By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

A New Life Verse July 30, 2009

I think I have found my “Life Verse.”  I’ve never had a life verse before, but I know people who do.  The verses are usually very inspirational, something along the lines of reaching the nations or future generations for God.  Good stuff, really.  My favorite verse thus far is Romans 8:1, but it didn’t seem to fall into the Life Verse category.

But a couple of weeks ago when I was doing my Bible study (an awesome study of God’s attributes which deserves many, many blog posts that I don’t currently have time to write), I came across a verse I’ve never noticed before:

2 Chronicles 20:12:  We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Some context for those of you who don’t have 2 Chronicles memorized:  King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites are watching multiple nations of enemies coming against them in battle.  They know there is no way they can defeat this multitude.  Jehoshaphat calls the people together, and they cry out to the Lord, asking what they should do.  It specifically mentions that they are all standing before the Lord, along with their wives and children.   Can you imagine this picture?  Standing there, clutching your children to you, watching the enemy come, knowing you are powerless against them and crying out to the Lord for help.  (To see how it ends, see 2 Chronicles 20.)

This has definitely become my Summer Verse, if not my Life Verse.  For one thing, this verse is very easy to memorize.  It rhymes and has lots of 2’s in the reference.  And if there is one theme in my life right now, it is that I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how to encourage my 5-year-old to not become a prideful Pharisee who craves approval and does all the right things only when someone is watching.  (It takes one to know one, and that kid is just like me.)  I don’t know how to encourage my 3-year-old to put his poop in the potty rather than in his pants.  And I certainly don’t know how to encourage my sister-in-law as she battles the most formidable enemy we’ve faced in a long time:  breast cancer.

I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on the One who is my refuge and strength, an very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).  He promises His perfect wisdom is ours for the asking. (James 1:5).  He hems me in, behind and before, and lays His hand upon me (Psalm 139:5).  When my eyes are on Him, I can choose to be overwhelmed by His love and goodness toward me, rather than being overwhelmed by my circumstances.  (With thanks to my summer Bible study leader for this last thought.)

I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You.


A Mother of Three May 28, 2009

Filed under: parenting — Marissa Henley @ 2:10 pm
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Wow, it has been a really long time since I’ve posted to this blog!  If anyone out there is still reading, thanks for sticking with me.  For any of you who don’t know me personally, I’m happy to announce that my daughter, Sarah Kate, was born on April 27.  She is healthy, a great sleeper, and very snuggly and sweet.  She has already captured the hearts of her two older brothers.  (Although her arrival may or may not have anything to do with Will deciding he is no longer going to use the potty.)

I have to admit, I was very anxious about Sarah Kate’s first few weeks.  I struggled a lot after my last baby (Will) was born–I was a mess emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.  I was hopeful that things would be different this time around, mostly because when my boys were born, I was not consistently in God’s Word.  Thankfully, by God’s grace, I have a more sure foundation this time around.

Now, one month into this grand adventure of life with three kids, I can see God’s faithfulness to our family in so many ways.  Sarah Kate’s first week was rough from a sleeping perspective . . . she was happy to sleep during the day but not at all interested in sleeping at night.  My husband had taken that first week off, so he was a huge help to me in the middle of the night.  I was terrified to think what would happen when he went back to work and couldn’t be up all night, every night with Sarah Kate and me.  But the night before he went back to work, Sarah Kate figured out that nighttime is for sleeping.  And our nights have been very manageable ever since!  God knows what we can handle, and He won’t give us a smidge more than that.

Not to keep harping on sleep (but we all know it is one of the only things a mother of a newborn can think about), but since that first week, Sarah Kate has been a great sleeper.  And our few difficult nights have usually been followed by a day when someone else is helping me with the boys and I am able to rest.  I have seen God’s hand providing for my need for sleep over and over again.

I’ve found that the most difficult thing for me right now is juggling the needs of the three kids during the day.  My temper is short and patience is lacking.  There have been some really ugly days.  I alternate between moments of overwhelming gratitude and seeing God’s faithfulness, and moments (okay, sometimes hours) of discontentment and longing for life to feel normal.  I’ve been praying for wisdom, self-control and patience this week, and God has been providing.  I know this will continue to be a struggle for me.  I am constantly being called to die to myself and my selfish desires and lay down my life for my kids.  It hurts sometimes, but God provides the strength to do it, and He is glorified by our obedience!


Being a little girl’s mom February 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marissa Henley @ 10:57 am
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After a few years of experience as a boy mom, they tell me this one’s gonna be a girl.  As excited as I am about buying pink, I’m a little nervous about this.  (And not only because I spent most of my adolescence yelling hurtful things at my own mother.)  The other day when I was praying for my kids and their marriages and future spouses, I was reminded again of the weight of responsibility that comes with raising a girl.  When raising my boys to be godly husbands and fathers, I can point to their father and say, “Look at how hard he works to support his family.  Look at how he helps me when he gets home and cares about spending time with you.”  Thankfully, my boys have a wonderful example to follow.

But this little girl will learn the most about being a wife and mom from MY day-to-day example.  What will she see?  Will she see laziness and selfishness, or diligence and service?  Will she see respect or resentment toward my husband?  Submission or manipulation?  Patience in disciplining my children, or a lack of self-control?  Will she learn to be frugal and wise in her spending habits, or will she see me rationalizing and spending on my own desires?  Will she see me seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, or will she see me seeking after the things of this world?

I am not perfect.  There are sin patterns in my life that I know my daughter will see, and I pray that God will protect her from following when I am a poor example.  I know that God is probably bringing a little girl into my life to provide even more accountability than my sons already have.


A couple of ideas January 13, 2009

Filed under: parenting,spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 3:11 pm
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Occasionally I have a good idea.  It doesn’t happen often.  In fact, I think in the past year, I have had exactly two good ideas.  The second is the reason I’m writing this post, but I’ll share the first as a bonus.

Firstly, I have friends who teach their children the “Interrupting Rule”:  when mom is talking to another adult, either in person or on the phone, and the child has something to say, the child quietly puts his hand on his mom’s arm.  The mom puts her hand on top of his in acknowledgment, and when there is an opportunity, gives the child a chance to speak.  I’ve always admired this rule.  Last fall, I decided to teach it to Christopher.  As I was explaining what I wanted him to do, I had a moment of brilliance . . . I called it our “secret signal.”  There is something intriguing to a 4-year-old boy about having a secret signal, and he caught on right away.  He is terrific at giving me the secret signal!  Sometimes he even gives it to grandparents and other adults who can’t quite figure out why he is standing there with his hand on their arm.  🙂

My recent good idea has to do with praying for my kids.  I have used a couple of different books in the past, and they have been a great help.  My struggle recently has been wanting to spend in-depth time each day praying for my children.  Last summer, I typed out topics and Scripture from “Praying the Scriptures for your Children” by Jodie Berndt.  I have used them some, but not as consistently as I’d like.

So the other night I cut and pasted the verses into a small notebook, making a flip calendar for myself.  I put it by my bathroom sink, since I spend 10-30 minutes there every morning doing mundane tasks such as brushing my teeth and drying my hair.  I realize this is not as ideal as sitting quietly, devoting myself only to praying these Scriptures for my children, but at least I am reminded of the topic and some verses that I can call to mind during the day.  I also find the verses to be edifying for my personal walk with the Lord each day.  When I’m done with Berndt’s topics, I may cut and paste my notes from “31 Days of Prayer for My Child”–another great resource about praying for your children.



New Seeds Music CD November 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marissa Henley @ 8:29 pm
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I’m slowly emerging from the first-trimester fog and hope to be back to blogging soon.  In the meantime, I want to tell everyone about a new cd from Seeds Music–“The Power of Encouragement.”


I was fortunate enough to get this cd a while ago, and my kids LOVE it.  Their favorite songs are “Take Heart” and “Go.”  My favorite is “A Servant to All,” which talks about anyone who wants to be first being last.  One day after we’d been listening to this cd, Christopher decided to give up his turn to choose what video to watch and quoted the verse!  I have to admit, this has only happened once, but it made my day!  This cd is upbeat and the Bible verses are terrific ones for both me and the kids to commit to memory.  I highly recommend it!  We also have the Faith and Praise cds, and they are excellent as well.  Click here to see a previous post I wrote about these great cds.


Proverbs, Part 2 August 27, 2008

I’ve been reading Proverbs this summer and finally finished.  It was excellent!  (Of course.)  Here are some of my favorite encouraging and convicting verses from the second half of the book:

Proverbs 14:29:  Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Very convicting–the last thing we need around here is more folly!

Proverbs 15:28:  The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. I really stink at pondering how to answer.  I prefer to pour out whatever comes to mind.  I want to ponder like the righteous!

Proverbs 23:12:  Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. This one is for me and for my kids.  I’ve been praying for a verse for our part-time homeschooling next year, and I think this may be it.

Proverbs 27:14:  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! I stink at waiting even more than I stink at pondering how to answer.

Proverbs 29:17:  Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. What a fabulous promise!  Did you see that, moms?!?  He said REST!!

Proverbs 30:5:  Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. What great truth and comfort.

Proverbs 31:11, 26-27:  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I’ve been inspired by the Proverbs 31 Woman for a long time.  This month, verse 11 stood out to me with regard to my spending habits.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. Can my husband completely trust the way I handle our money and run our household?  Am I doing all I can to make sure he has “no lack of gain”?  Or am I adding to his stress as he works to keep up with my spending?  (Answers:  No, No, and Yes.)  What can I do differently to be more worthy of his trust and add to his gain?


Sowing Seeds of God’s Word August 14, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marissa Henley @ 9:32 pm
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Galatians 6:7-9: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

One of my most important jobs as a mom is to plant seeds of God’s truth in my children’s hearts. Two great tools I have been using recently are Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Hearts CD and my new CD’s from Seeds Music. I love the Steve Green CD, but the Seeds music CD’s are FABULOUS. (Thank you, Julie, for introducing me to them!) They have adults and children singing, but it is so well done that I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself listening to them even without kids in the backseat. Honestly, the Ephesians 2:8 song brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. I have the Praise and Faith albums, and I plan to order the others soon.

It is such a blessing for me to watch my kids as they listen to God’s Word set to music. I pray that God will take these seeds we are planting and grow them into living, active faith in Christ. I’ll admit it, I’m becoming a bit of a fanatic. It is hard to get excited about singing about bus drivers and climbing spiders with my kids when we could be singing, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). There’s just nothing better than the Word of God.