Married 26 years, “‘Til death do us part” came much too soon for Houston’s First members Dawn and Jim Douglas. During his six-year struggle with ALS, the church held them close with encouragement, counsel, and support. Milestones classes that Dawn began attending during MidLink on Wednesday nights at Houston’s First offered lifelines of friendship and healing as well as a new perspective and outlet for dealing with life and loss.
Dawn and Jim served in ministry at Houston’s First throughout their 26-year marriage. “I was a new member when I met Jim,” said Dawn. “He was teaching a class for new believers. After a short time, we were married in the Chapel.”
When Jim was diagnosed with ALS in 2010, Dawn had been directing a second grade class in the FirstKids Children’s Ministry. As the disease progressed, Dawn had to back out of leadership, but continued to worship on Sundays at The Loop Campus. Haley, the youngest of three daughters, opted to stay home to be a help to her parents instead of going away to college. After volunteering on Sundays with preschoolers, she was hired to join the Preschool care staff for Life Bible Studies and MidLink activities on Wednesday evening.
The first Wednesday night class Dawn attended was during the latter stages of Jim’s life. Studying the Psalms got her hooked on attending more Milestones classes. “Nancy Taylor’s journaling class was a place I felt cared for,” said Dawn. “The small group was warm and felt safe.”
Journaling led Dawn to “Writing Your Story,” a Milestones class for guiding participants to chronicle their testimonies and spiritual journeys. “The poetry and Scripture we heard in class encouraged me, and journaling helped me to get out my feelings of grief,” she said.
Jim passed away at age 62 in October of 2016. Many ministries’ staff and volunteers surrounded them and shared the couple’s burdens during Jim’s long illness, and for that, Dawn is grateful.
“From our Pastoral Care Ministry to my Stephen Minister who came alongside me to the Men: Serve volunteers who kept our car running — they were a lifeline to our family spiritually, emotionally, and practically,” she said. “Learning to share my story continues to be a part of healing.”
She has even more to say about the God of peace who led them through a very dark night and continues to encourage and guide Dawn as a new widow.
“The Lord has been my everything,” she said. “I feel more and more encouraged as I’ve learned about praise and worship in the Psalms. I’ve learned to tell my story, and if there’s any beauty in it, it’s because He is a beautiful God.”