Between Heaven And the Real World:: My Story- Debbie’s Review

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Steven Curtiis Chapman’s Between Heaven and The Real World: My Story gives fans an in-depth and candid look at his life. From his upbringing to the very start of  musical career, it seems like the beginning of a fairytale. Not true. Everyone struggles. Even Steven. From a very young age, he fought feelings of inadequacy when it came to his relationship with his father as well as his musical talent, living in the shadow of his brother Herbie. Little did he know these experiences would teach them to rely on God in all aspects of his life;  this would translate into an uncanny ability to create lyrics that audiences could relate to. Steven also is an open book (literally) when it comes to his personal life- including opening up about his marriage, adoption, and even the accident that changed his family’s life forever.

Little is known about how the topic of adoption came about. 11-year-old Emily first brought up the idea when she started asking for a baby sister sister. But could they really handle the challenge? After all, the Chapmans already had three biological children of their own. But when Mary Beth admitted she always thought about about the idea of adopting a child from Asia. After Emily and her dad attended a fundraiser for Bethany Christian Services , Emily was more adamant than ever that the that the family should adopt. But Mary Beth still had roadblocks that needed to be removed before even thinking about adopting from China. First, she had read about the biological children restriction; she had read that China would not allow them to adopt. At the time of their initial interest, Bethany revealed that the restriction had been raised to allow more biological children. One roadblock removed. Mary Beth had also read that most children from China were 2-three years old, when she originally envisioned adopting a baby. Christian services actually reported that most babies were 8 to 10 months old. Check. One final question: What would they name the child if they were to adopt? Upon further discussion, she revealed how much she liked the Hannah. Then, her husband jokingly pointed out the similarities between Sarah and Abraham from the Bible and their family; both thinking they could not have more children in their old age. That brought up the idea of adding laughter somewhere in the name. The two soon forgot about it.

Later, Steven just happened to be reading a Reader Digest feature about a adoptive family trying to find a cure for their son, who had an unknown illness. His name  included the Mandarin word for laughter in it. It was as if God himself was shining down on them, listening to every concern they had and answered it in his own unique way. Soon after, they traveled to China, welcoming Hannah (with the Mandarin word for laughter as her middle name- my apologies. I tried to find it exactly on the Internet, but couldn’t) Chapman into the family. not long after, they added one more to the family named Stevie Joy. It was then that they realized the financial burdens that adoption causes for families and created the nonprofit organization Show Hope, which provides assistance for those willing to adopt from China. 

With Emily starting high school,, things were changing around the Chapman household. It was one week before Easter while touring in China when Steven first met Maria. She had been left by the riverbed and was later diagnosed with a birth defect, which caused her to have a hole in her heart. Originally she was For by an Australian missionary couple; but after being called back to the states, they cannot adopt her because of poor relationships of the countries. And so she had been passed on to Tim and Amy Haddon. There was a instant connection between Steven and Maria; soon, he felt, and urging to adopt her as well. Only one obstacle- getting everyone else on board. After he returned from the tour, however, he found adoption papers already signed by Mary Beth; he only needed to sign them to get the process. The Chapman family was soon complete.

On February  20th 2008, Maria began showing interest in God and his “Big, big house,” Audio Adrenaline’s song had been taught as part of Maria’s preschool curriculum and she wanted to learn more about it. Not wanting to miss this opportunity to witness, Mary Beth called her husband into help. They talked about his house and how he paid the ultimate sacrifice so that someday she could come to live with him; but for now he would come into her heart-if only she would ask him. From that point on, Maria prayed a simple prayer and laid her heart out for all to see. After Maria was finished, Stevie Joy decided if Maria was going there someday, she’d like to go to. They repeated the process and then headed off to preschool where the teachers continued the celebration. Little did they know how important that day would become in the near future.
On May 21, 2008, their lives changed forever when Maria raced outside to meet Will as he rounded the driveway in this car. Maria was struck head-on and airlifted to Vanderbilt Medical Center. After trying everything, she did not survive
The family each grieved in their own way- Will feeling responsible for his sister’s death, Mary Beth retreating into a deep depression. Steven kept reminding himself how the Lord gives and takes away.Yours later, that grief motivated them to create Maria’s Big House of Hope- a medical center for children with special needs in the middle of China.
*I apologize if any of these specific details are off in terms of a timeline; I tried my best to paraphrase the details that touched my heart in the book. I’ll always have a heart for adoption and helping those with special needs- though I will probably never be able to adopt because of my circumstances. But I do encourage those who will are intrigued by my summary of the book to read it on their own. I would also encourage them to take a look at the links below and consider contributing to the nonprofit organizations.
For more information about Steven Curtis Chapman,Show Hope, Maria’s Big House,go to:

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