Saying YES to the Invitations of Psalm 23!

Last Saturday, I was privileged to give the eulogy for my friend Joann at her memorial service.

The well-known, well-loved 23rd Psalm are words King David wrote from the perspective of a sheep whose shepherd is the Lord. They are a small piece of his testimony, and they are a small piece of Joann’s testimony as well.

Throughout her life, Joann said yes to the invitations Psalm 23 offers. In saying yes, it shaped who she was, defined the qualities she lived by, and resulted in blessing everyone she knew!

The Lord was her shepherd. As a young teen, Joann said yes to a life of faith. That decision influenced all the choices that came her way. She chose to attend Multnomah Bible College in Oregon, (now Multnomah University) as a way of feeding her faith.  While at Multnomah she attended the church where Jack Mayhall was the youth pastor. Upon graduation, The Mayhalls invited Joann to live with them. She said yes and it was during that time that Joann was introduced to The Navigators.

Joann’s life of faith was anchored by Hebrew 6:14, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And God faithfully worked that through her life in many ways. I’m thankful to be one who was blessed by Joann’s friendship.

He led Joann in paths of righteousness for his name sake. Saying yes to a life of faith led Joann to say yes to the sovereignty of God. Her subsequent journey took her from Oregon, to Washington, to Colorado, to California, to Germany, back to Washington, to England, to Spain, back to California, to north Africa, and back to Colorado.

Saying yes to the sovereignty of God led to full time mission work as a single woman. During the early 60’s Joann provided leadership for the women’s ministry for The Navigators in Los Angeles.

It led to her marriage to Jack in Pasadena, California in 1962. It led to having three children born in three different countries.

And it led to 17 years of ministry in the country of Spain where she and Jack raised their children. All three are bi-lingual and knew when Spaniards were in their home, only Spanish was spoken.

In saying yes to the sovereignty of God, led to saying yes to living her God-created design.

Even though I walk through the valley … you are with me. Even in difficulties, Joann said yes and God’s presence was real to her. She knew the reality of trusting God to provide food for her growing family. On one occasion in Spain when their refrigerator was bear, a neighbor came over saying they were leaving on a trip and would Joann and her family take the food that was in their refrigerator. Experiences like that cement the goodness of God in your heart. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

He prepares a table in the presence of enemies. Joann said yes to the price of hospitality. The enemies of Psalm 23 were the noxious weeds that could harm the sheep. It was the shepherd’s responsibility to go ahead and clean the table-land of the weeds.*  For Joann, the weeds she rid her home of were the weeds of her American culture. She adapted to whatever culture she was living in and learned how to prepare welcoming tables for their friends. When living in Spain, she decorated her home with a Spanish motif; when Spaniards were in their home, she served Spanish food. It was natural for her.

She was feisty and fun. She loved the games of Rook and Pit using them to invite their friends in for weekly tournaments in Spain. Joann was competitive, she always won.

Joann was an elegant lady. Her mother groomed her well in etiquette saying if she was ever invited to dine with the queen of England, she wanted her to know what fork to use. Although the invitation from the queen never materialized, during their years in Spain they were invited to dine with dignitaries on several occasions and Joann was always very comfortable.

And it was always a treat to be invited to have tea with her. She served with grace and I felt very special.

Her friendships manifested themselves in her ability to be a wise counselor. Joann said yes to speaking honestly, hopefully, and truthfully when invited to help another with life issues. She  would love enough to share truth with a another, but she would hold back from the need to fix the issue. She trusted God to speak to the other. It was life-changing for the recipient.

Joann said yes to finishing well. Although she lived with Parkinson’s disease the last 20 years of her life here on earth, she continued to love well. I often would ask for her wisdom in different situations I was facing. Her words always spoke life to me.

You could hear her conversing in Spanish with friends from their home in Colorado. She never lost her heart for the Spanish people.

She would often accompany Jack visiting Manitou Springs, a small town near Colorado Springs to talk with the people about God and to give away Jack’s books. Her gift of friendship made it easy to sit in a coffee shop and start conversations with the baristas.

“Again Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world.
Whoever follow me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Joann followed Jesus as a wife, as a mom, as a missionary and she knew the light of life.

I imagine if Joann was here with me, she would ask me to share this testimony with you …

Surely goodness and mercy have followed me
all the days of my life,
and I am dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6, personalized

*A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller.



6 thoughts on “Saying YES to the Invitations of Psalm 23!

  1. Linda butler says:

    Beautifully captures Joann’s heart, her choice to trust her God and how these choices impacted her personal life, her marriage and family, as well as the many lives she touched. Very convicting and challenging to me personally to daily choose the life of faith and trust the ONE who created me. Thank you, Sue.

    • says:

      Yup, Linda, I’m with you.

      I too want to choose the life of faith and trust that God created me for.

      Thankful we are walking together. love, sue

  2. Theresa Thaete says:

    Beautiful tribute! What struck me is that in many ways, there was nothing momentous that she did! She walked by faith, trusting her Shepherd in the dailies of life, letting Him humbly live His life through her. People saw Him!! Which was her desire!

    I hope one day someone will say similar things about me! As Steve Green sang, “May all who come behind us, find us faithful!”

    • says:

      Me too, Theresa!

      Thanks for chiming in and emphasizing that it was Joann’s normal life that followed hard after our shepherd … and invited others to do the same.

      All of us have a “normal” life to offer. May God indeed find us faithful.

      love, sue

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