My week 3 assignment for my Illuminate course consists of two mini assignments rolled into one.  First we were challenged with taking steps, 100 steps to be exact.  We had to walk 100 steps and take a photo using what was available around us at that moment as our focus.  Second, we had to focus our writing on gratefulness.  I went on two different walks where every 100th step I took a photo.  Each walk I went on I combined the collective photos into a video.  So, 100 steps & gratefulness.

When you think about it, 100 steps really isn’t that much.  But there are times when even one step seems like way too much, so to accomplish one hundred is just out of reach and unthinkable.  I’ve been there before.  My husband and I have been together for over 16 years, married for 5 +.  Yes, that makes us high school sweethearts, and then some. We’ve had ups and downs in that time, but  what relationship doesn’t, especially after being together for so many years.  However, we have never hit as low of a point as we did this year when we had to say goodbye to Samantha.  The simplest of tasks became the hardest.  Sometimes, even the difficult steps were just a blur because you walk around so numb.  You move through life, while life around you moves on.  If it weren’t for my husband, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am.

I am grateful for my husband and the relationship we have.  It is a deep relationship, filled with:  love, communication, strength, encouragement, commitment, warmth, and arms to hold you.

Steps can lead you up, down, winding, straight, and even sometimes backwards.  Have I stumbled on my journey, yes I have.  But through it all, I have been learning from it all.  The steps of the path I am and taking currently, are steps I never thought I would take.  Who does?  For most…you grow up, get a job, get married, and decide to have a family.  No where in your thought and plan do you decide to become the parent of child who is in heaven.  Unfortunately, those are the cards I was dealt.  However, as unfortunate as it is, honestly I am able to remain very thankful and grateful.

I am grateful for the life I have.  I am grateful for the blessings I have received.  I am grateful for Samantha.  I may not have planed for this, but this is where I am.  I have learned a lot over the past year about life, probably more in that short of time then over the course of my life up to this point.  I have learned to slow down and take the moment in.  I have learned that not having a plan can be just as good as having a plan.  I am learning to do more of things I love to do instead of just thinking about doing them.

Steps can take you down familiar terrain or it can be like trying to cross a river where some steps are easy to make and some are sunken just below the water causing uneasyness.  When we take familiar steps, we easily fall into a rhythm and often a routine.  It isn’t until those steps take us out of comfort zone, sometimes way out of our comfort zone, that we begin to worry, are fearful, or begin to shut down.  There are times when going out of our comfort zone is good for us.  But it is easier to take it all in when it is our choice to move out of the comfort zone.  When we are tossed out of comfort zone by no choice of our own, that is when it sometimes gets tough.  It is important to have family and friends.


Family is important to me and always has been.  However, now the importance of family is even more valuable than ever before.  Beyond my husband, my family has been another major support in my life.  I am grateful for the prayers, support, conversations, love, and everything else that come with being a family.

I am grateful for the few close friends I have.  Friends that will join me in having a cup of coffee and good converstation.  Friends who are there and supportive, and genuine.

Steps can be easy or they can be hard.  When you have the things you are most grateful in life for surrounding you, the hard steps become a little easier.  Those hard steps sometimes create the opportunity for us to forget the simple things in life, the things we are grateful for.  I encourage you to slow down and take a step.  If you can, take another and then another.  Break down the big things in life, into smaller steps.  Instead of taking 100 steps, try 50, or even 20.  And if that first step is too hard to take on your own, I encourage you to take the hand of someone who can take that step with you.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or God reach your hand out and say “please go with me, help me take this step”.




I took this photo in Spring, just after I placed the stone & planted the flowers.

My week 2 assignment for my Illuminate class is “Finding Your Light”

It has been nearly 10 months since Samantha joined our world and quickly left it.  In the early days, the light and the hope were dim.  It didn’t help that at that time we were on pace to have one of the snowiest winters in a long time.  Plus, we were headed into the coldest time of the year, my husband and I had just gotten over the flu, our furnace had gone out, and I was having to face going back to work.  So, glimpses of hope and light just didn’t seem near.

As the days went by and we slowly got to move into Spring (which didn’t arrive until nearly the end of April) I was ready for the new growth and the freshness that the season would bring.  The warmth, the green, and the flowers.  Little bits of light began to filter through my every day.  Sure, there were still some darker days, but most of the days were becoming more gray than dark with hints of brightness.

As Summer drew in, I was surrounded by warmth.  Warmth from the sun, warmth from friends, and warmth from family.  Each month from Christmas 2010 until this point we had seen our family.  Whether it was a road trip home to celebrate Easter, a wedding shower and wedding, and birthdays or it was family visiting us we got a lot of family time in.  Raun and I surrounded ourselves with our own little road trips, each other, family, and the things that we hold most dear to us.  Life is to short to just sit back and let the days pass you by.  So, we decided to begin doing the things we truly wanted to do and mixed them in with the things we had to do or responsibilities that we had.  I began to realign and look at the things I truly wanted to be a part of my life and what things needed to change.  By the end of the Summer I was seeing things with more color and brightness.  I found myself more and more thankful for the beautiful things around me.

I took this photo the weekend of Samantha's original due date

As Fall began to roll in so did some changes.  One of the biggest change was my job.  I began to realize that my light had mostly gone out and I knew I needed to make a change.  I gave up my classroom and became a building substitute.  This allowed me time, flexibility, and the ability to take care of what I needed (my family, myself, my photography, and  Giving up my classroom lifted a ton of stress and worry off of my shoulders.  The light outside and inside began to shine brighter.  And when my husband began to see the change, we both realized that I had made the right choice.  Fall is one of my favorite times of years and the colors this year were absolutely beautiful.  The changes in the air and the changes in me led me to spend some quiet time at the memorial wall where Samantha’s name is written.  It was there that colors and brightness really began to pop.  It was there that I got the photos that I submitted to Illuminate and allowed me to get this opportunity to expand on ways to help heal.

Shortly, we will be heading into Winter.  We’ve been lucky this Fall, it has last quite some time.  Last year at this time we already were piled up by snow around us.  The daylight is shorter and the days are getting colder.  So, I am going to have to find other ways to bring light and brightness, as well as color into my life.  Fortunately, Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year to decorate my house.  It is one of the times of year I go all out.  And aside from the Christmas tree & stockings, most of it I am able to leave up through the Winter.  I am looking forward to warmly lit, wonderful smelling candles that will be glowing throughout the house.  I am looking forward to the twinkling of the tree lights.  I am looking forward to the frost on the trees sparkling in the sun.  I will be spending time with family, continuing on with traditions, and adding in a few new ones of our own.

I took this on October 15, 2011 to continue the "Wave of Light"

I know there will still be some tough days ahead, but I also know that with God, my husband, my family, and my friends I will be able to see more light and make it through those tough days a little easier.  And someday, hopefully those tough and dark days will turn into just mere moments.  And the light and happiness will not just be in moments, but in days instead.



A friend of mine gave me an idea…she was doing 30 days of Thankfulness.  All to often we rush through the next couple months getting ready for the holidays.  We get busy getting the house ready, cooking, spending time with family and friends, getting ready for the change in season and spending the last few nice days outside as much as possible, shopping, and the list goes on.  It seems that after Halloween time speeds up and flies by and before we know it we are in a new year.  Well, this year I am going to slow down.  I am going to take the time to share my 30 days of thankfulness over the next several weeks.  I consider these things to be blessings, things I am grateful for, or just plain thankful to have in my life. 

So here goes…We are six days into November and here’s the start of my list.

1. My Husband-honestly I don’t know where I would be without Raun.  He is truly an amazing guy.  We’ve been around each other for the past 16 years, which means we have been through a lot.  He has been there through thick and thin, the good and not so good, all the while giving praises, comfort, support, and inspiration.

2. My Family-both my imediate family and extended family.  We may all be scattered throughout this country, but we are still close to one another.  This creates a strong support for one another, good conversations, fun, and down right togetherness.

3. Our Baby Girl-A quickly as we found out we were pregnant Samantha left our world and grew her angel wings.  She has taught me a lot about my life, faith, me, and family.

4. Close Friends-honestly I do not have tons of friends.  But I am okay with that because the friends that I do have I am very close with.  We would do anything for each other and we are always there for each other.

5. My Cats-I know this may seem odd to some out there, but those two fury little critters bring a lot of joy, comfort, and laughter.  To me, that is truly amazing.  They seem to know when things are good or bad.  When it’s been a tough day they are there waiting  to snuggle on your lap and share a purr of comfort.


6. A Home-a place to call our own.  A shelter, a place to come home to and find comfort.

Even though we are already a week into November I encourage you to slow down and take the time to think about about what you are most grateful for this season.  If you aren’t able to do 30 days of thankfulness, then create a list of 10 instead.  What are you most thankful for, blessed with, and greatful for this year? 

Share your lists below!  I look forward to reading yours and I look forward to sharing with you the 24 things on my list.


February 7- 

After the weekend, today was a tough day.  I don’t remember much from the day and looking back I feel like I was on auto pilot at work.  Fortunately, it was an easy day at work.  I came home to a package from Raun’s mom.  She sent us a garden stone in memory of Samantha to put out come Spring.  Right now, I wish Spring would come soon and that this was all a dream.  As the evening went on I didn’t do much and prepared myself for tomorrow.  My co-teacher has been gone through this whole time and I know I will have to tell the whole story.  I keep wondering, will it ever get easier to tell people about this.



February 6- 

This is the first day back to church since it all happened.  Interestingly enough, most people there didn’t know that we were pregnant yet, therefore they didn’t know what we had just gone through.  Truthfully I don’t remember much from the service.  Apparently Raun’s grandma had talked to Pastor Anita letting her know what had happened.  She came up to us telling us she was sorry for what had happened and she wanted to chat with us about it.  The odd thing was, she never did.  She never asked any more questions, didn’t say anything else, never chatted with us.  I am not sure how I feel about that.  From what I have heard Pastors, as well as other clergy, have a tendency to take on the God perspective saying it would be better this way, this the way God wanted it, those kind of things.  I am not sure that would have been overly helpful.  Yet at the same time, it is a little frustrating that she never touched based after saying that she would. 

 After church we headed home, to a once again empty house.  Barb had left a little package that had a book about infant loss, necklace with a lily and tear drops, as well as a beautiful card.  Raun and I sat down to order a special necklace.  It has tiny hand stamped footprints on the front side of a heart pendent, Samantha’s initials stamped on the back, and two birthstones-January for when she was born & July for when our original due date was set.  It looks absolutely beautiful online and I can’t wait until it comes in the mail.

 The rest of the day went through as a bit of a blur and in the evening I prepared to go back to work tomorrow.  Not sure if I can ever be fully ready.


January 28-

Woke up a few times in the night and had many break downs.  After the last one feel back asleep for a while and woke up part way through the morning.  Had a little breakfast and took a walk around the floor.  Sat outside the room just to get out.  We were waiting for Shiela to come and talk with us.  When she finally did we talked about the memorial service stuff, the baby went down to pathology and Raun I began to think about names.  We started with Jean for a middle and then just began to say names.  We settled on Samantha Jean.  When she got back to the room we took a few more pictures and did handprints in clay.  Then that was it.  Time to go home.  Released from hospital 4:30.  In a way it was nice to be home, but it was scary too.

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