Anita Shetler of Baltic, OH

Picture of winner's bracelet.

A charm bracelet is like no other piece of jewelry. Over the years, pins, necklaces, and earrings have made their way into my jewelry box and exited as they lost their appeal or their luster. My charm bracelets, on the other hand are worn and treasured. They are a part of my history...they tell my story. One bracelet is filled with junior high, high school, and college memories. They tell the story of a young girl’s activities, clubs, hopes, and dreams. A second bracelet was started a few years ago and tells the story of my adult life. Stories of love, marriage, children, and grandchildren are told there. Those grandchildren are one reason that I love to wear my charm bracelets. As we sit together Mia, Britton and I explore each silver charm and I can tell them my story. It opens doors to share some life lessons I’ve learned along the way. One such lesson came about over the course of this past year and can fill an entire bracelet all by itself. Let me share the story: 1. Even now it is hard to say or write the word....cancer. The very word conjures up such feelings of fear and dread! More than once I’ve heard cancer referred to as the “C-Word”....(INIT-C 4766) It’s almost like the word itself is profane...which, in a way of course it is. Webster defines profane with words like vulgar and irreverent all of which cancer is. Other people get sick and deal with cancer. At least that’s what I thought as we came through Christmas and headed into the New Year. 2. Only a few days into 2013 we were told that my husband, Merle had cancer. We were completely blindsighted with the news. While we may sometimes think we’d like to have a crystal ball (Crystal Ball 3538) I tend to think that seeing the bad things in our future would ruin the joy of each day. I am reminded of Matthew 6:26-27 where Jesus tells His followers “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hours to his life?” (Seagull 3848) 3. Soon we faced a multitude of decisions to be made. Surgery? Chemotherapy? Radiation? Which hospital would be best? Which doctors should we seek out? Our daughters, Elissa and Emily are health care professionals and proved to be such blessings! They encouraged us, and Elissa especially, as a radiation therapist, held the key (Key 8359) for us to find our way into the medical world. Soon doors began to open A treatment plan was made and chemotherapy and radiation were underway. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Door 8168) 4. To date, our journey has spanned seven months. Along the way we have met wonderful healthcare professionals who have been a great source of information and encouragement. We are so glad that each one has their own particular talents and am reminded that we are to look for ways to use our OWN gifts in service to others. (Gift 8261) Somewhere along the way someone shared a beautiful story that has stuck with us. Did you know that oysters produce pearls to alleviate the discomfort made by a tiny grain of sand that finds its way into the oyster’s shell? It’s true! The oyster secretes a substance to cover the irritating sand particle and little by little the layers build up until a pearl is formed. The sand particle never really goes away but the oyster has a unique way to deal with the pain and something beautiful comes as a result. What a great life lesson! From it, we drew three thoughts: 1) Even with a “shell”, we are all vulnerable to adversity and pain in life. 2) Our response to life’s pain is what matters. We can choose to take the experience and become “BITTER” or “BETTER” and 3) There is value in adversity. Through Merle’s experience, we find that we are far more sensitive to others who are dealing with serious illness or difficulty in life...there’s nothing like experiencing pain to develop your character! (Oyster 2009 ) Our church and family have been with us throughout. They express their love in so many ways...notes, prayers and calls have all been appreciated. Though our world has been spinning, we know that the love of others an of God is there (I Love You Spinner 1161) Merle’s cancer is gone and we pray that it won’t return. We have faith (Mustard Seed 3023) in what Bible says that God will bring us through whatever lies ahead for us. Matthew 17:20 “I tell you the truth “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” We take each day at a time and often think of Robert Browning’s quote “Grow Old With Me the best is yet to come” as we go on from here. (Hourglass 8345) All of this brings us full circle to the “Letter C” which started the bracelet. Perhaps instead of dwelling on the scary BIG-C word which rocked our world in January we can now think of a better “C-word”....Confidence perhaps. We have confidence that we have made it through a tough year and that we can face whatever lies ahead.

Anita Shetler
Baltic, OH
Story of Your Life
July, 2013

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