Lady Bird Johnson: True to her ‘call’

The apostle Paul wrote to his young student, Timothy, “…Don’t let anyone look down on you…do not neglect your gift…” (1 Timothy 4:12,14 NIV)

Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson was a child from east Texas who grew to become the First Lady of the most powerful nation in the world. She was known as “Lady Bird” a childhood nickname that she didn’t like but said she “made my peace with it”.

As a child I have a vivid memory of her standing slightly behind her husband as he took the oath of office inside the plane that was to take the slain body of President Kennedy back to Washington. Many will remember Mrs. Kennedy also standing there with her blood-splattered clothes but I remember the petite, dark-haired woman with big eyes standing firmly beside her husband was tasked to lead a nation through some of the darkest years of our history. Besides the assassination, the Viet Nam war would escalate and take the lives of over 58,000 American soldiers.

I am not writing this to comment on President Johnson or that administration. History is still writing that for us. I am writing about a woman who had a ‘call’ to be a helpmate to a man who would become President. Mrs. Johnson refused the medal of valedictorian of her high school class because of her fear of public speaking. During President Johnson’s re-election campaign she once made 47 speeches in four days! I cannot imagine how difficult her personal battle to walk from fear to facing literally thousands of people, including anti-war hecklers.

I am one of the millions who are blessed every time I drive down I-10 or any national highway and see the beautiful trees, flowers, and landscaping that Lady Bird Johnson brought to reality. She and Helen Hayes founded the National Wildflower Research Center that is dedicated to the preservation and use of wild flowers and native plants. “Beauty in nature nourishes us and brings joy to the human spirit,” Mrs. Johnson wrote. The LBJ ranch and surrounding property is to be given to the National Park Service upon her death.

Each of us has gifts to fulfill the ‘call’ that God has placed in hearts. It is that ‘thing’ that we enjoy with a passion. It is a gift that was given not to be clenched and hidden just for ourselves but to be shared and used to build and uplift.

Thank you, Lady Bird Johnson, for all that you gave. Well done, faithful servant!

Historical information and anecdotes about Mrs. Johnson came from an article on FOXnews.

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