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Thomas and Katie Lou Sanders and their children

I love this photo.  It connects me with my family and my roots.  Included in the picture, which was taken in 1907,  are Isaac Thomas Sanders and his wife, Katie Lou (Bradford) Sanders, and five of their six children (Uncle Paul wasn’t born yet).  Seated in my great-grandmother’s lap is my grandmother, Louetta Sanders Pyles, who passed away last November at the age of 101.   I have never had to wonder, “What did Granny look like as a baby?”  She looks remarkably just like my father, sister and nephew did at that age!  I also love this photo because my early life is filled with many memories of Granny’s pictured siblings, Aunt Bernice, Aunt Elise, Uncle William and Uncle Buford. 

You may have noticed on the calendar that last Sunday was Grandparents Day.  I took the opportunity to share a message at the Broken Arrow church on Sunday morning about the wonderful blessing that grandparents are in our physical families and the special role that older generations have in the body of Christ.  Grandparents have so much to offer in extending love, wisdom, grace, guidance and encouragement to their grandchildren.  I consider myself most blessed to have known all four of my grandparents, to have had all of them in my life to the age of 22, and then to have had Granny with us until just last year when I was 46. 

While there was a lot to love about my grandparents, what I treasure most is that they were all Christians.  My memories of them are inseparable from their connection and involvement with Christ’s church.  I remember Pa (C.R. Sheffield) leading singing and teaching the auditorium class at the small rural church in Hentown, Georgia.    Mama Lila loved to cook for the preachers and did so many things in service to others in the church and in the community.  Granddaddy (Josh Pyles), taught the “Old Men’s Class” at the Diana church in Giles County, Tennessee.  Forever impressed on my mind and heart is the image of him stepping into the aisle and kneeling whenever a prayer was led in the assembly.  Granny, like Mama Lila, performed so many loving acts of kindness and service for those within and outside the church. 

It is true that God has no grandchildren, only sons and daughters.  Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Lord, Christ and Savior must ultimately be claimed in a personal way by each individual believer.  Our faith cannot be vicariously inherited from another.  Still, it is a tremendous blessing to be a recipient and participant in a legacy of faith, much as the evangelist Timothy was in relation to his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (II Timothy 1:5).  A young boy was once asked why he believed in God.  He replied, “I guess it just runs in our family!”  While this is certainly not the measure of a mature faith, it is most definitely a wonderful start!

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September 2009