for a wedding of very good friends. I should say family! Sunday was a free day. We took advantage of being near NYC so we went to the Gershwin Theatre to watch Wicked...on Broadway! It was so good, amazing seats and great company. There is something about watching a show on Broadway. 

Have you ever seen Wicked? This is the precursor to the story of the Wizard of Oz. One of my favorite songs is called For Good. It is a farewell song between Glinda (the good witch) and Elphaba (the wicked witch of the west.) I sat there in the theatre with tears streaming down my cheeks. I have been thinking about Doug. It has been a year and 5 months. Hardly believable! The words struck a chord in my heart. Especially the second verse. 

I've heard it said, that people come into our lives
for a reason bringing something we must learn.
And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them.
And we help them in return.

Like a comet pulled from orbit, As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder, halfway through the wood.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but because I knew you.
I have been changed for good.

It well may be, that we will never meet again
In this lifetime so, let me say before we part,
So much of me is made of what I learned from you.
You'll be with me, like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend.


Like a ship blown from it's mooring by a wind off the sea.
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird in a distant wood.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you...I have been changed for good.

This person. My brother. My friend taught me so much especially the last few years of his young life. He especially taught me how important faith is. That our hope lies in Our Father Jesus who created us in his image. I will never forget my brother telling me we need to pray for peace and I told him I wasn't at peace. I was upset with God for wanting him more than I did. In that moment Doug prayed for me. 

My heart is forever marked by Doug's handprint BUT more important is the mark on my heart from God's own hand.  

Photo Credit: lauradake New York Skyline | Eagle Rock Reservation 9-11 Memorial

Photo Credit: lauradake
New York Skyline | Eagle Rock Reservation 9-11 Memorial

#NationalDogDay

It has been a year and half since our girl went to "doggie heaven." We miss her so much and on a day that is "nationally" set aside for our four legged babies, how could I not think of Osa. I love how dogs infiltrate you life and heart. You will always be in my heart Osa and I will never forget how you affected my life. 

Photo Credit: Digital Memories by Debbie Koehler 

Photo Credit: Digital Memories by Debbie Koehler 

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

Happy Birthday!

Forty-four years ago, my brother Doug was born. I remember as my brother was learning to speak that I would answer my mother's questions for my brother. You know, just helping him out. I always wanted to take care of him...make sure he was ok. Our lives were full of crazy times with this guy! 

He was funny and had a smile that would light up a room. A beautiful soul inside and out! 

He was determined, matter of fact and shared his opinion with you whether you wanted it or not. He was passionate. 

He was smart! He could work through a situation and make it happen. He still was proving that to us in the last week of his life. He needed a way to hang a flashlight, even though he didn't need it because we left a light on all the time but in his mind he did and was determined to hang it above his bed with his morphine so he could reach it any time. Bring out the 3M hook, paracord and slip knot so it was adjustable.  

He was brave! Let's be honest, I would not have handled being told I had stage 4 Esophageal cancer the way Doug did. I don't know how he did it. Through the coughing, the pain, the sickness, praying that if one person comes to know Christ it will have been worth it. 

Today, I miss you just as much as I did April 8th, when you left the people who love you on this earth to enter the arms of Jesus. January 19th will always be the day that we received the beautiful gift that was you! Today is your first birthday in heaven and it's probably the best party you ever received. 

I miss you baby brother and I love you so much!!

 

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Time goes on and stands still

I was talking to a friend this past week. Her husband has Esophageal Cancer too. We were sharing with each other and I was talking about Doug. I started counting the months.  May, June, July...October...WHAT??!! Six months have past and our lives haven't been the same.

Hands tell our story...

Hands tell our story...

Hands tell our story. Sometimes they are smooth and soft. Others times they are rough and dirty, marking the hard physical work. Doug's hands used to be dirty...all the time. He always did rough manual work with his hands. For many years he was an automotive technician. He worked hard fixing cars. Taking them apart and putting them back together. A side note: even as a kid he took every thing apart and put things together. He had to see how things worked. He was so smart at his craft but he didn't want to work in the car dealership world. In fact he hated it.

For many years he was up in the air about what he wanted to do. He drove tow-truck. Hard work with his hands, late hours, dangerous. He worked at Sears as a washer repairman. He hated that job but it was a steady job and he made a decent wage. 

The makeup of his hands changed once he stopped doing hard and rough work. They became softer and cleaner. The same happened to his heart. For many of those years he was doing what Doug wanted. Scratching and holding on. Wondering when he would catch a break. So many people prayed for him over these years. But one day his heart also became clean and soft.

He was living life finally the way God intended. Then the diagnosis. Cancer. Stage 4. A new journey. He loved Jesus and his prayer was that if one person came to know the love of the Savior, then this journey would have been worth it.

This picture of my hand touching Doug's is a precious memory for me. The night before I stayed all night with him taking care of whatever need he had. That night he was struggling to quench his thirst so he was having some anxiety. He said, "I need you to pray for peace and calm." I said that I would. He said, "I mean now!" So we prayed that we would experience the peace and calm of Jesus presence. I needed that prayer just as much because I was not at peace. I was so angry that God wanted to take him home when what I needed was for him to stay here with me. Our family needed him more.

This photo tells a story of a sister's love for her brother. How one human being cares for another when they can't take care of them self. It shows soft hands. Fragile hands. Strong hands. It resembles the peace and calm that is ours when we rest in the love of Jesus.

I don't care who reads this. I don't write these very personal memories for likes or comments. I've always kept personal emotions private. Letting others in as far as the wall I have put up. But my life has changed because of my brother's witness. I will never be the same. I think writing as little as it may be, is therapeutic. My heart hurts every day. I miss him every day. I think about him every day. But I want people to know there is a hope.

I still think you were taken away too soon. This past six months has gone by fast and at the same time, time has stood still. I know you are in heaven. You are healed and I know you wouldn't want to leave heaven for this broken world.

I love you Doug...more than words.