What Story Will the Days of Your Life Tell? (Creating a Grid Through Which You Will Live) - Sarah Mae
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What Story Will the Days of Your Life Tell? (Creating a Grid Through Which You Will Live)

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This is an Own Your Life Book Club post. Even if you’re not reading through the book with us, please read on and be encouraged!

Over the last two years I have spent a great deal of time pondering my life.

I think often about the story my children will tell of me, what memories they will have, and what legacy I am passing down to them. I also think about how I am living. Am I living in such a way that at the end of it all I can look back and say, “I lived an unregrettable life“? I want to know that on the arc of it all, I lived well and true and in grace and with intention. I lived awake.

I want to live a fully alive, engaged life; I don’t want to just go through the motions getting through. I want to press on; I want to own my life.

Reading through the beginning and first three chapters of Sally Clarkson’s book, Own Your Life, I am not only reminded about my will to really live, but am inspired to keep on because God has a purpose for my life, and it’s to bring the light of His Kingdom to bear on this earth, where I am.

I loved how in the opening pages of the book Sally says to her daughter Joy who is about to head off to Oxford, “God has prepared a story for you to live. There will be many in Oxford who will long to know His love, something perhaps only you can show them. Others, looking for meaning, will need the messages of His truth that are stored in your soul. Those you meet who are filled with fear and despair will need your hope and faith.”

We all have a story to live, and our story is a part of God’s unfolding story. If are to be a people who bring light and love and relief to those around us and to dark places, we need to be fully engaged with our lives. We need to be owning our lives.

Before we go any further, let me give you Sally’s definition of owning your life:

Own your life means taking responsibility for our own behavior, decisions, and attitudes so we may fully embrace God’s amazing vision our my lives and leave a legacy that points others to Him. It means living up to our spiritual potential.

In order to own our lives, we need a grid for which to live our lives through. Here are the questions Sally asks to make sure she is living out the legacy of faith she has committed to:

  • Am I being intentional?
  • Am I making decisions based on biblical values?
  • Am I choosing the pathways that will create deep, loving relationships and give value to the people personally connected to me?
  • Am I willing to take risks of faith to invest my life in the things of eternity?
  • Am I listening to the world or to the voice of God?
  • Am I living with Christ and His life as the pattern for my own life?
  • Do I see this day, these circumstances as a place in which I can fulfill God’s will?

I will have a printable up for you later today with these questions so you can print it out and look on it every day.

What wisdom there is in this grid through which to live! And don’t we especially need this on the hard days?

I love how Sally talks about a real make-it-or-break-it moment for her. She was dealing with loneliness and discouragement, and her children were running around the house and she was hiding behind her couch (anyone relate?). As she sunk down lower into herself, struggling with what her life had become, she realized that “my life was a pile of puzzle pieces, all mixed with no seeming pattern or logical way to fit them together. And a heroine was not to be found in the picture. As I scrutinized the landscape of my soul, I saw endless darkness down a gloomy hallway that seemed to end in despair. Nothing in my life seemed to be matching up with my ideals; I was physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained, and everyone and everything depended on my keeping it all together.”

After praying and crying and thinking over her life she says she had a “come to Jesus meeting”. She asked for escape, but instead a scripture came to her mind: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteous ness” (Hebrews 12:11). What captured her were the words, “trained by it.” Training takes time, and she knew God wanted to train her in holiness. She goes on to talk about the Lord whispering into her spirit that He was asking her to live faithfully where she was as He would humble her heart and shape her character; He was writing her story. She committed in that moment to trusting Him, no matter what happened, that she would be obedient and bring joy where she was, choosing to believe that God was with her. She became resolved.

And thank God she did, because now her children are grown and she has lived a faithful legacy of faith that has now impacted thousands of women all over the world, including me.

There is obviously so much more to share. This book and just the first few chapters are filled with insight and wisdom. If you haven’t yet got a copy, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Wisdom Gems

Here are some quotes that impacted me from the first few chapters:

“God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, what do You ant me to dream for You? How do You want me to serve What work do You have for me to do?”

“There is no single way to serve God, but the point is this: We each have only one life to live to tell a story about Him, about His ways, about His love. And if we are Christ followers, then God calls us to use our gifts, to exercise our faith, and to become salt and light right where we are.”

“She didn’t need to find peace in the chaos, instead, she needed to move, step-by-step, toward a more reasonable and centered life.”

“Our calling is to bring light – like Jesus – so that when we step into the worlds of others, we bring His peace to every person and enlighten the dark places of the world.”

“Deciding to like yourself is a choice to validate God’s design on your life.”

On criticism: “If I allow their words to destroy my self-image, then I am allowing them to control me. As I have grown in my walk with God, I’ve thankfully realized that allowing others to control the way I think about myself is a dark, endless hole. I am committed to gradually growing and learning in every area of my life, but essentially I have accepted that I will always be the same person under it all. I must daily decided to enjoy the person God made me to be.”

Choosing to Own My Life

One of the ways I am going to own my life is by printing out the questions above and putting them somewhere I can see every day to help me live with intention. I think this would be a great series of questions for children as well, and I might even create a kids version and put it in my kids rooms. If I do, I’ll pass it along to you.

Your Turn!

What stood out to you in the first three chapters? What wisdom did you glean? What will you apply to your life, or what truth will you let sink in, from this weeks reading?

Love, SM

P.S. The winners of the Own Your Life book giveaway are: Trina Wilhelm, Kali Smith, Tiffany Jones, Kelly Kortright! Congrats! You’ll be getting an email from me soon!

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  • Maryellen Elliott

    Thank you so much for this. I am looking forward to the ‘homework’

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Thanks for joining in! 🙂

  • Kristin T

    Thank you Sarah! Ashley and I are truly enjoying this group and Sally’s book! We are watching/reading alone with you from Portugal:) Kristin T

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      From Portugal?! Love it! Thank you! 🙂

  • Kristin T

    opps along with you…..sleepy mama here, can you tell?!?!?

  • Angela

    Loving this book! What really stood out for me in The Beginnings chapter was….Will I live for God’s Kingdom or will I live for myself? So moving because these are the only two ways to live! I love this part…. God call us to use our gifts, to exercise our faith, and to become salt and light right where we are.

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Yes! Me too!

  • Rebecca Peet

    I’ve also been blogging through this book. I’m loving it so much and God is really using it in my life. I’m so excited about all the books you will be doing for your book club. Here’s the link to my blog post about the first three chapters- http://extraordinarytreasure.blogspot.com/2015/01/own-your-life-book-club-part-1.html?spref=fb

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Thank you for the link! I am loving it as well!

    • Audra Laney

      I enjoyed reading your blog post. My main barrier is the negative voices, as well. I’ve found this verse helps: “…and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” in 2 Cor. 10:5. When those negative voices start whispering into my ear, I’ve got to intentionally hush them up and replace them with God’s truth. If I dwell on them, just tasting to see if they MIGHT be right, I’m lingering too long on the lies.

      And *fist bump* to you! A comment on your blog from Sally herself!

      • Rebecca Peet

        Thank you Audra for your thoughts! That’s a great verse. I also turn to Philippians 4:8. True, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and excellent thoughts are only from God and those thoughts definitely silence the negative voices.

  • Kate Headley

    “Busyness falsely promises productivity.” Ouch. I used to think, “Busy is better.” But it drained me. It made me prioritize things that weren’t important. I was so caught up in climbing the corporate ladder that my family suffered. I was exhausted at trying to do it all. Finally, my man said, “There is no amount of money or title that will ever make ANY of this worth it. Please quit.” And so I did. I left the corporate world and became a SAHM. Man, that’s hard all by itself. Sally’s words in this section rang loud and clear to me. By having the wrong priorities, I did go into depression and isolation. I wanted to have it all, but realized I had nothing. It has been a year since I became a “domestic engineer” and this part of my life has been more fulfilling than any paycheck or checklist (I still make lists, but they’re different from before.). I’m allowing God to be more present and making my family my priority. I WILL own my own life. — “Nothing in this world will fill the deep crevices of your life with peace, contentment, love, and joy except God.” Amen!

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      That quote stuck out to me as well! You made a really hard choice, and I believe you will be honored because of it. Hang in there!

  • Laura

    It’s encouraging to see where God has brought Sally. I have six children and many times the not knowing what’s to come is the hardest part. The book has encouraged me to fully live in whatever situation or season of life I’m in. We only have one.

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      I feel the same way. I sometimes wish there was a formula so I could know the outcome. Oh but faith. We can only do our part, trusting God with the rest. I am super encouraged as well to fully live where I am.

  • mariah

    Warning..cute but long story:

    Day 1 of reading the book, I cuddled on the couch with my 6 year old daughter. Determining to be a better mom and more like Sally, I put down my book and engaged in conversation with my daughter.

    I told her, ” I’d love to have a tea party with you some day. We could have little snacks, a pink tablecloth, pretty tea cups and delicious tea!”

    So naturally, she started figuring out how it could happen TODAY. It was late at night and I told her it won’t happen today, but it’s fun to day dream about and have ideas for the next couple of days when we can make it happen.

    She said, ” I’d rather day dream about minecraft or ninja turtles.”

    Haha…that.is.my.reality. She has 2 older brothers and she is a tough, but super sweet little girl.

    In that moment, everything in the book I had read so far came to a halting stop. I knew, displayed before me, that I had to OWN MY STORY with my set of children and circumstances, not be exactly like Sally.

    So that might be the biggest lesson I’ve learned. Do not cope anyone else…Own Your Story with way God wrote it for YOU. So exciting!

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Wise woman! You must figure out your puzzle and than honor God with it. So glad you learned this!

    • Sarah Moore

      What a fabulous story to illustrate owning your ‘Own Story’ 🙂

  • Annabel

    Reading this book has been a balm to my soul! Soon after starting tears were coming to my eyes, I didn’t even know how much I needed these words of wisdom! It is so encouraging to hear from a woman who has done the day in and day out work of raising a family. It is being impressed on my heart how important the mundane is and how to worship and do it well. Just a few of my favorite wisdom gems.
    “For most of us spirituality is a long-term work of service carried out in ordinary days.”
    “This day, this place, these circumstances-God had made them!”
    “…heroes are made during the secret moments. Though they practice faith, integrity, and courage when no one else is there to see, at the right time, they will come out of spiritual “basic training” with the integrity and action required to accomplish something great.”
    I am encouraged to live in the freedom of who God made me, knowing he has placed me in these circumstances to do kingdom work!
    “Remember that each day you live is a new day in which Jesus sees you as redeemed, forgiven, beloved, amd innocent before His throne. “

    • mariah

      Amen! That was the quote I penned in my journal as well. Love it!!

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Me too!
      I was also very encouraged (and convicted) about the “heroes are made during the secret moments.” SO good.

    • Sally Clarkson

      God’s grace to you in the midst of these ordinary days. Now that my children are grown and such a deep blessing to me as my best friends, I see that the quiet days were sown when they were little and now have become a deep blessing to my life.

  • Janice

    Reading these first few chapters has made me think about how God made me and my life circumstances unique, and the first step in owning my life is embracing what makes me different and liking who I am because God loves me. As a mom of a special needs child I find myself physically and emotionally drained almost daily, and I feel so unqualified for this job. I found so much encouragement in Sally’s words, “This day, this place, these circumstances-God made them.” I guess in the middle of my feeling so weak and insignificant, God sees the hero inside me waiting to come out. This book is challenging me to follow hard after God and let His power work through my day to day life to accomplish things beyond what I could ever have thought possible.

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Yes! I love that, that because HE made you and your unique circumstances you can embrace and like who you are, and you can get through because He is with you and for you. Keep on, friend. And I’m with you, too. I need His power every day because I can’t do this life without Him.

  • Sally Clarkson

    These comments are amazing. Makes me want to read the book! 🙂 Seriously, we all seem to be kindred spirits. When I finally learned to just be myself, not compare, not try to please someone else but to follow God and listen to His voice, and accept my puzzle, my whole life began to be more promising to me. I love living with freedom and not guilt. I pray for you all to be encouraged and for all of you to know His love for you more deeply! Thanks for all the posts.

    • Tonya

      Thank you for the prayers! I was thinking last night as I was reading that I could feel the prayer that went into this book as God was stirring and speaking deeply in my heart as I read your words.

  • Sarah Moore

    I am in the UK and have only just managed to track down a copy that is available now (It’s on pre-order on Amazon UK for 20th Feb) I’m hoping it will arrive tomorrow and I’m so excited to read it after reading the pre-view and seeing the webcast 🙂

  • Ana Carolina

    I’m in Puerto Rico and the book was in the mailbox today! I also read the beginning on line and loved the conversation between Joy and mom Sally. I will start reading the chapters assigned for this week and for the next.

  • Brooke Elizabeth Burger

    I am loving the book so far. I am old enough now to look back and see how God has orchestrated some things in my life. He has been so good to me. This past year has really been one of coming outside of my comfort zone. My husband and I both find ourselves included in a wonderful, talented group of people. Most of these people don’t know Jesus, and some are hostile to the idea of “church”. In the past I wouldn’t have wanted to be part of such a group as much as I am know. Church was my safe place. But my husband and I feel His calling to share His love. I am stepping out and taking risks because people need to know of God’s love.

    • Sally Clarkson

      Thanks so much for sharing, Brooke. Yes, “out of our comfort zones to share Him” seems to be a way He leads us all.

  • Tonya

    Oh my goodness! I’m loving every word of this book so far. But I have to say the part where Sally shares her story of hiding behind the couch has been most encouraging. She put words to what I’ve felt in my heart but been unable to articulate! It encouraged me because I, too, am in my early 40s with a 9yr old and a 6yr old coming off a very difficult 18 mo (including loss of my Dad, husband’s job loss and a move) feeling depleted and worn and often very lonely. I sit looking at my jumbled pile of puzzle pieces wondering how it all fits together and how God wants to use it. Somehow, I feel like I should have that figured out *by now* and be well on my way. I cannot tell you how it encouraged me to think of the incredible ways God has used Sally since that time. It instills hope that He’s not through with His work in (and through) my life. So often lately I’ve felt as if the best is behind me vs. being yet to come and pondering this has instilled a hope that the best CAN be yet to come.

    • Sally Clarkson

      Yes, seems the behind the couch moment happens to us all. You have some similar life issues that I had. I keep trying to figure it out! God will indeed use us as we worship right where we are. Blessings of grace to you today.

  • Jenna Cappello

    I, too, am loving this book! Within the first three chapters, the couch story has impacted me the most. When I read it, I was at the fertility doctor’s office for some testing after a really long and painful year of unsuccessful attempts to have another baby, including three miscarriages. I had gotten most of my results back by that point, so I knew what the barrier had been but was still trying to wrap my mind (and moreso my heart, if I’m honest) around the real possibility that we will not have any more babies and how my vision for our family was going to look different than I had always imagined it to. As I was reading the couch story, and feeling her frustration, confusion, and despair, I started getting choked up in the waiting room of the doctor’s office! I ended up having to close the book temporarily to quickly compose myself before the employees began to think I was unstable! But it hit me so hard…and everything suddenly became more clear. I needed to have faith in the Lord. He knows the plan for my life and our family and I need to trust him. I need to live joyfully in every moment of every day as my little ones are blessings from him and they need me to own my life as their mother. And though we may not have the size family we’ve always wanted, we have what God has wanted for us all along. So, like Sally in her moment sitting behind the couch, I decide to live faithfully, to trust in Him, and to own my life.

    • Sally Clarkson

      Sweet Jenna,
      Dreams are still in our heart because God created us for so much. Yet, we give them to Him as this is the broken place. He suffered so much to redeem us and so we give our dreams to Him in the midst of it all. How precious your heart. I am so very sorry for your sadness, but so proud of your faith. May God strengthen you and bless you with a personal knowledge of His love.

      • Jenna Cappello

        Thank you so much for these words Sally! I truly appreciate them. Always such wonderful, beautiful words of wisdom from you! I’m SO looking forward to seeing you on Friday at the Denver Mom Heart Conference and finishing your book!

    • thankful to be His

      Dear Jenna!

      I am so very sorry for all that you have gone through regarding infertility and the loss of three little ones. Infertility is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Nothing else has tested my faith harder – not even Stage III breast cancer.

      I am going to write your name on my prayer list.

  • Beth W

    Own your life means taking responsibility for our own behavior, decisions, and attitudes so we may fully embrace God’s amazing vision our my lives and leave a legacy that points others to Him.
    It means living up to our spiritual potential. Wow what an amazing statement! I’ve been going through the motions these last few years. I want to “Own my Own life”! Be the person God created me to be and get my happy back!! Would love to some how work part time or something and have more time for ministry type work of some sort!
    In time God will work out HIs perfect plans for me!

  • http://believingin1.blogspot.com/ Kelly K

    Hey! Whohooo!! I didn’t miss your email did I? ~ Kelly Kortright

  • Claire Smoker

    Well, I’m a little late in the “discussion” but I just wanted to say that I’m truly loving what God is pointing out to me in this book! I am doing a “virtual” study with a few friends where we “meet” once a week on Google Hangouts and chat about the chapters you are also reading with us, Sarah Mae! Thank you for sharing this book and thank you Sally for your wisdom! Looking forward to next week!

  • Autumn Shea

    Hey Sarah Mae! I am SO loving this book! As I was reading through Sally’s filter questions, I was thinking I needed to write them down and put them up somewhere. Did you get a chance to get that printable made you mentioned in this post? I know I would use it!

  • Audra Laney

    I’m practically a week late to this discussion, but I wanted to share something. My friend and I who have read several of Sally’s books together were discussing Own Your Life, and we decided to take the plunge and start a book club. I’ll be honest: I was fearful people would think we were a little looney and we MIGHT have 4 people total show up. Within minutes of posting this invitation, we had 16 local women of all ages signed up. So we’re all cozying up in my friend’s house Tuesday night with coffee and spending an hour being REAL with one another–sharing our struggles and encouraging and spurring one another on. What a blessing this book has been already!

    Chapters 1 and 2 had so many great quotes, many that you listed above. So many great examples were included where I found myself nodding with experience. But, oh, Chapter 3. It was all over me. Negative voices? I’ve got an entire CHOIR of them. A handful on my role as a friend. A good many for my marital relationship. And a PLETHORA on my parenting. Sometimes I wonder if I might be mentally crazy I hear so many voices! I appreciate all Sally had to say on battling those with specific scripture. It has helped me greatly in past years to refer to 2 Corinthians 10:5 in “…taking every thought captive to obey Christ…” I’ve found if I linger on those whispering lies instead of immediately taking them captive, I get caught in a spiral cycle that’s hard to move away from. That never ends well! I’ll be using the specific verses she listed to combat the lies Satan tells.

    Lastly, this section really breathed into me the freedom to be authentically ME. My voice friends mentioned above frequently remind me that I’m too giddy, too different, too impulsive, too wordy, etc. I’m just not the perfect mold that I should be. After reading these few pages, I feel like I’m standing a little taller, pulling back my shoulders more, and allowing myself to embrace who I really am. On page 35 she says, “I am committed to gradually growing and learning in every area of my life, but essentially I have accepted that I will always be the same person under it all.” Yes a million times. Trying to hide these quirks and flaws and character traits won’t UNmake who God made me. Why mask that? I’m resolving to embrace them and use them for His glory, however he sees fit. It’s like someone granted me the freedom to fully embrace ME, just how God crafted me.

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