The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming


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How to make home your family’s favorite place to be . . . all year long.
Does your home sometimes feel like just a place to eat, sleep, and change clothes on the way to the next activity? Do you long for “home” to mean more than a place where you stash your stuff? Wouldn’t you love it to become a haven of warmth, rest, and joy . . . the one place where you and your family can’t wait to be?

There is good news waiting for you in the pages of The Lifegiving Home. Every day of your family’s life can be as special and important to you as it already is to God. In this unique book designed to help your family enjoy and celebrate every month of the year together, you’ll discover the secrets of a life-giving home from a mother who created one and her daughter who was raised in it: popular authors Sally and Sarah Clarkson. Together they offer a rich treasure of wise advice, spiritual principles, and practical suggestions. You’ll embark on a new path to creating special memories for your children; establishing home-building and God-centered traditions; and cultivating an environment in which your family will flourish. (Don’t miss the companion piece, The Lifegiving Home Experience.)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496403377
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 257,889
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sally Clarkson is the beloved author of multiple bestselling books, including Own Your Life, The Lifegiving Home with her daughter Sarah, Desperate with Sarah Mae, and Different with her son Nathan. As a mother of four, she has inspired thousands of women through Whole Heart Ministries and Mom Heart conferences.

Sarah Clarkson is passionate about passing on the great ideas of literature and Scripture through writing and discipleship. Currently a freelance writer and editor, she has spent the last few years working with Whole Heart Ministries at their conferences, speaking in the United States and overseas.

Donna Postel is fascinated by all kinds of stories and loves telling them. From memoir and biography to literary fiction, romance, mystery, and suspense, Donna uses her innate curiosity, talent, and decades of experience on stage and in the recording studio to bring books to life.

Read an Excerpt

The Lifegiving Home

Creating a Place of Belonging & Becoming

By Sally Clarkson, Sarah Clarkson, Anne Christian Buchanan

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Sally Clarkson and Sarah Clarkson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0337-7



The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

Proverbs 14:1

Leaves of crimson, gold, and brown drifted down upon the roof of our car as we slowly meandered on the winding road, gazing out at the mysterious woods on either side of us and the flowing stream that seemed to follow our course. The sweet, melancholy notes of a Celtic CD streamed through the car as each of us lost ourselves for the moment in our own dream worlds.

In that season of my life, as the mother of three teenagers and a bubbly little seven-year-old girl, I rarely had a quiet moment. This drive provided a soothing moment, a badly needed opportunity just to breathe. The soft music lured me to a secret escape inside, while the pathways leading through shadowy woods captured my imagination, providing a momentary break from mundane reality. And how I needed that! My heart was desperate for some new inspiration and rest from my draining and demanding days. Would I find it on this trip?

All six of us Clarksons had piled into our van to get away to Asheville, North Carolina, for a weekend of family adventure and escape. Now we were approaching the Biltmore, the famous home that George Washington Vanderbilt II planned and constructed more than one hundred years earlier.

We rounded a bend, and a stand of tall, shimmering ash trees opened up to a breathtaking view. The grand tree-lined entrance in front of us led to a four-story French château–styled structure. Designed as the dream project of Mr. Vanderbilt's life, Biltmore stood with castle-like grandeur against a dramatic backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Completed in 1895, Biltmore was (and remains) the largest residential dwelling in the United States — with four acres of floor space and more than 250 rooms. In its heyday the estate covered most of four counties. Although some of the land has been sold since then, the house itself looks almost new, without the slightest evidence that the years have weakened or diminished the structure in any way.

Driving up toward Biltmore on that first visit, we found ourselves awestruck by the sheer size and beauty of the place in its breathtaking mountain setting. But as we toured the house and learned a little more about it and its creator, we came to appreciate the family dwelling and its builder even more. For Biltmore is more than just a big, elegant house in the mountains. It is the embodiment of one man's vision of home and his determination to make that dream a reality.

As the youngest of eight children, George Vanderbilt gleaned ideas for home design from his older siblings, from the family home in New York where he had grown up, and from prominent historical places he had visited in America and abroad. His vision for crafting a home grew over time, and by the time he got around to actually building his dream home, he knew exactly what he wanted — a solid structure built to last, a family home whose halls and rooms were filled with lively, rousing conversations; jubilant dances; and sumptuous feasts — a meeting place where friends he had met from all over the world could join him.

George Vanderbilt's monument of a lifework will last for generations, as it was built on solid foundations with good materials. As I walked its halls, I learned more and found my soul awakening, my imagination rekindling as I pondered my own dream of creating a lifegiving home, a legacy that would speak into generations to come.

Vanderbilt dreamed of designing a place that would be a haven for all who entered and a resource for the greater community. His family dwelling place would be a sanctuary for all who came upon it, crafted to meet the needs of people who longed for the solace of a peaceful life away from the demands of everyday living.

He especially wanted his home to provide a retreat for budding artists and musicians so they could create their works of art in peace. Vanderbilt dreamed of providing these folk with a place where they could find rest and renewal, then continue working on their art.

His remarkable success in achieving that dream was obvious with every step of our tour. Uniquely decorated guestrooms on the second and third floors were earmarked for friends and aspiring artists, authors, and musicians. A library of thousands of books stood at ready to support disciplined and curious minds — and prompted my own reflections as well.

How can I do that in my own home? I found myself pondering. In what ways can I make room for those needing a place to be creative?

Multiple living rooms were designed to provide his family and guests with privacy, companionship, and entertainment. Each featured a variety of cards and games, books piled high for escape and study, groupings of chairs where many friendships were forged in front of roaring fires, lit nightly for warmth and atmosphere. Guests delighted to congregate in these rooms to engage with new ideas, share stories, and enjoy one another.

How can I group chairs, couches, and tables in our home in a way that encourages people to spend time together?

A massive kitchen in the basement ensured that the dining and serving needs of all who stayed in the home would be easily met. Here elaborate feasts, elegant tea parties, enchanting birthday celebrations, and magnificent holiday celebrations originated. (Even the servants and their families were treated yearly to a grand Christmas party, and each child was presented with presents chosen just for him or her.)

How can I use my own kitchen and the rest of my house to meet both the physical and emotional needs of my family and those who might not have as much? What events can I dream up that help us celebrate life and make memories through meals and learning how to cook for groups with simplicity?

Culture and travel were important to George Vanderbilt, and he planned his house to reflect those interests. Art treasures and artifacts from all over the world, mostly collected by Vanderbilt himself, transformed each room into a visual feast. Beautiful, interesting objects adorned each corner and wall — robust statues, hundreds of pen-and-ink sketches, classic oil paintings, European tapestries, a grand organ, musical instruments, rare books, and fascinating relics. Each was carefully chosen to add beauty and interest, to capture the imagination and stimulate the flow of creative juices.

How can I arrange my own little treasure trove of items collected from the many countries where we've lived to refresh our decor and provide something interesting to see, read, or enjoy in every corner of my house?

Designed to Design

As I toured Biltmore, my imagination and vision were once again piqued by the idea of intentionally making my home a holding place for all that is beautiful, good, holy, and foundational to life — a place where those I love always feel like they belong, a place of freedom and grace that launches them into the persons they were made to be, a place of becoming. In the midst of demanding, constantly pressured lives, we all need refresher courses from time to time about what we are building and why we must be intentional about doing it.

My mom used to put it this way: "All people need a place where their roots can grow deep and they always feel like they belong and have a loving refuge. And all people need a place that gives wings to their dreams, nurturing possibilities of who they might become."

Creating such a place does not require building a mansion as Vanderbilt did. We are all capable of creating a lasting legacy in the form of a home that gives life to others who come under its roof.

A home that serves all who enter.

A home that reflects our own tastes and the values we treasure.

A home that meets the needs of family and visitors alike, that fosters beauty and creativity.

A home where the atmosphere, traditions, and celebrations give life to the hearts, minds, and souls of those inside its walls.

A home that provides a lifegiving legacy that will last for generations to come.

I believe God has designed us to do just that.

It was through the structure of home and family that God first gave men and women a chart for all of life, when it was perfect and untouched by sin. Adam and Eve received God's blessings and a mandate: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28). Family was God's original organization scheme for society, and home was the laboratory where human beings could learn to glorify God through the work, relationships, and purposes of their lives. Home would be the place where love for God and commitment to His purposes would be passed down from one generation to another.

A Homeless Generation?

Thousands of years later, in a world that rebelled against God's original intention, too many are left with no understanding of the Genesis mandate or the importance of home building. Broken families, divorce, abandonment, passivity, and abuse have plagued family history and have left scars on the hearts of children grown into adults. The vision of home as a place to flourish and grow fully into healthy persons has too often been lost in the busyness, distraction, and brokenness of both our secular and our Christian cultures.

Add to that the impact of technology in recent years, as social media tends to elevate virtual relationships over real-life, face-to-face encounters. Tweets, profiles, and statuses have replaced personal conversations. Gathering around the table for food and family discussions, lingering on front porches for long conversations over coffee, whiling away evenings with family and friends — all these have been replaced with quick trips through the fast-food drive-in or fifteen-minute meet-ups at a local coffee shop. There is little time or space for instruction about life or discussions about truth. Our souls seem to be filled with the sawdust of a lost generation.

Corporate moves have displaced people from their relatives; megachurches have replaced local congregations; and so many of us have become accustomed to growing up without a physical, local community of friends with whom we share life every day and who hold us accountable. Neighborhoods have become merely places to hold the dwellings where we sleep, grab food on the go, and meet our bare needs for existence. Sometimes we are lonely, and we do not recognize what has been lost.

As a result, in so many ways, we have become a homeless generation.

I am not even speaking of the poor who actually lack a place to live — though that in itself is a tragedy. I'm referring to a different kind of homelessness, one that is spiritual and emotional. It's the homelessness of those who have their basic needs for housing, food, and clothing met but do not have a sanctuary designed to preserve all that is precious in life.

People may have dwellings — apartments, flats, houses, dorm rooms. They may have roommates or husbands or wives or children or parents. They may even have architects and decorators. But so many do not have a place of refuge, a harbor for their wandering souls, a place where all that is precious about life is preserved, protected, and cultivated and the daily needs of their hearts and souls are satisfied.

More important, they have no idea how to create that kind of home for themselves and those they love.

What Makes a Home?

Each of us longs for a place to belong, a connection that gives roots to our wandering lives. Our hearts hunger for a community where we are intimate members, a sense of belonging to people who love us. Our souls crave a purpose bigger than our jobs, a connection to a sense of meaning. We yearn to know that our own stories have significance in the grander scheme of God's megastory. All of these may be found in home — a place to belong, a people to be a part of, and a purpose where God's righteousness and design are celebrated and cherished in community every day.

That's not to say the home or the people in it have to fit a certain mold or look a particular way. Whether single or married, parent or childless, student, missionary, working away from home, traveling as a way of life, or in between places while being transferred — anyone can "make home" amidst the ever-changing circumstances of life. But it won't just happen by accident. Homemaking — not in the sense of housekeeping, but in the broader sense of cultivating the life of a home — has to be done on purpose.

The essence of home, you see, is not necessarily a structure. What makes a home is the life shared there, wherever that may be. And cultivating the life of home requires intentionality, planning, and design. There must be someone (or several someones) to craft the life, the beauty, the love, and the inspiration that overflows from that place.

An architect who desires to build a distinguished edifice must start with a vision and then translate that vision into a blueprint that documents the design and placement of the structure's foundations, boundaries, facades, and enclosures. One cannot build what has not been imagined. And one cannot bring a vision to life without a plan.

Early in the life of our family, I realized I needed that as well. In order to build a vibrant, rich, lifegiving home, I needed to clarify my vision and construct a detailed plan for our own unique community called "Clarkson." As I pondered what I wanted my home to become, I jotted down thoughts in my journal. These became the essence of the Clarkson blueprint, my vision for what home is and should be:

Home is the haven of inspiration where the art of life is expressed and taught. Color is strewn into every corner; delectable food is tasted; art, books, and other sources of beauty are strategically placed throughout its rooms and walls. Nature is observed from each window — flowers, plants, rocks, shells. The works of the Master Artist speak of the work of His hands.

Home is the place where the whispers of God's love are heard regularly. The touch of His hands is given intentionally throughout the day, and His words of encouragement and affirmation lay the foundation of loving relationships.

Home is the place where stories of heroism, sacrifice, love, and redemption are heard, embraced, and celebrated. These shape the dreams of the souls who live there.

Home is a place of ministry. Redeeming words, thoughts, and actions are shared and taught, the wisdom and instruction of God is passed along, and God's love is offered to all who come under its influence.

My immediate motivation for building such a home, of course, was my family, especially my children. From the moment that newborn Sarah was placed in my arms, I felt the profound urge to create a safe and nurturing environment where she and, later, her brothers and sister could grow and thrive, where their spirits could be fed and their souls enriched.

But I needed that home for my own soul as well. I craved a place to belong amidst our nomadic lifestyle, a refuge from the draining practicalities and spiritual warfare I encountered out in the world. In order to thrive, I needed a place to be loved and restored, to find inspiration and purpose. The constructing of such a place was a way of seeing that my own heart, mind, and soul were filled up on a regular basis so that when I emerged from my home, I had resources to cope with the demands of my life.

Because of our missionary, job-oriented lives, Clay and I knew from the beginning that we would probably not have a static homestead where we could congregate over our life as a family. So we focused on creating home out of less tangible materials — traditions, habits, rhythms, experiences, and values. It was in the love and acceptance we shared, the comfort and warmth we enjoyed together, the spiritual and intellectual connections we fostered, and the traditions we celebrated together that we found both refuge from the world outside and the strength to engage it creatively.

We ended up moving seventeen times — six times internationally. We lived in a variety of houses and apartments — small and large, rural, suburban, and downtown. When we finally did move into a more permanent home in Colorado, our choices still reflected the values that already said "home" to us. And those invisible threads still tie our hearts together so that wherever in the world we are — and our bunch is likely to be found almost anywhere around the globe — we are united by the choices and experiences that knit us together as a family and define our very beings.


Excerpted from The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson, Sarah Clarkson, Anne Christian Buchanan. Copyright © 2016 Sally Clarkson and Sarah 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

Acknowledgments ix

The Adventure Begins xi

Part 1 Thinking about Home

1 A Life Giving Legacy (Sally) 3

2 Made for Home (Sarah) 13

3 A Symphony of Grace (Sally) 23

4 The Rhythms of Incarnation (Sarah) 33

Part 2 Seasons of Home

January: Creating a Framework for Home: Rhythms, Routines, and Rituals (Sally) 43

February: A Culture of Love: Growing Lifelong Relationships (Sally) 59

March: The Art of the Ordinary: Finding Beauty in Your Own Backyard (Sarah) 79

April: A Heritage of Faith: Engaging with God's Story (Sarah) 101

May: Days to Commemorate: Marking Growth with Celebration (Sally) 119

June: Times of Delight: Creating a Value for Play (Sally) 133

July: A Heroic Heritage: Engaging with Story and History (Sarah) 149

August: The Story of Us: Shaping and Celebrating Family Culture (Sally) 165

September: When Seasons Change: Gathering In for Home and Soul (Sarah) 179

October: Home Is Best: Serving Life within Your Walls (Sally) 193

November: Blessed and Blessing: Grace, Gratitude, and Generosity (Sarah) 213

December: The Rhythm of Celebration: Seasons of Rejoicing in Family Life (Sarah) 229

Notes 247

About the Authors 249

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