Elba, Alabama, looms large in my mother’s family.I was reminded of that this week when I went back to my hometown of Brantley, Alabama, to visit my mother for Christmas. Like much of the nation, the state of Alabama has had extremely heavy rains over the last few days and weeks. They have experienced a great deal of flooding.
One of the flood-prone areas of the state of Alabama is Elba, 18 miles from my hometown of Brantley.
Elba was in the news this week because of flooding in the area. The city of Elba flooded in 1990 and then again in 1994. It was devastating. The whole downtown area was underwater.Those floods and the events of this week reminded me and my mother of the significance of Elba in her family.
My mother was born in 1929 shortly after the flooding of Elba, Alabama, for the first time. My grandmother and grandfather and my great grandparents lived and worked in Elba. My grandfather, Buddy Wallace, and his father, William Riley Wallace, ran a blacksmith shop in Elba.
When it flooded they lost their houses and their business.
My grandmother was pregnant with my mother at the time. The waters rose so high that she and the other members of the family stood on ceiling joists in the attic as the water continued to rise around their ankles and legs. The flooding was so bad that my other grandfather came from Montgomery to Brantley where he attempted to swim the flooded and swollen Conecuh River to go the 18 miles to Elba to rescue his daughter. He was unable to do so.
When my grandmother was finally rescued they started anew in Brantley. She didn’t make the 18 mile trip from Brantley to Elba again until 12 years later when a family emergency made it impossible for her not to go.
After the 1929 flood a levee was built in Elba. It held until 1990 when water over topped the levee and the whole downtown area flooded again. I still remember my grandmother saying in all seriousness about the levee, “I told them it wouldn’t work.”
My grandmother Wallace left us a legacy of not wanting to live in a flood zone.She left us with other legacies as well, mainly a legacy of faith. My Wallace grandparents were people of tremendous faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was blessed to have the influence of those grandparents. I saw my grandparents live out their faith throughout the hard times of life. They loved their church. They truly were pillars of the church.
I cannot underestimate the importance of godly parents and grandparents. It is amazing how God can work in that kind of environment.
What kind of environment are you providing for your children and grandchildren? What are you leaving behind?
Your children and grandchildren will learn something from you. Will it be kindness, trust, devotion to God, and the spirit of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”? Or, will it be something else?
We all get to make the choice. I hope and pray you will give that legacy of faith to those who come after you.
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