What should I have asked for?

Sally - The Fisherman and his Wife

There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment. ~Sivananada

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. ~Socrates

I have always loved fables, folklore and fairy tales! As a child, I repeatedly read Brothers’ Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. When our older children were small, I spent countless hours reading beautifully illustrated versions of fables, folklore and fairy tales. In a tiny library in Wisconsin, some dear soul stocked the library full of them – a true treasure! I never tire of the countless lessons and examples found within the pages of good stories! One of the best things about these tales is that you can find them in all cultures in various forms. These stories are a wonderful supplement to studies in culture and geography! Still, the very best thing is how often we can learn profound lessons from simple tales. In that same library in Wisconsin, I came across a Russian version of a tale I loved as a child – The Fisherman and his Wife. Having been a wife and mother for almost a decade at the time (it was in the late 90’s), the story had an entirely different meaning for me. From that point on, I would remind myself often not to be a fishwife: always looking for more.

Husband,” said the woman, “didn’t you catch anything today?”

“No,” said the man. “I caught a flounder, but he told me that he was an enchanted prince, so I let him swim away.”

“Didn’t you ask for anything first?” said the woman.

“No,” said the man. “What should I have asked for?” more »

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Everyone else is already taken

Sally - Edward

 

Surely every single social media participant has been inundated over the past few years by comments about the mommy wars. I can’t count how many different mommy war blog posts I’ve seen recommended over the past few months—no offense to mommy war bloggers—I basically see the same things stated repeatedly. Stop comparing. Be yourself. Live and let live. Honor and love one another. Rejoice in your talents. These are things we really ought to know anyway, frankly. Might I suggest that moms step out of the spotlight and consider the kiddie wars? Sometimes we really dislike behavior when it is directed at us, yet completely ignore it when it is directed at others!

The kiddie wars don’t seem to evoke nearly as much frustration on the interwebs. Yet, from the instant most children are born, the comparisons begin. In most cases from one minute after birth, children are scored on how well they tolerated the birthing process. Next, four minutes later, they are scored on how well they are handling life outside the womb. These APGAR scores begin a series of comparisons and tests that our children will face for their entire lives. In some cases, mothers submit to prenatal screening and diagnostic tests, and the scoring begins in the womb! more »

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While I’m waiting on my ‘mansion’— I’d love to have a hedge

I feel blessed to enjoy this time on earth, so I can honestly be patient while I live and love and wait for my ‘mansion’ (by this I do not mean the plantation kind, mind you, but the eternal dwelling with my Lord)!

Still, while I’m waiting, what I really want is that hedge that Satan accused God of putting around Job! You know what I mean? I want that protection, that constant security—I want to be untouchable!

Job 1:10 -10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. more »

A mother’s love

Sally - Whitlock Family pmThe story of my motherhood didn’t actually begin 22 years ago when I was pregnant with our oldest son. It began in 1969, when I was placed in my mother’s arms. Looking back over the many years I’ve been a mother, I find that I’ve written a lot about the blessings of motherhood – especially when it comes to the six children that call me mom. I thank God every day for my husband and our six children – God blessed us with them and gave us a goal: to raise godly offspring for Him. For the past 22 years, this has been my hope and the deepest desire of my heart. I have learned lessons from our children—done what I did best and stepped outside of my comfort zone when I didn’t know what to do.

I have failed, tried again, and succeeded. I have used a voice dripping with poison and my most tender voice. I have wept in anger and compassion. I have prayed and I have rejoiced. Over and over again, I have understood the blessing of my own mother and been driven to honor her (and the God who blessed me with her) in my journey as a mother!

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to help my mother after her surgery. It was such a small thing when I remembered all the times she took care of me. Not many have a mother such as mine—a true servant with a willing heart always eager to put others before herself! As I cared for her, many of the things she did for me swam to the surface of my mind. Ironically, she even set herself up to recover in the bedroom I lived in for the first many years of our time in Florida (when I was about ten). As I tucked her into bed at night, helping my dad get her ready, I thought about her tucking me in every night and listening to my prayers in that very room. I remembered her rubbing my aching legs when I had growing pains. I remembered all the times she comforted me after nightmares. I remembered how she tried to help me overcome my deepest fears by facing them and understanding that I had the power to change even the scariest of dreams. I remembered her many acts of love. more »

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If you build it, they will come

Sally - Lord I believeAnd someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” ~ Mark 9:17-29

 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” ~ Matthew 21:21-22 

Few people are 100% optimist, 100% pessimist, 100% realist or 100% idealist or 100% fatalist. Most of us have a mix of isms—depending on the issues—sometimes it might be only a touch and certainly many may lean in the direction of one or another. Some people just can’t stand isms at all and that’s okay, too.

Indulge me. This will be important to know. I like to think of myself as a healthy mix of realism and idealism. I’m not an unhappy type so I’m really not a pessimist, but I am a cynic-of-sorts, so sometimes my viewpoint may appear pessimistic. Sometimes I even fight fatalism. I do appreciate optimism in its many forms, but I’m not naïve enough to be a die-hard optimist (translated as I’m not exactly Pollyanna). One of my favorite movie lines is, “The Ring passed to Isildur, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever, but the hearts of men are easily corrupted. And the ring of power has a will of its own.” More recently, I laughed and shook my head when a character said, “People will always do the stupid, selfish thing. Ten times out of ten.” Seriously, I want to believe better of people and I see people make good choices over and over and over. Still, I suppose I fight off hoping for the best and expecting the worst more often than I should. more »

Once again…Welcome to my house…

Sally - our homeDo you believe in hospitality? How much time do you spend opening your home to others? How often do you invite others to your home for meals or studies or simply to spend time building relationships? How do you feel when you are welcomed into someone’s home? Have you ever been invited into a home to eat a meal, pray, sing, or study?

  • There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately felt and puts the stranger at once at his or her ease. ~ Washington Irving
  • There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to one’s good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion.  We must be as courteous to a person as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson more »

The beauty of intimate love in marriage: loving your husband

Sally - Burning-love

Wives are created to be helpers to their husbands to fulfill God-given needs. This study is designed for wives, not husbands. This means that, while there are a great many things God says to husbands, the focus is on what we should do as wives, whether or not our husbands are fulfilling their parts. This is written for wives, and for those who hope some day to be wives! Obviously, the subject matter is mature, but I have made every attempt to be discreet and what follows is certainly appropriate for young ladies who understand that physical intimacy is a part of the marriage relationship!

My husband needs to feel that I desire him. Sometimes experience, circumstances, hormones or health issues might make intimacy challenging. I need to communicate to my husband that I am truly on fire for him, but that fire might need some extra help being kindled. Husbands and wives need to communicate effectively to kindle that fire and keep it burning! Lighting my fire for my husband isn’t optional, it is absolutely imperative. It is part of our relationship and must be nurtured. This is true for all wives. We need to see intimacy as a beautiful gift from God.

Seeing intimacy as God designed it will help us to love our husbands as we ought to love them and as they need to be loved. Sometimes loving one’s husband and nurturing the marriage relationship comes naturally and sometimes these things needs to be taught. If you need help loving your husband, seek wisdom from God’s word and from happily married wives!           more »

Parenting proactively: the way we treat our children

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMercy and judgment must be a part of parenting… justice cannot be served without mercy. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

Parenting is a mix of the greatest blessings and the greatest challenges. Most of my readers who are parents love their children and want to see their children love God. They also make different choices about a plethora of things, and yet they have a similar vision for families. It is always interesting to me how different people can use different methods and have similar successes. Sadly, it is also often true that different people use similar methods and experience failure.  The bottom line is often a failure in application. What works for one may not work for another because it is a faulty method. It also may not work for another because it is not applied correctly. Once I tried to implement something that I knew worked for others, but I, unknowingly, left out a critical ingredient. It didn’t work for me! Any time we try to emulate good examples, we have to be careful that we fully understand what it is we are emulating!

Too often, parents are encouraged to spank more with little other instruction. We’ve all heard or read a diatribe about some poor child at the local discount store that ‘obviously’ needed a ‘whippin.’ There is often the assumption that spanking is a cure all for the ill-behaved children of the world. There is a misguided belief that spanking is somehow the answer to all poor behavior. Might I suggest that another answer is TRAINING? When small children transgress the laws of their parents it is often because they have not been trained well. We live amidst an epidemic of parenting failures. It is unjust to fail to train a child and then to punish the child for your own failure. However, that very thing happens all of the time. Parents become furious when children disobey or don’t follow instructions carefully BEFORE they have even trained their children. This is yet another parenting fail=out of control anger disguised as righteous indignation.

Though we are still in the trenches raising our six ‘children’ (three of them are adults) there is something I am absolutely convinced of – parents need to train more and punish less. Parents need to train well and punish when needed, but never reactively in response to anger or irritation. Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” more »

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Sweet to the soul and healthy to the bones

Sally - honey

I have always loved words, perhaps that is why I love to read and write. Somewhere in my head are memories of hundreds of wonderful words spoken to me by others, memories of words I’ve heard or read. I hold words close to my heart and repeat them over and over. When words are lovely and encouraging, remembering them is precious. Yet, as many times as I’ve been inspired, encouraged and admonished by words, I’ve also been wounded by words spoken carelessly (haven’t we all?). Even with our best efforts, we may remember careless words and struggle to keep bitterness from growing from the seeds of ugly words.

Isn’t it strange how a thousand beautiful words from wonderful people can be seemingly erased by a few hurtful words from a near-stranger?  In the midst of being deeply hurt by ill-informed words of a stranger, it occurred to me that I did not have it in my power to change others’ words, but I had it in my power (with God on my side) to control my own words, to use my words wisely, to remember to have the law of kindness on my tongue. Sometimes we use our words most unwisely with the ones we love them most. Our spouses and children are often the recipients of our uninhibited speech, our reactions (mostly over-reactions), our badly chosen responses — all accompanied by unkind words spoken in ugly tones. No matter how we validate our venting unkindness, it is ungodly — plain and simple!

It was after realizing how much power words had to do good or evil, that I began to make it a top priority to season my words, control my tongue, and encourage others to speak with love and kindness. It doesn’t end with word choice, either. So much is in tone. While it is difficult to illustrate with the written word, it is absolutely true that the same sentence can be uttered in a kind tone, a questioning tone, or a sarcastic tone. Kind words can be enveloped in poisonous tones that pierce the heart. Often when attempting not to raise voices, speakers can speak in vehement and angry tones that end up being even more damaging than yelling. “The quietness of his tone italicized the malice of his reply.” (Truman Capote). Consider your speech… your word choice and your tone!

Is the Law of Kindness on Your Tongue? more »

Something with tears

Sally - dystopia 1

In 1931 a man named Aldous Huxley wrote a shockingly prophetic novel, Brave New World, considered by many to be one of the best dystopian novels of all time. The façade of a peaceful utopia masks a world soaked in hedonism, pharmaceuticals and conformity – a world in which the beauty of culture in all forms is lost, in which true humanity is nearly non-existent. First introduced to the novel in AP English in the 80’s, I found it truly horrifying and amazingly profound (Disclaimer: the novel has mature subject matter). Over the three decades since I read Brave New World for the first time, I have often found myself pondering it and observing how Huxley would have shuddered to see how close we’ve come to his dystopia. I have found that dystopian literature, as well as post-apocalyptic literature (which focuses on a cataclysmic event and the survivors fight to rebuild in the aftermath, often resulting in a dystopia) can be some of the most compelling and thought provoking literature. There is much to be said about these types of novels and this is certainly not meant to be thorough! Rather, this is my attempt at an explanation for those who have requested my thoughts on this topic!

Even if you aren’t familiar with any of the dozens of dystopian novels (which are often, but not always science fiction), you have probably heard the phrase, big brother is watching you taken from another of the most popular dystopian novels of all time, 1984. Other popular dystopian novels include: Ender’s Game, Lord of the Flies, The Running Man, The Time Machine, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent trilogy, The Giver. For those not familiar with dystopian literature, I found this handy explanation written by Joseph Adams, an editor of anthologies, and coined the reigning king of the anthology world by Barnes and Noble.com: more »

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