By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

Worship October 12, 2007

Filed under: parenting,spiritual growth,Uncategorized — Marissa Henley @ 1:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Last week at BSF, our teaching leader talked about how God created every human to worship. Every day, all of us are worshiping something–either the God of the Bible or someone/something else (which is idolatry). She asked us a couple of questions: Who or what do you worship? And what would others who observe you say that you worship?

The first question is one that I’ve thought about before, but the second one really got me thinking about my kids. I spend about 10 hours every day being observed by my two little munchkins. Although they are too young to articulate it, I wonder what they would say about my worship if they could. Would they say Mommy worships the things of this world, or the one true God? Do they see me chasing after the approval of others and materialistic things? Or do they see me in constant communion with my Savior? Am I worshiping myself, my desires, my comfort? Or I am making daily sacrifices to live a life that brings glory to God? I’m afraid the answers are very convicting. And seeing it through the eyes of my kids, I know that the object of my worship is not only impacting my spiritual life, but my kids’ understanding of a God-honoring life as well.

A few more things about my Grandpa’s passing (see post below) . . . spending time sharing stories and celebrating his life last week left me feeling so thankful for his legacy of faith in our family. I found out that the Scripture passage he was reading when he died was Psalm 145. The psalmist is praising God for His wonderful works and telling others of God’s greatness and majesty. I especially like verses 4-5:

4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

God has given us all the responsibility to tell the next generation about Him. My Grandpa certainly did his part. I hope that someday my kids and grandkids will say the same about me. And verse 5 gives me the key: I must be constantly meditating on God’s wondrous works, the foremost of which would be the work of Christ on the cross. If I am, my praise and thanks will overflow with a contagious joy that will point my kids to God. It is a lofty goal, for sure, but Grandpa showed me it can be done.


God is right on time. (But I wish He’d hurry up.) August 15, 2007

Filed under: parenting — Marissa Henley @ 2:56 am
Tags: , , ,

Last Sunday at our church community group, we were talking about how the Jews were expecting the Messiah, but Jesus did not fit with their expectations of a powerful, political figure. In the midst of the discussion, our leader commented that although circumstances around us don’t meet our expectations and often seem out of whack, “God is always right on time.”

It might seem silly, but it got me thinking about the expectations I have for daily life with my kids. Expectations that someday they will obey and share (maybe tomorrow). Expectations that I will be more patient. Expectations that I will suddenly love to cook and clean now that I have a beautiful, newer home. Expectations that Christopher will pee in the potty and not in his pants (this is the big one).

Since the move, we have had some serious potty regression with each new transition–Daddy being gone, Daddy being home, Daddy going back to work. I’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to help. I’m sure that I was the only one at community group the other night applying this great wisdom to potty training. But it occured to me that while I think God needs to fix this problem for me and He’s definitely running late, instead He is right on time.

I suspect that ultimately this has nothing to do with Christopher and everything to do with me learning patience, endurance, and how to show my son I love him as I change his underwear for the fifth time that day. My son’s failure to use the potty appropriately is an expression of God’s love for me and provision for me as He teaches me the lessons I so badly need to learn. This truth helped me make it through three accidents today with a much more joyful heart!


Smelling like crap June 25, 2007

Filed under: spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 1:18 am
Tags: , , ,

I have a friend, Sarah, who recently adopted her son from Ethiopia. That sentence makes it sound like such a simple thing, but it was far from simple. Sarah and her husband spent two years trying to adopt a son–hitting dead ends at every turn and having to start over countless times. As the long, difficult months turned into years, they kept pursuing their son. Finally, last month, they brought him home. And he has diarrhea. The crazy diarrhea that most of us would only encounter in our worst nightmares. The covered-in-poop needing-a-bath-at-2-a.m. variety that I think should earn Sarah the Mom’s Medal of Honor.

Sarah said something to me last week that I loved. (And don’t worry, friends, I’ll always get your permission before quoting you by name on my blog.) Of course, Sarah is thrilled to have her son with her and loves him immensely in spite of their poop-filled nights. And she said that this experience with her son is a great illustration of the love that God our Father has for us. We smell like crap to Him, and He still pursues us and loves us as His children.

It might seem a little shocking that Sarah thinks we smell like crap to God. (Or smelled like crap, if we are in Christ.) But this passage from Romans backs up her statement:

Romans 8:6-11 (emphasis mine):

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

I’ve never noticed before how in this passage, it seems that Paul has to ease us into the truth of our relationship to God before Christ. We don’t want to hear this, do we? But we can get used to the idea that we were weak without Christ. Although we were weak, Christ died for us. But then Paul says we were a little worse than that–we were sinners. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Then Paul hits us with this: we were enemies of God. Enemies?!? What could I have possibly done to be called an enemy of God? And yet, while we were enemies of God, Christ died for us.

If the only thing separating me from God was a little gossip and a dash of impatience with my children, maybe I could work that out on my own–somehow making myself righteous in God’s sight. But if I’m an enemy of God, how do I start to fix that? I can’t. It can only be done by the blood of Christ shed for me, reconciling me to God.

How does this apply to my struggles as a mom? Although it’s been awhile since we’ve had diarrhea around here, I often feel disgusted by my kids’ selfishness, exasperated by their disobedience, and exhausted by their constant neediness. However, I am called to love them as God has loved me. That is, I am called to love them when there is nothing about them that is lovely. I am called to love them sacrificially and lavish grace on them even though they have done nothing to deserve it.

How amazing that God would pursue me, reconcile me to Himself through the death of His own Son, and adopt me as His daughter when all I have to bring to the table is my status as an enemy of God who smells like crap.