He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

When I think of this saying I imagine myself plucking petals from a white daisy. I remember back to the love interests of my past—me wondering if a boy could be trusted with my heart. That scary moment when you know you love someone, but not sure if the love will be reciprocal. With my husband, it was the same story. I knew he was the one for me, but nervous feelings kept the words “I love you” from leaving my lips.

Aside from the saying, of course I think of Little House and the last chapter of season six. This is my son’s all-time favorite episode. I think it has something to do with Nellie being put in her place by Percival—and a basket of eggs. For me, I take notice of the fact that love changes Nellie. It’s this magical transformation that happens as soon as Percival compliments her.

Love does that to people. It changes us.

But even after the change, the words don’t come easy. Honesty can be too vulnerable for most people. After realizing her true feelings for Percival, even Nellie is at a loss for words. But her father, Nels Oleson, encourages her to use the simplest phrase to bring about the most direct expression.

“Try I love you—it’s easy to say and right to the point.” –Nels Oleson

This quote is an encouragement to us all. We often don’t take the risk to share our true feelings. Some of us chicken out because of fear. Fear of rejection. Others maybe have thorns of unforgiveness—a habit of holding on to past mistakes. And for some of us, we miss the chance forever.

Don’t miss that chance.

Tell someone how you feel, how you messed up, and how you want love back in your life.

It’s won’t be easy. It takes courage. It requires patience.

But in the end, it’s always worth it.

Perhaps that person is your spouse, or your mom. Maybe it’s your sister or a friend or that wayward child who left your home years ago. Maybe it’s God.

Take a bold step—share your heart.

Stop plucking petals and start smelling the flowers.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT

With all this love in the air, I was reminded how much I love you—my readers! Without you, I can’t do the very thing I love. Writing has become a passion, but not just writing on random subjects. My passion is connecting Little House on the Prairie with our everyday lives—how we can share our stories in much the same heartbeat that Laura Ingalls Wilder shared hers.

In honor of Valentine’s Day and my appreciation for you, let’s have a giveaway in the form of a quote contest. The winning quote will win an autographed photo of Baby Grace!

This time it’s all about love.

You have until the 28th of February to submit your favorite love quote from any episode of Little House on the Prairie to my website via the Let’s Connect page. https://wendiloulee.com/lets-connect/

Make sure to include the quote, and the episode. While you’re at it, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter.

Much love,

Wendi Lou

Puppy Love

It’s February, and love it in the air!

Puppy love, that is.

Our adorable Bernedoodle Mo just had her first litter of puppies on Monday. I am as giddy as a grandmother, anxiously awaiting our first visit on Sunday afternoon.

Mo

I never really thought about it, but being a grandmother is a strange thing. If I am THIS excited about Mo and her puppies… what will it be like to have actual human grandchildren? I’ve been showing off pictures and posting to Instagram.

Nine puppies… can you believe it?

#sixgirlsandthreeboypups

Aren’t they adorable?

Do you see the two with the white tip on the end of their tails?

And what about the one that’s all black, except it’s little chin?

I can’t wait to hold each and every one of them. To snuggle and inspect all their markings. I’m so proud of Mo and the nine little creatures she brought into this world. Each, so unique!

How do I stop thinking about Mo and her pups? Should I drop everything and just drive the hour north to sit with them all day? Tobey and Raegan would kill me.

 

As a real grandmother, I imagine myself being very respectful of my children and their spouses. Never overstepping their boundaries and always offering to help when they have babies. But will I want to gobble them up… like I want to gobble up these puppies? It’s the funniest feeling, and honestly I’m a bit worried about the future.

For those of you who have grandchildren, what is it like? How do you find a balance between thinking about them all day and still going on with your life that doesn’t involve them? What are the greatest joys? And what’s heartbreaking for you?

Teach me my friends–I’m going to need help nativating the road towards grandmothering. I’m a dog grandma–yes, but preparing for the real deal can never start too soon!

 

Drooling over puppy pictures here,

Wendi

 

 

**Interested in Mo’s puppies… visit Gail’s Doodles.

Celebrate with Singing

Do you love to celebrate?

I do.

Josh and I were married on September 11th, 1999. Yes, I know… sad, sad day. But in 1999 it wasn’t a sad day, it was the happiest of days.

Our 20-year anniversary is coming and you better believe we are going to celebrate. We are planning a big trip—a repeat honeymoon to some beautiful place… yet to be decided.

 

But the real truth is that we celebrate every day. We have this silly thing we do. You know some people have a special word or sign. We just look at the clock.

Anytime it reads 9:11 we celebrate! If we’re both home—we smooch (while the kids make groaning sounds and hide their eyes). If Josh is at work I send him a text and when I forget he always seems to remember. Every day I have two chances to celebrate and tell Josh how much I love him.

9:11… it’s when I married my sweet man, it’s when I became a Lee. But our love started growing long before 9/11.

 

 

Bear with me as I share the story.

It all started one January day in my dorm room. We had been eating in the dining hall with our friends and suddenly realized that the cafeteria was empty. We had shut the place down. The tables were being wiped clean, but we were still talking and laughing. He walked me to my room. I invited him in, and then I read him a book.

 

 

The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein

Have you read it?

The chorus goes like this…

“Oh I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece

I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece

Hi-dee-ho, here I go,

Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.”

 

It’s one of my favorite books. I’ve had it since I was four—when Dean Butler (Almanzo) gave it to my sister and me for Christmas.

 

 

It was sitting on my shelf and I couldn’t help myself. What can I say? I was a bit bold trying to secure his affections.

That night we talked about our missing pieces and that maybe I could fill his empty space and he could fill mine. We spent time together after that night, just like the pac-man rolling down the road feeling complete.

 

 

Today is that special January day when it all started—January 31st. We gave love a whirl and it has been the most amazing gift. The years have flown by with ups and downs. Times where our perspectives aligned and others when they didn’t. After nearly 20 years of marriage, two kiddos, and brain surgery we have experienced moments of joy and then days when the sorrow felt too overwhelming to go on.

 

What we have discovered could have been learned that first night—22 years ago within the pages of The Missing Piece.

 

No one can fill the empty space inside of us. We may try all sorts of things to fit—people, experiences, or possessions. They may work for a short time, but before long those things will fail you. At times our voices no longer can sing!

The only One who fits perfectly in your soul is the One who made you. He put that hole in your heart on purpose—so that you would go looking for Him. When you find Him, the celebration is never over. And the best part about finding God is that the song in your heart only gets louder and more clear.

 

What are you trying to stuff in that holy space, the part of you that only God can fill?

 

Open your heart.

Welcome Him in.

Celebrate with a song on your lips.

 

Wendi

Stepping Out

As I think about this new year and all it holds for me, the phrase “Bravely Surrender” keeps coming into my mind. Brave enough to step out, but humble to throw up my hands in surrender.

In November, I attended a conference for speakers called Leverage. I know this year will bring lots of opportunities and to share about my book, A Prairie Devotional–and I want to be ready. It’s been a lifelong journey trying to convince myself that I have a story worth telling. I’m still on that journey, as we all are–growing and learning to be who we were created to be.

It makes me think of Laura Ingalls in the episode “Country Girls.”

I’m laughing at the narration of Laura sitting by Plum Creek with her book and slate, saying something about how arithmetic is easy and she loves to read… but writing is something she feels completely overwhelmed by.

So overwhelmed that she doesn’t write an essay to read in front of the class. Instead, she gives a speech about her Ma and how much she loves her. Laura is confident speaking but not writing. Her paper contained only a few small words, but her heart was full to overflowing with stories to tell about her mother.

It’s ironic that Laura Ingalls Wilder went on to write many books, but it all started with a few small words that didn’t feel like nearly enough.

Doesn’t life work like that? The very hard thing we struggle with becomes what God uses most in us.

I understand that the writers of the show did this on purpose. And who knows maybe Laura did have trouble with writing when she first started school. But the truth is that we all struggle with something, whether it be reading or writing, maybe public speaking or sharing our faith stories.

The conference was filled with great information and workshops, but what I valued most was our small critique groups. Each member shared a portion of a message on day 1, 2, & 3. We had to be brave, like Laura standing in front of a classroom of people. It was our chance to practice our message in a safe place. Each morning, after hours of preparation the night before, surrender was the only thing left to do.

When you take a step of faith, failure is always looming on the horizon. But the simple act of stepping out is victory in itself.

When you think about the new year, what is your brave step? How can you surrender this year into the hands of the One who holds it all together?

Happy New Year my friends!

Wendi Lou





Spending Less and Giving More

When I think back, one of my favorite Christmases focused on this very thought.

My older sisters and I were in college. Money is scarce when you go to school for a living, but we discovered that the amount of money you spend does not determine the quality of the gift.

Our tiny table-top tree this year.
Mo friendly!

Months before the decision had been made, maybe inspired by the Little House episode Christmas at Plum Creek. All gifts would be handmade or repurposed from something laying around.

It was truly a magical season. I don’t remember what I ended up giving everyone but I can still see the wind chime my dad made me out of butter knives… don’t worry he cut off the blades, leaving the beautiful handles strung together. Surprisingly, the sound was lovely.

The gift my mom made still hangs in my closet, over twenty-five years later. She searched for old neckties and sewed them together to make a skirt–with all the points coming together at the hem. It’s spectacular.

Back then we didn’t have money, but we had time. And boy did we take a lot of time making Christmas gifts that year. We had to be creative and thoughtful about each gift. If only Pinterest had been around!!

Times have changed and it seems we are busier than ever. You may not be able to spend weeks collecting neckties or cutting metal utensils.

What happens when you don’t have the time to give a memorable gift?

I’ve wrestled with this as a mom–hoping to make Christmas special for my children, but at the same time helping them to realize what Christmas is really about.

It’s about love.

Love coming down to earth to know us personally. Check out this creative video… Love Came Down by Jars of Clay. https://binged.it/2rKvTRq

That love shows us how to treat one another. Invite others in to your home, your stable, your life.

This year, I’ve turned my focus towards spending time together. Tobey and Raegan will open a few packages–mostly things I would buy them anyway… socks and shoes, a book of course! The real gift will be a few days up in the mountains hanging out as a family (maybe hitting the slopes if the weather cooperates), a trip down south after Christmas to see my husband’s parents and sister, and a surprise adventure for the two of them later in the year. I’d tell you what it is–but what if my kids read this? I better not.

Spend time with your loved ones this Christmas. Make it the present under the tree. Even if you do have the time and the money, being together is the greatest gift you could ever give. Spend less on stuff that will soon be forgotten. Buy less things that break and go out of style.

Give more to the people around you by offering them a relationship.

Your time.

Your love.

It’s what Christmas is all about!

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Isaiah 7:14 NLT


Navigating Loneliness

Our puppy-dog Mo was gone for a night–she had a rendezvous with a handsome poodle who may have gotten a little frisky with our Berniedoodle. The kids were absolutely lost without her. Honestly, it was pathetic.

“Lonely to the core of his being” were my son’s words.

Today after school, the Mo-snuggles resumed and all is well with the world again… according to my kiddos. How in the world could one night without her bring on so much sadness?

It made me think back on my childhood. As a kid, I remember being a bit shy. But I never had to do anything or go anywhere by myself–I don’t ever remember being lonely. That was the reality of being a twin.


When we moved to Arroyo Grande, my son Tobey started at a new school. He didn’t know a single soul. Every morning we sat together on a red bench waiting for the bell to ring. Most days, he was such a brave first grader and held it together like a champ until that darn bell rang.

The tears would pool and then he’d hug me quick and tight before heading to the line outside of his classroom. I had no idea how he was feeling. My sister Brenda had always been around to keep me company. Tobey couldn’t fathom that feeling and he reminded me almost every day that school would be so much better if he had a twin.

I didn’t experience loneliness until my first day of college. It was the strangest feeling… I was alone, but completely prepared for it. I wanted to venture out on my own and I did, and then slowly an emptiness filled my soul.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but a few months went by and I found myself, nearly every weekend driving to see her. I’m not sure why we went to different colleges–I could make that trip with my eyes closed. I was lonely for my sister–too used to having her around. Kinda like my kids used to having Mo around.

Obviously my son doesn’t cry when I drop him off at the junior high school and I don’t drive to Wyoming every weekend to see my sister. The tears of first grade have paved the path to a confident young man. He learned early, what I learned later in life.

Loneliness is a huge issue–especially around the holidays. Some of us are all alone or maybe surrounded by people and yet share the same exact feelings. Christmastime brings up all kinds of memories, people we miss or have lost. Loved ones who choose not to have a relationship with us or maybe they live too far away.

The crazy thing is that we don’t get to choose our own path. You don’t decide what family you are born into or how many siblings you will have or if you get to be a twin or if the people you love will move away. But somehow most of us learn to be okay with ourselves. Navigating the loneliness we all face.


It wasn’t until after brain surgery in 2015 that I kicked loneliness out of my heart forever. Don’t get me wrong–I still miss people and even our dog Mo when she’s away. And of course, you’ll always have moments of longing for a good conversation with a friend or for me hanging out with my twinner.

But something changes when you’ve sensed God in a deep way. When your every breathe seems to hinge on His presence in your life. You know that He’s always with you–you are never really alone.

Wherever you are right now on the loneliness scale, look up. God is near–even when everyone else seems far away.

Wendi & my dog Mo

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Genesis 28:15


November Quote Contest, Because I’m Thankful for You

When we all gather around our tables, passing dishes and filling plates–I’m thankful.

The candles reflecting off beautiful ceramic pumpkins and seed pods and matching cloth napkins–my heart flickers too.

Some of us share out loud–one by one around the circle–after plates are cleared or simply pushed back to create room for spoken words of gratefulness. Others of us ponder those words in our hearts or write it down or find a Little House quote.

No matter how you choose to do it, just be sure you do!

When our hearts are filled with thankfulness, we begin to lose sight of the things we lack. If we focus on all that we have, we won’t have as much time to think about what we don’t have. And then we can start to look around and see the needs of others–people who need much more than we do.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17 NASB

What a contest this month. The quotes were amazing. You all stirred gratefulness in me. Thank you for submitting and doing so through my website–what a breeze this time around. The winners are Kelsey and Carolyn for their wonderful quote from Season One, A Harvest of Friends.

“Pa harvested a crop he didn’t know he planted. He planted a Harvest of Friends.” Laura Ingalls

You know it’s funny, but I feel as though I’ve collected a harvest of friends in each one of you. You are my friends–even though I haven’t met most of you face to face and we live very different lives–I feel like I know you and I hope you feel as though you know me too.

Before November is over, let gratefulness soar and you will too!

Much love,

Wendi Lou

A Good Review… and a Bad One!

Yesterday was quite the day!

My emotions didn’t know which way to move–it made me pause and think about what I tend to do and how I can change that tendency.

It all started out just glorious. The house was quiet after taking my kids to school, I put on my yoga pants and rolled out my mat. The title of the yoga session was “Freedom & Forgiveness”… how did my online yoga instructor know?

Just a bit of backstory–I don’t do yoga, well not until recently. October 1st I decided to give it a try for a 30 day challenge. I aim to visit my mat everyday, but it doesn’t always happen. I’ve made it to Day 24 since then and I’m mighty proud of myself. This girl can’t touch her toes and Downward Dog is just about the hardest thing I can imagine. But it helps me relax and focus, and who doesn’t need more of that in a day!


So I’m cat-cowing or downward dogging and I hear my phone ring downstairs. Not a chance am I leaving my deep breathing to be greeted by a healthcare salesperson… the most common as of late. I let it go to voicemail. When I finally make my way to the kitchen, I’m pleasantly surprised at a message from a past client. He has some more upholstery work for me and mentioned he left a review on Yelp.

I must admit I haven’t been working much, with finishing my devotional and then the multiple rounds of edits my Yelp account has been ignored for months. There it was–a five-star review from my sweet chiropractor client… but wait there was another review. Not a five-star, not even a three-star. And this client was not sweet.

Friends, it wreaked me.

Within minutes, my stomach was in knots and my head started throbbing. I had completely forgotten about the great review, like it never happened. My mind went through a mess of critical thoughts about myself and the quality of my work and why was I even in business? Surely I should close shop and never sit at my sewing machine again.

The other rollercoaster part of my day was discovering my devotional on Amazon… NO WAY!! The title is set and the cover is beautiful–really you should just pause for a minute and search for Wendi Lou Lee or A Prairie Devotional on Amazon. It’s not for sale yet, only the eBook is available for preorder. But still, my name… on the cover of a book… on Amazon!

Unbelievable.

As I jumped in the shower before picking up the kiddos, I let the water pour over me. The steam clearing my all-over-the-place thoughts. Why is it that criticism stays with us far longer and deeper than positive words? I know I can’t please everyone, but for some reason I want to try. And when I fail, I’m ready to throw in the towel.

I pulled up Amazon, one more time, to take another look and then it hit me. There are going to be reviews of my devotional and chances are some people are not going to like it. And they won’t be shy about telling the world how they feel. My stories of faith are much more precious to me than some lady’s furniture. This could be a tough journey ahead.

Unless. Yes, unless.

What if I stopped trying to please everyone? What if you stopped trying to please everyone? What would our lives look like?

Day 23 of my yoga challenge sums it up perfectly–Freedom & Forgiveness. Free to be me, free to be you! Forgiving ourselves when we fail and forgiving those around us too.

Living each and every day to please the One who matters most.



New Giveaway for November

Hello friends.

It’s November and I promised you another giveaway. Last time Jessie Jo and Theresa Ignizio Militello won for their awesome quotes. I’ll give you a little insider information… both of these quotes will be featured in my devotional coming out August 2019!!

This month we will do it all over again, but with a few guidelines to make it easier. I was plumb worn-out last time jumping from all different social media platforms. I’ve got kids and a puppy people, time is precious. So here’s the deal…

#1 Visit wendiloulee.com — please follow if you’d like to receive my updates and blog posts. It is not necessary to win, but I’ll love you for it! And it’s the easiest way to find out about future giveaways!

#2 The theme is Grateful and Thankful. Find a Little House quote that fills you with thankfulness or demonstrates how gratefulness was being embraced. I’ve expanded the theme because it appears to be difficult for some of you. Let’s include anything Fall… so crops, harvest, eating, or family! Think Harvest of Friends, The 100 Mile Walk, or maybe even Barn Burner!!

#3 Go to the Let’s Connect page on my site and write me a message with your submission. Some quotes speak for themselves, others need some explanations. And can you include the name of the episode? Thanks and Yes I will write back to each and every one of you!!

#4 Share this post on any and all of your social media platforms or specifically to your Little House loving family and friends. The more submissions, the more winners. I’d love to announce 1-2 quotes this time around and send you a beautiful signed photo of Baby Grace. And don’t forget to like my Facebook page–Wendi Turnbaugh as Baby Grace– it is where I interact daily with all of you!!

#5 Get your submissions in by Thanksgiving Night!!

Let’s be Grateful and Thankful this November.

Much love, Wendi Lou

The Richest Man in Walnut Grove

“What a family! It does make a man proud.” Charles Ingalls

When hard times hit, families either come together or distance themselves. Charles Ingalls was proud of his family, the kind of a family I long to have. Caroline headed for the fields to plant potatoes, Mary worked with Mrs. Whipple hemming skirts, and Laura took care of all the chores. Carrie helped too by milking the cow… well sorta.

 

Financial stress was a family problem, not something Charles had to conquer on his own. Each member sacrificed for the good of the whole, even when they could have raised a stink about going without “a little white sugar” or missing school or doing more chores than usual. Every time I watch this episode I can’t help it. Tears rush down my cheeks when Mary runs down the dirt road towards town, clutching her dollar and seventy cents. Celebrating how hard they worked, she has to tell Laura so they can add their contribution to the family “Money Jar.”

IMG_0921

The Lee Family 2015 – Five days before brain surgery.

I’d like to think my children would react the same way, rallying alongside Josh and I enduring unfavorable financial times or health problems or any number of life’s challenges. What was the secret that shifted their thinking? Was it that they were poor and had been through tough times before? When Nels declares that Charles Ingalls is the richest man in Walnut Grove, how does he come to that conclusion? Is it because he knows his children wouldn’t have sacrificed in the same way? And why not?

How can we influence our families to adopt the mindset of the Ingalls?

I’m sure there are many factors, but I have a hunch about one for sure. Almost every night at the dinner table we thank God for jobs and a house to live in and food to eat. We are thankful for every little thing because God has given it to us on this particular day. I think my kids, Tobey and Raegan, know these things aren’t guarantees. They are blessings. Not all blessings last forever and when the money jar gets a little empty that’s when family members step in to help in whatever way they can. Thankfulness shifts our thinking. It makes us part of a team, not a one-man mentality looking out for ourselves. When our hearts are bursting with thanks, it’s hard to be selfish.

Charles Ingalls says it best.

“I think the good Lord gives us hard times now and then, just so we appreciate the good ones.”

Be constantly thankful for the good times and when hard times hit, your family will be more likely to rally together. How have you seen this to be true? Besides thankfulness, what else creates this beautiful picture of a family sacrificing together?

 

Sharing is caring. If it blesses you, let it fly!

Wendi Lou

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