Mary Beth Chapman ~ Part Two

Continued from Part One of my account of Mary Beth Chapman speaking at the Women of Faith Conference in Columbus, Ohio. (Click here to read Part One.)

We waited, literally on the edge of our seats for her words. She looked down at her papers and sipped her water. There were some light-hearted quips about her sweet husband…little windows into life in the Chapman family. Then, she delved into her story and we were captivated.

She spoke of wrestling with God…

“I’ve always had a plan,” she began, as she described her type A personality and her need for control. “But, there were so many plot twists…my plan had to go out the window.”

She wanted to marry someone who was predictable, a planner with a schedule…maybe an accountant. Instead, she fell in love with a “guitar-playing, mullet-wearing, song-writing musician” named Stephen Curtis Chapman. The only thing they had in common was being in love and sharing the same last name. His glass is always half full…where hers is always half empty. Her family believed practical jokes were a love language. Stephen thinks practical jokes are “vandalism”! (That one really made me smile, because my husband is the same way. And, I know how ornery he was as a kid. So, it really makes me laugh that he is so strict about things like “toilet-papering”. He won’t allow our kids to do it! My mother went toilet-papering with me when I was in Jr. High…and even fell out of a tree and cut her leg when we were almost caught! Oops…did I just blog that?!)

She went on…

“God was writing His story all along and I was trying my best to control it.”

As his career grew, she struggled with feeling even more out of control of their circumstances and their lives. She shared of her battle with clinical depression, an ongoing battle that forces her to draw near to Jesus.

Her words:

“(It) daily drives us to Jesus, the Healer of all pain in all ways.”

Oh…what desperately beautiful words of hope and truth. He is the Healer of ALL pain…in ALL ways. He is faithful.

When she spoke of adopting their daughters from China, her words were so fitting…such a picture of the rescue that we ourselves have received.

She said…

“For the first time, I realized what Jesus did for us on the cross…”

“She had no name, no hope…We came and gave her a family, an inheritance.”

Jesus came and did the same for us. “He told us, He would not leave us orphans.”

And…He kept that promise.

Then…on May 21, 2008…

“God wrote a chapter in our lives that nobody wanted…”

She courageously and with raw honesty spoke the words that every mother can understand…

“As a mom, I would choose to have Maria back over all the lives this story has touched.”

Tears streamed down my face as I nodded. We know. We know what she means. We know what it is to see God make beauty from ashes…to even understand how He has given us so much from walking that path. How He has touched so many lives because they lived on this Earth. But, we didn’t choose it. And had we been given the choice to offer comfort to others or to watch our children grow up, we would choose to have them here with us. He sees the beginning from the end. We do not. And, we are mothers, after all.

Mothers…just like Mary Beth…who was busily living life when this storm swept in without warning.

And, then…these words from her mother-heart…

“I miss her with all the miss that there could be in the world.”

Yeah…
They were living life…planning weddings and graduations…busily preparing. One day they were planning a wedding for one child, and the next, a funeral for their little girl.

“Satan surely came calling for the Chapman family…Satan didn’t win. He won’t win.”

Her voice rose slightly with firm resolve as she said those words.

Life continued on with it’s relentless pace…oblivious to the attack that had pummelled their lives. Their son sang at his graduation in the very same place where he had attended the funeral of his sister the day before.

They were initiated into the “fellowship of suffering”.

Days into this new journey one of their children asked,

“Why is it so hard?”

Mary Beth answered, “Because God has asked us to do hard.”

“We have chosen to see that God is in all of this…Can we choose to see God in the good and in the pain?”

She talked about Maria’s Big Hope…about the promise that out of these ashes, beauty will rise.

As the days wore on, they were wanting desperately to “see” God’s hand in all of this. The children found a drawing that Maria Sue had been working on. It was a flower with six petals…only one was colored in fully. To Mary Beth, that one represented her daughter…the only one of her six children who was completely full, healed, and home.

On the back of the drawing was one simple word…a word Maria Sue had never written before.

In big, unmistakably bold, capital letters the word…

SEE

They knew…

“God was with us…He has a plan for us.”

She said so much more. Some of the most poignant and hope-filled words were lost in the frenzy as I frantically scrawled her words in my little green notebook in the dark. I desperately wanted to share the gift of those moments with you. She was speaking quickly at the end, conscious that time was running out. We could have listened to her all night. We sat captivated. She mentioned something about “we who are sufferers are invited…to a special place close to God’s heart.” She said it so much more eloquently, and I lost some of her words. They were words of faith and hope from a women who has been through the fires of desperate grief.

I will leave you with these simple words from Mary Beth…words of hope and truth.

“God is good even when life is not.”

Stephen Curtis met her on the steps as she descended and he embraced her, his eyes still damp from the tears he shed, as she recounted their journey of beauty rising from ashes. With unabashed pride and love, he acknowledged the incredible courage she displayed…taking that stage to share such sacred pieces of brokenness and healing with all of us. We knew. We knew we had witnessed such intimacy from two people who have walked in the ruins and beheld the ashes of their lives.

Stephen bit back the tears several more times as he began singing the promise…

“Out of these ashes…beauty will rise…”

It’s rising, sweet Chapman family…in all of it’s heart-wrenching splendor…beauty is rising from the ashes. It is a glorious sight to behold…and one of extreme hope. Thank you for allowing us to see it…to hear it…to walk this path with you. And, thank you for your faithfulness as you continue to cling the One who carries you…the One who dances with you among the ruins.

Yes…

God is good, even when life is not.

Comments

  1. Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts says:

    Kelly, thank you so much for sharing all this. I wish I could have found some way to attend. I appreciate your taking the time and energy to share this with us.

  2. Kristin says:

    What an absolutely beautitful post, Kelly! I bet the Chapmam's would love to read this and how it touched your life! I enjoyed every word of it! Thank you for sharing it with me…..it made me feel like I could be a part of it too.

  3. Jennifer Ross says:

    Mary Beth spoke words that we all understand and a hope that we can cling to. I'm so thankful that you sent me that "Beauty Will Rise" CD. I listen to it all the time.

  4. Charity says:

    Wow, Kelly. I cried reading both of your WOF posts… I really, really want to go. And now… even more.
    I have experienced this in my own life thru a hard, bitter, and wrenching journey:
    out of the ashes… beauty will rise.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. I don't think I would have been able to hold it together to take notes. I think I would have just sat and wept, not the pretty crying, but the heart wrenching, ugly cries. Thank you for sharing, their story has always touched me…in a way I never wish it had…

  6. crystal.z says:

    Kelly, this gave me chills!

    "God is good even when life is not."

    Thank you sharing this.

  7. Mattie says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!

  8. Those words that Mary beth Chapman uttered have always been said in our famliy.

    We lost our 16 year old son, Joshua, when he was 16.
    I admire her clinging to God. Some days I just can't do it.

  9. Oh gosh, Kelly, I wanted, wanted, wanted to read every word of part one and two, but I'm going to WOF in August and want to just take it in as God wants me to hear it.

    On the other hand, having a heads up so that I am not bawling my eyes out as I listen may not be a bad thing, so I have bookmarked both parts and will maybe read them right before I go.

    I'm excited and scared to hear her live at the same time. Weird, huh?

  10. Thank you for sharing these words. I do marvel at all the people who have to keep trudging on after such loss. I am amazed but do know, "God is good all the time" and "out of the ashes, beauty will rise"….amazing!

  11. Joyeful says:

    Wow. And now you've made me cry. Tears for this family that has endured so much. Tears for the "hard" that God has asked us to do. Tears for those that are in the midst of their own grief. Tears of joy for the victory we have in Jesus.

    Thank you for the light you are, Kelly. Thank you for letting God turn your ashes into beauty. You are a blessing and an inspiration to us all.

  12. Kelly, this post was really good so I can only imagine what it was like being there. Thank you so much for taking notes and for sharing it with us. It was so touching.

  13. purplemoose says:

    Thank you so much for taking notes, and for posting them too!!! When you said you were going and that Steven & Mary Beth were speaking I really wanted to hear what they said. So wonderful!

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