Gretchen Saffles: Well-Watered Women
About the Guest
Feeling dry, unsatisfied, restless? Author Gretchen Saffles believes your life can be more — and you can be among well-watered women. Here’s how.
Gretchen Saffles: Well-Watered Women
Gretchen: We forget to be with Jesus. We forget that soul care and soul maintenance that we actually need every day; because when we’re pouring out, we get dry at the end of the day. I mean, you know, the rain comes on the earth; but then it dries up again. We need more rain for the plants to grow and for things to keep going. And the same is true for our souls. You can’t just fill up on Sunday and think that that’s going to keep your tank full the rest of the week.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
When we were in the midst of COVID, you made a decision. I thought this was pretty significant.
Dave: Well, I wish I could say I made the decision when COVID started. It took, I bet—
Dave: —a couple months.
Ann: Yes, I think so too.
Dave: And the decision was/when COVID started, I fell into a routine of waking up and grabbing my phone and reading the news.
Ann: We would do it at night, too; because it was the beginning, like, “What’s happening?”
Dave: I mean, obviously, you want to know what’s going on, and there was all kinds of news around the world about the disease/about the pandemic. I found myself—like the first thing—I was still in bed; I would grab my phone, which probably should be somewhere else, but it was right there on my nightstand. I’d go right to the New York Times. I would read the stats, and how it’s an outbreak, and the latest from the CDC.
All I know is I got fearful, and I got discouraged. It was, at least, a month/maybe two—I remember, one day, going—“This is not a good practice; this is absolutely terrible!” [Laughter] Not that I don’t want to know the news;—
Dave: —that is important. “I need to start with the Word.” And I chose to put the Word before the news.
Ann: I think a lot of us have heard this; but that saying is: “What you behold, you become.”
Ann: And I think that’s so true; because the more I behold something, I’m shaped by that.
We’ve got with us Gretchen Saffles today, again. I’m looking at you—you’re smiling—you wrote a book called The Well-Watered Woman. In that book—we read it—you talk about this very thing; that’s why we brought it up. You said, “Putting the Word”—I think—“before the world”?—
Dave: —is your phrase.
Gretchen: “Word before world.”
Dave: So welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Gretchen: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to talk about this, and I’m smiling because I did the same thing in that season.
Ann: You did? I bet a lot of us did!
Gretchen: Oh, yes!
Ann: Because we wanted to know what was happening.
Gretchen: Yes; I mean, it became addictive to go, “What’s the next thing?
Gretchen: “What did they find out?”
Gretchen: And I found myself just in this cycle of fear, and defeat, and discouragement.
Dave: I know you didn’t do it like me—because we’re empty-nesters—and you’ve got two little boys at home.
Gretchen: I know! [Laughter]
Dave: You’ve got a ministry you’re leading.
Ann: —that you founded: Well-Watered Women.
Dave: You’ve got a husband.
Dave: I mean, anyway, you’ve got all—I mean, you probably didn’t even get to sleep!
Dave: I mean, I wake up; and nobody’s there. I can grab my phone.
Gretchen: Oh, yes! My husband and I said, “Why couldn’t this have happened when we were newlyweds? We could have just had so much fun!”
Ann: That’s true.
Gretchen: But with young kids at home, you know, and everybody quarantined, whew! It was exhausting.
Gretchen: But yes, it’s so easy. I mean, really, our phones are addictive—it’s like this automatic thing—we reach for our phone, and we check it first thing without going to God’s Word.
Ann: It’s everything we’re searching and looking at.
Ann: And it’s easy to fall into the habit of doing that every day. I am with you on this.
Ann: This is my, “Ugh!”
Every time I’m in the Bible, and Dave and I are driving, I’m like, “Let me read you this!” Which is so interesting, because I remember being in my 30s—and I went to a conference/a women’s conference—and this older woman, who was probably in her 70s, said she’d been reading the One-Year Bible every single year for 20 years.
Ann: And I was like, “What?! How would you do that?” I’m always thinking, you know, “What should I read in the Word today?” But I heard her, and I thought, “I’m going to do that.”
Dave: She’s on year—16?
Ann: Yes, I’m on year 16.
Gretchen: That’s incredible—doing the One-Year Bible?
Ann: I like it because: I’ve got an Old Testament Scripture; I’ve got a New Testament, Psalm and Proverb.
Ann: Nothing has changed my life, besides Jesus, quite as much as just being in the Word.
Ann: It changes everything! It’s so good!
Dave: So talk about the “Word before world.”
Gretchen: Yes! Well, one thing that I say a lot—and I’ve learned myself is—“The more you taste Jesus in the Word, the rest of the world will lose its flavor.”
Gretchen: And so the more—you were listening to that lady, going, “How?!”—
Gretchen: —I had a mentor named Karen. She was just/she loves the Lord so much! You just/sitting in her presence, you were like, “Tell me about Jesus!” [Laughter] But she was a woman of the Word! She, for all of her children and grandchildren, read a Bible specifically for them, writing prayers and notes in it, and would give it to them.
Gretchen: And I would go, “How have you read that many Bibles?” She had a big family! But she loved the Word, and I saw that the more she tasted the goodness of God in His Word—
Gretchen: —not just in the passages that are comfortable—that’s what she desired! I have seen that in my own life.
And this was not just—you know, Dave, you were saying for a month or two you did this—this was a lot/a very long time for me—that I would sleep with my phone next to me. I would go to bed, scrolling—
Gretchen: —you know, reading, checking email: “Is there anything else I need to see before the day ends?” And then, I wouldn’t sleep great; or I would wake up in the middle of the night and “Oh, I can’t sleep. I should just, you know, check it and see how everything’s going.” Then, I would wake up and I’d do that.
My whole day was thrown off kilter! I didn’t have peace; I didn’t have direction or discernment. You know, everything just felt like it was falling apart; and I felt like I was falling behind—because, you know, the dawn of social media—you’re always seeing everyone’s accomplishments.
Ann: —and you’re comparing yourself.
Gretchen: You’re always! And it’s just right in front of our faces, more than it’s ever been. The more I filled my mind with that, the more it led me away from Jesus; it led me away from His Word.
Then, I would come to the Word, and I would spend time with Him, and go, “Why?!” “Why am I spending time on my phone?” But just/you know, I would see this huge difference. My husband could see it! People around us can see the difference when we have spent time with Jesus and when we haven’t.
I made a decision—you know, one year—I love reevaluating at the end of each year; I love that! Some people don’t really care, but I just find it really helpful for me to look back and to look ahead. I had always been a fan of making resolutions; but that year, I realized, “You know, the only thing—if I just did one thing this year; if I put God’s Word first in my day—if I didn’t pick up my phone right away—that would actually change everything. I don’t even have to make resolutions for all of these other things that I want to change, because God’s Word will inform and transform my life!”
I wrote that down: “I want to put the Word before the world.”
Ann: Okay; now, I’m listening to you, thinking, “You have two. Especially, when you made that decision,—
Ann: —did you have any kids yet?”
Gretchen: I did. Oh, yes! I was a young mom.
Ann: So they were little.
Ann: Man, as young moms, it’s the hardest thing to get in the Word—
Ann: —when you have your kids crawling all over you—then, they need you.
Dave: You have to run to the bathroom and lock the door; right?
Ann: No; they’re in there with you!
Gretchen: I was going to say: “They’re knocking.”
Gretchen: Their little fingers are coming under, going, “Mommy! Are you done?”
Gretchen: “What are you doing?”
Dave: Did you see how you both just jumped on that? That’s hilarious!
Ann: So how did you do that as a young mom? Because that’s the hardest time to get into the Word.
Shelby: You’re listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Gretchen Saffles on FamilyLife Today. We’ll hear Gretchen’s response in just a few seconds; but first, I wanted to let you know about a special group of people who make conversations like today’s actually possible. They’re called FamilyLife Partners. It’s a community of people, who believe in our mission, and give financially every month.
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Alright, now back to Dave and Ann with Gretchen Saffles and how she finds time to read the Bible with young kids at home.
Gretchen: I had to let go of my expectations of what it would look like to be in the Word; because for me, I thought, “If it’s not quiet…”;—
Gretchen: —“If it’s not early…”;—
Gretchen: —“If I don’t have my coffee, my journal…”—
Ann: “…my chair…”
Gretchen: Right! So it started to look like: “Okay, my kid—I woke up early—but they’re already awake!” Somehow, they know.
Ann: They know!
Gretchen: They know when I set my phone alarm early.
Ann: I know.
Gretchen: And they’re just like, “Hi, Mommy. Hi; I’m right here.” I started to realize: “I’m just going to have to open it with them right here. There may be a cartoon playing, and I may only get five minutes in the Word right now; but five minutes with Jesus is better than no time with Jesus.”
Gretchen: God can multiply those minutes. He knows our seasons of life; He knew I was busy! I found other creative ways; because sometimes, that five minutes just wasn’t enough. Praise the Lord, we have the audio Bible now! You know, we also have amazing podcasts, like this one, and things that we can pull up throughout the day that will feed our soul.
Dave: And I think we have to understand—I mean, I was thinking as you two ladies were talking—I thought, “It’s like this: ‘We all know how to plug in our phone—
Dave: —“every night, every day—whatever. We even have super chargers.
Dave: “And I think we have to understand that that is our soul.
Dave: “Well-watered woman/well-watered man is: ‘If I’m not connecting with Jesus’—
Dave: —nobody has a phone and doesn’t plug it in every night or, at least, to get charged. You’re like, “I can’t live without my phone being charged!”
Gretchen: Oh, yes! If it’s at one percent, you’re freaking out!
Gretchen: “If this dies, what’s going to happen?!”
Dave: And that’s our soul!—that’s our heart!—it’s like: “When’s the last time you plugged in?”
Gretchen: Yes; absolutely.
Ann: That’s good, Dave.
Dave: Well, I’ve gone a week: “I’m good!” No, you can’t go a week and be “good!” Your battery is dead.
Ann: You’re dry.
Dave: And everything you’re trying to do in your marriage, in your life, and in your ministry—you don’t have the energy—
Dave: —you don’t have the power. It’s literally through the source of the Word, which Jesus is the Living Word and the written Word—
Dave: —anyway, it’s a beautiful thing to hear you guys talk about.
Gretchen: Yes! Speaking of batteries, I was joking with you guys earlier how I know nothing about sports—[Laughter]—it’s embarrassing—my lack of sports knowledge. The same is true about cars. When my husband and I were dating, I had this Ford Taurus—old!—I mean, I can’t even tell you how old it was. It was embarrassing; when we traded it in, they were like, “Here’s $5 for your car; it’s worth nothing!” [Laughter]
I thought taking care of it is getting gas. And my boyfriend at the time—who is now my husband—he said, “Have you taken your car in, you know, to get the oil changed?—to get it checked?” And I was like, “What? [Laughter] Are you supposed to do that?”
He took it in for me. It was kind of driving, not-great; you know. But the car mechanic, when he picked it up, said, “The good news is your car is not going to die today. The bad news is, you drove it”—you know, he thought it was him—“10,000 miles past its needed oil change.”
Gretchen: I mean, it was—it really was—on the brink of death! And do you know why I drove it that far? Because you’re thinking, “Isn’t there a little light that comes on?”; right?
Gretchen: “You should see that there’s something wrong.” I had a Bible verse on my dashboard, and it covered it.
Dave: No way!
Ann: You never saw!
Gretchen: I had no clue! Absolutely no clue—driving all over the place with this oil sign, saying, “You need to change your oil,”—and isn’t that the same thing that can happen in our lives? We get so busy—
Dave: That’s hilarious!
Gretchen: —doing things that we forget to be with Jesus. We forget that soul care and soul maintenance that we actually need every day; because when we’re pouring out, you get dry at the end of the day. I mean, you know, the rain comes on the earth; but then it dries up again. We need more rain for the plants to grow and, you know, for things to keep going. And the same is true for our soul. You can’t just fill up on Sunday and think that that’s going to keep your tank full the rest of the week.
It's impossible, because you don’t know what Monday holds! Monday may hold a diagnosis or news of something that crushes you. Well, that news from Sunday—you still need good news today—and God’s Word does satisfy. You know, it says that: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” When we spend time in God’s Word, we are literally reading the words of God!—like the living and active words. No other news, no news article, no blog article, no Instagram® post will ever compare or be able to replace God’s living and active Word.
Dave: And it’s hard to explain—and I know we all know, based on this conversation—it’s hard to explain to somebody what time in the Word does to a follower of Christ’s soul. There’s something almost mysterious.
Dave: It’s like it’s powerful, but it’s beyond power; it’s supernatural. And, again, it isn’t like this vitamin—and if I miss it, it’s…—but there’s something that God resets: He reminds you who He is. I always used to preach that: “It’s not the size of your faith that matters; it’s the size of your God!”
Because we’re always like, “I want more faith!” Well, Jesus said you need mustard seed-sized faith/small faith. But if you don’t know who God is, then every time you open the Word—here’s what happens to me—I read; and I’m like, “Oh, my goodness; You’re that great! You’re that majestic! You’re that holy! You’re that big. I forgot!”
Dave: And so, it’s like this supercharge in your life that I don’t think you can understand until you do it. It’s like, “What just happened?” Everything got reset. The news is still the news, but I’m okay!
Dave: Why? God’s Word reminded me who He is. He’s with me. The God of all creation is literally in my life; I can make it today.
Ann: I think it would be really important—and I think this is important for all of us to really analyze our soul—you know, to think, “How are you doing right now? Do you feel dry? Do you feel broken? Do you feel defeated?”
Because, I mean, I love the words to the woman at the well when Jesus said, in John 4, to the woman at the well in Samaria: “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.” And I feel like that’s the world—when you drink it, you’re always—it’s the It Theology.
Gretchen: It is.
Ann: “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.” It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.
I’ve used that before—and I’m sorry I’m doing cleaning analogies here—but I take a sponge; you know?
Ann: And I cut it out into the shape of a heart. I remember standing on this stage with women. It [the sponge] was hard; it was crusty. You could take your finger on that sponge—and I put it on the microphone—it’s like, “This is how our hearts become.” And I would scratch like [scratching sound]; [Laughter] you know? It’s like this hard—you can’t bend it!—it’s hard. And I think it’s easy for us to get to that place.
Ann: And then, here’s what we can do: we go to church on Sunday, and you put this little drop of water on this sponge. It creates a little soft spot, but it still needs to be saturated!
Ann: The more we’re in God’s Word, the more we desire God’s Word, as you said, Gretchen.
Ann: The longer we’re away, we start looking for other things to fill us; and we don’t have the longing that we may have [had] to be in the Word.
I think it’s really good for us, as listeners, to think through: “How is my heart? Is it hard? Is it crunchy? Is it dry?”—
Ann: —if you talk about it. Or when you’re in the Word, and God starts to saturate it—you can squeeze that sponge! The fruit of the Spirit starts pouring out.
Ann: And that living water starts pouring out. Things aren’t perfect, but it gives you a new perspective.
Gretchen: Right! And you’re never too far off.
Gretchen: He always has the invitation of: “Come! Come!” You think of Isaiah 55; He’s saying, “Come!”—you know, anybody! “If you’ve got no bread, come and eat!”
Gretchen: “No money,”—“[there’s] no price,”—“just come!”
Then, you think of Matthew 11, when Jesus says, “Come, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” This morning, I was reading in Revelation 22. I’ve been really wanting to set my mind on the joy that is to come; that someday, there will be nothing accursed; there will be no pain, no hardship.
Gretchen: But when you get to the end, it says, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’” This is the open invitation from God to us: even when we feel discouraged; even when we’ve gone days, months—maybe someone’s listening/they’ve gone years—
Gretchen: —without opening the Word, and they feel too far off/too far gone: “I mean, how can I even open God’s Word? Where do I open God’s Word to?
Gretchen: “Will it still speak to me?” Yes! He says, “Come!” And God meets us there: He meets us in our brokenness, in our need, in our thirst.
And the thing is—you know, you mentioned reading the One-Year Bible—God’s Word is living and active. It’s not just passages that, you know, are just like: “Oh, I feel so good, walking away from that today.”
Gretchen: It’s also the passages, where you walk, away convicted and humbled,—
Ann: Oh, yes!
Gretchen: —and maybe even uncomfortable. I mean, there are days that I read Scripture, and I’m going, “Uh, what? I’m a little confused today.” But still, God speaks.
Gretchen: He’s still revealing Himself and the truth of His Word. He says, “Come!” No matter where you are—even if your life is a mess; even if it’s loud—because we think that a “quiet time” has to be quiet and look a certain way. [Laughter] No! I mean, leave your Bible open when you’re cooking dinner.
Gretchen: If you can’t find time/if your life is that busy, leave it open. You know, listen to it. There are so many spiritual disciplines that Jesus modeled for us in His life to show us that there are all these ways that: “You can commune with Me”: you can turn on worship music in the car; you know, listen to these podcasts; meditate on Scripture. You know, you can be standing in line in the grocery store and meditating on this miraculous truth of God’s Word. I mean, what a gift from God above!
Dave: As I’m listening to both of you talk, I also think everything we’re talking about, in terms of plugging in a daily rhythm of the Word, is also true for our marriages.
Dave: I mean, think about it.
Ann: Oh, yes!
Dave: It’s the same principle: if we’re not connecting as a couple, communicating, and—we wrote this in our Vertical Marriage book—one of the ways to bring the vertical relationship with Christ into your marriage is just to pray together. I mean, I pray; she prays—no, pray together—it doesn’t have to be a 20-minute prayer; it can be a 1-minute or a 5-minute prayer; but something happens when a couple, following Jesus, goes vertical together—right?—
Ann: Oh, yes.
Dave: —or even opens the Word together.
And again, there’s maybe a husband, going, “I don’t even know what to do.” Just open it up—
Dave: —almost anywhere. If you want somewhere to start, start in the book of Luke or the Gospel of John. Just read five verses about Jesus, and say, “Let’s talk about that.” I bet you God will meet you right there in your marriage.
Ann: Well, in the YouVersion app, there is even Scripture you can read together. You can have a Bible plan; you can read it together and comment on it. Those are just good strategies, especially if you’re busy and you have kids.
Ann: But it’s great for our kids to see that as well,—
Ann: —like, “Mom and Dad are praying together.”
I used to have a Bible in my car, in my bathroom, by the sink—it’s like all of the places I would stop—and I would just try to get a verse in here or there, because it’s feeding my soul.
Ann: And I think, too, with our kids, to get them to realize: “This is God’s Word, and He speaks to us through it!” It’s not some old, dusty book, lying up there, that we never open. Give them the significance: “God wants to talk to us through His Word!”
Even when we go to church—this is bad; this is something I did—we can become consumers at church. I remember—and here we are; we started our church—but I remember, when our kids were little, I would get in the car and say, “What did you guys think today?” Bad question!
Ann: Because now, “Okay, let me give you my opinion on what happened at church today.”
Ann: Talk about a consumer mentality that I was building into my kids.
I switched that as they got older; and I started saying, “Tell me what God said to you today through the Word. As the Word was preached, what did you feel like the Holy Spirit spoke to you?” Because then it gets them used to: “Oh, God wants to speak to me?!”—
Ann: —and “The Word was shared and God was speaking.” It helps them to anticipate: “Oh, I need to hear! God’s going to say something at church today through His Word.”
Gretchen: Yes! And then, it’s not about me.
Gretchen: It’s not about me and: “Well, how did you feel? What did you think?” No! It’s about God’s truth that never changes, but it always changes us.
Ann: And even if the pastor’s boring—
Ann: —God’s speaking today.
Gretchen: Yes; even if the worship is off.
Dave: Why would you say that, honey?
Ann: Not that you were ever [boring];—
Dave: Oh, whatever!
Ann: —you really weren’t.
Dave: All I would say is: “Today, open the Word. It’s that simple.” I mean, we can talk about it all you want. We talk about prayer all the time; how about you pray today? How about—you know what?—“Whatever day this is, this is the day I start a daily rhythm of opening the Word of God and watching.” Get the Word in your life.
By the way, don’t put it on your dashboard and cover up your oil light. [Laughter]
Dave: Just get the Word, open it up, and start a plan today. It will literally change your life!
Gretchen: Right. And if you miss a day, don’t quit.
Gretchen: Don’t give up. Don’t go, “Oh, well; there I go again. I’m going to set it aside again.” Come back. Remember that call to come; it’s always an open invitation from the Lord.
Ann: Thanks, Gretchen. That was really good.
Shelby: That’s Dave and Ann Wilson talking with Gretchen Saffles on FamilyLife Today. You can get a copy of Gretchen’s book, called Well-Watered Woman at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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So how do you fight loneliness when you’re a mom? Maybe you experience that as a mom yourself. Tomorrow, Dave and Ann are going to be talking with Heather MacFadyen about just that.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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