Category Archives: Books

Insights for a vibrant family home life: The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

As a mom, I strive to make our home a haven for our family.  My goal is to ensure home is our refuge from the frenetic world around us.  I’m always on the lookout for ideas and resources to help guide toward this goal.

“The Lifegiving Home” at Amazon (affiliate link).

I’m happy to have found the book “The Lifegiving Home,” written by the mother-daughter team of Sally and Sarah Clarkson, as a new resource for ideas to hone our family home life.  I received the book for free from the publisher, Tyndale House, to facilitate my honest review.

This book has many helpful insights for cultivating a Christian home.  As I read this book, I found myself marking pages so I can refer back to thoughts and ideas. That’s unusual for me since I generally like to leave books in pristine condition, but this is a book that can be used as an ongoing reference.

The book is packed with wisdom from Sally Clarkson’s experience as a mom who worked with her husband to build a strong home culture for their family.  She relays how they moved often, so it was not all about the place.  In chapter one, she says:

“we focused on creating home out of less tangible materials – traditions, habits, rhythms, experiences, and values.  It was in the love and acceptance we shared, the comfort and warmth we enjoyed together, the spiritual and intellectual connections we fostered, and the traditions we celebrated together that we found both refuge from the world outside and the strength to engage it creatively.”

In part one of the book, Sally Clarkson and her daughter Sarah Clarkson discuss the importance of home in our lives as well as its spiritual significance in shaping people to honor God.

Image courtesy of Tyndale

Image courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers

In part two of “The Lifegiving Home,” the Clarksons address the seasons of home on a month-by-month basis.  It features Sally Clarkson’s expertise in cultivating their family culture and Sarah Clarkson’s experience growing up within the framework her parents provided.

This part of the book has practical ideas for parents as they guide their children through the seasons of life.  One of the specific things I marked in my book was the Stop! Look! Listen! technique for teaching children the heart of good manners in the February chapter.

A Strong Home Culture

Image courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers

Although I like the premise behind the monthly structure, this part of the book felt a bit forced into the monthly construct.  Many of the topics that were addressed were not really month specific so it could have been organized differently, but I get the vision behind it.

The purpose stated on the back cover of the book is for the Clarksons to provide their family story as a treasury of wisdom about home life. It’s very specific to their own family culture, which is heavy on music, classic books, art, family feasts, and tea time. It really doesn’t include a variety of suggestions that may apply better for families that are different from the Clarksons.  With that said, there are plenty of things about the Clarkson family story that can be used as ideas and inspiration for creating your own unique home culture.

One of the passages in the book that resonated with me most was within the chapter about the month of March.  Sarah Clarkson articulates the joy of finding beauty amidst the brokenness in the world and using that to inform home life.  Her words encapsulate my viewpoint as well.

“despite the grief of life in the broken places, my heart still catches glimmers of what life was meant to be, echoes from the shattered gladness of original Creation….Every experience of joy I find is the promise of a coming and complete redemption.  This is what I believe my home should communicate.  This is the atmosphere I want those who come into my sphere to taste – the goodness of God made tangible in food, in pictures, in music, in the way they are served.  I want my home to reflect the deepest affirmation of my heart that God is with me, that He has given me every good thing. I want my home and life to be an invitation to feast, to touch, to savor, and to know the goodness of my beautiful God.”

That passage is a lovely reminder that our homes matter; they can be a beautiful, lifegiving place for our families and guests.  “The Lifegiving Home” is a worthy resource for assisting in that goal of creating a family home that nurtures minds, bodies, and souls.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for a complimentary copy of “The Lifegiving Home”
by Sally and Sarah Clarkson to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.  Please refer
to my disclosure statement for more information about affiliate links.

Book review: A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan

Books that convey a strong sense of the setting are an engaging way to experience life in another location.  That’s especially true for historical fiction.  I have to admit that I haven’t read much historical fiction over the years but I’m beginning to enjoy the genre as a way to connect more with historic time periods.

A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan at Amazon (affiliate link).

I recently had the opportunity to read a free copy of the Christian historical romance novel “A Sweet Misfortune” by Maggie Brendan.  I received it complimentary from the publisher, Revell, to facilitate my honest review.

This is a sweet Christian romance set in the Montana Territory in 1862.  Rachel found herself in unfortunate circumstances that led to taking a job at a dance hall out of desperation for a means to support herself.  She initially does not appreciate the help that arrives in the form of John, a successful cattle rancher who is friends with her brother.

John is reluctant to get involved with the situation since he questions Rachel’s morals.  He helps her solely in deference to his friendship with her brother.  His grandmother, however, is happy to help Rachel get on her feet with a job and a place to stay.

The main characters are likeable.  They deal with the realities of life and death as well as spiritual issues of faith, morality, pride, and forgiveness within the Old West culture of 1862.

My favorite part about the book was its ability to transport me back in time.  I enjoyed getting to experience the Old West through this book set on a cattle ranch and the nearby town.

On one hand, the setting seemed a little too easy for the residents, considering the time period.  For example, the description of John’s home seems more comfy and cozy than I would have pictured, even for a cattle baron.  The western town seems to have plenty of amenities.

On the other hand, the book depicted many of the hardships of the time.  There were the limitations of medical care and the realities of traveling by horse and buggy in unpredictable weather.  And the cowboys were out of reach of family and friends for a long period during the cattle drive since there was no cell service!

“A Sweet Misfortune” is the second book in the Virtues and Vices of the Old West series by Maggie Brendan.  I had not read the first book in the series, but I had no trouble picking up in the second book and diving right into the story.  This is a standalone book, and there was no sense that I had missed any backstory.

Overall, this was a good, clean Christian historical romance.  It was quick to read, with short chapters and a storyline that moved along at a nice pace.  It’s not a book of high drama with remarkable page-turning plot twists, but is a pleasant look at the everyday lives of characters during a season in 1862 Montana.

Thank you to the publisher, Revell, for a complimentary copy of “A Sweet Misfortune”
by Maggie Brendan to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site. Please refer to
my disclosure statement for more information about affiliate links.

Book review: Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander

March is National Reading Month and National Craft Month.  I’ve been working to get caught up on both my reading and some craft projects!

Where She Belongs is available from Amazon (affiliate link).

One of the novels that I finished was “Where She Belongs” by Johnnie Alexander.  Thank you to the publisher, Revell, for providing a free copy of the book to facilitate my honest opinion.

Set in Ohio, this Christian fiction is book one in the new Misty Willow series from Johnnie Alexander.  This novel introduces readers to Misty Willow, the location of protagonist Shelby Kincaid’s ancestral home.

Shelby is determined to get the old homestead back in the family and fix it up for herself and her young daughters after the death of her husband.  Immediately she find herself at odds with the previous owner, AJ Sullivan, and involved in an intricate saga between their families going back two generations.

The novel unfolds over a short time period, with several twists and turns that keep the story moving forward without being too predictable.  It has a mix of historical details, family drama, legal battles, and life and death medical situations.

The back cover provides a good description of the book without giving away too much of the plot.  It says, “With writing that evokes a strong sense of place and family history, Johnnie Alexander deftly explores the ties that bind us to home – and the irresistible forces that draw us to each other.”

The book has 351 pages that move along quickly. I was surprised by some elements of the ending but was satisfied with how the plot wrapped up.

Before this book, I had never read any of Johnnie Alexander’s work, but I will be looking for more from her in the future.

Thank you to Revell for providing a complimentary copy of “Where She Belongs” by Johnnie Alexander to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.  For more information about affiliate links, please refer to my Disclosure Statement.