Elizabeth Herro Dowdy 2016 Scholarship

IMG_3832On Friday, May 27, 2016, I attended the Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) graduation ceremony at First United Methodist Church in Waco Texas.  I wanted to support the students that in some small way I feel connected to.    You see, this was the first year that we would award Elizabeth’s named scholarship since endowing it in December 2015.  There were 31 graduates this year from MCH.  The largest graduating class to date.  The University of Texas has a charter school on the MCH property for the residents.  Trey Oakley from MCH had called earlier in the week to tell me who had been selected for Elizabeth’s scholarship.  He shared with me that “she” played drums in the praise band, had a part time job, and described her as having a free spirit.  She had taken dual credit courses and would be attending McClennan Community College in the fall with a track to attend Baylor University.  I loved when he described her as having a free spirit!

So, I drive to Waco, grab a bulletin and find a seat.  I open the bulletin and find that the recipient of the Elizabeth Herro Dowdy Scholarship is also the Salutatorian!  But the ceremony was a time of overwhelming emotion that is hard to describe.  So much healing and hours of wreath making had come to this moment and the tears began to flow and my MCH family that I was sitting next to began passing me Kleenex.

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So, please meet the 2016 Elizabeth Herro Dowdy Scholarship recipient Maegan (May) Wells!    I enjoyed her Salutatorian speech where she shared the three things she had wanted to accomplish while she was at MCH:  1.  Build a better relationship with God.  2.  Build a better relationship with her parents.  3.  Be happy with herself.   She felt she had succeeded in reaching those goals.   And the next line in her speech made me smile:  She was happy that she had been her crazy self throughout her time at MCH. 

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Salutatorian address

 

 

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May receiving her diploma

 

I met her briefly after the ceremony and I will be praying for her and God’s blessing on her life in this next phase.

So, the keeper of my daughter’s legacy begins yet another verse with this young lady.    The emotions I felt that afternoon are hard to describe…….but I felt my heart was going to burst.  So much of God’s amazing grace, so much gratitude, so many blessings, flooding my heart and yet the hole in my heart for the loss of my amazing blue eyed 25 year old daughter was also very present.  But on this specific day, it was if my heart had to be broken to feel the grace, the gratitude, and the joy.  And it further affirmed for me that …..God is good.   Yes, even in the darkest moments.  And He is faithful to his promises.  One of those promises is to bring beauty from the ashes……May is definitely part of that promise and part of the beauty that he has brought from my loss.

To take a phrase from Elizabeth’s bracelet…… LIVE Big May Wells, LIVE BIG!

Congratulations!

Julie

 

 

Kindness of Strangers

Live Big

Elizabeth doing her artistry at a wedding with her bracelet.

Recently, I was trying to find some additional “Live Big” and “Give Big” bracelets that Elizabeth had gotten at the Armadillo Bazaar in Austin one year for Christmas as a gift for me and a bracelet for herself.  I wanted to give them to others that were doing things that honored my daughter (i.e. MCH prom) as a small token of my appreciation.

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Elizabeth’s bracelet (front): Live BIG

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Elizabeth’s bracelet (back): before I go….

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My bracelet (front): give BIG

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My bracelet (back): before I go….

I was able to track down who made the bracelets and her website.  I sent her an email and received a response that she would need to follow up with me due to her involvement in a large project.  When I didn’t receive a follow up several months later, I went back to the website which was no longer operating.  I sent another email and no response.  So I went to Google and found out that she had unexpectedly passed away.  Knowing that these bracelets were now a one of a kind I began to look for businesses that carried her jewelry to see if there were by chance any remaining inventory.

That search brought me to these amazing people!  They are located in Weston, MO!  I contacted them through Facebook and they didn’t have the same bracelets, but they did have similar coordinating jewelry by the same artist.  I decided to purchase them; however, these amazing ladies insisted that I put the money in Elizabeth’s scholarship fund!  She then wanted to share Elizabeth’s story with her customers, requested Twentycoats business cards and sent me these pieces.

So, if you are near Weston, MO (15 min NW of KC), I hope you go visit Cactus Creek!  I know I plan to!  If you go, ask for Fancy and introduce yourself.  By the looks of their website:  www.cactuscreekshop.com, seems like an awesome store!

Here are the amazing pieces they sent to me:

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Bracelet (front) – Love Big, Live Big, Give Big and Dream Big

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Bracelet (back)

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Necklace (front) – Live BIG

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Necklace (back)

I love that the bracelets send two more important reminders besides the ones that Elizabeth left me with “Live BIG” and “Give BIG” but also to “Love BIG” and to “Dream BIG”.

To the family that experienced great loss for the amazing lady that created this jewelry line, my heart goes out to you.  But I hope you know that her love for the design of jewelry made a huge difference to me and continues to this day with these pieces.  When I first wrote about Elizabeth and my bracelets, some people found my blog because they were also searching for these bracelets.  They were cancer survivors and the message to LIVE BIG was their goal.

Lastly, here’s hoping to BIG living! And I am so blessed that God is faithful and continues to bring beauty from the ashes.

Until next time,

Julie

It’s your 28th birthday…….

To my Elizabeth:  Today is your birthday.  You turn 28.  Not gonna lie, this day is bittersweet.  This is one of the days I miss you most.  It is the day God placed you in my arms.  And I just never thought this would be the story of your life…of all of our lives.  I thought I would be the one to have to find the words to say good bye when it was my turn to go home.  But for us, we have a different story that is being written.

This is your third birthday without you.  And this day stands as another reminder that it seems just like yesterday when you left us and then I awake today to have three birthdays passed.  I still think of you…..every….single…..day.  I think that’s what us momma’s do for our children and it doesn’t really matter how old they are whether they are 8 or 28.  Our heart aches.

Over these three birthdays, I have created some “rituals” to celebrate you on this day and today will be no different.  I will take the day off from work and I will spend the day doing things we enjoyed.

I will start the day donning your favorite perfume (Ms. Dior), your scarf, shoes and some special jewelry and head to the cemetery to lay your birthday wreath and honor the day I was blessed when God asked me to be your mom.

Cropped Birthday 2015

I will then head to Austin to meet some amazing ladies who are going to make a memorial quilt from your clothing! They want to hear about you so they can design a quilt that will have your spirit shine through!  I will spend lunch at Top Notch in Austin to honor that last time we were together and probably stop by Amy’s ice cream on Guadalupe to remember how you loved going there.  I’ll never forget that you loved it so much you insisted that your prom date was to go there!

I will then do something nice for myself like a massage, facial, manicure/pedicure.  I’ll go by and love on a little guy that carries part of your name and your first born.  Eli Fischer.  He has brought such tremendous joy and love.

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I also placed a memorial ad in the Salado Village and Lexington Leader paper to honor this day as I have done for the last three years…..

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You will be happy to know that a somewhat regular cadence has returned to my life.  My body doesn’t hurt like I’m being beat with a baseball bat from the days of early grief and I have more energy and no longer have trouble sleeping as I once did.

There are some amazing things that are happening because of your story and so thankful for God continuing to bring beauty from the ashes.  I am sharing Grace Based Parenting in another small group (my 3rd so far), and will be facilitating yet another!  God has been closing doors and opening others.  I have been praying to have faith to trust and walk through them.  I am looking forward to see how 2015 will unfold.

I also created a birthday video to Matt Maher’s “Because He Lives”.  I love this song.  We are in our Lent Season, Easter is my favorite celebration and Because He LIVES I can face tomorrow.

I know he holds our lives.  And for that reason I have HOPE…….Holding On to Patient Expectation.  And because of that hope I have JOY.  As Tim Kimmel wrote:  “My sad joy for them does not leave me with a smile on my face, just a confidence in my heart that all of this is part of a bigger plan … from an all-powerful God … who deeply loves my kids.”

Amen!  Yes, there is sad joy…..and I know he deeply loves my kids and my grandkids who live here on earth and in heaven.

James 1:2-4 says:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I miss you…..there are no words to describe how much.   But God knows my heart and I will rest in that peace.  The sting of your death has softened, but the missing you like crazy never goes away until we are together again for all of eternity.

I will end my day looking upward into the night sky and lift my heart with my broken hallelujahs to the one who blessed me with 25 years and provides me with hope and joy of the resurrection.  Where death is your sting?

Loving, Remembering, Missing, Honoring

Always,

Mom

Mother’s Day 2014

Celebrating Mother’s Day with a child and grandchildren that live in heaven is a tough day.  This is the day that brings to the forefront all that we grieve……our children and their absence.  Today was the second Mother’s Day without Elizabeth.

My Mother’s Day now always starts out at the cemetery.  To go to the place that is a testament to her life….I go to honor…..and I go to remember.  I spend time with my private thoughts and memories of my blue eyed baby girl that I treasure and never ever want to forget.

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I have found those of us that have children in heaven, many times create rituals to recognize these days.  For me, one of my rituals is around tea.  One of my special memories is that Elizabeth and I went to a “tea” for Mother’s Day.  The tea was complete with fancy china, cucumber sandwiches, petit fours and lots of tea to sample all in a beautiful old home in downtown Austin.    We have always made an annual pilgrimage to the Tea Embassy for tea.    In 2012, we had a Living Social Coupon to use before it expired on July 11, 2012.  Who would have known 19 days later she would be in heaven.  So, that day is very special to me.  That day would just be us two….no children or husbands.  So, we made the trek to 6th and Rio Grande and tasted many teas.  Since Lizz was pregnant, she was very interested in the herbal teas.  I can close my eyes and remember what she wore that day.  After tea, we wanted lunch and she requested to go to Top Notch….one of our favorite places.  We had cheeseburgers and onion rings.  After lunch, she wasn’t quite ready to go home and resume her role as mommy to two little boys, so we went to TJ Maxx.  I always loved going there with Elizabeth.  Especially when she went to the part of the store that had skincare.  She would always tell me if there was any good deals!  Her Sephora experience kicking in gear!

And as the day came to a close, the phone calls began wanting to know when she was coming home…..and so our day came to an end.  Who would have known…..if I had, I wouldn’t have let her go.

So, drinking tea….making tea…..takes me back……and the tears flow…..so, I save this ritual for a day like Mother’s Day to remember the last time we were together.  It is also why her Mother’s Day wreaths always have teacups.

So I started my day and spent the morning with her.  I made the tea when I arrived….yes, I boiled water and took it with me, took the tea, the infuser, my Mother’s Day mug, and a bag of Raisinets!  Why Raisinets?  It was part of my Mother’s Day present.  She had filled my mug with them.  The mug she got at TJ Maxx.  She remembered that I collect polish pottery and had found this mug.  And the last words she would write would be on my Mother’s Day card I now cling to and read when I need encouragement as a mom.

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I made some of the tea that she bought that day and never opened.  It was Lavender Lemon Tea.

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So, as I made a mug of Lavender Lemon tea…..and ate some Raisinets…..I listened to the birds sing, felt the wind on my face, watched the butterflies and dragonflies and remembered……I looked up at the big blue Texas sky with the fluffy clouds and wondered if she was able to see me today…..and was so hoping she could…..and that she too was sitting on a bench drinking a cup of tea.  God gathered more tears for my tear bottle today…..I placed her wreath and when I left I placed some lavender tea in her tea cup.

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I then joined my other two daughters and granddaughter at Old Settlers Park for a picnic under the Oak Tree that we dedicated in October of 2013.  It is a way I knew to include the memory of Elizabeth with us…..to gather around a tree planted in her honor.  Here we are almost two years later….standing as strong as Elizabeth’s oak tree……and we are joyfully anticipating the addition of another baby!  Lauren is expecting in November.  The women in this picture are strong oaks……we have withstood the worst pain that a family can experience.  We have survived.  We have faced the pain of life….and it hasn’t been easy…..but I love this picture.  Here we are standing arms together, smiling, and redefining our lives into a “new normal”.  With faith and the grace of God, we are enjoying a warm and very windy Texas day and being together.  We all miss Elizabeth and the boys like crazy.  And sometimes days like today are bittersweet.  I am so thankful and joyful for what I have and then there is still the grief of my loss.  It is a dichotomy for sure.  But this I do know……we will continue to put one foot in front of the other and lean on each other and to use a quote from Christa Black:

“This time, and with this level of pain, I want to feel every moment of the agony, to experience every second of the grief.  In her honor. In her memory. Because she‘s worth it.”  

Yes, Elizabeth is.  Our culture does not understand this.  No one does until you are forced to walk this road.  Our hearts are divided.  Grief for our child that isn’t here and yet blessed to have children and grandchildren that walk with us in this life.

Mother's Day 2014

And so here we are……looking forward to the next Mother’s Day as we continue to redefine and transform our lives.  I am looking forward to holding in my arms another grandchild and listen to their precious cry……watching Ava grow up into an amazing young girl and continue watching my daughters grow into awesome women.  Even with the events of July 30, 2012, I can say I am blessed, so very blessed…….and at the end of the day, I will raise my hands and praise the one that gave me my blue eyed baby girl for the 25 years I was so honored and blessed to have her call me “mom”.

My advice as cliche as it may sound………is to soak every moment in with your children…….take every opportunity to tell your children that you love them……you never know when it will be your last.   I wish I could tell Elizabeth a thousand more times how much I love her and how much she means to me.  Never leave your children no matter the age in doubt of your love.

And to those moms who also grieve the loss of their children……may God show us the way with his grace and love…..may our grief be used for something even greater and bigger than before our hearts broke from the loss of our children.

His grace is sufficient,

Julie

It’s your 27th birthday……

Lizz 12 12112009 (2)My precious Elizabeth……

Today is your 27th birthday……the second birthday that you will celebrate in heaven.  You are not here for me to give you a card…..a present…….or an embrace.  I think this is the hardest part of a parent having a child that lives in heaven.  And yes, this is a tough day for your Mom….I think I miss you most on this day.  It is a reminder of my 8 pound and 14.5 ounce baby that was born 27 years ago.  Their are only 3 people that have heard my heart beat from the inside of my body……and when we lose someone that has been that connected to us, it’s tough.  Really tough.  I am reminded of all those years of you needing me for your basic needs in life.  The joy of you as a small child, the struggle of those tough teen years and watching you grow into an amazing woman and becoming a mother yourself.   I loved our relationship the last 5 years of your earthly life.  As I reflect on those years, as God would have it, those would be the things I will store up in my heart forever to help with this separation we now experience.  I hold dear those almost daily phone calls,  watching you grow your business and develop your talent, raising your boys in a home of love and grace, and simply displaying your joyous spirit.

My heart is still broken…..and I now understand that it will never be fully whole until we are in heaven and Jesus wipes away all our tears.  But God has also shown me that in this brokenness He uses it for His glory.  And therefore your life lives on in a such a profound way, and I am honored that God has allowed me to be apart of it.

So how will I spend this day……your 27th birthday?

I will start my day with you……at the earthly place that bears witness to your life.  I will lay your wreath I made for you out of your favorite color.  And I will spend time reading scripture, listening to my favorite worship music.  I have learned when these days come I must turn to Jesus and hear what God says to me through his Word.  I will lift my hands and praise the one who gave you to me….and for that I am so very grateful.

2014 Birthday wreath Lizz

I will then spend the day being nice to myself with a massage, facial and manicure/pedicure.  I think you would approve!  Your Mom is trying to take better care of herself.   Something I acknowledge I haven’t done so well for the last 19 months.   I will also have lunch with my dearest friend.   She has walked this path with me….always supportive and loving.   It will be our last time to see each other for awhile because we will be separated by time zones as she leaves Texas to live in another state.  I will end the day with attending a woman’s conference with your sister Jennifer.  I can’t wait to see what God is going to reveal to me through this conference.  I am convinced it is a God appointment that I must keep.

And at the end of the day as I lay my head, I will pray as I do every night to my precious Savior.  I will ask him just like I do every night to hug and kiss you and the boys and tell you that I love you so very much……

As I did last year, I have honored your memory by placing a memorial in the Lexington Leader and the Salado Village Voice.

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And I have created your birthday video.  The songs I used are songs that John and I heard at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert with Josh Wilson earlier this month.  These two songs were part of the concert and God spoke to my heart in a very profound way as they performed these songs.  The first song is by Josh Wilson “Dark before the Morning” and the second song is by Steven Curtis Chapman “See you in a little while”.

To view the video, please click the link below:

Elizabeth…….one thing I have realized since you went to your forever home and you are no longer physically present here but you are in my heart and go with me wherever I go!  You and my precious Savior!   And because of that I am hopeful that there will be things as I go through out the day and weekend that will warm my heart because it will remind me of you.

Until I am called to my real home, know that you give me strength and creativity, to be open to God’s leading and to see where this journey will take me.

Dear Jesus:  It’s my little girl’s birthday!  Hold her tight and tell her I love her!  Tell her I’ll see her in a little while……and I’m sure you are throwing her an awesome celebration!  As the song says, we are ready and waiting for you to come…….until then I will press on and fight the good fight…….and will hold on knowing this time is the dark before the morning……

I love you Elizabeth Anne……to the moon and back.

Mom

Family Matters Ambassador!

Grace Based ParentingI wanted to share some exciting news as we are still so new in this new year!  I am humbled, honored, thrilled, and excited to announce that I have been added to the Family Matters Ambassador team!

“Family Matters is a non-profit ministry whose goal is to see families transformed by God’s grace into instruments of restoration and reformation by equipping families for every age and stage of life. We view families as the foundation of a successful society. Today, perhaps more than ever before, the family is being fragmented and undermined by many counter-forces such as busyness, relentless change, a lack of clear moral values, an attitude of indifference, and children being forced to grow up too fast. When families are unhealthy, our communities suffer many of the consequences in areas relating to economic productivity, education, law enforcement, health care needs, abuse, and violence.

Family Matters offers hope for today’s family by…

  • Educating family members about the strategic role they play in their homes and communities.
  • Equipping family members with successful relational skills and resources to make better family choices.
  • Encouraging family members to keep their promises and fulfill their commitments to one another.

In addition to offering hope, our ministry philosophy embraces a grace-based approach to relationships. It provides a solid grasp of the “big picture” and promotes a character-driven strategy for parenting no matters what your situation. Traditional, blended families, single parents, foster and adoptive parents and even parents of children with special needs can leave a legacy that lasts forever.”

This ministry is very special to me.  John and I heard Tim and Darcy Kimmel speak at a marriage enrichment conference and purchased the book “Grace Based Parenting” for our children.  Elizabeth read the book five times and loved the message.  I spoke about this message at her homegoing service.  Dr. Kimmel honored Elizabeth and the boys at a conference in Temple, TX last fall.   I facilitated the series at Elizabeth’s home church, Salado United Methodist, over the summer and recently returned from Phoenix after completing my Ambassador application, training and spending the day with other ambassadors and Dr. Kimmel.

So, what does this mean?  I hope it means that God will continue to bless this ministry and the message and use me as an instrument to share the message of grace in small groups, Sunday School, MOPS programs, in people’s home, etc.

I’m excited that I am already working on two opportunities to go through the series with some special people!  One is in the Lexington, TX area where Elizabeth and my girls grew up.  The second is with the staff at Methodist Children’s Home in Waco!  If you would like me to come facilitate the DVD series about this life changing message, please let me know!  I would love to book you on my 2014 calendar!

Here is the link to the Family Matters website:

Family Matters Ambassador Team

Here’s to the message of GRACE in 2014 and every year!

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.

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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

You’re an OVERCOMER……

96808-396-007fI was driving home from work yesterday and Mandisa’s new song “Overcomer” came on the radio and it got to the following chorus:

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

And the tears began to flow…..I have found sometimes when I am by myself, as my mind floods with memories and images of Lizz and the boys, a song can evoke a strong emotion to those images and memories.  Yesterday was one of those days………You see I was thinking about Elizabeth’s running and how very difficult some days are for me to function on this grief journey even 14 months later just the normal day to day activities……my job, cooking, cleaning, very normal tasks that become very burdensome and you can become so weary on this race called life.

I have also been trying to locate all of Elizabeth’s photographs from her races, her finish times, etc.  And so, these two thoughts merged on my 30 minute commute home.

Elizabeth competed in three races before her home going on July 30th.  She became inspired from her sister Lauren’s running.  The first race was February 2011 for the Disneyworld Princess Half-Marathon.  The race was on her birthday!  She would run this event with Lauren (who you will see with her in the pictures).  Jennifer and I ran the 5K together the same weekend.  This weekend would be the last time just the four of us were together.  A Mom and her 3 adult daughters.  That weekend are some of my fondest memories that I hold in my heart in a very special place.  The Princess Half-Marathon was her longest race at this point.  She was so energized after her half- marathon finish that when she got home she registered for her first marathon……the Dallas Marathon in December 2011.  That day in December was rainy, and cold.  She would run 26.2 miles by herself.  Her first marathon.  No one running with her to encourage her.  Her clothing and shoes wet….and yet when you see many of these pictures, there is that smile, that dimple.  She would then run her last race here on earth at the Austin Marathon in February 2012 almost a year later from her first distance race when she ran the half marathon in Orlando.  Some of the pictures from that race you can see the focus, her determination….I can imagine her saying to herself:  “I got this….I can do this……don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer!”

As I was letting the memories play in my mind the last chorus of the song began to play:

The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There’s nothing He can’t do
He’s telling You 

And I was comforted to know that the Great I am, who has calmed the sea, was in the lion’s den, parted the red sea and was raised from the dead was living inside of me!  The God that rose from the grave lives inside his children which include me!

So, be encouraged my dear friends……..in the words of Mandisa…..”hold tight, fix your eyes on the one who holds your life”!

So, I put together Elizabeth’s half-marathon/marathon pictures to Mandisa’s new song “Overcomer”…..and as I watch this video, I too am encouraged.  On my baby girl’s face I see her telling me:  “Be strong Mom!  The finish line is near!  You can do this!  I’m proud of you!”  So, whatever you may be dealing with on your journey of life……may Elizabeth’s pictures of her running encourage you .

To my dear Elizabeth:  I know you lace up those running shoes and run on streets of gold and never grow weary.  One day when we are together again, I will look forward to running a marathon with you.  I can hardly imagine what a marathon in heaven is like!

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Don’t Quit!  Don’t Give in!  You’re an OVERCOMER!

 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:14

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. – 1 John 5:4

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8

Julie