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Dec 17

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Great Cheap Date Challenge #12

“Put on tweeds and meet at the public library at an appointed time, library cards in hand. Decide on an esoteric topic or writer whose work has always fascinated you both. With the help of the reference librarian or the computer, carry out your literary scavenger hunt and then, treasures in hand (you can fight over who will carry whose books), walk to a nearby cafe for a caffeine fix while poring over your printed finds.”

OK. We might have bent the rules a bit on this one. Regardless of your faith background or beliefs, you simply cannot call Charlotte home without paying a visit to the Billy Graham Library. The locals tell us that Christmas is the best time to go, so last night chose this spot for our Great Cheap Date Challenge #12. Every tree, bush, and building was covered in Christmas lights. We had just missed the carolers, but the living nativity scene was still aglow with a very brave Mary and Joseph posing for passerbys in 30 degree temperature and freezing rain. There was even a live camel! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a camel up close. Awkward creatures. Anyway, the real treat was a tour of Billy Graham’s boyhood home. It figures that while I’m walking through the very rooms that this legendary evangelist was taught the path of Christ, I would be most thrilled with the decor of the kitchen.

I would probably get so much more ironing done if I had one of those fold out wall units.

Anyway, on to more spiritual matters…. The height of our experience was the gallery tour of the reverend’s life and work with a special exhibit dedicated to the life of his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham. I realize it is the Billy Graham Library, but I was most impressed with what I learned about Ruth. The old footage captured both her wisdom and firm resolve. She revealed that from their very first date, which was to a performance of Handel’s Messiah, she prayed that she might be given the great honor to walk alongside the promising evangelist as his wife and partner. Ruth said that if she had only known what was in store for the couple, she never would have had the nerve to pray that prayer. I can only imagine what it would be like to be the wife of a world-renowned gospel preacher. When asked if she had ever considered divorce, she replied, “Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.” I mean, here was this ambitious college girl pursuing a life’s work as a missionary to China when Billy waltzed into her life unexpectedly. She went on to raise 5 children (all of whom went on to work in Christian ministry) all while serving an evangelist who brought the gospel to closed, hostile nations and who counseled 11 U.S. presidents. And I complain about Clark playing his music too loudly. She went on to say that being a wife and a mother was one of the greatest callings in the world, and that one could find God in the most mundane tasks of life. The carvings etched into the wood above their living room fireplace simply stated “Divine service will be conducted here daily.”

This was the wedding dress that she sewed for herself. Later she trimmed the trosseau and used the material to line the bassinets of all five of her children.

Billy Graham describes his wife Ruth, as the “greatest Christian he has every known”. Needless to say, I was so inspired by what I learned of Ruth Bell Graham that I plan to collect some of her titles and read through them in the coming months. This was definitely one of my favorite dates so far, because while I was admiring this great woman who supported a man who’s life work has literally impacted millions of people, I was so challenged to become the wife that my husband needs me to be in order to fulfill what God has called him to do.

Heaven, help me!

 

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