Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

I had the privilege and joy of giving a short eulogy at Jeannette Clift George’s (she played Corrie ten Boom in the movie, The Hiding Place.) memorial service in Houston this past weekend. It was a glorious service. Dr. Ed Young was so tender in his remarks – I was unaware that his dear wife died recently – this was possibly the first memorial he has done since – must have been difficult. The music was heavenly! Orchestra, choir, soloists – the whole nine yards. And it is a lovely sanctuary – like churches should look!!

I told two quick stories about her and then talked of her relationship with my parents. She was a particularly dear friend to my mother. They were like old-fashioned girlfriends. They shared confidences, silliness, laughter and always something God was teaching them from the scriptures.

Because they were both in the limelight, there were few with whom they could share their burdens and know it would go into a black hole.They trusted each other. They both had a refreshing take on life nor take themselves too seriously.

One story I told was Jeannette became concerned that people were not talking to each other or listening to each other. So one day in a receiving line as she shook hands she said to each person, “The elephants are coming.” “The elephants are coming.” No one heard her or paid any attention!Her point was proven.

One Easter she decided to send Easter cards and sign each one. She thought she had written the scripture verse, Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today, yes and forever.” She was pleased to get all the cards out. Soon she saw a friend at the grocery store and the friend thanked her for the card but said she was surprised by the reference. Jeannette inquired and was horrified to learn she had written Hebrews 12:8, “then ye are bastards.”

Such was Jeannette’s life! Like I said she didn’t take herself so seriously that she couldn’t laugh at herself.

One the way home I arranged for a wheelchair to meet me at the gate in Charlotte – It is a long track and my balance is not so good right now. (Yes. I am seeing a doctor about it. Two “irritated nerves” in my lower spine.)

The man pushing my chair must have been a frustrated kamikaze pilot! He swerved, almost ran over people – I smiled and waved like a queen but was scared the man would dump me out!! Poor Krista (my traveling companion) kept up – she is a runner! But he was a mess.

When we got to the gate we got seats. In front of me was a nice, well-dressed Black woman. She looked so familiar. I smiled at her and said, “You look so familiar, do I know you?” She was sweet and said, “No, I don’t think so.” But I’d started a conversation and carried on…anyway, she said when she is in Charlotte at the airport she usually goes over to the Billy Graham Library.

Krista leaned in and said “Are you going to tell her who you are?” I gave Krista the evil eye and said “no”. (I fired her last time for doing that at Lakewood Church! I didn’t really fire her.)

I asked this woman what was her favorite part of the library and about her family…just making conversation. It was clear she was a believer. I told her we were coming from Jeannette Clift George’s memorial service. She wasn’t clear who Jeannette was but knew The Hiding Place.

I asked about her kids……chit chat. I asked where she was going – to “Daytona Beach for a MLK event then on to Atlanta”. I told her if she saw Alveda King to give her my love. She said “What is your name?” I told her. and she hugged me, leaned down and whispered, “I am Candy Carson. My husband is Ben Carson.”

We had met on several occasions and so I jumped up and gave her a hug. It was like meeting an old friend. We had met years ago at The Cove when Ben Carson spoke there then again when he and I both spoke for James Robison in Dallas.

It was cute how we both tried to keep our identities under wraps.. And I am quite sure a lot of people say to her, “You look familiar.” Her husband ran for President for crying to loud! We took a photo. I assured her we were praying like mad. I was surprised there was no Secret Service…I guess Cabinet members’
wives don’t qualify.

Anyway, it was a sweet blessing to have a happy reunion at the gate in Charlotte. You just never know what little “surprise blessings” God has in store for you each day!

Let’s look for them each day this year and thank God for them. We are so blessed in so many ways. Maybe keep a journal of them – I know if I didn’t journal, I’d forget so many things.

Have you noticed that we all have great aspirations at the New Year to turn the page, get a brand new start, start over…however you want to phrase it… Maybe make resolutions to quit drinking, loose weight, exercise more…

Well…this year I thought I would focus on Bible memorization. Spend more time focusing on God’s Word. Fill my mind with it. I had great intentions but I’ll be honest with you, I’ve gotten off to a bad start. I was away from home at the New Year so that threw me off and once I did get home I got busy packing up the Christmas decorations, getting groceries, writing thank you notes…In other words, I did not make provisions for it.

I should have decided when I was going to do it, how I was going to do it and what scripture I was going to tackle first!

My first mistake was that I was not intentional about it. That let all sorts of things crowd it out. So…now I will make my plans and be intentional so I can do what I set out to do.

I will keep you posted on my progress!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I just got back this afternoon from spending time at my father’s home spending some time with him.

This year I determined to give my children and grandchildren “memories not money”! (My youngest daughter couldn’t go because her son was ill. – We missed her terribly.) I took them to visit my father – stay in his home, which they didn’t remember doing, see it all decorated for Christmas and sleep in the attic like I did. (It’s a nice attic.)

We drove up to Boone, NC to have lunch with Franklin and Jane and some of their family then got a tour of Samaritan’s Purse. They had never been there and it had been years since I was there. It has grown!! Very impressive.That evening we had dinner with Franklin’s eldest, Will, and enjoyed him.

The next day we toured The Biltmore House – all decorated for Christmas. It was a mob scene – you almost couldn’t see the house for all the people! It had been years since I was there. Lots of changes and new rooms open. I got a copy of “The Lady on the Hill” – all about the preservation efforts by the Cecil family to keep it going – and robustly. Interesting, to say the least.

We had an ice storm so the kids got snowed in at “Daddy Bill’s”. Fun.

They loved exploring around the house – seeing all the little cubby holes and “secret” places. A kid’s place for sure. They hiked the mountain – it’s different in the winter with a frozen pond and streams. They had so much fun discovering the place for themselves and I know my mother was looking down enjoying them enjoying the place she built for her family.

My son took me out for a lovely lunch at a “ta da” restaurant in Asheville. Some of the best food I have ever put in my mouth. We had a really nice time.

We visited with our “Korean” cousins. One of the girls was hospitalized briefly in Asheville so Noelle and I bombed in to see her and caught glimpse of even more cousins.

My youngest brother and his wife flew in the 31st. We hadn’t seen each other in years. And drat! we did not take a photo.

I saw a niece and nephew as well as a great nephew and his wife, celebrating their 3rd anniversary. And others…

So…mission accomplished. Memories not money!

I posted this six years ago…it is still good!

Does your house look like this? The carols are playing on the stereo. There is a blazing fire on the hearth – with extra split logs neatly stacked nearby. Snow is gently falling outside. All the Christmas cards and packages have been addressed and mailed early. The smell of cookies baking – not burning – fills the house. The carolers are outside as a sleigh carrying children slowly glides by – harness bells jingling on a starlit night. All the handmade gifts are wrapped to perfection under the tree where all the lights are working. The children are neatly dressed in velveteen with white collars. Even the dog has a red bow around his neck. Your in-laws will arrive soon as the family gathers with smiles and warm hugs. And you smile to yourself that have money leftover!

If we are honest we have stood in the grocery line and thumbed through Martha Stewart’s magazine with wistfulness. She tells us that we can make everything by hand; the soufflé won’t fall; the packages are wrapped like masterpieces; we can look rested and be ready two weeks early. So that you can relax by the fire with your hot tea and homemade scones to listen to the carolers outside your spotless windows as you welcome family and friends to your hearth.

Good grief! That is not real life!! At least not at my house. The holidays arrive whether you are ready or not. We are bombarded with messages to spend and do until we feel that anything less than “all” isn’t enough. Our culture – even the church – has bought into the advertising message that families love to gather and they all get along – even the dog behaves!

Christmas isn’t about cookies, magic, shopping or snow. Somewhere along the line we have lost Christmas.

Have you noticed that real life happens on the way to Christmas? We talk about peace and joy. But few of us really experience it especially at Christmas. The lights are on the tree but not in our hearts. There is no silence in your night.

Have you noticed that problems and heartache don’t take a holiday? Christmas just adds to an overcrowded schedule and budget.

C.S. Lewis said, “Long before December 25th everyone is worn out – physically worn out by the weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think of suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making, much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.”

I want to ask, what does faith have to do with Christmas? That may seem like a ridiculous question after all it is the celebration of Christ’s birth.

What does faith have to do with Christmas in the real world as we sit in heavy traffic going over our long list of things that have to get done or perhaps sitting in a hospital waiting room or looking in disbelief at your foreclosure notice.

Perhaps you are dreading the season. Your family has one missing from the table this year and your heart is sad. Perhaps the ones that will come to your house don’t get along and that brings stress. One will come drunk or stoned. Perhaps you are not worried about decorating or wrapping packages because you are all alone this year. You have tried you best to shop on a thin budget; it is tiresome and you are weary of trying to be “creative”. And the gifts you carefully chose will be returned the next day. Perhaps you have terrible memories of the holidays and you are just hoping to hang on until January 2nd just to get through it.

What does faith have to do with Christmas in today’s culture? Christmas is for healing, about new beginnings. Christmas is about hope. I cannot teach you hope – I can only live out my own hope in the light of what the angel told a Middle Eastern man in a dream long ago. “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name, Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1;20-21 NIV) That is the hope we have – forgiveness of sin, freedom from our burdens, God’s presence with us in our day to day lives, peace in the midst of the struggle.

That’s what Christmas is all about.