The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson {book review}


“Home is not merely a dwelling. It’s not merely a state of existence. It’s a story, a narrative spun out day by day, a story molded by the walls and hours and tasks and feasts with which we fill our time, reflecting the reality of the God whose love animates every aspect of our being.”

The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson, p.20


First off let me say I loved this book. This mother daughter team with their beautiful writing inspired me to rethink my home and how we use it. It was too much to take in to read quickly so I read a few pages here and there in the moments I had. Each time I put the book down I expected it to be hard to start again, but the story and ideas for lovely home practices made it easy to pick back up again and continue being inspired. Perfect for life with three munchkins, actually. A few different times I had to run for a pen and paper to keep a list of things to incorporate and ideas revisit later. I read it in the middle of winter – that after christmas portion when homes tend to feel a little bleak – and I daydreamed flowers, gatherings, and new ideas for our home.

“When I see my home as a source of life to be extended to all who enter, I will be committed to the well-being of all those who enter. A home that says welcome opens hearts to real relationships.” p26

The Clarksons have a somewhat romanticized view of home that is at the same time both helpful and unhelpful.

for example:

  • Unhelpful: “We cannot change the world if we cannot incarnate God’s love in our most ordinary spaces and hours.” p38 <—To me this puts too much pressure on our homes. To be sure we are more likely to be good stewards in other areas if we are good stewards in our homes, but to me they are not so tightly locked at the knee.
  • Helpful: “To cultivate beauty is to act in keeping with my faith in God’s goodness rather than my doubt.” p83 <— I loved this. I so easily fall into places where I am sure what I’m doing doesn’t matter, but to place that hope in God instead of in myself is oh so right.

Sally Clarkson has put in much time and effort (and I’m certain: money) into making their home idyllic (- and who doesn’t dream of that) and it can feel disheartening when you think about how chaotic your own home is or how impossible house-to-home-making seems when taken on such a grand scale, but we all start somewhere and remembering that can be helpful while reading this book. The many tips and tools in each chapter are great jumping off points for thinking about our own homes in a more purposeful way. The narrative in the book can seem prescriptive in a “my way or the highway” kind of way, but we are free to make our homes however they work best for us. And the encouragement to consider home in a higher way can be inspiring.

I will definitely be revisiting this book (and the study guide) as I continue to explore, change, and shape our own home culture to reflect our family’s needs and values. I especially loved the chapter on books and giving your children memories of heroic stories to fuel and inspire their real-life adventures. Because I am a book nerd and these are the things I remember about my childhood too.

“We were children who went to bed with Narnian heroes in our dreams, woke to picture books before breakfast, and had biographies assigned for the afternoon. Our imaginations were crammed with beauty of story, landscapes, characters, and quests, constantly expanding our concept of what was good and beautiful and possible. Every book we read, every hero encountered came with my parents’ challenge for us to dream of who we might become, who we might help or save, and what we might create.” p153

And this idea about celebration leads to a deeper understanding of what may, at times, seem like plain frivolity:

“We need celebration because we need to remember the eternal. Adults as well as children need an occasional space in which to vividly picture and embody as much delight and laughter as they can because those lived realities allow them hope in what they cannot yet imagine, in the new heavens and new earth.” p232

I was given a copy of this book and the companion study-book as part of the Tyndale blog tour. These are my own opinions and I was not compensated in any way for this post.


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One thought on “The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson {book review}

  1. This was a good review, Erika. I have not read the book, but I appreciate your honesty about what you found helpful and what you found unhelpful. The book sounds like it has some little gems that are inspiring. Where it seems like too much for wherever we are in our journeys, we can skip over and just pick out what is helpful for us. Thank you for such a good review and for linking up with #LMMLinkup!


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