Tag Archive | Family

The Life of Billy Graham

On February 21, 2018, the Reverend Billy Graham took his last breath on earth and walked triumphantly into eternity and into the presence of His Savior, Jesus Christ!

After nearly 100 years of earth-bound living, William Franklin Graham Jr. crossed his finish line.

He heard the two simple words we all long to hear someday, “Well done!”

I have read so many articles, blog posts and editorials concerning the life and home going of Billy Graham and I wondered, quite frankly, if there was anything else left to say about this incredible man of God.  He was a man who dined with queens … who prayed with presidents … and whose opinion mattered to political leaders.

He walked upon the grounds of the White House … in the hallways of Buckingham Palace … on the floor of the United Nations … and on the dusty and unmarked roads of Africa.

“Everywhere I go I find that people … both leaders and individuals … are asking one basic question, ‘Is there any hope for the future?’ My answer is the same, ‘Yes, through Jesus Christ.’” – Billy Graham

How could my perspective on the life of a man I had never met bring any more tribute to the life that was lived so well?

And then, I remembered something that I often say to young moms when I am teaching on the importance of motherhood …

“Someone is going to raise the next Billy Graham … why not you?!”

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And so, my tribute comes in the form of a challenge to the next generation of moms; I challenge you to raise the next Billy Graham!

I challenge you to raise a man or a woman so filled with integrity that it leaves the culture in which we live absolutely breathless.

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” – Billy Graham

I challenge you to raise a man or a woman so filled with moral virtue and purity that he or she is mocked by the gurus of the day.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life but rather a legacy of character and faith.” – Billy Graham

I challenge you to instill a love for the Bible in your son or in your daughter so rich and so rare that every choice, every opinion and every philosophy is birthed from the sacred pages of the Word of God.

“I read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.” – Billy Graham

I challenge you to teach your children how to handle their finances in a conservative and God-honoring manner.  Pass on the wise philosophy to them that money can’t buy happiness, that success is not dependent upon bank accounts and that it pays to be honest.

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” – Billy Graham

I challenge you to raise a man or a woman so filled with calling and with purpose that absolutely nothing holds them back from their God-ordained destiny.  Teach them to tune their ears to the calling of God and not on the applause of men.  Remind them often that they are living for eternity and not for fame.

I challenge you to teach your children to tell the truth … the whole truth … and nothing but the truth.

And then remind them that the Truth is Jesus.

“The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy and that He responds to repentance.” – Billy Graham

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I challenge you to raise your children to love the simple things in life.  We live in a Disney World-saturated, Super Bowl-driven, People magazine-promoting, false-idol-worshipping, technology-overload society. Lay all of that aside and then make a list of the truly valuable things in life:

Fresh air and sunsets …

The company of grandparents and missionaries …

A game of tag in the backyard …

The delight of family jokes and healthy teasing …

The stories of ancestors and heroes and heroines of the faith …

A family prayer time at the end of a day.

I challenge you to raise your children in a common environment that smacks of uncommon virtue.

“A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.” – Billy Graham

I challenge you to raise your children to know that this life is not all that there is to living.  We live for eternity not for the pleasure of tomorrow.  Remind them day after day after day that heaven is a real place and that there is only one way to get there … through Jesus.

“My home is in heaven – I am just passing through.” – Billy Graham

I challenge you to teach your children the value of prayer.  Pray with them every day over the little things and the big things in life.  Remind them that God listens and that God answers. And then get on your knees with your children and pray.

“Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between God and you.” – Billy Graham

My prayer today is that this world will never forget the life of Billy Graham … I hope that you never forget the difference that one ordinary person can make for eternity.  He lived to make hell smaller and heaven bigger!

My prayer is that in our quest to honor him we do it by calling the next generation to live their lives with the moral fiber and with the spiritual tenacity that it takes to cause heaven to stand to its feet and applaud!

“I haven’t written my own epitaph, and I’m not sure I should. Whatever it is, I hope it will be simple, and that it will point people not to me, but to the One I served.” – Billy Graham

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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The Best of Times…The Worst of Times


Best of Times Worst of Times pic 1“It was the best of times … it was the worst of times …”
are the unforgettable words that begin A Tale of Two Citieswritten by Charles Dickens who also famously penned, “A Christmas Carol”.

 “It was the best of times … it was the worst of times …” are also, unfortunately, the words that many of us have used to emotionally and spiritually pen our Christmas stories and memories.

“It was the best of times …” are the 6 words jubilantly chosen to describe a holiday cup that is frothy and running over with cheer, gifts, healthy relationships and a beautifully decorated home.

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“It was the best of times …” seems to be the caption that is used to describe an iconic Rockwellian picture of a snow-decked landscape looking into the window of a red and green home that has an interesting yet functional family at its core.  The kids are throwing wrapping paper everywhere … the parents are still dressed in their robes with deep circles under their eyes yet are able to smile at the pictured noise and confusion … the holiday turkey is browning perfectly in the oven with its aroma wafting through the expectant air … and Gramma is on her way with a sleigh filled with pumpkin pies and figgy pudding!

It certainly IS the best of times!

“It was the worst of times” are often the December lyrics of choice when the bottom has fallen out of one’s shaky attempt at living.

Food stamps may be a daily reality and necessity.

The dysfunction of family relationships is a constant reminder of what is wrong with  life.

This Christmas may be spent in the terror of the ICU rather than by the warmth of a welcoming fireplace with eggnog in one hand and a Christmas cookie in the other.

Perhaps rather than torturous relationships to deal with, there is no family to gather around the sparsely bedecked caricature of Charlie Brown’s famous tree.

Money is scarce … health is questionable …  just one mortgage payment away from losing the family home … there will be no Santa Claus coming down the chimney this year to leave a memorable deposit of materialism under the lonely tree.

For you, Christmas this year, truly may be the worst of times.

However, I happen to believe, that judging the authenticity or joy of Christmas by what we have or do not have is a foolish and impulsive mistake of gargantuan proportions.

Christmas was never meant to be measured by human standards or by a glass that is gleefully half-full or agonizingly half-empty.

What one sees circumstantially is largely unable to coincide with earth’s attempt at fulfillment because of heaven’s promise of delivered joy!

See … it is not in what you do have or do not have that should determine how you are able to describe your Christmas this year or any calendar year!  It is always found … eternally found … in Who He is!

177427485He is joy when your life seems empty.

He is peace when all around you are in conflict.

He is hope when all human wells have run dry.

He is the Healer in a life that is sick, fragile and wasted.

He is Christmas!

He is what makes any day of any year the very best of times.

Don’t be so small in your expectations of a truly memorable Christmas that you boil it down to gifts, a bevy of celebratory people or how much red and green is strewn around your home.

Instead, this Christmas, remember what Christmastime is powerfully all about:

A young woman who has had her world invaded with the promise that with God … all things are possible!

The plans of a young man that were hurriedly changed because the God of the universe interrupted his human desire for happy ever after.

A manure-filled, mouse-scurrying stable that welcomed the Baby Who was born to be the King of all Kings.

Shepherds, with dirt under the fingernails, grime in their brains and sheep drool on their robes who were invited to sing with the angels!

A song so loud and so triumphant that it broke through the coldness and darkness of a world in pain to prounouce, “Let there be joy!”

Although I don’t know the pain of your past or the stark reality of the Christmas that will be remembered as 2013, this is what I do know about you and your life …

You are loved by the God Who sent His Son into the darkness and confusion of the warzone of life this side of eternity.

The angels still invite modern day shepherds to sing … to sing loudly … to sing triumphantly!

Although your desire for “happy ever after” may be marred by the mess you have made of your life … God still has the power to intervene because of Christmas!

And … the message that the angel delivered to an incredulous virgin girl is still heaven’s message to you today … nothing is impossible with God!

And so … whatever circumstances you face today … my prayer is that your life will be remembered as a lasting and genuine Christmas Carol because finally … you understand … you eternally comprehend what the best of times has always been about!

Just These Three Things

babyChildren … there is nothing like the heart of a little person to rearrange your priorities, refine your theology and restore your hope.

“Through the praises of children and infants

 You have established a strong hold

 against Your enemies.”

Psalm 8:2 – NIV

I love to listen to children talk about God.  I love to hear their praises … to watch their heartfelt enthusiasm … and to know that they understand the love of the Father.

Children know.  They know God in a particular way that most adults do not begin to grasp.  They know that God is love and that He is powerful.

They know that God is a giant-killer … a life-giver … and a mountain-mover.

Children know.

Children are the very best prayer warriors that I know.  They pray in unabashed faith and enthusiastically expect a response from heaven!  If you have lingering doubts about life … ask a child to pray for you!  There is nothing quite like it!

“And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said,

‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children,

you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever then humbles himself as this child,

he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” –

Matthew 18:3-5

 Is it because they are so fresh from heaven?  Is that why children have an insight into the heart and character of God that is sometimes missing in older, more mature and “wiser” adults?

Do babies remember what heaven smells like?  Do toddlers recall the joy around the throne of God?  Are pre-schoolers able to catch a whiff of the love of the Father while living on earth?

If nothing else, children know that God loves children.  They know.

The innocence of a child is a strong magnet to the presence of God.  Little ones are most at home in the joy of His presence.  Is it any wonder that there was a special place in the heart of Jesus for children?

One day children were brought to Jesus

 in the hope that He would lay hands on them and pray over them. 

The disciples shooed them off.

 But Jesus intervened: ‘Let the children alone,

 don’t prevent them from coming to me. 

God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”

 – Matthew 19:13 & 14 – The Message

olivia mcleodolivia mcleod 2olivia mcleod 3olivia mcleod & marmeeOlivia is my adorable, precocious, administrative, creative and anointed little bundle of granddaughterly joy!  She was the first grandchild born into this clan and will ever hold a place of sweet delight in my Marmee’s heart.

Olivia loves to design doll clothes, write books, go to ballet lessons, take care of her little brothers and has an insatiable desire to know more about God.  Although only 5 years old, Olivia is filled with a wisdom that I long for at times!

A few weeks ago it was Kids’ Day at Faith Family Church in Victoria, TX.  All of the school age children were allowed to stay in the big service and Pastor Jim Graff had a message that he had prepared especially for them. 

These are the notes, in Olivia’s own handwriting that she wrote that day:

God is with you. 

You are special. 

You are God’s child.

Olivia got it right, didn’t she?  That is all the theology that she needs in her tender and formative years.  Maybe it is all the theology that you and I need as well.

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God is with you!  What a promise!  You serve a God Who will never leave you regardless of how you act, what you’ve done or where you are going.  He is more than a social sidekick or a nagging shadow.  He is not an obnoxious tag-along or the constant reminder of yesterday’s mistakes.  God’s presence and love are inescapable companions as you travel life this side of heaven.  He has promised never to leave you or forsake you.  When everyone else has deserted you … you have a friend that is closer than a brother.  Ah-h-h-h … you are not alone!  Thanks for the sweet reminder, Olivia.

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You are special!  What a great memo from Olivia’s 5 year old heart!  There is no one like you … you are one of a kind.  You have a destiny that has never been shared by another human being in all of history.  God has uniquely fashioned you for such a time as this.  Comparing yourself with others is a total and complete waste of energy because there is no one like you … and there is no one like them!  So get busy being you!  Be the you that God made you to be … today!  Olivia … there will never be another Olivia Mae McLeod!  You are you … and that is enough … that is more than enough!

You are God’s child.  That’s right … you belong.  You belong to Your Dad.  You are His wanted and dearly loved child.  You are part of the greatest family ever created … the family of the most-high God!  There is never any possible reason to wonder who you are … you are God’s child!  What an honor!  When others reject you or forget you … you are God’s child!  When your family ignores you and your friends avoid you … you are God’s child!  His embrace is big enough and powerful enough to calm your fears and to lead the way. 

Olivia … I hope that you always remember these 3 important sentences.

God is with you. 

You are special. 

You are God’s child.

  I hope that when you are 12 and are struggling with self-esteem that you remember.

I hope that when you are 18 and face an unknown future that you remember.

I hope that when you are raising a little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes that you remember.

I hope that when another little girl … at another moment in history … calls you “Marmee” … that you remember …

God is with you.

You are special.

You are God’s child.

Always & Never

92391611aWords and mothers.  Mothers and words.

There are some words moms should never say … and there are some words moms should always say.

Words hold such life-altering power and yet often moms like me carelessly speak with little consideration for long term impact.

Few mothers would throw a child’s entire wardrobe in the trash and yet that is what I have done to my child’s self-esteem when I have spoken in anger or in outrage.

Not many mothers would destroy a year’s supply of vitamins in response to a moment of childish forgetfulness yet that is what I have done to his or her future emotional health when my words have not fit the crime.

As a mother of 5 grown children, I have learned a lot about words over the years.  I have learned what to say .. and more importantly … what not to say.

I would like to leave a deposit of “Never and Always” in the lives of all of my precious mom friends today.  You are the ones who are raising the next generation of dynamic people who will make an impact on the world.  These people will be a reflection of the words spoken into their lives when they were in their formative years.  Speak well, my friends.  Speak well.

HERE ARE THE WORDS THAT I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY

AND THEN THE WORDS THAT I  BELIEVE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SAY.

—                               ♥                               —

Never say, “You drive me crazy!” 

Remind yourself who is the parent and who is the child.  Never accuse your child of having a negative influence or power in your life.  Children are a blessing … a rare and valuable gift … from heaven’s bounty into your life.  Take responsibility for your own emotional turmoil and never blame it on your child.

There will be days when parenting pushes you to the brink of emotional stability but it is not the child who owns the power in the situation.  It is you, the mom, who owns the power to choose, to determine and to guide.  It is you, the mom, who owns the power to rely on God for emotional strength and lucidity.

Always say, “If God gave me a catalogue of all the little boys (girls) in the world, yours is the face I would have chosen.”

Acceptance, genuine approval and heartfelt love are among the three greatest gifts a parent can give to a child.  It is more important that your children hear you declare  words of affirmation and unconditional love than it is that you take them to Disney World, send them to private school, or buy them designer clothes.

In the Bible, God says that He is delighted with us and that He literally sings over us!  If God responds that way to us, as His children, I think that it is time that as parents we began to act and talk like God.

             “As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all My delight.” – Psalm 16:3

            “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” – Zephaniah 3:17

 Never say, “I love you but I don’t like you very much right now.” 

As parents, regardless of how our child is acting, we must affirm our wholehearted acceptance of their personhood and value.  It’s one thing not to like what they are choosing to do … it’s another thing altogether to verbalize the lie that you don’t like “them” in that moment.  In every moment of life, whether they are obedient or disobedient … charming or frustrating … sweet or acting obnoxious … as a mother you must affirm the value that you have placed on who they are as human beings.

 Always say, “You are the greatest gift I have ever been given.”

Children are great observers of people and situations; children hear what is not spoken and often don’t hear what is actually verbally rehearsed.  As your child sees you give your heart, time and attention to things and people other than him, your little one will begin to wonder where he or she lands on your list of priorities.

Let’s face it … there are things that a mother needs to do that are going to often divert her attention away from the little lives under her care.  That is why it is imperative that often you remind your children of their value to you.

            “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:7

Never say, “I don’t want to be with you!”

To a child, being with mom and dad is the greatest gift imaginable.   Love is spelled T-I-M-E to the little ones under your feet.  Treasure every single moment you are given  with your child regardless of how they are acting.  Know that in these difficult moments of disobedience and embarrassment that you are called to disciple them to healthy behavior.  Change your emotional reaction to your child’s behavior with an unbreakable resolve that you will love them, train them and value them regardless of of how  they act or speak.

Always say, “You have been created by God for greatness at this moment in history.  You are a Daniel, a David, an Esther, a Ruth, a Peter, a Mary.  You have the fingerprint of God on your soul!”

Declare greatness and purpose over your children with the words that you speak.  When your children feel like a failure, let them know that their feelings do not tell the truth but that the Word of God is the source of all truth.

Dream big dreams with your children in every age and every stage of life.  Never belittle their desire to be an astronaut, play the piano at Carnegie Hall or discover the cure  for cancer.  Why not your child?!

Pray that God will lead your little man and your miniature lady into the grandness of His plan and design for their lives!

            “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord: plans for welfare and not for calamity; to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

            “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul                        knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:13 & 14

Never say, “I wish that I had never had you!” 

Have any of you ever used these words?  I hope not … but the reason that I have included them in my list is that I have heard many frustrated mothers in public places say these words, or words similar to them, in violent anger.  I have often wondered, if a mom says things like this in public, what does she say in private?  Destructive words such as these penetrate deeply into a child’s heart and do significant damage that may never be repaired.

Always say, “You are a good girl (boy)!”

One of my children was a very active, mischievous, independent 2 year old.  Every day when he woke up, I would tell him while he was still in his crib, “You are mama’s good boy!”  When we were out with other parents and children, rather than rehearse all that he had done wrong that day, I would always say so that he could hear me, “He is such a good little boy.”  When I was tucking him in at night, I would always remind him, “You are growing into such a good boy.”

If he was naughty, I disciplined him and talked to him about his behavior.  However, my daily and constant declaration over him was, “You are good.”  Heaven has placed the power of creation in our words and I was determined to raise a good boy.  And you know what?  He is a good man today because I declared over him the possibility and potential of goodness.

Our children will become whom they believe themselves to be.  Your words lay the foundation for the men and women they will grow into tomorrow.

             “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” – Proverbs 18:21

             “For as a man thinks within himself, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

 Never say, “Wait till your father gets home!” 

The arrival of daddy at the front door after a long day at work should not be dreaded but should be highly and enthusiastically anticipated.  Discipline should never wait until daddy gets home but should be taken care of swiftly and effectively at the time of infraction.  Daddy’s arrival at home should be the highlight of the day for everyone including mom, the children and the dad himself!  If there is an event or a behavior that dad needs to be made aware of, it should happen after dinner hour in a private and safe setting.

Always say, “I love you because you are mine.  There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you any less.  There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you any more.  I love you because you are mine.”

Don’t make the mistake of merely “thinking” about how much you love your children but verbalize it on a daily and hourly basis.  Saying it once a day is good but it is not enough.  Assure them of your love time after time after time.  Hour after hour after hour.

Look in their little eyes and tell them “I love you” when they are fresh from heaven and you are holding them in your arms for the very first time.

Kneel beside them when they are toddlers, hold their little faces in your hands and tell them, “I love you today and I love you forever.”

When they go off to school every morning, the last words they should hear as they dash off to catch the bus are, “Don’t ever forget that I love you more than words can say!”

And when they are difficult teenagers with minds of their own and try to ignore your involvement in their lives, say, “I love you and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.”

Write “I love you” in lipstick in the bathroom mirror when they are learning to read.

Place notes beside their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lunch boxes that remind them, “I love you all day today!”

Hide notes under their pillows … inside their tennis shoes … and in their jacket pockets that say, “You are my treasure and I love you!”

Your perpetual and auditory proclamation of love will help your child navigate treacherous waters and horrific storms.  Declared love over a young person’s life fights demons of fear, self-destruction and doubt.  The love that you decree over your little ones is the fertilizer of the soul that will produce healthy young men and women who have the emotional and spiritual tools to change the world!

             “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” – Mark 10: 14 & 16

MOPS International is giving away a free one year membership! ($23.95 value)  MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is an incredible group that connects moms all over the world to a community of women, in their own neighborhoods, who meet together to laugh, cry and embrace the journey of motherhood.  We will announce the winner on October 2, 2013 on our facebook page, so be sure to “Like” the Carol McLeod, Bible Teacher and Author page! 

If you would like to enter to win this membership (you can give it to a sister/friend/daughter/etc) just send us your name & email address in the form below.  We would love to hear from you in the comment section!  Let us know your ideas for a future blog post!  (not required for MOPS membership give-away)  

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