This past weekend I had a delightful lunch with my sweet friends Amber and Amie. We talked about their lives…where they had been and where the Lord has brought them now. This is only one story of two. Amie’s story is told in a past blog post. We lunched at La Petite France and enjoyed our visit in a beautiful setting while enjoying delicious salads and sandwiches. Here is Amber’s story.
What can I say about my friend Amber? She is a a pure dear. As many of you know, I work about 12 hours a week at Curves here in Roseville as a fitness tech. One of the best aspects of the job is that I get to know wonderful women! Amber is one of the most precious people that I have met at Curves. She and I have become good friends, and she has happily agreed to have me tell you her story…one of finding fresh love in her marriage and of fresh hope in her soul.
Amber is not just beautiful on the outside, but even more so on the inside. She has a Mary Kay business, works out at Curves, and is a loving mother and wife; but her life was not always this way. This little one has experienced so much in her first 20 years of life! Yes, she is a young one, but full of maturity and life experience.
Amber came into this world to a mother who was only 17 and a father who was 19. Although her mother refrained while she was pregnant and while caring for Amber and her siblings, both of her parents were drug users. This young unmarried couple lived with Amber’s grandmother in Southern California, who supported the family as a truck driver. Amber’s mother did her best to care for her and her siblings, however, CPS was called, resulting in all children being placed in different foster homes. Amber was 3 years old at this time, and the children were separated for almost two years before being reunited with each other and their mother. Unfortunately, the cycle did not stop there. Amber’s mother and father split up after that, and when her mom lost her job and was homeless, Amber and her siblings had to go live with her father. Due to her father’s extreme partying and drug use, he would sleep all day, and Amber, 5 years old, had to learn to care for the basic needs of herself and her siblings. It was not long until CPS was called again, and the children were placed in foster homes, yet again. Amber’s grandmother and mother fought to get the children back. Unfortunately, drugs were still a problem for all Amber’s caretakers. Eventually, Amber and her siblings wound up with her dad again and when Amber was only 7, a local church bus would come by the apartment where she lived, and would pick her up to go to church. This is where she first learned about God. Amber says, “I was living with my dad in a nasty, dirty environment and with a dad who was sleeping all the time. I was glad to have a positive environment that made me feel good”. After that, Amber and her siblings went to live with her mother and her boyfriend, who was very abusive toward her mother. Things were hard for them, and when Amber was 9 years old, an opportunity came for her family to move to Arkansas to stay with her boyfriend’s family. At first, things got better. Her mom’s boyfriend stopped abusing, and her mom got a job. Her mom finally broke away from the abusive boyfriend, and Amber had a new friend named Samantha.
Samantha and her family were Christians and went to church. When Amber was 11 years old, she attended church regularly and accepted Jesus as her savior. Unfortunately, the church was very strict and made her feel overly guilty. She said it made her, “feel bad about my family and that there was no hope for them”. This brought major discouragement to her and she lost interest in going to church.
This is when life, again, changed for Amber, but this time it was due to her own destruction. “I started to hang with the wrong crowd. While my mother worked nights, I started sneaking out at night, drinking, smoking pot, and having sex”. She says, “I was in my first abusive relationship in the 9th grade”. It was not long after that when Amber started using Methamphetamine. Then, right after she turned 16, she was caught smoking pot at school. “I was hand cuffed and taken to jail for a week. Then I was on house arrest for the next 3 months. My mom did not want me face charges in court so she checked me into a rehab center”. Amber went on to say,“I was there for 57 days. Basically, I faked it till I made it ”. Unfortunately, she says, “The day after getting out I went right back to ‘using’, even though I was on 6 months of out patient rehab. I was still having sex and doing whatever I wanted”. She wound up pregnant by a married man. Her pregnancy was what made her stop doing drugs. Amber says, “this time with out drugs was very hard, but I would never have forgiven myself if something was wrong with my child”. She stopped seeing her old friends, and began to learn how to live a normal life again.
After her pregnancy, she was around 200 pounds, and she did not feel very good about her appearance. Amber reunited with her sons father at a child support hearing, and it was “because he was still attracted to me”, she says. That relationship also became abusive, and that man became unfaithful to Amber, as well as with his wife. A couple of weeks after that, she met a man named Casey.
She met Casey through his cousin that Amber worked with. They quickly developed strong feelings for each other, and they knew that it was love. They were honest and open with each other about their past. He loved her, regardless of her past involvement with a married man, or the fact that she already had a child. Amber said “He wanted to adopt my son”, and after 8 months together, “We married at a court house. I wore a cute spring dress, and had a little reception at my mom’s”. Four months later they were pregnant with their daughter.
In California, Casey’s family had a need. His sister had just gone into prison, leaving her 3 children to be cared for by Casey’s father. They felt that it was best to go there and help out. After selling everything that they had, they drove half way across country to California. They lived in a trailer at Casey’s grandpa’s home and struggled with getting work. Amber says “I had lost my kind motives and had resentments toward Casey and we fought all the time. We weren’t a good example to the kids and were hateful toward each other”.
It was through two or three different Christian people that she says she saw that there was really something different about their lives and their relationships. Amber said, “there was kindness and peace and she saw families being loving and cherished being together, and that she wanted that heart again. I loved Casey, but hated the relationship at that time”. Amber knew a friend who went to church and wanted to go as well. When she softened her heart to God, “I started handling things differently and started loving again”, Amber said. Last fall, at the “Women of Faith” conference in Sacramento, Amber rededicated her life to Jesus. She has read books to improve her marriage, and, of course reads her bible. Her son tells people about the Lord and wants to pray at night. Casey now brings his family to church and both of them are learning what it means to trust God and have faith in his plan for their family, and how to live their life for Christ.