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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 28 - 31

Finally time to wrap up this series!

Day 28: Special Place.
Such as your child's place of rest.

Lilly is buried in Washington, N.C., a couple hours away from where we live.  She is buried next to my husband's youngest sister, who died at 15.  She is buried across from my husband's father, whom Lilly was blessed to see a bunch of times, including on her 1st birthday.  I have a little cherub statute on her grave, and an angel with chimes by it.  Plus we always keep something "Lilly colored" there.  Currently a red-white-and-blue wreath and pinwheel.  (I guess with the colors, unless someone was to read her gravestone, they might think her grave belonged to a soldier!)  I like checking up on her grave every time we have the opportunity.  Her burial there is playing in my mind now - it all seems so strange.  So unreal.  In December, we will take her red, white, and blue Christmas tree to her grave.

Day 29: Healing.
What has had the most healing impact on your life through this journey of grief?

Solomon.  My rainbow baby.  He filled my empty arms and turn my sorrow into joy.

Day 30: Growth.
Do you believe you have grown or are growing as a person since the loss of your precious baby?  Do you believe your baby had a higher purpose?

Absolutely and I am still growing.  I see so many people and situations completely differently.  I am more compassionate and have a special place in my heart for special needs children and adults. 
Did my baby have a higher purpose?  What kind of question is that?!  She radiated God's love and brought others - even strangers - closer to Him.

Day 31: Sunset.
To close out this project and month - photograph the sunset where you live.

This project began with a photo of the sunrise and now it ends with a sunset.  Unfortunately there was not much of a sunset this evening.  The sky was too cloudy.  Just like my thoughts and memories are at times.  But, I thank God that He has allowed the sun to shine through into my days more and more often.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Haven Enterprises giveaway links

In a recent post, I mentioned the new business my good friend C and her husband have started called Haven Enterprises.    They have combined their talents to create beautiful heirloom quality things made of wood, with scripture on them.  Here are some samples of their beautiful work:
kitchen helper cutting board

spoon rest

scripture on doorpost - upper casing
cutting board

alpha and omega bookends

floating shelf
picture frame
 OK - that was more than I intended to post but it was so hard to choose which pictures to use!  :) 

To enter the giveaway for an upper door casing, go to the Reformation Acres blog here:
This giveaway runs through this coming Monday.

To enter the giveaway for a trivet, go to the Life Made Lovely blog here:
That giveaway runs through this Sunday.

Tomorrow is the last day of the month - we will be learning about and celebrating Reformation Day with activities during homeschool.  I still need to figure out a themed supper - I only know I'll make a "diet of worms" cake.  (And no that's not the kind of diet we think of here in the States!  It is a formal deliberate assembly.)  The kids will start by hammering up a copy of Martin Luther's 95 Theses on the door, just as he did on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. 

Tomorrow will also be the last day of "Capture Your Grief" so I will post my last few days.  Tabby is glad it is coming to an end.  She said it has been depressing.  I say it has been healing.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 25 - 27

Sadly I have to share that we have lost another rooster.  Yes that makes 4 chickens dead in about a week and a half.  :(  Lucia killed Roadrunner the rooster Friday night.  It was just as well though, because Frank was going to have to kill her because he attacked both Hunter and Solomon.  Sigh.  Now we have no roosters left to proudly walk around our little farm crowing.  I have really grown to love the sound of a rooster crowing!  To see pictures of this beautiful Silkie Bantum rooster click here to Tabby's blog.  Lord willing, this will be a better week for our chickens!

Day 25: Say It Out Loud.
If you could say anything out loud about your journey with grief with the death of your child, what would it be?

"Lilly - you are worth every tear."

Day 26: Community.
What does this community mean to you?

I have saved every note, card, and letter that we've received having anything to do with Lilly.  I have two huge boxes of just sympathy cards.  But among my most treasured cards, are the ones filling up this box.  These are cards from other Trisomy 18 families.

Day 27: Signs.
If you believe in life after death, do you believe your child has ways of contacting you?

No I don't really believe Lilly is able to contact me.  However, I have lots of fun saying she does.  When these flowers bloomed on her crepe myrtle tree, I said it was a "hello" from Lilly.  I also say that when the lily flowers in her memory garden bloom.  Or when butterflies are fluttering over her grave.  When her red-white-blue pinwheel spins and the light flashes on it - I say she's winking. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Haven Enterprises

Incredibly, sadly we lost still another chicken today.  This time though it wasn't East and West's fault.  (The Great Pyrenees that live in the goat pen.)  It was our Lucia's fault.  (Sweet, frumpy lab/terrier mix.)  We keep Lucia on a long cable during the day when the chickens are out because of her tract record.  One of the Silkie Bantum roosters, Satin, has attacked Lucia a few times lately.  Today he apparently did it when Lucia was tangled up in something.  Tabby found the body when she ran out to get the mail.  You can read what Tabby wrote about Satin and see a picture of the pretty rooster on Tabby's blog here.  This has not been a good week and a half to be a chicken on our property.  :(

In happier news, my dear friend C and her husband have a new business called Haven Enterprises.  They work together to hand make beautiful wood items such as cutting boards, bookends, trivets, floating shelves, and door frames - all with scripture on them.  The wood comes from their Tennessee farm and the surrounding community.  Everything is high quality and made to last and even pass down as heirlooms.  Their website is up and running:  .  Check the beautiful photos C posts on their website.  She truly has a gift for photography - I even have several pictures she has taken of our family framed and displayed in my home.  :)   Back to their products, I can't decide which is my favorite.  But they all make me think of this passage:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." -  Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The other day, we walked across our street to take pictures of these cows.  We love when they're in the front pasture and closer up to us.  Solomon and Hunter thought their mooing was hilarious!

Here's a recent picture of Solomon sitting in a rocking chair that was mine when I was a little girl:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 22 - 24

Yesterday morning when we went outside for our nature walk, I glanced towards the fenced goat area.  I could see West, one of the Great Pyrenees (aka protector of the goats) standing there with something white hanging from her mouth.  Uh oh.  Upon closer inspection my "uh oh" was confirmed.  It was a part of our chicken named Houdini's Brother.  West proceeded to quickly eat the rest of the chicken when Tabby tried to at least get the foot so she could bury it.  This has been a bad couple weeks for the Houdini chicken family.  Though I suppose West is happy.  You can see photos of this beautiful Delaware chicken here on Tabby's blog.  "Why," Tabby sobbed through her tears, "Do only my favorite chickens have to die?  Why not the mean ones?" 

Life is just like that, isn't it?

Day 22: Words.
Share your favorite quote, poem, lyrics, or scripture.

I didn't take a photo of this, so just imagine it in your mind.  I want to stencil it onto a wall in our house somewhere.  Probably over Lilly & Jesus's portrait hanging over our piano:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

Amazing thought isn't it?  That God will take even the bad things in our life and make them good in some way?
Day 23: Jewelry.
Do you have a piece of jewelry in memory of your baby?

Not long after Lilly died, I posted about my memorial jewelry here.  I still wear my necklace daily.  Since my initial post I have added another charm to it - a heart with a mom and young child hugging. And almost every Sunday I wear my Lilly-colored bracelet and matching earrings.  My bracelet matches the one that Lilly had, except mine also has a little heart charm on it with tiny footprints on it.  The bracelet and earrings are from Six Sister Beadworks (link to Etsy site) which is made by a friend and fellow Trisomy 18 angel mama. (She started making memorial jewelry after her T-18 son was stillborn.)

Day 24: Artwork.
After your baby died, did you create or receive some artwork to honor your child?

 My favorite birthday present ever.  My husband paid a former art teacher at the school he works at to do this pastel portrait of Lilly in the arms of Jesus for me.  (You can read the story here.)  The artist's name is Aimee Cuthrell.  (Read my post about Aimee here.  Aimee's website is here.)  The portrait is hanging over the piano I played on as a child and that Tabby is now practicing daily on.  This is in our dining room so we get to eat all our meals with Lilly and Jesus too.  ;)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 18 - 21

Day 18: Release.
What do you want to let go of on this journey of grief?

I still have battles in my mind over guilt and that Lilly would still be alive if only I had done a better job caring for her.  The logical part of me knows that's probably not true.  The spiritual side of me knows that is definitely not true.  God is in control of all things.  But the rest of me fights the battle of guilt off and on.  I hope one day it will stop haunting me.

Day 19: Support.
What has been the best support for you since the loss of your child?


I don't know how people can survive losing a child without having faith in God.  It must be even more painful and empty feeling.  So God is my #1 support.  I also don't know what I would have done without all the wonderful, caring angel mama's I have met on this journey.  Being able to ask "I'm feeling this ...  is this normal?" and to be reassured and know they truly understand is a priceless comfort.

Day 20: Hope.
Do you have hope for the future?

I have hope that I will see Lilly again one day.  Every day of my life moves me one more day closer to that glorious day!  And of course to meet Jesus too.  I can't imagine anything more awesome!  God does tell us He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  Sometimes we do wonder though.  How does losing a child (or a number of other things) not feel harmful?   Only God can work that out.

Day 21: Honor.
Is there anything that you have done to honor your child since they died? Did you give back to the community?

 Lilly inspires me to do so many things!  More things than I even have time for.  :)  I enjoy doing projects in her name to help others.   You can read about them here:

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Trees

I'm delighted that Tabby has sold several of her "Lilly-colored" ruffle scarves for our fundraiser for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep!  (see top of blog for details) She can also make the scarves in little girls sizes and even with matching doll sizes.  (It would be cute for a young girl and her American Girl doll!) LillyBear is looking quite sharp in her red-white-and-blue.

Not long ago, I mentioned that my husband has been preparing our garden for using next year by following many of the tips he learned about in the movie "Back to Eden."  (You can watch the movie online for free here or order it from the Back to Eden Film website.)  We are true believers that this stuff works!  Last fall we planted two little tiny trees about the size of foot high sticks. ( I think they are redbuds.)  One has ended up being in what is now the garden area and the other outside it.  What a difference in them! I wasn't able to get a good photo with both in the same picture.  But the one in the garden area is a lot taller and wider:

Yesterday morning was very sad as Tabby found her favorite chicken, Houdini's Halloween, decapitated and shredded in the goat pen.  The goats were innocent I'm sure.  But their protectors, East and West (both Great Pyrenees), must have enjoyed chicken.  (Their owners told us that West is a confirmed chicken killer.)  I hate that Tabby was the one to find her.  She was a sweet chicken with cute puffy cheeks.  To see a picture of her and read Tabby's post about her, click over to Tabby's blog, The Goat Chick, here.  It's ridiculous how attached Tabby and I (especially Tabby) are getting to these chickens!

Many of the chickens are laying nicely now.  Their eggs are beautiful - inside and out.  Such richly colored yolks from our free-range birds!

Several years ago, I bought a set of stories on CD called The Pebbly Brook Farm Stories by Claire Novak of Remembrance Press.  (If you have read or heard of Girlhood Home Companion, this is the same family/publisher.) The Pebbly Brook stories are set in the days of the Great Depression and are based on some of the real life adventures of the author's father.  The author is a homeschool graduate and her mother read the stories on the audio.  I pulled the set out a few weeks ago and we listened to them again, while in the car.  Hunter was old enough to listen and enjoy them this time around.  In one scene, at a train station, some of the characters disembark from the train.  Hunter suddenly asked "They have a dog named Disem?"  We didn't understand at first and told him "no."  But he kept insisting they said something about a dog.  I finally realized when the narrator said "disembarked" Hunter heard "Disem barked!"  We thought that was pretty funny and continue to joke about it. 

An interesting aside, something that didn't mean the same thing to me when I first listened to the cds, is that the family had a son born with Trisomy 13!  I do not know how long he lived.  But after his death, the family ended up moving to a farm.  Wow ... just like us ...   (Trisomy 13 is very similiar to Trisomy 18, which Lilly had.)

In things I've read about this family, I think they surely also treasure this scripture, as we do:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 12 - 17

Several days to catch up on! 

Day 12: Article.
Day 13: Book.

These two days are about any book or article that has really helped on my journey of grief.  To be honest - I have quite a collection of books on grief, all kindly given to me, that I have never been able to read.  At least not yet.  There's one in particular I pick up now and then, but it makes me cry and I just don't feel like crying through a book so I put it back on my shelf for later. 

There is one beautiful picture book that I love called Mommy Please Don't Cry: There Are No Tears in Heaven.  I blogged about it here

Day 14: Family.
What does your family look like now?

Frank, me, Tabby, Hunter, and Solomon.  And Lilly.  I tell people that I have 3 children at home and one in heaven.  I get very upset if anyone in my family leaves Lilly out in telling how many people we have in our family.

Day 15: Wave Of Light.
October 15 was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Light a candle at 7pm to help create a continuous wave of light around the world for 24 hours.

Day 16: Seasons.
Share what certain seasons or holidays mean to you now.

Lilly at the pumpkin patch - October 2011
We feel so blessed to have had Lilly with us for 17 months.  That meant she got to celebrate every holiday with us, some more than twice.  I already blogged about the significance of the 4th of July and Christmas to me for Day 11 - emotional triggers  (Click here to read it.)  so I won't repeat it here.  But I do think of Lilly and things we did with her all year round.  

Day 17: Time.
How long has it been since your child died?

I didn't realize, until I posted this picture, that it was blurry.  But it really is better that way because time seem all blurry - all jumbled up - since Lilly died.  She died exactly 673 days ago from today.  It seems like FOREVER ago.  And yet it hasn't even been two whole years.  It is very confusing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Field Trip to the Bentwillow Bunnies farm

Since we have our own little farm now, we have become very interested in the set up of other farms.  So last week we were excited to visit
 Bentwillow Bunnies farm, which is located only about 15 minutes from us and is owned by a family who have students that attend the school my husband works at.  They have rabbits, chickens, and peafowl which they raise and sell.  How cool would that be, to have a peacock strutting around your yard?  Frank remembered when he was a little boy, his uncle down the road had a variety of animals, including peacocks.

There were so many adorable bunnies!  (Holland Lops and Netherland Dwarfs)  Tabby immediately asked how much they were and is considering asking for one for Christmas!

Solomon enjoyed petting a rabbit:

We were all delighted to hear "peep! peep! peep!" and saw some chicks.  Hunter was happy to hold one:

Next were the "peafowl!"  I had always called them peacocks, but I learned those were the males.  Females are peahens and babies are peachicks.  I think the peacock blue color is the most beautiful color blue in the world:

We got to feed the peafowl a special treat - cat food!

Tabby talked chicken language to some of the free range chickens:


As a bonus, we got to meet some of the horses that lived next door:

Solomon's very favorite part of the whole visit though, may very well have been his getting to open and close a gate a bunch of times:

Didn't God make such an amazing variety of creatures?  And they all praise Him too!

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:  'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'” - Revelation 5:13

Friday, October 11, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 9 & 10 & 11

Day 9: Music.
Music that reminds you of your child.

Inside the program for Lilly's funeral, we included the music to the six songs we sung.  Each song was significant in some way.  The songs were:

1. "As the Hart About to Falter" - This is from Psalm 42.  This was a psalm that my husband chose for us to sing.  To me this psalm has a sad sound to it and it always makes me tear up when we sing it at church now.

2. "How Firm A Foundation" - This was Lilly's comfort song.  Humming or singing this particular song to her would nearly always comfort her. To hear Tabby play this on piano, click here for the video. 

3. "My Jesus I Love Thee" -  I love this hymn and sang it to Lilly a lot.  I remember it being sung at the funerals of several relatives.  I find peace in the hymn.  Here is a video of Tabby playing this on piano. 

4. "Amazing Grace" - A hymn we've sung to all the children.  Video of Tabby playing this on piano here

5. "The Lily of the Valley" - "Lily" is in the title!  Need I say more??  Video of Tabby playing it on piano here

6.  The Doxology - was perfect for concluding Lilly's funeral service:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

We continue to praise God for all 529 days He allowed us to have and hold Lilly.  (And yes, sometimes I am greedy and wish it had been longer.)

Day 10.  Beliefs.
What happens to us after we die?

The cross was actually made to hold photos. I tied flowers from Lilly's casket spread on it.
 I do believe in heaven and hell but I am not sure exactly what happens to us right when we die.  I love to talk about Lilly in heaven with Jesus and having the perfect time simply because this makes me the happiest.  However, I do think there is good evidence in the Bible that we "sleep" until Jesus returns. 

Attorney and early church historian David Bercot shares a fascinating message on his CD entitled What the Early Christians Believed About Life After Death.  (The CD is available from Scroll Publishing here.)  The early Christians believed that our souls go to a waiting place until judgment day.  Paradise/Abraham's Bosom or Hades.  This makes the most sense to me, listening to excerpts from the early Christian writings and corresponding scriptures. 

But, I do believe that whatever happens exactly, that Lilly is at perfect peace.  And I believe that because I am a follower of Jesus, that I will one day hold her in my arms again.

Day 11.  Emotional triggers.
What triggers emotions associated with grief for you?

Lilly's red-white-blue Christmas tree
 Lilly was born on the 4th of July and died December 15, just 10 days before Christmas.  Obviously both of these holidays are triggers for me.  Christmas more so I think.  Excitement is associated with July 4 because Lilly had survived her birth.  But Christmas?  It has a hollow feel to it now.

Little girl red-white-blue clothing pokes at my heart.  Passing hospitals or doctors Lilly visited sometimes makes me cry.

I think of her every day though, so the "trigger" thing isn't a real clear question for me to answer.  Especially because sometimes something will make me cry and other times I may smile.  Why is that??!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 6 & 7 & 8 and ruffle scarf benefit

Day 6: Ritual.
What is something meaningful done on special dates.

My husband and I have a ritual of always wearing "Lilly colors" on the 4th and 15th of each month.  (Lilly was born July 4, died December 15.)  My husband wears his Lilly-colored tie to work.  I like wearing my Hello Kitty shirt that matched one Lilly had.

We also continue to change the decorations on Lilly's tree on the 4th of every month.  This month's theme is owls and pumpkins.

Day 7: You Now.
Where are you in your grief journey right now. 

Sunday marked the one year anniversary of our living in our "Lilly colored farmhouse."  I was extremely anxious about moving out of the house Lilly had lived in and leaving the town that was full of Lilly memories.  However, our moved has proven to be one of the best things we could have done for our healing process.

Overall I am at a much better place than I was a year ago.  I don't cry as often or feel so sad.  There still are "triggers" that surprise me at times and make me tear up.  But from what I understand from other parents who have lost children, this will always be the case.

Day 8:  Color.
What color/s represent your child?

Mike, The Liberty Bear by Cindy McGuire
I guess just about any reader of this blog can answer this question.  Red-white-and-blue in honor of Lilly's 4th of July birthday! 

I saw this Lilly-colored bear in a catalog and thought it was so oddly cute.  A bit of a different looking bear, just like Lilly was a bit of a different looking girl. (I saved the picture from the catalog but can't afford the $100+ cost of the bear!)

Fundraiser for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep:

Thinking of Lilly colors and this month being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I asked Tabby to make several Lilly-colored ruffle scarves for me to sell.  Or - you can call them "Americana colored" or "Patriotic."  ;)  I am asking $10.00, which includes shipping.  One-hundred percent of every purchase will be donated to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, the group that gives the gift of remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby.  Here is a scarf sample:

If you would like to buy a scarf, just let me know!  Use my regular e-mail address if you have it, or you can e-mail me at LittleFirecrackerLilly   (a t)  gmail . com   Thank you for your consideration about this great cause!

By the way, Tabby is doing a "31 Days" posting for this month.  Her theme is Lord of the Rings.  (I've lost track of how many times she has read through J.R.R. Tolkein's series!)  So if you're a fan or are interested, be sure to click on over to The Goat Chick!

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." - Psalm 91:4