Raise My Son
(Please listen to Angelic’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
I continually have a dialogue with God, like constantly talking to him. I have, lived through some crazy stuff. I lost my father when I was three years old. I grew up in a very dysfunctional childhood, lived through lots of pain and suffering growing up. I had the hard knocks of life very early on. I made horrible decisions when I was younger. That led to lifelong consequences, but those choices actually led me to the Lord. When Austin was born, my entire world was flipped upside down. Because I was given a beautiful baby boy. And within five days, he was born on July 21, excuse me, what am I saying? He was born on December 21, by Christmas Day, he was being admitted in the hospital, major heart complications, and being airlifted to multiple hospitals trying to figure out which hospital needed to provide services for him.
So when Austin came into the world, I was at a place where I did not know the Lord. I knew him through other people. I experienced Christianity through other beacons of faith, but I didn’t have my own faith. Everything that I thought about God was called into question. The first two years of my son’s life just watching him one day, you know, he’s not going to make it, then he does make it, and it’s this constant roller coaster of–if God is a good, good God, how is he allowing this to happen to a child?
So just facing that head on and starting to seek and understand and learn. He’s very real, he talks to you. He teaches you, he counsels you. When you have now, over 23 years of that experience, it’s the go-to, right? And I’ve been in many crises in my life, and my go-to is him, like, that’s the only place you can go to.
Austin was born in 1995. He’s had five open heart surgeries that are extremely extensive. His aorta, pulmonary artery, ventricle wall, are all made out of synthetic material. He has a pacemaker with a defibrillator, and he has an artificial valve. So a lot of his heart is no longer his own, if you will. And over the course of 23 years, every time that they go in to do something to his heart, it’s caused his heart function to decrease.
Collapse in St. Paul
July 11, 2018, I was actually traveling for work. I work in technology, and I was out visiting with a client out in Indiana in the Midwest, and I found myself leaving Indiana and going to Chicago for the next client visit. So I’m in the Chicago O’Hare Airport. And by chance, my son Austin was also traveling through the Midwest. He was in the Midwest visiting family who were from the Midwest originally. He was there visiting family, and on his way home to the Carolinas where we are now residents, he was traveling through Minneapolis airport. And he was getting ready to board the tram to go to his next terminal where he collapsed. And I was in the Chicago O’Hare Airport, in a taxi line literally getting ready to get into the cab when my phone rang. It was Austin’s dad, and he said, “Something’s happened to Austin. He’s collapsed.” He went into complete meltdown mode. I had no idea what was going on, and it was just one of those things where the whole world just got ripped right out from underneath of you in a nanosecond. It was just like, literally, like you’re in a movie and you just start spinning round. You’re looking and you’re like, what do you do?
And so I just started calling Austin’s mobile phone, and there was a lady who was with him, who by chance happened to be an emergency room physician assistant. She started doing an assessment on Austin. Three to four minutes into it, he lost full control of his bladder, and she had realized that he was in full-blown cardiac arrest, not just a heart attack. But something literally was physically extremely wrong with him. Because at first they thought he was having seizures and things like that. But then, once they realized that he was in full-blown cardiac arrest, she started screaming for an AED so that they could start shocking his heart. I’m on the phone, and I’m listening to this. Then the police come on site. And the police get on the phone with me. They’re like, you have to stay on the ground. You can’t, you can’t go up in the air, you have to stay on the ground, we need you on the ground. I was walking them through his medical history, etc.
God Makes a Way
Finally, twenty-one minutes later, they said, “Okay, we just got his heart started, we’re putting him in the ambulance. This is the hospital we’re going to. Go ahead get on a flight and come here now.” And so, I go up to the counter, and I can barely even communicate, and I’m just like, “It’s an emergency, I have to be on the next flight to Minneapolis. The woman’s like, “Well, I’m sorry, you can’t get on the… (There was a plane that was actually leaving the gate in 20 minutes.) And she said, “You can’t get on that flight because FDA regulations states that you have to book the flight two hours in advance.” I had an emotional meltdown, “I’m like, I need to be on this flight. My son’s in cardiac arrest, he’s at the hospital. I need to be on the next flight out.” And immediately, she just went into emergency mode, and she got me a ticket, and I couldn’t communicate, nor could I barely walk. And this is just God’s provision. Because she literally carried me to gate and just put me on the airplane. Then it went into like the darkest hour of my life where you don’t, you can’t communicate with anyone. And you don’t know what you’re going to get on the other end when you get off the airplane. And so I literally refused to turn on my phone. Because I didn’t want to know anything. Like I wanted just to be at the hospital.
When I got there, I checked in, I said, you know, “My son, Austin, he’s, you know, he was brought in from the the airport, etc.” And the woman just got a very gloomy look on her face. And she went to the back. And then she came forward with four doctors. And the four doctors took me to a family consultation room. And the first thing they asked was, “Do you understand what’s happened to your son?” I said, “Yes, he’s had a heart attack.” And they said, “No, he had cardiac arrest, he went into v-tachycardia. It’s very important that you understand what we’re getting ready to communicate to you.” I’m just listening. And they said, “Before we get into this, we need to know if you have power of attorney.” I said, “Well, of course I do. I’m his mother.” They’re like, “No, he’s over eighteen. In the state of Minnesota, we have the legal right to make decisions, if he does not respond after X amount of time to the life support he’s on, we’ll need to be making decisions together on what we do with him. We’re going to walk you through the outlook now for your son. He was in v-tachycardia for twenty-one minutes, his brain has suffered greatly from lack of oxygen. He has zero brain function right now. We haven’t had time to administer paralytics. When you see him, you’re going to see his body postrating. It means that his, his body is no longer being controlled by a brain. His muscles are just spasming. He’s thrusting on the table, and it’s going to be hard for you to see.”
No Hope in Doctor’s Prognosis
You need to understand that they went through the statistics of the likelihood of Austin surviving, was next to none. And if he did survive, you know, he was going to be physically handicapped in some way, shape or form because of the trauma that his brain had undergone. Then they proceeded to talk me through what the next two days was going to look like, where they would cool his body temperature down to preserve his organs, and then allow, to prevent further deterioration from happening. Then they warm the body back up in hopes that there’s a conscious response after they warm, the body back up. After you know, kind of processing. I went in to be with him, and they said that I could only stand at the left of his arm on the left side of his body up by his arm, I had to stay in one place because there were still tons of medical people in there. Just trying to stabilize and keep him stable. They were administering different drugs and trying to get the paralytic into him and just all these different things, so it was a bit chaotic. Meanwhile his body’s thrusting, and it’s total, just mayhem.
Laying Hands to Pray
I go up to where his arm was and I looked into his eyes. Austin has brilliant green eyes. When I looked into his eyes, they were wide open, staring up at the ceiling, and they were completely clouded over gray, like a corpse. In that moment, I knew without a doubt that he was gone. Like my son was no longer in the suitcase of a body on this table. I turned and I looked at the doctor and I just had a panic attack. And I said, “I need to pray over my son and I need to do it right now. I don’t have a minute to lose.” And literally, he just kind of froze, and everybody just kind of stopped and looked at him like what do we do? Do we let her, and I just started yelling, “I need to pray over him, I need to pray over him.” And the doctor’s like, “Let her do what she needs to do.”
I went up, and from his head just started touching him from his head all the way to his toes, just marching down his body, “Holy Spirit in me, raise my son, Holy Spirit in me, raise my son” were the only words I said, all the way down. Then when I got to his feet, they kicked me out of the room. I had to go up to the ICU floor and wait.
Over the next two days…so that was Wednesday, July 11. On Friday, July 13, we you know, listened to two days of the doctors and the care counselors repeating the same information that I heard when I first went to the family consultation room. And just really equipping us for the absolute worst was zero- zero hope.
On that last day, on July 13, I went outside and I just started walking and praying. And I just said to the Lord, because it was kind of like D-day. I said, “If you’re not going to … if you’re not gonna let him be here, if you’re taking him, you need to tell me today, right now, so I can prepare. And I can say my goodbye. But your will be done.”
Do You Trust ME?
In that moment, this was as clear as day, He said to me, “Do you trust me?” And I said, “Absolutely, I trust you.” And he says, “No, do you trust me?” And I said, “Yes, I trust you.”
And a third time. “Do you trust me?” And it was like, I was literally transported back to him and Peter–do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And I said, “Unequivocally, I trust you.” And he said to me,”As I raised Lazarus, I will raise your son today.” I said, “Okay, that’s all I needed.”
So I went back up into his room. I’m sitting next to his bed–more of the sadness, more of the lack of hope. Finally, I had enough. I said, “If anybody in here doesn’t have hope that my son’s coming home with me, I need you to leave this room.” My husband was there and he was consoling me. He’s just like, “Honey, they’re just trying to help us.” He goes, “We have a lot, a lot of things to talk through.” I said, “No, I got a promise from the Lord and I’m standing firm on my promise.”
Brain Activity Comes Back
Fast forward a couple hours. I’m sitting next to Austin’s bed. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw his head just twitch the slightest little twitch. I got so excited. I jumped up. I went and I grabbed his head–hand and I started just yelling, “His head moved, his head moved, his head moved!” Everybody comes rushing in and they’re looking at the brain monitor, watching his brain activity. They’re like, “No, no his–no activity. There’s no activity on the brain monitor. We are reducing the paralytic. So his body’s going to start to move involuntarily again.” And I said, “No, no, no, his head just moved.” Then I just squeezed his hand and I said, “Austin squeeze my hand.”And just the slightest squeeze of my hand, his hand moved on my hand. I said, “Austin, wiggle your toes.” And just the slightest movement of his toes, just barely moved, but they moved. I said, “Austin, open your eyes.” And literally, he was trying to open his eyes, but he couldn’t. Everybody’s in the room. We’re looking at the brain monitor–nothing. He’s just there, and I literally said to him, “Austin, do you know your mother is speaking to you right now?” He slowly nodded his head, Yes. That’s when his brain activity came, and within four hours, he was drinking water, completely extubated, totally like, coherent, everything.
When I looked into his eyes, they were wide open, staring up at the ceiling, and they were completely clouded over gray, like a corpse.
Obviously, there was no medical plan for Austin. They truly believed he was not coming home with us. The next two weeks for us being stuck in Minnesota with them trying to figure out what was the next step for for somebody who literally wasn’t supposed to have the next step. They ended up finding out what was wrong with his heart that put him into cardiac arrest. He had a blocked coronary artery. They went through and did reconstructive surgery on October 30 of 2018. He’s since gone back and had his ejection fraction, checked. He’s literally walking around functioning as a normal human being with an ejection fraction of 22 percent, which, statistically speaking, he should be bedridden, and basically debilitated in a bed waiting for a heart transplant. But yet, God has him being a walking miracle, walking around doing life.
The ironic thing about the whole thing was I had not been in that area in probably twenty years. Three weeks prior to this happening, I was in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Austin was at in the hospital, for an anti-trafficking conference. I went there, it was the Just Faith Summit for anti-trafficking. I had met a lot of people locally from St. Paul, one happened to be a pastor. Two weeks after we were there, I felt the Lord tell me that I had to go to church on Sunday. I just needed to go and I needed to be in his presence and be in community and just go to church. I said to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t know anybody in St. Paul, Minnesota.” He says, “Yes, you do. I strategically put you here three weeks ago for that anti-trafficking summit. Call Amanda, or email Amanda.” Amanda is her name. And so I did, I reached out on email, I said, “Hey, I happen to be in the area. My son … I went through the story a little bit. And I said, but I really am looking to go to church tomorrow, not sure where your church is located. Can you connect me?” And she said, “Oh, yeah, we’re actually a mile and a half from the hospital.” It’s called Awaken Community Church. We happen to be having an outdoor service tomorrow at Raspberry Island.” She gave me all the information. I went, I walked to the church outdoor service in Raspberry Island, and it’s literally surrounded by the Mississippi River. They did an outdoor service on this, this big prairie-like land., and it was Resurrection Sunday. They taught from Ezekiel 37 and Psalm 23, then they did baptism in the Mississippi River. Which is totally crazy talking about the resurrection of life–dying to old, raising the new.
Dry Bones Rise
The very next day, I came home on Monday. On Tuesday, I got up to do my devotion. I went out in the backyard very early. I just started off praising the Lord, just “Thank You, Lord!” Just kind of processing everything that had happened over the last two weeks, just really just taking it to the feet of the Lord. And I said, “Thank you for healing my son.” And in that moment, the Lord said to me, “I did not heal your son. He still has the thorn in his flesh, just as Paul did.” I happened to be in St. Paul, Minnesota as well. So a little connection there. And he goes, “I raised him, there is the difference.” He says, “Go back and read Ezekiel 37 right now.” I’m just like, heart pounding, like what is all this, and I opened my Bible to Ezekiel 37. I start reading. “And the Lord said to Ezekiel, Ezekiel prophesy over the dry bones, dry bones rise. So Ezekiel prophesied over the dry bones, dry bones rise.” And as I’m reading those Scriptures, it was like, God transported me back to the emergency room. He said, “Who did I put in the emergency room with my son?” I said. “Me?” And he goes, ‘Yes. Because you are faithful and true to pray. What did I have you pray over my son?” And it just hit me, “Holy Spirit in me, raise my son.” “And what did I have Ezekiel say?” “Dry Bones rise.”
He goes, “When my Word is spoken, it does not return void. I raised your son.”
It was just in that moment, where you have the medical data that shows you, you witnessed firsthand the miracle. And then God still reaffirms it through His Word, like, “Do not forget what I just did. You witnessed it firsthand, you saw it in the natural, it’s proven with medical data, and I’m affirming it with my Word. Make no mistake, your son was gone. And I raised him.”
So I truly believe that God put those people there to orchestrate the immediate resuscitation of his heart, in the airport with proper administration of CPR, getting the blood flow to the brain. So even though he was clinically brain dead, the preservation of his brain function, you know, from a natural perspective, CPR, that blood to the brain, all of that, I believe that God provided those people….provisioned those people. Yeah. So Austin was fumbling with his ticket and trying to figure out where he’s trying to go in the airport. There was a lady and her son, who just happened to be watching Austin, they were just kind of looking at him watching him noticing that he was fumbling. And then next thing you knew he just collapsed, went straight down. And in that moment, she immediately just got up and ran over to him and started to try to figure out what was going on with him. They thought he was having seizures, just based on how he was, you know, responding right then and there.
A couple minutes into it, he lost full control of his bladder, and that’s when she realized, it’s his heart–something’s going on with his heart, because he just lost function. In the middle of all of this, they were joined by two more people, they were joined by a technologist who just happened to be passing by, who took Austin’s thumb and put it on his phone to open his phone. So they could start to understand who they could contact to learn who he was. The other person who came on scene was an EMT, from Atlanta. So high volume, high-crisis like person, the physician’s assistant, who was first on scene, she answered the phone and it comes up mom. So she’s like, Okay, mom, this is what’s happening. She was very, very calm. Talk to me, tell me all about your son. Do that. Let me tell you what we’re doing right now. And she started giving me a play by play of what was happening until the police got there. The sergeant got on the phone with me and he started to talk to me. It was just like, play by play. Like, this is what we’re doing.
Then there was a period where we had to get off the phone, because they needed to focus. And then they would, they called me back and let me know when it was okay to get on the airplane. So he went into cardiac arrest at 7:31. I was to him in the ER, around by 10 o’clock. So maybe 9:30. I mean, it was fast. I mean, I literally, God put me on a plane right as it was getting ready to take off. They put me on the plane and closed the door and left.
God is a Healer
The woman who, the PA, her son had died the year prior, same age as Austin. And she believed that God used this to actually bring a source of healing to her, because that was obviously extremely traumatic for their family, what they walked through for the last year, the brother, who was there with the mom in the airport, was a part of the—he ran and got the AED, like he was a part of saving Austin’s life. I also believe that God used that situation, to bring healing to them.
So Austin’s doing amazing today, he’s working, he’s starting school. He’s taken the last year off just to get through everything. But he’s starting up school again in September. So he’s super excited about that. He definitely has short term memory, things. Now, that started back in 2011, with a totally different story where he met God the Father, which is a whole nother miracle. But since he went into cardiac arrest in 2011, he was out for six minutes. And when he came back out of that a week later, he did suffer short term memory loss. So he has to be really intentional to use his phone, use his calendar, to remind him of when he needs to take his medicine, if he has to do it, he has to have it in a calendar. So that’s how he keeps himself organized. Outside of that, sometimes it takes him a little longer to if you ask him a question, it might take him a few minutes, literally to come up with the word combination that he wants to use to really articulate it the right way, as opposed to just answering the question immediately. I would say the processing, although in normal conversation, you would never know it. But when he goes to apply himself or when it comes to that short term memory pull up, you can see it. But physically, nothing about Austin should be like even him going to school walking, even right now, right now with an ejection fraction at 22%. Nothing makes sense.
A Walking Testimony
He continues to be–and I think the thorn I want to touch on the thorn. The thorn is important because Paul said, he prayed and he prayed and he prayed that God would remove the thorn. We don’t know what the thorn is, he doesn’t actually say. But he says that God kept it there to keep him humble. Right? So he could continue to live out in the name of the Lord and to bring the Lord glory. I believe that the thorn is kept to continue to bring God glory. But the mere fact that Austin has a heart function that is basically next to non-functioning, that is a thorn. That is the thing that we all from a human standpoint, worry about. And we just want it to go away. We want to fix it, we want to, just make it perfect, but we can’t. And it’s a thorn in him, but by the nature of his heart functioning at 22, excuse me, 22%. He’s still fully functional as an adult, is bringing God glory. It’s a walking testimony of the power of the Holy Spirit in him that’s sustaining him, like real time live, just like the Holy Spirit sustained Paul. Period. He is sustaining Austin. Period.
He didn’t remove the thorn, it’s still very much there. And that thorn it affirms the power of the testimony. Right? We come to faith by hearing the testimony. You hear the testimony of the miracles, and we have we have medical data to prove it. But you can’t deny the power Christ in Austin because Austin shouldn’t even be walking right now with that heart, with that ejection fraction, that thorn is living proof of the power of the Lord. Right? Yeah. It’s hard to like explain, but it’s there. So sometimes when we pray, you know, we pray for a certain thing. God’s ways are not our ways, or you know, his thoughts are not our thoughts. As a parent, I would pray it away. But by the very nature of praying it away, actually removes the living miracle.
And that’s the summary of the craziness of the last year.