2013 coming to a close……

Lizz and boys superheroesI wanted to do a final post in 2013 to reflect on this blog.  I created this blog for several reasons…..one was to publicly journal my grief to give hope to others that walk this path and know they are not alone.  Second was to historically remember and honor my daughter and grandsons long past my time here on earth.  Third is to share some of my private memories about my daughter and how I continue to honor my relationship with her and be a grandparent to three boys that live in heaven.  Last, but most importantly, was to give witness and glory to my Lord and Savior through all of this…….

I started this blog in January 2013 as part of my 2013 grief journey resolutions.  In summary, this is my 76th blog post.  In one year, there were 25,370 views.  Many followers left amazing and encouraging comments…..166 to be exact.

The most viewed postings were on July 30, 2013, Elizabeth’s 1st anniversary of her homegoing where I put down my memories and thoughts of that day with 820 visitors who visited www.elizabethherrodowdy.com and viewed 1,961 items on her blog!

So, as I look toward the beginning of 2014, I work on continued healing with my grief.  I raise my hands on this day and everyday and give honor and glory to my Lord and Savior.  I am convinced more than ever that my God is the same God that I believed in on July 29, 2012.  I have also determined that I do not want to waste a drop of this grief if it can further his kingdom and bring glory to him!  I have also learned that even in the most immense pain and suffering it is not wasted.  I cling to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

I thank you all for supporting me across the country and world (yes, I have hits from countries all over the world!) and I hope I have met some of my objectives for this blog……I pray with every blog posting it brings honor to my daughter and my Lord.  I hope that other bereaved parents that follow my blog are encouraged.  “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14

I leave 2013 with a song by Shane and Shane titled “Though you slay me” which is based on Job 13:15:  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him”.  This song has touched my heart immensely.  The voice in the song is John Piper.  His writings on suffering and pain has changed my view on this topic and helped with my journey.  If you are struggling, I encourage you to listen and may it encourage and bless you…..

Therefore, my suffering is meaningful when I am obedient……it is doing something….don’t look at what is seen…….focus on the things that are unseen and eternal.  Scripture tells me it is working for me an eternal glory and therefore I do not lose heart!

Day by day, I will focus on them until my heart sings!  I am hopeful as I enter 2014 to see what God will do as he continues to bring beauty from the ashes.

Julie

Twentycoats Wreath Creations…….2013

IMG_0903As many of you may or may not know, I purchased Elizabeth’s website domain www.twentycoats.com.  I wasn’t sure what if anything I was going to do with it, I just knew I didn’t want anyone else to re-purpose the URL site or name.  In August, when I decided to start a scholarship fund and decided to auction off Elizabeth’s Easter wreath to start her scholarship, I also received an order to recreate her 1 year anniversary wreath for a dear friend in Salado.  That’s when God showed me the way and what I was going to do with her business name and how I would raise money for her scholarship at Methodist Children’s Home and the boys scholarship at Salado High.  I was going to do it by selling wreaths one creation at a time!

As we close 2013, I wanted to take the time to reflect on my wreath creations and sales/contributions for 2013.  I have been very blessed in the last four months!   Due to the generosity and support, I have contributed  $8,000 dollars between Elizabeth’s scholarship fund at the Methodist Children’s Home and Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes’ scholarship fund at Salado High School!

If you purchased a wreath from Twentycoats Wreath Creations, I want you to know that I prayed over each wreath that I created, delivered, and shipped.  I prayed that God would bless your homes in a mighty way!  I also sent these wreaths knowing there is a part of my daughter and grandsons memory adorning your homes during the Christmas season, everyday, and for those special moments in your life!  As I told many of you when I delivered your wreath and many of you knew Elizabeth and the boys………..my prayer is that you have a wonderful reminder in your home of her amazing spirit and may it bring you joy!  And when you look at your wreath or take it out and hang it for another season, my hope is that you will remember my little girl and three amazing little boys and may it give you an opportunity to share her story with others.

I also collect pictures of the wreaths hanging on their new owners door.  These pictures are such a blessing to me.  These pictures allow me to see my wreath creation placed in your home and knowing there is a part of my daughter and grandsons story all over the State of Texas!

I am looking forward to 2014 as I continue to build a legacy!

Therefore, I wanted to catalog the wreaths that I sold in 2013 and to that end I created a video.  The song that I chose is titled “Mountains” by the group Lonestar.  I chose this song, because when I was in Connecticut in 2006, Elizabeth called me one day and told me that I needed to listen to this song.  When I asked her why, she told me:  “Because this song reminds me of you Mom!”  I still to this day remember that fall day in Connecticut when it came on the radio and I pulled the car over to the shoulder and heard the song for the first time and the tears began to flow.  You see, as a single mom, that quit college and returned 25 years later to finish, who purchased her first home on her own and established a career past her prime, my youngest daughter understood the significance of all of that.  And so, 7 years later when I have a tough day, I listen to this song and it encourages me because of the message but also because my daughter associated it with me.  It speaks volumes to me in these days past July 30, 2012 and her homegoing.  So, in honor of that special memory, I have selected that song for this video.

Please click on the video below and see all the wreaths I sold that contributed to their scholarship fund in 2013:

Secondly, I created many wreaths as gifts, donations for ministries, schools, etc. along with the memorial wreaths I created for Elizabeth and the boys at their resting place in Salado.    I have also created a video to catalog those wreath creations.  Please click and see the memorial wreaths and wreaths I made as gifts:

Lastly, I am humbled at the support for Twentycoats Wreath Creations and I am looking forward to continuing this success in 2014.  To those that have sent contributions to their scholarship funds without a wreath purchase, gave more money than the price of the wreath, my heart is full of blessings and gratitude!

Julie

Keeper of a Legacy…….

Easter 080I wanted to share with you an article that was published in the Methodist Children’s Home Sunshine Magazine this month that I was  humbled and honored to be a part of.  I am always honored to tell the story of Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes and how God uses that testimony to bring glory to Himself as my family continues to witness how beauty rises from this terrible loss.

My thanks to my Methodist Children’s Home family for thinking of me and giving me an opportunity to share my story to a wider audience.

Easter 2011m

Also my sincere appreciation to Lindsey Blagg who came to Georgetown and spent a wonderful afternoon with me as we shared a meal, smiles and some tears.

To Him, all honor and glory forever and ever!

Please click on the link below, read on and share!

Julie

PS:  My interview starts on page 18 in the magazine or page 20 in the pdf.

http://www.methodistchildrenshome.org/userfiles/file/Sunshine_Fall_2013_final.pdf

Christmas……

1497533_10201023996829135_2051462908_nWell….another Christmas holiday season is here.  And for many and particularly bereaved parents, this is a tough, tough time.  Years of traditions and memories flood our minds and make our loss more pronounced.  I still haven’t put up any tree or decorations this year in the house.  And so stripped away from the tree, the lights, the shopping, the presents and distractions, God has encouraged me to focus on the Christ child.    The incarnation.  The rescue.  It is because of this act of immense love that we have the cross that is in the background and the tomb that will have the stone rolled away.  Emmanuel……God with us.  So, please, please don’t miss it this season.  You see, the enemy REALLY wants you to.  He wants you to stress, worry about gifts, parties, money, family, you name it.   He doesn’t want you to see the child.  But this holiday is when God’s grace and love was born to a young teen mother and father in a manger.  A manger of all places!  For many of us that have been around barn and livestock animals this would not be anyone’s choice to have a baby especially Almighty God!  Think about it……the manger……it’s a smelly place definitely not the cleanest!  The real manger is not the sanitized version we see in our nativity sets and school plays.  And yet isn’t that what he does in our lives?   When he comes into our hearts (our personal manger), and lets face it our lives are not much different from the smelly, germ filled, bug invested, excrement scene of that night….and yet his grace and truth still comes into my life bursting on the scene thrilled beyond my comprehension!  God could have been born anywhere you see……but he didn’t plan it that way.  There could have been room at the inn if God wanted it to be.  He could have arranged for the finest.  But he chose not to.  Even in his birth he revealed his nature to us being born in a place where no one would have a child…..but yet, that is where God came crashing into our world and chose to come walk among us!

The loss of my daughter and grandsons physical presence and this heaviness of heart has stripped this concept down at it’s core.  No lights, no ornaments, no presents.  Just Julie’s heart laid bare in a season that is about the joy of children’s faces….my grandsons faces…..reminders that I won’t have those this year.    But ever so gently, God urges and whispers to me to peer in and look at the Christ child….a long hard look.    And once again, He shows me how much he loves me….even through this…..this smelly, fly covered excrement called grief.

So, amongst the lights, presents and glitter…….take some time out and peer in and gaze upon the child.  Don’t miss it because the moment will be gone for another year.  The business of life will begin again.  Don’t be like others on that first Christmas and miss the birth!  You see most did miss it that night.  I don’t want to miss it….ever again.    I don’t want to miss the birth of the baby who 33 years later would endure the unbelievable to die for you and for me so we could be made right in his sight and live with him forever.  That is the gift….and it started in the manger that first Christmas.   I am so thankful for this gift.  Because of his gift, I live out this life with hope knowing where I will spend eternity and that Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes are already there worshiping and cheering my family on to finish well!

So, don’t sweat the small stuff this Christmas…..and it truly is small stuff.    Love more, hug more, tell your children you love them.  Life is short…..sometimes very short.  And whatever you do, take time to sit in the manger of your heart along with the smelliness of your life and peer into the face of the babe……God who became man!

I end this posting with a video of the last Christmas Elizabeth and the boys were here before going to their “real” home.    Christmas for my adult daughters along with many other adult children is a scheduling nightmare amongst parents and family.    This celebration started the morning of Christmas eve at our house for brunch, followed by dinner at Lauren’s, Christmas morning at their house with Fischer and Ben, and finally with their Dad and Lisa the day after Christmas.  I have organized the pictures in that order.  So, I implore you as you look into my memories of that last Christmas with my complete family….. and I hope through the pictures and music you will see the Christ child…….God incarnate!  The music is by Michael W. Smith “All is Well”.    And even though my heart is heavy I too look at the Christ child and know that “All is Well” and because of the babe in a manger one day there will be no more tears and I will live in the light of the Lamb forever more.  Amen.

Julie

Thoughts from Elizabeth’s Father this holiday season……

Scan_Pic0095Today’s post is from Elizabeth’s father, Jeff Herro.  He posted this on Facebook December, 7, 2013.  His thoughts so poignant, I thought it needed to be on her blog.  Welcome Jeff to the blog!

Jeff:  In honor of those memories of our youngest daughter, I am re-attaching her birthday video.

Blessings to you and Lisa this season……

Julie

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I have been out of the country for a time and am now back on US soil. As is often the case, sleep patterns are fooled for a while and the long flights give time for endless reflections and solitude.  As I laid in the darkness tonight, and is often the case, I see my little girl, ‘lil bit….I hear her voice, I see her smile…I see her barrel through the front door with kids in tow and yell out “hi pops. ” It is strange,  I have such a bad memory nowadays, but can see her so clearly at every age, from little girl to kiddo I taught to ski with her friends to teen to bride and to mommy. We named her Elizabeth.  I loved that name for no particular reason.  Just thought it was a great name. I wondered if people out there know the origin of the name? Well if you look it up it is like many names biblical in origin. It comes from the Hebrew word Elisheba….meaning “The oath or fullness of God”.
I know with certainty of her belief in God and today,,,,this day,,,,this night – in the darkness that I lie in, I know that she must continue on in a grander place for which her name does justice — living again within the oath or fullness of God.
My ability to see her and feel her so clearly , I like to think is proof of that. This may not seem like much to some, but for a guy that can’t remember where I set my keys down an hour ago or  where my billfold is—–it is a very big deal.
For me, clarity of her memory is what I cling to and I am so thankful that as time marches on , that clarity not only remains but sharpens with each passing moment of darkness in which I remain trapped here without her.
My hope for all that have lost loved ones is that they too are given the gift of clarity in memory that I have been given and that it continues to sharpen till we meet again in “the fullness of God”.
My best to all this holiday season.
Jeff