Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life.... And a Give-Away!

As I mentioned yesterday, I was invited to be part of a blog tour for the book It's A Wonderful Imperfect Life: Daily Encouragement for Women Who Strive Too Hard to Make It Just Right.

Joan C. Webb is a international speaker and life coach who shares a message of freedom from perfectionism and renewal to relax and enjoy life as God has designed.

As part of the tour, Joan is featuring 21 devotionals from the book on her tour. Each participating blog gets a different devotion tailored to its readers. Here is the devotion selected for us here at Moms In Need of Mercy:
God Isn’t Like That

Isaiah 42:3: A bruised reed he will not break.

"What a day! Everything went wrong!" moans my friend. "Our car broke down and it cost $800 to have it repaired this morning. When I got home, the washer overflowed and flooded the kitchen. Then the school nurse called to say my son has chicken pox!”

"I wonder if God’s punishing me," her voice breaks as she continues. "Maybe he thinks we don’t give enough time or money to our church. I should do more.”

Yet, I remind her, a seven-year-old car that breaks down, a child who contracts chicken pox, a washer that malfunctions and overflows merely reveal the inevitable consequences of living in an imperfect world. These things just happen—sometimes they’re spread over several months; other times they happen in one day!

As Danielle and I chat, she acknowledges that sometimes she views her heavenly Father through the memories of an earthly father who sent her to bed without dinner for accidentally spilling her milk—or even mispronouncing a word. “I know God isn’t like that,” she says. “That Bible verse we read today really helps: a bruised reed he will not break. Please keep reminding me of that.”

God doesn't mistreat his children. When we hurt financially, emotionally, physically, or spiritually, he cares. He sent his Son to prove just how much.

Lord, how comforting to know that you won’t crush me when I’m weak and needy.

Make It Personal:
In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrased Isaiah 42:3: “He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt.” When have you felt like a “bruised reed?

As I shared in this post, striving for perfection when it comes to any aspect of life, particularly motherhood, is setting ourselves up for almost constant anxiety—because perfect isn’t possible. I always find Isaiah 40:11 so comforting: “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.”

God gives us much mercy and grace for each day. He isn’t expecting perfection out of us. He leads us gently and desires that we, too, gently lead our young. If we could free ourselves from the expectation of perfection and just get to the place where we can relax and know it’s ok as seemingly imperfect as it is, we would find more peace in our spirits on a day-to-day basis. A bubble bath for the soul. Sounds good to me!

Here are some questions Joan answered that I thought would be helpful for us to think through.
Q: What’s the difference between perfectionism and excellence?

A: Trying too hard to make it all—or at least someone or something—just right (perfectionism) is a relentless mental chase for flawlessness. It’s not only impossible, but it works against you and ironically often leads to procrastination. Yet, partnering with God for excellence is enjoying quality in balance which is possible. It’s also doable and reasonable and motivates you to action.

Q: What are some benefits of acknowledging and accepting our human imperfection and limits?

A: We have the privilege of becoming the person God designed us to be, instead of trying to be someone else. It fits us. We relax, find relief and become more productive. Instead of being afraid of doing something wrong when we work on a project and being satisfied only at victory (or the finished product) we can enjoy the process and divide projects/growth into increments and stop to rest in between. We can release the hyper-vigilance and enjoy our many options instead of being stuck in “all or nothing” thinking.
Q: How does relaxing our unrealistic expectations help us love and enjoy ourselves, others and God more?

A: It’s interesting that short-term “trying too hard to make it all just right” can satisfy others as well as ourselves. Long-term this maxed-out lifestyle not only wears us out, but frustrates others and distances us from those we care about. When we partner with God for excellence and let God be the Master Provider, Protector and Persuader, we create a safe environment for growth—in ourselves and others. When we cease stepping into God’s territory of perfection, we are free to know Him more intimately. It’s not our job to make it all “just right.” And that brings incredible relief. Actually relaxes the shoulders!

Q: If you could go back and give your young-mom-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

A: Hmmm. When I remember the “zombie” days of babies, toddlers and endless activities, I think I’d say: ask for the help you need and release yourself from doing it all, even if someone else pushes you. Okay, one more thing: your kids don’t have to be perfect. What is perfect, anyway? Each one has a unique personality with different needs, desires and talents. Allow yourself, your mate and your child to make mistakes. Yet, without a doubt, the single most important and loving thing you can do for your children is to deal with your own past pain and current problems, and grow yourself spiritually and emotionally. Of course, this includes growing your relationship with Jesus.

Q: How do you suggest we use It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life in our daily routine?

A: It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life offers 163 one-page devotions for competent, caring women who long to relax and celebrate life—imperfect though it may be. They are busy women, yet they want daily reminders that it is possible to cease “trying too hard to make it all just right.” They want to know that they’ll still be valuable people and that it will be okay with God if they slow down and relax their expectations. Each page includes a story, anecdote, prayer and follow-up Life Coaching question.

So I’d suggest that a new mom put the book by her rocking chair to read one devo at a time as she nurses or holds her baby. Another woman might keep the book with her Bible and read one story a day. Another might keep the devo book in the bathroom and read one every once in a while when she gets some private time. Another could tuck it into her briefcase and skim a devo during lunch hour. Two women might make a pact to read a devo a week and then discuss it together on the phone on in an email. Just have fun with them and chuckle at her new journey.

Thanks Joan!
If you would like your own copy of It's A Wonderful Imperfect Life: Daily Encouragement for Women Who Strive Too Hard to Make It Just Right, good news! We have a copy to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, just leave a comment on this post (be sure to leave a way to contact you if you win), and I will draw and post the winner Monday.

You can read another devotional from the book on November 14 at Giving Up On Perfect, and you can also see all the stops at the tour schedule.


  1. Great post. I can definitely see myself in the devotional you shared. Sounds like a book I could really benefit from.


  2. Thank you for what you shared. I have been feeling very alone with the things that are going on in my life right now. But this has really helped. Thank you.
    Sounds like a great book that I could really use.

  3. Beautiful post! I have so many Mom friends who are running themselves ragged in fruitless pursuit of perfectionism.

  4. Sounds like an excellent read! That's exactly where I am right now - figuring out priorities, goals, God's will... My 2 little men and I would definitely benefit from these pearls of wisdom! Thanks so much for sharing - God bless you and yours!


  5. Thank you, Cheryl, for being the 10th stop on the Wonderful (Imperfect) Life BLOG TOUR. So appreciate you sharing the message that life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful--and neither does our parenting--or our bodies, our faith, our relationships or our children.
    Loved reading all the comments from the moms.
    I hope the one who wins the book, enjoys as she "plays" through it.
    Relief blessings,

  6. Loved the statement -- "Yet, partnering with God for excellence is enjoying quality in balance which is possible. It’s also doable and reasonable and motivates you to action."

    A good reminder that the opposite of perfectionism isn't slothfullness or disorder, but excellence in Christ. A good friend recently shared that life isn't easy, but then again God never promised it would be. We work hard, sometimes with tears and toil, sometimes with joy and laughter, but we persevere nonetheless.

    I love the book 'Heaven at Home' by Ginger Plowman. She writes in the introduction, "Let us delight in establishing a haven in which our loved ones can rest and laugh and cry and love. Let us bless God's heart as we set to cleaning, organizing, cooking and creating an atmosphere of warmth, beauty and hopefulness. Let us seek to make God famous as we explore together the makings of a heavenly home."

  7. I just recently found your blog and enjoy it so much! Thanks for your transparency and encouragement. Keep up the great work and may God bless your richly!


  8. Thanks for this post - I really needed to hear that this weekend! I also just got Heaven at Home and can't wait to read it.

  9. Great post and great encouragement! Something I need to be reminded of again and again it seems.

  10. Sorry I missed the drawing, but interested in the book anyway. Sounds like a good one! Thanks for the encouragement!