Sunday, August 10, 2008

Raw.

Raw is the word that keeps coming to mind when I try to describe what it was like watching Steven Curtis Chapman and his sons perform at Coors Field tonight. Perform isn't even the right word. Share? It was more like they were sharing their lives with us. Their emotions were so clear. In their faces, in their voices, in their body language.

Watching the Chapmans on Larry King Live on Thursday night was a whole different story. While they were transparent, unguarded, and unrehearsed on Larry King, they still had to explain themselves. They had to make their emotions understandable to a crowd of people who come from a totally different point of view. In front of the audience tonight, Steven was utterly honest and emotional in a way that was different from what we saw on TV. Almost as if he knew that he was among friends, like the concert was in private.

Steven opened with the worship song he said was the first to come to his mind as he sat in the emergency room the night his daughter, Maria, passed on. The song was "Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt Redman. Watching him sing it, you could just tell that every line of the song was a line he needed to sing just to remind himself of what he believes. Usually when a worshiper sings a song like that, it is with joy and excitement and pleasure and amazement. This was different. This was with angst and pain and mourning, but also with faith. Steven sang several songs that you could tell were songs that have been proving themselves true as he walks through his experience with Maria. Cinderella, Yours, Miracle of this Moment, and God is God come to mind immediately. There were points during these songs where Steven's voice cracked, points where it looked like he was probably crying, and definitely moments when I wondered how he could possibly continue. While he was singing When Love Takes You In, the clouds opened up and rain started pouring down, but Steven finished the song (despite the stage guys covering everything, including Steven's keyboard and the band's main keyboardist, in tarps). Steven joked that if he started chasing the lightning bolts, to chase him down and tackle him. We laughed but could hear the pain in his voice -- he wants to be with his little girl. After a short rain delay, he changed gears and sang with what was probably his game face during Dive and The Great Adventure. He sang them with joy, dancing and jumping around the stage like the Steven I've seen perform before.

Shortly before the rain delay, Steven sings on.
The boys, Will Franklin and Caleb, were a different story. They were pretty stoic through the whole show. Caleb (he plays electric guitar for his dad) didn't betray any emotions. Will looked like he was putting every ounce of energy he had into playing the drums. To be honest, I'm not sure how many more shows that drum set is going to survive. He looks like he's getting some therapy out of smashing them, playing with power and seriousness. Apparently Will has to go back to school in a couple of weeks, which is a bummer for the band. He's really an asset to them, in my very humble and musically illiterate opinion. Hopefully he'll be back after graduation. Brynn enjoyed watching Will on the drums and said he was her favorite in the band. I've heard his parents say in interviews that Will is an incredible big brother...I think he must be. Brynn could tell just from watching him on stage! And Callie, ha. She was funny. While Steven was in the middle of a story in between songs, she turned to me and with a completely serious face, said, "He's a nice guy." Yes, he is. I've heard that kids are great judges of character. They're certainly honest and don't mind telling you what they observe, especially Callie.

We ended up at the concert after a long day in Denver. We left the house at about nine in the morning, arriving in Denver at the Aquarium around 10:30. This was our first trip to the Denver aquarium and I was actually impressed. I've seen some great aquariums but this one was really perfect for us. It's not too big, it's well laid-out, it's not crowded, it's clean, the animals look happy (as opposed to our animal jail of a zoo) and they've got a great variety of fish and even some mammals (including three Sumatran Tigers). See this photo album for pictures of our trip to the aquarium.


After the aquarium, we headed to LoDo for lunch and to catch a Rockies game before the concert. With two little kids, baseball games aren't exactly a breeze. Knowing that, we arrived toward the end of the third inning. We bought the cheapest tickets available since we knew we wouldn't be spending much time in our seats. The only treat the girls wanted while we were there was cotton candy, so during the seventh inning stretch we buckled and let them split one. First they got sticky, next they got clean-ish in the (totally nasty, poorly designed) ballpark bathrooms, and then headed to the playground which is on the main concourse of the park, out in left field. What a GREAT idea. The girls burned off some steam before the concert. By the time the concert started, the park was about a third full. The organizers were expecting 20-25,000 people in attendance for the concert, and I'd say they were pretty close.

Dave Dravecky opened the concert with a short talk before introducing Steven. I've heard Dave's wife speak several times but this was the first time I'd heard Dave. He's inspiring and down to earth and really has a great testimony. The girls were pretty wiggly while Dave was speaking (thank you cotton candy) but seemed to calm down and focus well once the music started.

It was a busy day, but a fun day. I cried while I was inspired and comforted. I appreciated being present for Steven's raw emotions; it's not often that one gets to witness a family like the Chapmans enduring a valley like the one they're going through, a valley that could happen to any of us at any time. Their honesty and transparency lets me see the authenticity of their faith, and that gives me hope.

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