Baby Talk

Baby Talk

I love the breakfast table. It has a totally different feel than the same room, nine hours later. At that time of day, I have the energy to keep M&M from crawling across the table to snatch Brown Sugar’s sausage. My coffee’s still hot, the cup’s still full. Watching the little people trickle downstairs (later and later as the mornings get chillier and chillier), hearing them wheel and deal over the last blueberry muffin, and whining about the math onslaught to come make me smile. We can stave off the world for an extra 45 minutes or so, reviewing our daily Proverb and doing Bible study. While dinner is where we recover from the day, breakfast is where we kiss it, “Hello!” While we were manning our usual positions the other morning, eating our curds and whey—okay, it was more like grits, bacon, and eggs—we chatted about future happenings like college, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, vacations, afternoon playdates, upcoming birthdays, and dinner. Then Maven shared her plan for the future: “I want to go to sleep and wake up in heaven.” All quiet on the Pearson front. Even Oscar, who shouldn’t be in the dining room, perked up his furry little ears. I knew our passionate, fervent little one meant it. And not one day, like we all do, after we reached a particular age, after having a passel of children and grandchildren, after being president of this company, or achieving that goal here on earth. No, Maven meant she wanted to go to sleep that night and wake up gazing in Jesus’ face. Hearing these words more than pulled the heartstrings. It twisted...
Wait in the Water

Wait in the Water

Pastor Livingston’s Sunday message painted a beautiful picture of Exodus 2: Jochebed, devoted mother…cradling her infant, hiding him from the world; weeping over him, praying for him; fashioning that basket of bulrushes and reluctantly setting it afloat with her baby inside, all the time fearing the crocodiles, snakes, deep waters, and other unknown dangers that might consume him. Anyone who has read the book of Exodus or seen Charlton Heston play “Moses” knows the outcome: ironically, miraculously, Jochebed is paid to take care of her own baby. Pastor Livingston pointed out that despite her wondering whether she did the right thing or her worries over his safety or the outcome, God had a plan all along that was bigger than Moses, Jochebed herself, and even His people. It was all for His glory. When I think about this story I see myself. Like Jochebed’s, my reed basket cradles my family. I know the world hungers for them, just as Pharaoh hunted down the Hebrew children. Daily, I try to prepare them for it and shield them from it. Eventually, yes, I have to virtually watch them float away on life’s uncharted waters, praying and weeping and wondering “what if?” My basket holds my dreams and hopes as well, plans I’ve sweated over, worked for, and nurtured. Sometimes it feels I must give up altogether, not just give them over to God. But like Jochebed, we parents, dreamers, and workers have to trust that releasing our little people and our plans doesn’t mean that all is lost. Instead, there is everything to gain. When we let them go to God,...
Saved and Sound

Saved and Sound

I was lost. I searched everywhere. Maybe the real me was thinner, wore contacts, painted her face, and got her hair done regularly. But when I presented this missing persons photo to others they replied, “Nope, I’ve never seen her before. The woman we know homeschools—where are her acid-washed mom jeans, head bands, and glasses? So, my hunt continued. “Look within,” one corner of the world counseled. “Meditate.” But no amount of humming, zoning, or internalizing helped me find my hiding place. “Keep yourself busy! Speak it—you—into being!” the other corner preached, but my frenzied activities and whirling dervish imitation only kicked up a dust storm, further obscuring myself from view. I could only “see in a mirror, dimly…” (1 Corinthians 13:12) For a while I used my book and my website to mount a search party; I could be there and here at the same time. I wrote and re-wrote hundreds of pages of fiction, posted week after week, and entered one writing contest after another, hoping to ferret out myself through the hunting lenses of others, but I couldn’t read myself between the lines. My work. I just knew it would be there I’d find “me.” After all my complaining about not having time for myself or room to breathe, I just knew I’d open my computer and out I’d spring, like a flesh-and-blood Jill-in-the-box. What emerged instead were frustrations, missed deadlines, rejection letters, and time wasted on unseen eyes and ears. Retreat! Submit! Time for this angel to look homeward. Surely if I manipulated my seven little pieces I would somehow win the Where’s Mommy? game....
Within Reach

Within Reach

Within Reach In my house, English is definitely a second language (unless yelling counts). I talk with my touch—clasping Maven’s shoulder to bolster, encourage, or restrain; squeezing the Lone Ranger’s hand to emphasize a point; snuggling Brown Sugar to comfort, console, or cherish; a tap for M&M to correct, discourage, or redirect. Nursing, discipline, tickling, holding… all a part of our love language. The minute the doctor cut the umbilical cord, other ties—emotional, psychological, spiritual—bound us ever more tightly together. Yet, even when I’m not touching my little people, I’m still holding on. But last weekend someone told me, “You’ve gotta let go.” As I wondered, When? I heard the world shouting, “Now!” and whispering, “About time” behind my back. You know, I’m good with my little people growing up. I resist their growing away, something that can happen despite their proximity or age. And growing away is not natural; it’s not God’s way. Instead He says, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.” (Proverbs 1: 8, 9) Chains! That sounds like it is His will that my little people draw closer to me through Him as they grow. Children raised according to the Word—and not the world—will be “chained” to our heavenly Father as they mature, and therefore bind themselves to their parents’ wisdom and love. But people tell me that growing up means freedom, free rein, relinquishing responsibility. While I’m doing all this letting go, what or who will step up to replace...
Seventh Heaven

Seventh Heaven

Okay. I’m tired of pretending. Raising seven kids is no joke. When we’re out and about I’m always trying to put on the “this-is-a-walk-in-the-park” face. But I must admit that there are bees and gnats and spiders and lots of sweating happening on this particular sunny walk. When I don’t call you back, it’s not because I don’t want to talk to you; it’s because I don’t have time to talk to you. I’m sure when you think of seven kids you think of your own struggles, and you multiply them. Seven not-so-little plates around the breakfast, lunch, and dinner table and all the snacks that go in-between. Seven attitudes that go along with those plates of food because more than likely, not everybody likes hamburger casserole or sweet potatoes or chicken Marsala or pasta (but only on Tuesdays). Then there’s seven people to dress and teach and cart around. Seven people saying, “It wasn’t me. I don’t know who left the windows down in the car. I didn’t know it was going to rain.” Seven people who don’t feed the dogs or take them for walks. Seven people who have to stop by your bedroom at night, even if it’s just to tell you who won the basketball game or to ask if she can have an apple now that she’s hungry because she didn’t like the sweet potatoes you had for dinner. Seven people who want to play soccer or take piano lessons (okay, to force to take piano lessons) or do Mock Trial or star in the community theater. Seven people who don’t like riding in...
Listening for the Answer

Listening for the Answer

“Mom, could you play ‘Beautiful Day’?” “No, we’re almost there, so I’ll have to play that song on the way home.” Two seconds later… “Mom, could you play ‘Beautiful Day’?” “Uh… Lone Ranger, I just answered your question. We’re almost at Aunt Mo’s, so I’m going to play the song on the way home.” “Ohhhh, I didn’t hear you!” “What does Mommy say…?” As a chorus, the Think Tank, Songbird, Lone Ranger, and Maven intone, “Listen for the answer!” Yes, my little people, listen for the answer. That scenario is a daily event in our household. It may not be about what music I’m going to play from my iPhone; it could be questions about the lunch menu, if they can play outside, whether or not they can watch television, if I will count while they jump rope… Whatever the case, they generally ask me the question one million times (and yes, just me, and not their dad sitting peacefully in the corner, undisturbed) and just when they tug on my leg for the tenth time or form their lips to pose the question for the one million and first (oneth?) time, I yell, “You asked me; I answered. Now, listen for the answer!” And though the situation is oft repeated, they always gaze at me in shock that their request was answered, that I responded quite appropriately, immediately, and completely. Sometimes my kids do hear me, but they give up hope because it takes me a minute to fulfill the request. For instance, Brown Sugar will ask, “Can I have some water?” She’s too small to reach the...