Choosing to SEE

I remember the first time I met Amy Scalf. I was trying to get a job at CCCS as a first grade teacher. In the end, I spent two years as their Aftercare teacher. It was a wonderful journey & I loved the children I took care of. Within the first 5 minutes of this meeting she shared with me that she had lost a child a year prior. I cannot remember the context of this conversation or what led up to it, but I remember very clearly the feeling of awe that this woman, whom I only met a moment before, was sharing her heart with me. I felt a little exposed by this sharing, as if God had made me privileged to sacred information about this person. I wasn’t quite certain why this transaction took place, or at least I wouldn’t know until further down the road.

I remember coming home on May 21st, 2008 & my sister Michelle asking me if I had heard about Steven Curtis Chapman. My first thought was, “Oh Dear Lord, he and Mary Beth are getting a divorce.” However, it wasn’t the case at all. My heart literally quacked when she told me about Maria’s accident (at this point we didn’t know Maria had gone to heaven). I began to pray for Maria, the family, & Will Franklin. I followed the news coverage the months following the accident. I watched them on Larry King. I prayed for them & rejoiced that they lived what they said. However, with all things in the news…I conveniently forgot about the Chapmans & went on with my life.

I will have been a “nanny” for six of the seven Scalf children for 2 years in July of this year. Man, how time flies. I remember one morning in 2009…Dave was checking some email & downloading some albums. I was doing dishes & Wyatt was eating breakfast. Dave started to play Steven’s album “Beauty Will Rise”. Dave & I were discussing how this album was going to impact so many lives. I was trying to wash my tears down the sink with the dirty dish water. In the midst of this somber praise fest little Wy raised his hands in praise. Here was this then, not even 2 year old, praising God. Dave & I lost it. It was a moment again where the veil had been torn & I was allowed to see through the broken alabaster of pain and healing that had been done in both the Scalf family & the Chapman family. It prompted me to write a letter to the Chapman’s telling them about the Scalf journey & how I was thankful to be a part of it.

I cannot begin to even come close to realizing the loss of a child. I have seen this loss occur in those around me, but to have to endure this one myself, I think God would have to give me the grace to walk through it. Just thinking about Haley & Steven having to leave the Scalf home was enough to unravel me. I really went through a mourning period for that possibility (Praise God that wasn’t the case). However, I was very much compelled to read Mary Beth’s book “Choosing to SEE”.

If this had just been a book about the loss of her daughter & the healing, grief, pain, hope…they faced then it would not have been a complete story. It was the story of a life. It was the story of a woman who had set boundaries and conditions to her faith and, is often the case with God; He blew them up with His dreams for her. I remember in the interviews following the accident where Mary Beth said something along the lines of, “I don’t really care how Maria’s death impacts others, as a Mom I want her here with me.” The honesty and reality of this non-PC answer was SO refreshing to me. As is her entire book.

She has the beautiful way of sharing a story. The chapters “I’m Divin’ In” & “Cinderellas Everywhere” had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee on myself. The struggle of her depression, fear, and uncertainty overwhelmed me with the impact of their honesty. The joy of Emily’s wedding gave a glimpse into God’s work. The entire piece is about “doing life!” This life on earth is tragically beautiful…with a lot of hard gray outlines. It can be unbearable. However, there is a choice to SEE…there is a choice we make, sometimes moments at a time, to SEE God in the midst of the pain.

I don’t know why God took Maria from the Chapmans. I don’t know why God took Isaac from the Scalfs. I don’t know why God chooses to take any child away from a parent. However, He knows intimately what they face. He gave us His Son. The pain of that is REAL. The redemption of that is REAL.

As I read Mary Beth’s thoughts & real honest to goodness life (she is not PC, she is an honest, beautifully gifted woman, who shares her fears and doubts in a world that would rather you sweep them under the rug) I began to fall in love with this woman. She does life…I cannot imagine what it is like to have to get out of bed in the morning facing such insurmountable loss, but she does it honestly, heartfully, sometimes desperately.

I often have said that the Scalf family makes me SEE what life can be like after tragedy. They live their lives with so much JOY! They live fully that “joy comes in the morning.” I’ve often sat back in awe of the way God reveals His hand through this family. I would be a slobbering, tumbling, heart wrenching mess. While I do see the evidence of the cracked Alabaster…they have allowed His light to shine through their pain. They have allowed Him to put them back together.

I encourage anyone that is discouraged in doing this “Christian Life” to read Mary Beth’s book. It is truly a journey of struggle and hope.

I’m choosing to SEE, are you?


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