About


Why Thoroughly Alive?
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Because we touch Love himself in life and laughter, story and song. By the savour of feasts, the cadence of seasons, in apples crunched and friends touched, God reaches into time and grips our hands with his taste-and-see goodness. My goal is to daily become more thoroughly alive to all that he is and offers. This is my space to celebrate and seek, to “hunger after the beautiful and the good” (as George Eliot put it) in music, art, books, and meals, stories told and journeys taken, my song of witness to the wonder I find waiting to startle me to life at every turn. Please, join me.

About Sarah:
Writer and student, 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): She has plenty of courage, a strong faith, and a native expectancy of good. Living with her is a high adventure.

In keeping with that wish, I study theology (far more of a wild adventure than you might expect), write, and learn every day a little more how to love. I mull life here when I have the spare moment, and I’m at work on a children’s story set in my grand old church here in Oxford. I have four books published (all here, if you’re interested) and I’m at slow, but steady work on a fourth exploring the power of beauty to speak out truth in a language without words.

unnamedI’m a reader and convinced idealist, always on the hunt for books (for the community library I will one day open), an occasional musician, a lover of long, windy walks, and an avid explorer of the world (15 countries and counting). I come from a highly opinionated family that values discussion, good books, strong hot drinks, and the thinking up of impossible ventures. The genes run strong.

Grace comes the clearest to me amidst friendship and family, in fellowship made, in the beauty of good stories, in vigorous discussion, art in myriad form, and music, always music. I love the green earth; hope someday to live a little closer to it, but for now am always eager for a foray into the mountains or down into the valleys. Life is, to my thought, a feast to be celebrated, a grace to be daily blessed, and my delight is to live, and live this story to the full with the people I love.

Best-Loved Books, My Brave Companions:
Anna Karenina, Till We Have Faces, The Four Loves, Hannah Coulter, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, A Place on Earth, Bright Evening Star, Streams of Living Water, Pilgrim’s Inn, At the Back of the North Wind, Our Mutual Friend, Cry The Beloved Country, Remains of the Day, Island of the World, The Great Divorce, Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Speak What We Feel, Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, The Man Who Was Thursday, The Giver, Simplicity, Mysticism, The Brothers Karamazov, The Celtic Way of Prayer, My Antonia, Gentian Hill, Walking On Water, The Chosen, The Renaissance of Wonder, Peace Like A River, Mariette in Ecstasy, The Yearling, A World Lost, Phantastes, Lilith, Life Is A Miracle, Three Cups of Tea, Planet Narnia, The Scent of Water, Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis, Following Gandalf, Tree and Leaf

Music, My Muse:
Rich Mullins, John Rutter, Mat Kearney, James Newton Howard, Mumford & Sons, Max Richter, Josh Garrels,  Loreena McKennitt, Kate Rusby, Chris Rice, Andrew Peterson, City On A Hill, Death Cab for Cutie, Bach, Vivaldi, Fernando Ortega, Bob Bennett, Josh Groban, Jim Fhyrie, Joanna, Thomas Newman, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Morten Lauridsen

Movies, My Guilty Pleasure:
Chocolat, The Tree of Life, Bleak House, The Village, The Dark Knight, Babette’s Feast, The Wind and the Lion, The Painted Veil, Hunt for Red October, Blood Diamond, Carrie’s War, Lorna Doone, Persuasion, Evelyn, Mrs. Brown, Chariots of Fire, Fiddler On the Roof, One Against The Wind, Life Is Beautiful, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Much Ado About Nothing, Sense and Sensibility, Count of Monte Cristo, Anne of Green Gables, Gettysburg, Nicholas Nickelby, Daniel Deronda, Pride and Prejudice

43 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing beautiful words.

  2. Sarah I live in Israel and I so enjoy reading you blog. Thank you for. Writing such beauty.

  3. Dear Sarah,

    It might be presumptuous to ask because you are busy with your studies, but I can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t mind the occasional e-mail with me. I’m 16, and I want to be like you when I grow up :). Except I write songs, not books. You seem very much like a kindred spirit and I don’t know many people who are interested in the kinds of books you are or in the same sorts of things (tea, England, poetry, music, Lewis, all that jazz…).

    But I do understand if you don’t have the time and because I’m a weird stranger :).
    Thanks,
    ~Meg

  4. Love this and thank you for the reminder of Gods beauty!

  5. Hello Sarah,

    I am very blessed by your blog, and I enjoy reading your book devotional for girls! I was wondering if you would like to be email pals…just for fun.
    I totally understand if you are too busy, it was just a thought!

    Thank you!

    From a 14 year old young maiden:)

  6. *Journies of faithfulness Book

    MW

  7. Hi Sarah,

    I’m very impressed by your site. We have the same taste in books and interests.

    Greetings,

    Peter

  8. Sarah,

    Your writings are like beautiful music to me! I am thrilled that I happened upon your site, and I find myself returning often to re-read your posts. You words express the deepest churnings of my heart, summarizing the themes of my life.

    Keep writing … I will keep feasting!

    Keri

  9. I always come away refreshed after reading your blog, I know you speak mostly to young people but as a sixty-some lady, I love your choice of reading material and how you challenge me to go back and see what I might have missed in many of the books you mention or why I haven’t read this one yet. Keep up your good work of challenging us all to be better at what we do.

  10. Hi!
    Thanks for your blog . . . it is very inspiring!!!

  11. PS. Soon-to-be-released book? Sorry; I got that detail wrong. I see that your books have already been published!

  12. Thank you for writing this blog. I am a forty four year old homeschooling mom for whom you have opened up a whole new world! I am slowly working my way through the books you love and have recommended. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and the Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society were two of the best books I have ever read. They are on my gift list for the special women in my life! Please keep blogging and know that you are touching more lives than I am sure you could imagine!

  13. My friend just pointed out your blog to me and I enjoyed reading about you! I think we must be kindred spirits, with our love of Daniel Deronda, Chocolat, and strong hot drinks! Nice to meet another writer. Will be following your posts.

  14. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you so much for your awesome ministry. I have a quick question for you…As a homeschool alum, how would you advise a homeschooled high schooler who no longer wants to be homeschooled? Our 9th grade daughter wants to go into high school but my husband and I still feel called to homeschool her. We don’t want her to be angry or resent us but we know we have to follow God’s leading. Any advice for her? For us? Thank you so much!

  15. Dear Sarah,
    Five years ago, on my 9th birthday, my mother gave me your “Journeys of Faithfulness” devotional for young ladies. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed it. Your love of God and beauty have inspired me-I started reading at a very early age, and love books and tea. I am working on several books of my own, and you have encouraged me! The world needs more people like you! May Jesus bless you and uplift you, as you uplift others. God Bless you richly!
    P.S. I know you are very busy, but I would love to get an email from you!

  16. Loved your latest post! I agree that imagination & creativity are so often overlooked. Good luck with your new endeavor, and a hearty welcome to the Chicagoland area. You will love Wheaton!

  17. Sarah, It’s been a long time but you probably remember being my pen-pal in our teens, back when… I was thrilled to find your blog and have enjoyed your posts! Please feel free to contact me if you would like. I’m married now, but my last name when we wrote each other was Appleton. 🙂

  18. How inspiring! I am really wonder struck by the passion flowing freely in this blog of yours!

    It is such a pleasure to know that I love some of the books and artists as you! I consider a lucky day to have stumbled upon your blog.

    I am definitely going to follow your blog regularly.

    Thank you so much 🙂

  19. Do you know of a historically accurate book about the background/history of Christmas carols? I seem to be hitting a wall, reading reviews that say the books fail in their research.

    Thanks!

  20. Thank you for sharing yourself with us! I have been lesser by your blog. It reminds me to refocus on the beauty of God in the midst of the mundane. A breath of fresh air for me. Also, I have been blessed by your book…it has introduced us to so many wonderful stories that my kids may never have been exposed to. Thank you for sharing your spirit and soul with us!

  21. Blessed by your blog, not lesser! Autocorrect and kids at my feet!

  22. Hi Sarah,
    Since you love Owen Barfield and JRRT, you simply must read “Splintered Light” by Professor Verlyn Flieger. Order from her website. Among other things, the book describes how influential Barfield’s thought was for Tolkien and his role in the conception of the history of the Elves in the Silmarillion. Entire new vistas await you. God bless

  23. Hi Sarah,
    found your blog in a very strange manner but I was quickly fascinated.
    I’ll add you to my reading feeds

    Keep on!
    Davide

  24. How do I unsubscribe from the email list? I follow your blog on Bloglovin’ so I can reduce the number of emails I have to filter through in a day, but I can’t find anywhere in the email notifications or on ThoroughlyAlive.com how to stop the email notifications. Please help!

    Thank you!

  25. I just feel so…. refreshed after reading your posts! Thank you for your wonderful talk this past weekend! I wish more people understood the impact of living a story formed life!!!! I share in your enthusiasm for the written word! Thanks for all you do!

  26. Dear Sarah,
    Thank you so much for this kind of blog. I stumbled upon it from your mother’s blog. I am just beginning to homeschool my children and have a budding love for great books. Your blog will keep me inspired to develop this passion for words that inspire and do my own reading. I aspire to pass such love of words to my boys someday. I will check out your books as well! Many thanks and best wishes in your studies. You bring glory to God in a unique way.

  27. Hi Sarah! :). My name is Teresa Cook. I had the pleasure of meeting you a few years back at the mid-winter home educator’s conference in Grand Rapids, MI. I was wondering if you could please tell me where on your blog you talked about your trip to England with your mother? My dear husband is taking me to England and I would love to get some ideas with favorite places. I can’t seem to find it on your site, maybe it was your mom’s. Thanks! Have a blessed week!

  28. Hi Sara,

    I attended your Storyformed Child conference on April 12th. It was great. I still haven’t received the “free” book we were suppose to receive for signing up early. Can you let me know about that?

    Thanks. God bless.
    Jen

  29. Sorry about the other comment… so you are Sarah Clarkson! 🙂

    I am already a fan!

  30. thoroughly enjoying getting to know you. new fan that i am. i see you live in colorado. my daughter, Gail, also lives there/Colorado Springs. i gave her your name and blog info. she is also a blogger. i am adding you to three other favorites, two of which are my daughters, Gail and Miki. Anne Voscamp is the fourth. what a delight to be able to so easily enjoy your gift and genius. i will probably share some of your stuff to encourage/cheer up my little facebook world. indeed, these are the things that lift the heart. thank you, little one.

  31. Hi Sarah

    I found this site after listening to you on the Read Aloud Revival podcast. I very much look forward to sitting down with a cup of tea and reading through your old posts!

    My husband is remotely completing his grad studies in theology at Oxford. We loved it there and would return in a heartbeat.

    Given your love of Beauty, I thought I’d suggest that you have a look at a wonderful book, ‘The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty’, by John Saward, a former CoE minister but now the Parish Priest at Sts Gregory and Augustine’s on the Woodstock Rd in Summertown (Tolkien’s old parish church!)

    God bless!

  32. Sarah,

    I love to read your words. They lift and inspire me. It is lovely to encounter such a beautiful soul amidst so much of the ugly and confused of today. I am currently enjoying your book Caught up in a Story. I am a homeschooling mama of four and the vision you set forth in your book is exactly what I want to give to my children. Reading your book has inspired me on a personal level as well, as I deal with the everyday challenges of my own life. I loved what you had to say about Assent.

    “Assent is not despair; it is the first step toward hope.”

    I am truly jealous that you are studying at Oxford. I had the opportunity to visit there while I was studying abroad in London and the spirit of the place left an indelible mark on my heart. Thank you for sharing a part of your experience with your readers.

    God bless,

    Emily Bennett

  33. Hello, Sarah, I have used your book about books for homeschooling my children. Your beautiful writing about Ash Wednesday and Lent while in Oxford takes me back to my year of studying there. What I loved about Oxford was the rhythm of the hours marked by the bells from various belltowers all over town, reminding us to pray, to move, to stop and listen. Love your blog!!

  34. Sarah, I met you and your sister on Thanksgiving Day at The Kilns, and I’m trying to get in touch with you. I can’t find an email address for you on your site. Could you please email me at your earliest convenience? Thanks!!!

  35. Sarah,
    I wasn’t sure where else to post this, but I wanted to give you the link to a review I wrote about your book, “Caught up in a Story”.
    http://humanumreview.com/articles/the-meaning-of-story
    Thank you for a beautiful work that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. 🙂 Every time I read your writing, I feel I’m encountering a kindred spirit, and I pray that it may be God’s will that our paths actually cross one day, and we get a chance to meet each other.

  36. Dear Sarah,

    Hi! My name is Amy Busti. I have been attending WholeHeart conferences off and on for the last 11 years. I have read every Clarkson book under the sun- most more than once! And, I’ve watched from afar as you’ve grown in grace, wisdom and prowess as both a young woman and writer. Your “Caught Up in a Story” was done as a book study in our mom’s group at church. recently enjoyed your podcast on Read Aloud Revival. Your brother’s music is often the undercurrent during our days.

    We have four children from ages 4-15. Three boys and one girl. We have been home schooling since the birth of our 15 year old! And your parents have been a huge influence in our home. The 24 Family Ways is our Bible Time this school year. This is our 3rd time through!

    I’ve never contacted your mom— so don’t view me as some weird groupie! I consider her one of the most influential mentors in my life, as both a mom and home educator.

    I wanted to contact you to let you know that I will be in Oxford in October with my husband, who is doing an Evidence Based Medicine Fellowship at Oxford. (He is an emergency medicine physician who is finishing up residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. This fellowship is an extension of his training at Johns Hopkins.)

    While he is in class and doing research, I will have some free time on my hands. My free time will be during the week of October 12-16. I know you are a super busy student, but if you have any brief get away time from your studies to grab a bite to eat, or a quick cup of tea or coffee at the place of your choosing, I would love to feed you— my treat! My aim is to just give you a hug from home, to fill your body and to encourage your soul— no matter how brief a time you might have.

    We believe in your ideals and in what you are doing with Storyformed. We just want to encourage you any way we can. Your family has been such an encouragement to us and we just want to return that favor!

    I know if you were my daughter, I’d want a voice from home to reach out and encourage my child. So, I’m just reaching out to do what I’d want someone to do for my kids if they were far from home and studying hard! But, please don’t feel any obligation. I know you’re busy! I just wanted to make the effort, since I’ll be in your neighborhood!

    Blessings, sister—

    Amy Busti

  37. Dear Sarah,
    I have never personally spoken to you, but I have seen you and heard about you through your mom at her conferences and from reading your mom’s books. Your mom a couple times shared an incident that happened to you when you were younger, and it reminds me of something similar to what my oldest daughter is going through. I have always homeschooled, but I find it challenging finding good Christian friends for my kids to connect with, and so it gets quite lonely for them. We joined a homeschool group that is now turning into a small hybrid (part homeschooling and part traditional school) classical Christian school. My kids love the school and have finally found some friends. However, since the school is becoming each year more of a traditional school and it has become extended family to my kids (no family close by and even if they were, we are not very close due to differences in our faith and lifestyle), I am losing the homeschooling aspect. If you have time, I would love to consult with you and ask you some questions and to get your personal opinion about growing up being homeschooled and lack of friends. It is mainly for my one daughter who loves to be around people but lack friends when we completely homeschool, and she tends to get very sad when she is not around people. She lights up when she goes to this classical school, but I, as a parent, still thinks homeschooling is better for her, but I am afraid if I pull her out of this school that she will not thrive despite all my efforts. I am in prayer in making a decision of whether to go back to completely homeschooling or keeping her in this classical Christian school.

    My intention was never to put her in a private Christian school. I thought I was joining a group that offered some classes where the kids discussed great books and a couple other classes. However, the school slowly turned due to the needs of the parents. It just so happens that my kids ended up loving the people. They are the only social network we have currently, and we have no blood relatives living in our state.

    Please, if you have time, share your thoughts on my comments or whether you would prefer to be homeschooled and be lonely with one friend who may not be the best influence for you or whether you would prefer to be in a classical Christian school where the parents are involved, but you are exposed to wordly things and to kids who aren’t exactly thrilled that their parents have them in a Christian school. If it would be easier, I would love to talk to you and pay you for your time. I am inspired to see the young woman you have become, and I so want to introduce my daughters to someone like you because our world today lacks good Christian role models. Blessings, Angella

  38. Hi Sarah –
    I’m an American also living in the UK. I’ve lived off of your mom’s books for years, and I’ve enjoyed reading some of your books as well.
    My family and I live in Sheffield, which is on the edge of the Peak District. If you ever have time to make it up north, I would highly recommend a visit to this area! I’d be happy to host, or just give you some touristy tips 🙂 Blessings, L

  39. I live in southeast Alaska and your cover photo looks very much like our surrounding area. I enjoy your blog.

  40. Hi Sarah,
    I had the pleasure of meeting you at Oxford this past summer (have you added any of N.T. Wright’s books to your list of favorites above? and may I recommend an additional movie: “The Shawshank Redemption”?) Anyway we exchanged email addresses with the purpose of exchanging blog links. I finally got my new blog up and running as of about a week ago: goodnewsforachange.wordpress.com — and have added your blog to the blogroll. As the name indicates, I’m looking to gather and disseminate good news (which there seems to be a bit of a shortage of these days) – if you see any in the UK please let me know. And if you’d be interested in being a guest contributor about your latest discoveries and/or ministries I’d be honored!
    Best –
    Peg Bowman (Pittsburgh USA)

  41. Really enjoying exploring your blog but struggling to subscribe as it keeps disappearing behind the Instagram pictures before I can complete it! Please help!

  42. Hi Sarah.
    I am following you from Coyhaique, Chile. We just moved here and I have been reading through you and your mom’s book, The Lifegiving Home. I love your writings, so inspiring in this day and age of your life and house needs to look like it’s from Pinterest. I am more the simple kind of beauty, who creates with what I have. I am wanting to read more of your books when done with this on.
    Blessings, Dorcas

  43. I should have known you were that Sarah! Your mother’s devotional and book on whole-hearted homeschooling tethered me to sanity when comparison and idealism threatened to ruin me & my children, a little over a decade ago.
    Again , Blessings on all your heads! You are touching your world well in His name and His
    way.
    Denise

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