My late mother, Mary Helen Brim McCall, was a phenomenal person.

I suppose every boy who had a nurturing mother felt her to be phenomenal. Mine was not only very intelligent, but she also had loads of common sense. You know what they say about common sense — common sense is not so common.

In today’s world, there seems to be less and less application of sound thinking. In some quarters, I almost detect a disdain for those who insist on relying on the wisdom of the ages.

Mary Helen Brim was a child of the Great Depression. It had a lasting impact on her thinking. I often think of things she said. Most of her most memorable sayings were rooted in the holy scriptures. Others were her own.

If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times ... “Son, every situation can make you, or it can break you.”

I have seen it played out so many times through the years. I have witnessed prosperity being the ruination of some, and I have observed what appeared to be a disaster resulting in an individual becoming stronger and wiser. I have watched some grow bitter from disappointment, and others take financial success and do grand things for the betterment of humanity … “Every situation can make you, or it can break you.”

I hear these words ringing in my ears from time to time … “Moderation in all things.” It’s the extremes that get us in trouble — overeating, over drinking, overspending, eating too little, under spending, over exercising, under exercising, overdoing it, overcleaning … the list goes on and on … “Moderation in all things.”

Another was, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” There seems to be an abundance of ill winds blowing these days. It’s best we recognize them.

There’s another old saying that goes like this … “He who will not stand for something will fall for anything.” Best we be aware of the ill winds.

“Bread cast on the water will return after many days.” My mother often said the only reason that she would ever desire to have a lot of money was so she could give it away. She still managed to give a lot away — whatever she had.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The late, great, sales motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say there are three things that are hard to do ... “To climb a fence that is leaning to you, to kiss a girl who is leaning from you, and to help people who don’t want to be helped.” I came across a great line a few years ago which goes like this, “He is most easily convinced who discovers the answer for himself.” … “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

“The answer to every situation can be found somewhere in the Bible.” That was one of her favorites. She believed it, and she lived it. What were her favorite verses? Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”

And what was her take on eternal life? She would simply say, “If you miss that, you’ve missed it all.”

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.

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