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Striving for Excellence or Perfection?

During the month of May I’m reading along and participating in the 31 Days to Clean Challenge hosted by Joyful Mothering. As I was reading Day 12 in 31 Days to Clean about imperfection, this quote from the book really has stuck with me today:

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”

~ Harriet Braiker

There are so many different ‘sticks’ that I can try to measure myself up against {and I’m guessing that some of you feel the same way}. There is a BIG difference though in striving for excellence in the things that I do and striving for perfection.

Striving for perfection is guaranteed to frustrate me and cause me to feel that I am of little worth. When I do that, I’m putting a burden on myself that I will NEVER be able to carry!

Striving for excellence is still challenging, but a much more manageable goal. I desire to be more excellent in all things ~ my marriage, my parenting, the care of my home, the education of my children and so much more. I will never be perfect in the things that I do, but I can work toward doing things to glorify God.

And glorifying God is something that I do want to strive toward!


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If you haven’t downloaded either the pdf file of 31 Days to Clean or have it on your Kindle, it’s a great look at balancing the Mary/Martha in each of us in relation to our homes. Each of the 31 Days focuses on the vision for caring for our homes and then gives two daily challenges:

  • a Mary Challenge ~ something that encourages and engages your heart
  • a Martha Challenge ~ specific cleaning task for the day

Deep in My Heart

Over the last two months, I’ve been spending time most mornings reading from Sally Clarkson’s book Seasons of a Mother’s Heart. It has truly been a most encouraging book for me on so many different levels, challenging me in ways and providing ‘lightbulb’ moments in others.

There are so many times that I am asked the ‘why’ behind our homeschooling. While there may be different things that trigger responses at different times, when reading the last chapter in Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, this passage brought tears to my eyes and made me pull out my underline because it IS MY heart {verb tense changes and emphasis mine}…

“I {know} deep in my heart that God designed me, as a mother, to be at home with my children. To even think of settling for something else would be to step out of His will. No matter how difficult the homeschooling lifestyle might become, my commitment {is} to do God’s will, not my own. Even though I could selfishly choose an ‘easier’ lifestyle, I would have to disobey God to do so. I know in my heart that God has called me to homeschool…”

Sally Clarkson, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, p. 224

Sometimes it’s so difficult to put the above into words, although Sally did it so eloquently.

Deep in my heart I know.

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Your Child’s Personality

Seasons of a Mother’s Heart by Sally Clarkson has been such a wonderful encouragement to me lately. Here’s a little something that gave me a bit of conviction and encouragement all rolled into one.

“…accept and affirm the unique personality that God has given {your child"}. Believe it or not, God did not give your child that personality just to help you grow! He gave it because He has a purpose for that child to fulfill, and He needs your child’s personality strengths. God did not make a mistake in giving you your child his or her personality, so don’t make the mistake of being critical of it. Learn to appreciate God’s handiwork in each of your children.”

~ Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, p. 138-139 {emphasis mine}

Lord, help me to appreciate the amazing gift that you have given me in my children and how to best cultivate their individual personalities and not curb them to my own desires!!

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Building a Good House…not the Best One

I’ve been reading Sally Clarkson’s book Seasons of a Mother’s Heart and the chapter on building our house {Proverbs 14:1} and there was a passage in it that just jumped out at me…

“Sometimes…I have made the building process more costly than God ever intended it to be. Like other homeschooling mothers who live under the fear of not doing enough, I expected more of myself than God did. Consequently, I set unrealistic goals and higher standards for my children than God required. It shouldn’t be surprising then that I burned out trying to pay the cost God never required. I burned out, not because God was asking more of me than I could do, but because I was asking more of me than I could do. As a wiser woman now, I know that God’s goal for me is that I build a good house, not the best one. After all, if I become spiritually exhausted because I try to build more than God expects of me, then I soon won’t be building at all.”

Sally Clarkson, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, p. 89

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Perfect Potluck ~ Organizing Meals for Groups Online

I know this isn’t technically homeschool related {grins}, but since I am LOVING the folks behind Take Them a Meal for their genius right now, I wanted to share it all with you.

If you haven’t used the Take Them a Meal site yet when planning and organizing meals for someone who has recently had a baby or been sick, you NEED to check out their site. It is a central spot for friends to sign up for a specific day to bring a meal to a person and list what they are bringing so that meals aren’t duplicated. Takethemameal.com is a FREE site that helps you organize meal deliveries to the family with just a few clicks of a button.  As the meal coordinator you can quickly create an online schedule sheet providing directions to the home along with other important information.

As of today, they have launched a sister-site called Perfect Potluck where a coordinator can create an online sign-up for group meals. I am SO excited to see this feature!! During these last two weeks our church has had to plan several memorial service meals and the emails going back/forth with over 70 people on the list was overwhelming. Having a central place where everyone can check in and not duplicate the items needed is wonderful.

To give you a quick idea of how it’s laid out, the coordinator can specify where/when the items need to be delivered and then those helping can sign up for a specific item. The coordinator enters the name of the item and how many need to be brought, and the appropriate number of item slots is listed.


You can view an online sample of how the site works here.

Did I mention it is all FREE?? Really, you can go wrong with that! This is one of those sites that I wish had been around years ago ~ it’s definitely one that I will use over and over again in the future!

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Do My Children Know?

While some days seem to go seamlessly with schooling, there are other days that I think repeatedly banging my head on the table would have better results.

Some days my children wake up with attitudes where they rush to the kitchen and want to serve me breakfast in bed. Other days it can be a struggle for them to figure out how to pour a bowl of cereal for themselves without whining.

Some days we all rush through our chores, even helping out siblings to make their jobs go faster. Other days it’s a chore to just pick up a plate and put it in the dishwasher.

What exactly is it that changes attitudes from one day to the next? Really, the attitudes aren’t ones that are only in my children. My attitude can be just as stinky from one day to the next.

Over the last weeks I have been more and more convicted about MY attitude and how that relays over to our children when I am teaching them, molding them and being BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE to be home with them each day.

Do they know and understand how thankful I am that we can be together learning as a family? Do they know how important they are in my life? Above all, do they know and understand that although I love them, there is ONE true love that is available to them?

Just a few random things that have been going around in my mind…

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