Journey Through Heartsongs

Journey Through Heartsongs


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Mattie J. T. Stepanek takes us on a Journey Through Heartsongs with more of his moving poems. These poems share the rare wisdom that Mattie has acquired through his struggle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and the death of his three siblings from the same disease. His life view was one of love and generosity and as a poet and a peacemaker, his desire was to bring his message of peace to as many people as possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786869428
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 01/14/2002
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Matthew J.T. Stepanek, best known as "Mattie," was raised by his mother, Jeni, in Upper Marlboro, MD. He wrote poetry and short stories since the age of three, and his first book of poetry entitled Heartsongs is a collection of his earliest works. Mattie was a frequent public speaker who appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, and Good Morning America and had his poetry published in newspapers and magazines nationwide. In 1999, Mattie was awarded the Melinda Lawrence International Book Award for inspirational written works by Children's Hospice International. In 2001, Mattie served as the Maryland State Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 2002, he served as both the National Ambassador and the State Ambassador for the MDA.

Read an Excerpt

Journey Through Heartsongs

By Mattie J.T. Stepanek


Copyright © 2001 Mattie J.T. Stepanek
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7868-6942-9

Chapter One

Prayer for a Journey

Thank You, God,
Not just for life,
But for our journey through life.
Life is a miracle,
And a journey through life
Is so full of so many more miracles
If we travel with our Heartsongs.
Thank You, God,
For blessing me with the
Gift of Heartsongs,
So that I can enjoy my miracles.

April 1998

About the Author
I am Mattie J.T. Stepanek.
My body has light skin,
Red blood, blue eyes, and blond hair.
Since I have mitochondrial myopathy,
I even have a trach, a ventilator, and oxygen.
Very poetic, I am, and very smart, too.
I am always brainstorming ideas and stories.
I am a survivor, but some day, I will see
My two brothers and one sister in Heaven.
When I grow up, I plan to become
A father, a writer, a public speaker,
And most of all, a peacemaker.
Whoever I am, and whatever happens,
I will always love my body and mind,
Even if it has different abilities
Than other peoples' bodies and minds.
I will always be happy, because
I will always be me.

May 2001


I have a song, deep in my heart,
And only I can hear it.
If I close my eyes and sit very still
It is so easy to listen to my song.
When my eyes are open and
I am so busy and moving and busy,
If I take time and listen very hard,
I can still hear my Heartsong.
It makes me feel happy.
Happier than ever.
Happier than everywhere
And everything and everyone
In the whole wide world.
Happy like thinking about
Going to Heaven when I die.
My Heartsong sounds like this-
I love you! I love you!
How happy you can be!
How happy you can make
This whole world be!

And sometimes it's other
Tunes and words, too,
But it always sings the
Same special feeling to me.
It makes me think of
Jamie, and Katie and Stevie,
And other wonderful things.
This is my special song.
But do you know what?
All people have a special song
Inside their hearts!
Everyone in the whole wide world
Has a special Heartsong.
If you believe in magical, musical hearts,
And if you believe you can be happy,
Then you, too, will hear your song.

March 1996

Crystal Celebration

Sunrise is like a heavenly crystal ball.
In the little bit of time between night and day,
The Angels look at the earth
To see how things have been and
To see how things are going and
To see how things will be.
The sky changes from dark
Into Angel-whites and Angel-golds.
The blackness of trees starts to glow with
Pinks and purples and oranges from their hearts.
And during each dawn,
All the Angels gather up and have
A celebration in God's honor!
And sometimes,
You can even watch
And join them in the celebrating.
Just look out into the sunrise,
Then jump into your own heart,
Float into the air like in a dream,
And pray with love and praise and thank-yous
For your life, for your spirit, for your sunrise ...
And for being a part of this heavenly crystal ball!

December 1996

For Mr. Thompson

The people who like poetry are special.
They are the same people who hear
Lullabies and wind chimes
When the birds are noisy together.
They are the ones who see
Star-gifts in every season -
Tree-stars in the fall,
Snow-stars in the winter,
Dandelion-fairy-stars in the spring, and
Lightning-bug-stars in the summer.
They are the ones who have
Favorite colors that are wonderful gifts
Like sunset or rainbow or treasure.
They are the ones who have a
Song in their heart and
Words in their mind that
Come together and slip out
Into the air or onto paper as a gift
To someone else, or even themselves.
The people who like poetry are probably
The ones who really like life,
And who know how to celebrate
Even when things are sad or happy.
We remember that sometimes,
Even if we don't understand why,
That the rain falls for a reason.
We remember how important it is
To play after a storm, just because
We need to keep playing and living.
And, we are the people who remember
To say thank You to God for our gifts.

May 1996

Touch of Heaven

What is it like to have a baby
Fall asleep while holding your finger?
It is a soft, precious touch.
It is relaxing, yet exciting.
It is a feeling of trust and importance.
It is so soothing it makes me want to
Fall asleep.
It is a sign of peace and love.
What is it like to have a baby
Fall asleep while holding your finger?
It is a great gift from Heaven.

November 1999

The Language of God

Do you know what
Language God speaks?
God speaks Every-Language.
That's because God made
Everyone and gave
Everyone different languages.
And God understands all of them.
And, do you know what is God's
Favorite language?
God's favorite language is
Not grown-up's language,
But the Language of Children.
That's because children
Are special to God.
Children know how to share,
And they never lose
Their Heartsongs.

April 1996

A Handful of Mattie

My fingers stand for
Black Belt,
And friend ...
My palm stands for
Ebullient, spiritual,
Honest, trustworthy,
Brother, uniparental,
Optimistic, inspiring,
Diligent, savant,
Peacemaker, and
"Gift of God" -
My hands raise in prayer for
Giving thanks for my being
Which stands for life.

January 2000

Making Real Sense of the Senses

Our eyes are for looking at things,
But they are also for crying
When we are very happy or very sad.
Our ears are for listening,
But so are our hearts.
Our noses are for smelling food,
But also the wind and the grass and
If we try very hard, butterflies.
Our hands are for feeling,
But also for hugging and touching so gently.
Our mouths and tongues are for tasting,
But also for saying words, like
"I love you," and
"Thank You, God, for all of these things."

April 1995

Climbing to Heaven

In the winter, trees reach
Up to touch the sky.
Without their leaves,
The trees look like hands
And fingers stretching up
So, so, so high.
And if you look at the
Tallest tree in our backyard,
You can see that it is
So, so, so close to Heaven.
Perhaps we could go out
And climb
Up the tree,
Up the hand,
Up the fingers,
And into the sky.
Then, we could just step
Through the clouds,
... And into Heaven.

January 1996

About Angels

Do you know what Angels wear?
They wear
Angel-halos and Angel-wings, and
Angel-dresses and Angel-shirts under them, and
Angel-underwear and Angel-shoes and Angel-socks, and
On their heads
They wear
Angel-hair -
Except if they don't have any hair.
Some children and grown-ups
Don't have any hair because they
Have to take medicine that makes it fall out.
And sometimes,
The medicine makes them all better.
And sometimes,
The medicine doesn't make them all better,
And they die.
And they don't have any Angel-hair.
So do you know what God does then?
He gives them an
And that's what Angels wear.

January 1995

Believing for the Journey

Every day,
Everyone in the world
Should do at least
One thing nice for others.
Doing so can help each person
Believe in himself or herself
More fully, and
Give confidence that may
Inspire each person
To do more and
More new and good things
For the self,
For others, and
For the world.
Those positive attitudes
And actions
Can be the first of many steps
Towards the journey
For world peace.
And world peace,
Harmony, and
Confidence are essential
For our future.

May 2000

Future Echo

When I swing,
I go everywhere,
And yet,
Nowhere at all.
It's like being
In the middle
Of an echo,
That hasn't left me yet,
And so,
It hasn't come back.
I am between
Yesterday and tomorrow,
But still in my life of now.
When I swing,
I feel so happy,
And excited, and peaceful,
And yet,
I feel a little bit lonely
About the time that
Will come, when I will not be
Able to swing, anymore.
And so, for now,
When I swing,
I move back and forth
In the everywhere
And the nowhere
That is the understanding
Of an echo -
The echo of my spirit
That grows from my life,
And that sounds like
A peaceful, but lonely cry,
For the times
When I swing
Before I die.

August 1999

Chapter Two

Vietnam War Memorial

A wall gives structure.
It can divide and block.
It can support and fortify.
It can be a place to display
Photos, writings, awards,
And memories.
But this, is The Wall.
The Wall that gives structure
To the insane losses of a war.
The Wall that represents
A nation divided and blocked.
The Wall that supports too
Many broken hearts and bodies.
The Wall that fortifies the reality
Of dead lives among the living.
The Wall that reflects memories
Of what was, of what is,
Of what might have been,
In photos, in letters and poems,
In medals of honor and dedication,
And in teddy bears, and flowers,
And tears and tears and tears.
This is The Wall,
Born out of pain and anguish
And guilt,
That gives names to the children
Of grieving mothers and fathers
And to the spouses of widows
And to parents of wondering children.
This is The Wall
That echoes sadness and fear,
Yet whispers relief and hope.
This is The Wall.
May we be forever blessed by its
Structure and fortitude and support,
And may we be forever reminded
Of the eternal divisions of war.

February 2000

The Tiger Fights a
Dragon in the Purple Sun

When the sun sets,
In the mist,
The tiger and
The dragon fight
In the purple light.
Who wins?
Who knows?
Thy who have
Great Heartsongs know.
The tiger of peace, or
The dragon of anger.

May 1998

Philosophy Glass

Some people see a glass
With some water in it and say,
"Oh yes, that glass is half full!"
Some people see a glass
With some water in it and say,
"Oh no, that glass is half empty!"
I hope that I am one of the
People who is always able to
Look at each of my glasses and
See them as at least half full.
That's very important in life,
Because if you live feeling like
Your glass is half empty, well,
It may as well be empty all the way.

May 1997

On Being a Champion

A champion is a winner,
A hero ...
Someone who never gives up
Even when the going gets rough.
A champion is a member of
A winning team ...
Someone who overcomes challenges
Even when it requires creative solutions.
A champion is an optimist,
A hopeful spirit ...
Someone who plays the game,
Even when the game is called life ...
Especially when the game is called life.
There can be a champion in each of us,
If we live as a winner,
If we live as a member of the team,
If we live with a hopeful spirit,
For life.

September 1999

Peace of Patience

I cannot wait to become
A peacemaker.
I cannot wait to help
The world overcome
Anger, and problems of evil.
I cannot wait for the world
To be peaceful,
And for everyone
To live in harmony.
I cannot wait to grow
And be and overcome.
But, I will wait,
With patience,
And hope, and peace.

November 1999

Faces of Faith

I wish that the people who have
Anger and hatred and sadness
Will remember about their Heartsongs,
And get them back.
Everyone is born with a Heartsong,
But as we grow up,
Sometimes we forget about it,
Because we don't listen to it enough.
And the people of war, well,
They really need to get them back.
Their Heartsongs really need to live,
Because when we die,
They are what rise up.
I want that to happen to me.
I want my Heartsong to rise up, and
I am trying my best down here on earth.
You really can go to Heaven.
Everyone can.
But sometimes,
You have to sit in ThinkTime
When you lose your Heartsong
And that is sad because some people
Who go sit in ThinkTime,
They never come back
And some people just think and realize,
And then they come back.
But if we remember to listen to our Heartsongs,
We will not need to go to ThinkTime.
Our songs will just rise up out of our hearts,
And take our spirits straight on to Heaven.
I will remember to listen to my Heartsong.
I will remind others, especially the grown-ups,
To listen to their Heartsongs, too.
And for the people who have forgotten theirs,
I will share mine with them.
Maybe they will keep mine, and
Maybe it will remind them of their own.
But what really matters is that we
Keep the faces of faith, and
Listen to our Heartsongs, and live
So that we can die and Live again.

July 1996


Excerpted from Journey Through Heartsongs by Mattie J.T. Stepanek Copyright © 2001 by Mattie J.T. Stepanek. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Beginning the Journey1
Considering the Journey15
Coping with the Journey29
Celebrating the Journey41
Growing Beyond the Journey51

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Journey through Heartsongs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
annedria on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Journey through Heartsongs is a book full of poems by a boy named Mattie J.T. Stepanek who had a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Mattie wrote poems about life and death, love and loss, faith and hope, and innocence and joy. He struggled with his rare form of muscular disease and used his struggles to write movingly and courageously poems. Here is one of his poems. Every journey beginsWith but a small step.And every day is a chanceFor a new, small stepIn the right direction.Just follow your Heartsong. by Mattie Stepanek This book of poems is very sad. Some of the poems deal with death and angels and I am not sure if it would be a good book for the classroom because it is very sad. I am amazed at his poems and his wisdom that has touched so many people¿s lives including mine. Mattie was a peacemaker and wanted his poems to spread out all over the world to touch the hearts of people to bring peace. Mattie passed away in 2004 at the age of 13. If you have not read his poetry book I would say go out and buy it because it is very touching.If I was to use this book in the classroom I would pick the poems to read aloud such as the one Titled "A Handful of Mattie" which is a picture of Mattie¿s hand with written words that describe himself them put into a poem. This would be a fun activity to do with a group of students. One of my favorite poems Mattie wrote when he was ten is "Believing for the Journey"Every day,Everyone in the worldShould do at least One thing nice for others.Doing so can help each personBelieve in himself or herselfMore fully, and Give confidence that may Inspire each personTo do more andMore new and good thingsFor the self,For others, andFor the world.These poistive attitudesAnd actionsCan be the first of many stepsTowards the journeyFor world peace.And world peace,Harmony, and Confidence are essential For our futre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mattie is an inspiration for us all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mattie passed away today so this is a tribute instead of a review. The eloquence and spirit of this young man was astounding. I could not listen to him read or read his words without tears. My tears then were tears of hope and respect. Tonight they are tears of grief.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw Mattie on Oprah, am inspired by his poetry, his vision at such a young age. I'm buying his book for my daughter who does research in muscular dystophry. I think she is truly one of Mattie's angels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit I first heard of Mattie on Oprah (a show I watch regularly, but has it's own stigma attatched). I fell in love the moment I saw him. How can a boy so young know so much about the world around him? If there is a god, Mattie was sent here by him for a reason. Wonderful read, and surprisingly beautiful poetry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I not only read Mattie's books, but was there through the birth and death of his siblngs and witnessed the bravery of their mother, Jeni. I am so proud to have known this little family and how they have grown into one of God's miracles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
im buying all of his books for my sons one is 7yrs and the other is 10yrs i seen mattie on cable and i herd him reading his work and i said to my self my kids need his books he makes you cry but a joyful cry i just hope my kids will love his stuff just as much as i do keep them coming mattie a big fan :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
You would not expect such wisdom from one so young in years, but this book will bring joy into the lives of both children and adults alike. I highly recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mattie writes with complete understanding of the thoughts and feelings of someone much older. His story is an inspiration to all who've heard it. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this seems like the other people like the book so im going to buy it! p.s. I LOVE ROBURHOE
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mattie is a gifted and special child who sees and writes about the world in a way that you can't help but appreciate and want to adopt. Sad but pure and makes you smile and cry. The softcover edition is better for younger children. The hardcover deals with death and other harder topics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just got my copy of this book and it's very pleasing to the heartstrings. My children even found it to be incredible. God Bless little Mattie and may he continue to write for many years. His words of wisdom are brave, caring and loving!
Guest More than 1 year ago
11 year old 'Mattie' is a special gift from God. He describes himself as a poet and peacemaker. His poetry explores his feelings and insights about love, life, death, earth, and heaven. Mattie's life experiences have made him wise beyond his years. His poetry makes you laugh and makes you cry. Above all, you can't forget 'Mattie'or his poetry or his philosophy of life... be grateful and always remember to give thanks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This author's wisdom is far beyond his years. What a gifted soul. Thank you, Mattie, for sharing your poetry with us. I wish you longevity and great happiness, and I look forward to reading more 'heartsongs' in the years to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This piece has inspired me to look inside myself and try and find my heartsong. Matty's words have touched me in a way that even Id on't understand. Matty you are a blessing to this world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book inspired me. Mattie is an inspiration to us all. He is a gift from God. When you read this book you will sigh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Words cannot begin to express the way this young man has changed my heart, and the way I view my life. Before I read Mattie's amazing book, I was so unhappy with the way my life has been, I was so focused on getting the material things out of life that I had always dreamed of having, that I totally forgotten the most important thing I needed; My family. Mattie's unselfishness and genuine love of his mother, God, and people has made me open my eyes and realize that success and material things have no meaning if you have no one that you love to share it with. Thank you Mattie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank you Mattie, I love your insight and your brave guidance and leadership for us all. My kids love it too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I felt as though I had found a treasure when I found this book, out of place, at the grocery store. Mattie is certainly a young man of talent and shares his heartsongs so clearly with us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mattie,very much his mothers child, is the love that beams from her eyes... Mattie is a writer who explains life in colors.Thank you both for letting us learn how much a mother and child LOVE their lifes and GOD...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book made my heart feel good. A beautiful little boy with my dreams mans heart. Wonderful
Guest More than 1 year ago
One can't help but to be moved and touched by this book. A great gift for others and yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read out loud all the poems to my Assistant and was amazed at the insight and acceptance this young man shows of his condition. It is truly a humbling experience to realize the adversity that he must live with and how he exalts in it. God bless you Mattie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a job he did on the Oprah show! He had the whole audience and Oprah laughing and crying all at once! She was correct when she said everyone should read this book! This is the most amazing boy you will ever know! You must buy this book! I promise the poetry he writes will warm your soul just as he intends it to!