Children: Let’s Listen To Them Like Mattie J.T. Stepanek


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Children. A topic that gets much attention for any number of reasons. I hope this post will be an encouragement to you as you interact with the children in your life journey.

Let’s listen to children like Mattie J. T. Stepanek. Five books written and illustrated by Mattie are available at Amazon.com, some for as little as $0.01 plus S/H. Responding to my latest post, What Feeds You and Me?, my friend, Jan Weber commented: “I have all of Mattie’s books and I am going to reread them again. Thanks for reminding us of that remarkable lil boy!”

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Yes, Mattie was a remarkable young man, wise beyond his years. Rereading much of Mattie’s lifework reminds me that I want to listen more to the children in my path. This life we live can preoccupy us and we have to keep in mind that children rely solely on us for their livelihood.  Children truly are like wet cement.

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Leah and Walker 1992
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Leah and Walker 1992

When our two were small, I had to constantly remind myself to not rush them…their little legs could only move so fast!

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a

One tool that has always helped me, and still does to this day is deep breathing. Click here for details.

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November 1993, Walker, 20 months, Leah 5 years. Kennesaw Mountain National Park

If I was running late, it was not their fault, but mine. It always takes extra minutes to get shoes and socks on their small feet and arms through their tiny clothes. Having little ones can teach a Mom and Dad so much if they are listening.

As Mattie says,

“If I close my eyes and sit very still,

it’s so easy to listen to my heart song.”

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Don and our great-nephew, August, listen to heart songs together.

IMG_8208 IMG_8241 IMG_8247As I’ve sat with Donny’s Father this past week, I’ve been reminded of being a Mommy to two young children. Those who are aging with dementia, like Don, are much like young children.

Thanks for sharing this. I have read his books. I Google the interview that Oprah did with Mattie and his mother whenever I need to slow down and put life into perspective. Heartsongs sits on an end table at home for the purpose of starting a conversation which leads to inspiration.

Both take enormous patience and extra time to get their points across to the listener. Are you “listening” to the children in your life? As Mattie illustrates here, they have much to say to us and to the world as they grow.IMG_8238

As you and I slow down,

whose heartsong

might we hear?

As we stay too busy with

our days,

our smart phones,

our schedules,

our lives,

whose heartsong might we miss?

I hope at some point, you will take 10 minutes to click here to watch a video about this extraordinary young man.

It is a “must-see”, if you are at all interested in having a clearer understanding of what a heartsong really is. P.S. be sure to have some tissues nearby.

Click here to listen to one of my favorite Casting Crown songs:

LET MY LIFESONG SING TO YOU.

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“Remember to play after every storm.” Love, Mattie

Previous Posts That You May Have Missed:

Fill Your Love Tank

Hurting Hearts, Painful Paths

Four Ways To Love Our Peeps

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer

Children Are Wet Cement

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What Feeds You And Me? Let’s Follow Our Heartsong.

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What feeds you and me? Let’s follow our heartsong.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of evil, a ton of loss, in our world today, what with the continued, enormous conflict in the Middle East, not to mention the very recent terror attacks in both Paris, France and San Bernardino, California, only 19 days and 5,000 miles apart from each other.

Terrorists feed on fear.

It seems their greatest delight must lie in horrifying others. Their goal-fear, our reaction-fear… is a normal response to the circumstances in our world today.

Call it naivety…

…but what if we decided to “fight back”, not with weapons, but with hope paired with our fear?[pullquote]For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7[/pullquote]

There was a brave, young soul, named Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek, who lived between the years of 1991-2004. [pullquote]A heart song is something deep inside each of us. It’s our sense of why we are here and how we can keep going. It is like a purpose. It may be to live as a mommy or a daddy, or a firefighter or a delivery person, or a child with a disability who teaches others about patience and love and acceptance. Heartsongs are usually easy to hear when we are young, but we sometimes get too busy or hurt or angry to listen to them as we get older. And just like any gift that isn’t cared for or used well, it is possible to forget how to listen to the message of each song. But even if we completely lose our heart song, we can share someone else’s song until we are able to reawaken or recreate our own.” Mattie Stepanek, in the Introduction to his 2002 Best Seller, Hope Through Heartsongs [/pullquote]

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Mattie’s Poem penned in 1999, just five years before he passed at the age of 13

Despite a rare, debilitative disease (dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy) Mattie managed to publish five poetry books before his passing at the age of 13.[pullquote]We are each Angels-in-the-making, and that is why we can see and honor in others, such as Mattie, the goal that each of us is traveling toward. Mattie reminds us of that goal and makes us thankful.” Gary Zukav in the Foreword to Mattie’s 2001 Best Seller Hope Through Heartsongs[/pullquote] Mattie began writing poetry at the age of three to cope with the death of his brother of this same genetic disease. Did you know? Mattie’s fans included Jimmy Carter and Oprah Winfrey. He was well-known for his promotion of peace. As I consider Mattie’s heart and work, I am inspired to “fight back” with goodness. But how does one do that? In Mattie’s poem entitled “Bravery Prayer”, he suggests we pair hope and fear together in one great force, leading to Bravery!

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Mattie’s thoughts remind me of another great example for making the discovery of what feeds us:

The Tale Of Two Wolves

ONE EVENING, AN ELDERLY
CHEROKEE BRAVE TOLD HIS
GRANDSON ABOUT A BATTLE THAT
GOES ON INSIDE PEOPLE.

HE SAID “MY SON, THE BATTLE IS
BETWEEN TWO ‘WOLVES’ INSIDE US ALL.
ONE IS EVIL. IT IS ANGER,
ENVY, JEALOUSY, SORROW,
REGRET, GREED, ARROGANCE,
SELF-PITY, GUILT, RESENTMENT,
INFERIORITY, LIES, FALSE PRIDE,
SUPERIORITY, AND EGO.

THE OTHER IS GOOD.
IT IS JOY, PEACE LOVE, HOPE, SERENITY,
HUMILITY, KINDNESS, BENEVOLENCE,
EMPATHY, GENEROSITY,
TRUTH, COMPASSION AND FAITH.”

THE GRANDSON THOUGHT ABOUT
IT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ASKED
HIS GRANDFATHER:

“WHICH WOLF WINS?…”

THE OLD CHEROKEE SIMPLY REPLIED,
“THE ONE THAT YOU FEED”

So with that old story, along with the courageous, short life of Mattie Stepanek, I ask us again…What feeds you and me? Whether we fear tornadoes, death, terrorists, or tax collectors, let’s follow our heart song. Let’s start within our own families, in our homes, today.

Let There Be Peace On Earth and Let It Begin With Me

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