Bible Gateway interviewed Wendi Lou Lee (@wendiloulee), the child actor who played Baby Grace on Little House on the Prairie, about her book, A Prairie Devotional: Inspired by the Beloved TV Series (Thomas Nelson, 2019).
For those who aren’t aware, please describe the popularity of Little House on the Prairie, both the book and TV program. Why do you think it has such a broad following?
Wendi Lou Lee: The nine-book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder has been in print since 1935, selling more than 60 million copies in more than 100 countries. The television show, based loosely on the fourth book, On The Banks of Plum Creek, first captivated the nation in the early 1970s and continues to this day—45 years later. I believe the popularity of Little House on the Prairie expresses people’s desire for stories that reflect faith in God and the importance of family.
How did you become a cast member of the TV show?
Wendi Lou Lee: My grandmother, Louella Swenson, was friends with the casting director of the show. A casual lunch led to a meeting with Michael Landon, who on the spot hired my twin sister and me to play the role of Baby Grace Ingalls.
What is a favorite behind-the-scenes memory of yours being on the set?
Wendi Lou Lee: The set was our Wonderland. We grew up wearing bonnets, visiting the farm animals on location, and taking naps in our dressing room. One of the most memorable days was riding in the back of the wagon for the first time. It wasn’t until our last season that we were old enough to graduate from Ma’s lap on the wagon seat to the back with the rest of the children. I remember sitting by Jason Bateman (James Cooper Ingalls) and having the best time. Also, I’ll never forget lunchtime on location. All the cast and crew ate together in a big red barn.
My favorite episode has always been “Dance with Me.” In one scene, guest star Ray Bolger (Toby Noe)—the scarecrow from Wizard of Oz—is telling me all about his love troubles. I’m sitting in the highchair outside, with the wind blowing through my hair, completely clueless to what he’s talking about. He realizes it too. Many years later, I named my son Tobey after him.
What role has the Bible played in your life?
Wendi Lou Lee: I grew up in a Christian family and surrendered my heart to Jesus at 14. The Bible has been a constant encouragement, guiding my thoughts and actions. Through good times and bad, the Word of God has proven powerful, with the ability to speak truth and change my perspective. Memorizing Scripture, especially during recent health issues, has been a source of peace and contentment.
When and how were you diagnosed with a brain tumor? What was the outcome?
Wendi Lou Lee: In 2015, my health began to fail inexplicably. For weeks, I’d suffered excruciating headaches, mental confusion, and dizziness. My doctor finally ordered a brain scan, finding a tumor in the ventricles of my brain. Eleven days later I emerged from the operating room with a smile on my face and a story of God’s faithfulness in my heart.
How has your faith helped you overcome the struggles you’ve faced?
Wendi Lou Lee: My faith was everything to me through my diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. Faith isn’t simply saying you believe in God—it’s actually putting into action what you say you believe. If I say that I trust God, then it’s up to me to lay my worries aside and surrender the outcome to him.
Share one or two devotionals from your book that are especially meaningful for you.
Wendi Lou Lee: One of my favorite chapters in the devotional is “When Trees Fall.” It’s the story of our tree fort crashing to the ground. Life doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes trees fall for no reason. The challenge is to trust God through the troubles of life, no matter how big or small, when life makes sense and when it doesn’t.
Another favorite is “Become A Storyteller.” It’s the first chapter of the book and has become the primary message I hope to share. We all have a lifetime of stories to tell—stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness, his love and provision. When we share our lives with others, God is glorified.
What are the major lessons to be gleaned from the devotional stories in your book?
Wendi Lou Lee: Soothing fractured relationships, staying positive in challenging situations, caring for others, and relying on God’s guidance when life looks impossible.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Wendi Lou Lee: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him so that you may overflow…” (Romans 15:13 NIV).
I found myself praying for joy and peace and coming up empty. It wasn’t resolved until I realized that it all hinges on trust. When you completely surrender to God, trusting in his plan, joy rains down and peace becomes an anchor for your soul.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Wendi Lou Lee: Bible Gateway is my go-to resource for finding verses and comparing translations. I used BibleGateway.com in virtually every chapter of my book. What a fabulous resource at our fingertips. Bible Audio App is something I ran across just recently. I can’t think of anything better than listening to God’s Word while folding laundry, working out, or running errands.
A Prairie Devotional is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Wendi Lou Lee is a Jesus follower, an actress, and a brain surgery survivor. The four seasons she spent on Little House on the Prairie playing Baby Grace Ingalls are among God’s greatest blessings. Her good but hard life resembles what the Ingalls family experienced—great joys and sorrows. In 2015, Wendi was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her surgery and recovery led to a newfound freedom. Sharing her story of God’s goodness through life’s most difficult circumstances brings Wendi the most joy. She is the author of A Prairie Devotional: Inspired by the Beloved TV Series.
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