This boy has my heart.

He is a strong being...physically and in will but on the other hand can be the sweetest boy. Wanting to be in the same chair as you on your lap. Let me remind you he is at least 75lbs but I don't care! 😘

I have to admit that I could have given up on him many times in the being training phase of life because he tests my patience to the very limit. I can't compare him to Osa. They are on complete opposites of the spectrum.

After being gone for 13 or so days we have a new bond. Maybe he's just growing up and moving out of puppy stage but I'll take it!

📸 : lauradake

📸 : lauradake

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 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!


Last night my 98 year old grandmother had a heart attack. When I scheduled a post for Ministry Toolkit yesterday I had no idea that my prayer last night would be to sincerely pray...Dear Lord, your will be done.

Some would say she has lived a long and happy life and I would agree but I'm selfish and I don't want God to take her just yet. I love this woman! She is a wonderful Christian lady who loves the Lord with all her heart. She has lived a very long life and probably out live the rest of us in terms of years on this earth.

I am grateful that we saw her at Christmas. As you get that old you fear the days are numbered. Today, as a granddaughter, I pray for healing and restoration of her weaken body but I will continue to pray that the Lord's will be done because He knows best.


UPDATE: Monday 3-3
Bernie's parents visited Grandma and they said she has been sitting up, had lunch, she alert and interactive. The doctor has described her as having a mild heart attack and will have a catheter placed tomorrow at 10am. Please be in prayer for this dear lady and our family.

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!


Last week I was on Instagram and I came across a photo in my news feed from @ShutterSisters They were starting a new project #GiftingGrace inspired by the authentic and abundant beauty of Bella Grace Magazine. The idea is sharing and dedicating your own grace inspired photos with a community of people you want to encourage and inspire. All you have to do is tag your post, dedicate, tag and share.  

 This is easy! It is the anniversary week of my brother's entry into heaven. I could choose any photo of him. His story is profound and has touched so many. As I was looking through my gallery of photos, I cam across this one of my grandmother who just celebrated her 98th birthday. The matriarch of our family. This woman who loves Jesus. A woman who prays for us. A woman who will hug you harder than anyone I know (Except for my dad. I guess that's where he gets it from. :) ) She is amazing!

This photograph was taken after the celebration of life service for Doug. Her grandson, 43 years old. My aunt drove from Wisconsin to Ohio to pick up grandma and drove to Virginia so that she could be there to celebrate with us. She has outlived her husband, her two daughters and her grandson. I love this woman and I wanted to celebrate her.

Grandma and Me

Later that day, Shutter Sisters send me a note congratulating me on winning a copy of BellaGrace Magazine and my image is featured on the Shutter Sisters website. They said my image was gorgeous and thanked me for for #GiftingGrace.

I was pretty excited and in honor of a wonderful lady. My grandmother. 

Love you Gram!

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!

Tuesday, March 11 | Precious Memories With Doug

You slept most of last evening, Melissa went to bed late. I was on my way to bed too but you were awake and wanted someone to sit with you. You said to me, "is it selfish of me to ask you to stay up?" I told you I was here for you and I would do anything for you. We watched TV until 1:30am and I thought you were asleep but you weren't completely asleep. I tried to be quiet but those bells on the door gave me away. You called out for me. You were so worried about me and you wanted to make sure I was OK. You make me smile!

Nurse Pam came this morning to change your needle and check you out. She is a nice lady and she demonstrates grace and mercy. I am grateful she is the one sent by God to take care of your medical needs.

You have been quite alert today. We talked a little about how you apologize for being sick. You thought Melissa was upset with you but she wasn't. We talked about how Melissa took vows with you...for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. She takes care of you because she loves you so much. Sometimes she has not so good days and sometimes you don't have good days but it's finding a balance and being patient with each other.

I know thoughts can sometimes weigh you down. We cannot imagine how you feel physically and that can cause your mind to go into overdrive but we are here for you as strength.  We are on this journey together. There isn't anything we wouldn't do for you. We will not stop praying for a miracle.

So now you rest. So peaceful. Watching your chest move up and down. Breathing. That means life. For your life, I am grateful!