A Current Day Proverbs 31 Lady
Tomorrow, June 28, 2020, is JoAnne Skelton’s 87th birthday.
I have pondered for weeks about what gift to get for her. What do you give to someone who is the single most influential person in your life?
Every idea I came up with, I quickly dismissed; nothing seemed appropriate or good enough. With time running out, I was getting anxious. Then this morning, just before dawn, I woke up and knew with clarity: I was to give her the gift of my words. And I was to share her with you.
I already know I am going to get an earful for exposing her, because she likes to stay in the shadows and operate unnoticed. However, JoAnne has taught me over the years to stand and be strong…so I can take her :)
Y’all need to know this amazing, godly woman.
While I introduced JoAnne as my faithful mentor and confidant in one of my first blogs (By Example), there is so much more to this extraordinary lady. She lives, breathes and oozes the love of God. She is a current day Proverbs 31 lady: a woman of strong character, great wisdom and insight, and great compassion.
Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
~ Proverbs 31: 11-12
In September, JoAnne and her husband will celebrate 70 years of marriage. JoAnne has faithfully honored and served her 90-year old husband all these years. Right smack in the middle of this pandemic, her husband had a medical issue that required hospitalization and rehabilitation. Somehow she was allowed to stay with him the entire six weeks (I say somehow, but I am pretty certain the doctors and staff instinctively knew better than tell her no!!) For six weeks she slept in a chair and tended to his needs around the clock. Now back at home, she continues to take care of him. She has never wavered from her wedding vows and loves her husband unconditionally.
She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
~ Proverbs 31: 13-15
JoAnne is the most energetic woman I have ever met. In everything she does, and I mean everything, she gives it 100 percent. By her own words, she has slowed down these past few years; however, what that really means is she is just slower in accomplishing the task, not that she has eliminated the task! She still puts three solid meals on the table for her husband - and anyone else who happens to drop by - and I am talking the good, old-fashioned, make-your-mouth-water home cooking! And the table is always elegantly set, with the goal to make you feel special. She is a gracious hostess.
As I was reading this section of characteristics of Proverbs 31, I had to chuckle. If there is anywhere in the Bible that JoAnne deviates from Scripture, it would be here: she drops the last four words of verse 15. When it comes to planning the day’s work, forget the servant girls, she doesn’t want to trouble anyone for help! She will do it herself! Up until a couple of years ago, she was still maintaining their acreage...cutting grass on their tractor, trimming hedges and pulling weeds from the flowerbeds. However, when she does get help, she pays generously.
She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
~ Proverbs: 31: 16-18
For many years, JoAnne had a career outside the home. While she has been retired since I met her in early 1994, she still keeps up with her former coworkers. From stories she has shared, it is obvious she was a trailblazer for women. A woman with an unquestionable work ethic, she set the standard for those who worked with her. While she always had respect for authority, she did not tolerate inappropriate behavior and was quick to “nip it in the bud.” I know first hand, that when JoAnne is addressing an issue, you don’t dare break eye contact until she is through speaking. Even then, you know her words are spoken in love and for your good. There is not a mean or spiteful bone in her body.
Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.
She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
JoAnne is the most compassionate woman I know. She loves with an uncommon kind of faithful love. She does not meet a stranger. In fact, she interacts with everyone who comes in her path. She acknowledges the cashiers at the grocery store, tellers at the bank, receptionists at the doctor’s office and even folks in the parking lot. She is genuinely interested in how their day is going and often prays with them. I would never break her confidence, but I will tell you this: she is quick to meet needs. Big needs and small ones. Without hesitation. And often sacrificially.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
~Proverbs 31: 25-27
JoAnne is the wisest woman I know. I cannot begin to count all the hours we have spent on the phone these past 26 years. She has encouraged me and prayed me through tough times. She challenges me to stand on the Word of God and believe His promises. Many years ago during a very hard season, she told me to stop my whining and complaining and climb into my watchtower, and like the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, to wait to see what the Lord was going to do. Because, she always says, ”It is going to be goooood! Real good!”
Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
~Proverbs 31: 28-31
JoAnne is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great grandmother. She is fiercely protective and extremely proud of her tribe. She keeps up with all of them and loves to love on them.
In addition to her bloodline, she has countless spiritually-adopted daughters. While she is no longer able to attend our Sunday school class, she keeps up with us and continues to invest in us. She keeps up with the new members, and even though she has not physically met them, she will reach out to them and faithfully pray for them. Just this week, when she saw an email about a bridal shower we were having for one of our young college girls, whom she has never met, she made arrangements to get a gift and card to the bride-to-be. She is a blessing and mentor to each one of us.
JoAnne is beautiful. She is physically beautiful, externally aging with grace and dignity. She is internally beautiful: her heart overflows with generosity and compassion. With each passing day, she displays more of Jesus. She reveres the Lord and is quick to praise Him in all things. Her sole desire is to live in obedience to the Word of God and accomplish His plan for her life, each and every day.
I truly wish you had the privilege of personally meeting my precious friend. I can guarantee your life would never be the same.
JoAnne, you are a blessing in my life and I love you more than you will ever know. I am a better person because of you.
P. S. JoAnne, before you scold me about writing this, as you have taught me to do, I was being obedient to the Word of God. The last line of Proverbs 31:31 says to declare your noble character publicly...so I did!