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

 

 

The Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy 2016 Memorial Scholarship……

Tonight was a great honor and blessing to award the Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Memorial Scholarship to a graduating Salado High School Senior.  This years scholarship went to a graduate who was one of two Salado seniors that received … Continue reading

Second year update, thoughts and memories…….

Shortly after Elizabeth left us, two beautiful baby girls came into the world.  Their families decided to honor Elizabeth by naming them after her.  I wanted to update you on how absolutely adorable they both are!

Please meet Elizabeth Anne Gould, Izzy.  Her mom is Elizabeth’s cousin Katie.  Katie shared her pregnancy story on this blog that you can re-read here:  Elizabeth Anne Gould .

Here is Izzy at 5 weeks old:

Izzy portrait

And here she is today and recently celebrated her 1st birthday:10433897_764267703611403_3638427735792096534_n

A second baby girl would be born after July 30th, and Nick and Brittany Shelley named their precious daughter after my Elizabeth.  Here I am holding Elizabeth Grace Shelley, Lizzy last August:

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And here are her pictures for her 1st birthday:

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I remember Nick telling me that he always remembered Elizabeth’s joy and laughter and wanted that for his little girl.  I pray for both of these girls and can’t wait to watch them grow into amazing young women!  Izzy and Lizzy named after my baby girl!  May they have her creativity, her loving spirit, her infectious laugh and strength and beauty.

On this second anniversary, many of Elizabeth’s friends sent me amazing stories, thoughts on her life and how her death has changed them.  I wanted to share them here on her blog.

This is from Elizabeth’s friend Katie in Round Rock.  Lizz moved from Lexington to Round Rock to live with me her junior year in High School.  She worked at HEB on Louis Henna, Round Rock and it was there she met Katie.  Katie also lived down the street from us which meant many evenings were spent together.  Katie shared this about Elizabeth:

I met Lizz when I started working at HEB in high school. Within days of meeting each other, we realized that we had so much in common…kindred spirits if you will. She had just moved in one street over from me in Round Rock, we were both the same age, we both dressed weird…but adorable of course, and we were both way too cool to be working at HEB. The only things we didn’t have in common were that we went to different high schools, and that Lizz could do makeup WAY better than I ever could. Within the first few weeks of our friendship, we started getting into trouble for sneaking into our bosses office and taking pictures with our feet propped on their desks. I spent many mornings over the next few years going to Lizz’s house before school and having her do my makeup. We went through a phase our senior year where we would wear eyeliner that matched our clothes…no matter what the color. The best makeup job she ever did was when I was wearing a neon pink skirt and a neon yellow shirt…it was amazing.

One of my most very favorite moments with her was Christmas in 2004. It was a few days before Christmas, and she was so excited about the present she got for me, that she ran over to my house late at night in her pajamas to give it to me. I still remember what the present was; Lip-Venom Lip Plumper.

To this day, Lizz remains one of the best people I have ever known. It is so very hard to think of her and her sweet boys without getting upset and asking God why, but there is never a time I have thought of her and don’t thank God that she was in my life. Julie, I am thinking of you and your family with extra love today and praying that you find some comfort in knowing the impact Lizz has had on so many people.

Thank you so much for the beautiful memorial video you put up and shared with us all, you are such a brave woman to find the strength to celebrate the memory of Lizz and her sweet boys every single day.

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Love,
Katie

And from a friend that Elizabeth met through her Sephora years, Patrick wrote this:

“Two years ago my dear friend Liz and her children left this world too soon. I honor Liz, Ben, Fischer, and Hays today. You are loved and missed dearly. Please take a moment to read this story in their honor.

Elizabeth Anne Dowdy

When I moved to Austin, Texas my life was in shambles. I was broken hearted, confused, and starting over from a multitude of troubles which had plagued my very being since birth. I left beind my friends and family, changed my number, and took my first breath of fresh air. As I drove the moving truck to my new apartment in a new city I wondered if I’d ever be able to trust humans again. I prayed for a better life, I prayed to discover self worth, and I prayed that I would stop hating myself.

God heard me that day.

I walked into my first day at my new job and I noticed a woman standing in front of me in uniform. Her hair was long and perfectly wavey, her skin milky and perfect like a Hollywood actress, and the most beautifully piercing blue eyes I had ever seen. The light was coming in through the front of the store and shining just perfectly on my new colleagues’ face like a spotlight from heaven. I stopped to look deeper and I remember feeling awkward about how long I watched her, but I was mesmerized and drawn by her graceful presence. She noticed me and said “Hi I’m Liz” and offered me her hand.

Liz would continue on to be a huge inspiration in my life but first and foremost she was my angel. Liz didn’t look at me like everyone else. She looked past my exterior and straight into my heart. She didn’t want to be just your friend, she wanted to understand you and help you. She inspired me everyday to be better and expect better from myself. She inspired me to smile at myself and have a sense of humor. She inspired me to enjoy every momment because it’s all we have. She was a dreamer like me, and she went after those dreams. She was so young and confident about who she was. I often wondered where her sense of drive and self worth came from. Our entire friendship all Liz ever did was encourage me to reach higher.

She wasn’t perfect and she wore her heart on her sleeve. She couldn’t hide how she was feeling, and she made a point to show others that emotions are nothing to hide from. She was like a mother to me. She loves me and cared for me, never asking anything in return. She saved me from myself with her unconditional love. She taught me there are good people, and that I could be one of them. Through Liz I learned to open and trust not only myself but all of life. I learned to take a leap. I grew up after meeting Liz. This healing relationship was a surprise to me because Liz was younger than I. She was wise beyond her years and loving beyond the normal confines of a human heart.

We both ended up leaving the job where we met, moving on to bigger and better adventures. I was thrilled when Liz told me how much she loved being a Mom. I knew she would be a great mother by how she had mothered me when I had no one. It was her destiny to care for others and to touch lives in ways most precious.

When I lost Liz, along with her children in a devastating car accident that July day the world stopped turning. I felt so wronged for not being able to tell Liz goodbye, or hear her infectious laugh once more, or just one more smile. I thought this hole in my soul would be there forever, a reminder of a love once freely given to me, that life saving love, taken away.

Elizabeth served as an inspiration of unconditional love in the physical world and now she does the same in the heavenly realms. Elizabeth is still my angel. She lives on through me. She lives in every kind word that leaves my lips, she lives in every warm embrace I offer, she lives in my attention when I’m listening to someone explain their pain, she lives in my compassion when I see that someone needs me to help them, she lives in the wisdom of knowing loving others is why we alive. Elizabeth lives in every sunflower and sunny day. She lives in the swaying trees, the tall grasses, and the rolling hills of Texas. She lives in every smile I give or recieve. Each day I wake feeling safe because Liz lives in my heart. She is me, and I am her. We are just love. I’m comforted by the fact that we will always be together. She will forever be my kindness beacon and the reason to go on. She visits me in my dreams and I know she is happy. Her mission continues. I can’t help but feel lucky to have been changed by such a beauriful being.

What I find most inspiring was that Liz never shared with me that she was a Christian. She just did What Jesus teaches and would have done. She loved me when no one else would. She never judged me and she never tried to convert me. She knew I has been hurt and she embraced me with all she had. She filled me with grace and hope for the world. I hope everyone alive has a chance to meet a real angel. They exist. I met mine 10 years ago and she still walks with me. Always loving, always encouraging, always understanding. That’s my Liz.

You may think the world is a dark place. You may have lost hope. You may be weakened and unable to endure much more. If this is you please know my friend Liz is with you, shining her light on all that’s dark. I hope you feel that light for it will carry you through the dark.

Let my friend’s story inspire yours. Let us Look at what is important. Let us wake up to the real meaning of life. We are here to love, understand, and care for one another.

Let’s get started.”

And with Patrick’s post I will close mine with Elizabeth’s memorial video.  I selected Steven Curtis Chapman’s new song “Glorious Unfolding” because it really expresses my feelings at this point of the journey.  Elizabeth’s story is so far from over, and I am hopeful that God will use me in the unfolding of that story and how he will use it for his glory.  To Patrick and Katie and others that knew Elizabeth, I am hoping through these pictures that her smile will warm your heart, take you back to some wonderful times with my daughter, and when you close your eyes you can hear her infectious laugh.

Memorial Video:  July 30, 2014

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2nd Anniversary Memorial, Lexington Leader

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Julie

Our Legacy

2-Corinthians-4-16-18-webGod has really laid on my heart lately about how short our lives are from his eternal perspective.  Sometime they are shorter than we can ever imagine……25, 3, 2 or yet to be born.  But what He has shown me is that our life doesn’t necessarily end when this life is over and we are called home.  How we live our lives, live out our faith, face the big things, the bad things and the small things are threads that God is weaving in a giant masterpiece and we are not aware how our lives impact that story.

The Bible is full of stories that jump off the pages to exclaim that our lives are much more than the short span between our birth and death.  Our life is a legacy that has the opportunity to carry it forward and for God to use for generations to come.  This realization has changed how I want to view the here and now.

For example, there is the story of Rahab.  As you recall Rahab became a spy and helped Joshua as they entered Jericho.  For her help, she was spared.   Who would have thought at the time, surely not Rahab, that she was being singled out to aid the God she had a growing conception of. It was such a call that made her willing to sacrifice her own nation—an act which would have been otherwise treasonable.  And her legacy?  She would have a son, whose name was Boaz.

I hope you have heard of the story of Boaz and how he met Ruth.  Boaz becomes Ruth’s kinsmen redeemer, much like Jesus is our Redeemer.  If you aren’t familiar with their story, please go read the book of Ruth.  It is only 4 Chapters long, but worth the read when you learn their significance of their legacies!

You see, Boaz and Ruth are in the lineage of Christ. So are his great-​​great-​​great-​​great-​​grandmother Tamar, his mother Rahab, their future great-grandson’s wife, Bathsheba, and, centuries later, Mary — all the women listed in Matthew Chapter 1.   What a great lesson in how we live out our lives doesn’t end when this life ends.  Our legacy casts a much longer shadow….centuries!

And how about Joseph?  Joseph was sold into slavery at age 17 and died in Egypt at age 110. That’s a long time to wonder when God’s plan would start to make sense or when he would get to go home for good. But in all that time I don’t find a single place where he ever cried, ” God, how long will I have to live like this?” Or, “Lord, when will it all work out?” His life speaks to me across the centuries reminding me I am not promised the next step or the next breath, so I should trust my times to God’s schedule. His timing is always right on time. (Quote by Dr. Kie Bowman)

Lastly there is the life of John the Baptist.  Jesus said of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:11:    Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.  Wow.  It doesn’t get much better than that and yet John the Baptist was beheaded.   Beheaded!  Below is an excerpt from a sermon from John Piper about John the Baptist:

“And as he sits alone in jail, wondering, is this how the kingdom is supposed to come, Herod throws a birthday party for himself. And for a little sexual bonus for the guests he has his step daughter dance. She was so pleasing that Herod promised whatever she wanted as a gift. She consults with Herodias her mother, who hates John the Baptist, and says, “The gift I want is the head of John the Baptist on a platter” (Matthew 14:8).

And in two simple verses, it is done. And how many times have I put myself in John’s position. He is sitting there in prison hoping for release to continue his ministry and his life. The door swings open, and there are two men, one with a sword. A moment of silence. Then the executioner says, “Come over here and kneel. If you struggle, we will bind you.” “Why? What’s going on? What happened?” “They liked the king’s daughter’s dance, and she asked for your head.” And the last thing John is left thinking as his short life ends is: “A dance? A dance? My life for dance?”  And everything in us wants to cry out: Meaningless! Meaningless — except for one thing. We have looked to the unseen. And I have heard God say in 2 Corinthians 4:17: This too, this seemingly irrational, pointless, meaningless murder of a great man is preparing (producing!) for him an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.  It was not meaningless. At that moment eternity changed. A special, particular weight of glory was forged for John the Baptist forever.  And so it will be for you. Therefore, do not lose heart. Look at this unseen, eternal weight of glory day by day, and be renewed.”

God has shown me in His word that my grief is not meaningless.  There is beauty from the ashes.  I have already witnessed some of that.  But, there are many generations to come that will weave more events from my life for the purpose and glory of God.  My prayer is to be faithful and open as God continues to write that story and one day in heaven I will witness how God used it for his purpose!

And until that day, I will claim the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I close this posting with a song from Shane and Shane “Thou you slay Me”.  This has been one of the most meaningful and healing songs for me in this second year of grief.   As you recall, Job lost his family, his belongings, and his health.  In Job 13:15 it says:  Though you slay me, I will trust you……

Which brings me back to what started this blog posting……our pain and suffering isn’t meaningless…our story is much more than just our life.  When you begin to filter your life through this truth it is life changing!  Therefore, be encouraged that our life casts a much longer shadow, over generations and centuries!  May that view, change how we approach life day by day.  So, everyday I will fix my eyes on what is unseen because it is eternal…..and God I give you my life to help write that story…..Amen.

Blessings!

Julie

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say you do it all in love
That I might know you in your suffering

Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all

Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still more than I need
You’re enough for me
You’re enough for me

Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.

I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen.

When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.

Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.

Meet the 2014 Recipient of the Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Memorial Scholarship!

Tonight was the 2014 Awards Ceremony at Salado High School for the Senior class.  This also meant that the Diem family would award the 1st Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Memorial Scholarship!  I had the amazing honor to share about my grandsons……..Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes.  I told them about how Fischer always talked about becoming a Salado Eagle….and how Fischer would have started kindergarten this fall.  I shared how they loved Friday night lights in this small community and John and I created this scholarship not only to honor their memory but to create a lasting legacy long after we are gone.    I celebrate the thought that there is a small part of my grandsons legacy that is joined to the dreams of a high school senior in the high school they would have graduated from. I couldn’t be more thrilled with this years recipient!  He was so respectful, gracious, and appreciative.  His family attends Salado United Methodist Church and knew Elizabeth and the boys.  He is a band student and will be attending Lamar University to pursue a music degree.  And when I saw him for the first time as I read his name….of which he was not aware that he had been selected for the scholarship…… it was priceless to see his face when I announced his name…….I smiled and my heart was full….. in fact overflowing.  You see, he is a blonde blue eyed young man. So, it is with great honor and blessing, I introduce you to Chase Manning of the 2014 Salado High School graduating class who is the recipient of the 2014 Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Memorial Scholarship!

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Awarding the 1st Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Memorial Scholarship

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Chase and I after the awards ceremony!

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Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Memorial Scholarship listed in the scholarship listing for the first time!

Tonight was a testament how a broken heart and the love of your daughter/grandchildren can make a difference in someone’s life.  I look forward to following Chase’s college career and I congratulate his parents for raising an amazing young man! Lastly, I want to say that what a terrific class of graduates there were in Salado!  For a 2A school, this graduating class had a total of $2,433,671.50 in scholarship funds granted!  2.4 MILLION!  I saw two students take their enlistment oath to become Marine’s tonight….the valedictorian was awarded his appointment to the Air Force Academy, another student had a 4 year ROTC scholarship at Baylor University, there was the $20,000 scholarship to Texas State, and the list of scholarships and awards went on and on.  What an amazing show of support and commitment from this community that my daughter so dearly loved!  John and I are blessed to now have an active role to pay it forward. Lastly, my congratulations to Chase!  You were the perfect recipient this year to honor the memory and lives of three little boys………

Yes, there is beauty that rises from the ashes!  Romans 8:28 Amen!

Julie

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

A Bur Oak tree in Old Settler’s Park, Round Rock, TX

IMG_1381On October 19th, 2013, my Beloved and I went to the pavilion where 28 families gathered to honor loved ones through planting trees.  The Christi Center, in Austin, Texas plants a tree grove annually to honor our family members that we are grieving.  Before we went to the tree grove to see our trees, several family members spoke.  I found out that the symbol of the Christi Center that they use with the bereaved is the zebra!  You see, grieving is a lot like being a zebra in a herd of horses.  Your stripes set you apart and make you different now, but everyone still expects you to act like a horse.  The Christi Center is a safe place… to “show your stripes” and be with other zebras who understand. To honor your loved ones, the Christi Center plants trees annually and on October 19, 2013, they planted 28 trees.   The types of trees and numbers that were planted are:

  • Red Oak: 1
  • Chinquapin Oak:  1
  • Crepe Myrtle:  3
  • Live Oak:  6
  • Cedar Elm:  6
  • Monterey Oak:  6
  • Bur Oak:  6

I couldn’t wait to see what kind of tree was selected for my daughter and grandsons!  When I opened the memorial packet, I found that they had selected a Bur Oak to honor Elizabeth and the boys.  I had seen Bur Oaks before, but I didn’t know that much about them.  As I researched the Quercus macrocarpa a.k.a. the “Bur Oak” I found it was a perfect tree for them!  First, Bur Oaks are large!  Growing up to 100 feet and has one of the most massive oak trunks with diameters of up to 10 feet.  Bur Oaks commonly live to be 200-300 years old!  The bark is a medium gray and somewhat rugged.  I love that adjective……..”somewhat rugged”. The leaves are large and the acorns are very large.  The Bur Oak is a great tree here in Texas.  Our hot and dry weather here is not a problem for these oaks.  They can grow 18-24 inches and can grow as much as 3 feet a year. Reading about the Bur Oak, I thought it was a PERFECT representation of Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes.  It is a quick growing oak tree……just like 3 little boys!  The bark is rugged…….just like 3 little boys that were growing up to be courageous young men!  An oak has deep roots……just like my daughter.  She always knew who she was in her own skin…..even as a young girl.  Because of that, she was resilient.  She knew what kind of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend she wanted to be.  She wasn’t perfect……but she was amazing none the less.  The Bur Oak is large…..taking in all that the world will provide.  Elizabeth was a lot like that too…..remember her bracelet?  LIVE BIG?  How great is that is a tree is going to grow big just like she lived her life.  Bur Oaks become a great shade tree in the hot months in Texas.  I love this quality of the tree…..providing respite to those taking a moment at the base of the tree……My daughter and grandsons legacy providing shade and protection.    And lastly, the Bur Oak is long living…..they can live up to 200-300 years!  And even though that is a long time…..my daughter and grandsons live forever with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and I will be with them one day!  AMEN!

The Christi Center also placed a beautiful monument in the tree grove to honor the families, their loved ones and to dedicate the tree grove. It is a place in this world that testifies to the life of our loved one’s and the special meaning to those of us that grieve their temporary absence from us.

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The Christi Center also had hand written hearts on our tree.  Here are the pictures from Elizabeth’s tree: IMG_2342IMG_2341IMG_2340IMG_2343

I had the pleasure of going to watch Tyler Perry live on stage in Connecticut for one of his Madea plays.  Madea (aka Tyler Perry) gave a “tree analogy” that I thought was appropriate for this post.

I have this tree analogy when I think of people in my life, be it friends, family, acquaintances, employees, co-workers, whomever…They are all placed inside what I call my tree test. It goes like this:

LEAF PEOPLE Some people come into your life and they are like leaves on a tree. They are only there for a season. You can’t depend on them or count on them because they are weak and only there to give you shade. Like leaves, they are there to take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows in your life they are gone. You can’t be angry at them, it’s just who they are.

BRANCH PEOPLE There are some people who come into your life and they are like branches on a tree. They are stronger than leaves, but you have to be careful with them. They will stick around through most seasons, but if you go through a storm or two in your life it’s possible that you could lose them. Most times they break away when it’s tough. Although they are stronger than leaves, you have to test them out before you run out there and put all your weight on them. In most cases they can’t handle too much weight. But again, you can’t be mad with them, it’s just who they are.

ROOT PEOPLE If you can find some people in your life who are like the roots of a tree then you have found something special. Like the roots of a tree, they are hard to find because they are not trying to be seen. Their only job is to hold you up and help you live a strong and healthy life. If you thrive, they are happy. They stay low key and don’t let the world know that they are there. And if you go through an awful storm they will hold you up. Their job is to hold you up, come what may, and to nourish you, feed you and water you.

Just as a tree has many limbs and many leaves, there are few roots. Look at your own life. How many leaves, branches and roots do you have? What are you in other people’s lives? THANK GOD FOR YOUR ROOTS! You may want to call them today or share this message with them and attach your own note saying, “thanks for being my root”.” – Tyler Perry

My hope and prayer is that God will continue to use Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes as roots for others that knew them.  I know they are for me.  Their roots much like their Bur Oak tree will grow deep…..their legacy will be watered, fed and tended by those that love them.  They are reminders about what’s important and what’s not…….don’t sweat the small stuff…..and it’s all small stuff! My daughter and grandsons roots have taught me about God, his promises, my faith, his grace and his mercy.  Just like their tree, may my roots in my Lord and my “root people” also continue to grow.  When the branches need to be pruned to continue that growth, may I rest in the faith of that pruning.

I look forward to resting under a large bur oak one day…..reading scripture, having a picnic and enjoying time with those “roots” in my life.  If you would ever like to visit this special place, please let me know and I would love to show you and share that moment. Here are some pictures of their tree and some of my deep roots!

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My daughter and grandsons Bur Oak tree! Grow tall and deep…….

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My Beloved……

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Me by Elizabeth and the boy’s tree

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Jennifer and Keith Pascar

To God be the glory and be sure and thank your “roots”!

Julie