It’s been quite a couple of months to say the least. Grief, it seems, continues to invade the lives of me and my family. Every ounce of my mind knows that no matter how bad I feel today, I have been through much worse. I have endured the worst nightmare of my life, but this is a new grief. Compounding the pain still with me from the accident with Rowyn, and enduring the loss of my grandmother last December. Nothing can prepare you for the dreadful phone call I received January 17th to tell me I had lost my dad. Shock immediately set in again, and my entire world felt like it came crashing down after I had just spent 16 months trying to build it back up. How can this be happening? What have I done to deserve this much pain and devastation?
As the last two months have unfolded, there are many times when my faith in the Lord has been center stage of my mind. Why? I ask God. I just don’t get it still. And as it has been for me since September 16, 2014…. Everyday feels different and that is how I am forced to live it.
One thing that I am clinging to is my hope. I had asked for some inspirational stories on my author page because that is what has kept me going all this time. I truly believe that these God given experiences are given to us often, if we are just paying attention to them.
September 22, 2015 – It was the one year anniversary of Rowyn’s buriel and celebration of life. I was with Brynn, on an airplane flying back to Portland, following filming with Dr. Phil. I was reading the book, Choosing to See, by Mary Beth Chapman, while very pregnant Brynn attempted to sleep. The book was about Mary Beth and famous Christian musician, Steven Curtis Chapman’s young daughter. She was killed suddenly in their driveway in 2008 by their son’s car. As you can imagine, much of this hit home. Since then, the Chapman’s have formed a non-profit organization to help Christian families adopt internationally, it is called, Show Hope.
We had just found out during our filming that day Dr. Phil was sending us to a place called, Onsite in Nashville, Tennessee. I can be a little over the top when I’m searching for signs from God, but I thought that maybe this was a sign.
January 2016 – Fast forward about 4 months and here I was at Onsite with over 45 other people of all different ages. Each of us different, but all brought there to work on ourselves. From the very beginning, I saw signs from the Lord. I never stopped asking for them either. After the first night of introductions I walked by a painting in the hallway. I looked up at it to see an aged Beagle, with the words, Sammy, written below it. Ironic, I have an aged beagle by that name. This is one of many pieces of the trip.
But most definitely the biggest story of my experience came when I could have least expected it. It was dinnertime In the mansion. There was four rooms for eating two off to each side of the mansion. Each room had a gorgeous fireplace always piping hot and different table arrangements. I wandered to the far room on the right of the mansion. It was a small table for four. I usually sat with my group in one of the larger rooms, but for some reason I went in there. On the couch was a guitar for anyone to play, the lights dim and the fire place glowing. I sat there for a little while, but nobody came in that room to join me. I got up and looked into the other room I normally sat in, but it was full and very loud. I just went back to my table and
decided to eat alone. I quietly bowed my head and thanked the Lord for my day and meal as well as asked for another sign, one that I could not deny. I knew I was already supposed to be there but I wanted another affirming sign. It was then that this older man walked into the room. His name was Al, and we had all suspected that Al was a therapist. Nobody was supposed to reveal their occupations, so it was a fun little guessing game all week. Al said, “Oh, I was going to get a chair in here to sit in the room across the hall, but I think I’ll just sit here with you.” I told him he didn’t have to, but he said that he wanted to. After a few minutes, it was just Al and I in this dim private room, having a gourmet meal from onsite. He asked me at that point why I was there. I told him as I had done many times already, and of course he looked shocked, and offered his condolences. He told me that he had a friend that this had happened to about 4 years ago. I clung to that sentence. (He knew someone who had done what I had done? I have never met anyone who had done what I had done.) He went onto say that it was actually the guys son. I asked how the guy was doing now, and he said he thinks pretty good, he had just got married, but he had a really rough time for awhil. As we sat there still discussing this, the thoughts in my head were building up, but the dates he had given me did not match. I just blurted it out anyways, “You don’t happen to be talking about the Steven Curtis Chapman family do you?” “Yes,” he said, excited that I knew who he was talking about and a little shocked too. In complete disbelief, I told him, “Their accident was actually in 2008, his wife Mary Beth wrote a book in 2010, and their non-profit foundation, Show Hope, mailed it to me.” I told him how I had reached out to them during some of the hardest times after the accident. In a surprised look he then told me that he was there that day, in the hospital with them, praying for their daughter. My jaw practically dropped, I had read about this part in the book. He explained that he was part of their church and prayer group, part of their life during this whole horrible tragedy and the following days. I asked him if he went to the church after the hospital that day. I had read about that too. “Yes,” he said, with a grin on his face. Here I was able to talk to him about this very devastating day he encountered because not only had I read about it, I had also lived a lot of it myself. I told him that not only did I feel connected to the Chapman's story for obvious reasons, that their adoptive daughter Maria who was killed, was actually known as Rowena back in China. Seem familiar to you? It sure does to me.
We talked about their foundation and helping with international adoption. I told him how their book made me want to adopt a daughter from China, and that when I learned that I was coming to Nashville, the home of their foundation, that I knew it had to be a sign from God.
Al and I’s conversation continued until the end of the meal and our next group activity. It was the most meaningful thing that happened to me at Onsite, which says a ton because that place was amazing. Before leaving the table Al told me he could get me in touch with Mary Beth if I wanted to. I accepted, but go figure, I didn’t get that information from Al before I left. It must have not have been the right thing I guess.
In any case, this was a simple conversation, one of many that changed my life that week. Al was brought to me and to my table that night to have this conversation with me. It’s these kinds of things that when everything seems like it’s falling apart from underneath your feet, Show Hope.
P.S. Al was a therapist :)