Visiter from Africa and other news

Today my husband and I had a surprise visit from a gentleman from Kenya, Africa. A mutual friend brought him by for a visit.  Tom is involved in foundational work in Africa and his ministry is now in 10 African nations.  A sweet man and it was such a blessing to have him in our home. Mother always said that when we host missionaries we are entertaining heaven’s royalty. That’s how I felt as this man shared his heart with us. He has such a big heart and passion to develop Christian leaders throughout Africa. He is also very concerned about strengthening and building Christian marriages among his people.  He was very pleased when I gave him a copy of Legacy of Faith, Things I Learned from My Father and Legacy of Love, Things I Learned from My Mother. They are small books that I knew could be easily packed plus I know they are chucked full of wisdom from my parents’ lives and experiences. African Christians have great respect for my father and the ministry he did there back in the 1960s. I remember that he was gone for 6 months during that time.

My grandson, Payson, tested negative for the H1N1 virus after all for which we thank God. Thank you for praying.  He is having surgery tomorrow morning (15th) to connect the esophagus and stomach. I ask you to pray for him and his parents. Thank you.

I had the honor of participating in an interview with Dr. Ravi Zacharius and Dr. Rosyln Scott last week on the subject of psychology and the Christian life. I was “outgunned” with brain power but I hope I was able to contribute in a small way how it was to experience deep emotional hurt, wounding and depression as a believer in the Church. And how God not only sustained me but brought me through in order to help others. How grateful I was and am for godly doctors and scientists who can evaluate for depression and prescribe medicines that help. You see, when we are under stress for a long period – or not so long – our brain chemicals become unbalanced and we need the medicines to help balance them again. It is not a spiritual deficiency to seek a doctor’s care or a counselor’s help. I thank God for my doctor and my therapist!

If you suspect you have depression or know someone who is I strongly urge you to seek out a doctor who can evaluate you and help you get the help you need. If you had a broken leg you’d go to the doctor. Depression is a physical illness that can be treated. Don’t delay.

It has been a busy week with a trip down to Virginia Beach in the dreadful rain they were having as a result of that storm – Ida – I think. It rained – poured – all the way down and all the way back! I went down to do the 700 Club at CBN for 2 interviews to promote my new book, Fear Not Tomorrow. I am glad I have a good solid car and also had a good friend with me so we chatted all the way down and all the way back! They were good interviews and it was good to see Pat Robertson looking so well and Terry Meewson again. They are dear – make me feel relaxed and right at home.  I am so blessed to be able to do what I do and meet such wonderful people.

And the best part of any trip is to come home!

Daddy’s Birthday

I just got back from being with my father for his 91st birthday. It was a quiet celebration with my sister Anne, brother Franklin and me. We had pot roast with mashed potatoes, southern green beans (cooked to death with sugar and bacon grease – yum!) salad and apple pie with ice cream. My father loves Anne’s apple pie. She makes the best! Anne gave him 91 chocolate Hershey kisses! Then we gave him a fleece jacket that zips up the front so that he doesn’t have to  pull it over his head. The staff had sent him 2 baskets of cookies that looked like daisies with faces all in an arrangement. So cute and festive. We knew the great grand-children would have loved them! There were flowers from well-wishers and phone calls from family around the country.

I think he had a good day – he was tired by the time he went to bed. But he knew he was dearly loved and his life celebrated. And he added more to his memory bank. Yesterday as I had my early morning cup of tea with him he wistfully  told me, “I surely miss your mother.” I assured him that I knew that and had been able to visit her grave the day before while in Charlotte. He wanted reassurance that it looked pretty and was a nice place for her. I assured him it was lovely.

The nurses said he is working hard to get stronger and is committed to his physical therapy so that he can preach one more time! That would be so exciting! Pray with me that he can do that.

I had been in Charlotte for the Ruth Graham & Friends board meeting. We had a very good meeting and feel we made some strategic decisions for the future. 2010 promises to be a busy year for the ministry with six events scheduled. Check out our website to find a location near you. Last year we committed to making our conferences free of charge. That has been a challenge but we felt that it made the events available to more people who might otherwise not be able to attend. It was a step of faith since we are not underwritten by any organization and all our funds come from donors. Would you pray about partnering with us as we seek to equip the Church to reach those that have been historically marginalized by the Church. We  also seek to create a safe place for those same people to begin the journey to wholeness and sustain them on their way with Bible study from Living Free Ministries.  You would be investing in eternal work as God changes lives and hearts.

I have mentioned my little grandson, Payson, before. He was born prematurely in August with multiple issues. He has been in the hospital ever since. My daughter called late last night to say they fear he has contracted the H1N1 virus. He has been put on a respirator and is in isolation. Poor little fellow. He has had a hard beginning but he is a fighter! And we know God holds him in His hands – how grateful I am for that assurance. I will keep you posted on his progress.

Exercise

Why do I dislike exercise? I used this summer to be so faithful to get in shape – going to the gym almost everyday and then walking 3 miles every other day. Now it has all fallen by the wayside. Well, not entirely I still sporadically  hit the gym and walk on some days. My oldest daughter is a marathon runner – she will get up at 5:00 in the morning before her husband goes off to work to go run with buddies – rain or shine, sleet or snow. I so admire her. I am not anywhere close to that dedicated. I’d much rather have another cup of tea and sit down to read.  (I no longer drink caffeine and I am rather self-righteous about it! I drink mint tea in the morning!)

I know exercise is good for me. But it is a real battle. I take my iPod with me and use my time to praise God but even that is hard when you are doing leg presses or squats and are out of breath. I can praise Him that I have legs that work and lungs that are clear. I know all of that but I still find it difficult to “enjoy” exercise. It is not my first choice. I think my travel interrupts any routine I establish. But is that an excuse? Maybe someone out there has some suggestions. I know there are exercises I can do with bands in a hotel room. I know I can pack my sneakers and go to the hotel’s gym but the sneakers take up so much suitcase room as I try to carry my luggage with me for fear of lost luggage.

Most disciplines in life are hard. We prefer to indulge ourselves. Take a nap. Watch a TV program. Eat that last piece of pie.  Chat with a friend rather than spend time  praying. None of that is wrong – God gave us all things richly to enjoy (I Timothy 6:17). It’s the balance I find hard. I suppose balance is one of the most important elements in life. To balance leisure with work. To balance family with ministry. To balance faith with works. To balance exercise with rest.

Our culture tells us we can have it all. But somewhere something gets lost. We can lose perspective. Become brittle and harsh or soft and self-indulgent. I don’t want to be either.

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I have been a number of places recently including California to speak to the President’s Forum weekend for Partners International. It is a wonderful organization that finds out where God is at work in the hardest to reach places around the world and supports the indigenous ministries. I loved learning about them, meeting their folks and hearing about the ministry they have around the world. The people I met are not into “kingdom building” for themselves but are humble, sweet people with servant hearts. Jon Lewis, the president, is a dear man. I loved being with them. You might want to peek at their website: partnersintl.org to learn more. It is a very worthwhile, faithful organization. I commend it to you. I plan to use their catalogue to give gifts this Christmas. Instead of giving my grandchildren things they do not need I plan to give them a Partners International catalogue with a $25.00 check made out to Partners International so that they can sit down and choose a gift for someone else.

Last weekend my husband, his 3 sons and my grandson (all about the same age) returned to Angola Prison to attend the rodeo and minister to the prisoner-pastors and interns as well as the wardens and those attending the on-site Bible college. We were so blessed. The boys were amazed that men convicted of such heinous crimes were kind, full of joy and peace – a testimony of God’s grace and redemption. There are 5200 inmates – all there for life sentences. It used to be the most notorious prison in America – certainly the most bloody. But God, through Warden Burl Cain, has turned that place around. It is a wonderful  experience to be there and meet the men. We stayed on campus – there are 18,000 acres, surrounded on 3 sides by the Mississippi River. We never felt that we were at a maximum security prison unless we looked at the rolls of razor wire. There is no graffiti, no swearing, no cat calls – just a lot of respect and peace. That doesn’t discount the sadness and struggle these men experience for the victims of their crimes and their own families. They have loneliness and fears and needs – like all of us. But they are rebuilding their lives in a way that will bring glory to God. We came away, as we did before, with a profound respect for the chaplains that minister day in and day out. As we were accompanied by the head chaplain, Robert Toney, we saw the respect and love they have for him.  It is a remarkable place.

These same prisoners built my mother’s coffin and have built my father’s: a plain plywood box lined with a mattress pad – the same that they use to bury the inmates who die in prison.

If you don’t know about Angola Prison, read Cain’s Redemption. It is the story of Angola Prison.

I am home for a few days and will enjoy getting back into the yard to “winterize” it.

I am having the joy – and responsibility – of doing many interviews to promote my book, Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There. I love talking to folks all around the country – these are radio interviews I can do by phone from home. By the way, the companion devotional book will  be out by Christmas. It is the same title but called “The Devotional Book”. I wrote it for myself as  much as anyone else as I was facing uncertainty in my own life. So, if the book is nothing else it is authentic!

For fun…did you know that grasshoppers have white blood? Butterflies taste with their hind feet and have about 4000 muscles? An armadillo can walk underwater? (The boys saw an armadillo for the first time while we were at Angola.) And minnows have teeth in their throats? Just a bit of trivia I gleaned form Jodi Picoult’s  book, Handle With Care. She is one of the authors I read when I travel!

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What was it like…?

I am in Dallas and have done a full day of media to promote my new book. I was up at 5:00 AM to be on a local morning show. One question that I am invariably asked is. “What was it like to grow up in the home of Billy Graham?” There are times that frustrates me.

It may seem odd but I am never quite sure what they mean by that or what they may expect the answer to be. My growing up was probably the same as growing up in your home. It was normal for me as yours was for you! Your father may have been a plumber, pastor, business man, doctor…but he was your dad. My father was a preacher who traveled. Because we grew up in a small community populated by retired missionaries and pastors it was not unusual for people to have traveled the globe preaching. So what daddy did seemed fairly normal.

We were very proud of him but my parents did not raise us to think of ourselves as special. We were different, not special. They never expected us to live up to some false expectations or live our lives to reflect well on them. Over and over they told us that we represented the Lord Jesus and to live in a way that would honor Him.

There were times I worked hard to meet other people’s expectations – I wore myself out.  And people still weren’t happy! I felt that so many people were watching and that I was a disappointment because of my failures and sins. I still work at letting that go and living to please Jesus only. I know have an audience of One! It’s taken a while and I am still not there but  I am a work in process. Being Billy Graham’s daughter is part of what I am – not who I am. I am a sinner saved by grace.

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Cleaning up the yard

Yesterday was another beautiful fall day here in Virgina – as is today. October is known for it’s “bright blue weather”. It was good to get in the yard and clean up after summer’s ostentatious bounty. While I have been traveling the deer have had a smorgasbord in my garden – astilbe, tomatoes, sweet potato vine, hydrangea…I hope they got indigestion! I have a very effective spray that my husband orders online: Deer Off. It works well if you are home to spray it! It is all natural and based on mint so it doesn’t stink! I recommend it.

However, back to my yard… it had begun to look messy and needed some freshening up. So I pulled weeds, trimmed things back, turned the soil, threw some plants away that had passed their peak. At one point my wagon was so full and heavy it got away from me running down hill and burst through the board fence! There are many illustrations of our Christian life that we can pull (no pun intended) from the gardening analogy and I do that in our Ruth Graham & Friends “Get Growing” conferences but I don’t feel like that today. It can be overdone. I just enjoyed getting in the yard. I find it a stress-reliever.  And had I time to go by a garden center to pick up a big beautiful mum and other winter hardy plants to replace the things I had to toss. I found various sizes of pumpkins and gourds to stand guard outside my front door. So…now things are looking fallish around here. I feel satisfied.

I also had time to run by a nearby Christian radio station that was having it’s annual share-a-thon. I think Christian radio is important – especially in these times – and I think we need to support it. It is a voice that needs to continue and it can only continue if we give. We are living in an increasingly secular society we need strong voices proclaiming the Christian world view. I donated a copy of all my books, including the just released, Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There, for them to offer as an incentive for listeners to give.

So from my yard and pumpkins to Christian radio…and a special birthday dinner for my husband with good conversation. A full, satisfying day. God is good!

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Routine

It is a beautiful day here in Virginia. We had much needed rain overnight and now the world is sparkling!

Yesterday was a day full of the mundane things that make up life – doctor visit, flu shot, grocery shopping, desk work,  making dinner, helping with homework…I am blessed to have a husband that does all the laundry so that is one chore I do not have to do. And he does a much better job than I do!

I like these breathers between trips – I am a homebody and like the routine of home. It keeps me grounded. And, for me, often God speaks in the mundane. I don’t often have great insights that come to me in times of deep prayer or spiritual discipline. No visions or ephanies – just insights that come in the routine and mundane.  I have discovered that in showing up, being faithful in the routine makes it holy. My mother had a old Scottish saying that still hangs over her kitchen sink, “Divine Services Conducted Here Three Times Daily.” We can make our rountines and the mundane things of life divine by choosing to do it unto Him.

Have a divine day!

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Unpacking (and Psalm 135)

I am home and it is a beautiful day. It is a day to go get some exercise, do laundry, go to the grocery store and get sorted out after so many days “on the road”. I am trying to come down with a cold and can never remember if it is “starve a cold and feed a fever” or the other way around! My mother believed in lots of Vitamin C. This morning I was reading Psalm 135 and it is a wonderful reminder of just who God is and what He has done for us. Our response is to praise Him. I suggest taking a moment to just praise Him for who he is. Use this Psalm: He is good. His name is pleasant. He has chosen us to be His treasured possession. He is great, greater than any other gods. Read the Psalm for yourself and find things for which to praise our marvelous God. You may not feel like praise but try it and see if your mindset changes. He will bless your efforts.

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If you like to use screen savers on your computer, I would love to share this graphic with you.  This image is from Jim and Mary Whitmer who work with me in the “Get Growing” conferences.  Just click on this image and a full-sized image will download to your computer, and then you can right click on it to save it.  Enjoy.

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Watching the world go by…

We, my sister Gigi is with me, had a great day yesterday. We had several interviews at KTIS talking about the legacy of my father here at Northwestern College. He had a vision 60 years ago to use media to reach people with the gospel – at that time the media was radio. The vision he had has been carried forward and they have expanded to using all sorts of medium to proclaim the gospel. My father’s legacy lives on!

We all have a legacy and we get to choose what it will be. Will it be one of faith? Love? Joy? Anger? Bitterness?

We stayed up late in the lobby “people watching”. There was a lot of coming and going! Two very serious police men stood watching. After a while I approached one of them and asked if this was usual activity for a Friday night – he said no but they were expecting some foreign dignitaries! We were interested in seeing who that might be but soon got weary and went to bed. However, we did get to see Peter Graves (Mission Impossible TV series) and his wife come in. He is still quite handsome! October 3, 2009

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NYC to the Twin Cities

Good morning! I am now in St Paul, MN to help clebrate the 60th anniversary of radio station KTIS. It was founded by my father while he was president of Norhwestern College He was the youngest  college president in the US at that time. My sister Gigi and I are representing the family.

Speaking of my father, I was in NYC earlier ths week to do some media for the launch of my new book and my phone rang. I picked it up and heard that precious familiar voice. It was my father – he rarely calls these days. He wanted to thank me for my book but he cannot read due to macular degeneration. (Yes, they have the reading machine that my mother used.)  I suggested he have someone else read it for him but he is quite deaf now so it will have to be read slowly and loudly! (Yes, he has the best hearing aids.)

But it was so dear to hear his voice. I asked if he had seen me on Fox and Freinds that morning. He said no but had heard about it.  I hope to get down to see him in the next couple of weeks. I miss him. He is so dear.  It is a six hour drive from my home so it  isn’t an easy, quick drive .

This has been a busy week.  But I an grateful for the opportunites God gave for me to talk about the book. After one interview, I was walking back to my hotel and was near Times Square. From the shadow of a stairwell I heard a woman preachng the Gospel. I walked passed but then stopped. I felt that I should stop and speak to her and encourage her. I also had a remaining copy of my book and decided to give it to her. I did not introduce myself as “Billy Graham’s daughter” but just thanked her for doing what she was doing – being a light in that dark place. I gave her the copy of my book and she glanced at it and made the connection. Her name was Brenda and her husband was Solomon. She told me she had met my father years ago in Central Park. We had our pictures taken together.

It was just a short encounter but it made my day!

Who will you encounter today to give a word of encouragement or cheer only to find that you are the one to get a blessing?