It all started last week with a Steven Curtis Chapman concert hosted at our church as part of an amazing week long event called Momentum (that I have SO much more to share about!!!). I have posted some of his songs on here before, and mentioned how I've been a life-long fan of his music, listening to it at a very young age with my dad on the way to piano lessons. Many of the words God has inspired him with throughout his career have been the soundtrack of my life, and building blocks to my faith. I have heard him sing live several times, but last week was probably the most powerful experience of all. It was called "A Night with the Chapman's," so the heart of it was sharing their faith and trust in an almighty God through the unimaginable tragedy of losing their littlest sweet girl, Maria, in an accident in 2008.
Kevin and I took our sweet friend Jessica, and my older brother Darin to the concert. We all agreed that some of the most powerful moments were when Caleb, their oldest son, sang with his band that includes his brother Will, as well as when Mary Beth, Steven's wife, shared her heart about their painful journey over the last 2 years. She is a self-proclaimed, "non public speaker," yet shared with a beautiful, raw honesty. And she has such a sweet sense of humor. It was heartbreaking yet powerfully inspiring to hear this grieving mother say, "It's all true. Everything the bible says and God promises is all true." The way that God is moving through this courageous, hurting family is incredible. They have completely surrendered to stewarding this part of their story, which they wish wasn't real, to point others in the direction of a very real Christ and Savior. Even the faith of their sweet little Maria is such an example. She unwavering loved Jesus with her innocent heart at such a young age.
So my thoughtful friend Jessica surprised me yesterday by dropping off the book, Choosing to SEE. After Kevin and I got home last night, (from a different incredible event that I can't wait to tell you about!), I began reading the book, and didn't put it down until 3am. Due to a blessed day off today, I woke up at 10:45, and finished the book by 12. What a ridiculously powerful story of faith, love, family, adoption, loss and redemption. I feel like I just spent the last several hours journeying with this special family, while being pursued by God to reignite a raw, unwavering faith in him. The longing for eternity is unmistakable in this book, and the soverignty of God is at its heart. What a loving Father he is, though so often we just cannot bear to even try to understand why we must walk the journey we do. All that to say, read the book. More importantly, walk with God. Choose to see how very much God loves you, holds you, and is faithful and unfailing. He alone holds the coveted big picture, eternal perspective.
After Maria passed away, the Chapmans found a picture she had been working on, a flower she drew often, but with only one petal colored in this time. And on the back she had written a word she had never written before: SEE. They shared what a special gift this has been in helping them SEE that their little one is whole and complete, loved in heaven by the Father who holds her. They choose to claim the joy that will come when they can run, play, giggle, and dance with her again. After explaining the significance of the meaning behind Maria's chinese name at the end of the book, Mary Beth writes these words:
"So God confirmed this truth yet again; I can choose to SEE His story, or I can miss it. And I know-in the winter of our grieving and the frozen mourning of my plans that will never be and my dreams that have died-the reality is this: God's warm breath is on the move. New life is budding...and often where I expected it the least, like right inside of me....Spring is coming."
(Mary Beth Chapman, Choosing to SEE)
(picture from showhope.org)
God is using this family's story in amazing ways to change the lives of little ones all over the world. Check out "Show Hope," their organization that provides grants to help others adopt, and through which you can sponsor a child, and "Maria's Big House of Hope," the loving place they built in honor of precious Maria, to love on orphans with special needs in one of the poorest provinces in China. Also, Caleb Chapman's music can be found here. (Check out the video of a powerful song written by Caleb, and played by he and his brother, Will, that they sang at the concert.)
God is on the move through this faithful family, walking a path they would have never chosen. I am so profoundly sorry for their loss...and I am so grateful for their courage to share their story with the rest of the world. I am humbled, and I am changed.
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19