Happy 8th Birthday Benjamin!

There are no new words that I can share today with you Ben that I have not already said on previous birthdays.  No new insights…..other than:  I wonder if you were still here with us, how your appearance would have changed in the last 6 years?  You would be finishing 2nd grade this spring.  Do you like school?  Do you enjoy reading like your cousin Ava?  Do you play sports?  If so, which ones?  I’m sure you would have lots of friends.  That’s the thing about this temporary separation we experience.  Wondering who you would be today.  And so, I will just have to wait.  Until all things are revealed to me one day…..oh one day.  I don’t know when that day will be, but I know everyday that passes is one day closer than it was yesterday.  And so I do what I have done the last 6 years…..it’s the only thing I know to do really.  I make your memorial wreath and reflect on my precious memories as I pin 800 balloons to your wreath.  I then visit the earthly place that bears your name.

Ben Birthday wreath 2018

I recall our last time together.  At the movies with your brother and Papa John.  You and Fischer playing in the play room at the movie theater…..and seeing a cricket which you were hollering “cicket”  “cicket”.  Your big brother Fischer had to translate for us that you were excited about the cricket that was under the bridge where you were playing.  We then left and because it was a warm Texas spring day, off we go to the local custard/snowcone place.  You choose a blue snowcone for Captain America.  Your brother Fischer, chooses green for the Hulk.  You couldn’t wait for me to take this picture because you wanted to see if your tongue turned blue.    And so, this picture with your blue eyes, your blue tongue, with your arms raised holds a very special place in my heart.  Who would have known…..this would be our last time together this side of heaven.

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So, today, I’m sure there are snowcones in heaven……so I hope you have one….a blue one.  I see you asked Jesus to send me a godwink.  A lizard.  He was out sunning, but stayed by me for quite some time.  Thank you Jesus.  Please hug the boys for me.  Please wish Ben a Happy Birthday.  And tell their momma, my youngest blue eyed daughter…….I love them and miss them always.

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Nana

 

 

Twentycoats Wreath Creations IMPORTANT UPDATE!

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”- Ecclesiastes 3:1

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I know I had announced last year, that I was going to be winding down my wreath business with John’s retirement.  When John delayed that retirement decision for a few more years, I decided to keep going with my wreath creations.  However, as I turn 60 later this month (OH MY!  WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?????), in the words of Dr. Laura:  Is this what you want to be doing between now and “dead” and my response was unequivocally “NO”.    My original goal and purpose when I started Twentycoats Wreath Creation was to provide an outlet for my grief (which was very healing) and to create an endowment at Methodist Children’s Home in Elizabeth’s name.  It was my way, of continuing her legacy long after I was gone and also to put her thumb print on a place she cared about (the endowment was completed in 2015).  Secondly, was to award scholarships named for Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes at Salado HS where they would have graduated.    John and I have been faithful in that commitment for the last 4 years and we look forward to the 5th recipient this spring.  With these goals complete, and wanting to turn my time and attention to other things as I enter this phase in my life,  I have made the decision to permanently close my wreath shop.

So what does that mean in the short term?

  1.  I have begun the process of selling off my wreath supply inventory.
  2. I will still make a few wreaths throughout the year to use up my inventory, but I will no longer take any orders.  Orders almost always require me to buy supplies, something that I can no longer do.  I will be in touch with my clients that I have had on my “to be completed wreath list” to complete and or cancel their requests based on their current situation.
  3. Any wreaths that I do make going forward will probably be floral.  I am selling most of my deco mesh supplies.  So, if you were holding off wanting to have a wreath from Twentycoats, you should be sure and follow my Etsy store and my business Facebook page.

What does this mean long term to my customers?

  1.  I will close my Etsy store.
  2.  I will take my website http://www.twentycoats.com offline.
  3.  I will shutdown my Twentycoats Wreath Creations FaceBook page.
  4.  I will shutdown my Twentycoats Pinterest page.
  5.  I will change my Instagram account from my business to a personal account.

This is bittersweet.  To be honest, this decision was extremely difficult.  The name of my store carries Elizabeth’s business name, her logo, and her favorite flower.  For awhile, I struggled that somehow I would be dishonoring her memory or her legacy to stop.  But I believe she would support this decision.   And since we don’t live in this physical body forever, the reality is that at some point, this would have stopped and caused a huge burden on my family to deal with. Additionally, when you run a wreath business in particular, you no longer have holidays.  You are consumed with orders and meeting deadlines.  And even though I was very blessed, and so very thankful that there is a part of my daughter and grandsons spirit in homes and businesses from coast to coast across this country, it is time to bring this chapter to a close and look forward to what is next.

Turning 60 makes me realize I don’t have the “time” of life I use to take for granted that I had when I was in my 20’s, 30’s or 40’s.  And continuing my business, would not be the right path forward in this season of life.

For all those that have supported my mission, and followed my story…..there are no words other than “Thank you”.  This has been an amazing 5 1/2 years.  In many ways this last chapter has been more gratifying than the previous 30 years I spent in the corporate world.  For all of this,  I am honored, humbled and blessed.  I will continue making wreaths for Elizabeth and the boys, and maybe I can finally make some for my front door!  You see, when you have a wreath business, that also means I never had time to do a wreath for my own door……sigh.

I will close this post with the verse I started it with……

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  Thank you again for your support as I enter this new chapter of life.

Blessings!

Julie

Twentycoats Wreath Creations

Resurrection Sunday 2018

Easter Cemetery 2018

O death, where is your victory, O death where is your sting?  1 Corinthians 15:55

There is no better place to understand the significance of Resurrection Sunday than a cemetery early Easter morning.  I’ve come to a place in this journey regarding the temporary separation of my daughter and grandsons absence, of peace and reconciliation.    Do I still miss them?  Oh my YES!  I will continue to miss them until the day I leave this life and join them and my Jesus.  But I am a living testament of how Jesus’ blood has bled into my wounds and provided healing, grace and peace.  The more I learn of personal pain, I see a tiny glimpse (I’m not sure I can understand it fully in this life) of his sacrifice which then floods my heart with gratitude and love.  You see, for me, Resurrection Sunday is the culmination of that awe, wonder, gratitude and love for my Savior.  That God walked among us, suffered horrific torture, beatings, and an inhumane death because of such LOVE.  That’s it.  Love.  Love for me and you.  We don’t have to battle the culture.  The early church showed us that.  We just need to LOVE our neighbors as ourselves and then have FAITH that with that kind of LOVE and the amazing power of God, lives are changed.   And oh how our world needs this…….it has become clearer to me over the last  5 1/2 years, that was part of Elizabeth’s story and continues to be…..the love of Jesus.  For those that knew her, her laugh, her smile and those eyes……for those that experienced the joy and laughter of  Fischer and Ben, to let that tragic loss allow our light to burn brighter, more intense.   Many say:  “You are so strong to survive.  I could never”.  I see those words as my opportunity to share the grace and healing of Jesus.  I am more convinced than ever that when Paul wrote Romans 8:28 that we should sift our pain and loss through these words:  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  And one day, He will reveal to me how he used the death of Lizz and the boys for good and His purpose.

So, today, Resurrection Sunday always starts where it did with Jesus…..the empty tomb.  At the cemetery, I show my love, just like the women that first Easter morning honoring  Jesus at his burial site.   I bring the memorial wreaths that I made and  Easter lilies to honor their lives and to honor my Jesus.  The ONE that died and rose on the third day.  Hallelujah!  I always use purple and white at Easter.  Purple because that is the color of the KING!  To my King where every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!  I use white for the RESURRECTION and our hope and promise of eternal life for those that believe in Him.

My heart is somewhat of a dichotomy.  I miss my Lizz and those sweet boys, but yet, because of Jesus and his LOVE that led him to the cross to overcome death, I have this hope, this promise that where He is, there I shall be and the same promise holds for all that believe in Him.  That same promise is now realized for Lizz and the boys….and so my heart has joy.  Unspeakable joy of Him….and for Him.    And for all these reasons, Easter is my absolute favorite of all the holidays!

In the words of the great hymn:

Jesus paid it all…..

All to him I owe…..

So, this Easter, I come before the throne of the one who paid it all with a joyous and grateful heart for the triumph over the grave and for the promise of eternity to those that love him.  I am also reminded to let my shine more brightly for Him and to love even when….it…..is…..sooooo…..hard.  Show grace to others as He has shown to me…..even when they don’t deserve it……because neither did I.  Do I get this right?  Oh my no!  Is it easy?  Again, NO!  I still fall short in so many ways, but I try…..and keep trying.

May this Resurrection Sunday, revive us again to be the light in a dark world and carry His love and grace forward in our world that needs Him desperately.

Lastly, I can only imagine what an amazing place heaven must be on Resurrection Sunday.  And if you don’t know my Jesus and would like to know him personally, you can message me or visit this website:

https://peacewithgod.net/

Blessings,

Julie

 

Elizabeth you turn 31 today……

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Your last birthday of us together with your sisters….2/27/2011, at Disneyworld for my 5K and your Half-Marathon

To my joyous, one dimple, blue eyed daughter with a birthmark on her thigh in the shape of a heart…..The mark where you told people that God kissed you when you were born.  How very insightful that comment is to me today as you spend your 6th birthday with the One who sent you to me, and kissed you and left that birthmark in the shape of a heart.

There wasn’t a room that didn’t light up when you entered or your amazing ability to make people laugh!  There wasn’t a stranger you didn’t suddenly become friends with and there was your playfulness, and your joy that you shared with everyone you met.  And yet, you had a tender heart.  A heart of grace when others would wound you.  Those wounds would translate into you wanting to build a home of grace where your boys would be boys but also they would have a heart that even at their young age knew who Jesus was and already loved him….because of your heart.

So, today you turn 31.  Your 6th heavenly birthday.  This year, there are more family that have joined you in heaven for this birthday and I am sure they are celebrating with you today.  Your Nana Griffin and Grandma Patschke will join you today.  Maybe you will have some of those noodles you loved from Grandma Patschke.

Your family gathered for an early celebration of your life on Sunday, at Top Notch.  Top Notch is special to me because it was the last meal you and I would spend together.  So it is here with hamburgers, onion rings and french fries where I feel closest to you and try to reach back and never forget that day.  When you and your sisters were small, your Dad and I would drive a long distance to eat there and it was grilled cheeses for all three of you.  That tradition of grilled cheese sandwiches was carried on by your niece (Camryn Elizabeth) and nephews (Eli Fischer and Marshall Benjamin) Sunday.

 

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Camryn Elizabeth

Top Notch 2018

Marshall Benjamin

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Eli Fischer

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The Family!

 

John and I later attended a Mercy Me concert in Cedar Park and on our way home in Salado, your hometown, there was this amazing bright falling star that came across the dark sky in front of us.  I looked at John not realizing at first what it was because it was so brilliant across the dark Texas night, but then I smiled and said “Thank you Lizz”.  It was your birthday gift to me from God.

Not gonna lie, sweetie, these days are still hard for your momma, but I have come to a place of understanding  and peace that it’s because I loved you and that in itself is worth it and so I carry on, enjoying life, trying to be all that God intends me to be and loving on our family.

This afternoon, I went to the place that honors your life, and laid your birthday wreath.  Making wreaths and the creativity it brings is very healing for me and it is my way to honor you.

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This Lent season also reminds me of our hope in Christ and so thankful for the cross and the resurrection.  This season is much like grief, there is no joy of the resurrection on Easter without the darkness of the cross and Good Friday.    And that is where I place my hope.

I love you Elizabeth Anne…..

Mom

To my precious Jesus…….Please hug Elizabeth for me.  Tell her I love her.  Please wrestle the boys for me and tell them Nana loves them.  Thank you for the display of your glory with the falling star Sunday night.  It was spectacular!

 

Happy Heavenly 5th Birthday Hayes William!

Hayes 2018Hayes:  The first week of January, 2013 marks your birthday.  Your exact birthdate is not known because your Mommy was 5 months pregnant at the time you all went to heaven.  And so, this first week of January brings in the new year with a birthday wreath to honor you.

The only picture I have of you is from your Mommy’s first sonogram photo.   IMG_2182

And even though I never got to meet you in person, to see your face or hold you this side of heaven, you were always in the arms of Christ.  You see, I don’t know if we age in heaven, but I do know beyond any doubt that God will make it all complete, whole and amazing when I join you one day.

Hayes, you turn 5 this year if you were with us…….and you would be starting school this fall with your brothers!  You would now be an age where you would be holding your own with your two older brothers Fischer and Ben.

And so, today, I honor you and your Mommy, my daughter that was carrying you.  I will say your name today as I lay your wreath at the cemetery.

I’m sure your Mommy has an amazing party planned and there are more family members that have gone to heaven this past year that will join in the celebrations and meet you!  Please hug Jesus for me….tell him I love him, give your Mommy and brothers hugs and my love and know that when the time is right…..in God’s perfect time…….I will be there too because our God is faithful.

Until then, I hold you in my heart.

I love you,

Nana

Christmas 2017 Part A

Well, I completed my Christmas wreath orders and started to focus on the season personally, on my family and the Diem house décor.  As I write this post, I have no wreath on the door!  The irony that I am a wreath designer, have a wreath business and I have no Christmas wreath  of my own yet…..but that is on my agenda to complete tomorrow!  I decided to do something very different and “untraditional” with the Christmas décor this year but we absolutely love it.  I think it reflects the season, honors Jesus and my family.

First is the birch tree mini forest with ornaments that honor Jesus’ royal names and his birth names:

And the family stockings have grown which is an incredible blessing  so I decided to make a “stocking tree” with them.  The latest addition this year is Ms. Camryn!  This will be her first Christmas and we are excited to celebrate that with her and all our six grandchildren.  In this photo, you can also see part of our new scrabble tile collage with our names.  (Stockings by Lands End and LL Bean)

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And then I finished our mantle.  It also carries the birch tree theme with smaller trees, birch garland, angel candle holders and birch tree candles.  The amazing artwork displayed is from DeAnn Designs.  On her website she shares this quote from author Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs31 ministry)

“Angels are not mystical or mythological, nor are they supposed to be the object of our worship. They are Biblical realities on assignment from God. They point me to recognize God’s presence and see God’s power. I need to remember this truth. That’s why I asked my artist friend Deann to paint some angels for me to hang in my home where I see them every day.”

I have admired her artwork for awhile and these angel canvasses spoke to me and decided 2017 was the year to get them and display them.  The large angel canvas is titled Remembering Her and from the title I KNEW that was the one.  The smaller canvas on the mantle itself is titled That which fills her heart.  Again, it made me think of Elizabeth, Fischer and Ben and how those boys filled her heart and mine.  Even though she didn’t, it was if she painted them specifically for me!  You can follow DeAnn  on Instagram and Facebook.  I also have two of her barn series canvasses.

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“Remembering Her”

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“That which fills her heart”

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Diem Mantle Christmas 2017

And then I received this thoughtful and precious ornament for 2017 from my daughter-in-law that has all my grandchildren!  Ten children call me Nana.  So blessed!  It will also be placed on our stocking tree!  #saytheirnames

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And the part of my décor that focuses my attention for the Reason of the Season is our Willow Tree Nativity set.  I always add a new piece to our set every year and I love that it now covers the entire entry table!    The new additions for 2017 are the cypress trees (which have sunflowers carved into them!) next to the crèche and a couple of new smaller pieces.  One is titled “spirit of giving” and she is on the right hand of the nativity located at back behind the camel and the angel and holding a small gold package.    On the left hand side of the nativity towards the back, in front of the stars is another small  girl holding a magnolia wreath.  Lastly, hanging over our nativity set this year is a O come let us adore Him scroll that I got from CottonWood Shanty.

I swap the angels that are on top of the creche every year.  This year I selected the angel of hope.  She is holding a lighted candle.  I have also added small lights to highlight them at night.

 

Last is our tablescape (which also has the birch tree theme), additional pictures of the forest/dining area, and my kitchen window always reminding me to have JOY!

My focus next week is to create the memorial wreaths for Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes, wrap gifts and get a wreath on my door!  I’ll provide an update with the  wreath pictures!

May this time of year bring you peace, blessings and good tidings of comfort and JOY!

Lastly, I was reminded again by God these last few days that God is good….all the time.  Even when we can’t see it or feel it.

Emmanuel, God with us!

Julie

 

 

Thanksgiving 2017

Well, Thanksgiving 2017 is in the books and this wife, momma and nana didn’t have to cook one thing!  (1st of many things I am grateful for!)  Thanksgiving this year meant heading to San Antonio early to visit and have our first Thanksgiving with John’s mom.  At around 2 p.m. we headed to Lauren’s house where my daughters and family were gathering.  I spent the rest of the day loving on my family, and playing with my grandchildren.  What did that look like?  Well, that meant wrestling with Eli which I think amazed Jennifer as he would head toward me to “body slam” me and we would count “One, Two Three!”  Who wins?  And Eli would yell:  NANA!  and we would do it again and again and again.    Sometimes Eli would yell his name.  Wrestling is how Eli shows affection and so I always try to do that with him.  I love it when he grabs my hand and looks at me and says “Wrestle, Nana”.  And that boy also drug me out on the trampoline!  OH MY!  Thank goodness Ava came to my rescue!  Then there was Camryn, who is content to play with her toys in the middle of the floor and Marshall who between Eli and Camryn was enjoying the mayhem.  At the end of the day, I got to give Eli and Marshall their baths.  Haven’t done that in a long time and enjoyed it immensely.

Then there was helping Ava with her Christmas piano music.  Ms. Crider (my band director would be proud!).    I made Ava count the beats out loud and told her it was like cheering.  Everything had a beat and she needed to stay with the beat whether cheering or playing the piano.  It was great to experience that with her.  Music was something that I loved, and was such a big part of my life and I still remember today!  Learning to sight read and count out music before playing it.    It went something like this while clapping like a metronome:  Rest, two, three, four and one, two, three, four, REST, two three, four……

Lauren did a great job of hosting.  I was so proud of her for taking this on.  She decorated the table and Jenn and Keith brought scrumptious side dishes, and I brought one of our family faves “Sister Schubert dinner rolls” and a Pumpkin Spice bundt cake from “Nothing bundt cakes” (remember, I didn’t cook!).

I stayed to help Lauren clean up and put food away and we made the trek home and as I laid my head down at 1 a.m. tired, full and fulfilled……it was the best Thanksgiving in a long time…..and I know Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes were smiling that through it all we understood the importance of family, thankfulness and gratitude.  It’s been so incredibly hard.  But my family is such a testament to grace.  God’s grace.  And for that I am so thankful.

It truly is all about gratitude.  As I was reminded earlier this week, the 10th commandment from God is about covetousness.    It is a commandment for the heart.  It is more than not wanting your neighbor’s things as we were taught as children.  It is God’s commandment for us, our hearts, the essence of who he created us to be…..to be grateful in all things, all situations and for all things that he has provided for us.  The most important, the sacrifice of his Son Jesus.  So when gratefulness is hard.  I would recommend starting with that truth.  It truly is about our hearts.  And I continue to learn at the feet of the Master about what that means.  Today was affirmation and I am so very grateful.  Thank you Lord.

Here are some pics at the end of the day.  We didn’t get a picture of us all together, but here are a few of me and the three littles as they were leaving and going to bed……

Let me close with I understand holidays are difficult for so many of us, that even though you are in a hard and difficult place this year, my hope is that you are able to find gratitude in the little things…..because those little things collectively are what makes the big things so amazing.  It is from a grateful heart that God does his best work and life becomes so very special.  As I have said before, there is beauty in the mess even when we don’t see or understand.

Blessings,

Julie

To my sweet Ava…..

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To my sweet Ava:

This brown make-up case belonged to your Zizzy. It was her first case that she purchased at Sephora.  I remember how excited she was when she got it.  I have been saving it for you for the moment when you would start to wear make-up.  And now that your Mom is letting you wear mascara, it seems now is the right time to pass this on. She would want you to have it, especially now, to have something that represented a significant part of her life.  I wanted you to know some things about your Zizzy, my Elizabeth and her passion for make-up and why this make up case is so very special.   You see, she was very gifted in her make-up artist business.

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Zizzy was the youngest employee (worldwide) that worked for Louis Vuitton who owns  Sephora at the young age of 16.  She applied at Sephora at the Arboretum (it was the only Sephora at the time) around this time of year, hoping to get hired over the Christmas holiday season.  The hiring manager was reluctant.  They told her that hiring high school employees had not worked out in the past, but the manager was impressed with her passion and her portfolio.  Yes, Elizabeth walked in with a portfolio of photographs of her “clients”.  Her “clients” at the time were her high school friends, but she convinced Sephora to hire her none the less.  The work in retail is grueling during the holidays and she would come home exhausted with tired legs and feet and tell me stories about rude customers but also how she loved interacting and helping her clients.  Her stories have had a lasting impact on me to always remember to be kind to those that are serving you in retail.  I also remember she had one sale that was $500!  She hung a copy of the receipt on the fridge.  She was proud of that accomplishment.

She fell in love with the Stila cosmetic line while working at Sephora.  She did “make overs” for customers in the store and I remember her telling me how much she enjoyed having clients that felt unattractive when they sat in her chair and how much better they felt about their appearance after she was done with them!

She made many friends there.  Friends who have blessed me since she has been gone.  She later left Sephora after Fischer and Ben were born to become a trainer for the Stila cosmetic line.  She even got to travel to New York City for an event! With her committment to her family, she decided it was time to leave retail and the hours away from her family and start her own business.  She would do what God had given her talent and passion to do and would do make up for weddings, bridal portraits and prom. She named her company “Twentycoats”. She told me that she named it that because she always got asked how many coats of mascara you should put on! Not that you should put on TWENTY, but her point was one coat was not enough.   Her business was very successful.  She won an award from “The Knot” wedding website for best newcomer her first year.  I remember that day she called to tell me.  She was so excited.  She was also interviewed for the Killeen Daily Herald regarding her line of work in the wedding industry.  She also decided to be a vendor at the Austin Convention Center for the Bridal Extravaganza!    Some of her Sephora peeps came to help.  They were giving free air brushing.  The line was OUT THE DOOR!  She was surrounded by brides all day who wanted to talk to her.  She ended up booking 6 months of weddings from that event.  It was great to watch her that day and I was blessed to be a part of it all.

She loved serving brides and their families for their big day.  She was best at calming their nerves with her easy going personality, her laugh, her smile and her talent.  She preferred to do the brides make-up in very natural shadows and lip color.   She wanted their inner beauty to shine through on their big day.  I think if Zizzy were here with us today (besides showing you how to properly apply make-up, what brands, etc) she would tell you as you begin to explore this world of make-up…..that less is more and how beautiful you are and therefore you just want to highlight that.

Your Zizzy had beautiful skin and was often asked what was her secret.  Zizzy never went anywhere without sunscreen.  I have no doubt, she would tell you to never leave the house without it!  She would also tell you a good skin care regimen is essential.  Zizzy always let her natural beauty shine in how she wore her makeup even though Zizzy looked great without any or when she wore her red lipstick!

Her dream was to open a spa in downtown Salado.  She obtained her massage license in high school, established her make-up business and wanted to go to the Aveda Institute in Austin to obtain a cosmetology and skin care license once the boys were in school.  I have no doubt that Jesus completes our deepest desires in heaven, and so I am sure that she has her spa on streets of gold and we will get to see it one day.

Also in her make up case is her curling iron that she used when she would do her own hair and when she would do her clients hair.   My hope is that every time you open her case or purchase make-up to place inside it, you are reminded of your Zizzy. She loves you very much and is cheering you on with God and the angels above. She,  like me and your family are very proud of you and the amazing young girl that you are and we look forward to the woman you will become.

Here are some pictures of your Zizzy sharing herself and her talent with brides and wedding parties……..

You were five when she went to heaven, and so I want to write down stories about her.  Stories that you probably didn’t know, but stories we will store in our hearts until we are all together one day.

I love you,

Nana

Happy 9th Birthday Fischer!

Fischer 3 candles1Fischer, today you turn 9.  It seems like the past 6 birthdays since you, your brothers and your mommy left us are forever ago and yet at the same time it is if your 3rd Captain America birthday party was yesterday.

As I reflect on this day, and the 6 birthdays since you went to be with the ultimate Super Hero Jesus, I have so many precious memories in those three short years.  The first time I held you in the hospital.  How you took a helicopter ride to a hospital that had a NICU due to your breathing problems.    Your mom named you after a boy character in a movie and loved the name Fischer and how it was spelled.   And now it is not lost on me that you now live with the Fisher of Men!  AMEN!  AMEN!

You had a strong mind of your own.  I remember how long you were in time out before you could apologize for your infraction.  But I also remember your playfulness, your crush on your cousin Ava, your love of animals, your brother, and your special connection with Lauren (your Lolly), your partner in crime!

You would be in 3rd grade this year….reading books on your own and playing some sort of sport I am sure.  These are the small things that I miss without you here.  But I am confident that when we are together again, God will fill in those gaps for me and it will be like we were never apart.  In fact, we aren’t apart today…..for in my heart is a very special place where you reside.  All my love, my memories, and that day when we will be together again.  If we have to be physically apart, there is no better place for you to be than with my Jesus.

I know your momma has a party planned as she always did and more of your family members will join your party in heaven this year.  To honor you and celebrate your life today I will  lay your birthday wreath.  22089070_10214490162954599_4391107166444048163_n

I will also have lunch with your Lolly (Lauren) and Ninny (Jennifer) and your 1st cousins (Ava, Eli, Marshall and Camryn), Papa John, Uncle Dan and Uncle Keith as we celebrate Jennifer’s belated birthday and remember you on this day that you came into our life that changed us forever.

I love you Fischman.  Please thank Jesus for all the lizards that have crossed my path and the frogs that sing outside our window these last few days.  They are reminders of you, and they make me smile and my heart well up with love.

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Until we are together again, please hug your mom, tell her Nana loves her and wrestle those brothers Ben and Hayes for me.

I love you Fischer Phillip…..to God and back……

Nana

5 years….

1, 825 days.  The day that has compartmentalized my life into a before and an after.  What has these 5 years taught me?

  1. That grief changes over time.  Praise God for that!  We could not survive the intense pain forever in those early days of loss.
  2. You don’t ever get over it……and I don’t believe we are suppose to.  Because if we were to go back to “normal” and nothing changed in us or through us, what kind of love is that?    When we embrace the love of Christ, it changes us.  In a way, that is what happens when we lose a child.  Their love and their loss transforms us.  For me, my Jesus and my grief intersect and I let God do what God does.  I will grieve the absence of them in my life until I am with them.  Now, that also doesn’t mean that there isn’t joy and happiness again.  Because there is and I am so thankful for that.
  3. There is healing.    It’s really hard work.  I think the hardest work I’ve ever done.  I have always told God through this, he is the potter and I am the clay….make me and mold me, transform me into who I was suppose to be in his kingdom.  I have also learned that healing is not a destination but how we handle the journey.  Healing in loss is not like you have a disease and are healed.  It is a continual process and how we use that catastrophic event to change us.  I always prayed that God use it for his glory and claim his promises that he will bring beauty from the ashes.  I just prayed he would let me somehow be involved in his work to use their loss for his glory.
  4. Lots of folks are uncomfortable with death.  Especially with the loss of children.  I was told early on that “your address book will change.”  And that is the truth.  I have been blessed to know other bereaved parents and I admired how they handled their grief.  I have friends that are further down the journey that gives me hope and admiration in how they have handled the death of their child.  My hope is that I do the same.  Through my wreath business, through this blog, through the people that God sends my way.  I am also thankful for those in my life that are comfortable and are vulnerable to share this phase of life with me.
  5. There are a lot of physical impacts with grief.  I’ve had teeth issues, bad gums, a tooth abscess, weight gain, low energy level and even toe fungus!  All of that grief you carry does have an impact on your well being.  So, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!  I have learned that lesson the hard way.
  6. As I told my mom who died on June 10 of this year and now is with Lizz and the boys in heaven……there is not a day I don’t think about them.  All 1, 825 of them.  I don’t expect that to change.  And I don’t want it to.

So, I will do what I have done for the past 5 years.  I will go to the earthly place that honors their life and clean their headstones, place sunflowers in the vases and lay their wreaths.  I always use sunflowers for this date.  Because I will never forget their beautiful flowers that hot Texas day in 2012.  Fischer with his hulk hands and Ben with his Spider-Man.  Here are their 2017 memorial wreaths:

Elizabeth 5 year memorialFischer 5 year MemorialBen 5 year memorial

I will spend time today thanking Jesus for his act of love that gives us eternal life and his promise of eternal life.    I will ask him to hug them for me today and tell them how much I love them.  And to save a place for me because I will join them one day and oh what a wonderful reunion that will be!

Thank you for following my ramblings over these past 5 years and following Elizabeth’s memorial page, sharing your memories of her and the boys.  There is great joy when other’s talk about them and the difference they have made in your lives and for that my heart is full.  To those that have supported my wreath business to help me provide scholarships at MCH and Salado High School there are no words other than to say “Thank you” for being an important part of this story and their legacy.

Lastly, I also can not leave this post without saying something about the great joy and blessings in my life (yes there is great joy!).  Elizabeth’s nieces and nephews.  Ava continues to grow into a smart and caring young girl.  She has a tender heart and I love seeing God at work in her.  Eli keeps all of us on our toes…he is always moving, but I love his spirit.  Lauren has her hands full channeling that spirit at times but he always makes me laugh.  And what can I say about Marshall?  Our Marshie, our Marshmallow.  Such a joyful child and reminds me of Elizabeth in her personality and oh how they resemble each other so much as babies.  And we are all head over heals in love with this little girl Camryn Elizabeth!  Camryn looks so much like Jennifer as a baby.

 

Ava and Nana 2017

Ava Michelle (age 10) and Nana in Disneyworld 2017

Eli and Lauren

Eli Fischer (age 2)and my daughter Lauren

Lauren and Marshall

Marshall Benjamin (7 months) and my daughter Lauren

Jennifer and Camryn 2017

My oldest daughter Jennifer and precious Camryn Elizabeth

Camryn Elizabeth 2017

Camryn Elizabeth (5 months)

What does the next year bring?  I have a strong feeling more change and transformation.  Weight Loss, retirement and travel.  That probably means this blog will change it’s focus somewhat just as my grief journey has changed and evolved.

If you still have random acts of kindness cards from last year (and even if you don’t), please join me and use one today to share some kindness to honor them.  I would love for you to be a part of their story…..to share the love of Christ with others that God puts in your path today.

Lastly, I thank you for all your thoughts and prayers on this day and the wonderful notes and messages.

 

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul…….

Julie