I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie.
Half Pint was my friend. I cried when Mary went blind and fell in love with Almanzo like the rest of the world.
I didn't bat an eye watching my TV heroines sleep in a one room cabin, wear their one good "Sunday dress" to every church service, wedding and special occasion. Life was hard on the prairie, days were long, work was consistent, and distractions were few.
I know life isn't a television show. It's not divided into 30 minute feel-good segments, all wrapped up with a tidy moral at the end. But there are some wonderful lessons we can all learn, not only from this wholesome show, but from the period in which it was set.
It was a time in our country when children lived under great expectations. There was early childhood and then there was adulthood. Teenagers were often newly married with land and babes of their own, working under tremendous responsibility.
I don't remember any Little House on the Prairie episodes about "Laura's challenging tween years" or "How much allowance should Mary get for making her bed?"
Now, I'm personally thankful for modern times and certainly don't want to go back to the ways of yore (I love the word yore, don't you?). But in reading Do Hard Things, a book written by two teenage brothers, who have rebelled against the low expectations of today's culture, it's pointed out that with money, technology and a shift in work ethic, we've made things easy for our kids.
We don't expect hard things from them.
Instead of expecting greatness, we do something worse, we reward our 10 year old for picking up dirty clothes off the floor and our 7 year old for cleaning his plate. I'm not pointing fingers here, we've done it too, but in reading this life-changing book, I realized this has to stop in our home.
My kids don't need an allowance for being a part of the family. They don't need a reward for putting away their own laundry (that I usually fold!) They need to be challenged to greatness, pushed away from laziness and mediocrity. Our society expects our kids to do the minimum, filling their minds with low expectations.
We need to expect them to do hard things.
They don't have to wait until they are out of college to witness of Christ to a friend or turn a certain age to raise money for the poor. They don't have to expect comfort and ease and be okay with the status quo. They don't have to be like everyone else.
Doing hard things is, well, it's hard. It's gut-wrenchingly hard to share your marriage testimony for the world (and your neighbors) to read. It's scary-hard to squeeze another $38 out of your budget to rescue a child from poverty. These things are hard, but they are good.
I want my children to know that not only did we expect hard things of them, we did them ourselves.
When I announced I was going to Kenya, I received a comment from a stranger. Another Mom, just trying to make her mark on the world. She and her little girl were touched by a photograph of hungry street children in Kenya gnawing on the leg bone of a cow.
They could have just felt bad, even whispered a prayer. But they did more. They have done something hard. They created a company called Mom and Me Baking, a great little cookie bakeshop that profits the hungry in Kenya. In just the first two months of business, this mom and daughter duo fed 150 African people for a week!!
Are you expecting hard things from your children? Aiding them to make a difference and fanning the flame in their young hearts? (If so, PLEASE tell me all about it in the comments!)
In a few days, I'll be doing something out of my comfort zone (and also have I mentioned, terrifying for me?) I will be asking you to join me as I travel to Kenya.
I will push you out of your comfort zone as you read along, exposing you to uncomfortable pictures and heartbreaking stories from Africa's largest slum, a place without electricity or running water. A place where a million people survive and put their own sewage in a plastic bag and throw it out the door. A slum that is littered with thousands of plastic bags--
I'm asking you, today, to open your heart......
to get ready to do something hard. For Him.
[This book is written for teens. But we decided not to wait to share it with our 10 and 7 year old. As we read it aloud, we did so with their age in mind and edited out a few parts.]