The Compassionate Friends National Conference…..July 5-7, 2013

Compassionate Friends 2013 National ConferenceJohn and I traveled to Boston on July 3rd this year to mark off  TWO bucket list items and attend The Compassionate Friends National Conference that was being held in Boston from July 5-7.  One bucket list item was to experience the 4th of July fireworks on the Charles River and the second item was to attend a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park.


July 4th, 2013, Fireworks over the Charles River and the William Tell Overture!


We attended the Red Sox game on July 4th, ate a monster dog and took in the great American past time in what has to be one of the most amazing ball parks.  If you haven’t gone to a Red Sox game in Fenway Park……you need to!  What history, what an absolutely beautiful field.  I’ve never experienced the atmosphere like I did that day.  It was and will be a memory John and I will cherish.

After our bucket list items were complete, we turned our focus to a three day conference with the Compassionate Friends organization also known as TCF.  This worldwide organization was started by two families that were grieving the loss of a child.  This organization is a testament to how a broken heart can create and build amazing things that have a far reaching legacy.   Their mission states:

“When a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.”

John and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It was clear many families had contributed their time and money to support this event.  Families have become friends across the country and attend every year as a way to give back and attend a reunion of sorts.  Siblings who have lost brothers/sisters have grown up over the years and maintain close through social media.  Many volunteers and lots of hours were required to organize an event of this size.  1500 people were in attendance.   And all 1500 who gathered in Boston at the Sheraton hotel shared one thing in common…….we had experienced the loss of a sibling, child, or grandchild.  It was the most accepting and caring group of people.  John and I attended 2 full days of workshops and listened to some great keynote speakers.  We were kept very busy attending breakout sessions and workshops.  Every evening, we were emotionally exhausted (in a good way) from all that we were experiencing.  Three of the most meaningful sessions were on how to grieve pro-actively, how music is used during the grief process and there was the one on godwinks (our favorite!).  John attended an all men workshop of “Women explaining how women grieve to men” and there was even a workshop about “Blogging your way through Grief”!  John said I didn’t need to attend that one because I had that concept down!  LOL!

And then there was my “God appointment”.  Have you ever had one of those?  John and I decided to go to different workshops and I decided to attend a workshop on hope.  I sat on the front row and the lady sitting next to me had sponsored the workshop in memory of her daughter.  As I got to talking to her, she too was a Texan!  She lives in Lubbock, assists with the local chapter of Compassionate Friends in Lubbock and travels to Round Rock frequently to see her grandson.  She told me that she would let me know when her next trip to central Texas would happen.  So, as most bereaved parents do, we share “our story”.  She told me about her daughter Shayne and I told her about Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes.  We exchanged email addresses and phone numbers.   She did come to Round Rock recently and we met for lunch and we talked and shared for several hours!  She was so inspiring to hear her story and how she continues a legacy for her daughter.  She shared with me what the 2nd and 3rd year of her grief journey has been like (everyone’s is different and that’s OK!) and her desire to be an example of hope to other bereaved parents.  We are now facebook friends and she follows Elizabeth’s “In honor of Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy” facebook page.   I get her newsletters that she does for her TCF chapter and am so looking forward to our next meeting.  Thank you Lord for that appointment!  I am so blessed to have Sharon in my life!

As part of the conference, we were encouraged to bring pictures of our children/grandchildren.  There was a very kind man and his wife that took the pictures and created buttons for everyone as a service for no fee!  At the end of the conference he reported he had made approximately 4,000 buttons!

The 2014 conference is in Chicago and the 2015 conference is going to be in Dallas, Texas!  I would encourage you to attend if you are a bereaved parent/sibling.  Who knows, maybe someone will sign up in Dallas for a workshop on “Memorial Wreaths” 🙂


My buttons!

The conference always ends with a “Walk to Remember”.  Due to the Boston Marathon bombings that happened shortly before this conference, we were not allowed to have our walk on the streets of Boston, so we moved to the historical Boston Commons.  Thousands of bereaved parents submitted names of children that left us too soon.  We would attach the listings to the back of our shirts and walk and of course……..always remember.


My Beloved with names of children that he will "Walk to Remember"

My Beloved with names of children that he will “Walk to Remember”

I also want to say how blessed I am to have a husband who would go to a conference for 3 days and sit in workshops with bereaved parents!  I think John came away from the conference with a better understanding of my grief journey.  John even shared with me after a workshop he attended that I was doing amazingly well compared to some other people’s experiences!  So, all my hard grief work (and it is hard work!) in regards to this journey and of “leaning in” was really helping.


But perhaps the most peaceful and calming part of the weekend was in the Remembrance Room.  They had decorated it with comfy chairs, tables with light houses, dim lighting, candles, soft music.  It was a place of solitude to journal, pray, reflect and yes cry.    They also had baskets of shells and markers where you could write notes to your children, sibling or grandchild and place them on tables around the room.

They would collect the shells at the end of the conference and release them back to the ocean.  I created shells for Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin, and Hayes.  I also created a shell for our 4th grandson that lives in heaven…..Cohen William Diem.  John would separately visit the reflection room and would also do memorial shells for Elizabeth and the boys, Cohen, and a daughter…..Angela.  Below are the pictures of our shells and joined with the community of other shells.



John’s shell to Lizz and the boys (front)


John’s shell to Lizz and the boys (back)

John’s shell to Cohen William Diem:


Papa Diem’s shell to Cohen William Diem


Papa John’s shell to Cohen William Diem (back)

John’s shell to honor his and Lynn Diem’s daughter Angela who they will get to meet in heaven one day!



My shells to Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes:


Our shells on the table with other memorials:



And lastly, I made shells for two families that have joined the throngs of bereaved parents……..

I made one for Laurie Leach Griffin to honor her daughter Courtney Griffin:


And made one for Wanda and Bill Corbin for their daughter Gayla Corbin Gault who is in heaven waiting to welcome them one day!


So, they recently released the shells back in the ocean.  They took pictures and made a video.  I have included the video below.  If you watch closely, you will see Fischer’s shell twice, once at the 1:04 mark, again at the 2:05 mark.  You can see Courtney Griffin’s shell at the 3:11 mark and Gayla’s shell at the 3:46 mark.  As I watch this video, it is overwhelming to think that each individual shell represents a child gone to soon due to suicide, car accident, an act of violence, cancer, and unfortunately the list goes one.  And with each of these families, I am now a member…..I am a “bereaved” parent.

The amazing lady Anne, who did the Reflection Room and released the shells into the ocean said:

“Almost 800 shells were left with messages of love to our children, grandchildren and siblings.  We gently packed them up and looked for a boat to charter to bring the shells back to sea.  Parents from a local chapter contacted us that they had a boat we could use.  Joan and Joel Marcus graciously took us out on their boat, “Just Desserts”.  With summer time, vacations and life, it needed to wait until August.  This past Sunday, August 25th, a beautiful summer evening we set out of Duck Island Yacht Club into the ocean.

It was a perfect day, warm waters, calm seas and blue skies!  I put on a bathing suit, grabbed my camera and jumped into the water.  It has been a long time since I swam in the ocean and it felt good.  As I grabbed a line to the boat soI would not be carried away by the current, my fellow crew mates prepared the shells.  Joel gave a little speech and we started to read the names from the shells as we slide them into the water.   It was amazing to watch how each shell reacted differently to the water.  Some floated while others drifted.  Some plunged and others danced.  A few bounced back out before peacefully floating on.  I like to think that the shells took on the personality of the name written on them.  It was a unique experience.  One I felt honored to be a part of.”

My prayer is if you are reading this blog and have experienced loss of this magnitude, may this in some way bring you healing and hope.



Song:  “I Believe” by Diamond Rio

Keeper of her Legacy…….a scholarship for Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy

mchlogoI announced in a previous post that John and I have started a scholarship at Salado High School, the “Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Memorial Scholarship” to begin in the Spring of 2014.  Well, today, in honor of my daughter, I am thrilled to announce we are creating a scholarship in honor of my daughter, Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy through the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco which will also begin in the Spring of 2014.

We started partnering with the Methodist Children’s Home several years ago when my family stopped purchasing Christmas gifts for each other.  When we selected our respective charities to honor our family and loved ones, Elizabeth chose the Methodist Children’s Home.  When July 30, 2012 happened,   Sam wanted to have donations sent to the Methodist Children’s Home in her memory.  The generosity to honor Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes meant charitable donations over $10,000!  Because this was Elizabeth’s selected charity, it just made sense that a scholarship for those students that reside at the home would be a perfect tribute to honor her!

Elizabeth had dreams of going to the Aveda institute to complete their program on cosmetology and esthiology once the boys were in school.  Elizabeth had already attended massage school in high school and after attending the Aveda Institute she had hopes of having a spa/salon on Main St. in Salado.   I always told her that after I retired, I would come work for her and answer phones, do the bills and other office tasks.    Oh how Elizabeth could dream!  I loved that about her.  Her dreams were always big and large!  I have no doubt that her dream has come true in heaven and she has the spa of her dreams!

Therefore, I feel this is a wonderful way to honor Elizabeth and help some graduating seniors at the Methodist Children’s Home.  The requirements of this scholarship are that they are a MCH resident that wants to attend a post secondary program.  This scholarship could be to attend a college/university or to attend a trade school similar to Elizabeth’s dream of attending cosmetology school.

If you woud like to participate in creating a legacy and honoring Elizabeth’s memory I would like you to consider contributing to her scholarship fund.  You can do so by mailing your check to:

Methodist Children’s Home

1111 Herring Ave

Waco, TX  76708

Attn:  Trey Oakley

Be sure and put “Elizabeth Dowdy Scholarship” in the memo line.

Your scholarship donation is tax deductible.  I hope you consider this opportunity as you consider your charitable giving and end of year giving.

I will keep you updated on the status of the scholarship as we progress.  I hope to have some fund raising events in the future.  I will also donate funds that I receive from my wreaths that I make for others.

Until next time,


Elizabeth makeup

Elizabeth applying make-up to a bride.

A scholarship for a legacy and to remember……

Salado emblemJust like most small Texas communities, Friday Night Lights means you attend your hometown high school football games.  The Sam and Elizabeth Dowdy family was no different.  The boys loved going to the home football games.  Fischer was excited to become a “Salado Eagle”.  Elizabeth shared with me that one night Fischer wasn’t where he was supposed to be, and next thing she knew, he was running out on the field with the cheerleaders!  So to honor Elizabeth’s love of Salado, honor the memory of the boys, the school they would have attended, the academic and sports programs they would have participated in and the school they would have graduated from (Salado high school) we wanted to provide a legacy for Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes.

Therefore, I am excited to announce that John and I have created the “Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Memorial Scholarship”.  This scholarship will be awarded for the first time in April/May 2014.  The student that will be awarded this scholarship will be a high school senior at Salado High School, have a 3.0 minimum GPA and attend a college/university.

The scholarship is managed through the Salado Education Foundation.  They are designated as a 501C organization, so any donations to their scholarship are tax deductible.  I have started the scholarship with funds that I have received from people purchasing my wreaths!   If you are interested in one of my wreath creations please contact me.  I will make the wreath for the cost of supplies and a donation to their scholarship fund.

So, if you are looking for a way to honor Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy, for their birthdays, holidays, anniversary remembrance, etc., I would ask you to consider making a donation to their memorial scholarship.  You can make a donation to:

Salado Education Foundation

PO Box 458

Salado, TX  76571

Please indicate “Dowdy memorial scholarship” on the memo line of your donation.

I hope to have some fund raising opportunities in the upcoming years to make this an endowed scholarship so that their legacy will always live on………

Always Remember…….


Fischer Salado football

Fischer at a Salado HS football game!


Benjamin (left) and Fischer (right)

The Keeper of her Legacy……..The University of Texas Longhorns!

UT BandI read the following quote from Dr. Ken Druck, a bereaved parent who said:

Honoring the life and spirit of my angel daughter—being the “the keeper of her legacy”—was not what I had signed up for as a father. But it’s what I got. Being a lifeline to bereaved families and empowering young women has been a way of turning my pain into love—and then giving that love away. Over time, it became my mission.”

I absolutely love that!  It puts into words my feelings and strong desire these days…….to be the keeper of Elizabeth’s legacy.  As her mother, I consider that a great honor and responsibility.  I obviously didn’t chose this path, but it is the journey I have been asked to walk.  It is true that you make a decision that these types of life events will either destroy you, define you, OR you can use it for good and perhaps with God’s blessing,  something bigger than yourself or more than you could ever imagine happen!  I therefore have made a deliberate choice to be a light of hope and encouragement to others and bring glory to my awesome God!  May my broken heart be made bigger to make a difference in the lives of others and to tell Elizabeth’s story.

To give my blog readers some history…….Her Dad, Jeff Herro is a Texas alumni, Class of 81.  He was in the Longhorn Band……one of the many Tuba’s.  I went back to UT after a 25 year absence and graduated in May 2004 with my BA and a major in History.  I am a Texas Ex Life Member.   I made all my daughters go to my departmental and campus wide commencement.  I told them that if I sat through all of theirs, they could sit through both of mine.  One of the great things when you go back to college after such a long absence, is that you get to purchase a spouse sports package.  So, in the fall of 2003, I bought a “spouse” sports package and Elizabeth attended the home games with me.  We sat on the student side behind the band.  Those are awesome memories for me.  We would get to campus early, eat at Kerby Lane Café (pancakes!) on Guadalupe, shop, go to the Texas Union, and walk around campus.  And of course, before and during the game, guys sitting next to us in the stands would flirt with her.  I will never forget, a couple of young men asked her what class she was and Elizabeth smugly told them “a Junior”.  The young men replied that they too were “Juniors”.  I then leaned over and told them that she was a Junior in HIGH SCHOOL!  They turned around and never talked to us again!  Elizabeth told me:  Geez, Mom….thanks.  I laugh thinking about that now.

Several years later she would marry into a family that loved the Longhorns and held season football tickets.  This would also be an opportunity to share their love of the Longhorns with their boys.  They relished in the tail-gating, teaching them to flash the “hook ’em horns” sign, the band marching in, Bevo, in all things burnt orange!  So, today, as a keeper of her legacy, I want to announce, that in honor of Elizabeth, Fischer and Benjamin and their love of the University of Texas, the Texas Longhorns, and the Longhorn Band, I had three memorial bricks placed at the Texas Exes Alumni Center!  They were placed last week and I went to look at them today and couldn’t wait to share!


It seemed the perfect way to honor that part of their life.  They are on the “home”/west side of the DKR Memorial stadium across the street at the Texas Exes Alumni Center.  Below are the pictures:


Fischer Dowdy’s Memorial Brick at the Texas Exes Alumni Center


Elizabeth Anne Dowdy’s Memorial brick at the Texas Exes Alumni Center


Benjamin S. Dowdy’s Memorial Brick at the Texas Exes Alumni Center


Fischer, Elizabeth, Benjamin Memorial Brick at the Texas Exes Alumni Center

You will notice that the bricks are in the same position as their resting place in the Salado cemetery.  Elizabeth between her two precious boys…..Fischer on the left and Benjamin on the right.  Some have asked me why doing this was important…….my answer?  My heart tells me it’s right.  It is a testament to their lives…….that they were loved, they made a difference and this is a way for a momma to honor and remember them.  Always, always remember.

If you are on campus and want to find their bricks, go to the alumni center across the street from the home side of the stadium and look for this statue:


Stand in front of the center’s double doors.  Look to the left of the double doors behind the raised brick wall on your left, you should see this:


You will find Fischer, Elizabeth and Benjamin’s Memorial bricks in row F2, column K:


So, if you attend a home Longhorn Football Game or down at the campus, I hope you go by the Alumni Center, pay your respects and think of Elizabeth, Fischer and Benjamin.

And lastly, to honor those memories, I created a video with those icons and reminders of this great place that Elizabeth and her family loved.  I have included pictures of the University of Texas, music by the Longhorn Band and pictures of Elizabeth and the boys enjoying traditions of being Longhorns fans!

Here is Elizabeth and Hayes’ Longhorn wreath:

Elizabeth and Hayes' Memorial Wreath September 2013

Elizabeth and Hayes’ Memorial Wreath September 2013

Fischer's Memorial Wreath September 2013

Fischer’s Memorial Wreath September 2013

Benjamin's September 2013 Memorial Wreath.....similar yet different from his brother's

Benjamin’s September 2013 Memorial Wreath…..similar yet different from his brother’s

Fischer, Elizabeth, Hayes and Benjamin's September 2013 memorial wreaths

Benjamin, Elizabeth, Hayes and Fischer’s September 2013 memorial wreaths


The Eyes of Texas are upon you…….

Until next time,


A Remembrance Party……..LHS 2005

08112013 Elizabeth GraceOn Sunday, August 11, 2013, I drove from Georgetown to Lexington Texas to join friends and family to remember my daughter and their friend, Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy.  As I was driving to Lexington on FM 112 many memories flooded my mind.  It had been a long time since I had returned to the small town where my children grew up.  Off in the distance were dark clouds and I asked Elizabeth to ask God to send us rain and a rainbow.  As you recall, rainbows are a “godwink” for me since we received so many after Elizabeth and the boys left us.

Several of her classmates joined us and many of the parents, teachers and my Lexington friends were there.  When I walked in, I recognized the music that was playing…….Leslie Shirlberg Allman took my 30 worship songs that I had wrote about on the blog and burned them to a CD and gave a copy to everyone.  We took a class picture of those that attended and their children.  It was such a blessing to see these girls grow into amazing women!  It was great seeing them as moms, meeting their children and hearing about their jobs and dreams.  And of course there was the amazing food!

Amanda Bexley and the LHS 2005 classmates were so deliberate and thoughtful in their planning of the event.  There was a “memory jar” for folks to write their favorite memory of Elizabeth.  I couldn’t wait to get home and read the memory notes!  Here is one of them that touched my heart and made me smile:


08112013 LHS 2005

Prayer before balloon release

08112013 LHS 2005 color

Julie and Elizabeth’s LHS classmates 2005

I shared some thoughts about my journey over the past year and what it has taught me, and others shared how July 30th had changed their life.  Cindy Bexley brought a pitcher of dimes that have shown up in unusual places over the past year and how they had come to represent precious memories of Elizabeth.  And then there were tears…….but not tears of sadness.  You see, I have come to realize that tears express more than sadness.  Sometimes we cry for joy and sometimes because we love and care deeply for someone.  It was wonderful to share those emotions.

Elizabeth’s classmates then gave me a gift……an Origami Owl necklace!  The charms inside are 4 hearts to represent Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes’ birthstone.  There was a cross, a butterfly, and a heart with the words “In memory of”.  There were charms of the two most precious names I have been honored to be called in this lifetime:    Mom and Nana.

08112013 Necklace

And then Nick and Brittney Shelly walked in.  And in Brittney’s arm was her newly born baby that they named Elizabeth after my Elizabeth.  And they let me hold her!  She was so beautiful…..and my heart was so full, so incredibly full….I thought it was going to burst!  I have come to believe that part of my broken heart is to allow something bigger to happen…..and holding Elizabeth Grace Shelly was one of those moments.  I will treasure that moment throughout the rest of my days.  I will also pray for her throughout my life and I know Elizabeth Anne is also watching over her.  Nick Shelly who proclaimed that he was one of few words, shared that even though he was older than Elizabeth, they knew each other for their times that they ran on the cross country team.  He shared that he always remembered Elizabeth’s laughter and how much she just found joy in everything.  He shared that he hoped his baby girl would have that same joy.  Please meet Elizabeth Grace Shelley……named after Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy!

08112013 Elizabeth Grace 1

08112013 Elizabeth Grace

Elizabeth Grace Shelly and Julie Diem on August 11, 2013

And then there is Elizabeth Grace’s big sister Abigail…..Abby.  What an infectious laugh and smile and those dimples!!!!  When the Shelly’s got ready to leave she ran to me and gave me the biggest hug.  It was the first time she had met me and yet it was so much more than a hug from a little girl.  I felt as if the whole universe was hugging me at that moment.

Nick….isn’t that you on the back row? Lizz is on the front row, second from left

As one of Ms. Shelly's favorite students :), she took Lizz with her to the Huntsville cross country meet!  Ms. Shelly, this was a fond memory of hers!  Thank you for sending this picture!

Lizz in the center at the Huntsville cross country meet.  She was too young to compete but she was excited to go with the team.  Nick Shelly isn’t that you on the left?????

As the sun was beginning to go down, Amanda Bexley had balloons that we wrote messages on and went outside and released them to the heavens.

08112013 Balloon Release

And as people left, several came back to tell us there was a rainbow over the baseball fields!

Rainbow 08112012

Rainbow, Lexington Texas, August 11, 2013

My thanks to Staci Spence Retzlaff for the rainbow picture.    When I heard about the rainbow, I just was beaming……because I knew who had sent it.  It was her way of being with us all that day.  Again, my heart was so full because we all had confirmation of what Elizabeth thought of us coming together to laugh, to cry and remember her and the boys!

My sincere thanks to Paula Hall who came and volunteered her time and talent to capture the event and provided these pictures.  She didn’t know Elizabeth, but has followed her story and wanted to be there because of how her story has impacted her life.

Here is a picture of a rainbow that was sent to comfort our families almost one year ago:

Rainbow 08132012

Rainbow August 13, 2012

Lastly, my thanks to Amanda Bexley and her family who did an amazing job pulling this together and providing us with a location.  Her thoughtfulness and creativity was a blessing to me!  Thank you for wanting to remember Elizabeth, honor me, and heal a scar on my heart.  To the Kana’s, the Gists, Cindy Bexley, Shannon Patschke and family, Pat McKinley, Hailey and Blane Rodgers, Staci Spence Retzlaff, Jenna Dalen, Kelsey Thurman, Amanda Dube, Jennifer Richardson, Jackie Griffith, Jeanette Welch, Leslie Shirlberg Allman, my daughter Jennifer Pascar, Paula Hall, Nick/Brittney Shelley and Elizabeth Grace Shelley.   Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!  You each share with me special memories on an amazing day that I will tuck away in my heart and recall with fondness.

Until next time,


Acts of kindness by strangers…….

IMG_1040One of the things this past year that has been a blessing to me is the kindness and mercy of strangers.  I wanted to share a couple ………

Every month or so when I go to switch out the wreaths at the cemetery and lay a new one for Lizz and the boys, I try to make a wreath that conveys a memory.  I also choose photographs that I have of Lizz and the boys that convey the memory and take them to Office Depot in Wolf Ranch, Georgetown, Texas.  One young girl (probably in high school) was helping me mount them on colored paper and was going to laminate them for me.  As we were placing the pictures, she asked me what I was using them for.  I am always unsure what to say when people ask me questions like that, but it usually means, I tell them the story of Lizz and the boys and how they live in heaven.  That response prompted her to apologize and she was clearly uncomfortable because I think she thought she had caused me undue pain in asking which is never true!  I always love people asking about ALL my children and grandchildren to include the ones that live in heaven!  I told her there was no need for her to apologize.  I ended up having to leave them with her for a bit and told her I had more errands and would be back in an hour or so.  When I returned to collect the photos and pay for them….she handed them to me,  smiled and said they were already paid for.  When I insisted that I wanted to pay for them, she told me they had been paid for and absolutely would not take my money.  Well….the streams of tears started to come.  Here was a young girl working nights who paid for my photos to be laminated.  She did something that would show kindness and honor to me, my daughter and grandchildren.  Even though this maybe a small act to many, it was such an incredible kind act and blessing to me.  I left the store in tears.  Not tears of sadness….but tears that someone would do something so kind.

The other story I want to share is one of the times I had left the Salado cemetery.  It was on a Saturday afternoon and the stores on Main Street were still open.  As I was driving by Magnolia’s (LOVE THAT STORE!), they had the most unusual and gorgeous sunflowers in the front window of the store…..and of course, I had to stop and look at them to see if I could make an arrangement for our home.  I decided to purchase four of the sunflowers (four to represent Lizz, Fischer, Ben and Hayes) and while I was at the checkout, the manager made a comment about the sunflowers and I told him how my daughter loved them and why they were so special to me.  I didn’t tell them who I was talking about, but I didn’t have to.  The manager said:  You are Lizz Dowdy’s mom aren’t you!  I told him yes.  He then began to tell me stories about how Lizz would come in with the boys (OK….does that frighten anyone else?  Ben and Fischer in Magnolia’s??????) to make a payment on a table which would become her dining room table.  She had seen it in the store and fell in love.  So, the manager allowed her to put it in “lay away”.  When the cashier heard that story, she said:  Wait here!  I’ll be right back!  And she stepped out to the gallery that was next door.  She returned with a hand drawn picture of a sunflower.  She told me that she also loves sunflowers and draws them all the time and wanted me to have one of her drawings.  I was so incredibly touched and blessed.

IMG_1038 IMG_1040

I guess my point in sharing this is that we are presented opportunities everyday to bless and show acts of mercy and kindness to others.  Now due to this grief journey, I am trying to see through these new eyes that I have been given because of this experience.  I have decided that I want to be an example of hope to others that also journey along this path.  I want to demonstrate the promise in my life that God’s grace is sufficient and he is an amazing God even in moments of such tragedy.

So, my encouragement for my blog readers is to not be afraid to step out and show someone an act of kindness.  It is through these actions that we get to serve a big God and have opportunities to provide healing (like my examples) and yet also allow them to be blessed (like the wonderful lady that gave me a sunflower drawing).


I hope everyone is given an opportunity to bless, show kindness, grace and mercy today and everyday……and we all have the courage to act on those opportunities.



Meet Elizabeth Anne Gould and hear her Mom’s testimony!

Katie and IzzyToday’s blog post is from my niece, Elizabeth’s cousin, Katie Warren Gould.  I remember the day Katie asked me if it was ok if they named their little girl that they were expecting after my daughter Elizabeth.  And so, out of the ashes, comes a new life, a beautiful baby girl, named Elizabeth Anne Gould!  I told Katie it was a wonderful legacy and honor to our family and daughter and how incredibly touched and blessed I was.  Katie explained there was only one Lizz, and so, they would not call her Lizz, but would call her Izzy.

Thanks Katie for sharing your story!  I like to think when Elizabeth went to heaven, she was an intercessor before the throne on your and Chris’ behalf.  I look forward to Izzy growing up in truth and grace and becoming an amazing Proverbs 31 woman of God!

So, please welcome Katie to the blog and read her amazing testimony about her and Chris’ blessing!

I love you!

Aunt Julie (Great Aunt Julie)


I am writing this as I nurse my beautiful 11 week old daughter; staring in awe of God’s creation, this miracle that not but one year ago I had given up on.
Several years ago, my husband Chris and I began trying to conceive a child.  Month after month we experienced one disappointment after the other. Lizz and I
didn’t talk as much as I wish we had, but I remember calling her out of the blue one day. We talked about maybe meeting up at the Woodlands for a race, about
motherhood for her, and she asked if there were any plans on a little Gould in  the near future. I explained that we had been trying but that we were having some difficulty. After a few tears were shed on my behalf Lizz said to me, “Just  keep trying and praying. It’ll happen.” I thought, “How was she so sure?” She was so confident in her statement. I know now it was her faith that made her  that way. She knew that God answers our prayers. She also knew that it may take some waiting. So, wait I did.

By July of 2012 Chris and I had already been seeing a fertility specialist, and  at that point had determined that IUI was the necessary path of treatment, but had not begun the process yet. On July 30, 2012 I got up and went to work like any other day. I answered phone calls in the routine manner, until that phone call from my mom came in. I could hear something in her voice that told me, “Sit down or else this news will bring you crumbling to the ground.” When she told me of the accident and of our families’ horrific loss, I lost my breath. There was so much loss, so many people’s lives would never be the same, and how could I think of having a baby right now? What gave me the right to gain so much in a time where so much was lost? Driving home from the funeral, Chris and I talked about what kind of parents we wanted to be and what we would want for our children. The way Lizz and Sam raised up their family was beautiful and inspiring. I can honestly say, that celebration of their lives changed us in a way only God could have done. On the drive home we looked at each other and said if we ever got pregnant and have a girl, we wanted to name her after Lizz. On September 12, 2012, I came home from work early feeling ill. Chris happened to be home for lunch and demanded I take a pregnancy test. I was less than eager to do so though, as I expected another disappointment. When Chris checked it, to my amazement, it said “pregnant!” The Doctor confirmed it. I was about 3 and a half weeks pregnant, meaning conception occurred somewhere right around my birthday which is August 18th!  Approximately 16 days after Lizz and the boys homegoing service!   What a birthday present!

Izzy feetOn May 15th, 2013, at exactly 3pm, Elizabeth Anne was born. I can’t help but think Lizz had her hand in my little miracle that day. I pray that we raise her up to have a heart for God just as her cousin Lizz did.Izzy portrait

Lizz, I love you and miss you. Watch over us and help guide us in our spiritual journey as a family.

And praise God for my Elizabeth Anne. Let her be the wonderful woman of God I know you’ve created her to be.

Katie Gould

A Mother shares her thoughts about her daughter and grandsons lives….Eulogy

Easter 2011mWhen I decided to speak at my daughter’s service, when I went to bed the night before, I had no idea what I was going to say.  I prayed that the words would come and boy did they!  At 3 a.m., I sat straight up in bed.  I startled John and told him I had to go to the computer to write down the thoughts that were pouring into my mind.  They were coming so quickly, that I was typing phrases.  The words that follow are what I finished and walked up to the microphone and delivered.  I was to speak after Jeff Herro, Elizabeth’s Dad.  I prayed that Jesus would give me the words to share their story, to glorify him and others to see him, and to express in a few minutes the life of my daughter and grandsons.  And so, I walked up to the steps with my typed notes, Elizabeth’s copy of Grace Based Parenting, and my last Mother’s Day card that I would ever receive from Elizabeth.  Below is the copy of my eulogy that I typed up and spoke from.  I have copied it as it was one year ago, so please excuse any typos or grammar issues.

I remember before I started that I told the audience and specifically her Sephora family, that Elizabeth would be telling all of us that our faces and make-up were a “hot mess”.  Which in turn got some chuckles.  And then I began:

I’m not sure how you compress a life as big and full as Elizabeth in just a few minutes.  I hope I get to spend the rest of my life hearing wonderful stories from you all about my daughter and my grandsons Fischer and Benjamin and how they touched your life.   So, I’m going to try to share some things that I knew to be true about my daughter and appreciate your indulgence.

Elizabeth Anne Herro was born in Austin Texas at Seton Medical Center on 2/27/1987  the youngest of three daughters….all 8 lbs and 14.5 ounces.    She had one dimple…..just like Ben.  She had a birthmark on her thigh that was in the shape of a heart.  She always told people that was where God kissed her.  She had such joy as a child, much like Ben and Fischer.  As the baby of the Herro family, she loved being the center of attention.  She entered a room and within a minute everyone was aware of her presence.  And as many of you know, she had the most amazing blue eyes.     Strangers would come up to me and comment on her beautiful eyes.  Her Nana Herro called them “pools of blue”.

I was blessed that Lizz and I talked almost everyday.  It was usually very early.  You see, in the Dowdy household, mayhem started very early.  Usually by 6 a.m.  Her thought was if she was up, she thought everyone else should be.  We talked about the mundane things like potty training to Fischer’s amazing spirit.  Those almost daily conversations would abruptly end with something like:  Fischer STOP!  Ben….STOP!  Mom, I gotta go!  Talk to you later!

She recently shared with me that some people really “got” Fischer.  To those that embraced Fischer’s spirit, they received an amazing blessing.  One person that “got” Fischer, was his Lolly……Lizz’s sister, Lauren.  She was Lolly to Fischer and Ben.  She was their partner in crime and they all reveled in her playfulness.

I found out very quickly with my grandsons, that God writes on their heart to be warriors, to be brave, courageous, and fearless.  Elizabeth understood that importance and fostered that.  They both loved super heroes.  Spider Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk.  I am so thrilled that they are spending eternity with the true super hero of all time, our Lord, Jesus.

Samuel taught Fischer at a very young age the importance of always watching out for your baby brother.  Fischer would always introduce people to Ben and declare:  This is Ben and he is my brother.  This was something that Sam wanted to model from his relationship with his brother Daniel.  Fischer was Ben’s bubba.

Benjamin Samuel was the cuddle bug.  Shy at first, huge smile, dimple, and those pools of blue eyes.  May I always remember their laughter and Ben’s shrieks of joy for the rest of my days. 

Hayes William Dowdy was already very loved and special.  Her early pregnancy had several scares.  But the amazing Dowdy that was inside would also be a warrior and was due to come into the world early January 2013.

Lizz recently made a post on Facebook about a book that she had read 5 or 6 times.  John and I heard Dr. Tim Kimmel speak about Grace Based Parenting and gave her a copy of the book.     As I thumbed through the worn copy of her book, I wanted to share some of what she loved about the book.  The guiding principles were the needs of our children to have a secure love, significant purpose and a strong hope.  It spoke about having a home of honor.  Homes of honor to see the other person’s time, their gifts, their uniqueness and their dreams as gifts to be cherished.  The book spoke of instilling a sense of significant purpose.  And to be concerned about the hearts of your children and not the exterior.  To honor Lizz and the boys, if you are raising young children and would like to raise your children in a grace centered home, Sam, John and I would like to give you a book to help you on that journey.  Grace Based Parenting books are available on a table when you leave the service.

She commented to me several times how much the movie Courageous touched her and Sam.  She told me that she wanted brave and courageous men, fearless men, that loved God.  If you walk in Ben and Fischer’s play room there are small chalkboards behind shelves where Lizz sent messages to her children everyday.  Messages that say:  Jesus Saves, He has the whole world in his hands, Brave/Courageous, Get dirty.  She read to them.  She adopted a World Vision child the age of Fischer to teach them grace and mercy to others.  They prayed over the needs of their World Vision child.

To the Dowdy family:  We are very special to have two brothers marry two sisters of the same family.  Thank you for loving my family and making them part of your own.  UT football games, Easter at Grandma Patschke were very special to her .

To her Lexington family, so many memories. 

To the Gists and Brother Chuck and the FBC family who helped my children in their journey of faith, thank you.  There is no bigger gift to see your children walk a journey of faith with God.

To her Sephora family, she loved you.  This was a place that allowed her creative side to be.  Charles if you are here, thank you, for mentoring her, developing her and believing in her.

To her Salado United Methodist Church family….thank you for loving this family and the boys through your Mother’s Day out program.  You carried on what Lizz was trying to instill in their hearts.

And to friends, family of Lizz, the Dowdy, Herro, and Diem family the outpouring of love and support has been an amazing blessing during these difficult days.

I told Samuel, that since the accident, I have been earnestly praying for the return of our Lord.  I look forward to seeing Fischer and Ben return with the most amazing Super Hero ever, our Lord and we will be drawn in the sky to meet them and Lizz and I will once again get to see your face, your eyes, your smile and your embrace.

As I was re-reading my mother’s day card, it now has such significance that I  wanted to share today.  READ CARD

Thank you for LOVING me

Thank you for TEACHING me

Thank for LISTENING to me

Thank you for INSPIRING me.

Thank you for MAKING me go to church.

Thank you for LETTING me fall and WATCHING me get back up.

Thank you for always BELIEVING in me.

Thank you for always SHOWING me how to be a great Mom.

I love you more than LIFE!


IMG_0761 (2)

Lastly, I like to think my daughter embodied the qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman:

“A good wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

In the song you are going to hear shortly, there is a phrase from the song that says she was “sent to rescue me”.  Elizabeth truly was my gift from God in a very difficult period in my life.    I do believe that those difficult years that we went through as a family gave her a love for God and a desire to be an amazing wife and mother.  I told Samuel yesterday, Elizabeth was the amazing wife and mother because of those things.  They gave her deliberate focus with her marriage and her children.

To Fischer and Ben, I look forward to having you show me a tour of heaven.  Introducing me to some mighty warriors…….David, Joshua, Caleb, Timothy, Paul, John, Peter and our Lord and Savior Jesus.

To Lizz, there is such a hole in my heart and I like Sam will look forward to your smile, your joy, and your embrace.    Everytime I drink a cup of tea, I will think of you.

And to Hayes William Dowdy, I look forward to holding you, rocking you through eternity.

As I began walking down the steps, the video begins playing……pictures of Lizz as a baby, child, teen, adult, wife, mother display to Martina McBride singing “In My Daughter’s Eyes”.

Please click to listen:  In My Daughter’s Eyes

Elizabeth Anne:  Your Mom loves you……

Fischer, Ben and Hayes…….Nana loves and misses you.


Reflections by a mom of a homegoing service 1 year ago…….

IMG_1023Today is the final milestone for me and my family in this year of “firsts”.  One year ago today, we gathered at Salado United Methodist Church to honor the lives of Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy, Fischer Phillip Dowdy, Benjamin Samuel Dowdy and Hayes William Dowdy and worship the risen King.  I wanted to share with you my thoughts on that day, for many that follow this blog were not physically there.  To the many folks that were in attendance, many were not able to see/hear/experience some things in the service due to the large number of people that were in attendance.  So today, on this one year anniversary,  I wanted to put down my memories of that day before time begins to dim the crispness.

Due to Elizabeth’s passion for the book Grace Based Parenting that John and I had purchased for her and my daughter Lauren at a conference, Sam wanted to give out copies of the book to families in attendance that day.  When we decided to do this, it was Wednesday afternoon, the funeral was the next morning and I had no idea how we were going to get that many copies of the book.  I stepped out of the church and made a call to Family Matters which is the ministry for Dr. Kimmel and Grace Based Parenting.  As God would plan it, the person that answered the phone that day was Michael Tooker.  And I remember telling him:  Michael, I don’t know how to really say this, but to just say it….and I told him about the accident, losing Lizz and the boys, how much she loved Grace Based Parenting and could I get 250 books in less than 24 hours to Salado Texas?  At the time, we thought only the church would be filled at 500 (God had other plans obviously!), and decided 250 books would be plenty.  Family Matters put them on a plane and fed-exed them to me.  They arrived without a hitch at the church before the service the next morning!  At the end of the homegoing service, every single book was gone!  I prayed over those books that they would go to families that would read and raise their children in grace based homes.  Family Matters is another organization that gathered that day to pray for our families.  Family Matters has also continued to pray for us over the past year.  I have been honored to get to know and work with the amazing people at this ministry.

We arrived at the church early to meet those that had come to pay their respects and love on our family.  We had brought our favorite pictures and displayed them in the room for people to see while waiting to share their condolences.  There appeared to be a never ending line of amazing people.  In fact, we never got to all the people in the line.    Part of me wanted to stay all day and just hug and share stories about Lizz and the boys with everyone that came to share that day with us.  But the clock was approaching the beginning of the service and we were moved to another room to wait.    It was there our family, friends, and those special people that Sam had asked to carry my daughter and grandsons to their final resting place gathered.  We shared stories, laughter and tears.  We were then led into the sanctuary where we would take our seats on the front row of what would be something as a Mom and Nana, I never thought I would ever have to experience.

The church had so many flowers.  More than I have EVER seen……no exaggeration…….ever!  More than any wedding, more than any funeral I had ever attended.  They covered the entire front of the church.  They were up on the platform, on the floor, out the sides, all around the three caskets that were at the front of the church.    We filed in and took our seats and started the service.  Sam and the Dowdy family sat on the left of the aisle and Elizabeth’s family sat on the right.  Close friends and family and those that were pall bearers were sitting  behind us.  Elizabeth’s Dad, Jeff Herro, spoke first.  He talked about miracles and how we experience them everyday and to not forget that.  After he finished, I was to share my thoughts.  As I walked up the steps, I remember praying to Jesus to calm me and give me the words to talk about my daughter and not break down and cry…..not now….not when I needed to talk about her.  I remember saying as I walked up the steps to the microphone:  Elizabeth, this is for you.  I knew many were there that didn’t know my daughter.  And I wanted them to have a sense of who she and the boys were when I finished.  When you bury your child, there is an intense desire to want to have people know about them, about their life no matter how long/short it was.  I will never forget taking the steps up to the microphone with Elizabeth’s copy of Grace Based Parenting and turning to see those that had gathered.  There were no seats left in the sanctuary.  It was filled to capacity!  I saw many of my co-workers standing against the wall and others lining the back of the room.  I could see people in the overflow room where we had just hugged and welcomed people in the line before the service.  I saw people standing out of the sanctuary, in the foyer and down the halls, and spilling out in the parking lot on a hot August day.  Friends, Family, Co-workers, people that didn’t know us at all, but wanted to come pay their respects, and then I saw the DPS troopers.  They were standing in the foyer.  They had come to honor the lives of the ones that they had to respond to.  Let me just pause here and say that we have some amazing men and women that serve us through law enforcement.  This event has taught me that some of them have very difficult jobs.  Responding to the accident call on July 30th, had to have been one of those difficult days.  To Trooper Sorto, I will be forever grateful for your professionalism, your dignity, grace and honor you gave to John and I during those days and weeks after the accident.  After the service, I found out that besides the sanctuary, overflow room, halls and foyer, they opened up the additional building beside the church and had piped in the sound/visuals.  In all, they have estimated there were upwards of 1,200 people in attendance to pay their respects to Elizabeth and the boys.  To help put that in perspective, the Salado 2011 census has the population of the town at 2, 161.  It truly was an overwhelming sight.  There were more people in that setting than I had ever spoken to in my life that day, that is for sure.  But I remember the calm in my heart and the overwhelming desire to share about my daughter and my grandsons.  So, with Elizabeth’s well used Grace Based Parenting book, and my notes from early that morning I began.  (Due to the length of this post, I am posting my eulogy separately….See “A Mother shares thoughts about her daughter and grandsons lives”)

My daughter Lauren created a videography of favorite pictures and songs.  As I stated earlier, singing “Seek Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with your God” during the song of Courageous was very moving.  (Please read Day 28:  Courageous)

Then two pastors spoke.  One of them was Lizz’s favorite pastor who had left Salado Methodist to go to another church but came back and blessed us by honoring her.  The second was Pastor Travis.  He talked about all the scripture and sayings that Elizabeth had around the house.  He referenced the chalk board drawings that I had previously referenced in my eulogy.  We then were led in worship by the worship leader at the church, Will.  As I have covered in my previous posts we sang the following songs as a congregation:  You Light up the sky, White Flag, 10,000 Reasons and I Still Believe.  (Please see those previous postings for more thoughts/reflections on those songs).

Sam’s Dad spoke about losing a daughter 14 years ago, and how you will have different eyes and view the world, people, events and your priorities differently.  We listened to a song that he wrote for his daughter.

At the end of the service, the recessional was Mercy Me’s “I Can only Imagine”.  When the song began playing, they began moving the flowers in order to take Elizabeth and the boys to their final resting place.  As I stated previously there were so many flowers,  that “I Can only Imagine” began re-playing.     Lisa Herro turned to me and asked if we should help them move the flowers and I agreed.   I didn’t think I could bear to hear the song repeat another time.   I remember Lisa and I got up and started moving the flowers so we could exit the church and proceed to the cemetery.

The casket flower sprays that the Dowdy’s picked out were beautiful.  They were all in sunflowers, Elizabeth’s favorite flower.  Within Fischer’s spray was his Incredible Hulk oversized hands that his Lolly (aka Lauren) bought him.  Within Benjamin’s flower spray was his Spiderman Mask and toy.  As Ben would say in his two year old voice:  Man, mommy, Man!  (Man was Spiderman!)

And I think we all remember Sam.  How very difficult that service was for him.  The Bible talks about wailing and crying from the depths of our soul.  I now know what that sounds like.  We witnessed that on August 2, 2012.  The pain in Sam’s cries as we went through the service were very difficult for us to bear.

Sam’s grandfather, Robert Dowdy officiated at the grave side.  He talked about when Jesus returns for his children and that we will meet him in the sky, and those that have “gone to sleep” before us will be the first to join him.  I remember the heat of the day and standing under the tent looking around at those that were with us.   I remember seeing Elizabeth’s Lexington elementary school principle, Ms. Bricker, who smiled and blew me a kiss.  There were her Sephora friends.   There was a previous co-worker that had driven down from Dallas to attend… many of Elizabeth’s classmates from Lexington were there, and so, many, many more.  There was her pastor that baptized her at First Baptist Church Lexington that I had not seen since I had moved from Lexington.  I can’t express how much that day meant to me and my family.  So many to show up and love on us, cry with us, stand with us and pay their respects to Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes.  It illustrated in a very real way what my daughter and grandsons meant to so many which was a beginning to our healing after a loss of such magnitude.

There were close to 200 cards that John and I received with people sharing their thoughts, condolences and prayers to my family.    Many of the cards that we received after the funeral spoke of the spirit of God that was there that day like none other they had ever experienced.  A friend of mine whose parents were there and was a retired minister said they had gone to many services over their long years of being a minister, but had never experienced what they experienced that day.   Photographers that had taken pictures of family events brought some of their favorite photographs as memorials to our family.   There were the financial gifts to Elizabeth’s favorite charity, Methodist Children’s Home in Waco that totaled upwards to $15,000!  Then there were the food and meals that people brought to the Salado house for many days and weeks that followed.

And so, here I am.  Starting the second year of this journey tomorrow.  My thoughts are this:  I have grieved every single day for 365 days.  I have cried every one of those.  With God’s help, I have leaned in and felt and faced the winds of pain, suffering,  and adversity.  It has taught me that when we are weak, God is strong.  God is faithful.  God shows up with just what we need at the right time.  His grace, his wonderful grace is sufficient.  And always to HIS GLORY!

I also feel I am standing on a threshold.  Praying that God will show me where this path is going…..or at least show me the next step.  Grief is not something you get over…….it is something you go through.  God is helping me re-define my life after last year.  What is my “new” normal going to be?  I don’t know.  But this I do know……God is still holding me in the palm of his hand.  And as I stated earlier, I wanted to be a pro-active griever and so I face year two of the journey with some goals… take better care of myself.  To go to the doctor, dentist, eye doctor, you name it.  Some of these health visits,  I haven’t done in two years.  I know, I know.  It’s been hard though…..just going to work and surviving has been exhausting and physically painful.  And secondly to begin to exercise.  I am blessed in this area, because I have hired my IronMan daughter Lauren Dowdy to be my trainer.  EEEEEEEEKKKKKK!!!!  Watch out world!

IMG_0903IMG_1004And since music and worship has become such a huge part of this journey, I have selected a song that describes where I am on this day……It is Well with my Soul.  It is the same words that are on Elizabeth’s memorial wreath cross and the same cross that is on my door.  If you don’t know the story of the hymn I want to share it here, because it makes the words and meaning even more powerful:

At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna Spafford suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.  In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family’s ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.  With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words, When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul.  Philip Bliss (1838-1876), composer of many songs including Hold the Fort, Let the Lower Lights be Burning, and Jesus Loves Even Me, was so impressed with Spafford’s life and the words of his hymn that he composed a beautiful piece of music to accompany the lyrics. The song was published in 1876.  For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing, It Is Well With My Soul.

A grieving father and husband who through it all gave glory to God.  This version has David Phelps singing with his amazing tenor voice.  I cling to the promise in the last verse:

 And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled  back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Please click to listen:  It is Well with My Soul

And lastly, this next year I will focus on ways that I can continue to honor the life of my daughter and grandsons.  I have already started on some special things…and am really excited about those, but will save that for a future post!

Thanks for reading this till the end.  I know it was a long post, but was very important to do this.

It is well……..


Testimony by Jennifer Brown

I didn’t know Jennifer Brown before July 30th.  I have been blessed by many people that have become a part of my life after the accident and Jennifer is one of those blessings.  Jennifer shared with me how that day changed her life in a profound way.  I reached out to Jennifer to write her story to share on the blog as we remembered the 1 year anniversary of Lizz and the boys home going.  I hope you are blessed as I was!  Jennifer was my affirmation, that if you ever wonder how “living out your faith” makes a difference to others and is a witness to the glory of God, then you need to read on!

Jennifer does a daily devotional on Facebook that I highly recommend.  Please “friend” Jennifer or message her if you would like to begin receiving that devotional.

And to Jennifer, may God continue to bless you and give you a heart to reach other’s for Christ!



Jennifer BrownMy life changed forever in January 2012.  I had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid
Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Celiac’s Disease two years before, and my daily
life was filled with physical pain from beginning to end.  When I thought things
couldn’t get any worse health wise, a severe RA flare compromised the
circulation to my feet and ultimately resulted in permanent nerve and vascular
damage, and the onset of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a disease that
brought pain the likes of which I never knew existed.

I was no longer able to teach, which I loved, and was medically separated from
my job.  My life was constant pain:  frustration because I felt I had lost
control of my body and my life in general, depression because of the
considerable toll chronic and severe pain takes on your life and the people you
love, and hopelessness because my independence had been the driving force behind
being a single parent, working full-time, and earning a bachelor’s degree.  I
was always able to do anything I set my mind to, all I had to do was push
myself, only now, my body had given out and could no longer be pushed.  I didn’t
know how to not be the me I had always been, and I was at the lowest point in my

I had been raised in a Christian home, and had always considered myself a
Christian, even though I didn’t always live by the word.  I never put my trust
in Jesus because I always relied on myself to get things done.  I didn’t
question what God’s will for me was, instead I made my plans and prayed for God
to co-sign them!  My life was suffocating me with stress, anxiety, anger, and
resentment, and the thoughts that constantly raced through my mind kept me
restless and awake each night as I plotted and planned solutions to what I
thought were my biggest problems.  I didn’t know peace.   Now that I could no
longer count on myself to do everything, I was completely lost and at my most

In that tender state, I read about the tragic accident that took the lives of
Elizabeth, Benjamin, Fischer, and baby Hayes, who hadn’t yet been born, but was
already so loved!  I didn’t know Liz personally, or her husband Sam and their
beautiful boys, but as I read more and more and learned of the friends and
family that were devastated by this horrific accident, I wondered how I didn’t
know them because we knew all the same people! It was one of those stories that
breaks your heart to read, but you can’t stop reading.

Through the modern wonder of Facebook, I could see how close Liz was with her
family, how her beauty just leapt off the screen and imprinted itself on my
heart, her laughter, and her incredible love for absolutely everyone in her
life.  I saw, through tears streaming down my face, the new nursery for Hayes,
lovingly decorated by parents who couldn’t wait to hold him in their arms
because they already loved him.  I saw the big beautiful eyes of Benji and
Fischer and their sweet smiles as they had fun on vacations, at Christmas, and
just everyday fun with their extended family, and my tears wouldn’t stop.  I had
never hurt so much for people I didn’t know, and I couldn’t stop thinking about
how unimaginable it would be for my entire family to be taken from me.  As I
would cry and look at the faces of Liz and her two little angels, I felt such
deep sadness and grief that I wondered how could their family go on.  How could
they move forward, or even want to, after such a devastating loss?

Then, in the midst of such loss and heart-breaking grief, their faith began to
shine through! I read comment after comment expressing grief, but tempered with
a strong and abiding love for The Lord, and absolute trust in His plan, and the
reunion in heaven they were certain of!  I was amazed and truly uplifted, and
for the first time in my life, I wanted to know that incredible peace that
seemed to surround and permeate them, evident in their inspirational messages I
read each day.  I was hungry for that kind of relationship with The Lord, and I
had no doubt in my mind that Jesus was real.  I wanted their confidence in
salvation, not only for myself but my family and friends as well.

Over the next few months I began to read my bible, and that was something I had
always hated, but now have grown to love! Through the words of Liz’s family,
Christians facing so much loss and incomprehensible grief, I was saved.  Their
unshakeable faith and willingness to share that faith and love with the world,
brought me back into the loving arms of Jesus, and it all started with Liz’s
story!  Now, as I am presented with the opportunity to give my testimony to
others, either through a daily devotional on Facebook, or face to face, I share
her story again and again, so she not only touched my life, but continues to
touch lives every day.  I can’t wait to meet her and those adorable boys in
heaven, and until then I will share her story…my testimony, with every person
whose heart is ready to listen<3.