Amy's Story

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My husband and I, prior to getting married, found out I was pregnant. It had been 16 years since I had a baby. He had already proposed, but once we found out we were pregnant we decided we didn’t want to have a baby out of wedlock, so we got married sooner.

Two weeks prior to us getting married, his grandmother passed away. We got married in May. And in June, we lost the baby. I was 19 weeks 2 days. My baby lived for 4 hours and then he passed away. Shortly after, my dog died and then my dad.

After I lost the baby, my husband and I started to use heavily. I was severely depressed. I had forgotten to go to my dad’s doctor’s appointment. The day before he had gotten severely ill and because he was deaf he depended on me. And I forgot to go, and his blood pressure was up in the 300s. He was on life support for 5 days. We ended up having to pull the plug. That was in January. In February, we had his memorial on the 18th, and on the 19th my sister in law, she was 33, she fell, and hit her head, and had a seizure and passed away that night. 


When I was pregnant with our son, I had attempted to take care of my legal issues. I was on the ankle monitor for 3 months. Once I lost the baby, I was so depressed, staying at home was like being in prison. It was just awful. Everything was a reminder of the baby. I was on strict bed rest for about a month. My husband had to quit work to take care of me. I went to court to try and take care of everything and the judge thought I was just coming up with a bunch of excuses and he sent me to jail for 3 months. And during that time we lost our house and pretty much lost everything. 

I was just a mess. I started using very heavily. I was finding it hard to stay clean. They had placed me in drug court. I went to New Visions for 30 days and I completed the program, but when I found out my husband was having an affair and ended up leaving me for this other woman, I relapsed.

I came to the House of Hope because I was struggling with addiction pretty bad and I asked if they would take me and they did. I’ve been here, going on 90 days. And this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m learning a lot about the Lord. Things that I never really knew about Him. He is working in my life and he is making a lot of changes. And just to know that God is enough for me, that I don’t need to be defined by a relationship or a man. The only person that I need to keep my identity in is Christ and that’s what gives me strength. 


When I was in jail, there was a lady that would come and do bible studies with us. We were all sitting around at this bible study and she said, “a lot of times we see light through our own set of lenses. We need to take off the set of lenses and give them to the Lord and ask the Lord for what he has for us in exchange.” It was amazing. Everyone was broken in the Spirit. We all had something different that the Lord had given them. And what I saw was the word “Nations”. I saw a bunch of people, shadows, standing in a bright light and I didn’t know what it meant.

A few weeks later, I had a dream about my Dad. I dreamt that I was in this beautiful house. We were having a bible study. There was a bunch of women. There was a knock on the door. It was bright and sunny day. Someone answered it and it was my Dad. He had my baby with him. He walked in and he told me he loved me and that he wanted me to do good. I remember him turning to walk out and he had the baby with him and I followed him out and he got into his truck and he drove off. When I walked back into the house, the women that were there, they came around me and they were praying. And this lady walked over to me and she set her hand on my chest and she said, “God wants you to give it to him”. And I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. When she started praying for me it was like instantly the pressure started to leave. I started crying so hard in my sleep, that I was physically crying and it woke up the other girls in the unit. When they woke me up, it took me a good 10 – 15 minutes to regain my composure. 


I wanted a strong biblical name for my son because it was a miracle that I was even pregnant with him. I named him Nehemiah Malachi. Nehemiah was a descendent of Jerusalem. When Jerusalem had fallen, he was the King’s cup bearer. He was broken because Jerusalem was demolished, had fallen. So he started to ask the Lord for favor. The King showed him favor and gave him all the materials to go back and he rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days. In the recovery Bible, it talks about that same significance. It refers to our addiction and rebuilding our lives. So Jerusalem has a big significance to me. 

When I woke up from my dream, I opened the Bible and it goes to Isaiah 65 and it says, “No more babies dying in the cradle, or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime…” (MSG) So I kept reading and it says, in Isaiah 66:7-9, “Before she [Jerusalem] went into labor, she had the baby. Before the birth pangs hit, she delivered a son. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? Has anyone seen anything like this? A country born in a day? A nation born in a flash? (MSG) [bold added for emphasis]

To me, that was something that was personal that God had given me. I know that through my father’s death, and my son’s death, and my sister-in-law’s death and through the pain I bear with losing my husband on top of everything else. I know that through this, other people’s lives are going to be changed. And to me, if that’s the case, then it’s all worth it. My rewards are not here on earth, they’re in heaven. 

It was weird, after I had gotten out of jail, right before I came here, when I was struggling with my addiction still. I remember it was one of the last times I used before I got here. I was a mess. I remember walking into my mom’s house and I didn’t know what to do and I was done. And I fell on my knees and started crying and was just like, God I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I’m tired, just take this from me. 

My cousin ended up calling and she was asking if I was ready to leave it all behind. And I said yes. She came and got me and took me to her church. And it was like my dream. I had relived it. There was a lady at her church that came up and prayed with me the same way a woman did in my dream. To me it was like a revelation. I know that God has a calling on my life. And there’s a purpose for me being alive.

Ryan Stillwater

Ryan is a longtime Visalian — a graduate of Redwood High School and Fresno Pacific University with a bachelors degree in Christian Ministries. Intrigued by the partnership between the Visalia Rescue Mission and the City of Visalia, Ryan began putting his vision on paper as VRM's Oval Venue Coordinator in August 2013, and has sparked the interest of many throughout the community. Ryan and his wife Amy (a Mt. Whitney High School graduate) have been married for seven years and have three amazing kids — ages 6, 4, and 4.