Monday, March 24, 2014

Embracing Ma's Practical Pioneering Spirit During Lean Times


"The prairie looks so beautiful and gentle," she said.
"But I wonder what it will do next.
Seems like we have to fight it all the time."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie

In this earthly life, we will all experience hard times. As the Good Book says, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. The question is, how do we handle our storms? As we read through the "Little House" series, I am inspired by the spirit of the pioneer women. What calamities and sorrow came their way! What is interesting is that, they didn't feel themselves as victums. They hadn't read magazine articles teaching them that they "deserve" happiness for themselves or that this earthly life is meant to be easy. Instead, they accepted what came their way and attempted to make the best of it.

"This earthly life is a battle," said Ma. "If it isn't one thing to contend with, it's another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and the more thankful for your pleasures."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie


After  a "Long Hard Winter" (where the Ingall's were living on rationed wheat berries during a blizzard filled season because the cargo of food couldn't make it through the snow), they were waiting in hopes for spring. It was a time to rebuilt on the homestead and begin anew. Their oat and corn crop was thriving, Pa had secured some money in town doing construction work and Mary would finally be sent to a school for the blind.  Life was going according to plan!

Then the blackbirds came… pecking at their oat crop, the very oat crop that would help to pay for taxes and coal that year. But Pa would shoot his way to a clear field with victory. The following day, the blackbirds found the corn. This was to be the other cash crop. The blackbirds had multiplied as abundantly as their beautiful corn! Pa goes to town to purchase more ammunition while Ma and the girls spend hours running through the fields to protect their future.

"They ran up and down, in the sun and heat, stumbling over the rough sods, screeching and shouting and waving their arms. Sweat ran down their faces and their backs, the sharp corn leaves cut their hands and cheeks. Their throats ached from yelling. And always the swirling wings rose and settled again. And always scores of blackbirds were clinging to the ears, and sharp beaks were tearing and pecking. 

At last Ma stopped. "It's no use, girls," she said.'"

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie

Charles and Caroline Ingalls

Oh, the dreadful words!.. "It is no use". But, Ma knew there was a time to fight with all her heart and that there was a time to let go. Sometimes, it is when we stop battling the circumstances and accept them for what they are, that we can see a bit of blessed light peaking from the darkness. Though their cash crops were lost, Ma found something else to focus on. They would eat like kings!

"After breakfast Pa came to the house,
bringing both hands full of birds he had shot. 

"I have never heard of anyone's eating blackbirds," he said,
"but they're as fat as butter."

"Dress them, Laura, and we'll have them fried for dinner," said Ma.
"There's no great loss without some small gain...

And the day was not even Sunday.
As long as the blackbirds lasted, and the garden was green,
they could eat like this every day."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie


But how would they survive in the future? What would Ma do? She would take the practical route, the only one available to her. And many times dear reader, it is the only one available to us.

"Don't worry about it, girls," said Ma.
"We must cut our coat to fit the cloth."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie


We all have our share of struggles. My desire is to glean from the practical, pioneering spirit of our fore-mothers when we endure ours. They took each situation in stride and were thankful for their daily bread. The future they knew, was in the hands of the Almighty. The blessings they knew, would be there today if we chose to find them.

"Laura thought, "Ma is right, there is always something to be thankful for."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie


"...in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you..."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18


You will find our *free printable* of this here if you are interested.

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link Up and Create, Bake, Grow & Gather. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). Illustrations by Helen Sewell and Garth Williams.

36 comments:

  1. Great post, JES. The Little House books are so inspiring. There was a time when I reread the series every winter to refresh myself of all the great things there are to learn from those books and use in everyday life. Tapping our sugar maples and making syrup was one of those inspirations. We didn't have a family dance afterwards, but I clogged and twirled around the kitchen and enjoyed it just as well as if we had. ;)

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    1. Oooh... maple syrup! Delightful! Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. This is a practical, common sense reminder of how to conduct ourselves during hard times. Thanks!

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    1. Don't you just love the way Laura portrays Ma? So full of wisdom!

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  3. My dear JES, I so appreciated this post - "They took each situation in stride and were thankful for their daily bread. The future they knew, was in the hands of the Almighty." That was just what I needed to read this morning. It's always a joy to visit you and find refreshment.

    Enjoy your week! Hugs and blessings!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Stephanie ~ Have a wonderful week :)

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  4. This is excellent!!!
    Blessings
    Mrs. White

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Mrs. White :)

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  5. I love the printable! Thanks for sharing!! We've been reading "The Long Winter" this winter as well. I thought it was fitting being that we are experiencing a very long winter here in the northeast (although nothing as severe as the Ingalls experienced!)

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    1. Oh that book really puts things into perspective! We just finished it a few months ago as well... Thanks for sharing here Amber :)

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  6. I love this Jes. I read the Little House Series with my kids years and years ago (probably 15 or 16?). We loved it, and I've always been encouraged my Ma's spunky spirit---she always knew just what to do, and always seemed to do it with a smile. :)

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    1. Yes, her daughter portrayed her with a gentle spirit and one that I admire very much!

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  7. I think that the Little House Series had more to do with the way we live now than about anything else. Neat how the Lord used the books to open my mind to simpler things! Praying for you today!

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    1. Yes, the life lessons shared in those books are still very applicable today! And bless you for your prayers :)

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  8. Love this post! As I read through the Little House series to my children I realized afresh what a wonderful model Ma is to all of us. Thanks for these lovely highlights.

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    1. Isn't is so! Thanks for sharing Anna :)

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  9. I always feel so peaceful and happy when I visit here. Like I never want to leave. Thanks for all the time you put into helping and encouraging others. You are a blessing. This is a great quote, scripture and printable. Thank you. ~ Abby

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    1. Thank you Abby:) You always sprinkle sweetness when you visit!

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  10. Great post! You're absolutely right. We're so driven to feel it's our privilege to constantly be happy, and society tries to fill us with so many ways to get happy for free. It's in taking the blows of life with grace and learning to deal with what comes our way that will build character and dignity.

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    1. Well said! I couldn't agree more...

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  11. JES, What an encouraging post! I've never read the Laura Ingalls books, but I'm sure I'd love them (Somehow I got all the way to University without having read Little Women of the Anne of Green Gables books!). I'm really appreciating this sort of encouragement as we're in a time in our life where we just can't afford many things (I wrote about that recently here http://whocanstandagainst.blogspot.ca/2014/03/we-need-more-people-to-say-we-just-cant.html

    I'll definitely be taking a little look around at the other posts you have here - glad to have found you!

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    1. Thanks for introducing yourself Stephanie! I will have to take a peak at your post soon :)

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  12. What a lovely post Jes. Just like Little Bird Blessings, I always enjoy visiting here. We have had our first slight touch of winter here in South Eastern Australia. Daylight saving time finished last night and we are back to normal time which I just love. We are blessed with mild winters here and no snow so we are planting out our winter garden now. We are able to have fresh veggies all year round. I had to smile at Ma and the girls trying to keep the birds off their oat and corn crop. We have very pretty parrots here who love our fruit when its not quite ripe. One little nibble of the apples and pears and then they go on to the next. I wouldn't mind if they ate the whole fruit and weren't so wasteful. Next season we will be netting our trees which might be the answer.
    Blessings Gail

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    1. Hello Gail ~ We also have the parrot problem... At first I thought them so pretty, but now I would rather them find another home! We also are able to plant year round because we don't get snow which is such a blessing... May your harvest be abundant and thank you for sharing here today :) P.S. Let me know if netting your trees helped please...

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  13. This was quite the encouraging post, Jes. Thanks so much.

    Blessings,
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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  14. As always beautiful... and such a good reminder. It is comforting and reassuring to know that we are not the only ones who have had struggles & have had to find the blessings in them.
    Thank you.

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  15. What good lessons to learn! It was fun to see all those pictures again. I love those books!

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  16. This is such a beautifully written post, Jes...I too am very inspired by the positive attitude these women displayed when faced with trials... We have so much to learn from them! Thank you so much for sharing --just what I needed to read today:). Hope you're having a blessed week! Kelly-Anne

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  17. I love those books, and so do my kids. I've never seen a picture of Ma and Pa. I'll have to bring the kids back to look at it. I love this post, you have such a sweet heart JES. Thanks for sharing your heart with us, and for the beautiful printable.

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  18. Once again Ma is an encouragement and an inspiration. I love her positive attitude about life. The trials never seemed to keep her down.

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  19. This is a wonderfully encouraging post. Thank you for sharing it.
    I'm back to reading through your blog from start to the the present.
    I got a little distracted. ~smile~
    Be blessed and enjoy your Advent season.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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  20. Love this!! I am just starting the Little House books for the first time!!! I am 53 years old!!! I love these insights!!

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    1. I didn't start reading them till my 30's and enjoyed them dearly too! :)

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  21. Oh, I just LOVED this post! I read the Little House books when I was a little girl, and now, as an adult, I am seeing such wisdom I didn't "get" as a child. I think I'll be reading these books again...and also to my students! Thank you!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it Heidi! There are lots of gems in these old fashioned books! :)

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