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.
SM: What 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!
SM: How 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.
SM: What 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 itakejoy.com 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.
SM: What 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.
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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