I hesitated to write this post. Maria’s story is not mine. And the way I am going to write this feels selfish.
Maria’s story is here… captured in these blogs by her amazing mother, Mary Beth Chapman, and by her family’s friend, Jim Houser. You can read a ‘summary‘ here.
When I heard the news that Maria’s family had lost her, my family and I (minus Josh) were on the bus, headed to Hendersonville, TN, not far from where the Chapmans live. Rod was recording his second major label CD, and we were going down for the vocal sessions. Our good friends were meeting us there to do the background vocals. It was Paige’s first trip on the bus. At the ages of 3 months and 18 months, respectively, it was Kaity and Miranda’s second or third trip. The babies were sleeping as it was around 11pm. It had been a long and exhausting drive, and I was relieved to sit with my laptop and read mindless things.
Of course, what I read was the horrifying news about Maria.
It was a month at least before I could speak about it without crying. I checked Jim’s blog every day. I told random people about the Chapmans. I was not sure why it affected me so personally and deeply. I was a fan of SCC’s (in fact, his was the first concert I ever saw), but I hadn’t bought a new CD in awhile I loved what I’d heard he was doing for adoptions and orphanages, but I’m not sure I even realized the Chapman’s had a adopted a 3rd little girl from China.
I thought a lot about our teenage son, about how hard I am on Josh about some things, about how much I want him to be responsible… He is the same age as Will Franklin, who has had to learn and grow way too much this past year. Obviously, I will take the drama and silliness of my 17 year old before I would ever want him to go through what Will has.
I’ve thought a lot about the make-up of our family, the older kids and the younger ones, the music life (on a much smaller scale, of course). Could those be reasons why I was so ‘involved’ and ‘invested’ in the Chapmans?
I don’t know. I have just come to accept that I am, and that it doesn’t matter why. For whatever reason, for the rest of my life, I will be a different kind of Christian and friend and mommy because of the Chapmans’ story this past year.
And in some way, because of Maria:
– I never, ever back out of my driveway without looking twice. Not ever. (And I know that even so, accidents do happen, and God is the Giver of grace and forgiveness, and in this I also say, may God continue to give peace and love and comfort to the Faustins).
– Sometimes (like just a few minutes ago at Kaity’s naptime), I stop whatever ‘important’ or ‘pressing’ thing I am doing, and I hug my babies, or I savor their smile, or I just let them be so I can watch them.
– And I dance with them no matter how stupid or silly I look.
– Even though I do complain sometimes about the kids not listening, or the house being a mess, or being overworked/overstressed/over-needed… I usually stop myself. Because I know Mary Beth would give anything for more laundry to do and another messy face to wipe.
– I pray for Larry King sometimes, because Caleb Chapman set that example for me.
– I know more than ever that there is a child out there who was or will be born to someone else but who will become part of our family.
– I know that the Lord gives and takes away (Job 1:21), and it may cause us unfathomable pain, and we may never understand why, but He is still holding us and loving us all through those times.
– I have encountered two amazing women who set examples for mommies everywhere in their grace and generosity: Mary Beth and Kerry Hasenbalg.
– I pray for strangers. I cry for them. I care for them. I have always been a little tenderhearted, but Maria has changed my heart. Most of the time I have no idea what I can say to a grieving mother, but I know I am supposed to be there. I am able to leave my feeble but constant compassion for the Spohrs, and I hope a year from their dear Maddie’s departure, their journey will have brought the same healing to them that the Chapman’s has. (And yes, there is still a long journey to go, for they will always miss their babies).
This is not my story. I am just… moved, saddened, touched today to have shared in it. I hope that people who perhaps never knew this story will pray for the Chapmans and families who have lost as they have. I hope someday I get to hug Mary Beth. I hope someday we’ll hear a few of the stories of people radically changed because of the Maria Miracle Fund and all the kindnesses done in her name. I know someday I will watch their amazing reunions in our Heavenly home. And until then, as Mary Beth continually tells us, I will hug my babies tighter.