Book Review: Grace, Not Perfection – embracing simplicity, celebrating joy

A dear friend of mine came back from her December holidays and planted this book proudly on my living room table and said,“It’s beautifully designed and she’s so inspiring I just know you’ll love it.” Thanks, Viv, you were so right!


Once upon a time, I enjoyed an amazing career in advertising for many years, traveling to countries such as Mozambique, Romania, Spain, and Lebanon to name a few. Then 3 months after getting married, I fell pregnant with my first child. I had never planned on becoming a house wife! I had never even taken Home Ec at school! After a good dose of humble pie and a whole heap of life lessons, this book was such a welcome read for me. It put into words so many of the things I have felt and faced living this new creative mom life path.

“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home” – Harold B. Lee

Shortly after Viv shared the book with me, Katie was sharing her hurting, over committed, overwhelmed, and stressed out heart with me, and I told her she needed to read this book. It took her a few months (and more than a few nudges), but she finally ordered it. I just knew that Emily’s story, her way with words, and the gorgeous, clean design would speak to her, as it did for me.

The author, Emily Ley, is a designer, wife and mom of 3 little ones. With degrees in English, Marketing, and Public Relations, she launched her own brand in 2008. In 2011 Emily created The Simplified Planner® for busy working moms like herself and has grown from strength to strength with global success.


Along with practical tools and tips on how to simplify your life, Emily shares her testimony. Through the stories she weaves so eloquently, the reader can see that her strength and wisdom come from her Christian faith and upbringing. It is essential to her overcoming the battle for perfection and turning her focus to gratitude and grace. It is authentic and honest, not pushy, and we believe most readers will appreciate her openness, Christian or not.

There are so many great quotes that resonated with both of us throughout the book. Some that inspired us to declutter and set priorities, and others that reaffirmed us. It is truly a wonderful book that motivates, challenges, and loves on the reader.

Here are some take aways that spoke to us and influenced us for the better:

• Perfect doesn’t always equal worthy.

• Give yourself permission to slow down.

• Fiercely guard the pages of your calendar.

• It’s ok to say NO, not just is it ok, it is very necessary.

• Make sure you are taking time for yourself so that you can pour out sweet water to your people.

• Decluttering and organizing your life will make room for more joy.

• Don’t miss the joys hidden between the grand moments in life.

• Free your hands. Lock the phone in the drawer. Everything else can wait. 

• Home days are as important as playdates.

• Eliminate distractions, especially the digital ones; they are time-suckers. Turn off notifications and check your email when you want to, and try keeping your social media app out of site.

• Grace and gratitude go hand in hand.

• Mommy guilt is a liar and comparison steals joy.

“Mommy guilt. It’s an epidemic. The working mom, the part-time mom, the stay-at-home mom, the super-mom, the room mom, the traditional mom, the modern mom, the helicopter mom, the tiger mom. No one is immune when mommy guilt rears it’s ugly head to whisper the lie that we’re somehow failing our children.” – Emily Ley

We have both recommended this book to the moms we know looking for balance, more joy, and ultimately grace in their mess. Each of them receiving it with the same gratitude that we did. Feeling liberated in knowing that WE ARE ENOUGH! 


“Ultimately simplifying allows us to slow down enough to savor this life” – Emily Ley

So in the spirit of simplifying and pursing joy, let’s agree to not rush these days away – our kids are growing up so fast as it is. Let’s take the time to appreciate the little things, find the joy between the grand moments, pursue our calling, and a be present in each season of life. Seek Grace, not perfection.

We both highly recommend this book, so when you give it a read, tell us what you think. Did it change your perspective or inspire you?

happy reading,


Divine Inspiration


Inspiration is all around us if we just look a little closer or take the time out of our busyness to see it.

We have shared about artists and their amazing creations that inspire us but, for me, there is one place that moves me in ways I cannot even fully comprehend – the sea. The sheer power and beauty of it causes me to pause and admire God’s handiwork. All of my senses are stimulated.


I hear the shells trickle back and forth with each wave creating a melody. I feel the salty wind whip my hair around my face, the cool sand soft between my toes, and the waves colliding with my shins. I smell the sea breeze calming and exciting me at the same time and I taste the salt in the air.


Sight has always been my strongest sense. Ever since I was little I would see things my family missed and by the sea I am overwhelmed. I see it all, the depth of color range from blues to greens in the water, the soft white of the sea foam, the rhythmic and almost hypnotic waves rolling in and out to the horizon, the unique patterns and colors of the treasures from the deep – shells of all shapes and sizes and the array of colorful sea glass. And, of course, the creatures and people scattered on the sand, in the air, on the sea, all adding to the visual cacophony of a day by the sea.


All of it refreshes, inspires, and creates a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Is there a place that does this for you? How do you hold on to all that inspiration when you leave it?

I have found that it is important to carry those feelings with me home from the sea, so I intentionally have decorated my home with things that remind me of how it feels to be there. In the photographs, the blues in my rugs, and the jars of shells, rocks, sand, and sea glass we have collected, you will find my moments of peace and inspiration. It helps me to find a stillness and quietness in the midst of the chaos and busyness that is everyday life.


Next time you are in your place of divine inspiration, take it all in, maybe even write down how it makes you feel, and then grab a token to take home with you to remember what it feels like to be overwhelmed with peace and inspiration.

If you have other ways to hold on to that feeling of divine inspiration share with us! We would love to hear it!