Dear Michael Landon Jr.,

Dear Mr. Landon,

I feel this letter needs to be met with some form of perfection, which it will never be. I suppose I should begin at the beginning. I was a fan of your Dad’s, still am in fact. I wasn’t around when “Little House on the Prairie” was actually on the air, after all I wasn’t born until 1980, but I have watched the re-runs of the show ever since I can remember. In fact I cannot remember a time when I haven’t watched them. Melissa Gilbert quickly became my hero and remains an amazing center point of my life today, and I believed if I wished hard enough I could actually become Laura Ingalls Wilder. It has given me a great love for the old west and has fueled a passion in me for quality family television and my desire to be a part of that in some way. I used to always think that I wanted to be a Producer, Director, Actor in this field one day. God has had me take some steps back and humbled me into allowing Him to work in my life.

I can remember the first time I saw the trailer for “Love Comes Softly” on the Hallmark Channel. My heart caught in my chest and, just like so often in my life, I reverted to an eight year old child, clapping my hands in delight, jumping up and down, and squealing with delight. I only wish that I was kidding. This would not be the last time I would revert to childhood concerning what I like to affectionately call the “Love…” movies. I remember watching it for the first time with butterflies in my stomach and a flutter in my chest. I closely watched both the artwork of the camera movements and the story. I think one of the most visually beautiful pieces of camera work in the film is when Marty finds Aaron’s horse and goes out to get him, falls to her knees and the snow begins to fall around her. It is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I also loved your choice of getting in as close to Katherine Heigl’s face the morning of her husband’s funeral. It was a heartbreaking scene and you felt cramped in her space forced to feel the emotions with her. The story itself was simple, beautiful, and such a true representation of faith in God. It also was a hilarious movie. I loved when Clark found Marty in the bath. I still laugh out loud over that scene. I still to this day think of what Clark told Marty about God and why bad things happen. I keep that in mind and often share it with others.

Still, it amazes me how God’s timing is always so specific. I didn’t know that you were a Christian at that time and maybe if I had looked at it a little closer I would have been able to see that. I just thought you were a man living out your Father’s Legacy and I was so proud at the storyteller that you had become.

I think I still remember the actual feeling of seeing the trailer for “Love’s Enduring Promise”. It was almost too much, and I found myself flipping the TV to the Hallmark Channel when commercials would come on to see if I could catch the trailer again. I was so full up I could hardly stand it. I truly fell in love with the young man Willie LaHaye and I was so proud that the role of Clark wasn’t watered down, but brought out even more. What a true and complete man of God you have created from Janette’s character, and what an amazing job Dale Midkiff does in playing him.

By the time the third movie came out I was beside myself. I love how you infused Clark into the movie with the letter writing between him and Marty. The humor in this one was fantastic. I loved the cowhands and found a special connection with the former preacher character of Henry. James Tupper has such a range and depth with this character. I’m so glad to see him back in “Love’s Abiding Joy”.

With the joy I found in the three films I chose to go out and buy all eight books in two box sets. I guess it helped to be working at a bookstore at that time. However, I hadn’t picked them up until I was finished reading the “Mark of the Lion” series by Francine Rivers, which I guess was about six to eight months ago. I was glad to see the similarities and differences from film to book. You can’t recreate a book onto the screen in the way that those reading the book have envisioned, but I found myself still seeing the same integrity and depth that Janette Oke’s characters have as well as an easy well adjusted transition to the television screen. I had no idea in my watching and reading that it had taken you 10 years to get “Love Comes Softly” made.

So, now we are pretty much up to today. I was flipping through a Family Christian Store catalog when I saw the full page add for “Love’s Abiding Joy”. I screamed so loud my Mother asked what was wrong with me. And yes, I did more jumping up and down, called my sisters to share the good news, and quickly went to look for a theater near me. You see I have gone through some big changes in my life as of late. I had been out of college for about two years, had just quit my job to pursue my then dream of moving to Asheville, NC and hopefully one day moving towards having my own production company. My thought as always was that things would fit perfectly in their own little spot and that I would be moved, happy, and on the straight and narrow. The straight and narrow has many twists and turns and God wants all of us, not just the parts we are willing to share with Him. I have now been out of work over three months. Praise God for a Mother and Father who love and support me and allow me to continue to live under their roof at 26. For the first time in my life I’m learning to lean on Him completely and I know that there is a plan, just not sure what it is. I have quit striving so much for what I want, and have tried to ask again and again and again what He wants. I’m scared, unsure, and in a true place for surrender in the first time in my life. Oh sure, been in the pity pool, felt like the world was crashing down around me, but I know without a doubt that I will rise up to meet that horizon.

So, needless to say, when I saw this movie was coming out it was something I could latch onto. I had actually just finished “Love’s Long Journey” in book form and was just getting ready to begin “Love’s Abiding Joy”. I proceeded to spend the day before I was going to see “Love’s Abiding Joy” watching all three of the previous films which of course I own on DVD. The next day I was all beside myself with excitement. I got on “MySpace” and started looking up video clips from the movie, found some great behind the scenes clips, and proceeded to email and inform everyone who read my blog to go and try to see this movie. In my searching I found an article you had done for one of the Christian magazines. Still not knowing you were a believer I was intrigued that you would be doing an article with such a magazine. As I began to read the article I just began to weep. I read how you became a Christian, how you felt when you first read “Love Comes Softly”, your journey in your faith, your devotion to not only do things that speak of your faith, but that you would never do anything that would contradict your faith. Your marriage and your three children. I just started praising Jesus. Praising Him for what He had done in your life. How he had used the horrific circumstances in your life to bring you to Him. I realized in that moment that you were doing far more than living out your Father’s Legacy. You were living in freedom from all the sin and heartache beginning way back in your Father’s childhood and you were living THE FATHER’S Legacy.

In that moment, and being able to see the wonderful movie “Love’s Abiding Joy” on the big screen, not to mention seeing that you have directed “The Last Sin Eater” (Francine Rivers is my favorite author, always hoped that her books could be made into film!)…God said, “Melissa, something is coming for you! Trust me!” It has been a turning point in my heart, and I hold onto that promise when things seem impossible and frustrating.

Thank you for living your life so authentically…it is my hope that I can do the same one day. Thank you for living for Jesus in the simple and honest way of storytelling that you bring to so many. I truly believe these are stories that will resonate with all people, from all faiths, and will witness to those brokenhearted and those that feel alone. There truly is a time for every season…

Michael Landon, Jr. I hope that if you, by some chance or miracle, do read this letter that you do not find me a lunatic. I am actually quite normal, but extremely passionate. I also just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your journey and love for the Lord with so many. God has filled my cup to overflowing with the art you create and I pray that He does the same for you in your life’s endeavors. God bless you and keep you and your family. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

In Love’s Abiding Joy,



Dawn said…
Oh wow Melissa what a beautiful letter. The words and your writing I could just feel how much you love God.

jettybetty said…
Where did you see this movie? It sounds wonderful!! I can't find it on the movie listings here.

Yes, what Dawn said, too--this is a beautiful letter from someone so in love with her Father!

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