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A Word From Steven Curtis Chapman: The Gift of a Mother’s “Presence”

In honor of Mother’s Day, Steven Curtis Chapman shares a few words about his lovely wife, Mary Beth, and how mothers really do change the world “one little heartbeat at a time.” As we celebrate the beautiful blessing of motherhood, we also remember the millions of children around the world who are growing up without a mother. Join Show Hope and help restore the hope of a MOM to orphans in distress:

Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman

I want to say at the very start of this blog, letter, post, whatever it is or becomes, that I’m not going to come anywhere close to doing this subject justice.  I’ve had to decide to simply take a few minutes to try to express a few thoughts about something that deserves so much more depth and time than I have to give it at the moment, but given the fact that it would be somewhere around Mother’s Day of 2034 before I felt “finished,” I’m going to trust that “grace abounds” and type away.

Several years ago I wrote a song to honor motherhood and mothers called “One Heartbeat At A Time.” I am very blessed to have a wonderful mom whose love and life were certainly part of the inspiration for that song.  However, it was really the mother of my children who provided me with the greatest inspiration for the lyrics, “You are changing the world one little heartbeat at a time, making history with every touch and every smile…You may not see it now but I believe that time will tell how you are changing the world one little heartbeat at a time.”

Mary Beth, Shaoey, and Stevey JoyAs a baby cruising around in diapers, a little boy cruising the neighborhood on my Schwin bicycle, or even as a guitar-playing, Chevy-Camaro-cruisin’ young man, as much as I loved and appreciated my mom, I really didn’t have any real idea of all that was going on. I didn’t have the gift of perspective that I’ve been given these last 28 years as I’ve watched Mary Beth be a mom to our six children. And as I’ve watched her and think about what I’ve witnessed all these years, I can say with absolute certainty that there isn’t a more powerful “world-changing force” than the “presence” of a mother’s love.

I don’t even want to start to make this list because, again, I would need years and volumes of books to do it justice, but here’s just a tiny sample of what I’ve witnessed over the years: I’ve watched her fight through morning sickness to get to work (with Emily, when she was still supporting my “music habit”), and then do the same (the morning sickness part) while taking care of a another little one (Caleb and Will were 16 months apart!!).

I’ve watched her give birth (which no matter what “method” is used, every mom deserves a book or song to be written about her for enduring that traumatic experience) and I’ve watched her go through an entirely different but just as intense “heart pregnancy” with our daughters who were adopted from China…(and again, I say this would take an entire volume on it’s own to tell the story of watching her “walk in faith” and allow God to transform her heart and life in miraculous ways she nor I could’ve ever imagined).

I’ve watched her rock scared little ones in her arms all night during bad dreams or thunderstorms, put cold rags on fevered foreheads, sit by hospital beds waiting for the doctors to figure out what’s wrong, give hundreds of baths around dozens of casts, cheer on the victories, cry with the defeats, and straighten out a few coaches and referees who “needed it” (“don’t mess with Momma Bear” I always say), hold and cry with broken-hearted teenagers, fight with a fierce determination and commitment to “nothing is off limits” honesty to keep the door of communication open with all of our children (something they would all say is at the top of the list of things they are thankful for). She’s endured long hours of NOISE as our boys slowly but surely became musicians, she’s worn out three mini-vans and several other cars providing taxi service to soccer, baseball, dance, football, basketball, hockey, gymnastics, swimming lessons, music lessons, cheerleading, cross-country, etc…and all the while fighting the battle to not let all the “activities” consume our family time and relationship with each other…a near impossible task, but one she’s stayed committed to…and I’m grateful!

Mary Beth and EisleyAnd of course, I’ve walked by her side and watched her endure the most unthinkable devastation a mother’s heart could ever know…the loss of our youngest, Maria Sue. How do I not dwell here for hours and try to just scratch the surface of explaining some of the pain, strength, beauty, wisdom and faith I’ve seen in my wife these last six years…but I’ll trust God to “fill in the gaping holes” I feel like I’m leaving and try to wrap up my thoughts for now.

Through all of this “changing the world” that I’ve had the privilege of watching over the years, the greatest gift I believe I’ve seen my wife give her children over and over again has been her “presence.” There’ve been so many times that I know she’s felt like she doesn’t have a clue of what she’s doing…neither of us have…but over and over I’ve watched her “be there” for and with our children.  What a priceless gift…to them…to me…to the world.

Of course, anyone who knows Mary Beth knows she would be the first to say, “it hasn’t always been pretty”…

…and I would be the first to say “it has been Beautiful!”

Happy Mother’s Day Mary Beth… I love you! And Happy Mother’s Day to all who with the gift of their “presence” are changing the world one little heartbeat at a time. God Bless You!


A Word from Steven Curtis Chapman

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