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Abandoned Pictures of the Perfect Christmas by Amy Carroll

Abandoned Pictures of the Perfect Christmas by Amy Carroll

Friends – this is Kathi, and I’m so thrilled that we are getting a head start on the holidays this year. No – I’m not asking you to push up your Black Friday shopping by a month – I want us all to have an opportunity to prepare our hearts – not just our homes. So I’ve joined forces this week with several of my friends who have similar hearts – Let the holidays come! – but let our hearts be in a place where we can truly experience the best that the season has to give us! My first friend who is sharing is Amy Carroll.

I have long admired Amy from a far, but today we get to hang out with her up-close-and-personal. Amy is the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and I know that most of us are going to need a lot of that as the holiday’s approach.

Be sure to head over to her blog to win a copy of her book!

10-19-15 Carroll Amy Perfect Christmas image

The further I read into the editorial the shorter my breath grew, and I felt the heat of stress radiating from my constricted heart. “At my house, the bustle stops when we gather with our daughters to trim the tree,” Gayle Butler, editor of Better Homes and Gardens, gushed.

Then she went on to describe her family’s lovely evening complete with traditional music, story-telling, and eggnog. She ended by saying, “By the time our quiet evening concludes, we’re energized and ready to try something new.”

Wow. That sounds just like my family. (Insert sarcastic tone here.)

My case of hives from the article came from memories of the previous year’s tree trimming at my house.

We all started well–hubs, the boys and me–matching up with the perfect pictures of Christmas preparations in my mind. It was just like BH & G. Amy Grant crooned Christmas carols in the background. Egg nog was poured into the red glass tea cups I had snagged at a tag sale, and boxes of decorations from the attic lined the walls.

However, it all started downhill over the lights for the tree.

Squabbles erupted over tangled strings of bulbs. Somebody turned on the football game, and the sound of the TV clashed with the music from the stereo. Instead of telling lovely stories of the ornaments’ histories as we hung each one, my boys began to make fun of the 70s-style bobbles from my childhood. It all fell apart faster than you can say, “Mama’s in a snit.”

Maybe they just got distracted, or maybe it was the maternal growls and snarls that drove them away, but suddenly I found myself sitting alone on the floor in front of the tree. The rest of my family had abandoned the traditional decorating of the tree.

I furiously gave the tree a yank to position it for another ornament, and…   TIMBER! It fell on me, driving the metal rod of one of the artificial branches into my arm.

That’s when it happened. Out of my mouth popped some of the overflow of a disgruntled perfectionist’s heart—a big, fat, four-letter word.

That brought the family back into the room.

“Mom! Did you just say #*!@?!”

To this day, there is one favorite Christmas story at my house. It’s not The Gift of the Magi or The Polar Express. Not even How the Grinch Stole Christmas makes the cut. Our family’s favorite story is The Day Mom Cussed When the Christmas Tree Fell on Her.


So much for the perfect family Christmas. Ours might be rated R.

It’s hard to give up the pictures of perfection in our heads–especially during the holidays. It seems to be the time that Perfect takes a strangle hold with visions of the perfect pumpkin pie, the perfectly peaceful Thanksgiving dinner, and the perfect gift.

But surely there’s a better way to do the holidays. Surely there’s more joy to be had.

I’ve spent about a decade now breaking up with Perfect, and I’ve learned a few things we can all do as the holidays approach that will usher in the elements we all want this time of year—joy, peace, and a Jesus-focused heart. They’re all centered on relationships—with yourself, God, and others.

Surrender to Your Truest Self.

God created you, and there is no other that can take your place. In a world that’s dying to see real women living a real faith, God created you uniquely, so be unique!

Anna Quindlen says it this way, “Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted.” Love that.

I’d go a step further, though, and say that your true unvarnished self is what God wants and what most glorifies Him. When you take off the façade of perfection, Jesus’ light shines brightly through you and draws others to Himself!

So what does that look like in the holidays? If deep in your heart you have a passion for pink flamingoes, then go crazy with pink feathers instead of red and green plaid ribbon! If you’d love to have quinoa and kale instead of turkey and dressing, make it! Create new traditions around the things you love instead of just comparing and imitating. You’ll find fresh delight as you do, and others will be attracted to your joy.


Savor each person, each moment, and most importantly, savor time each day with God. Linger in the candlelight of early morning. Let music of praise wash over you. Center your mind and heart on Him.

For me, it’s particularly hard to savor my relationship with Jesus from November through December. I know that’s horrible to confess, but it’s true. My lists lengthen in my mind in any quiet moment, so this is the season when I need some great devotional books to keep my thoughts focused. Here are a couple I’ve got close at hand for this season:

  • The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
  • The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

Keep It Simple

Don’t drive yourself this season, and for heaven’s sake, don’t drive others either (a lesson I’ve learned the hard way). Keep a family calendar and preserve some white space. For each opportunity, ask yourself what should NOT go on your calendar.

Have a discussion with friends and family about what is important to each person, and then let the rest go. I shake my head in sadness when I think of all the years I drove myself and everyone else crazy with all the things I thought had to be done… that nobody enjoyed anyway.

One of my least favorite tasks in life is cooking, so I’m ending with a simple recipe from my friend Sharon Sloan, author of SerenDIPity, that even the least domestic of us can make for a holiday party. Let’s all commit to surrender, savor and keep it simple!

The Now-Famous Cherry Cheesecake Dip by Lisa Lohwasser – SerenDIPity 2011

1 Box of Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake Mix

1 8-ounce tub 10-19-15 Carroll Amy book coverof Cool Whip

1 21-ounce can of cherry pie filling

(or use any other canned fruit or fresh fruit you desire)

Prepare Jell-O Cheesecake Mix according to directions on box. Stir in the Cool Whip. Place cheesecake mixture on desired serving tray and pour cherry pie filling on top of cheesecake mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers or another dipper of your choice.




Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Breaking Up with Perfect.

You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Amy’s blog.

PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at

10-19-15 Carroll Amy HeadhshotAmy Carroll’s passion is leading women to deeper delight through the matchless pleasure of rich relationship with God and others. Amy is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the blissful director of Next Step Speaker Services.  She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund.  You can find her on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.  Visit Amy at her blog to join her in a journey toward more joy.

Apply Now to be Part of the Happy Habits for Every Couple Launch Team

Apply Now to be Part of the Happy Habits for Every Couple Launch Team

In January, I’m launching Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space, but guess what? I’m also launching Happy Habits for Every Couple and you could be a part of our launch team!

Yes, I know…two books in one month! That’s how we roll!

Happy Habits for Couples - cover

So could your marriage use a little tune up?

When was the last time you flirted with your husband? Was it before you had kids?

Does your idea of a hot date include a drive-thru and springing for the extra-large fries?

What would your marriage look like if for 21 days you turned your attention to happy habits that will better your relationship? Plenty of books describe how to improve a marriage, how to save a marriage, even how to ramp up intimacy in a marriage. In Happy Habits for Every Couple, Kathi Lipp and husband Roger show you practical, fun-filled ways to put love and laughter back into your marriage.

Here are just a few of the results you’ll see when you put Happy Habits for Every Couple into practice:

new levels of warmth and tenderness in your relationship
a deeper sense of security with your spouse
a marriage filled with fun and flirting

If you haven’t given up the dream of being head-over-heels with your spouse again, following this 21-day plan will give you just the boost you need to bring you closer together.

Standard game rules apply: love on each other; share hope, grace, and encouragement; read the book and write a review.

We are sending out copies of the book next week, so tell us why you’d like to be a part of our new family!

If you are interested, just take a moment to fill out the application below:





15 Quotes and Prayers for Your Thanksgiving

15 Quotes and Prayers for Your Thanksgiving

15 Quotes and Prayers


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. -Theodore Roosevelt

Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now. -A.W. Tozer

Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed and how workable the Christian system is. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation to God and to one another. – John Clayton

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. – Henry Van Dyke

Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more: Peace in the hearts of all men living, peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving. – Joseph Auslander

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. -E.P. Powell

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Remember God’s bounty in the year. String the pearls of His favor. Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light! Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude! -Henry Ward Beecher

If we meet someone who owes us thanks, we right away remember that. But how often do we meet someone to whom we owe thanks without remembering that? – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. – W. T. Purkiser

“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” -William Arthur Ward


Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into God’s presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 111

Praise the Lord.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who have pleasure in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy,
they are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant for ever. Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures for ever!

We Give Thanks

Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.

– Harry Jewell


And just for giggles…

What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? -Erma Bombeck, “No One Diets on Thanksgiving,” 26 November 1981


2014 Things Challenge – Are you feeling behind? Don’t. You can do this.

2014 Things Challenge – Are you feeling behind? Don’t. You can do this.

After two book deadlines and a death in our family, I’ve gotten behind on the 2014 Things Challenge (haven’t we all!?!) Well if you need a little inspiration, check out this post from Kori over at

kori It’s never too late! You can do this. Even if you just got rid of 10 items a day, you could start today and not be behind.

If you’re feeling behind, here are a couple of places to get some numbers quickly:

  • Go through your magazine rack and pitch any issue that is over three months old
  • Go through your gadget drawer in your kitchen
  • Now that the weather is warm, (at least in most parts of the country. Sorry silly Colorado…) donate any clothes you didn’t wear all winter, as well as any summer clothes that you’re pulling out that just don’t work for you anymore.
  • Do the same with your kid’s clothes
  • Look at the paperwork on your desk. Every decision is a thing and it counts

You can do this friends. I promise.

Get a Preview Copy of My New E-book Surviving Summer Vacation Before it Releases!

Get a Preview Copy of My New E-book Surviving Summer Vacation Before it Releases!

Rarely does good trump business, but in this case, good kicked business in the behind.

When my publisher, Revell, told me the release date of my new e-book, Surviving Summer Vacation: Plans and Prayers for a Mom’s Sanity (May 6th) I may have had a slight panic attack.

As much as I would love to tell you that I was able to have those Lazy Hazy days of summer laid back and unplanned for my kids, that’s just not how we could roll. Unplanned is not a good look on my family. Sure, we could have reading time every day, but to have the rest of our time be unstructured? While other kids may spend a whole afternoon looking at a roly-poly in the back yard, my kids took a more destructive route to life – cutting up curtains with a forgotten pair of scissors, devising ways to torture their sister, and so on.

You see, I’ve had (and still have) kids at home. I get the stress of summer vacation, and well, by May 6th, you’ve got to have at least a basic plan in place.

So I begged, and pleaded, and maybe groveled a little and beseech-ed (because it sounds biblical) my publisher to release the book a little early so that a mom could have a little time to prepare!

But Revell (did I mention I LOVE Revell) did me one better. They are letting me GIVE AWAY advance PDF copies of the book FOR FREE. Did I mention that they are FOR FREE?

Let’s be clear: Publishers don’t do things like this.

Did I mention that I love them?

Here’s what you’ll get:

Surviving Summer Vacation is a fun-packed book with hundreds of ideas to make your summer spectacular. Along with all these mom-friendly kid ideas that are contained in this PDF preview, you will receive access to a free Kindle or Nook version (being released on May 6th) along with 10 PDF downloads to make your summer as smooth as possible. Here are just a few of the fun areas that are covered:

  • And Summer Begins
  • Responsibility
  • Mom Time
  • Gardening
  • Reading
  • Music
  • Creative Activities
  • Food
  • Adventure

PLUS! A Sneak Peek of my next book I Need Some Help Here! Hope for when Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan

Now one caveat: Because it’s a preview copy, the links to all the free and wonderful downloads are not activated. But don’t fret. When you sign up to receive the free preview copy, I will follow up with an email on the eBook release date how to get your Kindle or Nook copy that includes all those downloads, again for FREE.

To get your copy, click on the button below, fill out the form (there are only two items of info we need) and you will get it in your email TODAY.

Happy Summer planning!

To get your advance copy of Surviving Summer, just fill in the information below and click “DOWNLOAD NOW!” (just remember the links in the download aren’t active but don’t worry! We will tell you how to get the final ebook and all the links for free on its release date May 6). If you would like to join Kathi for the 5 Days of Hope, be sure to check that box!
Cleaning Out Your Car – A Real Clean Sweep

Cleaning Out Your Car – A Real Clean Sweep


Quadrant Clean –

Divide the car into four quadrants and do one quadrant fully before moving one the the next one. Otherwise, you will start at the front, follow along to the side, get distracted by the gum on the back of the car seat, start picking at that and the driver seat still has Wendy’s Frosty stickiness on it that need to be wiped off.

Three Box Reminder –

Do not forget your three boxes of PUT AWAY, OTHER ROOMS, and GIVE AWAY.  You will also need your two bags GARBAGE and RECYCLE. You might have to use two mini boxes of PUT AWAY. One for the items like the  good silverware spoon that has peanut butter with carpet pieces now stuck to it from a left over snack and another for the school report you just found three days late. The main thing is to get it out of the car!

Do I really Need it in Here? – 

You need to be realistic but simplistic for this one.  An extra a pair of safety scissors could be really helpful sometime in your car.  And husbands often need that quick nail clipper time so a pair of those is fine, but four coffee mugs?  Probably not.

By getting rid of extra clutter in your car, you will also be saving money since it will make the car more fuel efficient. {click to tweet} Sure, a few extra homework folders will not make much of a difference, but hauling those bags of used sports gear that you are supposed to drop off at the gym will make a difference.

And once you have cleaned it out, use containers to keep what you want in there neat and easy to find.  My friend uses a cosmetics bag for all the restaurant gift cards and she keeps it in the glove compartment so anytime the family is out, they can go to the restaurant and have the coupon handy!

What are some organizing tricks that you use in the car to keep it swept out and clutter free?