Saturday, September 29, 2012

Illuminate Week 3

This is week 3 of my Illuminate photography class and our project this week is about perspective. When you are grieving sometimes it is hard to get out of your house, honestly some days it is hard to get out of bed. So for our photography assignment, we were supposed to pick a starting point, then walk a certain distance and take pictures from all different perspectives; looking up, looking down, looking close and far away, etc. Then for our blog, we are to look at our situation from a different perspective than maybe what we are used to. Even in light of the death of our babies, we are focusing on being grateful, which is hard to do, especially in the darker days of grief. I decided to make a list of 100 things I am grateful for.                                                

This is at the cemetery where Gideon is buried. I parked  in the same spot where we parked for his funeral (which is not where I usually park) Then I walked 100 steps and found myself about 20 feet from Gideon's place. This is his headstone and urn, with his flowers for the fall. For the perspective on this picture, I got down on my knees to be close to the ground, like I do when I visit Gideon's place.
This is at the cemetery, after I took the 100 steps, standing in the same place where I took the picture of Gideon's headston and urn, but this time I am looking up at the sky through the branches of a tree.

100 things I'm grateful for...
1) Jesus and his love for us.
2) His sacrifice so we could have a relationship with Him
3) Because of that we get the promise of Eternal life
4) Todd
5) Gideon
6) Silas
7) My parents
8) My siblings (and sibling-in-laws)
9) My other family
10) My best friends
11) My other wonderful friends
12) MEND
13) Hot tea
14) Driving on a cool day with the windows down
15)The love I have for my children and husband
16) Music...I could talk about music for days. I love it.
17) The Beatles music
18) Jenny & Tyler's music
19) Worship at my church
20) NKOTB! (Dont judge me, they are awesome!!)
21) I've gotten to see them in concert twice in the past few years
22) My church
23) My friends at church
24)  Fall, Spring and Winter weather in Houston area
25) Christmas time
26) Getting to be pregnant with Gideon during Christmas time
27)  And getting to be pregnant with him during Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years Valentine's day, Easter and Mother's day.
28) That Gideon gets to be in Heaven
29) Thats Silas gets to be here with me
30) The moment when I saw both my boys for the first time
31) Hearing Silas cry when he was born and seeing his eyes open
32) Seeing how both our boys look like both of us and therefore, each other
33) Snuggling Silas
34) Hearing him laugh
35) Watching Todd with Silas
36) Seeing the man Todd has become since Gideon went to Heaven
37) Having a place to go and sit and visit Gideon at his final earthly resting place
38) Getting snow cones after I visit him at his place
39) Red velvet flavored snow cones..well, just snow cones. Yum.
40) Red velvet flavored ice cream
41) Ice cream in general. Delicious!!
42) Icees.
43) Fettuccine Alfredo, pizza and hamburgers
44) Cheesecake....ok, I think I am done listing food! Can you tell I love food??
45) Being with Todd and our bestfriends
46) inside jokes
47) sleeping in late
48) using chapstick on my lips! (its my addiction!)
49) Talking to a friend who I havent talked to in a while and it feels totally natural
50) Watching my nieces and nephews play

This is 100 steps from my bedroom. I walked across the house and down our driveway. This if my perspective from my straight on, at my own eye level, but zoomed in to frame in the gate... I have a lot of good memories walking down this road. 

After I walked 100 steps from my bedroom and took the picture of the gate and road, I took this photo looking down at my feet. Its amazing how many different perspectives you get just standing in one place.

51) Playing board games with my family
52) Listening to loud music as I am driving and singing at the top of my lungs and looking like a crazy person
53) feeling totally comfortable with Todd and being able to sit in silence and just BE.
54) Having a husband who is my best friend
55) The sound of rainfall on the roof
56) taking a shower after a long day
57) wearing makeup
58) having my hair cut
59) baking cookies and decorating cakes
60) eating cookies and cakes (wait, am I back on food again.. Sorry.)
61) shopping for clothes
62) shoes....i love shoes
63) having lots of pairs of glasses, I figure since I need glasses, I might as well have a lot of cute pairs!
64) Talking with my siblings, its nice when your siblings are your friends
65) having a close relationship with my parents
66) that I had really awesome grandparents...who are in heaven with Gideon.
67) facebook, its been a good way to keep in touch with old friends
68) Musicals and plays, reading them and going to see them
69) Seeing Silas experience everything for the first time; riding on an airplane, visiting the beach, visiting different states, etc.
70) The smell of wintertime
71) my favorite tv shows; Charmed, Scrubs, Monk, House, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Cosby Show, etc.
72) Seeing a good movie at the movie theatre.
73) the whole theatre experience and theatre in general
74) the whole dining experience at a good restaurant...( I am back to food...I must be hungry or something)
75) traveling and getting to experience something new
76) getting to travel to  Maui Hawaii, Cozumel Mex, Niagara Falls Canada, New York, Tennessee, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Florida...and many states and cities in between...and ALL over the great state of Texas
77) getting to live in Texas. I love this state. I am one of those "too proud of Texas" people. I LOVE it here.
78) a good book.
79) my favorite books; I really love reading, so I will only list a few of the books that I enjoy..The Bible, The Chronicles of Narnia, Wicked, The Harry Potter series, The Great Divorce, A Grief Observed...actually everything I have read by CS Lewis...and all of Gregory Maguire's books, 1984, Brave New World, Dante's Inferno, Les Miserables, Catcher in the Rye...ok, I will stop listing books, I could go on and on...I think I could talk more about books than I have food. hahaha
80) the smell of my perfume
81) the way both of my boys smelled right after they were born
82) sitting down after a long day of standing
83) classic rock, 80's and 90's music
84) getting to go to museums and see things from other times or places or awesome art
85) a good burp. hahaha
86) a big glass of water, Dr. Pepper and Icewine
87)  the Bible study that I have been doing the past year.
88) when the Holy Spirit speaks so clearly into my heart.
89) reading a good play...I could list a lot of those, but I will spare you all...
90) getting to see a good play.
91) having a good picture taken of me. haha.
92) the pictures I have of Gideon
93) the photography class I'm taking
94) air conditioning, indoor plumbing ...and an on-demand generator
95) the right to vote.
96) the right to worship in a free country.
97) rollercoaster rides!
98) baseball and hockey
99) the compassion God has given me for others who are grieving
100) the opportunity to help comfort others the way God has comforted me.

I could go on..and on...Even in the midst of pain, I have so much to be grateful for. So many blessings from the Lord. Thank you God, that in our darkest days, you are right beside us. 

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12: 28-29
I walked 100 more steps after I took the picture of my feet and ended up on our road. It turned into a gloomy kind of afternoon. So this is my perspective from the side of the road. Again, this perspective is from my eye level, but zoomed all the way out.

This is 100 steps back from the gate picture, this is right by our house. I ended up standing right near this flower bush, so I zoomed in and got a picture with a close perspective, I like how you can see the water droplets on the flower.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Illuminate Week 2

This is my week 2 for my Illuminate photography class. This week we are studying light in pictures and how to use the light to convey our emotions. We are examining our emotions and how the world looks to us on this journey of grief. And we are looking at what the light or darkness mean to us as we live in a world without our babies 

I heard the words "I am so sorry" come out of the nurse's mouth. 

And my world went into complete darkness.

Though in hindsight, it was never totally dark because the light of God was always there. However, I couldn't see it, I couldn't see Him. Not at first. All I could see was complete blackness. My world went from a bright beautiful light of hope and joy into a dominating blackness. I had to walk into the dark. I had no choice. There was no other path for me. Life as I knew it ceased to be. And it was required of me that I live in a reality where there is always some darkness. I now live in a world where babies die, where my baby died.  It will never be fully light again.

 "Before I go to the place of no return to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” Job 10:21-22

  As I began to really look into the darkness, I could see a small amount of light.  Even in the beginning, even in the first few days after Gideon died. The light was a very small glimmer in an expanse of darkness. But it was enough to keep me going, enough for me to keep breathing. In.Out. In again. Look towards the small amount of light. Breathe in. And out. Look toward the Light. Towards Jesus. In John 8 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus is the light that I walk in. And as I walked the road of grief, I could start to clearly see Jesus again. 

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” - Charles A. Beard

I walked in this new darkness and as time progressed, more light entered my life.I didnt want it to, but it did. Most times, I didn't notice it happening. As I mourned the loss of my Gideon, each day it became easier to breathe, to see the light. To see Jesus. I could slowly see the the sun coming back into my life. Because I have Jesus as my Savior, I am never in complete darkness. I began to journey out of the complete darkness, and into the light of peace and joy. However, I was changed forever. I would never see the world again without shadows. There will always be a shadows, a shadow in the place where my son should be.  Honestly, some days I have to choose to see the light and not focus on the dark. Even though sometimes, especially in the early days of my grief, I wanted to stay in the blackness. Even now, 16 months later, there are days when I exist in the blackest of the dark.

 You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28

 However, I have come to realize that I can still remember Gideon and honor his life without sitting in complete darkness. I can even grieve him and still be in the light of Jesus. Gideon's life has brought sunshine to my life. His existence gives me an extravagant joy and I am extremely proud to be his mom and proud of all that his life accomplishes on this earth. I can see the light his existence has brought to my life, the blessing that his life has given me. I remember him and smile. And I love him every single minute of the day. And I know he has Eternal life in Jesus and that is a source of greatest light imaginable.

But, unfortunately in this world, our light will always be tainted by darkness for we live in a shadow of the Light of Eternity.

Because Jesus is Light. In Him there is no darkness when we get to see Him in Eternity. In Heaven there is no darkness, no sadness no pain. When we get to be with Him and with our babies, we will be in complete light. Because He is the source light. There will be no shadows because His light permeates everywhere. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:5

   God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.-1 John1:5

I see the light now because I focus on Jesus and focus on His joy. He lights my world, he gives me the sun to light my path and He shows me His peace and I can be happy, even without my firstborn son. I see the blessings God has given me in this world and I can see how he turns my darkness into light. I experience the love I have in my husband and in our miracle, Silas. Todd and Silas are the source of most of the happiness I have in this world. They are truly my sunshine. I see the fun and laughter he gives me with my siblings, parents and friends. I can feel the compassion he has given me for others who are hurting. In my heart I experience joy when I worship Him...And all of these things are good. Very good. Each of the gifts I am given, provide a source of light in the shadows of this fallen world. And to quote my favorite group the Beatles, "Little darling, it seems like years since its been here...Here comes the sun...Here comes the sun and I say, its all right."

“It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.” Eleanor Roosevelt


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Illuminate Week 1

This is my first assignment for my Illuminate photography class. If you want to read a little bit about the class, you can read about it here.  Each week we have a writing assignment and a photography assignment. This weeks pictures were self portraits. These pictures represent where I am in my grief journey as I live without our Gideon. This week we are to write letters to our babies in Heaven, I have written to both our Gideon and Avery. I decided that I am going to write with no editing, I am just going to write it as it flows from my heart, it might be a little random....So, here goes....

To my little Avery,
I am so sorry that I don't write to you more. I miss you. I always do. You came and left us so quickly. When I see your cousins, Ezekiel and Olivia playing, I picture you with them. You would be 3 and a half if you had been born full term. You would be just a little older than both of them. I wonder if you would be the leader of the pack, or would you let Olivia lead and Zeke tackle you to the ground? Or would you do the tackling? I don't wonder as much as I used to though. I know you are with Jesus and that is the best thing a mommy could ask for. Your daddy and I wanted you so much. But as quickly as you came to us, you were gone. We lost you through miscarriage and that broke our hearts. We spent lots of time at the doctors office getting procedures, and mommy had to get shots for 2 weeks out of every month to make my body ovulate (I even let your daddy give me the shots every day! He was actually really good at it!). I had to take very powerful medication to ovulate and we had to do a procedure to have the best chances of conceiving. The month we got pregnant with you, as your daddy stood by me and I was getting a procedure done, I felt peace. In the next couple weeks, I normally was a nervous wreck, God gave me an enormous amount of peace. Two weeks later, we got a call that we were pregnant. That weekend we told our family we were pregnant with you and Daddy and I went on a weekend vacation to Dallas. We went to the Zoo and had delicious food and toured the city. I remember feeling very tired and being dizzy. Those were my only 2 pregnancy symptoms with you. I told my very good friends about you the next week. But too few days later, as we were continuing to get blood work to make sure you were ok, they called and told me that my numbers were dropping. You hadn't made it. You had been fine, you were growing...but you stopped. You quickly came and quickly went away. Even though we never got a chance to really know you, we love you. I never got to see you, or hold you in my arms, but you were very wanted and greatly loved. You are our oldest child. Your daddy and I believe you are a girl. We gave you the name Avery. It was a name I always really liked, and I thought it would work for a boy or a girl. I like that it ends in a "y" and had 2 syllables like my name. In my mind, your middle name has always been Lynn. That is my middle name and it is also your great-grandpa's middle name. I am sure you know him in Heaven though. I am sure he was there to welcome you when you got home. I know he would have been excited to see you, he always loved his grandchildren. About a year after you went to heaven, your daddy and I sat down and made a memory box for you. We put in it the onesies I made for your daddy to tell him I was pregnant with you, a copy of the letter I made for your Nana & Granddaddy to tell them I was pregnant with you. I also have in it a pregnancy test that I took! And I picture of me while I was pregnant with you. We only have a few items from your short life, but I cherish them. I keep your memory box in your baby brother's room.  About a year after you left us, I had a strong image of you. You were about 2 years old, with blonde curly hair, wearing a tutu running towards me. We were right in the bank of a river and you ran from the edge of the water and you ran straight into my arms. I cant wait until I am in Heaven with you and get to wrap my arms around you for the first time. I love you, Avery. Your daddy and I miss you. Tell your brother we love him and give your cousins hugs from us & tell Grandma and Grandpa I miss them.

With all my heart,

 To my sweet Gideon,
Tomorrow it will be 16 months since I held you in my arms. At times, it feels like yesterday. Where has the time gone? Some days I feel like I am in another dimension where time flows differently than it does here. Some moments fly by very quickly, and other moments drag by very slowly. Those first 6 months after you went to Heaven were tortuously slow. I woke up most days in tears and would cry myself to sleep. I still do some nights. I think of the moments when I held you in my arms and tears fall from my eyes because I miss you so. I used to dream of you often, there were many nights when I would dream of you and I could see you smiling, or you were in my arms, or I could hear your voice. I love those dreams. I can recall so many details of those dreams...Though, its been a long time since I dreamed of you and your face; many months. I talk about you in my dreams, but, I do not dream of you as alive.. Maybe because the reality that you are not here has finally totally sunk in. I want to dream of you again, maybe sometime soon, God will give me a dream of you. I hope so. Though nothing will ever be good enough, no dream. The only thing that will be good enough is when I get to be with you in Heaven, with Jesus.
My heart shattered into a billion pieces when you left us, and God is the only one who can mend my heart. He holds my heart together, without Him I do not know where I would be.
 I think of you every day and I wish you were still here. I wish you were with me every single minute of the day. I wish that you were here to see your little brother and to pick on him. However, I am also so glad you are with Jesus and I know you are safe in His arms. I miss your kicks inside of me and the way it felt to be pregnant with you. Every single day my heart desires to be with you. I speak your name every day, your daddy and I talk about you, your aunts and uncle and Nana & Granddaddy speak of you frequently. I tell your little brother about you.
I can smile when I talk about you, and laugh when I tell the stories of my pregnancy with you, like when I cried at the song "Centerfield" or how much I craved Icees!!! You loved Icees, when I would drink them, you would kick, kick, kick!! I bet when you were older, you would have wanted to drink them all the time!! You and I would have shared Icees all the time! :)
 I miss your beautiful curly hair. I miss the color of it. When I see little boys with your hair color, it always stops me in my tracks. Part of me wants to run up to them and hug them. I saw a little boy a couple of weeks ago with curly hair that matched your hair color. He was just a little older than you would have been. I tried not to stare at him. But I couldnt help it. Part of me wanted to take a picture of just his hair because it looks so much like what I think yours would have. Its been a while since I looked at the clippings we have of your hair. I love looking at them, but it pains me so much because I wish you were still here. Your hair clippings are the only piece of your physical body I have left on this earth, it contains your DNA. And it is so very special to me.
After your sister went to Heaven, Daddy and I tried one more round of fertility treatment. When it didnt work, we decided to give it a break. We felt like God wanted us to stop, and it was very expensive. We felt in our hearts that the Lord would give us a miracle. And we prayed. For 2 and a half years we prayed. We had a healing prayer service and were prayed over for about a year before we got pregnant with you. One week before you were conceived, the Lord spoke to me and said "The child I give you, will bring many to me." And I was so shocked. Because I never really expected to get pregnant. At that time, I had begun to prepare myself for a life without children. And one week later, on Oct 8th, you were conceived. (Which is on my grandmas birthday. It was her prayer and hope that your daddy and I would have children before she died. She was able to see me pregnant with you before she went to be with Jesus, just 3 weeks before you met Him.). We found out we were expecting you on Oct 23, 2010. That was the day your Aunt Kat and Uncle Jason got married. That day was truly one of the happiest days of my life. I still have the pregnancy test I took with you.  You gave us hope. You were our miracle from God. Your life defies all odds. In Feb, right after Valentines day, we found out you were a boy and we were ecstatic! We named you Gideon. Gideon Zeller Mitchell. Gideon after the Old Testament warrior and Zeller after my maiden last name. We cherished every day we got with you. We loved on you and told you how much you were loved each day. I honestly believe that you knew how much you were loved and wanted. You would always kick when your Daddy had his hand on my stomach. He loves you so much.
We made many memories with you. In those 33 weeks, we experienced so many things together as a family. We celebrated every day we had with you. I had never been happier than I was when you were with us. I never smiled more or laughed more. Your daddy dreamed of the days when he would teach you about football and golf. And I dreamed of taking you to the zoo and getting to homeschool you. I dreamed of the days when we could take you to museums and to the park and play on the jungle gym and the swings. We would have had such fun together!!

But on May 15, 2011, you went to be with Jesus. And 2 days later, on May 17 (Mine and your daddy's 8th wedding anniversary), you were born and we held you and loved on you. We kissed your face and looked over every inch of you. Gosh, you were beautiful. It amazed me and still amazes me that God created you perfectly. That God, your daddy and I created you.  You were so gorgeous. I can recall exactly how you felt in my arms and how it felt on my lips to kiss your face.
When you went to heaven when I was 33 weeks pregnant, it left a hole in the family. There are only 13 granchildren walking around, when there should be 14. Your Aunt Kelsey, had your cousin Malachi just a few months before you were born and your Aunt Summer was due to have your cousin, Andrew just a couple months after your due date.  I imagined my whole pregnancy that you and your 2 cousins would be like the 3 musketeers. That you would be 3 peas in a pod. But there are only 2 peas in that pod left. I see your two cousins running around laughing, playing and learning and I wonder what you would be like. I honestly believe you would have been very laid back. That you would have let everything roll off your back and would have been a peacemaker. You would have had a silly sense of humor and you would have been patient. When I see your baby brother, I see you in his features. And I love that Silas looks like you. I love that you two are different but that you really look like brothers. As I watch your brother grow, I can see firsthand how much I missed out on not getting to see you grow up.
But, my sweet boy, I can just see you in Heaven right now. Laughing and dancing in the presence of God. That is good. I often think about the image God gave me of you in Heaven, as a grown man, laughing and so joyful. I think about the days when there will be no more tears and pain and we will be with Him forever. I think about you with him, you never feel any pain, you never hurt or cry, you never get rejected, you always feel complete love, joy and peace.
You make me want to be closer to God, to be a better mom, wife, daughter, aunt and friend.  You inspire me. Your life makes me realize that we have such a short time on this earth, that we must make an impact here for God in the time we are given. You did that in your life, you showed people that miracles can happen and in your earthly death, you brought people closer to God. And that is what I want to do. I want to be able to show people the love of Christ and I realize that I have a short time on this earth to do that. Through your life and earthly death, God has taught me compassion, grace and patience. In situations where I used to get frustrated, I can now laugh in those situations. You give my life beauty in ways that I never saw before.
You have given me a heart for those who are hurting. When I see someone hurting, I want to reach out to them and give them comfort the way that God gives me comfort as I miss you. You have inspired me to reach out to help those grieving. You give me so much.

I thank God every day for your life and I thank Him that He has a plan to give me a hope and a future.
I love you, Gideon, my first born son, my heart. Through all the pain and agony over the last 16 months, the strongest feeling I have is love. Love for you, love for Jesus, love for your daddy and your brother. Love. Love. Love. I love you. My love for you grows stronger every day.

I miss you. I hold you in my heart every day, my little love.

Until we meet again,

Thursday, September 6, 2012


A picture is worth a thousand words.  And I want to capture the pictures I see around me daily.

I am starting a photography class online for moms who have had a baby die. And I am very excited about taking this class. I have wanted to learn more about photography for a long time, however I never had the motivation or the inspiration before to draw from. I do now. Gideon gives me that inspiration. Since Gideon went to heaven, I now have a different perspective on life. I view things differently. Literally. I actually see the things around me differently than I did before. I notice the small things in more detail. I appreciate the beauty around me. I notice people around me in more detail. I have new eyes. I want to capture the things I now see with a camera.

And hopefully along the way, I can take pictures that don't look horrible. Hahah.

This class is called Illuminate. It s a photo healing class. It is meant to use photography, blogging and journaling as a means to help these broken hearts of a mommy without her child. It is a way to visually catalog our path from brokenness to a mended heart. To show our hearts as we walk this journey of joy and heartache. Its about healing through photography. I know that God is going to use the next 4 weeks to continue to show Himself to me.

I will be taking this class with 10 other women and a wonderful teacher who is a fantastic photographer.  I was blessed by an anonymous woman who offered to pay for this class for me. I was not able to afford the fee for the class and someone paid for it! What a blessing. This woman has no idea how much this means to me. Thank you God for this opportunity. I will do my best in this class and learn everything I can so I can make sure to get the most I can out of this sweet gift; this class. 

I hope you all enjoy the next 4 weeks of my pictures and blogging. I will be posting my class assignments here, as well as other pictures that I take through this process..

Click here for more information on Illuminate.