Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Milk and meat

I really think that the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder should be read at least twice in your lifetime. Once, when you are a little girl, so you can wear the bonnet, gather nuts and berries, and pretend to be Laura. (I always wanted to be Laura.) Twice, so that as a mother, you can read it to your little girls, and they can wear bonnets, gather nuts and berries, and pretend to be Laura and Mary.

We're reading through the series now; my husband or I will read a chapter a night. By doing this we have read the first three books of the series, and are about the finish On The Banks of Plum Creek. (My favorite in all the series.) There's something satisfying about seeing your husband read and enjoy the story, with your children, reading from the same worn paperback you read from when you were a child. It's nice to see your maiden name written in 3rd grade handwriting on the front page.

By reading this series again after many years, there is a new and fresh perspective to it all. I have found myself crying over chapters in the books, whereas when I was younger, it was just a fun story, and some fodder to pretend with. When Pa is lost in the blizzard for four days, Ma does not get irritated with the children or cold or chores or worry; but she "smiles a tired smile" and "speaks gently". (Oh, that I could do this....) There is much to be learned from these stories, these old ways, these trying times in the Ingalls household--I see that now, in my "older" age.

Hebrews talks to the Jewish believers in Christ and admonishes them for not "stepping up", for not having greater understanding of the Word of God, for not applying the basics for their own lives:

"Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquanited with the teaching of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." ~Hebrews 5:13-14

What the Little House series does is meet child and adult at different levels. Much can be gained for the young child reading this series. Much can be gained for the adult reading this series. It depends on your maturity, and hindsight.

I can't help but apply this to the Bible. Am I finding a new and fresh perspective every time I read the Word? Am I looking at verses differently than I have in the past? Am I finding new and interesting information for my imagination? Am I done with "milk" and chewing the "meat"?

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." I Corinthians 13:11


Mama Monk said...

woah, weird! I was just reading your recent blog post again. I skipped over to amazon to order one of the books you recommended, and when I came back to your blog, you had a new post. weird. I look forward to reading it. right now, in fact.:)

Andrea said...

I just posted it! :)

Miriam said...

I love your thoughts here, Andrea. And, I just happened to purshase On the Banks of Plum Creek tonight! I too have enjoyed soaking in the sweet, graceful rhythms of the Ingal family's life.

Christine said...

I'm reading the series with my son and he loves it too. We're on Farmer Boy now and he likes relating his life to Almanzo's and comparing what work they each have to do. I agree that reading them again brings much more depth.

tonia said...

Completely agree with you! I want to be Ma...she is so gentle and patient...sigh. I was a little overwhelmed by Almanzo's family though. Woah! Talk about working hard!! :)

Susanne said...

Great thoughts Andrea! There are so many levels to the Word that I think God wants to take us through, but sometimes we just tend to stop at the "milk" and not move on to the "meat".

I loved the Little House series but have not read it as an adult. You piqued my interest in them to reread.

L.L. Barkat said...

After Mary goes blind, there's an exhaustion in Ma that Laura only hints at in her writing. In most of the books, I think she highlighted the best in Ma and skimmed over the rest or merely suggested the deeper currents.

So, yes, I want to be the best of Ma. But I don't feel too terrible about the realities of exhaustion and disappointment that sometimes meet us in the road.

Jennifer said...

Great thoughts. One thing I don't like about the "new church" is that oftentimes it's assumed that seekers or new Believers cannot grasp the word of God, that it has to be jazzed up or simplified in some way. But it's the Word of God! It speaks to all of us, just as you mentioned.

And I, too, have read from my very own boxed set of Little House books to my own daughter (it was the light blue set). One thing that occurred to me is how appealing the first 2 are to boys (and then the third one is about Alanzo). There's a lot of hunting and trapping and cabin building. So, I am going to expose my little guy in a few years as well.

Sarah said...

I LOVE the Little House series! In fact, we have watched them on TV so many times that I don't think there is a single episode we haven't seen. I've also read the books once through, I can't wait to read them to my girls at the right age. And what a great comparison to the Word and how it reaches us in different ways at different points on our walk. Here's to chewing more meat!

Kimmie said...


I was just laying on my couch last night (after an evening of fishing with my 6 kids)...and I was reading the book of Hebrews. I was asking myself some of the same questions...I so want the meat and lately I have felt dry in my reading.

I enjoyed reminising with you over the Ingalls' truly is a wonderful series..I love it when 'half pint' learns to spit from her good old friend Mr. Edwards ;-)

Please come visit me sometime if you get a minute!

mom to 6- one homemade and 5 adopted

Anonymous said...

Andrea- Hey! I love the Little House series as well! Emma and I are reading it together and we are on These Happy Golden Years now. I am sort of sad we are about to finish. :)

dorothy said...

Such a great post, Andrea. We just took the first book in the Little House series out of the library recently and I began reading it to the girls. Such a good parallel you drew between understanding the Word in different ways at different times. Thanks for the call onward to greater maturity!

Andrea said...

Tonia--we haven't read Farmer Boy yet. I've actually never read it. But I hear it's great.

Susanne--oh yes. We tend to stop with milk, right? I want to move on!!

L.L--I think that's what makes the books so charming. The ideals hidden in the hardness of life.

Jennifer--oh yes. Dont get me started on the Church jazzing it up...
And yes I love that they read my old copy.

Sarah--I love the series, too, though we have not watched them yet. they saw the "newish" one that came out on TV a few years ago--it was well done.

Kimmie--yes I will definitely visit! I peeped over for a minute and look forward to it.

Ami--such a fun series to read to girls!!

Dorothy--that is great you are reading them. I know you will enjoy them! :)

Janel said...

That's a hoot Andrea, because I haven't read Farmer Boy either. And I think you're right. It might just be time to dust them off for my second read! Thanks. :)

Beverly said...

Andrea, it is so funny that you just posted this, because I started a series on Classics at my blog, and next week I am going to post from Little House In the Big Woods.

I love this series ... and I taped every single episode of the tv series growing up. I think I dressed up as Laura for school too, when I was little.

You are so right ... both young and old can gain from these books. I can't wait to read them with my daughter as my mom did with me. I love the idea of getting Daddy involved too.

Kendra said...

We've been reading through the Little House series, too. It's my first time, I must have had a sad childhood ;)
Anyway, I have loved it as well. One of the things that I recently noticed was in "Little Town on the Prairie", the way that Mary speaks of her blindness and her certainty of God's goodness are just amazing! This family was rarely even able to make it to church. Laura even commented as a little girl that she hated Sundays. Yet, a knowledge and love for God had been so clearly cultivated in their hearts. It really is so much simpler than we often think; Ma is such a role model in so many ways.
Thanks for this post!

Jess said...

What a lovely post-- and I actually looked like Laura Ingalls as a little girl... long brown braids and all! I loved watching the show as a little girl too- and now my kiddos enjoy it with us. Like you say, the stories were good for children, but teaching for adults.

I love the milk & meat comparison, never really thought about it that way with literature!
Jess @ Making Home