read below

Every life has a purpose. Every person
has a story. What's yours? This is a quiet place to read, and a safe place to share and see the significance of your story. Come on in. Get cozy. Relax and enjoy!


let's tell

I’ve spent a lifetime battling perfectionism – doing what’s right, doing what’s best, doing what’s expected. Just this week, I squelched my own creativity by ruminating on perfection. Blog posts swirled in my head. I drafted three in three days. But I couldn’t bring myself to publish any of them. Because I had worries about each one – what if I’m sharing too much with this one, what if I’m being too vague with this one, what if nobody relates to this one? So I dug deep in my unpublished archives and found this post, originally drafted in August 2013. It provides insight into the origins (and persistence) of perfectionism in my life. While these incidences merely skim the surface in regards to how perfectionism plays out in my life on a daily basis, they are most definitely defining moments. Today, I hope this post will help you recognize you’re not alone in whatever battle you’ve been facing for a lifetime.


My first memory of striving to be my best was in first grade. Sara and I were the top two in a contest to see who could read the most books. For each book we read, we got to add a body to our caterpillar. Whoever had the longest caterpillar at the end of the contest was the winner. I remember the contest and I remember the caterpillar up on the wall above the chalkboard, but the funny thing is, I don’t remember who won. It was all about reading more, doing more, being more.

Third grade marks my first recollection of being reprimanded for trying my best. My teacher was wonderful and highly respected. She had high expectations for her students. It was time for a spelling test, and I wasn’t sure how to spell a word. I distinctly remember spelling the word out in the corner of the paper in small writing, trying to figure out which letters fit together best before I wrote the word in its final form next to its designated number on the test. As my teacher walked around our desks, she noticed the faint, erased word on the top of my paper, and I’ll never forget her questioning whether I had cheated. This is most definitely a formative memory. I’d tried my best, yet my best wasn’t good enough.

The pressure to perform must have been on in fourth grade. Mom was a first grade teacher at the time, but had an advanced student who was working at the fourth grade level. I had a particularly difficult reading and writing assignment, and must have known mom had the teacher’s manual with all the answers. I don’t have any recollection of cheating, but I do remember being caught. My teacher called me on my far-too-advanced-for-my-age choice of words, and she was right.

The competition between me and Sara continued in fifth grade, sixth grade, and beyond as we battled for first chair in band. We played flute like it was our business, as if our lives were much more worthy because we were sitting in first chair instead of second.

In seventh grade, a peer criticized the way I drank my can of soda pop. She said I touched my lips too much to the can as I drank, and according to her, I was supposed to tip the can up slightly and just let the soda flow into my mouth. I’m pretty sure I overanalyzed the way I drank soda pop from a can for years.

In high school, someone called me on my pronunciation of sorry. “You’re not supposed to say SOOOORY,” they said, “you’re supposed to say “saaarry.” You bet, I never said “soooory” that way ever again.

I’ve always been one to dress up more than most, but in high school, a peer called me on it one day. “Why do you wear tights with shorts,” she said, “that looks dumb.” I didn’t have an answer, really. All I knew was I had bought the outfit at Express. They were showing tights with shorts at that time, and I thought it was cool. So, hey? I didn’t understand why she had to be so critical.


You’d think all of this would’ve come to an end after high school, but not so much.

In graduate school, I’d prepared a long paper for a course. It was tough and required a lot of research. I wasn’t 100% confident or passionate about the subject matter, to be honest. But I had done a LOT of work, and I did my very best. I felt the paper was perfectly acceptable. The next task was to present the paper orally in front of the class. I don’t remember much about that presentation, but I do remember the professor stopping me abruptly in the middle of it. “I think we’ve heard enough for today,” she said. The message was clear – you’ve said too much, you’ve gone into way too much detail, we don’t need to hear any more of this. I’m not sure if I left the room right away or if I waited politely until the appropriate time to leave, but I remember fleeing down the hall, hiding away, sobbing in the bathroom.

Last summer, a grown woman made me feel like a 7-year-old instead of a 37-year-old when I was simply following my husband’s suggestion to organize a group of adults and children. I was tired and overstimulated, and I was just trying to do the right thing in that moment, but her poor choice of words and condescending, shaming tone brought me all the way back to 3rd grade in a second. She shut me up and shut me down, that’s for sure.

And later that summer, when I made homemade scalloped potatoes and ham, warmed up a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, put it on the kids’ plates and they said “that’s all we’re having for dinner?” I second guessed myself. I should’ve made pork chops and scalloped potatoes, then there would’ve been a bigger piece of meat and more protein. I should’ve cut up some fruit so they had all the food groups represented. And we were out of milk, so they just had ice water. Clearly, I wasn’t organized enough to get to the store to buy milk today. And that night at the store, guilt as I passed up the organic gallon of milk for the much cheaper $2.89 gallon of store brand milk.

Do you see the pattern here?

Do you see the problem with all of this?

My expectations are faulty, others’ expectations are faulty.

My thinking is faulty, others’ thinking is faulty.

My response is faulty, others’ responses are faulty.

Let’s just face it. The belief that perfection can be obtained, achieved, is a bunch of rubbish.

My pursuit of perfection, my need to try my very best and do my very best, at all times, in all ways, thinking I need to be all things to all people, yet still never feeling like I’m good enough? It’s not working for me anymore. It’s not healthy, it’s not sustainable, and it’s not the way God calls me to live. Because no human being is perfect, no human being can do everything right.

So I’ve had enough. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be.

I embrace grace with wild abandon, because I need it bad.

Grace for myself, grace for others.

Grace it will be.


*Please note, this post is not intended to shame any individual who’s been a part of my formation as a human being, but rather to shed light on my personal battle with perfectionism.

wishes to dreams

Today I’m thinking of you. And I’m wondering if you might be a little like me.

You see, we all have hopes and dreams for our lives. Some of those hopes and dreams are small, and some are big and grand. Regardless of the size, they’re all worthy.

But sometimes, when a dream is really important to you, when it’s something you’ve been hoping for and dreaming of for a long, long time? It scares you.

Yes, hopes and dreams are exciting, exhilarating, life-giving. But they’re also scary because sometimes they can feel too big, unattainable, impossible to achieve.

Let me tell you a little more about how this plays out in my life.

About six weeks ago, I published a post on my personal Facebook page. It read something like this…

Seriously considering running a marathon for my 40th birthday. Wondering if running a marathon is something I should plan on being a once-in-a-lifetime event, or is it something an average person could pull off several times? Also, any recommendations as to which marathon would be better for a first-time marathoner, _____ or _____ (listed the names of two marathons I’ve considered for my first).

Sure, it was a little scary to publish this post on my personal Facebook page, because I’ve dreamed of running a marathon for a long, long time. But what was even scarier was the fact that I was putting myself out there and had no idea what kind of response I’d get. Would they think I was crazy? Trying to get attention? I knew there were a lot of marathoners in my 400-something friend list on Facebook, so I knew it was the best place to go for some quick feedback. But I was still a little scared.

After I published the post, I put down my phone and watched a movie with my husband. Two hours later, I picked up my phone and pulled up Facebook. As I walked up the stairs to our bedroom, I noticed there didn’t seem to be any replies to my post about the marathon. No notifications were popping up on my screen.

I got scared.

Oh no. The post has been up for two hours and not a single person’s responded. They must think I’m crazy. They must think I’m out of my mind. This was a horrible idea.

So before I even got to the top of the stairs, I pulled up the post, erased it, and closed down Facebook.

Bad idea.

When I got into bed, I proceeded with my nightly routine, which is quiet time to peruse Facebook and Twitter without interruption. It was only then, when I gave Facebook ample time to load, that I realized I had received feedback on that marathon post – several likes and SEVEN comments. Seven comments. Hmmm…

I clicked on the notification so I could read all of the comments; the only (major) problem was that I had deleted the post just a few minutes prior! I, quite literally, lost access to my own post. So although I could see that seven comments had been made, I never had the opportunity to read any of them. When I deleted the post, all of the comments got automatically deleted as well. The support I might have just garnered for one of my dreams was lost in one click.

I felt like a fool. How silly was I? How stupid was I to assume that NOBODY would like the idea of me running a marathon? It was only because of my own fear that I erased that post as I walked up the stairs. It was only because of my own need for others’ APPROVAL of my dream that I erased the post when I thought it had gotten zero response.

Sorry to say folks, it doesn’t end there.

In January, I asked for a prayer and support team to come alongside me and my God-sized dreams. I wasn’t in any place to share my dreams with the whole wide world, but I didn’t want to feel alone with my dreams anymore, either. To my surprise, 12 people offered to come alongside. But two emails and three months later, I became scared that I just let 12 people in on my dreams. I wanted to back out, I wondered if I’d made the wrong decision. There was a part of me that thought I’d been too quick to invite others in, too quick to put myself out there, too quick to share the dreams. I felt vulnerable, and still do. Yet I know I need the support.

And another example – after I’d taken a 3-week break from blogging, after I felt complete clarity about my life from here on out, my husband and I made plans to start moving me towards my dreams even more. But let me tell you, there’s a cost to pursuing your biggest hopes and dreams. When you start to count the cost of following your dreams, it’s easy to get scared.

Thoughts creep in…

Is this really worth it? Are my hopes and dreams really going to happen anyway? What if I spend all of this time, all of this money, all of this effort – and nothing comes of it? What if? What then?

Yes, I admit. I have these hopes, I have these dreams for my life. But I’ve been waffling between fear and hope. I’ve felt empowered, I’ve felt the uncertainty of in-between, and I’ve felt scared to death.

So I’m wondering if you might be a little like me?

What are your hopes? What are your dreams for your life?

Do you dream of finally getting that college degree? Maybe it’s an extra licensure or degree you need to fulfill those dreams. Perhaps your hopes and dreams are on the home front. You long to get married and have children of your own, you want to become a foster parent, you dream of adopting from Asia or Africa, you want to know what it’s like to stay home full-time with your children. You daydream about a bigger house, a much smaller house, a lake house, or maybe you realized you really just want to sell it all and retire or become a missionary. It’s possible you need to get back to work, step away from work, change your work from corporate to nonprofit or the other way around. Maybe you want to open a restaurant, set up a booth at the state fair, start a video business, jewelry business, Mary Kay business? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to climb Mount Everest, go on a safari, kayak over a waterfall, or become an Ironman. Or maybe, just maybe, you dream of quiet spaces where you have room to breath, room to feel free, room to notice and just be.

Whatever your dream is, it’s worthy.

Whatever your dream is, it’s bound to make you scared at some point.

Whatever your dream is, fear’s going to push back on it somewhere along the way.

But yes, let’s remind ourselves again…

Whatever your dream is, it’s worthy of dreaming.

Because without dreams, we have no hope for a better tomorrow.

So let’s keeping hoping, let’s keep dreaming, let’s keep praying it’ll all come true.

And day by day, let’s push those fears aside – together.

Don’t let your biggest hopes and dreams scare you. Because in the end, it’s better to have failed in pursuit of a dream than it is to regret having never pursued it at all.


wishes to dreams

  1. Amy Jacobson says:

    My dream is to have another child. Yes, that scares me to death. I’m with you.

  2. Amy Jacobson says:

    My dream is to have another child. Yes, that scares me to death. I’m with you.

  3. Nicole Marie Newfield says:

    Wondering what dreams you are planning for! You have me curious! This is a good blog post for all the graduates particularly!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.