Versus: Books and Movies

 The book is always better than the movie.

This is true for me, however I am not a visually-driven person. I’m one of those people who is much more drawn to books than to movies.

Today I am reblogging a post I wrote several months ago about one of my favorite books and the only movie I’ve ever watched  that truly equals the written story. In honor of Jonathan Crombie (who starred as Gilbert Blythe and tragically passed away earlier this month), this is my review of Anne of Green Gables, both the book and the movie.

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In the fall of 1986, two important things happened in my life.  The first event was the start of my high school education. The second was my introduction to Anne Shirley, a kindred spirit if there ever was one.

It was at my mother’s insistence I became acquainted with Anne.

When PBS announced it would be airing the 1985 version of the film Anne of Green Gables (starring Megan Follows as Anne Shirley and Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe), my mom encouraged me to watch it with her.  When I resisted, she forced me to watch it announced it would be required watching for me, whether I liked it or not.

Naturally, I crossed my arms, set my jaw, and decided under no circumstances would I enjoy anything at all about watching Anne of Green Gables. Stoically, I sat down for the first night’s segment, already dreading the five more nights yet to air.

Less than ten minutes after the opening credits, I was enthralled … with Anne Shirley, with kindred spirits, and with Prince Edward Island, Canada.

As soon as school let out the next day, I rushed to the library to get the only copy of Anne of Green Gables on the shelf. Before the next segment aired, I was more than halfway through the novel.

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Anne of Green Gables, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, was first published in 1908. The main character, Anne Shirley, is a young teen-aged orphan, who has spent all of her life living between foster homes and orphanages, never being loved.  When elderly, unmarried siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert fetch for an orphan boy to come live with them and help tend to the farm, Anne shows up by mistake. At first, Marilla wants to send Anne back and get the boy they originally requested, but in the end decides to give Anne a try.

From the outset, it seems stubborn Anne, despite her longings to remain at Green Gables, will be sent back to the girls’ home. Within hours of arriving, Anne meets Marilla’s dear friend Mrs. Rachel Lynde, who makes a snide comment about Anne’s red hair. Anne vehemently retorts, “You are a rude, impolite, unfeeling old woman! … How would you like it if I said you were fat and clumsy and probably hadn’t a spark of imagination in you?”   When Marilla forces Anne to apologize for her rudeness or return to the orphanage, it takes quiet, gentle Matthew Cuthbert stepping in to save the day.  

Throughout the novel, fiesty, imaginative Anne is prone to finding trouble. Her antics include dying her red hair green by mistake, getting her best friend drunk by mistaking currant wine for raspberry cordial, and nearly feeding her beloved teacher a pudding contaminated by a dead mouse.  But Anne also endears herself to the reader as she searches for and finds many “kindred spirits” in her new home in the small community of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Canada, including bosom friend Diana Barry and handsome arch rival Gilbert Blythe.

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The 1985 Sullivan Entertainment movie adaptation of Anne of Green Gables is very true to the book. Throughout the movie, the characters’ lines remain, for the most part, unchanged from the way they were originally written by the book’s author. The enchanting music and exquisite scenery simply add an extra dimension to the already heartwarming story of an orphan girl finding her place in the world at last.

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Anne of Green Gables has become something of a classic chick-flick in recent years, but many of my friends who adore the movie have never actually taken the time to read the novel. If you haven’t read or watched this lovely story, let me encourage you to do so.

I’ve read the novel Anne of Green Gables at least eight times, perhaps more. I’ve watched the four-hour movie an equal number of times. Amazingly, I’ve never grown tired of Anne Shirley whether I read her story or watch it acted out. Perhaps that’s because my favorite part is the simply finding a kindred spirit in the main character.  Her spunk and enthusiasm for life are contagious. Once you meet Anne Shirley (either on the pages of the novel or as acted out on the movie screen), she becomes as real as any person … a sign of both excellent writing and acting.

As an avid reader, I typically find the book to be better than the movie, although occasionally I’ve enjoyed a movie much more than the book.

But every once in a blue moon, if you are lucky enough, you’ll find a book and a movie adaptation which you’ll find to be equally enjoyable. For me, this would be the story of Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables.

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This post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.

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Alayda: A Guest Post by Maddie

Maddie, age 16
Maddie, age 16

Maddie is my 16-year old step-daughter. She’s an amazing young lady, gifted in many areas. Quite the actress, she has auditioned and received supporting roles in two musicals (Les’ Miserables and Cinderella). Maddie loves to write, especially fan fiction. She is learning guitar and has a pleasant singing voice. Most of all, she is a super compassionate young woman who is passionately loyal to those she cares about.

The following story is one that she wrote this past school year as an assignment.  I’m happy to share it today (on “A” day).  Look for guest blog posts from all five of my kids during the month of April.

So here, for your reading pleasure, is Maddie’s short story, Alayda.

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With the hood of my tunic pulled low over my head, I swiftly made my way through the empty village. No one was allowed to be out after sundown, but being caught by the night watchmen was not at all on my mind. My business was urgent, and I had no time to waste.

As I ran through the streets under the cover of darkness, I could feel the plague, heavy in the night air. My mind raced as fast as my feet. I wondered why I hadn’t been sentenced to this wretched sickness, just like so many of the other villagers. How many more mornings until I awoke to the black lumps, the decaying skin, and the delusions? How many more days had I to live before my body would be thrown into the pit along with all the others? I am no one special, so why do I still live, especially when so many who are far more worthy than me have fallen victim?

Within minutes, I had reached my destination, the village church. With urgency, I banged on the wooden door. “Brother Isaac! Brother Isaac!” I whispered loudly. “Open up!”

The door cracked open, and I could see the tired friar strain his eyes to see out into the darkness. “It’s me, Payne,” my voice dropping to a more hushed tone.

His face was etched with a surprised confusion, which quickly turned into a stern expression. “Payne! What are you doing here?” he hissed, as he yanked me into the small chapel and hastily shut the door behind us. “You foolish boy! Don’t you know the dangers of being out this late?”

“Brother Isaac, you know I wouldn’t have come here unless I had an important reason.” I looked at him pleadingly. “I need your help.”

His eyes began to soften. “Tell me, my son. What’s troubling you tonight?”

I bowed my head and shut my eyes, praying I could choke out the words. Saying the words aloud would make it real, and the last thing I wanted was for this to be true. “It’s Alayda. I think … no, I know she has the sickness.” My voice broke and tears threatened to fall. “Brother Isaac, can you help me? I don’t know what to do.”

The monk let out a long sigh. “Lord in heaven, rest her soul,” he murmured, making the sign of the cross.

Brother Isaac knew my younger sister very well, as she was an unusual girl. Even from a young age, Alayda was drawn to God and church. She was always full of questions, many so deep that Brother Isaac struggled to answer them. Alayda was always praying, and not just before our meager meals or as we prepared to go to sleep at night. I would find her talking to God as she went about her chores, or look out to see her on her knees in the field beyond our small hut, eyes lifted toward heaven.

I often wished I had that sort of faith, but I struggled to trust God. Our parents had died when Alayda and I were very young. The plague had taken them both, my father first and then my mother. I had prayed so hard for my parents to live, begging God to save their souls. But instead I was yet another village orphan, left alone to fend for myself as well as care for my little sister.

I grew up with the realization that death would be a regular occurrence. Rarely would a day pass when someone I knew, a neighbor or a friend, wouldn’t be taken from me. The air of my village was filled with the stench of decaying bodies, and it seemed as if around every corner you would see another fellow wheeling a cart piled high with the dead. I had prayed so much, begging God to ease our suffering. Yet nothing changed. What was the point of crying out to God anymore?

Most people said the plague was a punishment from God. But what was the punishment for? What did we do to deserve this sort of death? Surely dying in such a horrific manner would be reserved for only the vilest of souls. And yet now my sweet sister, who never harmed any living creature, lay on her cot covered with the boils, dying what I knew would be a painful death. I couldn’t bring myself to pray to a God who brought such suffering to the innocent

Even so, here I was, standing before Brother Isaac, seeking his help. The irony was that he was a man of God.

“I’m assuming you are here to seek refuge with me. Of course, you are welcome to stay at the church until such a time as Alayda has passed.” The old friar’s words were filled with sorrow.

My eyes widened in shock. “God forbid, no! I can’t abandon my sister. I come begging for your help.”

“Payne, you’ll be defying the lord of our manor if you choose to stay with your sister.” Brother Isaac’s tone was full of warning, yet I could tell he wasn’t giving me orders.

“Oh, Brother Isaac. Haven’t I already defied him by being here tonight? What difference does it make? Only I beg you to help me. I don’t know how to care for the dying, but I cannot leave my sister to die alone.”

Brother Isaac had a contemplative look on his face. Several minutes passed before he softly whispered, “Yes, my boy. I know your plight and I will help you. Yet, I must warn you as well. The likelihood of Alayda’s survival is small.”

My eyes began to swell with tears. Brother Isaac was right, of course. Rarely did anyone survive the plague. In a matter of days, three or four at the most, Alayda would be gone. And then, I would be alone in the world.

Brother Isaac placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. “There isn’t much I can do, but I will help you. Use these herbs, Payne, to make a weak tea. Make Alayda drink it as often as you can. And pray, Payne … pray for a miracle. This is the best I can offer you.”

I left the good friar, and quickly made my way across the village to the hut Alayda and I shared, the same hut where our parents had died. I slowly pushed open the door, and found Alayda right where I left her, lying on her cot.

She slowly opened her weak eyes. “You’re back,” she rasped.

I smiled, aching at the sight of how ill she was, black boils covering her tiny body. “You seem surprised to see me,” I said.

Alayda turned her eyes away from me. ” I thought you were going to leave me alone…” She paused as tears began to fill in her eyes. “…to die,” she finished.

My heart sank at those last two words. I knelt beside the bed and clasped her blackened hand. “I’m not going anywhere,” I said gently. “Besides, I am not at all convinced that you are going to die.”

There was a long pause, so long it seemed like there might be no more words to say. Then, again she whispered, “Thank you.”

“For what?” I asked, softly.

“For not leaving me; for choosing to stay and take care of me. I don’t feel afraid anymore. It won’t be long before I see Jesus … and our mother and father.” She looked at me, locking eyes. “Don’t worry about me, Payne. In a little while, I am going to be more alive than I ever was here on this earth. I love you, and I always will.”

I forced back a sob. “Oh, Alayda! I love you, too.”

She closed her eyes, a warm smile still etched on her face. For a brief moment, I didn’t feel hopeless.

“It’s getting late. You should sleep.” I said, leaning in to kiss her forehead.

But sleep eluded me. Quietly, I slipped outside into the cool night air.

In my heart, I knew Alayda was dying. But even in death, my sister’s faith remained strong. She was brave, while I was the weak one. I could not bear the thought of life without her even though I knew her life would draw to a close within a matter of hours. I needed strength to go on living, a strength I didn’t have. A strength that Alayda did have. Suddenly, I knew the source of her strength.

I glanced up again, overcome with emotion. And as the stars twinkled overhead, I fell to my knees. With tears streaming down my face, I bowed my head and recited the familiar words my parents had taught me so long ago.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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BaptistGirlConfession

This post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.

Something More than a Half-Hearted Love

I’ve got a weird feeling in my heart. It’s a lump of grief without tears, an uncomfortable tickle urging me to cough, a thick feeling I”d like to swallow away and yet when I try I find it lingers on in the back of my throat. All over my Facebook feed, I’ve been reading about World Vision’s decision to begin employing homosexuals in an effort to unify the church. Jon and I sponsor 3 children through World Vision.

Sigh.  Now what?

This question has been floating around my head since I first learned the news of World Vision’s change of policy. Do we continue giving to World Vision? Does their policy on homosexuality truly matter in the long run as we aren’t basing our family’s theology off of World Vision? What happens if I stop sending our financial gifts to World Vision? Will those 3 beautiful girls in the photos stop receiving services? I pondered about what I should do in response to this new information.  Surely, by partnering with World Vision and giving financially to their programs, I am loving the “least of these” … Right?

Figuring it was too early in the morning for such deep thoughts and wanting to ease my stress, I decided to check my email.  But doing so only made my heart ache worse, for in one of the emails I read about Wesley and his story.                                                      ( http://mad.ly/4bca94 )

Wesley ... wanting a family; waiting in China.
Wesley … wanting a family; waiting in China.

Wesley isn’t an orphan exactly. He’s an abandoned child. Left at the gate of an orphanage by his family at age six … no note, no explanation given.  Just a boy, alone.  He will turn 14 in August … at which point he will age out of the system, no longer able to be adopted, destined to live his life without a family.

After reading about this boy “whom no one cared for,”my instant thought was to pray for some other person to come love him. And then, like a small shockwave to my soul, I heard a whisper in my heart, saying, “What about you? How will you love my sheep? Are you willing to do more than give a little bit of half-hearted love?”

Quite honestly, my involvement with World Vision has been just that … half-hearted. Oh, a couple of times a week I pause to pray for Samanise, Manahel and Julian by name, if I don’t forget. Each month the money flows out of my bank account, never really missed.

Somehow it feels empty, this giving without engagement. There’s no cost to me really.  Even though I do pay out $100 or so a month, it’s rather easy come, easy go money.  I don’t even know the exact amount. I rarely think of it. I just pay and go about my own business.

How is this loving someone else in the name of Christ?

Please. Don’t misunderstand me or my heart this morning. Giving is wonderful. God expects us to give, even give sacrificially. I am grateful for those people who have poured into my life, often financially or materially, when I needed it. I believe whole-heartedly that God loves a cheerful giver. There is nothing wrong with financially supporting ministries and it is something my family is blessed to be able to do regularly.

Yet deep down I know that for me the act of giving money to World Vision is no more loving than giving away my old, discarded clothes to Goodwill is an act of love.

So why do I bother? Perhaps to feel better about myself? Maybe to convince myself and others that I really do care?

The Bible says that Christians will be known by their love. (John 13:35)  So why is it that most days I don’t feel loving? I feel a lot of things: stress over money, worry about raising my kids right, concern for the direction my nation is heading. But it saddens me to think I don’t really feel loving towards others, especially people who aren’t in my little world, which revolves mostly around me and my activities.

This year, my family has been working to memorize the love chapter of the Bible.  I’ve always enjoyed the flow of this passage of scripture. Normally, the rhythm of the words lilt along, leaving pleasant sorts of thoughts in my mind.

1 Corinthians 13: 1, 3

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. … If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Not this morning. Today the words stung, prickling my heart, mostly because I know what love looks like:

Reid & Eli, Dec. 2013
Reid & Eli, Dec. 2013

It looks like my brother Reid and his wife Heather, who put money, time and tears into adopting Eli.  Now, our entire family is richer for this blessing in ways I cannot even begin to describe.

Uncle Curt in Uganda
Uncle Curt in Uganda

It looks like my Uncle Curt and Aunt DeDe, who picked up and moved to Africa to serve as missionaries. They left behind aging parents, beautiful grandchildren, and a comfortable life, simply because they know Christ and wanted to share His love with those who didn’t.

It looks like my friend Marcia, who I’ve never met face-to-face, but if I did I’d immediately hug her neck and tell her what an inspiration she is to me. Instead of just talking big about being pro-life on social media, Marcia and her husband are actually stepping out in faith by helping one young pregnant woman choose life by adopting her baby. (Here’s the link to her story:  http://marcia-underhiswings.blogspot.com/2014/03/happy-anniversary-were-having-baby.html )

Love isn’t half-hearted, and it isn’t empty either. It is action. It is involved. It is compassion and truth mixed together. While love isn’t all about fuzzy, feel-good moments, it fills the giver and the receiver up and makes a mark on the soul.

Because I know what love looks like, I am challenged to do more than give a little half-hearted love. I ask for your prayers as I seek for God to reveal to me how I can love others with His love.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’