from Owlhaven: on being a mensch

Since I continue to be at a bit of a loss for words right now, here is another wonderful post I found.  This one is from Mary Ostyn’s blog titled Owlhaven.  Mrs. Ostyn has ten children from three countries, homeschools, and loves to cook.  This post was written to her son who is about to graduate from high school and go out into the Real World.  If I ever have a son, I would want to pass along these wise words to him, too.

Because I love this post so much, I’m going to reprint it here.  But know that I didn’t write it, and that it came from Mary Ostyn.  (By the way, Mary wrote a book that I still haven’t gotten my hands on yet but want to.  It’s called A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family.  Lord-willing, I hope to have a large(r) family someday.  She also wrote Family Feasts for $75 a week: A Penny-Wise Mom Shares Her Recipe for Cutting Hundreds from Your Monthly Food Bill.)


On Being a Mensch

To my 18 year old son, as you prepare to graduate from high school and head out into the world:  I’m so proud of you, and I’m confident that you’ve already learned most of what I’m writing here.  You already excel at many of these things!  But as a momma I find myself wanting just once more to summarize some of the core things I hope for you as a man.


  • Be more of a gentleman than you need to be. Open doors for people. Smile at little children. Offer to carry things. And then carry them.
  • Say thanks to people who do things for you.  The guy with the broom at the movie theater. Your chemistry teacher. Anyone who cooks for you.  Don’t assume that because someone’s ‘just doing their job’ that you don’t need to thank them.  A thank you is always appropriate.
  • Remember that willingness to try a thing often becomes the ability to do a thing. The more you can learn to do yourself, the more money you’ll keep in your own pocket, and the less dependent you’ll be on the grace and schedules of others. Jump in and try things.
  • Better 5 minutes early than 30 seconds late. You show respect to people by being on time.   This is especially crucial with bosses and professors.  It doesn’t hurt with girls either.
  • If you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, don’t say it behind his back.
  • Don’t complain.  It makes you look like a wimp, and bosses remember it.
  • Don’t endlessly hunt the newest and the greatest.  Purchase judiciously and infrequently.  And if you don’t have the bucks, don’t buy. Debt steals future freedom.
  • Always be willing to consider the possibility that you might be wrong.  And when you are, don’t make excuses or sweep it under the rug.   Take a deep breath and apologize.  Even if you weren’t the only one at fault, an apology makes it obvious you care about the people involved.
  • Be a person who notices what needs doing, and steps in without being asked. Especially if the job is an unpleasant one. Some days to be a hero all you have to do is pick up a plunger and go do battle.  People remember heroes.
  • Be willing to give that extra 10%.  Sometimes it is an extra dose of grace for a person who doesn’t deserve it. Sometimes it is an extra half an hour of polish put on a school essay or a work project.   People notice people who go above and beyond.  Nowhere is that more important than in relationships.
  • Speaking of relationships, look for a girl who loves her daddy, and whose family you genuinely like.  The more you have in common, the better.  Faith in God is essential. But cookie-cutter thinking isn’t.  A discerning woman who occasionally disagrees with you can be a blessing.   You’ll need someone wise enough and brave enough to gently speak up when you’re getting off-course in life.  Because you will sometimes.
  • You’ll stay on course best by loving God first, best, and always.  I’m so glad that you have already learned this well!  Look to God for guidance and power every day.  He’s going to teach you way more than I ever can.  May God bring you every blessing in life!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Eph 3: 16-21)

I love that last Bible passage.  That was JJ’s and my wedding passage.  Isn’t that a lovely post?