My good friend, mentor, and kindred-spirit, Jeanie Davis, went to heaven early Christmas morning. She’d asked me several years ago to offer a eulogy for her memorial service and life celebration. Jeanie understood faith and the power of prayer better than anyone I’ve ever known. Here is the message I offered for her family and friends–Dana Taylor
Jeanie Lavelle Emberton came into the world at the family home in Drumright, Oklahoma on October 30, 1932. She was one of five children born to Clifford Crilly Emberton and Verna Willie Young Emberton. During the Depression years, her dad, Clifford, worked for Phillips Petroleum, moving the family through several small Oklahoma towns.
Her Grandma Emberton sewed the seeds of faith early in Jeanie. A stroke at the age of 32 marked Grandma Emberton with a limp and residual paralysis. Yet she regularly spent morning time kneeling beside Jeanie’s bed to begin their day in prayer. She answered Jeanie’s questions about Jesus. Those morning talks laid a foundation for the Christian life that would influence so many people in the years to come.
During Jeanie’s high school years, the family lived in Shidler, Oklahoma. Her vivacious personality made her a class favorite and she often sang comedy solos. She stayed in touch with several of her classmates and continued to attend reunions throughout her life.
After graduation she moved to the big city—Tulsa—and became a working girl. She met Bill Davis and they married on April 9, 1953. From that union came the treasures of Jeanie’s heart-her four children Shelley, Cindy, Chris and Holly.
The marriage proved to be difficult and turbulent. By 1968 her life was falling apart—her health was poor and she knew her dependence on alcohol had gotten out of control. She was wandering in a personal spiritual desert. Her one glimmer of hope came from dreams of encouragement with Grandma Emberton. She remembered the prayers of her grandmother. On one fateful night, Jeanie fell to her knees in her bedroom. A vision of Jesus appeared. He showed an honest life review. She saw all the ways she was falling short. In those minutes, she experienced true repentance and she received supernatural forgiveness from the Lord. She heard the phrases, “Peace I leave you. Peace I give you. Let your heart not be afraid.” Warmth and the peace of God poured through her. She was given the joy and strength she needed to divorce and move on.
From that point, walking a spiritual path became the highest focus of Jeanie’s life. We all knew her in different roles—friend, mother, or grandmother. But we all sensed her authentic faith. She generously took people into her home. She prayed from the heart and developed her spiritual gifts through study and practice.
Her life had many challenges—physically and financially. But she knew God would always come through.
We all have our favorite Jeanie moments. I met Jeanie in the Servants in Prayer group at Our Lords Community Church. We were truly kindred spirits and became life long prayer partners. She became a mother figure to me after she helped me get through the difficult days of my own mother’s passing.
We were both cat lovers and gave each other feline friends that would be perfect companions. Jeanie adopted a friendly stray that showed up at my house and named her “Sadie.” “She” turned out to be a “he.” After that discovery, he became “Sadie-Boy.” A couple of years later she returned the favor. I was between pets. Kind-hearted Holly left food out for the local feral cats at the home she shared with Jeanie. One black-and-white kept running into their house. One day Jeanie called me, “Come over here and pick up this dang cat. He is driving us crazy.” She knew he was meant for me. He’s still my best pal, Buddy.
The last time I saw Jeanie, she was at the assisted living center, looking like a million bucks. Her hair was done; her make-up perfect. When we went downstairs, the workers and residents all knew her and shared a joke or two. In recent months, despite trips to the hospital, Jeanie was a leader in a Bible study and was always ready with a prayer.
The last evening of Jeanie’s life was about as perfect as one could hope. She was surrounded by her family on Christmas Eve. She looked and felt good. She basked in the joy and warmth of her loved ones. Then, as they were celebrating the birth of the Savior at a candlelight service, Jeanie was at home surrounded by angels. She joined Jesus on Christmas morning. Now, she is in her heavenly home.
She will be missed by many, but, Jeanie lives on in the memories and spiritual lessons she taught us. Someone as special as Jeanie may move from one plane of existence to another, but, like Jesus, she is with us… always.