Season One – “The Voice of Tinker Jones"

The quiet Tinker Jones. We don’t know much about him …he doesn’t speak, but hears quite well. He’s kind and giving beyond our understanding, wanting to bring people together instead of apart.

In this episode there is an argument among the church members regarding a bell. Yes, you heard right a bell! Wouldn’t a bell be amazing, to ring the people to worship! Nice sure, necessary I’m not so sure. The argument falls over who will pay for it and the plaque honoring the generous donor … What’s the deal with Mrs. Olson always wanting her name on a plaque?  The arguments continue, Reverend Alden is forced to believe that he has torn the congregation in two.  No one is budging

I can’t help but think of our churches encountering these same problems. Disagreement in how things are run, personalities that don’t get along, people being pushed out instead of included, pride. Here we are, the church … God’s chosen vehicle to share his love and we don’t look much different than the world. It’s no wonder, after all the church is made up of people. Sinful, selfish people. Us God-lovers are also lovers of self. We want our way, we want the events we enjoy, the pastors we connect with, the music that draws us into worship. Selfishness destroys and divides.  It’s as ridiculous as wanting your name on a plaque, when it’s all about Jesus… should be all about Jesus!

If the church is made up of imperfect people then what are we to do? How are we to change the future of the church? From the voice of Tinker Jones we learn so much. His voice is not heard, but there is great action, great motivation to bring people together through his kindness. He crafts a bell, with the help of the children of Walnut Grove and through the donations of the townspeople, even though they are unaware of it. He doesn’t say it but his words ring loud and clear that unity is of greater importance than most things. I dare say that unity can be so visible to the world, that they are curious to know how we do it. In John 17:23 “I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

How on earth do we put up with each other, especially those strong types that want to put their names on a plaque? We won’t always get it right, we are human. But we strive for kindness, to have the voice of Tinker Joes!

 

August 30th- The Burn

I never thought the burning in my lungs was something I would miss … In the past it has meant I was avoiding the trails, but this last weekend it meant I am finally cleared to be back on the trail!  It’s not that I wanted to run so badly, but when you aren’t cleared medically to do something you used to do with ease, it’s the one thing I’ve been dreaming about.

I came back to reality when Sunday night I was hurting… Like every muscle, tendon and ligament screaming at me. Friends, I did not overdo it … I think a snail could have crossed the finish line before me. It has just been a really long time that my body exerted that kind of energy. It felt good … and strange, in my mind like I never stopped training for that half marathon that took place the weekend of my surgery but my body felt so awkward like I’d never ran before.

So needless to say my scan came back good once again … Praise be to Jesus the healer of my brain!  Next scan in 6 months and back to full activity … burn baby burn!

Season One – "School Mom"

I just love this episode… Caroline is so feisty! And yet she also notices the weakness in herself to lose her temper even though we don’t blame her – dealing with the likes of Harriet Oleson!  I love her example and honesty of admitting  that she has let it get the best of her.

I consider myself pretty easy going and I get along with almost everyone, but this episode reminded me of losing my temper just the other day. I was at the pool swimming, while my kids were doing lessons. I was sharing a lane with another gal who was in way better shape than me … To make matters worse it was my first time back in the pool since my brain surgery so I was a little rusty to say the least. Well the Olympic swimmer who I was sharing a lane with, kept running into me … really because she was lapping me. So first off it was making me feel like a loser because I was so slow but then I was thinking … “wait a minute I had brain surgery, it’s amazing I’m even out here!”  After about the 3rd time she ran into me I lost it and asked if we could just each swim on one side so I wouldn’t get in her way. She wanted none of that, “etiquette is to circle swim you know?” My thoughts were “yes I do know that … but etiquette is also to space out, pass with plenty of room and maybe don’t swim the backstroke on someone’s heels!”  It happened one more time and I moved to a different lane.  Anyway long story just to say I lost my temper and just like Ma said “I’m always upset when I lose my temper.”

In fact, it almost ruined my day because I was so disappointed with myself acting that way and letting it get to me so badly. A  few days later I swam again and of course she was there … I didn’t share a lane with her but I wanted to meet her gaze and apologize for losing it. She not once in that hour looked my way or took a breathe facing me. That’s when I knew that she had it even worse than I did. I said a little prayer of peace over her, that her heart could soften enough to admit when we let our tempers get the best of us.

It brings me back to the episode and the words Caroline wrote on the chalkboard …

Compassion

Understanding

Do I have compassion or understanding for those people around me? Even crazy swimmer lady? Even when I feel like I’m not being given compassion or understanding … And I’m the one who really deserves it!  We all have bad days and have to bite our tongues and apologize to complete strangers … And you know what? I think it’s really good for us when we have to do it. It opens our hearts to see that we don’t have it all together, it keeps us humble and reminds us that others have off days as well. I’m keeping my eyes out for my Olympic swimmer friend… If I see her again I know what I need to do!

Season One – "Ma's Holiday"

Are you like Ma? You want to go away on a romantic trip with your hubby or a weekend away with your girlfriends but it’s too hard to leave the kiddos.  Or you are so excited to go, but then once you are there you can’t even enjoy it because you are worried about every little detail back at home?  Do you find yourself constantly texting and sending videos to the kids, checking in on what they had for dinner …  you aren’t really getting your holiday right?

Yes the children will survive … Even with the likes of Mr. Edwards nailing your 3 year old to the roof and serving up rattlesnake stew for dinner.  It’s not that Caroline thought the worse would happen… she just had a hard time not being in control.  As wives and mothers we have such a huge job that it can be challenging to let someone else take care of it, even if for just a few days.

I am a bit of a control freak when it comes down to handling my home, we all have a certain way we do things.  In the past it has been hard to let that all go and really get a holiday … Not just from doing it all but even thinking about it. This is where Ma went wrong!  She couldn’t stop thinking about all the things that needed to be done … And that is what they are, just things to do, things that stress us out and fill our days with worry, even when we aren’t even home to do them.

I can’t complain … I’ve had my share of amazing getaways with Josh, my super handsome hubby!  Most of the time his parents take the kids, sending us off to some fabulous place to relax and enjoy each other.  I really want to be fully present wherever I am, enjoying all the blessings that God has given me to enjoy. I may never have this chance again … to live every day to the fullest.  So go ahead take a Ma holiday and make it better than your first honeymoon!

Season One – "Town Party, Country Party"

Olga has a limp … An obvious defect that has plagued her all her days. She can’t run and play with the other children, she just watches wishing she too could join them. When Laura injures her ankle at Nellie’s birthday party, her and Olga become friends.

Olga has this grace and peace about her … It’s remarkable. She has only kind words to speak about everyone and she is extremely insightful. Her thoughts are compassionate and deep, even Mary doesn’t quite understand when Olga calls Nellie poor. I love her response, “Nellie is poor for she has no happiness inside. You know what’s inside a person by the face they wear.”

She has a point, Nellie is usually scowling. But then I think about it and sometimes my face doesn’t reveal what I’d like it to. I let circumstances and fatigue shine through more than I’d like to admit. A happy heart … a joyful heart, how do we get it back when the hard things of life have grabbed and taken it?  How do we begin living again not fearful, how do we get out of the habit of protecting ourselves?

For Olga, she had truly accepted her life … Short leg and all. That doesn’t mean she didn’t dream of running and playing but she was at peace with her condition.  If we all could get to this place of contentment then I think our hearts would be full and it would spill over into our faces. In Proverbs 27:19 it says “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

Lately my deepest desire is to have a heart content with what the Lord has for me today, for joy to come spilling out of me.  I am being patient with myself, knowing that the joy will come as I am grateful for all the things I’ve endured this past year … For I know that for those who love God all things work together for good!  – Romans 8:28

Too often I focus on the problem, when what I really need to shift my eyes to is the One who holds it all together …He has our hearts in his hands. Laura said it best, “The heart is more important than a leg.”

 

Season One – "For The Love of Johnny Johnson"

I remember my first real crush … Unlike Laura I didn’t tell a soul, probably because I was too afraid of being rejected.  I was one who admired from afar, wishing in my heart to be noticed. While I never jumped in the creek so I could wear my Sunday dress to school … I did do other ridiculous things to try and win the heart of that boy.  To my dismay, I slowly began to realize that my twin sister Brenda was my main competition.

Oh how I wish that I had the boldness of Laura … Not that it worked out for her, but at least she had the confidence to make a move.  I just cried my eyes out, gave up and became even more insecure.  Of course now it’s all in the past and I’d never want that silly boy in my life anyway, but the journey of being an identical twin was hard on me, is hard on me still.

I can’t tell you how many people ask me if I like being a twin, that they have always dreamed of being a twin.  I must say it is an amazing bond that is remarkable and I cherish it.  On the other hand, it’s really hard too.  Constant comparison in grades, sports, looks, achievements, friends, and boyfriends nearly took over my entire 4 years of high school.

The quote of the episode comes from Ma … “You mustn’t be afraid to hurt, because that is part of life. Hurt is something you measure happiness by.  It’s like valleys and mountain peaks, without them both the world would be flat and uninteresting.”  We all know this is true, but often I think I could do without the valleys of life just fine.  But without the valleys I wouldn’t be stronger, I wouldn’t be wiser, and I wouldn’t be as grateful for the mountain peaks!

It wasn’t until I went away to college that anyone knew me as just Wendi.  It was the first time I wasn’t living in someone else’s shadow and it gave me confidence.  I have to laugh hearing Caroline giving Laura advice … “If I waited for him I might never find out.”  I too had to take the first step and ask my future husband on our first date.  I finally had the courage to take a risk and go for it … Maybe inspiration from Laura and “For the love of Johnny Johnson.”

 

 

 

May 12th – 6 Month Check

Well I made it to the six month mark last Friday. MRI last Monday and my appointment with my surgeon today. Great news … My scan was clear again! Those two little mystery spots are still there but haven’t changed. Josh took the day off to come with me, bummer that we had to take two cars but this weekend I meet the girls for some deep conversation and great food.  So we spent the 6.5 minutes with the doctor and then ventured out and found this fantastic bowl place “Backyard Bowls.”  Really great time except for the fact that I am sick with a nasty cough.

Why did I have to be sick this weekend?  As I’m writing this, it’s 2:37am. I can’t sleep, it’s like every time I’m almost asleep my throat closes up and I can’t breathe, gasping for air.  It actually reminds me of the crazy nights up writing before and after my surgery. I was so honest then about how everything was going and maybe the reason I can’t sleep tonight is because it’s time to be honest again.

These past 3 months have been super hard … oh I know it seems like I’m getting better and stronger and that is true. But my heart is so fragile, I’m on the edge of tears constantly. I don’t know exactly what to do with myself or how to make it through TJ’s without crying. When someone asks how’s it going? I don’t know how to respond … I just want to hide.

So what’s the problem?  I think it’s a lot of things all stacked up on my shoulders and I’m caving in.  Last week was the 10 year anniversary of my dad passing away, then another MRI… (my favorite), and Josh deciding to go back to Sports Warehouse.  Each in itself is not going to send me over the edge, but the combo has left me in a bit of a messy place.  It’s like my brain doesn’t know how to handle it all …all the stress, all the change!

My friend Jodi and I walked the streets of SB tonight, just talking and walking for hours. She is my closest friend, how is it that she knows exactly the right questions to ask?  She challenges my answers to make me think deeper and then starts saying something about heaven and how we will be able to walk and never see them same thing twice.  We stop at this gorgeous building with an archway where a man with his guitar was playing. The archway creating the most amazing acoustics. We just sat on the steps and listened to his sweet voice and fingers picking at the strings. I was at complete peace for a few moments until I started coughing and we headed back for meds and tea and beds. And now here I am typing instead of sleeping … I’m going to be hurting tomorrow!

Season One – "Mr. Edwards Homecoming"

The beloved Mr. Edwards makes his first appearance, how can you not love his silly song and childlike demeanor?  I love that we get to see what’s really inside of him, maybe the reason behind all his drinking. He goes into a panic seeing Laura sick with a fever, reminding him of the daughter he lost from scarlet fever. Isn’t it strange how something can trigger a traumatic event and you are taken right back? Just last Sunday marked the 10 year anniversary of my dad dying of a heart attack. I was with him that day and tried to revive him, but I was not successful. The ambulance came, with its screaming horn … took my dad away on a stretcher, I knew he was gone.  Even to this day when I hear a siren my heart stops … I have to force myself to take a breath.

Mr. Edwards was still dealing with the pain of loss, maybe blaming himself but for sure blaming God.  “He never had time for me, so I don’t have time for Him.”  So often God doesn’t come through for us the way we want, I wonder if it’s all in his divine plan to break our hearts so that they will be open to Him and his plan.   A plan that in the moment makes no sense, but always has its purpose if we are patient and have the eyes to see.

I still miss my daddy, lately it’s just so sad to me that my kids don’t remember him.  We talk about Grandpa Lanny a lot, they see me get quiet and sometimes my eyes get glassy.  I get big hugs from them and life moves on, but I don’t … I’m still left with the questions of why.  My broken heart has to rest on a verse in Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  I will probably never understand the reason but I do see God’s perfect will unfold. I see the amazing husband he gave to my mom, making her so happy. I see my children love Grandpa Curt with the same love they would have loved my dad with.  It’s all still love and even when it’s not how we would have written the story … We don’t get to write the story, but it’s still beautiful!

Season One – "100 Mile Walk"

Have you ever been in a spot where everything seemed to be working out just like you always dreamed?  I guess you could call it counting your chickens before they hatch … It’s such a for sure thing in your mind and then it doesn’t work out. This is where Charles is when the storm hits and the wheat crop is ruined. I’m sure he’s thinking about all the work and money he put into the crop and all the things he wanted to do with the earnings, just to see the plan fail drastically. This year has been that way for my family … Taking a leap of faith, encountering huge challenges on the way and then the dreaded realization that we may have made a mistake. Believe me I’ve had my pity party this week, but there comes a time when it has to stop … Who would have guessed that watching a Little House episode would do the trick?

Now don’t get me wrong, I cried my eyes out through this entire episode … It really put my situation into perspective. After all, Charles had to leave his family and find work so they wouldn’t starve that coming winter. My plight is not so bad, just hopes and dreams that cannot be fulfilled at this time. It means pulling myself together, leaving the pity party behind me and moving on, letting go and trusting that God has a plan in it all. God never promises an easy life, in fact he says in John 16:33 “In this life you will have troubles. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” So I’ve resolved to stop wishing things were different, instead what can I do to make them different?

At the opening of this episode, Charles is walking through the wheat field so happy and thankful. He looks up and says, “Thank you Lord!” How often do we thank God when everything is going our way? But do we thank him the same when our lives are far from ideal? If He knows what is best for us, why is it so hard to trust that the hard times are in his plan?  Charles is not happy as the hail is beating down his crop but he knows it won’t do any good to complain and feel sorry for himself.  Sometimes life seems as hard as a 100 mile walk, but what choice do you have but to start walking?

Season One – "Country Girls"

What can I say?  Country Girls is probably one of the most remembered Little House episodes of all time.  The brown egg scandal, Ma making the dresses and of course we get to meet the legendary Nellie Oleson – in all her wicked glory.  As I reflect on the lessons of this hour of television I’m struck with two things … fear of rejection and gratitude.

That morning, Laura with her head under the covers, wrestles with the fear of rejection.  It proves even worse when her fears become reality as her and Mary are called “long-legged snipes” as they cross the playground.  Then with Nellie and her “country girls” remark, Laura and Mary are feeling completely self-conscious before they even step foot in the school.  Don’t we all struggle with this at times in our lives, not knowing if we will be accepted, hoping we won’t be made fun of?  Especially in school, I think of the many children who are bullied every day by the likes of Nellie Oleson!

When my son was starting 1st grade, we had just moved so he was at a new school.  Every morning was the same … him trying to be brave as we walked in and then we sat on the red bench until the bell rang.  But as soon as the bell rang, the tears began to pool up in his eyes and he was terrified to not know anyone, to not have a friend.  After about 2 weeks of this I realized that I had no idea what he was going through.  After all, I am a twin,  I always had Brenda with me on the first day of school … until my first day of college!  As I told him the story, sympathizing with him that I couldn’t relate but knowing he was going to be ok, he looked at me and said “You were so lucky Mom!”

He did adjust after a while and now he just runs off and I’m left at the red bench … happy that the tears are a thing of the past.  So how do we overcome this very real fear, to get out of the covers and brave a new place or season of life?  Well it helps to have someone with you like Mary but it’s not always the case.  When I am afraid, at the end of my rope, it’s the strength of God who helps me be courageous.  In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  At times we all need to take a deep breathe and take a step forward into the unknown, with prayers for strength and trust on our lips.

The display of gratitude also shines so brightly in this beloved episode.  I love the trip to the mercantile for the slate, but the girls don’t have enough for a slate pencil.  They can’t ask Pa for more … “he’s given us so much already.”  Mary decides to use her Christmas penny and share it with Laura, as the Oleson children help themselves to handfuls of candy inside.  Then you have Caroline surprising the girls with new dresses, instead of making one for herself.  And the essays … I get a little teary just thinking of what Mary and Laura share versus Nellie and Willie.  How do we raise children who are grateful, not always wanting more or boasting in what they do have?  Who see that people are more important than possessions?  I wish I had an easy answer, I don’t … but I do believe that when we hold back some from our children they realize that privilege is not a given.  We don’t all get whatever we want and most things take hard work to obtain.  It’s a hard road for us as parents, one that fights us everywhere … from the grocery store, to school clothes, to Christmas presents and trip souvenirs.

I don’t think Charles and Caroline had any other choice but to live without at times.  This way of life made it possible for these lessons to be learned.  There is a Ma quote from this episode that I just love … “We start learning when we are born and if we are wise we won’t stop until the good Lord takes us home.”  Ma was quick to remind Laura “Do unto others” when there was trouble at school.  Likewise Pa encouraged her to hold tight to this virtue as she went to sell eggs to Mrs. Oleson.  Pa reminds us to not let the remarks get the best of us … after all Mary and Laura ARE country girls!  Life is all about a journey, learning as we go, overcoming struggles and hopefully giving grace to others.

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