Perfect Isn’t Good Enough

Perfect Isn't Good Enough -

It was a hideous cake.

Worse than that, it was 11 p.m. the night before the party, and I had no time, no energy, and no ingredients to make a replacement.

My daughter was turning one, and I had taken on the idea of making a doll cake to go with the homemade mac’n’cheese and fried chicken dinner for 15 people.  No big deal, right?  Except frosting colors turned, icing dripped, and the proportions were almost as ghastly as the sickening skin tone I had concocted.

My daughter could have cared less.  I wept.

See, perfectionism and I go way back.  We have a long, sordid history of scrapped plans and crumpled papers, and plenty of shared boxes of Kleenex over test scores and I’m-not-good-enough moments.

It’s an abusive relationship.

Maybe you know what I mean.  The world is filled with battered victims of perfectionism, and no shelter in sight.  Perfectionism is a relentless dictator.  There is no resting, no enjoyment, no just be still and know that I am God moments,  because…well, it’s flat out exhausting trying to keep up with perfect.

Perfect says you’re never good enough.

In motherhood, it bubbles up when the baby won’t sleep.  Of course, if we could just do what the book said…and do it perfectly…then she’d sleep.

And when they’re toddlers, if we just do it right, he will be potty trained in three easy steps, in one painless weekend.

And when they’re preschoolers, if we follow this program, she will read when she’s 3, and be a child genius by kindergarten.

How about the wife role?  When you’re not perfect, and he’s not, and (big surprise here!) marriage isn’t all you thought it would be.  Should be.  June Cleaver had it all together…so what’s so terribly, horribly wrong with you and your man?

What if you’re not married, but want to be?

When life itself just. doesn’t. go. as. planned?

What then?


Time to bury your head in the ghastly colored frosting bowl.

You miserable mother.  You can’t even get this right.  See all those other moms?  They aren’t wearing a three day old pony tail and crying over a laundry commercial.  They look rested.  Happy, even.

Look at those 18 month olds.  NO DIAPERS.  Look at your almost-three-year-old tugging at his Huggies.  Lazy.  You must be lazy.  Or maybe there’s something desperately wrong with your kid.  If there wasn’t, you’d be in the potty club with every other good mother.

Hope you enjoy being the mom of the next high school drop out.  Yep, your 4 year old would rather stuff peas up their nose than even pick up a book.  Failure, failure, failure.

If you were a better wife, you’d still meet him at the door with stars in your eyes and have a clean house and a cold drink and a soft chair and be in the mood all the time and wear satin negligee under your perfectly coordinated sweater set and tailored slacks and have homemade cookies and handwritten love notes  in his lunch.

There must be a reason I’m single.  A terrible reason.  I must have a sign on my forehead.  That’s it.  It says “STAY AWAY.”  Or “TROUBLE,” or something equally awful.  It must show how imperfect and unlovable I really am. 

Perfectionism sadistically toys with our minds, turning every situation, every opportunity, every day into a no-win situation.  It taints our memories of the past. (If only I had done this differently…)  It warps our anticipation of the future. (Hope I don’t screw it up!)  And it messes with our present, second guessing and criticizing every stinkin’ step of the way.

Perfectionism is an equal opportunities parasite, sucking the joy out of anyone, any situation, any relationship it can sink its fangs into.

You know what I say?

I say that as women made in the image of God, perfection isn’t good enough.

We were made for more.  More than joyless living.  More than endless shame and frustration at “failing” again.

Perfect isn’t good enough.  Only grace is.

Perfectionism wants us to forget that by grace we were saved,¹ and that it’s all a gift.  All freely given.  The abundant riches we now possess in Christ is not just for our good days, the days we try hard enough and do well enough and measure high enough…they’re for the days we can barely lift our heads up.  The days when grace is the only thing worth salvaging, when our heads overflow with undone and unfinished and our hearts hemorrhage unworthy.  When our homes are an epic disaster and our family’s needs are unmet.  When the only thing higher than the laundry mountain is the pile of guilt on our shoulders.

Perfectionism slaps hard and hisses, “You’re not enough.  You’ll never be enough.”

Jesus, the face of grace, holds us tight and whispers, “I am enough.  I will always be enough for you.”

It’s shocking, this “unmerited favor”² of God.  After a life of measuring short and face plants, grace reminds us that we are already accepted.  Already beloved.  The weight we’ve been piling on our shoulders isn’t ours to bear.  It’s never been ours.  It’s a smoke screen, an illusion, a dirty trick of the mind, this so-called perfect.  It distracts us from the joyful truth of the Gospel:

Jesus died for us.  For all the poor choices, and the not-enough moments, and all the imperfect baggage we tote around.  And yes, He calls us to live different.  Not perfect. 

No, perfect isn’t good enough for a girl who knows her Bible.




Those are the adjectives that define a woman who knows her worth in Christ.  No where on that list is “Cake Maker Extraordinaire, or “Test Taker Titan” or “Diaperless Diva” or “Woman of the Year,” or “June Cleaver the second.” Glory!  I can now laugh at the cake fiasco.  The next Cake Boss, I am not.  I’ve made my peace with that.

We will never be good at everything…but no one is better at grace than a woman finally freed from perfect.

No one, that is…except Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.



¹ Ephesians 2:8, New International Version

² Oxford Dictionaries powered by Bing

This post first appeared on on March 24, 2016

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5 Tips That Will Change The Way You Homeschool – Part 2

5 Tips That Will Change The Way You Homeschool Part II - www.searchingformyeden.comMy sister in law Amy, a homeschool veteran of 6 years is back this week with more good ideas to refuel your enthusiasm for homeschooling.  In case you missed the first part of this 2-post series, you can read part 1 HERE.

Regarding dragging feet, rolling eyes, and not-so-happy-about-Monday attitudes, Amy suggests the following:

Fuel the learning.

I’m not sure about your family, but at our house we often hear, “when’s snack?  what’s for lunch?  I’m hungry!”  I’ve found that by having nutritious snacks at the ready help keep everyone sane and happy.  Also, a predictable snack/meal schedule can help curb repetitious requests for food.  A few suggestions for your hungry crew: ~Pack the snack: just like the public school kids do it, why not prep some snacks in a lunchbox or paper bag to keep near your homeschool space.  Don’t forget the spill-proof mugs! ~Secret stash: I like to keep a jar or basket hidden with special treats like mints or other candy for special occasions or rewards.  ~Make breakfasts and lunches easier by enlisting the help of older siblings.  We keep the kid bowls and cereal boxes in a lower cabinet so everyone can prepare breakfast themselves in the morning. ~Observe how different foods affect your little learners (and you!)  Too much sugar can zap attention spans and make math lessons dragggggggg on….

Tactical Strategies

So you have that great curriculum at your fingertips, your homeschool space prepared, supplies at the ready, but how to keep the momentum going when lessons get monotonous?  We all have those days when lessons (and feet) seem to drag, eyes roll, and sighs permeate the atmosphere.  Here are a few tools in my tool belt:

  • Reverse roles.  Reverse psychology is perhaps the oldest tactic in the book and works the best with younger children.  Pretend to be the student (even use your kiddy voice!) and ask the “teacher” how to spell dish, what 4+4 is, where the capitol of France is, why the sky is blue….. you get the picture!  You can also show them the Homeschool Teacher Rules (yes, they are rules for Mom!)  Guaranteed to bring a smile to their face.
  • Sibling-to-sibling.  Have your eldest read to your youngest to practice reading AND occupy the tot while you work with another child (or switch the laundry!)  What a way to foster loving relationships and a love of reading!
  • Share & tell with Dad.  Assess what the kids are learning and retaining by prompting Dad (or other family member) to ask at dinnertime what they learned in school that day.  I find that when Dad’s home during our schooldays, our children are especially eager to do their best, so take advantage of their enthusiasm!

Dangle that carrot!

Everyone likes to be recognized and rewarded for hard work, and homeschooling is no exception!  Kids need realistic, attainable goals and lots of encouragement.

  • Verbal praise is a given, especially if it is sincere and specific, but sometimes tangible rewards can work wonders.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of stickers.  They’re cheap, fun, and ridiculously simplistic, but most kids love them.   Make up a little sticker reward booklet to showcase their collection.
  • Fun bookmarks, colorful pencils, or a sparkly, new notebook can help mark a new month of homeschooling.
  • Screen time.  Each family has different standards regarding technology, but you might consider  using educational online games as an initiative to get work done.  Our family loves the math game TimezAttack (  We highly recommend it!
  • Reading rewards.  You can get creative here.  When our children finish a book, they get a plastic coin with velcro on the back.  When they get five of these on their chart, they get a special reward.  For our boys, that has been a few specialty Lego pieces.  Other times, a new book or inexpensive toy.  What fires up your learners?  Use that to help motivate!

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas.  Try picking one and modifying it for your students.  Be on the look-out for new, realistic ideas that would fit your family’s needs.  Ask other homeschool moms and friends what has worked (or flopped) for them.  Remember, each homeschooling family is different and we can all learn from each other!  Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention -it’s amazing what people think of in a pinch!  Above all, pray that the Lord will direct your steps and give you the wisdom you need to homeschool your children best.   Ask Him to give you fresh insight into your schedule, your students and your schooldays.  For surely, “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV) What’s worked well for your homeschool?  Let us know!

As mentioned previously, you can get a one page printable Homeschool Teacher Rules HERE, or by using the form below!

Amy is a Jesus-loving, coffee-drinking, happily married teacher-turned-homeschooling mama.  She and her husband are raising 3 precious souls for eternity, and are currently in their 6th year of homeschooling.  In her spare time (ha!), she enjoys God’s creation, reading, and time with family.

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5 Tips That Will Change The Way You Homeschool – Part 1

5 Tips That Will Change The Way You Homeschool - www.searchingformyeden.comI’m delighted to introduce my sister-in-law, Amy, as the voice of encouragement today. 

“Location, location, location.”

The real estate gurus say it’s all about locale.  I admit I’ve sat dreamy-eyed, perusing Pinterest-perfect homeschool rooms, wishing we had such spectacular spaces to conduct our learning.  Could it be, I’ve mistakenly wondered, that size and style will make or break our educational successes?  The answer, in a nutshell, is a resounding no.

Learning can and will happen anywhere.

Still, I wonder…  We all know the benefits of hands-on field trips and real-world experiences, quality curriculums and decent school supplies.  Yet, when it comes to getting down to business on those three R’s on a routine basis, how can location help (or hurt) your homeschool?  What do you do when the days drag and enthusiasm for school reaches an all-time low?  How can you reinvigorate your schooldays when lackluster eyes roll?

Like a good friend quips, “there will always be ‘the vegetables’ on your homeschool plate.”

The trick is finding ways to get those “vegetables down the hatch!” Whether you teach in an ideal homeschool room, hunker down daily at the kitchen table, or squeeze (like us) into a small, less-than-ideal homeschool space, consider the following ideas to “get out of dodge” and add a little spice to your homeschool grind… classrooms not required.

We’ve “done school” just about everywhere in our home.  Our small den suffices for the bulk of our materials, but we often spill out into other rooms in the house. Here are our favorite special nooks:

  • The couch: cuddling in the living room looking through living books together is the best!
  • The bunks: independent reading in their bedrooms provides quiet time for all.
  • The galley: science in the kitchen (or bathrooms) makes for easy clean-ups!
  • The dining room: larger tables offer great desk space for monitoring multiple children.  (We’ve even set up camp under the dining room table!)
  • The basement: set up some beach chairs, bring some snacks and you’ve got a cool learning oasis on a hot day.
  • The garage: when Dad’s home, it’s the place to be for our kids.  Why not send them out there with their math as a special treat?  Plus, Dad can participate in their learning while he gets stuff done!
  • The library: while this may involve some planning and packing, it can make for a memorable schoolday!  We’ve schlepped our books to the local library and utilized their quiet, sunny tables to tackle our work and pick up a new bag full of good reads for our book basket!

Boost the O2.  It’s amazing what fresh air and sunshine can do to infuse your homeschool day.  (And not just at break time.)  Autumn is a wonderful season -milder temperatures, crisper air, and my favorite, fewer bugs!  Take advantage of it before the days get too short and chilly!  Start the day outside.  Even on a cold day, a quick walk or bike ride can invigorate the senses.  We’ve enjoyed having our devotional time outside before diving into our other subjects.  Or try setting up a quilt or two (or three) and do school outside on a nice day.  (Our favorite spot is on our front porch, a conveniently close location to materials and snacks!)

Get creative.  We’ve had lessons in our play fort, on the lawn, and in our barn.  Think outside of the box!  Find a fun outdoor space (even for an hour!) that fits your family, is safe for the little ones and special enough to add a bit of refreshment to your routine.

Homeschool Rules -

Stay tuned for the second half of Amy’s homeschool tips next week.  As a special encouragement, she created a free Homeschool Rules for the teacher you can download HERE.

Amy is a Jesus-loving, coffee-drinking, happily married teacher-turned-homeschooling mama.  She and her husband are raising 3 precious souls for eternity, and are currently in their 6th year of homeschooling.  In her spare time (ha!), she enjoys God’s creation, reading, and time with family.


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Let’s Get Honest About Homemaking

Getting Honest About Homemaking -

I hate crunchy floors.

Oh, and dirty bathrooms.  And messy kitchens.  And dusty furniture.  Pretty much, I could cheerfully employ an entire cleaning staff full time, and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all.  Homemaking is not an intuitive strength for me, friends.

But for some reason, an army of maids (or even one cleaning lady) is not in the budget, and so…it’s up to me.  Since beginning homeschooling my oldest, there are even fewer hours to make it all happen, so I’ve been working like crazy trying to get a good routine in place.  One thing I have learned is that (like most of life) I need to be intentional about it, or it just doesn’t happen.

This is how I’m (kind of) keeping up with the housework:

  1. Valuing the morning hours.
  2. Prioritizing exercise.
  3. Building rest into the routine.
  4. Releasing unrealistic expectations.  (Like pulling eye teeth, I tell you.)

Valuing the morning hours is my biggest discovery so far.

When I wake up with my alarm, rather than the kiddos, my morning whole entire day goes so much better.  I’m learning to really hit the first three hours of the day hard so that I have accomplished a majority of the housework before we start school.  Let’s face it, by the time we’ve spent all morning doing school, and then demolished lunch, we’re at nap time, and WOW, do we all need it.  The 17 month old is done, the 3 year old is tired and cranky and oppositional, and the 5 year old wants nothing more than to enjoy NOT hearing the sound of my voice asking her to do something else.  And me?  I am deeply ready to sit in peace, undisturbed for a few blessed moments.

That’s why I make a concerted effort every morning to do these things after my Bible time and exercise:

  • start a load of laundry
  • unload and reload the dishwasher with breakfast dishes
  • wipe down the bathroom
  • sweep or mop the floor
  • clear and wipe the table and counters.
  • do one extra chore – such as vacuum (twice a week-ish), dust, or organize one small area.

I’m also becoming much more intentional about the little moments.  I can use 30 seconds to check Facebook, or I can use that time to wipe down the front of a cupboard.  I don’t always choose wisely, but I’m getting much better about it! 🙂

Prioritizing exercise is another one of those secret weapons that helps SO much.

It seems counterintuitive to take half an hour to go for a run, when I could use the time to do something else, but the honest truth is that I’m far more likely to get up with the alarm when I have an exercise plan in place, and I am incredibly energized by a great work out.  Believe it or not, my mornings are so much more productive when I go for a run.  (The fact that I do my best praying in that half hour may have something to do with it, too!)  Also, I want to stay healthy and fit so I can stick around for this family of mine.  Taking good care of myself physically is doing my part to maximize my ability to serve others.

Building rest into the routine?  Really?

Again, taking a 20 minute nap seems like a total waste of a perfectly good 1/3 of an hour.  But when I know that I can look forward to a little nap or a chapter in a favorite book during rest time, I am that much more effective and motivated to push hard and really not waste any time during my chore time.  (It also helps get me up when  obeying the alarm clock seems like a terrible idea.)  And, finally, it gives me the energy to push through the late afternoon, put away laundry, make dinner, and chase kids without melting into a heap.

Releasing unrealistic expectations is the hardest one for me.

My mother-in-law keeps an immaculate, warm, welcoming home.  She loves Jesus, works hard, and is always thinking of others.  She also lovingly raised 8 children, and so when she gives advice, I tend to listen.  Her two cents on homemaking?  “Clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy.” (Author unknown, but brilliant.)

There is so much freedom in that statement, friends.  We need to feel the freedom to live out our particular season of life and not apologize for it.  It is not my season for smudge-free windows or sparkling displays of knickknacks.  Keeping the dust knocked down, the bathrooms clean, dishes washed, and the floor swept is good enough.  It is not my season for spending all day in the kitchen making gloriously complicated meals.  Simple and healthy is good enough (and yes, sometimes even frozen pizza is good enough!)

At the end of the day, making a home is about much more than cleaning or organizing – it’s about inviting our loved ones into relationship.  Intentional homemaking can only be done well when we remember that we are serving Jesus first, our families second, and our own agendas last.

Grace, peace, and here’s to finding your rhythm,




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Redeeming the Mundane – Living Intentional

Are you ever kind of nosy?

I am.  I have always been shamelessly fascinated with the lives of others, and I’m forever trying to glean new ideas about how to do things better.

  • Alarm blares.  Quick, turn it off so the kids don’t wake up.
  • Sneak like a cat burglar through the hushed house and grab a cuppa joe to begin caffeine therapy.  Hit the START button on the washer.
  • Prayer time and Bible study, again, STEALTHILY grabbing study materials.
  • Tiptoe out of the house for a morning run (this is when I review my Scripture verses and really pray.)
  • Come in breathless and dripping sweat to a house that is fully awake.  Begin marathon portion of the day here.
  • Dispense milk! coffee!  OJ! Cereal and bananas!  Pack Superman’s lunch!
  • Wipe sticky faces, hands, and table.  (Repeat at three hour intervals.)
  • Sprint upstairs for a shower and 60 second wipe down of the bathroom sink, counter, and toilet.  Change hand towels.
  • Marshall the troops – send the 1st grader to do her morning chores, get the 3 year old hunting dirt with the handheld vacuum, and unload the dishwasher with the enthusiastic “help” of the 17 month old.
  • Break up squabbles over the handheld vacuum and dress up helmet.  Exhort both guilty parties regarding nonviolence policy.  Kiss both injured parties.
  • Change diapers, dress younger ones, and load dishwasher.
  • Herd everyone to school.
  • Break up the fight over the toy truck with trailer.  Remind both guilty parties about nonviolence policy.

It’s mundane, this cycling through the same tasks, day after day.

It’s easy to take this season for granted.  To become lulled into boredom by routine instead of taking the day as a gift.  To push through till bedtime without really enjoying the waking hours with these precious little souls.  (Bedtime is a beautiful word around here…your house, too?)

I don’t want to miss it.

In all the dishes and the messes and the mundane, I want to engage intentionally and live fully present.  Scripture reminds me that life is a mere breath, a shy shadow.  It’s going fast, friends.  The days of diapers and sippy cups will soon be a memory.  Your season – the one that feels like it’s dragging on for-stinking-ever – it’s going to be over before you know it.  It will all be over soon, and it won’t matter whether we made it through the lesson on insects.  Or whatever.

It will only matter if we loved Jesus and loved our people.

Grace, peace, and love intentional –



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