Happy birthday!

Today you would’ve turned 48 years old.

2019 also will mark the five year anniversary of you going to heaven! How can that be?! I wonder what your days look like in heaven. I can’t even imagine.

You are so loved Doug! Your fun loving spirit was so infectious…even as a little boy! You were the best brother that God could’ve given to me.

Love you and miss you so much!

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Thanksgiving 2017

We drove to Ohio for Thanksgiving to be with the Dake/Marshall clan. It is a long drive especially when you have a crazy anxious 70lb German Shepherd in the back seat coupled with standstill traffic! Yikes! 

We had a great time being together for the few days we were there. When you are there for just a short time you try to do everything you can in a little bit of time you have. 

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Thanksgiving 2017

Bruce, Noah, Doris, Ron, Becky, Bernie, Laura & Luger

 

Wednesday was a great evening spent with Bernie’s siblings, nieces, nephew and grandniece! Our niece Liz and her husband Eric revealed to us that they were having a boy and his name is going to be Nolan Ellis! 

 

We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal served by the hostess of the century...Doris (Mom Dake) with a surprise for Dad...a graham cracker cream pie from his favorite place in Hornell NY. Bruce, Bernie’s brother, was very thoughtful and went out of the way to pick it up. It was a great surprise and we were all able to share it. ;)

Our niece Jen brought over the newest “grand pup” so that Luger could meet him and have a play date. Luger was very good with him and Aspen wasn’t so sure. But someday in the very near future, Aspen will be bigger than Luger. It was so much fun for me. German Shepherd pups are my fav! 

 

We spent half the day in Wooster, first at Sure House coffee with the family. I loved this place! Quant, modern, great coffee and AMAZING #cretzels They are a croissant pretzel filled with chocolate or cinnamon sugar. Oh my! I need to learn how to make those! Later that afternoon we had lunch with our friends Brett & Jessica and their family at Gouda Bar & Grill. Great time catching up. Thankful they had some time to spend with us because they are Salvation Army officers in Ashland OH. 

Saturday we left to go back home. We drove all they way taking turns driving. Grateful that we beat the holiday traffic. 

All in all a great time with family.

P.S. Thanks for the venison Ed! ;)

P.S.S. I missed my family!

Birthdays and Time

This is my last year in this decade. How did it come so fast? Three years ago...THREE, I spent the week with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother's health had deteriorated quite rapidly since I had seen him the Christmas before. My parents had been staying for weeks at a time but the week of my birthday it was me that was going to help him while Melissa went to work. 

We spent precious moments in that little apartment. Quite moments. I watched him constantly. Staring at his chest while he slept. I was afraid that I might not see his chest going up and down. I watched him struggle to do easy tasks. Things that you don't even think about. Do you think about moving your leg before you start walking? I don't. I just start walking. He couldn't do any of it. He would get frustrated and I tried to be the voice of patience. Which quite frankly is hilarious. I am the least patient person. 

Because he would get frustrated, we had a pact. We would be patient with each other. Beautiful moments spent together! Being there with him was the greatest gift. 

Time though...it doesn't stand still. It is always in a constant forward motion.

There is a song from the musical Wicked that when I here it, tears usually well up in my eyes. It's called For Good. Because I knew Doug and was fortunate enough to love him and be loved by him, I have been changed for the better. The struggle was real and painful but anyone who knew him was changed for the better. He lived out his testimony and because he had a relationship with Jesus, he lives in Heaven today and for always!

It's weird to think I am almost in the next decade. I don't feel old. I guess it's just a number. I cherish my friendship and relationships of those people I get to do life with.

The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

For Good
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
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

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 re-written mine
By being my friend...

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

Page 19 of 365

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!

Happy Birthday Doug!

Today is Doug's birthday. I imagine we would have had a huge celebration for the milestone of 45 years. Instead, my parents and I will have dinner together and probably share stories of this individual that infiltrated our hearts and lives forever. My words will be inadequate for the love that I feel for Doug but I will do my best.

Forty-Five years ago God blessed this family with Doug. Douglas Edward Hale III. Three years younger than me. I always felt the need to take care of him and speak for him as he was learning. As you grow up you learn understand that you can't do everything for them but you have to learn things on your own. 

One time, as part of a bible study group, I was asked to write down three characteristics of my immediate family. I wrote these words December 9, 2013. The three words I chose for my brother were...Brave, Funny, Determined.

He was BRAVE. He took cancer head on and knew that he need to rely on God's strength. Some days were harder than others. Some days he had questions and felt like he wasn't getting answers. God had answers and they weren't the answers I wanted to hear but God's plan is greater. I know without a doubt that Doug boldly approached the throne of God on April 8, 2014.

He was FUNNY. He made me laugh. He had a smirky smile that you couldn't help but laugh and smile yourself. I remember having laughing fits at the dinner table that would totally get us into trouble. I'm sure he always started it because he always was an instigator. I still look at his pictures and I still smile even though sometimes it is through tears because I miss him so much.

He was DETERMINED. He had opinions and he was determined for you to hear them. He knew how to do so many things. He was smart and knowledgeable. He knew what he wanted and nothing held him back from getting it. He was determined to win souls to Christ and cancer pushed him even more to get that message across. He was determined to be faithful to God through ANY circumstance.

There is a song entitled And Can It Be, every time I hear these words I can't contain the emotion. I always wonder what it was like when Doug approached the throne clothed in righteousness and with boldness to claim his crown. 

No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head, And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
— Charles Wesley, 1738

I love you Doug! I miss you as much today as the day you left this earth. You will always be in my heart and your memory and testimony is etched deep in my brain. Thank you God for giving us this special gift in Doug! Our lives have been forever changed because we knew him.

Photo Credit: Family Photo taken by http://www.digitalmemoriesdk.com/

 

Through it all

Today was the wedding anniversary of Doug + Melissa. I remember how beautiful that day was. A gorgeous fall day in Virginia. Perfect.

Fast forward to today.  No one...I mean NO ONE ever thought that a few short years later the Lord would call Doug home, to live with him in Heaven. Who on their wedding day thinks that you won't have a lifetime together, having a family, traveling the world together, growing old together with this person you love more than anything? But here we are. Wishing we had more time with our husband, son and brother. Making memories and growing old together as a family.

This morning, I was listening to Bethel and one of my favorite songs came on called It is Well. I have to believe and trust that God knows better than me his perfect plan. I am so happy that Doug knew the love of Jesus and trusted him.

 

Listen to this song. Continue to pray for our family.


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!