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« Just Musing | Main | A Different Perspective »

July 21, 2007


Evelyn Lanham

Dearest Debbie,
I haven't written you much about my own life, but feel like maybe now is the time to share some very personal things with you. I have laid awake at night trying to write in my head what I want to say, so here goes. It was 31 years ago when the small plane that my husband James along with 4 other men had flown to Baton Rouge, LA for an LSU football game. That morning I made 12 roast beef sandwiches for them to take to eat and he put them in an ice chest to get them there good and fresh. James was a farmer as were most of the men in our small village of Oak Ridge, La. He left very early and went to the farm to check things before leaving. I had made plans to go shopping with one of the other wives for the day. She called to see what time we were leaving and I told her I couldn't go unless I could wait and tell James good-bye. That might have been a little unusual for me but I felt so strongly that I should wait so I did. We had been married over 26 years and were college sweethearts. We had an only child,
a miracle one since I had endometriosis and back in 1976 there was very little that could be done to correct it. She and her
new husband of 5 weeks, to the day, had moved to Lake Providence, LA about 60 miles from Oak Ridge.
James came home and told me they were going to fly instead of driving and asked me if I minded. He even said he would not go if I wanted him to stay at home. I was haivng a hard time with that "empty feeling" after Virginia Lea married and moved away. I told James I wanted him to go because he was so tired from a bad crop year. We kissed, and said how much we loved each other and I left to go shopping.
All day my friend and I prayed for safety for the plane and both of us were concerned about them flying.
After I got back home I heard someone come in the house and it was Virginia Lea and Paul. I had not known that they were coming for the night. Neither had they planned to but she is a nurse and had worked all that day and was very tired and I was so happy they had come. She went to bed early and Paul and I listened to the game on the radio then went to bed. I waked up at 1:00AM with my heart in my throat as I looked at the time and knew they should have been home by now. I started praying and crying softly when the phone rang. It was Henry, a black man whose wife helped me a couple days each week. He asked to speak to Mr. James and said the plane has crashed and Mr. Joe Sydney had been killed. I said "MY God Henry Mr. James is on that plane."
And my life changed drastically from that moment on. But God is so good, He had Virginia Lea and Paul there with me. He knew how badly I would need her that night. But she was a real Daddy's girl and she needed me too. Oak Ridge is a small village with a population of just over 300 so you can imagine the impact of 4 men dying at one time and 4 funerals all on the same day.
I am writing this to encourage you and I know it doesn't sound that way but I had to give you some background for you to understand all of the things that God did and continues to do for me. I was 47 and James was 48. I am not sure but isn't that close to your ages.
Way to young to die except in God's eyes! I asked HIM several years after the crash why He took James from me and HE told me for HIS protection!! Some day maybe He will explain that to me.
I will add to this another time since it is late and we have been to
Shreveport and back today total of 200 miles and I am really tired. Debbie I do so pray that when this is all finished it will give you just one more thing to hold on too. I really love you and hurt for you but I know for sure that God is FAITHTFUL!!

patsy spohr

Dear Debbie, Just came on and read your post a few minutes ago.

God Bless you, you have been through so much with the many years of Roger's illness and untimely, yet, joyfull passing into a much, much better place. It is easy to understand all of the feelings that you have so elonquently laid before us.

It is hard to know exactly how to comfort one or what to say. I just know this...everytime I am down, distressed and worried, sad or lonely, God ALWAYS sends me comfort in the words of a hymn. They just always speak to my heart and soul. I just cannot explain it to anyone else. So many times I have sat down in a pew at Church, reached over and picked up a hymnal and opened it to the EXACT hymn that God has inspired one of HIS very OWN to write. What a comfort and joy to know that HE chose this beautiful way to speak to, and refresh one's soul and spirit, as well as, relieve their deepest fears and worries. How beautiful that HE CHOSE Roger to be a messenger to spread HIS word to the sad, lonely, weak of spirit or hope!

I hope it some small way this will up-lift your spirit and bring you peace, Debbie, as you struggle with the loss of your life-time companion and soul mate.

Much Christian love and prayer from Georgia.


p.s. Belated Happy Birthday to Chelsea. I know you miss her, as I have two daughters who live in different cities.

Jenell McNeill

Dear Debbie,
I was surfing the net today and went to Greater Vision's website to see the new pictures of their Alaskan Cruise. What a nice surprise to see that they went to visit Chelsea at work. Such good pictures of her. I know she was glad to see some familiar faces.

I pray for you daily, as I know first hand your ups and downs. Tuesday, the 31st, would have been my husband and my 54th anniversary. I lost my husband two years ago from cancer and I would draw comfort from Roger's postings during Carroll's illness.

Your post about Jordan needing somebody with "skin on" really touched my heart. I have the same feelings that you wrote about.

God bless you as we wait......
In His Grip,
Jenell McNeill

martha morgan

Dear Debbie: thank you for the latest post. I knoe how hard these weeks have been' but knowing how you love the Lord you will find comfort. There will always be a time when you are down, but for me in my loss, I would remember the good happy times, or something funny that my husband said or remember joyous occasions. I miss Jack so much and I am still battling stage 4 colon/lung cancer. I recently had another emergency operation on the colon, but God saw fit to let me survive. Just hold to His promises of our eternal life. Wont it be wonderful when we see Our Saviour face to face. God Bless you and yours
Martha Morgan....Birmingham, Alabama

amy johnson

hey Debbie..
i have been so restless this summer and have to make a lot of tough decisions for me and my daughter...i was touched by your "skin" made me cry and touched my heart...most of the time i feel alone but our God is right here!!! i hope you know Roger still is an awesome influence on so many people including me...SMILE
Amy, Decatur, ga

Evelyn Lanham

Dear Debbie,
I just realized that last night I didn't sign my name but it is from Evelyn in Monroe, LA
I apologize for being too lenghty with my own hurt but you will find someday that to try and say enough for those that never knew what happened is difficut. I will try to finish with just simple statements--like three months after James's death I was on the floor weeping and I said to God, if you still love me then please help me. And immediately what seemed like an audible voice (of course it wasn't) told me to read Is 41:10.which said, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with MY righteous right hand"
I must tell you I didn't know these verses at that time in my life but God has fullfilled them over and over, and I know He will for you also.
Eighteen months after the plane crash I had breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy. I was told it had spread I may have a year and a half to live. But God touched with his healing touch and I am still here 29 years later.
My Daddy died 2 weeks to the day after my mastectomy from a massive heart attack. God had never been so close to me, so very real and He is going to do the same and greater than these for you. I know that the enemy wants to get rid of all of us that have testimonies of God's greatness but He can't win because of The Precious blood of Jesus that covers us. Debbie, I have tried to encourage you with these trials just so you will know that others have gone through some of the same things you are in. I just hope that it will encourage you and you grieve as you need to, it is part of the process to finally reach healing.
There is one more thing I want to tell you. I didn't think I would ever want to remarry, but Jesus let me know that I had loved James more than I loved HIM. That really hurt me and I realized I loved Virginia Lea more. So after several years of changing and loving Jesus with all my heart, I decided if He would bring a widower that was a Godly man and He picked him for me I would marry him. It took 13 years but God did it in HIS perfect timing and now Bob and I have been married 18 1/2 years. How I thank the Lord and we both love HIM more each day.
God bless you and may you find some solace in something I have said.
In HIS Grip
Evelyn in Monroe, La

helena boyd

Hi Debbie,
Just wanted to say we do remember you and your family in our prayers.
I know it is hard but time does heal.
I was thinking all of the wonderful memories you must have of your life with Roger,No one can never take that from you.
Please take care of yourself and God bless you all.
Dale,Helena Boyd

Virginia Wood, Rantoul, IL

Dear Debbie,
You are not the only one who had a blah last few days. I have them too, and as you said, they are unpredictable. I always feel like the "up" days may never come again, but they do.
Virginia Wood
Rantoul, IL


Debbie: I am glad to hear that you are doing better and I just want to let you know that you and your family are in my prayers.
God Bless you
a very loyal fan

Rev. Gary Jones


You are always dear to our hearts, on our minds and in our prayers. I hope you know that those who continue to read this post do so because they not only love Roger but we love you! Your ministry has been vital to Southern Gospel music. You have been a voice of sanity, reason, balance and truth. Please keep us posted and please help us to continue to hear that voice!

We love you!

Rev. Gary, Lori, Alex, Tucker, Maykayla and Bennett Fowler Jones

Sandy Kuschel

Hi, Debbie: What a ministry you have to so many people! I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep on keeping on, girl! You're doing GREAT!

Yvonne Lewis

I was in Nashville this weekend visting family and we went out to Franklin to see the marker. Debbie it is just Beautiful what a tribute
to Roger, he was such a blessing to hear play the piano and to sing you knew he was playing for and singing about. Evertime I hear the group I think what a impact that they have made on the Gospel Music fans. Thanks for all the up dates and to keep us informed. You are a blessing to the fans of Roger, to keep us up to date. You are the best just like Roger.
Love Yvonne

Bernie and Terry Shirkie

Hi Debbie..
I haven't checked on you for a while but you are still in my thoughts.
It is just so hard to believe that Chelsey is 23 already!
And it has been four months that Roger has been in heaven.
The days are going Debbie and we are just all getting closer and closer to heaven and what a day of rejoicing that is going to be when we will be there!!
Take care dear Debbie.
So nice to hear you in here again...Love Terry

Tom Marble, Sr.

Debbie: our prayers, in our thots, and God greatly loves you!


Tom Marble, Sr.

Ashley & Jacque

Hello Debbie,

I hope everything is going good. We made it back from Houston, it was a quick trip, but a good one. My MRI came back wonderful - Thanks to God! I have chronic GVHD in my eyes so they did a procedure to Cauterize mytear ducts and I am back home and feeling much better today.

We were able to visit Glenda and she showed us pictures of her trip to help build a house in Kansas that was completely destroyed by a tornado. The pictures were just amazing. THe town hospital looks like a picture in MASH. She said everyone in the town was driving by to see the house being built. It was the first sign of hope being the first house to be built since the devastating tornado. It's amazing how quickly things changes, and lives can turn in the blink of an eye...

We think about you often and hope and pray everything is going well.

"Life bombards us with information about who we are and who we should be. We listen as little or as much as we will, but we must come to terms with ourselves on our own. Our angels will be there beside us."

Love with Attitudes of Gratitude, Ashley & Family


Hope you are doing better and getting stronger each day. Life is so full of ups and downs it seems. Have been checking several times the past few days to see if you have posted. Today I was feeling very down, (We live only 90 minutes from the Interstate 35 bridge in Minnesota that is getting extreme media coverage and have been over it hundreds and hundreds of times)! I did not sleep well at all; I mostly had the TV on all night which is something I never do but I had been glued to the TV since 6:00 p.m. I went to the store early this morning to get a couple of papers and while I was slowly walking through the store I found myself, actally heard myself humming, "I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary........" I believe.... in that moment I took a very deep breath and held it and than slowly let it out and reminded myself outloud, very quietly, "I BELIEVE IN A HILL CALLED MOUNT CALVARY!!!!!!!!!!!!"
There are times when we need our automatic to kick into the reality of yes, those of us who beleive in a hill called mount calvary are OK even when it is not OK. It also brought me back to Roger's song this is not our home, we are strangers in a foreign land, this is not our home. Thank God for that because in this home we have much sorrow and much confusion. War, death, bridges collapsing, etc. they are all part of this fallen world. Again, hope you are doing better and I know you also believe in a hill called mount calvary so you will also be OK even when it is not OK. Take Care,
Becky in Wisconsin

edwina henson

Hi Debbie
I have not posted for awhile and have missed you, and have not been on the website much. Just wanted to let you know that you are still in our prayers and hope that God is sending you people that can surround you and hold you up whilst you are down.

When you are ready to post it will be good to hear from you. God Bless and continue to hold onto His Grip.

Lots of love
Edwina & Naomi Australia

Bobby & Glyndene

Thinking of you with love and prayers.

Greg Hazelrigg

We still check the website daily. We pray that you and your family are well. . May God keep you in his loving care and bless you in a special way.

The fans in Arkansas

Mark A. Drennen Sr.

Debbie, here is a link to a memorial for Roger that I created, this way his family, friends and fans can come and pay respects and notes for Roger, it is sponsored by me, so there are no ads on his page, ENJOY!!


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