I’ve been glum and off-balance and snappish and restless for no logical reason today. Except part way through the day, after pushing away the feelings a hundred times, I realized I did know why. My heart won’t quit aching for the loss that Steven Curtis Chapman and his family are facing. Maybe it is not terribly logical that I should be so very shaken up by something that happened to someone I mostly just know on the airwaves. But it is more personal than that.

You see, I have a five year old daughter too, as well as a son whom just yesterday got signed up for driver’s ed.

We have a driveway that the kids all play in. At the edge of it, about 8 feet back from the road, I’ve painted a line in white spray paint beyond which the little ones aren’t allowed to go. Drivers routinely check the driveway before backing out of the garage, then call out a warning to all children around. All the kids routinely go stand in the grass anytime there is a moving car in the driveway. Everything we can think of, we’ve done.

And yet still I know there are no guarantees. Still I know that terrible things can happen even with the best intentions and many safety precautions. A moment is all it takes. I am shaken and sad and so very aware of the gossamer nature of the thread we call life.

I am hugging my little ones more today. Feeling glad when I have each one accounted for.

Feeling grateful that I know there is hope for the future, and grateful that the Chapmans also have the promise and the knowledge that they will see their little one in heaven again someday.

But I also wish from the bottom of my heart that they could have her alive and well in their arms right now. To watch her grow up and have a normal life.

Just like I long to do with my own precious ones in the years that come.

And so I sit here in a swirl of emotions. Tenderness and gratitude and anger (Why, God, why?) and fear (please let my children live) and (YES!) faith and a wretched and overwhelming sadness for the loss that this family is facing.

Today, at least, there is no escape for me from the swirling cauldron of emotions.

And so I will pray.


  1. After I read about the Chapmans on your blog, I too got swept up in a sea of emotion. I also have a 5, just turned 6 year old daughter and a son, who just started driving, among other children. I really had to shake myself hard and keep moving to feel better. I experienced all of the same emotions you did. I do everything that I can think of to keep my children safe and then, there are no guarantees. I think of all of the women who keep moving on in spite of, women like you and I am strengthened. I will pray for the Chapmans and hug my little and big ones more today. And I know that our Creator is loving and I put my trust in Him.

  2. Grieving says:

    I first read about this story on your blog as well, and am heartbroken. I so appreciate your take on it, as well as Lela’s above. It does NOT matter how careful we are, how many precautions we take and all of the good safety ideas we have. That’s a given—we take as many precautions as we are able to, or as many as we are gifted to be able to, in order to be good parents, and STILL, bad things happen.

    We are told that “In this world you will have trouble…” and our only guarantee is that we are not alone in any trouble or sorrow that faces us.

    If we were able (by the right combination of precaution and skill) to prevent trouble and suffering, we would have no need of a Savior. We could just save ourselves. And many of us are convinced that we are protected from evil and sorrow because of our good works. But stories like the Chapmans’ remind us that being a Christian, or even a “good” Christian in no way shields us from intense suffering.

    Thank God that we can hold onto the rest of that verse….”In this world you will have trouble—but take heart: I have overcome the world.” (JN 16:33)
    Along with the rest of you, I have been praying for the Chapmans all day long.

  3. Thank you for putting it so beautifully! I too have felt “heavy” all day and have had many of the same thoughts that you have expressed!

  4. I’m completely with you. I have been crying off and on all day, praying, and finding myself unable to think seconds beyond going back to this family and what they must be feeling/doing/thinking today. This is, I trust, God’s grace to their family. They have millions of prayers being offered up on their behalf!!!

  5. Mary,
    You have described exactly how I have felt all day. Praying for the healing of this family.

  6. I’ve been hugging my little ones more today too. My mind and my prayers are especially on their son who was driving. Only God can help him with what he will carry for the rest of his life, as a result of this tragic accident.

  7. Thanks for so eloquently describing what I’ve been feeling all day too. I burst into tears a couple of times just thinking of what that poor boy must be dealing with today and how all the emotions just won’t stop coming. I told my husband I wish I could turn off my mind and my imagination for just a little while, so I could get a deep breath . . .

    Praying constantly for the Chapmans. Praying for your sweet family too, as you have that young driver start practicing soon.

  8. My heart has been breaking for this family. I can only imagine that their faith is going to see them through this. My sister paid tribute to him as well on her blog highlighting a song he wrong about loss. Seems appropriate. I cannot imagine what they are going through. My prayers are with them today.

  9. I think you have spoken for all of us. I cannot get them off my mind and heart either. How I ache for that son who was driving, and for the rest of the family. What heartbreak. I have come to understand that there are some things that we will never fully comprehend this side of heaven.

  10. I have wrestled with those feelings all day, too-we were on our way to do our last round of homestudy interviews and I felt sick and guilty and like it didn’t seem right to be excited about our own adoption when their hearts are breaking about their little sweetie. And they are just dealing with multiple tragedies-their poor son and his awful battle with grief and sorrow, the loss of Maria, etc. I praise God that they are His b/c otherwise I really don’t know what else you could do other than just cling to Him and weep, and know He’s weeping with you. Life is just so hard sometimes. So. Incredibly. Hard.

  11. This is how I feel, too, Mary. You did a very good job of describing my emotions. I tried to write it all down – but didn’t do nearly as good of a job as you did.

    How many of us mamas have gone over safety rules with our big kids? I even spoke with my husband about the need to check behind the car EVERY single time…although I believe little Maria ran in front of the car…

    It has always been a fear of mine that something like this would happen to a child of ours. Don’t we all pray, “Oh Lord, please don’t let this happen to my children?” It’s been my fear, too, that *I* would harm a little one, so I pray for His protection to keep me from it.

    And yet…and yet…and yet…it still happens. I don’t doubt Him – I’m getting too old for that. We’ve walked too long together. But I wish that I understood. I wish I could change this for them.

  12. I have been hugging my kids extra hard for the last few days. Life is a gift from God and I have to remind my self of that.

  13. diaryofarecoveredbulimic says:

    Sad occurrences like these wake us up to what we have, and we treasure everything and everyone a little more. A friend of mine’s son is dying from a brain tumor. His son is just a few months younger than my own. It is very hard to deal with the chain of events at times. I pray and trust that all is as it is meant to be, but life is sometimes very painful. On the other hand, the joyful moments are also exquisite. I also find myself more loving and hugging these days, although my teenagers don’t care for it much. 😉

  14. My feelings as well. Last evening, as I was entering Costco, I watched a Daddy with his little girl from China enter the store hand-in-hand, and I had to fight to keep the tears back as I thought of the Chapmans and how their hearts will ache in missing their sweet little one. My prayers will be offered in their behalf.

  15. I have not been able to stop thinking about them for more than moments at a time…it all comes back full force and I cry again.

    Remember SCC’s own song “with hope”? The refrain:

    “We can cry with hope
    We can say goodbye with hope
    ‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
    And we can grieve with hope
    ‘Cause we believe with hope
    (There’s a place by God’s grace)
    There’s a place where we’ll see your face again.”

    And so I have to believe that there is a purpose and a place for all this pain, and that He will carry them through it. I pray especially for their son, that Jesus will take the load of guilt from his shoulders.

  16. My heart has also been weighed down with this news. While I don’t have a teenage son, I have and almost five year old little girl (and a seven year old girl) who I’ve been hugging extra close since I heard this news.

    Having been through the loss of loved ones through tragic circumstances (as I know you’ve experienced as well), I’m reminded of all of those sudden feelings…the sick-to-the stomach feeling of pain, the hot tears and the anguish. God alone knows how to bind up these kinds of wounds, and He does. Having our hearts tenderized with sadness and sympathy can allow us to sing our praise songs to our always worthy God, even more fervently. I suggested to some friends yesterday that we praise on the Chapman’s behalf – inflicting blows to the enemy with every refrain! It will be the power of God sent out in answer to the prayers and praise of the body of Christ that protects the Chapman family from the guilt, “if-only’s” and bad memories that the enemy wants to torment them with. Let’s put on our “armor” and sing to our awesome God!

  17. When these tragedies happen, I often think, “If people knew before they became parents how fearful and sad they’d feel whenever anyone lost a child or watched him suffer, or how vulnerable a parent feels 24/7 to have a part of himself/herself so exposed and in constant jeopardy, would any of us EVER have that first child?” I don’t know that I could have, had I REALLY understood the change it brings about in my perspectives or just my EASE in this world. But now I know the joy it brings, too, and the soul-opening love and gratitude, and I think, YES, THIS IS SO INEXPLICABLY HARD, but it is also SO SUPREMELY WORTH IT.

    I ache for them too, Mary. And honestly, if I could find room and a way to stuff Bean back inside my protective womb, I think I would, in times like these.

  18. Hi Sweet Mary,

    I have had that same weight. We too, live in the country, have lots of kids, teenage drivers, long gravel driveway… the whole scenario.

    I wrote about “deep grief” today trying to process my own response to this ‘weight.’

    Thank you for your honest thoughts in this post…

  19. Dawn in OR says:

    Yes, Mary this is so hard. I am glad you posted this. What I have been dealing with also is that my oldest a son is soon to leave for the war. He is a man and a soldier. And my baby. We all suffer deep hurt in this life. But by holding each other up in Prayer we can make it through to our real home. How can I face my son in the war? I have felt so helpless and weak. But I can make it because my savior goes with me every step I take and every tear He knows. God hold this dear family as you hold us all.

  20. Dear Mary,
    You have once again so eloquently put into words my exact thoughts throughout yesterday and even through the night. Still today my heart is torn as I look at my just turned 6yr.old daughter in all of her innocence. Our family is so saddened, and we all prayed for their sweet family last night at bedtime prayers. So, here we are,trudging on through all the emotions and trying to understand it all. Always knowing our God is BIGGER than all of this and He will carry them through.

    Alecia Chaffee

  21. Sigh. I have had them on my mind all day as well. I just keep praying for them.

  22. Perfectly descirbed my emotions as well. I sat like you, and got all swirled up in fear, sadness, and even a little guilt that my 5 cuties were all still here with me. And the only thing that gave me comfort, was when I finally let go of my thoughts, and began to pray. Why does it take me so long to remember the comfort that brings? Guess I’m still learning.

  23. You phrased it perfectly. It is a horribly heavy feeling, and I am surprised at how deeply I feel the loss for people I don’t really know.

    I am an anesthesiologist, and one of the scrub techs came into my O.R. to tell me the morning after it happened. I spent all day trying to be professional and not cry.

    I have 4 children, including a 4 year old daughter from China and a teenage daughter born to me. I also have a good friend who is a pediatrician and who accidentally backed over her own child, killing him.

    The whole thing is so heart wrenching and so awful to even consider. I just ache for the Chapman family, especially for that young man. My prayers are with the entire family and especially with the poor brother.

    Ugh, ugh, ugh.

  24. I echo that you’ve shared my sentiments exactly~much better than I could express myself. Prayers going up! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  25. I echo that you’ve shared my sentiments exactly~much better than I could express myself. Prayers going up! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  26. I echo that you’ve shared my sentiments exactly~much better than I could express myself. Prayers going up! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  27. Oh, me too. The thing for me is that the very day this tragedy happened, I very nearly backed into my four year old because she decided to leave the safe place I had put her, and ran behind my car to tell me something. I had a “premonition” if you will to back out super slow, with eagle eyes, and when I saw this little shadow, I stopped. Then there was my baby, standing next to the drives side window, with her eager face. Later, when I heard about the Chapman family, I crumpled and cried. I had been shaking all day. The heaviness you describe has stayed with me, and I thank you for putting it so beautifully on your blog.