God’s sweet hand was on my life years before I realized it. I was raised “around” Truth and knew just enough to know that He was a Good God. When I was little, I went to Sunday School occasionally with my “Mawmaw”, and that’s when I first felt His presence. It wasn’t until I was seventeen that I went back to church and was baptized in Jesus’ Name and received the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost….and my “journey” began.
My pastor preached/taught that God was always faithful, His Word was true, and He would supply our every need. I fell in love with His Word and claimed those promises for my life. Little did I know just how faithful He was, how true His Word really was, and how He would supply every need in my life.
God sent a wonderful companion, Rev. Charles Bourn, for me to share my life with. We married February 14, 1981. He was a widower, pastored a church, and had seven precious children. A few years later, God gave us a son. Needless to say, my life changed dramatically. Life was busy and God was good to us! I loved my family and the ministry.
Fast forward from 1981 to February 10, 2003. My husband was coming home from revival to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. He said he wasn’t feeling well, and was having difficulty breathing. He went to the clinic. Our daughter, Tara, who was his doctor’s nurse, called and said I needed to get to the clinic because something showed up on the chest x-ray. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital. We were told it was a mass in his chest and some type of Lymphoma. Valentine’s Day, our anniversary, he was transferred to UMMC in Jackson to get the diagnosis. I followed the ambulance carrying my twenty-two yellow roses, praying, crying, and asking God for healing. We finally got the diagnosis: Stage 4 Burkett’s Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Chemotherapy started that day and ran five days. We finally went home to Columbia February 28th. We needed a miracle. Every three weeks, he would take another round of chemotherapy.
Our pastor, Rev. James Carney, our Woodlawn Church family, and many ministers and friends from all over the country prayed for him. He lived seven month, fifteen days then God took him “home”…the place he had preached about for many years.
Even while facing the heartache and devastation cancer had on our lives, I saw His faithfulness. In prayer one day, I told the Lord that I didn’t think I could live if He took him because we served together and we prayed together. God reminded me that I was serving Him first and that He would take care of me…and He has. I look back often. It been almost sixteen years since he went “home” and God has taken good care of me.
I asked God to help me see the sunshine on my journey again. The road of grief is a rough one, to say the least. So many times in pray, there were few words spoken, but many tears shed. I learned that tears are truly a language that He understands. I was 47 and there weren’t any other widows close to my age in my church. After having a wonderful marriage and seeing it end, I realized a part of me had died. I could walk into a room full of family and friends and still feel so alone because he wasn’t there with me. At times, I’ve felt like a “fifth wheel”…I was there, but not really needed.
I asked Him for financial wisdom and help to be a wise steward of my income. I wanted my tithes and offerings to be a blessing to the Kingdom. He has truly blessed me and I am eternally grateful. It’s been proven to me over and over that you can’t “outgive” God!
I asked Him to help me find “my place” in the church without my husband. I wanted to find things I could do alone. He helped me realize there was plenty I could do. I could pray. I could welcome people to His house. I could sing in the choir. I could send cards of encouragement. I could lead the Bereavement Team. I could be of support to my pastor and his family.
And now, as I’m getting ready to retire, I think about all the plans we had of enjoying all our grandchildren, traveling, and enjoying life together. The plans have changed, but God has plans for me in every chapter of my life. And one thing has not changed at all. He has been and will be faithful…as always!