Lessons from the Little House series

When I was a little girl, I read the Little House series. Madilynn and I listened to the entire series this semester on our way to and from ballet (and a few other trips or quiet times sitting in the house). The books I read belonged to my mom and she brought them to me at the beginning of the school year. Madilynn read along as we listened, at least when there was light enough to do so. She fell in love with the characters. She also learned once again that television and movies often differ from the books. 

As I listened to the stories, I realized how much I’d forgotten. Certain scenes were etched in my memory, like the prairie fire. I’ve enjoyed sharing these stories with Madilynn because I get to discover them all over again while also seeing her reaction to the story. We are able to talk about history in a practical way, which is much more fun to her than “school work.”

My favorite part of the Little House books is the central theme of Providence and Faith. Ma and Pa diligently live their faith in front of their children. They trust God to provide no matter where they go or what they face. While I could recount all of the story and highlight many more quotes, I’ve narrowed it down to my top five. 

The importance of NOW. Laura wrote these novels based on her own experiences. As an adult, she reflected back on her childhood. The simplicity of childlike thinking shines through, making the stories come alive again to any generation. “Now is now. It can never be a long time ago.” When we are in the middle of something, whether good or bad, it’s hard to see around or beyond it. Find the joy in the NOW because someday it will be long ago.

Some things never change. Even when the world around us seems to lose its mind, when our situation changes, or when we have no idea what will happen next, we can rely on Truth. We’ve learned to trust in God’s provision, even when we don’t see how things will work. We’ve learned to be joyful, even through deep grief. We choose to stand in courage rather than letting the enemy take over.

We should always be learning. Some learning is accidental, some comes from the “school of hard knocks,” and some comes through diligent efforts. Not all lessons come from text books or formal sources. Perhaps the hidden truth is that the most valuable lessons happen in everyday moments.

Appreciate nature and solitude (sometimes at the same time). Young Laura saw unsettled land, untouched by industry or cultivation. Her father and later her husband, were some of the first people to grow crops and tend livestock in the area. When Laura looked out across the wide open prairie, she felt small but also safe. She enjoyed the quiet of the country over the bustle of the town. Even though she grew to love the town and the people, the openness of prairie filled her heart and recharged her spirit. 

As an extrovert, I thrive on the energy of a group of friends. However, I also recognize the need for quiet time. When I picture Psalm 23, I see that the Creator wants us to take that time as well. “He leads me to still waters” and gives me everything I need. When times of overwhelm come, you can find peace in God’s creation. Maybe you don’t live near an untouched nature scene, but you can close your eyes and imagine.

This is another of my all-time favorite pictures.

Let your light shine. Laura shows the many difficulties of life on the prairie. More than once, the family faces scary times of bitter cold, little food, and wild animals. When digging a well, Pa lights a candle to send down first, before going down to work himself. He says, “where a light can’t live, I know I can’t.” This imagery grabbed me! We are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16)! While a light is meant to drive out darkness and lead others to safety, there are elements in the darkness that can extinguish even the brightest light (1 Corinthians 15:33). We need to surround ourselves with sources that fuel the light. We draw strength from God and our church family. We cultivate and nurture deep friendships with other Christians. In doing this, we can be ready for any battle, and darkness, and any storm. The experiences will still come, and may seem overwhelmingly difficult, but with the right equipment and preparation, we can stand firm.

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