My first friend to die died yesterday. Her name was Elizabeth Lodowski and she was as complex as her name is to say. I met this curly haired wonder my first day at Laity Lodge Youth Camp, a place that would change the rest of my life. She was my top bunk mate and I’d never met anyone like her.



I wrote a little about her here, as she was also my first interview when I took the LLYC Alumni blogger job just after my son was born. Note the laces in the article and know that she brought my baby son a tiny pair of these leather beauties, which are now the only piece of her artwork I own. I will always treasure those.

At the time, I was interviewing her about her success with a new artistic group, but really I wanted to know about the cancer. I wanted her to tell me how she was really doing. And she did. Sort of. She said everyone should read the book:



And she was obsessed with positivity. She refused to let a single negative thought into her head, for that was death for sure. And she was so good at the positivity. She really did it.

How can someone be good at everything? I’ll never understand this, but Elo was one of those people.  People wanted her on their cycling and ultimate Frisbee teams, on their records as a back-up voice, and on their side in life. Her unique and exquisite art hangs on many walls, while her impression is left on so many souls. I was honestly always a tad jealous of her because she seemed to have it all; a living wonder who pondered the eternal, yet set trends on Earth. AND she wasn’t worried about her weight or body obsessed (probably my favorite thing about her). She was full of life and always up for anything.

So of course she was up for a turkey trot when I had an extra race bib. I love the picture below. When she was taking a break from treatments a few years back, she ran with Elaine and me. I’m glad I have this shot of us 20 years after we met. I will frame it.

Even between hospital visits in the end, she was doing races. Our last conversation was at Contigo for our LLYC Alumni happy hour a few months back. It was early fall and she looked frail, but with gusto asked, “So, are you going to do the Livestrong this year?” I’m not a cyclist, so to me she was asking if I was going to run in the marathon or the half come February. If you are reading this, you know my journey with running and my feet. I was just getting back into the sport when she asked and I replied, “I don’t know. I’m running again, but we will see how my feet are doing come 2016.”

She said, “Oh, no, I mean cycling. Next month.”

“Oh,” I said, shaking my head. I don’t even own a road bike. “I’m not.” Doubtful, but curious, I asked, “Why? Are you?”

“Yep!” she said, her piercing blue eyes beaming life. “I mean I probably won’t make it very far, but I’m going to do it.”

And that was Elizabeth. She was a fighter. Right to the end. And I think that’s why she went so fast. She fought hard and long, so it’s no surprise that she left us the same day she went home under hospice.

I was able to write her a private message on Facebook before she died, but it still sits unread. I told her what she meant to me and that I will be doing the marathon in three weeks after all – in her honor! She fought hard, but I don’t think she lost. Ultimately, Elizabeth lived strong and now she will live forever with Our Lord and have pain no more.


So, this weekend, my church buddy/semi-neighbor Jamison and I ventured up to Cedar Park for the Rogue 30k. It was about 32 degrees when the gun went off before dawn and I kept my jacket on until the last few miles. This was certainly the longest I’ve ever run and I would never want to go a distance like that alone. Oh, man, I could wax ecstatic about the spiritual metaphors in this, but I’m too tired and my son is already raring to start the day (easily over an hour before he usually kicks off his mornings). Long story short, the course cyclist (the biker dude trailblazing the route for the lead runner) took a wrong turn early on. Neither Jamison nor I had our maps going, so we just trusted the signs, though it did feel like we were flying when we hit “mile 5” so fast, but we went with it, assuming they weren’t marking every mile because this was a smaller race.

Fast forward to “mile 16,” I am feeling like a rock star and it didn’t even matter that we only had crowd support at the rare water stations. We only had a few miles to go and I had my energy chews all planned out when a gal comes cycling towards us shouting, “You are almost to mile 13. Just around the corner at the next water station.”

What the curse words?

I laughed it off. She had to be kidding, right?

Nope. Garmin girl a few paces ahead of us confirmed this. I wanted to cry. The race planners scrambled to add on mileage at the end of the route to make it a 30k, but in the end they overshot by half a mile. When they say running is all mental, they are right. My mental game went down the toilet at that point. And if it weren’t for my running buddy, I couldn’t have made it to the finish. Bottom line: I only want to run one marathon in my lifetime. That said it will certainly be on an approved course! I want tons of crowd support in a big city! I need copious water stations and available port-a-potties. I also want some loved ones cheering me on at the finish line.


Card stock

It should be noted that I’ve managed to get a Christmas card out for the last five years. We have a whole collection now and I love seeing our little nuggets grow. It has finally sunk in: I do Christmas cards. I’m that mom. 

Oh, Man. Oh, Manna.

This morning Spencer reminded me that in a few days it will have been a month since I blogged, so I confess that this post is motivated by guilt. That said, I have missed recording some sweet moments with the fam. We had such a lovely (and unseasonably warm) Christmas and New Year’s celebration with the kids. They really caught the holiday bug this year and plunged toward Christmas full-force.

 Man, have I ever mentioned how much I love my babies?

 These few weeks of break from routine were full of precious moments and meltdowns and snuggle-fests and hours of being buckled into car seats. Sabra started using 5 word sentences and may have shot up a few inches in height, while Brooks is officially in monster truck mode. And as of last night, these two can play well together without adult intervention. Yep, Spencer and I were able to remain in the kitchen cooking dinner and visiting while they pretended to watch a show they’ve never heard of, but seen on a birthday party invitation (Scooby Doo) and played with their new stuffed animals in a kingdom they created under our coffee table. It was glorious.

Spencer and I have enjoyed the privilege of him getting home from work at 4:30 our entire marriage. This has been sweet, but will be so sour to take away. Now that it is threatened, I appreciate it so much more. I love that Brooks has had almost four years of his daddy from 4:30-7pm each day. As much as I would love the same for Sabra, I know that this may not be possible. So we will continue to go to the park in the afternoons, soaking up our moderate winters and we will have impromptu dance parties in our living room before bath time because our kids have a bizarre liking for hip hop and Sabra’s dance moves are decades beyond her years. We will make up our own rules and play by them day after day, looking above for our manna. Because all we really have is today, anyway.

 So, for today, I am endlessly thankful for my husband and children. I’m grateful for our home and our community of believers. For the food on the table and the water that so easily and cleanly comes out of our faucets. But above all, I am thankful that we know where and what we were made for. That this isn’t our true home and this isn’t the end.

God, take our days and make them Yours; ours and our children’s.