Thursday, May 21, 2009

Going Home Day

Maria Sue Chapman
May 13, 2003-May 21, 2008
I have to go way back for this story to make sense. I was born in Paducah, Kentucky. Steven Curtis Chapman was born in Paducah, Kentucky. I don't know him, or his beautiful wife and kids, and may never know them this side of Glory. However, I played with his cousin as a kid, and my grandparents are friends with his parents, and the connections are endless. I love Steven's music, but I love his family more. They are honest, solid people that look to the Lord first, and live out their relationship with Christ in extremely tangible ways.

Sometime around 1993, American TV crews were allowed into the formerly communist Romania for the first time in ages. The images they sent to our television sets of poverty stricken orphanages horrified me. I was about 8. I knew then that the world had a big problem. A really, really big problem. I knew that children weren't supposed to live that way and not have a mommy and daddy. As I grew as a Christian, I became more and more aware that God doesn't simply request that we care for the parentless; He commands it! Slowly, that reality has become my heartbeat throughout the years. Being the obsessive person I am even as a child, I read each article I found and watched all of the TV specials that aired.

When I was about 12, a couple from our church in Dallas adopted a little girl from China. I was convinced she was the most beautiful little girl I'd ever seen. Since then, I've wanted a little China baby. I've felt convicted for a long time that if I'm to have children, it'll be through adoption and that to try to have my own would be a sin because of that conviction. To feel that way at 12 is an odd thing, and I was ridiculed rentlessly by family and friends until I became ill with endometriosis at 20, proving to the world that God knew what He was doing all along.

For years, I've been researching adoption: statistics, laws, agencies, requirements. It's mind boggling. In 2000, Steven and his wife Mary Beth adopted their first daughter from China, Shaohannah, after lots of begging and pleeding from their daugher Emily. That woman is so much like me! Anyway, The Chapmans continued to feel the need for adoption, and adopted Stevey Joy in 2003, and Maria Sue in 2004. During that time they created a non-profit organization called Shaohannah's Hope ( to promote adoption and to also raise scholarships for families willing and ready to adopt. Mary Beth especially opened her heart to the world through blogging (, allowing those of us interested to keep up to date with the progress of various projects with which their family is involved. I love reading her thoughts, her heart, and discovering new ways to help and pray for orphans.

Maria was in a tragic accident that took her life one year ago today, May 21, 2008. I'll leave the story of her death to Mary Beth's beautiful, haunting words from her blog, but it's a story that makes me cry still. Emily had just become engaged, Caleb was days from high school graduation, and Will Franklin had to be the one to watch the accident unfold. Their lives were blissful; tragedy didn't seem to fit in that picture.

On May 22, 2008, I got in my truck to head to school, and as usual, KSBJ was playing on the radio as the engine started. Dave and Susan were just beginning to announce that Maria had died. For whatever reason, I thought it must've been Maria's heart; she was considered a health-risk adoption because of a heart defect that I thought had been repaired when she was a toddler (it was). I cried the whole way to school. I got on the blog, which Jim Houser, their family friend, had updated for the world. When I learned the truth, I cried even more. Mostly though, I prayed. I want to thank Mary Beth and Steven for being so open with the world through their blogs, interviews with Larry King and Focus on the Family, and through their concerts and songs. While I'll never know how it felt to be the family members that lost Maria a year ago, I've grown as a Christian through their sharing. Maria and her life and her death have taught me how to pray selflessly for others. She's taught me how to look at broken hearts and not think, "Why don't they just move on?" I applaud Mary Beth for pouring her heart out to those of us she knows will pray for her, her husband, and her children. I applaud her for teaching us how to trust the Lord while questioning our faith, but refusing to give in to Satan's pressures to simply give up on it all. I know they want to hit 'rewind'. I know they long to hold their Maria Monkey again. But I praise God for using Maria to teach us all to laugh a little harder, hug more often, smile big, and pray hard. Maria, we'll see you in that big, big house soon. Lord, show us all your purposes on earth, but come soon, Lord Jesus, come soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


We had a fantastic, blessed weekend adventure! Isaac flew in on Thursday. On Friday morning, he and I headed up to College Station to join the rest of my family and Laura's family for her graduation. Why the nutrition department is with the College of Agriculture, I'll never understand, but we saw some cool animal designs on the mortarboards! :) Seriously, Laura, I am so proud of you! You are an amazing, beautiful, godly woman, and I'm so glad you're my friend!

Laura and her parents, Mark and Paula

Isaac, me, Laura, and David
After lots of fun pictures, we went back to Laura's for a yummy dinner. Isaac and I left a bit early to stroll around Research Park, one of my favorite places in the world. I've spent a lot of quality time with friends, Bailey, and the Lord in that place. It will always be special.
Laura and David with their cute cake!
Saturday afternoon was David's graduation. Nanny and Dede drove up to join us. Needless to say, there was no lack of entertainment during the ceremony with 12 of us together. Yay for family time! David, I adore you, and while I hate that I'm losing my excuse to return to Aggieland, I'm glad you're moving back to Houston!
After David's gradutation

The 6 of us

The kids

We went to Christopher's for dinner, and this was their dessert.
Laura and David are both coming home to Houston to start grad school this summer. I can't wait to see these two more often!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Houston Bridal Shower

Saturday was a beautiful, perfect day. Isaac (in spirit) and I were covered in love. We are blessed by amazing friends and family who chose to show us their love and support by throwing/attending a gorgeous bridal shower for us. We received so many gifts that will help us start married life, but I most enjoyed reading the notes in the cards. What a blessing. Thank you, everyone. Praise You, Jesus!

Mary Ann Baxter, my 2nd grade teacher.

My favorite little girls!

Opening presents.

2/3 of my house party.

Sarah and Marty. I was Sarah and her brother's nanny for 8 years. Now I'm Sarah's teacher. :)

1/2 of my bridesmaids.

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