faith

10 Ways You Can Help Me with My Blog and a Thank You to My Readers

I have some pretty amazing friends and blog followers if I do say so myself.

A few of those awesome friends and followers have asked how they can help me make the blog a success.

If you’ve read my blog much, you know that I have severe health issues. In fact, just yesterday, my doctor restricted me from driving until further notice due to my health complications.

This blog has given me something positive to do with all the extra time I have because my energy and activity level is so low and prohibits me from functioning like a normal human much of the time.

I am glad that I can use my time to do something that helps others. I am so incredibly humbled and so very blessed when I read comments and get messages from readers telling me how something I wrote encouraged them — that I lifted up a mom when she was feeling like a failure or helped someone see the truth about scripture.

Since I have received so many page views on the blog, I was advised to monetize the blog which I have pursued in hopes that it would eventually help offset my ongoing significant medical expenses. [For instance, one medical test I will be taking soon costs nearly $1000 out of pocket.]

Since some very sweet people have asked what they can do to help, I thought I would write a post with some ideas, if you are inclined to help (no pressure or expectations at all).

How you can help:

1) Read the blog posts. That probably goes without saying, but if you want to help, contributing to page views makes a difference especially in the kind of sponsors and ads available. I currently do not have enough consistent views to get the kind of ads and sponsors that I would prefer (ie that allow more control over what’s seen in the ads).

2) Like the posts on Facebook. This keeps the posts showing up in your newsfeed and makes my Facebook stats better.

3) Follow and share the Facebook page with your friends who you think might like it. The more people who follow me on social media, the more likely we will get the page views up to the point that we have better control over the ads.

4) Share posts on social media and particularly in larger national/ international groups such as on Facebook homeschool groups. My best viewed posts are the ones that have been shared in large homeschool groups on Facebook. I spend most of my time online managing two smaller-sized Facebook homeschool groups and blogging. I’m not a member of very many Facebook groups or very large ones (because they tend to be a bit stressful and drama-filled which I am trying to avoid), and if I was in those groups I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing my own posts. I would rather if other people who thought the posts were worth sharing spread the word.

5) Save my post to your Pinterest board. Because I’m not making money off the blog yet, I can’t afford the expensive blog packages that allow you to do fancy things on Pinterest to get high traffic to your blog. Pinterest is a great way to get additional views, but it needs to be shared by more than just me if I’m going to get more readers by that avenue.

6) [Removed]

7) Click this Amazon link [link disabled as this is no longer an option] before you buy something on Amazon. You can buy anything you want and it doesn’t cost you anything extra to use my link, but I get a portion of your purchase if the purchase is made within 24 hours after you click the link. Additionally, if no one uses my affiliate links within a certain amount of time, I lose the status as an Amazon Affiliate.

8) Share posts via email. Tell your friends about the blog if you’re found something helpful. Currently, I get the most views via social media, but you can subscribe via email too and get updates that way. So, you don’t need to be on Facebook to get updates. I actually have more email subscribers than Facebook followers even though I get the most traffic from Facebook. If you know someone who needs some encouragement but doesn’t use social media, email might be a good option.

9) Make a Paypal donation via this link. I’m currently paying someone else to do the maintenance on the blog to lower my stress level (I am not very tech savvy: I really like to write –not do IT stuff), so if this blog were a business we’d be in the red. But as I mentioned above, it is not expected. I only included the link because it was requested. I hesitated even adding it, but decided to in the end.

10) Pray for me. If you do nothing else, I would be indebted to you for your prayers. This blog brings me great joy, but it is a lot of work and often times brings mental and emotional stress due to the arguments that my posts cause –not everyone is kind about views that do not agree with their own, and I do not deal well with that kind of stress due to my health issues. Add that stress to my ongoing stress, and there are some days I honestly want to throw in the towel. But, I don’t because I believe the that Lord is using this blog and my life for His glory. I am determined to do what I can while I can. I cannot do much: I can’t even drive or clean my own house –some days, I can barely walk. But, I can write a little bit that challenges, helps, and encourages other people.


Specific prayers:

• For answers (I have a lot of undiagnosed health symptoms which would be easier to address if we had accurate diagnoses. I have a team of doctors working to try to help me.),

• For funds (I don’t have normal insurance and even if I did, it most likely wouldn’t cover the treatments I need. This puts my family in ongoing financial challenges. But, I trust God to provide.),

• For boldness (If I am going to have this blog, I may as well be bold for Jesus and speak the truth even if people don’t like it.),

• For clarity (Brain fog is common with my illness, but it is the bane of writing. I need clarity of thought to express my ideas. This is a daily battle for me: to push through the blur in my head and get my ideas out and onto paper or into the computer.)

• For healing (while I don’t think it is God’s will to heal me, the Bible says ‘you have not because you ask not’; so let’s ask. I believe He can heal me, and the worst thing that can happen is God says ‘no’ because it’s not His will or His timing …I am actually okay with that. His will be done.),

• For the strength to take care of my family (It is very hard to be a mom who can’t take care of her family. I desire simple things like the energy to make them breakfast. That would be nice. I used to have dreams about owning a huge Victorian house, making all my clothes from patterns I designed or running a summer camp. Now, I just dream of being able to go on a hike with my boys or stroll along the beach with my husband –both of which I currently cannot do.),

• For success with the blog (I set out to write what I felt like writing. I never imagined it would take off like it has. It would be pretty wonderful if that continued to grow and reach more people.)


 

Lastly, I want to say “Thank you!” to all of those who have taken the time to read and share what I have written. I never imagined when I started writing again last fall that I would have 50,000 views in less than a year. Fifty thousand! I am just flabbergasted. You have made this blog what it is. I am just amazed and overwhelmed at what God can do when you say, “Here, God, this is Yours. Do whatever You want with it.” That is what I have done and will continue to do with this blog. Soli Deo gloria!

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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ADHD, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

It’s Okay to Homeschool Out of Fear

I get annoyed when homeschool parents start telling other parents, “It’s wrong to homeschool out of fear.”

Why do I get annoyed?

The first reason is because it’s ridiculous.

All parents make choices for their children based on fear (i.e. actual legitimate concerns about a situation).

When did being concerned about real danger become wrong?

When did protecting your children from danger become a sin?

Where is the Bible verse that says you aren’t allowed to protect your children from danger or be concerned when they are in danger?

The second reason is because that’s simply not what the Bible says.

You see, there’s more than one kind of fear.

We know this because the Bible tells us to both “fear God” and to “fear not.”

Why would we be told to do both –to fear and to not fear– if both options didn’t exist, if there wasn’t more than one kind of fear?

One kind of fear is respect –like the kind we are supposed to have for God and leaders.

Another kind is natural fear, the human instinct that keeps you and your children safe in an emergency situation –the kind of intuition that helps you know something isn’t right and needs to change.

Another kind –the kind that we’re told not to have according to scripture– is cowardice or cowardly fear. 

If all fear is bad –a sin– then even locking your doors or telling your children to stay out of the street would be a sin.

That’s just silly!

Ludicrous.

If you listen to the proponents of this idea then anytime you are not acting in faith, you’re in fear and sinning.

The problem with this idea is that fear is not the opposite of faith.

Doubt is the opposite of faith.

(See links at the bottom of the post for references.)

Now, about cowardly fear: if you see your child in a dangerous situation and push through all the opposition fighting to help him –to do what’s best for him– is that cowardice?

No!

That’s brave.

That’s God-honoring.

That’s doing the hard thing.

That is courageous!

That’s actually faith-building and requires that you trust God way more than if you were just staying with the status quo.

I would even say that sometimes staying with the status quo is the cowardly thing to do –depending on the situation– because let’s be honest, it’s way easier to leave the children in public school: homeschooling is not easy, and anyone who says that it is easy obviously hasn’t tried.

Anyone who says that homeschooling because of fear –because you fear the real-life dangers of the school environment to your child’s heart, mind, soul, and body– is a sin actually misunderstands what the Bible was saying.

We are supposed to be brave, yes.

We are not supposed to doubt, I agree.

But acting in defense of your children is neither cowardice or doubting!

It is wisdom and prudence.

Only a fool says “there’s no danger” when there really is danger!

God gave us brains, and He expects us to use them: if we can avoid danger, we should –even Paul got away from danger when he could.

In the early days of homeschooling, anti-homeschool advocates in the Christian community began to tell the homeschool families that their children should be in public school because they were homeschooling in fear which the opponents falsely claimed was a sin.

That’s where it all started: someone tried to use the Bible to back their pro-public school, anti-home education position.

But, it has been adopted by homeschoolers who will actually tell other parents not to homeschool if they are taking their children out of the school system in fear of what will happen to them at school.

And, it makes me angry when a mom with genuine concerns —real, healthy, rational fears about gun violence, abuse, bullying, the poor supervision, or the poor education offered in the local school— is told that she is in sin if she homeschools because she would be homeschooling in fear and not faith.

That doesn’t even make sense!

Plus, fear and faith are not mutually exclusive –I both fear God and have faith in Him.

Not all fear is sin.

I have no doubt that advocates of this idea still lock their doors at night and don’t leave young children unattended near a fire … just like any reasonable, responsible, prudent parent would out of concern –out of fear– of what might happen to them.

Wouldn’t they be in sin, too –living in fear?

So, do what you think is best for your child.

Act in wisdom.

And, don’t listen to the people who say that natural fear is lack of faith.

It is not.

It is a God-given, built-in defence that protects us and our children from real-life danger.

Just like God intended it to.

I tip my hat to the courageous, wise, amazing parents who saw real danger and acted on behalf of their children.

And, for those who disagree with me: I invite you to come over to my house the next time the wild cougars are wandering around.

You’re welcome to try out your “all fear is sin” theory in a real-life situation.

Maybe the cougars will change your mind.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes


Resources:

Bible verse about Paul fleeing danger in Damascas

Bible verse about Paul avoiding unjust punishment from the Jews by appealing to Ceasar

Bible verse about fearing God

Bible verse about the prudent taking refuge from danger, foolish ignore it

Bible Verse that talks about the spirit of fear

Bible verse about things done without faith, contrasting faith and doubt

Study on “The Spirit of Fear”

Commentaries on “fear” meaning “cowardice”

The most accurate translation of “spirit of fear” according to some commentators

illness

Thyroid Disease: Is This Butterfly-shaped Organ Messing Up Your Life?

Unless you have thyroid disease, you’re probably not familiar with it.

And even if you have heard of it, you probably think it causes weight gain and is easily fixed by a small pill.

There are a few –very few– people who are able to fix thyroid disease by only taking a pill.

But unfortunately, that’s not the norm.

At all.

For a long time, I believed it was all I needed.

Because that’s what I was told.

I wish I had not believed that lie.

Thyroid disease is so very much more complicated.

Who knew that a little butterfly-shaped organ could mess with my life so entirely?

Did you know that researchers estimate that most thyroid issues are actually cases of Hashimoto’s –autoimmune thyroid disease?

Did you know that researchers estimate that most of those cases have gone undiagnosed?

So, not only is this disease incredibly complicated to treat affecting almost every part of your body, but it goes undiagnosed

That’s what happened to me.

I was undiagnosed for a decade (actually, a doctor did the test but didn’t tell me the result).

The following quote is what I wish someone had told me 12 years ago:

“The thyroid is very important gland in the human body. It plays a very vital role in the overall health of the human body. It is basically butterfly-shaped gland that is located on the front of your neck. Your thyroid lies below your Adam’s apple, along the front of the windpipe.

“It has two side lobes, connected by a bridge in the middle which is known as isthmus. It is an endocrine gland that is responsible for controlling the metabolism (energy produced and used in the body) and regulates the body’s sensitivity to hormones.

“Any kind of anomaly in the thyroid gland can cause number of health issues. It mainly triggers the autoimmune diseases. The main problem that it creates is the issue of hypothyroidism.

“Hypothyroidism causes various types of problems like changes in the menstrual cycle, constipation, depression, dry hair and hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, greater sensitivity to cold, slow heart rate, swelling of thyroid gland, unexplained weight loss and gain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

“If the problem of hypothyroidism goes unchecked it can cause other troubles such as heart problems, infertility, joint pain and obesity.”

Your thyroid delivers chemicals to every cell in your body.

So, if your thyroid isn’t working properly, it will affect your entire body.

If I had read this before 2011, I could have avoided double carpal tunnel surgery –what I needed was the right thyroid medication.

There is so much information available now that I wish had been available back then.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, marriage

How Did We Get So Lucky? 11 Things We Did That Helped Make A Successful Marriage

You may notice that I haven’t been posting as often. I have backed away from daily posting due to the condition of my adrenals: I am at high risk for Addison’s disease. I am still planning to post a few times a week but not daily.

Now, a tribute to my husband in honor of Father’s Day:


He held me tight and whispered, “How did we get so lucky?”

Nearly 17 years of marriage and not only do we not hate each other, we actually like each other.

A lot.

We love each other more today than we did when we got married.

This statement about us being lucky was made the after I had described friends of mine who have found themselves in very difficult marriage, divorces, nasty custody battles, or in the position of trying to decide if they should stay or leave over their husband’s infidelity,  alcoholism, or abuse.

Marriage is hard even in the best of situations.

So, what has made ours successful when others have not?

That’s not to say that we never have problems. We’ve had some really rough patches especially before we knew about our health and mental health problems.

But what does make a marriage successful?

Luck of the draw?

Sort of.

I mean, I am really blessed that the guy I married is sweet, kind and thoughtful.

But, I think it’s more than that.

I think it has a lot to do with the character of the people involved: it’s hard to have a successful, peaceful marriage if only one person is acting like a mature Christian, for instance.

Here are some things I think we did right:

1) We waited for the right person. I waited for the right guy. I prayed for a good husband for 7 years before I met my husband and prayed for another 6 months before he showed any interest in me. When I met Scott, I prayed that God would make him not like me if he wasn’t the right guy.  Later, I prayed that he would take my infatuation away if it was not a good match. I knew what kind of man I wanted to marry and didn’t settle for someone I didn’t think was a good match. I considered the kind of girl my ideal kind of guy would marry and determined to be that kind of lady. I did have an adjustment period when I realized that no guy is perfect, but I knew I didn’t want a tumultuous relationship,  so I waited for a guy I got along really, really well with. Scott was my first boyfriend, first kiss, first love. He had one girlfriend before me. Waiting for the right guy wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it.

2) We made sure the other person had good character before we got married. This was my motivation for choosing courtship. I wanted to court because I believed it would help me avoid many of the pitfalls common in conventional American dating including the ability to see the person for who they truly are. Having our friends and family involved allowed other people to weigh in on what they thought of the other person. If my brother came to me and said, “Hey, you know,  Scott’s flirting with Alyssa when you leave the room” I would have known his character (thankfully, that’s not the kind of guy he is, and that never happened). I once had a friend ask me how I made my husband be nice to me. My answer was that I don’t make him be nice to me: he was nice to me before we got married, and he’s nice to me now. You’re not going to change the person, so you need to make sure you can live with the person you see.

3) We were absolutely, completely honest with each other… about everything (unless it is unloving or hurtful, see number 9).  And, we still are. I can’t emphasize how important this is. Many, many problems are a result of dishonesty and could be solved with honesty. If you don’t think you can be completely and totally honest with your future husband or wife, you should not get married.  If you don’t think your potential spouse is being honest with you, you shouldn’t be marrying them.  This is vital. 

4) We didn’t “fall in love.” Don’t get me wrong, I was completely and totally smitten with Scott the first time I laid eyes on him.  Twitterpated, infatuated. Like I’d never been before.  But, there came a time for both of us when we decided we were going to love the other person. We didn’t just let our feelings determine everything.  Although I was crazy about Scott, if I had found out he was a complete jerk or deceitful, I would have called it off. If my dad had said “This is not a stand-up guy,” I would have called it off. Thankfully, that was not the case.

5) We accept each other. Real love is unconditional.  And while we don’t accept sin as normal in our marriage, things like personality, quirks, struggles, health problems, non-sin shortcomings, mistakes, etc are treated with love and acceptance. Isn’t that what we all ultimately want? To be fully known and fully loved. If you’re not fully accepted, is it really unconditional –real– love? We each want the other person to be what God made them to be –not just what we want them to be.

6) We are partners.  I choose to follow him, but he is not my dictator. I am not his mother, disapproving every time he doesn’t make me happy or makes a choice I don’t like.  I will not chide or scold him for doing what he thinks is best or for making decisions. I don’t try to manipulate or control him. This is key because wives often do not behave in a respectful way. If I want a better than average marriage, I am going to behave to than average.  He includes me in important decisions but knows I’ll defer to his opinion if we disagree because I know him and trust him implicitly. I follow him because I believe it is what God would want me to do.

7) We address sin. If my husband is in sin, I’ll discuss it with him and encourage him to address it. I do not believe in being a passive wife who follows my husband into sin. However, I also do not take his sin personally. All people sin, even me. I have been forgiven so much more by the Lord then my husband could ever dream of wronging me. I do not want to be like the unforgiving servant in the parable. I have been forgiven much and am expected to pass that forgiveness along to others. Even if he cheated on me (which hasn’t been a problem in our marriage), it wouldn’t be about me. His sins are about his issues and his walk with God, not about me. Yes, if he was unfaithful, it would be a sin against me but greater than I have offended a holy God? No.

8) We forgive each other.  Even in the best of relationships, there’s plenty of opportunities to be bitter (she is overweight; he doesn’t do enough around the house; he didn’t get her anything for Valentine’s Day; she doesn’t keep the house clean; etc). It is a daily choice to love and not be bitter, to forgive and give undeserving unconditional love to the other person. No one deserves unconditional love but it is how God loves us and how we are called to love others. It was actually Scott who introduced me to this idea of not just saying,  “I’m sorry,” but saying, “Please, forgive me” and waiting to receive the forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard, but it makes us more like Jesus.

9) We each want what’s best for the other person. A counselor once told me that she’d never met a couple who each wanted the other to be happy more than we do. I heard a quote a long time ago that said: “A happy marriage is where each thinks they got better than they deserve.” I like the sentiment, but I think that falls into spousal worship too easily. As a Christian, what do I deserve? Nothing. I’m a sinner and deserve hell, but the problem with thinking your husband is better than you is this: he’s a sinner, and he’s going to disappoint you. He will –absolutely without a doubt, and then you’re not going to feel like he’s worthy of your love or like he deserves your acceptance. So, don’t put him on a pedestal. This is why marriage needs to be about living a life that’s honoring to God reflecting the unconditional love of Christ. What did Jesus require of me for Him to love me? Nothing. And I love my husband regardless of what he has done just as Jesus loves me.

10) We choose to love each other. Love is a choice. A daily choice to accept the other person and be kind no matter what the person does that day.  Is it easy? No. But that’s what we’re commanded to do in scripture, and the Holy Spirit in us empowers us to live lives that line up with scripture. Do we sometimes fail to love each other perfectly? Yes, of course, because there’s no perfection this side of Heaven. This is why forgiveness is so important. Husbands often fail to love their wives with a godly love which is why husbands are commanded in the Bible to love their wives. I honestly have seen a lot of situations where the marriage could be a lot better if the husband would love the wife as he should –in the husband’s defence, I have seen women try to manipulate and control their husband to the point that the husband has a hard time loving them (not that this is an excuse). How much better it would be if we Christians followed scripture!

11) We’re in it for the long haul. When we said “I do,” we meant it. And we plan to be together until death parts us. With my health issues, that could be sooner than we both hoped. But, as much time as we have, we’ll take. Divorce is not even on the table. We never talk about getting a divorce. I never secretly think about it or wish for it. It’s not thrown around as a threat.  I remember one time in our marriage when I thought he might leave me –not because he said he would leave me but because many men would not stay with a woman who was always sick for no apparent reason. Divorce is simply not in the options. My Great-Grandfather Louis told Scott before we married that if Scott didn’t plan to stay with me forever, he shouldn’t marry me. Great-Grandpa Louis and Great-Grandma Katie were married for 72 years. I plan to beat them –if I live that long. It’s me and Scott, together forever, no matter what.

Let’s be honest: why relationships work or don’t work is really complicated.

I’ve known people who thought they did all of these things above and their relationship still fell apart and ended in divorce.

Why would that be? Why would a relationship fall apart when the couple was trying to do what was right?

I think there are at least a few possibilities:  

1) The sinful nature. There’s no way to get around the fact that we’re selfish and sinful creatures. The Holy Spirit helps us with the sinful nature, but if one person is unsaved or backslidden it makes a huge impact on the relationship.  If both people are not completely invested in making the relationship work, it’s not going to last.

2) Strengthening character. God uses things in our lives to make us more like Jesus and develop our character.  Just like God has used my illnesses to strengthen my faith and trust in Him, it is not hard to imagine God using a marriage in this way.  I think He uses all marriages this way in one degree or another. Some much more than others.

3) God’s confusing ways. We can’t always see what God’s doing –often we simply cannot,  and many of the things we go through in life will not be explained this side of Heaven. I choose to have faith and believe that it will work out for good in the end like He promises in the book of Romans.

It never ceases to amaze me that after all these years and everything I’ve put him through that Scott still loves me, still wants to be with me, still comes home to me every night, and still thinks I’m beautiful.

I’m blessed with a truly wonderful husband, and I know that’s very rare.

I’m never letting go.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

If you liked this post you might also like these posts:s

What if Your Husband Doesn’t [Really] Love You

 

 

God’s Purpose for Marriage

 

When Your Husband Isn’t Everything You Thought He Would Be

children, faith

Post Revisited: Leading Your Children to Jesus

I don’t think there is a topic more dear to my heart and nothing bring more joy to my heart than seeing my children follow Jesus. This post discusses my concern with my own ability to point my children to the Lord and some resources I found to be very helpful.

 

It’s hard for parents to teach their children solid Bible truths when so few of our churches are actually biblically educating the parents.

Over a dozen years ago, the responsibility of raising two small boys fell heavily on my shoulders. As the stay-at-home parent,  I spent the most time with them and would be doing the most teaching.

I felt that I had a limited knowledge of solid Bible doctrine, so how could I be sure that what I taught my children was accurate? I felt that way even though I had been homeschooled in a Christian home and had read through the Bible more than once before I graduated from high school.

This is when I went searching for resources that could help me learn Bible doctrine as I taught my children.

 

I hope you find the post helpful and encouraging.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

children

Endorsing Courtship: Why We Courted and Plan to Use Courtship with Our Children

My husband and I courted.

Or at least that’s what we called it.

 

Die hard courtship enthusiasts insist that we did not actually court because my father didn’t choose my husband for me and we were allowed to be alone sometimes.

Proponents of dating argue that it was courtship because my husband and I never went on a date together –out to dinner and a movie by ourselves– and because our fathers were involved in setting standards and expectations.

I finally started telling people that it didn’t matter what you called it as long as your relationships are God-honoring.

I mean, that’s what is most important, right?

As a believer, isn’t the most important thing –the whole reason that we would alter from what is standard American dating behavior– that we make choices that align with scripture, are wise, and ultimately honor the Lord?

And everyone seems to have a different definition of what dating/courtship looks like.

I actually call it betrothal when the father picks the husband for the daughter –and I am very opposed to this idea especially since the guys my dad would have picked for me would possibly have been strangled before we could ever get to the wedding day!

(Betrothal is part of middle eastern culture but is absolutely not commanded in scripture; to say it is, is to say that a story is a command which is very very bad Bible interpretation. Courtship is also a choice and not required biblically. It is only one method to try to align our lives with the Bible.]

We were young when we got married: My husband was not quite 19, and I had just turned 20 the month before.

More than one person pulled me aside and said that we were too young and needed to wait, but we proceeded with our parent’s blessings.

We plan to have our children court as well.

As I mentioned, there are many different definitions of courtship, so let me describe what courtship means to me –and what it does not mean.

I know people who courted and it looked like this: dad picked the husband-to-be.

They were basically committed to marriage before they even knew each other and some were even married before they had ever had a chance to have a conversation alone or without someone else listening in.

They were not allowed to hold hands, embrace, or kiss before they were married.

Now, I see the reason for that if you are saving yourself for your wedding night and admit that embracing and kissing made it harder to wait (but not impossible because we did wait).

The biggest issue is that in these cases was that the couple really did not know each other before they got married.

In my opinion, the purpose of courtship is to get to know each other with the intent to get married.

[This is the reason I am opposed to normal dating: you don’t really get to know each other only the best parts of the person.]

If they are not getting to know each other then the point of the courtship is missed.

And if the father is choosing the future husband, that’s all kinds of wrong.

Many times, I have heard of the father choosing someone like himself and failing to recognize sins in the future son-in-law’s life because the father deals with the same sins (alcoholism, pornography, homosexuality, etc).

If she has a say in who she courts and she also has right of refusal if during the courtship process the relationship has issues, then this is a more healthy way to address courtship.

Although one goal of courtship is to avoid heartbreak, some heartbreak will happen when you are trying to deal with sinners in relationships.

Better heartbreak at 19 years old before you are married, then 25 years of married misery, 6 kids, a bunch of abuse, and a divorce later.

Yes, courtships relationships can and have ended in divorce.

That’s just the reality of life in a fallen world.

Courtship doesn’t save a relationship from every trouble.

But hopefully, it gives it a firmer foothold, a better foundation.

As stated above the purpose of courtship is to get to know the person, and when done right it does a better job of this than dating because in stereotypical dating you put your best foot forward –like never even letting him see you without makeup or in a bad light at all and there’s a whole bunch of pretending.

Whereas in courtship you spent time together as families and in groups allowing you to see the prospective mate in their natural setting reacting to real life situations.

[I know some people do the that and call it dating, but I was referring to stereotypical dating.]

This makes it easier to spot issues and harder to gloss over those issues.

Courtship also means that you wait to have sex although the level of intimacy varies between couples.

There is no assumption of waiting in the world of dating.

It really matters how much closeness you can handle and still wait –since waiting is biblical and part of the goal.

For instance, we were fine holding hands and even hugging, but kissing proved to be a bit too much and resulted in us spending a lot of time apart during the last month of our engagement in an effort to not cross a line we couldn’t come back from.

[Not waiting to kiss was important to my husband who didn’t want our first kiss to be in public in front of 500 people like I had originally wanted.]

It was a miserable month, honestly.

But, it was absolutely worth waiting for marriage for intimacy.

Many people –even Christians– seem shocked that we waited.

I have actually had Christians ask me “Do people still do that?”

Yes, they do.

Because the Bible commands it.

It is not easy, but it is a command.

To me, courtship looks very different than dating.

It looks like the parents involved in the relationship, watching for potential issues (this requires good relationships and may not be possible in all situations).

It looks like the couple is old enough and mature enough to handle the topic of marriage and act on (ie old enough to get married).

It’s not just having a good time and a hook-up.

It is always a relationship with the intent to marry.  

You stay in groups and rarely alone in an effort to keep your actions toward each other aligned with scripture.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a private conversation –my future husband and I even talked about sex during our courtship (which may shock some people).

You don’t spend time alone with other people of the opposite sex because you are trying to avoid the appearance of evil (this is true for us even after we got married: I don’t spend time alone with other men except like my dad and brother).

My husband and I were sometimes alone: we worked on the cottage we were going to move into after we got married and sometimes were alone. We sometimes drove from my house to his house without anyone in the car, but generally, we did have someone else with us even if it was one of his grade school siblings.

Exactly how courtship is done varies, and we may end up having slightly different standards and methods with our own children than what our parents had, but I still think it is a good system with good goals.

You can even call it dating if you still have the same goals: to honor the Lord with your life.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith

Post Revisited: 6 Ways the Church Gives a False Sense of Spiritual Security to Unsaved People

I am revisiting some old posts as I update the blog.

I thought this one was important to share again.

Our country is full of people who believe that they are saved because they said or did the right things or because they are American.

Follow the link to see if you have contributed to giving people a false sense of hope regarding their salvation.

 

Have you, by your actions or words, given others a false sense of spiritual security?

We should remember that it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. We should be helping people see their need, not giving them a reason to think they’re okay in their sins.  

 

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

homeschooling

How to Not Plan Your Homeschool

Our drawing for the OCEANetwork Conference ended Sunday. The winner is Donna Hooton! Yay! 


I stumbled upon this blog post from 3monkeysthrowingaroundsomepaper which very well explains a way that you can do delight led schooling which I highly recommend and still keep track of what you’re doing. This is especially important if you are in a state that requires documentation. This is also great if you’re a laid back mom like me –someone who doesn’t thrive on schedules and plans.

from 3 Monkeys throwing around some….PAPER!!!: How I don’t PLAN homeschooling…

I see the question often: “How do you plan out your week for homeschooling?”, ” What kind of planner do you use?”, “Do you plan?”, “How to plan for homeschooling”.  Here’s my easy answer: I DON’T!!!  (anymore) Shocking huh??  Let me explain:

I am not really a plan everything out kinda girl, not in my recreation life, not in our homeschooling (not anymore) .  I used to plan.  I used to sit for hours and write out every chapter and exercise and reading list we were going to do that week.  But honestly, I didn’t like to plan BECAUSE…..if I didn’t  finish everything I had planned, it made me feel bad.  I feel like we didn’t accomplish anything that week and the panic would set in.  But truth be told, we did a lot of learning, just not what I PLANNED on teaching that week.     (Click here to read the whole article.)

It’s worth your time to go read her whole article! Very helpful!

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

 

illness

I Am Not a Hoarder: How Living with a Chronic Illness Differs from Hoarding

When I was very sick in 2010, I was misdiagnosed with hoarding.

I rejected the diagnosis then, and I reject the diagnosis now.

Although I did have anxiety about getting rid of things that were important to me (like the perfume that my grandmother wore –she died in 1993– or the single doll I saved from my childhood), I never had anxiety about being without possessions –in fact, minimalism appeals to me.

It was more anxiety over the decisions of what to keep and what to get rid –that would overwhelm me.

That, combined with my general low energy created an environment which looked very much like hoarding but was very different.

I know because I grew up with a grandmother who was a hoarder, and I saw how she acted with her possessions –even things that were broken, water damaged, and unfixable she couldn’t bear to part with.

I knew that my issues were not the same.

Although I did have perfection issues that I had to work through which I have discussed in other posts, I did not have clinical OCD hoarding.

The next mental health professional I saw agreed that I did not have it and removed it from my chart.

It was around then that I found that many people who have chronic illnesses get erroneously diagnosed with hoarding simply because they lack the energy or clarity of mind to keep their houses clean.

In my defense –and theirs– I am listing here the differences between how I behaved and how a hoarder would behave.

The good news is that you can help people with chronic illnesses because they actually want to be helped –unlike many hoarders.

That’s not to say that chronically ill people cannot be hoarders, only that they aren’t the same thing.

Hoarding vs. Chronic Illness

Hoarding is a form of OCD; I am not OCD although I have struggled with some OCD tendencies due to my ADHD, usually about germs and trying to do things perfectly.

Hoarders consider their possessions precious; I considered the excess possessions a nuisance.

Hoarders, when forced to choose, will usually choose their possessions over people; I wanted the stuff out of the way to make it less of a burden on me and those I love.

Hoarders fill up every space they can with junk and useless things; I actually had plans to use the items I purchased but due to my unpredictable energy and ADHD would always overestimate how much time and energy I had.

The possessions make hoarders feel better –happy; the possessions made me feel stressed and depressed.

For hoarders, whatever enters the house never leaves; I was constantly getting rid of things, but couldn’t keep up with the mess because I was not getting rid of enough fast enough due to decision paralysis and low energy –even when I decided to get rid of things I didn’t have the energy to actually remove them from the house and find them new homes.

Hoarders make goat trails through their floor to ceiling piles; I did not have that much stuff even at my worst.

Hoarders usually learn to keep possessions as way to survived some trauma; my problems only started when I got sick after my second son was born, and before that I was able to maintain (although I have never been extremely tidy and it took my way more energy than average to keep a house clean since I am more creative and less type A).

Hoarding is a way to increase isolation as you build relationships with stuff instead of people; I viewed my possessions as getting in the way of my relationships with those I cared about.

Getting rid of their possessions causes hoarders a great deal of anxiety; keeping my possessions was very stressful, but for a long time I lacked the ability to sort through the items that needed to be sorted.

When people try to help hoarders, they resent it; when I was offered help, I was enthusiastic and grateful, and I jumped on it allowing a group of 10 women to clear out my entire house in the span of about 6 hours –I was throwing things out as fast as they could bring it to me: “toss it,” “get rid of it,” “do you want it? keep it!”

When hoarders are forced to get rid of things they fight tooth and nail; I was throwing things away, giving them away, and even burning things just to have them out of the house when I finally had the manpower in my house to help me sort things.

If hoarders aren’t supervised, they will start hoarding again; I have managed to not bring new things into my house after I had help to clean the house (even though I still struggle to keep it tidy due to my energy issues).

Hoarders are proud of their collections even if it makes them live in squalor; I was so embarrassed and took no pride in any part of it.

Hoarders are in denial that there is anything wrong with collecting thing; I was in denial that I wouldn’t have the energy to do and make the things I wanted to do –I was always expecting to wake up the next morning with tons of energy and that never happened.

Hoarders think they have to do everything perfectly; I admit to having this issue in the past but not anymore as I have come to grips with needing to do whatever works even if it is not perfect.

Hoarders usually don’t want help; I wanted help but didn’t know how to ask for it.

Even when hoarders don’t have money they keep buying more stuff; I never bought things when we didn’t have money just because I couldn’t stop buying things.

They feel like their stuff is people and like they are saving the person/stuff; I felt like I needed to be saved from my stuff.

Throwing things away is scary for a hoarder; being overrun by my stuff was terrifying.

Hoarders nearly always have a relative who is a hoarder; I do have a relative that was a hoarder, but that doesn’t predestine me to be a hoarder.

Hoarding is like armor to protect the person, a fortress to not let people in and to hold onto things that they feel like they are losing; I was upset that the stuff was causing problems in my relationships and didn’t want that to be the case so much so that I was determined to change something.

To a hoarder, things are more important than relationships; relationships are way more important than anything that I own.

Hoarders need expert help to stop hoarding; I stopped bringing things into our home by changing my expectations of what I could actually handle and maintain –all by myself –because I had a better understanding of my health and abilities.

For a hoarder, the stuff is their life; the stuff was ruining my life, and I was so over having too many things.

Hoarding is chronic, and it is not easy to and rarely successful to cure it; overnight, I stopped bringing things into the house once I accepted that I wasn’t going to get better and magically wake up tomorrow to have the energy to sew, craft, or interior decorate –it was not easy to accept that this was my realityF.

For a hoarder, addressing it is more stressful than leaving it there; for me, leaving the possessions was more stressful than addressing it.

[This information is based on my understanding of hoarding and may not represent every case.]

This is my explanation of why those of us who have chronic illnesses aren’t automatically hoarders.

Even if it looks kinda like hoarding, it has difference symptoms and causes.

In the case of chronic illness, it is not a pathological need to keep bringing things into the house, so it is easier to address.

And, good news, it is easier to fix than hoarding –you just need a better system.

And maybe some help to implement that system.

I am indebted to the women who helped me clear out my house –such a great service they did for me.

But, don’t confuse being too sick to clean your house with hoarding because it is not the same thing.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

ADHD, illness, parenthood

Confessions of a Horrible Housewife, Episode 2

Today is the last day to enter our drawing for a couple’s pass to the OCEANetwork Homeschool Conference in Portland Oregon on June 23-24, 2017! Click the link and follow the directions to join!

giveawayyyy


 

Confessions of a Horrible Housewife, Episode 2:

Very few things as a homemaker have caused me as much shame as this word: dishes.

I was never a huge fan of doing the dishes –I am a little OCD about germs.

But, in spite of my struggles with focus due to my then-undiagnosed-ADHD, I was determined to be a good wife when I got married.

I am still determined to be a good wife, but my definition of what makes a good wife and mother has changed over the years.

You will see what I mean as I tell my story.

I was a young mom with an-almost-three-year-old and a newborn baby.

After my son was born, I started bleeding.

And it just didn’t stop.

For over 2 years, I had one straight period with no break, and no amount of medication could stop it. (For some reason the medication made it worse.)

One day, it stopped on it’s own with no explanation, but I have spent the last 12 years, trying to get my iron levels back up as I have frequent relapses into unexplained and almost-untreatable bleeding.

So, I was severely anemic, and –although the doctor didn’t tell me– I had been diagnosed with Hashimotos (I wouldn’t learn about the diagnosis until a decade later when a different doctor reviewed my chart).

I would later learn that the Hashimoto’s had sent me into hypoadrenal (not enough cortisol).

So here I am, severely anemic, low thyroid, and low adrenal.

If you have never been anemic, hypothyroid, and hypoadrenal, you don’t know the real meaning of the word tired.

Add on top of that postpartum psychosis which included severe insomnia and paranoia.

Now, back to the topic of dishes.

It was during this very difficult time in my life that I was so weak and so stressed, I would forget to do the dishes.

Or, I would be so tired and weak, I couldn’t stand over the sink to do the dishes.

This was the first time I remember seeing maggots in our dishes.

We lived in the country across from a horse barn, and it was nearly impossible to keep flies out of the house.

The gestation period of flies is only 24 hours, so it didn’t take long for my avoidance of the dishes to be a big problem.

I had apparently forgotten to put dinner away before we went away for the weekend, and when we came back, there were already maggots in the bowl on the table.

I sat over that bowl of ickiness and sobbed.

I was such a bad mom.

Such a bad wife.

I was smart and creative, and I couldn’t make this work?

I knew women who were very mentally challenged who managed to keep a clean house.

What on earth was wrong with me?

I was just a failure.

I had this image of “failure” stamped across my forehead.

That’s how I saw myself for a long time.

Plus, this dish had been a wedding gift.

I washed it and even boiled it to make it useable again.

For a long time after this, I couldn’t eat rice because it reminded me of maggots and I would get grossed out.

My first solution to avoid maggots was to haul everything outside and hose it all out in the back yard.

But I would get so tired, so weak, and so distracted that I wouldn’t finish the job.

And the dishes would sit in the back yard.

So, I just started throwing dishes away.

I have almost no dishes left from my wedding for this reason.

I probably should have asked for help at this juncture.

But I didn’t know how.

Like, how do you go to your friends and say, “For some reason I can’t explain, I can’t keep up on the dishes and need help?”

I asked for advice by hinting that I was struggling and got advice from “Just do it.” to “Don’t go to bed until the kitchen is clean.” to “Make a schedule.”

I did all that and more.

None of it worked because none of it fixed the underlying problem: my health condition.

My sweet husband tried to help, but he was working full time and dealing with his own health issues.

I even emailed the Flylady and asked her for advice because I couldn’t even follow her plan; she said that she was sure there was something wrong with my health, but I dismissed that because I had bloodwork done and they didn’t find anything (the doctor who didn’t tell me about the Hashimoto’s).

Eventually, we hired someone to come in and do the dishes each week.

She always acted like if I could just get myself motivated and do what I was supposed to do I would be able to do this myself.

I was a smart, able-bodied woman….why was I just sitting there?

That only added more shame to the fact that I already couldn’t keep it together.

I got treated for the post partum depressions, and I have only recently started talking about the psychosis portion.

Because I don’t think people should be ashamed to talk about it like I was.

There is no shame in being sick –mentally or physically.

I was told that my postpartum depression was a result of not praying and reading my bible enough.

I wonder why I didn’t want to confide in those people about how I was struggling?

In the middle of all of this, an older lady at church scolded me for not ironing my husband’s work clothes –she had seen him on the job one day– and said that I was embarrassing him by not helping him present a professional front. (In my defence, my husband works construction, and I don’t think anyone has ever cared if his clothes were ironed.)

I went home and cried.

Now, not only was I a complete failure at home, but I was making my husband a failure at work too.

I started trying to focus on the things I could do right and ignore everything else, but that came with it’s own set of problems.

The housekeeper, around this time, suggested that we eat off paper plates to make kitchen clean up easier.

We have been eating off paper plates for over 10 years now.

This is one decision I do not regret.

I have a friend with a ton of kids and she did the math: it is cheaper to eat off paper plates than to run the dishwasher.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with ADHD which I am sure I have had since I was a child —I am anything but type-A and have always struggled with attention, focus, and emotional regulation (which may explain the amount of crying described in this post).

For the year that I was on ADHD medication before we learned about the hashimotos and hypoadrenal, I actually kept my house clean.

Then, the ADHD medication crashed my adrenals even further, and our house completely fell apart.

I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew I needed help.

I made the mistake of telling one of my doctors about the condition of my house when inquiring about possible health problems that could be causing my low energy.

I didn’t know that doctors are mandatory reporters or that the condition of my house constituted child abuse.

That was a whole ‘nother debacle that I will not describe in full here.

But needless to say, it brought shame.

A lot of shame.

And, it brought the condition of my house and my poor homemaking skills to the forefront as our friends and family tried to help us get the house clean to avoid having our children taken away.

I remember being barely able to walk, holding onto walls to walk through the house, on my hands and knees scrubbing floors, and sobbing.

I would spend days just crying and asking God for help.

What on earth was wrong with me?

Why did everyone else have it all together?

That was 2010.

It was a life-changing year.

After that, I got really sick.

All the stuff before was just a prelude.

Until this last year, I have consistently had to have someone come and do the dishes for me.

It got the point that I was too dizzy, too weak, and in too much pain to lean over the sink, pick up dishes, and put them into the dishwasher.

I have some pretty awesome friends and family who have chipped in to help with housekeeping.

Sometimes, I paid someone; other times friends volunteered.

And, I significantly lowered my standard.

I want my house to function.

If it doesn’t look really clean, that’s okay.

It doesn’t need to be magazine-worthy.

I don’t have the energy to be OCD anymore.

(I don’t actually have clinical OCD, but because of the ADHD, I would use OCD behavior as a coping mechanism to try to counter my distractibility.)

Within the last year, my children have gotten old enough that they now clean the house without me.

It is not perfect, but I am not completely mortified if someone comes to the front door anymore.

They do the dishes daily, and I only occasionally have to help with a special dish or a pan that is very difficult to clean.

I still deal with a certain amount of shame that I cannot clean my own house.

Shame that I cannot do and be all the things that I should do and be.

But I am learning to ignore that voice that tells me what I should be able to do.

I once told a counselor that I was a horrible wife and mother.

She looked at me and said that she did not see that.

“Really?” I asked, again through tears.

She said that if I divided up all the tasks I had as a wife and mother and looked at them individually I would be able to see what kind of homemaker I really was –that I was not a failure.

I am a homeschool teacher, a disciplinarian, an at home nurse, a conflict resolver, an affection giver, a cook, a housekeeper, a lover, ect.

I was good at every single job she talked about except I am not a good housekeeper.

Housekeeping is not the totality of who I am, but that was the gauge that I was using to measure my worthiness.

“Can I clean and do the dishes?” was the measure that I used to decide if I was a fit mom and wife.

But that was an unfair evaluation because I am so much more than my ability to cook and clean.

I am a good mom to these boys and a good wife to my husband: I love them fiercely and with my whole heart, and I give them as much of myself as I can everyday.

I can pay someone to do to cook and clean, but I cannot pay someone to love my kids and teach them about faith in a trial or grace under pressure.

I cannot pay someone to love them like a mother, to train them in God’s ways, and to point them back to Jesus every day of their lives.

No one else can do the job that I can do.

And this job has nothing to do with if the dishes are done.

My job is affecting the eternal in ways that doing the dishes never could.

I know women who have focused on the housekeeping and neglected the rest, and they have lived to regret that choice.

So, if you are reading this and you feel like you are an abject failure because you can’t keep up with the dishes, the laundry, the housekeeping: you are more than that and don’t you ever forget it or let anyone tell you anything differently.

And by the way, I no longer see myself with “failure” written across my forehead.

I understand that this is where God put me and that my job as His child is to be content with where He put me and find a way to make it work.

If I am not a failure in God’s eyes, how can I let any person here on earth make me feel like a failure?

Their opinions do not matter.

Blessings,

Sarah