Thursday, February 11, 2016

The House that Built Me

Eight and a half years ago a 28 year old girl sat at a closing table feeling brokenhearted, fearful, and completely humbled.  That girl was me as I was emerging from a devastating divorce.  Beside me was one of my anchors who has always done his best to keep me afloat, my Dad.  A family friend served as the attorney and a sweet couple as the sellers. I noticed the wife was crying a lot throughout the closing as she was selling her late Mother's house, truly an emotional sale. I, the brokenhearted one, was right there with her crying too. For a minute I felt sorry for Dad and the attorney- all these women and all these tears....bless them both.   Sadly both party's tears were not tears of joy but of grief.

While I was thrilled to be getting a home in a location that was ideal,  the aches were still strong.  The house being purchased had previously been under contract.  However, through a serious of events that only God could orchestrate, the previous contract fell through.  Through blurry eyes though I could tell this house was where I wanted the next chapter of my life to begin. It was going to be a big 'project' I could pour myself & my emotions into. However,  I was terrified of moving forward-and more importantly moving forward alone. I, a purebred extrovert, was going to be living alone for the first time...ever.  Starting anew. Many of my dearest friends were starting to have their own children and here I was sitting at a closing table starting completely over, nowhere near where I had 'planned' to be in life. To put it mildly, I was distraught.

The house was a 1940's 'bungalow' type, with a quick easy walk to the Marietta square, adorned with hardwoods throughout,  and had great 'bones.' It was just in need some cosmetic love to make it 'mine'. It had an amazing 1950's esque pink bathroom, how perfect for a recently single girl, It would fit in with my pink ornament Christmas tree I'd have later that Christmas! I figured this was my chance at life to go all out girly for myself. The house had a peace about it, a warm presence. Never once did I feel scared there, which is a feat in itself. The street was/is adorned with neighbors that love the house as much as I did, because the previous owner's 2 granddaughters and their families were my new neighbors.  This house served as the background of their family memories- it was legendary and sacred to them.

I had decided after my divorce, that almost shattered me into a million pieces (another post in itself for another day) that I would do my best to just 'make it.' Just one foot in front of the other on those hardwoods floors, out of bed each day, with a lot of prayer and pleading with God for His direction on moving forward. I felt his presence with each prayer, even the many of anger. On one of my first nights there, I felt so lost, I heard His word to me that this very home was going to be His place of Redemption for me. At the time I couldn't see it, and you could not have convinced me of it--but I wanted to believe it. I clung to that.... I often say "if these walls could talk" and no better to tell the story......

The back den walls (right off the kitchen) would tell you that there are probably as many teardrops on the actual walls as there is kilz and paint.  There was an abundance of tears combine with that paint. I remember vividly being back there painting, one of the first things we did and Dad working in the front of the house. One minute it was as if the paint brush would go up, and I'd be thinking of a new start with some excitement, and the paint brush would go down for the stroke, and I'd be in a puddle of tears wondering again how I was going to do this. The next stroke, fun things I could host in this house, the next stroke down, the anger still in me from a "life" lost. I use to say those walls were my 'healing walls.' They'd also tell you of the many times I'd lose myself in a book back there in the big chair. They'd tell you the room where with a "pin drop peace and quiet" of a girl praying prayers of hope. They'd go on to tell you of how in a few years later, that very 'quiet' room would serve as a place of a pseudo playroom-of loudness-redemption. Where a little girl would have her own 'kitchen', where another little one would giggle from an exersacuer as parents cooked dinner.   And how could one forget the fireplace where a single Christmas stocking was displayed that now is accompanied by 3 additional stockings.  Some simply see these as Christmas decorations, however I see these as a tangible reminder of God's precious redemption in my life four-fold.

The kitchen would tell stories of countless meals.  Inviting new neighbors for dinner & watching the lines between neighbor and good friends blur with each dish that is passed. These walls would also tell of family dinners & an abundance of 'girls' dinners.  There have been many bottles of wine opened in celebration, opened in heartache, opened in laughter. The prep room to many of bridal and baby showers- life is lived in a kitchen.  I knew that when buying this house and much to the generosity of  the previous sellers family we updated the kitchen with new cabinetry and counter tops.  That was grace.  And it is here where we say grace.  Grace for seeing me through that first year of singleness.  Grace for that husband who comes up behind me while I cook and wraps his arms around me.  And grace for the little arms who wrap around my legs just begging to be picked up.  Grace upon grace.  Redemption at it's finest.

The den/front room walls, almost sacred. They'd tell you of the me that was adjusting to this new life, They would mention the long talks with girlfriends, deep life lessons, and some life changing bible studies that took place in that den for a lot of precious women that crowded that small little room-or what seemed small with so many of us. Laughter & tears, lots of both. They'd tell you of a love that blossomed from the porch, but came to the den where Jimmy and I talked about the possibility of a relationship, what that would look like for us, what that meant, etc. Those walls a few years later would tell you of so much laughter and now new love in the house- a marriage! And then a a few months later it would be where I would tell Jimmy a baby was on the way! Those walls would tell you of how many tears were shed in that room for our sweet first born, Reese. They'd tell you of us coming home from our appointment that day with the bad news to that entire den filled with our immediate family, comforting us and loving on us, helping us navigate the days and months that were ahead. They'd tell of the hurt and grief that filled that room after we lost her, and the abundance of friends that would come love on us in that room and pray with us. They'd then tell of love again, with another baby on the way, celebrating such good reports this time around. They'd tell you of how Jimmy felt Emery kick the first time on that sofa, the many movies watched in that room, the hosting of friends and family for various holidays in that room. They'd tell you how sweet it was to watch us walk in with our daughter Emery, as we arrived home from the hospital that hot 2012 June day. Then a few years later with Emery waiting in there for her little brother to make his debut at this address. To having our children's first Christmases in that room, filled with toys from Santa's visit. It would tell you it was a room were so many prayers were lifted to have a family, to a little boy taking his very first steps in that room. Sweet redemption.

The porch-legendary. Simply legendary. Would tell of the many infamous 'porch parties' where all the neighbors would gather, night after night, and the laughter that would echo down the street for hours. Seriously, over and over. I still can feel 'porch party weather' and think of all the many faces that would show up for the evenings. Sweet, fun and cherished memories. It would tell after a year of being there, of a new sweet friend around the corner, that would bring her brother along for the parties. It would tell a sweet love story of him gaining the courage after several parties  (and some liquid courage I might add) to ask the owner for a dinner date... :) The porch would tell of countless life changing talks with friends for them and for myself, It would tell of  Jimmy & I  rocking in our rocking chairs alone, to swinging a sweet baby in the baby swing next to the 2 chairs. It would tell of fun 4th of July parties, cornhole games, children's birthday parties, Halloween parties, and revealing the gender of our baby boy!   And just this week a 3 and a half year old little girl running in the yard trying to catch snowflakes  -Redemption. 

The 3 bedrooms-Would tell you of nights filled with tears as I adjusted to sleeping alone, wondering how this new life was going to work out. A few short years after those tears dried, tears of joy as an amazing husband lie beside me despite the fact that my closet space was now greatly reduced. Shortly after those tears dried And a few years later the tears of grief that accompanied the devastating diagnosis &  loss of our first-born daughter Reese.  If tears could bring her back, that room could serve as our receipt.   Not to mention the nursery that remained empty as we coped with the fact that our first born baby girl resides in Heaven.   By God's grace we got through those days and by God's goodness that empty nursery has been filled with life, not once but twice!   First adorned with pink and then 2 years later, adorned with blue.   So grateful those 2 guestrooms filled with picture frames of precious friends and family are now filled to the brim with my precious children and all of their belongings.

This house is more than a 'house' or an address, or a place we brought our babies home to,  it is a place where brokenness began to heal. Where I learned to surrender to His will
& not my own. Where I learned to cling to His promises I had learned as a child, but never had to lean on, and saw that they are real and evident in every aspect. Where I saw redemption play out over and over, even in the darkest days, Where I met my true love, where I gained friendships, where I met the BEST.neighbors. ever. (and I don't say that lightly) where neighbors turned into family & a nanny who loves on me & mine like no other. Where we did in fact bring our precious babies home- how sweet that was!  This house, in our 8.5 years together,  has witnessed many of my greatest memories in life!   I often think it's somewhat silly to be so 'attached' to a home.  It's true, what goes with you when you leave is what is most important. The people leaving with me tomorrow are my greatest treasure.  However, it's not lost on me what those walls witnessed.  Within those walls God shaped me, built me, and allowed me to find myself & my loved ones time and time again.

And it's a house we'll sign over to an adored couple tomorrow. We'll sit at the same attorneys table as I did almost 9 years ago and sign the deed over. I'm sure there will be tears again, different tears this time. We're so excited for what is in store for us, the sale of our house was truly another act of The Lord and his plan for us, as we never put it on the market--total blessing! Much like our current house came to me years ago. I thought we'd never move from this address, but I knew it would be clear when it was time. We are so grateful that our family has expanded so much that we need more space. The only way I could ever see us moving. Redemption.

Thanks to everyone that has been a part of 424 Cascade, you are near and dear to us, each and every one of you. You know who you are.  

                           He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Psalm  147:3

Thursday, August 2, 2012

For this Child we prayed (and we know you did too)

The title of this post is exactly what we put on our birth announcements. We know so many of you prayed for our child and we can't thank you enough. Our hearts are continually, daily blessed by each of you.

On Friday, June 8th my body started labor and on Saturday, June 9th, our little girl's due date, she punctually arrived at 1:28pm. Miss Emery Frances Martin joined our family and we were so overcome with joy to come face to face with the sweet little one that we had been feeling, been praying for without ceasing and the one who made our hearts desires come ever true. She was (and still is) more beautiful than we could imagine.

The labor wasn't as easy as we had hoped but ever so worth it and we haven't thought twice about it. We were just beyond excited to have her here and to have her healthy. So many folks told us how "safe" she was growing inside of me, and while that is certainly true, that was so so hard to grasp considering all we had been through. Also, to my surprise, the emotions of losing Reese were ever so present , specially the first few weeks of Emery's life. I even found myself almost calling her Reese several times, it was odd to me, that I had these feelings. I knew Reese's memory and sweet life would never be forgotten but I had hoped and prayed our sweet Emery would help heal so much of that hurt. And she has. God is good, He has heard our cry, He heard our prayer and He granted us our hearts desire (Psalm 37:4). He is faithful, and let me tell you, He is doing some a-mazing things in our little family of 3 already. He is moving in ways we can see and so many blessings have been bestowed on us this year, we have had some incredible things go on and so many prayers answered. So many prayers have been answered, and not only for our healthy little girl. We are in awe.

We are also still in awe of you. The sweet comments, cards, texts, e-mails and special gifts have overwhelmed us beyond what you can imagine. We are blessed by each of you every single day. We have yet to cook because so many of you have been selfless enough to provide meals for our family, we have been blessed by help and blessed by continued prayers. We have been blessed by SO many of you remembering sweet Reese during this time. Thank you for not forgetting our firstborn. Thank you for loving on our sweet Emery. Thank you for loving on us. The old proverb of "It takes a village to raise a child" we are BLESSED by the village you all are to us. We just love our life with our sweet little Emery and all the blessings she has been to us. We can't get enough of her sweetness.

              We stand in amazement by it all. Lots of miracles, along each step of the way....

And here she is....a miracle....our newest member of our family.......and our pride, joy and delight!
                                                Miss Emery Frances Martin

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rebecca Reese Martin

One year ago, on May 15, 2011 at 8:45 am we met our sweet little girl, Miss Rebecca Reese Martin.
Sweetly called "Reese." Her birth story is here if you'd like to read it.

We had prayed and prayed and had thousands of prayer warriors praying for her healing from our 12 week diagnosis. God's plan was different, He gave her the life of no pain, no suffering, knowing no sin and living in complete joy for all of eternity, straight from the womb.

Our hearts have suffered, our tears have been plenty, but we remember how much this little life touched our lives in the 28 weeks we were blessed to have her.  It has been a long year, full of every emotion one can imagine. Pain, grief, hope, joy, and an abundance of blessings. We are carrying this sweet girls's sister and will be 37 weeks Saturday with all healthy reports. We cannot wait to meet her. We are so blessed to have her joining our family, and we feel so honored God chose us to be her parents. Even with this newest blessing bestowed on us and the joy we've had from it, our hearts do ache and miss sweet Reese everyday, more than you can imagine. It's not been an easy year of  "firsts" not having her for holidays or things we thought we'd be doing with her. But with each sadness, it has been so bittersweet to feel each kick from her little sister letting me know she is there.

As a rememberence of our sweet little girl and all the lives she touched and the amazing things that happened here is a short video made by my sister, of just a glimpse of the blessing she has been.....

(You may want to stop the music to your left in the music box on the blog to enjoy the music that goes w/ the video. Click on  Rebecca Reese Martin right below to watch the video)

Rebecca Reese Martin

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14"> name="allowFullScreen" value="true">" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="432" height="240">
Make a video of your own at Animoto.

Friday, March 30, 2012


First of all, our sincere and utmost gratitude for all of you continuing to follow us on this journey and lift us up with various scripture, texts, emails and cards of encouragement and special "surprises" that continue to show up. You all are dear dear friends, we are blessed again and again by you.

We are so excited to share that things have been going well at visits! We've been seeing our regular OB and our specialist every 2 weeks or so, between them both (1x mo) and everything has been going well! Praise the Lord!
But today, our greatest news yet....we are released from the specialist!!! We cried tears of joy. We have grown to love and appreciate them so so so very much throughout this time but we are thrilled to be released! We will continue to see Dr Bardwell, our OB, starting every 2 weeks now until delivery. I cannot believe we have come this far! We will be 30 weeks tomorrow and our sweet girl weighed in at 3lbs 2oz today-right on target! I am reassured and so very thankful by the amazing amounts of movement I feel with her. Jimmy has enjoyed feeling her a lot too. We have about 9 weeks left and it's amazing to think we'll get to see her in that short of time!

This time of year and this season has brought back so many memories of being pregnant with Reese and re-living so many of those hard hard days. It makes me ever so grateful for such a blessed, wonderful pregnancy now, but our hearts still ache so much for our loss of our sweet girl. I know many think it's easy to say "well you're pregnant now, that's the best, this is the present and what a blessing" so so true they are, what a blessing, but nothing, nothing ever can take away from our loss of sweet Reese. As I have said before, she is our firstborn and always will be. It was such a hard time this time last year with the unknown, the appointments that never seemed as hopeful as we wanted and then preparing for the surgery that was needed. I remember it all as if it was yesterday, even though touring Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for surgery was a year ago. It's all still a bit fresh. We have tears of joy in excitement and amazement of this gift God has bestowed on us now, with another sweet girl and wonderful appointments, and then the next minute, we may have tears of sorrow for what we have lost. But we are forever thanking him for the blessing of both our girls. We see so many positive things that came from Reese and her story. We of course wish we had her here with us so so badly, but seeing so much good from her precious life is refreshing to our thirsty souls that long for her.

As I said above,this time of season-early Spring brings me back to last year and memories of being pregnant, also being at 30 weeks tomorrow, the last few weeks were rough and a bit scary to me,becauase we lost Reese at 28weeks. We are reminded of the time we spent praying over our sweet little girl. Little did we know then that God had other plans for her than we had hoped for. But we know He is faithful and true. We still remind ourselves of that daily, to help us through each day, the good and the bad. Last year I was more than hesitant to register for gifts, despite everyone being hopeful and wanting us to, I was never comfortable with preparing a nursery, so we never got that far, I just really felt that wasn't for us at that time. Not in a negative sense but we had "bigger fish to fry." Sure, I was hopeful, and I prayed over and over for her, and we had so many prayer warriors praying too but something just didn't quite feel right with moving forward on those things (I attribute that to the holy spirit). I can tell you this time, my 'human' being of me wants to worry, and I've done my fair share of that. But I've also had a peace since early on about this pregnancy. I know things can change at any moment for anyone, but that's the key and something I've learned-for anyone, none of our days are guaranteed. We can't live in fear, a huge lesson for me I've heard and heard for 33 years but never "felt" like I do now. I do know that no matter what may come that God is faithful and true, He has been that way for us, every step of the way. I can't begin to tell you the peace that has filled our home since we first got the unthinkable diagnosis with Reese, the struggles during pregnancy, the grief of the loss, the mourning after, and the days to get through the next ones, the worry of another pregnancy, the fear for this sweet girl's health and every step, good or bad, He has sustained us. There is no other explanation. Our strength you see and talk about is HIS strength. We can't convey that enough. We are blessed and humbled by the peace that surpasses all understanding and the amazing love shown to us.
So with this peace and with the anticipation of seeing this sweet little face we so long to meet, we continue to pray without ceasing and trusting the Lord in all that He has planned for us and this sweet life. With this, we also begin to celebrate......the nursery is coming along, and the showers begin tomorrow. What a true honor and experience to celebrate in love, good health, and joyful, hopeful reports. Thank you sweet friends for your love you've shown to us during this pregnancy and your continued sweet remembrances of Reese as we come into the season we met her face to face.

Much Love, Hope & Faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy

-A new post below too on a fun night out :)~

Atlanta Heart Ball~2012

Atlanta Heart Ball-Ritz Carlton Buckhead, 2012

Jimmy & I were so excited when we received tickets from our dear friends at the Cobb AHA to attend this year's Atlanta heart ball. This is a wonderful black-tie event held each year to raise money for the AHA. Many surgeons and specialists attend as well as those of us touched by the AHA and its cause. We got all "gussied" up :) and headed to the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead where the event was held last Saturday night. Everything was amazing and absolutely stunning. The evening started with cocktail hour and silent auction bidding. There was an entire conference room full of amazing items. Over 18 TVs alone, not to mention the many FABULOUS trips being offered and much, much more, so much more you can't even begin to imagine. I've been to a good many fundraisers and I've never seen this many items and this many BIG items (Disney Trip, Colorado Ski Trip, Various Beach trips, Paris trip) not to mention the other items (Tiffany & Co necklace, jewelry galore, Big Green Egg, Masters and sports memorabilia galore...and a sweet Baby Benz.) It was just wonderful to see all these items donated. The greatest thing is every couple was given an ipod (yes an ipod) with BIDPAL and it monitored your bidding and showed you all the auction items that you had bid on or wanted to bid on, so once we sat down for dinner you could monitor and raise bids all night. Thanks to my husband, we left with a new HDTV for our bedroom. He didn't seem to like the one I had from college years (literally 15 yrs ago this fall!)
Dinner was served and it was scrumptious and guest speaker, Mike Smith, coach of the Falcons spoke and was terrific. After that the live auction began, I wish our pockets had been deep enough for some of those fabulous prizes, such as a week at training camp with the Falcons, box seats, limo service and golf with Coach Smith & Matt Ryan. It sold for a mere $9k. The other live auction items brought in $5k and more! All for a fabulous cause! The event raised ONE MILLION DOLLARS just that evening in auction items! We were all so touched by this. We were also touched by the guests of honor this year, a family of 4, who had a little boy 9 yrs ago born with a heart defect. They were given the option of hospice at the time of birth which they took and began to prepare. But low & behold by the grace of God and some fabulous Doctors, he started to eat and regain strength at just a few days old and was big enough to endure heart surgery and now is a healthy 9 yr old boy. They were an amazing, humbled and sweet family, it was so touching to watch their story. Hard for Jimmy & I to watch their video with a newborn and know what its like to select a grave site and make plans, but God had other plans for them and their little boy, who was also there and he was remarkable!
The evening carried on with dancing by a wonderful band until midnight. We were just touched and honored to be a part of such a wonderful, equisite evening for such a worthy worthy cause! We enjoy fundraising events we get to attend throughout the community, but this was an extra special evening, seeing so much raised for a cause so dear to us.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Continued Blessings

Thank you all for your cards and texts and messages on our appointments. We were actually so lucky and fortunate to get into the cardiologist early! My sincerest apologies for not getting to this earlier! We had GREAT news at the cardiologist! He said it all looked great and his words were "couldn't look better." He assured us too that we were sent based on our past history only, not due to any indicators from this pregnancy. We were actually in good spirits when we went. We loved this Doctor & his staff from our appointments with Reese. They remembered us and remembered so many personal and specific things about us, it made us feel so blessed to have such caring Doctors. We left so excited and like a weight of the world was lifted off of us. We know no ultrasound or Doctor diganosis is 100% but after all we went through with Reese and the continued appointments, we learned a lot, and in that we learned to rest in the goodness. So, as a big of a struggle it is for me not to worry (story of my life for 33 years) :). I am resting in the goodness of our appointments. We are beyond blessed and thrilled. Thank you for your love, support and ALL your prayers.

Being pregnant again has brought back the feelings I had during pregnancy with Reese from last year. I was noting our appointments on our calendar and I noticed the week we had the good 20 week scan (the "big" scan) that I posted about, was the same week, almost to the exact day in January 2011 that we were given the poor diagnosis for sweet Reese and I wrote you all on this blog.  We stand amazed, heartbroken but ever blessed on the last year worth of entries.
 It's been a long and hard year, but we are so excited for what this year brings. Being pregnant again has been worrisome, and some days a bit terrifying, dreading appointments and what's to come, but it's all been worth feeling her litle kicks, having her scanned more times than 'normal' and knowing God has once again blessed us with a child. The feelings and the look of a swollen belly are extremely wonderful, but also a bit sad remembering the last time I was pregnant and the emotions I felt which only lead to us longing for her more. It's been so hard losing Reese, nothing will take her place as our firstborn and sometimes thats hard to explain. It's hard to accept and realize this pregnancy is different than Reese's but we again, choose to rest in the goodness, God's goodness, with His faithful hand on us, and soak up every ounce of this pregnancy and what it will bring. We are 22 weeks now and as much as I am ever thankful for normal appointments, and good scans, I am learning some patience too....... we don't have another appointment with our OB until Feb 23 and our Specialist Feb 27th! If you can pray for us during this 'waiting' time we'd be very thankful.
We are still amazed by each of you and the blessing YOU are to us.

I have started the post on our memorial we had for Reese and will publish it soon. How sweet of you all to reach out about that sweet day, we are very very touched by each of you.
~Phillipians 1:3~

With much love, faith and hope,
Jennifer & Jimmy

Monday, January 16, 2012

A joyful day!

Hello sweet friends and prayer warriors!

We had our appt today with the specialist. (We changed it to today because Jimmy was off work and it worked great for us to go this morning).)
We had our big anatomy ultrasound and all looked GREAT! The specialist was very reassuring and our little girl was measuring on time and all appeared to be normal! This was music to our ears to say the least! Because of our history with Reese, he did suggest we see our pediatric cardiologist Doctor (who we love) in early February, but he saw nothing wrong or abnormal with the heart today! JOY! Our hearts sank a little bit when he said he was going to send us there, we were so afraid we were facing another difficulty, but he quickly assured us (before we could even ask) he was sending us there before he had even walked in the room today or before he had seen any ultrasound pictures. Our scan was reasonably short considering all the long scans we had with Reese. We are grateful for those and thankful our Doctors are so thorough! We feel so good today and we are 19 1/2 weeks. :) We are at the halfway mark Saturday! Praise the Lord for great news and good health!

We see our regular OB next week and see our cardiologist February 6th. If you can be in prayer for those appointments and for our peace that would be so appreciated.

Many of you have asked about our memorial we had for Reese December 31st and I'll be sure to post about that later this week. The day was very special and a sweet remembrance. We miss her everyday but we are so ever thankful and grateful we are carrying her sweet sister today.

We are absolutely resting in the goodness of today's news and appreciate the texts, cards, calls and emails. You all are more than wonderful. You are precious to us and we appreciate your continued love and support.

With hope, faith and love,
Jennifer & Jimmy