Creating a Life Giving Atmosphere

Over the past few months, I have been mulling over the idea of a life giving home. It started when I read Sally Clarkson’s The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming. In this book, she and her eldest daughter, Sarah, talk about what it means to create an atmosphere that gives life. Life to your family. Life to those who visit. Life to yourself. They encourage the creation of a home that tells the world who you are. A home that builds your family unit. I want a home like this! To be honest, it’s been a few months since I have really dug deep into this book. But I think the following quote does a great deal to summarize just what the focus of this book is: “Homemaking must be understood as a potent Kingdom endeavor, not merely a domestic task. Homemaking requires a willed creativity, a conscious diligence, because we are called to create new life and challenged to do it in the midsts of a world that actively resists us in this endeavor (pg 39).” 

Sally & Sarah set out to give us examples and ideas to help us craft such a home. I love that they want to help people see that homemaking IS Kingdom work. When I have children, they will be MY responsibility. Given to me to care for BY God. He will expect that I see it as purposeful work for His glory! But at the same time, the world will attempt to pull me away from what should be my life’s greatest work. I must resist. How? By creating a safe space in which I can give life to all those who enter. By creating a life giving home.

I truly cannot do these books much justice. If you are at all interested in learning how to create a space that breathes life into your family and friends, then I’d encourage you to grab a copy of Sally & Sarah Clarkson’s book The Life Giving Home as well as Sally’s follow up book: The Lifegiving Table: Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time.

          

My last 5 Audio Reads

In January of this year, I signed up for an Audible Membership. Over the past 8 months, I have listened to several books this way. I wanted to share my thoughts on the last 5.

 Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness

Regardless of your thoughts on various sects of Christianity, each woman presented in Eric Metaxes’ book has some wonderful character traits we could stand to emulate. All of them were incredibly brave and all stepped out in faith. In the introduction, Metaxes does a superb job explaining why he chose these seven women. His goal was not to choose women who had been the first woman to do something, but who were able to do what they did because they were a woman. My favorite section and the woman I would most like to emulate would be Corrie Ten Boom. Which brings me to my next audio book:

Tramp for the Lord

I have listened to this book twice already and definitely want to purchase a hardcopy for my personal library. Corrie Ten Boom was an amazing woman. She and her family risked their lives to help save Jews from the Nazi regime. Several of her family members gave their lives for this cause. I have several chunks of this book “clipped” so I can go back and remember important ideas she shares. Follow Corrie on her path around the world and join her in her fearlessness in sharing God’s love with everyone she meets.

Disciplines of a Godly Woman (Redesign)

This book is a practical book to help Christian woman live a Godly life. Barbara Hughes gives specific ways to help you put God at the center of your life. A few things that were convicting and motivating for me were:

  • her discussion on meditating and studying scripture. As well as her encouragement to memorize scripture.
  • thinking continually on Christ.
  • thinking about what I am watching on tv and doing with my time. On my phone, I wrote some notes to myself about this specifically. Am I having conversation with people? Or looking at my phone?

This book will certainly help you put somethings into perspective.

None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing)

This book is a pretty quick read. Jen Wilkin focuses on the attributes we can only attribute to God. I do wish I had known there were scriptures and reflection questions presented at the end of each chapter. I plan to get a hard copy of this book too. I have so much I want to highlight and mark up! I love how she encourages us to be cautious of the Instagram Bible. Today it is too easy for us to feel like we are filling up on God’s Word without actually reading the Bible. As a bonus, this book is read by Jen herself!

Side note: if you are unfamiliar with Jen Wilkin you are in for a treat! She has several Bible studies and podcast teachings available FOR FREE at http://jenwilkin.podbean.com

Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life

This book is a guide to do just what it says. Author Ruth Soukup shares her personal story about debt and learning to budget in this practical guide to money. She writes, “We must learn to control our love of money or it will control us.” If you are struggling to control your money or just want a few more practical ways to save, you should check this book out. She also has a lot of resources on her website http://www.livingwellspendingless.com

Random note on Audio books:

  1. You can sign up for Audibles via amazon for free for 30 days. This gives you TWO FREE credits which translates into TWO FREE BOOKS! If you cancel, you will be presented with a few other options like paying every other month or maybe even a reduced price if you sign up for 3 months. (The options appear to change, so it may be completely different when you are reading this.)
  2. Overdrive is a public library app you can access free. My relatively small town public library uses it, so I imagine most public libraries have it now. You can check out ebooks and audio books FREE!

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

Wow! I don’t know if it’s the season of life I am in or just the truth in her words, but Crystal Paine (moneysavingmom.com) really hit the nail on the head with Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. This book was very encouraging. Originally, I thought it was going to speak to moms. Whenever I hear survival mode I think of two things: a teacher in her first year and new moms. But    this book is more than that.

I think it’s unfortunate how we can get carried away with our daily to dos & need to be busy that we forget life can be simple. Get sleep. Say No. Exercise. All of these things Crystal encourages us to do. She aptly reminds us that without these things our priorities can’t get done and we will experience burnout. 

Two things really hit home for me: stop trying to do it all & stop comparing myself to other women.

I am a new bride. I have only been married for 9 months. I know I jumped into marriage with both feet and a desire to be the best homemaker & wife I could be. I wanted to be in control of all the house duties: meal planning, cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc. But I quickly learned this was not going to be as easy as I thought. (Have I mentioned that I teach junior high?) I began to realize that I needed a priorities list. I needed to zero in on the things that were most important for this season. Otherwise, I was going to run myself ragged trying to complete all my duties at home and at work. Crystal writes, “If we want to say goodbye to survival mode, we need to make time for what really matters. This means we have to clear out the nonessential commitments. (17)”  While I still desire to be the best homemaker I can be, I am getting better at focusing on my priorities. If things don’t fall in line with them, then I say no.

“I think we, as women, are our worst critics. Comparison is one of the biggest traps to losing our momentum or giving up before we even start our journies to say goodbye to survival mode. It’s easy to want what we don’t have or see something better in others that we lack ourselves. (167)”  As I read this, I was jumping up & down shouting YES!! (Well, not literally, but I was in my head.) This is so true. Being a new bride does cause me to compare myself to others. I want to be organized and well put together. I want my husband to be proud to be married to me and excited to come home. Man, have I worked myself up in a comparison tizzy. It really does steal my joy. Thankfully, my husband is loving, gracious, and patient with me.

The other area where I struggle with comparison is Bible journaling and decorating my planner! It has become such a trend now, that you can find an infinite amount of videos, blogs, pictures, etc on it. I am by no means an artist, but I can’t get caught up comparing myself to others in this area. I certainly don’t want to give up my joy in the Lord because I am too busy wishing I could animate Bible verses better. Crystal goes on to say that we can’t make the most of who we are or our talents if we are too busy comparing ourselves to others. We can’t live with gratitude, intentionality or purpose. (167)

I feel like I could become quite long winded about the encouragement that is on every page of this book. So let me leave you with a few more of the things I loved:

 

  1. Crystal encourages us to create a priorities list. She gives you space to do so right in the book. Jami Balmet discusses this particular point more on her blog
  2. It is ok to say NO! (I am still working on this one.)
  3. I am excited to undertake her 4 weeks of declutter plan. I have a tendency to pick one drawer or cabinet to declutter. But I am excited to take a bigger chunk of space and declutter that. For more on decluttering, see How to Manage your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White.

If you’re ready to start thriving and not just surviving, grab a copy of Crystal Paine’s Say Goodbye to Survival Mode!