ABOUT

STORYFORMED.COM

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The heartbeat of Storyformed.com is simple: putting great books into the hands and hearts of children everywhere. Why? Because we believe that what starts in a story, grows into a life—the stories that children feed on in their formative years will form their lives. It’s that simple. We want to help you and your children write your own storyformed life so you can live a story worth telling.

Storyformed.com is the hub of the Storyformed Project. Our purpose on this website is to celebrate, defend, and promote the life-shaping role of faith, imagination, reading, story, and talk—the influences that will form your child’s identity, worldview, purpose, and vision for life. They are the parental priorities for discovering and exploring the truth, goodness, and beauty of the life God created us to enjoy.

On this website you will find encouragement and resources for creating a storyformed life. In addition to helpful blog posts and podcasts on a wide variety of topics, you’ll also find book reviews, book lists, essays, recommended sites and resources, a book store of storyformed books, and more. You can also subscribe to our “Storyformed Informer” email newsletter. Storyformed.com is here to help you become a fellow storyformer.

 

SARAH CLARKSON, Storyformed Founder

Elizabeth Goudge once wrote that humanity can be roughly divided into three sorts of people by the kinds of comfort they seek; one was those who "take comfort in literature." She's got me pegged since books have helped me to make sense of the world and my own emerging story since I was a tiny child. Three decades of varied exploration haven't changed the fact that it is to a good book I turn when I need to make fresh sense of the world. Words make worlds, they say, and I love the swift and creative way in which a good story can tell us who we are, how we can love or create, and what it looks like to live a good story in our own epic of life in the world. 

Words are most definitely my world, the realm from which I work as a freelance writer, blogger, and current student. My themes of interest always centrer on language, beauty, and imagination, all of which are topics I hope to write about in future. I study theology at Oxford University where I focus on the Incarnation and the role of beauty to reveal truth. I blog at sarahclarkson.com, and am at slow work on a children’s story set in my grand old church here in Oxford. I'm the author of four books and am at delighted work on a fifth called Book Girl, an invitation and guide to the reading life for women, to be released with Tyndale Momentum in 2018. 

I'm the wife of a marvelous Dutchman named Thomas, and very happy resident of the golden-walled and cobble-streeted Oxford. I hope that someone will say of me when I die what William McGreel said of his wife Elizabeth Yates (a writer, of course): "She has plenty of courage, a strong faith, and a native expectancy of good. Living with her is a high adventure." I'm always up for a long, windy walk, a foray into a new corner of England or a country I've never seen, or a cup of tea with a friend (a good flat white always works well too). I'm ever on the hunt for a new novel and I justify my buying of second-hand books by my dream to open a someday community library. I come from a highly opinionated family that values discussion, good books, strong hot drinks, and the thinking up of impossible ventures. I live in a red-doored cottage with church bells for an alarm clock. One of these days it will all go into my novel.

 

HOLLY PACKIAM, Storyformed.com Director

Because my family valued education, people would often say to me growing up, “Holly, of course you’ll be a teacher.” As a young girl, I imagined myself as Anne of Green Gables teaching a room full of keen children eager to learn. I didn’t realize how prophetic that would be.

Glenn and I met at a Christian college, married, and settled down in Colorado Springs in 2001. Glenn was a worship leader, and I worked in various positions at church. I completed a Masters in counseling, but soon settled into my new role as a mom when Sophia arrived in 2005, followed by Norah in 2006, Jonas in 2009, and Jane in 2012. Motherhood has been stretching, but joyous. I find myself leaning on the Lord every day as I educate our children at home—reading great books, talking about everything, and learning together. As a dreamer, like Anne Shirley, I love the flexibility I have at home to put aside the schedule and stop to smell the roses with my children.

I also love coffee, dark chocolate, reading and writing in the quiet early hours, and long walks in my forested neighborhood full of wildlife. My children have given all our animal friends names, so it’s like a walk through our own magical land of Narnia. I appreciate a wide variety of music and art when I have time to enjoy it, but especially books. I welcome deep discussions, especially with Glenn, who is now pastor of New Life Downtown, a non-denominational church with ancient liturgical elements. We’re both avid readers and book collectors. As my daughter, Norah, says, "Mom you’re addicted to the library!" Our overflowing bookshelves prove her point.

At the heart of me, I’m driven to read and think deeply, learn new things, teach, and write. Every day I ask, “Lord, what do you want me to learn, see, and do today?” I never tire of invigorating conversations with Glenn, my children, and all my thoughtful and engaging friends. That’s why I love what’s happening here at Storyformed. I’m so delighted to be able to extend those kinds of conversations to so many new friends on the internet. We’ll have a feast of discussion about all the books we love in the Packiam home, and that you all love in your homes. I hope you will join me on this journey of discovering the soul-forming power of story for seeing the goodness, truth, and beauty of God.

 

JAIME SHOWMAKER, Storyformed.com Contributor

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I'm almost certain that I am a reader because of my grandmother. She was an avid lover of books and stories, and some of my earliest memories are of being enveloped in her lap between her iced coffee and the latest mystery novel she was reading. Her house was full of books and I would run my fingers along the spines of every one, longing for the day when I could take them down off of the shelf and read them all for myself. When I was finally old enough to read, I couldn't get enough. My parents would often find their shy, quiet, little dreamer girl curled up on her bed, lost in the latest book series or popular novel. Unfortunately, somehow, I missed reading most of the beloved classics in children's literature, but I am grateful that the books I did read captivated me and created a love of story that has endured. I delighted in the way that books transported me to new and exciting worlds and I longed to live in each one of them.

Not much has changed since then. I can still almost always be found curled up somewhere with a book, but these days I am usually negotiating which one of my three boys gets the prime space in the center of my lap. Will (7), Eli (5), and Zach (3) are the focus of much of my reading life these days, as we explore together all of the beautiful books that I loved (and missed) as a child. Inspired by Alcott's Plumfield, my husband Eric and I educate our pack of "little men" at home in the beautiful foothills of North Carolina.  Although I am not technically using the education and religion degrees that I earned, my days are still focused on teaching and discipling, even if it is just for our little class of three. In addition to reading, the boys and I can often be found roughhousing underneath the dozens of oak trees on our property, taking nature walks, and looking for “Glory”, our resident Cardinal friend.

I am still a dreamer at heart. I love contemplating ideas and discussing them with other people, preferably over good food with lots of laughter. Since I am a night owl, you can usually catch me up late--thinking, reading, writing, and eating chocolate. And since I do love chocolate, I also enjoy working out.  I love being challenged and learning new things. Over the past several years, I have become passionate about children's literature and the way that it forms children in the most profound ways.  I have enjoyed discussing the True, Good, and Beautiful that can be found in books with my online book club and blogging at the book club's supporting blog, and now I am thrilled to be able to continue those discussions with the Storyformed community.

 

STORYFORMED PROJECT

Storyformed.com is the heart-child of Sarah Clarkson. The seeds of the idea were planted when she first started reading great books as a child. When she wrote her first book as a young adult, Journeys of Faithfulness (novelized stories of four single women in the Bible), the idea began to grow. It became a full-grown passion in her book-on-books for parents, Read for the Heart, and later in her narrative description of a storyformed life in Caught Up in a Story. As she has gone on to earn a degree in theology at Oxford University, Storyformed.com has gone on to become Storyformed Project, a priority ministry initiative of Whole Heart Ministries. In addition to Sarah's continued involvement as the new website grows, other storyformed projects now under consideration or development include: a Storyformed Books imprint of Whole Heart Press to include nonfiction books and children's illustrated books; publication of public domain books, and posting of selected excerpts on the website; a Storyformed event to elevate the importance of faith, imagination, reading, story, and talk (FIRST Learning priorities) for childhood learning and development; and Storyformed podcasts and webinars to reach and influence as many parents as possible with the vision of a storyformed life.

WHOLE HEART MINISTRIES

In spring 1994, Clay and Sally Clarkson held their first WholeHearted Child Workshop, then published the workshop notes that fall as a book, The WholeHearted Child Home Education Handbook (expanded in 1996 as Educating the WholeHearted Child), and Whole Heart Ministries was born. Their mission has remained the same since that first year: "to encourage and equip Christian parents to raise wholehearted children for Christ." They have since written and published over twenty books on Christian parenting, home and family, and motherhood. Sally's motherhood conferences have touched thousands of mothers for over twenty years, and her SallyClarkson.com inspirational blog and podcast minister to thousands online every day. Her Mom Heart Ministry movement of small groups touches thousands of mothers in the US, and is expanding into the Mum Heart Ministry in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. A new ministry initiative of Whole Heart, Family Faith Project (fall 2017), will offer instruction and encouragement about family faith formation and lifegiving Christian parenting. To learn more about Whole Heart Ministries, go to WholeHeart.org and read the "About Us" (ministry) and "Our Story" (personal) pages. Whole Heart Ministries is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Christian ministry.