Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414391281
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 01/06/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 526,080
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sally Clarkson cofounded and has served as the women's ministry director of Whole Heart Ministries with her husband, Clay, since 1994.  As a conference speaker, author of eleven popular books, and ministry leader, she has helped countless Christian parents build life-giving homes and raise wholehearted children for Christ.

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Own Your Life

Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love

By Sally Clarkson

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Sally Clarkson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-9128-1



Owning the Hero Who Lives inside You

What distinguishes men of genuine achievement from the rest of us is not so much their intellectual powers and aptitudes as their curiosity, their energy, their fullest use of their potentialities. Nobody really knows how smart or talented he is until he finds the incentives to use himself to the fullest. God has given us more than we know what to do with. SYDNEY J. HARRIS

The people who know their God will display strength and take action.

DANIEL 11:32

Standing to my full height, I pranced down the imaginary platform in my den, acting out the time when I would be crowned Miss America. As with many girls born in the 1950s, watching this contest on television had become a yearly ritual. Even as a little girl posing as a beauty queen, I knew in my heart I was born to become someone significant.

Reading books about heroes of history further fed these dreams. Whether Florence Nightingale, braving the filthy trenches of war to save lives, or Madame Curie, who helped pave the way for new cancer treatments, I was right there with them in the story, visualizing how I would help save my world in some small way.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, when I found myself squishing next to my seven-year-old son on a couch, munching chocolate chip cookies and sharing a "little boy" moment.

"Mama, you know what? I think Superman was just like Jesus. He came from a far-off place to save his world. I think I am going to be Superman when I grow up because I am going to do something to save my world."

Sitting up straighter with his chest puffed out, Nathan said, "You know what? Superman is inside me just waiting to come out!"

Perhaps all children anticipate how they might fulfill some great destiny in their lifetimes. I believe there is also a heroine in each of our hearts waiting to come out. Yet somewhere along the pathway of our lives, we lose our innocence, forget our dreams, and succumb to a life filled with monotony and responsibility. I remember pondering this very thought when I was a young wife and mother feeling "stuck" at a particular moment. I wondered how I had gotten there, since I had always hoped to do something of significance.

As a young adult, mission work had taken me to many exciting cities. I had moved to Communist countries throughout Eastern Europe, meeting secretly with people to teach them the truths of the Bible and to train them to share faith in their own countries.

As a single missionary, I lived in Vienna, Krakow, and Warsaw. After Clay and I married, we moved to Vienna and then worked in Long Beach, Denver, and Nashville. Being a part of so many urban communities gave me a taste for city life. Having friends from many backgrounds and cultures brought me great pleasure and stimulation. A charming coffee shop was always just a fifteen-minute walk or drive away. We regularly dined at cafés and restaurants with international cuisine, but our lives were about to drastically change.

When our children were young, Clay and I began dreaming of starting a publishing company and family ministry. To fulfill that vision, we moved with our three oldest children, who were eleven, eight, and six, from Nashville to my mother-in-law's house. Our new home was located in a tiny town of 712 people, forty-five minutes away from the nearest grocery store with fresh food or a loaf of whole grain bread.

Life in this tiny old town left me feeling disoriented and frustrated. The temperature surpassed one hundred degrees almost every day, and chiggers—those tiny bugs—chewed on my children and me every time we went outdoors, leaving countless itching bumps. The only place to shop was a little convenience store two miles away in town (and it smelled like grease from all the fried chicken sold there). We had no babysitters, no friends, not even a church or library—and the graduating class at the local school was seven in a good year. There was no coffee shop or café—and we didn't have money to afford eating out anyway. Paying for groceries, clothing, and doctors' bills devoured our small income. Goodwill and secondhand stores were my only shopping options, and then only if we had a few dollars left at the end of the month and could make the long drive to a bigger town.

My mother-in-law's house was laid out in such a way that our kids could make a circular path through it—starting in the living room, going through our bedroom, then continuing through the hallway to the kitchen, and finally reaching the living room again. Round and round they would run! One day, not long before I had my fourth child, I was sitting on the floor of our bedroom in front of a small couch. I guess I was hidden from the children's view because when they ran their standard route, they came in one door and went out the other while calling, "Mama, Mama, where are you?"

When I realized they couldn't see me, but only the back of the couch, I did not answer. There I was, an adult in my early forties, hiding behind the couch and hoping my children would not find me. As I sat on the floor, I was Eeyore living under clouds of "Woe is me."

My mind scanned the past year and came up with a number of disturbing memories: my two miscarriages (one in which I had almost died); the packed boxes and messes all around us; our regular encounters with spiders or snakes; a mother-in-law who hovered and followed me around the house as I worked and cooked; three kids who would not go outside and play in the scorching heat; and the squishy squash bugs on our outside plants in what was supposed to be my country garden. On top of that, I had no nearby friends or support systems and, did I mention, no strong cup of coffee?

More thoughts came: My family wanted to eat so often, and they made so many messes every day. This was not at all how I'd envisioned my life. I considered myself a professional, adult sort of person, not a pregnant forty-two-year-old mama with secondhand clothes who was throwing up and sweating through life with children and messes all around me.

In that moment, my life was a pile of puzzle pieces, all mixed up with no seeming pattern or logical way to fit them together. And a heroine was not to be found in the picture. As I scrutinized the landscape of my soul, I saw endless darkness down a gloomy hallway that seemed to end in despair. Nothing in my life seemed to be matching up with my ideals; I was physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained, and everyone and everything depended on my keeping it all together. This place was as far from an adventure requiring heroism as I could imagine.

Add to that, a number of critics waited in line to freely voice their opinions to Clay and me.

"Have you lost your mind, moving to such a tiny town? Are you sure this is where you are supposed to be?"

"Ninety-five percent of all new businesses fail the first year, and they end up bankrupt!"

"What experience do you have in publishing? I thought the real publishers already rejected your book ideas—what makes you think you can publish them yourselves and find anyone who wants to hear what you have to say?"

Then there were the warnings from family—"You know, someday you are going to have to get a job that pays real money. You can't just fiddle around your whole life. You need to think of your children and how you are raising them!"

And "After three miscarriages—one you almost died from—you are pregnant again? You are tempting fate. If something more serious happens, it will be your own fault."

"I think it is fine if you homeschool your children when they are young because you can't mess them up too badly. But what about when they're older? What will you do then about your children's education when the nearest big school is in another county, miles and miles away? And have you considered that they won't get the socialization they need?"

It was while juggling these pressures on our marriage, finances, spiritual life, family life, and ideals that I felt breathless with fear and insecurity as I hid behind that couch. It was then that I had a big "come to Jesus meeting."

Tears flowed down my face uncontrollably. Miraculously, no one found me.

"God," I whispered, "I have served you faithfully for many years. What am I doing here? Life is so hard. This place doesn't suit my personality. And my mother-in-law is no Naomi. Does it really matter that I have served you as best I know how all of these years? How can any good come out of these circumstances? I don't think I can make it here. Please take me out of this situation."

Escape. That was my first line of defense when I was in this very rough place. Where could I go to get away from these problems?

Looking back, I realize my response was pretty typical. We live in a culture of runaways—rushing to another marriage, job, house, Internet thrill, vacation, drug, whatever. Yet when we run away all the time, our "demons"— the problems, difficult relationships, scars, fears, insecurity, selfishness—seem to follow us. Ironically, the very difficulties we want to escape can be overcome only when we face them head-on. Otherwise, they have a way of following us wherever we go. Not only that, but running away from them keeps us from growing stronger and eventually becoming heroes in our own stories.

After I said my brief prayer and spilled all my tears, quietness came. The sun was setting outside and cast soft shadows in our room. Finally, the kids had gone outside to play with the dogs.

The comfort of God's Spirit gently began to blow through me, as I was finally ready to open my heart in humility and prayer. A little song my children had been listening to pressed upon my mind: "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."

This day, this place, these circumstances—God had made them!

The Lord seemed to speak to me from all the devotions I had been having with my little ones, and a verse came to my mind: "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" (Hebrews 12:11).

The words that captured my attention were "those who have been trained by it." Training is something that is repeated again and again over a long period of time, in order to build strength and endurance. God wanted to train me in holiness right where I was, in these circumstances.

Then I felt Him impress the following on my heart: Sally, this is the place I want you to worship Me. Being faithful in these circumstances is where you will find the glory of My favor. This is exactly where I want you. This time of testing will be the making of your faith, the humbling of your heart, the shaping of your character, the writing of your story. You can choose to waste this time with a bad attitude, to leave this situation, or to waste your days in ungratefulness and complaints. And then your life will continue moving through darkness and dim hallways.

You have a choice to make: If you trust Me and live faithfully in this juncture, I will make this a place of favor and honor for you. But if you look for a way out and disqualify yourself from the blessings and favor I had planned to give you, you will find yourself in the midst of a prolonged wilderness.

And so the itchy, green shag carpet behind the tiny, worn loveseat that hid me from view became an altar of worship for me. Lord, I will choose to find light in this darkness. I have no guarantee about how any of this will turn out, but I am planting a flag of faith. No matter what happens, I will be as obedient as I can to bring joy into this place, to create beauty in this wilderness, to exercise generous love, and to persevere with patience. I will choose to believe that wherever You are my faithful companion is the place where Your blessing will be upon me.

Peace clothed me like an embrace from God. I had been tested and had come through with grace. This was only one of many dark and difficult junctures on my life pathway, and yet I was now learning to ask at each turn in the road, "What is the lesson here, God? What wisdom can I learn? How can I bring grace, beauty, and order to each day, and live as though it is a place of worship?"

Later that evening, I committed my thoughts to my journal, writing down life goals that would help determine the kind of woman I would become in the years ahead. I resolved:

to be a joyful person
to practice being thankful
to see God's fingerprints each day of my life, as I knew my
children probably longed to have a happy mother
to live every day by faith, choosing to believe that God was real,
that He listened to prayer, and that He would provide the
grace to get through every trial
to love, as much as possible, all of those who came into my life

Finally, I committed to work hard and to grow in strength, as I was beginning to understand that living up to these ideals would require a lifetime of working, cooking, cleaning, writing, living, teaching, and speaking.

Reflecting on Sixty Years of Walking with God

Hindsight does indeed bring great insight. Though there are some images I'd still rather forget from that time—such as the scorpion that fell from the ceiling and stung me on the thigh when I was 91/2 months pregnant (and even then the baby would not come!). And yet it was in that remote house in a tiny town that my children learned to love the country, living wild and free in the place I first thought cursed. The time with fewer friends, distractions, and lessons, though often lonely, drew our family circle closer together than ever would have happened if we had been in a large city with limitless choices.

My marriage grew stronger because I was forced to be less selfish and to believe in the dreams of my husband. My compassion for those who were lonely, who lived on little income, and who were forced to overcome seemingly impossible circumstances grew out of the humility that developed as I waited on God in faith. My ministry messages grew out of my life experiences.

These were the memories I pondered as I sipped the warm cup of tea my daughter Joy brought me on the morning of my sixtieth birthday. Her instructions as she met me coming down the stairs from my bedroom had been, "Mom, we have a whole day of celebration prepared for you. But I want to give you a few minutes alone first while we finish cooking breakfast so you can ponder all those sixty years. That way we can hear the stories and celebrate all the meaningful days with you today!"

And so I did take some time to sift through my memories. As I wrote in the introduction, I had been challenged early in life to live every day as though it were my last. Now I asked myself, Have I lived into the spiritual reality of the God who brought me to Himself? Have I written a story of faith and faithfulness that will speak inspiration to generations to come?

As I reflected on the years, the first inklings of the thoughts that led me to write this book developed. I realized that God had been faithful and that I had lived a life sprinkled with His favor, miracles, and blessing. I wanted to share, from a perspective of deep gratefulness and gathered wisdom, some of the spiritual secrets I had learned about how to live a flourishing life.

I also had come to understand and appreciate the ways God had taught me. Many of the years I spent serving Him with my whole heart had been invisible to the public. I had not lived a perfect life. At times, I resisted the very pressures that God wanted to use to train me to become strong. But I could see that when I yielded to His ways and lived with His hand holding mine, my life story had become more than I could ever have imagined.

I know now that heroes come with a variety of stories. A radical life for Christ is not always visible to outside eyes. Even Jesus lived in a tiny town, never venturing more than fifty miles from His home during His ministry. Though He did not work with great world leaders and was obscure in His commonness, Christ's love and service literally changed the history of the world. So many of my own years had been poured into the mundane moments of life, yet I sought to make each one a celebration of His reality.


Excerpted from Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. Copyright © 2014 Sally Clarkson. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

The Beginning: What Will Be the Legacy of Your Life? xv

Part 1 Barriers to Owning Your Life: Don't Settle for a Mediocre Life

Chapter 1 Seeing Beauty and Purpose in Your Ordinary Days 3

Owning the Hero Who Lives inside Yon

Chapter 2 Controlling the Chaos 15

Owning Your Priorities and Commitments

Chapter 3 Listening to New Voices 27

Owning Your True Identity

Part 2 Owning Your Vision: Mapping Your Life Purpose

Chapter 4 Living with the End in Mind 41

Owning Your Life Vision

Chapter 5 Looking to God as Your Life Coach 55

Owning God's Training

Part 3 Owning Your Life by Giving God Control: What Only He Can Do

Chapter 6 Resting in the Transcendence of God 69

Owning the Mystery of His Supremacy

Chapter 7 Allowing God's Spirit to Breathe in You 83

Owning the Holy Spirit's Strength through Your Life

Part 4 Owning Your Life by Partnering with God: Attitudes and Actions That Transform

Chapter 8 Cultivating the Practices That Deepen Your Faith 97

Owning the Spiritual Disciplines

Chapter 9 Learning to Take Risks 113

Owning Your Faith

Chapter 10 Tending Your Heart and Investing in Your Soul 129

Owning Your Emotional Health

Chapter 11 Choosing to Overcome: Moving beyond Hurt 143

Owning Your Response to Others

Chapter 12 Harvesting a Godly Character 161

Owning Your Integrity

Part 5 Owning Your Life by Loving Well: Create a Lasting Legacy

Chapter 13 Pursuing Life's Most Defining Commitment 177

Owning Your Choice to Love

Chapter 14 Cultivating a Sense of Place 189

Owning the Atmosphere of Your Home

Chapter 15 Building a Legacy over a Lifetime 203

Owning Your Marriage

Chapter 16 Shaping Generations to Come 221

Owning Your Motherhood

Chapter 17 Living Intentionally to Leave a Legacy of Faith 235

Owning the Influence Your Life Can Make

Acknowledgments 243

Notes 245

About the Author 247

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Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
JViola79 More than 1 year ago
Life is being lived at a quick pace these days. Days packed full of activities, responsibilities, and to-do lists. But often at the end of the day, we are left wondering if our lives matter at all. We long to sit with someone who has gone this way before us, drink a hot and long cup of coffee, and listen. We want to hear their stories of successes and failures. Joys and battles. Laughter and tears. We desire to know that life was meant to be lived with purpose and intentionality. In her book, Own Your Life, Sally Clarkson comes alongside of each reader like a good chat with a close friend. Each page is filled with wisdom presented in love and gentleness as she nudges us to live each day with boldness, love and faith as we nurture our families. She opens our eyes to live intentionally today as today is the legacy we will leave tomorrow. Each chapter is filled with stories from her own life and thirty-five plus years of marriage and family. Each story told with a transparency and honesty which draws one in yet deepens the desire to grow closer to God. Sally unfolds the truth that each life, ordinary as it may seem, is meant to be lived through the redeeming power of God which can touch every aspect of our lives. In my quest to live for His Kingdom, I trust in His ability to do great things. I yield my days to Him, believing that He will be faithful to work through me, that He will take my paltry fish and loaves, as He did with the little boy. As I offer Him all that I have, I will accomplish more in His Spirit than I could ever have done by myself. I yield my burdens to Him, knowing that He will show up because He is my dependable Father. (page 50) I am so grateful I read this book at the start of a new year for it was challenging and inspiring. These are the days I have been given now to live. Now is the opportunity for me to intentionally, facing each day boldly with faith in God, believing He is and He can and will forever be. It is in these present days before me that I will make choices which those around me will witness ... will my choices cause them to desire to live an intentional life for God? will they desire to live fully engaged for God? For His purposes? For His glory? will my life inspire them to be better? Do more? Love deeply? will my life remind others to live with integrity? will my life show them the love and grace of Jesus? I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a wonderfully warm and loving book which will call you to steward your days with excellence. In the foreword, written in part by Angela Perritt, we read: Don't just sit back and let life happen to you: Engage it, embrace it, and live it out with intention, purpose, and trust in our Lord. Live a life of faith: don't be afraid to take risks and love those God has placed in your life. We may be here for just a moment, but let's make that moment really count! Honor God with the life He has given you by being wise in how you live ... how you own your life. ****Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this as required by Federal Trade Commission.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
BellFL More than 1 year ago
Would recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. From the very first page I felt pulled in to see what Sally had to say about living our life full of God's potential. I want to live a life full of the Lord and full of His power! - Johanna
Theophilusfamily More than 1 year ago
  As 2015 begins, I'm sure many of us are stocking up on new reading material, especially with an eye for the uplifting and challenging.  There are many books that come into your year as visitors and a select few who will stay with you as companions.  Sally Clarkson's "Own Your Life" may well fit into the latter category.  This is a book for those moments when we long for a wise person to come along and say "This is the way, walk in it."  Through these pages Sally becomes the God-focused woman guiding her sisters.  She never pretends perfection, instead she affirms that maturity in Christ is a process- a long one, moving in you grace by grace.  If the title sounds a bit commanding- "Own your Life! Stop frittering! Get out of that bathrobe! Give me twenty push-ups!"- don't be afraid.  She doesn't come across as a drill sergeant. Yes, it is intimidating to think about stewarding our lives and forming a legacy, but Sally reassures us that great faith and great love come one small choice at a time.  She talks about cultivating integrity, accepting the little gifts of life with celebration, gaining a clear spiritual vision, learning to respond to others without bitterness and resentment, and choosing to fill our minds with the lasting and real. Sally presents her insights with a winsome tone.  I'd say Sally must have been influenced by Edith Schaeffer. Her pursuit of a home culture made of kindness, creativity, faith, and commitment to each other reminds me so much of Edith's "What is a Family." If you're looking for some spiritual reading this January 2015, Own your Life is one I recommend.  Thank you Tyndale for my review copy. This is the first book I've read by Sally, but I'll be on the look-out for others. 
HyzenthlayClover More than 1 year ago
Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson Own Your Life how we can take responsibility for different areas of our life, while still allowing God to work in them. Sally Clarkson has filled each chapter with something we can own and take care of on our own. Each chapter shows us what our parts are in our own lives. This book enables all to see what areas they can work on in their life and what they can do to keep on the path to God’s Kingdom. Countless times I have come across books that speak to me at just the right time in my life, when I need the contents and messages it has for me. This book has done just that, it has spoken to me at the right time in areas where I need it most. Even the people mentioned in the book spoke to my own life, such as the son’s name being similar to my own son’s name. I found a wealth of valuable information on how to make a home a home (I would like the Sally Clarkson to write a book titled “Home” which would deal exclusively with how to make a home a home in detail.). I also discovered valuable nuggets dealing with being a mom and a wife. There can be a lot of information relating to love in more than just one section. Love is the greatest commandment. Each chapter starts off with a quote and a scripture verse relating to the chapter’s content. The content of the chapter holds examples/experiences from the author’s own life as well as from Biblical events. Towards the end of each chapter there are suggestions and questions of things the reader can ask themselves and do to progress in that specific area. After the questions there is a prayer that the author prays with the reader. For each prayer I made it personal and changed all the “us” to “me” or “I”. I found Own Your Life to be exceptionally powerful! I highly recommend Own Your Life to all! I have received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.