Debra D Bernard
Debra was the type of person that everybody loved. She was very intelligent and full of beauty inside and out.  She was my hero growing up (she was a few years older than me), and I am so proud of the fact that she was my cousin. She was my ray of sunshine when I was down, and as a child it was an honor to be called her "blood sister." What adventures we shared together on Mamaw and Papaw's farm in Tennessee! I treasure each and every memory and am so grateful to God that I have them.

I will never forget when I first found out that Debra had breast cancer. She was a nurse, so I knew that she would make sure that everything that needed to be done would be performed (tests, treatments, etc.). I remember being filled with a tremendous burden to pray for Debra every day.  It hurt that we lived so far away from each other. I just kept praying that God would heal her body. I found out later after receiving a letter from her that by the grace of God, it was during this difficult time that Debra had given her life to Jesus Christ. She wrote these moving words, "I had originally been diagnosed with breast cancer about 3 years ago. I think that this was when I truly started to live. I have lived more and enjoyed my life in the last 3 years than I thought was possible. I have been a Christian or what I thought was a Christian, but I never truly gave my life to Jesus until I got breast cancer. It was then that I gave my life to the Lord and said... "take it, I'll live the rest of it for you"...I am not sure why the breast cancer has metastasized into breast cancer of the bone, the whole skeletal system, but I know God has a plan for this too...He could just make this cancer disappear if He wants or He may use my death in His plan. Wherever He leads, I pray for the strength to go..." Debra went to be with Jesus on August 11, 2003. Only two years after writing this letter. She had just turned forty-six years old. I must say that Debra's love for Jesus never wavered. She was strong until the end...

At first, I was angry.  You see, Debra was one of those people that deserved to live. She still had dreams to be fulfilled. She and her husband had just adopted a baby girl from Russia. She was such a beautiful person. I kept asking God why He had to take her so soon. I mean, why do things happen in life the way they do, sometimes? Honestly, I don't have the answer, but I know whose arms I can fall into when these things do happen. You know, some day that time is going to come for all of us. As long as Jesus tarries, none of us will be exempt from that moment when death comes knocking at our door. We don't know when that hour will come, but I pray that we will be ready when it does. My cousin was ready. Jesus took her sooner than I thought He should, but does that negate who God is? God is God. Some things we just won't understand until we step into eternity...

Until that time, I will trust my God, no matter what. I will say it again...God is God. I want to live my life, just as it is...a gift. I don't want to ever take it for granted. While I still have breath in my lungs, I want to be used for God's glory. I know that some day I am going to see Debra again. And yes, I am going to run into her arms and laugh and play with her just as we did as children, but this time it will be in our glorified bodies.

Please know that Jesus loves you! I hope that some day Debra and I will see you in Heaven, too! This life is only a vapor...a drop in a bucket compared to eternity. May you remember this...John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Also, Isaiah 55:6-7 says..."Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, For He will ABUNDANTLY pardon." I will say it again...Jesus loves you!

God bless you and thank you for taking the time to read my blog as a tribute to Debra.

For His glory,

Mary Ann