Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grieving with Hope, death of Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter

I was first introduced to the music of Steven Curtis Chapman on my wedding day, a little over 16 yeas ago when my husband dedicated Go There With You to me at our wedding reception. Over the course of our marriage, Rick and I have had our share of "highest mountains" and "raging seas", as have the Chapman family. Steven's songs have continually blessed and resounded with my heart. My husband has even teased me a few times about having a "crush" on SCC because I talk of their family and his music so much. (For the record, my only crush is on the man who introduced me to this music, my amazing husband!)

Through the years I've followed the Chapman family's story and read just about every media release or article I've seen. I've felt a deep connection to them that doesn't feel to me simply like a celebrity following, but a longing to know this family as friends - something I know probably will never happen in this lifetime, but I look forward to in Heaven. I've been encouraged and challenges by Mary Beth's struggle with depression, watched with tears and joy as God has called the Chapmans to adoption as we also prayed through and pursed adoption (though that was not God's plan for our family at that time), and have referred many friends to Shaohannah's Hope for adoption financial aid.

Though it's not a possibility for us right now due to my physical limitations, R. (our five year old daughter) talks about wanting to adopt a baby sister from China on at least a weekly basis. This has been a topic in our household even since before we were blessed with our three biological children, but has been especially reignited since our neighbors brought their daughter home from China 18 months ago. So early on the afternoon of May 21st I sat snuggling my kids and reading Shaoey and Dot over and over and over upon their request. Later that afternoon I was stunned to stumble across an internet story stating that the Chapman's youngest daughter, Maria Sue, had been killed that very afternoon, probably during the very hour we were reading, in a driveway accident at their home!

The Chapmans have never been far from my prayers these past three months. And now they are beginning to talk to the world about all that has happened in and since the shattering loss of Maria. They are truly Harvesting Hope from one of the most devastating forums of heartache. In their recent interview with ABC Steven explains, "In grieving this process there is a hope that we have, that we are anchored to, in the midst of what sometimes seems unbearable." No, it isn't joy and roses, nor should it be! They are a real family, in real pain, living out a real faith.

Mary Beth continues in the same ABC interview, "As I've stated somewhat coldly, I don't care who's lives are touched by this story, and who's lives are changed, or what good comes of this, as the heart of a mom, I want Maria back! BUT... because of my faith I know that she is completely whole and completely OK and I'm going to see her again, as a mom I have to shift that grief... to making sure [my living children] are as whole and as healthy as they can be. And through that then, when people's lives are touched and changed, then I can be OK with that. But as the heart of a mom, I would like to have Maria back."

In a People Magazine article , Mary Beth is quoted as saying, "I'm broken and I would give anything to have my baby girl back. But that's not going to happen. So I wake up in the morning and make a choice. You can wallow in the deep end, or you can say, 'God show me what you want me to be about today and how I can honor you, and in turn honor Maria'."

One tangible way that the Chapman's have become Hope Harvesters through their great sorrow is through Maria's Miracle Fund where donations were sent after Maria's death, in lue of flowers. This fund has now raised well over $600,000 to help unite the world's orphans with their forever families. The special needs healing home that Shaohannah's Hope (the adoption and orphan care ministry founded by Steven and Mary Beth Chapman) will open in October in Luoyang, China will be named Maria's Big House of Hope, and will care for orphans with medical impairments such as cleft palate, clubbed feet, urological disorders, blindness, and neurological disorders.

If you would like to hear more from the Chapmans on the life of Maria Sue and how they are grieving with hope since her death, Focus on the Family has been airing an interview with the Chapmans over the past three days. Listen to The God of All Comfort here. There are several other articles and media interview links posted at

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