Shizzle Design | A Whimsical Garden Chair in Remembrance of Sydney Grace
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A Whimsical Garden Chair in Remembrance of Sydney Grace

A Whimsical Garden Chair in Remembrance of Sydney Grace

Remembering Sydney Grace…
syds chair w flowers 2I’ll never forget the phone call…  Kami called to tell us they had been up all night but “he” would be coming any time.  Fifteen minutes later, Tim called stating “it’s a GIRL!”.  I was like “what?”  I was like “huh?”  So much for those ultrasounds!  This precious gift from God immediately stole the hearts of two of my dearest friends.
Since they had been expecting a boy, they had to do a little readjusting in the name department.  They chose Sydney as her first name but what about a middle name?  Along with Grandma Cindy, they bounced names around the room until suddenly, all at once, it came to them.  Grace; her middle name had to be Grace.
Those two proud parents brought their baby girl home and loved her like no other.  Then, shortly before the adoption paperwork was signed, Tim and Kami found out their precious baby had Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a motor neuron disease. The motor neurons affect the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. As far as intelligence goes, most SMA patients are unusually bright and sociable.  click here for more information on SMA

Tim and Kami were told Syd wouldn’t live to see her second birthday.  They were advised by one of their first doctors to take her home and love her.
Sydney w mom and dad macatawa

Well, THAT wasn’t going to happen.  Devastated as they were, this outstanding couple rolled up their sleeves and researched everything they could and challenged every specialist for more.  They sought out the best doctors across the nation and met with scientists from around the world to provide the very best not only for Sydney but for other SMA families.

syd mom lovingly caring for her at macatawa

As time passed, Sydney’s muscles weakened.  This disease robbed her of the ability to crawl, stand, walk and run.  At least that’s the way many of us saw it.  But Sydney taught us that it’s all in the perspective.    You see, if you asked Syd, she’d tell you she was the fastest in her class!  Her classmates had a blast chasing her around at recess.  What difference does it make anyway, how somebody gets around?  If they use their legs or a power chair?  It didn’t matter to Syd; she was the fastest!

My girls loved hanging out with Sydney! They’ll always remember the time we stayed overnight with them at Lake Macatawa. What treasured memories!
syd walking w the girls macatawa
Syd was SO excited to tell the girls bedtime stories and wanted to stay up ALL night long!
sydney telling bedtime stories to the girls
We ate at the BEST Mexican restaurant in Holland and had a really good time!
Syd w girls at mexican rest in holland
My oldest daughter loved combing Syd’s hair and of course Sydney had no problem being a princess!

Syd w Kaiulani coming hair macatawa

My youngest adored Sydney.  She read to her every chance she got and on THIS trip, she was even able to get in the water to swim with Sydney.
syd in pool w kekai
In May of this year, Sydney came down with a fever totally unrelated to her SMA and had to be taken to the hospital.  We visited her late that night along with many other members of her family and the pastor of our church.

Everyone prayed and prayed and prayed.  We left the hospital thinking she’d be okay because she had pulled through so many difficult situations and she seemed so peaceful while we were with her that night.

The phone woke me up out of a deep sleep very early Mother’s Day morning.  I was so groggy, I barely realized it was the phone making all that noise.  When I heard Kami’s voice, I was immediately jolted into awareness and though I heard her clearly, I just couldn’t digest her words.  My fingers won’t type what she said that night, but her words will forever be engraved in my heart.

What do you do?  What the heck to you do when two of your best friends have to bury their child?  We brought them food, we prayed and I did what I always do to sooth my soul – I painted.

When Sydney passed away, I wanted to make something special Tim and Kami could keep as a remembrance.  An old ladder back chair had hung in our garage for years. It had the most amazing lines, but I never had the right design for it until then.

syd's chair before

I started by cutting out the seat to make room for a large planting bed.
syds chair cutting caning

I was angry at God for taking Sydney so I took my frustrations out by sanding like a wild woman.  In the state I was in, it didn’t take long before I had removed all the loose chips of paint and poly.syds chair before

I cut my hands left and right attaching the hard wire mesh to the chair but I was determined to add something strong and solid.syds chair adding wire 2as
Since I didn’t want anyone else to get cut in the future, I wrapped the top edge with a very thick copper wire for protection.syds chair full shot w copper wire added before flowers
Then I messed around with a million different colors to get just the right combination.  Finally, I stepped back and said, “Yep, this is it!  I think Sydney would approve”.

I lined the wire with plastic, concealed the plastic with moss then filled it up with several buckets of potting soil.  Then, I chocked it full of beautiful, colorful perennials that I thought Syd would enjoy in her yard.  Just can’t do the typical funeral flower thing, it’s just not practical.

syds chair w flowers

I painted then attached a metal butterfly that was once the lid to a tin can.  Syd LOVED butterflies, so the butterfly was the icing on the cake.  It is a happy reminder that Syd is now free from all the struggles, surgeries and pain she endured here on earth.  I deliberately placed the butterfly at an angle and painted a little trail to show her fluttering away.  She’s in a better place now, dancing in Heaven with Jesus.

Sydney left our world when she was only 6-1/2 years old.  She was so young and yet lived a life that was SO full.  Despite her disability, Syd understood what was important in life.  She was joyful, witty and above all she knew Jesus.

Even in her absence, Sydney continues to change lives.  Her parents started a fund in her memory to raise money for other special need’s children in Sydney’s school.  It’s called the Never, Ever, Ever Give Up Fund.

So, what is the definition of grace anyway?  I looked it up today and here’s what I found…

grace:  n.

  • Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.

  • A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.

  • A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.

  • Mercy; clemency.

  • A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.

  • Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.

  • The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.

  • An excellence or power granted by God.

Yes, Grace.  The perfect middle name.  We love you Sydney Grace. You’re forever in our hearts and today, we’re all decked out in purple to celebrate your birthday!
Hauoli La Hanau!  A hui hou!

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Thanx for stopping by!  A hui hou!

  • Angie
    Posted at 20:38h, 18 October Reply

    Not only is the chair absolutely beautiful, your heartfelt love for Sydney and her family just shines through and makes your gift a real labor of love.

    Thank God for giving Sydney a new body she can run, jump, play and praise in!

    I also have an adopted daughter who has a physical disability and has had 4 operations over the years. I praise God that she’s been basically heathy and is now 18 years old. She’s the toughest trooper I know. It’s such a comfort to me to know that even though she’ll never be pain-free or have legs that work like everyone else’s, God’s got a whole new body just waiting for her…because she BELIEVES in Him, his grace and his forgiveness.

    Thanks so much for sharing the story of Sydney and her family. May God fill their hearts with beloved remebrances and comfort them in their loss of their sweet little girl.

    You better believe your loving story and chair will be featured next week! :0)

  • Bri Precious-Keyes
    Posted at 20:46h, 18 October Reply

    I loved this so much. I was so touched by th inspiring story of Sydney. She is a ray of light! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made
    Posted at 21:23h, 18 October Reply

    OH. What a beautiful legacy this precious girl left! How blessed she was to have such loving parents and obviously, they were blessed to have her for a short 6 1/2 years. This is such a beautiful project and really helps capture the memory of this lovely girl.

  • Lisa Lewis Koster
    Posted at 23:03h, 18 October Reply

    What a beautiful tribute to Sydney! (and the chair is gorgeous too!)

  • Kelli@Restore Interiors
    Posted at 02:46h, 19 October Reply

    I have no words……thank you for sharing the life of this precious child with us. I know she is dancing in the streets with my Elijah and all of the other children that left this earth way to early. Thank you JESUS for the hope of eternity. PLEASE, link this up at Restored It Wednesday:) Thank you!

  • Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door
    Posted at 04:42h, 19 October Reply

    What an amazing little girl! From your post, each of us gets to keep a bit of Sydney in our hearts. Thanks so much for sharing her story.
    I am absolutely in awe of what you can do with furniture. And this chair you’ve painted for Sydney’s family is absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing how you turned it into a keepsake. Brillant!

  • Designing Domesticity
    Posted at 20:26h, 19 October Reply

    This is so touching. Thank you for sharing. As an about to be 2nd time Mom, you just never know what wil happen and you can only hope and pray for the best. Thanks again for sharing and stopping by my blog earlier. PS. Love your chair as well. Liz

  • Kristal
    Posted at 21:44h, 19 October Reply

    This is such a beautiful tribute to Sydney. I was visiting from SNS but found myself looking about your blog and saw this story. Thank you so much for sharing. I will be looking at the rest of your beautiful creations. I have recently starting refinishing and would love to do as good as you!!!


  • Linda
    Posted at 22:24h, 19 October Reply

    This is a very sweet tribute, Shelly…and the chair is so thoughtful and personal. My niece lost her son to this disease 10 years ago…praying for a cure!

  • Deborah March
    Posted at 01:41h, 21 October Reply

    Such a beautiful piece, and I can just HEAR your love for this precious little girl and their parents…bless your sweet heart…

  • Wagonwife Designs
    Posted at 12:37h, 21 October Reply

    What an amazing story of a child, love of a family, and of your friendship. Sydney was certainly a blessing. Thanks for allowing Sydney to brighten my day this morning.

  • Honey at 2805
    Posted at 03:25h, 23 October Reply

    Thank you for sharing this lovely sotry about an amazing child, a family and faith. What a sweet and thought gift to her memory.

    Thanks for sharing this sweet post and linking to Potpourri Friday. You participation is appreciated!

  • Susan
    Posted at 13:44h, 26 October Reply

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of faith – and Grace. It is wonderful that you were able to use your gift of creativity to help a grieving family and to help yourself, too.

    Amazing story and beautiful chair!!

  • Amy of The Salvage Collection
    Posted at 10:04h, 02 November Reply

    that is an amazing story about a true gift from heaven–matched by a gift from the heart.

    truly amazing.


  • Chris
    Posted at 06:03h, 11 November Reply

    Hi Shelly, thank you so much for sharing this very touching story of a beautiful little girl and all who loved her. What a gorgeous chair planter you created in her memory. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 01:28h, 17 November Reply

    How do you play Barcelona in this year?

  • Debbie
    Posted at 00:43h, 19 March Reply

    I accidently ran across your blog when I was looking on Pinterest for “chair planters”. Your painted chair planter is beautiful! I started reading about your friends and their beautiful daughter, Syd. By the end, I had tears in my eyes. Your chair inspired me to make one in honor of my mother-in-law who just passed away.

    • shellyandrade
      Posted at 01:05h, 19 March Reply

      Debbie, that is so awesome! I’m happy to have inspired you. I don’t know if you noticed, but I planted it entirely with perennials too so she the flowers could be planted and come back year after year. I’ve never liked “funeral flower arrangements” and always try to think of something outside the box, something special that a surviving family member will enjoy:) I’m sure your chair planter will be cherished!

  • Ruthie
    Posted at 21:30h, 26 March Reply

    I found this on Pinterest and had to repin with a “must read” note about the story behind this beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing.

    • shellyandrade
      Posted at 21:44h, 26 March Reply

      Awe thanx Ruthie! It’s always hard, but I find myself in tears often lately as it gets closer to that time of year.

  • Elisa
    Posted at 04:03h, 14 April Reply

    This is such a beautiful post – it gave me goosebumps. Your friends are so lucky to have loved her and to have friends that clearly love them the way you do! What a beautiful chair and a beautiful tribute! This is one of those times that our art is most rewarding isn’t it?
    home sweet nest

    • shellyandrade
      Posted at 04:36h, 14 April Reply

      Thank you! It’s just so sad this time of year; Spring will never be the same. Thanx for your thoughtful words:)

  • Joani
    Posted at 14:27h, 14 April Reply

    Such a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. Love the chair made with love and will be loved forever. Hugs.

  • vickie
    Posted at 17:12h, 26 May Reply

    beautiful story, your love shines through this lovely memorial. Thanks for sharing.

  • Misti
    Posted at 02:48h, 27 May Reply

    I love, love the story. And it’s a beautiful chair.

  • Mia
    Posted at 02:55h, 07 June Reply

    Thank you for sharing. We, too, lost our grand daughter in a horrible accident. She was only 14 months old. However the Lord brought us through and now we have 2 precious girls that are so adorable.
    Thank you again for sharing!

  • ~*~Norris Family~*~
    Posted at 06:14h, 22 June Reply

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story not of death, but of life. It hit me right in my heart of hearts. God bless you and this beautiful family that you were so blessed to know. ♥ ♥ If I indeed make a planter such as this, I will forever remember the story of Syd each and every time I look at it.

  • Kim
    Posted at 15:02h, 25 June Reply

    Hard to comment through tears but I have to say how moved I was by this post. Sydney had such an engaging smile and I do think God allows things like SMA to happen not because He is seeking to punish us but rather we regularly need a wake up call about what is important. Kids like Syd make this a reality. Can’t wait to meet her in eternity!

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 02:22h, 27 September Reply

    How wonderful to create a something special in loving memory of a beautiful little girl… Kathryn Racette

  • The Pink Geranium
    Posted at 05:07h, 26 October Reply

    That had to be a hard post to do, but I can see God’s hand guiding yours as you wrote it. It is the Sydney’s in our lives that keep us focused on what is truly important..I love her chair..God Bless.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 07:00h, 06 December Reply

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  • Screendoorgirl 3
    Posted at 08:42h, 09 April Reply

    What a beautiful post. I’ve had your planter chair pinned for a while and finally linked back to check it out. My heart breaks for your friends, but how blessed they were to have someone like you to help ease the pain. My Mom’s been gone since 2005. Her middle name was Grace, so that was sweet, too. Life gets so hard sometimes, thankfully we have our “art” to make it worth living. Keep creating and thank you !

  • Penny Anderson
    Posted at 15:46h, 13 April Reply

    What a beautiful story and wonderful parents. I, too, have twin daughters with a life-threatening genetic disease. I thank our Lord Jesus every day for watching over them, as they are 24 years old now. Thank you for sharing.

    • Shelly
      Posted at 21:00h, 13 April Reply

      Thanks Penny! She was the most amazing little girl ever who’s memory continues to touch and move us every day. May God continue to bless and watch over you and your daughters.

  • susan shepard
    Posted at 11:37h, 25 April Reply

    What a beautiful story. Our 22 year old son was diagnosed in January of this year with stage 4 esophageal/stomach cancer. He is undergoing rigorous treatment and is improving, but what a wrenching experience for the whole family. We have had to lean on the Lord like at no other time in our lives, so this post really affected me. So grateful for God’s grace toward us and the matchless gift of Jesus. I have been painting furniture for about 18 months and just found your blog and ordered a few items. I will definitely be back.

    • Shelly
      Posted at 20:41h, 25 April Reply

      Hi Susan, I’m so sorry for the trials you and your family are going through right now with your son’s cancer. I can’t even fathom the stress and heartache. I pray that God will give each of you strength and pray for healing for your son.

  • Rebecca Brazell-Woodall
    Posted at 07:51h, 30 April Reply

    God lets us borrow his best little angels for such a short time before He calls them back home. Sydney’s story brings a joy to my heart and a sorrow as well. This beautiful garden chair is a wonderful tribute to your precious angel. Your love for Sydney is heartwarming and touching to me. Thank you for sharing her story and this wonderful inspiring creation of beauty for all to share. May God send you comfort and peace as promised.

  • How To Make a Butterfly Chair Planter
    Posted at 10:57h, 27 June Reply

    […] See the touching story and step by step tutorial for this DIY chair planter on Shizzle Design. […]

  • Top 8 Inspirations for Your Garden - To Work With My Hands
    Posted at 01:01h, 09 April Reply

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  • Donna
    Posted at 22:36h, 17 June Reply

    The chair caugth my eyes … I thought what a great idea ,, I have a chair in my garage which should have gone in the garbage today … then I started to read and read and read ,,, I didn’t have tissues … truly touching story .. very thoughtful thing to do … love and God’s blessings to the family

    • Shelly
      Posted at 10:36h, 30 July Reply

      Thank you Donna

  • M Wilson
    Posted at 15:53h, 11 June Reply

    I clicked on this for a chair tutorial but I left with red eyes and a full heart. I was blessed with so much more. God Bless you for helping me remember what life is really all about.

  • Correspondence Blog
    Posted at 06:59h, 16 July Reply

    Never Forget Those Precious

    […] metal butterfly that was once the lid to a tin can.  Syd LOVED butterflies, so […]

  • Ethel Levangie
    Posted at 21:31h, 10 May Reply

    Thank you Shelly for sharing the life of this precious child. I wanted to share something I learned in a bible study some years ago that has always stayed with me. Possibly you have heard it also. The word GRACE holds wonderful blessings!
    G- God’s
    R- riches
    A- at
    C- Christ’s
    E- expense
    I know that Sydney is living in all of God’s riches because of Jesus!
    God bless you

  • anitakataria
    Posted at 04:11h, 11 April Reply

    Nice post thanks for your time to share such a huge post.
    This is an amazing post for me.

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