By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

Top 10 Reasons to have a Daily Quiet Time June 30, 2008

Filed under: spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 1:51 pm
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I realize that many ladies in my stage of life (mother of young kids) are not spending time daily in prayer and God’s Word. I know this because I used to be one of them. In college, I thought, “When I don’t have all this studying to do, I’ll spend more time in God’s Word.” When I graduated and started working, I though, “When I stay home with kids and don’t have to leave the house so early, I’ll start having a daily quiet time.” And when I became a stay-at-home mom, I thought, “When my kids are at school all day, THEN I’ll finally have time to get a great prayer life started and read my Bible more.” I thought it was perfectly acceptable to chalk up my lack of discipline to this stressful, exhausting season of my life and only crack open my Bible a couple of times a week.

Then came Bible Study Fellowship and its daily homework. And the realization that if I am in God’s Word on a daily (or almost daily) basis, He will teach me, mold me, strengthen me, and make me more like Christ (which also means being a better mom to my kids).

So if you are using whatever season of life you are in as an excuse to put off developing a daily time with your Savior, let me ask you consider my top ten reasons why you should have a daily quiet time. I’m just putting it out there . . . let the Holy Spirit convict where He may.

10. It gives you an opportunity to pray for yourself. No one knows your struggles like you do, and so no one else is better equipped to intercede for you to the Father for what you need each day. Most of my prayer list is for myself–praying that God would give me wisdom about specific situations, take away anger, anxiety, frustration, etc. Take time to lay your struggles before God and ask for His provision.

9. It gives you an opportunity to pray for your husband and children. I’ve already posted about a great way to pray for your kids during the month. There is nothing more important you will do for your family.

8. You are setting an example for your children. When your kids hit the teenage years, do you want them to be reading God’s Word? How about when they are out from under your roof, facing the questions and temptations of the college years? And what habits would you like them to have when they are raising your grandchildren? Start setting an example for them now.

7. You are filling your spiritual “pantry” with wisdom and truth to feed your family and friends in their times of need. See this previous post for an explanation.

6. If you want to follow the command of Deuteronomy 6 to teach God’s Word to your children, you need to know it yourself. Much of the discipline I strive to use with my children involves teaching them God’s Word and what it says about how we are to love God and each other. My discipline will be either hypocritical and/or superficial if I’m not writing God’s Word on my own heart before I try to write it on my children’s heart.

5. If you want to bear fruit, you must be connected to the vine (John 15:4-5,8). As this passage in John reminds us, apart from Christ, we can do nothing. If we are connected to the Vine (Christ), we will bear much fruit and bring glory to God. I want to bear fruit for God in all that I do, especially in raising my children. I must be connected to my Savior in order to accomplish that goal.

4. If you need wisdom, God will provide perfect wisdom beyond any wisdom of this world (James 1:5). It is easy to feel uncertain about how to raise kids. How tightly do you control their activities and friends? What worldly influences do you allow in their lives? Do you let them do soccer, AWANAs, or both? And we aren’t even out of the preschool years yet! I need God’s perfect wisdom, and His Word and prayer are how I can get it.

3. Christ told Mary and Martha that spending time at His feet is more important than our to-do list (Luke 10:38-42). As my pastor’s wife says, spending time with God is even more important than getting your shower. (And she never smells bad, so she must find time for both.) Your family will benefit more from having you spend time in God’s Word than having a gourmet hot dinner or a clean bathroom.

2. Christ set an example for us by spending time with His Father (Matthew 26:36-44). If there was anyone who knew God’s Word and God’s will perfectly, it was Jesus. And yet He took time away to talk with His Father and ask for strength to do His will.

1. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Does teaching, reproof, correction, or training sound like anything you do during the day? Enough said.

I say these things not to make myself look better, but only to glorify God and what He is doing in my life. I would not choose to make time for Him if He did not give me the strength and conviction to do so. I have seen the fruit of my time with Him in my daily life and in my relationships, and that makes me want other moms to experience the same benefits.

If you are willing to share, what are your reasons for spending time with God, or what obstacles keep you from it? I’d love to hear your comments.

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How to be a better mom May 7, 2008

Filed under: parenting,spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 12:59 pm
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I don’t know about you, but I am constantly wondering how I could be a better mom. I’ve read a lot of books and talked to a lot of experienced moms, searching for information that might help in my own child-raising struggles. Sometimes I’ll even manage to put a great idea into practice for about a week, and then I fall right back into the same pattern of begging, yelling and bribing in an effort to squeeze some small amount of obedience from my children. I start the day wanting to set a joyful tone for our home, but I find myself become discouraged and irritable, often by 9:00 a.m. (on good days). I feel like I have the pieces of the puzzle, but I can’t keep them together for more than a couple of hours at a time.

On my search for the answer to these dilemmas, I would hear people talk about spending time daily in God’s Word and in prayer. Honestly, I thought it was a little legalistic and regimented. I knew I should be spending more time with God, but it was so hard to set aside the time. (Strangely enough, I have no problem finding the time to play on Facebook and watch American Idol.)

Then came Bible Study Fellowship. I am finishing my first year in BSF, and I can now say that I have discovered the secret to being a better mom. Those “legalists” were right: the answer is spending time with God daily. (Or almost daily, in my case–just being honest!) I still fall short over and over again . . . take this morning, for example, when I was yelling at Christopher about 30 minutes before leaving for BSF. But I find myself less discouraged, less irritable, more joyful, and handling the rough spots in my life much better than I did a year ago. I know the reason for this is that God has been convicting me of my sin and teaching me about His character and truth through my study of His Word. I look forward to becoming even more wise, self-controlled and joyful in my parenting as He teaches me more.

At this point, you might be thinking, “This BSF has a parenting class?” That’s the crazy part about it. I’ve been studying the Gospel of Matthew this year. From the book of Matthew, I’ve learned huge lessons about materialism, obedience, forgiveness, relying on God’s strength, worship, contentment, being a better wife and mom, and so much more. God’s Word is always effective–when it goes out, it never returns void–so no matter what you are studying in God’s Word, He knows what you need and He will teach you through His Truth. It shouldn’t have taken me this long to figure out: Christ tells us in John 15:4-5 that we need to abide in Him. Jesus said that He is the Vine, we are the branches, and we cannot bear fruit apart from Him. It is only by being connected to the Vine that we can accomplish what He has called us to do.

So if you want to be a better mom (or wife, or daughter, or friend), let me encourage you to plug yourself into the only Vine that can provide what you need. If you do not have a Bible study that challenges you to daily study God’s Word and apply it to your life, check to see if there is a BSF group in your area. You can search for BSF classes near you by going to www.bsfinternational.org. It is very likely that your local BSF will be having an intro class during the week of May 12, when you could hear more about BSF and register to be in the class in the fall. If you are reading this after the week of May 12, you can attend intro classes in September and not be too far behind. Two things I love about BSF are the weekly lessons that hold me accountable to be in God’s Word throughout the week and the children’s program for children ages 2 and up. It is not just child care–the children study the same passage as we do, and the program is fabulous.

I’m amazed as I look back at my blog entries since September–almost all of them have been influence in some way by my BSF studies. If you are like me, struggling to keep the puzzle pieces together, please take the time to find a Bible study that will keep you daily connected to the Vine. If you would like more information about BSF, leave me a comment and I will get in touch with you.