Last week marked our annual excursion to my Aunt Beckie and Uncle Bob’s home for Thanksgiving. This tradition began a few years ago when they moved into a wonderfully old, massive home that seems to have been built for just such occassions as these. It has quickly become a family gathering that we look forward to all year long. This year, we decided to surprise my Dad’s Aunt Kay (TuTu’s sister) for her 70th birthday. She has been one of the many rocks in our family. A favorite Aunt who has remained in touch through many generations. My Aunt Judie created a beautiful scrapbook for Aunt Kay and on the cover were the words “The Ties That Bind Our Lives Together.”

These words struck a chord with me because I so value the closeness of our family. I remember my Dad sitting me down when I was a little girl, after a particularly brutal fight with my younger sister Sarah, and I remember him telling us that “blood is thicker than water” and that, as sisters, we had a responsibility to one another that was not to be taken lightly. At the time, I understood what he was getting at, but now I understand it in a whole new light. I guess when you have a child of your own, you can’t help but start thinking about the family heritage you have and the legacy that you want to leave behind. My intention for this post is to give you a glimpse of the most important legacy that has been bequeathed to me and hope that I can pass it along, as it has been so lovingly passed to me.

I feel so blessed to have been born into colorful families of such rich and interesting heritage. This post happens to be about the McCoy side. My TuTu is from an Irish family named McCoy and she is one of 10 children. They grew up in a teeny, tiny town in Iowa called Climbing Hill. I tried to find out what the current population is, but it wasn’t even listed on the U.S. census report. TuTu’s mom was Nora Cecil McCoy (my sister’s namesake) and although I don’t really remember much about my Great-Grandma, I know that she was the family pillar, a devout Christian woman who raised 10 children rather single-handedly since Great-Grandpa McCoy was an alcoholic who would leave for unknown periods of time without any word at all.

I wonder if Nora and William McCoy ever grasped the significance of the legacy they created? Moreso, I wonder if the baptist minister who visited that teeny, tiny town in Iowa more than 70 years ago realized that by the Holy Spirit leading him to befriend this family of 12, a spark of faith was lit that would be carried forward generation to generation. A faith that would spur an alcoholic father to become sober. A faith that would heal the wounds of broken marriages, family conflict, illness, and all of the sinful deeds that mark our sinner nature. For you see, when the McCoy family’s faith came alive those many years ago, it didn’t just glow, it blazed. It transformed a struggling family into a family that was marked by the Grace of Christ.

There many interesting stories to tell about the Harm-McCoys. I’ll save those for other days. What I want to leave you with is this…what strikes me most about this side of my family is how filled they are with love and grace of Christ. Believe me, this family has seen more than it’s share of heart ache and heart break. The Irish/German blood runs deep and many a bad decision and bad consequence has transpired in every one of our lives. But I believe because of that sin, not in spite of it, this family gets the meaning of Grace. It’s not an ambiguous concept to us, it’s a marvel…it’s a miracle…and it’s sometimes the only thing that allows us to carry on. Through many dangers, toils and snares…we have already come. T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…and Grace will lead us home.