Lessons Learned from My Elders

What three lessons have I learned from family members (grandparents, aunts/uncles, parents)?

Laughter is often the best medicine. Mom always taught us to laugh through difficult, painful or awkward times. This she usually did through example... more specifically, laughing through our difficult times, with or without us. I remember once, we were on vacation, and I was barefoot at the stove heating something to eat. My parents were in the living room relaxing and my brother came into the kitchen to look for something. He approached to look in the cupboards above the stove and accidentally kicked my bare foot with his shod foot. I grabbed my throbbing foot and yelped with pain - inadvertently into my brother's nearby ear - which caused him to yelp with pain and grab his throbbing ear. All the while, my mother looked on from the other room, laughing at the whole chain of events. I've developed a sense of humor in the face of pain and difficulty, for which I'm grateful; placing blame or anger and frustration do little to help a situation, but a little laughter can go a long way to diffusing, disarming and generally uplifting down times. Thanks, Mom!

Be wise with your money; pay God His due, don't spend more than you earn, and put a little away regularly for safe-keeping. Growing up, I remember believing we were poor. I went through a long phase where I hand made birthday presents and went without asking for things my friends all had because I didn't want to ask my parents to buy anything. Dad was a school teacher, so we were by no means rolling in the dough, but I think we always had what we needed and were able to go on family vacations and lived in a modest home. I came to the conclusion we were poor because I recall seeing my parents balancing the check book all over the kitchen table as well as hearing the phrase, "sorry, we can't afford it" or "it's not in the budget." I thought that meant we were poor, but as I learned later in my youth, my parents were disciplined in spending and didn't do so frivolously. We were actually very blessed compared to many. We always paid tithing (one tenth of all one's income) to the Lord and we'd save as a family for trips and other special events. Dad always encouraged us to pay tithing first and put a little into savings, then spend no more than we have left for other things we need. When I follow this counsel, which has become more of a lifestyle for me, I always find all my needs are taken care of and then some. Thanks, Dad!

Never accept a wooden nickel. These were often the parting words of my Grandpa Jolley when we'd wrap up a visit. As a kid, I laughed it off as silly, wondering where anyone would get a wooden nickel anyway. As an adult, I've come to apply this to many aspects of life in the context of counterfeit being offered as something legitimate. It may be in regards to information, business dealings, friendship, security, freedom, peace, or what have you. It's important to learn to recognize the counterfeit from the true thing and only accept what's true. Thanks, Grandpa!

I'm a Believer
Robert Mathias Catron His Story


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