THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY PARENTS (besides how to read and to tie my shoes):
You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. When I was in junior high, I used to keep horses for a local businessman. His horses boarded at our farm, and he paid me each month to brush, feed, and exercise them. Shortly into my horse-boarding enterprise, I decided that Mr. Horseman needed an education. I wrote him a long, bossy letter outlining all the things he needed to do differently.
Since I wanted the letter to sound all official and legal-ish (I took my horse-boarding business very seriously), I asked Daddy - a lawyer - to proof read the letter. After one read-through, Daddy informed me that I most certainly was NOT going to mail the letter to Mr. Horseman. "Camille," Daddy explained, "you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar." Then, Dad went on to explain that the tone of my letter was all "vinegar," and there were better, more productive ways of addressing my concerns.
If you borrow something, return it in better shape than when it was loaned to you. If you borrow a shovel, wash it and sharpen it before you take it back to the owner. If you borrow a vehicle, return it clean and with a full tank of gas. If you borrow something and it breaks while you are using it, then fix it. If it can't be fixed, replace it.
If you can't live without it, don't loan it out. I remember my parents being pretty generous about loaning out things to folks who asked. But I also remember that they occasionally told folks, "No." Mom and Dad learned the hard way that not everyone lived by the "If you borrow it, return it in better shape" rule. In fact, some folks borrow things and NEVER BRING THEM BACK. So, while I remember my parents being very generous, I also remember that there were certain things that were off the loan list.
You don't have to know everything. There is a point when curiosity crosses the line into nosiness. My Dad was a small-town lawyer, and it wasn't unusual for clients to call or stop by the house to talk to him about their cases, upcoming trials, etc. Since having visitors of any kind was a bit of an "event" way out in the country, we kids would be all eaten up with curiosity. "Why did Mr. Fred stop by? What did he want?" I learned at an early age that I did not need to know all the details of everyone else's business.
You don't have to tell everything you know. This is sort of the complement to the previous jewel of wisdom. Don't be quick to run your mouth and share everything you know about the guy down the road. Don't be a gossip.
Make hay while the sun shines. Don't procrastinate. If you can do this job TODAY, don't put it off until tomorrow. Something unforeseen may come up before tomorrow that will prevent you from doing a task.
How can I make/do this better? Is the garden weedy? Hoe it. Is the porch junky? Take a few minutes to put a couple of things away where they belong. I'm not talking here about perfectionism - the challenge isn't how to make something perfect/do something perfectly. The challenge is, how to make or do something better. I am amazed at the number of people I meet who work no harder and aim no higher than "that'll do" or "good enough."
God is sovereign. God is good. God loves his children very much. I think of this as my trifecta of power, assurance, security, hope, and grace. I don't remember Mom or Dad ever setting me down and drilling those three sentences into my head like a creed to be memorized and recited by rote. But, through their lives and their prayers, they communicated these truths...the most important thing by far they ever taught me.
What about you, Dear Reader? What jewels of wisdom did your parents pass on to you?
3 months ago