GNO with Linda Gurney: An Emblem of Faith, Jumping off the Throne, and Ginger Rogers

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I’ve been widowed for eight years and am blessed with three children :  Olivia (married to Tom), Christopher (married to Chelsea), and Andrew, who is a sophomore at Webster University.
I’ve been a professional pianist and clarinetist in the St. Louis area for 40 years and am blessed beyond words to have the gift of music. It give me countless opportunities to connect with people in any situation where you can find live music!
I also use my music as a hospice volunteer at St. Anthony’s Hospice House, most often for family and friends of the patients, but occasionally for the patients themselves.
I’ve previously been involved as a Boy Scout leader since my husband’s passing, and love connecting to people through our local Chamber of Commerce as well as playing tennis, my favorite form of exercise!

Last August, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am currently in radiation treatments.  The Lord is my Shepherd!

What has God taught you about trusting Him? 

When my beloved late husband Ed lay dying of cancer eight years ago, I tried to think about how I could go on without him, especially since our son Andrew was only 11 years old.
I think that when you have a truly wonderful marriage, it can be easy to put your husband in the #1 spot of your heart instead of God without even realizing it. I’m sure I did that from time to time, but when occasional difficulties would arise, I would try to use those as opportunities to get my priorities straight. Once again, I was reminded that God (and only God) is the One who never fails us!
Soon after Ed went home to the Lord, I was helping Andrew with a Scout project to earn his Emblem of Faith, and we had to search the Scriptures. It was then that we adopted this comforting verse as our life motto: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68: 5) How I have held on to this promise over time!
Eight years later, I still miss my husband, but I know that I have learned some valuable things and become a stronger person in the ensuing years. “You are my portion, O Lord: I have promised to obey your words.” (Psalm. 119:57)  God has truly provided for me, even in my darkest hour!
What has God taught you about friendship?
I look to the book of Proverbs for my favorite verses about friendship.“A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17)  I always thought I loved my friends“at all times”, but looking back, there was one friend in particular whom I wanted to keep as a friend, but I was looking to change that person’s ways. Even if I didn’t “correct” them, I would inwardly be judgmental about that thing (or things) I’d want to “fix”.
The Lord has taught me that when I’m judgmental, that I’m actually climbing up on His throne where only He belongs! This is a problem that I deal with in an ongoing way, and I must continually renew my resolve not to judge when someone I care about doesn’t do what I think they should be doing.
I have learned to visualize myself jumping down off of His throne when I catch myself with that judgmental attitude, and I immediately am flooded with His peace. Because, in effect, I am actually putting my friend back in God’s hands where they belong! The result is that I am enjoying my friendships with much more freedom and joy than ever!
How has God given you understanding about your identity in Him?
God has given me an understanding about my identity in Him by teaching me that since I am redeemed by His Son, that I am positionally in heaven as of right now. I’m a child of the King, even thought I still walk the earth. This means that I don’t have to defer my happiness and joy till the day I go to my perfect heavenly home, even when bad things happen to me. 
I like the idea that, in spite of this broken world we live in, I can create my own “heaven on earth” right here, right now, by recognizing God’s beauty and loving kindness everywhere it exists, and exulting in it with gratefulness! I briefly belonged to a sect where the people in it were always awaiting the Lord’s return, to the point where they had little joy as children of the King! 
Now, I can be happy and find joy in even the smallest things. I believe that’s what God wants for us, and he trusts that we will find joy in those little things.  I say this because I know He cares about the little things! In Luke, chapter 16, we have the story of the shrewd steward, ending with the moral in verse 10:  Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…”
What is your favorite verse or quote about being a woman?
“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”  —Ann Richards, former governor of Texas
What woman inspires you and why?
I’d have to say that my mother was the woman who most inspired me. She was born and raised in the third-world poverty of Panama, in a small outlying village. Her mother was a teacher in a training high school for teachers in a neighboring larger city, where my mother graduated first in her class.
This led to her being awarded an honors scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis, the first from her country to do so. She met my father there, and later worked as a translator in three languages for Monsanto.
As I was growing up, I was amazed at all the things my mother could do so well. She was a very spiritual person and taught me to pray every night, too.  The warmth of her loving spirit was the heart of our home.
She would tell me to never depend on a man to take care of me, to always know how to take care of myself. That way of thinking proved most beneficial to me, as my life turned out. 

She died at age 50 of cancer, and lived just long enough to see me graduate from Washington U. She bore up under her harsh cancer treatments with grace and never seemed to complain, but turned to the Lord for comfort instead.  She is a wonderful model for me during my current battle with breast cancer.

Your friend,

Karen’s Note: You can receive updates about Linda’s health at her CaringBridge site. 

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