Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Starfish Story

 

I’m sure most have already heard this story, but the lesson has been on my mind a lot lately. I first heard this story when I was in college & although I don’t remember how I stumbled upon it, I do remember that I placed it in various locations so that I could pull it out when I needed a reminder to ‘stay the course’.

In the wake of my grandma’s failing health problems, I’ve had a lot of people come up to me & tell me how much they love her & my family. One of the repeating comments from people is how much my grandma’s “cards” have meant to them. For as long as I can remember, she has mailed cards; birthday cards, Thanksgiving cards, cards to let you know that she’s thinking of you. She is a card-mailing freak! She always has done it & sadly its something that I  took for granted, never realizing how truly rare & special her “difference” was making in the lives of others. She sent cards to friends & relatives, even total strangers that she knew only through word of mouth. She lent out words of wisdom, gratitude, sometimes a simple “I haven’t forgotten about you” thought. She once told me that God has a purpose for everyone & everything…and her purpose was to send cards. 

There will be no more cards coming from my grandma, not for me or anybody else. It is something that I will miss. But I have so many that are saved. Special ones are in my bible, where they have been since received. I have some in my journal, in my popcorn bucket full of pictures, even some in my jewelry box. Through the words that she has written, she will always be with me. Words full of strength, encouragement, & love. Words are so powerful.

It continues to amaze me how awesome people are! How a simple hug, phone call…card…from someone can change the whole course of someone’s life. To spend a tiny moment of your day to let someone know they’re important & loved is one of the greatest things you can do for another.

Make it a priority that, everyday, you find your own “starfish” to help.

Card from 2010…I love the line, “God will work out. He doesn’t let us down”

gma's letter 2010

 

The Starfish Story

adapted from The Star Thrower

by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

 

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

 

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

 

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

 

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

 

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

 

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

 

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

 

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

 

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

starfish

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My love affair with Chapstick has no end!!!

 

 

I have no less than 3 tubes of each one of these brands, so this problem doesn’t affect me. Intervention time yet?

 

chapstick

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Enough said…

cancer sucks

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Why cancer sucks…and why I’m angry at God because of it.

Cancer sucks. It’s a life-draining, vile, horrendous, ugly thing that can only be compared to the rotten, decaying, putrid garbage that makes up landfills. It turns healthy people into shells that are exhausted, tired, beaten up versions of themselves.

Cancer would be Goliath and your loved one would be David.

My Grandma is dying from cancer. She’s not beating it, in fact, it’s kicking her ass. I can’t even tell you what “type” of cancer she has (like the type really makes a difference) because she has it in 13 different places in her body. It’s taken over her whole being. This beautiful woman has spent the last 10years of her life battling this disease, with the most severe-the stage 4 diagnosis-revealed just 2 short years ago. She’s 74 years old, been married to my Papa for 58years (and they will make it to 59 years on 5/15/12 he informed me the other day), she’s the mother of 4, grandmother to 14 & great-grandmother to 12. She retired as a junior high janitor for the Vermilion school system when I was in 7th grade & I used to be embarrassed that she left “I love you” notes in my desk. When I was little she used to read me bedtime stories, we’d bake some of her “homemade”cookies (when I was an adult I learned that “homemade” to grandma actually meant cheap, generic boxed cookie mixes…I felt like my whole childhood was a lie! Smile), and she never once forgot to send a birthday card (or Christmas, Easter, or “Just Because” card). And yesterday, I had to remind her how to walk because she had forgotten. It broke my heart.

Cancer is a bitch.

I love God. I love him more than anything in this world. Words will never describe the grace and forgiveness that he’s brought into my life, but dammit I’m pissed at him.

My Grandma has lived a life serving the Lord. She used to sing, “Jesus Loves Me” to me while I was growing up. She has lived a faithful life where she has placed the Lord #1…always. It is beyond my scope of understanding why he’s chosen to have her go out like this. It’s not fair.

When the family found out, 2years ago, that this cancer diagnosis would most likely take my Grandma’s life…I prayed…like I’ve never prayed before that my Grandma would live long enough to see me get married. I wanted that moment with her; my cousins that were married had that moment, & I wanted that also. I’m the only daughter’s, only daughter. I wanted that rite of passage. I wanted the handmade afghan that she made for all my cousins as a wedding present, I wanted to hear the marriage wisdom that can only come from 50+ years of ups & downs with the same man. I wanted the picture of me in my bridal gown, surrounded by my mom & Grandma…the two strongest woman I know. I very selfishly wanted that for myself. Fast-forward 2years later and I’m no closer to getting that moment than I was back then. My Grandma is fading fast, we’re not talking months…but weeks…days even. I’m not going to have that moment with her, that prayer was not answered in the way I wanted.

I’ve thought about the bad relationships from my past, the one’s I’ve stayed in, fully knowing they weren’t going to go anywhere. The relationships I’ve sabotaged when they got to serious, the hearts I’ve hurt, the selfishness, the deceit, the wasted years. The times when I was in good relationships, but I wasn’t “ready” and bailed out. I think about the “what-if’s” and wish I had made different choices. Choices that could’ve given me my moment with my Grandma. It’s easier to blame God right now than to blame myself.

Yesterday, I watched my Grandma struggle to drink water out of a cup. She didn’t know what a “cup” was & certainly didn’t know what it was for. I thought to myself, “This isn’t my Grandma. She’s not this person.” A minute later while I was brushing what little hair she has left, she grabbed my hand and said, I love you so much, Carey.”…now THAT is my Grandma.

I owe God a huge apology. I was so wrapped up in how unfair cancer is. How unfair of the selfish memories that I won’t have. I never stopped to think about the lesson that God was trying to teach me.

My Grandma won’t see me get married, and that will hurt like hell, but through her example of loving God & loving my Papa she’s taught me that marriage can’t be rushed, it can’t be forced, & it has to be built on a foundation of honesty & trust.

I don’t know what purpose the Lord has for choosing my Grandma to battle in this war. But I do know that there’s a reason & he has picked the bravest & toughest warrior that he’s ever created. None of this makes any sense to me & frankly, it doesn’t matter. It’s not my time to figure out the “why’s” and I know that, in time, the “why’s” will reveal themselves and be answered. God’s plan for my life, my Grandma’s life, my family’s life…is so much bigger than I can ever conceive. He never does anything without a reason & there is a reason for this…and I trust in that.

I’m so blessed to serve a God that not only forgives my anger towards him, but understands the tears that fall behind that anger. He owes me nothing, but loves me enough to make my hurt go away. And though I feel he is silent & has abandoned my prayers, in my heart I know that he is answering them in the way that is for my benefit.

My prayer now is that my Grandma Cooper, my beautiful & loving Grandma, will leave this world with a smile on her face, knowing that she has done a good job loving her family & friends and that shows by the legacy that she’s left behind. I believe that God is taking her from us because she has used 100% of what he gave her and now it’s his turn for his time to hug her & love on her and tell her that she has earned her place in the riches of heaven. When he calls her home I know he will host the biggest, “Job Well Done” party that heaven has ever seen!

Cancer sucks, but God is good.

Death sucks, but God is good.

I’m the only daughter’s, only daughter. Which means I come from a direct line of tough, strong women.

And because of that, God has already blessed me beyond what I ever could imagine.

God is so good.

Me & Grandma…1981

1981

Christmas…2011

12-5-11

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Smartest things heard in…December!

 

Tis’ the season is always the theme of December. Aside from a month long sugary, sweet, (absolutely delicious) binge of junk food from the numerous holiday parties attended; the month brought about the first Christmas in 10years that my Grandma Martinez was home to enjoy it & another holiday to enjoy with my Grandma Cooper, who is fighting her 4th bout with cancer. It’s a season to celebrate birthdays (both my parents & both my nieces) & of course, the birth of Jesus. It’s a stressful month, but it’s a joyful one!

 

12/1-“The first man a little girl falls in love with is her dad.”-Fanny Fern

12/2-“Every morning that you wake up is another chance to get it right.”-Betty Ann Barker

12/3-“When there is no evidence that things will go a certain way, you just have to have faith & keep moving forward.”-A line in some magazine article I was reading at work

“Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook what it is you actually find.”-Ann Patchett

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”-Chinese Proverb

12/6-“Tell your heart to beat again, to love again, to dream, believe & forgive again. This day is a gift from God, get excited about your future.”-Joel Osteen

12/7-“Anytime you fight in a war, you’re still left with scars.”-my good friend, Heidi Strickler

12/9-“You can’t make it through hurt & keep it to yourself. You have to share the story to stay strong.”-me

“Faith is accepting that you don’t know & trusting that God does.”-Brandi Keeler

12/11-“Even when you think you’re going to burn, keep believing in God.”-my 8yr. old niece, Haylie

“Leave your worries at the foot of the cross.”-my friend Lisa Ruiz in a heartfelt testimony at church one morning

12/12-“The adventure you’re ready for is the one you get.”-Joseph Campbell

12/20-“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”-Bob Dylan

12/21-“Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want.”-Abraham Hicks

12/23-“No one can ever control the thoughts & nature that God created them to have.”-didn’t catch the guy’s name, but he was doing a lecture on exotic animals.-

12/28-“My job is to take care of the possible & to trust God with the impossible.”-Ruth Bell Graham

12/31-“My year of guilt, jealousy, bitterness, condemnation, distrust, deceit, defeat, & anger is officially done. Bring it 2012, I got this!”-me

“Be with someone who loves you despite the worst thing you’ve ever done.”-the best advice sometimes comes from the most unexpected places (thank you drunk guy on New Years Eve)-

 

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