By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

Convicting and Encouraging Moments July 26, 2008

This has been a tough week.  Due to on-call scheduling that we will never do again, Daddy was at work almost all of last weekend and worked late every night this week.  It made each and every one of us tired and cranky.  Throw in hefty doses of 2-year-old tantrums and 4-year-old lying, and you have a disaster brewing.  By Friday night, I had HAD IT.  Actually, I had had it about 5 times already and was working on #6.  It was dinner time, and Daddy was not home.  As I put food in front of the kids, Christopher asked me to turn on their new Bible verse CD, Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em In Your Heart.  It is fairly new for my kids, and they LOVE it.  (Thank you, Pearce!)  Christopher has learned several verses and the Lord’s Prayer in a week–I highly recommend it.

One of the songs is based on 1 John 3:16:  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. As I listened to my children’s sweet voices singing along about Christ laying down His life for us, I felt convicted.  I was not loving my kids well.  I was not laying my life down for them.  I felt resentful of the ways they were sinning against me and making my life difficult.  How much more have I sinned against my Savior again and again, but He still went to the cross for me.  And so I am to lay down my life for my children (and others).

In that moment of conviction and guilt and sadness for my sin, I looked up from the kitchen to see Christopher looking at me with a Cheshire-cat grin on his face.  He said, “Momma, I’m smiling at you!”  “Why?”  I asked.  “Because I like you a lot,” he answered.

Our God is so good.  He doesn’t leave us in our sin.  He convicts us, but He also doesn’t leave us wallowing in our guilt.  He graciously encourages us, letting us know that we are forgiven in Christ.  And often He provides a respite . . . soon after, Daddy arrived home from work, and everything was so much better.


Proverbs July 21, 2008

Filed under: parenting — Marissa Henley @ 8:10 pm
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A wise woman (my pastor’s wife) pointed out recently that there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and perhaps we should be reading one a day each month. So in July, I set out to read Proverbs. I’m a little behind the one chapter a day schedule . . . probably on the two-month regimen. But it has been fabulous. I’m amazed at how the Holy Spirit has brought specific verses to my attention at just the right time. Here are some verses that have stood out to me:

Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understand, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Prov 2:3-5. Am I searching for wisdom from God or for earthly riches?

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. Prov 10:20-21. For the sake of my children and others around me, is righteousness or foolishness on my tongue?

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Prov 11:28. I think you all know this is an issue for me.

A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly. Prov 12:23. This one has me evaluating what I write on my blog.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Prov 12:25. Feeling weighed down? I do often.

A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. Prov 13:1. I want to be receptive to my heavenly Father’s instruction, so I can teach my children how to grow in wisdom as well.

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Prov 13:3-4. Ouch and double ouch. That darn snooze button betrays me every time.

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Prov 13:24. I’m sure this one doesn’t need explanation if you know I have a 2-year-old.

As you can see, there’s all kinds of good stuff there. I encourage you to read Proverbs with me–if you start now, you will have a head start on August!


Teaching Kids Scripture July 8, 2008

This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer. Head over there to see everyone else’s great ideas. You’ll be glad you did.

Scripture memory is important at our house. It began with teaching Christopher the basics of faith and life–Ephesians 6:1, Romans 3:23, Psalm 119:105, John 3:16, etc. Last year, Christopher did AWANAS, a children’s Scripture memory program. Most of the verses were pretty short, and I started coming up with little tunes to help him remember some of the longer verses. After all, Christopher had been able to learn to spell his name at a young age after I came up with a simple jingle. He still sings it to himself as he is writing is name. (Eleven letters is a lot for a 4-year-old. Note to self: Give future children shorter names.)

A year ago, I decided we could all benefit from memorizing the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. I had tried in vain to memorize them myself over the years. But when I set the verses to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” it stuck. Christopher can easily remember the song, even if it has been a few months since we reviewed it. I will let him demonstrate:

Now if I could only teach the application of these verses by better living them out, especially in my interaction with my kids!

I’ve also tried setting I Corinthians 13 to “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” but I’m not sure its the best fit. Have you set Bible verses to music for your kids or have another memorization tip? Leave me a comment and tell me about it!

Addendum to original post (7/6/09):  Since this post, one primary way I have used to teach Scripture to my kids are the wonderful CDs made by Seeds Family Worship.  Visit their site to order CD’s or read posts I have written about them–they are fantastic!


Platform or Purpose?

Filed under: parenting,spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 3:21 pm
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I finally got around to finishing “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow, and I’m still working through the great concepts in this book. (Click on the Linda Dillow tag in the tag cluster on the right to see my other posts about this book.)

In a chapter on our focus, Dillow discusses the temptation to focus on the future rather than the present.  She challenges women to have a well-defined purpose (preferably a written statement) that drives their priorities and decisions, rather than letting activities and busyness rule.  I hope to write a purpose statement soon–right now, my activities are getting in the way!  Ha!

I also love a quote from one of Linda Dillow’s friends, Phyllis Stanley: “When I had children, I remember thinking, are my children now my purpose? I realized that my children are my platform, not my purpose” (p. 112). What a great perspective!  As a stay-at-home mom, it is so easy to get lost in mommy world.  It is easy to use my familiy as an excuse to not get involved in other ministry.  It is easy to put ministry, friendships, and even my marriage on the back burner while my attention is focused on the kids.

I love thinking of my kids as my platform.  They are the primary platform I have for ministry at this stage of my life.  But someday, they will be grown and God will provide another platform.  I need to look past the platform at the purpose.  How can I best glorify God in this season of my life and those that come later?  How can I make decisions based on my purpose, not just my platform?  How can I set an example for my kids, showing them that I not only love and serve them, but I love and serve God even more?


Patriotic Fruit Pizza and Ravioli Lasagna July 1, 2008

Filed under: wfmw — Marissa Henley @ 9:32 pm
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*** If this post seems a little random, it is because I am sharing my cooking genius with the blogging world via Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer. Click here to see everyone else’s recipes with 5 ingredients or less. ***

Patriotic Fruit Pizza

2 tubes sugar cookie dough

2 blocks cream cheese (softened)

1 large container marshmallow creme



Grease a cookie sheet with edges. Pat cookie dough relatively flat in a rectangular shape on the cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until you have one big beautiful rectangular cookie.

Combine cream cheese and marshmallow creme with electric mixer until smooth. When the big cookie has cooled, spread the mixture gently on top. Place blueberries in a square in the top left-hand corner to be the “stars.” Slice strawberries and line them up to be the “stripes.” Grab your sparklers and enjoy your 4th of July!

Ravioli Lasagna

1 package of your favorite ravioli from your grocery store’s refrigerated section

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 package provolone cheese slices

Pre-cooked chicken strips or chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces

Shredded mozzarella cheese or grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

(Sorry to not have exact amounts of the ingredients, this is a dump-and-bake kind of recipe.)

Cook ravioli according to package directions, drain. In a casserole dish, layer ravioli, spaghetti sauce, chicken and provolone slices, two or three times each. Top with mozzarella, parmesan, or more provolone. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Makes a great dish to take to a family who has just had a baby–they can stick it in the oven themselves, and it is usually a hit with the kids.