How to Learn To See the Art of the Ordinary

It can be hard to remember to find beauty in our own backyard. Today let’s talk about how we can learn to see the art of the ordinary.

How to Learn the art of the Ordinary, a toddler cleans the dishes and herself with a sponge in a messy kitchen.
My toddler “washing the dishes” and apparently, herself also. I try to encourage independence as much as I can, even at a young age. But it does come with its messes.

Did You Ever Ask the Question As A Child, “What Are We Going To Do Today?”

I remember asking that question almost every single day. And sometimes I had already asked it the day before what are we going to do tomorrow? But what I didn’t realize is I was asking for hope. I was looking for an example of joy in the mundane. Something to look forward to.

In this chapter of The Lifegiving Home for March Sarah talks about her personal experience as an adolescent and her memories of how her mother approached challenges in everyday life. One particular moment where she felt dread thinking about the upcoming week and the challenges it presented. She fully expected her mother to react tired or resigned and instead, her mother smiled and said, “I think we need a party tonight”.

I understand that it remains with me because that moment profoundly shaped the way I encouter the ordinary, particularly the difficult ordinary life in a fallen world.

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 81 – Sarah Clarkson

This ideal is certainly something that I have thought about a lot even before becoming a mother. Because It’s in the way we see the world and how it affects those around us. And how we react to hardships, are we creating more of a burden or lifting spirits?

An Ordinary scene in our homeschoo life, older sister and younger sister work on making slime. We learn the art of the ordinary.
My oldest daughter and her younger sister make a mess creating “slime”. Learning is usually messy. I struggle with only seeing the mess and the art less. Just something else I’m working on.

Beauty and Home | Are We Being Idealistic?

It’s easy to talk about beauty in the home in idealistic terms associated with special events and holidays. We are slow, perhaps to conceive of homemaking and, with it, the creation of beauty within the home, on the level of the everyday and ordinary, even the mundane.

The lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 81 – Sarah Clarkson

Beauty in home life at the level of something simple like the kitchen table, my children’s bedrooms, or even my backyard are definitely places where I often stumble.

In creating my own home I have struggled to attain that idealistic vision of home that I have in my head. I often put my efforts into taking steps that then I later realize had zero impact on the actual heart of the home.

The true beauty of the home is in the cracks between. The order and rituals we make, the gardens we plant, and the celebrations we choose. How can I learn to see the art of the ordinary?

The atmosphere thus created by color, creativity, and celebration makes not House Beautiful but home beloved.

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 82 – Sarah Clarkson
Lake Exploration at our local park. Education is a lifestyle for us. When it's nice outside we learn the art of the ordinary by going into nature. My oldest son and youngest son stand in front of our lake waters.
My oldest son and youngest son stand in front of our local lake waters. When it’s nice outside we retreat from indoors — we’re at home in nature. We learn to see the art of the ordinary in reveling in God’s creations.

If you’re enjoying this post check out the other two in the series, Growing Lifelong Relationships & Creating A Culture of Love and Rhythms, Routines, and Rituals; Creating A Framework for Home.

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There is Beauty Even in Brokenness

I feel like one of the biggest things I have struggled against as I became a homemaker and mother has been the fact that my love of beauty is equaled by my total inability to force my life to feel or look beautiful.

The desire to control everything in my environment and make all my plans come to fruition. It’s human nature to somehow think we know what’s best for us. But there is beauty in pain and brokenness. And the prize is our entire life, not just the final moment we cross the finish line.

Not all pain is a consequence. Sometimes it’s growing pains. Other times it’s allowing that death of ourselves to happen so we can rise out of the ashes. So we can become a new creation.

The remnants of Eden reach out to me in the very stuff of the everyday, slivered shards of ideal beauty glittering through the daily muck.

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 page 83 – Sarah Clarkson

To cultivate beauty is to act in keeping with my faith in God’s goodness rather than my doubt… an act of faith. Every day we show ourselves faithful in the smallest acts, even when we can’t see the beauty is walking in faith.

The beauty I make is the way I picture and offer my ultimate hope right smack in the middle of messy, ordinary days. I put on music when I really just want to despair. I laugh over housework instead of screaming about it.

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 84 – Sarah Clarkson
My six year old son helps me with my project by sanding down a piece of wood on our unfinished porch in our messy backyard. We learn to see the art of the ordinary in our family motto, education is a lifestyle.
Education is a lifestyle, check out Ambleside Wonderland for more info about Charlotte Mason Education philosophy. We never stop learning. What we are going to learn is what molds us into the people we are. And gently nurturing that spark is how we discover what God made us to be.

Awakening the Wonder | The World Presents A Different Face

Wonder is a state of mind in which the sight and senses are wholly engaged in what is before them. Wonder reveals the world as the miracle it is because it intensely focuses our eyes on what is before us — the veined crimson of an autumn leaf, the play of sunlight in summer trees, the ripple of light over water. We may “see” these things every day, but our eyes are often restless, our minds preoccupied; we seldom truly look. Wonder helps us to notice with quiet, focused attention that helps us perceive the inherent, unique beauty of the people and the world around us.

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 86 – Sarah Clarkson

I never want to stop wondering. We should never stop marveling at the smallest miracles that are continually playing out in front of us. As a homeschooled child I grew up seeing the world with entirely different eyes. My mind was cultivated to tune into the beauty of the world.

My six year old son and my 4 year old daughter marvel at their summer pets, two preying mantis' in their small containers.
My six-year-old son and my 4-year-old daughter marveling at their summer pets, two praying mantis’ we took into our home over the summer so they wouldn’t eat our pollinators. We learn to see the art of the ordinary in discovering how God created small inconsequential creatures and their amazing behavior.

How Do We Cultivate Wonder In Our Home?

Rich literature and hours of play to explore nature and discover the world as I saw it. The world presents a different face to children because they have the ability to imagine spectacular things. Their minds are unencumbered by that sense of limitation we seem to grow into in adulthood.

They have none of that expectation of failure having experienced very little of it. And they are fresh with the hopes of tomorrow. How can I protect and foster that in my children?

The answer can simply be books and the great outdoors. Read them books, give them books, good books.

In the earliest years of childhood, parents have the chance to train their little ones to the habit of focused sight that is the beginning of wonder.

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 86 – Sarah Clarkson

“In other words, words!” She says. Language shapes consciousness. The words we learn and hear when we are little, the ones we pick up to describe the world around us, and even what we dictate what we see in the world.

I do not perceive any thing with my sense-organs alone but with a great part of my whole human being.” – Owen Barfield

Doing math with my 6 year old son. He sits on my legs as we do school together. It's these quiet moments that I learn to see the art of the ordinary.
My six-year-old son sits on my legs as we do school together. It is moments like this that I learn to see the art of the ordinary as just another day of school. But a beautiful day, every day he learns something new or masters a skill. I have another opportunity to pour into his life and celebrate his mind.

Finding Beauty By Whetting Aesthetic Appetites

The aesthetic atmosphere you create around you and your family has a profound impact on the aesthetic appetites you form…

As you outfit your home, as you fill your bookshelves and pick the images that will fill your walls, consider the habits of thought and desire they will kindle in those who behold them

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 89 – Sarah Clarkson

This all goes back to intentional living. Be intentional about the music you play, the art you choose to put up in prominent places in your limited supply of space in a home. Be intentional about the words you say, especially in those could be ugly moments.

All of these small reactions and choices we make are building blocks for the foundation of the home. Because I’m creating what my children will be attracted to, their appetites as she put it, I can’t simply allow my emotions to rule my behavior.

My two year old daughter absolutely loves spiders. She wanted to hold it, but for it's safety and hers we just peeked at it through a mesh bug carrier. She was extremely enthusiastic about it.
My two year old daughter absolutely loves spiders. She wanted to hold it, but for it’s safety and hers we just peeked at it through a mesh bug carrier. She was extremely enthusiastic about it.

Learn To See the Art of the Ordinary | Family Rituals

The point is not a perfectly laid table but one that delights the heart of those who gather.

The Lifegiving Home, Chapter 3 pg 90 – Sarah Clarkson

I will leave you with this one last thought. There is a charm in a little formality and a moment to make friendships with your children. And it is especially a gift in this hurried, impersonal age. Make ordinary special. It really is our hands that can build the world however we want our children to see it. Therefore, let us redirect, focus, and shine a light to make the beauty of it all prominent. I hope I do with all my heart.

My Challenge To You: Adjust Your Focus

Pick up a camera, or your phone camera, and take a day to photograph your ordinary life. Frame the beauty of the ordinary. The normal everyday moments that maybe that usually go unnoticed.

I was challenged to do this several years ago and ever since I just grab my phone and capture it. I don’t want to forget to see that beauty. Let’s adjust our focus in our lives and strive to live in the moment and choose to see the best.

My six year old son poses with his friend "green bean" the praying mantis pet we kept over the summer. The praying mantis sits in a glass enclosure with a metal mesh lid.
Our homes aren’t perfect. Even in this photo you can see I have windows with broken seals, They look like a horrible mess – but I’m choosing to focus my attention on my 6 year old as he happily poses with “Green Bean” our preying mantis pet.

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If you don’t have the book The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson you are missing out. I 100% recommend every person that wants to build a beloved home read it.

How Do You Awaken the Wonder in Your Own Life?

A few of the ways I have purposefully strove to cultivate wonder in my home are:

  1. What school looks like for us. In that, I take pictures of some of our ordinary school days to remember the beauty of simple acts. Sitting down to read a book, or work on problems, or play a game. The beauty of learning.
  2. Moments to Enjoy the Outdoors & Nature. When it’s nice outside we drop what we’re doing and we get outside. I could be in the middle of a project, but if it’s above 60 degrees, I take a break and refocus for an hour or two with my kids. I purchased little bug cages and made an effort to continually catch what I call summer pets. Last year we raised 4 preying mantis’ that we caught on our butterfly bush. Not only was it educational for them, we had fun and wondered at them as they shed their skin, caught and ate their prey, and ultimately started a courtship dance (we had a male and a female). We even got to witness the femal laying an “infertal” egg sack.
  3. Include My Children in REAL Every Day Stuff. Even though it makes tasks longer and sometimes means bigger messes, etc. This is their life as much as it is mine. They crave being apart of a bigger picture and I love doing things with them.

What kinds of things do you do to cultivate or encourage wonder in the ordinary mundane moments of your home?

Pinterest Pin How to Learn to See the Art of the Ordinary, teenage boy and young boy standing on the bank of a lake.


  1. What a lovely post. I raised six children and homeschooled them, and my, I miss those busy, happy, messy days. So: savor, Mama. Someday maybe it’ll be just you and the last one (that is where I am now) hanging out together–which is its own sort of special–and you’ll miss all those little people. Beautiful sentiments and photos!

    1. Thank you so much for all your kind thoughtful words, I heartily agree. I remember the first 2 years with just my first son and it was beautiful, but at the same time, I hope all my other kids stick around longer. haha

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