Birds chirp in the crisp morning air. Sun streaks through the branches of the trees, beginning to bear fruit after their long winter’s chill. June Carter-McClain hears the whispers of God welcoming her into a new day of His mercies and ushering her into life with Him.
These simple moments of remembrance — the glory of God on display in His creation, the gift of breath to breathe — over the course of her life thus far have built June’s energetic faith.
Her attention to the Spirit is evident in the ways she bears witness to God’s glory through her worship and admiration of creation. She does not take a day for granted. When asked how she defines joy, June says, “It’s worshiping God in the ways you know how. It’s more than a feeling. It’s a safety and a peace from God that is totally different from anything this world can offer.”
“I see God all around me. He created everything and we don’t have to be in a building to give Him glory and praise.”
Worshiping God in spirit and truth has been a thread woven through June’s life from the very beginning. She remembers her mother humming “Amazing Grace” as she puttered about their house, and her childhood congregation actively worshiping God through movement and dance. There were always instruments and loud singing.
Psalm 150 has always been an inspiration:
“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; …
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!”
These pieces shaped her ideas of worship. Worship comes in many forms, but for June specifically, she has found the tambourine a constant companion in her musical worship; you can often spot it with her on stage or in the congregation. It radiates the joy June has in the Lord.
“It’s a whole body experience,” she describes. “I give glory to God, He gives me joy, and the circle goes on and on and on.”
This joy was hard fought. When June was eight years old, her mother went home to be with Jesus. It was at this moment that June encountered God in a real way. As a young child, June did not have a comprehensive understanding of heaven. However, while she sat with her six siblings at her mother’s bedside, she had peace and assurance that she’d see her mother again. At the time, she could not explain it; it was a voice saying, “you’ll see her again.” Many of her family members were concerned for her resolve which allowed her to remain calm in the midst of this tragedy. Years later, she attributes it to the hand of God. Although growing up without her mother was not easy, God was faithful to June and she knew undoubtedly that God was with her wherever she went.
As a professional, June entered a field she wouldn’t have chosen for herself, but one in which she felt God giving her an opportunity and a purpose, so she stepped in obedience. She worked in an operating room assisting surgeons during medical procedures. Her attention to her patient’s needs was clear. As an anxious patient was awaiting anesthesia, June would pray with them and make sure to remain physically present until they were completely under anesthesia. She was a calming presence as they went into surgery and a comfort as they came out.
God used June in many ways throughout her career, but God also spoke to June through her patients. She remembers a specific patient who came in with kidney failure who was so thankful to be receiving one functioning kidney. She couldn’t help but consider the privilege it was to have two working kidneys and praise God for this man and for her body’s health.
June spends her years of retirement resting in the Lord and His grace. “I may not have a job in the traditional sense anymore, but God’s work through me here on this earth is not done.” She humbles herself daily and asks God, “What are we going to do today?” Whether it’s picking up her grandson from school or participating in Women’s Bible Study, she is mindful of ways He can use her in the lives of others. Her friendship with God gives her vitality and joy.
June was drawn to Eastbrook Church about sixteen years ago because of the Worship Choir. In part it reminded her of her mother and her Gospel Choir days, and she loves to live out Psalm 150 for God’s glory. When she faces any sort of objection to her tambourine shaking, she simply defends her actions with Scripture. “I’m not here to please people, I’m here to serve God and honor His word.”
Her freedom and joy in Christ is evident from across the room. It bears witness to the depth of her faith borne through many trials and blessings accompanied by God. ■