In the summer of 1997 Maribeth Ditmars enjoyed the Florida Keys with her family as they had so many times before. Little did she know, this vacation would be the final chapter of her family’s “good old days.”
While the rest of the family dove into the warm waters, her ten year old son, Christopher, remained in the boat.
“The water’s cold,” he complained.
Lethargic. Stomach cramps. Poor appetite. Chest pain. Maribeth knew in her heart that something was wrong. Just a few days later, Maribeth received the call from Christopher’s doctor. His voice was calm but definitive.
Four years later, Christopher lost his valiant battle. But Maribeth’s had just begun. After burying her son, she sank into a world of depression and alcoholism. She spent a decade of her life wrecked and lost.
“When you go through something like that, you either draw away from God or get closer but you don’t stay the same,” remarks Maribeth.
While in rehab, she learned to trust God with her pain and her future. She eventually connected with Lakewood Ranch Baptist Church in Sarasota and joined them on an e3 expedition to Peru.
She recalls, “When I heard I could go overseas and serve children, I just said ‘sign me up!’”
The week was marked by a series of divine encounters. One after another, she met women who had recently lost their children. She told each guilt-ridden mother the same difficult lesson she had learned.
“God, in his infinite mercy, chose me to be the mother to a beautiful boy for 14 wonderful years. My job was simply to love him as much as possible with the time he gave me. The rest is his.”
One mother went home and cried for hours, feeling the world’s weight come off her shoulders. God used Maribeth’s story to glorify himself in the lives of Peruvian women who endured similar tragedies.
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