Archive | meggie

the ever distant horizon

EP distant horizon

As hot as the days are in July in Texas, I still find myself leaning against the oven while we make dinner. My sister has just come home from work and is unloading groceries. Her husband should be home soon. They’ve been living with us for one of out the three years they’ve been married.

“All those things we talked about the other day, ” I say, glumly. “Aren’t happening. None of them.”

My sister looks up from the task at hand. “I know.” She says sympathetically. “Next time we all get together and talk about the future, let’s all talk about things we know are about to happen!”

“Like, ‘I’m going to go take a shower’?” I joke.

“Yes!”

It has been a year of waiting for all of us. We have no word from Meggie or the adoption agency. The summer days draw out long and warm, like southern slang. We can hardly beat the sun up before it’s beating down, the cicadas singing like the sizzling of our skin. The hottest days are the stillest ones. The days when no wind of change blows through, no leaves rustle in a friendly breeze. The hottest days are the ones in which the sweat just sticks to your skin and the grass seems to succumb to the persistent heat and dry up, frightened stiff.

We wait motionless, hoping we’ll hear the steps of change coming down the road, but the quieter we get, the stiller we stand, the longer we wait, the louder the silence rings in our ears. No word. No word. No word. Eventually, the feeling of anticipation dies down.

We’ve been through this before, but we don’t like to remember how long it took last time. We joke about how we used to think this time it would be different, quick, easy. “But it’s us.” I remind everyone cynically. We do everything the hard way.

No word from Meggie while other kids come home. No move-in date while other homes pop up in town. No new baby, no new job, no new prospects, no new news.

I look out to the ever distant horizon and have to remind myself that nothing has fallen off the horizon like a sailboat. Everything is still there. It’s just that the horizon is further away than we originally thought. I can still see it all there, gleaming in front of the pink sun with tantalizing promises of turning pages, but the chapter goes on and on.

And yet, just when I think nothing can change, that we’ve hit a scratch on the CD and we can’t move on, I see something creeping past. The month of July slipping through my fingers. The “baby” brother’s brown eyes looking down at me. The “baby” sister reading Nancy Drew aloud over the car’s AC as we drive home from the grocery store, barely stumbling over a word.

I have to grab myself by the shoulders at this point and tell myself, things do change. 

They’re changing all the time, all around you. Perhaps there is no easy-bake solution to your seemingly urgent issues, but things change. Perhaps they do not change like you think they will, perhaps it isn’t your own personal paint-by-number life, and instead a more abstract masterpiece, but things do change. Perhaps not when you snap your fingers, perhaps not without a good long sigh of a summer first, but things do and will change.

We go back to the grocery store and fill up the big fridge again. We will eat and get hungry and shop and eat again. Especially that baby brother who is growing like a laundry pile. We all go to our dental appointments and my mom says she shouldn’t be there, she should be traveling by now, but there she is. We pray with fervency and we get lazy and bummed, and then we pray in panicked, antsy, midnight cries. And most of all, we wait.

But we wait for something.

Because things change.

You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (VOICE)

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12 Book-Inspired Movies for Girls

12 Book-Inspired Movies for Girls

Any day now, my littlest sister should get her travel dates to come home permanently! I’m super excited to have four younger sisters at last. Having little girls in the house (the youngest being nine and eleven) gives me a very heightened sense when it comes to books and movies. I always have my eye out for a good book to read to or recommend to them and the same goes for movies. Not only do I look for good, clean entertainment, but I also try to read the message of the story before tossing it in their direction. Almost every book and movie has some sort of agenda, good or bad, and I want to know what that agenda is before introducing them to a new philosophy!

Though Meggie is only just learning to read English, Jubilee has become quite the bookworm and, consequently, some of their favorite movies are based on books. I’ve composed a list of twelve book-inspired movies for courageous, kind-hearted, young ladies.

1. Nancy Drew (2007)

Though this may come as quite a blow for diehard Nancy Drew fans, this modernized version of her character and new spin on an old story is cute, funny and inspiring. My sister (now nineteen) definitely “channeled Nancy” for a while after this came out, complete with the super blunt haircut! Nancy is fearless, polite, tenderhearted and definitely true to herself. Of course, she completely disobeys her father, but it kind of turns out to be in the name of the greater good? Don’t think too hard on that.

2. Madeline (1998)

This is a classic in my family! When this came out, we recorded it on a tape and kept it at my grandparents’ house next door. I think it was the only movie we watched there for a couple of years and we still love it! Madeline is closely based on the picture books by Ludwig Behelmans and follows the tale of a young, French orphan (with a British accent) who laughs at the face of danger, makes friends, and goes on a thrilling adventure. Madeline really shows some strong character traits, especially in regard to a dying elderly woman and her bitter husband. This movie is both light and sweet with a good message. Leaves you feeling happy. “I see trees of green, red roses too…”

3. A Little Princess (1995)

Based on the classic Frances Hodgson Burnett book, A Little Princess follows young Sara Crewe who is left in at an upstanding boarding school while her single father fights for the Queen. Though she starts off very wealthy and naive, she learns that there is more to life than pretty things when her father is reported MIA and her funds run out. Sara exhibits a wonderful imagination, a strong sense of friendship and above all else, hope.

4. Ramona and Beezus (2010)

I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie! John Corbett as Mr. Quimby has to be one of my favorite TV/Movie-dads ever. I enjoyed watching this right along with my little siblings. Ramona’s antics are hilarious, horrible and completely well-intended. She deals with feeling left out, trying to get along with an almost-grown up Beezus, “losing” her dear aunt to romance and loving her enemies. Great flick.

5. Kit Kitteredge (2008)

Again-I was surprised by how good this one is. Based on the American Girl series, Kit Kitteredge follows the story of a young, depression-era heroine who wants to be a journalist. The cast of character is marvelous, along with the big names chosen to play them (including Joan Cusack, Julia Ormond, Stanely Tucci, Willow Smith, Colin Mochrie, Wallace Shawn and more!) When times get tough, Mr. Kitteredge goes to Chicago to look for work and Kit and her mom open up their home to boarders. The adventure, mystery and comedy that ensue is worth watching! So adorable.

6. Anne of Green Gables (1985)  (and “The Sequel” 1987)

You saw this coming, didn’t you? The first two movies are sublime. Cheesy? Yes. Sentimental? For sure. Required? Oh yeah. I love the classic series by L. M. Montgomery and the movies do not disappoint. These are great for adolescents (may lose the attention of wee ones) and deal gently with “coming of age” issues. These are so funny and always make me choke up. I want to be Anne.

7. Ella Enchanted (2004)

Anne Hathaway rocks the princess thing, yes? This is a retelling of Cinderella…with a big twist. And a touch of 70’s flair too! Ella is cursed with the inability to disobey, even when she’s told, for example, to “hop along”! I love this movie because it’s still funny now that I’m an adult and ends in a dance party. Not to spoil anything, but Ella bravely breaks her own curse and saves the kingdom. It rocks.

8. National Velvet (1944)

This may be slightly lesser known to today’s young movie watchers, but it’s a classic here. Elizabeth Taylor debuts alongside Mickey Rooney in this adaptation of the classic book. Young Velvet is obsessed with horses and dreams of having one of her own. When, by chance, she wins the frisky troublemaker dubbed “Pie” in a raffle, she is determined to have it race. Rooney plays a tramp with a mysterious past who reluctantly helps Velvet train Pie for the races while her English Channel-swimming mother inspires her to pursue her biggest dreams. You’ll be rooting for Velvet and Pie all the way through!

9. Little Women (1994)

Based on my all-time favorite novel, this movie attempts to tell the story of Louisa May Alcott’s famous March sisters…and does a pretty good job of it! My sisters and I traditionally watch this every winter (AFTER it gets cold) and laugh and cry along with Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Nothing beats this real-life-inspired story of family, courage, growing up, poverty, dreams, romance, disappointment and perseverance. Enough said.

10. Pollyanna (1960)

First of all, if you haven’t read the book, it was much better than I expected it to be. Well-written and interesting. Of course, the Hayley Mills adaptation is a classic in it’s own right. I haven’t seen this in a long time because we only have it on VHS (or, as Jubilee would say, “fat movie”,) but I’ve always loved it. Pollyanna hasn’t had an easy life, but she has a cheerful disposition that cannot be snuffed out! She goes to show that our attitudes change everything, including the people around us.

11. Felicity (2005)

Another movie based on an American Girl series (and my favorite one, at that,) Felicity is the story of a Revolutionary War-era young patriot. Felicity has an awesome adventure (you will have an urge to sneak out in britches to care for an abused horse after you watch it) and learns so much about friendship, loyalty, selflessness and courage. This film isn’t made in the same quality as Kit Kitteredge, but you’ll get to see a young Shailene Woodley show of her budding acting skills and, if you’re like me, feel your heart burst a little as the credits roll.

12. The Secret Garden (1993)

Another movie based on a Burnett novel, this is a strange and wonderful movie. Maggie Smith plays the uptight head of housekeeping at the gloomy mansion where the recently orphaned Mary is sent to stay in the care of her distant uncle. The unique thing about this story is that Mary does not start of charming and delightful…at all. She is spoiled and lonely and angry and dull. But the transformation of the neglected garden she discovers is reflected in her very heart, and the unusual friendships she develops along the way are magnificent. The feeling of the movie is somewhat reminiscent of Jane Eyre for children. Very English and suspicious. The story itself is wonderful for anyone who will take the time to really listen to it.

That’s 12 Book-Inspired Movies for Girls! What would add to the list?

-Everly

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imagining meggie

 

EP-imagining meggie

When Meggie was here, it was Christmas.

Ah-of course it was! It will feel like Christmas when she returns again. And now, six long months have passed. We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of first laying eyes on her. We are so anxious for this adoption to be done at last. Other families whiz by and we wait, and wait.

It’s hard to imagine Meggie sleeping in an orphanage or boarding school while I go about my day. Children were not meant to sleep in orphanages. I know, because I’ve met her. I couldn’t know just by reading the facts. The facts make orphans sound like some other species, quite un-human. Children sleep in warm beds where parents watch them breathe. Orphans live in orphanages just like foxes live in foxholes.

But Meggie isn’t an orphan, she’s a girl. She has soft skin and shiny hair and an affinity for fake nails. She has a bright mind and a soft heart and wit. She isn’t statistical, she’s delightful. She cannot be an orphan.

And yet, legally, she is. And she will be until this boatload of paperwork is done with. It’s hard to imagine her in an orphanage because she’s Meggie. I have seen many orphans in my day. Some of them give you the idea that they aren’t quite human, I’ll admit. They fall asleep in dog piles of unkempt bedmates, slurp down the same gruel every day without a thought, fight to survive with little sympathy for others and seem to take little note of the outside world. These are children who have been made prisoner. They are worrying about things only parents should be worrying about. They are unable to have a childhood because they are so constantly fighting for survival.

And then there’s Meggie. Perhaps she has never been in danger of starvation or been involved in a civil war, but her life has been a series of sad stories. She really does live in an orphanage in a remote part of Eastern Europe. She really is bussed to a boarding school during the weekdays. She really comes to us wearing a bright red cap, identifying her as one of the many orphans on the plane.

She really does write us the occasional letter or email, the most recent stating that she is crying and needs to come home.

She is not a dog in the pound or a face on a commercial, tricking you into donating your money. She is not the star of a moving music video about some Christian band doing good deeds. She is not a mindless, heartless drone in the shape of a child. Most of all, she is not a number.

It is hard imagining Meggie in an orphanage, because it feels like imagining myself in an orphanage. If, by some tragedy, I had been orphaned and wound up in her country, under her circumstances, that’s how I would feel. I would actually lie in bed and imagine an adoptive family somewhere. I’d cry for my Mommy and pray that she’d come find me. I would enjoy reading and drawing and dress up, just as Meggie does. And I’d know I was an orphan. And I’d hate that.

I do hate it. I hate that Meggie has lost a family and still waits to gain another. I hate that she is at school right now and will go back to the orphanage for another lonely night tomorrow. I hate that she doesn’t know how hard we are trying to get there or why other children are leaving and yet, day after day, we do not come.

I hate that Meggie is one of 153 million children in the world right now who have lost one or both of their parents. As I imagine Meggie in her little bed, with the few belongings to her name, looking just as sweet and precious as the day she left, yet being classified as just another orphan, I try to remind myself: there are millions of “Meggies” out there. Their childhoods are passing quickly under their tired feet. They are walking from one foster home to another, from the boarding school and back to the orphanage. From tragedy to pain to hopeless future.

There is no time to waste. As Meggie anxiously anticipates my parents coming to bring her home, millions of other children only dream of having such a dream.

EP-153 million

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