Lady of Wisdom Interview – Sally Clarkson

I love soaking in wisdom from older Titus 2 women who have gone before in grace and obedience in the Lord.  Sally is one of those women, and I am honored to have been able to interview her.  (Curious as to what Lady of Wisdom interviews are all about?  Click here.)

Sarah Mae: Why did you choose to be a stay-at-home mom?

Sally:  After I had my first child, Sarah, I was surprised at how immediately I fell in love with her. I was the only girl in my family and had rarely even babysat, but I absolutely adored her. As I read scripture, “Children are a blessing, the fruit of the womb is a reward” and the Deuteronomy 6 passage about teaching your children all day long; and finally the passage when Jesus said, “Woe to the one who causes the least of these little ones to stumble,” I had a real sense of my stewardship of her mind, heart, and soul. I knew that someday, when I met Jesus face to face, He would hold me accountable for how I invested into this little human being whose soul would last for eternity. I also realized that no one would love her as I did and no one would have the same knowledge, truth and love to pass on to her as I had in my heart. It seemed Biblical to me to stay home with her and my other children–to disciple them as I had been doing for many years with adults in other parts of the world.

SM: When/Why did you become passionate about homeschooling?

Sally:  My husband, Clay, and I were so passionate about building our children into godly people, and training them as we had been training adults. (I was in full time ministry for 7 years before I got married to Clay and didn’t have my first child for 3 more years, after more training and discipling of women–I was almost 32 when I had Sarah). Clay and I had talked one day about the fact that if we had been pouring our lives into training others to be mature in Christ, that if we ever had children, shouldn’t we do the same with them? So I became committed to homeschooling before I was even pregnant with Sarah, 26 years ago–purely out of ministry philosophy! The idea of training and nurturing adults in their Christian lives so that they could more fully learn to walk with God and to have a ministry was a paradigm out of my life–so the whole necessity of training and instructing a person was already in my life experience. I knew that maturity and understanding and intelligence didn’t just happen naturally–had to be intentionally taught. So Homeschooling was a natural step to doing this with our children.

When I actually started reading out loud to my sweet baby and teaching her, I enjoyed it so much. I realized what an opportunity I had to shape her mind, her values, to lay a Biblical foundation and to give her love and training in exceptional ways. The more I did it, the more I loved it. I had also become convinced, by living in Europe for 6 years, that the American system of education was quite inferior–that it was a fill in the blank, multiple choice educational philosophy. I knew that  most Americans didn’t know how to think and were not even familiar with the vast historical and political knowledge that most of my European companions had from their education. So I came to it and became passionate about it from an educational philosophical point of view, as well–having never heard of the homeschooling movement.

SMWhat kinds of kinds of things did you do to train your children in the Lord?

Sally:  All of these questions are great and could be endless in their answers. I wrote a book, Ministry of Motherhood, about much of my personally philosophy. Basically, we had daily devotions and I shared from my own quiet times every day. We talked about the Lord and who He was morning, noon and night. We took our children with us in ministry and planned on ways for them to become engaged with us as a way of life, (made them all staff at our mom’s conferences from the time they could toddle and gave them jobs at the conferences). We had lots of groups into our home–started groups for them, too–mother-daughter; Father-son; Family Bible studies and pot lucks) and we took our children with us all over the world. We made them our best friends and talked, talked everywhere we went. We also prayed for anything and every thing along the way during our days and involved them in praying for everything that we had on our heart. Last, but not least, is that we showed them the incarnational side of Christ–beauty, love, great meals, rousing discussions, friendship and comfort–the total picture of Christ. He was not just a theological thought to know, but a personal God to love and relate to!

SMHow did you discipline your children – what worked best?

Sally:  My husband, Clay, wrote a book Heartfelt Discipline, which is a different take at the Proverbs passages about the rod. We knew that our goal was to reach and stir our children”s hearts for the Lord. Consequently, our discipline focussed on their hearts, not on their behavior. We looked for attitudes. We trained their wills to desire to do the right things. We knew that the basis of any influential relationship between leaders and followers was based on building a foundation of strong relationship, as observed in the life of Christ with His disciples. So we spent lots and lots of time building a close relationship with our children and then spent lots of time training them and giving them chores, responsibility and training. (Clay wrote the Discipleship tool, The 24 Family Ways, so our children would have the language of Biblical values and so that they would clearly know what we wanted them to do–in life and in relationships.) We also have built in a strong self-vision of “God has created you for good works–He has a special plan for your life. We need to train you in mind, spirit, emotions, faith, body and heart so that you can be prepared to accomplish His purpose for you–that is why we train you to excellence.”  So much more, but that is it in a nutshell.

SMWhat are some “tools” in your tool kit of parenting that have worked for you?

Sally:  I actually recently wrote a blog post about this at called the Mystery of Discipline. Basically, we have to be wise stewards of our children’s lives and personalities. We need to fill their emotional cups, challenge them by giving them lots of input and intentional, meaningful activity, give them a restful, peaceful environment, love and touch them a lot, meet their basic needs so that they will be more able to respond to our training and instruction. I used lots of encouragement and words of life–”I love you,” “you make me laugh!” “You are so much fun.” “I am so very thankful the Lord chose me to be your mom!”

Many parents neglect their children without meaning to and so their children are difficult to train. Many children are exhausted, over-stimulated and have high levels of sugar and adrenalin in their blood streams and are not even able to respond to their parents. Training and discipline is a long term process and the maturity, sex and personality of the child must be taken into consideration. Lots of time invested meant my children were usually quite responsive to my training–it is still that way. I keep in constant contact with my older children even when they are far from home. Discipline is a moment by moment teaching, correction, will training, affirming, modeling relationship. Not a quick fix based on tricks. But  I did learn, though, that when my children’s emotional cups were full, they were much more teachable. Spend individual time with them even when you think it is impossible.

SMWhat would you do over if you could?

Sally:  I would have been more patient and trusted the Lord more. I would have given up my own agenda about what I thought life should be so that I could just rest every day with where my children were–to enjoy them, to trust the Lord, to not be neurotic! I would have decided to celebrate life more and not stress over the little things or messes–these things are just a part of the seasons of life. I would have let my boys be boys and understood them more–and laughed with them more. However, most of my life, I would do much the same. I really enjoyed my children so much. I would have also just given myself more grace when the dark times came and I felt overwhelmed–also a normal part of life with the constant exhaustion and work and issues in life–knowing that dark times and exhaustion ebbs and flows. Sabbath rests are so important. Beauty and keeping a mom’s cup full is also so important–wish I had understood that earlier and managed my needs more wisely.

Continued tomorrow…

Sally Clarkson…She who dreams, laughs, and greatly loves her husband, her children and the God who made them all. She lives for strong English tea out of a china cup, passionate ideas, great books, and fine food served with stimulating conversation.  Find Sally at her blog, I Take Joy, or through one of her many wonderful books.

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12 Coffee Talks on “Lady of Wisdom Interview – Sally Clarkson”

  1. Shannon says:

    I was privileged to attend a couple of Sally's workshops at our recent homeschool conference and it was wonderful. She was so refreshing and so much different than I expected. I think sometimes we think we are the only one that understands our struggles and that all the other perfect homeschooling moms out there just can't understand us. I was quite surprisd to realize that she had many of the same thoughts and she was so open to share those moments to help us all be better homeschoolers. Loved it!

  2. I have loved reading Sally Clarkson's books for a long time and am especially fond of her!! Thank you Sarah Mae for hosting this interview and giving us insight to her thoughts and for sharing with us!!! Wonderful way to start the morning!!
    .-= Kellye@onemomswalk´s last blog post … Las Casa de Wootie-Open for Business =-.

  3. Carrie says:

    I love this! Thank you for sharing—looking forward to tomorrow!

  4. I love to hear from Sally and soak up all her wisdom! I was especially blessed by her book, "Ministry of Motherhood". It truly was the first book to help me see motherhood in light of the Great Commission call. She has a section in the book where she describes Jesus ministering to the 12, how tired He was, and He continued to pour out His life on them and be with them. And I thought, "Oh Jesus, you really do understand my life!" Great stuff!

    Thanks for sharing today!
    Looking Forward,
    .-= Stacey Thacker´s last blog post … DIY Fall Decorations =-.

  5. "I would have given up my own agenda"— I can so relate to that statement- many days God has to remind me that life is not about the white picket fence ideal I have in my head, but by living in the moment with my kids and my husband. Great post!
    .-= Melissa Multitasking Mama´s last blog post … Raising Awareness (and a giveaway!) =-.

  6. Allie Zirkle says:

    What a great interview! Sally is well written… Question though, "Beauty and keeping a mom’s cup full is also so important–wish I had understood that earlier and managed my needs more wisely." I need more info on THAT! :) I'm not sure what it means, but I do kno wthat that is EXACTLY where I'm struggling TODAY. I spent most of the weekend in tears because I have no idea HOW to manage my needs. The needs of my family come first and often I don't feel like, well, I'm not sure how to end that statement except with the thought that I feel like I'm not ever going to be able to meet my own needs…

  7. Jessalyn says:

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing with us Sally.

  8. So encouraging – thank you, Sally, for sharing, and thank you, Sarah Mae, for posting this!

    I have a few more books on my "must read" list, now! :)
    .-= Kristi_runwatch´s last blog post … A window to the soul… =-.

  9. Larie says:

    This is a very wise interview. It's great that you are doing this, we all need the sound words of those who have been there and not afraid to train others.

    .-= Larie´s last blog post … …of Anton's love =-.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    What a great interview with Sally. :) She is such an encouragement. I'm one of the many who have been blessed to attend a conference (this past spring, in Cary NC) and I'm looking forward to the next one in Raleigh!

    This especially is encouraging given the ages of my children and some ongoing stress we've had that has also overwhelmed me… "I would have decided to celebrate life more and not stress over the little things or messes–these things are just a part of the seasons of life. I would have let my boys be boys and understood them more–and laughed with them more. However, most of my life, I would do much the same. I really enjoyed my children so much. I would have also just given myself more grace when the dark times came and I felt overwhelmed–also a normal part of life with the constant exhaustion and work and issues in life–knowing that dark times and exhaustion ebbs and flows."

    That is the kind of message that I hear again and again from wise older women. And I need to hear it, to not forgot to enjoy my children along the way…

  11. Christin says:

    So much of this I really needed to hear!

    I'm especially interested to know more about "showing the incarnational side of Christ–beauty,". What would that look like? How is it done?
    .-= Christin´s last blog post … In Other News =-.

  12. [...] Sarah Mae also did a two part interview with Sally Clarkson on her blog. You can read that here and [...]

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    I'm Sarah Mae. I'm figuring out how to fit perfect into fallen skin. Stick around for the stretching...your soul is welcome here.

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