A Special Family and a Special Woman

The Anstines

This has been my Facebook cover photo for a little over a year now. People have commented about my large family. Although I grew up as an only child, this is my family of the heart. They have been and continue to be so special to our lives. They have truly been there for our family in so many ways.

First I met Keith, 2nd from the left on the back row. We became friends when we went to summer camp together. My husband met the family first. He had moved to a new town for college and this family and their church took him in as one of their own. They gave him a sense of belonging. Sunday dinner was always at their grandmother’s house, and she became Grandma Coen to him.

Several years later, my husband and I started dating. I got to know the whole family within weeks. We had many weekends with them during our engagement. Grandma Coen and Mom (Judy) became precious to me as they shared wisdom about having a strong Christian marriage. Dad (Ron) could always sense when I was upset about something. He would hug and assure me that everything would be ok. After we were married, they continued to be important in our lives. We drove 2 hours many Sundays to be in church with them.

Kevin, far right in front, and his wife Cory have been friends of ours since we married. They married a year and a half after we did, and our children are close in ages. They watched our kids when we would go away for a weekend. Whenver we are near their town, we have to see them. We have even driven two hours to go to the church that Kevin pastors. He was also the pastor who married our daughter. She couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it.

The whole family was in our wedding – one groomsmen, two singers/musicians, three ushers, a junior groomsmen and one precious little flower girl, Karen Sue.

She is the reason that I posted this picture on Facebook. Not long after this picture was taken, Karen went to Heaven to be with Jesus. She was no longer in pain after her hard fight against breast cancer, but her going left a huge hole in everyone’s hearts. She wasn’t a movie star or a famous athlete, but she touched so many people during her short life. I can truly say that I have never seen so many people at a funeral before in my life.

Karen made an impression on everyone she met – whether it was high school or church friends, parents of her children’s friends and teammates and many others. Even after a year, it’s difficult to think that she’s gone. People have said that they thought of something they wanted to ask Karen or tell her, only to realize that they couldn’t just pick up the phone and call her.

Her husband and three children know each day that she is gone, as she misses events both big and small in their lives and as they learn to live without her presence here on earth. There was a saying that one of Karen’s friends used to verbalize Karen’s fight with cancer – Fight Like a Mom. It became Karen’s warrior mantra. It was even used for fundraising events and printed on t-shirts and sweatshirts. She did Fight Like a Mom with every breath of her being to be there with her children for as long as she could. Her fight ended when she was greeted by her Savior on January 5, 2015.

Karen’s faith was the other part of her life that she wanted to share with people. She wanted them to know the joy and hope it offered. She had a saying that she left everyone with, and it says it all. “Have a relationship with God. Live your life as a Christian, so I can see you all again, soon.” 38 years was too few here on earth, but Karen we do have the hope and comfort that we will see you again!

Please take a moment to get to know Karen through the video presentation that was shown at her Celebration Service.

Karen’s Video

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