Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Life-Giving Home~ by Sally Clarkson

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming 

"The Life-Giving Home" will definitely be a contender for my Best Books of 2016 list. It is inspiring in the fullest sense of the definition: it urges, encourages, galvanizes, sparks and impassions the reader.

I don't see how you could spend time with the words of Sally and Sarah and not long for what they describe. They give us a glimpse of a home culture that is founded on the ideals of  "belonging" and "becoming," and it is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes, life just feels like a grind. The world is fallen, and meanness and manipulation plague our families. We need clear voices speaking into the mess and saying "Not a one of us is perfect, but we don't need perfection to have a good life. As a family, you belong to each other and those relationships are your true treasures. Guard them, and work through any struggle that's harming them. And you belong to God, meaning that you have a Father, Helper, and Savior. You'll find what you need in him. You can do this!"

"The Lifegiving Home" is a pleasure to read. It gives me hope. You could open this book randomly to any page, and find something to refresh your spirit. It might be a discussion of how essential the sense of wonder is, or it might be ideas for stocking the pantry just in time for Autumn. It might be a meditation on how much loving words really matter, or it might be a reminder to look at your world with careful eyes.

This is one of those rare family books that isn't problem focused. We don't get pages of negative statistics, instead we get suggestions for ways to be together and enjoy each other. We don't get a task list for A+ homemaking, instead we're encouraged to follow the rhythms that make our home comfortable for our people. 

Sally and Sarah both look to the heart of God and see the tender way he relates to his children, and then they look at their homes and ask "How that we have that welcoming tenderness here?"
Never condemning and ever encouraging, they ask us to imagine how we could imbue our days with more of God's goodness.

How can we grow closer to our people and know them better, show them we care, and help them develop those roots and wings that they will need? How can we celebrate the best days and mourn the disheartening losses and affirm the work that God is doing through it all?

As Amy Carmichael once wrote, you don't get to save a soul and then pitchfork it into heaven. The believer has to live on earth and hopefully bring a little heaven down in the process. Both Sarah and Sally have keen eyes for the holy in the ordinary. They believe that something as earthly as delicious food contributes to the heavenly goals of friendship and community. They know that something as mundane as a sick day can remind the cared-for patient how much they're loved.

They also know that in Jesus, life often seems to work backwards. Being open to having honest (and therefore sometimes unpleasant) conversations now will make our relationships stronger in the end. A peaceful home doesn't come from bending others to your will, it comes from hearts captivated by a common vision. There are times to correct and many times to simply stay and love in silence.

This is a excellent book. I'm very grateful to Tyndale for providing me a review copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

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