Choosing to SEE

I am most of the way through Mary Chapman’s book, Choosing to SEE. My heart is so full, I couldn’t wait until I was finished to pour out the words and emotions oozing from me this morning.

I’ll be honest, I was putting it off. Not sure what I expected. I spend so much of my time immersed in the grief of others, reading the stories of broken-hearted mothers and families trying to live a new normal. Prayers for each of them leave my lips and the weight of each one tugs at my heart. I have learned to balance the heaviness of grief, both my own and others, while still embracing the joy of every breath. Well, most of the time. In truth, I suppose I’m still learning to do that…and covered in much grace as I try.

Anyway, I’m not sure what I expected from this book, but I knew that it would be another story of a broken-hearted mother carried by a loving God, comforted in His arms. I needed some time to prepare for this one.

What I didn’t expect was how much of Mary Beth’s heart was poured into her telling of the story that God has woven through her amazing life. I didn’t expect there to be so much of her shining from the pages . And, I certainly didn’t expect her to capture my heart so completely with her spirit. I was there in Columbus when time stopped as she took the Women of Faith stage to tell her story for the first time. I mean this with all do respect. But Mary Beth is not a typical wrapped up in a neat bow, smoothed edges Christian. She is beautiful…don’t get me wrong. But, she is probably the most genuine, real person…so real that it is disarming. So honest, and humble. So not a picture of a woman wallowing in grief, and yet still someone that you know battles the struggles of balancing sorrow and joy each day. She is funny and gritty, honest about her imperfections in a way that somehow endears her to us even more.

I laughed through most of this book. And a couple times, I cried. But, when she told the account of what happened on May 21, 2008 in her driveway….the words gut-wrenching and heart-wrenching took on new meaning for me as the two collided in my own body’s physical response to her words. The sobs I cried literally wrenched my heart and turned my stomach as I pictured the blow that Satan delivered to this beautiful family on that spring day. I wanted to throw my arms around each of them, and felt as if I were there feeling the devastation with them that day as I read her words. And, the mother part of me wanted to back away…run away…far away from the possibility that any mother would ever be in that moment.

And, then…came hope.

The kind of hope that rises when you are in the midst of the ugliest, most hopeless situation. The kind of raw truth….so bare and real that when it comes in the midst of such incredible devastation that you know it has to be real. You couldn’t conjure up that kind of hope when you are so hopeless. Those are the moments we know that God will meet us there. When hope falls from the mouth of a mother who has just held her lifeless child for the last time…and a father who gave his last butterfly kiss. That is the place where eternity lives on this earth. That is where we have to embrace God and know that He is. When it is the darkest and the veil is the thickest….that is when we SEE with the most clarity….our desperate need for Him. And, his complete ability and willingness to meet us anywhere.

I love that Mary Beth seems like the kind of soul that would rather laugh…which is kind of ironic, considering that she has cried many tears in her life as she battles depression and now has walked such intense grief. I love that about her…that she has a spirit that still finds a way to laugh and desires to make others laugh. I love that she finds herself in these crazy Lucille Ball moments (of which I can also relate). I love that she is a beautiful mess. And, I love that it is so easy to see Jesus through her beautiful mess. I wonder if she knows that she and her family have revealed Jesus to so many people in such a tangible, miraculous way. Those seem like just words….inadequate words. I know she would say that she is a mother who would trade all of the lives touched by Maria’s passing to hold her little girl again. But, that truth just makes THE truth even more real and beautiful.

Stephen and Mary Beth aren’t just giving some pretty Christian words like a band aid to fix everything. They are living this. They are “doing hard”, gut-wrenching, toughing it out through this pain….and still clinging to Him for breath everyday. When they say He is the way, because of where they have walked, it is believable….even for the most hardened cynic.

God’s timing is always so perfect, and He is creative in the ways He speaks to our hearts. Do you know that there is no place too far, too dark that He cannot reach you? Do you know that He will not give up….He will not stop reaching for you…even when you are not reaching back? Please let those words sink in.

I have not been the person I want to be…for such a long time. I’ve hidden behind my layers. A couple times, I ventured out…thinking I could climb out out on my own. Saying I would trust God to help me, but not really trusting Him. The layers were no match for me…with all their stinky heaviness. Even as I write this, I just ate a handful of Doritos. I am still a work in progress, but I know who to cling to. I know the Lifter of my Head.

Recently, some wonderful blogger friends attended the Relevant Conference. I so wanted to go, but it just wasn’t to be. I couldn’t make the time and resources fit into my plan, and figured it must not have been in God’s plan for me to go. Instead, I stayed home and had a very revealing conversation with my husband about the way I spend my time and the focus of my heart.

Home was where I needed to be.

Home needed to be the most relevant thing for that moment. God has been speaking to my heart about living the life He’s given me to live….even as I balance the reality of sorrow in the lives of others. He has been whispering freedom and joy into my heart in ways that I am trying to learn to embrace. I have been hiding under the various hats I wear and the many layers I cover myself with. My visits with the Lord have been few and far between…other than the prayers I lift for those who are hurting, the mini prayers I throw up on behalf of my family, and the moments He has permeated my heart during worship. My time with Him has not been as intentional…not a daily priority. Not lately. It’s hard to run to Him, when you are busy running away.

As I’ve poured over Mary Beth’s book the past couple days, it occurs to me that God can reveal His relevance and make our lives relevant where ever we are. I didn’t get to go to the conference and hug the women whom I have laughed with and cried with, prayed with, and been inspired by since I entered this blogging world. I didn’t get to go get all encouraged and filled up. Oh, how I longed to go. But, He is filling me right here….stinky, onion layers and all. Right here. Finding me, even as I’m running away. Loving me just as I am…embracing me just as I am…using me, just as I am.

I desperately want to be relevant…and free…full of joy…living this life…embracing every moment…dancing the dance He has meant for me to dance. I want to live the adventure He means for us to live…ready to go every time He says go. Unencumbered by the worldly flesh that holds us back. I want to see all that He has for us…I want to SEE Him in everything.

And, I feel Him whispering….

“Just show up. I’ll do the rest.”

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?      Micah 6:8


  1. I couldn't have said it better, Kelly! I just finished her book last week and I just love when I learn about Christian women who are not perfect! I loved reading about how God has been with her from the beginning and she is so funny and real. I loved that she said they all didn't know if she would be capable of adopting, because of her depression. So many times I have thought to myself, well I know so-in-so can do this for God, but I'm just not good enough or perfect enough like they are. Her story gave me real hope that I don't have to be a perfect Christian to do God's work. I know we hear that all the time, but sometimes it just helps to have real examples of that. I just loved her book.

    I feel just like you, Kelly. I just want to be free again and have real joy…..I struggle with that. I struggle with this weight on my shoulders that I can't seem to get rid of, like something's not quite right.

  2. Jennifer Ross says:

    You're doing a great job Kelly! Continue to listen and obey the Lord, and you will never go the wrong way. You will be walking with Him, not away.

  3. What a great post! I need to go get that book!

  4. This is such a touching post! You opened your heart up and I appreciate that! God has chosen you to minister for Him in a way that is difficult. It is so hard not to take on other's grief when you want to help them. Make sure to take Him with you in every situation. He will protect and shield your heart, mind and soul. Rarely are the encouragers encouraged. You are such a tremendous help to women like me. Thank you and know that you are prayed for and loved also!

  5. I just finished that book Thursday night and it was amazing. I thought about you a lot when I read it. I've been a SCC fan forever. That book was so inspirational. It was just what I needed right now.

  6. I haven't got the book yet but I plan to. I've heard it's really good. Can't wait!

  7. Debby@Just Breathe says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book, I am going to have to read this one. I read a post this morning and was so impressed with the mother who lost her son yet her vision of loving her 1 year old rainbow baby and being blessed by God. If she had never lost her son she would not have her daughter to love. Saying that this is not what she would have chosen but this is what God chose for her. I believe she is choosing to See!

  8. I remember seeing the book at WOF and telling my friend, "I'm not ready for that right now. I cry enough as it is. I'm still too raw."

    And then I listened to her…and like you, was captivated!

    SHE WAS REAL!!!! She was not just 'preaching' about how faith makes it all better…it's hard, and it hurts and some days are SO much worse than others and ONLY JESUS makes it better and even then, we won't feel that fullness until the other side of Heaven…

    THANK GOD for her honesty and her ability to be real…I remember reading right after Matthew died about how she'd been on Good Morning America and how people had told her that she was so inspirational and such…she said she was glad that so much had been done in Maria's honor, and that he was glad there were good things that had come from her death, but at the core–she was a mother who just wanted her baby back and couldn't care less about all of those good things.

    And I thought, "YEP. I GET her. She gets me!"


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