{Story3} Suicide Interrupted

In our November {Thankfulness} series we are having a blast sharing YOUR incredible, redemptive God-stories! This one is a doozy! I (Heather) can’t wait for you to hear from Amy Fritz. If you were to meet Amy you might quickly assess she has a rare beauty that she possesses. Sure, she is outwardly stunning, but there’s a beauty that radiates from her soul. Looking in on her life, you could quickly assume, she’s got it all: she’s a newlywed, she’s a tennis all-star, she’s got hair that should be on commercials, and she has the sweetest little giggle when you talk to her. She’s adorbs! I worshiped in the same room with her for years before I learned her story. Can I just say, I LOVE when people share their God-stories because we see His love abound through one another. Watch this beautiful love story unfold… I introduce you to Amy.


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by Amy Fritz

There is not a second of your life where God is not present. Even in the days where He seems far away. Even in your darkest hours. He is there.

If you have doubts, if you’re struggling to hold on, if you’re overwhelmed by fear, or burdened by guilt and shame, this one’s for you.

I didn’t grow up “in Church”…I occasionally went to church, but not very often. I owned a Bible, but other than my name being written on it, I couldn’t identify with it. I knew of a man named Jesus, but I did not know Him. I always saw God as this faraway being that wanted nothing to do with me or my life.

Let me start from the beginning.

I grew up with a single mom and was the youngest of three kids. My mom did everything in her power to give us a good life, and she always put us before herself. During my childhood she decided we would pack our bags and move to southwest Florida to get a fresh start. Things seemed really good for us. I went to a great school, was a competitive tennis player, and even lived on a beautiful, tropical island.

I should have been the happiest girl in the world, right?

But I had my share of failures, secrets, and insecurities.

As I got older I was constantly putting a great deal of pressure on myself. Pressure to fit in, to look a certain way, to get better grades, to please others, to be a better tennis player, and the list goes on and on. I was constantly searching for approval. I thought that if I did all of the “right” things I would have more control over my life, and then nothing bad would ever happen to me

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Well, that wasn’t the case, at all. Because sometimes, you have absolutely no control over anything, and there’s really nothing you can do about it.

I was only fourteen years old when I was raped.

I didn’t tell anyone. I couldn’t tell anyone. I was too ashamed. Was I pregnant? Did I have an STD? No one could ever know about this! I thought that if I just ignored what happened, that it would eventually go away. Of course, I tried, but it never goes away.

My life was a living nightmare. I closed my eyes and it was there. I opened my eyes and it was there. It haunted me. I was broken. I was afraid. I was so alone. The self-blame was eating me alive. I lost all control of everything I ever knew. This girl who used to have it all together, who was happy, was now a complete mess. My world was crashing down on me, and it was happening quickly.

During this season I was running down a dark and dangerous path. No substance could fill the emptiness I felt inside. I was numb. Pills, drinking, cutting, partying, boys—I tried it all, and nothing worked. Maybe it helped me forget for a brief moment, but every morning I would wake up lower than where I started the night before. I was overcome with depression. I was filled with fear, and I was ready to end it all…

One night, on August 23rd 2007, I was five minutes away from doing just that. Ending it all seemed like the only road to freedom.

I remember crying so hard I couldn’t breathe, and being so afraid that I was shaking. I had everything I needed to end my life, the only thing left to do was commit. There was so much tension between my head and my heart. I didn’t want to do it, but I felt like I had no other choice. Out of anger and frustration I began throwing things around my room. In a rage I began shoving a bunch of stuff off a bookshelf. Books fell on the floor, but only one book fell on the floor and opened—my very dusty Bible.

Startled, I caught my breath, knelt down, and began to read.

It was opened to Isaiah 43, which says,

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called you by name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.”

God does not call us by our shame; He calls us by our name.

I read those Words over, and over, and over. I couldn’t get enough of them. The fear began to vanish as God’s grace drew near.

His presence was so real. Those Words were so real. His undeniable love was so real.

The truth is, never once was He far from me. He was there the day I took my first breath. He was there when I was packing my bags for our “fresh start.” He was there… when I was raped. As hard as that reality is, I was never alone. And here He was, in the moment I was about to take my own life, desperate for me to hear that He was near and that He loved me.

That night changed my life forever. I cried out to God for the first time. I was vulnerable with Him. I begged for His mercy. I knew that I could no longer live on my own. I was aware of my humanity, as I was face to face with His otherness. He was greater than anything I had ever imagined or believed. I decided from that moment forward to give everything I had to Him. My past, my present, and my future. Jesus forgave me! He restored my purity, He adopted me as His own, and He filled my life with new hopes and dreams. He set me FREE!

Today, I can say that was over seven years ago. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of the goodness and faithfulness of God. He saved my life, and I am forever thankful.

I think what amazes me the most, is that God—this awesome, majestic, powerful creator—chose to meet me in such an intimate way to deal with my intimate wounds. In that moment of desperation, He met me right where I was. He knows us. He knows exactly what we need.

It has not been an easy journey, but it has been a remarkable one. God has saved my family and has filled my life with so much love. He has brought so many other godly people into my life through the years that have stood by my side and fought with me. They have prayed with me, shed tears with me, and given me wise counsel. God is continually healing and sanctifying me by His grace alone. I am so undeserving, yet He is still so good to me. His Church is full of broken sinners in need of grace, and I am one of them.

This handsome guy is one of the main characters God has placed in my redeeming love story. This is my husband, Caleb, who pursued me with absolute patience and grace. He is the kindest, most respectful, caring man that I know, and his gospel saturated heart brings me closer to Christ and His love every day.

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Maybe you’re like me or have faced a similar situation and you’re too afraid to tell someone. Let me just say, fear not. It’s not your fault that something like this happened to you. Don’t let shame hinder the healing process. Jesus is able.

And ladies, guard your purity. Guard it with all of your heart. Wait for a man who will do the same. Don’t take purity for granted. Parents, guard your daughters. Husbands, guard your wives. Educate yourselves well, and be aware: 1 in 6 girls are sexually abused, and 60% of those incidents will go unreported. If someone is sexually abused, they are 26 times more likely to abuse substances and are 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Please, don’t take that lightly.

My prayer today is that God would be glorified through my story. I hope this is an encouragement and reminder that He is near and His love for you is unimaginable.

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If you missed the first two posts in this November {Thankfulness} series go here:

{Story1} The 14 questions my husband asked me

{Story2} The Redeemed “Other” Woman

To learn more about Heather and Holly’s ministry, you can watch their 3 minute video: go here

To check out their book: go here

Dancing On My Ashes (in ebook form) is available through the month of November for $2!

If you are interested in learning more about God: go here

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{Story2} Burying your baby

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There are personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear!

The story you are about to read is incredible! I (Heather) met Sarah a little over a year ago. You know how sometimes you meet someone and your friendship takes off? That’s what happened with us—a deep friendship emerged so effortlessly. I have no doubt, God had our paths collide. [Not only are we friends, but we also have a side business together called Story Designs {by S & H} – after you’re done reading… check out the pretty things we make!]

I can’t wait for you to hear from her! I’ve been praying for THIS MOMENT since she first shared some of her journey with me over coffee! Our kids were off destroying the play room as we were wiping tears and smiling over God’s fierce love for us. I KNOW this is going to bless your socks off!

I’m happy to introduce you to Sarah…

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by Sarah Lombardi

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him,
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for Grace to trust him more

I have been singing that song all my life, but it wasn’t until this year that I began to understand the joy and fullness of putting my complete trust in Him.

Five years ago, on March 29th, I went into labor with our second child. We were very excited about welcoming our baby BOY into the family! Earlier that week the doctor told me it could be any day. I was 37 weeks and full term! We gathered our bags and headed to the hospital. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of fear as we drove in. I prayed silently for peace, and as I prayed, it was like I already knew.

Shortly after we arrived, the nurses got me in a room and started hooking me up to monitors. The nurse could see that I was having close contractions, but she was having trouble finding baby. I continued to pray. After what felt like an eternity, she called in the doctor to do an ultrasound. The on-call doctor wheeled in the sonogram machine and placed it right on Miles. It was very clear—Miles had his hands raised and was still. No heartbeat. Just still. The doctor said, “You see this,” pointing to the screen. “This is his heart and its not beating.”

My world… our world… came crashing down.

Tears came.

All I could do was weep.

My husband and I held one another and wept.

After my surgery they brought in Miles Daniel for me to hold. He was in a bassinet, wrapped in a blanket. They had dressed him in a little hat and a zip-up sleeper. He was perfect. Just beautiful. Miles weighed exactly 4 pounds, so he was little, but oh so perfect. I held him and cried. I just starred at him “asleep” in my arms. I took in every detail because I didn’t want this moment to end.

Baby Miles

Baby Miles

After the funeral and all the family had gone, it seemed like life had to move forward… but I wasn’t ready to move forward. I prayed day and night, “Lord give me faith to trust this is Your will in my life.”

It’s been a process. It’s been a fight. Grieving takes a toll on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But as seconds turned into hours, and hours to days, and days to months, and now months to years; through it all the Lord has shown me (and continues to show me) how much HE loves US.

Every step of this journey He. Has. Loved. ME!

HE loved this broken momma who had lost ALL of her joy in the Lord.

HE loved this sad wife who became a negative and selfish spouse.

HE loved me and extravagantly poured His love into my heart—healing me bit by bit.

He showed His love through our family, our church family and friends. He took a mother with a broken heart and made her into a mother with a prayerful heart. The Lord has given me a compassion for the hurting, the weary, and the brokenhearted. He has mended our marriage—taking two hurting, selfish people, and showing us how to live and thrive inside a Christ centered, loving marriage.

These five years have been full of tears, but we have begun to see His beauty rising from our ashes. He brought JOY back into my heart and a song:

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take him at his word
Just to rest upon his promise
Just to know thus saith The Lord

I realized how sweet it truly is to put my trust in Him and to believe what His Word tells me. Not just to hear it—but BELIEVE it! Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.’” I began to put my trust back in Him—my Lord, my Savior! I gave Him my whole heart and my life that was broken and bruised… He has healed it!

Exactly two years after we lost Miles Daniel, the Lord blessed us with our third child—our son, Jones Abraham. Jones was born premature at barely 31 weeks. The Lord knew. He knit him together and knew exactly the day he would be born.

Sarah and Baby Jones

Sarah and Baby Jones

I held my precious, Jones, on the EXACT day we lost Miles, two years earlier. “The Lord gives and takes away…” {Job 1:21}

After naming Jones we found out the meaning of his name: “Jehovah has shown favor.”

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. {Psalm 30:5}

We have questions without answers. There are days that I imagine the five of us sitting around the dinner table. I wonder what Miles’s laugh would sound like or how his arms would feel around me. There will be a day that I experience his giggles and his hugs, but until then, the arms of Christ envelop me. His arms are big enough, strong enough, and firm enough to strengthen this momma for the road ahead. He alone holds me together.

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On this road of suffering, I have learned to trust Him. Simply trust. His ways are greater and far better for me! It has been five years and THIS week we will place a stone at Miles’s grave. This year has been a year of freedom and of letting go of heartache. I am ready. WE are ready! “Lord, I trust you!” This stone isn’t for Miles—he is with our Savior! I imagine him dancing along the shore, hand in hand with Jesus! This stone is for mom and dad. We are placing this stone as a reminder: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!

I will forever sing:

I’m so glad I learned to trust thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, friend.
And I know that thou art with me
Will be with me to the end.

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If you are new to this blog, check out our STORY and how God taught us about rising from our ashes—not to merely survive, but to dance!

Go here to learn more about the book: Dancing On My Ashes.

If you have questions about God or how you can come to know Him—go here!

Feel free to subscribe to our blog, we’d love for you to stop by again and again!

No-Good-Rotten Anniversaries

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by Heather Spring

There are good anniversaries and ones that feel… ummm… well, not so good.

Holly and I wanted to write a little something for those that might be in the same boat as we—the “man-that-day-really-stinks boat.” We said goodbye to James and Scott on August 1, 2000. And ever since, that day hasn’t been the same. We’ve traveled to many a place, sharing our story, and we’ve met many others that have their own day—those no-good-rotten days that linger on the calendar, staring us in the face, begging us to crumble under the pain they symbolize.

We’re sharing this post on our “day” in hopes that we can speak a bit about what we’ve learned over the past 13 years regarding difficult anniversaries. Wow, I need to pause for a moment…
Has it really been 13 years?
God is good.

Four years ago, on this particular day, I was nine months prego, and had this amazing moment with God. My no-good-rotten day had actually snuck up on me. That was a first for me! On top of that, some of my good friends were throwing me a baby shower to celebrate Zachariah’s soon arrival. I had agreed to this?! What was I thinking? (a.k.a. baby brain) This all occurred to me on my fifth trip to the bathroom that night. (a.k.a. baby kicking bladder) So all of a sudden I sat there, wide-eyed, in shock that I had not been dreading the day. In fact, I was planning to celebrate on this day! Woah! Talk about God’s redemption at work. As my head pressed against my pillow, in the wee hours of an August 1st morning, I started running through my usual pattern of “anniversary” thought. I recalled what I had done that morning in 2000. I cringed again about the argument James and I had before he left the house. I remembered watching the clock for his return so that I could apologize. I thought about how I went to bed that night not knowing that he was already holding the hand of Jesus… his faith had been made sight. I recalled the waiting, the watching, the bargaining with God, and the “whys.” I remembered the moment when our worst fears were made reality as over 24 hours later we received the news that there had been an accident.

Sigh. Deep breath.

All these memories were running through my mind on that morning four years ago as I curled up underneath my covers. All this remembering created a very odd feeling in me, to be honest. I sat there going through the fatal turn of events, just like I always seemed to do on that day, yet at the same time, my heart’s voice whispered, “Lord, is it okay that I’m remembering?” As quickly as I had uttered those words, another memory transported me to my past. I was on a hillside. I could almost feel the stillness of that dark night as I stood questioning God. Etched into my being, alone before the King of Kings, I came to understand comfort that is not of this world. A broken and desperate widow experienced God’s nearness that proved He indeed loved this seemingly insignificant human being.  He spoke over my life in my darkest hours. Grace upon grace.

“God, I’m remembering… is that okay?” You see, I was conflicted. I almost felt guilty about reminiscing. A few inches to my right was my husband Dallas. I could hear him inhaling and exhaling. I couldn’t be more thankful for the gift God had given me in his companionship. And then to my left was a monitor that hummed with sounds from my son Noah’s room.

“Lord, You have never left my side. Your plans are completely beyond my wildest imaginations!” I said, as I ran my hand back and forth on my round abdomen that cradled Zachariah. “Lord, Is it okay that I’m remembering?” Sometimes you can’t help but sound like a broken record.

In God-fashion, at the perfect moment, He answered my question with a question. (Another one of His specialties.) “What does the name Zachariah mean?”

I was silenced and awed as I recalled my many Google searches, desperate to choose the perfect name for our little boy. I responded, “Zachariah means God remembers.”

GOD REMEMBERS!
GOD remembers!
God REMEMBERS!

God spoke into my August 1sts and wanted me to know that not only should I remember; but I need to understand that He remembers. He remembers those moments even clearer than I do. As I close my eyes and mentally walk the roads of my past, I dare not miss the moments He carried me… us. His otherness still leaves me speechless. And as I linger on each moment in time, He desperately wants me to understand that His love for me has never failed, that He is enough for ANYTHING that I would and will ever walk through, and that He is a God that doesn’t forget. And as I remember, I can rest in the truth that He remembers me… the gal that gets it wrong more than she gets it right. This heart wanders, only to be reminded that His cross is more than enough.

You know I had thought Dallas and I chose Zachariah’s name… but we didn’t. He did. God picked it out and blessed me with the revelation that the sweet little smile I would come to know is actually a daily reminder that God remembers.

It might sound odd, but I can’t stop thinking about Easter today.

Easter is really the only thing that I can think of to compare to tough anniversaries.

Good Friday: complex emotions over the death of one you love.
Saturday: grieving, processing, holding out hope for the promises spoken about Sunday! We wait and hope—believing that LIFE will come from death!
SUNDAY: Our hearts leap as the day breaks on Easter morning and we celebrate the empty grave! Christ completed what He was asked to do on the cross. ONLY GOD could tell death to “shove it!”

August 1 is not the end to our story… or James’ or Scott’s. It’s part of the story, but the story is SO much bigger than that! There are places in me, and maybe you, that beg us to get stuck in our Fridays. We mourn. We don’t move on. We can’t look forward. We get stuck in the pain, trapped in the sorrow of Friday. But we can’t miss out on Saturday! I know Sunday’s the BIG day, but a lot can happen in us on Saturday. It’s a testing of faith—of living out what we believe—of hoping that indeed Sunday will come! We cling to the promise that He will come for us! There will be an end to our suffering, the injustice, the tears, and the horrific news stories! Sunday will be AH-MAZ-ING! But we can’t miss living anchored to hope while we endure Saturday.

With all that said, we share with you 3 things to think about on your no-good-rotten day(s):

1. Remember your Friday. Don’t fight the desire to remember or “busy” yourself in an effort to ignore this natural response to loss and disappointment. If we strive to disengage our heart, we miss moments of growth. So go ahead: remember, talk about it, re-live moments. BUT… don’t get stuck in your “Friday.” At some point, you stop looking back, and you set your eyes forward.

2. Make Saturday your Thanksgiving. You might think it would be a hard thing to do on a day that your heart is so heavy, but I promise thanksgiving is key. Whether it’s mental or you choose to sit down and put pen to paper, once you begin a list of thanksgiving, you may be surprised at how quickly you’ll see the presence of God even in the midst of your darkest day. Gratitude is good for the soul and it is healing to recognize, verbalize, and credit the hand of God. When we focus on our pain, we can get jaded and angry. Thanksgiving opens up our eyes to see life from an entirely new perspective. While you dwell in your Saturday, awaiting the promise of Sunday, build your faith by recognizing the blessings all around you.

3. Set your heart on Sunday. I’ve spent some anniversaries lingering on #1 waaaay too long. I’ve wallowed, licked my wounds, and drug others down with me. If you are a believer, then get this IN you: THIS IS ALL TEMPORARY! This is not our forever home! Eternity is set in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11). Do you feel it? Let the promise of Sunday usher in peace as you are reminded that the suffering we endure here on earth will be incomparable to the hope and glory that will be revealed on Sunday! (Romans 8:18)

Lastly, we wanted to highlight 3 anniversary surprises:

1. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I don’t. Don’t feel bad either way. Most of the time I don’t and it surprises me, it might be because I’ve cried off and on the week that leads up to this day. My emotions are on !HIGH Alert! the entire month of July and then when I expect total meltdown, I have a peace that passes all MY understanding! He’s good like that.

2. Irritability. That’s just a nice way of saying that I can be a bit grouchy and easily angered leading up to my day. (Holly more so than me—just kidding!) Little things that shouldn’t be a big deal suddenly become a BIG DEAL! I call it “subconscious grieving.” I’m thankful for a God that understands our weaknesses and brings healing and freedom from even a July-hot-head. It’s been good for me to understand this “anniversary surprise” so I can fight against it. My sweet hubby and children have shown me much grace and love as they live with this sporadic “side-effect”.

3.  You don’t have to hide. You might be surprised by this, but it’s okay to let others know that a painful anniversary is coming up. I’m not saying you need to post weird, mysterious, FB statuses, but I am saying call on a friend. Be vulnerable. I know you might say, “different strokes for different folks,” but the fact is God calls us to community. We need one another! Don’t wait for someone to magically “remember” your hard day. Invite someone in. Maybe it’s someone you know really well, or maybe it’s someone who “knows” what you’re going through because they’ve experienced something similar.

I know this is a longer post than usual, but I hope that it encourages you on some level today… or on your no-good-rotten day! He can REDEEM your Friday!

If you don’t know our whole story, here’s a link to the book, Dancing On My Ashes. OR Go here for to purchase the book!