Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman "Choose to See"
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Grammy award winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth never imagined they would have to endure the pain of losing a child. In May of 2008, Maria, the youngest of their six children, was accidentally hit and killed by an SUV. Sadly it happened in their driveway, and the couple’s 17-year-old son Will Franklin was the driver. Together Steven and Mary Beth opened up about their public and their private grief.
Mia Evans-Saracual: What do you miss most about Maria?
Mary Beth Chapman: The whole package. As much joy as you saw on Maria’s face, she could be that mad too. There wasn’t a whole lot of in between with her. She was No. 6, and she was the perfect baby of the family. Funny, funny, funny. When we first came home, obviously the silence of not having her was what screamed the loudest because she was the loudest of all of us.
Just three months before her death, Maria asked her mom and dad about heaven after learning Audio Adrenaline’s song “Big House” in her preschool class.
Steven Curtis Chapman: She’s setting up on the kitchen counter with me and her mom answering questions. It led to this precious time of praying with her and letting her just pray in her own words an amazing prayer asking Jesus to let her live forever with Him in God’s big house and to come into her heart and to give her eternal life.
Mary Beth: I just believe that that’s why she was with us. That’s why at four years old, she was prompted to ask those questions. She was a pretty straight forward little one, and I’m just really glad for the short time we had with her. Bringing our children here into a Christian home, our goal was that they would meet Christ and have a profound relationship with Him and who knew that Maria would get to be first. The last shall be first. That’s our little sweet Maria.
Mia: Mary Beth, you’re sharing your story, your heart as a mother, through your new book, Choosing to See. What’s the theme of that book?
Mary Beth: I realized that my whole entire life has seemed to be a big wrestling match with God. I had a plan, and no matter what that plan was, God had a better one. Even today when I look at Maria, you can’t look at that situation by itself and go, “That’s a good plan from God,” because it’s not good. It’s the enemy at its worst. Now can God do amazing things with it? Absolutely. But my whole life has been experiences of what will God do with this now.
Steven: One of the places most profoundly we’ve seen God as redeemer is in the life of our son Will. He is a walking miracle to have endured and carried with him the weight of his sister [whom] he just dearly, dearly loved. To have to carry that weight of having been driving the car and to yet see him walk through life with this sense of, “I know God is going to carry me through,” it’s just been a miraculous thing.
Mia: Mary Beth, how is Will?
Mary Beth: Will and I are close. He is amazing, extremely good with the girls. Will really recognizes that and knows that he has an incredible responsibility in stewarding the story well. Now as he and his brother are moving on to do music, he really takes it seriously. It’s not that there’s not dark times, hard times, but I’ll tell you what, that kid, he will go down in my book as a hero. He’s a warrior.
In honor of Maria’s life, Maria’s Big House of Hope opened its doors to special needs orphans in Luoyang, China. The healing home is funded by Show Hope, the Chapmans’ adoption foundation. Mary Beth and Steven continue to share the comfort and love they’ve received from God with others.
Mia: What would you say to a parent who’s lost a child and doesn’t have any hope?
Mary Beth: Well, the first thing I would say is I’m so, so sorry for your loss. There is hope and that’s Jesus Christ. God knows what it is like to put His Son to death for us. He was blameless, so we are talking about a God who sacrificed His Son for you. That’s the ultimate hope.
Steven: We have held on to the hand of the God of all comfort and the Scripture calls Him that. We have found Him to truly be that. He has comforted us, and we know He can and will comfort you.He is a God of all comfort and we pray that you’ll know Him to be that. Put your faith in Him. Trust Him and you’ll find Him to be enough. You’ll find His grace to be enough for you as we found that to be for us.
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