In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon advises us to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

My sisters and I were talking about that just a few nights ago.

Most often when that verse is quoted in church, it is in a message regarding the spiritual upbringing of a child. But looking back over the years, we saw that it applies to all areas of life.

We were talking about the meals Mom prepared for us when we were growing up. Each of us had our favorites, but we’ve discovered that those simple meals prepared on a very fixed budget to this day are some of our favorites.

Not only do we choose the same menus, so to speak, but we also prepare the food — whether it be vegetable soup or apple pie or anything in between — the same way that Mom did. And she cooked the way she learned from Grandma, and so on back through the generations.

Many times Grandma would only have to say something once for it to be burned into my mind forever. Grandma always said you never, ever give anyone a purse or a wallet, or it would always be empty. She insisted that you always had to put at least a coin in the purse or wallet, to insure that person would always have the money — maybe not all the money they wanted, but the money they needed.

From Mom and Grandma we also learned that you never return an empty dish, for much the same reasons. Sometimes it can be challenging to know what to put in the dish before returning it, but a little creativity after a little prayer will usually result in knowing what to put in that empty dish.

Another lesson I learned from Mom and Grandma has pretty much become a lost art today. That lesson was to write a little thank you note for any gift received. I can remember Grandma getting frustrated when she would send a card with money for a birthday or other special occasion, and never receive a note of thanks. “I don’t know if it ever got there,” she would say. In this modern age of self-sufficiency, it seems like saying “thank you” is almost as hard as it is to say “I’m sorry.” But with texting at everyone’s fingertips, it can take less than a minute to let someone know their gift was received.

Moms and grandmas aren’t the only ones who can teach children.

I can remember Grandpa, especially in his later years, showing us how to find time to relax with friends. Sometimes when we would be visiting one or two of his buddies would drop in for a visit, and they would sit on the front porch with Grandpa, usually with a glass of his homemade wine, just talking about the good ol’ days and relaxing, enjoying each other’s company in the quiet of the evening.

Dad never said much, but we learned how important it was to him to help others. More than once Dad would go many miles out of his way to “do a favor” for a friend or family member. And I never heard him complaining about it or saying they could have done it for themselves. Nope. Helping others was something he did best.

Other lessons included doing the best you can with what you have, don’t stop until the task is finished, respect others, use good manners and maybe most importantly, remember that you are doing all these things for a higher authority — God.

Spiritual lessons come from sermons and Sunday school lessons, but often they come just from everyday examples. Everything we do sets an example for someone who may be watching our lives — and remembering what we taught them when we grow old.

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Thought for the week — A smile is the quickest way to brighten a room.

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