Disappointment, loss, insecurity and rejection are common aspects of life. But Amber Edwards tries to counteract the pain by showing the love of Jesus to those who are hurting.
One way she has done that is through her book “Something Beautiful: Why Settle When Life Can Be Beautiful?” co-written with Jackie Tinkler. In the book the women share about the joys of life amid the twists and unexpected turns. For Edwards this has included dealing with divorce — first with her parents and then later her own divorce — remarriage and then tragedy when her husband died in 2021 from COVID-19. Through all of it, Edwards has embraced opportunities to share her story and show the love of Christ through volunteering.
“People look at me and think I’m super confident and super happy and say I radiate joy,” Edwards said. “It’s because I have the joy of the Lord. But life has not been easy — starting from a young age.”
Working through pain
Her ministry is a result of God working through pain, she said, explaining that her parents divorced when she was young and her father wasn’t very involved in her life.
Growing up Southern Baptist, she knew Jesus but didn’t have a real relationship with Him. She wanted to fill a void she felt and ended up getting married and having children young.
At the time she didn’t realize her marriage was toxic and was adamant she wouldn’t divorce. However, she eventually learned that her husband had cheated on her for years.
She found herself divorced and struggling as a single mom after 16 years of marriage. Sometimes she had to search for change to buy milk.
Loneliness and dating in a less-than-godly world led to her giving her life fully to Christ.
“My prayer for 2011 was, ‘OK, Lord, if this is what You have for me — being single and being a single mom — please make that the desire of my heart.’ Then I was good. I felt this peace from the Lord.
“Eighteen days later I met an amazing man. We got engaged after six months and married just three months later. He was everything I ever could have hoped or imagined. I felt so blessed.”
And for the first time Edwards was in a position financially to bless others.
“God started sparking something in me: ‘I’ve done so much in your life. These blessings — you need to share with other people,’” Edwards recalled. “So in 2012, I started what I called the ‘Medwards Blessing Bag Project,’” combining her children’s last name and her new married name.
The first outreach involved making bags full of useful items and distributing them at shelters, under bridges and anywhere people who were homeless gathered. Starting with about 25 the first year, she was up to around 200 when COVID-19 hit.
As the ministry grew, God spoke to her about ministering to women with similar experiences to hers. One Christmas Eve, she had about 30 bags left. Having heard good things about the WellHouse, a safe haven for female victims of human trafficking, and knowing those rescued often arrived with only what they were wearing, Edwards contacted them.
“I talked to the woman who runs the administrative offices and asked if they would be interested in these bags. She said, ‘Oh my gosh! Absolutely!’” Edwards began helping with more projects for The WellHouse and recalled delivering a gift box to an 18-year-old who had been rescued from trafficking the day before. Edwards’ daughter also was 18.
She tearfully remembered thinking, “Wait. That could be my daughter! That’s somebody’s daughter.
“It just broke my heart; it broke me,” Edwards recalled. “Ever since then, I always think of ways to bless these precious women.”
When life takes unexpected turns
At about the same time, Edwards met Tinkler and they found they had similar stories. The book “Something Beautiful” and the ministry “Something More” are products of a desire to share how God can use struggles to bring beauty. “Something Beautiful” — part memoir, part devotional — includes their life experiences and thoughtful questions about how God can help through trials.
“It’s written more for the application: ‘This is how I thought my life was going to look. It completely derailed, but God can still bring something beautiful from it, even when things don’t go as planned,’” Edwards said.
Edwards is still walking through this truth since her husband died last year.
“I have this eternal perspective now like I’ve never had before,” she said. “The Lord has been really showing me what truly matters.
“A friend asked when I was preparing Valentine’s bags for the WellHouse, ‘How do you have time for all of this? You work full time; you have two kids; you’re leading at church. How do you do all this?’
“My response to her was, ‘You know what? This is all that matters. This is an investment in the Kingdom — how we make people feel, how we serve them, how we love them — is what it’s really all about. So how can I not do it?’
“It’s something that makes me feel alive and gives me a sense of being whole again in the midst of a devastating season.
“Yes, there are things that I wish would have played out differently in life,” Edwards acknowledged. “But I wouldn’t change a thing because every season, every heartbreak and every hurt, God has grown and stretched me and shown me how faithful He is … even in the midst of the storm.”