Generation Cedar

cow-1There’s really no end to the ideas and concepts behind an enterprising family.  It’s about working…together….to save money….to make money….to provide for basic needs….to help others with their needs…to be self-sufficient now, and if there comes a time when it’s necessary….it’s about wisdom and resourcefulness and being good stewards of what God has given.  It’s about working with our hands simply because God created us to.

Wouldn’t you agree there is a dearth of contentment in our culture?  It seems one of the biggest ironies of human nature is that prosperity often breeds discontentment and apathy.  Unexplained.  My Dad always said that there’s just something satisfying when you’ve put in a full day working with your hands.  Perhaps it’s a major missing element in our culture? Hard work brings good sleep and deep contentment.

And nothing brings a contented spirit like producing something meaningful. In addition to all the tangible things we’ve discussed in this series, I didn’t want to fail to mention the beauty of producing art–which can be found in anything from a flower arrangement to a piece of music to a poem.  God gifted humans with the sensational ability to create just about anything…let’s encourage our children and ourselves to tap into that creative gift.

“It is neither wealth nor splendor,

0 but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness.”

~Thomas Jefferson

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about the character building that comes along with enterprise.  It seems like such a simple concept, but more and more we look around and see a society who doesn’t understand it.  Giving children responsibility–enterprising–is GOOD for them.  I hear a lot of parents express their concern over “children working too much” but very few seem concerned about not enough.

Keep in mind that a family doesn’t have to create a home business to be “enterprising”; we’re talking here about a simple philosophy of working and production to further the family economy in any and every way.

Tom Brokaw wrote a book entitled “The Greatest Generation”.  Do you know which generation that was?  The children who grew up during the Great Depression.  Now think of that for a moment…one of the most common replies I hear about not wanting more children is that “we can’t afford it”. What message does that reflect? The truth is:  1.  We can afford more in this day than perhaps ever in history.  2.  If “the greatest generation” was born out of too much poverty and an overload of work, why are we afraid of a fraction of that plight?  We continue to believe that “affordability” and an easy life makes” good” children, no matter how often we see proof otherwise.  But, I digress on a slight rant 😉

Let’s give our children the gift of work, and a feeling of belonging to an enterprise that matters.  Nothing will hold a family together like the need for everyone to be a part.

Enterprise: a unit of economic organization with a systematic purposeful activity.



“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

William Faulkner


“There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.”

Henry Ford

20 Responses

  1. I know this is not the main point of this post, but the more time, money and resources we can save, then the more of these things we have available to use when God calls us to use them. If we are using every dollar available to us, even if we tithe, we won’t have much available when a need comes to our attention.

  2. You hit the nail on the head. There is a great lack of contentment in our country. We just talked about that in our small group at church last week. So many people are searching for contentment in all areas of life. My parents and grandparents always tried to teach us to be happy with what you have and we try to instill that in our children. That is hard these days. God has blessed us these past few years and we can actually afford to buy the kids some luxuries just because, but we have to be careful not to over do it. We want to instill that good work ethic and contentment, but there are so many forces in the world against us. I know that if we hold our ground, our children will reap the benefits.

  3. Lori,

    It is my Dad’s (we live on the same property) and we share that way. Fringe benefit 😉 We also have a joint garden. His expertise, our working crew.

  4. Nice! BTW, did you know that some cities DO allow back-yard chickens? Usually just a small number of hens, but it might be worth checking into.

  5. That’s very interesting. My father was born in 1915 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He could have written A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (a classic by Betty Smith) because his life was so like the lives the fictitious characters in the book lived.

    He lived with his widowed mother in a tenement house in Brooklyn during the Depression, and they couldn’t pay the rent, so they were evicted and their belongings put out on the sidewalk, just like in the history books.

    He was 17. He had to quit school in the 7th grade and sell apples on the street corners. He was missing all of his teeth by age 17 (malnutrition). When they were evicted, he scrounged scrap lumber and built a little shack on stilts (at age 17!) over Sheepshead bay. You went to the bathroom and the waste simply fell out a hole in the bottom of the toilet into the bay!! The shack was made all of scrounged materials.

    He says, though, that people were more caring then. If all they had was a stale crust of bread, they were willing to share it with you. There was no place to grow a garden or anything like that.

    People like that became tough and were willing to do anything to survive. They learned good survival skills. It also warped them, though. That kind of poverty will do that.

  6. I’ll continue: Because he was so deprived and impoverished as a child, he was bound and determined that his children (we were born late in his life — he was 39 when I was born, 43 when my brother was born) would never do without.

    This is probably why many of us baby boomers were spoiled.

    Although he didn’t believe in buying too many frivilous things (clothes, new cars, furniture), we had the best food money could buy. I never knew what it was to eat packaged hot dogs. We bought the linked-together ones from the deli — the expensive ones.

    My father’s elderly uncle lived with us. Uncle did not approve of us children snacking between meals. My father disagreed with him and said, “I was hungry as a child. My children can help themselves to any food they want, as much as they want, any time they want, and they don’t have to wait till dinner time!” (Believe it or not, we were not fat children in spite of that!)

    Also, our heat was cranked up to about 80-degrees. We had EVERY toy that was ever advertised on tv, and I mean EVERY toy. Once, we went to a tire store on Christmas Eve so that my dad could buy some tires for the car. The tire store was selling toys for the Christmas season, as well as auto stuff, and there were toy displays everywhere.

    My brother and I made some noises that we wanted these Etch-a-Sketches and my father said to put them up on the counter. The salesman was amazed and said, “But tomorrow is Christmas!” My father said, “Ah, every day is Christmas!” and bought them for us, even though he had a raft of presents for us on Christmas day.

    I also never had to do a lick of work — make my bed or do dishes (although he did make us help in the vegetable garden). He didn’t believe in children working, because he had to work so much as a child!!!!!

    It’s amazing that I grew up to 1)be thin; 2)be thrifty; 3)enjoy housework!!!!! (I like to garden, too.)

  7. Ooops! I think the computer “ate” my first comment. What you see above is the continuation of this comment. I’ll write it again.

    Yes, the Great Depression really made a tough generation. My father was born in 1915 in Brooklyn, New York. He and his widowed mother lived in tenement houses in Brooklyn. My father had to quit school in the 7th grade and sell apples on the street corners.

    They couldn’t pay the rent, so they were evicted and their furniture put out on the street, just like in the history books.

    At 17, all his teeth were missing (malnutrition). His mother was sickly (she died of breast cancer before I was born).

    When they were evicted, my father, at 17, scrounged lumber and materials and built a shack on stilts over Sheepshead Bay in N.Y.C. When you went to the bathroom, the waste simply fell through the toilet and into the bay!!!

    My father could have written Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” so like the lives of the fictitious characters in the book was his life.

    He had a goldfish as a boy, and it froze in the fishbowl, because they had no heat. (When it thawed during the day, it would start swimming around again!!)

    There was no place to grow a garden or anything. However, my father says that even though people were so destitute, they were more caring. If all people had was a loaf of stale bread, they were more than happy to share it with you.

    I think the Depression warped those people, too, as well as made them strong and resourceful.

    I used to love eating stale French bread — I’d dip it in my hot tea that was laced with milk and sugar. Mmmmm! But my father used to have a fit when he saw me eating it, because stale bread was ALL they had when he was young. He’d take it away from me and make me eat the fresh bread.

    So, I think a lot of those people spoiled their children during the baby boom. My father had us later in life.

  8. Kelly,

    I’ve been enjoying your series, but it is difficult to think of your family as an “enterprise,” when you have been taught/raised all your life to just “get what you want it when you want it.” I still feel this way alot, but I’m slowly working on it.

    I’m just SO new at all of this. I’ve just recently entered the world of full-time homemaking and there just seems to be SO much as well as TOO much to learn, sigh! If only I was at least 20 years younger . . .

  9. Sorry, Mary. My spam filter is a little too picky and “eats” comments a lot. I have to routinely check it and let them out 😉 So I went ahead and published your first one…sorry you had to rewrite it. If a comment doesn’t show up again, give it a little while and if it’s in my spam folder I’ll release it.

    Very interesting perspective–thanks for sharing your experience!

  10. Oh, thanks, Kelly. My in-laws also lived through the Depression. They, too, were very strong and thrifty and enterprising. They, too, though, were kind of warped like my father.

    This was also the generation of women who first went out to work — a few at first, and then more and more.

    They all remind me of Scarlett O’Hara, “As God is my witness…I’ll never be hungry again!” They had “the eye of the tiger” like Apollo Creed in one of the “Rocky” videos. So, yes, they were hard-working, alright.

    Both my father and also my mother-in-law were terrible pack rats. My father kept every tv-dinner tray and piece of junk mail that ever came into the house. Also, every worn out car that he ever had was in the back yard. “Might need it someday…at least I can use the old cars for parts!” He also had 28 (28!) old broken lawnmowers in the back yard, plus a pile of copper stuff.

    My mother in law has heaps and heaps of clothes and shoes and purses (even more than I do!). She says it doesn’t help to compensate for having grown up with nothing. She always worked (as a dental assistant) outside the home, as did more and more of us baby boomers’ mothers.

    I also remember being down South when I was young, and the old-timers down there who had been raised during the Depression were the same — every appliance that they ever owned was out on their front porch (like my father with his old cars and lawnmowers). Might need ’em for parts!

    But, boy, those people could make do, and make something out of nothing. They were also, like you said, satisfied with a lot less — a 2 or 3 bedroom house with one bathroom. It sure beat the tenement apartment or tarpaper shack.

    We’re all spoiled today.

  11. Mary – good points. My friend says that if we have two bedrooms and one car we are spoiled according to other’s places she has visited. We, Christians – in America, are guilty of our big houses, big cars, nice furnishings, etc. It’s really sad.

  12. Mary,
    I have enjoyed reading your post but it sure has hurt my Waltons Mountian fantasy life.
    Oh well,I guess at least now I know why my grandparents hord everything.

  13. Lucy, I think that perhaps things were different for rural people, even though they were very poor during the Depression, because they could grow vegetables or perhaps have a cow or cut down trees for wood to burn. Things are bad for people in cities.

    My father also used to say (he passed away in 1995 at the age of 80) that if there were a Great Depression today, people would riot, because they are not used to any kind of real poverty, and they are used to government hand-outs. I’m quoting him.

  14. Mary – I think your father is correct. In Africa, for example, poverty is normal, healthcare in non-existent. The Lord is working there with Christian folk sharing the good news and basic needs to these people. In America, we don’t need God, we just need government to bail us out. It’s really sad. If the church worked the way the Lord intended, the church would be taking care of the poor, widows, orphans, etc., not the government.

  15. whoo Dee…that says it all! amen, hallelujah and preach on sister! we have politically corrected ourselves out of being able to speak simple basic truth! thank you Dee…common sense in this country may be on life support but it ain’t dead yet!

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