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Once more with thankfulness and an abundance of words…

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition~ Graham Greene

Over the past six months I’ve learned an abundance of lessons. One thing I know for certain is that, for me, writing and sharing are exceptionally therapeutic. Though knowing my words have meaning to others is encouraging, the writing itself—the words that come from my heart, the healing that happens in the sharing, the blessings in the lessons learned, the thankfulness expressed—is an exercise in coming to terms with the reality that in one moment my life changed forever. So, whether these five thousand words are buried in a blog post virtually unread or find a willing audience, they have been well worth the time it’s taken to me to write them. They are a mixture of even the smallest details of a huge struggle and my thoughts during and after the darkest days. more »

First comes love…

imageIn the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.

― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In the summer of 1991 a young couple began to seek God together. They went shopping for a church that taught the bible. They found one that looked promising, filled out a visitor’s card, checked the box interested in a study, and began weekly studies with a young evangelist. During this time of study they began to see the truth ― about God’s word and about the lives they had been living. During this time the young woman found out that she was expecting. They knew what they needed to do. They made the decision to become disciples of Jesus Christ. They had their sins washed away. They began to turn their lives around. They decided to get married, assuring everyone that they most definitely wanted to spend their lives together. The young evangelist who had taught them and baptized them agreed to marry them. Their families supported them. The church rallied behind them. They were graciously welcomed. They were embraced. They were loved.

The young couple met life’s obstacles with optimism and joy for the journey ahead. That journey repeatedly proved God’s grace. The young man became an evangelist. The young couple moved around the country to preach. They raised a family with God as the solid foundation in their lives. They loved their family and sought to do God’s will and to teach others to do the same. The sins of the past were but lingering ghosts. Life was beautiful―’mingling toil with peace and love.’ The young couple never forgot where they came from and how God had blessed them on their journey.

You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.

―Mary Tyler Moore

Many years pass. Another young couple struggles. They are planning to marry. They aren’t making the best choices. They go to their parents just a few months before the wedding to tell them that the young woman is expecting. The parents know that far more important than how others might respond is how they will respond. Pain, shame, embarrassment, anger, worry, irritation―these are the worldly responses to a difficult situation. The parents know that there is need for admonishment and there is a need for grace. This is about three souls.

The parents know that they will forgive. They will guide. They will encourage. They will do whatever it takes to help the young couple make good choices―knowing that the foundation they build their lives upon will make all the difference in the world. They will embrace them and support them in whatever way they can. The parents remember where they came from and how greatly they were influenced by the love and acceptance shown to them. They know that, without the love and support they were freely offered, they might not be where they are today. They will pray and hope and wait. They will plant seeds and water them. They will not grow weary. They will lean on God and His family.

Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure, Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest.

―Lina Sandell.

Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

― Alexandre Dumas

The family that kicks together

Sally - H and J kickThere are a lot of things that families can do together:  activities that stem from a common faith,  recreational activities, character building activities (With a homeschooling family together 24/7,  every day working together as a family is character building ;))! I’ve written about many aspects of our lives on my blog — mostly things that stem from my convictions about faith and family. Interestingly enough, two things that most of us are interested in have only been touched on here: nutrition and exercise!  If you follow us on social networking sites, you may have already had your fill of our thoughts on these two things. I’ll sum up the first one simply: eat real food! Seriously, we’ve changed some of our thoughts on nutrition over the years, often based on science and nutrition studies (and if you know that two of our girls are vegetarians, you know that we don’t all agree!). One thing we know for certain is this: if God made it, we are generally fans of eating it! That means that fruits and vegetables are definitely good picks! As for exercise: it’s a given — do it!

Various types of exercise have been studied in great depth and one thing is certain: the benefits of regular physical activity are vast! Those who exercise regularly experience energy boosts, mood balancing, disease prevention, weight control, and fun! Exercising regularly is absolutely, beyond a doubt, considered to be one key to good health (the others keys are healthy eating and a healthy outlook)! more »

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 »

The dogs and their boy: the adventures of Josh and John Robin

Sally - John Robin


The other day, our fearless five year old, Joshua, was peacefully swinging outside after his near-daily torture (a wagon ride and alternating running while we walk and jog at the park). After just a few minutes outside, he appeared at the back door and Julia ran to get me. There he was with a baby robin snuggled in his little hands. He looked up at me with a sweet contented face and calmly explained that he found the dogs terrorizing it (his words). I was speechless. He had the look of a protector and façade of one who has done something utterly satisfying. When I asked him HOW in the world (internally panicking at his bravado) he got four large dogs (weighing approximately 50 lbs, 60 lbs, 63 lbs and 95 lbs) off of the baby bird, he matter-of-factly explained that he saw the bird hopping around, pushed the dogs back, and lifted the baby bird while cradling it in his hands and proceeding to climb up into his tree house. (I was silently in terror of what could have happened and simultaneously in awe of his fearlessness which is likely what kept him safe from the predators, AKA our dogs). I was less than put together, having just returned from our 3.6 mile jog/walk and preparing to go on a rare outing with Jonathan…so I was absolutely flustered and slightly in shock. After my shock had settled, he explained that only three of the dogs had been terrorizing the bird…the fourth (Thor, the most small animal aggressive, likely because he may have been a hunter before we rescued he and Freya when they were just a few months old) was elsewhere in the yard. My guess is that Thor's preoccupation elsewhere was an amazing blessing in this little story!

Because Josh is such a clever boy, he quickly realized that he should come get me, so he climbed down the ladder and brought the bird up on the deck. Please understand that I am never a fan of small children playing by themselves outside, but if you have read or seen Peter Pan you will realize that our dogs were playing Nana in the backyard. Furthermore, if you know our dogs you will understand that Josh was perfectly safe (from humans at least). Aragorn, a nine year old male boxer with aggression issues, is a totally competent bodyguard. Add Thor, a mixed breed just over five, into the mix and you have quite the team. Freya, Thor’s sister and Arwen, an almost eight year old boxer, might be sweet fur-girls, but they aren’t pushovers.

It is rather wondrous to me that in nine years of large dogs (albeit very domesticated dogs who only appear outside a few times a day) we have only had one small animal fatality (a cat who could not read the Beware of Dogs sign and whose demise was a rather traumatic event indeed). And, I was really totally unprepared to care for a small wounded animal. Somehow growing up with outside dogs (German Shepherds), I was never the one to tend to any of the many animals they found in our home in rural Lutz, Florida. While I totally understand the cycle of life, I am not a fan of watching it occur in my tidy suburban backyard.

So, Joshua fearlessly saved a baby robin from three of our four large dogs, happily named it John (his own middle name), and excitedly insisted on making every attempt to save it (even explaining that I should splint the leg and wing with popsicle sticks—the one thing that I told him would not be a good plan). We offered John some of Brisbane's super worms (not a hit) and seed (not a hit). Finally, we carefully nestled him in a box with a towel and left it on the deck, only letting the dogs out supervised for the rest of the evening.


Sally - Josh with John Robin

In the wee hours of the night, we found that little John had hopped from his box on the table to the deck floor and I feared that he would hop off the edge. I explained to a very concerned Josh that we needed to put him down on the ground if he had any hopes of surviving. We took him down into the back yard and he immediately hopped under a ground covering cypress bush. I knew he would be somewhat safe there and hoped that we would not wake up to feathers by the tree. I honestly didn’t expect him to survive long, and I promised Josh that we’d bury him in the front flower bed with Isabella and Knightley (two parakeets) if he did not survive the night.

more »

Lessons learned from my parents

Sally - 60March 14th 1953-March 14th, 2013

My parents, Don and Marianne Whitlock, celebrate their 60th anniversary on March 14th, 2013! They have lived in several states and overseas in Nuremburg, Germany. They have raised five children, of which I am number four. This week most of our family will gather together to celebrate this special anniversary. Together with many of their friends, all five of their children, all but a few of their seventeen grandchildren and their two great grandchildren, my parents will celebrate a lifetime together!

As I think about the blessings of sixty years, and all of the people they have had an impact on, I can’t help but rejoice in what they’ve given to me! Physical things – definitely – they provided anything I ever needed and almost everything I ever wanted and that was a lot! My father was the perfect example of a hard working father and husband. In their early years, he held down several jobs…finally joining the Army and beginning a military career. Decades later, he retired and began another career with the Hillsbourough County Sheriff's Department! My mother worked hard at home…always busy serving her family. She was always there for me. Always. There are two words I use often and, somehow, they will always remind me of my mother: wonderful and thankful.

So much could be said about sixty years, so much is theirs, but this is what I learned by being blessed to be one of their children, and what we've tried to teach our own six children…

  • Life is wonderful
  • Believe in God
  • Love unconditionally
  • Believe in goodness
  • Always be thankful
  • Children are a blessing
  • Motherhood is a full time job
  • Serving is an act of love
  • People are worth it
  • There are lessons everywhere
  • There is no excuse for boredom
  • Enjoy giving
  • Don’t fear
  • Don’t worry
  • Act, don’t react

God has blessed me with wonderful parents and I am so thankful! Life is beautiful indeed!

For our lovely daughter

Hannah's Graduation Picture

Things I wish for my daughter as she becomes an adult…

I wish for her to remember that she
was welcomed with joy and excitement…

I wish for her to know that she was
cherished every hour of her childhood…

I wish for her to find the lights in the darkness
and look for the rainbows after every rain…

I wish for her to enjoy her artistic and literary talents
and to bless others with them…

I wish for her to find a husband who will cherish
her as I am cherished by her father …

I wish for her to love that husband with
the depth of love I have for her father…

I wish for her to love and nurture her own children
as she is loved and nurtured by us…

I wish for her to embrace homemaking and
enjoy caring for her home and family…

I wish for her to stand strong when others are weak…

I wish for her to seek wise and godly counsel
and to avoid the chatter of fools…

I wish for her to know that I believe in the brilliance of her mind,
the purity of her heart and the beauty of her character…

I wish for her to remember that no matter where she goes or
what she does she will always have my unconditional love…

I wish for her to seize joy, spread love,
build friendships, and count blessings…

I wish for her to rely on the word of God for answers,
to continually seek her Heavenly Father’s will, and to
follow the example of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in word and deed…

more »

Category: Happenings  One Comment

My new home on the net

Welcome to my new home on the net. I have had a blog on for the past five years or so…so I'm not entirely new to the world of blogging. I have always loved to write! I have enjoyed my time there and plan to continue to some degree. However, this new blog will be my focus! Pragmatically speaking, I am able to do a lot more here and to save my blogs in a more permanent way.

Pleonast has been a great place to blog — I renewed old friendships and even made new friends; enjoyed reading about what was happening with my friends and enjoyed sharing my life with my readers. I am certain that I will continue to enjoy that aspect of Pleonast!

However much I enjoyed it, I have wanted to have a place that was just mine — my very own blog. My husband — techie extraordinnare — and I made a project of it and here it is!

Hello there world! I'm Sally and I'm Carpe Diem Mom!

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