Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hearts that Ache

My heart has been incredibly heavy this morning as I have thought and prayed for the Chapman Family. I have wondered why I ache so much for someone who I have never met yet I am overwhelming connected to the pain that they must be feeling at this moment. As I have gone before the Lord this morning as so many others are doing I have been taken back to those days right after we lost our Connor. They were dark days filled with confusion and pain that cannot be expressed by words. I have never shared that we lost our Connor to a tragic accident which occurred while I was home alone. When tragedy strikes and a life is lost I believe that the "whys" are multiplied. One longs to make sense of something that cannot be explained and you cry out in sheer agony to God to help you understand. The emptiness engulfs you and you really wonder will you ever find joy again. Will mourning ever be replaced with gladness? You re-live the horrific moments over and over thinking about all the things that you could have done to prevent the accident from happening. You hopelessly cling to every sight, sound, touch and smell. It is a journey that no one should have to take yet so many godly parents have walked this road. It is a road that never comes to an end although it does get less mountainous and much less rocky and many times we just have to climb into the arms of our Savior and let him carry us. When you allow HIM to carry you, you come to know Him hear His heart beat, you feel His love and His comfort overwhelms you. I grieve today for the Chapman's loss of Maria, I hurt for their son and I pray today that arms of our Savior are holding them at this moment.
I miss my Connor today. I so long to be able to run my fingers through his soft hair, to feel his sweet touch upon my face, to hold his floppy little body in my arms and to simply get lost in his deep eyes. I miss the joy that he brought into my days and the way that he made me feel so special. To miss Connor is good...sure it brings sadness but it also reminds me of just how precious my time with him was. I pray that each and every memory of sweet Maria Sue Chapman will be so vivid in the minds of her mommy and daddy and family right now.
The Gift of Connor
The precious gift you were
Transforming our life
Giving us happiness
To lessen the strife
Your light burned bright
For all to see
Illuminating the joy
Sometimes hidden from me
Your eyes beamed with love
Drawing us close
with a glance or a gaze
It was peace you brought most
Your smile radiated joy
Infectious was your laugh
Brightening every day
It was a happiness bath
You gave us so much
Memories now in our heart
We will treasure them forever
For they will never depart
written by Nichole, November 2003

Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter killed by car in driveway

My heart is aching right now as I awoke to the news which I have copied below from a newspaper in Tennessee. I really don't know that I have the words to express the emotions of my heart. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of "The Chapman" family and for some reason feel incredibly connected to them. I follow their blogs regularly and have enjoy absorbing both Steven and Mary Beth's passion for their kids. Having walked the road of losing our Connor in a tragic accident I know some of the pain which surrounds them at this moment. I ask for your prayers for Steven, Mary Beth and the rest of their family. May our God who holds little Maria in His arms right now comfort and strengthen them during these dark days.



Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter killed by car in driveway
By KATE HOWARD and LINDA ZETTLER • Staff Writers • May 21, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest child died Wednesday evening after being struck by a car driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family’s Williamson County home.Maria, one of the Christian singer’s six children, was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Hospital, which confirmed the death, according to Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The 5-year-old was hit by an SUV driven by her teenage brother, she said. Police did not give the driver’s name.The teen was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser down the driveway of the rural home at about 5:30 p.m. and several children were playing in the area, McPherson said. He did not see Maria in the driveway before the vehicle struck her, she said.“It appears to be a terrible accident,’’ McPherson said. No charges are expected, she said. The accident was witnessed by two other children; the entire family was home at the time, McPherson said.Singer/songwriter Chapman, who recently was inducted into Music City Walk of Fame, is one of contemporary Christian music’s most recognizable and most awarded names. He and his wife Mary Beth have long been supporters of international adoption, having brought three girls from China into their family. Maria was the youngest.The couple is so active in the cause that they formed an organization, Shaohannah’s Hope, to aid families wanting to adopt. With his latest music tour, which came through Nashville in November, Chapman started a campaign called “Change for Orphans”. He asked audience members at each stop to bring spare change to the concert, where it was counted and given to a local family to aid in their adoption process.“I don’t know of anybody who loves his children more than he does and is so committed to the adoption concept, and to lose one, no matter what the circumstances, is heartbreaking beyond all comprehension,” said John Styll, president of the Nashville-based Gospel Music Association.“He talks about his kids all the time. That’s his life. His kids are more important to him than music, that’s for sure.”The tragedy was announced during Wednesday-night services at Harpeth Hills Church of Christ, which the family attends. Maria had just graduated from the church preschool.And word spread throughout the tight-knit Christian music community on Wednesday evening.Styll got the news not long after Maria’s death.“I’m confident I can speak for everyone in the community to say we will do everything we can to support this family, as we would do at any time, but especially at a time like this,” he said.Most of the Chapman family was at Vanderbilt children’s hospital after the accident and could not be contacted. The long, gravel driveway leading to the home west of Franklin was blocked off by Williamson County sheriff’s deputies.
In your voice

Monday, May 19, 2008


"Retirement"....a word that many look forward to with great anticipation while others dread the day when they will no longer have the careers that have filled their time for so many years. Well, for my husband, Mike, the word has been a dream that began many years ago. He longed for the day when he would hang up his "legal hat", say goodbye to hours of legal research, depositions, hearings and trials and draining days that left him spent of emotional energy. Well, that day has arrived. Amazingly at the young age of 48 my husband will be officially retired as of the end of June. The road to this time of life has been paved with much hard work, sacrifice, prayer and tremendous blessing from the Lord. Many have asked us why would Mike want to leave a successful law practice that he has spent 20 years building at a time when he is "at the top of his game" having carved out a niche of practice of which he is very good. For years he has had the luxury of taking only certain type of cases and being a sole practitioner he has been able to set his own hours and has represented some wonderful clients but despite all of these luxuries his passion faded and when you lose your excitement for something that you do every single day it makes it difficult to keep up a positive outlook on life. Each day he entered in a world filled with arguing and fighting and while Mike was a bright light in a sea of animosity he often wondered what he was accomplishing by simply fighting other peoples battles. He did his job with great commitment, care and integrity and strove to give his clients the very best service. In those rare occasions that I had to see my husband in action, I was amazed. He was respectful, considerate and kind yet was an eloquent advocate for those whom he represented. I believe that his reputation in our community was one of great respect not only for his legal expertise but for his integrity. He never fit the mold of the type of attorney of whom people tell jokes. Despite his incredible talents as an attorney as well as the nice comfortable life to which we had become accustom he longed for the day when he would place his head on his pillow at night feeling as though he had made a difference in someones life as well as doing something to further the Kingdom of God here on earth. That day has arrived! Through a series of amazing circumstances, Mike sold his practice to a young attorney who is very much like Mike was 20 years ago.... a young attorney starting his family....someone who will take the baton of something that has Mike's heart and soul stamped to it and continue giving the people of our community legal representation.
The new owner of Mike's practice began work in Mike's office (which we affectionately call "the cockpit") yesterday. As we spent the weekend cleaning the office and transferring all of Mike's personal things to our home, emotions and thoughts flooded our hearts and minds. Precious memories filled us as we recalled the significance of so many things which were housed in these rooms for 20+ years and although we are excited at what lies ahead for Mike and the opportunities that he now has available to him we were saddened to be saying goodbye to something that has been so much a part of who we are as a family and who Mike is as a man. It felt a little bit like losing a part of ones emptiness that can and will be filled but for the moment it feels like something is missing. And many may ask...what will Mike use to fill the void? Well, until the end of June he will continue to help with the transition of practice to the new attorney. He will still have a few cases remaining which will require his time but once those are complete and the new attorney is settled in he plans to say "aahhh" and relax. The word that I have used recently when asked about Mike's future plans is "decompress". I know that there will be a time of decompression from the stress that filled his days which I am sure will accompany a time of transition. Establishing new routines and new ways of doing things and getting used to the fact that Mike won't have to go to work in the morning will take some time as well. As we all settle into this new way of life Mike plans to fulfill the desire of his heart to write full time. For many years Mike has been working on book, a collection of thoughts about the meaning of life and our purpose here on earth. He is eager to have the time to devote to finishing this work and seeing where it goes. But mostly Mike is looking forward to having lots of time to spend with us. Being able to fulfill his role of husband and daddy in a greater way brings much excitement to him and to me as well. He is looking forward to participating in homeschooling next year and being able to enjoy watching our kids absorb all that we have to offer them next year through teaching them at home. Beyond those initial things he has no idea what awaits him. He simply loves knowing that he now has the ability to be open to whatever the Lord has to offer. We are both incredibly grateful that at this stage of life we have been given the blessings that allow us the opportunity to explore a new horizon of life. I pray that we are faithful stewards of all that God has given and that we always give glory to the ONE who has made all of this possible. My husband has been "given the desire of his heart" and we are exceedingly thankful for this gift. We greatly appreciate your prayers for us as we embark on this exciting new chapter of our life. May we always have the ears to hear the voice of God wherever He may call. Here is a pic of Mike in "his cockpit".
Before I close this post I want to apologize for not being able to personally announce this exciting news to many of you who may be checking in with us and find this news surprising. We have tried to touch base with our family and friends and share our news with them but as you can imagine "news travels fast" and with the busyness of the past couple of weeks we haven't had the time to tell all of you. We are in the process of planning a celebration party and hope to see many of you as we toast Mike's new beginning.

Prince Caspian and a Night with the boys

On May 22 we will celebrate our #1 son, Cody's 11th birthday. In our family birthdays typically last about a week and usually consist of non-stop partying. This year proves to be no different and the celebration for Cody began last Saturday night with a trip to see the long awaited movie Prince Caspian. Cody and Mike are big C.S. Lewis fans and have been looking forward to release of the movie so he decided to celebrate with his friends with a "movie party". Mike and spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon and evening with Cody and 5 of his friends. I cannot describe how full my heart was to be surrounded by all these terrific boys and found myself thanking God throughout the evening for the boys who Cody calls friends. The boys loved the movie which was full of action and intensity and watching them devour pizzas at dinner while chatting and laughing among themselves was so refreshing to us in that they truly seemed not to mind that Mike and I were present. Driving the boys home was equally enjoyable as I had the pleasure of listening to their silliness in the back seat of my van while they used my cell phone to take incredibly silly pictures of themselves and even called a few of the girls in their class.

I couldn't have asked for a more pleasant evening and as Cody and I made our way home from dropping off the last boy at home I glanced over at him sitting next to me and don't believe that I have ever seen such joyful contentment in the face of my son. At a time of life when friendships are becoming so important and knowing that this year has been somewhat of a tough one for Cody with regards to the development of those friendship, as a mom I could not have been more proud or more happy for my son. It was truly a memorable evening.

Here are a few photo's of the boys at dinner. Aren't they a silly but handsome bunch?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mommy's Day!

To all of you mommy's reading this may I wish you a wonderful day. As Mother's Day 2008 comes to a close I do hope that each of you had a memorable day celebrating the most wonderful position in the world....being a mommy. It has been quite an unusual Mother's Day this year and I have spent the day at home alone with my girls. Grace and I have been nursing "tummy bugs" (Isn't it funny how that we try to give cute names to something that is really just gross) Well, anyway we have felt pretty yucky and with Mike and Cody spending the weekend in Colorado it has been a mellow day. Not that I really felt like doing anything but I have missed my boys today and I also missed being able to treat my mom, nana and sister to brunch as I had planned. Nevertheless, the girls and I blew up our air mattress and put it in the playroom and snuggled while watching Food Network and HGTV. As I have reflected on being a mom today I have been reminded that there are so many mom's who have gone before us showing us how to celebrate the joy's of motherhood and survive the struggles. I am blessed this Mother's Day to have a mom, a mother-in-law, and two grandmother's still present in my life and I am grateful to each of them for more things that I could ever record. I am thankful that God granted me the gift of my mom, Mike's mom, my nana and my mee-mee. What memories I have to treasure from the specialness that they have brought into my life since I was born. I am also surrounded by incredible women who provide encouragement and strength as we journey together in motherhood. My sister, who is one of the most amazing moms that I know, my online friends who warm my heart with their insights and knowledge as we share our lives and my school mom's whom I have savored the support and encouragement as we have deepened our friendship through being mom's to our kids. To be alone in this journey of motherhood would take away the richness that can be absorbed from seeing life through the eyes of another mom. I pray today that wherever you are in your journey that you have someone who shares in your walk. I would like to close with something that Erma Bombeck said as she was battling cancer:

" If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace....burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. I WOULD SEIZE EVER MINUTE...LOOK AT IT AND REALLY SEE IT...LIVE IT.. AND NEVER GIVE IT BACK."

With much love from my heart to yours,

Happy Mother's Day!

Here are a few pics of our Mother's Day! I have such beauties even when they are sick.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Re-Adoption Day

On Monday April, 28 we finalized Emily's re-adoption. This wasn't a requirement because Emily was officially adopted into our family while we were in China but we decided to re-adopt her here in the US. This re-adoption allows her to obtain a US birth certificate which will make life so much easier for her in the future. We also were advised that should the US/China relationship become less friendly in the future it would be wise to have this done. Mike was able to prepare all the paperwork himself and it was simply a formality to travel to the courthouse which is a familar place for Mike and have the Judge sign the documents and then take lots of photos. We were before a Judge who Mike knows well and was delighted to finalize our re-adoption of Emily. Emily was a hoot, prancing into the Judges chambers wearing sunglasses which were a gift from her chatty friend, Jaya. Emily acted as if she owned the place, making herself quite comfortable in one of the Judge's chair. After the formalities she happily let the Judge hold her for pictures and we were reminded of just how fretful she was when we were taking care of all of the formal paperwork in China and how she would have never allowed someone she had never seen hold her. Wow! We have come a long way.

Birthdays and Visits to the ER

On April 25th Emily turned three. Her actual birthday was on a Friday and outside of everyone singing Happy Birthday to her about a hundred times the day passed without much celebration because her party was set for Sunday, April 27th. Unlike her birthday celebration last year, she knew exactly what was taking place this year and that she was to be the center of attention for the day. With great confidence and excitement she welcomed all of our family members to her party and soaked up every bit of attention that was deserving of the birthday girl. We feasted on BBQ chicken and ribs and all the trimmings. Of course, when we have a large group of people with kids over to our condo things can get rather "wild" to say the least. Most you you know that we live in a condominium high rise therefore when we have a house full of children with no outside place to go the kids create their own playground inside. This celebration was no different, while the adults were finishing up dinner and we were preparing to open Emily's gifts the kids were running around while Cody was trying to be a Harlem Globetrotter in his bedroom. While practicing his fancy basketball tricks on a little bball goal we have hung in his bedroom he lost his balance and fell. As he fell the area just below his eyebrow caught his dresser and as you can imagine it was not a pretty sight. So just as we were opening Emily's first gift we hear screams from Cody's room and he runs down the hallway, looking like something from a scary movie with blood covering his face. Of course, once we got him cleaned up we realized that it was a small cut right below his eyebrow. Although it was small it was rather deep and we were sure that it needed stitches so off we went to the ER leaving Emily and her guests to finish opening presents and have cake and ice cream. She enjoyed her presents and cake which was Strawberry Shortcake but her excitement was dampened by concern for Cody. She is so compassionate and doesn't like it when Grace or Cody are hurt. 3 hours and 3 stitches later Cody, Mike and I arrived home to find Emily enjoying a movie with Nammy and Bee. We could only say that it was a birthday we will never forget. Cody is doing fine...he had his stitches removed last Friday and Emily has been enjoying her b'day presents with her favorite being a "cherry nightgown" given to her by my nana and grandaddy and a little stuffed puppy and puppy carrier given to her by her Aunt Kim, Uncle Tom and cousin Allison. Despite the unexpected trip to the hospital we enjoyed celebrating Emily's birth and remembering just how precious her life is and what a miracle it is that she is with us and that we have the honor of calling her our daughter. I also have thought of her birthmom and how incredibly grateful I am that she left Emily in a train station where she knew that Emily would be found quickly. I know that her heart aches each year as she remembers this precious little girl to whom she gave birth and I pray that somehow she will know that Emily's life is filled with love and that she is growing into such a beautiful little girl. And now we embark on another year of Emily's life. A year that I am sure will be filled with exciting new things. What delight fills my heart as I have the joy of sharing life with my children. Each one of them brings a unique flavor to my life and I am so blessed to be their mom. I am posting a few pictures from the party and of course one of Cody showing off his "tough guy" stitches and a few shots of Emily and her long hair. We had decided to let her hair grow a little and see how it would look longer and no bangs but I decided that I really do love the cute bob cut on her and she doesn't like the bangs in her eyes so she got a cute hair cut yesterday. As always, thanks for stopping by our blog. I love being able to share God's goodness to our family with all of you.