Grace in Grief

I want to write. I don’t want to write.
I want to laugh. I want to cry.
I want the old normal, not a new normal.
Life feels confusing.

You ask how I am.
I don’t know.

I want the merry-go-round to stop, I want to get off.
I’ve ridden long enough, but God says,
“This is your life now, I will give grace for the ride.”

And grace he gives,
for one step at a time,
one day at a time.

2 Cor 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you…

“My grace is sufficient…
the grace is enough to get you through
your toughest times.
When you know you cannot go
another step without it.
Then it becomes the shining
focus in your life.”

Music has a way of speaking to me.
I can’t sing yet, but I can listen,
and while I listen,
I hear that amazing grace,
that great grace,
and it finds me.

While He pours out his grace
for one day at a time,
He also carries me.

There are days I would not make it
without His grace, His help.
Over and over I have to give it to Him,
to let him carry it, to let him carry me.


I think of Tris all the time.
I miss him.
I wonder what the sky looks like
from his side.

I play this song
and I cry.


 You ask how I am?
I don’t know.
But I know grace.

Happy Birthday Tris

Happy heavenly Birthday Tris.

Tris party

I can’t believe Nov 3 is here and you aren’t.
Who would have thought we would celebrate
your 33rd birthday without you?
You never were one for big birthday parties,
but sorry man, we’re having one this year.
We’re going to bake cupcakes, decorate them,
and let the kids spit all over them
while they blow the candles out.
We’ll sing happy birthday to you and laugh at your jokes.
We’ll look around to find you and then remember where you are.
Makes me wonder what kind of celebration
you are having up there.

Tris ice-cream

There will be ice-cream, of that I am sure
because a birthday is not a birthday without ice-cream,
according to you.
Not just any ice-cream though,
homemade ice-cream was the absolute best.
If it wasn’t homemade, it must be soft.
We would get out the container
and everyone would scoop theirs up.
When we were finally ready to put it away,
there you would sit, waiting patiently.
“Aren’t you getting any ice-cream?” we would ask,
even though we already knew you were.
“Yep! Be right there. Just waitin’ on it to get good and soft!”
I think we’ll need to pull out the ice-cream machine
for this birthday of yours.
I don’t think you had a happier weekend
then that one back in June
when we ate ice-cream all weekend from the ice cream machine.
There just isn’t any other way to celebrate
then with what you loved best, so ice-cream it will be.
I wonder if heaven has ice-cream.

Tris porch

We’ll have a good meal for your birthday too.
You were always up for good food,
“That was about the best meal I ever had.” you would say.
You didn’t care for all the fancy things,
just something plain and simple made you happy.
We might celebrate with a big plate
heaping full of beef tips and gravy over mashed potatoes.
Maybe we’ll grill a good steak, just the way you liked it.
We’ll throw in some hot wings for good measure
because we know how much you loved those too.
We’ll skip the veggies, the salad
and the fruit for today, in honor of you.
We’ll all eat up and lean back and say,
“Man, that was good!”
A common comment from you was,
“No one can cook as good as Lisa! My wife makes the best food!”
I wonder what you’re having today!
I wish our imagination was good enough
to see half of your birthday meal up there.

Tris jeepin

Since it’s not so cold out,
we could all go for a long jeep ride tonight.
Back to the cabin, through the woods,
we might even hit a mud hole or two,
just for old times sake.
The kids could bounce along in the back,
having the time of their life.
How does that new gold jeep ride up there?
Pretty smooth compared to that old Willys you had?
Although I’m sure you wouldn’t trade the gold one,
we would love to see you drive that Willys one more time.

Tris shop

I guess we could all go hang out in the shop
to celebrate your birthday.
We could invite all the guys you loved to talk with,
guys that stopped in on a Saturday,
guys that would call for advice, with a question or just to chat.
There is a lot of tinkering we could do up there.
Did you ever just sit still when you were in the shop?
There was always a motor to be torn into,
tools to arrange, a floor to sweep,
the dirt bike to fix, a jeep to repair, or a tractor to fix.
There were kids to entertain,
tools to collect that they had drug around,
some junk food for them to snack on,
or Sunny D for them to sip.
We might plug in the stop light that you were so proud of,
and just watch it glow in the dark.
Are there tools in heaven? Anything to tinker on?
A golf cart to fix or someone’s tractor?
I’m sure you’re in the middle of it, if there is.

Tris swing

Maybe instead of jeepin’ or hanging out at the shop,
we’ll just stretch out on the couch
with a toothpick in our mouth after our good meal.
We’ll all pull out our phones
and check Craig’s list for a good deal.
Pretty soon we’ll drop our phones
and take a little snooze in honor of you.
You must have slept lightly because you still seemed to hear
every conversation that was going on around you.
After a bit, you would whip your legs around, sit up and say,
“Well boys, let’s get this show on the road!”
Are there toothpicks in heaven?

Tris table

But most of all for your birthday,
we would just love to sit around the table with you
and listen to you talk and laugh.
Oh, just to hear another story that you so loved to tell.
We would all interrupt and soon you would say,
“As I was saying …” and pull everyone’s attention back to your story.
We would love to sit and watch you stick your toothpick
in the candle and turn it into a mess.
All we would really want for your birthday is
one more hug, one more laugh,
just one more evening with you.
We miss you so
and selfishly we wish you back,
just for one more time.

Tris relaxed

Happy birthday Tris.
I hope it was thee absolute most
grandest birthday celebration you have ever had!

Life of Grief

My mind whirls endlessly,
never ending questions without answers,
fighting reality, grasping for hope.

And then without warning, a London fog rolls in
and my mind stops on it’s on accord,
unable to process the most simple things.

Tears push behind my eyes, but refuse to fall.
The next minute tears well up ceaselessly,
a never ending stream.

Life continues to go on around me,
even when I feel like it stopped.

The last few weeks would best be described with a photo a day.
I do have a photo for every day,
but I won’t be sharing them all for various reasons.


On the darkest of days, friends and family rally around to lift you.


The days following the funeral were filled with
shiny stars, beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and much more.


We stood in the lawn one afternoon and watched God
paint a rainbow right before our eyes.


There were days spent in Tris’ shop,
looking through his tools, laughing at his jokes
remembering him in his favorite spot.


Glowing evening sunshine warmed us,
dried our tears, and drew us closer to heaven.


There were quiet evenings around the fire,
reflecting, talking about Tris and all of our good memories.


Tris was a junk food junkie and his work truck was full of snacks.
Sarita and I went to his favorite store and loaded up on his favorite stuff.


More time spent in his shop,
checking out his next projects and remembering better days.


And one last early morning visit,
saying good-bye before I went home.


Blogging may be sporadic until I get my thoughts together again.
I don’t want to bog you down with my mountain of grief,
but neither do I want to write like it never happened.
It has very much effected our lives and changed us forever.

Keep praying for our family,
it looks like Mt Everest was dropped in front of us
and is waiting to be climbed.

A Tribute to Tris

How can it only be a week since he left us?
It feels more like years.
We miss him so very much.

I wrote a tribute to Tris for Eric to read at the funeral.
Someone ask if I was going to write something
but there were just no words there.
No words would come.
One morning I gave up trying to sleep at 5am
and this poured onto the paper.


Oh Tris, how our hearts ache,
split open with pain like we’ve never known.

Tears spring up from a well that never runs dry.
Our laughter is turned to mourning,
our spirits heave with the heaviness of loosing you.

We cry, we grieve, we weep, we mourn, but it’s all because of love.
You were so very loved, more then you will ever know.
We loved your big ways, everything you did was big.

We loved your talking, loud though it was.
We knew when you were in the room,
we could hear you coming a mile away.
Your booming voice brought people to attention,
They listened when you spoke, they heard a man.
Oh, how we miss that big voice.

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We loved your care for our children.
Crying babies? Not a problem. You had it all under control.
“Let’s play kick ball you would say.”
and all the kids would come running.

After a game, they would hop in the jeep
and drive away on a ride with you.

How we’ll miss your care for them.

You were the one to call for everything, and how we loved that.
Something is broken, something quit,
“Call Tris,” we would say, “He can fix it!”
You were the one who called, ‘Just to talk!’
When our phones would ring with your picture,
we could hear your smile, your laugh.
Who will we call now?

You loved people, you were interested in everyone.
When you visited with someone, they knew you cared about them.
You had an interest in their lives.
A good viewing was your delight, so many people to talk to.
I’m only sad you missed your own.

Your little family, how you loved them.
Lisa was the perfect one for you.
Her quiet spirit kept your loud one under control.
You loved nothing more then to tease her and see her laugh.
Your firstborn, Katelyn, you were her anchor.
When she was hurt, when she cried, she wanted Daddy.
Aleigha, your right hand little lady.
She was often seen perched on her Daddy’s knee.
And little Grant, my, how proud you were of him.
He loved no one more then his Daddy,
waiting at the door every day for you to come home.
Who will fix their bikes, who will kiss their hurt away?
Who will tell them stories and tuck them into bed?
Who will say, “Come Lisa, it’s time to go!”

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There are so many things we loved about you,
so many things we’ll miss.

We’ll miss your singing, my but, how loudly you could sing.
Not always on key, but you sang from the bottom of your heart.
Your jokes, we spent half the time trying to figure out
if what you were saying was true.
There was your ever ringing phone and all the calls from farmers.
You would answer and then head outside to pace.
Your big long legs ate up miles of space, walking while you talked.
A good deal was never to be passed up on Craig’s list.
“What’s your bottom dollar?” you would say.
We’ll miss your big and in charge ways.
You were the leader, the pillar of our family.

We will never stop missing you.
A Tris shaped hole was been left in our hearts that will never be filled.
The life of the party has gone before us, what will we ever do?
We can only look to Jesus, whom you knew so well.
We know you kneel at his feet today,
we do too, crying, broken and pleading for help.

I will love and miss you for the rest of my life.
Keep singing for Jesus until I come. Your big sister, Shannon.

My Brother

My heart is heavy with grief as I type this morning.
My brother Tristan, only 32 years old, passed away
so very quickly early Wed morning, Oct 7

Although we thought his health was fine,
he died of a sudden heart attack.


We loved him so much, he was the life of the party.
He will be so very missed.

A quote a friend sent me:
Now at last he is beginning chapter one of the great story no one on earth has ever read, which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better then the one before.

Lift our family in prayer  as we grieve this loss.

Mark Tristan Stoll, 32, passed away unexpectedly early in the morning Wednesday, October 7, 2015

He was born Nov. 3, 1982, to Owen and Marie (Yoder) Stoll. On Oct. 18, 2003, he married Lisa Wagler and she survives. Together they had three children, Katelyn Elizabeth, 8, Aleigha Claire, 4, and Grant Tristan, 18 months.

He is also survived by his parents, Owen and Marie Stoll of Odon; one brother, Tyson (Amanda Stoll) of Loogootee; two sisters, Shannon (Eric) Hostetler of Utica, Ohio, and Sarita (Tim) Graber of Odon.

He was a member of the Mt. Olive Mennonite Church. Tristan was loved by all who knew him. Friendly and ready to visit, he always had a smile. He was a wonderful husband and father and loved spending time with his family. He was employed by Hutson Inc. as a John Deere mechanic and was known by many farmers in the area.

Calling hours will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Mt. Olive Mennonite Church in Montgomery.

The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the church. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Ethan & Melissa

The long awaited wedding weekend finally came.
For the Bride and Groom and our kids
it was like, “How much longer do we have to wait?
It’s sooo long until the wedding.”
For the rest of us it was like,
“Oh my word, the wedding is next week?
I still have so much stuff to do!”
Ready or not, all at once it was here.

This post is going to be picture overload so get ready.
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All the decor going up.

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He thinks he’s really getting away with things.

After so long, the work starts getting to you …
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Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3.

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Aunt Ruth made the cute little cake.

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Stringing the lights.

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The groom’s family having a pow wow.

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These ladies critiquing things and give their opinion.
They had some good ideas.

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They also make beautiful bouquets.

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We liked it but thought that ugly brown behind the table needed a face lift.

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So later that night we covered it and were much happier with the results.

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These two were more then ready for this day to come!

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“How do we do this now?”

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“Start about right here, but don’t go galloping down the aisle!”

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And the Father of the bride steps on the groom’s toes and whispers,
“You better take good care of her! I know where you live!”
(or not!) :)


And then suddenly day they have been waiting for is here.

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My sweet loving little Miss Thundercloud
was in the worst mood that morning.
At home, all was fine.
She was so excited about wearing her “wedding dress!”
We get there and she decides not to smile.
Nothing, nata, not a thing would make her smile.

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Josie and Jasmine were happy.

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We forced her to stand there,
but nothing would force a smile.

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“What do you think you’re doing reaching for my hand?
I’m here to be mad, not play!”
Ugh! This mom just wanted to bury her head in the sand.
No sand? The Olaf blanket will do!

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“Let’s be friends even if she won’t play with us!”

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Carrie was feeling a bit chilly
so Olaf to the rescue!

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Brooklyn, Reagan and Aunt Bethany

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Josie and her Mama

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Our wonderful Mama Carol.
She holds the family together and we all love her!

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A picture with dad? Sure.
A smile for the picture? No, thank you!

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“Hi, I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs!”
He was kept busy keeping everyone warm that morning.

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These 2 pretty ladies needed an escort and Mr D was happy to oblige.

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All of us!
And I really like us!

Little Miss Thundercloud was back there happily frowning away.
After this she was sent off with Lisa for a bit of a distraction.
It worked. No attention, something else to think about it
and sure enough, she cheered up.
The more you ask something of her,
the less likely she is to comply.

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Siblings of the bride.
The groom declares himself a bit special to be included in this photo.
We know. We agree.

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Nieces and nephews of the bride.

The Queen decided smiling and being happy was fun!
(Or her big sister may have bribed her with gum)

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Pretty ladies all in white.

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And smile she did, but only when she felt like it.
She’s sitting on my lap right now and she says,
“I not wook so gwouchy!”

  • Now taking applications to deal with a strong willed child.

… off to the wedding …

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We had no idea love was in the air!

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Cupcake goodness!

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Mr. Liam and his pretty Mama

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Although we are not related by blood, it has been said we look alike.

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pretty cousins

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They were ready to be off …
but I think their truck was too full for them.

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And they lived happily every after!

“Some people are worth melting for!”
-Olaf the snowman