The building, much as your mind’s eye would imagine … four walls making up a perfect rectangular shape with a traditional steeple atop. The color? White, of course, with stained glass windows adorning each side perfectly spaced apart and beautiful to look upon. To the left of the church, a family cemetery made up of simple headstones dating back hundreds of years and sharing a common theme of names chiseled upon them. These pieces of stone represent generations of family all somehow related, if not by blood, through a lifetime of service to the same small church where they were saved by the blood and, therefore, became family by choice! To the right of the church, long cement tables constructed years prior, where quite frequently the congregation would share “dinner on the grounds,” enjoy a homemade ice cream social or watermelon cutting, followed by hours of fellowshipping and watching the younger generation run and play.
While this may sound like a scene from an old movie, it was, in fact, the second home to my paternal grandparents, who we lovingly referred to as Mamaw and Papaw and who I adored with every ounce of my being!
My sister and I spent most of our childhood summers on their family farm, which was made up of 40-plus acres located in Chunchula, Alabama. My grandparents were both very involved in the church, being there every time the doors were opened and a lot of the time when they weren’t! Over the years Mamaw played many roles, from church secretary/treasurer to being on pastor search committees and so on. For many years, she was THE flower committee! I vividly recall her getting up super early Sunday mornings, going out to her beautifully manicured flower garden and cutting fresh flowers to arrange a centerpiece which would be placed on the altar table that morning. Papaw was a Deacon, which meant he did whatever was needed, including passing not only the plate during the offertory hymn, but also the ornate silver serving pieces when the Lord’s Supper was observed.
During many a service, I recall the pastor saying, “Take out the hymnal from the pew in front of you and turn to page …” The hymn of choice, “Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound.” I can still see myself standing next to my Mamaw, listening to her belt out those words with all her heart and soul. She had a less-than-stellar singing voice, but the passion in which she sang about God’s grace made it the sweetest sound I’d ever heard. It was obvious this beloved woman of God knew a thing or two about grace! Goodness knows she practiced much grace and forgiveness with me, my sisters and cousins on more occasions than I can count over those many summers spent in her care. But more than that, she made sure that we understood the words of that sacred hymn and the grace that our Savior extended to each of us as He willingly gave His life to save each of ours.
Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! ~ Ephesians 1:6
Although I accepted Christ at a young age, it wasn’t until well into my adult years that I fully grasped the true meaning of the word “grace” and became tenderly aware just how hard it is at times to extend to others. In those moments, I am gently reminded of the amazing grace that was so freely given to me thousands of years ago by a God who loved me so very much that He was willing to give his only Son so that I might receive grace for my sins, and I know I will never be asked to give more grace to another than I have been afforded myself.
My precious Mamaw went to be with the Lord in May of 2010. Her funeral was held in that same little country church that watched me grow from a young child into an adult and mother of two. “Amazing Grace” was one of the hymns sung during her service. As I joined in to sing this favorite hymn of hers, I couldn’t help but wish she was standing right there next to me belting out those words we had all come to know by heart to the Father that she so faithfully served until her last breath. To this day, I don’t hear “Amazing Grace” without thinking of my Mamaw and that little church. From her amazing example, I strive each day to show grace … what a legacy to leave behind! He has given it to us. All we have to do is pass it along!
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. ~ Ephesians 4:7
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Amber Edwards began Blessing Bag Ministry, affording her numerous opportunities to share her love for the Lord with many lost and hurting. A native of Birmingham and Huffman High School, Amber is happily married with two teens and working as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal. She enjoys leading women’s small groups and serving as Captain of the Events Team at her church. Her true passion is for others.