Living By A Standard of Grace, Not Perfection

In 2008, Emily decided to launch a graphic design business out of her home after feeling unfulfilled in more traditional office jobs. “I craved creativity and really wanted to use my gifts. I decided that I would create my own dream job,” she said. She began by selling wedding invitations and monogram designs on Etsy, an online marketplace. She also researched business ideas on YouTube. A few years later, with her first child now in the family, she had a second epiphany while looking for a daily planner to keep her busy schedule organized. “Every planner I found was completely overwhelming,” she said. “Everything had so many boxes to check and things to fill out. I needed something that gave me a fresh start every day.” She created the simplified planner, which became a huge success. It is now sold in over 750 stores around the world.

However, Emily knew that she needed more than just a planner to keep her life balanced. Her busy life as a mom and multi-million dollar business owner was getting hectic.“I was trying to be the perfect mom and wife with six-inch heels, perfect hair and dinner on the table at six. I wanted to do it all. But the chase of perfection left me feeling empty and frazzled.” God began to show Emily how to slow down and let go of the need to be “perfect.” For Emily, who loves for everything to be in it’s place, that meant sometimes leaving the housework for another time. “I am a constant picker-upper,” said Emily. “I find myself meandering around, putting things back all the time. But I’m learning that joy is not found in having everything prepared for the next ‘thing.’ It’s enjoying the current ‘thing.’ I’ve gotten deeper into what it means to let go of perfect, and what it means to really accept God’s grace.”

Emily says there are several ways we can find balance and let go perfection in our lives. One of the most important ways we can find balance is to discover grace. Many women get caught in the trap of always trying to be perfect, which means having home cooked dinners on the table at six, raising perfect children, and being a perfect wife. However, Emily says, the most important aspect of grace is that, “You don't have to be perfect to embrace it. Grace is free for imperfect and unworthy people like you and me.”

She also says it is important for women to take care of themselves, or fill the empty well. She says, “If you run yourself ragged caring for everyone but yourself while expecting perfection from your hands, body, and mind, you’re in for a rough collision with reality.” Since women have the tendency to put themselves last by skipping meals, showers, and rest, it is important to pay attention to the times you are running low. If you make sure you are taken care of, you will have the time energy, and excitement to care for others.

The next way to find balance is to plan for simplicity. Emily offers examples from her own life that show how a little planning ahead will save lots of time in the log run. For instance, she plans meals for the week ahead using these steps:
1. Make a list of 10-20 dinners.
2.Write them out on a monthly calendar.
3. Put that calendar on your fridge for easy reference and planning.
4. Make your grocery list ahead of time, and choose a time to stock up.

Emily also likes to tidy up for a “clean slate.” For instance, on Sunday afternoons, Emily grabs a laundry basket and walks from room to room grabbing anything that feels out of place.  She sorts each item by where it goes: trash can, laundry room, bed room or elsewhere. Then, she and her husband Bryan put the piles away.

Another practical method of planning is to write out a plan for the following week. Each Sunday, Emily and Bryan compare schedules for the week. They sync their schedules and make sure every appointment and activity is accounted for.

Finally, Emily says it is important to remember to rest. Take 30 minutes to read a book, take a bath, paint your nails or whatever relaxes you.

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