Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Memorial to Journey

I have been part of bible study for babyloss moms this summer. It's put together by some wonderful women at Anchored by Hope. As a final project each of us are putting together a memorial to our angel babies. I thought I would share mine with you:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Please Join Us On Oct.15th

This October 15th our family will be joining many other families and supporters of the baby loss community. We will gather to remember our babies and children in heaven, to share our stories and share love. We will light lanterns in memory and release balloons with our babies/childrens names. Many women are working behind the scenes to pull this even together and many prayers are going up that families will find comfort. If you can help or if you can join us please let us know at:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day of Hope

Lots of things floating in my mind ... so much I want to say and yet so hard to put it into words ... I think the words will come when its time, but for now I want to ask ... no beg ... everyone to please read and check out the site for Aug 19th - Day of Hope And then, please tell all your friends and readers to visit too.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Illuminate Week 4 - One year from now?

what might your life look like in the next week? the next month? What might it look like a year from now?

That is our final journaling assignment for the online photography course, Illuminate, taught by my friend Beryl, from Be Young Photography

I have to admit, this is a tough one for me. I know how I wish it would look, but that dream was shattered a few months ago. And I think I'm afraid to dream or plan right now ... afraid of more loss. What if I look forward to something or try and plan for something that does not happen? Can I handle any more losses or more goodbyes? How can I possibly protect myself from that horrible kind of pain? I don't really think I can ... I don't think anyone can.

Still, looking into the future now scares me ... the reality is that any of the people I hold so dear could be gone in an instant ... Aug 6th 2011 I spent at a graveside service burying my baby, Journey Peace. I know that at some point in my life I will have to stand at another grave site and bury someone else I love. I know that is unavoidable. Dear Lord, please do not let me be alive to attend any more of my children's funerals. But I have grandparents, and parents and other family, I have dear close friends and neighbors ... I've learned all too well that things like cancer and sickness and accidents can take those lives away. I suppose its morbid, but there are days I start to wonder "well, who is going to be next?" My experience has taught me that what I love and cherish can indeed be ripped from my hands ... from my life. Will it happen tomorrow? No, probably not. Will it happen to everyone I love and cherish? No, most likely not ... but sooner or later it will happen and I will fall apart all over again. I don't think I can handle it again. I don't want to look forward knowing that will eventually happen. I think I would rather live today ... in this moment I have ... and love big!

Somewhere in the tangled mess of all these thoughts are my memories of bible verses and truths that I am loved and created by a powerful and loving God, that my children are loved and guided by this God as well, that our days were written in the book of life and numbered long before anyone of us were even conceived. So you see, this brings me to very special word i have been holding dear this summer:

This life on earth is a journey ... and no two journeys will ever follow the same exact path. We each have our own journey to take. I'm blessed and pray that I will spend much of my journey surrounded by family who love me. But some of them will be called off, to their own journey, down a different path, some much sooner than I would like. Others will possibly say longer than I would like. But I find comfort in the knowledge that someone much wiser than I already knows the number of days we will each journey on this earth. One day my journey here will come to an end and I will truly know peace ... my tiny baby is already there ... my baby Journey Peace left this world ... he has indeed journeyed to peace ... and one day I will meet him there.

Burial at Resurrection Cemetery

I'm not sure I'm ready to write much about the service and burial yesterday. I am grateful for those who attended and showed us love and support and grateful for those who covered us in prayers even though they could not be there physically.

Truthfully I think for me Tuesday was much more difficult and lonely ... the service yesterday was very honoring and comforting.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A beautiful soft new blankie for Journey ... more tears for his Mommy

On Saturday we will have a prayer service and burial at Resurrection Cemetery ... but today I had to take our baby's remains to the funeral home. I know that since his heart stopped beating in May, Journey has been in heaven ... healed and perfect and full of joy at the feet of his Savior and Creator. But I am still here on earth and am still imperfect and weak in my human state ... this was a very hard day, filled with tears. I am glad that on my way to the funeral home the idea to buy a baby blanket to wrap his small casket in came to my mind ... so instead of driving right past that Walmart, I stopped and went in. I stood in the baby aisles, tears in my eyes. I avoided eye contact with other shoppers and workers lest anyone ask me if I was finding what I was looking for ... Could you just imagine me tearfully saying "I am trying to decide which is the perfect baby blanket to bury my baby in."? Such an odd feeling to know those around me were shopping for every day needs and carrying on life as normal. I can't even comprehend normal anymore, my life feels broken ... I stood there trying to decide if I should really spend $16 dollars on that beautiful blue super soft blankie or just get the green Pooh Bear one for $9, it was cute too. Then there was the $4 blue air plane one ... but not soft at all, almost scratchy feeling. BUT LIKE IT REALLY MATTERS!!!! HE IS DEAD! I stood there for a long time, picking up one then the other, then another one and then the soft blue one again. I finally decided I needed the one I loved, the soft blue one ... and I needed not just one but two. One to wrap his casket in, and one for me. I know it seems like a waste of $32 to some people. But it was comforting to wrap his tiny casket in his soft new beautiful blue blanket. And as I cried and left the funeral home, actually gasping for breath, I clung to my soft new beautiful blue blanket.

I sat in my car bawling asking God where do I go now? Wiping my tears with my soft blue blanket. I finally just started driving and ended up at Resurrection Cemetery. They have a memorial wall and children's garden there. I brought my camera and my soft blue blanket, walked the path down to the garden and cried. I cried out to God and I prayed ... I am grateful for a place where I could just cry and pray.

I know that everyone has their ways of coping ... for some reason my camera has become one of mine. I'm sure that taking pictures would not bring comfort to some people, but for me it has been incredibly soothing. I never leave home without my camera now. God met me there in that garden, as I cried and prayed ... He was with me. Am I done grieving ... done crying? No, certainly not, but He did bring me moments of peace and comfort there in those beautiful surroundings and I wanted to capture that in pictures. The pictures can't really convey the feelings, but they help me remember. For a while I sat and cuddled my soft new blanket, so glad I had it. Then these three white butterflies started flying around me ... really pretty. I would almost get a picture of one of them and then it would fly away, zoom around over my head for a bit and land somewhere else, so I would tip toe over to its new location almost get the picture, but as soon as I pressed my shutter button it would be gone again ... at one point I was actually giggling at them ... it was like a game. And then for a bit a really big and bright colored dragon fly joined their game, but I was never able to catch him in a picture. Only caught two of the butterflies:

Later as I sat down on the ground I started playing with the leaves and twigs and bark laying by me ... I ended up spelling out my baby's name ... again so glad i had a camera with me:

I know God met me there in that Garden and he met my needs today. As I drove home I was able to turn up my Selah cd and sign hymns at the top of my voice.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Illuminate Week 3 - 100 steps

For the next few weeks I will be taking part in an online photography course called Illuminate, taught by a sweet new friend and baby loss mom Beryl, from Be Young Photography

For week three of our online photography course Beryl has challenged us to pick a starting place, then take 100 steps and when we stop, look for something to take pictures of. I began with 100 steps from my front door ... that brought me across the street to my neighbors yard. They have some beautifully done landscaping as the entrance to our neighborhood:

Taken on my camera's foliage setting:

Taken in auto setting:

Taken in sunset setting:

The yellowish orangish flowers really caught my eye, so I took a few more steps and got closer to get better shots of the flowers, and a strange little green bug:

These were the pictures I liked the best from my attempts at the 100 steps challenge ... but I did try it a few other times:

On Wednesday at a little farm store by my mom's house
On Friday in the grocery store by my house

Feel free to visit those links sometime and tell me what you think.

The second half to our week three assignment was a journaling part. We were supposed to write about the things we are grateful for. I confess, the picture taking was much easier for me this week, than the journaling was. Grief can be overwhelming at times (ok, a lot of the time). It can can consume us if we let it. I liked the 100 steps project, because it helped me to get up and move, and then when I stopped I needed to look for something that appealed to me, something I wanted to photograph. My world feels sad and lonely many days, but I can make a conscious choice to look for the beauty, to look for things that bring a tiny bit of joy.

So as I walked I thought about what I was seeing and what am I grateful for? I am grateful for the ability to even take a walk. I can physically stand on my own two feet and walk. I have freedom and safety to leave my house and walk whenever I want. My home and my city are not in the middle of a war zone, be it gang wars or the wars in the middle east, there are others in this world who can not take a walk unless it is absolutely necessary. And even then instead of looking for things of beauty and joy they are looking out for life threatening dangers with every step. I am grateful to live and walk right here where I am.

Hmmm ... seems I have a tendency toward unhappy thoughts ...
So ... try again ... what am I grateful for? What brings me joy?

I do appreciate the beauty, the colors, and the textures in nature ... looking at the flowers in my pictures above I have to wonder how God knew that yellowish orangish pedals would look so nice with a brown center and green stem? Perhaps one of the reasons I like photography is so I can capture just a bit of that beauty to hold on to. But I must be honest here for a moment ... sometimes the fact that there is beauty in the world seems unfair, makes me angry even. There was beauty in my life ... but beauty I could not hold onto ... I have to ask: why can certain things work out so perfectly and yet others fall apart so miserably? Why must we live without the beauty and joy of our babies?

Did it again, didn't I? Ended up at negativity.
Trying again ...
gratitude and joy ...
What brings me joy?
What am I giving thanks for?

I've tried this before ... I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp ... well I read half of it. I began reading it in January, before we got pregnant ... our life is kinda crazy busy so I would read bits and pieces here and there but then after losing our baby ...well, I had a hard time picking it up again. I've been meaning to, I have wanted to pick it back up ... but there it sits on the dinning room table with other things I have not had the energy to pick up lately.

So I went to her Ann's blog today, so I could provide a link for you ... in case you are interested in her book or her idea of recording our own 1000 gifts in a book or a list ... and then, what do you know ... I find today's post most inviting and she has even posted some free printables for the month of Aug ... maybe that will be a good pace for me to start. Anyone want to join me? Here is the link:

So I guess today I'm thankful for other moms like Ann who blog about real life, who write books that challenge me. I'm thankful for other moms like Beryl who come up with amazing ideas like combining our love for photography with processing this grief we know all too well. I'm thankful for other moms who can relate to my days, though I am deeply sorry that each of you know this road we are walking. I am grateful that many months ago I bought Ann's book and a journal of my own to start listing my One Thousand Gifts. I'll end today by sharing what I wrote back in January for my first 10 gifts:

  1. The feelings of my soft bed and warm covers, as I lay awake hearing four of the people I love breathing in their sleep.
  2. Bible verses that assure me God wants good for me
  3. The lines and by Allen's eyes ... especially when he smiles (still makes me go weak in the knees, after all these years)
  4. Inspired ideas early in the morning (while I'm still in bed) ... Ideas of how I can best use this day to bless my family
  5. God's grace and prodding that helps me carry our the ideas to bless my family
  6. A laundry basket to carry clean clothes in, instead of trying to carry the whole load in struggling arms
  7. A wonderful and gorgeous, loving husband who is willing to cook dinner
  8. The ability my lap and my arms have to comfort sick children
  9. My whole family together in one room tonight
  10. Sleep & rest after a long day