Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I haven't been inspired lately by too much...too much positive stuff that is. And though this is going to sound like a very negative situation that has inspired this blog, I can't take it as that at all. Maybe if you read on, you'll see what I mean...

We found out that my Gramma, a.k.a. Rev. Barbara Mattscheck/Barb/Gram/mom/Pastor Barbara, has cancer again. She beat breast cancer about 10 years ago, but the doctors are saying now she has a lump in her lung. The whereabouts and specifics of this cancer are not my main goal to get across here today, though. The point of this post is that you are only as sad, sick, helpless and depressed as you let yourself be. I realized the power of positive thinking and living a while ago, and I've never looked back since. My Gram is another one of those people, but to such a higher degree, I don't know if I'll ever get there. She does not work alone, but puts all of her faith and belief in God. I know this is what gets her through the day, and what will get her through this battle as she forges ahead.

My mom broke the news to me about the cancer. My mom was not the one to explain the situation to me, though, as she was visibly upset and unable to get through it without crying. She handed the phone to Gram. Well, wouldn't you know, this woman got on the phone and acted as if she were going to tell me a fun story or announce wonderful news! She did not sound like a woman who was just told she had cancer at all, which is what helped me through the phone call. She went on very matter-of-factly, explaining to me what they'd found and what was going to be done. She talked about chemo with the positivity of someone talking about a lovely picnic in the park. She never got down with her tone of voice or even told me to worry or not to worry. To her this was another thing life had thrown at her, and she was gonna deal with it and move on. Now this is not to say Gram is not in touch with reality; in fact she is a very intelligent and rational woman. She just will not let the fear of this disease get to her. I am sure she is afraid in a way, but she has such neverending and unyielding faith, she doesn't even go to that scary place. She believes that the Lord will get her through this and that everything will be ok, and that's all the rest of us should believe as well.

Maybe it is because I'm way out here in Seattle and don't see her all the time, but I just can't get afraid over this. Something in me says everything is going to be ok, that there is no way she is not strong enough for this. I wish I was there now to be with my family, who is in need of comforting right now, and it's times like this that I regret being way over here. I will see Gram in July, probably after she has already started chemo, and it will be very, very hard, but I know what I will find when I get there. A positive woman, without fear, who has put all of her health and wellness in God's hands.

I have to say, without offending the very few men in my family, that I know and have always known that Gram is the head of our little family clan. She is the matriarchal leader that we look to when things are bad, or even good. She has been a pastor her whole life, bringing the Word of God to people far longer than I can even remember or imagine! She has devoted her life to helping those in need, whether it be physically, mentally, or spiritually. Her aura just oozes faith and love and compassion. So many look to her not only as their spiritual teacher, but as a quasi mother, grandmother, or friend. Even the occupation that she chose for herself was not only selfless but rewarding! Dog shows and dog breeding brought in money, of course, but think of all those people who came to buy puppies that they and their family could love and enjoy for years to come! Nothing says love like chihuahuas and Jesus!

I have always looked at my Gram, not as a timid and subservient woman from another generation, but as a strong woman who was ahead of her time. She is independent, and maybe a little pushy in stores, but she does what is best for herself and others and doesn't compromise herself. Just this past Christmas she had me and my mother on stealth missions in the middle of a fabric store, fleeing a potentially angry mob of consumers who would have stopped at nothing less than beating us to a pulp if they saw us leave with the items we came for hours before they would receive theirs (It's a long story, don't ask!). It's always an adventure going out with Gram, but her mantra is "there's always a way around everything". Some would think this is the mantra of a seasoned criminal, but I say "nope, it's just my Gram". There are endless stories I could tell of being with my Gram and the rest of the family, visiting and sharing and having some good ole fashioned family fun. You probably wouldn't believe some of the wackiness that has ensued in the past when Gram was involved, but some of my favorite past times are when these things occurred, or when we all sat around and reminisced about the stunts she's pulled. It's more fun than any bar I've been to with friends, any date night out at the movies, or any other mindless task we fill our days with. Family will just always beat all that other filler out.

Currently Gram is leading her own church, as well as feeding and clothing the homeless and prostitutes in RI. What more could you ask for in a human being than to use their time and energy to help others? When I first heard about Gram's mission to go out and help people on the streets of the city, it was through a request that I give her all the clothes I didn't want anymore instead of throwing them out. When I questioned her on what she would do with them, she answered, "The prostitutes can wear them". At first I was appalled and offended that she thought my wardrobe was fit for a prostitute, but then I realized what she was doing. She was trying to get them off the streets and out of this line of work, which for most I'm sure was almost a necessity in order to just stay alive out there on the streets. Of course I made the obvious hooker jokes at first, but when I stopped to think about what my own Gramma was out there doing, I was amazed at the person she was. Brave and giving and doing the work that the Lord put her here to do.

I can't even begin to understand why things like this happen to good people. People with such a positive influence in so many people's lives. People who could never be replaced. I am not saying that bad people deserve anything like cancer, but I am certain my Gramma doesn't for sure.

She will tell you herself to just pray and believe. I'll never forget being 8 or 9 and struggling with asthma and my Gramma laying hands on me and saying "By the stripes of Jesus, I am healed". She taught me that Bible verse and, at the time (and even still a little now) I didn't really know what "stripes of Jesus" were. I pictured a zebra whenever I prayed that prayer in my bed, and I'll be honest, when I utter this prayer now, I still think zebra. The Lord works in mysterious ways, I guess...

When people get sick they can either look to God and blame him and ask why, which was my first reaction. Your other option is to turn to Him and pray for strength and His power of healing. So I ask you now: pray for her, have faith, believe that she will beat this and get through it with help from the Lord. Be there for her when she doesn't feel well, be a support and a comfort to her when she needs it. I will do it from far away, but I will do all I can. This is not anything but a struggle she will get through with the love of her family and friends, and a bit of that faith that we should all be lucky enough to learn to have and to hold on to.

I think it's sad that people don't always know how highly we think of them. It's times like these that make us think and wonder and appreciate what we have. We can question and be confused, but what we can't do is lose faith in God and the power he Has when we believe...