Four Months

Never has time been so long.
Never has time been so short.
It feels like yesterday we heard you laugh,
yesterday we saw you come through the door.
But it feels like years since we heard your voice,
saw your smile, and heard you sing.

Never a road so hard,
so wearisome, so tiring, so dark.
Darkness is the absence of light
and light left our lives when you took flight.
Weary to the bone, tired of the weight on our mind,
wondering how to walk this path,
how do we go on with an ache so great?

Never a day goes by that we don’t imagine your face.
Never a day that we don’t smile at a memory.
We miss you so much, so very much.
You were larger then life and
took up such a big part of our hearts.
A Tris shaped hole forever remains.

Tris 5x7

Never a day that we don’t wonder what you are seeing,
hearing, singing, and laughing about up there.
I am sure your happiness knows no bounds
as you belt out praises to Jesus.
Four months of splendor are a drop in the bucket,
you have only begun to see the glories.

Never have we shed so many tears.
Never has the pain gone so deep.
Never have we grieved as we do,
but it’s all the price of love.
We would never have chosen to love you less,
never given up a minute of time with you.
In return, this grief we carry
is because of our love for you.
We will walk this road bravely,
head to the wind, facing the fight,
in honor of you, whom we loved so dearly.

Musings of Life

One day runs into the next, one week follows the week before and I’m not quite sure what happens to the months, but they just keep slipping by.
Time is long and time is short.

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We think to ourselves, how can it be that long? Wasn’t it just yesterday? And in the next minute we think of how long it’s been since we last saw him, entirely too long.

The evening sky lights up and we breathe a sigh and ask,
“Oh Lord, how long? How long before you come?
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.”

~~~

Life goes on, life changes, but still life remains the same. Children grow, but on the other hand, children remain the same. Even as they stretch upward, they continue to stretch you in areas you didn’t know you really needed stretching. I didn’t say a thing about arguments, disagreements, and other such things, did I?

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With only one son in the family, people worry for us that he might not be too much of a boy. Fear not, people, I have plenty of evidence to put your minds at ease. This was a wrestling match that nearly shook the foundation. All the while it went on, the little one calmly snuggled in her blanket, right in the middle of it. Rather fearless you might say.

The other day after much activity I heard him run up to one of the girls, lift his arm and stick his arm pit into her face saying, “Sniff, sniff. Smell under my arm. Do ya like that smell?” He ran off laughing while she yelled. He may live in a house full of girls, but fear not, he is still a boy at heart!

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One moment he’s fighting with them and the next minute he’s jumping up and down with excitement when Madison suggests having a tea party!

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Trying to get that little pinky to stick out.

~~~

Life is never dull around here.

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If the opportunity presents itself, you just go ahead and hunt from your daughter’s bedroom window. His photographer/videographer just may have jumped a few inches when he finally shot. One thing I did learn during this experience was that I lack greatly in the patience department. Ok, I already knew that, this just confirmed it once again.

~~~

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When one day is hard and each day following continually get worse, it’s a gift from God and a friend when a box shows up on the steps. A little bit of something for everyone and little notes stuck all over. I pray she is blessed for her generosity. When I called to thank her, she said I had been on her mind so much the week before so she decided to send something. That was God coming through! Listen when he gives you those nudges because it really does bless the one you are thinking of when you let them know.

~~~

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Since Madison does my baking, I decided to get a head start on my next cook in hopes of working myself out of a job.

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Since the man has taken over the grill, I really am not left with much to do in the food department and trust me, I am quite happy about that. He was prepping a pork loin for our Bible study group. It turned out quite delicious.

~~~

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One day when I picked up the girls from school we sat at this stop sign and had a little life lesson on thankfulness while we watched these little guys. “How would you like to walk to school?” and many other such questions followed. The girls quickly agreed they have it quite nice. :)

~~~

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Go pick ya self up a little bite of Valentine Chocolate or ask him to get ya some like this. They really are too good to miss. Oh yes, I am still the one who rarely eats and does not really love chocolate, but I will make an exception for these little guys.

~~~

HOPE

A very long, hard week ended at the INSPIRE 2016 women’s retreat. The theme this year was “Living in Hope” by Jen Miller. It was just what my heart needed to hear.
Life is tough, but we have this anchor of Hope, a reason to keep living.
It was a very good 24 hours, much wisdom and words from God. All along I have known these truths in my head, I just needed to be reminded to apply them to my heart again. The application of some of these things will be hard, surrendering, giving up my wants and wishes, opening my hand to God and saying, “Write my story!”

Here’s a word Jen taught us:
Hopelifting: noun
The art of passing on hope to someone else.
“Hope is contagious. It is carried from person to person and is transmitted by contact.”

Go give someone a lift today by spreading a bit of hope in their hearts.

 

Tys is 30!

We aren’t big “birthday party people” in our family. The kids may get a small deal at home, but getting together, throwing a party, or anything big, usually doesn’t happen and we’re all ok with that.

Tris was not one for birthday parties. I’m not sure what all his reasons were, but he would have been happy without them. That was one of the reasons we threw him a big 30th party 3 years ago. He was completely surprised, but also completely enjoyed himself. I guess that started the wheels rolling in his mind because this fall before he died, he mentioned Tys’ birthday to Lisa. He wanted a party for Tys, just like his own, and at Christmas when Tys least expected it.

Tys was a very important person in Tris’ life, as his only brother, they were very close. They talked on the phone almost every evening, they spent Saturdays together in the shop. They shared common hobbies, tinkering on vehicles, riding dirt bikes, buying things on Craig’s list, visiting pawnshops
and much more.

The idea was already brewing in the back of my mind, but before I voiced it to anyone, Lisa called me one day and told me what Tris had said. And just like that, Tys was having a birthday party because Tris had already planned it. There was no way we were skipping it now.

Tys’ wife pulled off a lot of the work, along with her family. We had a few lines in place to get him where he needed to be the night of the party, but over all, it really wasn’t too hard to surprise the one who claims he can never be surprised.

Before we get to the party, a few things about Tys. His name is Tyson, but I haven’t called him that since oh, I don’t know when, probably the last time I was mad at him. He’s Tys to everyone.

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He’s great for a good laugh. My favorites are when we’re in a crowd and he’ll come up and quietly say something stupid to make you laugh. He also knows exactly how close to the line he can go with Mother. This dirt bike in the house would be one foot over the line.

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He’s the fixer all things. If it needs to be tinkered with, he always has a knife or tool in his pocket to fix it. He will work on something for the longest time and is almost always able to fix it.

He calls to check on me, to see how I’m doing. He listens.

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He will tease mercilessly, endlessly. And for some unknown reason, the kids love it. They fight him, chase, and badger right back.

You need a job done, call him, he will come.
He is reliable and hard-working on a big or small job.

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He has three boys and they love him. For the most part they are a jolly bunch, but I’m not sure what was happening here. He seems to have added the 4th big blue son over Christmas time. These boys love to be with their dad. One or all three have been known to cry  if he leaves without them.

He is the King of taking dumb pictures. If you have a camera he’ll strike a pose, or he’ll use your phone and later you’ll find countless selfies of him. I’ll leave it at that, use your imagination since space does not allow me to post all the photos I have like this.

MIG bikes

He is welder by day and a MIG welder by night. He made these bikes from scrap welder rods and a few drawings on cardboard.
(I may or may not have stolen his photos for this)

3 wheel MIG bike
He was asked to make one for the Haiti Sale in FL and since he was bored with the Schwinn model he was making, he created a 3-wheeler with a Pinecraft license plate. Go to Florida and buy it. It’s one of a kind.

Now about that surprise party…

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All the way down there, the sky was dark, overcast. I kept watching one place where the sun was shining  from behind. It was hanging right over the church where we were going. It wasn’t until I took a picture that I saw the heart in the sky.

We waited awhile for him to show up…Tys party (7)
Not quite sure he wanted to come in. I told him he had to, Tris planned this party and there was no way he was getting out of it.

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He obviously has lots of friends!

We made sure he had 30 gifts,
but I know for a fact that there were more then 30.
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A selfie stick.
Just what he needs to photograph himself
from the top of a grain leg he is welding.
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He had lots of help opening gifts.
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He asked for this gift! He bashed vests in a very loud and obnoxious manner one night, so we bought him one! He says, “Never mind that your arms are frozen, at least your torso is warm!”
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Max, down on the right, just cracks me up!
For being the son of Tys, he is a lot like Tris.
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He was a little worried about opening some of these bags.
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Now he’s stylin’! Add that vest and he’s ready for the mall!
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It was a good party, even he admits it!
Turning 30 isn’t so bad after all.

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We had a good night but missed Tris very much.
He would have loved it! So many people to talk to and enjoy.

Happy 30th birthday Tys!
We love you and are blessed to have in our lives.

 

Of Christmas Without You

Dear Tris,

I just want to see you come strolling through the door,
with Grant in your arms and you singing
“Silver Bells, silver bells, it‘s Christmas time in the city!”
I want to sit down and drink a cup of coffee with you.
I want to listen to you talk, to hear you laugh.
I would love to hear your latest joke
or bit of news you learned today.
I would just like to hear your voice again.

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I would want to sit in Mom’s living room
with you and the rest of the gang.
Have loud discussions, listen to everyone’s opinion
being voiced at the same time and laugh!
I wish you could carry the little kids around
and keep the peace with the big ones.
I want to sit across the table from you again,
to watch you laugh and have a good time.

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I would want to tell you about Christmas this year.
There was talking, there was laughter sometimes,
there was good food, and wild kid times,
but still nothing was the same this year.
80 days before, our lives were turned upside down
and we will never have a Christmas like the old ones again.
This Christmas there were tears,
the pain of missing you was just so great
that it overshadowed the joy.

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I would love to tell you about the lockets
I gave Katelyn and Aleigha.
I whispered “These are from your Daddy!”
and you should have seen them smile.
A picture of you on one side,
and one of them on the other.
They are so proud of them
and keep them tucked inside their dress,
close to their heart.
I see them reach and pull the locket out,
they open it and finger the picture.
They miss you so!

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I want to tell you about the grills the guys bought,
how they research everything
and figure out just what temperature
and how long everything needs to be on.
They don’t wing it like you would,
they like to know what’s happening.
You would have gotten a huge kick out
of the fact that the chickens weren’t done
for Sunday lunch because the electricity blinked
and turned their grill off.

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I would like to tell you about Tyson’s 30th birthday party,
the one you were already planning before you died.
He thought he could sneak out of having a party,
but of course you wouldn’t let him get away with that.
We surprised him very well!
You would have loved it!
There were so many people there,
so many people you would have liked to talk to,
so many people who came because they love him!
He was your favorite person next to your little family
and I know you would have loved to see him celebrated.

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After his party, we took a picture, just us lonely 3 siblings.
We smiled, but we missed you!
You always had your ways and we couldn’t believe our eyes
when later we saw you had sneaked into the picture with us.
It made us smile again.

I would want to tell you that the new road is done!
I would want to tell you how we drove it,
how we cried, how we missed you.
We talked about you while we drove,
there were so many things you
would have wanted to see along the way.

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I would want to tell you about
all the little things that happened this weekend,
things you would have loved to see.
The knives Tim gave the guys in memory of you,
the dirt bike in Mom’s kitchen,
and how Eric and Tim built a table for Sarita.
I would tell you about the little bikes Tys is making,
you would be so proud of him.
It was a warm Christmas,
you would have been happy about that.
I really want to tell you about all the things
people are doing for your little family,
how well they are being taken care of and loved.

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I want to tell you so many things
that I didn’t tell you before,
so many things I should have said.

I want to tell you what a wonderful dad you were
and how much your little family loved you.
I would want to tell you what a hero you were to them,
the one they trusted, looked up to
and couldn’t wait to see at the end of the day.
You worked so hard for them, took such good care of them
and were the anchor of all their lives.

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I would want to tell you how much we miss you,
how badly we hurt because you’re gone.
I don’t think you knew how much
you meant to us, how much we loved you.
We struggle without you,
but your Jesus walks with us.

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Some days we aren’t sure if there is much left of us because
the Tris shaped hole in our hearts keeps growing larger all the time.
We’ll keep fighting because when the sun sets each day,
it means we’re one day closer to seeing you again.
Love you lots and hope your Christmas was better then ours.

To Bless Him

The road He led me to travel started smoothly,
rough along the edges at times,
but quite easy to traverse.
I blessed His name as I walked.

Small pieces of stone developed over time,
larger ones tripped me up occasionally.
Trustingly I stretched out my hand for His,
placing my faith in Him to keep me steady.
I praised His name.

Over time a few rolling hills loomed in the distance.
I placed one foot in front of the other
and with the help of His hand,
climbed steadily up,
the path still relatively smooth.
Bless you Lord, for this life of mine.

Peeking over a rolling hill one day,
I saw a valley lying before me.
Though the task of crossing looked great,
with my hand in His, I knew we could make it.
When I tripped, He lifted, when I fell, He caught me,
and together we made it to the other side.
Thank you Lord, for crossing with me.

Day followed day, months turned into years,
still we walked on.
Nothing seemed impossible for us together.
Bless you Lord, for all you do for me.

road

And then one day with His hand in mine,
we crested a mountain ridge,
the scene before me was dark and ugly.
A deep ravine, a chasm so wide
the other side could not be seen through the fog.
Fallen logs, swift moving streams,
cliffs, boulders and danger blocked my path,
night as dark as ink filling every crevice.
“Lord,” I cried as I pulled my hand from His,
“I cannot bless your name!
This road you have asked me to travel
is more than I can bear.”

I fell into a heap, tears coursing my face.
“I cannot cross this great divide,
the way is too rough,
the pain too much to carry,
the road too hard to travel.
I cannot bless your name,
what reason have I?”

As I wept, a gentle hand tugged mine.
With care He lifted me to my feet
and pulled me into His embrace.
In a soft voice he whispered,
“You don’t have to cross this valley alone.
I will carry you when you cannot walk.”
Only a tiny sigh touched my lips.

Together we started down,
the road ripped deep into the earth,
filled with pain beyond compare.
Many days were spent struggling,
only moving one step forward.
Tears fell freely,
but a gentle hand was there to wipe them away.
Blood spilled from the wounds in my feet,
with tender care he bound them.
But nary a word of blessing
crossed my lips as we climbed,
only cries of grief and anguish.

We pressed on day after day,
crossing that great divide.
Always, as he had promised,
He walked with me,
when I could no longer move,
He carried me, faithfully there.
And finally one day I quietly spoke,
“I bless you Lord,
not yet for the path on which I walk,
but for the hand that holds mine.
For this, I bless you.”

©Shannon Hostetler

Of Thanksgiving

“How was your Thanksgiving?” you ask.

We did what everyone else did.
We gathered around the table,
we ate, we talked, we laughed sometimes.
But most of all, deep inside, we hurt.
We cried, we talked about Tris,
we remembered good times
and a few more tears fell.
The sadness of missing him
has settled deep.
His presence was so large, so full of life,
there is a lot about him to miss.
It is just unbelievable what a hole
one person can leave.

We put our best foot forward
since the Holidays give us no choice
but to face life head on.
It wasn’t easy,
sometimes it felt downright unbearable,
but we tried and with the trying,
there was grace, once again sustaining us.

Children crave normalcy
so for their sake, we had to try.

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All Eric had to do was continue reading
and he had a revolving audience of little people.

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Madison had a good time Thursday.
Now guess what they think they “need” around this place.

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Grandpa loaded all the littles up for a ride.
The oversize load behind him followed for back up.

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We spent a lot of time just talking, being together.
The best conversations happen around this island.

Tris is often in our conversations.
Looking through photo albums,
laughing at his jokes,
talking about his likes and dislikes,
the things he did and said.
(all of which were many)

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There was teasing, lots of it from this one.
They may fight with and yell at him,
but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Grandma snuggles make little girls feel better.

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We even went out to eat one time because tired minds
have a hard time thinking of something to cook all the time.

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Beside Grandpa’s fireplace is the best place to set up a game.
Their parents don’t play games but the kids seem to like it.

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Saturday mornings at Grandma’s call for pancakes.
Grandma usually makes big ones
but when the favorite aunt comes to visit,
she makes fun size pancakes.
How many silver dollar pancakes can you eat?

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Tris’ shop is a good place for little people
with lots of energy to hang out,
especially on rainy days.

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Anytime spent outside was under an umbrella.
She was happy with that!

Days that are dreary and rainy make
grief-walking even more difficult.
The cloudy winter days in our future look long
but one thing we have learned
is to take one day at a time.
Tomorrow doesn’t matter, only today.

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This little chair was just her thing!
She read one book after another
with her little feet all relaxed.

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Sunday the Master griller fixed a bird for us.
It was delicious.
We hereby proclaim that the women of this family
are done fixing the food.
Have at it guys.

Someone’s sense of humor is still intact
because we found a bag of turkey bones
under Eric’s seat on the way home.
They thought he might need a snack. :)

~~~

So the questions remains,
“How was the weekend?”
Good and bad.
Good to spend time with family again.
Hard to see what a hole is left in our family.
Good to see the small amount of progress we’ve made.
Sad to think of moving on without him.
To sum up and answer,
“We survived.”

 

 

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.

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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.

tears

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