Beauty from Ashes – A Family Matters film with Julie Diem


Travis Tank

“provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61:3



I was approached by the Family Matters ministry if I would be interested in filming Elizabeth’s story and how she and I got involved with Family Matters and the message of grace.  I was a little apprehensive…..I was self conscious and the last four years of grief has not been a friend to my weight, but I decided to put my vanity aside because this story was too important not to share.  I wanted to share the story of great loss in our family and the grief that follows when a parent buries a child and three grandchildren, but also witness to the presence of God’s amazing grace.  The video below is the outcome of spending the day with an amazing camera man and the creative director, Karis Murray from Family Matters.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of the day, but this 4 minute and 50 second video was the result of 8 hours of filming.  This is my story….Lizz and the boy’s story…… not one I would wish on my worst enemy…….but it has become my testimony…….and I am acutely aware of the responsibility that God has placed in my care.  I am honored and blessed that He chose me to be her Mom and their Nana, and I want to honor that blessing and their lives always.  I am also still standing here four years and almost four months after that tragic day, letting God reshape and redefine my life in spite of July 30th because of His amazing and sufficient grace.

John and I met Tim Kimmel, the author of Grace Based Parenting at a conference in Baltimore while we were living in Washington, D.C..  We would purchase his books for two of my daughters who were parenting young children.  Elizabeth would end up reading the book five times and embraced the book’s message of raising Fischer, Ben and soon to be Hayes in a home of Grace.

July 19, 2012, 11 days before the tragic accident,  Elizabeth posted this on her Facebook page: “Pretty sure I have some of the best parents in the world…I’ve read this book at least 5 times and each time I’m recharged about raising my boys to be fearless wonderful people!”


I had no idea that last message she sent me on Facebook, would have such a profound change on my life.  When I stepped out of the Salado Methodist Church on Aug 1, 2012 to make that phone call to Family Matters and order 250 books of Grace Based Parenting for their homegoing service, that would be the beginning of a new path for me, a new passion…..a spark of God’s grace to be shared with others, coupled with the legacy and love of a daughter and three grandsons.   One of my great joys today and “beauty from the ashes” after the death of Elizabeth and the boys is being an ambassador for the Family Matters ministry and sharing the message of Grace Based Parenting in small groups, Sunday School and Mother’s Day Out programs.   The message of His transforming GRACE, has been a wonderful thing to see families put into practice.  It truly is life changing if you let it.

This video was filmed in and around the Salado area, Stillhouse Hollow lake, and contains some of our beautiful Texas scenery.  I hope you watch, and I pray that the GRACE of our Savior Jesus Christ, floods your heart and life as only He can.

My sincere thanks to Family Matters for their commitment to this project and for honoring and telling the story of Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes with such grace and sensitivity.  I love you all! 

Lastly, today and everyday I am reminded that my blue-eyed, one dimpled daughter and her three blue-eyed boys stand in THE presence of GRACE and TRUTH, my precious  Jesus.   Amen.


(FYI, to see the video on a full screen hover over “vimeo” in the lower right corner, click and you can watch it on Vimeo, full screen).


It’s Not About Forgetting – Lexi Behrndt


I wanted to share this poem by Lexi Behrndt (On Coming Alive) that spoke to my heart………

It’s not about forgetting,
Or acting like the scars aren’t there,
Or trying not to remember your face.
Or the curve of your smile.

It’s not about avoiding
The pain and ache,
The memories I’ll never hold,
The space between us.

It’s about the light in your smile
Finding its way into mine,
And the fire in your eyes
Setting aflame my soul.

With love.
With compassion.
With goodness.
With hope.

 It’s about you
Your legacy, your light
Your name, your memory,
And love that never dies.


You left me better.
You left me braver.
You left me kinder.
You left me with the best parts of you.

Thank you God……that you gave me the precious honor and blessing of being her mother.