Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, and the mother of six children – three of which were adopted from China. She and her husband founded Show Hope, an organization to help orphans find forever families and care for those who have not yet been placed in families. These all sound like really great things, and they are. But in her book, Choosing to See, we really do see the struggle that it took for her to get to this point, and the struggle and healing that she is going through as she continues in this life and as she mourns the loss of her daughter. The everyday struggle of choosing to SEE.
All of us make plans and have dreams. Mary Beth’s plan was to be a faithful wife to a husband (her ideal was an accountant) who worked a steady job. She wanted to have a peaceful life where everything was orderly and in control. But God has a way of turning things upside down. She ended up marrying Steven Curtis Chapman and they were “living on love” – and that’s about all they had. She ends up having three kids – Emily, Caleb, and Will Franklin. During this time, Steven’s music was becoming quite successful.
Then Emily, after going on a missions trip, became convinced that their family was called to adopt. Mary Beth wasn’t so sure. But God kept calling them in that direction, and they did end up adopting three adorable girls from China. Shaohannah Hope was the first. When the Chapman family went to pick her up Mary Beth was extremely nervous and was experiencing doubts and fears. But when she held Shaoey in her arms, God worked in Mary Beth’s heart. She later adopted Stevey Joy and Maria Sue. I could re-tell the whole story of their adoption experience, but I probably shouldn’t spoil it.
They were a big happy family. But on May 21, 2008, the unimaginable happened. Will Franklin was pulling into the driveway and didn’t see his younger sister, Maria. She was hit by the car and was killed. This completely devastated the family and they went through a terrible time of mourning. Will Franklin was especially dealing with the guilt and pain. This is really one of the central parts of the book, but only because it was the hardest time of Mary Beth’s life. She takes us through the healing process of her family, as they questioned God and mourned over the loss of Maria.
In this book, she really brings us into her world. She tells us about the insecurity she had as a teenager, her false concept on salvation based on works when she was growing up, depression later in life, and how these things affected her and her lifestyle. I think the one thing that I appreciated most about this book is the honesty of Mary Beth. One of the working titles of this book was “Mary Beth vs. God.” Harsh, right? She never covers up the pain with Christianese terms that we all use about how faithful God is, though He most definitely is and has proved Himself faithful in their lives. She simply shares her heart. She tells us that yeah, this life kind of stinks sometimes. But she also tells us that she has found new hope in the eternal life that she knows she will share will Jesus and with her precious daughter Maria. She has found new hope every day in choosing to SEE things from an eternal perspective, and choosing to continue to grow and press on toward the goal.
I do recommend this book with only a few concerns. I would only recommend this for mature teenagers and adults, because of some blunt sexual references and some thematic material. This is simply meant to be more of an adult book, so PLEASE use discretion. The story overall, though, is very challenging and encouraging. I found the story quite captivating, though I’m not sure that all would get through it as quickly. God has truly used the story of Mary Beth to encourage so many, and I know that this could encourage you as well.
“Every now and then a book comes along that is not only great – It’s a gift. An extravagant gift. This is one of those books.” – Beth Moore.
Published on 6 July, 2011. Last updated on