A baby's life depends on you.
The value of human life is under attack and today expectant mothers face life-and-death decisions. Will you help save a baby’s life? A gift given to Focus on the Family’s Option Ultrasound will spare mothers and babies from the pain of abortion. Become 1 of our 710 donors needed TODAY to save innocent lives.
A baby's life depends on you
The value of human life is under attack and today expectant mothers face life-and-death decisions.
Yes, I’d like to become
1 of 710 needed TODAY to save
innocent lives before it’s too late.

Focus on the Family Broadcast

Fighting for Your Marriage No Matter What (Part 1 of 2)

Fighting for Your Marriage No Matter What (Part 1 of 2)

Singer-songwriter Matt Hammitt and his wife, Sarah, candidly discuss the severe marriage problems that resulted from his busy touring schedule, personality clashes, an adverse diagnosis, and a close-call emotional affair. Our guests offer troubled couples hope as they describe how grace, forgiveness, and faith helped save their marriage. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: June 21, 2021


Matt Hammitt: That day, uh, I looked at… I’d see my wife in tears, and we’ve all seen our spouse, you know, especially for men, our wives, through tears, um, just when their emotions are broken. And I saw her countenance that day and I turned, and I looked at the wedding picture sitting on the table right next to me. And in that wedding picture, I mean, she quite literally, not just because she looked beautiful, but her countenance was glowing with so much hope. And I could see such a, like, a stark contrast of the woman that was sitting in front of me seven years later. And it just broke my heart.

End of Preview

John Fuller: Well, that’s Christian recording artist, Matt Hammitt. And he joins us today on Focus on the Family, along with his wife, Sarah, and they have an incredible story. I’m John Fuller with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: If you’ve heard Matt’s song, Lead Me, uh, then you know his lyrics are honest. They are the cry of every spouse’s heart that feels separated from their husband or from their wife. We all long for someone who will stay with us, who will stand with us, and most of all, fight for our marriage. And so often it’s not the case. Our counseling team on staff here at Focus on the Family, uh, they receive so many calls related to this area, especially from wives who would love for their husbands to step up and lead their family spiritually. I think it’s probably the number one thing that we hear about from wives. So often it’s easy for us as husbands to focus on our role as providers, not realizing that our families really need us at home emotionally with them. And many wives get so discouraged that they start to give up any hope that their marriage will ever be fulfilled in that way. And I know Jean has felt that way with me at times, emotionally distant. Um, I get captivated with work and travel and everything I’m doing. It’s easy for me to, uh, get consumed with other stuff and worry about those other things. And she feels like I’m not connecting with her. Um, I think those feelings are in just about every relationship at one point or another. So today we wanna share a story of a couple who illustrates this point so beautifully. They stayed together, uh, fought through and fought for their relationship, even through personality clashes, uh, work issues, a child with critical illness, and a close call with an affair. They’ve experienced a lot. So stay with us because there’s many good things, uh, you’re going to learn today.

John: Yeah, there’s a great God story here. And as I said earlier, um, Matt and Sarah Hammitt are with us. Uh, Matt is a singer songwriter and was the lead singer of the band Sanctus Real for 20 years. And he and Sarah have four children ages eight to 14.

Jim: Matt and Sarah, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Sarah Hammitt: Thank you.

Matt: It’s good to be here.

Jim: Matt, um, I’m gonna start with you. I’m gonna pick on you all day. (laughs)

Matt: Sure, man. Bring it on.

Jim: Might as well start right there, (laughs) uh, hearing about the first time you saw Sarah, I thought it was an interesting way that you described in the book, uh, Lead Me, how you guys got together, and it’s (laughs) it’s full of passion. So hit it.

Matt: Yeah, well, you know, I had seen her, uh, at a festival where Sanctus Real was playing as an independent band. We were excited that day were opening up for, at the time, you know, Third Day and Audio Adrenaline, bands we lived up to.

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: Um, and it was in the evening, and I was just still hanging out around there. And I look out into the field, uh, during one of the performances that night and on the fringes of the crowd, um, the light was kind of shining on this one area where this girl was just dancing around and laughing. And she was in overalls, like the most laid back, carefree person, you know, uh, that, that I could see in that crowd. And I thought, “Man, I’m kind of an uptight guy.”

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: You know, I’m a little OCD.

Jim: Opposites attract, right?

Matt: I have anxiety, I think I need more of that in my life.

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: And so I, you know, that, that night, I just remember thinking like, “Man, maybe I should’ve, should’ve talked to her,” and I didn’t. And this festival was about three hours from our hometown. So we drove that night back, um, because the next morning we had to actually lead worship at a community wide church service. And little did I know is that, um, obviously that girl was Sarah and that her family, her mother’s church, and her grandmother’s church, were both part of this event. So she had… They had asked her to drive up as well from the Columbus area to be there that morning. So I was out up on stage singing, leading worship, and I looked out and there she was. The, the carefree girl from the festival the night before.

Jim: She was following you.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: (laughs) Is she stalking me?

Jim: Sarah is shaking her head no. (laughs)

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: But you know, at the same time what I appreciated about the story is, you also, you weren’t really dating at the time.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: That was a part kind of similar to my story about that age.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: But yeah. So how, I mean, when you’re not really concentrating on it-

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: When you’re not thinking about it, then the Lord plants Sarah in your vision.

Matt: Totally. Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: I had gotten to a point where I was like, “You know, I’m just not going to be looking at the it- at this time, I’m gonna focus on, you know, the path that kind of seems before us with the band and, and ministry,” and, and, uh, so yeah, out of, there she was. Lord kind of dropped her at that time. So it was a really beautiful thing, you know? So that second time when I saw her, though, I wasn’t going to leave, leave it to chance again. You know? (laughs)

Jim: Right. You were gonna seize the moment.

Matt: I’m gonna seize the moment.

Jim: Now let’s get Sarah’s-

Matt: (laughs)

Jim: Let’s get Sarah’s side of the story. Sarah, you did shake your head a little no in the beginning, but, uh-

Sarah: Yeah. Well, so my story, story starts, golly, nine months before that. I saw him performing on a stage at Christmas time, and I thought, “Lord, you know, if you give me that man, I think we could do great things.” And so I prayed about him for two weeks, and then I forgot about him.

Jim: (laughs)

Sarah: And then I went away on a, um-

Matt: Those are some strong prayers, Sarah.

Jim: Yeah, wow,

Sarah: Sorry, I don’t mean that meanly.

Matt: (laughs)

Sarah: It was just like for two weeks I was, like, focused, and, like, well, I don’t know if I’ll ever see that guy again. So, you know-

Jim: That makes sense and it was longer than a day.

Sarah: Yeah. Exactly.

Matt: True, that is true.

Jim: So hey, count your blessings, bro.

Matt: (laughs)

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. And then I went away to a summer project through the summer and came back and that’s when that all happened so…

Jim: How old were you at that time?

Sarah: I was nineteen.

Jim: Okay, perfect.

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: And obviously you approached her on that second gig-

Matt: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: I, using the lingo. You notice that, John?

John: Yeah.

Jim: And then, uh, and so how did you approach her at that point, say, “Hey, by the way, I saw you the other night.”

Matt: Yep. I just walked up to her. I did. I was like, “Hey, I see you last night at this thing. And, and uh, just wanted to just introduce- introduce myself.” And so I got to know the family briefly, and, uh, I remember taking down her number on this little, uh, yellow sticky note, which I still have, by the way.

Jim: Well, you’re prepared.

Matt: (laughs) Yeah.

Jim: You carry sticky notes in your pocket.

Matt: I don’t even know where the sticky note… I don’t know, probably is from, from mom’s purse, you know? Or whatever. And, uh, so, and then I think that week we just set up a time for us to just go hang out. And I brought chocolate cherry brownies that I made myself.

Jim: (Laughs) Nice touch.

Matt: Which I thought was really impressive.

Sarah: And I was in my sweatpants. (laughs)

Matt: Yeah, and I remember walking into her house that week for the first time and her dad was like under the dishwasher and fixing something. And just, I remember it was like, their, their family is so different from mine.

Sarah: (laughs)

Matt: Our, you know, our family was not, not quiet, but I don’t know, their family is just-

Sarah: More reserved maybe?

Matt: Yeah, maybe a little more reserved. Their family is just, I re- her mom’s yelling from the back porch, “Bill, you know, I need this.”

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: And, and Bill yelling back at Pam, “I’m under the dishwasher,” you know? And she’s just-

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: Everything’s kind of like…

Sarah: We’re unbridled.

Matt: Yeah. And I was like, man, wow, this, this is, I was like, man, they, they’re just, like, in their element, man. They just welcome me right into life as normal. You know, they didn’t need to impress me, which actually I liked because I was like, okay, this is actually great. This is, I’m getting the-

Jim: They just do-

Matt: -real deal right away.

Jim: -who, who they are, right?

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: I like that too. So you get through the dating period, and I’m sure there’s lots of funny stories here, but you get to your wedding, and you do what’s done at weddings-

Matt: (laughs)

Jim: And you say, “I do.”

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: You jump in the car-

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: After the reception, (laughs), and then what happens?

Matt: Oh, that’s right.

Sarah: Are we-

Matt: Yeah. We’re talking about the, uh…

Jim: Am I bringing up bad stuff?

Matt: No, this is good.

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: This is good.

Sarah: No, that’s great. I like-

Matt: This is great. Because some [crosstalk]

Jim: Hey, you wrote it in the book, so.

Matt: Because people out there are going to be like-

Sarah: That’s the way I want it.

Matt: I’m not the only one.

Jim: Yeah, right.

Matt: Um, so I get in the car-

Jim: Yeah, this is like your first argument, right?

Matt: Yeah, because-

Sarah: Oh, first-

Jim: Okay.

Sarah: First married argument, yes.

Matt: She wanted to, you know, roll down the windows and scream as you should do, right? I mean, I know that’s not-

Sarah: I wanted to make some noise. And I mean, I had daydreamed about just making some ruckus after you get married and everyone cheering-

Jim: (laughs)

Sarah: -and being excited.

Matt: Honking the horn, pulling the cans.

Sarah: That’s was just not his… He did not want to draw attention.

Matt: I don’t like to make a spectacle, you know, I’m kind of like, okay, just supposed to drive around the…

Jim: So the differences are really showing up.

Sarah: Oh, it’s all on video too.

Matt: And I remember her, her being like, “I’ve dreamed about this my whole life.” And I’m like, “Okay, okay.” I’m trying, you know, it’s like, it was so awkward, in, in that moment, those, that perfectly embodied, you know, we had this passionate love for each other, but that perfectly embodied, like, those differences between us. (laughs)

Jim: Yeah.

Sarah: It was the forecast-

Matt: I’d say-

Sarah: For the-

Matt: OCD-

Sarah: Conflict.

Matt: Met carefree. You know?

Jim: (laughs)

Matt: So.

Sarah: That’s so true.

Jim: That’s a good clinical diagnosis-

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: Right there. So your, your first year of marriage, uh, you’re on the road. This adds a whole other complication to it. Jean and I did that. We went-

Sarah: Oh.

Jim: We were doing, not singing.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: Heavens no.

Sarah: (laughs)

Matt: (laughs)

Jim: But, uh, we were doing drug and alcohol abuse shows-

Matt: Wow.

Jim: At high schools. That was already pre-produced. We were like the technicians setting it up.

Matt: Wow.

Jim: But we were nine months on the road together, and…right after we got married.

Sarah: Did you have a crew?

Jim: Uh, no.

Sarah: Just the two of you.

Jim: We were the crew.

Matt: Oh, wow.

Jim: And we’d set this thing up, hit the button. It would roll. And it was a great way-

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: To get to know each other.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: But I can relate to you guys-

Sarah: Totally.

Jim: Being on the road together, ’cause it’s 24/7-

Matt: Yep.

Jim: And it’s, it’s smashing a lot of you together in a short period of time, right?

Sarah: Yeah, it’s interesting. It was, it was so fun. I mean, we really had a blast. And in the moment, it didn’t feel crazy. Does that make sense?

Jim: It does.

Sarah: It, it just felt young and fun and free, and it was awesome. We had a great time. But looking back, I really think, “How in the world did we survive that?” I mean, we had no time alone.

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: It was, it was pretty-

Matt: Well, that was-

Sarah: We were sleeping in the van most nights. Or-

Jim: Right.

Sarah: Sometimes I would even have to sleep on the floor of a hotel room. Like, because we would take turns in the beds because there was just not any money.

Jim: Everybody’s in, in the hotel-

Sarah: There was no money, so, yeah-

Jim: Together.

Sarah: Yeah, exactly.

Jim: (laughs) yeah, that’s not good, that’s not good for your first year of marriage.

Matt: Yeah four or five guys.

Jim: Yeah.

Matt: In the van with her, and having to share hotel rooms. There was literally no privacy. There was no time, place to be intimate, and no place to argue. I mean, it was-

Sarah: We really-

Matt: It was bad.

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: That had to be hard.

Matt: Yeah, it was like, it was a pressure cooker in a lot of ways (laughs) you know, of emotion for us. Early emotion, trying to figure out these things of just being a new family, and it was hard.

Sarah: Well, and I think my dream was him. To meet a man that loved Jesus, and loved me, and wanted family, and he’s such a wonderful man, and I’m like, okay, you’re my dream. But his dream was the music. So it just, you know, I was supporting him because that’s what he wanted to do, and-

Jim: Well, that’s really interesting. Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: You had a mistress, and it was the music.

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: I guess so. Yeah.

Jim: Wow.

Matt: And I think maybe I would have thought I was portraying that she was my dream in that way. But certainly that’s not what was being portrayed to her.

Jim: Yeah, and I-

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: You know, sets up that conflict so understandably.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: That you must have felt, Sarah, like, now I’m competing for him.

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: And that kind of thing. So you’re in this situation, again, four, five years. You get some news.

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: And that makes you worry. What’s the news?

Sarah: I just, I’m pregnant. I was shocked. I literally thought, “Oh my goodness. Okay.”

Matt: No one had ever told it how it happens, you know?

Jim: Well, (laughs) with the band hanging around, I can understand that. But-

Sarah: I mean, somehow… No.

Jim: It, but it happened-

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: And, and what was your initial thoughts?

Sarah: I actually toured until I was about seven, six or seven months pregnant.

Jim: But right when you heard the news-

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: Oh.

Jim: What did you think?

Matt: Well, ’cause there’s that moment she literally screamed, like, “I’m pregnant.” And what’d you say? You said, you said, “I have to push it out.” (laughs) That’s what she said. That’s the first thing she said.

Sarah: I might have said some bad words.

Jim: Oh my goodness.

Sarah: But, okay. Um-

Matt: (laughs)

Sarah: See, this is where you might have to edit. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs) No, but I didn’t, your thought was-

Sarah: Um…

Jim: Can we even do this?

Sarah: Oh, yeah, like, how are we gonna afford this? Like, how do we do this? He’s never gonna be home, and now I can’t really tour. We don’t have a tour bus at this time. You know? Um-

Jim: It sounds like what happened-

Sarah: How does this happen?

Jim: Is that, you know, these inflections points in our life, where we get married, we are pregnant with our first child.

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: Kind of makes you less carefree. (laughs)

Sarah: Totally, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Jim: Sounds like what you’re describing is-

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: Uh oh. We got to be responsible.

Sarah: Totally, and then it divides us, um, geographically.

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: Like, now we aren’t together-

Matt: Yeah, that-

Sarah: So how does, uh, yeah, it just-

Matt: That was the biggest thing, I think, was just now, okay, wait, it’s already hard enough to figure how to do this life together. How do we do it apart?

John: Well, we’re talking today to Matt and Sarah Hammitt. Um, Matt was the lead singer of Sanctus Real for, uh, I think about 20 years. Right?

Matt: Yes, 20 years.

John: And, uh, they’ve written a great book. It’s called Lead Me: Finding Courage to Fight for Your Marriage, Children, and Faith. And, uh, we’ve got copies of that hear at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Okay, so you have your first baby on the way. You’re touring. It’s crazy. You’re now thinking, man, can we bring a child into this environment, et cetera, with all the pressure. And then Matt, um, you started to get worried.

Matt: Oh, yeah.

Jim: I mean, that was the big thing. And that was the big thing.

Matt: Yes.

Jim: And I think a lot of guys can relate to that. Now, this changes the dynamic.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: Sarah and I had pretty, uh, you know, kind of easygoing, she could go with the flow-

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: If she needed to. It does change.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I loved having her on the road with me. That became our lifestyle, and as, as challenging as it was at times, we’d become comfortable enough with that to make it work. (laughs) And so adding that whole i- dynamic now of, okay, she has to go home. Um, she can’t be on the road anymore with a newborn. So I definitely was worried about, about some of those dynamics, and, and how to navigate all that as a husband.

Jim: Were you, was anybody giving you advice? Any mentor, male mentors in your life-

Matt: I’m sure there were-

Jim: That were speaking.

Matt: Some people, probably, who were giving some advice along the way, but our lifestyle was so… Here’s another issue for me, um, along the way, that I always struggled with. Was that our lifestyle was so disconnected from the local church and community because of the way that we traveled, and kind of the level which we were at, kind of-

Jim: Huh.

Matt: Grinding it to start out in the band as a group of guys, city to city, with hardly any breaks. So we didn’t have grounding with our local pastors on a regular basis. That was another thing, I, I think that, we’ve discussed this, Sarah and I. And I’ve had this discussion with other bands. You know, that’s something, um, really, well, I wish we would have prioritized more.

Jim: Well, it puts you at risk. Sarah, so many women are resonating with your concern for Matt being the leader, the spiritual leader, and you were having these concerns now that you have your first child on the way, or-

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Arrived. Uh, how- how did that manifest itself? What are those concerns like for you, and how did you express them to Matt?

Matt: Hm.

Sarah: I think I just wanted to feel like we were a team. And sometimes it’s really hard to explain, but I wanted to feel, like, together we have a family. Together, we are, we have goals, and we’re on the same page, and we discuss, and a lot of times for me it felt like it was the band, and us. And so there was so separation, and I didn’t feel like he was part of us a lot of times, as time went on with family and stuff.

Jim: Did that ever feel, Matt, like she was nagging you?

Matt: Yeah, I definitely think that as we were learning to communicate, not just with our words, but also kind of work through tone, you know, with our communication, especially when it got heightened.

Jim: Yeah.

Matt: I definitely felt at times that it was more of her being against me rather than for me. Um, and, and I, that was a struggle. You know, and those are things we still work out.

Sarah: Totally.

Matt: Even 20 years in. Um, to this marriage. You know? That, that, um, those tone, that approach and response, uh, and the tone of that can really change things.

Jim: Sarah, you described in the book having a come to Jesus meeting.

Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim: Um-

Sarah: I can see it now.

Jim: With the Lord, and then with Matt, I would assume. (laughs)

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: What was that like?

Sarah: Well, and, we’ll say, it was probably the thousandth time I’ve said it to him. But I- maybe he just heard it different that time. Maybe I said it differently. I don’t know. But it was just, like, “Hey, I need you. Like, I like you. I, I, I just want you to be present, and, and here, and engaged, and not so grumpy. And- (laughs) I just need you to be focused on where our, this family’s, ship was going.”

Jim: Right.

Sarah: It felt like he was always focused on where the band ship was going. I want to know what, where our ship is headed. And I want to see intentional steps to see that you’re, you’re trying. You know, to, to steer it in a certain direction. And it felt like, uh, I felt like an afterthought a lot. I felt, like, I just didn’t feel the priority that I do feel now. And I knew we were missing something.

Jim: Right, and that-

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: Is a recurring theme. But again, Matt, you were kind of missing the signs. Why did that stick?

Matt: Yeah, I think I had internal dialogue, and an imagination. Right? Like we all do. It’s like this imaginary life where our intentions of who we want to be or who we wish to be kind of define who we think we are.

Jim: Hm.

Matt: I think that my desire to be a good husband, my desire to be a good father, my thoughts that I had internally towards her were in a way enough. Um, not realizing how blind I was to the fact those intentions weren’t being expressed in ways that made her feel loved.

Jim: Yeah.

Matt: And so, and maybe, you know, big part of that too is, is I didn’t know yet how to take those steps practically in some ways. So I think I heard her voice that day very clearly that she was not feeling what I wanted her to be feeling from me, and that there definitely was an issue with my life and my action as a husband. And I think that day I really realized, like, my good intentions, and this is a huge theme in the book. My good intentions were absolutely worthless until they became action that made her feel loved.

John: Huh. And that’s what led to your writing a song, which has touched so many of us.

Matt: Yes. That day, I looked at, I’d seen my wife in tears, and we’ve all seen our spouse, you know, especially for men, our wives, through tears, um, just when their emotions are broken. And I saw her countenance that day, and I turned, and I looked at the wedding picture, which was sitting on a table right next to me. And in that wedding picture, I mean, she quite literally, not just because she looked beautiful, but her countenance was glowing with so much hope. And I could see such a, like, a stark contrast of the woman that was sitting in front of me seven years later. And it just broke my heart. And so I had- I picked up my guitar, and that was the day I wrote the first draft of the song Lead Me.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Did that connect with you, Sarah?

Sarah: Yeah, I loved the song. But you know, a lot of people would say-

Matt: But that wasn’t your initial reaction. (laughs)

Sarah: Yeah, yeah. A lot of people would say, like, “Oh, that song is so wonderful,” and I’m like, “Yeah, it comes with a lot of pain for me.”

Jim: Right.

Sarah: I mean, it hurts. You know?

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: That was a painful, painful day and kind of existence in, where we disconnected.

Matt: Yeah, but when I first played her the song, she was kind of just like-

Sarah: Eh.

Matt: Just kind of like-

Sarah: (laughs)

Matt: Uh… I don’t really want a song. Uh, you know-

Jim: This is such a good point because-

Matt: I want action.

Jim: You want action, yeah.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, how many wives want to feel it-

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: Not just hear it-

Matt: And how many husbands-

Jim: They want to see it.

Matt: Wish they could write a song or do something nice and it all be over? Right?

John: Right.

Jim: Right. (laughs) Exactly.

Matt: It doesn’t work that way.

Jim: Is that enough?

Matt: (laughs) Yeah.

Jim: Is it done?

Matt: You got to earn it.

John: Those lyrics kind of haunted you, didn’t they?

Sarah: Totally.

John: They kind of kept you accountable.

Jim: All right, let, let’s keep moving through the story because we, you know, we’re gonna come back next time if you’re willing.

Matt: Sure.

Jim: And we’re right toward the end-

Sarah: Oh.

Jim: So we’ll come back-

Sarah: Yeah.

Jim: For a second day.

Matt: Sure.

Jim: And complete more of the story. But you had your second child.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And then pretty quickly had your third child, right?

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: Everybody’s two years apart.

Jim: All right. So on that third child, you’re, um, having an ultrasound, and you receive some tough news. What was it?

Sarah: Yeah, we went in to find out what it was, and, um, we found out we’re having a boy. But, um, they told us he had a terrible heart, and they didn’t know if he would live, and that started us on a, kind of a whole new journey.

Jim: Yeah. And what was that diagnosis?

Matt: So they told us that day that he had a disease, um, called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, that was a very rare condition, that they rarely saw. And so, it’s, uh, it means that literally half of his heart did not develop in utero.

Jim: Yeah. And you even have the doctors suggest terminating the child’s life.

Sarah: Yeah, I was strongly aggressed to terminate. Um, sorry, I’m getting a little emotional.

Jim: No, that’s okay.

Sarah: (laughs) Um-

Matt: You’re allowed.

John: Yeah.

Sarah: It hits at random times. But anyways-

John: Sure.

Sarah: Um, yeah, no, he would be on tour. You know? ‘Cause I’m home. And we have great parents. My mom would go with me to all the hundreds of appointments we had to go to, and we were at a doctor. It’s got, they’re called maternal fetal doctors. They basically help you figure out what you’re having-

John: Right.

Sarah: And they thought he had some, one of the trisomies, and they thought, you know, they knew his heart was really bad, and I remember, oh gosh, probably five or six of the appointments when he was gone, they would come in, really honestly, with large voices, kind of yelling a little bit. And saying, “What are you doing to your family and your marriage? This is not going to be good. Your son will be in the hospital intubated. He will live a short life, and it will be painful for everyone. And the siblings, it’s, it’s kind of mean,” is basically what he was trying to tell me. And I remember just saying, “I, I will do anything. I- I’m having this child. One day is worth it for me.”

Jim: Yeah. And your daughter, Emmy, was having dreams, correct?

Sarah: Yeah, yeah. That’s wild.

Jim: Man, this is, this is a phenomenal story.

Sarah: It’s pretty awesome.

Jim: Was she aware that the pregnancy was stressed? Or was this before she even-

Sarah: No, yeah. Em’s so-

Jim: How old was she, and what were the dreams she was having?

Sarah: So Emmy started having dreams when she was two. And this is when, you know, a two-year-old starts talking and chatting, and you’re like, “Oh, we can have conversations.” And one time she woke up, and she said, “Mommy,” I, and this is very, she never told me about any other dreams. Except for these. “Mommy, I woke up, and, uh, or I had a dream. I had a dream about my brother. We sing on stage, but he dies.” And I’m like, “What?” She knows what heaven is, but I don’t know that we’ve ever-

Jim: And this is before you’re pregnant.

Sarah: This is before I’m pregnant.

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: This is be- this is right as I’m having my second girl, and I don’t even know if we’re gonna have any more kids.

Jim: Right.

Sarah: So, um, she has that dream. About a year later, she says, “Mommy, I have a dream. I have a brother. We’re singing on stage, but he dies, mommy. He dies.” “Okay, that’s weird.”

Jim: Yeah, that’s not… Yeah.

Sarah: And then again she has, three times she has it. And, um, the day she’s diagno- or, we’re diagnosed, uh, I laid in the bed with her, and I said, “Honey, you know that dream that you have about your brother? And he dies. How old is he when he dies?” And she says, “As big as you and daddy.”

John: Wow.

Sarah: And she’s four years old. She didn’t say as old as you and daddy.

John: Right.

Sarah: She said as big as you and daddy.

Jim: And that actually gave you the strength to, to say, “No, we’re gonna move forward.”

Sarah: Yeah. I was like, wow. And to this day, she’s 14, and just last year when we were preparing for Bowen’s surgery, she, um, she said, she started almost unpacking it all, and she goes, “That was Bowen, wasn’t it, mom?” And I was like, “It was.” And she goes, “I can still see him clear as day.” And so I’ll even ask, “Does it look like him?” And she’s kind of like, “I don’t know. I can’t really see his face.”

Jim: Right.

Sarah: So-

Jim: I mean, what a, but what a beautiful way that the Lord used-

Sarah: Oh.

Jim: I think.

Sarah: I mean-

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: It’s unbelievable.

Matt: You, you know, the, one part you didn’t say-

Sarah: Oh.

Matt: That was really interesting was when Bridget, our ultrasound tech-

Sarah: Oh, yeah.

Matt: Was actually doing the ultrasound while, when we went in and found out that day. Before they told us, Sarah leaned over and said to Bridget, right as she saw the heart, “It’s so weird. Emmy has these dreams.” And so she told us later, like, she was looking at that, at that moment when Sarah leaned over and told her.

Sarah: That, that Emmy wanted a brother, but he dies in these dreams she has.

Matt: Yeah.

Sarah: And that’s when the tech found his half a heart.

Jim: Oh, yeah, that’s amazing.

Matt: Yeah.

Jim: And you know, just to make sure, I mean, Bowen’s alive. How old is Bowen now?

Sarah: Yeah. Bowen’s 10.

Jim: I just want… I don’t want-

Matt: Yeah, we just, yeah, we celebrated-

Sarah: Yeah.

Matt: Bowen’s 10th birthday on September 9th.

John: Yeah.

Matt: Um, you know, and he did endure, uh, his, a third open heart surgery, uh, in, in July of 2019.

John: Yeah.

Matt: Um, but he is really in a season of thriving right now.

Jim: Yeah, and you know, again, I didn’t want to do a disservice to our listeners-

Matt: Totally.

Jim: And viewers to say, (laughs) “Okay, what happened to Bowen, so-”

Sarah: Yeah.

Matt: Absolutely.

Jim: Bowen is thriving, and we’re gonna come back next time and continue the story, and speak specifically to what happened in your marriage during all this time.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, man, what a powerful story, and let me say to the listeners, uh, Lead Me is a great resource. I mean, it touches on so many of life’s complications. You know, when you feel like the Lord must have made a mistake in bringing my spouse. Because we’re so different. Or, going through a catastrophe, like a child diagnosed with a terminally ill situation. All those things bring tremendous pressure on your relationship with the Lord and your relationship with each other, and, uh, both of you have set this up so well in terms of, uh, the rest of the story next time. If your marriage is struggling, like you’re hearing here, we have Hope Restored, which is an excellent resource for you. It’s a four-day marriage intensive program. 80% post two-year success rate. Meaning two years later, those marriages, 80% of them, are together and doing better. So consider that. Um, don’t let your marriage dissolve without fighting for it.

John: Yeah, give us a call and let us connect you with one of our counselors. We’d be happy to tell you more about Hope Restored as well. Our number, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And, uh, you can also connect, uh, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And Jim mentioned this great book, Lead Me, and, uh, for a gift today to Focus on the Family to support the work we’re doing here, to support marriages, and, uh, to speak the value of life into the culture, uh, your donation of any amount will be greatly appreciated, and we’ll say thanks by sending a copy of Lead Me to you. Uh, again, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Matt and Sarah, thanks again for being with us today. Let’s come back next time and hear the rest of the story.

Sarah: Okay.

Matt: Yeah, thank you so much.

John: And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back, as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Cover image of Matt Hammitt's book "Lead Me"

Lead Me: Finding Courage to Fight for Your Marriage, Children, and Faith

Receive Matt Hammitt's book Lead Me for your donation of any amount!

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Understanding Your Spouse’s Emotions (Part 1 of 2)

Drs. David and Jan Stoop discuss the concept of emotional intelligence – the ability to understand your emotions, as well as your spouse’s. The Stoops explain how bettering that understanding can help you improve and strengthen your marriage. (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Celebrating the Journey to Becoming a Dad

After a successful football career in the NFL, Benjamin Waston has turned his attention to celebrating fatherhood by encouraging first-time dads to be the man their wife and children need them to be. Benjamin speaks into the crisis of fatherlessness and the necessity for men to step up and take responsibility. A father’s role is a cornerstone in the family, and men must be ready to be physically and emotionally present. Benjamin walks through practical steps that dads can follow during the pregnancy all the way to raising newborns. Parenting kids is a full time commitment and can be chaotic at times, but Benjamin reminds us that all children are a gift from God.

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Affair-Proof Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Pastor Dave Carder offers couples practical advice for protecting their marriages from adultery in a discussion based on his book Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them. (Part 1 of 2)