By Robin W. Pearson, author of the book Walking In Tall Weeds.
Growing up, I probably spent more time with a book than I did with my parents. Not that my family didn’t spend quality time together. We absolutely did. But everywhere I went, I carried a novel with me. I hid a book inside my hymnal while I sat on the church pew, looking up from time to time so Daddy thought I was paying attention. If Mama didn’t leave me at the newsstands when she went grocery shopping, I’d read while pushing the shopping cart through the aisles of Harris Teeter. On Saturdays, my folks dropped me off at the library, and I’d stay there until nearly closing. I’d tote home a stack nearly as tall as I was, work my way through them, and return the next week for more. When I was in middle school, Daddy built me a loft in our storage room, and I’d spend hours reading up there, with nary a thought for spiders. Those who know me well know that’s saying something.
The following list also says something, and not only about my love of reading; they spoke to me at various points in my life and still speak for me today. These five life-changing books tell stories that have stood the test of time and are “. . . for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). In different ways, they’ve impacted me as a wife and mother, homeschooler, writer, and sojourner on this walk of faith.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Right after lunch, my fourth-grade class would sprawl on the rug in the middle of our room at Central Elementary, and our teacher would pull out this book. I can still hear her call, “Pee-tah!” and we’d all groan, knowing the pesky Fudge wasn’t far away. Yes, I fell in love. So much so, this series about the Hatchers were the first chapter books I bought for my own peeps and the first that Crusader—my oldest—ever read on his own. Even though I can’t remember my teacher’s name for the life of me, her voice rang in my ear (in a good way) when I read the series to TD, my youngest. Blume’s work awakened my love for reading aloud and making characters come to life for my own little people.
A Mom Just Like You by Vickie and Jayme Farris
Some might consider this biography homeschooling Kool-Aid. I must say, it did taste sweet during those early days of teaching my little people, when I desperately needed encouragement, direction, and a simple “It’s okay. You won’t mess this up.” The Farrises, a mother-daughter writing team, didn’t do everything right, but they humbly shared their imperfections, day-to-day struggles, and weaknesses—as well as their triumphs—and their willingness to trust God with them all. After reading this book, Hubby and I felt led to seek God when it came to our family size and to continue home educating. The authors also showed me how important transparency is in connecting with readers.
Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor
The original John Bunyan allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, follows the journey of little Christian to the Celestial City. At the urging of a man named Evangelist, he flees the City of Destruction, carrying the weight of a burden—his sins—on his back. As a child, I read Taylor’s adaptation of the classic, which uses illustrations and simpler vocabulary to convey the same amazing story. Geared toward younger audiences, Taylor’s version spoke to my young, seeking heart about faithfulness, trust, and steadfastness in terms I could understand. I kept my copy of the book and shared it with my own peeps. And of course, I read it aloud.
Do you ever wonder if God is present and in charge of the events of your life? Then read this captivating Bible story—replete with a great plot, intrigue, humor, a villain, a heroine, and a satisfactory ending. But do you know what it doesn’t include? The name of God or the word prayer. Yet His presence and power are palpable. I never tire of reading about Esther, and I learn something new about the Lord’s faithfulness and myself every time. This book inspires me to tell relatable, compelling stories that keep God at their center.
Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn
This is no ordinary biography about no ordinary woman. Vaughn used unpublished journals, interviews with family and friends, and in-depth research to give readers an up close and personal look into Elisabeth Elliot: a daughter, college student, friend, wife, missionary, widow, author, and ambassador for Christ. This book shows how God doesn’t call the equipped but equips who He calls; we just need to be willing, not perfect. The author writes, “God does work through hurt. God works in the midst of all things. And certainly Christian history is full of flawed characters and sad cases that might have turned out differently if not for human failings.”
Featured image photo credit: Jason Wong
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Walking in Tall Weeds by Robin W. Pearson
From award-winning author Robin W. Pearson comes a new Southern family drama about one family who discovers their history is only skin-deep and that God’s love is the only family tie that binds.
Paulette and Fred Baldwin find themselves wading through a new season of life in Hickory Grove, North Carolina. Their only son, McKinley, now works hundreds of miles away, and the distance between the husband and wife feels even farther. When their son returns home, his visit dredges up even more conflict between Fred and Paulette.
McKinley makes it no secret that he doesn’t intend to follow in his father’s footsteps at George & Company Fine Furnishings or otherwise. Fred can’t quite bring himself to accept all his son’s choices, yet Paulette is determined McKinley will want for nothing, least of all a mother’s love and attention—which her own skin color cost her as a child. But all her striving leaves Fred on the outside looking in.
Paulette suspects McKinley and Fred are hiding something that could change the whole family. Soon, she’s facing a whirlwind she never saw coming, and the three of them must dig deep to confront the truth. Maybe then they’ll discover that their history is only skin-deep while their faith can take them right to the heart of things.
About the Author
Robin W. Pearson‘s writing sprouts from her Southern roots. While sitting in her grandmothers’ kitchens she learned what happens if you sweep someone’s feet, how to make cornbread taste like pound cake, and the all-purpose uses of Vaseline. She also learned about the power of God and how His grace led her grandmothers to care for their large families after their husbands were long gone, rearing children who became business owners, graduates, ministers, parents, and grandparents themselves. Their faith and superstitions, life lessons, and life’s longings all worked together to shape and inspire her, leading her to write A Long Time Comin’, the first in a three-book series about man’s timeless love affair with God. This story shares an African American family’s experiences in a relationship that crosses generations, cultures, and geography.
While her family history gave her the story to tell, her professional experiences gave her the skills to tell it effectively. Armed with her degree from Wake Forest University, she has corrected grammar up and down the East coast in her career as an editor and writer that started with Houghton Mifflin Company twenty-five years ago. Since then she has freelanced with magazines, parenting journals, textbooks, and homeschooling resources.
At the heart of it all abides her love of God and the family He’s given her. It’s her focus as a wife and homeschooling mother of seven. It’s what she writes about on her blog, “Mommy, Concentrated,” where she shares her adventures in faith, family, and freelancing. And it’s the source and subject of her fiction—in her novel A Long Time Comin’, in the new characters currently living and breathing on her computer screen, and in the stories waiting to be told about her belief in Jesus Christ and the experiences at her own kitchen sink.