Book Review & Recommendation: The Life Giving Home By Sally & Sarah Clarkson

The Life Giving Home                                                                                                                       By. Sally & Sarah Clarkson

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Written by 2 woman, deeply committed to the home!  I love the input by both mother and daughter and also that they broke the chapters into months.  That totally made sense to me.  It just felt like a woman’s brain, figuring out how to break down, into manageable chunks, all the things we long to create and celebrate in our homes throughout the year.

Lots of creative ideas of celebration of home and the importance of family.  The reminder that you can’t just expect your family to bond as a loving committed unit.  You need to put your heart and hands into breathing life into our home to weave the love and traditions and intention into you long to see in your family.

Super inspiring with out making me feel like I’m out of my depth.  Nothing seemed too hard or elaborate to me.  Just little nudges towards inspiration and intention with my hubby and children.

A great read for the mom who is looking for ideas to bring life into her home!

I listend to a audio version wile I did house work and cooked.  But also purchased a hard copy so I can go through and hi-light the specific traditions and ideas that stood out to me.  That way I can find them with the flip of a page when Im ready to implement a little magic into each season of the year, and each celebration of our family life!

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Look In

I have been seeking and searching, pruning and purging.  Trying to skinny down the “must do’s” so I can fully focused on the one thing that is most important, today and every day.  Serving where the Lore has placed me.

My vision has been some what scattered.  My community, my church, neighbours, family, friends.  I feel like my heart is breaking in every direction and I can’t possibly be in service to all at once.  I feel inspired, overwhelmed, torn and then defeated.  And each time I pray the Lord say “Look In”

“Look in to your home, Jenny.  That is the greatest task I will ever give you, and you are being romanced by the dream of ministry….  Is not your family ministry anouf?” 

We all know it is but the needs of the many seem to outweigh the needs of the few in my mind.  So I commit to this, and volunteer for that.  I will just serve at this function and bring a meal every time there is call to help.  I think if they are all good things then I must be doing well to never say no.  I love to be creative and serve.  But at what cost?

This is not my encouragement to step back and do nothing.  It is my commitment to step up and do the right thing.  

1  pray pray pray and listen listen listen.  Not if I should serve…  I don’t need to ask God if He wants me to teach Sunday school or bring food to those in need.  Its a no brainer, YES!  But that doesn’t mean I must do it all, every time.  I must Pray and ask “will this yes make my number one task you are calling me to (my kids and husband) be neglected or dishonoured?”  My priorities must be prayed over.  There will be time I can serve and still be fully present to my family, so go serve. But there are times I go way over my capabilities and my kids get my leftovers and the trucker is neglected. So those are the time I must say no.

2 be okay with God filling the gap.  Because He can!  He has not called me to success and productivity, He has called me to rest in Him.  He has not asked me to feed the 5,000, He only asked for my 5 loves and 2 fish, and He provides the rest.  I can server faithfully and wholeheartedly when I remember that the success or failure of any ministry is not dependant on me getting it all done or figured out.  The gospel will move forward with or without me.  I am only invited to ride along, with my meagre offering, to join in the adventure when my kids allow and my husband is on board.

3 stop stressing about it.  God has made His will clear.  Go and make disciples of all nations. A wise friend recently told me, as we were talking about programs to get our kids involved in.  Sports, music, sunday school, day camp, VBS, homeschool Co-op, swimming lessons, the list goes on and we as moms antagonize, about what to do, what not to do.  She reminded me that all theses things are good things.  They all get a easy Yes!  But you can’t say yes to them all at once.  Likewise I can’t serve on the Church committee, plan events, volunteer at the ski club, lead a bible study, teach Sunday school, run wilderness play group and still expect to have relationships that foster flourishing and love with my family, let alone have any friends.

4 be nice… What is the easiest way to fulfill the great commission?  Love your neighbour as yourself.  What if we were just all in the zone of caring for our families and being nice to our neighbours, to our friends.  What if my Faith was make by kindness and generosity and not with productivity?

Now Im not picking those of you out there managing the non-profit or running the car-pool.  I don’t aim to live isolated and saying no to every service opportunity that comes my way.  But I do intent for my yes to be my yes and my no my no.

If my family ends up with the leftovers then I am out of my depth and that is the space where Jesus has prevision for my limitations.  If I can include my kids (not just drag them along) if it doen’t suck every hour out of my evening when, I could be culitavating my friendship and love with my husband. Then count me in!  But when it stretching me so thin you can see right through me, its time to step back.

As I have been more consistent about praying over my limitation before I commit. I see I have begun to commit to much less. But my family and I flourish much more.  My kids get my best offering and my husband doen’t watch me struggle to juggle and balance.  We have more energy as a family to just be nice and kind and generous.  The Gospel is still fufilled but Im not pretending Im responsible for the feast.  I just offer my loves and fishes and God dose the rest.

The Lord has called me to look in.  To look into my own home and see my children as worthy converts, to be witness to the love of Christ in mommy.  To look into my friend group and community and see where I really could serve from my heart and from my home.

Each day I walk out to the pasture to feed the calves and I look into our yard and I thank God He has asked me to “Look in” and has given me a congregation of family and friends to minister to, with my Husband and my kids.

Don’t feel Im telling you to quit what the Lord has in your heart just because it takes you away form your kitchen sink and own back your.  We are all called differently and in accordance to our gifting and abilities.  Serve with all your heart where ever you are.  But if your heart is being tugged, just as mine was, to “Look In”. Don’t be afraid to make a change and pray pray pray for His leading.  You will always be in ministry as long as you are nice and marked with the Love of Christ flowing out on those in your path.

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A Resting Place for Your Heart

Lamentations 3:23
Great is his faithfulness, his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Hang in there dear heart, you are beating so fast you might burst out of my chest. Its been a long morning and its only 9:30, husband off to work and a quite moment for me and God. Then waking kids and finding clothing, organizing gear for the trip to town, its swimming lessons today. Breakfast of yogurt and granola and milk in sippy cups. I of course just chug back a shake and think about coffee, but I have been drinking too much coffee lately, it keeps me awake at night.

Coffee and all of the things moms worry about, keep me awake in the darkest hours, right before the world tips over to the other side of another day. January in the Fort St. John, dark hours pile up till you fear you might never see the sun again. But it breaks through every day, cutting the fog of early mornings, and late nights. The mist lifts off the fields or sometimes it just hangs frozen mid air and glows with an invisible warmth that we wont feel for a few more months.

And I shake off the fog one more time cause that what questioning mothers do…

1 Corinthians 13:12
We don’t yet see things clearly. We are squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it wont be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We will see it all then, see it all as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!

Questioning my ability to raise these tiny people. Questioning if they are retaining anything I say to them. Questioning if they are getting enough nutrition or enough snuggles. Questioning if the delay to achieve bench-marks are behavioural or development or just imagined. Questioning my sanity, my organizational ability, and my schedule.

I shake off the fog of all the questions and self doubt and I move forward. Cause that’s what questioning mothers do…

All these questions are my fears not letting me rest…

Fears that I might fail my children and they will suffer for my lack of wisdom in raising them. Or anxiety that they might not continue on to post secondary education, or stress that they wont be potty trained in time for kindergarten.

And what is fear… What is anxiety… What is stress….

These are all an overwhelmed display, of a lack of faith.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

A lack of seeing the unseen victory that is all around us. Victory over sin and death and yes even fear. Fear is the absence of worship and gratefulness. Fear leads you down a path that will never fulfilling the destiny God has set before you, You can not live a life of obedience, chained to the shackles of fear. When you dwell in anxiety and worry you will miss your calling, a calling that is written in the scriptures and whispered in your heart.

A calling to rest…

To rest in the midst of the storm.

Mark 6: 36-40
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, Teacher, don’t you care if we drown He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, Quiet! Be still! Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples Why are you afraid Do you still have no faith…

There will still be storms but with Jesus in the boat you can rest. Rest assured that he know what is keeping you up at night. Rest assured that he fearfully and wonderfully made your Children and he longs for them to live a life best used for his glory. Rest assured that you are the chosen mother for theses tender years, for the teen years, for the turmoil and the tantrums. Rest assured that you are not to walk alone as mother or as a father, but you are to walk with God and to rely on his strength when ours is limited and lacking. But mostly you are to rest in the storm as Jesus rested in the storm… Because Jesus knew His Father He knew He was secure…

Jesus has power over the storm, he can have power over the storms in your life. This a power we have access too. Because it doesn’t matter what the pediatrician says or what the teachers say or what the little league coach thinks. It doesn’t matter what the specialist say and what the books tell you. It only matters what God says. It only matters that God has Power over the storm.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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Dear heart the day has come to an end and the darkness has settled around us but the moon still casts shadows over the yard. Shadows of hope stretching out in the dark, behind each tree a valley is formed. A little well is formed from the strength of the tree protecting that which stand close behind it.

It is like that standing close to the living shelter of our Christ we will find a resting place for all the things keeping us awake at night and all the things keeping us from from peace and contentment. So lay your burden in the shadow of the cross, drop them in the well created with the unmoving stance of a gracious God who will stand in the storm with you, and shelter you from the wind. Take comfort dear heart, do not beat so fast but carry the peace that comes with the knowledge of a good shelter in a dark storm.
Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.