No one has mentored me quite like this woman. Sally Clarkson has poured me tea, has poured into me, has poured from a depth of rich wisdom and life well-lived and she loves from the deepest places. She’s walked me through hard parenting seasons. She’s prayed me through mama-crisis. She’s been real, she’s been warm, she’s been wise — and I love her wildly. Thirty-one years ago, Sally Clarkson had her first child at the age of 31. Having never changed a diaper or spent one day babysitting, she had no idea of what it meant to be a mother or to build a home. As she raised 4 children, she discovered that motherhood was one of the greatest missions of all, and that establishing a life-giving home was one of the most profound ministries of her life. Sally has shown me the art of educating Wholehearted Children, maybe one of the very best educating/parenting books I’ve ever read, as she taught me that parenting is about discipleship. I trust this woman at a deep level & hold her in the highest esteem, because she walks with rare integrity and Gospel wisdom and because most of her years as a mother were lived with little outside help or support, Sally does not want other sweet mamas to do life alone, but to have inspiration and encouragement and tried-and-true wisdom each step of the way. A grace to welcome my very dearest, wise mentor, Sally, to the farm’s front porch today…
“To invite someone into your home
is to take charge of their happiness
for as long as they are under your roof.”
A frigid, snowy February night found six of us sequestered in our Colorado home, tucked in by the fireplace to fight off the chill.
Sprawled on the floor, my two teenage boys were playing chess and wrangling about differing opinions on issues big and small. Curled up in a well-worn, overstuffed chair, another was engrossed in a novel, while my youngest daughter helped me throw together a light dinner.
January through March is always half-packed-bag, piles gathering, mail stacking high, and endless airplane sort of months in our home.
Since 1998, our family has hosted conferences at hotels for thousands of women across the United States during those months.
Consequently, my home suffers from lack of attention.
A friend of my children volunteered to take care of our beloved golden retriever and gather the mail during our absence.
Every evening as we gathered around the table at dinnertime, eating, laughing, and sharing the moments of our day, we always welcomed the young woman into our nightly ritual reveries. It was a sort of familial liturgy that gave shape and rhythm to our frantic lives.
This particular evening, she lingered and joined us as was becoming habit. I surveyed the landscape of our home and it was more cluttered than usual.
There were piles of mail, half-opened; socks and shoes strewn here and there where they had been taken off, and exhausted teenagers sprawled across the house.
A tinge of guilt hovered over my heart. “I should be more diligent,” I surmised.
But then I pushed the thought to the back of my brain and threw together our traditional snack meal—what I refer to as my “punt” meal when I do not have lots of time to prepare. Homemade bread from the freezer, cheese, fruit, popcorn, crackers, hummus, nuts, and a few other items I’d been able to find in our cupboard.
The seven of us lounged together for a long time. Weariness had caught up with us, and we reveled in the soft candlelight, instrumental music, and time to share in our mutual friendship.
Boy antics and jokes, raised voices, giggles amidst munching popcorn and filling our stomachs and hearts, the evening was replete with soul satisfaction. I had decided, for that evening, not to fight the piles, but to live with them, and create a moment of peace amidst the clutter. Tomorrow would come soon enough.
Unexpectedly, the young woman stood up and nearly ran from the room.
I caught her in the hallway where she was quickly donning her coat. As she began to head toward our front door, I saw tears streaming down her face.
“Are you ok? What is wrong, sweet one?” I steered her into my small study and shut the door.
As soon as we sat down together, a sob overwhelmed her, and a storm that had been building inside for many years began to pour out.
“You all have a place to belong,” she said. “You are a part of each other. In your home is everything a person could want or need—food, friendship, spiritual encouragement, rest, comfort, and fun—it’s all here. My mom and dad divorced several times each, so I have moved from one place to another. We stayed alive, but we did not truly ‘live.’”
“I want a place to belong, a people to be a part of, but I never really thought they existed, except in storybooks. As we were sitting at the table, I suddenly felt deep sadness and regret for all I never had and realized that this is what I wanted.”
I held her, as she sobbed and let go of the sadness that had been building inside.
It was not house beautiful, or organizational systems that spoke to her need—though we all work on those every day, all the time.
But, it was heart of our home, the love, the comfort and warmth, the acceptance, the spiritual and intellectual connection that invited her into our haven where she might find refuge from life.
Defining Your Vision of Home
An architect who desires to build a distinguished edifice must first make the blueprint that documents the design and placement of the structure’s foundations, boundaries, facades, and enclosures.
Similarly, in order to build a vibrant, rich life-giving home, I realized I needed to construct a detailed plan. One cannot build what has not been imagined.
As I pondered more what I wanted my home to become, I jotted down thoughts in my journal.
*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 beauty are strategically placed throughout its rooms and walls.
*Home is the place where the whispers of God’s love are heard regularly, the touch of His hands are given intentionally throughout the day, and the words of His encouragement and affirmation lay the foundation of loving relationships.
*Home is the place where stories of heroism, sacrifice, love, and redemption are celebrated and embraced and heard, which shape the dreams of the souls who live there.
*Home is a place of ministry and the gifting and giving of redeeming words, thoughts, actions, and love to all who come under its influence.
A Homeless Generation is longing for a place to belong.
We live in a homeless civilization.
I am not even speaking of the poor who do not have a place to live. I think many people 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 have dwellings—apartments, houses, dorm rooms—but they do not have a sense of sanctuary, refuge, a harbor for their wandering souls, where life is preserved, protected, and cultivated so that the daily needs of their hearts and souls are satisfied.
As I enter a new year, embracing the making of my home into a sanctuary for life for those God would have me serve, is capturing my imagination with new vision and energy.
Crafting a place that reflects His beauty, the vast dimensions of the joys of life to be celebrated there, and the possibility of unconditional love is forming the plans I am making for the months ahead.
Indeed one of the glories of life is to craft a home that truly is a welcome to body, mind and soul –
and the fulfillment of creating such a space is a deeply satisfying work of life.
I could not recommend a New Year read to you more highly than this book. Prepare to read with highlighter in hand and journal at your side because this book is the most beautiful, powerful, honest blueprint that your soul is hungry for…
Long for days that bring out the best version of you rather than leave you exhausted? Sometimes catch yourself wishing life was more impactful and fulfilling? I’m telling you, Sally Clarkson’s newest book, Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith and Generous Love, is a breath of fresh air for the soul.
Open these pages and I literally exhale — Sally journeys with you to explore what it means to live meaningfully, follow God truly, and bring much-needed order to your chaos and to your weary heart. Sally’s books have profoundly changed my life and what’s happened under our roof here: Mission of Motherhood and Educating the Wholehearted Child are some of the best books I’ve ever read on making a home and raising children — but I believe this is truly Sally’s magnum opus. If I could, I’d hand every woman I know a copy of Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith and Generous Love. Five star read.