Rediscovering Joy: An Interview with Sally Clarkson

November 10–14, 2014   |   Vol. 121, Week 7

Is your holiday season looking less like a holiday and more like a speed bump? Then tune in this week to Home School Heartbeat as our guest, Sally Clarkson, shares some ways for you to renew your sense of purpose.

“It's a whole life: it's the foods you eat, the traditions you celebrate, it's the way you interact with your children in bed at night, it's the fun, and it's a whole life that God intends for us to enjoy.” — Sally Clarkson

This Week’s Offer

Homeschooling a struggling learner or a child with special needs? HSLDA’s Special Needs Coordinators provide answers about evaluations, IEPs, finding a consultant, and more. Request this free booklet.

Mike Farris: My guest this week is Sally Clarkson, a homeschool mom of four and co-founder of Whole Heart Ministries, an organization dedicated to encouraging parents as they raise godly children. Sally, it’s good to have my friend back on the program!

Sally Clarkson: Oh, thanks, Mike, it’s so great to be with you today!

Mike: Busy homeschooling moms often need new ways to renew their energy and focus. You’ve designed your ministry of encouragement to do that very thing. Why do you think it’s important to start with a proper understanding of the word renew?

Sally: Well Mike, I think that God desires to renew us. Did you know that the Greek word for renew actually means to make something new in the midst of other things? It doesn’t mean to start over, but to keep going and only with a newness of purpose. I actually read in Isaiah 40 that the word that talks about waiting on the Lord and renewing your strength means not an old strength, but He wants to give a new strength, a better strength. And it means to add newness to what is already going on in our lives—an extra bit of His power.

Mike: Sally, you spend a lot of time ministering to what you called “tired mamas.” What needs do these moms have?

Sally: I think that, in general, these wonderful homeschool moms are so idealistic, and maybe all of us start out a little bit insecure. So we tend to look at homeschooling as a duty or an objective that needs to be accomplished.

But as I look back, I realize I that I wish I had more of a vision that I have now when I was younger. It’s a whole life: it’s the foods you eat, the traditions you celebrate. It’s the way you interact with your children in bed at night. It’s the fun! And it’s a whole life that God intends for us to enjoy. It says His will is good and acceptable and perfect. And God has never asked us to do more than we’re able to do.

So I think for me, just helping these sweet moms to know that it’s a whole life education and God fills in the cracks, and it’s something that He wants us to enjoy. It’s a long distance run, and we need to pace ourselves so that we can really accomplish this home life in a beautiful way that will really fill the souls of our children.

Mike: Sally, your blog for homeschooling moms is called I Take Joy. Can you share how moms can begin to take joy in a season of life where they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Sally: You know, Mike, I realized probably in my mid-40s that to be a mature Christian meant that I needed to take some responsibility for my own life. And I realized that I needed friendship with other women that were like-minded. So I started little groups in my home. I would light a candle, push all the messes aside, and have friends in. I started making an effort to walk every day.

I put things into my schedule that I knew would fill up my soul. Because I knew that if I didn’t fill up my own emotional cup with friends and with time with my husband, with good books, with a really specific, intentional plan, that no one would have anything to draw from me for the rest of my life.

And so I think that moms need to put themselves in a position to be with friends, to be in fellowship, and to really think about how they can cultivate their own lives, so that they’ll have something grand from which their children can take.

Mike: Sally, your newest book, Dancing with My Father, is your personal journey toward experiencing spiritual joy in the midst of disappointment. What word of encouragement can you give to a homeschooling mom who is struggling to overcome disappointments in her life?

Sally: You know, it would be so easy to be discouraged in life. But I realized I didn’t want to walk into heaven panting and out of breath and saying, “Well, I made it.” And I realized that in His presence is fullness of joy. And it says that joy is the fruit of the spirit. And so I did, really, a 2– or 3­–year-long study about what it really meant to experience God’s joy.

When I look in through the grid of my life for joy, for cultivating and planting seeds of love, for developing a heart of gratitude, for looking for the color and the beauty that God has provided, it began helping me to understand that the trials in my life were a part of God preparing me to become suited for heaven.

But I would just encourage a mom to get good books, to really study Scripture, to see God and make joy an issue in her life, so that her children can live in a joyful home.

Mike: Sally, I know many moms feel like they are alone in all their struggles. What advice do you have for these moms?

Sally: You know, I think that any woman, any man, in any idealistic situation, alone, becomes a target for Satan, for discouragement, and they will compromise their ideals eventually. God created us for fellowship. And even tonight, I’m having my monthly Bible study. I invite women in, and we spend all evening talking, praying, and being friends.

And I know when I was younger, I used to think, “Oh, I don’t have time for that.” But if I don’t make inroads to fellowship and to be with friends of like mind, I do become discouraged. And so I think that moms need to do whatever they can to find a prayer partner, to meet with somebody at a coffee shop, to make it a regular investment in their lives. When you have a friend or a group of friends, you’ll maintain a focus on your ideals, until you finish the objectives that you’ve set out to accomplish in homeschooling.

Mike: Sally, thank so much for your insight. It’s really been a pleasure to have you on the program this week. Keep up the terrific work as you encourage homeschooling moms all across the world. I’m Mike Farris.

Sally Clarkson

Sally is, first and foremost, a full-time, stay-at-home-schooling mom. Her life has always revolved around her four wholehearted children—Sarah, Joel, Nathan and Joy. Sarah, Joel, and Nathan are now graduated and pursuing the next chapter in each of their lives, while Joy is still being homeschooled under Sally’s direction.

In addition to her ministry to her family, God has also given Sally a ministry to other families (and especially to homeschooling mothers) through speaking and writing. Sally grew up in Texas and New Mexico, received Christ as her personal Savior during her freshman year at Texas Tech University, was active with Campus Crusade for Christ during college, and joined staff upon graduation in 1975. She ministered at the University of Texas, lived and ministered in Eastern Europe under Communist rule, and returned to Denver to work with executive women and singles, and with Clay, whom she married a year later. Sally is a writer, speaker, discipler, and blogger ( who also loves books, music, British films, baking, and tea.

Quick Contact


Homeschool Heartbeat has been retired and replaced by a new HSLDA podcast, Homeschool Talks. You’re welcome to continue browsing the Homeschool Heartbeat archives, but if you want to stay up-to-date on the latest content, head over to our new podcast page. Happy podcasting!


HSLDA elert service
  • Stay abreast of homeschooling news and legislative issues.
  • Hear about the latest @home e-vent webinar
  • Get specialized help for teaching your high schooler, struggling learner, or elementary student.
Homeschool Heartbeat

HSLDA’s two-minute daily radio program
Copyright © 2018 HSLDA. All Rights Reserved.