Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Church in the Cotton Patch

I was honored recently to speak at a special ladies’ meeting during the annual Bible Conference held at Unity Baptist Church in Ripley, Mississippi.  The pastor’s wife, Donna Barefield was the very gracious hostess for the ladies’ event.
 Their church is known as “the church in the cotton patch.”
I wanted to have my picture taken in the cotton patch, but because of the cold and wind decided against it. There was a beautiful flower arrangement with cotton balls interspersed in it. 
Around 300 ladies attended the ladies’ event.  I spoke on the topic “Becoming a Woman of Wisdom.”  Many pastors’ wives came from a multi-state region and I met many of their husbands at lunch.  It seemed like all of them knew and loved Adrian and wanted to tell me how he had impacted their lives.  The pastor, Brother Ronnie, came in at then end of the ladies’ session and presented me with a lovely framed collage of pictures of Adrian with these words of Adrian at the bottom, “You cannot obey God without your obedience spilling out in a blessing to all those around you.”
An extra special treat was to speak to Christen Dillard, granddaughter of Paul Stovall, who had been a deacon chairman at Bellevue.
She had been in the Children’s New Members’ Class that I taught for 34 years at Bellevue.  What a blessing to see that she is now a pastor’s wife at Dumas Baptist church in Dumas, Mississippi.

For twentyone years this church has hosted this conference and this year paid most of the expenses for 150 pastors, missionaries and wives to attend.  The ladies of the church cook and serve breakfast, lunch and supper from Monday through Wednesday.  When I was there for lunch it was like a giant potluck meal.  The food was delicious, made with loving hands.

Donna, the pastor’s wife, invited me back again next year.  How I look forward to going again to “the church in the cotton patch!”  Virgie Crutchfield, a widow friend of mine drove with me and helped watch for the correct directions to the church.  I loved having her along with me.  We agreed that this was a rare privilege and we would look forward to going again next year, the Lord willing.  We’ll meet you “in the cotton patch!”


The first two volumes in The Adrian Rogers Sermon Library—Genesis Volume I and Genesis Volume II-- were purchased by pastors who attended the Bible Conference.  Exodus will be released soon. You can order these Volumes through pastortraininginstitute.com  It will be a great blessing to your life.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Gray Sky

The sky is gray today as I look out of my window.  It is gently raining and Father, You “washed the world last night.”  The memory of the magnificent sunrise that I beheld just a few days ago still lingers in my mind!  Help me to remember in these “gray days” that You are still there.

A song that I sang to my children when they were young says,

                                    It’s a happy day and
I thank God for the weather;
It’s a happy day
Living it for my Lord—

It’s a happy day
And things are gonna get better
Livin’ each day by the
promises in God’s Word!

I see the gray clouds moving.  I also see the prediction of rain
for the rest of the day.

“Lord, You bring the “gray days”
into my life,
Sometimes a gray day lingers;
But I know that behind the gray clouds
I will see a magnificent sunrise again!
Thank You, Lord!”  --Joyce



Beyond Compare

I am a connoisseur of sunrises and sunsets around the world. Today as I was having my quiet time with the Lord, one of the most beautiful sunrises that I’ve ever seen blazed across the entire sky.  I tried to capture it on my iPhone camera, but it was impossible.  “LORD, the magnificence of your artistic splendor is beyond compare.  The glorious color is fading now, but I will remember all through the day this precious gift beyond compareThank You!  Thank You!  Thank You!!"

A Glorious Gift

Right outside my window
the beauty of the sunrise
blazed across the sky.
What wonder
What glory!
A gift—a gracious gift
to carry with me
throughout the day!

You stroked the sky with glorious splendor—
A reminder of the greatness
of my Creator God!
It lingered oh so briefly
What magnificence for so short a time;
But for all who were up to greet
the Lord this morning
He gave this glorious gift—
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!!
--Your loving daughter, Joyce








Thursday, November 14, 2013

WISTERIA WIDOWS TEA

I just spent a delightful time speaking to a group of about thirty widows from the Sanibel Community Church on Sanibel Island, Florida.  These lovely ladies were treated to High Tea at the Wisteria Tea Room in the neighboring city of Ft. Myers, Florida.  The tearoom is housed in a small house with a unique gift shop. 
My friend Libby Shaw took me to the tea.

The food was beyond excellent—scones, artichoke quiche, crème brulee, pumpkin muffins, petite pastries filled with chicken salad, and several kinds of hot tea!  Umm-delicious!  Some of these goodies weren’t my normal nutritional fare, but exceptions can be made for special occasions!  Small crème brulees were one of the exceptions that are “to die for” as my friend Joann would say.
Barbara Nave is the head of the Women’s Ministry and this event fell under her direction.
Some wonderful ladies donated money to carry on this ministry to widows.  I was so honored to be invited to speak to these ladies. 
I shared my testimony how God had brought "joy in my morning" and how He could bring them joy.  My message fell under three simple but profound ways to do this.

1   -    Look Up—to God’s living Word, Jesus and to His wonderful written Word.
2   -    Look In—to see if you have
    --a grateful heart
    --a singing heart
    --a heart full of faith
    --a healthy lifestyle
-  Look Out—to take what God has shown you and minister to the needs of others.

I trust that God used the message and testimony of His grace and provision for me in these eight years since my beloved graduated to glory.

An Extra Special Treat
An extra special treat was to stay in the home of friends, Libby and Lee Shaw, who have a lovely place in Ft. Myers a short distance from the Wisteria Tea Room.  Two mornings they served breakfast poolside and treated me like a queen.
Lee is partially retired and they spend part time in Florida and part time in Memphis, Tennessee, my hometown.  Living alone, I usually don’t get to use up all my words each day, so we talked and talked.  We ate dinner one evening at a beautiful restaurant overlooking a magnificent golf course.  Of course, Lee plays golf. Then the next day Libby and I did lunch on the patio overlooking the golf course, and of course, we talked some more!
“Lord, you are so good to me!  You have given me a ministry to widows and given me wonderful friends to love me. (and many more blessings beside) I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Friday, November 08, 2013

Thankful for a Busy Life

I just realized that I had not written anything on my blog for a long time.  I have been so busy, but I’m so thankful for a busy life!

The Big 80
In my mind I think that I am still 55 years old, but in reality I had “my Big 80” Birthday on January 28, 2013. I gave myself a birthday present.  I surprised my oldest son, Steve and his wife, Cindi with the gift of flying in their daughter, Renae, son-in-law, Brian and their grandson, Townes for a surprise.

 It was really neat!!
My children and a number of my friends gave me a really nice “Big 80 Birthday Party.”
It was held at the Mid America Baptist Seminary, with about 200 people in attendance. The food was delicious, and the decorations were beautiful.  They decorated with 80 long stemmed red roses and then gave them to me.  I shared them with my in-town daughter and daughter-in-law. A real honor for me was the tribute that a young woman, Danielle Stevens, gave to me.  She had been in my Children’s New Members Class when she was 10 years old. The highlight of the evening though was when my four children gave tributes and told memories.
 I sang a few of my favorite songs about Jesus and Steve played the piano.
It was an unforgettable evening.  I even ate a piece of the beautiful birthday cake.  

A Birthday Trip to Texas
A good friend, Becki Mohat and her husband, Mike had moved to Corpus Christi, Texas and decided it would be better to fly me to see them for the weekend than come to my party.
What a wonderful time I had. They took me to outstanding places to eat. One place was at the top of a fantastic building, which was supposed to have a magnificent view of the water, except there was a fog and we couldn’t see a thing.  Well, that’s life!  We had a wonderful time anyway.  The fog cleared the next day and I got to see the beautiful water. They put me in their lovely guest room and took me to church and introduced me to their pastor and wife, Jeff and Renee Lynn.  But most of all, I loved just talking, talking, talking.
I’ll always remember this Birthday Weekend with Becki and Mike.

Black Is Beautiful!
In the past six months I have had several wonderful opportunities to fellowship with my African American sisters in Christ.  A lovely lady from The Diabetes Foundation called and invited me to a luncheon where they wanted to honor me and two other sisters in Christ.
Of course I said that I would be happy to attend the luncheon. She wanted me to bring my daughter, Janice. Also, they wanted to invite my pastor’s wife, Rhonda Sinquefield, and my Bible class teacher, Diane Cox. 
I had no idea that it was a totally “black affair.”  But when I arrived I saw that my table had the only white guests at the event.  There were probably 200 of the most beautifully dressed black sisters, and the hats were more than outstanding. Let me show you several of these lovely ladies with their wonderful hats!!  
Now back when I was in high school and college, hats and gloves were in style in the white churches and I loved to wear them.  Here is a picture of  “way back when.”
Since then hats have gone out of style in the white evangelical churches, but not so in the black churches and special events.

The food was delicious and nutritious and the decorations were beautiful. I soon realized that the purpose of the event was to instruct many in the black community about the nutritional hazards and solutions to diabetes.  Diabetes is rampant among African Americans. A couple of ladies who were dressed in “a fun fashion” walked in and out among the tables making humorous statements and giving nutritional hints.  One lady had on a hat trimmed with artificial fruit. Then the main message was given by an outstanding black lady speaker who challenged everyone to better eating habits through biblical illustrations.  I loved every word since I have written a book entitled The Bible’s Seven Secrets to Healthy Eating, which does the same.

They then gave the “Spiritual Treasure Award” to two lovely black ladies and to me.  One was given to Mrs. Louise Patterson, widow of the late Bishop G.E. Patterson, former Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ.  She is a very beautiful and gracious lady. I was greatly honored to be chosen for this award.
I didn’t realize my “diabetes link” until I was preparing my seven minute response.  My own Grandmother Gentry had serious diabetes and eventually had both of her legs amputated.   I was just five years old when she died.  Here is a picture of her with me as a baby and my brothers and sister. 
My grandmother must have been some “gutsy” lady, especially in that day and time.  That was seventy-five years ago. My daddy fixed the old car so that she could drive with only one leg.  Of course, when she lost the other leg, she could no longer drive. With the medical discoveries down through the years perhaps her legs could have been saved if she lived today.  My daddy developed mild diabetes in his early 80s, but was able to control it through proper eating habits. I was introduced into the world of “natural foods” almost 40 years ago. I remember reading a book back then entitled Sugar Blues by William Dufty.  It greatly impacted my life and helped change my eating habits. I was happy to lend any influence I might have to this wonderful cause.

My Invitation to Griefshare
In the middle of April I traveled to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina for a video shoot with a ministry called Griefshare.  I did not realize that my host for the occasion was African American until he and his lovely wife picked me up to take me to dinner the evening before my interview. I loved meeting this couple and enjoying fellowship with them. They are their mid forties and have four children. I have a lot in common with them. The morning before the interview a lovely lady touched up my make up.  She shared with me that my host for the interview "was the best,” and that he would make me feel very much at ease. That was so true! He had read my book and sent about twenty questions that he would ask me, so I was able to prepare myself but couldn’t use notes. Everything seemed to go very well! After the interview we ate box lunches at the ministry of Griefshare and talked about the ministry and the Lord.  I may not ever see him again this side of heaven, but this experience was so delightful!

Seated Next to William on the Plane
Talking to strangers is not my natural gift, especially men. For the first part of my flight the young man seated next to me had an earplug in his ear, probably listening to music, so I initially made no attempt to engage him in conversation. However, the Lord had challenged me years before through a message I heard by Barbara Ball to “just be chatty for Jesus” and see what might develop.  Since Adrian has been gone I have adopted a line that he used effectively, “Tell me about you!”  It’s amazing how well that line works. I eventually made an attempt to chat with the young man whose name I discovered was William McMillan.  It turned out that he was a Christian musician and was traveling with his group.  He was the keyboard player. He told me that his first CD had just been released and he gave me a copy. The title is “Follow Me.”  We fellowshipped in the Lord and said goodbye. When I got home I played his CD.  It is a little more contemporary than my personal style, but I loved listening to it.  I’m probably 98% musical and am a big “word person.”  If I can’t understand the words then I can’t find a reason for someone to sing the song.  I could understand every word of his songs—by the way, his original songs.
There are five songs on his CD.  The titles are “Follow You,” “Closer,” “Hero,” “Good Morning Joy,” and “Worthy.”  I was so blessed by each one. I wrote William’s name in my prayer journal and I lift him to the Lord each day. You can find his music on YouTube.  Listen, you too will be blessed! 

Time with my son, Steve, at the Southern Baptist Convention
It’s been a privilege to spend time with my oldest son, Steve, on several occasions this past year.  We attended the Southern Baptist Convention in the middle of June in Houston, Texas.  It had been 34 years since Adrian was first elected president of the convention during what became known as “The Battle for the Bible.” This began the return of conservative theology to the institutions of the SBC.  I am so grateful to have been married to a man of conviction and courage as he stood for the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

Since Adrian has been in heaven I have been able to attend the SBC every year.  Traditionally, the president of the convention hosts a lovely dinner for the past presidents of the convention. They have continued to invite me and they are always gracious to pay tribute to Adrian.  Steve was my date for the evening.  The meal is always delicious, but the highlight of the evening is always to hear the past presidents tell what they are now doing and to give any words of wisdom they wish to the current president. I shared how God was continuing to use Adrian on television and radio even though he is now in heaven.  I asked Steve to share about the latest project of The Adrian Rogers PastorTraining InstituteThe Adrian Rogers Sermon Library.  It is a work in progress and will consist of 42 volumes when it is finished.  Genesis Vol. I had been completed, so Steve and I gave a copy to each president who was there.  My other son, David, is the chief editor on the project.  We are so excited about this endeavor! If you are interested in how you may subscribe to the Library, you can find out at pastortraining.com

I was also very privileged to spend time with my pastor, Dr. Danny Sinquefield and his lovely wife, Rhonda. Steve had to leave early, so they were kind enough to take me to dinner the last evening of the convention and I flew home on the plane with them. He, like my husband, is a man of deep conviction, courage and humility.

Debut of My New Book, Chosen to Be a Minister’s Wife
Another highlight of the Convention was the debut of my new book, Chosen to Be a Minister’s Wife.  The publisher came to help man a booth in the Ministry Wives Fair where my book was offered.  A good number of wives came by and purchased a copy.  
It was an honor to be invited to speak to the widows and widowers at the First Baptist Church, Atlanta where Charles Stanley is the pastor.  Janice Hurd, who is the Women’s Ministry Director, had invited me to come.  

I told her that my daughter, Gayle and her husband, Mike Foster, were members at First Baptist and that I would stay with them.  I was able to visit the church services and to visit with Charles Stanley for a few minutes after the service and before the luncheon where I spoke. Gayle and Mike have been blessed to be members at First Baptist for a number of years, but they happened to be moving to Savannah, Georgia the next week, so that was their last time to be in the services.  They, along with their son, Michael, also attended the luncheon and stayed to hear me speak.  They give a copy of my book, Grace for the Widow, to the new widows in their church.

Two Events at Mid America Baptist Seminary
My son, Steve, came to Memphis for two events at Mid-America Seminary.  The first was Founders’ Days (August19-21st) and the second was The Adrian Rogers Preaching Conference (Sept. 23-25th).  Steve introduced The Adrian Rogers Sermon Library at these two events.  Everyone was excited about the Library. 
Dr. Tim LaHaye and his wife Beverly have been long time friends of Adrian and me. Tim was a featured speaker and he spoke on prophecy, which was also one of Adrian’s great loves.  He did a marvelous job.  Steve and I gave Tim a copy of Genesis Vol. I and asked him if he would write the introduction for the book of Revelation.
Dr. Robert Smith, professor of preaching at Beesom Seminary in Birmingham, Alabama, was another featured speaker.  He preaches passionately in his African American style.  He is a favorite of mine.  I originally met him when he preached at my church, Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett, Tennessee a couple of years ago. 
I was asked to speak Tuesday morning.  I chose to speak on “How Adrian Bridged the Gap Between the Child and the Adult in His Preaching,” because he did indeed do this.  In a nutshell I shared that some of the reasons were (1) his use of illustrations and humor, (2) his logic and outlines -–use of alliteration (3) his inviting delivery but above all (4) his genuine love for Jesus and for children. It was a real treat to have both of my sons, Steve and David, with me at the conference.  We were all honored to be able to eat lunch with the speakers.  The conference was truly a blessing.

The Adrian Rogers Experience Room
Mid America Seminary has created a space to house The Adrian Rogers Experience Room.
It is a work in progress.  Although it will contain some memorabilia, the main emphasis of the room will be to train pastors and encourage people to “Come to Jesus,” which was the theme of Adrian’s preaching.  
There are sections that tell of his life and calling,


the churches where he was pastor,
 his influence on other leaders in the religious and political world,
his mission involvement around the world,
his two ministries, Love Worth Finding
and The Adrian Rogers Pastor Training InstituteScrapbooks of these areas of ministry plus his retirement and graduation to glory have been made available.
There will be interactive computer stations to study relevant areas of his life and preaching.  As time and funds become available this area will be developed. These pictures in the room are as it is presently arranged.  We want to lift up Jesus here—the one whom Adrian loved and preached about so passionately.

If you would like to help in the enlargement of this room, you can contact Mid America Seminary, 2095 Appling Rd., Cordova, TN.  Their phone number is: 901/751-8453 

Sweet Muffins Retreat at Bentonville, Arkansas
What a special treat it was for me to spend the weekend of October 4-6th at The First Baptist Church of Bentonville, Arkansas.  It began with a unique event they called Sweet Muffins Retreat.  All kinds of delicious and beautiful muffins were served with coffee and hot tea for a delightful brunch.
A fall theme was carried out throughout and was so lovely. 
After the brunch everyone assembled in the Worship Center for the program.  Lovely music was presented and then I spoke on this subject, “Finding Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow.”  I drew from God’s wonderful Word and life’s experiences to challenge the ladies to surrender all to Jesus in the midst of life’s difficulties. Saturday afternoon I was taken to see the museum and art gallery of Walmart.  This was very interesting and is made available to the public free of charge.  I had not known it before, but I will never forget that Bentonville, Arkansas is the “home” of Walmart. One of the highlights of the weekend was to eat dinner on Saturday evening in the home of the pastor and his wife, Lauren.
Two of his children were there with their families.  I especially fell in love with their 2 year old blue-eyed grandson, Elijah.
He is expecting a little sister or brother soon.

On Sunday the pastor, Philip Smith, invited me to give a brief testimony. He had been greatly influenced by Adrian’s life and preaching and his church graciously received me. Another special treat was to realize that Clay Crosse had just become the Praise Worship leader at this church.  He is special to the people at my church.  I sit near his Mom, Janet, in choir on Sundays.

The “Homegoing” of a Precious Friend
My long time and precious friend, Mary Buckner, went home to be with Jesus the day before I left for Bentonville. I knew Mary for almost twenty years, she and I had worked together for 15 years teaching the Children’s New Members’ Class. She had worked with children for over 40 years.  
After Adrian died she traveled a lot with me when I was asked to speak to widows’ groups. I had been to see her and take a meal every week for four months.  I tried to encourage her as I prayed with her, sang to her and read scriptures to her.  We frequently talked about heaven and how wonderful it was going to be to see Jesus and her precious husband, Charles, who had been gone for over twenty years. Mary and her youngest daughter, Lisa, had asked me to sing, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye” at the graveside.  That’s the song that had been sung at her husband’s service.  Of course, I said that I would.  But now I wasn’t sure if I would be there for the service.  On Saturday afternoon Doyle Long, a long time minister friend of Mary, called to tell me that the service would be at 11 a.m. on Monday morning.  I was so disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to make it back for the service.  My plane would be arriving at 2:30 p.m. that day.  Doyle asked me if I would send a  tribute to Mary for him to read at the service.  When I finished writing it I asked the pastor’s wife if she could get the pastor’s secretary to type it and send it for me. But she took it and went to work to see if they could get me back for the service on Monday morning.  They made the arrangements.  I’m sure they paid the penalty and got me to the airport on Sunday after lunch to catch a 1:30 p.m. flight.  What a wonderful gift they gave to me to help me get back for Mary’s “celebration service.” It’s not easy to fly from Bentonville to Memphis,  you have to go through Atlanta.  But I got home Sunday evening at 6 p.m.  My son, David, picked me up and took me to supper before taking me home.

I was so grateful to be there in person to give my tribute and to sing in the service and also to lead everyone at the graveside in singing “In the sweet Bye and Bye.”  Farewell to my precious friend, Mary.  I will miss you greatly!  But I will see you soon in that wonderful place called heaven!

A Fall Widows--Widowers/Deacons Dinner “Joy in the Morning”
Since Adrian has been gone a majority of the invitations I receive to speak are to widows’ groups.  This isn’t what I would have ever imagined, but I am grateful to share what God has taught me in these years. On October 17, 2013 I was privileged to speak at a dinner for widows and widowers sponsored by the deacons of the First Baptist Church of Humbolt, Tennessee.  Karen and Gary Brittain drove to my home (about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Humbolt) to pick me up and Dr. Louis and Debbie Murphy drove me back home. The dinner was at local restaurant which was done in bright colors and strawberries.
The decorations for the evening were fall--colored centerpieces.  They gave each widow or widower a bag of candy and one of my books, Grace for the Widow.  Each deacon was given two widows to minister to and to pick up for the dinner.  I sat with Karen and Gary and their two widows.  We had a lovely time visiting during dinner.
I was honored to meet the pastor of The First Baptist Church, Dr. Greg McFadden.  He had been blessed by the ministry of my husband. I shared three simple but profound ways how to find joy in your morning.  They are  (1) Look up to or great God and spend time each day with Him.  (2)  Look in to see if you have a grateful, singing heart or if you have become bitter.  Lay down your sins, your sorrow and your suffering at Jesus’ feet and (3)  Look out of yourself to help others.  Don’t waste your sorrows!   
I loved being with this group of widows and widowers.  Also, I was blessed by how the deacons and wives ministered to these who are now walking in this life without their mate.

Thank you Lord for helping me to be a blessing and for a big plus—receiving a blessing myself!  Thank you for these new friends!!  And for reminding me that “Life is uncertain—Eat dessert first!”  Ha!
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