This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. Today, Laura and I are so excited for you to hear from our friend Gretchen Saffles from Life Lived Beautifully. She is a wife and a mom, an entrepreneur, a business owner and a minister of the Gospel in everything she does. She is on Risen Motherhood today talking about all about her journey into being a working mom, and how she has learned to balance the different aspects of her roles with the grace that God provides, looking to Christ for His sufficiency in everything that she does. We know you are going to be encouraged by this interview today. Anything that she mentions in the show, you can find in our show notes at risenmotherhood.com. Again, we know that you are going to be encouraged by this practical and Christ-exalting interview and you’re going to love Gretchen. Enjoy!
Laura: Hey Gretchen. Thank you so much for joining us today on Risen Motherhood. We are so happy to have you here.
Gretchen: Thank you for having me. I’ve been looking forward to it.
Laura: Us too. Let’s dive in fast. Can you tell us a little bit about what your day looks like? You’re a mom to Nolan, you’re a wife, and you have a business too. We want to hear a little bit about Gretchen!
Gretchen: This is a fun question because we have no typical day and I’m actually okay with that. Every day has its own different rhythm. Right now in this season, I work three days a week from home. For us, those three days, my son goes to someone’s house who watches him. That’s from about 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During those hours are when I buckle down and I work really, really hard. I try to plan out that day really well so I’m utilizing all of that time. Usually, I go in and out and I try to do some housework too in between all of that. The other four days, I’ve got my son with me and so we have different rhythms for those days. We go to the gym, we have play dates, we run errands and tackle all of the different home projects that we have as well.
Laura: I love the mix up of the days. Even not being a working mom, I know Emily and I can attest to every day looks different as a mom, no matter what you do, right?
Gretchen: Absolutely. It depends too on your child and how they are doing that day. You can have an amazing plan for the day and then everybody wakes up not feeling good or something. You’ve got to have the grace of flexibility. [laughter]
Laura: Can you tell us a little bit about your business, Life Lived Beautifully? Emily and I are huge fans. All of our listeners will probably have heard already about your journal, and your business, and how much we love you, but give us a little synopsis of what the business is and what your days look like with that.
Gretchen: I run a business that I never really intended on it becoming what it is, which is definitely how the Lord works. My vision behind it is to equip women to study God’s word and to stir in their hearts a passion to live for Christ every single day right where they are. I do this mainly through social media because I think that’s an amazing way to reach women across the world, which is beyond my comprehension that we can do that.
I also view it as a great opportunity. Women are on social media. You’re standing in the grocery line flipping through it and I hope that I can reach them with the truth of the Gospel where they are. That whenever they are maybe seeing something that’s discouraging or something that they would compare themselves to, that immediately they would stop and see Christ, and see the glory of His word.
Through Life Lived Beautifully, we create different Bible study tools, or journals, Bible studies and even things like coffee mugs that we hope are a beacon of hope for women as they sip their fifth cup of coffee during the day, [laughter] that they can see a reminder of who God is. My biggest vision is to meet women. I hope in the future, for us to be able to connect with them a little bit more than just through the internet, maybe in more face-to-face interactions and things like that.
Emily: That’s so encouraging Gretchen. I know I’m speaking for Laura and I when I say we both directly benefit from time that you spend. God is definitely using you as a conduit for His grace and reaching women with the Gospel. I don’t know how many times I’m scrolling through Instagram and just like you said, there’s something a little discouraging, and then I will run across a post that you write that reminds me to focus on Christ. It really is making an impact in the life of other women and I know that that is a really worthwhile investment. Laura and I would both affirm that. We’re glad that you take the time to do it and we will make sure and link to everything you guys need in our show notes because if you’re not following her, you should.
Gretchen: Everything I write is preaching to myself so it’s not like, “Oh, people need to hear this.” It’s, “Oh, I’ve got to know this for myself,” so somebody else probably does too.
Laura: That’s the heart behind Risen Motherhood as well. We are not telling people what to do. We’re like, “This is for our own souls,” and so we understand that. Your days are more than social media, of course. You’ve got a team of women that you manage, you’ve got accounting and books, you’ve got a shop. Your days are more than just putting up a meaningful social media post, which is valuable but as a full businesswoman, you’re an entrepreneur.
Gretchen: Yes, so I didn’t even mention any of that, [laughter] the team. We’re actually in different states, which adds a whole different dynamic. I’m the only one who’s in Tennessee so we communicate mainly through video chat, texting, email, things like that. Throughout the day, I’m designing and writing and communicating with our creative director. Her name is Rachael and she’s amazing. Then we’re constantly casting vision about, okay, what are we going to do next? The part of my business that I don’t love is the whole number crunching and figuring out, “Can we afford this? Can we do this? What does this look like?” Thankfully, I’ve got a wonderful business partner who handles all of the accounting, the numbers, the things that are not my strong suit. We are able to come together and really partner and strengthen each other in that, which is amazing.
Emily: Incredible to hear about all the different gifts that are even on your team of women that are willing to bring their stuff to the table so your guys can all fit together and make this amazing business in ministry.
Gretchen: I got to the point where I realized I couldn’t do it on my own. I wasn’t doing anybody a favor trying to do everything on my own because I can’t do it all. It was causing our family to not have the time that we needed, my marriage and it was a lot of stress on our shoulders. We prayed and God brought alongside people that could come and bear up some of the load and they could take on different aspects of the business where they are made to do that. They are strongly gifted in those areas and I’m so thankful. I’m getting to the point where I’m able to focus more on the things that God has called me to, instead of all these other things that can be a little side tracking. I’m very, very thankful for that. It’s neat to learn how to champion other women to do what God’s called them to do.
Laura: Did you always think that you would be a mom and be working or did you want to be a stay-at-home mom? What did you think it would be like and any misconceptions that you had?
Gretchen: I never dreamed of working at all. I always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom. I saw that as such a gift and a treasure and an opportunity. Like I said, I never imagined Life Lived Beautifully to become what it was or what it is today. When I got pregnant, I wrestled through, “What does this look like?” I had all the mom guilt even before I became a mom. I think no matter season you’re in, whether you work or you don’t work, we all carry different guilt. The enemy has his way of finding that one little area that he can pin point on us, to make us feel like we’re not doing enough or we’re not being enough. I struggled with that at first. What does that look like to stay at home too? I love what I do administering in business, but then I also love being a stay-at-home mom.
I’ve had to walk this line with a whole lot of grace because sometimes also there’s way too much and not on the other. Finding where the two meet in the middle is a daily surrender to the Lord and saying, “God, what does this look like today?” because it changes every single day with the needs. Some of the misconceptions that I had was, one, I think that working outside the home, you can often look inside the home and go, “It would be so much easier to be a stay-at-home mom.” Or if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you think, “It would be so much easier to be working so I don’t have to do all these things here,” and so I think it goes both ways. Being in the middle where I also work from home is a really weird dynamic because literally, my laundry room is in my office. I have a whole pile of laundry sitting next to us right now that as I’m working, I have to think, “God, what is my role in this second? Am I supposed to be doing the laundry right now or am I supposed to be writing something, or creating something, or emailing?” Really relying on the Lord and learning to plan my days well. I think that we are always looking to the other thing, like, “It would be so much easier if it was like that,” and it’s really not. Even as a stay-at-home mom, you’re working. You are working. You’re working so hard for the Kingdom. If you are working outside the home, if that’s what God’s called you to or stay at home, there’s different obstacles that come with all of those but really, they can be opportunities. For us to see, “Okay God, you called me to this, in this season,” that’s what gives us hope and purpose in what we do.
Emily: Such a good lesson for every single mom. We tend to put things in a box and think that it is simple, like what you’re saying Gretchen but we all need to view it as that second by second surrender of, “Lord, what have you called me to do right now?” We all have to be willing to lay aside our plans and our preconceived notions about how the day was going to go, or our agendas so that we can work hard for Him in that moment. That can be working hard at home or working hard outside the home. I think that’s such a universal need that we all have to continually surrender to the Lord.
Gretchen: One thing that came to my mind, I think it was last year, was, “I can’t run my race wearing my sister’s shoes.” I can’t be constantly looking to what somebody else is doing and thinking, “I should be doing that,” or, “I’m not doing enough,” or comparing motherhood and working and all of these different aspects. We can’t do that and be faithful to the Lord. We’ve got to keep our eyes on Him. We’ve got to constantly go back to the Lord, see what He’s called us to do and then align everything we do with that. I’ve gotten a lot of freedom from that and it’s something I have to remind myself of pretty much every day.
Laura: A little bit into that, but did God convict you of anything in particular as you grew in your role in motherhood? Some of these issues that you’re talking about facing. Can you explain through some of these things that you had to make changes on as you grew as a mom and a working mom?
Gretchen: Honestly, in every season and every stage of my son’s life, there’s been different convictions the Lord has brought. In the beginning honestly, one of the hardest things was trying to get something done and then viewing my son as more of an interruption. I would be working on something, maybe a blog post to encourage women and he would wake up from his nap early. Immediately, my heart would start to grumble and go, “Lord, I’m doing something for you, [laughter] and my son is awake and I can’t finish it.” I had this misconception of the fact that that’s Kingdom work. Going and nursing my son and taking care of him, that the moment he wakes up, God has switched my role and I am his momma right then.
He really convicted me about my son and my future children. They are not obstacles, or interruptions. They are a blessing and they are God’s calling in my life. I had to really learn the grace of flexibility and saying, “In this moment, it’s changed. I want to be faithful to God and what He has given me.” But then as he got older and I was able to get some help and maybe even be a little bit more independent. I wasn’t nursing anymore so I could be away from him a little bit longer. The big conviction came in with comparing myself to other women and saying, “They are doing all of these things. Surely, I can do all of this.” I found myself taking on way too much, even in the past year, to the point where I ran myself into the ground. I was saying yes to everything and not yes to the things that God had called me to and no to the right things.
That comparison actually led me to this pit where I had to stop everything for a while. I actually had health problems that arose at the same time too but those were God’s grace. They were His wake up call for me to say, “Hey, you can’t do it all. Nobody can do it all other than Jesus.” I had to lay aside all of my roles, my dreams, and my passions and say, “Okay God, what have you called me to in this season?” He’s really showed me that my limits are for His glory because He’s limitless. I recognize that I can’t do it all but I know the one who can do it all and I can be faithful with the things He’s called me to each day. That changed everything for me.
Emily: That is such an incredible lesson and encouragement. As you were talking about interruptions, I was thinking about, whether it’s a blog post or a phone call that your kiddo is not feeling well, I know there are mommies who are on their nurse shift or they’re at school or whatever and that thing comes up with their kiddos, and I’m sure it is really easy to view that as an interruption. I view it as an interruption when I am trying to fold laundry and somebody needs a snack. I think we all have that feeling of, “This is getting in the way of what I wanted to do,” and like you said, shifting that focus to, “No, this is Kingdom work. This is also part of my ministry. This is another aspect of my role,” and acknowledging our limits is so important. I feel like you’re speaking to my soul.
Gretchen: I looked to Jesus’ life and He constantly had interruptions. In Mark 1:35, Jesus goes away to pray and to be alone with the Father and the disciples come and interrupt Him. Immediately, Jesus isn’t like, “Excuse me! I am alone with the Father!” No! Jesus talks to them and He goes straight away with them and He says, “Look, I’ve got some new direction. We’re going to go to this place and I’m going to preach the good news there.” He didn’t view interruptions as obstacles but as opportunities.
There’s even a time when He was going through the crowd and the bleeding woman is touching Him and He’s going to heal somebody, and yet He stops right away and He doesn’t get angry with her. Instead, He heals her because of her faith. I saw those things in Scripture and I constantly do, and I see Jesus in no way was impatient with those people. He saw it as Kingdom work. He saw it as, “In this moment, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to bless this person. I’m going to get to them and I’m going to see that God is in control of time.”
We don’t even understand time. We get imprisoned by the clock and by our planners when really, we need to look to the Lord and He sees it all. Some days where we don’t get anything done on our to-do list, we did exactly what God was calling us to do that day, whether it’s taking care of a sick child or dealing with a lot of interruptions and things like that. I think that it is that constant surrender, constantly looking to Christ who has already gone before us, and who goes with us every single step of the way. I wanted to read a verse to you all that I constantly go back to. It’s Colossians 1:29. Paul was talking about doing His ministry and he’s there to proclaim the Gospel. He wants to encourage people with the hope of Jesus Christ and he says, “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me,” and that changes everything. We’re not working with our own energy. We are working with energy of Christ within us. He equips us to do what He’s called us to do.
Laura: That’s such good news, for any mom, as Emily was saying. I can see it really fitting well into my day. Even for someone who is at an accounting job all day or like Emily said, a nurse and she’s working a 12-hour shift and then has to go home and be a mom, that we are working for Christ for eternity. Both of these jobs matter and have value.
If you’re listening to Gretchen, it can be easy to see where Gretchen is doing Kingdom work at home as a mom and also in her business because it really is focused on an obvious way of encouraging women for eternity. But we want to encourage the mom who’s listening, who feels like, “My job doesn’t exactly relate.” How is it Gospel-centered to be a teacher or to work in public relations or communications or whatever you are doing at your corporate job, for example. We want to encourage you guys to all know that no matter what you are doing, those things are for eternity and for the Gospel. That these limits that are placed on us, you have them as well as any mom at home, but that Christ strengthens you in everything you do. The Gospel matters no matter what you day looks like and what your job description is.
Gretchen: Absolutely, and we can serve the Lord in everything that we do, which is amazing. Like you said, all of those different jobs. Before I did this, I actually worked in a store, in a clothing store and this looked so different. How do I serve the Lord whenever I’m picking out clothes for women? God really brought so many opportunities once I changed my perspective to see, “I can serve people in this area. I can serve them with the love of Christ working within me and not just to get something done.”
Can I recommend a book that I read that is so good and I think would encourage anybody listening. It’s called What’s Best Next, by Matt Perman. It has really helped give me this reality check with how I spend my time. How am I serving other people in Jesus name? How am I living out with this greater picture of the Gospel, driving everything that I do? Even when I’m grocery shopping and I’m in the store, connecting with people there. How am I loving them in Jesus’ name? How do they see that I’m the salt and light of the earth because Christ is within me? It really changes my perspective on everything that I do. Even when I’m not doing things with Life Lived Beautifully, there’s so much of our life that nobody sees whenever I’m folding laundry. Nobody can see my heart attitude, and nobody can see yours but the Lord does and that’s what matters the most.
Laura: As mothers, we all know we have this Biblical calling to pass on the Gospel to our children. That’s no matter what your day looks like and where you spend the majority of your time or some of your time. Gretchen, this is something that takes, as you know, a lot of planning, a lot of intentionality and understanding your purpose. How do you balance this while being a working mom and what are some of those difficult choices that you’ve had to make?
Gretchen: My son is 20 months right now so he’s at the stage where he’s young to comprehend a lot of things but he’s also getting older where he can come alongside with me. There’s a few ways that I try to do this in our own family. The first thing is I want to bring Nolan along with me, in what I’m doing. I want him to see that this is kingdom work, that this matters for the Lord and that this is important. I want to show him the value of hard work and the value of reaching out to people and serving them in Jesus’ name. I try to bring him along with me as much as I can. Whether it’s traveling, even if he sees me doing something, working on something, I know once he gets older and starts asking questions, I’ll be able to explain the purpose more. Right now, I want him to be able to see my actions and my attitude, and my heart’s response to these things.
The other thing, since he’s still young, I still am trying to bring in Scripture into our day. Whether it’s reading Scripture out loud whenever he’s sitting at breakfast. Psalm 100 is a Psalm, it’s only five verses and I want to teach him that Psalm. It’s a simple one and I want to go ahead and hide that truth in his heart so I read that out loud to him. I made a book for him for Christmas. You know how you can make those picture books with their pictures throughout? I made one of those. I wrote a short little story but I included Scripture throughout it too, because little kids love looking at pictures of themselves. I was like, “Okay, he can look at himself and then I can also have scripture that I want him to know.” That was one way that I was trying to think of, “What’s a creative way to hide this truth in his heart so it’s right before his eyes?”
Then the last way that I’m learning to do this and to pass on the Gospel to him is through loving discipline. This is a hard one but learning to discipline him right now, to show him his boundaries and the things that he can’t do. If he’s learning his own personality and he has his own will, to discipline him in a loving corrective way and to show him the right way to go, is actually passing on the Gospel to him because that’s what the Father does for us. Because He loves us so much, He disciplines us and He shows us this is the better way to go. He wants us to be more like Christ. This one is probably the hardest one for me right now is learning that I don’t want to let these things slide. I want him to see why it’s important to not touch the stove or things like that. To lovingly correct him in the name of Christ and to show him, “This is the better way because I love you.” I’m sure you all can show me a lot more about that! [laughter]
Emily: I don’t know. Laura and I are really still trying to figure it out. But you gave so many good examples in there Gretchen of really practical things that moms can do. One thing that I wanted to pull out that I think would be helpful for any mom whether you are working or not, is passing along the Gospel to a rhythm in your day that’s already happening with your children. Whether that’s breakfast or before bed or in the car on the way to take them to whoever their caregiver is. I need that as a stay-at-home mom. It does happen naturally a little bit but I need that reminder of the thing that happens every day. I think that that’s something that, if a mom is wondering, “What’s one thing I can start to do right now in our busy life, to be intentional?” is like you said, find that time of day where it can trigger that repeated routine. You’re not adding something new. You’re just capitalizing on a time that you already have with your child.
Gretchen: Yes, and just leaving the things out, the tools out that are necessary to do that. If you want to teach them scripture, leave the Scripture cards sitting out where they are going to grab them and you can say, “Let’s read this out loud,” having it right there. We listen to Seeds Family Worship, which is like scripture, they sing Scripture and I love it. First of all, Greg and I are singing it all the time. Nolan, he’ll clap to it and I’m thinking, “The Lord is hiding these things in his heart. These are little seeds that God is planting and I trust that he’s going to water it to make it grow up, to be this fruit of the Gospel in his own life.
Laura: I have to be honest. We do a quiet time each morning with our kids in the morning at breakfast. There have been some days that I haven’t really wanted to do it because I want to get some stuff done because we’re trying to get out the door and I need to make lunches or do whatever. My son will point at the counter where we keep our book and Bible and he will say, “We’ve got to do our quiet time mom. We can’t miss our quiet time!” The Lord has used him to convict me of something I said, “That needs to wait because something else is more important or more pressing at this moment.” But my son, my three-year old, will remind me of, “Hey this is what’s important.” Because we’ve built it into a rhythm and as a routine, it’s pretty neat to see how God uses that to keep it in the forefront of our minds, and how children really do latch on and love those things. While they love it, let’s do it. These little years are the years that they are going to soak it up willingly and hopefully, for a very long time. Especially now, we’re really building that foundation, as we’re all talking about, with these younger children with habits that should hopefully last forever.
Gretchen: That is so neat to hear.
Laura: I know. It’s embarrassing for me to admit [laughter] because I’m like, “Urgh.”
Gretchen: Yes, motherhood is humbling!
Laura: It so is. Anything else Gretchen as we wrap up our time together? Any charge you would like to give to working moms or encouragement or something that’s been especially edifying to you, that you would like to leave as a last word?
Gretchen: Yes, one of the things that I learned so much about is that God is greater than my ability. We work with His ability and His power within us. Our insufficiencies and the things that we try to hide from other people, those are the things that we can truly boast and then say, “God, I am weak but you are strong.” A prayer that I pray all the time, I was actually looking through some old journals the other day and I found, when I started writing it years ago is, “Jesus, be in me all that I cannot be.” I cannot be the wife, the mother, the worker that created all of these things, the daughter, the friend, without Christ within me because in my own strength, I can’t measure up. But with Christ within me, He is the one who measures up. He equips us for what He calls us to do. Our insufficiencies and the things that we feel like we don’t measure up, those are things that we can lay at the cross and see that Christ, He is the fullness of all in all. He is everything that we need. He gives us what we need, for every single moment of the day and that changes everything.
For the wife, for the momma who’s listening, if you stay at home, if you work and if you’re feeling like you are less than or not enough or you can’t accomplish the things that God has called you to, I want to challenge you to look to Christ, to see that He is your sufficiency. He is everything that you need. To pray that prayer, “Jesus, be in me all that I cannot be.” To know that He absolutely is going to do that. He is going to come and He is going to show up in your days and He is so faithful to do that. That’s something that I have to preach to myself often and that I hope encourages you as well.
Emily: So good. It’s early morning here and I know we’re feeling all the warm fuzzies of, “Yes, I’m going to go look to Christ today to be all that I cannot be.” [laughter]
Laura: We have not faced the day yet but we’re feeling real good right now while our kids are sleeping. [laughter] That is such great encouragement Gretchen. Thank you so much for being on the show. We truly appreciate it. I know there’s so much wisdom here for moms from all walks of life. We appreciate your business, we are grateful for what you do and thanks so much for joining us.
Gretchen: Thank you for having me.