Caroline’s Heart, Harriet’s Mouth

Hello all and welcome back to the table! I love to gather together here and talk about things we’ve learned over the last week… month… or even year. Pull up a chair and grab your beverage and a muffin and let’s have prayer…

       Father in Heaven, would You sit here beside us as You show us lessons in everyday life and how we can look more like You. Guide us in these words Lord and teach us Your ways. In Jesus name, Amen.

       Most of you know by now that my favorite show in the world is “Little House on The Prairie” and if you didn’t know… now you do 😊

       I’ve learned quite a few lessons in my life from that show. It wasn’t all just for entertainment. Oh, I was entertained alright, but as I’ve gotten older, I have really seen a lot of spiritual lessons steaming from the prairie.

       God has no limits to what or how He can use something in our lives to teach us. I’m pretty amazed though at how often He uses what we are already paying attention to, for a teachable moment or two. So, God very often uses this most treasured show to show me His lessons.

       When I had my children, I always told myself that I wanted to be a Caroline Ingalls kind of mother. You know, always had the right words to fix a problem, made homemade bread every couple of days, made everyone’s clothes, weeded the vegetable garden often, gathered the eggs, even plowing the field when she had to! All while looking completely lovely and put together in a classic pioneer kind of way. She always had a smile and greeted her family with a cheerful joyous smile for her children and husband upon returning home from school or work.

       A hard day at the mill for Charles meant he would get a sympathetic ear and a hardy meal from Caroline. If one of the girls had a fight with Nelly Olsen or got a bad grade on a test at school, Ma was always there with the hanky to dry their eyes and a sage word to help them glean a lesson from their unfortunate experience.

       Harriet, on the other hand, was nosey, persnickety, belittling, uppity, argumentative, gossipy, and just an all-around pain in the drop-seat of those red flannels the men wore back then. She always seemed to make a situation worse not better. She nagged poor Nells to death and elevated her own children above every other child in the school. She was loud and pushy, greedy and narcissistic, annoying and just plain mean!

       If her children had a bad day at school, she made sure they knew it wasn’t their fault but was most likely the fault of another child who was just jealous of Nelly’s beauty and charm or their wealth or whatever. It usually ended up being Laura’s fault no matter what it was. If Nells had a hard day (which he usually did working with Harriet all day), he was met with coldness and a “make your own dinner” attitude. The only lessons she taught were that of gossip, lies, and out right superiority.

       I have sat and watched this show countless times and I always have the same thoughts when encountering both Caroline and Harriet. Caroline is so sweet and gentle with enough fire to protect her children and enough sass to put Harriet in her place. But she is mostly serine and lovely, brimming with femininity and grace. Harriet is selfish and brazen, brimming with venom and toxicity. These women are polar opposites and yet they both somehow live inside me.

       My heart longs to respond and react with Caroline’s grace and gentile. My mouth however can sometimes reveal a Harriet persona.

       In my mind I envision my husband coming home from work on any given day and I greet him with a “welcome home” kind of smile and an embrace and the announcement that dinner is almost ready. I am tidy and put together in a modern-day pioneer ensemble of a pretty floral skirt and feminine blouse that says “I’ve prepared for you to come home”. My kids would come home from school and set the table for dinner and we would share the days events at the table and then we would discuss how we can better handle that difficult situation at school. This is only in my minds eye you understand.

       More often than I’d like to admit, my husband comes home and I’m wearing joggers and a coordinating T-shirt with my hair up in a bun or ponytail, face-naked (no makeup), and just getting dinner started only minutes before he got home. Thus, I have no time for the greeting at the door, just a “Hi” called over my shoulder from the region of the stove and the kids were somewhere off doing their own thing.

       Do I have any sisters who can feel my pain on this?

       If my children got in trouble at school, I wasn’t always inclined to sit them down and speak gentle words of encouragement to them. More like “what did you do and how long am I going to half to ground you for?”  We would eventually get to the discussion about what they did and why it was wrong and how we can make better choices in the future. But my Caroline moment was over-shadowed by my Harriet invasion. Thereby sending my desires to be like Ma up the proverbial chimney along with the smoke from her open fire upon which she made her bread.

       If my husband and I have a disagreement, my Caroline heart says to come gently to my husband and say “Honey, we need to talk. I hate it when we have a dispute and I’d like to start the discussion with saying I’m sorry for being so upset with you”. One of my favorite scenes between Charles and Caroline that best describes my preferred way of handling an argument takes place at night. They have retired for the evening and they had been silent with one another. After a few moments and an apology from Charles, Caroline responds with, “Time spent being angry with you is such a waste. I’m sorry”. I love that line.

       You see, Harriet would have responded in those moments with telling Nells her very famous line of, “Oh shut up!” She openly told her children that they were better then everyone else and even spread rumors about the Ingalls family to bolster her own family. She always lorded over people that they were richer and a better-quality people than anyone else in their town. She belittled Nells in front of others and made him look weak.  Oh, I shudder to think of the times I responded to my husband by saying “what were you thinking” or “why would you do that” or I don’t even understand why you would choose to do that”.

Colossians:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person.” (ESV)

       My Caroline heart wants to always season my speech with salt to make it pleasant and savory. Words that leave people feeling full and happy. My Harriet mouth can sometimes leave people feeling like I’ve seasoned my words with vinegar. No description necessary.

       You see, salt also brings out the natural flavor of a food. It enhances its best attributes. This is what our words can do when they are seasoned with kindness and gentleness and love. Our words can bring out someone’s best qualities.

       If our words are dripping with vinegar, they make everything tart and sour. Those words can contort a person’s face into a pucker that is often preceding of tears.

       I long to cultivate my Caroline heart to drowned out my Harriet mouth. I’d like to get a salt shaker and a vinegar flask and keep them on my desk as a reminder to season my words appropriately before speaking them out loud. Perhaps I’ll work on doing that. Sometimes we need tangible reminders of such things. Whenever you use your salt at a meal, think about seasoning your words. If you use vinegar, take a sniff before using it and think about how it would taste to take a swig.

       This will always be my favorite show and I feel like there will be more Little House lessons to come. Blessings to you all and I’ll meet ya back here next week. I gotta go collect the eggs…     

2 thoughts on “Caroline’s Heart, Harriet’s Mouth

  1. Hi Cindy

    I have not seen the show but can imagine it from your descriptive writing

    It is so true. I too always imagined myself as calm, gentle and the ideal wife. But the reality is very different!

    Thank you for a wonderful start to my day with your writing


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