Kip, Angie, Noah and Lily

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Romans 5:1

"I do believe, but help me not to doubt!" Mark 9:24

How do we know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning's here a little while, then it's gone. James 4:14

Dear Friends,

It feels like I have been in a race over the past few months. As you can tell by my pictures I don't run in too many races.. (obviously)! The races I have attempted always seemed like I started off trying to win the race but ended up just trying to survive to the finish! I think that is what the past few months of my life have been like. I have been just trying to survive Hogan's journey. The last turn Hogan took was on April 18th. I think the past few weeks have been my "recovery period". You know that time after the race when you look for water or maybe a banana and try to catch your breath knowing you have done something that was very difficult but that you finished. There is a mixture of pain and happiness in that moment. That is what I have been trying to do. I have been trying to catch my breath from an amazing ride that Hogan took us. God has used these past few weeks to let me catch my breath and to try and get refocused on life here on earth. I will admit, I have been distracted a little over the past few weeks as I have struggled to catch my "breath". Life is like a road race.

My last blog was a turning point for me again. I have been trying to figure out if God wanted me to keep blogging or not and if I was going to keep blogging, just how I was going to do it! I loved writing letters to Hogan and I wrote a couple after Hogan left to be with Jesus but it just doesn't feel the same. I have decided to keep the blog going and to keep updating what is going on with our families life now that Hogan has departed to a better place. It doesn't change the fact that it hurts like nothing else when I think about not being able to hold him or kiss him again but I try and step back and look at the "bigger" picture and focus on what God did and is doing through that little Warriors life! My prayer is that Hogan's legacy will continue to bring people closer to Jesus and to change lives for the better. I know he has impacted my life like nothing else and he is a reminder of just how precious we should take each day!

My job involves a good amount of travel and this morning I drove to Atlanta to go on a trip with a good friend and client of mine. The drive to Atlanta is not one of my favorite trips to make but it is a time when I can clear my mind. I started thinking about how fast life moves and how fast things change. Although it has only been a few weeks since Hogan passed, it feels like it has been a year to me. I was nicknamed the "paparazzi" at St. Mary's Hospital because I took so many pictures while Hogan was in the NICU. It was true.... because any time that Hogan got to be taken out of his isolette, I was there waiting to take pictures like photographers wait to take pictures of celebrities in Hollywood! I know the nickname was probably appropriate! I am so thankful that I got to take those pictures. I look back through them often and live those moments again in my mind. I know I can't go back to that time physically but I can almost get there mentally through these pictures. I have easily over a thousand pictures of Hogan and I still wish I would have taken just a few more!

I mention taking pictures because photography has always been a passion of mine. I helped out at a local TV station in middle Georgia about 15 years ago and loved it. Shooting camera shots and video is one of my favorite things to do. Hogan's life has inspired me to get back into this art. I have been able to get some great equipment and have learned many things from some talented photographers. I am also taking night classes at UGA this summer to try get better at this love of mine. I enjoy taking pictures of "things" but I love taking pictures of people and things together, especially sports or candid photography! I mention all of this because being in the hospital sitting beside and holding a little warrior like Hogan has made me want to be the best I can be in everything. I never really thought I had any talents but God has been able to open my eyes to a few possibilities that I want to pursue. The reason I love taking pictures is because it captures the moment. A friend of mine always says "make a memory". It doesn't matter what we are doing or where we are... he says "make a memory". I can't explain how much that "make a memory" comment comes to my mind every day. Life is about making memories and making an impact. That impact can be a good thing or a bad thing. I pray that I can make a positive impact and that God will use me like he has used Hogan. The moment a picture is taken, that moment will never be able to be brought back in real life. It is truly a memory. The people will never be that "old" again and that image will capture life at a moment in time that can be cherished.

I mentioned I like video too.... well, a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine in Atlanta called me about an opportunity to hear a story about an independent film that is being made here in Georgia. The meeting was going to be at his office to hear about it. I went because my friend wanted me to be there and because what he mentioned about the story was intriguing. I sat in a conference room overlooking downtown Atlanta and listened to the presentation. My heart was touched by the story. This movie sounds very interesting and I think it has a chance to change lives that will honor God. I will mention more about it as the production gets going later this year!

I started this post on Thursday while I sat in the Atlanta airport waiting to fly out of town and I am finishing it today, on Memorial Day. As I drove home yesterday I thought about how people are all different. As I drove down I-85 and looked around and it was hard to find 2 identical cars. I also easily noticed that not many people were driving the same speed or wanted to be driving the same rate of speed! Isn't it funny that if you are in a hurry and driving a little faster than normal everyone is driving too slow... but if you are taking it easy and someone comes zooming past you.... they were driving reckless. I believe that we are all living life at different speeds and in different ways through our own journey. Our relationship with Christ is personal. It is just like the car we choose to drive and the speed that makes up comfortable. We are all on our own journey! I am thankful for a great road map called the Bible. It's the perfect navigation system. The directions never change and never have to be updated. I pray that our journey will bring us closer to Jesus and that if someone doesn't have a road map or is lost that someone comes along and helps that person get back on the right path. I am so thankful for the friends that have helped me stay focused on our "Point".

I briefly mentioned how I travel often with my job. During this time when our economy is not strong. I am very thankful to be able to have a great job. I am also thankful that markets were calm during the Hogan's journey and especially while we were at the hospital with him. My partners and office staff were so great to me during my stay at the hospital. I never worried about anything while I was there because the common theme was "don't worry about anything, we are taking care of everything". They wanted me to enjoy every moment with Hogan. I am so thankful that I was blessed to have this opportunity. Hogan's life reminded me just how fortunate I am to have such a great office and great clients. It's easy to go through life and take things for granted sometimes. I am trying to never take anything for granted anymore. I had never tried to do this in the past but now it's even more of a passion.

I mentioned making memories.... well, yesterday on my way back to Atlanta I went through the normal routine at an airport. I checked my rental car back in to the company and then went through the ticketing process. I noticed as I walked up to the computer that a couple had walked up beside me with a beautiful little baby. I am not an outgoing person by nature so I didn't say anything to them but in my mind I was wondering if this baby could have been born the same day Hogan was born. I walked off to go through security and got a cup of coffee while I waited to board the plane. I never saw the couple in the airport after our brief encounter at check-in. It was about an hour later when the attendant called our flight destined for Atlanta to board. I couldn't wait to board the plane and get back home to see Angie, Noah and Lily. I walked through the aisle of the plane and looked for my seat. I was sitting seat 9B which is the one 2nd from the window and on the aisle of this particular small Delta jet. I looked over the right of me and noticed there was the couple that I had noticed at check-in sitting in seats 9C and 9D . They were already seated holding their little angel. Needless to say it was one of the longest plane flights of my life. It wasn't long in time but it was long because of my heavy heart. I glanced over at that little girl and imagined Hogan being in our arms. I imagined that Hogan would be the same size if he were still alive. I can't explain how bad I wanted to kiss and hold their little baby! It hurt me so bad and at the same time it warmed my heart to see this couple loving on their beautiful baby. I couldn't help it... when we had landed and were about to leave the plane, I asked the father how old their baby was... he said "3 months"... the baby was born on March 2nd. She was born exactly a month before Hogan. The couple was on their way back home in New Jersey after visiting family in Alabama. I told them that their baby was so cute and congratulated them. You could easily see the love for her in their eyes. They were "making a memory" in their life. I pray that we all "make memories" that honor God and that we enjoy life and live it with a passion that it might be our last day. Thanks for continuing to be on this journey with us.

In His Love,


Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's been over a month now...where do we go from here?

This is a picture of a drawing that someone did for us of Hogan in the hands of Jesus. A friend took a picture of Hogan off of this blog. We will treasure this forever!

Hogan holding my finger a few hours before he went to be with Jesus.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path you take. Proverbs 3:5,6

Dear Friends,

I wanted to thank you all so much for loving us and for loving Hogan so much.

I can't express to you how much your messages on this blog, the cards in the mail and the messages that have been sent through my facebook page have meant to me. I am having a really hard time figuring out what God wants me to do now that Hogan has gone to be with Jesus. I have started about 20 posts since Hogan left this world and I have only posted 2 of them! I don't really know why I can't write my blog post like I was doing over the past few months. It is a strange feeling because I get almost through with a post and then my mind just goes straight to Hogan and the hurt just rips my heart out and I can't post or finish the post.

I know that might sound stupid to many of you but I wanted to update everyone to let you know that we are picking up the pieces and trying to live in this world "after Hogan".
Angie and I went to the mountains for the night last night. It was the first night away our kids since they have been born (other than when Hogan was in the hospital). We probably needed to get away for the night but the moment we walked in the door tonight, reality hit! Noah and Lily both came running down the hall to say hello and to welcome us back home with smiles and hugs. The first thing Noah asked us was "did you bring baby Hogan home?". He assumed that we had been at the hospital with Hogan. I can't tell you how much it broke my heart to hear him say those words but at the same time those words made me realize the impact Hogan made on Noah as well. Noah loved Hogan so much and doesn't understand why he isn't here with us. The truth is that I really don't understand why Hogan isn't here with us now either. We will probably never know. All we can do is trust God like we trusted him during Hogan's journey while he was alive on this earth.

Thank you all so much for loving us through this time in our lives. We are so thankful for all of you.

I am going to continue to blog because my heart still feels the way it did in January when I started blogging. I don't know if this is for me, my family, a friend, a stranger or someone that might go through a situation like this. If one person can be touched by Hogan's journey and it brings them to a closer relationship with Jesus then it's worth it!

In His Love,

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Angie loving on Hogan in the NICU at St. Mary's in April 2010.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3 NLT

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26 NLT

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:10 NLT

Dear Hogan,

I wish I could have communicated this with you when you were in the NICU with me hanging out for our "guys night out". I miss you.

It has taken a little while to get through some storms that have come since you left this earth. We love you and we have our faith in Jesus. We are thankful for the time that we got to spend with you on this earth but it still doesn't take the pain away. Hogan, I know people go through so much worse events and we are blessed to have spent some special time with you. You are in Heaven. You have a perfect body. We know all of this but for some reason that "chamber" in our hearts is still empty. We are praying that God will help heal that hidden chamber.

I wanted you to know that the "Hogan's Heroes" children's library at Prince Avenue Christian School in honor of your life is in the works! Your mother and I are meeting with the school on Wednesday to see what can be done. We are so thankful for all of your friends that contributed or prayed for this to happen in your honor. There have been so many cards, notes, prayers, contributions to charities in your honor Hogan. You impacted so many lives and for that I am so thankful.

We will celebrate mother's day tomorrow here. I know it will be tough on your mom tomorrow. She misses you so bad. Your sister and brother have gotten her a surprise and worked on a card for her! I wish you could have been here to celebrate with us.

I have been thinking as usual about your life and remembering things about your journey. Since tomorrow is mother's day I started thinking about all mother's in general. I believe that to be a parent of a child is one of the most unbelievable gifts that someone can experience. My heart goes out to those that can't have children. I can't understand how a mother of a child or a father of a child can't believe in Jesus. All babies are miracles. The birth of a child and the development of a child is nothing short of amazing. I have had to visit the hospital a few times since you left this world and when I step back into St. Mary's it feels different. I can't really explain it but it feels different. There are so many mixed emotions. There are always babies being born and happy faces all around. I pray that parents don't take a healthy baby for granted. I know I did until last year. It makes me want to go tell them all of your story so maybe they will hold their baby a little tighter or love on them a little more than they might would have otherwise.

I will never forget Dr. Rosemond standing up on that Thursday afternoon in November of 2009 and telling us that you had some things on the ultrasound that concerned him. Hogan, it brings tears to my eyes to think back on that day. It was at that moment that your mom turned into a child in my eyes. She turned into your "papa's daughter". She wasn't my wife for a few minutes. I looked at her and I saw a little girl that's heart was broken. I will never forget looking at her on that table and my heart being broken. It wasn't only for her but it was for both of you. I had feelings that were so torn. I hurt for you and I hurt for your mom. I felt so helpless. There was nothing I could do but pray to God and try and comfort your mother.

I had the same feeling the early morning hours of April 18th. Hogan, when you passed away, your mother turned into that little girl again in my eyes. She held you for a long time after your heart had stopped and your heart stopped beating. She kept talking to you and holding you tight. You looked like a baby doll in her arms. It was only a few hours later that we were home and Lily was awake. She was walking around the house with a baby doll. Hogan, it is just one of those things that most women are born to do and that is to love a child. In my mind I thought back to your mom's early years and how she probably did the same thing. Your mother is a special woman. She is a gift from God. I pray that all mother's will be honored and treated special tomorrow and I pray that all mother's realize the gift that they have been given.

I hope that all the mother's that stumble across this blog have a great Mother's Day tomorrow and every day after tomorrow!

I love you.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Remembering the ones...

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalms 34:18 NLT

Dear Hogan,

It sure is strange typing these letters with you not laying in front of me in your isolette in the NICU at St. Mary's. The more I think about your life and your journey the more amazed I am. You helped me realize just how big of a God that we serve. I heard somebody thanking God for all of the great things that were going on in their life recently. They finished there statement with "God is good". What if things weren't going so great for someone? Would that same person name off all of the bad things that were going on in their life and say "God is not good"? I would hope not! God is good all of the time. It doesn't mean that just because you are a believer that you won't have any problems. It doesn't mean that you won't have a baby and have that baby die of a condition called Trisomy 18 or something similar. It doesn't mean that you or someone you love won't be diagnosed with cancer. Hogan, I love you and miss you so much but God is good. I don't understand why some things happen and probably never will but God is good.

I wanted to let you know how honored we were that Mrs. Peacock spoke of your life at the March of Dimes baby walk here in Athens on Friday night. Angie, Noah, Lily and I were there to support the event and to honor your life along with the other babies. You would have loved being there! Many of your friends from St. Mary's were there along with Hairy Dawg, some big bear and a dinosaur from Publix... he was Noah and Lily's favorite!

I have been thinking back on your journey. Hogan, we honestly weren't planning to have another child. You were a surprise to us. I remember your mom was having some thyroid problems. I went to Kroger to buy pregnancy tests one night to see if it was thyroid or baby!?! The test confirmed it was a baby! We were shocked at first. I honestly thought nothing but negative thoughts for the first couple of hours. I am so sorry for thinking about the long term and all of the responsibilities that come with another child. I think it is natural for a man to think that way but it's no excuse... I should have been thankful from the first moment! I walked into the living room and just sat there for a while. I was so overwhelmed. I told Angie that we would have 3 kids in college at the same time. I told her that we would have 3 of this and 3 of that.... I was so selfish in my thought process. It didn't take long for Angie to open my eyes. She said "honey" we aren't guaranteed anything in life. We might not be here for the birth or for college and our kids might not be here either. We can't assume anything. Hogan, I thank God for your mother opening my eyes. It was at the moment that I realized she was totally right. It was a turning point for me. I also thought back to the Hotel Indigo in Scottsdale, Arizona. I thought to myself, God might use this little baby for a special purpose. I had NO idea how special this baby (you) would be. My thoughts soon turned from nervous fear to thankful anticipation. I thought that it would be nice to have more diapers strolling through the house. I also thought that God was going to let me enjoy this birth because I was not able to enjoy Lily's birth as much because I was preoccupied with the death of your grandad (my dad). It turns out that God did allow me to enjoy your birth. I never took one moment for granted. I pray that I will never take any moment for granted again. You are always on my mind Hogan.

I also think back on many things that were interesting along the way. A friend told me one day that although we pray for healing at certain points that death always comes back. It's temporary healing that we pray. Another comment that I thought was interesting was... isn't it funny that all of the abortion supporters weren't aborted. I have never heard from one child or adult that was aborted to hear how they stand on the issue. I have said this before and I will say it again, I am thankful that our family gave you a chance and we are so thankful for the memories and the life lessons that we have learned from God through you.

I thank God for you because now I can remember the one's like you. I can enjoy the "ones" that I talked about in my first blog and I can also relate to the families so much better. I wasn't comfortable for whatever reason with "ones" before you were diagnosed. I have no idea why that I wasn't but it's not that I didn't want too... it was just uncomfortable for me. Hogan, you rocked my world and turned that feeling upside down (thank God!). I now see true beauty. It isn't the people that are on the front of national magazines. It's ones like you! I am not saying that there aren't great people on the front of those magazines but it's just that you never see the "ones" like you! Your story is special. God used your journey for good.

Noah and Lily love looking at your pictures around the house. They love you so much.

I miss you and will always love you Hogan.