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13 Depression-era Life Lessons for Christians to have a Successful Life


Grandparents and Life Lessons

My great grandparents were a very important part of my life.  Life at their farmhouse stood still when you were there.  I can still see my grandma (just barely over 4 ft) standing at the kitchen counter making her famous cinnamon rolls.

I can clearly remember my grandfather sitting on the front porch in his glider. For eighteen years I had my great-grandfather and my great-grandmother died when I was 29 years old. How blessed I am to have had my great grandparents in my life for so long.


My great grandparents lived less than 1/2 mile from my house while I was growing up. In fact, we had a path from our front door to their front door. Visiting my great parents was a daily part of my life. The lessons and memories that were created there are enough to last a lifetime.

One of the most important qualities of my great grandparents was their love. They loved everybody. You felt that love from the minute you walked in. The minute that screen door snapped shut behind you, Grandma had a tableful of treats out and a coffee cup in front of you.

You were greeted with a smile, a hearty hello, and hugs.  No place ever felt so welcome as did their farm.  If those walls could talk, oh the stories it could tell.

The family was large and with the many children they had, it was typical to have gatherings of up to 50 family members on any given day.

There was always a game of vigorous kickball happening in the front yard with the grandkids.  The adults would mingle on the front porch. Laughter filled the air as kids and adults alike bonded. My grandparents were in their glory.

And as a child, I thought it was normal to grow up being surrounded by such a large extended family.  Living in such a small town and having so many family members close by allowed for regular get-togethers.

My great-grandparents were the epitome of hard working folk who raised many children during the Depression. Both of my great-grandparents were first-generation Americans, as their parents came from other countries.  The lessons they taught their children have been passed down generation to generation.

My great-grandmother never worked outside the home. She managed the farm and raised her ten children. Even up until she began showing signs of dementia, my grandmother did not slow down or stop caring about her family.

The memories all come flooding back when I began to think about my childhood and the lessons I have learned from my great-grandparents. I could only hope that my children would have known my great-grandparents.


For me to be able to turn back the hands of time and go back and sit on their front porch again, would give me the opportunity to hear more stories.  I would love to be able to bask in the love of my grandparents once again.  My grandmother would have delighted in feeding my children enough sweets to make their tummies full. My grandfather would have loved to watch them play ball.

The stories my grandfather told me when I sat with him are connections to my past. Hearing about how his father and mother came over on a boat from Germany or how he had two sisters named Martha (one was not expected to survive and they really liked the name).  Or how my grandmother had to help raise her siblings after her mother passed away at a young age.

I use to spend hours playing Dominos and card games at their table. My grandfather would crack jokes and tell stories while we played. And my grandmother would fuss over us and make little comments to my grandfather.

If I think hard enough I can still remember how my grandmother smelled when she hugged me, a mixture of perfume and something she had been cooking in the kitchen. My grandfather always smelled like muscle ointment, as his joints ached in old age.

My grandparents taught me many things and out of the many lessons I learned I was able to narrow it down to these life lessons that have helped in my ministry of Biblical home managing.

Life Lessons

1.  Family is important

Don’t neglect your family.  Take care of those closest to you. This is the family you have been blessed with. Remember that while nobody is perfect, love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

2.  Hard Work is Necessary

Do not be lazy. Do not expect others to take care of what you are capable of yourself.

My grandparents raised 10 children on a small farm without assistance because it was their responsibility to do so. Not the government, nor their parents, or a daycare; but their own responsibility.  They worked from sun up to sun down. Nothing was given to them and the little free time they had allowed them to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Colossians 3:23 states, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.

3.  Laugh Often

Life is too short not to enjoy it. Laughter is medicine for the soul.  Make a point of laughing every day. Be intentional about doing something that you enjoy that brings good wholesome laughter. Psalm 126:2, states, “then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.”

Laughing lowers blood pressure. Laughing brings a smile to your heart.  Nothing compares to hearing the infectious laughter of a toddler or a good friend to lighten your heart and mood.

Being able to laugh fills you with joy. With a joyful heart, it is easier to rejoice and praise the Lord for all that He has done!

4.  Love Unconditionally

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

5. Give Freely

My grandparents gave what they had, whenever they could, without any hesitation on their parts. Neighbors, family, and friends had all been on the receiving end of my grandparents loving efforts. My grandparents did not do this for accolades or attention, but out of love instead. They gave freely, without conditions.

Matthew 10:8, “freely you have received; freely give.” This basic biblical principle is for a blessed life because whatever God has given to us will be used for His glory when we freely give it back to Him for others’ benefit.  We have received these blessings freely, and freely we must give them away.

6.  Be Hospitable

Being early morning risers, my grandparents were up before the dawn.  The door was always open to anybody who stopped by. You did not call, nor did you knock on the door, it was expected that you just went in.

You were expected to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and eat what was put in front of you. Just as the coffee flowed freely, so did the conversation. Talk would resonate back-n-forth of the good ole days and recent family news.

It was easy to spend a few hours sitting at their table before you realized how quickly time had gone. You were always welcome and left feeling wanted and loved. My grandparents made you feel special and developed connections with old and young alike.

Keep the doors of your home open in the sense, where friends, neighbors, or family can stop by-even uninvited. Be the hostess that is always welcoming and willing to allow others to stay a while. Be quick to put on a pot of coffee or tea, and a warm smile as you greet expected or unexpected guests.

Warm genuine hospitality is so rare these days, may it begin you!

7. Cook Up Something Good to Share

Having had to raise ten children on a small income was not easy and in the process, my grandmother became an excellent cook. She kept her foods simple and delicious, with most ingredients coming from her freezer or pantry, that she had picked, prepped, and canned herself.

My grandmother always had food on hand, ready in a moments notice, for her guests. It was expected by all visiting her house that we would be able to partake in her delicious homemade cinnamon rolls or stay for a simply prepared lunch.

May I encourage you to be prepared for guests to stay at your house by having a simple snack or a frozen homemade dinner ready to go at a moments notice. Being prepared can go a long way and keep friends and family coming back for more.

8.   Share Family History and Stories Often

My grandparents blessed me with the gift of stories. Stories from both sides of the family that was not written, but because they shared them with me I can share them with my children and grandchildren. Without stories and family history being told, that connection to the past is long forgotten. There has become this sad disconnect to our heritage and without it, there is a sense of profound loss.

Ask your older relatives questions on family history if you have not already done so.  Write these answers down. Record them digitally and visually for later viewing. You may be the only connection between your history and your future.

Keep those little family jokes alive by writing them down.  Write down funny things that your children do, someday their grandchildren will appreciate it.  Family history is such an important part of who we are and where we have come from.

9.  Keep in Touch with Others the Old Fashioned Way

Back in my grandparents day, there was no internet to email or smartphones to text on.  Instead, they relied on the good old fashioned telephone and letter writing. To this day my mother does still prefer to letter write and she has maintained years of communication between many older family members.

Keeping in touch by phone or letter writing is a lost art these days, with so many immersed in technology, face-to-face communication is difficult. Taking the time to pen a letter or picking up the phone to call an older relative, long-lost college roomie, or church friend is a wonderful way to connect and stay close.

To be honest, I do not text at all. I prefer to use the telephone or visiting somebody in their home in order to stay in touch. My door is always open for others to visit as well, but with so many elderly family and friends, it is often easier for me to visit.

Keeping in touch the old fashioned way (phone calls, letter writing, or visiting) allows one to offer support, celebrate the good times, and be blessed by their company.  It shows you value them as a person, not in the same way as sending a quick text, which anybody can do.

10.  Life is Too Short to Hold Grudges

My grandparents were never the ones to speak unkindly of anybody. They did not hold grudges against others either. They forgave quickly and forgot just as quickly if met with an injustice.

We are instructed by the Bible to be quick to forgive and not hold judges.  So many other things in life would go smoother if we all could forgive, forget, and move on. However, in a society obsessed with itself, how we feel, and seeking justice-it does not happen very often.

In Colossians 3:13, we are told to be, “even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”

11. Be Frugal

Having gotten married close to the time of the Depression, with money tight and the family large, frugality was an absolute necessity to survive.

They grew their own crops, had their own chickens, canned their own fruits and veggies, hunted and fished, and made everything from scratch. These lessons have been passed down to me from my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

These same lessons that today allow me to stay home and raise six children on one income.  Money is tight, but being frugal allows me to make the best of our resources.

Frugality is often overlooked by mothers who work but want to stay home.  It is possible to stay home on one income, if frugal measures are put in place and consistently used. Being frugal allows for the saving of money and allocating money to other areas of the budget.

Frugality is not limited to just money, but other resources as well.

Frugality can be applied to:

  • Time
  • Food
  • Materials

12. Be Good Stewards

My grandparents made do with what they had.  Without being able to run to the store to buy what they needed all the time, they learned to live with what they had. Learning how to repair various things on the farm, such as machinery, appliances, or clothing, saved them time and money.

They were careful with what they owned and did not mistreat it. In this disposable society that we live in, being resourceful and good stewards is almost unheard of for many. Our landfills are filled with unwanted, broken, and unnecessary things because of the fact we can always go buy something new.

How can we learn to be good stewards?

  • Tithe
  • Recycle
  • Save
  • Repair

13. Be Grateful

Scripture tells us to be “thankful in everything, in all circumstances” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and in Psalm 9:1 states, “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

We have a choice to make every day to be grateful and to give Him thanks. With a heart of thanksgiving, no matter what we face, God is always working to change our hearts.  And if we have focused and grateful hearts, the grip that our struggles may have on us are released.

  • Being grateful can do many things:
  • Takes the focus off us and on Him
  • Takes the focus off our problems and on the little things to be appreciative of, things that are really important
  • Reminds us that we are not in control, but that our Heavenly Father is
  • With a grateful heart, there is no room for complaining
  • Satan runs far away from a grateful heart
  • And it invites His presence when we’re continually blessed and grateful.

Future Perspective

We are to keep our eyes eternally focused as we manage our homes, raise our children, be a loving wife to our husbands, and minister to those in needs.  Even though we shall keep eternal thoughts, we shall not lose sight of what is before us.

The Bible is our guidebook for life. Our history is our connection to our future. We should take valuable life lessons that are eternally focused, incorporate them into our lives and raise our children up in the ways of the Lord.

Our life’s work here on earth is not trivial and deeply matters.

Mama’s and wives, may I continue to seek His face in all that you do. Place your feet at the cross and humbly ask for help in all areas of life.

Be blessed,

Stephanie, Training Keepers of the Home

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5 thoughts on “13 Depression-era Life Lessons for Christians to have a Successful Life

  1. Wonderful post with such wisdom. I am 50 and my paternal grandmother is almost 91. My maternal grandmother went to heaven a little over a year ago at the age of 85. My life has been so blessed by both of them.(One grandfather passed away before I was born and one when I was young.) The years go quickly and it seems I blinked and they were much older. So much of what you wrote describes them and my childhood. Thank you for sharing and for giving such wise counsel. Blessings.

  2. Great post! Grandparents are special. My maternal grandmother is still with us, but my other three grandparents are greatly missed. Grandparents (elderly people) have a special wisdom, a quiet wisdom that you can’t find anywhere else. If most only knew the value of what they hold. I appreciate what you have shared in your post. It closely matches what my parents and grandparents have taught me 🙂

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