Choosing to See was written by by Mary Beth Chapman (wife of Christian singer Stephen Curtis Chapman). In 2008, the Chapman's five year old daughter Maria was tragically killed when a vehicle struck her in their own driveway. And while this loss was undoubtedly an inspiration behind this memoir, the message behind it is broader.
"In Choosing to See, Mary Beth unveils her struggle to allow God to write the story of her life. She struggles with some of life's greatest questions: Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? How can I survive hard times? No matter where you find yourself in your own life story, you will treasure the way that Mary Beth shows that even in hard times, there is hope if you choose to see." (text from book cover)
Last Monday night, on the eve of my 31st birthday, I found myself lying in bed having my ritual conversation with God. It was really nothing new...thanking Him for another day, prayers for my family and a host of others in need of them, and my nightly request that I might see, hold, smell my baby girl in my dreams. In the past 2 years there have only been a handful of nights where I have had Charlotte dreams-- unfortunately, despite my requests, March 4th was not one of them.
I got up Wednesday morning and went about my day. It was a good birthday. Harrison woke up happy and ready to snuggle, Matt surprised me at work with super yummy cupcakes, a few hours later I had Starbucks delivered by my mother-in-law. The evening was capped off with a low key dinner (in my pjs!) and an evening at home with my boys.
That night as I tucked myself into bed, I had what I like to refer to as a "choosing to see" moment. Above I mentioned birthday snuggles, cupcakes, coffee and family time...but what I didn't really put together until the day was almost over, was how Charlotte was present in my day as well.
That morning I checked my email and found a message from a family whose newborn son was having surgery the next day. They wanted to share a picture with us...
Sweet Ethan had surgery this week in Omaha. All reports so far are that he's doing well!
That afternoon when I arrived home from work I found a large box addressed to Charley's Heart sitting in the living room.
Hospice with Heart reached out to us in November after our article ran in the OWH. They collected monkeys through the end of February and they arrived this week. Talk about a happy birthday gift!
Before I went to bed that night, I heard the familiar ding of a message arriving in my inbox. I did one last email check and low and behold...
I'm so in love with these pictures. Sweet Teresa is currently listed for a heart transplant and her mom sent us a request for a RedButt about a month ago. We were so excited to send one of our monkeys their direction and even more excited to see how much she loves "Mr. Pinky!" Haha! What an incredible reminder of why we do this.
It was at that moment that I realized that in the hustle and bustle of the day...this mama had forgotten to SEE. I had asked God for a simple dream, but he had given me so much more. He gave me my baby girl morning, noon and night. He sent me THREE reminders, all on my birthday, all from random places, all re-enforcing the fact that my Charlotte is always with me. During difficult times it becomes easy to develop tunnel vision and to focus on the "unfair" or "unanswered prayers." But what I have learned is that there are beautiful blessings all around us - sometimes you just have to make a conscious effort...sometimes you have to CHOOSE to see.