I removed the blog I posted yesterday at the request of the family requesting privacy. I honor that and did not think. I apologized and feel very badly. I just was so thrilled by the example of God’s grace.

For those of you who saw it and read it, please pray for all concerned.

God bless you.

Ruth Graham

New Year Ramblings

Happy New Year! This also happens to be my oldest daughter’s birthday and since she was born there has never been a celebration to top that one so watching the ball drop is not on my agenda! I go to bed early and plan a party for her.  She has been a joy! Actually, she is in Philadelphia today visiting her sister and little Payson so no party to plan but gifts to wrap for her when she comes back!

I hope that your holidays were very special and you had moments to reflect on the meaning of the season. Sometimes we get so busy that the time goes by before we have the opportunity to enjoy the true meaning and value of the times.

This morning I spent some time reviewing my journals from the past year. Sometimes that is encouraging to see where I have grown and what God has done – other times it is discouraging to see where I am still struggling with the same issues! But the overarching theme is the faithfulness of God to me. The promises of God that have been my comfort and guide.

My sweet friend, Jane Bateman, sent me a wonderful book for Christmas, Heaven Has Blue Carpet by Sharon Niedzinski. It is the story of a suburban housewife who decides to become a sheep  grower – her insights are marvelous. I was convicted by something she quoted from the NIV Life Application Study Bible on Numbers 16:41.  It caught me up short. “Just one day after Korah and his followers were executed for grumbling and complaining against God, the Israelites started all over with more muttering and complaining. Their negative attitude only caused them to rebel even more and to bring about even greater trouble. It eroded their faith in God and encouraged thoughts of giving up and turning back. The path to open rebellion against God begins with dissatisfaction and skepticism, then moves to grumbling about both God and circumstances. Next comes bitterness and resentment, followed finally by rebellion and open hostility…Beware! These attitudes lead to rebellion and separation from God.”

I saw myself in the Israelites. A small complaint can snowball and pretty soon we are finding fault with God. Then rebelling because we don’t like what He is doing or how He is doing it. Satan loves this – it is his play ground. I have asked God to help me in this area this year.  I want to be more positive and more grateful. Romans chapter 1 illustrates the downward spiral of sinful man which results in God turning man over to their wicked ways…the root of it all was not giving God thanks. Wow! I certainly don’t want to be guilty of that!

So…I am going to start a “gratitude journal”. Each day I want to write down at least one thing I am grateful for and thank God all day long for it and then review it that night. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Today I am grateful for my family. My children and grandchildren. My kind, sweet husband and his 3 young sons who are letting me “do it again”. What joy to pull up to my daughter’s house and have the grandchildren come running out with smiles on their faces greeting me , “Mackie!” (what they call me). It makes my heart sing!

This week I was able to go visit my father. He is amazing! He is doing so much better and is planning to preach again – even working on his text! His mind is very clear and he is working very hard with his physical therapist so he will be strong enough. That is such a delight for me. Back in July I was not sure he would live to see Christmas. Now I am beginning to think he might rival Bev Shea who turns 101 next month! God says that long life is a blessing. My father is blessed. And his blessing blesses me – more than I can express. He is such a kind and gentle man. Talk about someone who has a grateful spirit!! Keep praying for him. Thank you.

Happy New Year!

Please pray

In recent blogs  I have mentioned my grandson, Payson. He was born prematurely in August. He has had multiple health challenges and yesterday had surgery again. This time to put him on a ventilator. It’s not a life or death kind of situation – he can breathe on his own but his trachea can collapse and he can’t get air. Scary. So the ventilator kicks in and gives him air. It’s quite serious, far more so than we first thought.

My daughter had so hoped to have him home for Christmas. But that is not to be. She is sad. When he is allowed home he will need 24 hour nursing care. I am now entering a new arena. Our family which is quite large has been so fortunate to have good health – no cancer, no major accidents – we tend to take it for granted. No longer. We now have a precious little one who will need extra from us. As well as my daughter and her husband – extra care, understanding, support. When she called me yesterday she was tired and asking, “Why?”. I had no answers to give. There are no answers. And each question spawns new ones…

It is so hard to see your little one so helpless, so dependent, struggle. I remember having to put this same daughter in the hospital at 9 months because she had developed pneumonia. She was so small laying so still in that hospital crib. I could do nothing but turn her over to the care of the medical team.  I watched from across the room and prayed. Now I am back in much the same place – completely dependant trusting God to take care of that which I have no control over. Turning them over to Him. He cares for those that I love so dearly – more than anything in this world. He knows what He is doing and He is in total control. He is trustworthy and will do what is best for all concerned.

Seems to me I wrote a book about this…God is having me practice fearing not tomorrow because He is already there. Payson’s future is in God’s hands. I will choose to trust Him for Payson, Windsor and her little family. Will you please pray for them when you think of them. Thank you.

Snow Storm

Last Thursday, fighting a cold, I flew to Nashville for a meeting – a planning session for Ruth Graham & Friends. I had heard a snow storm was predicted for the weekend but figured my flights would get me home in time. My flight left on time from Nashville and when I arrived in Philadelphia the board told me the flight to Charlottesville was going to be on time. My cell phone was dead so I used a public phone (I had forgotten how nasty they are and how dependant I am on my cell phone!)  to call home and was told that it had started snowing and was coming down fast. I sat tight hoping my flight would still be able to make it but when I saw that the USAir flight to Roanoke was cancelled, I figured I would suffer the same fate. Not long after “Cancelled” appeared beside my flight number on the board.

So I went in search of a hotel. The man at the “information desk” had his head on it. When I asked about nearby hotel he just handed me a big notebook with listings! Using the pay phone – I didn’t have change or phone card – I found a nearby hotel room. My “information man” still had his head on the desk (maybe he felt as badly as I was feeling by then) but I had to ask where to catch the hotel shuttle bus since it wasn’t obvious – the signage leaves something to be desired. I got myself over to the shuttle bus along with many other stranded travelers and was driven to the hotel. I checked in and got settled. There wasn’t a flake of snow yet in Philadelphia. I was quite hungry. Fortunately the hotel had room service so I ordered a bowl of soup – which was lukewarm when it arrived but it still tasted good!

When I awoke on Saturday morning – my birthday – there seemed to be a blizzard outside my window – I couldn’t see across the street! My youngest daughter called to wish me a happy birthday and when I told her I was nearby she wanted very much to come get me – she lives about 20 minutes from the Philadelphia airport but I refused to tell her where I was. I had a bad cold and she didn’t need the germs nor did I want my family on the snowy roads. I hated to miss a visit with her but with little Payson in such a precarious state and Christmas just days away she did not need to get sick. I was safe and warm. I wanted them to stay that way, too. Many people called to wish me a happy birthday and I had plenty of time to visit with each one. (Yes, my cell phone was recharged.)

My good friend Bob Dragatto lives in NJ wanted to come fetch me for my birthday. But I told him to stay put.

I had an interesting book and was content. US Air had rebooked me for a Saturday flight but I knew that I was not going anywhere. I tried to get them on the phone to check on my options. No way! I just kept getting a message saying “Try your call later”. Or I’d get a busy signal. On Sunday morning I woke up at 5:00 AM so dialed them. They told me I had a 90 minute wait and would take me in the order I called. I waited on “hold” for over 2 hours and finally gave up. I knew I’d have to go to the airport. I fell back asleep which did not fill me with joy. My daughter called me at 10 AM. I had almost lost my voice – too much talking the day before! She tried to help me get on line with US Air. But no luck. In desperation I called my travel agent – though she had not booked the trip since it was a frequent flyer awards trip – I was desperate. She runs Park Travel in Boston – they do all the Red Sox trips – they are very good and Nanci is a dear. She got me on a 2:00 flight.

I hustled to get ready, check out and onto the shuttle bus. When I got to the airport there was a very looong line ahead of me. But I love to watch people and had built in the extra time so I just stood in line. So many disgruntled people in very interesting outfits! There was a hockey team in front of me. Apparently from Canada. They were a jovial group!

Alas, I got on the right plane and it landed in Charlottesville about half an hour late. Greg had worked all day to dig himself out and was there to pick me up and tell me that there was no power at home. No lights, heat, phone, water – nothing. The house was 42 degrees and 2 feet of snow outside. Fortunately we have a fireplace. It was very cozy and Christmassy!

While We Wait

My daughter called me early this morning to say that my grandson, little Payson, had stopped breathing in the wee hours of the morning and they had to call 911. He was rushed to the local hospital and then transferred to Dupont Children’s Hospital. He is now  in the ICU. I would appreciate your prayers for him and for that little family. So many challenges in these last few month since he was born.

I know God is faithful and loves them more than I do. He has His perfect plan and I must just rest in that fact. I want to rush in and try to fix it – what can I do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I have to trust God with those I love so dearly.

I am reviewing a good manuscript about a couple who went to China as missionaries in the early 1900s. It makes me recall so many stories my dear maternal grandparents told of bandits and warlords and the faith of the missionaries in the face of hardship, violence and deprivation. But the thing that stands out to me in this story is that regardless of the hardship, in the waiting, they served others. We can too. So often my mind goes to the idea “when this is over…”, “if I can just get to this point…” then I can serve God. No, the journey is more important to God than the destination. God is working in us as we go through life’s process. Is it fun? Not always. It is hard. Yes. We want answers. We don’t understand. But we know God and His character is true and unchanging.

When Job questioned God and God finally responded what He gave Job was His presence. And for Job that was enough. Is it enough for me? You?

Did You Know?

Did you know that:

toilets flush in the key of E-flat?

the oldest word in the English language is “town”?

frogs have to close their eyes to swallow?

one pencil can draw a line 35 miles long?

Cleveland spelled backwards is DNA level C?

rats can’t throw up?

fish can swim at 68 mph?

the most common name for a goldfish is “Jaws”?

a can of Diet Coke floats but a can of Regular Coke sinks?

Dr. Seuss invented the word “nerd”?

I bet you didn’t know those things and probably weren’t too concerned about it. I didn’t know them until I read Jodi Picoult’s book, Handle with Care and I hope she told the truth. I am not sure how you check all that out or if you even have the time! But now if a conversation at a dinner party gets really dull over the holidays you can throw in one of those zany facts! It’ll make you the hit  of the evening or scare people off! Enjoy!


My Very Special Friend

Yesterday I had a delightful day. The weather was cold and damp but one of my dearest friends was in town to visit her brand new grand baby. We met for breakfast – my husband was able to join us – he used to work with her in a psychological practice. We talked and talked and talked into the lunch hour. Then we spent the rest of the day shopping for gifts! We always have a great time with each other. She is one with whom I can talk about anything and know it is perfectly safe. She loves me “warts and all” as I do her. We have taken quite a journey together in life. And if I try on an outfit and ask her how it looks on me, she tells me frankly how it looks! I respect her opinion.

We met when she was the therapist for one of my children as I was going through my divorce. I liked her immediately and soon noticed that she took late-in-the-day appointments. One day I called her office and told her secretary that the next day I was going to bring dinner for her and her family. Within the hour I got a call and she told me I could not do that because it would be crossing professional boundaries. I am not sure what I replied but I didn’t take “no” for an answer and took a hearty casserole the next day knowing her work schedule didn’t allow her the time I am sure she needed with her own family. She has now told me how touched she was that I cared for her in that way. I don’t know about you but when people love and care for my children, I want to love and care for them.

When my daughter no longer saw her as a client, our friendship blossomed. That’s been 20 years. Can it be that long? Anyway, soon she and her family joined mine for dinners, Thanksgiving, family outings, beach trips, etc. Her parents were often guests in my home. Her own story is very interesting. She is the daughter of an agnostic mother and atheistic father who was also Jewish. Both very accomplished and intelligent. When she was six years old she told them she wanted to know God. They were very educated and thought that it would be a good idea for her to learn but did not take her to church. She took herself to the Catholic church for many years. When it was time for her to be baptized her parents would not give their permission so she moved to the Episcopalian church. And when we met that’s where she still was. I remember her telling me she was an Episcopalian and asked, “Is that all right?”. I chuckled and said, “Of course.” I do believe the Episcopalians know about grace and devotion. My friend was disowned by her Jewish grandmother because of her faith in Jesus.

Over the years we have had many interesting discussions. After her father had a debilitating stroke I was able to visit him in the nursing home. I wasn’t sure he would remember me. His speech was difficult. But he did remember me and we were able to communicate. I was able to tell him I wanted him to be in heaven with me and asked if I could pray with him. He agreed and I prayed telling God I wanted M. to be in heaven and for God to please assure him of salvation through repentance and asking Jesus to be his Savior. When I finished M. was crying. God touched his heart in some way that day. He died several months later.

Her mother is a fascinating woman in her 90s who speaks her mind and in her 80s was taking belly dancing lessons! She is a hoot and I love her dearly. She has been antagonistic to my friend’s faith. One day my friend asked me how she could witness to her mother about her faith. I told her to just talk about her own experience – I knew her mother couldn’t argue with that. We prayed about it and several months later my friend called me and said she had talked to her mother about her own relationship with God. Her mother listened and respected her testimony.

It has been such a thrill to see my friend’s growth in faith. I tell you this because last night over dinner – we shopped until dinner – she was instructing me in faith. How to walk with God in faith in a situation that is hard for me. I loved it. I love her boldness. I love her. She is a dear friend because she takes me back to t he basics- faith and prayer.

I pray each of you will have such a friend.

Christmas gift ideas

Christmas shopping is becoming more and more difficult as I try to think of things that might fit into my budget – which is shrinking as I write – and for people who really don’t need anything. Not to mention the expense of mailing packages. What I did last year and am increasing this year is giving a donation to a charity in the name of my friends. The charity then sends me a card I can send out to notify my friends of the gift this does 2 things. It lets my cherished friends know that I have not forgotten them – far from it – but remembered them in a meaningful way and also helps the charity increase their data base. 2 for 1 – can’t beat that!

Last year I decided my grandchildren got far more than they needed and not wanting to foster this “me, me, me” attitude I gave them a catalogue from a charity I support with a check for $25 made out to that charity. So on Christmas night they could sit down when all the hoopla was over and “shop” for someone else. It wasn’t the most popular gift under their tree but I am praying it might make the most lasting impression. Jesus said that it was “better to give than receive”.

I am sure you know of charities this year that could use a little extra help. This is a great way to do that. Have fun!

I am afraid I grumble more than I am thankful. But recently I attended my former church. It is the church of my maternal great-grandparents. The church where my  grandparents got married. The church that sent them to China as medical missionaries. The church that nurtured my mother when her family would return on furlough from China. There are some of the older folks at the church that remember my grandparents and my mother.  It is a warm, welcoming, embracing place full of grace. I watched as my oldest daughter and her husband joined to become members.  The family roots run very deep and I feel connected there. I was so proud. And teary.

Tradition is very important to me. It has always been a thrill to stand and sing the doxology and say the Apostle’s Creed in that sanctuary. It’s as if I can hear the  voices of my ancestors affirming the same faith as I do now. I am thankful for that rich heritage of faith on both sides of my family.

Traditions were kept at my house this Thursday as family and friends gathered. The same recipes that we have used for years. We sat at the same table, in the same chairs. Different house this year but the traditions connect us. And this past weekend I baked Christmas cookies with my grandchildren using a recipe handed down from their paternal great-great- grandmother. (I babysat while my daughter and her husband attend a wedding in Lynchburg. I tried to think of things to keep them busy!! I found out that the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be!)

Anyway, I was and am thankful for my heritage, my family, traditions,  fun, friends,  good conversations and even a happy weariness knowing I have been blessed to be able to do for my family and friends. We did do something new. After my daughter and her little family (the wee ones were ready for bed)  left we played Wii with our friends! What a hoot. We played golf, tennis, bowling. We laughed until we cried.  Great fun.

It was a nice break. Now I settle down to work and to begin to think about Christmas. I have to get my act in gear!

Above all, I am thankful that God never forgets His covenant with me.

What Makes You Angry?

I heard a good sermon Sunday on anger. The pastor is doing a series on the Sermon on the Mount and this Sunday he was using Matthew 6:21-22. Those are sobering verses. He told us that anger is an assault on the image of God in another person; it abides in our hearts and nurses contempt there where it begins to take shape. It leads to the judgment of God on our lives. We deal with it by repenting and find the embrace of God or resist and find the opposition of God. He did not go into all the aspects of anger or the kinds of anger. But it caused me to think about my own anger.

Sometimes at a dinner party to start conversation, I ask questions. Two of the questions I have used are, “What makes you laugh?” and “What makes you angry?” It’s fun to hear the different answers and often it is surprising to hear what some people come up with.

People make me laugh! I love to watch people and travelling as much as I do, I get many opportunities to do just that.  The way they dress, talk, react to situations, other people. Children are fun to watch. Even when I am speaking I am observing people. Once while speaking I heard snoring and so I looked around to find the source. An older gentleman was resting his head on the back of a pew and snoring away – not softly – but quite loudly. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. Another time I was speaking from a dias in a large ballroom when a cell phone rang. A lady at a front table just beneath where I was speaking answered it and proceeded to carry on a lengthy conversation! I am not sure what she was thinking! That I couldn’t hear her?! Like I said, people make me laugh.

Injustice makes me angry. I am not entertained by movies that deal with slavery, the Holocaust or abuse of power, even war. I have seen injustice. I have experienced it. It makes me angry. I still think life should be fair. I know; those closest to me remind me that life is unfair. But I still long for things to be made right. This side of heaven, it will always be unfair. And the greatest injustice of all was perpetrated on Jesus. He did not defend Himself – He endured all that injustice, humiliation, grief, pain, suffering for me. He loved me that much. What a wonderful Redeemer we have!

Anger at injustice is a good kind of anger. But anger that broods to bitterness seeking avenues of revenge does not belong in the life of a believer. We must ask God to show us areas where we have that kind of anger, confess it and ask God to help us root it out. Find a Bible verse that applies to that situation, memorize it and use it every time you sense that anger begin to surface.

I tell you that, not because I have my act together but because I was convicted by the pastor’s sermon. And know I have areas of anger to work on in my life – or let God work on them in me! I have quarters on my car’s dashboard to remind me of people I need to forgive and ask God to help me let go of my anger. When people get in my car they think it is change for tolls – they may ask and I confess to them. They usually laugh and tell me it’s a good idea! For me it is a reminder how far I have to go to be like Jesus and I am grateful that He loves me anyway.

What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? Angry?