By Sandy Jones
A little fun family history… I was born at a time when mothers stayed in the hospital for about a week to recover from giving birth. The youngest of six children, and the fourth girl in our family, my parents struggled to find the right name for me. Our family has long joked about the fact that the day before our mother was to bring me home, the nurses brought her a tray with names on little slips of paper, explaining that I simply must have a name, or they couldn’t let me go home.
My sisters all have fun, cute names ending with either and “ie” or an “i,” and yet she chose Sandra for me. A name I have always felt was very formal and stiff. My piano teacher always felt the need to add a “u” in there to make it an even more formal, Saundra. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m anything but formal, and wanting to be cute and fun like my sisters as I entered junior high, I chose to go by Sandy.
In my early teens someone was talking about what their name meant. I was shocked. What did they mean? So I found a baby name book and looked up “Sandra.” I was unimpressed to see that it said “helper of mankind.” Why couldn’t it be something more profound, like “world changer,” or fun like “eternal ray of sunshine?” Nope, for me it was “helper of mankind.”
When I was in the 4th or 5th grade we lived next door to a couple who were both retired school teachers, George and Margaret Judd. I loved them so much. They were like local grandparents to me. The Judds had a big, beautiful garden, and Margaret canned or froze everything. One summer they had a bumper beet crop and I spent days at their home helping her can or pickle beets. I was enthralled by how the skin would just “pop” off of a hot beet. It was fun!
Meanwhile my own mother was next door doing our family canning. It wasn’t as much fun to help Mom, partly because she wasn’t doing beets, but it just wasn’t. When Margaret told Mom what wonderful help I’d been, Mom was quick to reply that it would be great if I was as much help for her.
Our family owned a drive-in restaurant, and I actually went to work there at the ripe old age of 13, and worked there off and on until we sold the drive-in when I was 33. I’m grateful for the many lessons I learned there. Our mother lead by example; there was no job beneath her, and she was naturally business savvy.
As the drive-in was out in the country, she didn’t see the need to advertise, emphatically telling most ad sales reps, “There’s hamburger joints on every corner, nobody’s going to drive 20 miles for a burger.” She knew what the standard ad budget should be, so each August she would contact the schools near the drive-in and ask the guidance counselors how many students in their school couldn’t afford school supplies. She would give the counselors enough money out of her “ad budget” to go buy those supplies on the condition of anonymity. She never wanted those children, or their parents, to know where the help came from. She grew up poor, and knew what it was like to go without.
If someone was ill, or lost a family member, we would quickly gather together a meal in the back room of the drive-in, and off she would go to show them a little love and support.
She was a “helper of mankind,” and showed each of us what it was to live that walk. Mom was very quiet about her faith, but instead lived it out each and every day.
Christian Living Ministries is what God has called me to do in this season in my life, and as I look back I see that Mom chose the best name for me. Did the Holy Spirit guide her? Most likely, knowing before the beginning of time that this would be my calling. In the Bible we’re often told what names meant. In Hebrew Jesus means “to rescue; deliver”; Abraham means “father of multitudes.” I’ve always felt bad for poor Jabez, whose name in Hebrew means “pain.” I can’t imagine living with that moniker over my head every day.
“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” — Matthew 20:28 NIV
Scripture calls us to serve, just as Jesus served. Our mother’s lessons were not lost on any of us. I watch in amazement as I see each of our siblings, and their spouses, lend a helping hand in some of the most unique situations. Whether chairing fundraisers for children with cancer, teaching school, serving in government municipalities, assisting elderly neighbors, helping with grandchildren and great grandchildren, serving our communities and church bodies, or working in full-time ministry, we all serve.
One of my favorite memories will always be from this summer when 3 of “the sisters” were able to bless our oldest brother and his wife as she is recovering from major back surgery. As siblings, Dave and Jerry have led the way for our entire adult lives, and it was with joy that each of us were able to take a turn and go show them some extra love, much as they’ve shown us, and just like Mom would have done.
We never know who is watching us, and this walk down memory lane is a great reminder to me to be a great example every day and everywhere I go. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
Until next time…
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