To Create a Home {and a giveaway}

I sat in a college town coffee shop early in January, waiting out the time while Patrick was in surgery, and spent some fortifying hours reading the reviewer's copy of a gem of a book. In the past few years, I've given a lot of thought to the role of women, particularly the role of women in a family. My own motherhood has been influenced more by one woman than any other. That woman is strong believer in home and a great encourager of women to invest their hearts and their time and their talent into the creation of a lifegiving home. She has mentored me and cheered me on since I was a very young mother. Her words, her voice, and her company are treasures of my heart.

That heart is battered these days--weary, worried, wondering. Did I invest too much here at home? Is the pervasive culture the one which will prevail? Will it mock me with the lofty dreams and the careful intentions standing stark against the brokenness of our realities as children grow into young adults? All families have cracked and broken places. I think, perhaps, I thought I could craft a home that would not. 

I believe in home.

Some days, I need to be affirmed in that belief.

My lovely mentor, wise and gentle, has done that so beautifully in her new book. With this book, in carefully crafted prose, Sally Clarkson has taken all the teachings of all these years and said, Yes, I know, this is going to be rough in spots and you will even stumble and fall, but keep going. Keep keeping on. This is worth doing. This matters for eternity.  And when she tells me to keep on, I find myself fortified to tell my children to keep on.


What makes this book really special is the voices of two generations. Sally shares her mothering experiences and all the love she invested in her home, and her daughter Sarah, now grown, offers her perspective. There, in the exquisite language of Sarah's heart, we hear the fruits of Sally's labors. We hear the richness of a young woman raised in an extraordinary home of love and grace. Want to know why this all matters so much? Ask Sarah. She'll tell you. 


During my time in the coffee shop with The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming, I put ink to paper and copied quotes worth keeping so that I can read them again and again. Today, I'm sharing them with you. I think these quotes will give you a glimpse of the true treasure that is this book. Brew yourself a cup of something warm and read slowly. When you're finished, leave a comment and let me know what you're thinking. You'll be entered to win a free copy of the book. I have THREE to give away. Isn't that very kind?



I reach hearts by cooking meals, by washing sheets and fluffing pillows, by reading a favorite book one more time even though I have it memorized.

It is not the indoctrination of theology forced down daily that crafts a soul who believes; it is the serving and loving and giving that surround the messages where souls are reached.

Food is the universal language that eases hearts to open, tying secure knots of intimacy while satisfying bodily hunger, weaving tiny threads of kindred needs into friendship, camaraderie, and truth.  

When we choose to feast together—take the trouble to make each meal, however humble, an occasion for mindfulness and gratitude—we acknowledge God’s artistry and provision and draw closer to Him as well.

“This is why I came home. I knew you all would fill me back up…” –Sally quoting Joel

 Love can heal so many wounds, and that healing often happens best in a protected environment.

 We never allowed our less-than-perfect house to keep us from inviting people in.

 It’s never quite the way we imagine it will be.

 The lives of most people I know have become increasingly fast paced, and our habits are increasingly drawn into the trivial. We read less and use Facebook more. We spend more time inside than out. We have access to more information than we’ve ever had, and yet we understand less and less. We allow the habit of busyness to replace our habits of prayer and Scripture reading. It is only natural that in the hustle and bustle of family life, craziness easily overwhelms the calm we need so badly. In our modern, consumerist culture, sometimes it seems nearly impossible to find that center.

 Wilderness experiences leave us parched, and through them God teaches us patience, trust, and compassion for others

 The more we practice remembering the story of God’s goodness, the better we can remember that, in Him, all will eventually be well.

 Our home culture has become richer because of the people we have folded into it.

 When I focus not on performance or perfection but on joy, gratitude, and service, everything seems to fall into place.


The goodwill of mothers is like the goodwill of God.

Home is the shelter where the lonely find rest and the sorrowing come to be comforted.

…home isn’t a place where loneliness never happens, but a place where loneliness is transformed.

Gratitude, in its very essence, yearns to give.

Through technology we have the ever-present hurry of the unsleeping modern world, and if we do not forge strong rhythms of rest and spaces of sacred quiet, that...frenzy will invade our homes and steal the life within.

The point of home is to be a refuge for the soul, a place where beauty can be encountered, truth told, goodness touched and known.

…home is the place where love makes us welcome, a shelter from which we will not be expelled.

…the cultivation of quiet spaces allows the souls within a home to take refuge in silence.

If you want to hear God speak, you need to have quiet time with Scripture. If you want to write a song, a novel, or a poem, you need to draw away and listen to all that echoes in your soul.

… it is only in the hushed spaces that we can clearly hear all that echoes in quiet skies, in the eyes of children, in our own inner voices.

…the sharing of a story accelerates the comradeship of souls.

When people inhabit a realm of imagination together, it’s inevitable that a bit of each person’s imagination and spirit is revealed to the others who sojourn in that marvelous placeA well-stocked kitchen is life for the body, but a library stocked with stories to share is eternal nourishment for the soul.

How joyous a thing it is to then arrive on the doorstep of a home whose windows are golden with waiting light, where soup is on the stove and the cupboard is stocked against any number of unexpected storms.

God grant that my home be such a shelter, a refuge whose windows are alight in welcome, drawing the lonely and wandering in from the cold.

Imagination is the first step to creation, the instigating spark that drives the actions of a hero. 

{{And if you want some more encouragement to restore your heart and home this Lent, please join us here.}}