Cecile Jo Suire has an indomitable spirit and faith both of which have carried her through the worst of times and shown her the best of times.
Suire, or 'Pastor CeCe,' as she is known to those she has ministered to for more than eight years, is a new member of the Oroville community but one who is certain to leave her mark.
A transplant from a 'little bitty' town in Louisiana called Iota, Suire moved to the City of Gold seven months ago with her son, Eric Higginbotham, 20; her oldest daughter, Olivia Higginbotham, 24 and her daughter, 33-month old Melody.
"I came here under the impression that I would be ministering with another man from here but that didn't work out," said Suire without a trace of regret in her voice. "But I'm glad we came. I really have to say that Oroville has been one of my favorite places to live. I love the openness of the city and I adore the very hospitable people."
Suire is grateful for 'her calling from the Lord' to come to Oroville for another reason, one she holds in her heart and in her arms — her granddaughter, Melody.
"We knew we had a problem. Something was different, not quite right about Melody but the doctors in Louisiana just wouldn't listen, kept saying everything was fine but we knew it wasn't," said Suire. "But when we brought Melody to the doctors here they caught it instantly. Melody has a slight case of autism."
With that diagnosis and access to doctors and counselors who understood her granddaughter's illness,
Suire, and her family, began to learn and grow as they loved this 'little live wire' of a girl.
"It opened up a whole new avenue of ministry for me. I can speak with mothers and grandmothers and families, help train them on how to handle the things these children go through. I care for her every day and all is right with the world," said Suire.
Melody in her 'Grandie's' care shares her delight of the world and the 'love of the Lord' with any and all.
Experiencing her grandbaby's seemingly natural and uncontrived love for Jesus, inspired Suire to communicate the simple yet devote faith with others in writing.
"Melody raises her hands high whenever she hears or says 'Jesus,' like she knows he's in heaven. She has known him from the womb but I wanted her to know of him as I want others to know," said Suire, thoughtfully.
"As I watched her, day after day, and wondered on this, the Lord began to give me messages. And, I thought as he gave me each one, 'this is nice' and so I wrote them down. Over a year's time, 31 devotionals came to me."
Those 31 devotionals, have now been collected into a book called The Wind Carries His Whisper, published by Publish America and available through its website at www.publishamerica.com.
Many of the devotionals start with charming stories about Melody and glide easily into similes about faith and belief making Suire's message easy for anyone to grasp.
"I received a revelation of God's Word in such a 'childlike' manner that even a young one could comprehend it with great understanding and knowledge. On that day, The Wind Carries His Whisper was birthed," she recalls.
"What I've learned from writing these inspirations is the fact that most times we are listening for a loud voice when we wish to hear the Lord, and all we have to do is be receptive of the faintest whisper."
Suire has not always had the joy in life that she has found at 44. After 17 years in an abusive marriage, a judge gave her a choice - throw him out of the house; take your three children and leave him now; or have the children taken from you. For Suire there really was no choice.
"Those babies, my children had been my life. I'd always been with them since the time they born. No one else was going to raise them," she said.
So in 1997 at 33, Suire became a single mom with no high school degree or out-of-home work experience. In less than three months, she'd earned her high school diploma and by 2000 her college degree as a paralegal all the while cleaning houses to earn money, raising her children and 'getting to know the Lord.'
Her 'calling' in ministry came from her life experience and so she chose to minister to victims of domestic violence.
"I've lived it so I know what they are going through. It is very real to me," she said.
Suire was ordained by Anita Dix-McLaughlin, Ph. D. Th., Founder, Executive Director of The Foundation For Family Victims of Substance Abuse, Pastor of A M Ministries, Inc. and The Triumphant Church (an International Fellowship), Apostle General of God's Generals International Ministry Training Center and Executive Producer and Host of Joy Comes Radio and Independent Voices.
She is earning her license in ministerial counseling from God's Generals International ministry Training Center.
Through the years, Suire has taken whatever life has thrown her way - an abusive husband, single motherhood, an autistic grandchild - and caught it all in a sure glove grip.
But in 2003, while riding in the car with her youngest daughter, Megan, life threw Suire a curve ball. And this time, she missed the catch waking up in a hospital severely injured.
"I lost my foot in that auto accident. They reattached it but it really isn't my foot any more. It's full of pins and plates and the ankle is a hinge. I couldn't walk for eight months and during that time I also lost half my right buttock to an infection. I wasn't sure what I was going to do," she recalls.
Bedridden, Suire says she missed ministering more than walking. She drew as much comfort from her work as those she ministered to derived from it.
Then one day a friend suggested the Internet as a way to keep working.
"I was a nuts and bolts pastor. I worked from the pulpit or one-on-one. The Internet? What kind of crazy idea was that," she said laughing.
"And still I was drawn to the idea so by 2004 I had a little ministry on line."
Suire's online ministry was a success and so once she was mobile again and could do her 'nuts and bolts' work she continued with her on-line work as well. People from all over go to www.myspace.com/pastorcece or www.myspace.com/centermarkministries.com to converse and pray with Suire.
Suire is currently working on two more books of inspiration - one about her accident and recovery and the other about moving from a farm into a city.
"It's been a long road with lots of twists and turns but the Lord has traveled it with me. And as I said, all is right in the world."