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.


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

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.


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 losing 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.

Tris ice-cream

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.

Tris jeepin

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.

Tris swing

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.

Tris relaxed

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.

Little Lia

A phone call comes that you never want to answer.
Words spoken that squeeze the heart.
Pain that one never wants to imagine.
A little tiny life snatched away so quickly,
whisked into the arms of Jesus in a mere moment.
Tears fall like rain.
A precious little child taken from the ones who loved her.

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She was an adorable little girl, loved by 2 families.
Her birth family and her foster family,
who were loving her while her Mom was incarcerated.
She slipped away from a watchful eye and was struck by a car.
So tiny, so fragile, so sweet, and Jesus called.

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At Christmas time my cousin Glenda had asked if I would come over
and take some photos of her and Alliyia doing their normal things together.
It was so much fun and now I look through them and the tears slip down,
remembering this sweet little one and knowing the pain they feel.

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Snuggles with Nana and baby.

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She loved to read books.

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Bedtime was so much fun.

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Sweet, squishy little hugs that you will never ever forget.

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Snack time standing on her favorite spot in the kitchen.

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Glenda kept pictures of Alliyia’s Mom around the house.

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She loved to touch, kiss, and talk to them.

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Singing her favorite song, “Building up the Temple.”

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Peek around the chair was a favorite game.

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Look at her little toe, sticking up in the air.

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Peek-a-boo sweet little one,
if only for one more time.

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Let’s read just one more book.

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…and blow just a few more sweet kisses good-bye!

Jesus, hold her close.
She is so very missed down here.

Squeeze your children one more time today!
Love them.

And please, breathe a prayer for these families!

Of Long Moments

The week was long.
Traveling Monday.
Coughing. Aching. Feverish children.
Lots of weekend laundry.
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Living on memories of a good weekend.
A weekend of family.


Tuesday morning the call.
An unexpected death.
Such a sweet older lady.
Tears. Sadness. Gray skies.
My wheels started spinning
and I got very little done.
Hard to think. shock.

Food prep.
Gladly feeding sad families.
Tired eyes speaking thanks.
Squeezing hands and giving hugs.

Seeing the casket rolled in.
Hearing a small voice cry,
“Grandmas here!”
Grandchildren crying.
Sons and daughters,
crying and laughing together.
Celebrating a life well lived.

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One child well, another one down.
Missing school days.
Homework. Headaches.
Stuffed noses. Grouchies.
Although the Mom was well,
the grouchies got to her too.

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Sister time.
Pajamas, the clothing of choice.
Anything warm.
Lots of “cuzzles” as Mr D says.
Tea. Cough drops. Movies. Books.

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Blankets. Pillows. Toys.
Piled high. Dropped everywhere.
Drink. Tissues.
Waste can overflowing.
Mom wants one too.
We will survive.
We will.
We are thankful in it all.


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Little one dances on the table top.
Wearing duck-taped gumboots,
a smile and her favorite monkey shirt.

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She seems to think it’s where she belongs.
She’s not sick and she’s quite happy about it.
So are we.


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We relive Thanksgiving memories
and especially thank God
for Grandmas and Grandpas.

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We call family and talk long.
We’re grateful for one more day.
One more day of unpredictable life.