The Heart

This was written almost three years ago, but the last week my mind has been drawn back to it again and again. Perhaps there is someone out there who needs it.

The heart was cold, dry, and musty.
It was empty and dehydrated from lack of nourishment.
There was no dripping joy of gladness overflowing,
no welling up of tender love and care.
It was empty, shriveling up, and becoming hard and brittle.

Life had taken a toll on the heart and deserved all the blame.
Things were hard, ruthless, unfair, and overwhelming.
All the “Why’s” “How’s” and “I can’t handle anymore.”
kept crowding in and taking up more space,
leaving no room for a positive thought.

Self-pity slowly dripped acid into the open wounds.
“Life is just about giving and never receiving,
giving of time, talents, money, health, and even family.”
“There is never a moment of peace,” it whispered,
“You deserve so much more than you are getting.”
And the cold, dark, and broken heart believed.

Faith wavered when prayers went unanswered.
Doubt crept in and worry filled all the corners.
Life seemed to have more questions then answers
and the heart was starting to believe the lies.

The more time passed, the more the heart hardened.
Life lost its sunshine and everything
was covered with the cloud cover of hurt.
Anger and weariness took over.

The heart looked longingly at others,
wishing for what they had, for the song they sang.
It wondered how to find this again,
and was there something missing?
The head knew all the correct answers,
but the heart was not feeling them.

Over time one small note after another
made its way across the path of the heart.
“I am faithful, I will not fail you.
Lean on Me, trust in Me.
I am a refuge for the weary.
I am a shelter from the storm.
I am comfort, I am protection.”

But is it true? Do I dare believe?
Can I trust Him again?

“I am close to the brokenhearted.
I hear your cries.
You are precious to me.
You are mine and I love you.”

And with the touch of His finger,
a tiny sliver of hope was born.

Slowly, slowly over time the heart began to warm
as more notes, more words, made their way around.
Deep in its depths where it was cracked and broken,
a little light began to shine in and break up the darkness.
The Mender poured in healing oil, warm and smooth.
He worked the rough edges, patching the cracks,
smoothing the broken pieces and closing the gaping holes.
A heart badly broken is not mended in one day,
but patiently He worked, never giving up
and ever so slowly, healing began.

There were still days when the heart
wanted to whither and shrink,
to pull back and believe the old lies.
But the Mender had a gentle touch
and while He worked He quietly whispered
words of encouragement, of love, truth,
and peace into the once torn and ragged heart.
Each stitch was reshaping and reviving
a broken heart to be made new.
Each patch was bringing new strength and vigor
to a once worn and struggling soul,
life was returning to the heart.

While the heart may not be as beautiful as it once was,
each mended piece and scar tell a story,
each patched and sewn corner weave a tale.
The heart is now filled with gladness and singing,
light squeezes through the threads,
spilling out to tell the world of the Mender’s touch.

Take Heart

Though our hearts tremble with fear,
take heart, God is still in control.

Though disease strikes our body,
take heart, He is the Great Physician.

When you feel the enemy creeping closer,
take heart, He parted the Red Sea.

When giants of doubt loom large and leering,
take heart, all He asks is the faith of a mustard seed.

Though worry overtakes us for our future,
take heart, He feeds the sparrows.

When your assurance wavers,
take heart, His covenant is trustworthy.

Though difficulty rains down on all sides,
take heart, He is a refuge in troubles times.

When the burden you bear feels too heavy,
take heart, He will give you rest for your soul.

When you feel deserted and all alone,
take heart, He will never leave you or forsake you.

When it feels as if Satan is pacing all around,
take heart, He closed the lion’s mouth.

When you walk through the valley of the shadow,
take heart, His rod and His staff will comfort you.

Though anxiety crowds your mind,
take heart, He has promised peace beyond understanding.

When the road before you looks overwhelming,
take heart, He has offered His right hand.

When the storm is crashing around you,
take heart, He can calm the winds.

Though our hearts tremble with fear,
take heart, God is still in control.

Take Heart-1

© Shannon Hostetler

Grateful

Each November a grateful feeling
pulls and tugs one thought after another
from us, prompting a spirit of thanksgiving.
Large things, small moments,
family, friends, and food aplenty,
our list goes on and on.

My mind wanders in circles,
thinking, remembering, and thanking.

I wandered across the beautiful times in life,
easy to be grateful, so much to love.
Life was clear skies, sunny days,
the perfect times to be alive.

I wander through the cloudy days,
a little foggy to remember
the times of trials and challenges.
Life struggled to be full of sunshine,
but there were still
so many things to be thankful for,
even in the days of gray.

Still farther I ventured,
deeper into the darkness.
Before me loomed the hard days,
full of tears, heartache, and pain.
Was there anything in those days
to be grateful for?

There were times my faith was stretched
to the point of snapping and breaking.
But other times faith grew.
It was small moments, little drops of hope,
God planting tiny seeds, urging me
to keep believing His promises.

Days of turmoil felt endless,
restless, sleepless nights filled with anxiety.
Yet in the midst of them all,
a quiet peace was always below the surface.
His whispers were so gentle
and a hopeful hush would fill my heart.

There were prayerless days,
empty, hollow and still.
There were days of shouted words,
hurled at the open skies.
But always I came,
circling back to Him with tearful prayers,
pleading for forgiveness and answers.
His voice, a quiet whisper on the wind,
spoke deeply to my heart,
assuring me of His presence
even when I felt Him least.

My strength was depleted,
I lie prone and helpless, unable.
God in His great mercy
lifted me up and walked me
through day after day after day.
Never did He leave my side,
always my support and my strong arm.
When I was unable, He was able.

Those dark and heavy days
taught me to love unconditionally,
to hold family tight and enjoy.
They showed the beauty of Jesus
in the body of believers.
I reflected, remembering good,
finding laughter in memories,
and reveling in the gifts
I had been given.
In the quiet stillness, I learned
God is trustworthy, faithful,
and a dependable source of strength.

The dark valleys were not easy.
I was stretched and tried,
and slowly but surely my faith grew.
My heart knew greater dimensions,
fears were conquered
and challenges overcome with His help.

Am I grateful for the dark days?
I am thankful for the things I learned,
for new truths, a closer walk,
deeper communion,
and eyes that see the world
in a new light.
Even in the darkest times,
there are tiny specks of light,
just enough to be thankful for
and just enough grace for today.

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Four Years

Autumn’s beauty gives way to Winter’s chill,
Winter eventually thaws to Spring.
Spring slowly warms to Summer,
and Summer cools to Autumn’s crisp.
The changing of the seasons never cease,
each takes a turn, another year gone.

Another year of missing you each day.
Another 365 days of wondering;
what do the glories of heaven look like,
the streets of gold, the crystal river of life?
Do the walls of jasper glisten,
and the gates of pearl shine?
What does it feel like to be Home,
to gather with Jesus and the redeemed?
Another year of longing to join you in song,
singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” around the throne.

Family (107)

Four years ago when you left us,
we gathered to mourn, to grieve,
and remember the life you lived.
Over and over those days
Isaiah 41:10 played across the screen.
“Fear not, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you,
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand.”

And true to His word,
He has done this for us.
On the darkest of nights,
He was with us in our fears.
In the deepest valleys of grief,
He sustained and strengthened us.
His strong right arm upheld us
when we were weak and worn.
We learned to lean on Him,
to trust his unfailing grace every day.

Four years of walking this road,
and not a day has gone by
that Jesus has not walked with us.
Our faith and trust have grown stronger,
we know His Word to be true,
He is the strength He promised to be.

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But still, we long for more,
every day we hope, waiting patiently.
We long for the days of grief to end
and our tears be wiped away.
We long for the day we will hear Him say,
“Well done, my child, welcome home!”

Tris, one day we’ll see you face to face,
one day we’ll praise His name together.
Until then, we miss you,
we watch and wait with longing,
walking by faith, until then.

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See you in the morning.

Drink in the Wonder

The smallest things in life can squeeze your heart the most.

Ordinary things take on a new light when seen through eyes of gratitude.

Observe the little things and watch them turn into something amazing.

Savor the moments. Sit and drink it in. Treasure today.

Sept (2)
See life through the eyes of a child. Drink in the wonder.
Did you know a worm can become a candy cane?
Enjoy the laughter, the chattering long stories, and even the arguing.
They are only this age once, it won’t last forever.

Sept (11)
Take the time to sit with family, listen to them, love them, make the most of the days with them. Overlook their faults and shortcomings, you have some too, by the way. Just love them because they are your people.

Sept (14)

Bless someone.
A man behind me in line paid for my pizza one night. It left me sputtering thank yous and “I’ll pass it on.” He smiled. I smiled. Another man smiled. The clerk was just happy to take his money since I had come up lacking.
Now it’s my turn to be a blessing to someone else and see them smile.

Sept (16)

Take a photo of the morning chaos that is breakfast, packing lunches, pulling on clothes, scrubbing faces and teeth, pushing and willing them out the door in peace.
One day it will be but a memory.

Sept (10)

Breathe in the smell of the flower passed from one woman’s garden to the next, carefully treasured flowers that speak of life and love.
Stop and enjoy the leaves turning a beautiful hue, the green becoming golden, and the whisper of the voice of the wind. It is life.

Sept (15)

Raise your hands to Jesus. Whisper thank you for all your treasures, the people in your life, the moments you’ve been gifted today.

_ _ _ _

Today as we watch and wait with bated breath, a little boy is slipping from his Mama’s arms into the arms of Jesus. Whisper a prayer for their hurting hearts and ask Jesus to hold them close.