Letting Go of Good Things

For most of my life I have been someone who loves being involved in things. It doesn’t really matter what the thing is, if something fun or interesting or exciting is going on, I kind of want to be there. I’ve gone through phases where this is less true, but for the most part, it’s basically who I am.

So it may come as no surprise that I tend to keep a pretty full calendar. This can be a challenge to manage, and also a challenge for everyone who has to help me manage it, namely my husband and my mom. There is always a dinner, a Mom’s Night Out, a coffee date, a wedding shower, etc – it can be kind of stressful to try and fit it all in.

The seasons of my life dictate where most of my time is spent – a couple of years ago I spent the majority of my free time at playdates with Grayson and his little friends. Now most of my time is split between my friends and family, MOPS and church, and working on Haven Gray Kids. Every day I wake up with a to-do list a mile long, and every night I fall into bed feeling like I accomplished not a whole lot and apprehensive about the fact that I most likely won’t get much more done the next day. Even though everything I’m doing is fun, exciting, meaningful, whatever that particular thing may be, I’ve realized recently that I am completely and totally overwhelmed.

Letting Go of Good Things | Haven Gray {The Blog}I started praying that I would know if I’m doing the right things in my life, the things that God has for me, because honestly, what’s the point if I’m not following the path He’s laid out for me? I know this feeling of being overwhelmed 24/7 cannot be good for me, so I know I’m going to have to let some things go. And the awful part is, there’s nothing bad to let go of – honestly, nothing really even mediocre. I love everything that I’m a part of, and I don’t want to give up any of it. But I feel like in order to be the best mommy, wife, daughter, friend, and entrepreneur that I can be, it’s necessary.

I’ve wrestled here for awhile now, feeling like I knew the answer and then convincing myself I can still do it all, that it’s fine and I just need to get more organized and then it will be ok. But after praying specifically about what I need to do in a few situations, I know the answer is to let it go. Let go of these good things – maybe so that there is room for better things to come along. As long as I’m living in this place of constant overwhelm, there’s not an inch of space for anything new to come in. And I’m almost positive there are some really great new things on their way.

So I’ll let go of these good, great, wonderful things, and step out in faith that this is what is best. I’ll trust that God has heard my prayers and that He will show me my path – my next right step, as a sweet friend of mine says she always prays.  So I’m moving forward, letting go of what feels right, as hard as it may be, and focusing on the hope of what’s to come.

Bible Verses for When You’re Feeling Discouraged

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the world that we live in these days is on fast forward or something. There are a million things to do – errands to run, children to take care of, meals to cook, bathrooms to clean, books to read – my brain is literally a never-ending to do list that seems to grow by the minute. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all, and honestly, it can be easy to get discouraged at the thought that it will never all be accomplished – and if it is, it likely won’t be done to the best of my ability for lack of time. For a slight perfectionist that’s a tough thing to come to terms with.

Something I’ve learned over the last few months is that the Bible is an amazing source of encouragement for me. Now, I will freely admit that I am no theologian and the true meaning of these verses is most likely much deeper than I realize – but my interpretation, for where I’m at in my life, seems to help me get through the challenging times. Today I wanted to share a few of my favorites that give me a little extra boost of encouragement on the really tough days.

Bible Verses for When You're Feeling Discouraged | Haven Gray The Blog

  • And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

As a mom, it is incredibly easy to grow weary of doing alllll the good things, because often it seems as if no one notices the good that you are doing. You literally give your all to the tiny people that you are raising, and many days it feels as if you’re doing it all wrong. The endless cleaning, cooking, disciplining, playing, bathing, etc…it can be exhausting and feel incredibly mundane. But what I take away from this verse is that if we press through the hard times, the tiring times, the frustrating times, we will reap amazing things in these fully formed, functioning members of society that we raise into adulthood. Parenting with the end in site isn’t always easy, but sometimes it’s good perspective to have.

  • For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” – Isaiah 41:13

Before I became a mother I was an incredibly fearful person. Nearly anything that came up caused extreme anxiety, and I was terrified that I would be a basket case once I had children. Somehow, miraculously, I am now less fearful than I was before I had children, but when I do start to feel that fear creep in when I’m worried about sickness or injuries or made up scenarios in my head that are unlikely to ever happen, I remind myself that God is with me. He is right beside me, carrying me through, and he can take that fear from me. Not only that, but he loves my babies more than I can even fathom, and he wants good things for all of us. All I have to do is ask for help and I can feel that almost instant relief that I’m not the one in control, and God is ready and willing to help me.

  • I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

Something that I’ve struggled with for most of my life is insecurity. I am lightyears ahead of where I used to be, but I still struggle to think that I am capable of accomplishing all of the hopes and dreams that I have for myself and my future. This verse always helps me center myself and reminds me that I’m right, I probably can’t do it – but I can do it through Him. The things that I have in this little brain of mine are bold and brave and frankly way beyond anything I’m qualified to do, but I know that if these things are what He has placed on my heart and what I am called to do, He will make a way for them to happen.

  • Keep your love for one another at full strength, because love covers a multitude of sins. –1 Peter 4:8

This is encouraging on the days that motherhood just seems to be a little too tough to handle. You know the days I’m talking about – patience is running thin, kids are throwing tantrums, nothing seems to be going right – the days when I feel like the most unqualified mother out there. This reminds me that in reality, most of the measures that I’ve set for what makes a “good” mom don’t matter all that much. What truly matters is the love. As long as at the end of the day my children know how much I love them, that they know that I cherish and adore them beyond what they can even comprehend, that they realize that even though the day may have been a rough one and they may have been disciplined more either of us would have liked, that even then my love for them never changes – then that is what matters.

Do you have any favorite bible verses that encourage you in your daily life? I would love for you to share them in the comments!

What I’m Reading

I mentioned in my What I’m Loving post a couple weeks ago that I am really loving reading right now. I’ve always been a book lover, but since becoming a mom I’ve had a hard time making room for it in my schedule. Something I’ve been doing the last couple of months is making myself take the time, even when I can look around and see seventeen things I need to be doing. Instead of getting on the computer to work on things, some evenings I’ll just get in bed and read for awhile – especially if my husband is traveling. And with my trip to Nashville for the Influence Conference, I had so much downtime in the hotel and on the plane that I actually got the chance to finish an entire book that weekend – that hasn’t happened in YEARS, you guys.

So I thought I would share what I’ve been reading with you all. If you’re looking for a good book but don’t know where to start because there are basically a million choices out there, hopefully this will help. I have a goal to read at least one book a month, and I’m hopeful that I’ll find the time for more, so you may see this type of post pop up from time to time.What I'm Reading | Haven Gray Blog

The Magnolia Story – Chip & Joanna Gaines

This is what I read on my trip to Nashville, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I adore Chip & Joanna after all the binge watching of Fixer Upper that I’ve done, but I thought it would probably be a pretty basic retelling of the story we’ve gathered over the last few years. However, it included quite a bit more insight and heartfelt storytelling than I was expecting. Their story of how they came together is pretty cute, and the fact that they continually bring up the fact that they are stronger together, more successful together, and have more fun together is a refreshing take on marriage. I actually found it to be really inspiring when they would touch on following God’s plan for your life and chasing your dreams with that in mind, which was pretty timely for all that’s been going through my head lately. It’s a quick, easy read and I really, really enjoyed it.

For The Love – Jen Hatmaker

Oh man do I love Jen Hatmaker. I feel like we are soul sisters. Everything I’ve read of hers I’ve loved, and every time I see her speak or even read a social media post from her I think YES. That is exactly how I feel. So it’s no surprise that I loved this book. She has such a hilarious way with words, and I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the book. This isn’t a book that tells a chronological story, it’s more a collection of chapters on different subjects, although they tie in to a similar theme throughout the book. One of my favorite things about her is her brutal honesty and the fact that she would rather speak the truth than make people happy. I think we need so much more of that. If you’ve never read something of hers, this is a good place to start.

Carry On, Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton

Oh goodness I started this book so long ago, and I really have enjoyed it, even though it’s taken me a million years to get through it. That is in no way a reflection on the book at all, more a reflection on the state of my life. So many chapters I’ve read and been like THIS IS MY LIFE – I even made my husband read a chapter that summed up my feelings on a particular subject exactly. He didn’t find it near as moving as me, to say the least. If you’re not familiar with Glennon Doyle Melton, I will say she’s a little rough around the edges when compared to “normal” Christian writers. She talks a lot about Jesus, but she’s a recovering addict and keeps nothing from her readers. This is why I adore her, but this is why I’m sure a lot of people find her offensive. I love her message and I love what she stands for, but consider this your warning – she may totally not be for you, at all. I imagine it’s a “love or hate” kind of thing with her.

OK – your turn. What do I need to be reading? Clearly from this post you can tell I am making up for the time I’ve lost over the last few years – I’m pretty sure The Magnolia Story is the only relatively new book on the list. Help a sister out!

5 Things That Make My Days Less Stressful

Getting out the door every day can be a challenge regardless of your circumstances. If I know there is somewhere I have to be in the morning, my preparation begins the night before. If I don’t plan ahead it’s almost guaranteed that I will end up rushing, frazzled, and yelling at my kids to HURRY. I’ve learned that there are five essential things I need to do in order to make my days as stress-free as possible.

5 Things That Make My Days Less Stressful

  1. Plan Our Outfits

This is maybe my most essential step. Not only do I like to look put together every day, but I like my boys to look cute, too. So if I don’t plan all of our outfits the night before I end up frantically trying to put something together for all three of us and it gets a little out of hand. One thing that has really helped with this is closet dividers. For Grayson’s closet I bought dividers that could be written on, and I labeled them with the days that I know we will be out and about every week. I check the weather on my phone app and plan his entire week in advance. Now that Gavin is moving into actual outfits rather than onesies and leggings every day, I need to get a set of these for his closet as well. I plan my outfits the night before, because my mood changes too frequently to plan too far out.

2. Plan Our Food

My boys like routine when it comes to food, so breakfast is basically the same every single morning. But they are also BIG snackers, so if we are going to be out running around I know I need to have plenty of snacks on hand. They each have their own snack bag that I keep in the diaper bag, and I try to keep them stocked with their favorite healthy snacks. Since Grayson is in preschool three days a week, I typically pack his lunch the night before so we can grab and go in the morning. One aspect of this that I’m working on is actual meal planning for our evening meals – some weeks I do great, others I skip it altogether. I’m a work in progress, people, it’s totally fine!

3. Pack the Essentials

What this means is different depending on the day. On Tuesdays Grayson has preschool and Gavin and I have Bible study, so I make sure Grayson has his lunch and backpack ready to go, my purse is organized and I have my Bible and whatever else I need, and the diaper bag has plenty of diapers, wipes, snacks, extra clothes, etc. On the mornings that I go write at the local Starbucks, the night before I will make sure my laptop bag has my computer, notebook, pens, headphones, and whatever else I need. On the weekends when I know we’ll be away from home all day it’s a bit more extensive. I mainly just try to be prepared for whatever I know is coming up the next day.

4. Pick Up In the Evenings

If I wake up to a messy house I feel like I’m starting my day off on the wrong foot. The evenings are always a bit chaotic with the whole dinner and bedtime routine, so sometimes it’s tempting to skip this, but I always regret it if I do. While I may not get the house sparkling before I go to bed, I at least clean up the dinner mess, put away whatever toys happen to be lying around, throw away any random trash people have left strewn around the house, throw clothes in the hamper, and so on. I don’t actually “clean” in the evenings, more of a quick clean up so I can start the next day right.

5. Allow Plenty of Time

I am so not a morning person, so my natural tendency is to sleep in as late as possible. With kids, that’s not usually an option, but I still like to make sure we will be up with plenty of time to get ready and out the door without losing our minds. During the week I rarely set my alarm, because it would be an absolute miracle if they slept late enough that we couldn’t make it to preschool by 9 AM. But if it’s a weekend or we have something important, I make sure to get up at least an hour and a half before we need to be leaving the driveway. I can get ready myself in about thirty minutes, but that is without children hanging off of me, stopping to hand out snacks or break up rowdy boys, and people interrupting me constantly. Add in the fact that I have two other humans to get ready and you can see why I need the extra time.

While I’m certainly not perfect when it comes to doing every single one of these every day, it’s been proven to me over and over how much smoother life runs when I make an effort to get it all done. I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get when it comes to de-stressing my life. What about you – are there any tips or tricks you’d like to share that help with the stress level in your day-to-day routine? Fill us in!