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