Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Team Reese

Dear Sweet Readers,

You may have noticed the new "buttons" on the left side of the page labeled Team Reese. We are amazed at the amount of friends that have already started to put this up! My sister created the cute buttons and graciously added them to our blog. Before I had a chance to post an explaination on them and get instruction from her, the sweet pink background donning our little girl's name was already popping up all over! Bless you, bless you and thank you, thank you for those that have already posted, you are so dear to us. We are humbled by everyone's genorosity to the heart association and team members that have signed up walk in just the past 12 hours! The buttons will direct you to our Heart Association page and a then the next "button" is to "grab" and post on your own blog or facebook page, if you feel led to do so. No pressure at all, but we love the support from everyone.

The past few years Jimmy has participated in the American Heart Association heartwalk in loving memory of his grandfather. Once we stared dating, I started walking along with him in the walks. Believe it or not it was one of his first family events I was a part of! This year, we walk in loving memory and sweet adoration of our little girl Reese. Our time with her in utero and then meeting her tiny body on May 15, 2011 was all too short and our hearts are still mending, but we are blessed by the continued love shown to us in this journey. The Cobb Heart Walk will take place Saturday, October 22nd at 8am check-in and 9am walk. It is VERY family friendly event, lots of families, strollers and its an easy 5k walk around the Marietta square area. This year, the heart walk takes on a whole other meaning to us after knowing all too well the complications that can come from a heart defect. After we lost Reese, so many asked what they could do, this was the best answer to us to simply support the AHA. We knew from our experience in the past being walkers what a wonderful organization it is. Donations started coming in and shortly thereafter, with both of us having a friend that works for the AHA, and with their encouragement and support, we decided to put together a team. We had no idea how quickly it would take off and for that we are so so so very grateful to our friends and family for their awesome support! We have a special meeting place/tent for TEAM REESE the day of the walk and we are in the works of planning all that goes into that day and we are excited to be putting our energy into something that is so near and dear to our hearts and a sweet way to honor our little girl. It doesn't touch taking the pain away that we still feel, but it certainly does comfort us to hopefully help others that are facing heart defects or heart disesase.

We would LOVE to have you, and your family or friends join us in the walk. We would love a huge team of TEAM REESE walkers. We love the support of the walkers! We of course, also greatly appreciate any donations made. Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers have reached out to us already with support to the AHA in memory of Reese and now with TEAM REESE in place and the fabulous "plugs" from my sister and the buttons she has created, we are excited to see all that can be accomplished and benefit the AHA from TEAM REESE.

How to join/donate/or post the button to your blog or facebook page:
By simply clicking the button on the top left, this will direct you to our AHA site and allow you to sign up to join our team (as a walker), donate or do both. All donations made go directly to the AHA in support of our TEAM REESE. We hope to raise $5000.00 (or more :)) by the walk date of October 22nd. And by the amazingness of you all, we are over halfway there before we even developed the idea of a team! Bless you! And aside from the donatoins, we are ever so thrilled about the amount of folks that have expressed interest in walking with their families. You will never know how much that means to us and we cannot wait to see you all together in October.

We are still in the throws of planning and organizing so bear with us as we continue to work on all the things we hope TEAM REESE can bring to the benefit of anyone struggling, or felt the loss of heart disease and heart defects.

We love you all. Thank you, thank you for your love, support, the continued emails, cards, and messages that warm our hearts. To know we are still being lifted up in prayer daily is what helps us get through each day. We can't thank you enough for walking this journey with us, every part of it.

Much love, hope and faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Best Dad...

We are truly blessed by all the fathers in our lives. We certianly feel we have the best dads around, they are all beyond amazing. While it's wonderful to celebrate them and we will do so on Sunday, I (Jennifer) can't help but be saddened that we don't have sweet Reese here to celebrate with us, or that I am no longer carrying her as we had hoped for at this time. It's comforting to know, as we said in previous posts, that she is with our Heavenly father and no better place for her than there, but oh so selfishy do we still wish she was here, every single day we wish that, but even moreso when we feel the sting of a holiday. Our hearts very much still ache for her. We have constant reminders of what to us "isn't right" when we go along with our days, and it is beyond hard to get back in the 'swing of things' after having her for 28 weeks and looking forward to a lifetime with her.

Father's Day is hard for so many people, certainly not just us. All the many that have lost their dads too soon, so many that are longing to be a dad, and then the awkward category of us........ the ones that had and lost. I know we are not alone in that category, and that is comforting and also heartbreaking. To celebrate, to not celebrate, to acknowledge or to ignore as best we can? It's tough. Our families look to us for our lead and frankly, Jimmy & I, as well as them, are all walking on unsure waters of what is acceptable and "right" to do without making anyone feel uneasy. I know that our family & close friends, and many of you would say you know that Jimmy is a father, he created sweet Reese, he is her father. He cared for me like nothing else while shew as in my tummy, he spoke to her, he prayed for her, he longed for her, and he still longs for her. And sadly,because she is not here on this earth, we question the celebration styles. One thing is certain, Jimmy will always be Miss Rebecca Reese Martin's father.

I know that it's hard to explain or say the right words in these types of situations, but I've realized to ignore it, is even worse. Jimmy not only loved and took care of Reese & I for 28 weeks, he had to make some hard decisons that no daddy should ever have to do. He held my hand and sweetly rubbed my hair, when we got the diagnosis at 12 weeks that she was not well, he comforted us over and over. He went to every specialist doctor apppointment we had, which as you know, there were many. He smiled at her face and profile, everytime we got to see an ultrasound of our sweet girl.He cherished the many pictures we got each visit. He held onto them and protects them like crazy. He had the strength to ask each Doctor we saw the questions I couldn't bear to ask. He spent time researching his daughter's condition in hopeful preperation that she would be with us. He longed to give her the best life possible here. He had to be the voice for our little family and talk to the nurses and Doctors as we prepared for delivering her that day. He stayed up all night before her delivery checking on me, He clutched my hand in a tight grip with our arms bent and stood close to me, encouraging me every step while we brought Reese into this world. He loved on his daughter when he first saw her as much as he could. He prayed over her little body for her when we held her. Instead of signing a birth certificate, he had to sign papers of her final resting place. He had to make decisions for her that I couldn't face myself. There were lots of things that had to be done while were were at the hospital that he throughly thought through each decision on his daughters behalf. He had to endure the pain of losing his only daughter, and he has done it with so much grace and strength. He has strength I envy, he has grace I admire and he has so much faith, that he spends hours talking to me about how confident he is that this will be redeemed and has a purpose. (I'm faithful, but I'm still struggling with the why's and the purpose). As Reese rejoices and sits with her Heavenly Father this Sunday, I can't help but have faith that she feels and knows her earthly father's love for her as well. The only person that could have loved her more is who she is with now and I pray she knows that.

Happy Father's Day to someone that has had to say goodbye too soon, to someone with enough love for his daughter to fill the earth, to someone who's heart still aches and longs for what is not here, and to someone that absolutely never failed his daughter. She was blessed beyond measure to be your daughter Jimmy Martin, and I know one day, when the time comes, she will be able to tell you that face to face.

So, I choose to celebrate this Sunday. Celebrate the dads in our lives, celebrate the abundance of blessings we have from them. The countless ways they have been there for us, the strength and Godly love they have shown to us, the protection they've given us and the love they all had for Reese. I choose to celebrate the blessings of them and even with sadness and a still very broken heart, I still choose to celebrate my husband, and his blessings as a father to Reese. No greater a man to have been hers.....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Healing Stone

Sweet Readers,

Thanks for continuing to follow us on this road we walk. We really can't begin to express our deep gratitude for everything everyone has done. We have been blessed, and simply in awe of the love shown to us. We have had our yard done by dear sweet friends, (I assure you a full day's work) we have had plants planted for us, we have had so many beautiful flowers sent to us, we have gone through OVER 100 cards that have been mailed to us, we continue to have delicious meals brought to us and we cannot begin to count the many texts, emails and posts we have read and re-read. We want everyone to know that even though we have not been able to respond at all times, that we have personally read every card, post, text, email multiple times. They warm our hearts at such a hard time. We have received already over $2500 in donations to the American Heart Association team that we had started when we found out about Reese's diagnoses. We actually have been a part of a team each year in the past but this year it took on a whole new meaning. We are so thankful for the many many contributions made on her behalf. It is inspiring and appreciated more than you know. We are amazed at complete strangers even sending us cards with such uplifting words during this time. As I said before, this is a sad society to be "inducted" into but we have learned all along this journey, there are so many of us out there. And even as the cards and emails keep coming, we learn of even more. We are grateful to everyone for sharing their hearts. It is heartbreaking, but also comforting to hear from others that have walked this road before us and they along with our faith, give us HOPE. At times I feel pity and think how unfair this is, and then I'm reminded of all the others that have gone through this, unfairly as well. We hold tight to the truth; that our God is in control, He is sovereign and we trust Him. We trust Him whole heartedly right now because frankly we have no other choice and the peace we experience when we do is priceless. Our hearts are still broken and I said a few years ago that there is no better a healer of the heart than the One who created it.
The days are still hard, of course some better than others. It's hard when we have all sorts of reminders (and those are many each day) but we continue to pray for the peace we have now, that it continues to fill our home, and that we continue to lean on each other and God. We thank him for our many blessings we have experienced on this journey. And though sweet Reese is in the arms of Jesus, our journey is not over yet. We still cling to his promises that gives us hope for redemption and blessings ahead.
Out of all the gifts we have received and sweet and kind donations, we are often times taken back by again by the amount of love and just amazing thought by some in particular. This past weekend was the perfect example of this. My sweet friend Alycia came in town from Charleston. She always seems to make the trek when I have a crisis or even when there are times of celebration, despite the 6 hr drive, being the mommy of 2 toddler twins and a devoted wife, the girl is always there.
Alycia arranged for a few of us girls to have lunch Saturday on her visit. I was looking forward to it, but also secretly hoping it would not emotionally drain me more than I already felt. I couldn't have been more wrong. The visit and lunch was wonderful and was medicine to my soul. When Alycia arrived she was talking with Jimmy & I and she handed me a gift and said it was from dear friends. I opened the card first and it read that "this gift was given by friends who are praying for you both and for friends that are hurting with you both." I read each name on the card in awe, eleven of my wonderful sweet and precious college girlfriends, what on earth could this be? I opened a beautifully wrapped box from a favorite store to see the most gorgeous necklace. It was an emerald flower with diamond accents. As I opened the box Alycia told me emerald is the birthstone for May, Reese's birthstone. I was overwhelmed to say the least. Jimmy was as touched at the beautiful gift as much as I was. We were both teary over this amazing gesture of love and deep thoughtfulness. They placed the sweet necklace around my neck and I have worn it everyday since. I touched it a million times the first few days of wearing it. Unbeknown to them, I had been looking alone for the perfect keepsake for myself to wear. I hadn't quite found anything and I had never even gotten as far to look for birthstones. It could not have been a more perfect and fitting gift. The love and thoughtfulness that went into this gift makes it all the more special. Thank you dear friends for such a special special gift that I truly treasure. It was no coincidence that I read shortly after that the emerald is also considered "the stone of healing." Bless you dear dear friends.

Please know that every single gift, every sweet card, keepsake, beautiful plant, delicious meal, each loving text, post, email, generous donation, any act of love you have shown on our behalf has been so very appreciated and each one brings comfort to us. Thank you all for your amazing love. Thank you for your prayers, please continue to keep us in prayer and we'll continue to keep you updated on this road towards restoration and healing. A hymn we use to sing "They'll know we are Christians by our love" comes to mind over & over as the love continues to pour in....bless you all sweet readers, friends, family and strangers for loving on us.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord And we pray that all unity may one day be restored And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love They will know we are Christians by our love

Much Love, Hope & Faith,

Jennifer & Jimmy

My Healing Stone