The LifeGiving Home

Not only do Sarah & Sally share the why's of a foundational, life-giving home, but they also offer lots of practical ideas from their own family on how to make that happen.

One of my daily rhythms includes rest, something I really struggle to do since I'm so production-driven. This is something God is working on in me.

And wouldn't you know...He sent me just the people and tools I needed to point me in that direction?

I don't want my home or life to be based on productivity, but on being life-giving. This has largely been the reason for my blog going quiet. To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd be writing much of anything new on it for the entirety of the year. 

As much as I want to write and share consistently, I simply can't. Not only do I not have the time to write every other day, I don't have the content to write every other day. Oftentimes, I just don't know what to write. And throwing just anything up there won't do. 

So believe me when I say I want to write and write often! Sometimes the mounting pressure can be unbearable -- which was the case for January. I gave myself permission to let blogging go and be OK with it. 

In the mornings, I've been focusing on doing a family devotional with my children and then doing a morning read aloud together. It has been a highlight of my day! 

But over this past month I've also been reading Sally and Sarah Clarkson's latest release, (aff) The LifeGiving Home

Home is 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.
— Sarah Clarkson, The LifeGiving Home

Sally and I go way back to first meeting at the (then) Relevant Conference in 2011. She is a real gift to me and so many other women and families. God is using her and her family in such a mighty way and the message of this book is a feast. 

Sarah and Sally share such beautiful, tangible ways to bring life into your home. The stories and ideas shared here will no doubt spark ideas for your own family -- use these ideas to adapt them for your family. Start small if you're not sure where to begin. How about an evening snuggle with a bed time story? Maybe that's not something you do in your home?

Or a late night snack and chat with your eldest? For no reason at all other than you like their company. 

Not only do Sarah & Sally share the why's of a foundational, life-giving home, but they also offer lots of practical ideas from their own family on how to make that happen. Some you may be already doing, but maybe you feel something is missing? Maybe you aren't sure why there is underlying tension or stress in your family?

It could mean the members of your family (you included) simply need a reprieve. How can you make your home an anchor, a safe place for your family? How can you make if full of life and not just living?

Practical ideas such as visiting festivals and museums, or curling up with a good read aloud and a cup of tea (or hot cocoa). Making delicious meals and using the dinner hour as an anchor.

"Every meal should be a celebration of life itself, as we break bread and enter fellowship together." -Sally Clarkson

It doesn't take much to make a meal special! For Sunday dinner, we had a breakfast buffet spread out! It was a wonderful time of good food and family fellowship!

Sometimes we overcomplicate things and become overwhelmed. But creating a life-giving, family culture does not need to be complicated. But it should be consistent and made up of various elements. 

A strong family culture helps create a strong sense of identity that keeps a person faithful in the days of temptation. A strong home culture of faith and love gives strength to resist the powerful draw of a secular world.
— Sally Clarkson, The LifeGiving Home
A strong home culture of faith and love gives strength to resist the powerful draw of a secular world. -Sally Clarkson

You can order your book here (aff):

How To Set Your Home Atmosphere

There is somewhat of an art to setting the atmosphere of your home. Once that foundation is grounded, it's easier to see where we can make improvements in the following places in order to create a peaceful, nurturing, and loving home atmosphere.

There is somewhat of an art to setting the atmosphere of your home. I've found that it always starts with a firm foundation and consistent time with the Lord before anything else. Establishing that very important time to strengthen your relationship with Jesus and nurture your spiritual life, it's much more natural for your home to reflect an atmosphere of Christ. 

Once that foundation is grounded, it's easier to see where we can make improvements in the following places in order to create a peaceful, nurturing, and loving home atmosphere. 

Attitude

It all begins with attitude. There are endless ways to rob us of a good attitude. If we live life constantly frustrated by our to do list or our children's disobedience, we will live miserably and take everyone who lives in our home with us. 

Our attitude is such an important aroma for our homes. If our attitude stinks, we can be sure our children will pick up on it and follow suit.  

When you wake up in the morning, do you wake up ready to take on the day and looking for possibilities, or are you dreading it, knowing that you'll be greeted by fighting children and a messy kitchen?

So how? How can we have a good attitude when everything in us feels otherwise? It's going to require some re-training of our minds and hearts. Oftentimes these things don't come easily and they take work!

First and foremost, fill your mind with the Word. As I first mentioned, spending consistent time with the Lord drastically changes our attitudes because we lay down our frustrations and worries and put on His peace and Trust and walk in that. Of course, it is so much more than that, but that's a very basic understanding for the purposes of this topic.

 

Attentiveness

Next to attitude, our home atmosphere relies on being attentive to it and those in it. 

A home left to itself cannot thrive. The bathroom or kitchen won't clean themselves and being attentive to caring for those helps keep peace in the home. Plus, your home won't smell bad. ;)

Thus, children left to themselves cannot thrive and they shame their mother. Our children need us to be present and available and attentive to them. 

That doesn't mean they don't have some degree of independence, but everyone needs something from someone and as children, their needs for their mother are great. In order to have that peaceful home atmosphere, not only do the household chores need to be done consistently, our children need consistent nurture. 

Failing to meet these needs can result in anger, insecurity, fighting amongst siblings (more than usual), loneliness and more. 

Affection

As an extra layer of attentiveness, our children and our homes need our affection. 

First, let's talk about having affection toward our homes. Now, this may sound a little strange but hear (or read) me out. We can have clean homes and they still be quite cold. How can we cozy up and make our homes really our own?

This doesn't require much (or any) money (hello, garage sales!). If you have an artist in the house, you can frame their artwork and grace your walls in the most personal way. 

Use candles or fresh cut flowers. Put your special touches on your home to make it yours. Everyday pictures of the kids are the best! 

Find out what your husband likes, too. If he's anything like mine, he may not care and give you [almost] full reign to do what you'd like. 

Our children really need our affection. This may look different for different children. But hugs and snuggles can never be replaced by anyone in the world. There is nothing more personal for a child then for a mom to offer her affection to them. And this will improve their attitude which improves the atmosphere for everyone.

Lately I've made it a point to seek my children out everyday for at least one hug. At least one.  Because I don't want life to get too busy for affection. 

What do you do to set your home atmosphere?

Recommended Resource: (aff)

 

 

7 Ways to Conquer Your Morning Routine

Mornings are the time of day when my children thrive. They are most awake and most alert and it's the best time for lessons and learning and all things the [potentially] disciplined mind requires. The house is wide awake with wonder and that curiosity needs direction.

As a work at home mom, my first inkling is to jump on the computer, sip my coffee and begin my work day. It doesn't matter how well laid out my morning plans are or what the schedule is for my children. If I am not actively involved in directing them, they lose focus easily and nothing gets accomplished.

There are 7 things I aim for to help us stay on schedule, especially in the mornings when we are all at our best.

1. Wake up early.

This is probably the most important foundation for me in getting a great head start on the day. Ironically, I do not consider myself a morning person. However, I recognize that this is the best way for me to get ready for my day in a variety of ways. It allows me adequate time to wake up, spend time with Jesus, drink some coffee, and be prepared when the children wake up.

2. Look over my schedule

Maybe it seems redundant, but if I don't look over my schedule everyday, I easily forget what I'm supposed to do. Parts of my schedule change seasonally, so it's not hard to forget what lies ahead for my mornings. Looking over my schedule allows me to make another mental note of what I can expect.

3. Don't sit down.

This may sound strange, but for me, if I sit down to do something, such as check Facebook, I struggle to get back up. I need to keep moving in order to keep up.

In fact, I need to be dressed in real clothes and shoes in order to be motivated and remain productive.

4. Complete a task before moving to the next one

I really try to complete one task before moving on to the next one. If I leave half a dozen projects undone, I don't accomplish anything.

If I'm working through homeschool lessons, I cannot stop in the middle to work on a cleaning project. I'll lose the attention of my children and it's hard to get it back! I'm not talking about taking a break, but getting distracted.

5. Avoid distractions.

Don't stop to do research on curriculum while you're homeschooling or look through photo albums while you're cleaning. Distractions kill productivity. Stay focused and stay on task.

6. Follow up and inspect my children's work.

It does no good to set our children off to do their chores or independent lessons if we do not follow up and check on their work. Make a habit of this and we're sure to create laziness in our children who are unsure of their expectations and lack accountability.

7. Be all there.

Find joy in your schedule, don't just mechanically get through it. The schedule is a guide in order to help us maximize our time and accomplish the most important things. But if we aren't all there, in those moments, we miss the point. When our heart is somewhere else, we will not give our children our best.

A combination of these 7 tips can make for a powerful, productive morning.

Looking to dive deeper and make your own mornings over? I highly recommend Crystal Paine's Course, (aff) Make Over Your  Mornings