Grace Not Perfection

During a conversation with Lara Casey (soon-to-be-mama) about our work with Making Brands Happen – and balancing our love for our clients, our commitments to our families and our multiple “hats,” I said something that has resonated with me since that phone call.

“I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION.”

Period. My roles as wife, mother, friend, designer, daughter, sister, business partner, entrepreneur, peek-a-boo master, party-thrower, stationery creator, dinner whipper-upper, encourager, teacher and most importantly, bedtime story teller are ENORMOUS. Trying to balance them all is IMPOSSIBLE. And so instead, I devote myself to each one. at. a. time. I am committing myself to taking off one hat before I put on another. And let me say these things:

  • This is not easy.
  • This is undoubtedly worth it.
  • This is the God’s honest truth from the depths of my heart.
  • My family is #1.
  • My clients respect me for that.
  • It is difficult to let anyone down when I am giving that person 100% during the time I am wearing “that” hat.
  • I will make things happen and make decisions to support everything above.
  • I do what I do because I love what I love.
  • I am not so important that I have to answer emails while having tummy time.
  • My little man will still know he is loved if he spends a few afternoons with a trusted “new friend” while Mommy works.
  • My work flourishes because of this commitment not the opposite like I often expect.
  • I am a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend when I act with grace NOT when I am perfect.

Even if it requires me physically throwing my iPhone across a nursery at bedtime, so that I am not tempted with distraction and spend my moments staring into the big blue eyes and chubby, toothless, sincerely amused smile of this little man, I will live up to that standard of grace. I wont ever be perfect and I will be okay with that.

Leave a comment here if you’re ready to do this. I want to know who is committing themselves TO THIS TODAY and dropping the idea that they need to fit a certain mold of perfection. Don’t feel pressured to write a novel. Just say I’m in. Let’s start something big.



. . . . . . . . . .

Purchase the Grace Not Perfection print in white or turquoise with gorgeous gold foil HERE in our new shop!


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  1. Sarah Gonzalez commented:

    Well said! I’m in.

  2. Emily commented:

    Sarah, you’re amazing. Your boys are precious and I REALLY cannot wait to see you again in Atlanta!

  3. Lauren commented:

    I’m in!

    Sometimes this mentality slips to the back… you know under that pile of laundry that is sitting next to the stack of thank you notes to the left of the unanswered emails. Then my little man comes in and says “Tiss Mama, lu loo” (Translation: Kiss Mama, love you.) Then I suddenly remember right were I left that heaping cup of grace and perspective. Thanks for the additional reminder, I needed it today.

  4. I love this. Beautifully written and SO true.

  5. Marissa commented:

    I’m so in! Printed and pinned up in my office area! I love you, ECL!

  6. Stefanie commented:

    Oh so definitely in.

  7. Julie commented:

    I’m in! Super inspiring and something I need to remember when I’m hard on myself.

  8. Nicole commented:

    Hi Emily! I love and read your blog but have never commented before, so hi! I love this post. Thank you for writing it. I am so in!

  9. Stacey commented:

    I’m in! I love this idea, and I definitely need to work on it.

  10. Katie commented:

    I’m so in, and I hope you keep me accountable Em in the year to come!

  11. Emily Ley commented:

    I LOVE how many of you are IN! We’re going to make this happen. This is so so so important. Wishing all of you patience, love and discernment. xo

  12. I’m in! XOXO

  13. Alicia commented:

    You’re awesome, Emily. I’m in.

  14. Dondrea commented:

    I’m all in. Now, grace, I can do. Perfection, umm, not so much. :)

  15. Jane Boatman Geller commented:

    Lovely. I’m in!

  16. Lizzie commented:

    Feeling so overwhelmed right now – so grace sounds like a good place to start! :) Clicking ‘Print’ now.

  17. tracy commented:

    I’ll be putting this up in my office right next to my elp authenticity print. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

  18. I’m in! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful print!

  19. Cathy commented:

    We are so fabulously imperfect. And loving every minute of it! :)

  20. Sarah Gonzalez commented:

    Emily, you’re so sweet! I am so looking forward to seeing you also!

  21. Liz Rotz commented:

    I am so in!

  22. Caroline Hull commented:

    I so need this today!

  23. Angela Haley commented:

    I’m in! Thank you for this and for everything you share!

  24. Courtney commented:

    I LOVE this post. I have always tried to be this amazing multi-tasker and I am finally coming to the realization that when I multi-task I don’t do anything well. I love the throwing the iphone across the nursery, I have been there many times and have now made Ella’s room and playroom a no cell phone zone. Thank you for the printable – I will look at it every day. So excited to meet you soon!

  25. Stephanie Howell commented:

    this is beautiful. every bit of it.and i really identify with it. i blog about it quite often, here’s my most recent post:

    as a mama of four little girls, with a deployed husband, i struggle with this a LOT. thanks for this post, it so resonates. downloading this gorgeous reminder.

  26. Thank you Emily. I so needed this reminder today! Smile back on my face. xoxo

  27. ashlee commented:

    Thanks so much for this beautiful reminder. Artwork printed and hung. :)

  28. Susan (PeaPod Announcements) commented:

    This was EXACTLY what I needed to see today! I am a mom to an almost 2 year old little girl and a 6 month old little girl and often find myself having the toughest time finding that “happy balance” between work and family. Your post really made a difference in my life and I am so happy I saw it when I did. There are many days when I ask myself as a wife, mom, business owner how am I doing what I am doing and am I prioritizing as I should? This made me realize even more how my family is first and foremost and the rest is “background”. Thank you for this AMAZING graphic and for sharing! I plan on emailing you to discuss some potential business with you. THANK YOU is not suffice!

  29. Debbie Grace commented:

    This is so beautiful and so timely for me… Grace has become such an important word to me over the past couple of years. I commit too.
    Thank you.

  30. Melissa commented:

    Thank you, Emily, for sharing this wonderful thought & the pretty printable!! This is very encouraging to me & what I need to hear. I’m committing myself to God’s standard of grace & mercy instead of perfection.

    I printed off the pink one for myself & the blue one for my cousin who is in the Army.

    God’s blessings & guidance to you & your family :)

  31. Ashley commented:

    Hi Emily,

    Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful reminder – just what I needed! I’m in!


  32. erica commented:

    LOVE this, sooo in!!

  33. taniawillis commented:

    love every bit of this.

    (ps. i’d love either the blush or grey prints, but the blush links to the pool and the grey links to a ‘page not found’.)

    i’ll check back later to grab my print.

    thank you for providing such a beautiful reminder. :)

  34. Pat commented:

    My niece and I were just talking on our way home about perfection… this was a wonderful thing to see. I saw it via Stephanie Howell. Thanks for the reminder!

  35. Roulien Stahnke commented:

    I just found this via Stephanie Howell’s blog . . . but I’ll be stalking your blog regularly after reading this!! Such powerful word!! Count me in!

  36. Jules commented:

    I also found this through Stephanie Howell’s blog – although I had seen the design on Pinterest and pinned it. Thank you so much for making a tangible (and beautiful) download that I can print and put up in my office and home. While my children are adults we have a very full home and busy life. I need to remember this daily. I need to not make myself crazy and shortchange everyone around me by not focussing on one thing at a time and doing that properly. Please know this will be regularly looked at here in Western Australia :)

  37. Meggie commented:

    My daughter’s name is Grace, and this reminds me of the beautiful quality that word holds! Thank you for sharing!

  38. Pingback: Words of Wisdom: Grace « Ashley Morgan Arts

  39. Jamie commented:

    I’M IN! Thanks for this and ALL of your wonderful posts! So very inspiring. I can’t believe I’m FINALLY going to meet you next week! :)

  40. Monica commented:

    I’m in.

  41. Katie commented:

    I love it, and I’m in.

  42. Jamie commented:

    I’m in! Thanks so much for the reminder of this and the beautiful printable.

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  45. beth beckham commented:

    Amen! I will be printing this out. This is the very lesson God’s graciously taught me this season…(and, I’ll add: He placed a book in my path that has helped me along immensely!! It’s “Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Children With the Love of Jesus.”

    Thanks for this!

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  48. Robby commented:

    Thank you so much…
    I really needed to hear this.

    I was beating myself up for not giving 100% and completely forgetting that 90% is still a noble effort and intention.

  49. Jennifer commented:

    Thank you for this! I found your download on pinterest tonight, and it is just perfect. I gave in to frustration and misery this afternoon and had a right nasty tantrum over being frustrated, miserable, and not smart enough to manage it better than having a tantrum. A bit of forgiveness and self-love is in order…and will hopefully keep the tantrums at bay (my own, at least).

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  56. Lindy commented:

    Well said. Thank you.

  57. Aly commented:

    This was a wonderful discovery to find today. I needed to see this. Thank you

  58. Grace commented:

    I happened upon this today from Pinterest and I can’t tell you how much it resonates with me. I was wondering if you have this download available in the pink version? Pink is my very favorite color … and my name is Grace!

  59. PattiP commented:

    Love it! Grace is my One Little Word ( this year, so this is perfect!

  60. Kim commented:

    I’m not a new Mama, but as a Mom of four, Three graduated, two married, one in college and only one more left in high school, I can testify that this saying will get you through the next twenty years beautifully. Not without bumps in the road, but with beauty and (what else but) “Grace” :-).

  61. ronise commented:

    i love this, thanks for sharing.

  62. Thuy-Ai commented:

    I’m in!!! Thank you for this nice post and for the lovely printable.
    I need to remind myself that we don’t need to be perfect to be happy, so I’m really happy everytime I meet someone who can remind me of that too!
    Love, from Paris, France.

  63. Sharon Mankin commented:

    I loved your printable. It was just what I needed, so I passed it along on my blog:
    Blessed by your writing! Thank you.

  64. Laura W commented:

    Thank you. I really needed this today. :)

  65. Pingback: DEFINITION OF GRACE | Emily Ley

  66. Cassiopeia commented:

    Thank you so much. This is perfect.

  67. Rhiannon Nicole commented:

    Yes yes yes!!! A little late to the party but I’m IN! Xoxo

  68. emily hansel commented:

    I’ve loved this ever since you first posted this summer, and after the way my week is going, I knew I needed to find the printable. It is time for a constant reminder in my line of sight!

  69. Cindy commented:


  70. TJ commented:

    Awesome. Got here through Branches & Light.

    I’m in.

  71. Hannah commented:

    So printing, just bought nice card stock paper that will look lovely on it. thank you :)

  72. Mary Alice Phillips commented:

    I’m in as well! Sounds like a great way to start the new year.

  73. Elizabeth Foss commented:

    I’m in! Let’s start something big. Your timing is awesome (I almost said “perfect”). All grace. All the time.

  74. Heather commented:

    I’m in. I feel like I’m constantly distracted from my real life. So please pray for me that this Advent is a time of real spiritual growth. And I would love to hear you expand on the topic of grace not perfection!!!! Thank you:

  75. Linda commented:

    Definitely a goal worth striving for~ I am in!

  76. Carrie Joy commented:

    Wow. How timely. I really needed to hear that of late. I was just having a conversation with my husband about this very thing. I am so hard on myself… wanting every area to be perfect. I really need to hang on to this idea of grace & not perfection. I’m in.

  77. Phoebe V-G commented:

    I am SO late to the party on this! But, thanks to my good friend Mr. Google I found you by typing in “grace over perfection”.

    ALLLL morning, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I have been repeating the phrase “Give me grace over perfection”. (Well, there are plenty of reasons, but it’s odd that I can’t stop thinking of it today)…

    Anyway, I LOVE your graphic and the philosophy. Just another reason I “waste time” on my blog: finding connections to further bring out my best self for those in my life to enjoy!


  78. Leslie commented:

    I have totally been stressing myself out over all this trying to get everything done in a perfect way and please everyone…grace is so much more important and God is so good, we all need to be supportive of each other, so I thank you!

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  81. Pam Parker commented:

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder of how I should be approaching my life. Also a note from a Mom and now Grandmother. I did very much what you are trying to achieve. I had a wedding consulting business when my youngest son was growing up but my family came first. I didn’t want to miss school parties, and basketball games and now that he is a college student , I don’t regret one moment I spent with him . I can put more time and energy into the business now that he’s off in college.

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  87. Summer commented:

    I saw this on Lisa’s blog (With Style and Grace) – I love it. Thank you for sharing!

  88. Pingback: A Standard of Grace | Lessons Learned on the Farm

  89. I saw your Grace, Not Perfection graphic on Pinterest, and felt like it was made just for me. Thank you for sharing your talents and your story. I blogged about it:

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  91. Debbie Vinyard commented:

    I really needed this today and a friend told me about you. I’m in! Thanks!

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  94. Cynthia commented:

    I just wanted to send a little thank you! As a student teacher in way over my head and a perfectionist, I often make this image, which I found on pinterest, my facebook profile picture just to remind myself there are better, more possible options than perfection – like grace. Thanks for the inspiration and comfort!

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  96. Hi @EmilyLey – your designs are beyond divine, I seriously freak out over them. Any way to order this print?

  97. Thank you @EmilyLey for this blog post: although an old one, a good one for the present time. Creative Mommas unite!

  98. Sylvia commented:

    I am ready! Sometimes being a perfectionist keeps me from doing anything at all! I have to make some things happen this summer

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  102. Lauren commented:

    I had no idea this was how the print got started. I fell in love with this print so long ago. I absolutely love it. I’m in! (well, as a constant work in progress, I’m in) Thank you!

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  109. Sarah Chancey commented:

    Emily! I’m encouraged and inspired by this quote! In fact, it’s my company’s moto for 2013! Could I use one of your graphics for it on my blog sidebar? And, of course, link it to this post! :o) I think it’s an invaluable comment for today’s culture! Thank You for all you do!

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  111. dig this chick commented:

    A reader passed this on to me today, as my recent post is about seeking grace this year. Love it so much. Exactly! What I needed! Rock on, mama. :)


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  114. Kristina Robelia commented:

    Wow…that really hit home with me just now. I have been considering attending a MTH intensive, and if this is anything like what the conference us about, then I’m in. For all if it.

  115. Hadley Binion commented:

    I love this and can definitely relate as a designer + business owner + mommy of a 18 month old! Thanks for your honesty. What an inspiration you are!

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  123. Casey Striegel commented:

    I am in! Beautifully written. I am SO IN!

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  126. mishelly commented:

    When I read your quote, I cried. What a simple concept that brought me relief and clarity into my chaotic life. Thank you for sharing , I’m so in!

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  129. Reilly Puthuff commented:

    I’m 15 years old and I’m in. Let’s do this.

  130. Kendra commented:

    Whoa. I ran across your quote while scrolling through planner reviews yesterday (I’m a junkie, and yours is beautiful) right before my mommy naptime and the words echoed through my mind while I rested. How beautifully and how perfectly you have captured in one sentence what we perfectionists need to make our mantra. This isn’t just a great idea–it’s one more way to keep the gospel real and to remember our true calling as disciples. Thank you!

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  133. Nicole commented:

    Wow! This was/is an amazing post and it really struck home with me. Thank you!

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  142. Gisely Félix Severiano commented:

    I’m all in!

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