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Who has been an inspiration to you?
How did they inspire you?
What values and principles guided them as they lived their lives?
Growing up on a large farm in the Midwest, I accepted my parents’ principles of hard work, saving, investing, and frugal spending as the way everybody lived their life.
They valued family and faith. The integrity and ethics of my parents had a profound influence on how I lived when I grew up. I didn’t fully appreciate the gift they gave us kids until much later in life.
My parents came to this country as young children. German was spoken in the home for many years. Both parents were bright, but uneducated in the sense we think of education today.
Dad was successful as a farmer because of his intelligence, common sense, and work ethic. While Dad worked in the field, Mom took care of us kids, milked cows, raised chickens, helped with butchering, and planted and harvested a huge garden each year.
Family was everything to my mom. She sewed, made quilts, and had a flower garden that was the envy of everyone. She had a deep faith in God and trusted in Him to help her through the many challenging events in her life. She lived her faith every day. When things needed to be done, she simply got busy and did them.
But there was one particular event that stands out for me.
Mom had learned to read and write in German and could read English but continued to write in her native German. When we moved to Oregon, my sisters helped write letters to family who still lived in the Midwest. But when they married and were raising their own families they weren’t always available.
So, my mom decided she would teach herself how to write. With an English primer and her catechism, she set about learning how to write in English. No fanfare or exclamations of what she had to do or was doing. She did this after working hard all day, usually around nine at night.
I’m sure you can relate many stories of your own, both of people you know or what you went through. Perhaps you had a grandparent or distant cousin who overcame great odds to push forward to a new beginning.
We often look at old family pictures and wonder about the period of time when they grew up. Most times, they endured great sacrifices to make a better life for themselves and their families. It wasn’t always how much they could buy or how big a home they could build, but a life with food on the table, a way to earn an honest living and put aside money for when they were older.
Perhaps you experienced the opposite, where members of the family had difficulty making appropriate decisions and living life honorably.
We can learn from others’ mistakes, as well as from their successes.
Think about the life tools that are necessary for anyone at any stage in life to make a responsible life. What did they fail to do that you could do differently? What mistakes can you learn from?
No matter our beginning or family history, we have the opportunity to learn, grow, make wiser decisions, and live a more ethical and authentic life.
We seem to be drawn to re-live what we experienced. We don’t want to repeat the negative experiences of our youth, yet we do.
Or we flip-flop to the other extreme, creating a different set of problems for ourselves and our children.
Are we locked into repeating the mistakes of each generation? Or can we take some time and learn some productive ways to handle problems and make good decisions?
Make a list of the important people in your life growing up.
What made them important to you? How did they inspire you?
Now think about the people you know today – perhaps a neighbor, a long-time friend, a member of a group. How do they inspire you and influence you to keep going?
I know a number of people who are an inspiration.
One is a lady who keeps going even while confined to a wheelchair.
Another is the sweetest neighbor, who, in spite of aging, is a symbol of grace and works with whatever comes along.
Yet another struggles with a series of losses.
Sometimes it is the way they pursue a dream – sometimes it is how they survive when everything is taken away.
Now ask yourself:
Can I be an inspiration, not only to others but to myself?
How we live our lives and interact is often the inspiration to someone who is struggling or trying to believe in themselves.
How we live our lives is important.