"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
I Timothy 6:8
Fast forward to now. My family and I have been renting the "Little House on the Prairie" DVDs from our local library and cherishing our time binge-watching them together. Thankfully, I have forgotten most of the episodes, so it is like watching them for the first time. As I watch them gather around their kitchen table, listen to Pa play his fiddle, and see the girls climb into their loft bedroom to kneel and say their bedtime prayers, I continually feel a sense of deep loss and longing as I compare their uncomplicated, well-balanced life to the cluttered, chaotic world in which we now live.
I am so weary of the invasive domination of consumerism, the self-promotion of social media, and the modern demands we all feel we have no choice but to succumb to. Why do we feel that way? Have the basic human needs changed so much over the years? Is it still possible to live like the Ingalls family lived, or is it just nostalgic fantasy? I ponder these questions, and I realize that I wouldn’t want to give up electricity, a landline phone, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, or a car, but other than those five modern conveniences, there truly wouldn’t be much else I would miss.
Here are some lessons we can all learn from the Ingalls on how to live a simple life.
Keep faith strong. No matter what hardships the Ingalls family faced, they were deeply rooted in an unwavering faith in God that grounded them and was the governing force and anchor of their lives. Each Sunday morning, they loaded into their horse-pulled wagon to attend the country church, and prayer was an integral part of their every day life.
Get rid of everything unnecessary and unwanted. If you think of it, there was nothing in the Ingalls’ home that wasn’t being used or enjoyed. Remove the clutter. Just let it go. It may hurt at first, but only for a short time, then you won’t even miss it. The freedom and lightness that follows releasing the unnecessary is invigorating. If you don’t need, use, or want something, remove it from your life.
Reduce to a smaller living space. Now that you have only what you need, use, and want, it just makes sense to downsize your living quarters. One of the qualities of the Ingalls family that I admire the most is the closeness of their relationships. I love how Mary and Laura talked each night before going to sleep and how the small space necessitated family members be in the same room and look one another in the eye. Since my family and I sold our 4-bedroom home and moved into a much smaller space, we now have a combined kitchen, dining, and living room area. We spend most of our day in the same room together talking, homeschooling, cooking, eating, visiting, and cherishing one another’s company. I wouldn’t trade that togetherness for all the big houses in the world. Sometimes it still feels like we have too much space, and a 400 square foot Park Model RV is looking better to us all the time. Love really does grow best in small houses.
Turn off the noise. The Ingalls’ home was quiet and peaceful, and fostered the kind of atmosphere that naturally invites the pouring out of hearts, sharing of the day’s stories, reading, meditating, and listening. Pa and Ma always shared what was on their minds right before going to sleep, and they always knew what was going on in each other’s lives. What bothered one concerned the other. Instead of keeping up with everyone else’s facebook feed, they fed their relationship by making each other a priority. Their marriage was strong and solid because they communicated everything and never allowed distance to exist.
When is the last time you turned off your phone, laptop, and TV and allowed the night sounds of crickets to lull you to sleep? Say no to online. Leave electronic devices outside your bedroom. Unplug and disengage from the artificial to nourish what is real and in front of you. Just because the whole world is absorbed in noise and social media doesn’t mean you have to indulge at all.
Genuinely love others. Pa and Ma Ingalls were never too busy to help a neighbor, visit the sick, lend a hand, or do a favor. There was this genuinely authentic quality in people back then that automatically rose to the occasion of another’s need without counting personal cost. They even reached out to those who didn’t necessarily agree with their religious or political views, simply because it was the right thing to do.
Avoid debt. Remember how Pa always hated owing the Oleson’s Mercantile and how he paid off those debts as soon as possible? He believed in buying only what he could afford and living within his means—wisdom we would all do well to follow.
There is so much about their life that calls to me. I am encouraged to discover that through the choices my family and I have been making since beginning our minimizing journey, we have unwittingly been reaching and edging closer to replicating that kind of life. Surprisingly, we are finding that the bridge between our life and theirs isn’t really all that wide across, after all.
Wonderful writing today dear Cheryl. Oh we loved Little House too. My 11 year old granddaughter loves it and watches it when she stays with me. It seemed like much simpler times for sure didn't it? Now days it seems that nothing is simple. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoy so much hosting family dinner at my home each Sunday after church. My family sits down together and eats together. My rule has always been that NO CELL phones are at the table while we eat and no tv is cut on. Of course you can't see our television from the kitchen but I don't want to even hear it while we are eating, talking and having our family time. That is important to me and I hope that this will be one of those GOOD things that my grandchildren will remember that we done at Nana and Papa's house. I hope that you and your family has a wonderful Memorial Day together dear Cheryl. Hugs and blessings, CindyReplyDelete
Oh, that is so sweet that your grand-daughter watches LHOTP and loves it so much, too! HOORAY for you for making them all leave their cell phones away when you are eating together! It is downright sad how cell phones (I absolutely HATE them and refuse to own any other than a small trac fone that I use for occasional texts and emergencies only!) have taken over people's lives and they are so wrapped up in what everyone is doing online that they can't even sit down and look the people in the eye who are seated across the table from them. YES, your grandchildren will always remember how Nana and Papa gave them so much love and their undivided attention. You are one of the sweetest, most engaged grandmothers I know, and I know your family loves and appreciates you so much! Many hugs and blessings back to you, sweet friend!Delete
I loved Little House too And I agree whole heartedly about trying to live a more simple life life and getting rid of stuff. I'm sitting here thinking about all the yarn and fabric I've accumulated. I either need to use it or get rid of it. I also think about things I want but in reality I really don't need such as an Instapot. I keep hearing how wonderful they are but truthfully I don't need one. I have a pressure canner and two large crockpots so honestly I don't need one. But I want one. But I don't need one. Can you tell Cheryl, I'm trying to talk myself into believing that an Instapot is unneeded?ReplyDelete
So nice to hear from you, Regina! Your situation sounds like mine a few years ago. I had SO much yarn and fabric and craft supplies. I am in such a different season of life now and seldom use any of that, so I had a grand time giving nearly all of it away! I mailed it to different people God would place on my heart, gave a huge bag of yarn to a fellow homeschool Mom, and donated so much to others. It was a liberating feeling to let it all go and know that it was actually being used and enjoyed. Yes, I can tell you are trying to talk yourself into believing that about the Instapot. I'm not much on buying the new and latest gadgets. The way I see it is my Mom and Mimmie and all of those pioneering women before me were strong and made do with what they had, and if they can live without it, I can, too. I have scaled down our kitchen stuff to the bare minimum, and it is a wonderful feeling. Our cupboards are orderly and organized and have only what we actually use in them. I can't tell you how freeing that is to me. That feeling is worth than all the latest gadgets and fads in the world!Delete
Noise today is a huge concern. wherever you are it seems that no one can live without it. Our village shop blares out local radio, the taxi company has to be asked to turn off their radio, TV programmes such as Gardening World have a background music....oh, dear I could go on! We have no noise here in our house, except for my husband's Talking book for the Blind, and that is kept low.ReplyDelete
Oh, you are so right, Elizabeth! I get to where I cannot stand any more noise and make it a point to retreat somewhere quiet every day just to listen for God's voice. I beg Him to talk to me and linger quietly before Him until I feel His presence and can hear His still, small voice. I find I desperately need that to survive in the troubled times we are facing right now. I think it is amazing and wonderful that you keep your house so quiet. Kudos to you, my friend!Delete
I loved this post, dear friend. I, too, love Little House on the Prairie. I enjoy watching them over and over and some I know pretty much by heart. Their lives were so simple but filled with so much love. Have a good week!ReplyDelete
Oh, I LOVE watching them, too! They just inspire me and invoke a sense of determination to NOT allow this crazy, materialism-obsessed, clamorous world dictate how I will live my life. We do not have to buy into any of it, regardless who says we do. Faith, family, and simplicity were the foundations of their lives, and they can be the same in ours, if we just make the right choices and live like they did. Thank you for your sweet words and support, dear friend! Sending love and hugs your way today!Delete
Cheryl, as I grow older I long much more for simplicity. I haven’t watched many episodes of Little House because I have rarely turned on our TV in the past 40 years. My one indulgence is Alabama football and that is about all. Loved reading your thoughts my friend!ReplyDelete
So sweet to hear from you, my friend! I suppose we yearn more and more for simplicity the older we get, don't we? It is so gratifying to make those choices to make it happen. I love defying the current fast culture and living the simple, basic life God intends for His children to live. It is such an accomplishment to refuse to succumb to the consumerism-obsessed world. It is so worth the swim upstream!Delete
How I needed to read this beautiful and convicting post. I have been reading Caddie Woodlawn (a story along the same lines as Little House on the Prairie) for the first time (I've had a great deal of time on my hands to just simply read, rest and think) and oh! It makes me think back to the sweet, simple days we had on the farm. And while the days of farm life seem to be behind us for a time, I know it is still possible to embrace a simpler lifestyle in the midst of this new season we find ourselves in. As I have allowed the Lord to speak to my heart over the past two weeks, I have realised that I have become SO caught up in a worldly way of thinking... I feel like in this time the Lord is drawing me closer to His heart and reminding me of that which I used to hold so dear. I am now being careful to examine my heart and life and working on adjusting my focus.
Thank you for the reminder!
Also...I want to tell you what a blessing it was to receive your email! I can't begin to tell you how desperately I needed to read your words... My heart was truly encouraged. Will be replying to you soon...
I have never heard of Caddie Woodlawn, but it sounds amazing! I am so sorry you are going through so much, sweet friend. I am thinking of you often and praying for you. I was so touched by your comment and your intense desire to draw closer to Jesus through this trying time. You are a gem indeed, and I am so proud of you for the way you choose to live your life. May the Lord bless you abundantly and keep you in His care! Sending much love back to you today!!Delete
Hi Cheryl! Oh how I loved this post! Little House on the Prairie is my favorite show too! I started re-watching them recently and I feel like Caroline is a spiritual mentor of mine.ReplyDelete
Your insights on the take-aways of living a "Little House on the Prairie" life were practical and not at all idealistic, but very real ways we can implement that simple faith-filled, loving lifestyle into our own lives.
Thanks so much for sharing your heart. Once again, I see how kindred we are in our love for Little House on the Prairie and the simple Christian life.
Blessings to you sweet friend. You are often on my mind and heart and certainly in my prayers.
Oh, that is so neat that it is your favorite show, too! You are SO right. I think Caroline feels like a spiritual mentor of mine, too. I LOVE her character on the show. We are now in Season 8, and I am SO sad to think that there is only one more season after this one! Yes, dear friend, we are kindred spirits, for sure. Many blessings to you! I am continuing to pray for you and your health and SO appreciate your continued prayers for us!Delete
I am sorry I am just now seeing this wonderful post. Little House on the Prairie was on TV during the years of my early marriage. I always loved the show but it hasn't been until just a couple of years ago that I became so drawn in by it that I literally record the reruns on a daily basis...I cannot tell you how many times I have seen each episode. And last year I bought the series of books that I had never read. Like you, I feel like they are dear friend who I have known for years! I do have a deep yearning in my heart to live as simple of a life that they did. Oh and yes...I cherish the silence as well! Have a happy and safe July 4th holiday, my friend!ReplyDelete
Oh, wow, that is really something how you have seen each episode many times. I just don't think I will ever get tired of watching it! It is funny how we build our own memories of times watching shows, and when we see the episode again, our minds go back and relive those memories along with watching the show again. Thank you for your sweet visit and kind words! I have missed you and was so happy to see you had stopped by! Many blessings to you, my friend!Delete