In this delightful book, A LEGACY OF FAITH: Things I Learned From My Father, Ruth Graham honestly and tenderly shares what it was like growing up as the daughter of Billy Graham. Ruth, the third and youngest daughter, talks about what it was like to have a world-famous, traveling evangelist as a dad and the lengths to which her parents went to give their children a normal upbringing.
In six well-written chapters, Graham explores different lessons she learned from her father, including love for the world, grace and loyalty. From an early age all of the Graham children were schooled in the business of giving. One of her first Christmas memories is putting boxes together for the needy within the surrounding area. In fact, any gifts sent to the family were immediately given to those in need. Graham recounts a time when a generous patron sent the family a beautiful soda fountain and admits that was a hard gift to give away!
She also describes her mother's efforts to create a normal life for the children when their father was gone so much of the time. She talks about the excitement of her father's homecomings and the gifts he always brought back from his various trips. While home, Billy Graham spent long hours in his study reading, researching and preparing for the next set of meetings. While always welcome to interrupt, Ruth admits she limited any interruptions to a minimum --- not only during those times of study but throughout her growing up years. This was done with some regret.
Graham writes, "My father has set a high standard in giving himself wholeheartedly; I have sought more of a balance and tend to be more restrained. It may be that seeing my father give so much to others when I was a child caused me to become reserved in loving. I think I felt that he gave away so much of what was mine --- attention, concern, love and time --- that I became protective of my heart. I was not willing to give everything away."
In these tender moments, Graham acknowledges some of the pain that accompanied being the daughter of an evangelist to the world. She says there were certain times when she felt she needed her daddy but he simply wasn't there. Yet she acknowledges that it must have been just as difficult, if not more difficult, on him as he prayerfully handed over his family to the care of God time and time again.
Yet Ruth doesn't just reminisce about her father and mother. She also shares glimpses into her own life, which includes two marriages that ended in divorce. She talks about the shame she felt, but also the unwavering sense of love and support she received from her parents.
Overall, A LEGACY OF FAITH: Things I Learned from My Father is a wonderful keepsake book. The layout and design make it an enjoyable afternoon read or even a book to keep out for guests. It's filled with a rich assortment of photos from Ruth's childhood as well as from her father's years in ministry. This is the first time a Graham child has ever shared personal thoughts about growing up with Billy Graham as a father, and it's a book you won't want to miss.
Reviewed by Margaret A. Feinberg on April 18, 2006