Religion columnist writes to inspire

Gary Mitchell

When Joan Clayton retired from teaching school several years ago, she felt her days of usefulness were all but over. How wrong she was.
Since then, the former elementary school teacher has now written and published seven books, 10 years’ worth of newspaper columns and numerous magazine articles.
In April, a friend, Anna Nixon Foster, invited Clayton to a Beta Sigma Phi Founder’s Day Banquet as her guest. Clayton was about to turn her down, but decided to go out of friendship.
At the banquet, Clayton saw Foster’s name on the program listed by “Outstanding Woman of the Year.”
“Look, Anna, you’ve been chosen as Woman of the Year,” Clayton said to her friend. “Will you have to make a speech?”
Foster said she probably would, but she didn’t tell Clayton that her “speech” would be to announce Clayton as the honoree.
“She asked me if she could take my picture,” Foster said. “She started taking my picture while I was introducing her, and she realized about halfway through my speech that I was talking about her. She was overjoyed when we gave her the award. She went home and woke up Emmitt (her husband) to tell him about it.”
Foster said the award is given annually to a woman in the community who is not a member of the sorority but who has made significant contributions to the community.
“We wanted to give it to her for everything she does, her newspaper columns and her teaching career,” she said.
“I stand amazed at the blessings God sends our way,” Clayton said. “All I’ve done is just try to encourage people and give them hope.”
Most recently, Clayton has had her seventh book, “Each Day Is a Gift,” published by PublishAmerica, an Internet on-demand publisher.
“It’s my prayer this book will make a difference in people’s lives,” said the religion columnist for the Portales News-Tribune.
Michael Covington, manager of The Master’s bookstore in Clovis, described much of Clayton’s inspirational writing as having to do with Christian stories, and “it has a fictional element that draws the reader into it.”
“Each Day Is a Gift” provides a blueprint in a family setting for affirmation, Bible study and prayer, according to a PublishAmerica press release.
Following these biblical principles for living brings balance and happiness to the family unit, making it the best it can be, Clayton said.
“I started out just trying to write a legacy of devotionals for my family, but then I realized it could relate to all families,” she said. “We need strong families in this day and time. A strong family builds a strong nation. Our nation depends on families. My books offers a way for husbands, wives and children to come together for a family devotional each day.”
Clayton’s son, Tony, who serves as technical ministry director and graphic artist for Paramount Terrace Christian Church in Amarillo, designed the cover for the new book.
“I enjoyed doing it,” he said. “It’s kind of a passion of mine.”
Tony Clayton said he’s waiting for his copy of the book he ordered from the publisher.
“Mother’s a prolific writer,” he said. “She’s having things published left and right. When she retired from teaching, she dreaded it. She didn’t know what she would do. I told her this was the ministry the Lord was preparing her for even through all of her years of teaching. She’s doing good with it.
“The family legacy she and Dad have built for us is one that is so firmly rooted on Jesus Christ,” he said. “This book will be an heirloom in our family, but other families will benefit from it as well.”
Her book may be ordered online at