The Life Giving Parent

In the 8 years that I’ve been a mama, I’ve read countless books on parenting and motherhood. Books teach, encourage, inspire and help me grow as a parent. A few of the parenting books I read, earn a place in my library and are  reread, sometimes as often as annually and are such an encouragement in this mothering journey.

Books by Sally Clarkson are among my favorite mothering books. Copies of The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, Own Your Life, The Life Giving Home and The Life Giving Table adorn my shelves. Books written by Sally and/or her husband Clay can also be found on my shelves. We also own copies of Educating the Wholehearted Child, Heartfelt Discipline and Our 24 Family Ways – A Family Devotional Guide. These books have been such an encouragement in our parenting journey.

Learning that Clay and Sally had written another parenting book, titled The Life Giving Parent was exciting. I couldn’t wait until my copy arrived so I could soak up more wisdom from the Clarksons. It did not disappoint, I took several pages of notes that I will refer back to and it definitely has earned a spot on my bookshelf and I know it will be loaned out and reread over the years.

Some inspiring quotes from The Life Giving Parent:

“It’s about being the kind of life giving home culture that will stand as a testimony of God’s biblical design for family to a lost world whose sandy foundations are washing away.”

“We need to distinguish between a home that is considered Christian primarily because cultural Christianity happens there and a home that is Christian because Christ is alive and present in perceptible ways.”

“Children have appetite, just like adults, but with one big difference – they do not have the disciple and discernment at their young ages to control their appetites maturely. In the same way that parents naturally guard their children’s physical appetites so their bodies will be healthy, we as believing parents must also guard our children’s spiritual appetites so their hearts and spirits will be healthy.”

“The first priority for strengthening your children’s faith as a life giving parent is … to strengthen your own faith!”

“The way children act reveals their character. And one of the most telling character qualities is diligence – responding positively to parental influence and doing without delay what needs to be done.”

The last chapter of the book ends with, “It’s simply about choosing to invest your ‘one life to give’ into the hearts of your children. If that’s what you do, then you’ll be a life giving parent and the living God will be alive in your life – and in your children’s lives.” This is what I desire. Motherhood is a calling. I am called to mother these 4 little souls God has entrusted to me. We have yielded to that call on my life and it’s why I stay home and educate our children at home. It’s not easy – in fact there are many times I’m overwhelmed with the huge responsibility that comes with raising my children. However, I can’t think of a better way to invest my ‘one life to give’ than to invest it into the lives and hearts of my children.

The Life Giving Parent will challenge, teach, inspire and encourage you in your parenting journey to help you give your child a life worth living for Christ.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of The Life Giving Table in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network.

The Life Giving Table

When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, we talked quite a bit about the things we valued and the vision we had for our family. One of the things we decided to make a priority was sitting down to eat meals together.

We did not want to get caught up in the busyness and distractions of life and lose the connections with our family around meals. This decision was made in 2006, before the invention of the smartphone and the availability of constant distraction. I am so thankful we decided to make meal times together a priority and haven’t allowed the distractions of life to take over our meal times.

From the very beginning of our marriage, we have sat down to dinner each night. The children and I typically sit down and eat breakfast and lunch together also. We sometimes gather around our large bar to eat breakfast or lunch but we’re still gathered together and not planted in front of the television.

Since adding children into our family, we have continued to make our family meal times a priority and they’ve gotten so much more fun. Our kids are now 8, 6, 4 and 11 months and the conversations we have with the big kids are so enjoyable!

While gathering around the table has always been a priority, we haven’t always been intentional about our time together and I must confess that often the responsibility of preparing 3 meals a day for my growing family can feel more like a chore than a joy and I don’t put my best effort into creating delicious meals and delightful conversation. Having to prepare 3 meals a day each and every day (we rarely eat out) makes me somewhat of a utilitarian cook – I don’t always prepare meals focusing on delicious food. I tend to just fix something to minimize my time in the kitchen and the amount of dishes dirtied.

The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson has been such a convicting and inspiring book. The time gathered around the table should be viewed as invaluable for deep and meaningful connections with family as well as an opportunity to disciple our children, enjoy a beautiful relaxing environment and delicious food.

Some inspiring words from The Life Giving Table:

“Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged, hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life.”

“Preparation for a meal indicates thoughtfulness, caring and intentionality. We show others their worth to us by considering how to best meet their needs and by intentionally arranging the environment to provide comfort and pleasure.”

“When we model to our children that pleasure, delight, laughter and food are not God’s after thoughts, but HIs generous gifts to us all, we do them a great favor.”

She writes about the importance of the blessing. We don’t always pray before meals, not because we’re not thankful but because we feel that sometimes it’s just a habit and not always heartfelt.

My thoughts about the importance of the blessing have changed after reading Sally’s words, “A blessings can also be a way for us to tune in to the sacrifice that is necessary for any of us to eat. Growing and living things in creation – plants and animals – must die in order to give us life.” When I came across this, I stopped and just pondered it for awhile. Every time I eat, something else must die.

My life is sustained by the sacrifice of something else. Since we have now begun raising our own food, we are reminded daily that our food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. The meat you eat was once alive and an animal had to die for you to eat it. Even plants give up their life in order to nourish you. I’m definitely more aware of what I’m eating, the true cost of my food and also profoundly thankful for the food I have to eat each and every day.

The Life Giving Table is one of those rare books that has a broad audience. We all eat and desire to connect with the ones we love. Whether you are single, newlywed, married with children or an empty nester, you can create a life giving table.

My hope is that my table becomes more than just a place where people are fed but a place where we enjoy delicious food (most of it grown here on the homestead), connect with each other and enjoy the good gifts God has given us.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of The Life Giving Table in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network. This post does contain affiliate links.

You Can Stay Home with Your Kids

Do you have a dream to stay home with your kids?

We knew even before our first baby arrived that I was going to stay home. It was a dream of ours and we spent the first years of our marriage planning our finances to make it work.

Knowing this shaped how we lived in our early years of marriage. When we married, we were still in college and living on a small income. During those first two years of marriage, we lived very frugally and learned how to stretch our dollars as far as they could go. We also learned contentment. We knew we couldn’t have everything we wanted when we wanted it but we were okay with making some sacrifices in regards to material possessions to put ourselves in a better financial position.

Once my husband graduated and had a full time job, we continued to live the same as we did in college. We did not purchase new vehicles, take extravagant vacations or purchase a lot of excessive material goods once our income nearly doubled.

During that time, we lived fully off of his income and anything I earned was either saved or applied towards the principal of our mortgage. Since we were already living on one income, the transition to becoming a stay at home mom after the birth of our son was easy.

I’ve been at home with our children for 8 years now. We feel like we’ve been able to thrive on one income thanks to contentment and frugality.

We know we can’t have the latest and greatest as far as electronics, clothing and vehicles go. But, our 14 and 16 year old vehicles are paid for. We buy as much as we can used via resale shops, thrift stores, yard sales, Craigslist or eBay. We rarely eat out these days because it’s just not in the budget.

The sacrifices of material things have been worth it and are still worth it. 

Not only has our frugality and careful spending allowed me to stay home, we’ve also been able to achieve our dream of living on a small homestead. While we do have a mortgage on our home and property, without the previous 12 years of saving and building equity, we would not be able to afford living where we do.

Life is full of choices. Knowing what you want and working towards that goal helps make the short term choice to sacrifice worth it for the long term goal.

Do you want to stay home with your children? 

If you’re engaged or newlyweds, talk about what your goals are for your future family. If you desire to have children and think one of you may want to stay home, decide to live off of one income during your early years of marriage. Build up an emergency fund, pay off debt and save the second income. Even if you decide not to stay home, you’ll be in a better position financially which will help your family.

For expectant parents and parents of young children, maybe you’re thinking about one of you staying home for the first time but don’t think you’ll be able to do it financially. Take some time and set some financial goals for your family. Create a budget based on one of your incomes and stick to it! Use the other income to pay off or pay down debt. Live as frugally as you can.

Staying home with your children is a choice. Saying yes to staying home often means saying no to many other things but if it’s your dream, it is possible.

If you do have the dream to stay home with your kids, my friend Erin has written a book just for you! You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget shows you how your family can thrive on one income.In this book you’ll learn how to curb spending, eat well on a budget, shop secondhand and sales, create more income and more! I’m so excited that she has written this book to help families realize that the dream of staying home can become a reality. A little creativity, frugality and contentment can help you stay home with your kids!

You Can Stay Home with Your Kids releases April 10. If it is your dream to stay home, it will be worth every single penny!

*Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. I was not compensated in any way to share about You Can Stay Home with Your Kids – I’m just passionate about mamas finding a way to stay home with their kids if that’s their hearts desire!

 

Arrow Hill Homestead


Our dream to live on a small farm or homestead goes back to the very beginning of our marriage. We met through the FFA right after high school, married soon after and studied agriculture in college. We both grew up on family farms and had a desire to raise our children on a farm.

While preparing for graduation and entering the workforce, we still had that desire to have a little piece of land that was our own. Our first house was on an acre and we were able to garden there. After moving to Georgia, the second home we purchased was also on an acre. We had plans to garden and have chickens.

We soon learned that it was illegal to have any livestock in our county if you lived on less than 2 acres. After learning this in mid-2013, we were so ready to move. It was frustrating that you could live on an acre and not have a few hens in your backyard!

In 2014, we found a home on 7 acres that we really liked and even put our home on the market. We prayed and prayed and prayed some more but realized it was not the right time. That was hard. Then in early 2015, we found another home on several acres that we really liked and we submitted an offer after much prayer that was promptly refused. We stopped looking and in 2015 and 2016, we focused on making the most of what we had where we were – we gardened, planted fruit trees and did what we could. We still were dreaming of our own little piece of land but we were content where we were.

In early 2017, we felt a restlessness again and started browsing the real estate listings frequently. We looked at a couple houses that fit into what we were looking for but they weren’t right.

Then in late March, we found a newly listed home and property.  It wasn’t perfect, the house was a little weird to me and there was not even a complete driveway but it was in area we wanted to be in, less than 20 minutes from my husband’s office, was in our price range and at 1,800 square feet it gave our family room to grow but wasn’t too big. (We didn’t want a home over 2,000 square feet.)

We made an offer which was accepted and then worked hard to get our house ready to go on the market. We listed it and accepted an offer within 5 days! Everything just seemed to fall into place and we were confident that little piece of land was the place we had been waiting for all of these years.

We closed on May 2nd ( when I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant) and started working on making this house and land into our little homestead. Our baby girl was born in our home just 10 days later.

In the 10 months we’ve lived here, we’ve added chickens, pigs and sheep. We raised a batch of broilers (meat chickens) and have processed them. John David has an older tractor for pasture management, we’ve planted a small orchard and have two garden plots. And, we’re having a blast!

We decided to name our place Arrow Hill Homestead inspired by Psalms 127:3-4 “Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, children, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.”

I am so thankful everyday when I am able to feed animals and gather eggs – I can’t believe this is our reality, we are living our dream!

If you’re interested in following along our homesteading journey, we’ve started a family blog that will be covering everything from daily chores and baby chicks to butchering pigs and gardening.

Arrow Hill Homestead Website

Arrow Hill Homestead Facebook Page

Arrow HiIl Homestead Instagram