I am very thankful for all my dad taught me, so in honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to talk about my dad.
My dad has taught me so much. One of the most important things he taught me growing up was the value of hard work and money. We had very little growing up. We did not have a closet full of clothes or a room full of toys. We did not have fancy cars or designer things. The fact that we did not have these things was not out of choice, it was out of necessity.
There were many times that our family struggled to survive financially. My dad worked hard to provide for us, but times were tough. He has always done construction work, and there were times when there was just no construction work. Did he just sit around and do nothing, taking handouts from the government? NO! He did whatever it took to provide for his family. He found work doing whatever he could. He logged. He split wood. He worked making wood shingles for roofing.
I even remember several times he picked mushrooms to pay the electric bill. And let me tell you, mushroom picking is no fun for very little pay. My sister and I picked mushrooms with him. It was one of the worst jobs I ever had. We are not talking about picking them on a mushroom farm of some sort. We trampled through damp, cold forests in Oregon looking for them. We would spend hours and only come out with a few pounds, but he did it to provide for us. And I never remember him complaining. He did what it took to provide for us. He never just sat around doing nothing. He worked and worked to supply our needs.
When he did have work in the construction field, it was not a glamorous job. He worked hard in the summer heat and cold winter snow and rain doing very physical work. We lived in a very small town in the middle of nowhere. There was little work where we lived, so for many, many years he drove one hour each way to work. He still does. He wanted to raise us in the country, and he sacrificed for it.
When I was young, I think only eight or nine, I picked strawberries for a summer job. Also, not a very glamorous job, but we would pick berries to pay for school clothes. I did this until I was about 13. At the time I hated it. I thought it was terrible that I had to spend four weeks of my summer in the berry fields, but in doing this my dad was teaching us the value of work. He was teaching us that we needed to work for the things we wanted. He would provide the basics, but if we wanted beyond that we had to work for it. Few kids now know this concept. We live in a time in the US where very few kids would even think of entering a strawberry field to pick berries to buy clothes. No this was not child abuse, it was teaching me that life involved work. Things are not handed to you. I will be forever grateful my dad taught me this.
He also taught me how to save money. As soon as I started picking strawberries, he taught me to save it. We had to tithe 10% and then 45% went into a savings account, and 45% we could spend. We usually bought clothes with the spending money. This was not a choice, this is what we were required to do. When I was young I thought this was terrible. I worked for the money. I thought I should be able to spend it. Once again my dad knew he was teaching me something important. He was teaching me the value of money. Because he taught me the importance of saving, I paid cash for my first car at age 18. It was not a nice car, but I was able to buy it with cash using the money I had saved from all the years of strawberry picking and babysitting. My dad knew the importance of teaching me about money.
I am now raising three kids of my own. The Lord has provided me with a lifestyle I never dreamed I would have. I lack for nothing. I am now realizing that I had so much more growing up then I ever realized as a child. Having lots of “stuff” is not what is important. You see things so differently as an adult. I would not change my childhood. I am glad we struggled for money. I am glad my dad made me start working at a young age. Being taught to work hard and save money has helped me become who I am today. I need to remember this more often.
I could go on and on about all the things my dad taught me, but I think how to hard work and the value of money were two of the most important things he instilled in me. So thanks Dad, for all the years of working hard to provide for us! Thank you for setting the example of how to work hard and save money. I only hope I can pass some of what you taught me on to my own children.
Originally posted June 2008