When My Heart Stopped
It’s been almost 3 years since I last posted anything here. I don’t know if anyone is still following this blog, but if there is, I just wanted to explain my absence, and share my story.
On February 6, 2016, my 13 year old son, Christian, passed away in a tragic accident, and life as I knew it ended. My heart was still beating and my lungs still took in breath, but my mind went numb and my soul seemed to leave me. I was no longer alive.
I saw a post on a grief support group that said, “I died that day too, but they forgot to bury me”. I thought, “how true”.
The “me I was” no longer exists, because that “me” had hopes and dreams for a future, one that included Christian in every aspect, a future that will never be. And so…
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I know everyone is quite busy this time of year. I have a long list of “to do’s” myself. But I wanted to take a moment to share a quick message, and a prayer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas and the real Spirit behind it. Yesterday we were asked, “What gift would you give to God”? It is His birthday being celebrated after all. But from everything I have learned over all these years, I know that the one gift He desires most of all, is my heart.
Sometimes my mind becomes very distracted with the details and demands of everyday life, and I lose my focus on what really matters…God, my family and friends, and doing what I can to be a blessing to others.
So I want to take this time to tell all of you…you are the gifts that I treasure most in this world. Thank you for the time and the love you have given me. I wish you all the very best blessings of peace, love and joy to fill your hearts in the days ahead. Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Birthday Jesus!
Have you ever seen an athlete in a running event trip and fall, landing with their face in the dirt? At that moment, they have a choice to make. They can lay there in the dirt, crying and complaining about how much it hurts and how hard it is, or, they can get up and brush off the dirt, and get right back in the race and finish it, even with bloody knees and a dirty face.
That’s how it is for Christians as well.
The bible tells us that there is no such thing as a “perfect” person, no, not one. Yet somehow, the world view tends to think that if we are really a Christian, then we should never fall down, never make any mistakes. But the truth is, we will all trip and fall at times, because we are imperfect human beings.
But that should not stop us from getting back up and continuing our race, because by the grace of God, he gave us that ability. If we stay down in the dirt, we only give reason to the world to point fingers and discredit that loving grace. It is when we get back up and keep going, drawing on the strength of God’s Spirit in us, that we can show His power, His mercy, His love for us.
Yes, the race will be hard. Yes, there will be obstacles to overcome. And yes, sometimes we will trip and fall. But we know what prize awaits us at the end of the race, and we know it will all be worth every tear we have shed, every pain we have suffered…if we endure ‘til the end.
So when (not if) you trip and fall, get back up, and keep going! Make up your mind right now and don’t let anything stop you.
“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”. (J.K. Rowling)
Run steady, and God bless! – Amber Lea
(A letter to my son, Christian)
It was Saturday, November 13, 2010. A typical winter’s day in Alaska, with a beautiful fresh snow blanketing the ground. What started out as a normal day quickly turned into the most horrific day of my life…the day I held your head in my hands and watched you die, helpless to do anything but pray.
Many times I had heard the phrase, “cry out to God”, but on that day, I literally screamed to Him, begging Him to save my baby. There are no human words to describe what I felt, but it seemed as if time had just suddenly stopped. It was as if I was in another world, watching, and waiting.
I don’t know why it occurred to me, or how it happened, but I was suddenly and utterly filled with an indescribable faith, somehow trusting and knowing that God was at work here, and that everything was going to be alright. As I let go and placed your soul into His mighty hands, for you were already dead, there was a surreal peacefulness that entered my spirit. For the first time in my life, I felt the presence of God in me and all around me. I had sensed His presence before, but this was different. This time it was physical!
The paramedics said you were dead for about an hour, but time did not exist for me. I remember everything I saw, heard, thought and felt. But it was like a flash, and yet eternal. It was as if the beginning of the world through to the end, was all rolled up into one breath.
When your heart began to beat again and life returned to your body, time began again, though it seemed painfully slow for several weeks.
It has been 5 years now, and there has not been one second that I have not felt a deep gratitude in my heart for the precious gift God has given us. There have been difficult moments as is the case in life, and there have been times when I have forgotten to say “thank you”. But I have never stopped feeling it.
The love I feel in my heart, for God, and for you, has grown with each day. I can’t imagine life without either of you, and I wouldn’t want to.
I’ve been allowed the privilege of watching you grow and blossom into the young man you are today, and I just want to tell you that I am proud of you! You may not always make good and right choices, you may be irritating at times, but I count it all as joy in seeing you live, in watching as you grow and walk with God.
As a mother, I will always be concerned about you, because I love you. But in the very depths of my soul, as long as you are in God’s hands, I know you will be okay. And so that is my prayer for you, that you live your life by God’s word, walking in His ways, and following His perfect plan for you. Live for God, and you will live well.
In honor of your (re)birthday today, I give God thanks for you, and I praise His mighty name for your life. It is a precious gift to be your mother, and it is an honor to call you my son.
I love you Christian…you forever hold my heart!
Being a creative minded person for as long as I can remember, I have always felt a fondness for art. I find a beauty in paintings, songs, crafts and literature, that I could not explain for the longest time. But recently I began to discover some things about myself that has given me a new understanding of my life. Art in its various forms stirs emotions within me, and creates a connection between myself and the artist.
My journey into writing began a little over 13 years ago, when my son, Jason, died. On the outside, I put on the mask of strength, trying to show that I was okay. I did this for two reasons. The first being that I was 8 months pregnant and everyone around me was concerned that the stress would cause me to have a miscarriage. So I tried to relieve their concerns, not wanting to worry anyone. The second reason was that it has never been easy for me to share what I call my “darker” feelings. Laughter, joy, love and friendship, these things were easy. But pain and sadness were emotions that I did not know how to share. So I kept these things hidden. I was also very isolated at the time of Jason’s death. Even though there were a few that offered a shoulder to cry on, I could still sense the uncomfortableness around me, like people were walking on eggshells, not wanting to trigger an episode of sadness. Others simply avoided being around me altogether. So I felt as though I was walking this secret path inside myself, alone.
I had dabbled in poetry off and on over the years, and I found myself writing again in the form of short tributes to Jason. There were times when feelings just started pouring out of me and flowing onto the paper. It surprised me how it seemed to relieve some of the pressure that was swelling inside my heart. So I continued to write. But I never shared any of it.
After about a year, I found myself joining a website chat room. The internet was just really beginning to take off in gaining popularity, and I was mostly just curious. As I looked through the forums, I found a few that appealed to me and I began to post a few comments. There was some high tension at the time due to it being an election year, and a few of the people that I had made friends with were getting into some heated debates over politics. So I began a thread of jokes and funny stories, trying to soften the atmosphere.
The response I received took me by surprise, and I soon found that I was being encouraged to consider becoming a writer. There were 3 published authors in the group, all considerably older than I was, and I felt completely out of my league among them. But, nevertheless, they continued to push and encourage me to consider following through in my writing.
I’m not really sure why I did it, but I began to send some of the stories and poetry I had written to two of these authors. I shared some very personal feelings in these writings, and to be honest, I felt so strange in making myself open and vulnerable in such a way. I had never considered the possibility of becoming an author, and I did not believe that my writing had the quality to do it. I fully expected some harsh critiques of my work pointing out all the flaws. But to my amazement, instead I received such high praise that I was shocked!
At first I thought that perhaps they were just being kind. But then I found out that both of these authors were actually telling others about me, and it was even suggested that I submit my writing to a few magazines to be published! I felt honored, but confused as to why these people thought I should do so. Curiosity got the better of me, and I finally asked why they liked my writing. They both told me that it was because my writing came from the heart in a way that let them feel what I felt, and understand what I thought. Simply put, the writing touched their hearts.
I began working on compiling several of the stories and poems together, still unsure of myself and having no idea what to do next. I began with buying a copy of the current listing of agents and publishers. I studied and tried to learn as much as I could about the writing industry, trying to figure out all the steps I needed to take. I also began to take some writing classes, as I still did not have any confidence in my ability. I soon found that a lot of what I read didn’t make much sense to me. The information was more focused on picking apart and labeling the parts of writing, which I didn’t really care about. I had always viewed literature in terms of whether or not the work was entertaining, stirring my emotions, or informative of a certain point of view. I paid more attention to the ability to communicate effectively than to the points of proper grammar and sentence structure. In my own writings, I’m quite sure any English professor would have a blast with their red markers, crossing out all my mistakes. But as I tried to learn to write according to the book standards, the thoughts and feelings just did not flow right.
As life circumstances sometimes do, some unexpected changes occurred, and the writing was put aside for several years. After moving into our cabin in 2006, I began unpacking some boxes that had been in storage for a few years. I found the folders containing the work I had typed out. As I went through them, I found myself being stirred by the words in an unexpected way, at times crying, and other times laughing. Then I came across a folder that I had forgotten about. It contained stories that Jason had written when he was about 9 years old. I hadn’t realized it before, but Jason had a passion for writing. Though he was so young, his stories spoke about life and reality from his own heart, and this gave me a connection to him, an insight into his personal mind. Even though there were tears of sorrow from missing him, there was also a joy in having his stories, his way of sharing himself with me. These simple stories with their misspelled words and improper grammar became the most cherished writings in the world to me.
That was the day that I understood what those two authors were telling me about why they liked my writing, because it came from my heart. It was also the day that I knew that I had to keep writing, because just like Jason, it is how I share my heart. It didn’t matter to me whether or not anyone else ever saw the words, I just had to write them. In writing, I can say the words that my mouth cannot utter. I can show the pain and sorrow, or the joy and exhilaration. Writing became at first, like a form of therapy, to let things out that I couldn’t tell anyone face to face. I soon discovered that it also kept my head from exploding from all the thoughts and feelings whirling around inside. It gave a sense of freedom and healing to my heart and soul.
A few years later, after a horrific accident involving my youngest son, Christian, I began sharing online the details of the events that were occurring on a day to day basis. It started as a way to update the family and friends on what was happening. I was unconscious of the fact that I was also sharing myself, that I was exposing my thoughts and feelings along with the updates. I became aware of this from the responses that people were leaving on the posts. Total strangers were sharing thoughts and prayers, pouring out a kind of love and support that I found to give me strength and courage that I didn’t know I had. People were thanking me for sharing those posts, telling me of the impact on their hearts, and asking that I continue to keep sharing. I had a profound sense that not only did I need to do it, but that others were needing to receive it.
Over the next 2 years, I went through the posts and began compiling them, together with stories, thoughts and feelings, into what became my first published book, “Faith, Hope and Miracles”. I didn’t really know what direction the book would take, but I wrote it with the intention of letting out the joy, hope and encouragement that I felt, along with the pain and sorrow. The reaction of those that have read my book has reaffirmed what Jason’s stories taught me…that when we share from the heart, it becomes a part of the heart for those we share it with.
Jason gave me a precious gift, inspiring me to write, to share my heart. If in that sharing, it connects my heart to others in a way that brings a sense of unity, whether it be in joy, grief, hope, encouragement, sadness or laughter, then I have achieved my goal. If sharing my words causes others to feel that they are not alone, then I have succeeded.
Though I miss Jason terribly, I forever hold him dear in my heart, remembering the love and joy he brought into my life, and this gift he has given me, to expose my heart and let it bleed for all the world to see. Thank you Jason, I love you forever!
“It takes a warrior’s heart to persevere in the publishing world. Walk in the confidence that God has put a story in your heart and He will equip you to tell it. After all, it’s really His Story, isn’t it?” – Pamela Thorson, author of “Song in the Night” and “Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver“.
Writers are often said to be introverts, and that may be true for many. But they are also a brave sort of people, for it takes a tremendous amount of courage to put pen to paper and share dreams, thoughts and ideas with the world. There are often ideas created out of seeing a perspective or need that needs to be addressed. Perhaps the courage comes from an overwhelming need to share a personal message, maybe an experience that might benefit others.
Such is the case for a grieving father, who after losing his only son, Jonathan, began a journey into self-discovery and healing. In his search for guidance and self-help, he found that there was not much available on the topic of men’s grief. Through his own grief, he made a connection that was the beginning of his healing. This connection has taken on a mission of its own in the form of a legacy to his son.
Having a writer’s heart, he decided that it was time to share what he discovered for himself. His name is R. Glenn Kelly, and his book, “Sometimes I Cry in the Shower” is on the fast track to making a nationwide impact on the hearts of many, men and women alike.
I commend Mr. Kelly in his endeavor to share his raw, open honesty with others into a journey that no one wants to take. And I know his son would be very proud of him. I highly recommend “Sometimes I Cry in the Shower”.
For more info on R. Glenn Kelly, visit his Author page on Amazon.
Check back soon to read my upcoming interview with R. Glenn Kelly!
God bless! – Amber
A Thanksgiving Day Message
There are so many reasons I have to be thankful for, I couldn’t possibly list them all here. But as I’ve been thinking about those reasons, I realized that I could summarize them all with this:
I am thankful for being loved, and for the ability to give love!
God’s love is the greatest gift of all. It is the beginning of and the reason for all the blessings we receive, including life itself. And because His love is so great, it cannot be contained in one heart alone. It grows, and then we can share it.
So I want to take the time to say THANK YOU to God, for the gift of love! And THANK YOU to all of my family, friends and neighbors, for sharing your love!
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I pray that every heart on earth be filled with such love and joy, that the whole earth sings a song of praise and thanks.
Always remember, God loves you, and that is worth being thankful for.
November 13, a “re-birthday”. That is the term my son Christian uses to describe the anniversary of his death and return from heaven. He says he was “re-born” on that day, and it is certainly worthy of a celebration.
After a horrible accident, Christian was dead for almost an hour. During that time, he was in heaven with Jesus, where he also met his older brother, Jason. The experiences Christian shared with us over the next few months were astounding to say the least. It changed our lives.
Birthday celebrations involve gifts, but instead of receiving, we want to give. Christian said that Jesus wants us to know that He loves us all, and He wants us to be encouraged with faith and hope. It is that faith and hope that inspired our book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”, and it is our gift to you. We have made it available for free on November 13 and 14, and we’re asking everyone to share it. Join us in our celebration of Christian’s “re-birthday”, share a little encouragement and hope!
Free for a limited time, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”at Amazon.com
“Delightful, awe-inspiring, miraculous journey of one boy and his family. Gut-wrenching terror turns into a beautiful story of redemption, 2nd chances, and miracles in this journal of death-to-life healing and glorious victory. WOW! Highly recommended to stir your faith and encourage you that God is real, He’s alive, and He worked a precious miracle in this Alaskan family. You should read it today!” (Mary E. Hanks, author of “Winter’s Past”)
– Amber & Christian