One Year Ago

May 26, 2014

One year ago it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I wore my royal blue dress, and the kids wore blue kool-aid stains around their mouths.  I watched my nephews  run around and hide behind the headstone. I felt the sun warm my face and saw Claira talk to her Paw-Paw in heaven. We were all there. Our whole family sat on the green, cemetery grass to help mom celebrate her anniversary. As the tears began to steal from our eyes, mom spoke. She said 41 years ago this family was started, and she would have never dreamed of what the Lord would do with them. She told us of how thankful she was for us kids and for dad and the wonderful legacy he left behind. It was beautiful, and I don’t know how she could show so much of her heart and still have so much left.Together we sang a song. Together we grieved.  The Lord smiled on us that day. I think I left a little bit of the pain behind there in the graveyard that day.

Another year has gone by. Another anniversary is here. It is a little easier. The tears still fall of their own accord, but most of the time I can smile through them. I can look back and see the Lord. I can see Him walking with me through the last two years. I can see him binding up my heart, showing me the little patch of light to follow to get through the dark valley. I can see Him asking me to walk a little closer, to know Him a little more. He beckons to step out from the numbing darkness and to see this life in its fierce and cruel beauty. What were the sunrise if not for the darkness? What were the waking spring without winter’s icy blasts? What were my Savior without Calvary’s tree?

Today, as I think back down the path I’ve traveled, this beautiful song rises in my heart…..

  1. Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
    Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
    Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast;
    Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest”;
    Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest.”
  2. Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
    Naught as an off’ring to Jesus, my King;
    Only my sinful, now contrite heart,
    Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart;
    Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
  3. Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
    Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
    All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
    Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified;
    Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.
  4. Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last,
    Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
    Through endless ages ever to be
    Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
    Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Happy Birthday

May 18, 2013

Dear Daddy,

Happy Birthday. I sure do love and miss you. Right now I’m sitting on an empty beach, on a cloudy morning viewing yellow morning glories with the backdrop of rough waves crashing on the shore. It amazes me how such a hostile sea can be so calming and peaceful. You would appreciate its beauty. I rode your old purple Shwin bike out here to have a few minutes alone. Nathan fixed the inner tube and aired it up for me, so it is ready for more adventures; although it looks a little worse for the wear. I still remember you riding it all the way to church one Wednesday evening. It must have been at least 15 years ago. So many people stopped and asked if they could give you a ride, but your determined, adventurous spirit (or maybe it was just a stubborn streak) made you refuse the rides.

I believe I have a little of that spunk in me. I try to keep it hidden most of the time, but Nathan knows our secret. There are so many things that I have that came from you -a little spunk, a love for bluegrass and acoustic music, an appreciation for the depth and wonder of books. There are also things about you that I wish would develop: an amazing measure of faith, the ability to be a best friend and to give love to everyone that you meet, to minister through pain and suffering, but most of all your drive to never, ever, give up.

You kept going even after your last ounce of strength was gone. I want that mantle, Dad. I don’t want to quit. Like you, I want my last breath (even if it’s in pain) to be spent loving my family and friends. Daddy, I’ve never seen any one so physically weak that showed such mighty strength of spirit. I’m still learning from you.

You would be so proud of Mom. She has that same spirit. Y’all must have been made of out a different type of dirt. I think it must be all used up now. Mom just keeps on going. She has the best attitude. She sure does miss you, but she doesn’t let that stop her from loving people. Your ministry is still going strong. She is encouraging so many with her joy and happiness with her path in life.

We are selling our house. I wish you were here to talk about it all with us. There are so many decisions to make. I sure miss your advice and approval. I know you would be so proud of Nathan. You’ve always loved him. He’s taking such good care of me and Claira.

Claira still knows you. She loves to watch you sing from the campmeeting recordings, and she pointed to your picture when I was at Mom’s house and said, “that Paw Paw” with a big smile. The songs that you sang to her, when I was still carrying her, when she was a fussy infant in her swing, and even in the hospital when you were so weak you would barely talk, are so precious, and I’m so glad that I have some of them recorded. I wish she would be able to know you as she grows, but I am so thankful that you got to meet and love her. I was thinking the other night of when she was born, and how the night turned out so different than we had planned. You and Mom, Nathan, Bobby and Donna were there when I woke up to hear the news that she would be my only precious baby. My support team. My strength. Thank you for being there for me so many times.

Daddy, we all miss your prayers for us. It is so evident that they and your godly advice is gone. They were a solid anchor that kept us grounded. Now we are adjusting and frequently flying about with every wind. But I guess it’s time that we stand up. No longer can we just depend on you to intercede to the Lord for us. We must do it ourselves. I’m ready. Your example has blazed the trail. My wonderful earthly father is gone, but I have a Heavenly Father that cares for me even more, just like He did for you. Thank you for helping me find Him.

I’ve always been Daddy’s girl. You gave me such a strong foundation with your love, approval and confidence in me. We didn’t always have to discuss everything, but I could always feel the love and understanding in the warmth of your smile and the few words you would give.

Although I miss you so much my soul aches and often leaks out my eyes, I know that “As for God, his way is perfect” and I am so glad you are healed and healthy now.

Happy first birthday in Heaven. When I picture you there, I think of you as you are in one of my favorite pictures. I was around Claira’s age, maybe 2 or 3, and you were young and the picture of strength and health. You were squatting down next to me,  your blue lipped little girl, smiling. I know you are  young and healthy again, smiling, thinking of how much we all still love you down here, knowing that in heaven you are not bound by time, and it really will be just a little while and we will all be united.

Looking out on the horizon above the water, as those gray early clouds have broken to let the sun and blue skies in, I am trying to do the same thing. Heaven is just over that horizon!

I love you, Daddy. I’ll see you soon.

Cherish the Moment

February 6, 2013

“It’s Campmeeting Time!”

That how Bro. Bobby always starts out the meeting on Monday nights. We just finished our January meeting a few weeks ago, and, man, there were so many of us there thinking of Danny Hall. We really had a wonderful meeting, and the Lord used  it to really encouraged my broken heart, but it was also bitter sweet. This meeting marked a year since Dad has been at our church.

Dad was so very sick last year at the meeting. I spent most of those nights crying to Nathan and the Lord about how worried I was about him. But being sick never stopped Dad. He made every service; although, several of them he had to leave to go puke up his socks. Tough as nails-that man. He refused to let his body hinder him from serving the Lord. He would stumble back in, weak as a kitten, and carry on with worshiping the Lord (I can just hear his laughing and crying, the “wooooo” that signaled not a train, but the presence of the Lord stirring his heart). Bro. Danny had Mom and Dad sing several times that week, and the Lord touched them immensely. Just Dad walking up on the platform, looking so skinny and frail, was a testimony of God’s grace. It’s amazing how someone can break and strengthen your heart at the same time, but that was always Dad’s way, and that’s what was happening to so many in the congregation that week.

I was honored to be able to play along and sing with them that meeting (a lot of the times I’m in nursery, serving lunch next door, or staying home with Claira and her annual campmeeting bug, but this time I was able to be in on most all of the services). Friday morning God began moving in a quite yet powerful way. Bro. Jones had just finished exhorting on the death, burial, and resurrection of our lovely Lord (bringing out Old Testament truths and pictures like only he can), and we were called up to sing. We first sang “My King’s Apparel” and then “Thank You Lord” and that glory cloud gently continued rolling in. Please don’t think I’m trying to brag on us, because it was all the LORD. As we continued singing, Bro. Leroy Dalrymple was stirred and began what my preacher calls “exhorting.” Dad decided to sing “Happy Grand Reunion” (Bro. Leroy’s favorite). I was struggling the whole way though (aka embarrassingly crying like a baby). My heart was just so full; I was thankful at the Lord’s moving and especially him allowing me to be a part of it, but I was so broken over dad’s condition. My preacher, Bro. Danny, saw me having a hard time and came and whispered into my ear, “Cherish the moment, Carrie.”

It meant a lot then, but over time it’s come to mean so much more:

Cherish serving the Lord with your father, cherish being a part of this old time worship that is now so rare. Cherish the heritage that you have. Cherish the Lord’s touch and seeing with your eyes His power. What better memory could I have with my Mom and Dad than being used of the Lord with them?

“Thank you, Preacher. I’m still cherishing it.”

Stevebrownministries has been such a blessing in recording our camp meetings. Thanks for capturing this for us to enjoy over and over. It’s not quite the same as being there, but it is a glimpse into one of my treasured memories.

Dearest Friends,

As the Thanksgiving season approaches, I hardly know where to start. God has been so good and faithful and has been pouring out His tender mercies towards me. Forty years ago two messed up hippies got saved and were married on May 26th.  In our first year of marriage we became house parents of the juvenile home started by the Dyersburg Union Mission where our motto was: Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. How thankful I am for the many preachers down through those forty years who (through God’s leadership) were an influence and encouragement to Bro. Danny and me. From the start of our marriage, we had a desire to serve the One who had done such great things for us. We were very raw material for Him to work with, and I know we were a great disappointment on many occasions, but at least we kept pressing on by His grace.

Many ask me, “How are you doing?”  I answer, “For the most part pretty good. The Lord and His dear saints have been so kind and gracious and the prayers of so many are helping me I know.” However, my tears are always just a thought away. I can be driving down the road and have a thought of Danny and the tears start flowing. I miss his laugh and all the private memories we shared together.  One of my hardest days was trying to go to some yard sales. It was one of the things we most enjoyed doing together.  That day I had to turn around and go home. I miss Danny’s tender heart towards the Lord and others.

Last December we had the privilege to sing “Thank You Lord” at Cornerstone’s Mission Conference being backed up by Andy Leftwitch, the fiddle player for Ricky Scaggs.  What made it so very special was the Lord showing up and blessing hearts.  People were shouting, crying, and praying at the altar.  I think times like that is what I miss most of all. Bro. Danny always had a way of talking before our singing that opened up hearts, and then the Lord would come and fill them up. Precious Memories!!

I have never held a public job except for a few weeks of substitute teaching one year.  After Danny’s liver transplant (14 years ago), he had a bout of rejection. I was worried about what I was going to do if he didn’t pull through.  The Lord gave me a verse back then that calmed my fears: Romans 16:1-2   I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.  Now I know that I am no Phebe, but through the last 5 months I have been assisted by many.

Last February, the night before we went to see Bro. Danny’s liver doctor for the first time, those old fears came upon my heart again. The same old question arose: “What am I going to do if something happens to Bro. Danny?  My life as I know it will be over.” I looked down and there was a handkerchief that had the words: “There’s Hope” written on the corner of it.  The next day after leaving the doctor’s office, we passed a building with huge letters: THERE IS HOPE.  Later, in April, while Danny was throwing up blood in the emergency room, I was trying to find a place to park, and passed a building that had a sign two stories high reading: HOPE IS HERE   HOPE HEAL RECOVER LIVE.  I took these signs, along with some scriptures the Lord gave me, as evidence that Danny was going to get a transplant and that things would go on as before.  But looking back now, I see that the Lord was giving me encouragement that He was going to take care of me.  And Bro. Danny is healed forever now. One memory of him that I don’t miss is seeing him throwing up just about every day and feeling so bad.

I have been amazed at all the cards, calls, gifts, and prayers that have been made and given on my behalf.  It is hard to feel too sorry for myself when I have the support and love of so many. Most of the churches that had sent us support in the past have continued to send that same support to me. The Lord only knows what a comfort that has been to me. Liberty Baptist Church in Ohio has taken on my cell phone bill each month. Shady Acres in Texas paid my house insurance for this coming year. Praise God!  Arbanna Baptist Church in Arkansas is sending a team of workers in December to do trim work on Bro. Danny’s “Big Family Room Project.”

My home church, Calvary Baptist, has also been so very supportive.  Several men gave up their Saturday morning a couple of months ago and finished hanging sheet rock in the bedroom renovation that Bro. Danny had started but couldn’t finish. They also hung a brand new door and replaced some rotten flooring.  Another family volunteered to keep me in fire wood to keep the wood stove burning. This will save me a lot of money from my gas bill this winter.

My children have also been a great blessing to me. They are helping with a few of my monthly bills, and Nathan and his wife Stephanie, being the ones so close, have borne the brunt of my many needs around the house. We got an excellent deal on some hard wood flooring. The previous floor in the old living room had to be pried up in chunks with a crow bar. Danny Joe, Nathan, Stephanie, and I were involved with that nasty job. We hired our preacher’s son-in-law and son to lay the flooring, and another man from our church volunteered to seal it. The floor looks beautiful now, and I will move my furniture back in on Tuesday.

I had my first journey of faith (driving and traveling without Bro. Danny) in August. The Lord had called my dear friend, Bro. Earl Hughes, home and I felt a real need to attend his funeral. It had meant so much to me when so many came to Bro. Danny’s.  The Lord blessed my trip and showed me his faithfulness during my journey.  My first attempt to sing without Danny was in June at Shady Acres’ youth camp in Houston, Texas.  It was hard and shaky, but I got through it.  Since then, I have been doing my best to sing with the help of my friends. My voice is low, so I must change keys and find songs in my voice range.

I have been able to go to several meetings:  One in Delaware, one in Arkansas, and three in Alabama.  I will be going home with Carrie to Houston after Christmas and will be with her for about a month. While in Texas,  I will also be speaking at a ladies retreat at Bro. Phil Dunn’s church.  My last meeting this year will be the mission conference at Cornerstone in Carthage, Tennessee.

Other activities at home have kept me pretty busy.  I am making “gourd vessels” to sell for the support of my and Bro. Danny’s missionaries.  So far they have been doing pretty well.  I also have started a monthly Bible study at my home for middle aged ladies.  We’ve been having a good time of fellowship, and I am glad that the big family room is being put to use for the Lord.

I close with the “I have never felt so loved feeling” and with a very thankful heart.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sincerely, Dee Dee Hall

Thanks for trying, Dad.

August 11, 2012

“Tell your momma I’m sorry.”

“What, Dad?”

“I tried to stay a live.”

“Oh, Daddy. You’re doing okay…”

This was how my Friday morning began. I had stayed with Dad on Thursday night. We had a good time together, but not much sleeping was done. Can you believe that the nurses come in at two for test and procedures, and they actually gave him a bath at four in the morning?  And they tell you “you need your rest  now!” Yeah right, maybe if they gave us both some morphine!

I talked mom into staying in my hotel up the block with Claira and Dee,  so she could have a night in a real bed and hopefully get some much needed rest. Earlier that evening, after mom left I had put on my pjs, cozied up to dad in my hospital chair, and was so thankful I was finally where I felt like I needed to be. I was finally there with him. A few days before Dad had had a major set back, was on a respirator, and the first thing he wrote down to communicate was, “Carrie home?”

The week before I was on a one-year in the making Cox Family vacation-a five day cruise in the Caribbean. I was really torn on if I should go or not, but in the end the whole family was going, and this was to be the last time we were all on a trip together before Josh and Denise left for the mission field. Mom and dad encouraged me to go, and I promised to call often from the boat and even catch a flight from Mexico if it came to that. We did have a nice time, but all the while my heart was aching for my daddy.  The day we got back, and ironically my 5th and my parents 40th anniversary, it seemed the bottom dropped out. Dad was much worse, off the transplant list, on a respirator, the doctors were not sure of their next move, and possibly dad was just going to go home with hospice. My first instinct was to get home, unpack, repack, then hit the road. Thankfully my husband is more level headed than me, and talked me into waiting until we found a little more information before we just reacted, and he said I could fly up in the next few days either way. The weekend was very frustrating, because we kept hearing different results. It was over, let’s just go home, or his body might heal itself, and we can get him back on the transplant list once he gets back some strength. The next few days Dad improved, but before I got to the hospital from the airport on Tuesday, my brother told me he had had another set back and was back in ICU. Our whole week was up and down like this. It was so hard to try to stay positive and happy for dad, to have hope that maybe the Lord was helping him, all the while trying to prepare yourself for the worst. Trying to see what reality was, was impossible. It changed everyday.

It took a little while for mom to decide to stay away one night (Dad was a little clingy, and didn’t hardly want her out of his sight). But finally she decided it would be okay. (Although, later she told me she couldn’t rest that night either. She kept worrying about Dad, and just wasn’t able to really rest). I read dad a few Psalms, we talked some, and it just comforting to be there with him. Dad looked really bad, he was skin and bones, extremely yellow, and honestly my first thought when I saw him was You can’t come back from this. He really had the look of death. Whenever I would feel that way, I would try and concentrate on his hands. They looked the same. They were my daddy’s hand, still big and strong looking, whereas everything else was so very weak. When everything else about him had changed, it was his hands that I could hold on to.

Thursday was a good day. Before then, he was mostly withdrawn and didn’t really talk much, but that day we had some visitors (our dear friends from AR, the Wilsons) and he woke up while they were there and all of a sudden Dad was back. He was out of the bed with the physical therapist, sitting up in the chair, and talking up a storm. It was wonderful. He was so hilarious, and even spunky.  Mom said it was the most he had talked in two weeks. I think the good day that he had was the only reason mom finally decided to leave that night.

It was really amazing, one minute dad would be telling me a story, as clear and as “with it” as Danny Hall, the expert on everything, ever was, and the next minute he was telling he that he had it “figured out” about all the arrows that had fallen from the sky, the recon actions, and the terrorists working for the hospital. It would really throw you for a loop. With his liver barely functioning, it was unable to clear out the ammonia in his blood, and it built up, went to his brain, and fogged it up a bit. I think all the sci-fi books and movies he was always intrigued by were really coming back to him. But like I said, it was only for a few minutes, then his mind would be totally clear, and he would talk as clearly as he  always had. One of my favorite memories from that night was when I was on the phone with my husband Nathan, and I let dad say hello. He was asking about Nate’s cousin Kevin’s upcoming wedding, and then started telling him how he was “trying to figure out how the Russians hadn’t killed him the night before.” It was great. A little comic stress relief. That night he also told me that his rescue ship was there before, but he just couldn’t get on yet because of all the people down below. Talk about metaphoric speaking! At first I just thought of it as more crazy sci-fi about ufos or something, but as I thought about it later, I wondered if he was telling us about the Old Ship of Zion. He was just wanting to jump on board, but we sure weren’t ready for him to go yet.

We kept waking up through the night. Nurses were in and out, Dad was wanting this or that. The next morning I felt like I did when Claira was an infant waking up multiple times at night. I really didn’t see how mom could handle it. I was exhausted.  Dad told me around three, “Well, we made it through another night.”

I thought, This is morning…it’s not even light out. This is crazy! After a little while, we both rested a little more, and I was finally sleeping hard when dad woke me up yelling. I jumped awake and went to get a nurse. Dad needed a bed pan, and I sure didn’t want to help. I could tell that morning that he was down. He seemed discouraged. After a little while he was laying on his side and told me with sad, defeated eyes, “Tell momma I’m sorry… Tell her I tried to stay alive.”

I tried to reassure him that he was okay, that he had a good night, but I think he knew it had started again. That he had given it all he had. Little did I know he had had another bleed. I sensed the nurses weren’t telling me something, but I was just hoping that I was “worrying about everything too much.”

Shortly after mom came in, and I went back to the hotel to rest. A few hours later she called and told me the news…another bleed, too many complications, he just wasn’t strong enough. Dad was going home.

Dad’s last year was rough. He probably lost close to a hundred pounds, he was constantly throwing up- I mean almost every day. He was tired and weak, yet he worked harder than I’ve ever seen him on his house. He finished the big family room, and we all were there for Thanksgiving. Dad went back to the liver doctor, full knowing all the hardships, suffering, and pain that another transplant would bring. He did all this for his family, for his ministry, for his friends. He tried. Even though it hurt, even though he had no strength, even though giving up and dying would have been the easiest thing, he chose to fight for us. Thanks for trying, Dad. It means a lot, all that you went through for us.

The Hall Family Thanksgiving 2011

Bro. Danny and Mrs. Dee Dee Hall started coming to our church for special meetings including our missions conference, many years ago. They always brought the sweetest spirit along with them. Everyone loved to hear them sing and to listen to Bro. Danny’s stories about his old life, most of which where heartbreaking. He didn’t tell those stories to get people to feel sorry for him, but so that people would know how good God had been to him. My absolute favorite song of the Hall’s would have to be “I Just Want To Thank You Lord.” Knowing what they had been through and how much they meant what they where saying blessed my heart. No one could ever sing that song like them,to me. Every year I would hope to myself that they would sing it,  and as far as I know, they always did.My family and I have had the privilege of keeping the Hall’s in our home during our missions conference for several years. One year when they came my seventeen year old son was struggling. I think Bro. Danny picked up on it, because he spent a little bit more time with him than he did everyone else. He sat around singing, playing the guitar with him and talking. He even went hunting with him.He never said anything, but I’m pretty sure that this hunting trip wasn’t too pleasant, because he had stayed up really late and got up really early. I’m not sure if my son even remembers that, but I sure do.Every year when December would be near, my kids would ask if Bro. Danny and Mrs. Dee Dee were coming. They were so excited to find out that they were. Bro Danny always had a way of making people laugh. The funny story I would like to share happened this past December. My little girl has a manikin head. She got it so that she could learn to braid, curl, and fix hair.The doll is from the neck up, has real hair and looks very real.She[the doll]was laying on the couch when Bro Danny walked in the room. He took a look, grabbed his chest, and with big eyes said “Get that there  thang outa here.I thought y’all done cut somebodies head off.” The kids got a kick out of that, because it scared him so bad. Bro Danny will be greatly missed, but never forgotten! He and Mrs. Dee Dee are heroes to our family.We look forward to seeing you in December, Mrs. Dee Dee.We love you!!!!

Danny Joe Hall

July 23, 2012

First of all, I would like to thank Carrie Beth for getting this web page started.  I have been reading all of your posts and each one has touched my heart.  It means so much to know how loved and revered my Dad was to all of you.  I was the most privileged Hall kid (since I got to know him the longest).   I remember him in so many different ways.  When I was young and he was working construction, there were many times I got to spend the day with him riding in his old truck to run errands.  He would stop at the store and get me a Nehi peach soda (glass bottle) and we would enjoy the day together.  I remember looking over at him and his big arms and thinking nobody could be stronger than my daddy and how lucky I was that day to be with him.  He could build anything, fix anything, play anything, and he was my hero.  Later on in life (high school) he would sometimes drop me and Nathan off at school in the old truck.  It was mainly blue, but had rust and bondo all over it and we were starting to worry about our image.  He knew this and decided to honk his horn and yell out the window in front of all the other school kids and say “That’s my sons right here!! – The Hall boys.”  He was always doing stuff like that, but we knew he loved us.  One of the things I will miss the most is how he would find his way down to the altar and wrap his arms around you and thank God for you and pray with and for you.  He was my very best friend and I will miss him dearly, but I feel blessed to be his son and hope that I see him again very soon. “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”