Sisters Ellen and Jean

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Yesterday morning in Bible class, I asked those older ladies to tell the group about a mentor who had influenced their lives. One lady whom I’ll call Miss Jean told us about her sister whom I will call Ellen. These sisters lived in town next door to one another. Ellen and her husband ran a furniture store in town; Miss Jean’s husband ran the funeral home.

You should have heard the chorus of voices who chimed in to sing the praises of Ellen when Miss Jean started telling her story.

Ellen was twenty-three years older than Miss Jean and was like a second mother, Miss Jean said. Not every woman would relish the thought of a second-mother-sister next door, but Miss Jean was all smiles and praise. I am sorry I never met this remarkable woman.

In spite of her responsibilities at the furniture store, she found time to bless many people. She called them. She visited them. She carried clothes around in the trunk of her car, and when she saw someone in need of them, she had them right there and ready to give away.

One way that Ellen served her adult daughter (who was her only child) was to pick up her daughter’s younger child from his babysitter. The babysitter, who is now retired and in our Bible class, chimed in with her praise, too, because of Ellen’s influence on the babysitter’s father. When Ellen picked up her grandson, she took time to sit awhile on the front porch and visit with the babysitter’s father. This man eventually came to Jesus partly because of their porch visits.

Porch Swing in North Carolina, 1938, Courtesy Library of Congress
Porch Swing in North Carolina, 1938, Courtesy Library of Congress

The oldest member of our class said that she admired how Ellen influenced her (Ellen’s) husband. In time, he also came to Jesus and Ellen saw him grow into a leader in their church where he eventually served as a deacon.

Ellen’s only child died when she was just 27 years old, leaving a ten-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son. Her daughter’s husband married again and Ellen and her husband adopted and reared their grandchildren.

So she didn’t let her grief make her stop serving, I asked. A chorus replied no. If anything, she served more.

Wanting to be sure I had my facts right, I chatted with Miss Jean at church last night. She told me about her sister not being afraid to talk to people about Jesus. “I guess she worried ___ ___ (I’ll call him Jim Reese) to death.” Jim Reese is part of our church now. Evidently Ellen didn’t worry him to death. Evidently she kept on talking until Jim listened. Don’t you know he is glad he did?

Miss Jean described Ellen as a little bitty woman. Obviously this little bitty woman made a really big impact. Her influence did not end when she went to be with Jesus. Ray and I worship every Sunday with that granddaughter that Ellen reared as her child, and with that granddaughter’s daughter and her husband and their two children — Ellen’s great-great-grandson and great-great-granddaughter. We also worship with the ladies in the Bible class who sang her praises yesterday.

. . . a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

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