Turning Grief into Growth: Silas Project

When people asks me how many grandchildren I have, I say, “Seven with one in heaven.” My first grandson, Silas (represented by the pewter hand in the picture*), was born prematurely in the sixth month of pregnancy with a profound birth defect (acrania) and lived a brief six minutes outside his mother, my middle daughter, Katie. He was also born on my birthday, June 6. He would have been three today!wpid-wp-1420422207908.jpeg

His unexpected and untimely birth prevented my wife and me from being with our daughter and her husband at the delivery. While we traveled the 12 hours to be with our kids the next day it was only days later that we viewed Silas at the funeral home before he was cremated. There was no finger grasp photo which I’ve been able to capture with all my other grands. No time to hold him while he still had the warmth of life. We missed the opportunity to weep and share those immediate moments after Silas’ death with the grieving parents and our other daughters who live in the same city and were at the hospital to support their sister and her husband.

Even as I type this, I find myself grieving some things that I’ve never vocalized. And that’s the way grief is. It is unpredictable, coming in unexpected waves and catching you off guard. If you are fortunate, you aren’t knocked off your feet. There is a momentary, unbalanced stumble. Other times, however, you are swept into the ocean of despair in an undertow, and you wonder if you are going to make it back to the safety and normality of life as it was. The reality is that there is no “life as it was” and that’s okay. Healthy grief will cause growth and productivity, despite the pain and sorrow of loss. Lessons can be learned and shared. Help can be given to others. Comfort received can become comfort shared.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NASB)

Out of the experience of the loss of Silas, my youngest daughter, Laura, in collaboration with her sisters and some friends, have launched Silas Project, an online community to help parents who have suffered a pregnancy loss. Inspired by the challenges she observed her sister and brother-in-law go through in the death of Silas, as well as the challenge she experienced in understanding how best to help, Laura wanted a place that would:

  1. Connect parents through their stories and experiences.
  2. Encourage and foster healthy grief, healing and growth.
  3. Allow parents to experience the joy and pride of honoring these precious children
  4. AND to equip friends and family to walk through these seasons with tenderness and care.

So, if you have experienced a pregnancy loss, please check out this website and share it with others who have faced or are facing the potential loss of a child. Let your grief turn into something that brings growth and strength.

You will find Katie and Daren’s Written Story linked here. Their story is also in video format on the website. Below is Laura’s video giving the overview of the project.

Introducing Silas Project from Laura on Vimeo.

*The collage needs to be updated to include our seventh grandchild, Finn, Katie and Daren’s third child and second son.

Silas, on his Third Birthday

This is the third birthday of my first grandson, Silas, whose profound birth defect limited his life to only six minutes. Yet those six months of life in the womb and six minutes outside have had a profound effect on our family and motivated my youngest daughter to start a non-profit, online community to assist those who experience the grief of pregnancy loss. Silas Project launches today to be a place to: connect parents through their stories and experiences; encourage and foster healthy grief, healing and growth; experience the joy and pride of honoring these precious children; and, equip friends and family to walk through these seasons with tenderness and care.

Anna Spindler Writes

Today is my nephew’s birthday.

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Three years ago today, he was born, on my dad’s 58th birthday. After 6 quiet minutes in the arms of his dad, he remains in the arms of his Abba in Heaven, forever whole, forever healed.

We knew we’d lose him, though we prayed we wouldn’t. Diagnosed with a birth defect at his very first sonogram, our time with him was a mere 29 weeks-29 weeks of questions, prayers, heartbreak, confusion, joy, and even peace.*

Three years later, none of that has changed.

Silas: son, brother, nephew, grandson, friend.

Though we didn’t meet him eye to eye, we felt him through his mother’s skin, moving, kicking, being alive.  Though he was but a breath, we love him, and think of him often. We will never forget him. He will always be my sister’s middle child. He will always be my first nephew, my buddy who…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

Cheri Lucas Rowlands suggests this week’s photo challenge: “Earth Day is near! This week, let’s celebrate this planet on which we live.”

From bird eggs to bunnies, the neighborhood is teeming with new life. Our flowering fruit trees are providing nourishment to travel battered Red Admiral butterflies.  I love watching the beauty of spring and the evidence of God’s re-creation that brings Him glory.

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” Genesis 1:20 (NASB)

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

Weekly Photo Challenge: It IS Easy Being Green (and Brown)!

I chose to give homage to that affable amphibian, Kermit the Frog, who sang the song “It’s Not Easy Being Green” by highlighting a reptile, distantly related in the Tetrapoda classification. While visiting my daughter last week, a green anole came out to sun himself. I had seen the same lizard the previous day but it was in a “brown” state since it was on wicker furniture and has a chameleon-like ability to blend into its surroundings. We also were able to see it’s red throat fan as it encountered another lizard and again as it sensed I was a little to close.

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“I’m green. It will do fine. It’s beautiful, and I think it’s what I want to be.”

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: It IS Easy Being Green.

*If you occasionally visit my blog, you may notice that the header changes with the changing of the seasons. My rural road is back to  Spring!

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Good Match

“This week, share a photo of things that complement each other.” As spring approaches, the natural coupling of birds and animals begins to take place.

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Mr. and Mrs. Mallard under the watchful eye of a Canada goose.

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Mr. and Mrs. Deer

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It they are a couple, it looks like this isn’t a match made in heaven!

21 God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” Genesis 1:21-22 (NASB)

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: A Good Match.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds

I had driven two hours to a spot that is known for being a winter habitat for bald eagles. I’ve been before but on Tuesday afternoon, the eagles were just not being cooperative and close up. I was about to go home when I stopped back by the location at which I had first stopped and within five minutes I was rewarded with the shot below.

Here are a few pics of another eagle, Ring-billed gull and American white pelican, that came as a reward for my patience.

This post is in response to WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

This may be a different take on this week’s subject, but I couldn’t resist sharing one of the biggest shadows in the sky tonight (2/10/17). The Snow Moon was in a penumbral eclipse and while not as spectacular as a full eclipse, you can definitely see that it was in the outer shadows of the earth.A penumbral lunar eclipse takes place when the Moon moves through the faint, outer part of Earth’s shadow. The left photo was the 96% full moon on 2/9/17, while the one on the left is tonight’s full moon. The same settings were used on both to get the same exposure.

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

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These windmills dotted the rural landscape as wind-driven, well water pumping machines.  With rural water associations and electricity, windmills are not as needed now and many have fallen into disrepair. When I posted this picture on social media last week, one friend commented, “They are sadly slowly disappearing.”  However, every sight of one still gives me pleasure as I venture out in my own solitude to capture rural beauty.

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Silently standing

Oasis in solitude

“My days are numbered.”

This post was in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

Almost three years to the date, I mentioned that I was on a photographic hunt for the bald eagle. By the next year, I had more opportunities to spot and capture them at a distance. Finally, last year I saw hundreds at Red Rock Lake and the Des Moines River near Pella, as well as a growing population in my part of Southwest Iowa. This year is beginning well with sightings locally and around Central Iowa. The view of these majestic birds is captivating as they gracefully fly and skillfully hunt. Here are a few shots of these graceful, gliding national birds.

These two are from 2016:

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Two eagles soaring over the Des Moines River near Pella, IA

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The eagles complete for fish among pelicans, geese, ducks and the ring-billed gulls pictured here on the Des Moines River at the Red Rock Lake Dam spillway.

The remaining have been taken this first month of 2017:

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Three shot photo stitch of juvenile bald eagle over Red Rock Lake Dam, Pella IA

As gracefully as they are in flight, those flights often end in a kill. Below is one of those feasts and two captures in the last week.

See more “graceful” posts at WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ambience

The lights of a Christmas tree always bring a beautiful ambience to the special time of celebrating the Gift of God, the Light of the world. Having seen a post on setting up a unique portrait, I implemented a few of the suggestions to add a little more magic to this shot of my granddaughters. By placing my cell phone (with video) playing, two things were accomplished: 1) glowing light emanating from the book and 2) the video maintained the focus of the kids on the book.

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My wife prefers non-blinking, white lights and that has been standard on our trees since marriage. However, my daughter’s tree had LED lights that changed from white to colors and blinked  every 3-5 seconds in the various transitions. The sight brought back a forgotten childhood memory of laying on my back and watching the changing colored shadows that the blinking lights on the tree created on the ceiling of our living room. To me, it was the ambience that bred a sense of anticipation, excitement and joy.

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Ambience