Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ma Ingalls: Simple Was Her Way of Life (Part One)

There was a slight mix up with Tuesday's post. Because I had begun my original draft 2 weeks ago, it posted yesterday, but you would have had to scroll down to two weeks ago to actually see it. I have since adjusted the date so if you missed it, you can check it out by going to the post right before this one.
When I began writing this post it turned out to be a super long post. So long that I would never want to read a post that long! So I have broken up this post into two parts. Part one is today and part two will post tomorrow.

There is so much surrounding us that complicates our lives. Things that started as a way to connect with others become time suckers, sites that are supposed to give ideas draw us in until we are in idea overload, and we read countless stories of people who appear to be able to do so much without breaking a sweat.

Facebook is one of my favorite social media outlets. It gives  me an opportunity to keep up with my close friends, share pictures of my kids with family and friends, and stay connected with friends I made in childhood who I still feel as close to today as I did then. Yet, there can be so much unnecessary drama, which draws us in because it is curiously juicy, people whom we have known who are making life choices which sadden our hearts and cause us to be depressed, and the misled comparison game because, as was so wisely said by someone, "we are comparing our behind the scenes with someone else's highlight reels."

Pinterest is a wonderful invention, if used appropriately. It has a wealth of ideas and helps us to branch out into unfamiliar territory in order to try something new. However, it can also leave us with a feeling of inadequacy if we meander too long. Way too many picture perfect living rooms, kitchens that do not appear to actually be cooked in, and super duper organizational sites. We can feel as though we do not measure up, or we put too many project to-do on our list to get to and feel defeated because we know we will never be able to do them all.

Blogs can also be wonderful. There are so many encouraging sites that foster a love for husbands, children, and home. But there are also blogs that appear perfect. We look at the families described and wonder how we could ever compare. Or we see blogs where the author is comes across as proud of their indifference towards doing their best in their home. They have given up and flaunt it proudly.

Now please do not mistake what I am saying. Even God's Word says that we are "to provoke unto love and to good works." (Heb. 10:24) I believe that God wants us to grow in every way- spiritually, physically, mentally/intellectually, and emotionally. He doesn't want us to stay where we are. We need to find people and places that are like iron to us (Proverbs 27:17) that will help us to grow as women, wives, and mothers. I am just of the opinion that rather than growing, we allow ourselves to play the comparison game and that is where life gets complicated.

Caroline Ingalls' life was simple. She had no Facebook, Pinterest, or blogs to compare her life to. She only had her life. What she knew. And she knew she did what she did well.

Today we are going to look at only three aspects of her life that showed great simplicity- schedules, décor, and holidays- and then I will let your mind wander from there as to how you can take the principles fro Caroline's life and apply then to yours.

Simple schedules- Everyday was simple. There was a normal routine to her life. She woke up, got dressed, and proceeded to make breakfast for her family. Each day had a specific task assigned to it. Lunch (dinner)  and dinner (supper) had assigned times and life and chores fell in between. There were not constant daily appointments. She did not have to chauffeur her children to this lesson or that class. Life went along quietly. There are times when a lifestyle of routine may seem mundane, yet how simple it is. To know, for the most part, what to expect out of your day is such a simple gift.

Simple décor- In all honesty, I do not think I could ever be as simple in my decor as Caroline, yet I like the idea of not having to worry about every little detail about how many things should be grouped together, how many pillows on a couch is tasteful versus how many is comfortable, or having to dust every little knick knack in every room. Caroline's decor was limited to her China doll and the shelf Charles made for it their last Christmas in the Big Woods. Quilt's were not made to match a color scheme, they were made of leftover material and old clothing repurposed to keep the family warm during the cold winters. The kitchen table was where life happened, so besides mixing bowls, sewing baskets, or a bowl of potatoes needing to be peeled, the only other centerpiece might be wild flowers that her girls brought to her after a day of hard play. Beautifully simple.

Simple holidays- I think my favorite aspect of of Caroline's life was her celebration of Christmas. Simple. The gift exchange was a family affair. The idea of a long Christmas list was unheard of. Caroline and Charles exchanged gifts among themselves and their sibling and spouse who spent the day with them, and the girls received gifts from only their parents. The gifts they received from their parents were simple. The girls received knitted red mittens and a peppermint stick, and on this particular Christmas, Laura received a doll because she did not have one. And they loved it! There was a good deal of baked goods and a delicious meal was served, but that was it. Decorating was minimal at best and there was no such thing as the "stress of the Christmas season."

Now, if simplicity is something you are striving for, how can taking one of the aspects mentioned above and working specifically on that help make life simpler for you and your family?

Lord willing, tomorrow we will be focusing on the following topics: meals, faith, and parties.
Simple is good!


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