faith

Further Than Today: A Different Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

Every year when New Year’s comes along the lists of resolutions begin pouring in on social media.  

It’s at this time that I don’t make resolutions.

Instead, I reflect on the year before.

Am I more emotionally and spiritually mature than I was last year?

Have I developed more character than I had 365 days ago?

Am I more patient?

More thoughtful?  

More gracious?

More joyful?

More peace-seeking?


“May each tomorrow find you further than today.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I also look at myself to see where I’m deficient and pray that the Lord would would work those things in me this year, surrendering that area to Him.

One year, I asked the Lord to help me be more gentle.

Lately I have been praying that the Lord would give me the ability to love other people unconditionally –especially people in my life who are hard to love.  

A resolution depends on your own strength. We are not strong enough to achieve the things we need to apart from Christ.

We need Divine power in our lives.

If He is the orchestrator, all glory goes to Him.

So today, I’ll not be starting the new water diet or pledging to lose 1000 pounds.

I’ll be thinking about areas in my life that I’m not like Jesus. I’ll be paying attention to that area in my life, and I’ll be intentionally trying to make better choices in that area, throwing myself on His grace.  

I think this is the kind of resolving that reflects scripture.  


His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,e and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

2 Peter 1:3-10


Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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children, parenthood

Babies Don’t Keep

People will say, “rock your babies because babies don’t keep,” but they don’t mean it.

Not really.

Most people don’t really think the baby is more important than the house.

They say they do, but only if you can both rock your babies and keep a house immaculate.  

Let’s look at the rest of the poem that this quote is taken from.


Babies Don’t Keep

Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.


 

The author is applauding a woman whose house isn’t perfectly clean (the house is, in fact,  “shocking”!) because she’s more concerned about the baby than appearances. She is playing with and taking care of her child.

This is far more extreme than most people would endorse!

Most people will not support this view, but I do.

Why?

Babies are eternal. They have souls.

 Houses are not and do not.

Of course, some things must be done for the house to function (people still need to eat, a place to sit, and to wear clean clothes for example), but truly much less is necessary than what most people deem necessary.

Most people get their pride and their sense of superiority involved, judging others for less than perfection.

Some people even try to make the condition of your home an issue of sin or salvation.

And we moms often live in fear of that unreasonable and unrealistic judgement.  

Rest assured that if you put emphasis on the souls entrusted to you over the possessions you have, you’ll have no regrets.

But those around you –even other Christians– will not approve or agree.

Unfortunately, biblical priorities are not understood or endorsed even by most believers who are far too wrapped up in the vanity and external things of this world.

If your house isn’t perfectly clean because you’re focused on little souls, you’re doing it right.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not.  

And I will never judge you for the condition of your house.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

children, marriage, parenthood

Dear First Time Expectant Mom: 10 More Things No One Tells You

Yesterday, we talked about things they don’t tell new moms. Today, I’m adding to the list.

  1. Your health and mental health must come first. You can’t take care of a baby if you can’t take care of yourself. When I talked in the last post about me being selfish and needing to put the baby first, I mean wants and desires –not needs. Sleep, food, doctor visits, friends –whatever is necessary for you to remain emotionally stable, physically healthy, and mentally sane is ultimately in the best interest of the baby.  Now, if you say your sanity is dependent on a weekly trip to the spa, I’m going to chuckle. But as long as you’re not going to the spa using money that should go toward food and diapers, it’s all good. Continue reading “Dear First Time Expectant Mom: 10 More Things No One Tells You”
children, parenthood

Dear First Time Expectant Mom: 10 Things No One Tells You

Dear First Time Expectant Mom.  

You just found out you’re going to have a baby. Congratulations!

Now let me tell you what you’re not going to hear from all the well-wishers and advice-givers.

  1. You’re more selfish that you thought.  Nothing will reveal how selfish you are than a baby who depends on you for every ounce of its life.  Up until you deliver that baby,  you’ll even be breathing for the baby. It can’t do anything without you.  When I had my first child,  I thought I was pretty selfless already. I was wrong. So wrong. I was not prepared for the level of self-denial required of me. Trust me, neither are you, but you’ll adapt. And it will be worth it.
  2. Your life will never be the same.  A baby will be life changing.  Maybe not in the ways that you think,  but definitely life changing.  From this moment forward, life will be divided between Before Kids and After Kids. It’s even more monumental than when I got married. If you’re doing it right,  your child will become a constant reminder that eternity is the goal and earth is temporary. Don’t let anyone convince you that a baby shouldn’t be completely life-altering.
  3. Your perspective will change.  Priorities, values, goals, how you view yourself, your motivations –it will all be changed and altered by this little one. And it should be!  If you didn’t alter your behavior under the immense responsibilities of a new baby then I would worry that there was something psychologically or hormonally amiss. Things that once seemed really important will not anymore when you look into the face of that baby.
  4. You will let yourself go. Be it a little or a lot, you’ll not be able to always hold yourself to the standard that you’ve been accustomed to. This is okay. Moms get criticized for it, but let’s be honest. What’s more important: that you have mascara and a clean blouse on today? Or that your baby be fed, bathed, clothed, and loved?  You will choose to put his or her needs above your own. This is not a problem –even if others criticize you for it. This is good. You’re learning that baby is more important than your vanity, that a little soul is more important than temporary things.  
  5. The responsibility will seem crushing. A baby is a huge responsibility.  This child’s emotional,  physical, mental  and spiritual well being fall squarely in your lap. If the weight of that doesn’t feel crushing, it’s only because you don’t yet understand it. You will. And it will. Breathe. You will define normal for this child, so be intentional about your choices. But never forget that God gave you this baby because He knew you were the right person for the job.
  6. It’s okay if you’re not sure what to do. As parents,  as adults, we often feel like we’re always supposed to have all the answers. Let’s be honest: we don’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  When in doubt, seek advice and pray for wisdom.
  7. Sometimes you’ll wonder if you made a mistake. When it’s 2:30 AM and Junior has been screaming for 4 hours and you can’t make him stop, you will have second thoughts about parenthood.  That’s okay.  It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you an honest one.  But never, never breath a word of those doubts to your kids. Take it to God and ask Him to remind you that this is what He has for you.
  8. God will use this child to develop your character. I wish someone had told me this before I had children.  I wish it didn’t take me a dozen years to figure this out. God will bring a child into your life who will challenge you. He might even look or sound like a relative you don’t like.  He might even annoy you or rub you the wrong way so that you learn grace, kindness, and patience.  Or you can be unteachable and create additional friction and resentment.  But God’s doesn’t want us to behave in a way that embitters our children.
  9. Most parenting styles today –even “Christian” ones– ignore or gloss over the commands to not embitter your children.  It’s repeated more than once in the New Testament and is one of only two instructions given to parents today (in the Age of Grace).  This has been the single most important part of my parenting and a large part of why my children and I still have a decent relationship even though they’re teens.
  10. It’s going to hurt. I’m not talking about labor and delivery. Everyone knows that hurts. I’m talking about loving someone so much that you feel like your heart might burst. I’m talking about being so worried or heart broken that you feel like you’ll never stop aching. I’m talking about loving someone so much that you just begin to get a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father feels about us. This child will disappoint you. He will break your heart. He will say unkind things to you. Forgive him just as God does us. You are his first view of God, so be a good representative.

This are just a few things I’ve learned in 15 years as a mom.  

There’s nothing, nothing, nothing  on this earth more wonderful, more fulfilling or more valuable than being a parent.

Remember to enjoy each stage while you can. Before you know it, they’ll be driving and talking about college.

Rock those babies, because babies don’t keep!

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

Christmas

Christmas Articles

Accusations of Boycotting Christmas: Rethinking Our Traditions and Realigning Them with Scripture

accusations-of-boycotting-christmas

Mary Mother of Jesus: Courage in the Face of Trial

mary-mother-of-jesus-courage-in-the-face-of-trial

Five reasons why “Happy Holidays” and “Xmas” Don’t Bother Me (And Shouldn’t Bother You)

happy-holidays-and-xmas-dont-bother-me

8 Pieces of Advice About Dealing with Difficult Family

2019

The Great Cookie Incident of 2013

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Merry Christmas! 

blessings,

Sarah Forbes

children, Christmas, featured

The Great Cookie Incident of 2013

It was 2013, and I was sick.

Really sick.

Not the kind of sick where you get better, but the kind of sick where you wonder how long you have left on this earth, and you go to bed wondering if you’ll wake up in the morning.  

Sometimes, the pain and depression is so bad you just pray that God will take you Home.

Now, I’ve come a long way from that dark place in the last few years, but this story is about me, right there in the thick of it.

Continue reading “The Great Cookie Incident of 2013”

children, Christmas, faith, testimony

8 Pieces of Advice About Dealing with Difficult Family

Christmas is quickly approaching and with it the inevitable interaction with difficult family members. Whether the difficulty is from alcohol, personality differences or even mental health disorders, the facts are that the holidays mean family interaction.  

I doubt there’s a family without drama anywhere in the world. If there was, I would say “sign me up,” but I would ruin their peace with my own drama.

The following are my survival techniques for getting through family gatherings: Continue reading “8 Pieces of Advice About Dealing with Difficult Family”

children, faith, parenthood, testimony

A Letter to My Sons: My Prayers for Your Future

Ever since I had my first child,  I’ve seen letters to children from their parents. In many of these letters the parents wish their child to have a smooth, carefree,  and prosperous life.  My wish for my children is slightly different.

Dear Son of My Love,

Since you were young, I have sought to train you in the way of the Lord. I have tried to gently steer your course toward God, hoping, praying, that when you’re old enough to take the wheel of your own ship, you’d stay the course and follow hard after the God who is worthy of all our love, admiration, and devotion.

You’re a teenager now.  A young man.  I’ve seen glimpses of the man you’ll be one day if you keep following the Lord. It brings me great joy –even now– to see Him in your life.  

These are my hopes and prayers for your life as you grow to be a man who lives for the Lord. Continue reading “A Letter to My Sons: My Prayers for Your Future”

faith, illness, testimony

Suffering in the Church

I remember when I first started having health problems, I asked for prayer at a church prayer meeting.

I would be awake for days at a time completely unable to sleep, and then I’d sleep for days on end.  

I had a newborn and a 3 year old,  so this was not a good thing.  

I was told I was too young to be as sick as I was describing.

The church leaders actually refused to add me to the church prayer list.

I was 24 years old.

The church often doesn’t know what to do with those of us with unexplained illnesses and pain. Continue reading “Suffering in the Church”

Christmas, faith, myths, testimony

Five reasons why “Happy Holidays” and “Xmas” Don’t Bother Me (And Shouldn’t Bother You)

  1. The term “xmas” was started by religious people and is not an attack on Christians

    .  The X in Xmas is not, in fact, an English X. It is a Greek X, and X has long been used as a representation of Christ’s name dating all the way back to the second century. 

    375px-ephesus_ichthyscrop
    from Wikipedia

    X has been used by religious people in the word Christmas since before the 1500s.  Only recently did someone who was not well-educated in church history decide that it was an attack on Christianity and Christmas.  If you think about it, it makes sense that they’d use the X.  In a world where everything had to be handwritten, it was not uncommon for people to come up with shorthand versions of words.  My grandmother was a secretary in the 1970s, and she had a whole book of shorthand for note taking. Since it was known that X was the shorthand for Christ,  Xmas was known to mean Christmas.See this link for a detailed description of how and when X was used as Christ’s name. It is one and the same. Feel free to use them interchangeably as they mean the exactly same thing.  But, if you use it interchangeably,  expect someone religious to be upset, and expect to have to explain yourself. For the sake of peace, I generally avoid using it. But I am not offended if others use it because I understand the facts around its use.

  2. Most people who use “xmas” and “happy holidays” are trying to be practical –not offensive.

     Their intent is usually to be kind to everyone regardless of what holidays they celebrate or to make Christmas tree for sale sign that takes up less space. But, if we Christians respond in an offended way then we look petty, self-indulgent, and ignorant of facts. It does not bring people closer to Jesus if we behave poorly. They look at us and want nothing to do with us because we can’t even behave politely. This movement of “Keep Christ in Christmas” is ruining our Christian testimony and is not representative of how Christ behaved. There might be some people who are being intentionally offensive. I will address that in number five (see below).  

  3. I don’t have right to demand that other people do things my way.

     Unless those people are under my authority (like my children), I  don’t have the right to demand that they do things my way.  Christianity is far more about my responsibilities than my rights. We’re commanded to follow Jesus who gave up all His rights as King of the Universe and came to earth to die a horrible death. It’s ironic that we celebrate Him giving up His rights by demanding our own rights.  

  4. Christians don’t have a monopoly on winter holidays.

    Christians don’t have the right to make everyone else celebrate their holiday. Since Christmas isn’t even mentioned in scripture this is not a sin issue or really even a defending-the-faith issue. Christmas is a conglomerate many cultures’ and many religions’ traditions. It simply is. If you study history, you can easily see that. Even the practices that Christians participate in today have a lot of roots in unChristian beliefs. I’m not saying abandoned your traditions. I’m saying know they are traditions and not Bible commands. I’m saying know where your traditions came from and be respectful of other people’s versions of winter festivals. No one has been won to Christ while being scolded for leaving Jesus out out of a celebration. We’re not going to win people to Christ if we can’t respect them and treat them with decency. 

  5. If the extent of our persecution is that someone tries to take a holiday away,  we have it incredibly easy.

    We are incredibly spoiled and deceived if we think this issue is serious persecution when other Christians around the world are being beheaded. We are going to be persecuted if we stand for Christ (but not that much in the US because it’s a religiously safe place). Fallen man will try to remove all traces of God from our world. It must be this way. Things will get worse the closer we get to Jesus’ return. But know this: the more we’re persecuted, the more people will come to Christ. So welcome the persecution for the sake of the gospel! We should respond the way Jesus did: He didn’t say a word. He didn’t revile. He didn’t fight back. He trusted that God know what He was doing and committed Himself to God’s care.  

So, keep Christmas however you want to. But, if you’re going to use this time of year to honor Jesus by celebrating His birth, make sure sure you’re not losing your testimony along the way.  

Because that would not honoring to Him.

And, dishonoring Him while claiming to celebrate Him is an immensely unfortunate irony and a reality for many Christians.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes