"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, May 25, 2008

So much to share...

There is so much I want to share about our going-ons and the kids, but everytime I turn around, it seems like the little things in our life are so trivial compared to all that is happening around us, around the world.

More sadness, more tragedy, as the strongest aftershock since the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked China, struck the devasted region again. I will post Half The Sky's update tomorrow.

Right now, I wanted to share a couple of articles. This one from The Tennessean as the Chapman Family said their final goodbyes to their sweet daughter, Maria Sue.

Please, I urge you to continue to keep this hurting family in your prayers. Prayer is something so very powerful and something that they desperately need right now.

Just feet away from her sister Maria’s tiny white coffin, Shaohannah Chapman stood with her parents and listened as her daddy read a letter she wrote.

It was addressed to two people up above: her sister and Jesus.

“Maria’s stuffed animals are going to be packed away and put into the attic,” Steven Curtis Chapman, a well-known Christian singer/songwriter, read in a steady voice that sometimes trailed off into a whisper.

“Enjoy heaven,” he continued, addressing some 2,000 mourners Saturday at his 5-year-old daughter’s funeral at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville.

“I will see you soon, but not too soon. I hear the roads are made of solid gold and God waits for everyone. When you see that I’m coming, wait for me at the gate,” he continued as Maria’s pictures — smiling in huge sunglasses or sitting next to her birthday cake — flashed on two screens behind him.

Shaohannah’s was one of many tributes to Maria, a little girl described by her parents, siblings and friends as a “snuggle bunny” who loved to run around naked, draw flowers and play princesses.

She died Wednesday evening after what authorities called a “terrible accident.” One of Chapman’s two teenage sons was backing down the family’s driveway in a truck. He didn’t see the child in the driveway and struck her. She was pronounced dead later that day at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University.

The little girl was one of Chapman’s three adopted daughters from China and joined the family in 2004. Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, also have three biological children. They were celebrating the eldest daughter Emily’s recent engagement.

But the Saturday service, sometimes pierced by spontaneous laughter from the pews caused by funny Maria stories, also served as a reminder that another life, that of the teenage boy who drove the truck, has been shattered.

“I haven’t always been a good brother,” one of the Chapman boys said. “Just like my dad helped Maria, I hope I help my brother. … (God) healed Maria in a way we don’t like, but he’s going to heal (my brother) in a way we’re going to like.”
Those in the sanctuary got up and applauded.

And then Chapman recalled how he tried to fight for his little girl in the hospital, how he told the doctors he needed to pray, he needed to save her.

“That’s what you do as a dad,” he said, his voice breaking up. And how he asked God for a sign to know that his daughter was OK, and the frustration when it didn’t come. Not right away, he said. And then he found a card Maria painted but never finished. When he turned it around, it read “see.”

“I heard her little voice and the voice of God,” he said. “She said: ‘See, dad, it’s OK.’ ”

The second is from the Chapman Blog and written by Jim Houser, SCC's manager.

Maria's Memorial Service

For those who couldn't be here, I thought I'd share a rundown, the best I can remember it as I was a bit emotional. It was a beautiful and moving celebration of this little girl's life. And in typical Chapman fashion... God was honored, the Gospel was presented, and... It went long. : )
Throughout the service, pictures of Maria were shown on screens above the platform. There were about 2000 people present and the program was just over 2 hours.

Michael W Smith provided a beautiful prelude and then sang "Still" to open the service. Then a prayer of invocation was offered, and a Pastor at Christ Community Church, the family's home church, Scotty Smith called us to worship with a congregation responsive reading of a portion of The Heidelberg Catechism and the question What is your only comfort in life and in death?
Matt Redman, who was in the airport in Atlanta preparing to fly back to his home in the UK when he heard the news of Maria's death, left the airport rather than board his flight and drove to Nashville to serve the family anyway he could. The Chapmans not knowing Matt was in the country had discussed him being a part and we're overwhelmed to hear he was able to be there. Matt led worship along with Christy Nockels singing several songs including two that Redman has written out of his own loss and sorrows, "Blessed Be Your Name," and "You Never Let Go," as well as the hymn "It Is Well."

Then Matt explained that Steven and he had penned a song "Close To Your Heart" a few months ago for a close family friend of the Chapmans just after the loss of their child. Little did Steven know it would bring comfort to him and his own family on this day, as Matt shared it at Maria's service.

One of Shaohannah's Hope's orphan care partners in China, Robin Hill flew in for the service and he offered a prayer.

Then family and friends stood just feet away from Maria's tiny coffin and shared stories about the spunky, adorable little girl. A few here...

Family friend Karen sharing how Maria loved to wash dishes butt naked, and loved when her family "was altogether,"

The unpredictable Mary Beth with a few stories including how Maria loved her nicknames and running the sweet list down.

Family friend Melissa challenging us to live like Maria and love others like she did, not holding back!;

Caleb sharing how he had prayed for God to heal Maria after the accident, and how God did it in a way that he didn't like very much (taking her to heaven) but that he has never been more convinced that Jesus is real,

Miss Meagan, Maria's pre-school teacher, commenting on her love of art, drawing flowers, her classmates and her family,

Emily telling the story of how when she told Maria that Tanner had asked her to marry him that Maria asked her "whacha say?" and Emily went on to challenge us with the picture God gives of how the groom Jesus has asked his bride, us, to marry Him with a relationship through the cross, "whacha say?"

Lastly, Steven sharing that Maria had professed Jesus as her Savior and those moments; as well as a moving story from him about how he had asked God to help him see that Maria was safe, and how God showed up. (I'll let him tell it soon).

Next, children in the service brought flowers to Maria's casket as SCC's best friend Geoff Moore sang "With Hope," a song Steven wrote 10 years ago for a family that lost a child, that same family the Mullicans are now walking he and Mary Beth through this now shared tragic experience.

Scotty Smith then took a few precious minutes to challenge us on the Gospel, that Maria's story is our story and we can be adopted into God's family and see Him and Maria at the end of our lives. (I'm not able to do Scotty's words justice).

Tammy Jensen then sang "Jesus I Am Resting, Resting," close family friends mentioned above the Mullicans prayed to close our time. And then the video of "Dishwashin Daddy and "Bellyflop" that has gone around the world was played.

Friends, it was such a difficult, yet sweet time. I urge you now to pray for this family. Be intentional. Set an alarm to go off on the 21st of every month, or anytime you see an SUV let it be a reminder, or whenever you hear a Steven song... whatever you feel is best. As someone who has experienced a difficult loss, some days ahead will be difficult for this family because the rest of the world moves on and forgets. It's very understandable of course. If you can though, remember to keep them in your prayers.

I too echo Caleb and his wise beyond his years comment, after having the privilege to walk with so many of their family and friends next to the Chapmans through this time, I have never been more convinced that Jesus is real, that the Gospel is true. Despite this tragedy that could seem to contradict He is a good and sovereign God, we know the truth that is on the front of Maria's Memorial Service program! That He has plans for us "plans for peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope."

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waiting4Isabella said...

May the prince of Peace - Our lord Jesus Christ give the chapman family peace and solace during this time of sorrow in their lives. May the Chapman family in due time take this tragedy and use it for the Glory of God.

My prayers will include the chapman family.

Stefanie said...

Thank you for posting this, Ohilda. I had purposefully not followed the story after her death, it was just too painful. But I needed to hear it, the tears just flowed.
I will be intentional about praying for the Chapman family... and praise God for His faithfulness through all of this.

Walker said...

Thanks for the update Ohilda! We will be remembering this family in prayer in the days ahead.

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