On any given day I can call my parents and quickly be put to shame. Lest you think my mom and dad are some kind of sicko seniors with a penchant for shaming their adult children, let me explain.
Granted I'm a freelance writer who works from home and no one is here to look over my shoulder and make sure I'm doing my work, but I do manage to be pretty industrious most days. I consider it a good day when I post on my blog, get some research for an article done, write yet another one, and prepare for my weekly women's Bible study, especially if I manage to make a dozen productive trips back and forth to the laundry room during the day and prepare something good for my family to eat for dinner. Usually those days also include some "favor" for my daughter, dusting or sweeping, and a trip to the grocery store. At the end of the day I'm only occasionally exhausted, but most days I feel like I did the work the Lord prepared for me.
But even with all that going on, I can call my 70-something-year-old parents and suddenly feel like a lazy bum when I find out all they managed to accomplish in their day.
Both educators, my parents retired a number of years ago, but you'd never know it. Not only do they keep an immaculate house between the two of them, but they serve funeral meals at their church, volunteer for Hospice, go on mission trips with their church and others, exercise regularly, do a crossword puzzle every day, visit people in nursing homes and hospitals regularly, and serve in any other way they possibly can.
I always hesitate to ask that probing question, "So, what have you guys done today?" because I know my mom's response will put me to shame. Her response often includes such industrious tasks as taking all the window screens down and scrubbing them clean or my dad getting up on a ladder and cleaning out the gutters or my mom pruning, feeding, spraying, and tending to her roses or my dad hauling the garbage off to the dump or the two of them cleaning the carpets or some other ridiculously huge job that I've never or rarely done.
I've often told people that one of the best things my parents handed down to my brother and me is a strong work ethic. I'm not sure how successful they were at teaching us to put in an honest day's work, but if we didn't learn that from them it's no fault of their own. They modeled industriousness to us from day one.
My parents both earned advanced degrees so that their educator salaries would be enough to take care of a family of four. When my dad was still a nine-month classroom teacher, he painted houses during the summers to earn extra money. Not only did they do their due diligence at work, but they often went beyond what was expected. I know for a fact that both of my parents were model employees, hard-working educators, and the kind of folks who got to work early and left for home late.
My mom sewed my clothes. My dad kept our cars running. Both of my parents worked around the house and in the yard most all of Saturdays. Sure, they enlisted me and my brother to help and taught us to contribute, but we never worked while they sat and watched. They were always setting the pace.
We always had a garden and I'm not talking about the little patio variety that many of us modern families proudly tout as a great accomplishment. My parents planted rows of beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, okra, and butter beans. I know because I spent my share of time in that field and snapping those beans! But truthfully, they did 98% of the work (I'm giving me and my brother a generous 1% credit each.) Like many folks of their generation, my parents shared the produce of their hard labor, but they also canned and froze much of it. No small task. My mom may have been off from work during the summers, but she worked hard to put away food for her family and to catch up on big cleaning projects during that time.
Today I read:
The lazy man does not roast
what he took in hunting,
but diligence is man's precious possession.
Besides convicting me of the fact that most every week I have to throw away some fresh produce I ambitiously bought to cook for my family but never got around to, this scripture also reminded me of my parents' diligence. Indeed, their diligent work ethic proved to be a precious possession for our family, one they have hopefully managed to instill at least a portion of in me and my brother.
From them I have learned:
- that I am responsible for my own welfare (I'm not excluding God from the process, just the government.)
- that my work doesn't end with providing for my own family, but includes meeting the needs of others
- that everyone in the family needs to pitch in and do their share
- that the rewards of a hard day's work amount to more than a paycheck, but include personal satisfaction of a job well done
- that a good attitude goes a long way towards getting your work done faster and better
- and that as long as we are on this earth, God has work for us to do.
I'm pleased as punch that my parents have enjoyed (and will still continue to enjoy, God willing) a long and enjoyable retirement. They've been healthy and had the means and freedom to travel a little, play some golf, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. But I'm even prouder of the fact that my parents continue to this day to contribute to their family, their church, their friends, and the needy and hurting. They work diligently every day to make a mark on their world. They continue to seek the work God has for them to do and to do it with willing hearts, capable hands, and vigor. They are my heroes.
I've tooted my parents' horn (because they'd never toot it themselves!). Now it's your turn. What impresses the socks off your feet about the folks who raised you? Brag away.