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Summer Reading about Home, Family, and Belonging

Summer Reading

One of my pleasures of summer has always been leisurely reading books. As a child I would pull a book from our shelf and retreat from my family to my favorite chair in the living room or my bedroom upstairs.  There I enjoyed the luxury of reading for hours on end.  So this summer I pledged to myself that I would read more books simply for the joy of it, departing from my reading basket full of nonfiction.

My favorite book so far is Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me: What My Favorite Book Taught Me about Grace, Belonging, and the Orphan in Us All. Isn’t that a mouthful to consider?

The book is Lorilee Craker’s memoir that begins when her daughter, Phoebe, asks her what an orphan is while they are reading aloud Anne of Green Gables. The question reverberates deep within Lorilee as she ponders her own life, both as an adoptee and as a parent to her dear adopted daughter. From this starting point Lorilee weaves together their life stories with the lives of author Lucy Maud Montgomery and her fictional orphan, Anne. (Needless to say, to appreciate this book, you need to be familiar with Anne’s story, either through Montgomery’s books or the movies.)

First off, Lorilee delved into what it means to be an orphan. When one thesaurus listed the words  bereft, left behind, and left, Lorilee realized that being an orphan in this sense was much more universal.

We’ve all been left behind, renounced, ditched, and forsaken. Fired. Dumped. Snubbed. And who among us has not been just plain left, plopped down on the curb of life, waiting for the ride that will never come?

And that’s why this book offers so much to all of us who want to hear:

  • “You’re special to me” from a bosom friend like Diana Barry.
  • “You’re good enough” from a kindred spirit and mentor like Mrs. Allen.
  • “You belong here” from a gentle soul like Matthew Cuthbert, offering a home.
  • “You’re loved” by a family like Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.

Lorilee shares the stories of people in her life who provide this life-giving affirmation, including her adoptive family, best girl friends, writing mentors, husband and children, and her birth mother.

Yet, my favorite chapter in the book was when Lorilee decides to risk reaching out to her birth father who likely didn’t know she even existed. She mails him a letter and then waits for his reply.

I didn’t need another dad, but I wanted this missing person to be found, to show up and walk toward me….

I don’t want to spoil how the chapter ends; however, Lorilee’s writing friend and kindred spirit, Becky, enters into the scene with her own letter of affirmation.

If I was your birth father, I would be the proudest. I would have been on a plane and buying a house on your street. You are worthy of his love, (You have that from the Father who builds His home inside you.)

From those words, Lorilee came to the conclusion we all need to hear about our heavenly Father.

He would show me that I did have a Father who was with me — wanting, choosing, and keeping me then, now, and always.

He showed me that, yes, my beginnings had been a complete mess, but that there was no messy “situation” too complicated — no trouble too deep — for Him to reach into through adoption.

… my real Father found me long ago. And from this, I feel joy, because I will have Him as my Father for all time.

Lorilee’s confidence in her heavenly Father is rightfully anchored in the story of the Bible: a loving creator seeking and rescuing his children to bring them back to live with him forever. That is what heaven is: our forever home with our forever Father. Because of Jesus’ work to restore a relationship with us, we will feel completely at home and completely loved.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:14-17, English Standard Version).

As George MacDonald wrote, “This is and has been the Father’s work from the beginning — to bring us into the home of His heart.”


Today I’m linking up with the Hearts for Home blog hop

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8 Comments

  1. This touched my heart! I have only watched the movies of Anne, and love them! It has been many years, though. Now having fostered many children, I think I need to read the book! Not just to relate because of those children, but you are right, there is an orphan in us all. I am so thankful for my Forever Father! I love Him so because He first loved me…such assurance!

    • My brother and sister are foster and adoptive parents, so I have an enlightened appreciation for this story, similar to you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Desra!

  2. Thank you for the review of ANNE OF GREEN GREEN GABLES. It was interesting.

  3. Thanks for sharing.. I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables, but I’d love to…

    • I had only seen the movies until this summer, after reading the memoir, I decided to read Anne of Green Gables. It was so delightful! I only wished I’d read it earlier.

  4. Deborah (Brinkman) Budd

    July 23, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Not only am I in love with Anne but Emily of New Moon as well by LMM. My copy was printed in 1923 and given in 1940 as a “Coonarra” Presbyterian Preparatory School prize to Constance Hall for Second in From Class V signed by the Headmistress Ren In Canbelo (unsure of correct spelling). Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

    My new favorite person is the librarian who helped me find a book from my childhood I have struggled to remember the title of for over 50 years. Shea Peeples was a darling to find the book The Abandoned by Paul Gallico (1950). I am treasuring every word. Shea said it was easy to remember as she used to read it to a beloved blind cousin and my description while not exactly accurate made her remember the joy she had reading it as well.

    I also recently read The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. (2006) I did not enjoy the sequel White Sands, Red Menace as well but may try it again in a different season of life to see if I change my mind.

    Like you I have set aside my nonfiction and will return once I tire of pretend things. But for now, this is perfect…

    Deb

    • Deb, I love your stories of book treasures! Gallico’s “Thomasina” was a favorite Disney movie. I hadn’t heard of the others so looked them up…very interesting choices.

  5. I have fond memories of Anne of Green Gables. I know I saw the movies with my daughters, and I think I read the book to them, too. As an adoptive mother of young adult children I was interested in hearing your comments of Lorilee Craker’s memoir, too. Thanks.

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