Sweet Redemption – Happy Birthday Little Sister!

By on July 19, 2018
Sweet Redemption - Happy Birthday Little Sister!

By Carol Doyel –

There are some people who leave an indelible mark on your life. My sister is one of those people in my life. She’s no longer with us but she is etched in my heart forever.  Sadly, in December 2007 she was found dead in the mountains in a hot-spring.

The last person to see her was a boyfriend of three months who was suspected of killing her but due to severe weather conditions and circumstances they didn’t want to press charges. The detectives told us that due to “double jeopardy” they didn’t want to go to the grand jury without sufficient evidence and at that point all the evidence was circumstantial – although the boyfriend who was suspected according to the detectives, “failed the polygraph, miserably” but a polygraph is not permissible in the court of law in the state of Oregon where it happened.

Years later without charges being brought against him, he sadly was found dead – apparently from natural causes, most likely caused from drug use of amphetamines and cocaine.

But this is not a story of tragedy – This is a story of sweet redemption.  

You see, the miracle in all of it is how much the Lord loved my sister regardless of the circumstances. He had not forsaken her, even though in my eyes and the eyes of others it may have looked like He had.

But God allowed me to find out how she had confessed that Jesus was her savior to a stranger who happened to be a minister less than 48 hours before she died. He had picked her up after she left a rehab facility where I had dropped her off just one day earlier after trying to convince her for weeks to leave her boyfriend and to get help.

The minister told me he would often pick people up while driving back and forth between his home in central Oregon and seminary and share the Gospel with them. We didn’t find out that he was the one who had given her a ride back to where she was staying in the little town of Sisters, Oregon until weeks after she died when the detectives found out while questioning friends where she had been dropped off that they recalled her mentioning that a “minister” had given her ride. 

I was able to track him down within 30 minutes after receiving the call from the detectives, which was another miracle as I began calling churches from the list of probably sixty or more churches in the yellow pages. I was prompted to call a Baptist church in the area where she had been picked up, the third call I made that day.

The receptionist that answered said there were no minister at the church by that name, but then stopped and told me she believed one of their members with the same last name was in fact a minister – she agreed to give my number to his wife who worked in the office. Thirty minutes later I received the call from the minister who shared how he had given Gina a ride and when he asked her if she knew the Lord she responded, “oh yes, Jesus is my savior” and went on to tell him about “her sister” (me) and the Bible study she attended. It was like God letting me know that she made a last confession of her faith in Jesus just to reassure us that she was saved!

What moved me most though is how the Lord revealed to me that He knew my sister’s heart. As I drove away from the Sheriff Station shortly after finding out that the search and rescue team had found her at the hot-springs and I began thinking about how things must have looked based on how she was living at the end of her life, the Lord whispered to me, “man may look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart – And I know your sister’s heart.”

The miracle is how the Lord confirmed what He had gently whispered to me on that cold, snowy winter night as I drove home. It was a week or so later when a good friend, who was at my house unpacking a little duffel bag of my sister’s things that we had gotten back from the rehab facility, that she yelled for me to come see what she found. The bag belonged to my husband and I knew there was nothing attached to it when I gave it to my sister to take with her. When my friend showed me what she had found attached to the duffel bag we both just stood there shocked. I had shared with her and others the words the Lord had whispered to me the night my sister died.

There attached to the duffel bag was a key-chain with a heart on one side with the words “Jesus Knows My Heart” and on the other side as you can see in the photo below are the words, “The Lord looks at the heart- I Samuel 16:7.”  I think we wept- I really don’t remember, I just know we both just stood there looking at one another not knowing what to say. 

Sweet Redemption - Happy Birthday Little Sister!

I never found out where the key-chain came from, we called the rehab facility to ask if they knew since they were familiar with what had happened and we figured they might be able to tell us if someone there had put it on the bag. To this day we don’t know where it came from and I don’t need to know because I believe God in His sovereignty allowed me to find it, His way of letting us know that He knew my sister’s heart and that’s all that mattered.

So today in honor of my sister, I want others to know that regardless of what you may be going through or how things may look to others – the truth is that although “man” or people may look at the outward appearance what God cares about is your heart!

Lil’Sis – ‘til we meet again, I know you are free at last resting peacefully in the arms of your Savior – Jesus!


Carol Doyel

About Carol Doyel

Carol Doyel is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of LivingBetter50.com. She is a graduate of The Full Gospel Bible Institute and has a passion for women’s ministries, issues and lives. She and her husband of nearly 30 years have three grown kids and four grandchildren. They currently reside in southern California. Her desire is to inspire women to live better physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.


  1. JoAnn Shuck

    July 20, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    That is an awesome story.I cried when I read it.I love and miss Gina.Carol you write beautifully.Love you and miss you.

  2. Jean-Marie Bruder

    July 24, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Touching story. I want to cry and smile at the same time. I know this Beautiful song.A c.d. I played n once owned up in Ak. Sending this song to myself n struggling w addictions- friend. Praying Holy Spirit continues to comfort all who knew n Loved Gina.

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Sweet Redemption – Happy Birthday Little Sister!