Category Archives: Illuminate

Ideas and Projects: An Update

About a month ago or so I was determined to change my focus from all grief to actually living my life after babyloss.  I was ready to discover who I am again.  I want to find joy and not always be sad.  So I created a list of ideas.  It was helpful!  And I am happy to say I have been busy living out the items on my list.  I hope to update them now.

List of ideas for Project Heal

  • Take a photography class — I am really excited about this one!  ACCOMPLISHED

My Illuminate Assignments Complete

I loved taking the online photography course Illuminate.  It was an amazing photo-healing class that encouraged me to use my camera to move forward, change focus and learn about photography.  I am thrilled with the outcome.  I actually completed all of my assignments using a wordpress blog with the same name as my blogger blog.  Now I need to decide how to merge the two.  But I really love just how amazing the photos look in wordpress.  Do you want to see all of my assignments than visit my blog created for Illuminate assignments here.

  • Attend the Designed For Life women’s conference ATTENDED

The Designed For Life women’s conference in Springfield, MO was amazing.  I was able to go away for three days I was able to go away for 3 days and be immersed with girlfriends, fun, shopping, happy rings, and God.   The title of the conference I attended was “Designed for Life: A Love Story.” The theme was intended to allow me to share my story of my life while intimately experiencing the love of my Heavenly Father. I experienced life in a bubble where I could get in touch with my feelings, thoughts, and fears in a very protected setting. I experienced songs, teachings, and pampering that spoke to my spirit. And one exciting part for me in that was being able to let go of some of the guilt and shame of grief that has been weighing me down. I was able to feel loved by God and hear of promises He is so graciously will to share over me. I connected deeper with women who have become special friends since my loss.

I was able to open my eyes to the tiniest of details of living. I was surrounded by new babies and was able to glance at them without deep pain. I was able to receive the blessing of my children. I was able to hear the words “Children need mommy’s who are happy” “Husbands need wives who are confident” “Brothers need Sisters who are beautiful” and believe that inside me I have what it takes to choose to be that mommy, wife, and sister! I was able to laugh really hard until I cried as a speaker from Australia spoke the words due date, estrogen, and awesome in a cool Australian accent. I felt my spirit lift at as the speakers shared funny stories and deep truths.   I came back home with a content heart and I couldn’t wait to love on my husband and children. I felt so loved by them as they shared “welcome home mommy” cookies and lots of snuggles. I was able to recognize pure joy in my heart as my three year old wrapped his arms around my neck.

  • Take a Walk by myself  Yep did that too!

One of the neat experiences of the Illuminate photography course was that it insisted that I walk outside my house and look for photos to compose.  I have been enjoy daily walks by myself with camera in hand.  It gives me a chance to clear my mind and really enjoy the beauty that God created.  It helps me be thankful for all the blessing God has given in my life.  A grateful heart and some excerise have been good my spirit.

And there is still more Project Heal on the horizon.  Here are some items that remain and maybe I need to come with a few more ideas.

  • Read a book with my oldest daughter–her pick
  • Take a walk with a friend
  • Try something new
  • Create a peaceful place
  • Listen to Christian music and dive into devotion with God

Bonus: Filling my Soul with Color

The song I listened to over and over after I loss Seth was “I Will Carry You” by Selah.  The first few words of the song speak about all of the “photos I wanted to take, things I wanted to show you.”  I knew this was true.  I was ready to take lots of pictures of a newbown, my newborn, my son Seth.   I had all sorts of ideas in my head.  After Seth died, my love for my camera halted.  It seemed to remind me of all the things I would not be doing with my son.  So I didn’t take many photos for months.  I finally began to pick up as the baseball season for my older son was in full swing,  but I still only took a photo here or there.  Finally, as my healing continued I was ready to pick up my camera and take photos.

Illuminate helped me pick up on my camera with a different purpse while meeting me right where I was in my grief.  One of the neatest aspects for me has been thinking about that next photo opportunity and planning it out in my head.  I have found I really love taking photos of nature.  I look everywhere as I am walking or driving noticing nature wondering if I should stop and capture the beauty.   I have been able to see the details in trees and the flowers.  It took me out of my house and I loved the adventure of what I might find in my camera lens.  And with that I have also noticed color.  I really like bright colors of yellow, orange, and red.  I am seeing fall in a new way as I search out the colors that seem to brighten my soul.  I loved this bonus assignment of finding my color.

I also took some photos of two of my boys today in the woods.  We found this amazing mushroom in my colors….orange and yellow.  It was like it was just waiting there for me to caputure.  I have loved finding treasures like this to photograph.  I spend extra time and try different angles and try different camera techniques.  The good thing about still life photos is that comply to the request of holding still.  My boys on the hand were on the move on our nature walk.  I did capture quite a few good photos of them too by just snapping over and over, but I have some shots that didn’t have time to get into focus.  So I have found my next photo challenge.  I will take the tips, techniques, editing skills from this course and move forward.  I will look for the color in my life and capture it.  And I will chase after my children and let them lead me the next 100 steps and I will be ready to compose a photo with them as my subject.  They really color my soul.  And as I see more and more color I am reminded of how Seth is teaching me to see beauty again in a whole new way.

Week Four: Inspiration

After last week’s assignment and the women’s conference I attended I recognized something in myself that I have feared I would never know again after the loss of my son Seth.  I recognized JOY!  I felt it burning in my heart and it was amazing.  Siince the loss of Seth I have seen joy and felt glimpes of it, but I did not recognize JOY in my life, in my heart.  The defining moment for me last week was when I returned from the conference and I was in church with my children.  As I was singing praises I felt the arm of my 3 year old wrap around my neck.  Quickly tears came to me but not tears of sadness but those that fall when you are overwhelmed with joy.  It was a defining moment for me.  I need JOY in my life to survive.  I thrive on it.  I am planning to pursue more of it.

Joy was fresh in my soul.  The first word that came to me this week as I was contemplating this assignment was JOY.  I took my camera outside and I soon discovered that I found it literally as I found each of the letters over and over again!  As I photographed I thought about things that make me feel joyful.  It is in the beauty in life.  It is the trees, the flowers, hidden treasures, children’s giggles, sweet hugs, the sunshine, the fresh air, precious friendships.  And much, much more.  And better yet after I had spent a day of photography letters to make the word joy I went to church and sitting there listened to a sermon titled “JOY”  It was an incredible feeling to have a confirmation that JOY was indeed my word of inspiration for this week and it is one that I will choose to meditate on upon one day from now, six months from now, and one year from now.

Joy is filled with such promise for me.  I have an opportunity to seek it and discover it in the days ahead.  I am so thrilled with the decision of taking the Illuminate class.  I was hoping as I read the description and signed up that I would use the class to try something different, something else to focus on besides the sadness, something to look forward to in my day.  I found this to be true.  I plan to find more meaningful life experiences.  I even made a list to get me looking forward.  And looking forward is what I intend.  Babyloss has been horrific.  It left me in darkness filled with pain and sadness.  I was so low my only real choice was survival.  And once you choose survival just living isn’t enough.  There is more of an urgency in the living.  It needs to be more meaningful, more fulfilling.  I want to live more, love more, be more.  So it is my hope that in the one day from today I will have lived more moments of joy.  And in six months I hope that one day of joy will have inspired me to have lived more days of joy.  I want to find opportunities that fill me up as a woman, as a wife, and a mother and have great courage in seeking them.  In one year I want to remember Seth as my son who lived with joy.  I mean how can you bounce around and flip in a confinded space!  He must have had  joy as his motivation.  He knew nothing else.  As I pass by the day know to me as his birth day and remember my precious son I want to honor him with living out my life with a greater purpose.  Just like my precious baby boy who bounced so carelessly inside my womb, I want joy to be my motivation.  I want to bounce around in new adventures.  I want to flip out of confinded spaces.  I want to be alive from the inside out.  I want to learn the lessons my son taught me when he and I danced as one.  I know it will not be easy as already this week I have struggled to choose joy.  But I know that each time I choose JOY, it will be worth it.

Week Three: A New Perspective

My heart and soul are overwhelmed with a new perspective this week.   For me it has been where “Project Heal” as I have titled it has come to an amazing high point as this photography class and a woman’s conference I attended have met me at the same place.  I was able to go away for 3 days and be immersed with girlfriends, fun, shopping, happy rings, and God.  Of course I took my camera to capture this new perspective and this assignment in mind. It could not have been assigned at a better time.   The title of the conference I attended was “Designed for Life:  A Love Story.”  The theme was intended to allow me to share my story of my life while intimately experiencing the love of my Heavenly Father.    I experienced life in a bubble where I could get in touch with my feelings, thoughts, and fears in a very protected setting. I experienced songs, teachings, and pampering that spoke to my spirit.  And one exciting part for me in that was being able to let go of some of the guilt and shame of grief that has been weighing me down.  I was able to feel loved by God and hear of promises He is so graciously will to share over me.  I connected deeper with women who have become special friends since my loss.  I was able to open my eyes to the tiniest of details of living.  I was surrounded by new babies and was able to glance at them without deep pain.   I was able to receive the blessing of my children.  I was able to hear the words “Children need mommy’s who are happy”  “Husbands need wives who are confident”  “Brothers need Sisters who are beautiful” and believe that inside me I have what it takes to choose to be that mommy, wife, and sister!  I was able to laugh really hard until I cried as a speaker from Australia spoke the words due date, estrogen, and awesome in a cool Australian accent. I felt my spirit lift at as the speakers shared funny stories and deep truths.  I took out my camera and I captured detail after detail.  I loved looking at the details.   I came back home with a content heart and I couldn’t wait to love on my husband and children.  I felt so loved by them as they shared “welcome home mommy” cookies and lots of snuggles.  I was able to recognize pure joy in my heart as my three year old wrapped his arms around my neck.

I finished the photo assignment by taking and editing the photos above.  I felt alive as I walked 100 steps and composed a photo.  My favorite was of the hidden mushroom deep in the woods behind my home.  I saw the spider through the lense of my camera and I did a little happy dance.  I have never been so excited to see a spider.  And yet it speaks to the fact that I am seeing life.  I am thankful to be alive.  I love my family.  I am a blessed woman.  And this is my story today of a thankful heart.  It is a story filled with lots of love, showered with pure joy, shadowed with deep pain, sprinkled with grace, and mirrored with beauty. It is my story and it matters!

Week Two: Light After Darkness

Using Backlight with the help of the sun.

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  John 1:5

This teddy bear was a source of comfort for me.  It reminds me of my baby boy.  A teddy bear just like this one was placed with my son in his casket.  I needed to feel like he was not alone.  This teddy bear was one I hugged when I needed to send my love to Seth.  So you will see I used this teddy bear to create photos using light.  This was my favorite shot using the sun as a backlight.  I liked how the camera struggled to take the photo until I got the camera at just the right angle.  It reminded me that even in my darkness when I couldn’t sense it, light was there shining on me.  I was so drawn inside myself that I only saw myself in darkness.  I too stuggled to find the light in my darkness.  This image reminds me that while I faced the darkness there was light with me. There was light radiating from my other five children and my husband.  They begged me to let the light in again.  I also struggled with my faith during this time.  I was so confused as to why I felt so lost and far away from the Lord. And quite honestly I was upset with God that He let my baby die.  I know now He was placing light through many people in my life, but I could not receive it.  The darkness was too overwwhelming.

Using Flat Light in the shade outside.

I tried to find some joy again but even that joy felt muted.  There wasn’t as much color in my life.  I left like my days were colored with grey.  The sadness became overwhelming at times.  I know I would read people speak about how it was only the grief and it was somehow normal.  But some where in the sadness, the darkness became darker.  The lack of color wore on me.   I couldn’t enjoy things I once enjoyed.  I lost interest in life.  I fell into depression.  I didn’t want to live anymore.  It was scarey and it was serious.  I needed help to find light.  It was a balance of seeking help, confiding in my family, and trusting in God.  The darkness started to lift.  This image taken in the shade reminds me of life getting better.  It may not have vibrant color, but the camera uses light available and the photo captured even the tiniest of details.

Using Window Light inside my house.

To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:7-9

Even though the darkest of the darkness of my grief was starting to lift I still struggled with light. I would still find myself lost in the shadows of darkness. The sun had the nerve to rise every morning and send it’s rays through my window. It felt as though it was taunting me to walk through yet another day of sadness. It felt as if I was walking in the shadow of death. The light shone in the window but I was still sitting in the dark.  I posed this teddy bear facing the window.  The camera was able to use the light even though there is darkness behind the teddy bear.    I realized as I stopped resenting the sun, I could feel it’s warmth once again.  I began to go outside more and seek it.  I would spend time outdoors with my children.     I would open the curtains in the house and let it in. I chose once again to praise the Lord through this time and could feel His light shine on my life. The camera knew how to use the light and it represents how I was was also able to use the light to lift my mood.

Quotation Inspired:  Using Flat Light in the shade outside.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

As I was on my journey to take photos for this assignemt I found this rose in bloom outside my window.  I was surprised that it had bloomed there.  It reminded me of hope.  In many ways hope has brought light to my life.  It is not a hope of another baby that I stay focused on, but the hope of once again finding myself.  I am incredibly blessed as I am a mommy to six children.  I have a wonderful husband.  I am surrounded by loving friends.  I have a faith that is healing me.  There is light in my life.  I remember the darkness but I feel I am more confident walking forward.  I am taking the time to enjoy the sun.  I am smelling the flowers and appreciating their bloom. I am hearing the laughter of my children.  I am feeling closer to my husband.  I am remembering my baby boy with a fondness.  My heart will always hold a place of sadness, but there is balance again with the blessings. I do have a future and a hope.  And that is shining brightly again.

A Letter to my Seth Josiah

Dear Baby Seth,

 
I can’t believe it has been six months since I said goodbye to your sweet face. I miss you so much. You are always on my mind. I worry as time passes I will lose another part of you — the sweet baby I remember in my heart and mind. You were a beautiful baby with such a energetic spirit. I loved how much you moved within my womb. I was so surprised at how active and full of life you were little one. I loved every minute of it.

 

When they told me you had died I swear my heart stopped beating too. I remember just looking at my belly like I was no longer inside my own body. I wanted to die. Losing you has been one of the hardest experiences of my life. I cannot believe how much emotional pain I have felt or how dark the world has seemed to me. In the beginning, right after you died, I fell into a darkness I never knew existed. It swallowed me up and I couldn’t breathe. I felt so alone in my grief. I didn’t understand why God let you die. I felt like people didn’t understand the immense sadness I felt or the trauma my body and mind had gone through to give birth to you after your death. I felt Alone, Ashamed, Unworthy, and Guilty. How could anyone possibly want to accept me now?

 

Grieving you has taken time. It also has taken so much of me and the person I was before you. I have felt lost inside myself, not sure who I was anymore or who I even wanted to be. Yet with each new day and with help from God, my family and friends I have begun to notice the light again. I have been more ready to emerge from the darkness. I am finally ready to heal.
I can still remember the weight of you in my arms. My arms ache to hold the you again. I remember your sweet face. You were so perfect and beautiful. I have decided that these are my memories and I have every right to keep them with me. They live etched in my mind and my heart. They remind me of the incredible privilege it is to be your Mommy. And that I will always be.

 

Someone recently told me that she thinks I am going to be a stronger woman through this experience. She said that I am not afraid to go deep and search my heart and the hurt. I think I know what she means. I do feel stronger for being your Mommy. I am not afraid to feel emotion anymore. I long to love deeper and live happier. I feel a new confidence stirring in me. One that wants to be bold and more outgoing. I do not want your life to go in vain. I want to make you proud of me. I want to live like you lived. You loved being alive. I want others to look at me and know that I survived the unimaginable and I did it by loving more than I thought was possible. I let go of more than I wanted to and it knocked me down to the ground. Getting up has taken every ounce of faith in God and His divine healing. God is faithful and He has not left me.

 
Hope is blooming in me again. Your big sister Natalie said to me this week that I am laughing a lot. I never thought I would laugh again after you died. I am so thankful to find some healing and it has been your sisters and brothers who have given me sweet reasons to smile. It makes me wonder if you know what my smile looks like? I will always wonder what your toothless grin would be. I try and imagine it in my mind.

 

Sweet baby I will never forget you. You will always be my baby boy and I love you so much. You will be the baby that left the echo of your heartbeat in my womb. I can hear the whisper of it in my heart. You are the one who I held every minute of your life. And that my precious Seth Josiah was an amazing gift.

 
I”ll love you Forever.
I’ll like you for Always.
As long as I am living, my Baby you will be.

 

Love,
Mommy

New Adventure: Illuminate

I am so excited to be embarking on a new adventure. The darkness is starting to fade. I can see the light ready to shine through. It has been waiting for me, calling my name. I am ready to look through the lens of the camera and see life all around me again. I am ready to look upon the faces of my children and capture their sweet smiles. I am ready to view the beauty around me. It is time to Illuminate.

I consider it such a privilege to take a photo healing class offered by another baby loss mom called Illuminate.  I just completed my first assingment of writing a letter to my baby and taking photographs that represent where I am in my journey following baby loss. 

To learn more about Illuminate visit http://www.berylaynyoung.com/illuminate/

And stay tuned weekly as I take this course and post about it here. 

UPDATE:  My Illuminate Photo Class Assignments can been found on wordpress :  apieceofmyheartinheaven.wordpress.com