Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson {Book Review}



I have loved all of Sally Clarkson’s books I’ve read. The Ministry of Motherhood, Desperate (with Sarah Mae), The Mission of Motherhood, and Own Your Life are books that I will go back to over and again. Own your life was one of those books I wanted to absorb as quickly as possible while at the same time letting it steep into the center of myself just a little bit more to get as much out of it as possible. Sally’s fluid story telling, with just enough detail to make it beautiful, was the perfect accompaniment to her admonitions to take ownership of our lives and legacies.

“Quite simply, owning my life means living up to my spiritual potential.”
- Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life

I really love how she gives so much gentle emphasis and encouragement in our role as mothers while at the same acknowledging our desire to pursue other things. She’s not all or nothing at home or work. It’s a careful dance in following God and carrying through with his more complete picture of our life. Not to say we have to be doing something outside of the home. It’s more paying attention and gleaning from His guidance as we steward our talents, responsibilities and blessings. 

“Home is the stage whre the play of your life is delivered. As you clarify your vision, accept your limitations, and cultivate grace, you are laying the foundations that will build influence and legacy. Homes built this way are necessary if we are to continue passing down righteousness, hospitalitym and grace from one generation to the next. If you long to increase your influence, then own your home life right where you are. Your quiet and consistent labor will result in a story spoken with gratitude long after it has been given in the sevice of the one who is creating an eternal home for us in heaven. “

- Sally Clarkson

She is gifted at speaking vision over people. 

To her children when they were young:
 “I believe God has given you the capacity and the ability to grow strong inside, to live courageously, to have great faith, and to become a person of considerable influence in your lifetime. God has made you with such wonderful potential. But I cannot make you strong and good – you will have to choose that for yourself. I will love you, encourage you, and help you in every way. But I cannot make you a great person.” 

In a letter to her daughter:
 “My sweet precious, you will always have a choice to make. If you look at the darkness and fear, you will grow dark in your soul. But if you look to God and trust Him with your days, you will reflect His reality in all your words, your relationships, your work, and your celebrations.” 

- Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life

I would recommend this book for any woman. The book is written from Sally’s perspective as a mother and and mother, but the principles are applicable to women (or men, really) in any stage of life. I would be really interested in going through this book with a group of women of varying ages and talking about it from all perspectives (from newbies to been there done thats). 

And a few bonus quotes on struggles: 

“All life demands struggle, those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life, the very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major buidling block in the person we are today. -Pope Paul VI” 
“There I learned that life was not about my ease, but about God’s desire to help me become mature.”
“Pehaps most important, I discovered that heroes are made during the secret moments. Though they practice faith, integrity, and courage when no one else is there to see, at the right time, they will come out of spirtual “basic training” with the integrity and action required to accomplish something great.” 
“But in order to thrive and heal, you must accept any limitations by faith, trust in His faithfulness each step of the way, and wait for His grace so you can live in a faithful story right in the place you find yourself.”

And this last ever encouraging blessing of reliance on the grace of Jesus: 

“Whatever the sources of our burdens we do not have to carry them. We are quite free to accept the newness and freshness of life that Jesus granted. No matter what we have done or what we will do, we are not defined by our earthly lives, but by the healing, redeeming life of Jesus and His heavenly Father.” 
- Sally Clarkson

What about you? How are you owning your life? How are you conciously living into what God has called you to? 

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Thanks so much for reading here. I’d love to connect with you anytime! You can find me on FacebookTwitter or Goodreads!

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(((I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from tyndaleblognetwork.com. All opinions are my own. )))

Puzzles, a Car, and Responsibility. 

For his birthday, we gave Ranger a set of two puzzles -one 12 piece and one 24, both the same size – and a hotwheels car. Because toys build up distressingly quickly at this age and it is nice to keep things smaller. Mainly the messes. 

But in addition to his other presents we gave him a job officially his own. He is now in charge of clearing the dishes off the table and wiping it down after most meals. He was acting interested the days preceding, even taking initiative and scraping his plate into the trash before dropping in it the sink a few times. 

So now it’s his job. 

He needs reminded, and, after getting the dishes on his own, he needs help finding a clean cloth to wipe the crumbs around and off the table (to the floor).

It is something he can do well enough and he seems quite happy to do it. For now. 

It seems like it may have been a gift to him. 

The novelty will wear off soon enough, but it made me think how responsibility might actually be a gift and we just miss it most of the time. 

A life without responsibility would be boring, in my opinion. 

We had a night away this weekend and it was oh so lovely to eat out, stay in a hotel, and not have to worry about the children at all, but I realized we would have a very boring life if it weren’t for the kids. So the responsibilities that come with children are a gift, somehow. Freeing us from our own propensity towards self-absorption and giving us glimpses of true joy amidst the drudgery. 

When we’re little we gradually gain responsibility for ourselves, the environment, our pets, and others. Sometimes it’s a novelty at first, but soemtimes we know it’s just work and that is not fun. 

We don’t tend to realize how the work and practice work benefits us in the long term. 

For example, all through highschool I claimed to hate writing, yet somehow thanks to an excellent base in classical literature/fiction and sufficient base in the mechanics of writing I somehow came out of college with a major in English. The work of learning to write added up to a love of writing when I knew I could do it well enough.

There is really no saying what could be important to us years from now because of what we gained effectiveness in now. 

So is responsibility a gift? 

You tell me. 

Is your life better when you have more or less responsibility? 

How might it change our perspectives on everyday responsibility? Are doing the laundry, the dishes, and the diapers gifts or are they simply responsibilities that come with a gift?  It seems like so often we’re pursuing freedom from responsibility, do you think we still gain freedoms with responsibility as we did when we were kids? 

And my question to ponder this week… How does taking care of my kids bring me more freedom?

What are your thoughts? 

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Because hearts on their hands remind me of things.

Because hearts on their hands remind me of things.

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Real // Five Minute Friday

I can always come up with excuses about why something didn’t go my way. 

Reasons, if you want to use a more positive word. 

There’s always something to let me off the hook of just not doing the thing I might want to or need to. 

Excuses. 

Reasons. 

Valid. Invalid. Made up or real. 

The question always sits the same. 

Would I have done it if all the doors were open or would I have let fear sit on my face, dug my heals in and waited til my dying breath to finally pursue the thing I felt drawn to do?

I don’t want to find out. I sit with all the doors open – except for doubt and insecurity beating me up from behind – it’s time to go through with it and try something out. 

It’s time to be me. 

It’s time to be real. 

I have doubts, but sometimes those doubts keep me from walking in really cool things. 

It’s time to move. 

IMG_0507 

I never manage to write very much in these five minutes and things sometimes end up feeling more contrived and less spontaneous then I might like or my own version of what’s expected might allow, but I always enjoy the exercise. Click on the picture above to join in today! 

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If any…

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, 
If any comforct from His love, 
If any fellowship with the Spirit, 
If any tenderness and compassion, 
Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, 
Having the same love, 
Being one in spirit and purpose. 

Philippians 2:1-2

Plan // Five Minute Friday

saturday was a day to make plans

Until it wasn’t

A day for a party

Until the dawn

A day for laughing and cake and balloons

Until the fever

And it became a day for rest. 

A day for texts that read ‘get better soon’ and oh darns about the party. 

But that’s how days go sometimes

You can’t help what happens

Even if you plan it all out with to-do lists of what to make and clean and bake

But that’s ok because rest is important too. 

And sometimes being still isn’t fun but it might be what we need. 

On a rainy, dreary, but warm day. The fresh air pours in through the open window. Livening the smells of the house. 

The not-yet-weaned toddler nurses extra to make up for what she’s not eating while her body burns the fever yuck all out. 

Extra naps happen. 

We’re moving on to number 3 for her today. 

Extra snuggles and close and paying attention. 

A little extra tv for sanity. 

It’s not what we planned and the boy will miss his birthday party

But all in good time

A day’s a day. 

Tomorrow’s another. 

Today we rest. 

Today is good, too. 

Planned or not. 


IMG_0507 

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Brave and Bold. 

“Bravery comes from God-given, God-sized faith.” – Jennie Allen, on Instagram today.  

Sometimes I feel like I hold back only because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t. 

Other times I feel like I hold back because I do not know the steps to take to get to where I’m meant to be after I’m meant to be right here. Because I am meant to be right here, but I’m also meant to move on and live bigger than just a moment. 

Life is a vector, not a point. And I constantly wonder about what’s next. 

What is next? More school? More writing? More babies? More running? More…something else?

And then I think about it and don’t do anything about it. Or I start to do something and then back out of it. 

I haven’t really always been this way…i don’t know what happened. I went out on a limb and took spanish and lifeguarding during highschool. Which ended up shaping my college years. I went to Chile, granted it was after all the doors opened and all the other doors closed, but I went. 

But these days I say no more often then I say yes and I would like to change that. I think now the possibilities are a little more open ended (hello, adulthood) and also a little more constricted (thanks, kids). And somehow people expect less of you once you’re established doing something like being a stay at home mom.

I didn’t make any new years resolutions because everything was changing on me and life just felt overwhelming enough without adding more to worry about. I was burnt out on everything and just needed free rest. 

But now I think I’m ready to invite in a little new and a little better and a little bold. 

I want to be me AND do things. Not someone else who sits on the couch all day. I want to keep doing the things I can’t get away from thinking I need to do, no matter the discomfort. And I want to challenge myself to try new things with a little more openness…so I don’t shut it down before it can be good even though it’s hard. 

(Think: camping. There must be a fun way to camp with two toddlers. Someone please help me find it?)

It feels a little awkward and scary to say it but I’m going to do it anyway because that is what this is. If I’m not finding a happy place with who I am right now, it’s time to admit it and see what else happens. 

I want to be known as nervy and bold. I want to do things other people don’t.

People might describe me as sweet and funny and smart.  But I want to be known more for thinking outside the box than for filling in the bubbles right. It’s not that I don’t want to be sweet and funny and smart. I think they can coexist with nervy and bold just fine. It’s just that fear so often gets the better of me that I end up feeling drowned in my own life. 

It’s not even the big important fears that scare me. 

I’m not really scared of death. 

I’m scared of discomfort. of failure. 

To a certain degree I’m scared of injury, but that, at least, seems like a healthy fear. 

I’m scared of looking dumb. of looking young. I’m scared of fitting into all the stereotypes about stay-at-home moms and ending up bitter. I’m scared of disappointment, of disappointing people, of being stuck, and of other people’s expectations and what that means for me. 

But.

If I want to be known for being bold, maybe I could make one choice differently everyday. Make a habit of choosing outside my fears. Or box. Or bubble. and see what happens. 

If I want to be known for my words, I should practice my words. Write, read, write more, and think. Everyday. Make a habit. 

If I want to cook like a grownup instead of a mac and cheese addict, let’s start.

If I want to be the fun and loving mom, it’s time to make those choices. Now. 

If I want to be an adventurer, it might be time to start living like one instead of just dreaming like one. 

I need to stop focusing on the inconveniences of not having everything figured out and just start figuring things out. One little step at a time. Because lives are made in days and minutes, right? It’s ok to make different decisions and little steps can be scary, but God is the one who is ultimately in charge and part of my job is to have faith that He is guiding me.

Just do it. 

What can I do inspite of myself and because of God? 

What do I hope for? I hope to be a good mother. I hope to be a writer worth reading. I hope to be a decent enough cook who doesn’t perpetually dread making dinner. I hope to have adventures and travel the world. I hope to be happy and for my people to be happy. I hope to inspire and live free. 

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What do you hope for? 

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The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski {Book Review}



“We must both attend to the wind and then respond to whatever it is that the wind is doing. We trim our sails, adjust the course, sometimes we even exchange one sail for another – whatever it takes so as to be in the most receptive place given what the wind is doing. Our attentiveness to the wind allows the wind to move us.” – Father Solomon, in The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice by Michael Yankoski

In The Sacred Year, Michale Yankoski takes us through a physical year of his life in which he decided to focus on various spiritual practices in an effort to boost his faith to reality instead of words. It is an interesting look at some spiritual practices and how one man implemented them into his life for spiritual growth. Yankoski beautifully depicts his experience with each discipline, struggle therein, and light afterwards. The writing is warm and personal. 

That being said I didn’t enjoy reading this book. In the beginning it was enlightening and good, but then it just kept going and going and I was honestly quite tired of it. It is very similar to Preston Yancey’s Table in the Wilderness in that it is highly introspective and personal. And I just kept being frustrated. “Get on with it already!” 

I know that a book about spiritual practices is probably supposed to fell like slowing down and coming to life. To me it felt like we were slowing down and coming to the author’s life. Which I suppose is typical of a book that is more like a spiritual memoir (I didn’t know it was so memoir-like when I requested it. I think I am just worn out of that genre!) I just had to force myself to read to the end. 

Obviously what wasn’t for me at the time could be another person’s cup of tea, so I’ll quote LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow: “Don’t take my word for it!” 

If this sounds like a book you might like to read or have been hoping to read, let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly send it your way! If more than one person wants it I’ll just choose randomly! :) 

A couple more quotes: 

 “Father Solomon nods. “Yes, of course,” he says. “God is the artist, the Creator. But,” and he looks off into the distance as he speaks, surveying all his long life and learning, “the older I become, the more convinced I am that we participate with God in the creative process of the soul. God is the capital-A Artist, if you like,and we are the lower-case artists, but nevertheless the relationship between God and Human beings is much more a dance than methodology, more delightful partnership than rote coercion.”

 “What if what Saint Paul means in the saying ‘work out your salvation with fear and trembling’, is that we are to partner with God in the artistic process of forming the human soul?” 

“Aware of the depth of suffering in the world, we can vow not to live superficially.” –  Thích Nhât Hanh

“Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anthing or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infinitielt rich, full of inexhuastible interest, opening out into the infinite further possibilities for study and contemplation and interest and praise. Beyond all and in all is God.” – Thomas Merton

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((I recieved a copy of this book from booklookbloggers.com in exchange for my honest review.))

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My Kids Can Count! {CHALK Preschool Online}

Ever since Ranger was born I’ve been looking forward to when we can start homeschooling, but have been kind of floundering as to when or how to start. Do we just read books and talk and count things and he picks it all the beginning things up gradually? Well, mostly. 

And really, when they’re little, that’s enough. 

So when my mom put me in touch with a representative from Chalk Preschool Online I was hesitant as to whether it would really be a helpful resource or not. But I talked to my husband and we decided, since they were offering us a free trial, to give it a whirl and see what happened. Because in reality my kids do consumer a little screen time each week and up til now it has been Curious George or Sesame Street. Why not replace it with something geared more for their age group and educational for a while? 

Here is a paragraph about how Chalk got started:

“In 2004, three people came together with a shared ambition to create an educational curriculum, environment and space that would set a new standard for all preschools. We named it CHALK Preschool. In 2005 the first CHALK Preschool opened in Illinois; we were blown away by the demand for our product—warm, welcoming, loving teachers and staff who incorporate core curriculum goals based on early childhood learning standards and the arts within a loving, stimulating environment. CHALK believes in providing a well-rounded, structured education, enhanced with play and creativity. Learning becomes play and play becomes learning.” – read the rest here: Our Story – Chalk Preschool Online

Admittedly before I looked over the site I was expecting a more app-like experience with activities for the kids to do online, but really I am quite happy with what is actually offered. 

I did not have very high expectations, but I have been incredibly surprised with the results! 

We’ve been watching the Daily Lesson video (about a half hour) 4-6 days a week for a little more than a month and have used the rest of the site in a very limited way, but already my kids are learning how to count more reliably (both), are interested in text on signs when we’re walking around (my 3yo), are learning colors better (especially my 18mo), are much more in tune with music/dancing to it, and are always very focused on learning when the opportunity arises. 

  • I think it was about two days after we started watching preschool when my husband mentioned it was like a switch flipped in our three year old’s brain and now he was out to figure out the world. 
  •  About two weeks in, Ranger pointed to the letter ‘u’ in the church preschool and enthusiastically shouted, “umbrella!” I think this came from a combination of a letter puzzle we have and Chalk.
  • And about a week ago he surprised us by naming numbers in the ‘teens. Most of his experience with numbers has stopped at 10 except for Chalk…so we know where that came from! 

Pretty fun. It has been fun watching them figure out each section in the daily video: sections include math/numbers, colors, shapes, words, opposites, spelling, weather, days of the week, months, season, telling time, travel, and probably others I’ve forgotten. And it has been really fun watching them start applying it in other places. 

Not to mention how nice it is to be able to let them watch something for half an hour while I do something else. Sometimes we watch it after nap when they’re having a hard time waking up, if I need a few more minutes to finish a project or make dinner, or during lunch for a quiet break. They love it and both have words to request it. 

Some screengrabs from the site and pictures of my munchkins:

A few resources I haven’t mentioned or tried much, but would really like to: 

  • Printables – they have a pretty great set of coloring sheets, lined letter handwriting/tracing practice, and even just sheets with one big letter to color in. So far we’ve printed letters A and B and I would love to get through the rest of them too. Education just appeals to me :)
  • Make your own playlist – this is pretty cool. You can make your own list of clips to play instead of using the daily video. I’ll probably do this once the daily lesson feels too repetive or there’s some specific thing we want to learn about. 
  • Activities – there are so many craft and fun snack ideas that we need to try. I’m thinking paint is in our future since the weather is warmer now. There is also a whole page of options we haven’t even touched yet except for a couple how things work clips. Ranger really enjoyed the one about how cars work. Surprise surprise. 

So far,  I really have only noticed a couple things I would do differently:

  • First: in the travel sections, Bill and Marvin, the stick drawing people, go to different places: China, Brazil, Haiwaii and then Africa. In this section cultures and languages are highly simplified (for the audience, it is pretty appropriate).  But in regards to traveling to Africa, instead of showing 15 seconds of video from sterotypical Africa and calling it a representation the whole continent of Africa, they might choose just one country and choose a range of diversity from that country for a more balanced opinion about africa. There is certainly much more diversity than can be properly represented so we can’t expect everything. Thee least we can do is to at least try to stop the perpetuation of the myth that the continent of Africa is one homogenous culture. That’s something I’ll just do with my kids when they’re a little older. 
  • The second is super minor: they used lowercase letters for the alphabet song. Most of my kids letter toys etc are upper case, but that is easily not a problem. And the chalk printables have both lower and uppercase so if you are using both resources it becomes pretty easy to remedy underexposure to one or the other set of cases. 

Overall we have had a really positive and fun experience using Chalk Preschool Online to help facilitate our munchkins learning and I have super surprised by how much they both enjoy it. 

At $11.95/month Chalk seems like a great investment, especially if you have more than one preschooler. I’m not sure how long we’ll keep going, but for now it seems like a fun and useful experience for everyone involved. 

Also, if you’re interested in just trying it out, they have a free two week trial period! 

Let me know if you have any questions! 

Also if you do try it with your littles, I’d love to hear what you think! 

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I would love to see you on facebook or twitter

((((Disclaimer: I was provided with a free pass in exchange for spreading the word, but all opinions are my own! I am not affiliated with nor am I a representative of this company. Simply an opinion-sharer. ))))

18 months!

It is pretty fun to have both munchkins on the same number each month. Yesterday Ali turned 18 months old. Exactly half Ranger’s age. She seems so much older than Ranger did at that age, but also so much younger and littler. Littler because she is smaller than he was. Older because she has the near constant influence of an older sibling to more quickly inspire her to greater feats of knowledge and social conduct. 

  • She can count fairly well already…somehow: 1,2,3,6,7,8,10
  • She is also pretty interested in ABC’s and watches Preschool especially attentively whenever there is music. 
  • She likes to play with cars, her baby doll, and little people. And basically anything Ranger likes to do as well. 
  • She loves outside and spreading the sand from the sandbox around the yard is a pretty friendly sport. 
  • Big brothers can be mean sometimes, but sometimes they’re nice. 
  • She is a pro whiner and screamer to get her way. 
  • She has shown a lot of interest in potty training and has been very helpful in motivating Ranger to try. She has lots of success some days alternated with a lot of accidents. As might be expected of an 18mo. 
  • She loves her daddy. He is always the first thing she asks for in the morning and is constantly on the lookout for him throughout the day. 
  • She is also really good at putting tinker toys together. 
  • She has a lot of words though her clarity is often lacking. 

I can’t believe she’s so big! I’m looking forward to summer activities with her this year :) 

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Three!

Handsome boy.

Handsome boy.

My biggest munchkin turned three today!! So fun. He successfuly blew out candles twice. Apparently candles aren’t too much of a challenge at three. :) 

During breakfast I told him it was his birthday and asked if he knew he was three now. He said, “no, I’m four!” And then in the car on the way to church we sang happy birthday to him and told him he was three. He said, “i’m two!” So we get to retrain him. 

He is so much fun and a handful. Sweet, alternating with not so sweet. Pretty normal human person. 

But he does run away from the camera. I may have to switch up my style/technique a little to keep him in frame (or even just distracted!) a little more. 

But here’s what I have. Phone quality and not. Maybe I’ll attempt a more purposeful “let’s get good pictures” distraction party at some point, but for for now. 

Behold cuteness at three:

Randomness: 

  • He’s been loving watching his preschool daily. A little half hour show where they learn about everything.
  • He’s getting better at counting. I think Israel has heard 1,2,3,6,7,8,9 out of him. And at some point I heard him get into the teens (with various skipping points most likely).
  • He is very interested in numbers, and Abc’s when he sees them out and about. 
  • He is learning how to ask nicely for things and has recently bought into saying “please, my beautiful mother” which makes me about a million times more likely to respond with a yes. 
  • He loves, cars, planes, and legos. 
  • The sand outside is meant to be spread around the yard, apparently (why would we want it in a box??)
  • He loves to play with his cousins who are the same age as him and they often tackle hug/wrestle as a greeting. 
  • He is figuring out how to swim a little. He kicked around on a noodle a little at the Y. 
  • He and Ali fight mostly when I’m not looking, but sometimes they are really sweet together. They are motivated to be nice a little more when we talk about how we need to help each other be happy. 
  • He talks sooo much now. Like, all the time. Complex sentences, sometimes surprising subject matter, and cute observations. And a lot of asking for the same thing over and over again. Now to teach the art of conversation vs requests. Lol. 
  • We have started working on potty training and he seems like he would really like to now I just have to get better at helping him learn. 
  • He dances to music really cute, runs really fast, sometimes eats a lot, jumps, climbs, and everything else expected of an energetic little kid. 
  • His hair is turning blonder instead of being just white. It is cute. 
  • His favorite phrase: “that’d be great.” so cute. We must say that every now and then. :) 

Looking forward to this next year with our cute little boy. :) 

Ranger at Two

Ranger at One

Newborn Ranger

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