Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mourning with those who Mourn

Thursday afternoon we got the information for the Maria Chapman memorial service. Having spent much of the day wishing we could be with the Chapman’s and our other friends in Nashville that work with Steven, we decided the least we could do was fly up for the service. Bill had commitments with family in Ocala, so Carmen and I booked flights . We would fly up Friday for the viewing and stay for the memorial service on Saturday.

We landed around noon and rented a car, located our hotel and headed for lunch. While we ate, our buddy Jim Houser called. Jim is Steven’s right hand man and had called our morning show earlier to give us an update on the family. I found out at lunch that we were one of four media outlets to whom the Chapman team talked. Jim had spent the morning chasing details and putting out fires. When he called us, he had just finished the family viewing. We invited him to join us and he readily accepted.

It was good to see him.

While we were there, the head of radio promotions for Steven’s record label called me. I’ve known Grant almost as long as I’ve known Steven. Grant joined us.

I don’t know if we offered much comfort, but the time was sweet.

Jim made sure we knew that there was a time set aside for just before the public viewing and he would make sure we were on that list. He wanted to make sure we got to see Steven. It would mean a lot to him that we made the trip.

We got to the church just before 4pm and the line was already stretched from the altar, where the entire Chapman family stood in front of the small white casket, (they shouldn’t come in that size) all the way up the aisle and into the lobby.

We took our place in line and began the slow, somber march toward a broken family. There were a number of pictures dotting the area around the casket and a 10 minute slideshow played silently and continuously on the big screens.

The room was so quiet and the mood was heavy as we all marched forward trying to think of the right thing to say. There is no “right thing”. There is only, “we’re so sorry and we are praying for you.”

Our time came and Mary Beth, Steven’s wife, was gracious, showing us the last picture they had taken of Maria. She was all dressed up and ready for her dance recital. A quick hug and she thanked us for being there.

On to Steven. I could see from his reaction that he was surprised we would come all this way, but glad we did. We embraced as old friends. This is why I flew 700 miles. This is what I have wanted to do since Wednesday night when we got the news of this terrible tragedy. “Thank you for coming”, Steven whispered. “How could I not?” I replied.

For a moment we just held each other. I wish I could say I eased some pain or gave some strength, but all I could really do was grieve with him, if only for a moment.

Too many still waiting.

Too many wanting to offer their condolences.

Too many waiting to “mourn with those who mourn.”

From Steven, I moved on to Caleb, the oldest brother, a strong young man with red-rimmed eyes. We talked about having just seen each other in Lakeland and I let him know he was in our prayers.

Next was Will. Where Caleb is reserved and artistic and introspective, Will is playful, adventurous and a bit harder to wrangle. Where Caleb may hold his emotions close to the vest, Will wears them on his sleeve. Steven and I had just talked about this a few weeks ago as we shared our experience of raising boys. Today, Will is a young man struggling to make sense of tragedy.

If you have ever seen any of the blogs by Will on Steven’s website, you know that it was Will who would be most likely to grab the three sisters and play games. He loves those girls with all he is.

Here, in front of that tiny white casket, he wears a pink blanket across his shoulders.

It’s Maria’s blanket.

He shifted nervously from foot to foot. He didn’t want to be there, but he had to be. Saying goodbye is not easy. I took his hand and let him know we were praying for him. I asked if he was okay. He nodded, unconvincingly and I resolved to pray harder.

Last in the line was Emily, the oldest daughter. She’s newly engaged and her fiancĂ© stood at her side. She looked like she hadn’t slept in days. I’ve only met Emily once before and I told her about it. She was maybe 2 years old and sat on my wife, Emilie’s lap backstage at Reunion Arena in Dallas as her dad sang.

Steven and I have talked about her often and she has become quite a young woman.

I told her we’re praying and congratulated her on her engagement.

We met Tanner. I think this Cinderella has definitely found her prince.

After we made it through the line, we took a seat in the church. There wasn’t any reason to stay, but we just didn’t feel like leaving.

We watched the slide show, the line, the family.

We prayed.

Mark Hall of Casting Crowns came through the line with his wife Melanie. They were on the Music Boat Cruise when they heard the news. The boat docked Friday morning and they hopped a plane to be here. Mac Powell of Third Day made the same trip.

We sat for four hours watching the family accept condolences, hug, cry, hug more. Each of the kids took a short break or two, but Steven and Mary Beth would not.

Mark Hall and I talked about how tired they must be.

We talked about how many were here for the family.

We talked about how amazing Caleb and Emily were doing. I tried to imagine how my kids would react. Would they be so strong and mature?

Will just seemed vacant.

He’s not yet ready to feel the love and support.

He feels the loss, but I’m not sure he feels the love.

I’ll pray for each of them over the next several days, but for Will more fervently.

Eventually Carmen and I left with Mark and Melanie Hall.

Our buddy Josh, from Steven’s record label, and his wife Amy joined the four of us for dinner. We ate and talked. We talked about how difficult this is for us, but that we get to go back to normal. For the Chapman’s normal is a long way off.

Then, back to the hotel for a few hours sleep. I wondered how the Chapman’s were doing. Up to now they hadn’t been back to the house, they’d been staying with friends. Eventually they’ll have to go back. They’ll have to face the driveway and the empty room. More prayers.

Saturday morning. Sunshine and blue skies. The memorial service was set to start at 11. We left the hotel at 9:45 to meet Josh and Amy at the church at 10. When we arrived, the crowd was already arriving. We found a seat near the back and waited for Brian, another friend from the record label, to join us.

The church was silent as the pews filled. There were fewer pictures, but more flowers. The slide show was playing again.

About 10:45 Michael W. Smith sat at the piano and began to play softly. I recognized “How Great is our God” and others played beautifully in classic Smitty Style.

At 11am, the side door opened and the family, pall bearers and closest friends entered and were seated down front. Michael began to sing:

Hide me nowUnder your wings
Cover mewithin your mighty hand
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust

Wow.

After a prayer, Pastor Scotty Smith led us all in a responsive reading from the Heidelberg Catechism. It asks the question we’ve all been asking. “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The answer? Basically, we are not our own. We belong to Christ and He causes all things to work for our good.

Matt Redman was in an airport in Atlanta getting ready to fly home to the UK when he heard the news of the tragedy. He left the airport and rented a car. He led us in worship. Nathan and Christy Knockles of Watermark were with him.

The words of “Blessed Be the Name” had never been so hard to sing. “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name”. Ironic that these words are taken from the very passage in Job I shared a little over a week ago after Pastor Forrest Pollack and his son were killed. Who knew they’d be hitting me again so soon.

I thought about Carmen. Two weekends, two funerals.

Matt ended the worship with a song he and Steven wrote for another family that lost a child not long ago. When he got to the bridge, “She’s safe in the arms of Jesus” it was almost too much. I watched as Caleb left his seat and held his brother, Will.

Will burried his head in Caleb’s shoulder.

I hope he was beginning to feel the love.

I hoped he was ready to begin to really mourn.

It’s through the mourning we find comfort.

Next the Chapman family and a few friends took the podium to share memories of Maria.
They were barefoot because this is holy ground.

Will still wore the pink blanket around his shoulders.

One of the ladies that helped watch the girls opened with some great memories of a little girl who loved to cup your face in her hands and look you in the eye. Who would often say, “I love it when my whole family is together.” Who loved to wash dishes and, since she didn’t have a spare outfit, would wash them butt naked in the sink.

More stories followed.

A theme developed.

Maria loved to cuddle, loved to play, loved to draw flowers, used way too much glue and loved to be butt naked.

A few thoughts from the family memories:

Caleb was strong. He said many have asked what they are feeling. He can only say, confusion. He talked about how some paintings are purposely blurred by the artist. Up close you really can’t see it. Step back and it comes into focus. That’s what this is like. Right now they are very close to it. They have just started to back away, but it’s a really big painting and they’ll be backing away for a while.

Mary Beth shared some great memories and so much humor. Who knew she was so funny? She wanted us to laugh and feel joy again. It’s what Maria would want.

Steven shared how Maria and Mary Beth were talking about heaven one day not long ago and how Maria said “I want to go there”. Mary Beth, “so as not to mess up the sinner’s prayer” called for Steven. Steven talked with Maria about the cross and salvation and Maria prayed on her own to accept the gift Jesus offers us all.

He then shared about the accident.

Praying for healing.

Not wanting to accept that she was gone.

Asking God to give them something they could see that would let them know Maria was okay. That the gospel was true and she was in his arms. “Just let me see. Just let me see.”

A few days later, Steven returned to the house.

He endured another wave of grief as he stood in the much too empty bedroom of a little 5 year old princess.

He went to the art center in the kitchen and found the last flower that Maria had been working on.

So much glue.

He flipped it over to find a simple word written in Maria’s 5 year old hand. A word he didn’t even know she had learned to write. There on the page Maria had written, “SEE”.

Emily shared her memory of calling to tell the family about her engagement.

Maria was the last of the three girls to come to the phone.
“Oooo, you’re getting’ married, you’re getting’ married!” which she apparently said while butt naked and shaking her booty.

Then the question none of the other 2 had asked, “Whaddya say?” “I said, ‘yes’, silly.”

Maria would ask the same question a few more times when the girls met Emily later at the airport. Emily then went on to present the gospel in one of the most profound ways I’ve heard.

She talked of the cross.

She talked of the Bridegroom and the church, his bride.

I can’t do it justice, but let me just share this.

The bridegroom has asked for our hand in marriage. Maria has accepted his proposal and he has taken her to the place he prepared for her. “The proposal has been made, whaddya say?”

Geoff Moore (Steven's long time best friend) sang "With Hope as children brought flowers to the casket.

Scotty Smith closed the service.

He didn’t do the prepared sermon, there was no need.

So many had offered reasons for hope.

The gospel had been presented at least 4 times.

And, as you’d expect if you’ve ever been to one of Steven’s concerts, it went long.

The service was just over 2 hours … and it was great.


We rode back to the airport to fly home to our “normal lives” and I thought again of the family.

This weekend they’ve had so many surrounding them with love.

Sunday they will have the church family.

But Monday, or Tuesday, the people will be gone and the house will be quiet.

Then they will feel the wave again.

Normal is a long way off.

Pray.

56 comments:

Debbie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the Chapman family during this time.
As tears of saddness fell as I read it, there were also tears of the hope of knowing that God is with the Chapman's and will make all things work for the good for them. My prayers are with the family, and I do pray for the young brother that must be going thru so much pain right now. It's so wonderful knowing that the love from others will huffer around him, and he will get through this and God will bless him. What a comfort to know that will br reunited with little Maria again, dancing and rejoicing with her as they praise the Lord in Heaven.

Carolyn said...

Thank you Dave, for posting this.
It helps us mourn with the family to share the experience, even virtually...

Several times you mentioned that 'normal' was a long way off.
As a widow, I know what it's like to reach a new kind of normal. I urge those who mourn to seek support from "GriefShare" a church-based education & support program from the Church Initiative that any Christian church may have. Folks can go to griefshare.org to find one in their area.
Thank you again for sharing this.
I have and will continue to pray for the entire family.

jackie806 said...

Thank you for sharing your emotions with us, Dave. One of the blessings of being part of God's family is that we mourn together and we pray together. We also rejoice that little Maria is safely home with her heavenly father. My prayer is that the Chapman family finds comfort in that - no more tears or sorrow for Maria.

WendySue said...

Dear Dave,
Thank you so much for posting this experience. When I think about this, it seems like a nightmare and I'm not even in the middle of it. I have cried and mourned with this family, from afar, over the last several days et can't begin to know just how they're feeling and coping. I lost my 32 yr old husband years ago and KNOW the loss...yet I don't know their loss.
When you wrote about Caleb getting up to go comfort his brother, I just wept. I am praying for Will. I loved what Caleb said about the "being too close" to see the big picture. Great analogy. And Emily sounds very wise.
Yes, the next few days, weeks, and months are not easy ones for this family... when the initial "news" fades and most go back to their normal lives, families, and routines, that is when it's even harder. I will continue to pray for this family.
I am SO GLAD you and Carmen were able to go up. The Chapman's have MANY great friends and family to surround and support them.
Thank you again, for taking time to blog this. Wendy

Neil said...

Thank you for sharing this powerful story, this word picture of God's grace revealed in the time of need. Words cannot express what this family is feeling or what they are going through, but you have painted a vivid picture...Thanks!

Cindy said...

Dave,

Thank you so much for sharing your story about Mary's funeral services. It was nice to read and imagine everything as it happened. I can tell you that I cried just reading how everything happened.

Is just like you said, we need to pray every day. I say pray, day and night, everything you remember them. It will be very hard for them going back to the house they shared with Maria and the same house were the tragedy happened.

Let's pray for the Chapman's family!

Cindy

Stacia said...

Dave, Thank you so much for sharing this. I am sitting here in tears. I have felt so sad and worried for Will just as you have expressed. The only thing we can do is pray and pray hard! Your writing is very touching and I felt as if I were right there. I have to get back to praying now. Thank you, again!

Barbara said...

So many thoughts, so many heartaches, and so much hope. Thank you for sharing and helping us to be part of the service. My daughter and I have been praying for her brother. We did not know which it was but now we have Will specifically in our prayers. My daughter (who is an adult know) was hit by a car when she was 7.She was not expected to live but she has. In our family we talk about life before Amy's accident and life after. It was completely changed. I love the image of the picture. Our life now is so much fuller and so much richer in Jesus Christ. The lady who hit her was not a Christian and she could not deal with it. I still pray for her(even though I do not remember her name that she found some peace. Again thank you, Dave.

Trish said...

Thanks Dave for sharing this with us. I hope to never experience this type of occurrence in my life, but if I do, I will find comfort in HIM.

And if anyone finds out what the "normal" is, please let me know.

Yolanda said...

Dave, this was wonderful. Thank you for sharing. There just are no answers but it is comforting to know that we serve a RISEN Savior and therefore we have HOPE. I am a member of Bell Shoals, and the very day our beloved Pastor was reported missing, one of my co-worker's husband passed away after a couple of years battling cancer. For months I and other Christian co-workers tried to reach out and witness to this family but the offer of HOPE was always declined.

Then Tuesday I sat in our new worship center, where our beloved Pastor had only preached 3 sermons, his very last being Mother's Day, and I listened with friends as our staff shared he and Preston went home to be with the Lord. Then later that evening, after the tears had dried but shock still present, my husband shared with me that his boss's wife went home to be with the Lord, and now the Chapman family. My goodness! If I am grieving and hurting like this knowing the Hope I have in Heaven, what must it be like not having it?

The service for Maria sounds similar to the service for Preston and Pastor; mournful, but filled with hope and a familiar message of "Here's THE answer for our hope, how will you respond?" God is so good and so very different from the "other claims" to Heaven. He offers us hope. He doesn't take anything from us without offering the gift of hope, but we have to take the gift of salvation to have that Hope. Thank you, Carmen, Bill and the JoyFM staff for walking the road with so many who are struggling and for mourning with those who mourn.

Tiffany said...

Dave, I really appreciate you sharing this with all of us. You did an excellent job capturing the event in words. We will all be praying for the family, particularly will and caleb. Thank you for letting us be part of the mourning and praying process.
:)

sandi said...

You are right, my friend. These last few days have been incredibly difficult and also bittersweet for the Chapmans. However, the next few months will be even harder.

After the folks go home and you go
into that room and see shoes with the imprint of their foot and see their favorite things where they last laid them, then you have to go into the deepest place of your being to find the only comfort there is. God is the comforter, and they will all make it and come out on the other side better.

God will restore them to Normal; it's just going to be a different kind of normal than before.

We, as their extended family, must intensify our prayers for them over the next few months, for their healing, comfort, and peace without guilt.

I'll bet Maria is dancing. It's her family we have to care for.

My experience has taught me that it's really bad at first. Then the folks all go home, and reality of day to day life sets in without her -- so we're going to need to pray harder now.

They will make it through Jesus. But we need to continue to hold them up.

Raymond said...

Dave

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Through your words we have been given an opportunity to not only mourn with the Chapman family but to also know to a greater extent how to pray for them.

Vickie said...

Wow......Are there words? "In Christ alone our hope is found". This is the time that Christ becomes our strenght in weakness, and we all need it now. Will.....oh dear Will. I pray a special anointing over you my friend. Dave, thank you.

Allison said...

I have been praying for the Chapman's since I heard of the tragedy, but this blog really helped me to look deeper into their pain and see a little more of what they're going through...and I can't imagine it. Thank you for sharing this experience, and I will continue to pray hard for this family and those mourning with them.

alecia said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. God Bless!

Brian said...

What else is there to say, He asks that we open our eyes that we may SEE!!!

Beautiful job of allowing us to be there with you, if only in spirit.

Thanks

carash17 said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience at the service. So many of our thoughts and prayers were with the family, friends, you and Carmen. When I read that the house would soon be too quiet and a wave of sadness would follow, I could so relate. I lost my mom a little over two years ago. My sisters (2) stayed with me for a week and when they left it was all too quiet. No mom, sisters or fiends. It was just my daughter and I. I went into such a wave of sadness and I did not come out for about a year. I will continue to keep this entire family in our prayers. Thanks again.

Shirley said...

Thank you, Dave, this was so very touching and fulfilling to know more about the family. Praying for them all.

sfulton said...

Dave, What can I say...it was well worth the wait for your first posting. Thank you for your thoughtful walk through a difficult weekend. I appreciate you going to Maria's service and I know the Chapman family did too.

We do not always understand what God's plan for us is, but we can take comfort in knowing that His plan is the perfect plan.

Mommyto3babes said...

Thank you for the beautiful way you told us about your experience in Nashville. God bless, Cindy

Nettydee75 said...

WoW! What an amazing Blog.
You know I'm not into these Blog thingys, But I heard The Morning Cruise and I had to rush home and read your blog.
To be able to read the events that took place at Maria's Memorial Service has helped me and my family, to mourn with The Chapman's and everybody else who's grieving Maria's tragic death.
I had called the radio station last Thursday and I wanted to share a testimony about my sons tragic death, and I TRIED to post a comment for the Chapmans, and couldn't.
I did leave him a message on his MySpace.
But, it helps to know that you have A WHOLE Church backing you up in prayer.
And we ALL are ONE Church, One Body.
Prayer got my family through it.
And I know it will get them through it.
It hurt me as if I knew her.
I heard that song playing on the radio station, the one that you have as a Memorial for Maria. About "Crying with Hope" And I had NEVER heard it before till that Thursday afternoon, when Dan played it. WOW! Only God Knows. Because he wrote that song, not knowing that one day he was going to have to apply the song to him and his family.
I Cried thoughout the whole song, my husband held my hand.
It hurts so much. But, God heals the wounds.
It will be five years on Sat. the 31st of May. I remember it as if it was just yesterday, when I received that phone call, telling me that Elijah, "My SON ELIJAH", had drowned.
I was pregnant at the time, with Joselyn "Elisha", was saved for only months, and had gotten married 15 days before. But, God gave me the strength.
I still didn't understand Why. And I had questioned God for a while.
But, I Know NOW he had a plan.
The last day of my sons funeral service, I had asked my Pastor, "Pastor, I want you to go to church". And he did.
Seven people were saved, including my husband.
Sometime we just don't understand "WHY", but God Knows.....
Thank you guys so much, for sharing Maria's Memorial with us.
It meant A Lot!!!!
Let's ALL continue to pray for this family, because It will hurt for a long time!!!!!
God Bless You Guys
Annette from New Port Richey, Fl.

Anonymous said...

Dave
Thank you for your eloquence in sharing a terrible experience. We all walk thru this valley at different times. It hurts so much, but the Great Comforter is there for us. I guess because of the Chapman's fame, their tragedy brings home to us just how fragile this earthly life is. Thank God, He shared with us the rest of the story so we can be comforted.

Anonymous said...

Dave, Thank You so much for your story, your heart and your dedication to your friends. I didn't find out about it till later but reading your blog has giving me the opportunity to be there with them in spirit, even days later. If I can feel your love, I can only imagine how much more they feel. God Bless You!!!!

Beth said...

Dear Dave,

I heard on the radio the other morning that you and Carmen had written about your experience with the Chapmans (and Carmen said to read yours first). I sat here with tears in my eyes at the sadness and the beauty that was coupled together. None of us understand when a child is taken from us....all we have is our faith that he has prepared a place for all of us to be reunited again. Thank you for sharing with us.

Susan said...

I couldn't visit your blog or read anything about this tragedy at first. It was too painful to imagine. I have children and of course we all know the thought of living without them is just not one we like to think about...today I knew I had to read about this amazing family. You wrote so beautifully about this experience. It is tragic to lose a beautiful, young life, but you reminded us through the love and life of this Christian family, that Maria is in the hands of God. She is safe and secure. She would want her family to go on and live life...to share God...and to be happy again.

Love doesn't end!

Jeff said...

Wow...........wow.

I am sniffling with blurry eyes just from reading that. I don't even know what to write.

"Just let me see"....and then....There on the page Maria had written, “SEE”.......Wow...
Maria has accepted his proposal and he has taken her to the place he prepared for her. “The proposal has been made, whaddya say?”.....Wow....

When my dad died several years ago, it was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. It felt like a heavy weight was pressing down on my chest, and I felt like I was suffocating. I don't think he was saved, so I had to stop thinking about where he might be now, or else I would go insane if I meditated on that thought.

The Chapman family has a long, hard road ahead of them. With Maria being only 5 years old, the difficulty for the entire family will surely be multiplied. And for the one son, it must surely be multiplied even far more, with feelings of guilt.

Praise God that Maria was saved. And praise God that the family (some or all) knows Jesus.

For better or for worse, in good times and in bad, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and glorify Him. We exist for His sake, and not for our own.

Far worse are those who die outside of Christ. For theirs is eternal horror.

Once we get to Heaven, we will no longer be able to warn the lost of Hell, so we need to warn them now, and tell them that Jesus is the only way to escape that eternal incinerator...that eternal prison, where no hope exists..."where their worm never dies and the fire cannot be put out"...that eternally-burning garbage pit...we need to warn the lost while we are still on this earth. We need to be about the business of sharing the gospel.

Shannon Hogan said...

My wife and I were struck very deeply by the loss of Maria. Your post gave us a great understanding of the grief, love, and challenges the family is facing. My wife and I sat together as I read your blog. We cried and laughed, but all we could think about was the blakee and Will. How apparent the hurt. God has something huge for Will to accomplish. God will bring him through. We will be praying for him and the family. Thanks for letting us see part of the life and tragic death of Maria.

The Hogans

Frankenstein said...

I laughed and I cried when I read your post. Two short memorable quotes: 'It's through the mourning we find comfort.' You said that. 'I love it when my whole family is together.' Maria Sue said that. 'From Grief to Grace' I said that, and it's a long one. If you wish to find out more: http://frankahilario.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us. Our family lost my Mother in Law in January and we are still dealing with the daily pain of the loss. She had lived a full life but not a long enough life for us. I like you have been praying for the family daily. I will be praying for Will every morning and evening till my heart stops hurting over my loss and theirs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave. I will pray for Wil to see the that Maria is alright and loves him dearly and that his Fathers will never leave him. My prayers will always be with the Chapman family as this will take time. When I lost my mother I learn that every time I was sad I held my children as she would have held me, and it helped

Frankenstein said...

I just cited this post in my new essay on Maria and the mourners, 'My Cheshire Cat' http://frankahilario.blogspot.com

Frankenstein said...

I have just revised my 3rd essay on Maria Sue Chapman in my blog to include this as possibly the best brief prescription for anyone’s journey through life, especially through grief: ‘Live well, laugh often, love much’ – Bessie Anderson Stanley, 1904

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing this with all of us. It was a very power thing to read and spoke of Gods love in an amazing way - You have done a great job at showing all of us what happened and what you seen but most of all what you felt in your heart, it is a loving God that shopws His love through a man and his words. Thank you for being open to us and for being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit!!
Heather

Andrea said...

Dave- you gotta blog more. Bill's blog is too smart for me and Carmen's blog always makes me cry. You gotta give us the in between :)

Cheryl said...

Hey Dave,
I also am grateful for your musings and heartfelt thoughts in sharing the Chapman's sorrow and pain. I am so glad you and Carmen went to the services. I know it meant alot to them to see you all there. When there are no words, just being there says volumes.
When me and my son Ryan were talking about the tragedy, he asked which brother was the one that did it. I truly wanted my answer to be one of those teachable moments from the Holy Spirit. He commented that if it was him that did it, we would go crazy with guilt and they would have to put him away. At this point, I sensed the need to help him see it through God's eyes. God spoke through me and told Ryan that it really didn't matter which brother did it. God knew and we didn't need to know. God needed to do something really big in his life but sometimes we don't allow Him to because things tend to get in the way. Sometimes He allows tragedy to not only touch others lives but to minister to us at the same time. Whatever the brother chooses to do in life, God will use him to minister to those that need forgiveness after he discovers the forgiveness for himself.
Ryan was quiet in thought for awhile and then said, "You know Mom, that's probably it. God knows what He's doing." As you can relate, short, simple answer from a 16 year old spoke volumes.
Please keep us posted on any updates on the Chapman's as you get them. Maybe more teachable moments will surface.
Love you all,
Cheryl B

Mr. "T" said...

Thank you for sharing your time and experiences that you had with the Chapman family, The day that it was announced on your show was the same day I had learned that I had bladder cancer and my concerns seemed so trivial compared to what Steven and his family were going through then and will be needing so much love and prayers to get through the days and months ahead. I lost my wife 25 years ago at the age of 29. Here I was disabled with three children the youngest being six years old. Had it not been for the Christian support,the love and prayers of our family and friends,I often wonder where my children and I would have been, had my wife passed six months before we had come to know the Lord and our whole family as well.Just understanding His love and comfort made it easier to cope and get on with our daily activities of life. Three years later the Lord brought to me my current lady and she is my best friend and we are so close that when we walk together we become one. These day of treatment are tough and on some days when I feel like I cannot handle it any more I think of Steven,Mary Beth and thier children and I pray for them harder and I thank the Lord for all of his Blessing's that He has bestowed on me and my family. So in closing I listen to the Joyfm daily and it seems to me that no matter what I am feeling that day you guys just have the right answers and lift me up and make my day God bless you all on the station and please tell Carmen and Bill that we love them and pray for them on a daily basis as well. Your show is just FANTASTIC...........Thanks

Fran said...

As I sat at my desk at work today and read your words I thought of a young lady who lost her father after being his caregiver for a number of years. She hasn't been able to get over his death, even though she has since gotten married, moved to another town and started a new life with her husband. She hasn't gone through the grieving process and is still caught up in her sorrow. I'm going to send Dave's blog to her, hoping that as she cries for the Chapman family, her own floodgates will open and she will find God's peace that passes all understanding. Thank you Dave ~

Deb said...

Four weeks tomorrow, still praying......

Anonymous said...

Wow is all I have to say after reading this. What an incredible way you have with words. Thank you for sharing your experience with the Chapman family. I can't imagine what they are going through right now, but know that God is with them and will bring them through this together as a family.

Anonymous said...

You articulate well, I appreciate your ministry and insight.

Shawn

Susan said...

Dave...what an incredible blog full of pain, hope, comfort, and His presence! We are so blessed that He is omnipotent,omniscent,
and omnipresent with all of His
love, His grace, His stedfastness, and His forgiveness given to us.
In His time, in all ways, His blessings of healing will give us His peace, presence, and comfort for our soul, mind, and heart. Yes,
God is an awesome God!

Jen & Jill's Dad said...

Thank you for sharing with us your time spent with the Chapman's. Both Carmen's & your thoughts were great to read and made me feel like I was there and was able to grieve and sympathize with their family. Having 2 daughters I can feel his pain, and can't fathom what he and his family must be going through. Praise God that He will use this 'tragedy' for the glory of His Kingdom.

nurseed said...

Dave, thank you so much for sharing your expiernece of this very special occasion with us, it gives me great joy to be able to share this experience through you. I will continue to keep the Cahpman family in my prayers that the Lord will continue to bless them and continue to give them the enormous strength to continue the work for the Lord.

Sarah said...

Dave,
Thanks for sharing the time you had at the memorial service. My family has been listening to Steven since I was a little girl. His music has always had an emotional and positive effect on me. I started listening to the Joy FM on a regular basis around the time of the accident. I really feel that through the Joy FM I've been able to connect with a whole other family. I've read Jim's blog and watched videos and gone through many tissues. The sheer power of God is overwhelming, and we can't even begin to comprehend why He would let us go through such grief. A parent burying a child just seems wrong. Thank you for sharing the emotional experience with all of us and for sharing the broadcast of the GMA piece on the Joy FM. My family's prayers are with the Chapman's.

Delilah said...

This is great info to know.

Anonymous said...

I had never read your blogs before - yet as I read about the Chapmans I was taken instantly back to the day I heard this tragic news. By the end of your column I had found the peace I so often hear about and know that this beautiful child is in God's arms. Your words touched me and helped me some 7 months later. Keep laying your words on our heart.

Danielle said...

Dave-
Here it is almost a full year later. I have been thinking often about the Chapmans. I stumbled upon your blog unintentionally (knowing that you never get around to updating it! :) ) What a wonderful way you described it all. The whole situation is so sad, but it is good to know that they had quite a bit of love surrounding them. I'm sure that it did mean a lot to them to you, Carmen, Mark Hall and the others payed your respects. Thank you so much for detailing this tragic event for us all. It only serves to make me feel closer to them.
On a happier note... you, Bill and Carmen have transformed my morning drives! Not even 2 years ago I was so depressed and lost. I had always loved our Lord, but somehow I had drifted away a bit. I've been listening daily to you now for about a year, and now instead of crying on the way to work from depression, I'm either hysterical, or crying over something that has touched me on your show. I truly appreciate what you three do every day. I am truly filled with His joy now, and I owe quite a bit of it to you all! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

your music is so awsome remember the field trip kenneth

Anonymous said...

kenneth, remember the field trip to your station please say my name my sister listens to rock instead of you she said only way i get back on joyfm and be a beliver is to here her name to her name is karen

Louis K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deanna Hauch said...

Is there a way to get your morning prayer and the words spoken before it? Today's message (12/27/10) touched my heart and really helped me to concentrate on next year and a fresh start. I would like to replay it...Deanna

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that I love your radio station and I listen to it everyday! Keep playin that Jesus Muzik! :)
Anonymous...

Tracey said...

I got to read these words for today for the first time. Thank you for documenting many details of the viewing and funeral to share with those of us who couldn't go. The Chapman family is so special and their loss if felt by so many. I am so thankful for the way God has been working in their family to heal them these past few years. Thank you Dave for all you do on the JOY FM to lift up and encourage me and others in the mornings. God is using you to His glory in your corner of the world which keeps expanding across the airwaves. Praise God!

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