Emily Ley, author, blogger, and founder of The Simplified Planner®, has written a breathtaking book for tweens called Grace Not Perfection: Believing You’re Enough In A World of Impossible Expectations. It’s the young-reader version of her original book, Grace Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy.
I highly recommend this book for Christian girls who check one or more of these boxes:
- WORRY about school lunch table politics including compromising personal and spiritual beliefs in order to fit in.
- STRIVE for more Instagram or TikTok followers
- TOIL over 2nd place, 2nd chair, 2nd string, runner-up status, etc.
- BATTLE with feelings of inadequacy when they make Bs, Cs, Ds and Fs
- STRUGGLE with a packed schedule that leads to inadequate rest, nutrition
Girls from other faith traditions may also enjoy the wisdom in the book, although they should be aware that the lessons are based on the New Testament.
My daughter Bridgette turned 13 this summer. She is the busiest person in our family and I’m always amazed at how she holds it all together. Not only is she a competitive gymnast who trains 12 hours a week in the gym, but she is also a competitive baton twirler who keeps us a rigorous twirling schedule of lessons and practice times. She does all this while making very good grades. (I have to add that she is also a voracious reader who consumed dozens of books during the first five months of the pandemic!)
I worry about Bridgy a lot. And, I miss her during the long hours she is away from me pursuing her dreams. We’re not quite ready to share with the world what those dreams are, however, sometimes, it feels like we’re both holding our breath. Breathing in deep to see what the future holds and what opportunities might come her way. I check in with her a lot.
Are you sure you want to keep doing gymnastics?
Are you sure you want to keep twirling?
If you want to quit everything and just play the guitar, say the word.
What I know holds Bridgette together is her faith in God. It is big and bright and steady. All the more reason for us to spend time reading Emily’s book together, which is what we’ve been doing every night at bedtime. It teaches girls about grace — the unmerited love and favor from God that we cannot earn because it is a gift. Some of Emily’s tips include:
- Creating significant moments rather than orchestrating a picture-perfect life.
- Paring down activities to what matters most–without FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
- Simplifying life by simplifying three major areas: space, time, and mind.
- Creating effective to-do lists and get through them one step at a time.
Bridgy is kind of the exemplar prototype for Emily’s book. A busy and ambitious young girl who feels angst about having TikTok — and not having it. She has a pure heart and spends a lot of time creating fun posts for her Harry Potter fan account on Instagram — and then worries when nobody likes those amazing and well-crafted posts. =(
Oh, these are First-World problems. I know that. But they can lead to a lot of emotional pain and suffering. Multiple studies have documented high rates of depression and anxiety in Generation Z. Their First-World traumas include mass shootings at malls and schools; gun violence; immigration; sexual harassment and sexual assault; drugs and alcohol and more.
Thank you, Emily Ley
For these reasons, I’m so grateful for a book like Grace Not Perfection: Believing You’re Enough In A World of Impossible Expectations. It’s a beautiful book full of timely and relevant pictures that allow young tweens to feel especially connected to the overriding message:
You are enough!
There have been times while reading this book with Bridgy that I have had tears rolling down my cheeks. So much poison comes into our lives. Emily addresses this in key points throughout the book and follows up with Biblical principles and Scriptures to combat the lies that are deadly to our hearts. I wish I’d had a book like this when I was Bridgy’s age. I’m grateful for the “fresh, sweet water” of it all. Thank you, Emily Ley!
Finally, Bridgy loves my blog. (Don’t ask me why. lol.) She especially loves to see all the pictures of herself that I’ve posted over the years. A few weeks ago she said something to me that broke my heart. “You don’t post pictures of me on your blog anymore.” Ugh! I wanted to cry. The truth is, as she has grown in beauty and grace I’ve wanted to put her in a box so no one can hurt her. It would be sad if someone ever did because I’d have to torture him or her and then I’d go to jail and well, that would not be good.
So, I decided to kind of limit her exposure in this space. She’s not a trophy. She’s my daughter! My beautiful daughter living in a cruel world. But, the last thing I want is for her to think that because she’s older I’ve lost interest in her. The opposite is true! So, with her permission, I’m sharing some recent photos of her twirling and gymnastics. I’m so proud of her — not only because of her work ethic but because of her love ethic. She loves me so much even though I’m kind of a mess. The grace she offers to me, in spite of my imperfections, is the best evidence of God’s work in her life. And you know what? I hit the kid lottery because Sullivan and Juliette are like this, too. I guess in this regard, Emily’s book has been as much a gift to me as to my girl.