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Jesus wasn’t just a part of June Ellen’s life, He was her whole world. Everything she did was to glorify the kingdom of God. She didn’t love God with some of her heart, He held her whole heart. Being a wife, mom, grandma, sister, friend, leader, and believer she did it all wholehearted. She wasn’t just somewhat in or half in, she was all in. June Ellen can teach us so much about the roles she held, and how she held them. Every role in her life was driven by her relationship with Jesus. I wonder what Jesus said to her about this when she first saw Him? If I had to guess, I’m sure He said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I don’t know about you, but that’s the response I’m looking for when the time comes. So let’s all be a ‘June Ellen,’ a good and faithful servant.
June Ellen was a leader. She led many Bible studies with women gathering each week, devoting time to study the Word. June Ellen didn’t just show up to Bible study somewhat prepared, she spent hours preparing to teach at her weekly Bible studies. She would sit in her chair, facing the window to the front yard, and would cling to scripture to share at the study. June Ellen would pray feverishly for each woman in her study. She led many people to Jesus. She led by example, by listening and asking prompting questions to learn more and gain insight about someone’s life or circumstances they were facing. As a leader, she was thrilled to listen. She showed people grace, which led others to live that way (hopefully, including us).
Many people considered June Ellen a friend. If you don’t have a ‘June Ellen’ friend in your life, you need to find one, and if you aren’t a ‘June Ellen’ friend to someone else, you need to become one. You know those people who drop what they’re doing to support you? Or to pray for you? Or to encourage you? That was June Ellen. If you needed her, she was there. She sent cards (yes, through snail mail) to let others know she was thinking of them. June Ellen had the ability to make everyone feel welcome and feel like her friend. No matter what decisions you made in the past, no matter your failures or successes, no matter your struggles or victories, June Ellen would meet you where you were to support, love, and encourage you. She would meet you where you were to be your friend. Remind you of anyone? Me too.
June Ellen had one sibling, a sister. She was the younger sibling out of the two and learned a lot from her older sister. Raised in the country between Charleston and Casey, Illinois June Ellen learned the meaning of work ethic. Her sister worked tireless hours at the local shoe factory, and June Ellen saw how hard she worked which led her to work hard too. When June Ellen moved with her husband and three children to answer the call in ministry, she stayed in close contact with her family. Even while living hundreds of miles away, she always found ways to communicate and stay connected to her loved ones. Whenever June Ellen felt the tug on her heart to reach out to someone she did it with no looking back.
Grandma was another role June Ellen held, and she held it well. In her eyes, her grandchildren could do no wrong. She supported her grandchildren in everything they did. She gave the best hugs and always had the best candy and ice cream, but she was so much more than that. She showed her grandchildren how to treat people. How to love, forgive, and think of others. She taught her grandchildren how to learn from others no matter their age, background, and story. June Ellen showed her grandchildren how to listen to others. Every person matters to God so they mattered to June Ellen.
Three people called June Ellen mom. Paul, Julie, and John. Oh, how she loved her three children. As a mom, June Ellen was gentle, protective, and nurturing. She wasn’t much of a disciplinarian, but if you asked the kids they would probably say they didn’t need much of it. She took pictures of her three children daily (way before iPhone times) and would take the film to the store to get it developed. Most pictures, it wasn’t enough to just get one copy so she often would get doubles. She loved her camera, but she loved the people she was photographing even more. June Ellen supported and encouraged her children. She asked her children lots of questions to make sure she understood the details, even as they entered adulthood. She took pride in being a mom, because to her, it was a calling from God.
As a wife, she was submissive. Like I mean the way the Bible talks about wives submit to your husbands type of submissive. She was so darn good at loving her husband. She respected her husband. She supported her husband and walked alongside him serving in ministry for over 40 years. June Ellen prayed for her husband like it was her job, and in her eyes it was one of her jobs. To encourage, support, and pray for her husband. Married for 62 years, June Ellen loved, cared, and cherished her husband consistently. She was the spouse we can all aspire to be.