Mary Beth Chapman Discusses the Death of Daughter Maria in Her New Book
Chapman's New Book: Choosing to See
You may be familiar with Steven Curtis Chapman, the awarding winning Christian singer, musician and songwriter, but are you acquainted with his wife Mary Beth Chapman (who interestingly was also born with the last name Chapman)?
Mary Beth has recently written an amazingly open and revealing book about her life with Steven. I picked up this book largely because I wanted to read the story about the untimely death of their five-year-old daughter, but before I ever got to that part of the book I became completely fascinated and captivated with her own personal story. It touched me so immensely to the point that I was continually alternating between laughter and tears.
Mary Beth has divulged very intimate details about their personal lives. By baring her soul so openly she has simultaneously made herself vulnerable and touchable. I was surprised to discover how much she has struggled and endured growing up and on into adulthood: continuous internal conflict regarding her relationship with God and assurance of salvation, victim of a predatory relationship in her teens, battles with deep clinical depression, miscarriage of a pregnancy and later losing a child, having to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night for emergency surgery and having her home catch on fire twice.
She also shares a number of humorous things in the book. For example, she tells how, shortly after her marriage to Steven, her first child Emily was a product of her new puppy eating her birth control pills. She had just gotten a new job at a hospital and the man who was to be her future boss asked her in the interview if she was going to get pregnant anytime soon. She had assured him that they were not planning on having any children for a long time.
Then about halfway through the book as she describes a ministry trip to Uganda, she relates how the entire Chapman clan (they had three kids by now) had an opportunity to go rafting on the Nile River. Since Mary Beth did not know this adventure had been in the plans, she had not brought a bathing suit and had to wear athletic shorts and a tee shirt instead. At one point, predictably, the boat they were in capsized and all were thrown overboard. When Mary Beth was being hoisted up onto a nearby boat, the force of the water pulled her shorts and underwear down and she landed face down in a boat full of tourists from England with the moon shining.
At a time when Mary Beth and Steven were saddled with three young children, madly busy due to Steven’s burgeoning music career, and dealing with her mental health issues, God’s burdened their hearts concerning all the orphaned children in the world. They stepped out on faith after receiving much badgering from their children and arranged for the adoption of a little baby girl from China.
Mary Beth was intensely fearful that she wouldn’t be able to love the child like she loved her three biological children. In her words: “I was scared I’d be the evil stepmother.” But the instant the little baby was placed in her arms she was apparently struck with Cupid’s love arrow because she was instantly smitten. Steven witnessed the transformation with his own eyes. She was bonded forever.
As soon as the Chapmans brought the tiny girl back to the U.S., they were bombarded with envious people telling them that they too would love to adopt a child from China but couldn’t afford the many thousands of dollars required to do so. Immediately, Mary Beth began writing checks.
Mary Beth and Steven began looking for a foundation they could donate to that helped others with similar adoption desires but were unable to find one. So they started one of their own. Since then they have helped over 2,500 families finance foreign adoptions. The ministry is call Show Hope and can be accessed online at www.showhope.org. The ministry also provides funds for medical needs of orphans in other countries and funded the building of a home for orphans in Uganda and China.
Mary Beth and Steven eventually adopted two more Chinese babies.The two youngest ones were only seven months apart so they were extremely close and very much like twins in many ways. They loved dressing alike and were practically inseparable.
On May 13, 2008, Mary Beth was excitedly working on the plans for her oldest daughter’s upcoming wedding while the three little adopted girls were playing outside. She had had a babysitter over to watch the children earlier in the day but felt bad about having the girl work long hours so Mary Beth had sent her home a few hours previously.
The youngest child, a five-year-old named Maria had an especially close relationship with the Chapman’s youngest son Will. That afternoon Maria heard her big brother’s car coming down the street and excitedly ran out to meet him to ask him for help getting up on the monkey bars. She stood in the middle of the driveway as he turned in and he didn’t see her there. He accidentally hit her and she was unable to be revived.
Obviously, the whole family was devastated. Will had an especially hard time since he believed it was entirely his fault. The second half of the book is devoted to describing the heartache and struggles they went through trying to sort out the emotions resulting from little Maria’s death and how God carried them through it. They decided to go on with the wedding plans a few months later and it turned out to be an exceedingly joyful occasion and their hearts were turned to gladness for a few hours—until the next day when they were reminded that Maria was not there.
Though it has been so difficult for the Chapmans to continue their daily lives without Maria, they are at least comforted by the fact that they can look forward to seeing Maria again in Heaven some day. One day just a few months before her death, Maria started asking Mary Beth a lot of questions about Heaven. The discussion ended with little Maria making a decision to receive Jesus Christ as her Savior and giving the Chapman’s a relieved assurance of her salvation.
If you would like to see what life is like behind the scenes of a Christian entertainer superstar and his family, you’ll love this book. These people are the real deal. Their candidness and transparency is both surprising and refreshing in a world fraught with hypocrisy.
This book would also likely be of great help to you if you have either suffered from deep depression or experienced the anguish of losing a child. Mary Beth knows and describes very well what it feels like to find oneself in a deep dungeon of despondency. She also knows how to tell others how taking hold of God’s hand can pull them up and out of it.