Six Years Ago Today

photoProfound loss 6 years ago today. I miss this little girl with everything that is in me…. I must however thank the living God for sustaining and literally holding my family together. What should have torn us apart has made us stronger in our love for each other… we are still walking out the verse that says the enemy has been defeated. As long as I have breathe I will claim this over each member of my family… It hasn’t been easy and it certainly isn’t what I want to walk out but… We are doing it day by day, step by step, prayer by prayer. And… We are together. Thanks to you all for joining in the prayers for our family… I am truly grateful…

Maria Sue, mommy loves you to infinity….and beyond!

  • Praying for you and your family today.

  • Kathleen Denny

    In our hearts and prayers always and forever.

  • You are a living testimony of beauty out of brokenness. Learning how to hold both in your heart at once is a painful, glorious, healing process. I SEE you, Chapman Family. I SEE you, Mary Beth. You are brave and beautiful. Waiting and longing with you for the day when all things are made new. Jesus, COME!

  • Prayers for your family. The loss of a child is a pain that few can understand. Hold tight to your faith.

  • Traci

    Our family prayed for yours today. We may not be there to hug you tight, but I promise I am hugging each and every one of you in my heart right now. You know, that heart where our Jesus lives. God bless your memories.

  • Debbie Norris

    Prayed for your family today. I can’t believe it’s been six years. She is such a beautiful little girl.

  • Lisa Rowell

    We lost our Julianna due to an umbilical cord accident last year. God has used your tragedy to bring me peace hope and faith. Your book was one of the one I read to bring me healing. I’m so sorry and hate that y’all can’t enjoy this life with her.

  • KristeeK

    Praying for you and your family on such a tragic anniversary, but also comforted by the thought of Maria in her heavenly body being with her Heavenly Father!

  • Heather Puryear Willis

    I said a prayer for you today. I remember praying for your family when this happened. You may not remember but I met you on the Statue of Liberty cruise in NYC this past February. You are such a woman of grace and an inspiration to many!

  • Michille Lemaster

    I can’t imagine enduring the pain your family has experienced! You have done it with such grace and intense faith!
    As the mommy of an amazing little Chinese angel I want to thank you for being such a beacon of light! Your family has shown the world the most perfect earthly example of Jesus’ love!

  • Kim Pavicich

    Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your lives with us. I feel your pain through your words and thank God with you for drawing your family closer and helping to sustain you. You and Steven bring encouragement to many people, including me. May God continue to bless you and use you to minister to others.

  • Erica Twyman Catausan

    Praying for your family on this day. I still shed tears over this. Not just for the tragedy but the amount of love that you all have for each other as a family and the amount of love you have for Jesus.E

  • Shelly Ford

    We lost our Amanda in December, and your book was recommended to me. I felt like I was reading my own thoughts, feelings and story. I have since loaned it out to another grieving mom and started a support group in our area for grieving parents. I want to glorify God, honor my daughter, and help others as well as my husband and myself through this group. I know that God didn’t “take” my daughter but welcomed her home sooner than I wanted to let go. God bless you and your family…I know he already has and will continue to use you both in amazing ways.

  • Jo

    Praying Gods amazing peace and comfort for you and your family today xx

  • Nancy Weber

    We have a daughter who arrived home at 2 1/2 years old, and she is now 26. I look at my Becca and think of your Maria. I’ve prayed many times for your family over the past six years. Your foundation also helped in bringing our grandson Wilson home from Ethiopia five years ago. He will turn six on Sunday. For that, we will be forever grateful. Praying God’s peace and strength for you today and always.

  • Caressa Tanner Hill

    I will never forget the day that this news came over the radio station that I was listening to and I began to weep and pray for you and your precious family!! I’m so sorry for your loss and I can’t imagine the pain a family goes through! You guys are such a testament for others who are hurting and going through those valleys and never loose sight of who Good is!! Blessings and peace be with you!! Steven Curtis you have always been one of my favorites!!! Thank you for all you do in God’s Kingdom!!

    • Caressa Tanner Hill

      Who God is!! Not good

  • Denise Hayes

    I remember hearing the news of your loss on the radio as I drove into the parking lot of my then 9-year-old daughter’s school. I cried as I shared the news with her teacher. I cried even harder as I left because I was leaving to go out of town for four days. I didn’t want to leave her. I wanted to hold her and never let go. I couldn’t imagine your pain then… I can’t imagine your pain now. May God continue to hold you, heal you, and sustain you until you are reunited.

  • Lynda

    Six years ago, on Mother’s Day, my soul-mate of 47 years passed away. In the weeks after, as we tried to find our new normal, we lifted your family to the Father and found strength only He could provide. My Gene loved children, and was so happy to stand at the church doors to greet little ones and welcome them into the Father’s house of worship each Sunday. We smiled as we realized that he was there to greet your precious daughter as she walked in to worship at our Savior’s feet. Your family is still in our prayers as you continue to share the Father’s love with others.

    • Marcy Friend

      That’s beautiful. . May God continue to bless you & sustain your family! !

  • Curt Dubose

    I know you are surrounded with Words, but know that our silent family is praying for you and your family. speaking of words, this statement has stuck for us, “Your greatness in life is determined by whatever it takes to discourage you” Live strong as Mom. My Hero is with you.

    Curt Dubose

  • Denise Schmidt Preiner

    I have been able to share your story and it has become a reminder to others to be more careful. It actually helped my in laws one day and they thought of what I told them about you guys. God has used your situation to help others. I think of you often especially when I hear Steven sing on the radio. I too remember the day we heard of the tragedy and my heart just ached and I just broke down crying and immediately prayed for you all. May God be with you

  • Rachel Petrick

    I remember May 21 and your sweet Maria each year. I remember driving home in my car late that night when my mom called me to tell me the tragic news. I wept for you all night long. The Chapman’s are like family to us. I am the oldest (at 31!) of 6 kids…two adopted. My sister Hannah (12) was adopted right at the same time as Stevey Joy. In fact, you were in China at the same time as my parents. My family was honored to receive one of the first grants…back when it was called Shaohannahs Hope. We were so excited one Christmas to see video footage of my sister coming home on a Christmas DVD we had purchased from a local Christian bookstore, as an advertisement for the organization. Needless to say, I feel like we know you guys personally. Please know, we have wept with you and for you. You have inspired and challenged me and my whole family. SCC was a favorite of my late aunts. She and I met him in 1997 backstage in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a thrill for us both. I treasure that picture we have with him. She passed away in 2001 at the age of 36. She lived her life in a wheelchair here on earth…but I know she’s been dancing in heaven since. She loved giving little kids wheelchair rides, and im sure she would have loved to give Maria a ride here on earth…but dancing on streets of gold is infinitely better!!!! My heart hurts for you…so thankful there is HOPE! We love you all!!!! ((Hugs))

  • Seeing your family walk forward after such a devastating loss gives HOPE to many. Praying for peace and joy and His hope to saturate your hearts. Bless you!

  • Jennifer Ross

    I was finishing up getting ready for my wedding 6 years ago today. I had chosen the Cinderella Song to dance with my dad at our reception. I remember hearing the news about Maria Sue and the song had a whole new meaning to me. I remember dancing with my Daddy in my white dress and I remember thinking I was doing this for her, since she wouldnt be able to dance with her earthly Daddy. I think of your family every year at this time of the year. You guys are an amazing testimony of how Jesus works together for the good of those that love Him.

  • Lynda

    8 years ago my husband and I lost our precious son.. We miss him everyday. But know we will see him again and he is whole… Praying for your family.

  • Linda Gonzales

    I remember the day we heard of your tragic loss as well..Our family is made up of three beautiful Chinese cuties (our oldest from Hunan) and your family is so close to our hearts. We cried for you that day and still weep for you when we think about how difficult it still must be to miss Maria’s sweet spirit so much. You have allowed all of us who love you to share in your pain and you have been so honest in your struggle to put one foot in front of the other each day. God has used you to bless so many others through this, and while I understand you’d rather He use you in a thousand different ways, may it bring you comfort to know that, through you, God has reached out to others who may never have known Him. God bless you, Chapman family.

  • Amy Wasserbauer

    Your family has ministered to so many Mary Beth, as to how to grieve and still hold onto Jesus! Our hearts and prayers go out to you at this 6th anniversary of the loss of your beautiful little girl! Thank you for sharing your lives with me and so many! I will never be the same because of your ministry!!!

  • Doug Fournier

    My heart broke for you, Steven, your son and your family when I heard the news on christian radio. I prayed for you then, and every time the Lord laid it upon my heart to pray. He is so kind to us, and truly, He carries us when we can’t carry ourselves.

    I didn’t realize you were a blogger, but through Steven’s FB page am pleased to read and hear that as He continues to heal your heart and emotions, you are slowly stepping out and sharing yourself once again.

  • Marcy Friend

    That was a beautiful post …. my you & your family grow stronger every day with the hope of knowing it won’t be much longer before you see little Maria who is now your angle in Heaven!!! May God bless & comfort all of you! !

  • Sheri

    I remember that I was listening to KLOVE they requested to raise your family up in prayer. So again this day I will do the same.

  • Denise Kuder

    Hi Mary Beth. We met over 14 yrs. ago and spoke often though never met face to face. You looked in on my daughter Lia Grace while in ChangDe picking up your older daughter. I think of you often and my heart goes out to you as I can only imagine how difficult this day must be for you!

  • Angela Harmon LaBudie

    Prayers for you all! We lost our son Logan 13 years ago at the age of 5 I agree with every word written…I wrote this on the 10th year of our loss….

    Precious Logan Charles!

    10 Years have come and gone… never thought I would even make it a day, people say I am strong
    But really I am weak, bitter, angry, and least of all strong. For you see I am weak, but HE is Strong
    Can’t say that I am not changed by it, or that I have the answer to the question why? The only thing I can say
    is that I have a Hope that has Kept me here, Gave me breath when I couldn’t breath, Carried me when I couldn’t care to move, for you see He is the only one who really knows Me, has seen the many tears I shed and HE is the one who restored me to life when I didn’t care to live. No one should EVER lose a Child but if God calls them before you, The only strength you can draw from is Jesus. We can look at it as 10 years gone or 10 years Closer to seeing you! So we will draw from that strength and continue on this Journey until he calls us home, where one day we will see each other and never part.

  • I have prayed for your family since the day you lost your daughter. When a precious 6 year old child in our community passed away suddenly and tragically, I pointed the family to your story – your grace, your faith and your witness shone like a beacon then as it does now. God bless you.

  • Jasmin

    God bless you and your family, Mary Beth….

  • Kirk Ward

    It’s been 4 months since we lost our baby girl from a 4 year battle with cancer. It seems the grief has reached levels that seem impossible to overcome, although as I write this I recognize that we do not walk through this alone.
    Thank you for your blog, it brought the ability for me to move on TODAY, one day at a time. My prayers are with you and your family MaryBeth.
    My daughter was 6, so I expect she and Maria have met and perhaps are training some lions, for a circus in the sky, Makenna just loved lions.

  • Ashleigh Diaz

    What a beautiful testimony. Pray that God will continue to carry you through each day, giving you the grace and mercy to handle it.

  • Bethany Geib

    Prayed and thought of your family many, many times yesterday, and, literally, every time I hear Steven sing on the radio (or on one of my many albums…), I think of Maria. She’s not forgotten.

  • Carinda

    I read your book, Choosing to See, in December 2011. We lost our adopted son to a similar accident in January 2012. Little did I know that I would also have to choose to see only a month after reading your book. Thank you for the encouragement.

  • Yaffa Brautigam

    My beloved husband and my sons’ father died suddenly on 03/17/2008. I knew where he was and with Whom. I remember in the midst of my own raw grief hearing about your daughter joining him…and I prayed for you all as only a broken woman can…your “Beauty from Ashes” song speaks the words of Eternity to both our families…loving you all in the pain…and the peace. Yaffa Brautigam

  • Such a profound reminder that we are held in His arms and enjoy the comfort that this life in the end.

    Alison
    Nancherrow

  • nina race

    God bless you and your family. I remember that awful sad day. The healing in it is that she is with Jesus. I will continue to pray,as I will never forget the date because May 21st is my birthday. I have watch your family through this trail and know that in the end you will hear good job good and faithful servant. May God continue to grow you closer to Him in your healing.

  • Jesus Yireh Marrero

    I read your book, You are Brave, you have been given Strength and God have not failed your family. You are the support for your family in many ways and you are a woman that everyone must admire!

  • Adonna Gattis

    I know you all miss Maria terribly! I can’t imagine the pain you have endured seeing one child leave you and another suffer such tremendous emotional pain. My ten year old son battled childhood cancer (PTL, he is a 15 year survivor) and I remember how excruciating it was to go through that season. But I SEE also that God used/uses those times of suffering to His glory…always! He know exactly the trials (and blessings) we need in our lives to make us more equipt to serve Him. I just want to say I am thankful to you, Steven and your entire family for being so open and willing to share this very private, painful part of your lives. Trust me, God is honored by this and you may not SEE it now but many, many people have been touched and thier lives changed by your willingness to share. May God continue to bless and sustain your beautiful family.

  • Laura Mlazgar Dyck

    We lost our son, Stefan Curtis Dyck, age 5, in December 1999, after a courageous battle with Lymphangiomatosis/Gorham’s Disease, which affected his entire lymphatic system.

    Your husband’s song, With Hope, carried us on many days after first hearing it when we came home from Stefan’s funeral. We KNOW our goodbye is NOT the end!! Years later, you lost your precious daughter, and yet again, we are blessed by your family…the music that brings healing, your book, and your testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness through tragedy. Thank you for sharing, and may God’s comfort be ever-present with you as you continue forward on this journey of healing. God bless and keep you always, Laura

  • LaDonna

    I too understand as we had to say goodbye to our Anthony too soon, 4.5 years ago. You’ve been in my prayers often. Heaven will be SO grand, I can’t wait!!

  • Jen Congdon

    I too, remember when your news came over the radio, and I cried out to God and said “God, what were you thinking??” And then I began thinking that little Maria’s days were known by our Heavenly Father since the beginning of time, and He chose you to be the ones that would love and nurture, and impact her precious short life for eternity. What an awesome privilege! May you always wear the pain of her loss as a mark of the One who loves you most….until He makes all things new! God bless you and your family as ministers of His grace.

  • Melanie Bittle

    I remember just being so saddened for you and your family when I heard of her death. My son was killed by an impaired driver on May 19, 2004, my Hunter was only three years old. We miss him so much. Like you, we have been strengthened by God’s love and provision for our family. Each day is one step closer to our Savior and our children. Thoughts and prayers for your family.

  • joy

    Our family had just lost our 9 year old daughter to cancer on April 19, 2008. We had adopted her at the age of18 months. She had 2 heart surgeries before 5 and was diagnosed with leukemia at 5. We were grieving horribly when I heard your tragic news that day. Your families unending love and faith also helped me and my family get through the last 6 years. It also was a huge wake up and lesson for my oldest 5 children who were just starting to drive to pay more attention and be aware of where there littlest brother ( who is 10 yrs younger) is at all times. I pray for you daily and know our sweet girls are picking flowers together in heaven.

  • Trina Staskey Wiater

    I think of your story when I try to console myself. I just lost my 21-year old son who drowned in a river in a senseless accident. It doesn’t seem real and it is so hard to move on. It’s like I feel numb most days and can’t function well. Thank you for sharing your story and realizing that life can move on.

  • Vickie Rankin

    I, too, lost my daughter, Samantha, on May 31, 2010. She was 21 years old and came down with mono which became a rare disorder of the immune system, Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, HLH. The Christmas after Samantha died, my husband and other daughter asked me to write a Christmas list. I wanted nothing but Samantha back but knew I had to put something on the list. I was at work late and started my list. The only thing I had written on it was, “Choosing to See.” I placed the list in my desk and went home. Upon my return to work early the next morning, there was a gift bag on my chair and inside was “Choosing to See.” A coworker had seen your book and thought it would be a nice gift for me. I couldn’t believe that the very next morning your book was on my chair. There is no way she could have seen my list because I was the last to leave and arrived back at 7 a.m. These signs I receive are the only things that keep me going. I then proceeded to read your book unable to put down. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Leslie McGill

    I remember hearing the news of Maria Sue back in 2008 and telling my 13 year old daughter about it. She loved children. We stopped and prayed for your family at that moment. I had no idea that 6 days later this precious 13 year old would join your Maria Sue in Heaven and I would join you and your family on this painful, dark journey. You have been an inspiration and someone I can look to as a “normalizer” of sorts — I don’t feel as alone in the way I feel and things that my family goes through. Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey and your family. It has made a difference in our lives. And maybe one day when we enter Heaven we’ll see Maria and my Marissa playing together!!

  • Jenifer Brown

    God has beautifully redeemed the loss of our son who died while I halfway through my pregnancy. I am a teacher and I love working with school aged children, but I am not wild about babies and toddlers. A few months after our loss, I was led, somewhat unwillingly, to work in the church nursery. It seemed very unusual that God would lead me to take on this ministry. Truthfully, it seemed to me that God was wasting my spiritual gifts by putting me in a job that mostly involved changing diapers and calming and holding screaming babies. Plus, it just seemed cruel that God would give this task to someone who had recently lost a child and had had only one opportunity to hold their own son. However, I wanted to perform this appointed job to the best of my ability. I prayed diligently for the parents that dropped off their children and I loved the wee ones that were put into my care.

    After a year or so serving in this manner, God showed me something that I had never expected. We were celebrating the birthday of one of toddlers when I realized that this child’s birthday was my son’s due date. God was allowing me to spend time with children who might have been my son’s friends. The thought brought a tear to my eye. I was just beginning to see the God’s hand in leading me to this ministry.

    I continued serving in the nursery until this past fall, when I felt that God was leading my husband and me to minister together. We decided to work with Awanas and, specifically, with the Sparks because this was the group that allowed spouses to work together. The first week of Awanas a little boy came running up to me. It was the little boy who had his birthday on my son’s due date. This time I smiled. God was allow me to have fun with the kids who would have been my son’s age. The beauty in the situation was that my actions were not in any way contrived. It was a pure gift of God.

    However, I was still heartbroken that God was not allowing me to teach the Bible to children. So I prayed that God would open a door to teach and share the gospel with children. For months I prayed and one night my husband saw me praying and crying. When I told him, he immediately jumped to my defense and said that I was a great teacher and that I should be allowed to teach. When the leader of Sparks asked me to teach the lesson the next week, I asked her if my husband had spoken to her. Again, it was the movement of the Holy Spirit and no human. The first week that I taught, I had the opportunity to lead a little girl to Christ. A second little girl asked another leader to lead her to Christ. The leader hesitated, but the child persistently wanted to become a Christian. This time I rejoiced. God had allowed pain and disappointment in my life for a divine purpose. The physical pain of a difficult pregnancy and the loss of this child was not in vain. It took me years to understand, but I would never be working with little children at church unless I had lost my little boy. After all, my oldest child is now in college, and the other two are in high school. I would not have taught the lesson that led those two little girls to accept Christ. I only know the identity of one of the girls, but I am continuing to shepherd this little girl. (Maybe I should ask about the other little girl, too.)

    As if this story isn’t long enough already, today I got my assignment for VBS. I get to work with preK and kindergarten students. Again, it is the hand of God allowing to love, minister, and just have fun with the children who would have been my son’s friends! Believe it or not, this is all the work of God’s hands, I haven’t tried to mastermind any of it.

    Sorry for my verbosity, but it is such a wonderful story I felt that I should share it with you. I hope that it encourages you in some way. I pray that it will help you once again to see how wonderful our Savior is.

  • Hannah L Casey

    We lost our second grandson due to a rare placenta defect. It is so hard.

  • Chris Ann Schultz

    Prayers and thoughts continue for your family. We have so many family members in Heaven and 3 of them are our children, Blessing, Patience, and Joy.. All lost by miscarriage.. Thinking of you as you remember your daughter.

  • Diane Hill Roark

    Mary Beth,
    Words cannot express how sorry I am for you no longer having Maria with you. I think about you and your family often. I look forward to following your blog. I am also a blogger and will share your posts on all my social medias, if that is o.k. with you. I do not want to share anything without your permission. I would love for people to find your blog who are going through a difficult time. You are amazing and encouraging. I enjoyed reading your book. I have not lost a child, but I have a son who has had 17 brain surgeries, and cerebral palsy. I also adopted two children who were older when we adopted them. They both have RAD, reactive attachment disorder. They test our love for them everyday to the point of doing ILLEGAL things. It is a difficult road! I love and support SHOWHOPE because I know children need to be adopted to a loving home AT A MUCH EARLIER AGE before they experience extreme abuse. Blessings Always and have a wonderful weekend!
    Diane Roark
    http://www.recipesforourdailybread.com

  • Mary Ellen Glasgow Smith

    I lost my twelve year old daughter Taylor Scout Smith in January of this year. I remembered the news of your loss and was so grateful when I found the book you wrote. I am making my way through it now in tears. I just wanted to say thank you so much for helping me get through such a difficult time.

  • Danise Hirdler

    Our sweet granddaughter, Addison, passed away on May 21, 2014, due to a traumatic brain injury caused by my daughter’s ex-fiancé. I still have Choosing To See on my Kindle- never imagined that I would need to re-read it because of my own terrible loss. We are Believers, but are so raw and hurting- when does the comfort come?

  • Rosie VanDorn Meindl

    Thank you for this….We lost my 3 year old niece 7 years ago. Knowing we will see her again means so much. Without God, I know I wouldn’t have made it after losing our sweet princess. (I became one of her mamas when my sister decided she didn’t want to be a mama anymore). God is still good. I am so thankful we have a God who wraps us in His arms, cries with us, bears our burdens, and also rejoices with us.

  • Amy Ford

    Dearest Steven,
    Marybeth, and Family

    Chapman Family~
    I think of you often and want you to know that you have a very special place in
    the hearts of the Ford family. I do not
    know why it has taken me so long to attempt to contact you. In His time.
    I would like to share a small part of my story with you as best as I can,
    hopefully without writing a novel.

    I’m
    going to attempt to describe my children and what losing them has been like for
    us. Tom & I were in college when we became pregnant with Andrew. Prior to
    having him, life seemed meaningless.
    Neither of us knew God. We were partiers and our relationship was not
    healthy. I was only 19 years old when on June 16th 1987, Andrew Thomas
    Ford was born. Our lives changed so profoundly I can’t tell you. We were so
    Blessed with our beautiful baby boy. We would watch him sleep for hours.
    Neither one of us were prepared for the gift we had received. No one can prepare you for the
    overwhelming love you feel for your children. Tom & I were both changed for
    the better and our relationship was strengthened by our indescribable love for
    this baby boy. We both felt like we started living the day our first child was
    born. For as long as I can remember, my desire in life was to be a Mother, maybe
    because I had never been close to my own parents. Not only did I have such strong
    desires to be a Mom but I always wanted 2 boys and a girl. Andrew brought us pure joy with every
    minute of his life. 2 yrs later Jonathan Adam was born. Again, I was blessed
    with the only thing I ever wanted. Another healthy baby boy. Tom finished
    school and worked for a power company in a small town here in Nebraska. We
    lived there for 6 years during which time, Ashley Elizabeth was born. I swear
    we were the happiest people in the world. I had my baby girl with two big
    brothers just as I had longed for my entire life. We spent a lot of time
    fishing and camping with our kids. Our bonds with our children were like no
    other Tom & I had ever experienced. So much stronger than Tom or I had had
    growing up. While the kids were little we just enjoyed them and had no idea
    what was in store as they would get older. Andrew was so athletic and good
    looking. More importantly he had the most sensitive heart and the most caring
    way about him. He was a simple and funny guy. Quiet but left a huge impact on
    anyone he met. We’ve always had family members and friends tell us “I hope
    my child grows up to be just like Andrew.” I always told people if all
    kids were like Andrew we’d all have 10 of them. He was so athletic and strong
    yet so gentle and kind. We could never punish him because when he did do
    something wrong he would be so sad. He
    felt so guilty if he ever upset anyone. He always thought of others before
    himself. He loved old people and little children. He taught us so much more than we ever
    taught him. Tom & I wondered daily, where did this child come from? He is
    so much more of a human being than his father & I ever dreamed of being. We
    knew he came from God, not from us. I know
    Andrew was struggling. He loved his baby
    sister like crazy. They had a very special bond. He began writing a song for her while
    playing his guitar that week, we read it at his funeral. The day after her funeral, Mother’s
    Day, he took several roses from Ashley’s bouquets and tied them together. He brought
    them to my bedroom and asked if I would like him to hang them on my mirror. I
    said sure. Then he worried if he had hung them right or if they were okay with
    me. He asked me several times if he needed to move them over a little. I said
    no honey, they are just fine. The roses are still there. Andrew had that kind of consideration for
    everyone he knew. We’ve received thousands of cards from people and they all
    say how much Andrew impacted their lives. When Tom talked to a mortician in
    another town an hour away about gravestones he told Tom, “Your kids touched
    more people and accomplished more in their lives than most of us will in our
    lifetimes.” Andrew never
    missed an opportunity for an “I love you” or a hug. We are so
    Thankful for that now. Our relationship with our children was so much more than
    either Tom or I had with our own parents. Tom and I have always felt like the
    luckiest parents on earth and we still are. Our love was and is so huge, and
    that is the reason for the immense pain we have now. So we are thanking God for
    the pain. I hope I’ve given you a glimpse of the person Andrew was.

    Adam
    is also a very special person with a huge heart. He and his brother fought a
    lot when they were little but they had grown very close those past couple of
    years. They went to colleges in opposite
    ends of the state but with cell phones and face book they were in close contact
    with each other. Just a couple of weeks before Andrew died they were home and
    spent several days bow hunting for wild turkeys together. The weather was cold
    and terrible and they did not get a turkey, but oh the stories they told of
    their adventure and the special memories they made. Thank You God. Adam has
    always been a more light-hearted person than Andrew. He loves to goof off and make people laugh.
    This is what you see on the outside. Adam also has many characteristics that
    Tom & I could never take credit for. Tom & I have always been believers
    but never walked daily with Jesus. For as long as I can remember, Adam’s faith
    has been an example for all who know him. He began living for God when he was
    just a little boy. Always studying the Bible and almost never missing weekly
    youth meetings. He has been
    on several mission trips. There was a mission trip 2 weeks after his brother
    and sister died. 4 of his best friends were going so they invited him. We were
    agonizing over the decision as it was so hard to let Adam out of our sight then.
    Tom and Adam were talking it over. Tom said “Adam I know you would probably
    have a great time spending time with your friends that you haven’t seen for a
    while and it would probably be healing for you but you’re going to have to
    understand how hard it is for your mother right now.” Adam said “well Dad, I
    would enjoy seeing those people but that is not why you go on mission
    trips. You go on mission trips for God
    and to help people.” This was quite a statement that left Tom speechless. Adam
    of course was understanding and stayed home. He also has a profound effect on
    all who know him. He was also extremely close to his baby sister.

    Ashley
    Elizabeth came into our lives running full speed ahead and never slowed down.
    She did not fear anything!!! She lived every minute to the fullest. What a
    beautiful girl with such a beautiful smile. We lived next door to 4 boys when
    Ashley was 2-6 yrs old. Those boys were afraid of Ashley Ford. She had a
    control over them and they did whatever she told them to. She was not afraid of
    snakes and that was one of her weapons both with those boys and her poor little
    girlfriends. She had big brown eyes and wild blond curls. She was also
    extremely athletic and her gymnastics coach loved her determination and bravery.
    Never afraid to try a stunt that no one else would. It seemed almost overnight
    she turned into a beautiful young lady. She got to go to prom her freshman year. We were at the school for pictures that night
    and I, her mother, walked right by her without recognizing her. My tomboy baby
    girl was breathtaking in her long pink gown. She was always smiling and
    laughing. I did not realize until reading her diary that she had gone thru a
    dark time of turmoil self-doubt, normal for a teenage girl. Then in the fall of
    2007 she stopped journaling and I wondered why. Now I know that she had put
    away the bad thoughts and feelings and had started living for Jesus Christ, her
    Savior.

    She became the most beautiful person, inside and out. Tom and I
    knew she had gone on some mission trips and to some Christian Youth conferences
    in Kansas. We also knew she read her FCA Bible and other scripture but we had
    no idea how huge her faith was until she was gone. She wrote down or
    highlighted many passages that were left all over in her bedroom or written on
    her folders, book bag, and gym bag. She told her best friends several weeks
    before her accident that she was not afraid to go to heaven and she actually
    wrote that on her Face Book wall. She
    had been living her life for Jesus and when she ran in track she was running
    for God. Her competitive spirit was unstoppable. No one liked to run against her, they knew
    they were competing against not only Ashley but a strength and determination
    that they could not compete with. They didn’t know what it was about her but
    they felt it. I know that it was the
    strength she was drawing from her Savior. She said she was proud to wear His
    colors. I later learned that she always
    ran with a scripture tucked in her shoe and some of her team mates continue to
    do this even now. Ashley qualified to go to State track her freshman year, a
    very big honor and we know she would have went again this year. But, instead,
    she went to be with her Father in Heaven. Ashley also never missed an
    opportunity for a hug and an “I love you.” I am a nurse and when I left
    for work early the morning of May 4th 2009, Ashley was in her
    bathroom with her Christian music blaring.
    I had to pound on the door and have her turn it down so that I could say
    Good bye. She said “love you”. I said “Love you too, Ash.” All of
    her friends say she was the most honest and real person they ever knew. You
    never wondered where you stood with Ash, good or bad she let ya know.

    There are so many things that happened that last year that were completely
    out of the ordinary for our family. Now
    it seems they somehow were a part of what was about to happen. Ashley had State
    Cross Country meet that last October and had to leave a day early because of a
    snow storm. This meant we couldn’t be
    with her on her 16th birthday October 23rd. I could not get off of work and
    could not believe I would not get to spend her birthday with her. I sent 16
    roses to her motel room and they are tied and dried beautifully in her bedroom
    still. I had wanted her to have
    a special birthday so after her meet we went to Omaha and went to the Steven
    Curtis Chapman concert. We had never done anything like this as a family. Tom,
    Adam, and one of Ashley’s best friends got to go. We didn’t have a lot of money
    and I remember as I am handing everyone their tickets in the wall to wall
    crowd, Tom looked at his ticket price, looked up at me and said “you didn’t did
    you?” I said quickly “Um, Oh yes I did c’mon we have to go!” It would be a treasured and priceless memory. Yes
    it was October, 2008. The first time
    Steven sang Cinderella on tour since losing his Maria. I have some idea how difficult it must have
    been but that you were obeying God-Thank you Steven. It touched all of our hearts and brought
    tears to our eyes. Little did we know,
    we would very soon have our own Cinderella.
    Ashley had gotten a $200 camera from her dad for her birthday. I did not
    approve as she was not the most responsible.
    She had gotten it several weeks before her birthday and had taken it
    with her everywhere. All the prom
    pictures with Jared and her brothers, all her track pictures, over 300 pictures
    were on that camera. We could not find
    it after her accident. We searched her pick-up, the other vehicle, her book
    bag, her room. Soon we had the whole school and the whole town looking for that
    camera. It was never found and I was
    devastated because I knew it had a huge chunk of her life on it. 4 months later at 6:30 in the morning I
    received a call from Adam who was at Life Lite Christian Outdoor festival. I
    was alarmed that he was calling this early.
    He said “mom, Haley has Ashley’s camera” I said “What?” I couldn’t
    believe it. I just sobbed. He said Ashley had left if on the bus after a
    track meet and Haley had sat on it in the dark as they left early for an event that
    morning. She told Adam it was actually
    still charged and working fine.

    When Haley brought it by that afternoon I just went down on my
    knees when I saw it. It felt like a part of Ash was being returned to me. I completely fell apart. Poor Haley. Several weeks went by before I could bring
    myself to look at the pictures. The reason I’m telling you this is when I finally
    got the courage to look, I found that Ashley had video’d the entire Cinderella
    song you sang at the concert for her birthday.
    That song means more to us than you can ever know. No offense but if I
    want or need to function that day and it comes on the radio, I shut it off. You know how it is. Our buses are parked in a huge steel building
    for the summer where I’m sure it gets extremely hot. I feel like God had to have preserved that
    camera for me and brought it back to me in His time. What a gift!

    Another huge
    event in our lives that last year I will try to give you a brief version of.
    Tom’s parents divorced when he was 5. When he was 9 he went to live with his
    Dad and stepmother in Boise Idaho. When Tom was 14 yrs old his Dad vanished.
    His stepmother told everyone he left with another woman and cleaned out the
    bank accounts. In 2007 (27 years later)
    we received a phone call that Tom’s stepmother was being arrested for his
    father’s murder. She had drugged him, shot him, and buried him in the back
    yard. This turned my husband’s world upside down, he tried to thank God for the
    gift of knowing that his father did not abandon him but as the trial grew near
    he was very angry and depressed and began drinking heavily. Unbelievably
    Tom agreed to seek help. Definitely
    another God thing. In January 2009 we
    went through a 6 week inspirational seminar in Kansas City. We came away
    changed people. It was so awesome! Tom thought he would be the most depressed
    person there with his Father’s murder trial hanging over him but God showed him that everyone has their trials and Tom
    ended up helping many other people. Only God can do that! It was so healing for
    him. We met a counselor who we love and trust. We thought God brought him to us
    to help us in Idaho but now we know differently. We grew very close as a couple
    through this seminar. The reason I needed to tell you this is because Ashley
    told her best friend, just before her accident, that she was happier than she
    had been her whole life because her parents were so in love. What a gift that
    is for us now. Thank you God! We brought home some music CD’s from our seminar
    and Tom and I would dance crazy uplifting songs every night. Ashley would look
    at us like we had lost our marbles but several times we got her and her
    brothers to dance with us. We danced with our own Cinderella. Ashley brought many of her friends to
    meet Jesus and accept Him as their Savior. She also had a very special friend
    Jared. She had dated Jared for 2 years which we as parents did not like. But
    she assured us that we needed to trust her and that she was not going to have
    sex because it would be a sin. Jared now knows Jesus and has been on a mission
    trip. He wants to make God and Ashley
    proud.

    We have to thank God for every moment because
    we were blessed with the best kids in the whole world. They were far from
    perfect but perfect to us. I would not
    trade any one of them for any other child in the world. They blew us away with their fearlessness and
    compassion for life. We don’t know how or why we are so blessed. We always thought how did this happen? That these
    children who are so much wiser than us and have touched so many lives, would be
    given to us? We’ve always wondered and always will. Even though there time was
    so short we know we were so lucky and Blessed to have them at all. Ashley left
    us so many gifts with all the scriptures she highlighted or marked in her
    Bibles. One of my favorites: Proverbs
    3:5-6 Turn to the Lord in all your ways and do NOT rely on your own
    understanding. Trust in the Lord with
    all your heart and He will guide you on the right paths.” I don’t know where I would be without that
    verse allowing me to trust and not try to understand. I have never tried or
    even wanted to try to understand. We
    play her favorite Christian CD’s constantly. Of course, Cinderella is one of
    them.

    The
    following Monday, 1 week after losing Ash, the boys were asked to help with a
    branding about 40 miles from here. Branding calves was one of their favorite
    things to do. The night before we told
    them “We really don’t want you to go but maybe it will be good for
    you.” The boys have been close friends with this family’s 3 sons for years
    and we thought it would be a good place for them to be. They left at 5am the
    next morning with several of their cousins.
    We hugged them and told them we loved them. Tom
    & I were in shock and despair. We sat
    on the sofa and cried all morning. The
    boys had asked us to come to the ranch for lunch so we decided to go out. We know the family and love them also. We couldn’t really eat but we spent some time
    with our boys and then left to visit an aunt of mine who was in the
    hospital with terminal cancer. Tom was
    going to read out of Ashley’s FCA bible to her.
    The boys said they would not be far
    behind us. We were almost back to town when we passed an emergency vehicle. Then the town siren began to blow. We sat in the parking lot of the hospital
    listening to the radio. In small towns they announce the fire location. There was no announcement. Trembling and weak we began to worry that it
    may be another car accident. Soon one of
    my co-workers came out and said there has been an accident but that’s all they
    know right now. We began to pray. Then
    someone came out and said” I don’t know what’s going on but I heard somebody yell
    “find out where the Fords are now!”. That’s how our second night mare
    began, exactly one week after the first. Adam arrived shortly by ambulance. He
    was in shock and had a concussion. He had been driving and didn’t know what had
    happened. He had a lot of neck and head pain so he was strapped down to the
    board and couldn’t move. He had to stay that way for several hours waiting for
    his CT scan results. We immediately went to his side and held his hands and
    tried to comfort him. Being a nurse, I watched his vital signs carefully and he
    appeared to be stable. All I heard someone in the background say was that they
    were trying to get Andrew out with the jaws of life and performing CPR. It is
    so hard to breathe…..I had to get out of that room for a few seconds so they
    took us next door. We were there with our families and the doctor came in and
    said Adam was appearing stable. I said “have you heard anything about
    Andrew?” He said “Andrew is gone”. Tom & I immediately
    collapsed and said “God No!!!” As we were crying out in pain I
    faintly heard a voice. I did not listen. Several seconds later I felt a grip on
    me like a parent would grip their disobedient child to get their attention. It
    was a firm grip and the voice was more stern. I listened this time “I have
    Andrew! Go to Adam”. God spoke to
    me so clearly. I grabbed ahold of Tom and I had to yell over his cries, I
    yelled “Tom I feel God! ” He didn’t hear me and I had to yell again.
    “Tom, I feel God, He has Andrew and we have to go to Adam!” We were
    then able to go back to Adam and be there for him. When he saw me over him he cried and said” I
    am so sorry!” I looked him in the eyes and I said “No Adam! God is in
    control. This was the plan long before we were ever born and there is nothing
    anyone can do to change His plan!” Andrew’s
    injuries were too traumatic. They didn’t
    allow us to see him. We are told that Adam got out of his door and crawled into
    the back seat behind his brother and held him.
    I don’t know where we would be if God hadn’t talked to me that day.

    Besides the inspirational seminar, the concert, and all of the I
    love you’s and hugs, God also gave us Pastor Mick. We did not know Pastor Mick
    until my aunt was sick with her cancer. I am a nurse at our little county
    hospital. I had only met Mick in April
    when he came to see my favorite Aunt Sherri in the hospital several times a
    day. Mick stayed the night in the hospital with Adam and us. He has been with
    us daily since and gives us much comfort.
    He is such a gift! I don’t know
    what we would have done without all the precious gifts the Lord has given us
    but we are so thankful to Him. We still experience great waves of pain but we
    know our pain is so great because our love for our children is so great. I
    thank Him that we had so much love in our family. I thank
    Him that our kids were happy and at peace when they went to be with Him. If we
    hadn’t had the love or if our kids had left us when they were in turmoil or
    unhappy, this would be even harder and I can’t imagine it. We know only God knows our pain and we give
    it to Him. We so want to glorify Him and our children.

    Journal April 25th 07:30Am,
    2014: Amy Ford

    I am driving my short 6 miles to
    work, 3 mi of gravel, 3 mi of paved HI way. The flashbacks hit me like a
    freight train. I am powerless to stop them.
    The weakness, nausea, and explosive pressure in my chest take me back to
    those dreadful indescribable days when time stood still. It is so hard to breathe. I am suffocating. Images of my precious
    children flash before my eyes. I see
    them. I feel them. I smell them….. Death runs cold thru my veins
    once again. A semi-truck coming from the
    West~~~Oh I want to end this pain. Just a slight turn of the wheel, then no
    more pain and suffering. It’s been 5
    years. The waves continue to come. Almost
    at the same instant, I am safe in my
    Father’s arms. Humbly begging for His forgiveness. How could I be so selfish
    with ALL that He has given me? I cry
    tears of guilt and shame. He has carried me thru each and every unfathomable
    moment. He gave me the most beautiful
    family. 3 children who were and are
    beyond my wildest dreams. He gives me
    unending Grace, astonishing Strength, and unending undeserving Love. I cannot betray Him. I am so ashamed. I love you Jesus. And I am so thankful for You.

    As the anniversary’s approach, the flash backs, nightmares, and
    post-traumatic stress return to a degree.
    Shortly after begging my Father’s forgiveness and praying for ways to
    glorify the Lord and my children, I became very excited as God gave me the idea
    to somehow have a concert in memory of Ashley and Andrew. Visions of people rocking out for the Lord
    and celebrating my children’s lives replaced the dreadful images that were
    trying to fill my mind. We live in a
    very small community of 1600 people and the entire community has felt our pain
    and loss. I want to show each and every one of them to the light and truth He
    has for us. I have tried to be a witness
    to them but it never seems like quite enough.
    I know this is insane (deemed
    myself that long ago), but how awesome and incredible would it be if Steven
    Curtis Chapman and Will Franklin came to Ainsworth Nebraska? This community needs to know that we are still
    here only by God’s Grace, Strength, and Love.
    Not our own. We will be at the
    Hills Alive concert in South Dakota on July 20th. It is about 4 hours from here. My crazy idea
    would be for you to come to Ainsworth the night before. If you cannot do it I will understand, but I have been trying to write this letter
    for several months and knew it was something I had to do or I would always
    wonder. My brother in law Mark Price
    catered Women of Faith lunches for many years and my sister Teresa and he have
    met you several times. Teresa wanted to
    take me to meet you once after our tragedies but I was not able to travel or be
    separated from my family at the time. Please tell Marybeth I’ve read Choosing to See
    several times and I thank her and the Lord for that gift as well as all the
    others He pours out over me. You Steven
    and your entire family are a gift and inspiration to us and we are so
    grateful. See you in South Dakota if not
    sooner! We have not had the privilege of seeing you live since Ash’s birthday.
    Can’t wait!

    In Christ’s Love,

    The Fords

  • Amy Ford

    In Loving Memory of Ashley & Andrew Ford

  • Maureen Woessner Fontenot

    Praying for you and your family today. There have been many days past when God has brought you and your family to mind. May you feel the prayers and love that God has placed in the hearts of strangers, wrap you in His LOVE in a new way every time a prayer of intercession is prayed on your behalf. Our God has kept you and your family and I continue to pray as you journey on this side of Heaven.