It seems like yesterday Shaoey was placed in my arms. Her whole world changing and life beginning with us, her crazy full-of-love family. Today, I’m riding behind her in a car while she drives home from Ohio to visit my parents, putting in some interstate practice for what’s coming this Thursday…her journey to Tuscaloosa to become a student of The University of Alabama. How in the world?
A couple things that Shaoey really wanted to do her senior year was one, take a Spring Break trip with mothers and daughters to China to spend time at Maria’s Big House of Hope. She also wanted to return to China this summer as an intern at Maria’s Big House of Hope to spend an extended amount of time with the children there. Both of those things became a reality, and what I witnessed this summer as I’ve been in my own swirl of emotion preparing to send her off to watch the Crimson Tide Roll, has been one of the biggest blessings of my time being her mother.
Watching Shaoey introduce her closest friends and their moms to a place that is sacred to her was a surreal moment in my life. Maria’s has always been special. Since the time it was built and dedicated to the memory of our little girl Maria, my prayer was that healing would be found within the walls of the giant blue building with the white clouds. That prayer always came with visions of the little people that would find their way there because of various medical conditions that required the loving attention and expertise of Maria’s medical staff. Often times, the little ones would receive life-giving care, and because of the “healing” offered there, would go on to be adopted or be able to return to a Child Welfare Institute while they awaited a family to come for them. Even the ones that are too sick to survive would find ultimate healing within the walls of Maria’s, surrounded by the beautiful and capable staff. Since the beginning, it represented physical healing for so many beautiful children. Until this summer, when I witnessed healing going on in a whole new way.
After Shaoey spent about 10 days with her friends in China this past March, there was an even bigger desire to return in June to intern and actually work with the children and the staff, offering whatever she could to help. It is just like God to have such a bigger plan than we could have ever seen coming. Our beautiful daughter would go to China for four weeks and would come face to face with some of her own healing and own story, processing things that we’ve prayed years for. The answers came from Shaoey serving and giving herself away, and from a God who loves Shaoey so much that He orchestrated that specific people would be strategically put in place to love on Shaoey, challenge her, and connect with her pain in ways that reminded us all once again that God has it all in His control and all in His time does healing come to all of us when we least expect it.
While in China, Shaoey spent a lot of time in the rooms watching how the nannies, who are becoming more and more competent in trauma-based care, interacted with the children in their charge. I had no idea that was where she would be plugged in, but God did. Shaoey became during that time so aware of her own need of healing from her own anger about her journey that it created a great space for her to dialogue with Nate Renich (Nate directs attachment care and serves as the Show Hope liaison at the Care Centers in China). How loving a father that God would have in place the perfect person to walk with Shaoey and be there to ask hard questions and lend a gentle voice while talking about the hard places in life.
When the plane landed in Nashville as she was returning from China, and we watched Shaoey walk toward us from the gate at the Nashville airport, something was different. She looked different. Before China, things had been really difficult. Shaoey and I had been butting heads most of her senior year. Not because of anything other than her anger and my anger, her questions and my questions, and her story and my story make for a great playground for the enemy to have a complete heyday. With the impending move to college and Shaoey feeling prepared and ready, and her mom just knowing there is so much more to still listen to and learn, our home had become a tense environment. But in this moment, the moment all of us embraced in a big group hug, I sensed a difference.
When Maria passed in 2008 and so many people wanted to help, a place called Maria’s Big House of Hope was built in her name. This building was built to heal and allow life to bloom, and it became a reality out of the most painful thing our family has ever lived through…the loss of a child. In the years since the accident, there have been times when we didn’t think our children would survive the pain because it was just too great, but we have. The Chapmans have pushed back the darkness and have chosen (often time through gritted teeth and clenched fists) to claim places of goodness and healing as signs that God works all things together for good.
What I didn’t SEE coming was the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. A land where my own daughter, one who has carried so much pain from her own story of adoption, losing her sister, and then later losing her mentor, would find HER healing in a place dedicated to physically healing medically fragile orphans in China. Maria’s was a place where Shaoey could go to serve, and walk away with a deeper understanding of herself, her story, and embrace it to the extent that she could receive some of the healing that God has been waiting to shower upon her.
Shaoey went willing to serve and came home having been served a cup of cool water that helped her receive her own healing.
As Shaoey’s mom, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the intentionality of the staff at Maria’s Big House of Hope to be sensitive to Shaoey’s story and minister to her in ways that she has needed for some time. When I was least expecting it, God used people to help heal the broken places of the little bundle of joy that started it all, a little girl named Shaohannah Hope!
I believe that God loves us all as if we were the only one. “What if?” What if is the question that I ask all the time. What if all of Maria’s Big House, all of Show Hope, what if it all was orchestrated for one little girl, a little girl named Shaoey? A little girl who would grow up and return to this work, only to find herself? I believe that to be true, because I believe that is how God loves us.
As President of Show Hope , here is the mind-blowing reality. I sit in a seat where I read stories of this kind of love, this kind of healing, this kind of miracle ALL OF THE TIME. Whether it is reviewing our families for an adoption aid grant, reading a story of a little one that has been cared for at Maria’s Big House of Hope and is now in a family, or hearing of a student who has been impacted by a trip or campaign they have been involved with, or a family that has received the pre + post information that has given their family hope. All of the stories I read about or hear, have the kind of individualized love that our Shaoey encountered this summer. What a privilege to not only be recipients of that kind of love towards Shaoey, but to have the unique seat to watch so many other families encounter the miraculous love of God through the work of Show Hope. “Thank you” falls short to those of you who have partnered with us in this work. Whether you know it or not, you have been an active part in miracles happening. God’s love has worked its way out through people like you who have prayed for us, supported Show Hope, and have loved our family. I’m so very grateful.
And the little girl who I met in the hallway of a hotel? She is leaving this Thursday to go to college. She isn’t sure what she is going to become, but she wants to work with children, probably in Psychiatry somehow. Her story is still unfolding, but while it is still in process, I am holding tight that it is going to be glorious.
Love took me in and everything changed.