The gifts she describes include faith, friendship (faithful fellowship), character (loving virtue), manners (gracious presence), service (giving yourself), work (purposeful industry), gratitude (generous thanks), hospitality (living generously), initiative (taking responsibility), and patience (spiritual muscle).
She writes beautifully about faith building in the faith chapter. "The kingdom life at home is a life centered on a relationship with God, an awareness of his presence, and love in the smallest details of your family." Make time to cultivate habits of faith with family. Do a family devotion, teach children to pray and memorize scripture. Celebrate God by paying attention to the changing of the seasons, feasting on holy days, and be purposeful in showing your children God's goodness. I will be using her idea of the Joshua/memorial stones in my own family.
In the second chapter on friendship, she explains how she wanted her children to perceive themselves as givers, or hosts, as true friends. This doesn't come naturally, it needs to be modeled. We need to teach our kids to pay attention to the needs of others by looking at others carefully, listening carefully when someone is speaking, sharing, and looking for ways to make connections with other people.
In the third chapter, she delves into habit training. Again, virtue is not something that comes easily. "An excellent character is the result of countless conversations, habits, confrontations, and daily interactions." A big part of this is formation of a moral imagination, an inner idea of what it looks like to be virtuous. Reading and pointing out heroes who fight a good fight were a big part of how she was brought up and how she brought up her own children. Confronting sin, having children be involved in housework and community/church service all come into play as we take part in our child's development.
I enjoyed how she matched manners with extending grace to other people. Manners are essential for everyone. Speaking with confidence, greeting new people, conversing, and even eating properly at a social dinner are skills everyone needs. Teaching your child to sit up straight, follow the rules, not opening your mouth when there is food in it, asking questions, practicing being a host, and acting with poise and dignity are things we can teach slowly over time.
"Make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say: 'I have made one human being at least a little wiser, or a little happier, or at least a little better this day." Charles Kingsley wrote this about service and it starts chapter 4. This isn't about completing a list of service projects or giving a certain amount of money. It's about giving children a core identity and self image as a giver. They need to know that they are called to follow in the footsteps of the God whose Kingdom story they are called to live. This can be practical like cooking a meal, cleaning up bedrooms, weeding a garden, or it be hosting another family, looking at biblical examples of servants.
Sally goes on to explain a number of biblical concepts in simple ways and relate it easily to parenting. So much so that I assume meeting her in person would be like meeting a wise grandmother who would always have helpful advice for each and every stage in raising a family. Pick up this gem if you need some inspiration on how to relate faith and parenting.