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Today is your birthday. Your earthly birthday. The day God chose for you to be gifted to us. We had 43 years celebrating you! Loving you in a very tangible way. With a hug. A kiss. Laughter that was so contagious! A passionate, opinionated, caring individual. God chose 43 years was all that we would have. He didn't want to wait any longer. He wanted you home and so now you celebrate your second birthday in heaven with Him and the people who we love that have also gone on to heaven.

There are days that seem still so unreal that you aren't here. I can't call you to hear your voice. To tell you how much I love you! To tell you that you are the best baby brother a sister could ever have. You are missed more than I have words to express but I have memories that will never be taken away from me. Even near the end, I can recall things that you said and did that make me laugh out loud. I love Doug! Forever in my heart!


I'e been wanting to share a moment I had this weekend. I'm finally able to jot down my thoughts.

On Saturday morning I was the photographer for the Territorial Men's Conference for the Salvation Army Southern Territory. It is strange being at a conference when you are one of three women but I had a job to do.

The speaker for the conference was Jonathan Evans. He was a college football player and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys. He is the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys, co-chaplain with his father Tony Evans of the Dallas Mavericks and a Christian author, speaker and pastor. You may be familiar with his sister Priscilla Shirer.

Sometimes when you are behind the camera, you are concentrating on capturing the moment and you aren't paying attention to what the speaker is actually talking about. I was sitting on the front row in the chapel. I know he was speaking about Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. He was talking about being thirsty.  You know, when you are so thirsty that a coke or any other kind of drink won't quench your thirst. Water is the only drink that can satisfy that thirst.

As I sat on the FRONT row, in that moment I thought of my brother. As he was dying, he would often tell us how thirsty he was. He had cancer that was taking over his body and shutting it down. He couldn't swallow very well. He was SO thirsty! He would suck on little sponge lollipops but even then the little bit of water that came off that sponge, couldn't get it past his throat. He would say, "I want my thirst quenched." It is very difficult to watch someone you love so much, in so much need and something as simple as a drink of water you couldn't provide.

I was fighting back tears but I couldn't make them stop. Being the photographer you are always on the move, so I gathered up my cameras and made my way to the balcony where my husband  was and so I could let the tears flow freely.

Later that weekend I talked to my good friend Judy who understands the cancer journey. She said that Doug's thirst has been quench by The Living Water himself. Jesus took care of his thirst for eternity.

I am grateful that God gave me the best brother I could have ever imagined. I don't understand why He wanted Doug more in heaven than I wanted him on earth but I know that Doug lives with Jesus in heaven today and for eternity. That is the greatest gift.

Jesus said, “Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst-not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
— John 4:14 The Message

The Giving Keys...HOPE

The Giving Keys is such a cool concept. You wear and embrace the words on these keys and then when the time is right you pay it forward to someone who needs the message more than you.

My key says HOPE. It is a word we embraced as a family during Doug's journey with cancer. It was a long journey but Doug said if one person came to know Christ through his experience than it would have been worth the journey. God healed Doug, not the way we wanted. We wanted to experience much more life making so many more memories. We love and miss him so much and there is a void left that can't be filled by anyone else, but God healed Doug...perfectly healed!

Doug lives in heaven with Jesus today and I have a hope...we all have a HOPE! One day, I too will live with Jesus, perfectly healed from my own imperfections!

Relay for Life

I can't believe that Doug has been in heaven for almost a year!

April 24th I am participating in a Relay for Life hosted by the American Cancer Society. I have mixed emotions. I want to participate and I want everyone to know what a fighter Doug was but I also know this is going to be harder than I think. Lighting a luminary with his name on it will be so emotional and at the same time I will be a very proud sister. I had never seen so much strength in such a physically weak body. Doug will always be the best brother a sister could ever have. He will always be my hero for living out his testimony in the crappiest circumstances.  

I want to make a difference. I want to raise awareness for cancer in general but specifically for Esophageal Cancer. If you want to make a difference in cancer research or you and your family have been affected by this dreadful disease I urge you to click on the link and consider donating.

Thank you for my friends (who are really family to me) for you contributions already. I love you all dearly!


We had #blackFriday, #shopSmall for Small Business Saturday, #cyberMonday and today #givingTuesday 

I donated to Stand Up 2 Cancer today ‪#‎su2c‬ in memory of my awesome, gorgeous, funny, amazing brother. He lost his battle with cancer in April 2014. He was 43 and died too young. He has left a void in our hearts and lives. I want a cure for this wretched disease that destroys lives! Let's make that happen and contribute to the cause to ‪#‎findacure‬ ‪#‎unselfie‬


If you would like to donate to this cause, follow this link

Thursday, March 13 | Precious Memories with Doug

It's been a while since I have put my thoughts to words and posted my memories from the week I spent taking care of my baby brother in March. I miss him so much. Sometimes I feel this is a bad nightmare and when I wake up everything will be the way it was but it won't. He is not in earthly form. I can't reach out and touch him or hear his voice. The joy and hope I have is that he lives in heaven. He walks and talks with Jesus. He is no longer in pain.


You had a restless night sleep. When I came downstairs you looked so tired. Your eyes so sunken and dark. I sat near you and we just looked at each other. No words exchanged. I told you it breaks my heart to see you in so much pain. How I wish this evil disease would be taken from you! I couldn't stop the tears!

Every movement is a struggle for you. I'm trying to be strong and keep it together. I don't want you to see me cry because you will say you're sorry for being sick and I don't want you to feel guilty. We are here for you and I'm not going anywhere.

I wanted to journal our week because I don't want to forget one moment spent with you...just you and me! I'm sitting here in the quietness, writing my thoughts, listening with headphones to worship music, watching you sleep, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Pastor Nate came today and I had a great talk with him. We talked about our family and what is was like growing up with you as my brother. Telling him how I always wanted to take care of you and how I use to worry about you. We talked about how you came back to Christ. How you wanted more and more of Him. How you loved Jesus and how strong your faith was. Even through this terrible journey. This dreadful disease. He prayed scripture over you. He prayed for you and Melissa and for our family. Special times to be treasured.

You sat up for a while this afternoon and we talked about a bunch of things, nothing in particular. It was nice to talk. We took a picture for mom with our hats that she crocheted for us. You look so different from when I saw you in January. You tried your best to smile. Still is a beautiful smile. You looked at the photo and commented about the way you looked. I don't think you had looked in a mirror in quite awhile. I said to you, with tears in my eyes that you looked beautiful! Although there is cancer running through your veins there is LIFE running through your veins.

Doug & Me | March 2014

Doug & Me | March 2014

At the time, I said I wouldn't post the photo. We would send it to mom because it would be special for her. I am posting it here today because you have always been a special boy. I honor your courage and faithfulness.  You will never know how many lives you have touched.


Pastor Nate told me you couldn't stop talking about me coming to visit you. You told me today you don't want me to leave. I don't want to leave you baby! I love you so much and I'm realizing just how precious time is!

I've been so emotional today. I'm not sure why today is any worse than any other day but I think part of it is that my time is quickly coming to an end for this time and I hate that. I wish I had adequate words to describe the love I have for you!

I was listening to worship music today and I came across this song called Come to Me by Bethel Music. This song really spoke to me today.


Tonight, Melissa and I had a "joy and liberty" party with BBQ Chicken Pizza. You were punchy. Making jokes and making us laugh. You make me smile Doug. I love to see the real "you" come up through the pain and frustration!

I love you sweet brother!

It's a Celebration

It's been a few days and finding the words are proving to be difficult. The viewing and service celebrating Doug's life took place Thursday and Friday. Traveled Saturday. Decompressing. Learning what it means to live life without Doug. Overwhelmed.

We are so blessed at how many people came to pay their respects. We saw people from years past. We saw and heard from people we went to school with. We saw people who didn't even know him but came to support me. I love to hear the stories.

I want to tell you a little bit about who Doug was. My parents talk about how he was a wonderful son and the bond that each of them had with him. He was a faithful and loving husband to Melissa. She loves her "Shnooks!" He was an awesome brother who taught me a lot about how to be strong and how relying on God is the only way to get through life.

He was raised to love the Lord. He was a prodigal for a time. Who hasn't been? He found Christ again and wanted to follow Him. He wanted to be the person God made him to be. God kept perfecting him. He wanted all of what God had for him. Doug's faith was strong. He lived out his faith. He was passionate and caring for others.

When Doug was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer, Doug and Melissa made a covenant decision that through this trial if one person came to know Christ it would be worth it. We have read and heard stories of people publicly recounting stories of their own faith journey because of Doug's example. One great story is one of their friends reached out to Melissa and asked where she could get a bible. Doug was still able to communicate so Melissa told him she was going to give her one of his bibles. This friend told my mother that she will never be the same because of Doug.

My brother had a lot of things. I wanted the afghan mom made him for his birthday this past January. He loved that thing and used it all the time. But more importantly I wanted one of his bibles. Melissa gave me the bible he liked to take to church. I was looking through it to see if there were any markings. I found a few that were dated around the time of his diagnoses. A passage from Psalm 119:153-156 was highlighted. He prayed this to the Lord just 10 hours before he found out the cancer was stage 4. His faith never wavered.

photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

Doug clung to Jesus. He knew that he was going to see Jesus! He is living in Heaven. He is perfect. No pain! His prayer was answered...he is at peace resting in the arms of Jesus.

We shared some great times these last few weeks. He made us laugh and smile despite the extreme pain he was in. I will treasure these moments for a lifetime. I miss him! There is a void left in this family. I love you Doug, with all my heart!

So we celebrate this life of Douglas Edward Hale III
A son, brother, husband, a child of God.

January 19, 1971 - April 8, 2014

photo credit: I Do Photography Inc.

photo credit: I Do Photography Inc.