There is more than just this

This isn’t the way I wanted the story to go.

I thought it as water from the shower head hit my face, hiding the tears. There is no cell signal at Granny and Papa’s house in Arkansas, so I’d woken up to their land line ringing. It was my mom, and Robert had being trying to call. Olivia wasn’t breathing. I needed to pray.

And I did pray. Oh, how I prayed. I prayed that God would breathe His breath into her little lungs. I prayed, and I believed that He could. That He would.

There, in that shower, I prayed as I have so many times before. I prayed like I knew He was listening, because He was. He always does.

I prayed, and even before the phone rang again, I knew that she was gone. Somehow, I just knew.

I knew she was gone, and in that moment I was lifted.



Held, like He’s held me since I first heard the diagnosis in that doctor’s office eight years ago. Held, like there is no power on earth or anywhere that could tear me from His grip.

Carried. Tenderly, like precious cargo. Like how Livi’s daddy always carried her. So strong and gentle.

Lifted. And I still feel it now. Though I’m living these moments, feeling each emotion as it crashes over my raw and exposed heart. Everything is so real, and so hard. It’s awful, and I hate it. It hurts so bad, and yet I am being lifted above it all by One who isn’t subject to time or place.

My God exists in Heaven, even as He chooses to sit with me here. He holds oceans in His hands, yet He lets the waves hit Him too, so I am not alone. He sees the future and knows the victory that has come and is coming. Still, He cries with me.

She’s my baby.

I know.

My heart is broken.

Yes, I know.

He is with her in Heaven. Laughing, because she’s laughing, and dancing, and spinning, and it’s contagious.

He is there with her, and He is here with me. Simultaneously, laughing with her and crying with me, because He can. Because He is both. Eternity and this present moment, Heaven and earth, Victory and suffering. They all converge in Him.

He is Jesus–Son of the living God and man acquainted with sorrow.

He is both, and He is here with me. In the deepest part of my being, I knew it, even as I waited for that phone to ring a second time. Even as my heart cried out:

This isn’t the way I wanted the story to go.

I know, He said. But will you live this story?

Before the phone rang again, I answered. Even as the tears streamed down my face, I answered yes. There is no other answer, because to trust God is to be held.

Held like my Papa held me next to him on their old, brown couch. He never said a word, but his arms surrounded me like my Father’s heart poured out. A steady presence, seeing my pain and offering strength.

This is not the way I wanted the story to go, but I will live it. I will trust Him in it. It doesn’t make sense, how it’s worth it. But it is. Olivia taught me that. And the words that sum up her life keep prodding at my aching heart:

There is more than just this.

Like how Livi used to laugh at things she could see, but the rest of us couldn’t.

There is more than just this.

Like how a child that never spoke a word could express the heart of God so well.

There is more than just this.

How a little girl, could make such a big impact. Even in the days when her laughter had grown quiet and her smile had faded. When her arms weren’t capable of reaching out any more. She still touched hearts with the love of God. How is that possible?

There is more than just this.

Olivia softened the hearts of her siblings and strangers too. She taught her mama and daddy what it means to depend fully on God. Her life counted in all of the ways a life is meant to count. It mattered, and it still does. Even the parts she suffered through. It all mattered.

Because there is more than just this.

Olivia won. Whether or not that feels true in this moment, it is. Olivia won!

There is more than just this.

It’s the reason why the pieces of my shattered being cry out in worship to the God who loved me first. This message is woven through the Scriptures and sewn into the fabric of creation:

There is more than just this broken world.

You can hear it in Jesus’ weeping over Lazarus’ death and in the authority of His command to, “Come forth!” You can see it in the Son’s tenderness toward his mother, even as He hung from a cross. It’s there in the empty tomb, this truth:

There is this. This life matters. And yet, there is more than just this.

It is both. He is both, and we are meant to live as if both are true. So I will live this story–even the parts I must suffer through. In light of eternity, my life is but a breath. So, I will live this day with that Day in mind. I want my life to count like Olivia’s did. Like Olivia’s does.

One day, I will run and giggle and shout with her in Heaven. The foreverness of that only makes this time I have left on earth seem more precious. Like I shouldn’t waste a single drop. Like nothing can be taken for granted. Like Jesus is everything, and everything that means anything is found in Him.

Oh, sweet friend. In my grief, I can see it so clearly–the story Olivia told:

There is more than just this. So, live this life well. Live it like Jesus matters most. He can be trusted.

“Looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”–Hebrews 12:2

16 comments on “There is more than just this

  1. Our family has kept yours in our prayers, lifting you all up. I know your hearts are heavy and loss, and it is so hard. I know God is with you all as you morn your little Angel. Your love for her will stay with her always, your faith can move mountain’s. God Bless you and your amazing family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous

    Oh my, your faith is so inspiring. Your words have touched me more than I can say and your emotional strength is amazing. God blessed you with Olivia and as you said she is laughing, singing and enjoying all her rewards in Heaven with Jesus. I picture her holding hands with our Savior walking and she is telling him all about her family and all the wonderful moments she spent with you all. Prayers for your family. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charlene Sowell

    Robert and Holly. I don’t have the words to tell you how I feel. I can just say your writings always bring me closer to Jesus.
    Just know I love this Chapman family with all my heart.
    Love and prayers
    Aunt Charlene

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Treva Vance

    Prayers for you Holly and Robert. I only met Olivia a few times but you just knew she was special. Your words are wonderful and so moving. So sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous

    My heart hurts so badly for yall, but you have said it so perfectly. She was a blessed girl to have such an amazing family.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wendy Buzzard Conner

    Olivia will forever be a part of our hearts… Thank you for sharing your sweet girl with all of us. I am so grateful that we were able to love on her Sunday at church. We love ALL of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Again I stand in awe of your faith and strength even in weakness. You describe Livi’s purpose so well. May we all remember that there is more and that Jesus is most important. Love you and praying foe you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Patti, Tracy, and Tennie Daniel

    Holly and Robert, you are in our prayers and we are sending love to you all. Sweet little Livi was an Angel here on earth and we are all better for having her in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Anonymous


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Holly and Robert,
    My heart aches for you. Please know that you are in my prayers. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Please know you are all In my thoughts and prayers!!!! The impact this baby girl had on so many lives in so many ways is astronomical…… even on those who followed from afar!!! It is NOT over….. her location has only changed! Love and hugs from afar!!!! ♥️🙏🏻♥️🙏🏻♥️🙏🏻♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Stephanie Ellison

    ❤️🙏🏼 Thank yiu for sharing your daughter with the world! I love you all and am praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Anonymous


    Liked by 1 person

  14. Janis Alling

    Robert and Holly
    Our hearts grieve with you this morning as you walk through this day, tomorrow, and in the days ahead when you will miss dear sweet Olivia. I remember her unique way love poured out of her little frail body. Yet strong enough to get that message of love out to others.

    It is hard to understand grief here on this earth. But God has ways to show up using His children to help carry us through the valley of death. So today Jim and I want you to know we are praying for God to comfort you in ways that will only GOD can.

    Jim and Janis.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Anonymous

    Hug’s said prayers for y’all..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. ❤❤❤My precious, precious baby girl. Mama loves you!❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

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