No Expiration Date on Spreading the Word
Peggy Musgrove sees no reason to let age or disease stop her from ministering to others.
Certainly at 87 most people aren’t mapping out book writing plans, especially a woman who underwent a mastectomy in August.
Yet Musgrove in October published Gathering Wisdom: A Devotional Walk Through the Books of the Bible as the first of an anticipated trilogy.
“If the Lord gives me strength and life, I’d like to do another two books,” says Musgrove, now writing the second in the series, this one focusing on gaining knowledge of God by showing His qualities through biblical characters. The final book, scheduled for next year, tentatively is titled Getting Understanding.
However, in recent months Musgrove has been battling fatigue and weakness associated with continuing cancer. Not that she hasn’t overcome adversity before.
Musgrove’s earliest memories are of rattlesnakes and sagebrush in the Dust Bowl of southwestern Kansas during the Great Depression. She met her husband, Derald, also a Kansas native, at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. They wed upon graduating in 1951. The couple returned to Kansas, in the end pastoring four congregations.
“Wherever we pastored I never stood behind the pulpit,” she remembers. “I led women, played piano, watched children, and did the job of whoever didn’t show up. That was typical for pastors’ wives of that era.”
Eventually, Derald became Kansas Ministry Network youth director, then secretary-treasurer, and ultimately superintendent. In all, he spent three decades in the Wichita office. For most of Derald’s 15 years as superintendent, Peggy served as Women’s Ministries director.
Peggy always has enjoyed writing. When Derald served as Kansas superintendent, she wrote three books published by Gospel Publishing House: Who’s Who Among Bible Women, Pleasing God, and Praying Always. In the early 1970s, Derald had been asked to write a series of daily devotionals for God’s Word for Today. He didn’t have time, but Peggy talked him into letting her secretly ghostwrite them for him. AG national office editorial personnel thought the devotions had been so well written that Derald received a bonus.
They then asked Derald to author a succession of Sunday School curriculum lessons. Derald confessed that Peggy had penned the devotionals, and suggested she do the Sunday School materials as well.
Derald told Peggy in 1992 that he felt he needed to resign as Kansas superintendent, even though his term hadn’t expired. At the time, Peggy figured he simply felt worn out. In retrospect, she wonders whether he had started the early stages of dementia.
After retirement from the national office, eventually Derald became more confused about daily living, which led to withdrawal. Ten months after going on hospice care, Derald died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2012 at the age of 83.
“He never became loud or violent,” recalls Peggy, who continued to care for Derald at home. “He simply couldn’t do things anymore.” She recounted his demise in a 2014 Pentecostal Evangel article. The couple had been married 61 years.
“It’s a long, slow death,” Musgrove says. “We were still close, but any illness like that tests everything that’s within you.”
Originally, Musgrove’s motivation for writing Gathering Wisdom stemmed from ensuring that her grandchildren, nieces, and nephews stayed grounded biblically. The missives started out as 75-word weekly texts, then migrated to Facebook Monday Meditations, which continue to this day.
Musgrove enlisted her two daughters and sons-in-laws — all of them writers, editors, or designers — in helping to bring Gathering Wisdom to fruition. Daughter Darla Knoth is resource development/content editor specialist for AG national Women’s Ministries. Daughter Diane Awbrey teaches English at Evangel University. Largely by word of mouth, the book — illustrated with nature photos taken by camera buff Derald — sold 1,350 copies in the first three months.
Esther M. Corey has known Musgrove for 40 years, dating back to her days as Southern New England Ministry Network women’s ministries director when her husband, Hugh, served as superintendent there. Friendship between the two has deepened now that both live at the Maranatha Village retirement community.
“One of the things I admire most about Peggy is that she doesn’t change in her spiritual understanding of things,” says Corey, 91. “She still continues to walk in faith and to trust in God. She doesn’t let circumstances throw her for a loop.”