Easter 2015 – The Hallelujah people!

Easter has become my favorite celebration and holiday.  In fact, I’m somewhat ashamed that it wasn’t previously, but our culture places so much emphasis on Christmas.  To have Easter there has to be a “good” Friday where unbelievable torture, beating and murder happens.  Definitely not the excitement of a new born baby on Christmas.  But when the storms of life come, it is Easter after the Friday that is our hope and our joy.  For as a Jesus follower, my Jesus is ALIVE. Romans 8:11 tells us:  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.  Therefore we have joy and hope!

So, it is with this hope that I worship a RISEN Savior who walks this path with me no matter what comes my way, whether it is sickness or death.  You see, when you have a Friday in your life that is dark with overwhelming grief, and no path is seen forward, I too can relate to how the disciples must have felt after Christ died.  They didn’t know how they would move forward.  How they could live another day.  They were afraid the cross would be there sentence.  None of them thought he would be raised from the dead.  NONE.  But yet in spite of the fact that those that were closest to him never thought it would happen, he arose!   I have always believed in the Easter story, but it has become more real, more personal when you have loved ones that have witnessed Romans 8:11!

Today while there are Easter egg hunts, Easter dresses, baskets, Easter suits and all the celebration that comes with this day, my heart is also drawn back to a place in Salado.  There are no Easter baskets, egg hunts or Sunday finery for some.  No laughter, or joy from small children enjoying the day with their faces covered in chocolate and hearing them call my name…….Mom……Nana.  But then my Lord lifts my head and reminds me to keep my eyes on HIM.  The one that conquered death.  So, I look upward.  And my heart and my Lord tells me that they are wearing clothes that are more radiant than the sun.  There are no tears, no sorrow, no pain for them……just peace and joy.  It’s hard for me to imagine three little boys and their Mom with more joy and perfected in Christ.  But yet it is true.  They are witnessing what must be the most glorious day in heaven that we here in our earthly bodies can only dream of until we join them.

So, I honor IMG_1300 (2)their memory with the one that paid the price for us so we will spend eternity together.  I like the picture in my mind of the little ones coming to Jesus….climbing on him, hugging his neck.   But yet He also knows my heart and knows how much I still miss them….I will not deny.  I am coming to understand that part will never go away…nor do I want it to.  Their loss keeps me tethered to my Jesus more closely than ever before.

There was an empty chair with butterflies to honor those that are living with my King.  IMG_1315

My garden have Easter lilies celebrating the resurrection and the promise of their presence in heaven.

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We had a full table of family and dear friends to celebrate this amazing day.

This Easter was full of peace, full of blessings, and His ever amazing grace.  There was immense healing for me this year and the absolute resolve and confirmation that this life is not the end……and we need to use this time how ever short we are given ever so wisely.  Don’t squander it, be intentional in everything you do.  Make it matter.  Love deeply.  Give grace always.  And be assured of who holds our futures…..because we are the Hallelujah people!  If the RISEN LORD lives inside of me what could I possibly fear?  Oh how I need to remind myself of this when the enemy shoots his arrows.

I close with pictures of our Easter celebration and my heart full of hope and joy that only Christ can bring……

Jesus, please hug and kiss them for me until I can one day.

Blessings,

Julie

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He is RISEN!

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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…..

Memorial

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

Saying Goodbye……

Next week John and I say goodbye to our home, neighborhood and town where we have lived since we said “I do”.  This is a bittersweet event for sure.  There have been lots of wonderful memories here….holidays, family, Ava spending the night, Fischer catching lizards and frogs and time with my daughters, family, and friends.

And yet, I am absolutely certain that we are going where we are suppose to go……I love our new home and am looking forward to joining a new community.  Blessed that there are great friends that live there and family.   Looking forward to a church family that I just know has been waiting for John and I to get there!

So, I close with some of my favorite memories that happened in this home that we will say goodbye to…..

Private moments of Ava and John on the back porch throwing peanuts to the blue jays.  As you can see this has been a multi-year tradition.

Many weekends when Ava stayed with us meant trips to Ava’s favorite store, the Disney Store for a new princess outfit.  We were blessed to have several princesses here at the house…..Cinderella, Merida and Jasmine.

Ava dressed up in her white wrap as we went to the Nutcracker one Christmas…..

Lizz playing with Ava and Fischer in the backyard.

There were the Thanksgivings, Christmas’…….

Fischer in Papa John’s Army hat…..

and so many more that I will store in my heart forever.

Blessings,

Julie

Papa John and AvaIMG_0846009LizzFischAva 041220091619_56436312736_5463_nAva25022052photo044Papa John and Fischer (2)381673_2300811127034_998555814_n380826_2300842767825_10824650_nFischer Christmas Diem005

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

Major changes coming…….

I wanted to share that major changes are coming to the Diem house!  On May 9th, my company was notified that our state contract was being cancelled on July 31, 2014 and would transfer to a new vendor.  Even though this news was disconcerting, there is something that God has shown me over the last two years after the loss of Elizabeth and the boys is the eternal perspective and I can rest in the promise that my God is in control.  And because he loves me so much, he has my ultimate best interests.  Since hearing Priscilla Shirer teach on Ephesians 3:20, I now embrace this as a foundational truth:  “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”.  IMMEASURABLY MORE…….than ALL WE ASK OR IMAGINE…..He is at work to do more than I can ask or even imagine!

It was true and obvious to those closest to me that since the accident, my heart and my passion was no longer in the work I was doing Monday-Friday from 8-5.   I came across this quote from Stephen Covey that resonated at a deep level:  “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things.  And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘YES’ burning inside.”

10457382_10204402022797400_4772735070343223491_o My heart was dying to say YES to other things!   Becoming involved with other parents walking a similar path as me, working on activities that honor and build a legacy for Lizz and the boys, Grace Based Parenting, Twentycoats wreath creations, volunteering with organizations that I want to be a part of like Methodist Children’s Home and being open and truly fearless in where and how God would lead.

With this job news, John and I decided to think out of the box and truly explore other opportunities that were available to us.  One of those options was moving.  As many of you know John was promoted to the position of Technology Director of the Operational Test Command at Ft. Hood.  With his current position and the added responsibilities, God placed on my heart to use this season to support him.  There was a desire in me to be a stay at home wife!  For me, this was a drastic concept!  I have worked full time since Elizabeth was six weeks old.  I went to work with EDS in May 1987 and now May of 2014, 27 years later, my desire was to be a full time wife and helpmate for John and focus on Twentycoats raising money for scholarships and being open to God’s leading.  It will probably mean I continue to work for another year, but it will be an opportunity where I can work from home or an opportunity in the Killeen/Harker Heights/Temple area.

First let me say, John and I love our home here in Georgetown.  We love Berry Creek and there are amazing memories that we have made here.  But, if I wasn’t going to work, there was no reason for John to commute 2 hours/day.  He currently gets up at 4:30 to make a van pool by 6:00 a.m.!  So, with my commute no longer an issue and after much prayer and serious discussions, we have decided to put our house on the market and move from Georgetown to the Killeen/Harker Heights area.  First, let me just pause here and say how much God can change a heart!  8 years ago when I met John I told him I would NEVER live in Killeen/Harker Heights!  We also know this is probably not where we will retire, but for the next phase of our life, this is where we are being led.  We have a great support network in the Ft. Hood area, John’s son, wife and our grandson are there!  My son-in-law, Keith teaches there and Jennifer is starting school at Texas A&M Central Texas in the fall!  I am hopeful we will see them some evenings, something that is difficult these days with their busy schedule.  Lauren and Ava are still within manageable driving distances and there are great friends and a church that I know is waiting for us!  A church family is something that has eluded us the 7 years we have been in Georgetown.  We still don’t have a church home here and no friends in the community.  In fact, it was that reality that helped make the decision.  Why are we in Georgetown if I am not commuting to Austin for a job?  And God’s nudging helped point us.

So, my life at the moment is filled with shutting down a part of my life that I have been blessed to be a part of for the last 27 years.  My evenings and weekends are filled with boxing up our belongings and getting our home ready to put on the market.  Our goal is mid-late August.  I have donated the majority of my work clothes, banished my work suits and my high heels!  I have donated FOUR car loads to great organizations that can use them (OK, so that’s another blog posting about accumulating things!).  And all of this as I approach the 2nd anniversary of Lizz and the boys going to heaven.  But there is amazing peace in these changes.  I continue to claim the promise in these two Bible verses:

Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 61:3:

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

He is faithful, and I continue to prayerfully be open and let all of this be for His glory!  To Him all Honor and Glory…….Amen!

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.

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

Sacred Scars……

Jesus scarsThis subject has been on my heart for some time and with the coming of Easter and the celebration of our resurrected Lord I decided now was the time to share my thoughts about scars.  Sacred Scars.  Jesus’ scars in his hands, feet and side.  This Easter I have reflected that in Jesus’ glory of his resurrection he still chose to bear the wounds of the crucifixion.  We know this when he appears to the twelve in John Chapter 20, when Jesus says to Thomas:  “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

As the Messiah, the Son of God who did numerous miracles for the lame to walk, the blind to see and the dead to live again, Jesus could most assuredly have healed his wounds in his resurrected body.  After all he was God and with God all things are possible.  So I began to reflect on why did he keep them?  Why didn’t the resurrection remove the brutality of the cross?   I’ve always thought that I wanted to be young, without wrinkles, blemish and of course thin in my resurrected body!  But not our Savior.  His resurrected body was with the wounds……with…..the….. wounds.  The wounds are a constant reminder of his pain and suffering.  Why?  Why the scars?  And here is what God has placed on my heart as I have reflected on this:

Julie, my scars are a reminder that I am with you in all things, especially the dark, dark days of grief, loss, and whatever life brings. My scars are a visible reminder of how much I love you. And I am going to use your scars for my good.  Be patient my daughter……

The risen Christ with wounds in his hands, feet and side remind me when we suffer so did our God; when we cry out in pain, so did our God. When we feel at the darkest hours in our life where is God?  I remember that Christ hung on a cross and yelled for you and me, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”   You see, I don’t have a God who stands at a distance but rather one who entered fully into the reality of my pain.   So when I suffer, I know that Christ says, “I’ve been there, and I have the wounds to prove it.”  I am so very thankful for that this Easter season and to have a Savior that has scars.

I’ve also learned that the pain and the wounds are a necessary part of the journey to new life just as they were for Jesus in his resurrected body.  The scars impact us in such a profound way that they have changed us forever to never be the person that we once were.  My scars will remain.  I no longer want them to go away.  The scar tissue continues to heal and cover them, but they are forever a part of who I am and who Christ will help me become because of them.  To many other bereaved that walk this path, be encouraged!  Our risen Christ chose to keep his scars!  His scars are our HOPE!  So, let us never forget the One, who took the fall for us, who suffered on the cross, who was crucified, died, and yet who rose again…..with his scars.   He also knows our pain, and his scars are scars of hope for us.

In Revelation, John also describes Jesus in heaven with his scars.  I love that image.  The King of glory displays his scars for all to see and one day I will look forward to seeing those scars and falling at the feet of the one who healed mine.

The resurrection is our hope…..but this Easter season I am asked to remember the scars.  May your scars draw you ever closer to the one that knows your pain and chose to keep his visible for all to see.

One of my favorite hymns is “Nothing but the Blood”.  It has been on my heart……so I close with this great hymn.

Easter blessings,

Julie

Hayes William 1st Birthday…….

A new year is bittersweet because Hayes’ expected due date was January 2nd. That means this time of year is when we would have celebrated his first birthday. And so to acknowledge this day, I laid a wreath to honor and remember someone I’ve never met but is so very loved. I look forward to have him in my welcoming party when it is my turn to go to my real home……..

There are no pictures of Hayes….just an ultrasound and Elizabeth’s pregnancy picture atop a mountain in Alaska the month prior to the accident. Yet despite these things I love him to the moon and back. I bought a children’s book Guess How Much I Love You that I inscribed inside:

“To Baby Hayes…..today is your first birthday that you will celebrate in heaven with your Mommy and big brothers…….I can’t wait to meet you when I get there. Until then, I will hold you close in my heart. I love you to the moon and back!” Love, Nana

I only make these wreaths for my grandsons that live with Jesus. They are truly a labor of love. They are my small way this side of heaven to show my love during our physical separation.

There are approximately 900 balloons individually pinned on a straw wreath. This is the 4th one I have made on this journey.

Happy Birthday Hayes ! I’m sure your amazing Mom has an awesome party planned!

I love you to the moon and back!

Nana

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