While I was growing up, my mother said more times than I wanted to hear, “It’s not done until it’s done!” This would apply to everything from taking the bait “clean off the hook” before I put away a fishing rod, to hosing off the spade and rake (and, at the end of the gardening season, oiling the spade) before I put the tools away in the tool shed. It was applied to putting my bike in the garage before I went to bed, neatly hanging up the dish towel after the dishes were dried, and making my bed and straightening the bathroom before I left for school. Along with this valuable training, came the ethic I learned from my parents and grandparents before them: pay your bills in full, don’t buy what you can’t afford, and always “pay your tithe” first, if you want God to bless the rest. Oh yes, and never live so close to the edge financially that you can’t help those who are in need and offer hospitality to whomever God brings into your life.
I have been so grateful for this heritage of responsibility. My parents didn’t leave my sister and me much of an inheritance, but they left us a legacy of great value. I hope Bill and I have passed that legacy on to our kids.
We have learned that we must be frugal so that we can be generous. We’ve learned the value of “deferred gratification,” that the things we wait for are all the dearer when they come. We’ve discovered that gratitude makes every day a treasure and the simplest pleasures sweet. And we’ve learned that how we do a thing is as important as the doing of it, whether it is writing a song, making a recording, pruning a grape vine, or putting garden tools away for the winter.
We have experienced in our own home and in our homes of origin the joy of deep rest after a day of honest labor, the contentment in knowing we have paid our debts, and the rich reward in sharing our blessings with others. We have been as enriched by drives into the Indiana countryside as by trips around the world. In our travels we’ve enjoyed a few really lovely hotels and some of the simplest accommodations, but we always think the best place of all is home.
We have found true what Paul once wrote to the believers in Phillippi:
“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy, whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (Phil. 4:12-13 The Message)