No one at home ever read me a bedtime story.
It's hard for me to believe even now, honestly; this mama who gathers kids from one end of the house to the other, piling everyone onto the couch nearly every night (whether they like it or not!). Together we've laughed at curly-haired Things with Dr. Seuss, wondered at the Ingalls girls' joy over Christmas peppermint sticks and red mittens, and mourned with Marilla and Ann over the death of precious Matthew.
These stories, they've shaped us.
One son came to me recently, towering overhead as usual, tentatively sharing some ideas for what might be next on his horizon. On the list of possibilities, a boat-building school on a faraway coast. "You'd be Nathaniel Bowditch," I mentioned with a smile. Laughing, he admitted, "That's actually the first thing I thought of." I've been taken in hand by a child with laughter in his eyes, with admonitions "not to tell" as I'm led to their private world just a walk into the nearby woods, which was by turns Terabithia, Roxaboxen, or Narnia. It was one of the spots hardest to say goodbye to years ago, and I hope they'll create a new one, now that we've settled in the Colorado foothills.
Books and stories are a major part of our family culture. Spilling from shelves, tucked into corners, weatherbeaten from trips to the backyard, they're everywhere.
Mealtimes, too, are a pretty big deal in these parts. Most evenings, I call to whoever's home (which isn't always everyone, now that they've grown and have jobs and dance lessons and busy things happening!) to come gather around the table to candlelight and music. We're still working on getting the boys to talk, but that's another story. My lists of things to make for dinner are growing longer by the minute (and by the Pioneer Woman cookbook!) and there are definitely particular favorites making their way slowly into the handwritten family cookbook I'm working on.
The important thing to know is that this isn't my own life story.
I run into precious ladies who say to me sometimes, "How on earth do I do this? How do I create a homey, cozy house that's building up my children, when I didn't grow up in one?"
I understand. Feeling ill-equipped to do this job of mothering is such a common thread.
When I first read Sally Clarkson's books, they made me weep. She painted a real-life model of the vision buried deep in my heart for what home should be, but never had been in my own life. Stories. Music. Delicious meals. Pretty pictures on the walls. And so, piece by piece I've done my best to bring into our own home the things that would bolster the souls inside.
Sometimes it feels like we need a kind voice to say, "Try this. Good job with that. Maybe this would work better." But in a world where family is scattered and motherhood isn't valued as it should be, that kind of advice is hard to find.
Enter ... The Lifegiving Home!
"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." Sarah Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home
Sally Clarkson has been a mentor to me for many, many years, through her books, conferences, and eventually phone calls and afternoons on the couch in her lovely living room. Her daughter, Sarah, is a lovely young lady (wish she lived next door rather than across the pond!) with an especially marvelous gift with a pen. Together, they've written this wonderful book, which is the story of their own home. I highly recommend everything either of these ladies have written--they have painted a picture for me of what family life and mother-love should be.
In The Lifegiving Home, in particular, you'll find much practical advice-- what I'd call a blueprint for building a home full of life and light--and love.
You can pick up a copy of The Lifegiving Home as well as the companion guide, The Lifegiving Home Experience, here at Amazon! If you're in need of a hand to hold and some friendly advice, I hope you will.