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Peacocks and Starfish and Kids, Oh My!

Peacocks and Starfish and Kids, Oh My!

IMG_3246We moved into this house three years ago and I loved it. I still do. We settled in, our personalities and things seeping their way into the far corners making it ours. The kids at this point are in completely different rooms than when we started, a movable life in a space that constantly seems to adapt to our growing pains and spurts. It fits us.

Apparently “us” involves spectacular, golden peacocks. Wallpaper at its finest.


Our dining room is covered with them. The walls are a spectacle, like a shiny, exotic aviary wrapped in razzle dazzle.

After all of our packing and selling and moving in, we didn’t want to tackle any projects. With the exception of a fresh coat of paint on the outside, we breathed a sigh of relief to unpack our life without any tasks on the horizon.

Except what about those peacocks?

It wasn’t until the other day when my in-laws and I were out shopping that I began to think differently about the objects that fill the space in my home. We had run quickly into a store on the quest for some bedding. As we prepare a room for our future foster children, I began my mama nesting and needed to create a haven for my unknown kids. Most likely we’ll have boys with us but maybe not so I started searching for bedding that was appropriate for boys or girls, little or bigger.

That’s not easy, folks.

I found some nautical stuff, and my in-laws and I hemmed and hawed over whether lobsters were scary or boyish or fun or too strange. We compared colors and fabrics. They were like my own personal shoppers, running items over to me to inspect and then add to a growing pile of maybes.

On a good day I despise shopping and I found myself feeling the despair of “I’m never going to find something that works and I can’t believe I’ve wasted so much time and I can’t say yes to anything.”

But then my mother-in-law spoke into my heart. “I like the one with the starfish.”

It was a white comforter with pale blue starfish. So simple and pretty.

Yes, I said slowly. But is it too girly? Or too old? Or, or, or . . .

She looked at me, and I believe, looked into the eyes of our future children. “I like the starfish. You know, because of the story . . .”

The starfish story. Of course.

You know, the one about the old man who walked along the beach? He saw a young man, almost dancing along the shore. But as he got closer to the young man, he realized his dance was actually stooping down and picking up a starfish and flinging it back into the ocean. The old man approached the young one and said “may I ask what are you doing?” The young man replied, “These starfish are caught on the sand and the tide is going out. I’m throwing them back into the ocean so they can live.” The old man shook his head. “But there are miles and miles of beach and thousands of starfish. There is no way you can possibly make a difference.” The young man, continuing his dance, smiled as he picked up a starfish and threw it into the water. “Well,” he said, “I made a difference to that one.”

It’s perfect, I whispered. Perfect.

It was all I could do not to weep in the store. Right there, in the bedding department.

I grabbed that starfish quilt and bought it, feeling not just fabric but something holy in my hands and heart.

So, what does this have to do with the peacocks? Well, they’re still there, gracing the walls of our dining room, shining in all their glory.

But they look different now. I wondered, after the starfish, if there could somehow be meaning to my crazy birds. I don’t think it’s a mistake that peacocks represent something significant as well.

In addition to many other things, they are birds that lose their feathers every year and grow brighter ones. Each year, better and brighter. They shed the old and become more beautiful, over and over. They are a symbol of renewal. Revival. Repair. Restoration.

These are things we hope to do in our house, our home. Peacocks, starfish. Kids.

Oh, my.


  1. Like a bird who loses feathers and gains brighter ones…though it may seem painful at first, I would like to let loose of old branches and grow full of life branches for HIM :)

  2. Sarah in MI says:

    Flannery O’Connor loved her peacocks. And there you are in her home state of Georgia, no? Perfect.

  3. Margaret says:

    Katie…I think this is your best one yet! Love the peacock’s new status and meaning…someone out there should want this blog to print for their readers. For now, I will just repost and b sorry for those who won’t get to read it.

  4. Oh Katie. Words escape me right now. If you only knew my peacock story. Those awful blue crazy EVERYWHERE peacocks all over my walls in the house I hated…in the transition house that was our step down from living the good life of money and all it could buy to being glad we had a roof over our head during my husband’s three years of recession related joblessness. And those peacocks…I saw nothing beautiful or good about them. This post just knocked me on my no-longer-live-in-that-house behind! I’m SO going to message you my peacocks – you just have to see them to believe it. but first I need to digest this awesome awesome post. :)

  5. We had a hard enough time naming our children. Narrowed it down to 2 for C1 (decided we had to meet him face to face to make the final call). C2 started out as a longer version of the name we call her, so we changed it mere hours before we “had to” to what we would call her.
    My prayer for you is that the child(ren) you add to your home will feel warm and cozy under the watchful eye of the starfish.

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