What comes to your mind when you think of home? For me the word has many connotations. Feelings of safety, protection, quiet, a place of refuge are all ideas that come quickly to mind. For me my home is the primary place where I feel the most comfortable, and because of this, it is the primary place where my body can be restored.
When I was given the opportunity to review the book, The Life Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson, I was interested, but also cautious. When I considered the title, and what the book may contain I approached with some trepidation. My head swirled with images of all I wished my home could be but will never be for one reason or another. I am cautious with things that will breed discontentment in my heart, and I wasn’t sure what this book would hold for me. I have really enjoyed so many things from Sally Clarkson, so I took the chance.
I remember as a single, I had images of what my home would be like if I ever got married. I didn’t really dream of children as being part of the mix because at that time I didn’t believe I would have children. Most of those images and dreams happened before I got sick.
Now that I am a mother, I have struggled with finding what I want/ am able to include in our yearly rhythms in our home. I have ideals, but rarely can I be consistent. I may be strong enough to bake Christmas cookies one year, but not the next. I may be able to work in the garden one spring, but soon my dear garden is consumed by weeds. My health is a fickle thing.
So then how does a mom like me, who lives with the constant companion of chronic illness, create a “Life Giving Home”?
In the book, The Life Giving Home, Sarah Clarkson paints a picture of how our homes are to reflect the Incarnation. Essentially we are to create a soul-haven in our homes for our families, friends, and even strangers. Our homes are to be a place of refuge, and restoration. That to me is lovely. It is exactly what I find my home to be. Will my children find it so? I am not so sure, but I hope so.
This book is a beautiful mix of practical ideas, and big concepts of how to make our home the haven it should be. I love the practical tips that Sally puts forth in many of the chapters.
Mostly though, I love Sarah’s perspective. She paints a picture of what the heart of a home should be and reminds us that the activities, and the decorations are merely surface level. The heart of the home is our precious Savior and when we are focused there the others seem to naturally fall into place.
I would love to hunt around at yard sales, and thrift shops for treasures that I could use to make my home a bit more cheery. I would love to host teas for my girls and friends. For me right now, these are not really an option. But, when I stop and think about how I can cultivate a home that is restorative and a place of comfort there are things I can do.
- I can put my phone down, and really see the faces of my children when they have stories to share.
- I can take a short walk with my toddler outside in the sunshine on days I am stronger.
- I can make meals that are comforting to my family.
- I can work as my strength allows to bless my family each and every day. That might mean lighting a candle. It might mean baking fresh bread. It might mean allowing my girls to cuddle with me even when I hurt.
- I can smile and lean in gently to my children’s lives.
- I can turn off the TV so that I can read a book to my children.
- I can read scripture to my children and teach them about Jesus.
And if I were to spend more time thinking I could think of many more.
Yes I did find myself a little discouraged as I read this book, but mostly it was from self-pity. My home will NEVER look like Sally’s home, nor your home for that matter. It isn’t supposed to.
There is a quote from the book, it is the last chapter about December. Sarah was sharing about her mother’s tradition for a Christmas Tea. One year her mom gave out little tea-cup ornaments. She said, “Drink the cup God has given you, and accept it as grace.” I think that is an important reminder for me as well. Can I build my home into a life-giving home? Yes. By God’s grace, I can, even with my limits. For that I am very thankful.
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely This book isn’t a list of all the things to make your home perfect. This book is more of a compass, a way to show us where our focus needs to be, and a reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us. If you want more information about this book, or take a look at the beautiful resources that Sally and Sarah Clarkson have available be sure you head over to TheLifeGivingHome.com. In addition you can find more at Sally Clarkson’s website at SallyClarkson.com and at Sarah’s blog ThoroughlyAlive.com.