I have not read a book like this before, and I must admit until Crystal Paine did a review on this book, I had never heard of Sally Clarkson. My knowledge of US Christian writers is non existent, but hearing how The Life Giving Home broke down family traditions ideas by month seemed pretty good to me. The title alone of giving life to your home seemed too inviting to pass up.
And this book is truly a gem.
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There has been a cultural trend towards minimalism in the last few years, and although I love the idea of having less stuff and clearer open spaces, many of the examples I found seemed cold and uninviting. I tried to picture myself walking into these immaculate and bare homes and although it looks very clean and tidy, it just isn’t my style.
My idea of an inviting home is one of warm, colourful, soft blankets. Burnt orange, carmine red, brown tones and taupe grey around the home. Often -read books heaving from the bookcase, a few extra spilled out on to the coffee table. The kids with their own warm blankets, pillows and small retreating chair. For me, some sentimental pieces are important. They serve as visual reminders of memorable events and fun activities, that can also act as great talking points for visitors to our home. For me, having a few beautiful things around me, shows my personality, what I love and hold dear, things that gladden the heart.
Injecting life into the home
This was one of the reasons I loved The Life Giving Home so much. She talks about how the home should not only be a place of physical and spiritual safety, but a place of inspiration and exploration. Where creativity and stimulating conversation could be had. What permeates so clearly to me in this book is for your home to be a place where you could receive love and not just to the residents of the home, but to those who are invited in. Where good food and drink could be shared and enjoyed as a communal event.
I love how she depicts the home as a place of stimulating ideas and spiritual practises. In some ways it made me look at my own home and ask myself some serious questions. She has three children in very prominent universities in the UK, so she must have done something right!
The chapters are broken up into themes, closely following the seasons such as Christmas, Easter, school holidays etc. and there are a wealth of suggestions and ideas to get you thinking about what might be good for your family. February’s theme ‘A Culture of Love,’ June’s theme ‘Times of Delight’ and August’s ‘The Story of Us’ were my personal favourites. Life in the home can be steeped in meaning and happiness when we build traditions and activities that support the most important things to us.
What to focus on in your home
Having read the book and subscribed to her podcast, I can see why her children are so successful. She appears to have always surrounded herself with beautiful (though not expensive) things and people. They have lived in many different countries and this is a big part of why they are so close. But it also seems that her desire to not follow a strict formula of raising children freed her to be able to listen more keenly to the Lord. How many of us are listening to our promptings? Are we placing too much importance on others experiences and ideas? Are we working on being a close family unit as much as we’re trying to get our kids to achieve high rates in school or in sports or music?
At the end of the day, I want my children to be happy, hard working adults who love the Lord. But I also want them to be my friends, sharing experiences with me, laughing, having some common interests and willing to council each other. I know the future will have a few rough unhappy or difficult times, but this is the goal for my family.
The home life you want
Sally’s book is wonderful, with lots of inspiration and ideas to help you draw closer to your family, and crucially how important it is to carve out time to make these memories and sacrifices now so that we can reap the rewards with our children later in life. Our home life should give joy to us, in amongst the hard work and the bad days, and this is a wonderful book of suggestions to help you on your journey. Its not a step by step book necessarily (I certainly couldn’t keep up if it was!) But for me, it was most helpful to think about seasonal traditions, rather than monthly traditions.
This would make a lovely gift for any parent at any stage of the parenting journey!