Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Reward of Good Character in Youth

click the above link to learn more about this property.

Above you see a photo of a success story that was begun in the mind of a 14 year old boy.  The son of German immigrants, he grew up on a farm but developed a keen interest in boats. As a young man he began working in construction, observing every detail  he could to collect the knowledge to design and built boats and houses.  As a youth, he was quick to learn and  able to remember how things worked.  He never went to architecture school and did not take design courses. He wrote that his formula for success in the field of design and building was: 

"An eye for detail and beautiful shapes coupled with being familiar with the building code; a burning desire, a sharp pencil, a drawing board and enough enthusiasm to apply it."

Over the years he collected his skill for fine craftmanship and good work. His cottage was built with the following materials: the main structure is Johnson river hardwood (very hard)  Cypress pine (termite resistant) and the clading is western red cedar. 

His comments on this cottage are: "Due to the climate of the jungle-like area, other timber buildings have not held up as well.  The wall frames themselves were made of timbers from the old Townsville Harbour Board buildings which he demolished. Those timbers were over a hundred years old then and so solid each nail required pre-drilling and greasing before it would drive home. Perhaps that is a contributing factor to why it stands well."

 In his youth he  worked with a young builder for some years where all the skills in home construction were utilised. It interested him, and he was a a keen observer with the will and ability to pursue dreams.

He passed on this eagerness for adventure to his sons. One of his sons, Jesse Martin, became the youngest person to sail around the world unaided. 

My family came to know the Martins when their son Kon was only 14. He and his sisters sometimes rode 5 miles from their farm on their bicycles to visit our large, noisy family, American immigrants to Australia,  back in the late 1960's. My father was building a small boat inside a shed attached to our beach shack in Cowrie Point, Tasmania. (He allowed the older children in the family to row this skiff out to a certain point in the little cove.)  Watching this boat being built stirred in this young man the desire to create with his hands. One day that desire was brought to fruition when he used his knowledge to help his own son prepare for his journey. 

Cowrie Point, Tasmania.

All 9  members our family stayed on a beach in a tent until our parents bought a shack nestled among the other holiday homes in Cowrie Point.  As young people in a large family, we were excited about life, barely able to sleep because of the anticipation of waking up to another tint of light on this scene. When the tourists  returned home in winter, we had the solitude of the little bay and the hiking paths to ourselves. Cowrie Point was the source of a happy, carefree youth.

Beautiful View of the Ocean from Allposters

For many years I had not thought of our days in this remote place.  Perhaps at one time I considered them quite trivial, but as the world changes, I know that they were not trivial at all, but hugely significant. They were certainly important in the life of the Martin family who visited our family often, hiked with us, sang with us, worshipped in our home, ate with us and boated with us.  Mr. Martin recently claimed that our family, the McGaughey clan, was a highlight in his family, and particularly for him. Our own resourcefulness and innovativeness created a deep impression on his young, yearning mind.

 Kon Martin is one of those people whose youth launched his journey to success.  He began his career with good work habits and careful attention to detail. His capital was his good principles and his hands, eager to work.

This all brings to my  mind some simple ingredients a parent can provide for children, so that they may love life and see good days. (1st Peter 3:10) While not every  parent will have the desire for adventure in distant lands, there are some basic elements that can help children develop excellence in character and maturity.

Abundant experience in God's Creation.  Fresh air combined with the sights and sounds of God's earth can be a great inspiration to young people. Parents will never regret the sacrifice it takes to instill an understanding of God's presence in their children, pointing out the beauties of nature and a proper response to it. Looking in the distance at miles and miles of scenery is good for a young person's mind and gets them to focus on something beyond themselves, raising them up to a higher level of thinking.  Young people need to be guided away from the tendency to be morose or jaded.  Regular sight-seeing can make someone feel like a new person, as they become aware of the presence of someone greater than themself.

  One family I know took their children somewhere every year so that they could experience a few days in every setting, from the sea to the mountains. Though grown now, their children still remember these days with wonder.  One of the most precious gifts parents can give their children is a youthful, optimistic attitude towards daily life and toward the future. Experiencing a variety of the creation seems to be connected with a hopeful outlook on life.

Freedom with adequate restraint. To be able to view a vast expanse of sky, sea, land or forest can give a young person a feeling of true freedom, as opposed to the counterfeit freedom associated with social license which brings many a pang to youth and embeds bitter memories in their minds.  This natural  freedom in its most wholesome aspect is essential in the development of intelligence and faith in young people. 

Provide a fulfilling social life. Young people enjoy one another's company, but it will be more memorable if not encumbered with the guilt that comes from unrestrained activity. While laughing and "having fun", youth should be reminded of the continual presence of the God in their midst. The respect and responsibility this provides will assuredly prevent heedless, careless and dangerous behavior and bitter memories of moral failure.

 While some families may need to be cautious about undesirable social activities, I believe God provides friendship from compatible young people. It was certainly true in our case.  Our parents encouraged us to be sociable with other children from families they also enjoyed, and even invited these families to our home to provide us with good companions who were from families with similar values as ours.

 While the Martin parents enjoyed visiting with my parents in the house, their children and the children in our family enjoyed each other's company out on the porch  or on the nearby farm.   Our two families shared similar enough spiritual values, that the parents thought it was appropriate and desireable that we should fellowship together. Much of our activities were done without our parents involvement, but we were all accountable to them and shared the restraint that was bred into each of us.

I have one clear memory of us all sitting outside on the Martin farm hay stacks singing the old hymn, "Blessed Assurance."  The Martin children then sang it back to us in German. 

Creativity with training and example.  There is a modern belief that creativity just "comes" to an individual who already "has talent,"  but many people can  be shown how to do things. Young people in a family can find art instruction and building instruction to add to their knowledge and enjoyment of life.  Thinking that a person is either creative or not creative,  sometimes parents can neglect to plant a seed of interest here and there. Parents of previous generations  introduced their children  to many wholesome creative things,  from painting to construction. 

Creativity has to be guided by reason and knowledge, as well as an awareness of the creative power of God. Observation and experimentation are good tools in the use of creativity. Do not expect that every child will understand these things. Some children will not be able to make anything but a useless mess, unless they are taught and guided. Many people who thought they had no artistic talent or no mechanical "talent" have learned by following instruction.

Add good principles and a love of work  Asked when he will retire, a man replies, "My work is my hobby and I love what I am doing."  Teach young people to do their best and they will love their work. Teach them not to despise work.  Thayer, a 19th century author, wrote in "Gaining Favor With God and Man"* that anyone who felt their work beneath them, would always sink below it.  Work lifts the spirit of a boy or girl to experience the exhilaration of climbing to the top of a hill. "A panorama of indescribable beauty and grandeur spreads out before the toiler. There is nothing like it in the valley below."

"Good principle and good manners were all the capital I had to start with," said one man, and it was all the capital he needed, as his successful  career proved. (A Good Start, Chapter 19 of Gaining Favor With God and Man by  William Makepeace Thayer1820 -1898)

Some things may not seem valuable at the time of youth, but one day when hard times come, a person will be able to find relief in the memories of a happy, carefree time when burdens were few and life seemed like one long, golden summer.  The Bible says to enjoy the Creator in the days of your youth, before the hard times come, when you shall say you have no pleasure in those days. (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

Naturally, there are many things to consider when your children begin to grow up, and many cautions to exercise, but these few pointers illustrate that youth need not be wasted, and yet it need not be difficult. Some young people seem rather unpromising but possess great potential, which can be developed by giving them plenty of opportunity to think  and create.

*Gaining Favor With God and Man, when read aloud, can make your children's eyes light up, as they hear expressions about youth that reflect the questions and thoughts they may already be thinking. There are chapters that deal with the restlessness of youth and how to temper it with good judgement. The author wrote as though from inside the mind of a young person who was wanting to know how to think and how to handle life.   I would highly recommend this book, but especially as read-aloud human-interest lessons. Along with the book of Proverbs, this can be invaluable as your children reach young adulthood.

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Anonymous said...

You make some excellent points here.

We have children and we live in an apartment. It isn't close to much, and we are inconvenienced at times because we have one car. However, we have chosen to stay here because we are on the edge of a vast wooded area. My children have seen more wildlife here than most will ever see. We've had bears, foxes, deer, and turkeys. We have a brook that feeds into a large river nearby and a breathtaking view of rolling hills and stunning sunsets. We have a birdfeeder that is visited by a vast array of birds in the spring along with red, black and grey squirrels. My little daughter just loves to see the squirrels. My children have a little garden and they can play outdoors to their heart's content. It would be easier for me to move to a more convenient area so I could walk to the store and so on, but I know how good it is for my children to be here and live where there is fresh air and trees!

Lydia said...

I have certainly had many more thoughts on this subject racing through my mind after it was posted. I felt the article was already way to long.

One fact about large families is that they have their own built in social life. The children wake up in the morning socializing and do not realize in early years they don't have a lot of friends.

However as they get older, boys and girls do desire to interact with others, and of course as a veteran homeschool teacher, I am not advocating that we socialize our children with just anyone so that we can say they were not isolated. Both the families mentioned in this post WERE very isolated but God provided a family for each of them. Our father met their father at work, and invited him to visit us.
It is nice when young adults have the approval of their parents, as they dont feel they have to sneak around or feel guilty about having friendships with other children.

Lydia said...

Anon. I think your choice makes good sense for children, especially for their childhood memories. Though most people remember only a small part of their upbringing, something usually stands out in their minds as being good and pure and wholesome.

Moderate Mouse said...

The house in these pictures more or less remind me of the one my aunt and uncle in Arkansas (whom I've sometimes visited) had built for them a long time ago, and yes it is in the middle of the woods there (which makes for good walking scenery). I don't recall how long the whole process took but I remember when I was a senior in high school, they were the ones who hosted Thanksgiving dinner at their place (whereas most of the time my grandparents would host at theirs). The house they had been living in before then was not very far from the place they're in now and I think it was eventually converted to an office area for my uncle's insurance company.

Kim said...

Dear Lydia,
I've been enjoying reading your blog for awhile now, but have never commented.
I wanted to let you know that this post is excellent! The points and suggestions you write about are so true and helpful, especially IMO to parents of sons.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom,

Lydia said...

Kim, thank you for commenting.I hope it will not be the last time~ Also there is another book called "Thoughts for Young Men" that might have something in it valuable for parents of boys. I think reading it aloud has a special impact on boys in a homeschool environment

Country Victorian said...

I love the story of the Martin family. If families can find "like minded" friends for socialization with their children, it brings much happiness without regret. Too many times a parent is so worried their children will miss out that they compromise with families who do not have similar views. There is always a high price to pay for such choices. Having many acquaintances and good relationships with others is a blessing but one needs to build their home wisely. We wives must be prudent who we bring into our inner circle and cautious with our children's hearts. "The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands." Proverbs 14:1
Thank you for your article Lydia!

Lydia said...

Well said, my friend. The association with such people who loved life in an innocent way, gave us a healthy spiritual appetite, so that we did not even desire the company of fools.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I loved the pictures of the wild ocean off the coast of Tasmania. And that house in picture #1 reminded me of the cottage my family had in northern Wisconsin when I was small.

We live in an urban area but made many trips to Yosemite, to the local mountains on campouts and into the desert for sky parties to watch meteor showers.

Both of my children said they will take their children when they have them, camping because it was something that always had good memories for them.


Finding Joy said...

I grew up on a farm in country South Australia and it was the best childhood ever - my three brothers and I really did have a perfect life in many respects. Not many people in our district were like us but I have a large family of cousins who all wanted to stay on the farm, so we were never short of playmates. Sadly my parents sold the farm when my eldest son was 5 so he wasn't able to spend much time enjoying farm life, but just enough to remember times with grandpa rounding up the cows. Sadly the farm was almost destroyed 28 years ago when huge bush fires ripped through the Hills (Ash Wednesday) , only the house was left standing. Our perfect farm took years to recover (and never quite the same) but we learnt about the kindness of strangers from this experiences. And we also know that the Lord Jesus looks after his own, my parents should have died in that fire as they became trapped in the fire storm, they didn't :)

At Easter I am going over to visit them and when I do I always go for a drive to visit my childhood "memories".

Anonymous said...

I thought this post was excellent and really appreciated you sharing it. I'll keep it for reference for use with my own grandchildren and my Titus 2 girls when I have classes.

It reminds me of certain times of my own childhood and things I wish I could have experienced.

Since some of my children and grandchildren live out of state this post gives good memory making ideas for when they come to visit.
Thanks again for sharing, Mrs. J.

Patioapple said...

I grew up with these same values and kon veronica and their two younger sisters were like an extended family. I remember fishing with my brothers and exploring this new home in Tasmania.
Hunting rabbits and wallabies by spotlight on the Martin farm and many, many other exciting things as a young person.
Although they may not be remembered the same as my older sisters and younger brothers they still make me who I am and how I interact with others.
I passed these on to my boys and it brings me great happiness to see that they carry them in their lives.
Yes Lydia, we did have a Good life!

Lydia said...

Thanks Johnny. Ladies this is my little brother in Tasmania. We did have one long sunny childhood, didn't we? We had our hardships and we were made to work and to obey but when really were excited about life.

Lydia said...

Here is his website

Anonymous said...

This post took my breath away. There are few parents who would have had the courage to make such a drastic move, much less provide their children with all that nature and friendship besides. You and your siblings have been given a great gift, Lydia, which is partly what gives young people the fuel for their later years--stability, love, social skills, and the ability to raise up another generation with the same values. I'd like to hear more about this sometime!

Anonymous said...

Lydia, Thank you for reminding me that youth is an opportunity to enjoy life. That period of life is so fleeting, and it should not be spent in the darkness of social dependency or rebellion. Once youth is gone, it cannot be retrieved, so use it to create the best memories you can in a natural and wholesome way.

Anonymous said...

The first six years of my life were lived bordering a private woods belonging to our landlord, complete with a brook that made beautiful sounds and some little wooden plank 'bridges' on which to cross the was our route to our grandparent's home. Then we lived on a farm with a large lake for which by dad built a raft so we could pole around the lake....and skate on in the winter. After that we experienced the delight of living on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida....being able to watch the sun set over the water...and riding bikes to school and going into the little town for chili dogs at lunchtime...yes, the school permitted that! Imagaine! Another great location was on the grounds of a once famous mansion that looked like something palacial in France...with gardens and places to walk with a girlfriend who lived at the other end of the estate. So I feel parents need to keep close watch these days over their children...I feel that I could never go to the places I did by myself in these days, and that is the biggest saddness I can think of...that loss of that liberty to roam freely in natural settings. But we do what we can now and we should offer our children ways to accomplish being in nature as much as possible, don't you think?!
Lynn M