Monday, May 26, 2014

Every Memorial Day, I remember … by Cheryl Allen

Joyce and I.N. Sanford

I was spending the week at my Nanny’s house.  Slow Alabama days drove a curious girl like me to snooping.  I found myself standing on a hamper in the pink-tiled bathroom, arm stretched high, sliding an old photo album from the top shelf with my fingertips.  The book revealed photos of my grandfather, and his letters from war.  “Dear Janie,” one read.  It was a letter to my mom, who was just a baby at the time of its writing.  My ten-year-old heart broke as I read this line:  “I’m fighting so that you can have a safe place to grow up.”

My grandfather never came home. 
I guess I had always known that my grandfather died in World War II, but that day, sitting in the bathroom floor, I began a journey of understanding—a realization of what his death meant for my Nanny, and for my mom, and for me.  I was proud, and so very sad.

Years later, after I had a family of my own, my mom brought me an old Bible.  It was my grandfather’s.  On the inside cover, his name, “I.N. Sanford” is neatly printed in uppercase.  Below it, my mom’s maiden name is written in smaller print, and below that is a careful penning of her married name.  The Bible is a reminder of what we lost and of our family’s courage to carry on.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Did ya hear the one about the elephant?

I met my old friend for dinner the other night.  We ordered a couple of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.  (Ironically, he requested his without any cheese.)

During a lull in the conversation, my friend noticed the blue wristband I was wearing and asked, “What’s that for?”

So I started telling him about a previous series at our church called “How to Eat an Elephant” and about how my wristband said, “One bite at a time.”

Admittedly, it’s a corny punchline.

But, the principle is true.

How do we tackle a big problem?  One small step at a time.

How to we go about being more “holy” in an area of our lives?  One small bite at a time.

As the minister at our church described it … we’re like the Allied invasion on D-Day.  We’re attacking one beachhead and then another and then another, until we’ve overcome the enemy.  (Did I mention that we’re not alone in this?  That God and other people are fighting for us as well?)

My friend nodded at all this, and I thought we might end up having a deeper discussion about being middle-aged and the accumulated problems of our lives.

But we didn’t (which was fine by me).

Instead, we decided to swap a few elephant jokes, from when we were kids.

Q:  How do you put an elephant in the refrigerator?
A:  You open the door, and put him inside.

Q:  How do you put a giraffe in the refrigerator?
A:  You open the door, take out the elephant, and put the giraffe inside.

Q:  How do you kill a blue elephant?
A:  With a blue elephant gun.

Q:  How do you kill a pink elephant?
A:  You squeeze him until he turns blue, and then you shoot him with a blue elephant gun.

Just a couple of old friends, laughing … and finishing off our cheesesteak sandwiches, one bite at a time.