On August 12th, 2019, I was scheduled for a c-section with our first baby boy. On August 5th I had a fetal weight and health ultrasound and my baby was normal and ready for delivery. He sucked his thumb, blinked his eyes and was visibly annoyed with being forced to take pictures. On August 9th I went for my last OB appointment before surgery and my son had no heartbeat. This is what most people know about me. It’s easy to focus on this part of my story, but the true miracle is only understood if you know who I was before Maddox went to live with Jesus.
I’m Amber. I’m a mom of two beautiful daughters and one perfect son in Heaven. I’ve been married to my husband Stacey for thirteen years now and our journey as parents began almost nine years ago. We are a very below the radar couple. We have never stood out in any real way and that was by design.
I identified as a Christian, but I had lost my way as a Christ-follower. I had the head knowledge, but my heart was in a desolate place. I had allowed complacency into my life for so long, that my heart had grown cold and distant. I could smile on the outside without any emotion touching the inside. I was a functioning corpse. I don’t say that to be dramatic, but to try to explain the dire circumstances of my heart.
I had long ago decided that I must be strong at all times so that I wouldn’t be taken advantage of. I saw hope as weakness, because the opposite of hope is disappointment. If I never placed my hope in anything, then I couldn’t be disappointed. Disappointment leads to being hurt and I didn’t want anyone to think I could be hurt or vulnerable. Bleak, I know, but it was my form of protection.
For years I lived in a grey area. Weeks of my life went by in monotony. I had a weight of guilt crushing me, but didn’t feel like I could go to God because I was not good enough for Him. I’d never felt like enough for anyone and too undeserving of His Grace. I drifted farther from God, my husband and even my morals.
I was seeking to feel something again. I made excuses for my sins while my heart turned into a stony thing. When my shame pierced me, I would cry out to God in anger and desperation. I was ashamed, but truly saw no answers. As I sat adrift in a sea of my own sins, I blamed Him. I played the great ‘IF’ game with God. I questioned my Creator. I was bitter and angry because those were the only types of emotions acceptable to me.
When I wasn’t ignoring Him or blaming Him, I was begging Him to make me feel something! I knew I had a Threat Level Midnight heart issue going on and I felt tossed into the deep end without knowing how to swim. I was drowning! I could not fix it. My heart was a dead weight in my chest and I knew that I couldn’t bring it back to life. I’d given up. I hadn’t taken the Lord’s Supper in two years. I was afraid He’d strike me dead, but I was sick to my stomach every time I turned it down.
I don’t like revisiting this version of myself. I need you to understand why I asked my husband to forgive me as we rode to the hospital for the second ultrasound that would ultimately confirm that Maddox was no longer alive inside of me. I saw the consequences of my sin playing out in the death of my son. God called me to account for my actions and this was my punishment.
I’ll spare you the details of the horror it was to crush my eight year old’s heart and the burden of grief I carried for myself and my family. I felt personally responsible for the pain everyone was going through. I had to listen to people commend my strength while I blamed myself for the situation we were all in.
But God. Not a sentence, I know, but God. He began downloading into my suddenly beating heart so rapidly that I could scarcely contain it. I felt His arms in every embrace. I saw His heartbreak in the tears of my friends and family. I experienced His Love in the outpouring of support that was flowing to us. There are too many realizations I made in that hospital bed and the days after to share them even in this lengthy missive, but there are a few I want to highlight.
God did not do this to me. He allowed it, but I believe that Maddox’s death was a result of sin in a fallen world. I 100% believe that He could have changed my story, but He did answer my prayer. He made me feel something. The intensity of that which I felt, sand-blasted my heart. I had to feel the depth of all the emotions I had refused and suppressed. I was shook to the core of my being and my heart was broken. Pain was a yawning chasm and I was swallowed whole by it.
My greatest strength lies in my weaknesses. Acknowledging and sharing my vulnerabilities points to a Father of Provision; a Father of Mercy and Redemption. In my weakness, God says that He is Sufficient. My greatest weakness was my fear of vulnerability. He tore down the walls of my heart to save me from ruin. I am not strong; God is. His strength has been my shield and He continues to give me a mighty portion to sustain me.
Maddox still lives. He’s in the arms of my Savior and I couldn’t wish him to be in a better place. When his earthly heart ceased to beat, mine began again. Satan meant to destroy me. He was and is the lion seeking to devour. He delighted in the torture he caused, but he did not gain the victory. The sins of earth took my son’s life; the Mercy of Heaven resurrected me.
I thank God for my story now. My son is not forgotten. Not even close. His memory is honored in our home. His name is spoken daily. God used his short earthly life to affect Kingdom changes. For a person who never lived outside the womb, God used him in a mighty way and he lives on as a catalyst in my life.
I am a new creature. I am forgiven. I am treasured. Not because I deserve it, but because God ascribed that worth to me. He chased me. He sought me. He listened when only my tears spoke. Because of all of this, I can say to you; you can be forgiven. You are loved and treasured. In the Light of His Mercy and Grace, I am willing and honored to share the darkest of my days.
This is the true message that I want conveyed through our family’s story. I am so very grateful. My God is amazing. He does not give up! Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers. I am so blessed to be a part of such a loving church family that reached out to us exactly as the body of Christ should. I love you all. I give God all the Glory and Praise.