Happy Birthday Benjamin! You turn 5……

photo (10)Oh sweet Ben……you turn 5 today.  And today marks a new journey for us.  You have now been in heaven longer than you were here with us.  And that fact starts the new reality.  But oh how very blessed we are to have had you those two wonderful, amazing years.  I can’t imagine my life without you being a part of it.  You were so different from your big brother Fischer.  So content and wanting to grow up way to fast to keep up with Fischer.  Your small bare feet that pounded the floor so determined when you walked.  I remember when you fell off a cardboard box you climbed up on when you were playing in my garage.  I gasped and you simply rubbed your head without a tear and continued on never missing a beat.  I loved that about you.  You always took whatever came your way.

I’m sure you mom has planned a glorious day for you and I am heartbroken that I am not there to experience it.  However, I have a feeling when I am joined with you one day, God in all his amazing awesomeness will have a way to let me experience every moment that we were apart.  I hope so anyway.  He is a mighty God!

Have a great time running and playing in heaven today.  We will celebrate your 836 days that we were blessed to have you here in our lives.  I’m sure you will get to hug Jesus today.  Tell him I love him and can’t wait to meet him face to face.  Give your amazing mom a hug and kiss and tell her that I love her.  Wrestle some with Fischer for me and tell him Nana loves him.  Go fishing, swimming, camping and I’m sure your mom will encourage you to “get dirty”.

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Chalkboard drawing in the boys playroom.

I finished a new memorial wreath to celebrate this day.  I call it the Ben “man, man” wreath.  You loved Spiderman and referred to him as “man, man”.

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I will go lay your birthday wreath later today at the place that honors your earthly life.  IMG_1363Your birthday video this year is one your mommy made.  She sent this to me March 28, 2012.  The email message said:  “Can you believe it?  Benjamin is turning 2?  Bittersweet…..”.  The song she chose is Taylor Swift’s “Don’t ever grow up”.    I think the sentiments of this song and the pictures she selected speak volumes to us today and express what we all feel.

I love you Benjamin.

Nana

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James 1:2-4 says:

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

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

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

Loving, Remembering, Missing, Honoring

Always,

Mom

Twentycoats Wreath Creations……2014

10580759_1524928827720656_4286286043348015739_oI wanted to close out 2014 with an update on Twentycoats Wreath Creations, a status on the scholarship endowments and share my wreaths from 2014 that made it all happen!

First, due to our move in October, I wasn’t able to make any Fall/Halloween wreaths or go to the two Sami craft shows that I was planning on attending.  Christmas was focused on making custom orders but with having craft supplies at the house, at my storage unit in Georgetown and Harker Heights, it was challenging, but I was able to make it all come together!

The great news is that I now have a permanent wreath/craft cave space at our new house that will go through a transformation in the spring that I can’t wait to show you when it is finished!  The majority of my craft supplies will be at a storage unit that is right around the corner from our house!

As you may remember I decided to start the accounts for the scholarship endowments in September 2013.  By the end of 2013 (4 months), with some ‘seed’ money to start the process from John and I, we ended 2013 with close to $6,000 in both scholarship accounts!  John and I funded the $1,000 scholarship award at Salado HS in the spring of 2014 for the 1st Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Scholarship.

So, as we bring 2014 to a close, I am thrilled to share that Twentycoats Wreath Creations has contributed $5,360 the full sale price of the 62 wreaths to Elizabeth’s scholarship endowment fund!  Which brings Elizabeth’s Methodist Children’s Home Scholarship endowment account to $13,300 and the Salado HS endowment account close to $2,000 (I don’t have an exact amount at this posting) and awarding a $1,000 scholarship at Salado HS!   So, even with the move and not being able to make holiday wreaths, God has blessed this endeavor with a passion in my heart and our $2,000 seed that we planted.  Thank you God for placing this passion and keeping me moving forward!  John calls Twentycoats my ministry.  I like that.  I hope it has ministered to others and for years to come as they hear the story of Twentycoats.

I am excited that we are over half way to endowing Elizabeth’s scholarship!  $11,700 left to go!

So, what are my goals for Twentycoats Wreath Creations in 2015?

1. Fully fund Elizabeth’s scholarship endowment

2.  Focus on raising money for the Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Salado HS scholarship.

3.  John and I look forward to funding the Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes Dowdy Salado HS $1,000 scholarship for 2015.

4.  Enter the CRAFT/TRADE show scene!

I also am touched and honored by those that have sent in memorial contributions to honor Elizabeth and the boys without a wreath purchase.   Thank you for joining me in being part of something that is bigger than ourselves and to make a difference.  My heart is full.  This is proof what we can do together.

Lastly, I was so blessed in 2014 to make numerous memorial wreaths to honor loved ones.  To be included in such a private and special place with others is such an honor and blessing.  I love making all my wreaths, but there is a special place in my heart when I am asked to do a memorial wreath.  I want them to evoke wonderful memories of their loved ones and to honor their legacy and how their spirit lives on in us and we are better people for knowing them.  So, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your families in this way.

Words don’t describe my heart when I say that I appreciate your support of Twentycoats Wreath Creations!  I am looking forward to 2015!

To re-cap the year, here is a video of 2014…….

To Him who is worthy, all honor and glory is yours…….

Julie

Fischer turns 6……

37744_426473882736_2776045_nToday Fischer you turn six.  An age where you would be in kindergarten and could have started playing baseball with your little friends.  It’s hard to believe you have celebrated 3 birthdays in heaven since you left us.  So how will I honor you on this day?

As has been my custom, I have run birthday memorial ads in the Salado Village Voice and the Lexington Leader.

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I will visit the earthly place that bears a testament to your life.  I will lay your birthday wreath.

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Fischer’s 6th birthday balloon wreath for the cemetery.

I will spend some time remembering your joy, and your amazing spirit.  I will eat lots of green veggies and fruit today because you thought if you ate enough green food you would turn into the HULK!  I will enjoy green grapes which was one of your faves and eat them from the cluster of grapes.  You always were insistent to pull them from the stems!  I made a wreath for my front door to honor your fascination with the HULK:

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Diem front door to honor and celebrate this day!

Here are some of my favorite pictures of you:

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Fischer and his amazing mom on 10/1/2008

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Fischer and his amazement with a lizard

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Oh your joy and that laugh……

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You were so careful with the little creatures….here you are with a frog

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Running the bases like in the movie “The Sandlot”

You loved lizards and frogs, and you loved the movie “The Sandlot”.  You loved running the bases, swinging a bat and throwing a ball.

I’m sure your momma has an amazing party planned for you.  She always had the best parties for you and your brother.  I can only imagine the guest list!  I miss you so much Fischman.  We all do.  Even though we were blessed to have you with us for only 1,397 days…..I am so thankful for that time you were part of our lives this side of heaven.  I also know you will be there with your brothers and your mom to welcome me when I am called home.

I close with your birthday video.  The song I chose is by Mark Harris, “When We’re Together”.  It was featured in the movie Courageous.

Love you Fischman……Forever.

Forever in my heart

Forever in my thoughts

Forever with me

Forever.

Nana

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

Happy Birthday Benjamin! You turn 4 today……

Benjamin, Ben, Benji……..today is your 4th birthday.  Your second birthday in heaven.  And wow, did the heaven’s bring in your birthday in a spectacular way!  A lunar eclipse that turned the moon orange/red!

It’s hard to believe you were only two when you went to live with the world’s true superhero ……JESUS!  And now two birthday’s have passed.  And so on this special day that we celebrate when God brought you into our lives, I wanted to reflect and share some of the things you continue to teach me.

You were such an easy baby, just like your momma.  No colic, you weren’t fussy unless you weren’t feeling well.  We called you gentle Ben.  You were somewhat shy and unsure of people you didn’t know well and your older brother Fischer  taught you so many things, just as I am sure you are doing with your baby brother Hayes.  I remember a time when you were climbing on a box at our house in the garage and you fell off and hurt your head.  No tears from you……you got up, rubbed your head and off you went never missing a beat.  Papa John and I were always amazed with that.  Even at your young age you were fearless.  I’m so thrilled that you have an older brother and that you are now a big brother to Hayes.  As your Lolly and I can tell you sometimes being a middle child can be tough, but I am sure you are finding your place with your brothers.

And then there are those pools of blue….those amazing eyes of yours.  And you like your sweet momma, have one dimple that scores a 10 on the adorable scale!

So, my sweet Ben…….even though you weren’t with us very long, you have made such a profound impact on my life.  And even though you are not physically here with me for this part of my journey in life, you continue to be a significant force every single day.  Your life reminds me to find joy in the small things through the eyes and wonder of a two year old child.    To never forget the joy in the simple things (even a cardboard box!), your amazing laugh, and your exuberant joy.

Your birthday falls this year during Holy Week.  I’m sure the Easter celebration in heaven is amazing and I look forward to those celebrations when I get there one day.

So, to honor you on this day, I placed a memorial in the Salado Village Voice and Lexington Leader.

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And I will lay your birthday wreath……

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And here is your birthday video!

I look forward to taking your hand one day as you give me a personal tour of heaven and you share me all your favorite things to do there.   Until then, I carry you in my heart.  You have sent me crickets, lizards and baby birds that warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.  Thank you for asking Jesus to send those to me.  I look forward to many more.  Wrestle that big brother of yours and hug him for me…..kiss Hayes……and squeeze your momma tight and tell her that Nana loves her.

I will always treasure this picture.

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It is the last one I would take of you until we meet again.  Here’s to blue snow cones in heaven!  I look forward to having one with you when I get there.

I love you sweet Ben…..to the moon and back!

Nana

Music:  Sovereign by Chris Tomlin

Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

Amen…….Julie

It’s your 27th birthday……

Lizz 12 12112009 (2)My precious Elizabeth……

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

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

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

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

2014 Birthday wreath Lizz

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

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

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

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

To view the video, please click the link below:

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

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

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

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

Mom

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

Christmas……

1497533_10201023996829135_2051462908_nWell….another Christmas holiday season is here.  And for many and particularly bereaved parents, this is a tough, tough time.  Years of traditions and memories flood our minds and make our loss more pronounced.  I still haven’t put up any tree or decorations this year in the house.  And so stripped away from the tree, the lights, the shopping, the presents and distractions, God has encouraged me to focus on the Christ child.    The incarnation.  The rescue.  It is because of this act of immense love that we have the cross that is in the background and the tomb that will have the stone rolled away.  Emmanuel……God with us.  So, please, please don’t miss it this season.  You see, the enemy REALLY wants you to.  He wants you to stress, worry about gifts, parties, money, family, you name it.   He doesn’t want you to see the child.  But this holiday is when God’s grace and love was born to a young teen mother and father in a manger.  A manger of all places!  For many of us that have been around barn and livestock animals this would not be anyone’s choice to have a baby especially Almighty God!  Think about it……the manger……it’s a smelly place definitely not the cleanest!  The real manger is not the sanitized version we see in our nativity sets and school plays.  And yet isn’t that what he does in our lives?   When he comes into our hearts (our personal manger), and lets face it our lives are not much different from the smelly, germ filled, bug invested, excrement scene of that night….and yet his grace and truth still comes into my life bursting on the scene thrilled beyond my comprehension!  God could have been born anywhere you see……but he didn’t plan it that way.  There could have been room at the inn if God wanted it to be.  He could have arranged for the finest.  But he chose not to.  Even in his birth he revealed his nature to us being born in a place where no one would have a child…..but yet, that is where God came crashing into our world and chose to come walk among us!

The loss of my daughter and grandsons physical presence and this heaviness of heart has stripped this concept down at it’s core.  No lights, no ornaments, no presents.  Just Julie’s heart laid bare in a season that is about the joy of children’s faces….my grandsons faces…..reminders that I won’t have those this year.    But ever so gently, God urges and whispers to me to peer in and look at the Christ child….a long hard look.    And once again, He shows me how much he loves me….even through this…..this smelly, fly covered excrement called grief.

So, amongst the lights, presents and glitter…….take some time out and peer in and gaze upon the child.  Don’t miss it because the moment will be gone for another year.  The business of life will begin again.  Don’t be like others on that first Christmas and miss the birth!  You see most did miss it that night.  I don’t want to miss it….ever again.    I don’t want to miss the birth of the baby who 33 years later would endure the unbelievable to die for you and for me so we could be made right in his sight and live with him forever.  That is the gift….and it started in the manger that first Christmas.   I am so thankful for this gift.  Because of his gift, I live out this life with hope knowing where I will spend eternity and that Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes are already there worshiping and cheering my family on to finish well!

So, don’t sweat the small stuff this Christmas…..and it truly is small stuff.    Love more, hug more, tell your children you love them.  Life is short…..sometimes very short.  And whatever you do, take time to sit in the manger of your heart along with the smelliness of your life and peer into the face of the babe……God who became man!

I end this posting with a video of the last Christmas Elizabeth and the boys were here before going to their “real” home.    Christmas for my adult daughters along with many other adult children is a scheduling nightmare amongst parents and family.    This celebration started the morning of Christmas eve at our house for brunch, followed by dinner at Lauren’s, Christmas morning at their house with Fischer and Ben, and finally with their Dad and Lisa the day after Christmas.  I have organized the pictures in that order.  So, I implore you as you look into my memories of that last Christmas with my complete family….. and I hope through the pictures and music you will see the Christ child…….God incarnate!  The music is by Michael W. Smith “All is Well”.    And even though my heart is heavy I too look at the Christ child and know that “All is Well” and because of the babe in a manger one day there will be no more tears and I will live in the light of the Lamb forever more.  Amen.

Julie