Remembering Billy Graham

Reverend William "Billy" Graham--Just As I Am

Reverend William “Billy” Graham–Just As I Am

I met him once. Rev. Billy Graham.

It was a Monday night. A friend and I were on our way to Art Survey 101, and we had just reached the third floor. He rounded the corner from the hall, courteously dipped his head, and asked, “Would you know where the so-and-so office is?”

Okay, you know he didn’t really say, so-and-so. It’s been 25 years, and the tiny details are long gone. Suffice it to say, it was an ordinary question. And we gave an ordinary answer. “On the 2nd floor, just to your right.”

He thanked us kindly, and down he went.

But my friend and I? We were left staring.

“Was that who I think it was?”

We joked about running after him. To shake his hand. To ask him about his life. I guess if it were today, we’d have begged him for a selfie.

But we didn’t do any of it because we figured we’d look too much like groupies.

I kind of wish we’d done it anyway.

Now, at 99 years of age, Franklin “Billy” Graham has passed away. Can you imagine the party in heaven as they welcomed him home? How many people will he meet who are there because of his preaching, either directly or indirectly?

A radio host described Dr. Graham as having “a presence.” And Wheaton College President Dr. Ryken wrote, he was “renowned for his humility, transparency, simplicity, and integrity.”

From our 30-second exchange, I would agree with both. He stood tall but was clearly humble. He was known the world over, but he acted simply.  He was stately, but without an ounce of pompousness.

I know, it seems silly to assess someone in less than a minute, but somehow with him it was possible. He was authentic.

I can still see his gentle smile.

And yet, perhaps it wasn’t just thirty seconds. It was a lifetime of feeling like I knew him.

On the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, I had Billy Graham in two. His son-in-law was my dentist. No, the famous evangelist never walked in on a tooth cleaning. But you tend to look closer at people when there’s a connection.

I’m sad to say that as a child, I wasn’t always thrilled to watch him on television. I wanted the story, and he was “just standing there preaching.”

But even in my childish wants, I recognized Graham’s firm passion. His boldness. The way he said “Jesus”—with all the authority that comes with the name, and yet all the tender love of one who has met Him.

And then there was the altar call. The stream of people pouring down to ask for Christ’s salvation. The song “Just As I Am” pulling them out of their seats.

And every time, no matter how many evenings we had watched the crusade, no matter how frustrated I was at the long hour, that moment choked me up.

And I found myself praying that more would stand up and walk down.

As I grew, I realized Dr. Graham was telling a story. With his distinctive delivery, he laid out the story of the cross. Of Christ’s death and resurrection. Of His sacrifice for each and every person “within the sound of [his] voice.” And beyond.

Then he told the story of those people—the ones listening in those stadium seats. On their couches. In their cars.

No, he didn’t know each one individually, but he knew them collectively. Because he knew his own heart.

“I’m a sinner. I need a Savior…Are you ready?”

I can still hear him saying it. His voice echoing across the air.

He spoke to millions. And yet he never bragged of it. He didn’t use his platform for political clout. Didn’t raise zillions of dollars for his own mansion.

Instead? He just preached Jesus. Living out 1 Corinthians and Galatians and Jeremiah: “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”— “In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do I do that?

Not all of us are television evangelists. Not all of us are called to stand on a platform and speak to millions. But we are all called to boast only in the Gospel. And to live out that good news for our neighbors.

I don’t know what Dr. Graham would have done if my friend and I had run after him that day. If we’d had the technology, would he have laughed and joined in the selfie? Maybe. I don’t know him well enough to say.

But I think, from the times I spent watching him preach, from the few seconds that I met him, from the testimonies of those who knew him best, he would say it doesn’t really matter if I knew him. Or if I know someone else who knew him.

What matters is if I know his Lord. And if I share Him with others.

Because, as Graham’s messages repeated, we don’t know the day or the moment when it will be too late to make a decision. We don’t know what the next hour will hold.

Could there have been a truer statement for the world we find ourselves in today? This week? This month?

Deadly accidents, fatal illnesses, school shootings…

This world is not eternal.

But the next one is. Who we know now affects where we’ll be there.

And, no, that doesn’t mean “30 seconds with Billy.” Do those around us know Who it is?

As he predicted, the news reports stated, “Billy Graham, evangelist…dead at age 99.”

But he had an answer to that. His paraphrase of D.L. Moody. I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times in the past few days, but it bears repeating.

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Straight to the loving arms of Jesus.

I wish I HAD followed Dr. Graham that day. To shake his hand and thank him. For his testimony. For his example.

But one day, I’ll have another chance to do that at that new address. And I pray that when I get there, I’ll find that my own life has produced fruit. That, like Graham, I’ll meet people who are there because of my testimony, either directly or indirectly.

Not because I’m some extraordinary person. But because Jesus is.

Praise God, I have met HIM.

And I know Him well!

“I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, He died on a cross, He rose again, and He asked us to repent of our sins and receive Him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”
–Billy Graham

A Special Bond: A Boy and His Twin Sister

He gave a speech.

He thanked his teachers. He thanked his dad and me. He thanked the people giving him the award.

And then he thanked his twin sister. For their almost eighteen years together.

That Twin Bond

That Twin Bond

He paused, looked down, then said to her, “It’s hard to think of our possibly being separated next year for college.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Continue reading

Calling Her Blessed

She wrapped her presents with her eyes closed.

Baking Mom's Birthday Cake

Baking Mom’s Birthday Cake

Why we didn’t wait until Dad got home to do it, I couldn’t tell you. It meant no disrespect for him; he’d obviously helped us buy them. But each birthday and Mother’s Day, we stood on a stool by the washing machine and made Mom close her eyes as she helped us put her gift in a box, cut the paper, fold perfect crisp corners, and put just the right amount of tape on all the seams. As far as I know, she kept her promise and never looked. She always acted surprised when she reopened them…

We tried to get her to close her eyes while we mixed her cake, but I imagine she peeked a little there. Continue reading

a DIY Tree Rescue

To Save a Tree

To Save a Tree

My daughter asked it. “Mom, why is there a cloth sign tied around our tree?”


Because I am now officially a tree hugger.

See, we got a notice in the mail. From the City Forester.

Continue reading


I’ve had a lot of them this year. Last high school soccer game for my daughter. Last high school track meet for my son. Last month we had the last piano recital for both of them–a special senior one, with just them and two other seniors, where they each played a number of songs and had us crying as the last note melted away…. Continue reading

Winning the Ultimate Competition

I hate sports. For all those out there who just gasped, my family included, I apologize. But I just have to say, I really hate sports. And competitions of all sorts. The idea of only one winner and everyone else the loser. I know. They say it’s good for you to learn to lose and lose well. It builds character and all that. Yada, yada, yada…. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye…

Think Marley and Me….Only a Golden. Like AirBud. And Shadow from Homeward Bound. But more beautiful. More loyal. And smarter. And sneakier. (On account of the “smarter.”)

The minute Teddy saw this box, he started jumping. He knew it was for him!

The minute Teddy saw this box, he knew it was for him!

You’ve seen the dog on the giant Milkbone boxes? You’ve seen my Teddy Bear.


When he was still a puppy, I took him to a soccer game.

A two-year-old toddled up. “I pet your doggy?”

“Sure, his name is Teddy Bear.”

His mom followed behind. “Are you petting the dog nicely?”

"He's not a doggy, Mommy. He's a teddy bear!"

“He’s not a doggy, Mommy. He’s a teddy bear!”

His response: “He’s not a doggy, Mommy. He’s a teddy bear!”

Actually with his giant paws, he looked a lot like a lion, so we almost called him Simba. But we didn’t want people thinking we named him after Lion King.



They always say I don’t know how to say “No.” This was a hard time to learn. Continue reading