Lisa Leonard Designs

on failing.

February 5th | thoughts

Lately I have been feeling like the biggest failure.

I have my checklists. Not literal checklists but checklists in my head. A good mom does these things. A good wife does these things. A good business owner does these things. A good friend does these things. And lately so many boxes are going unchecked. I’m overwhelmed with the things I’m not doing. And it feels like crap.

I love creating. I love picture taking. I love snuggling my boys. I love business strategy. I love my husband. Then there are the things that need to get done, like, dishes, laundry, emails and phone calls. Some days there aren’t enough hours. I fall behind. According to my standards, I’m failing. I feel guilty.

I’m not telling you this so that you’ll feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this because you probably feel that way sometimes, too. There are so many demands placed on us as women. If I look like I have it together, then I’m doing a good job of faking it. The truth is that I am so flawed, so imperfect and there’s grace for that. I need lots of grace!

So today I’m reminding myself, and maybe you too, that there is grace for the imperfect. There is hope for the flawed. There is beauty to be found in failing.

113 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    Thank you for such an honest, open post. I really, really needed that this morning. Been feeling the same here too. But you’re right, we put too much demand on ourselves. We need to give ourselves a little leeway & grace to remind ourselves that all we can do is our best and take it one step at a time.

  2. Holly KN says:

    Oh-So-Much YES for this post.

    Why is it so easy to focus on what we aren’t doing (or are doing wrong), and stop seeing everything we’re doing (or are doing right)?

    Thanks for making yourself vulnerable, to remind us that’s there’s grace enough for all of us…

  3. MC says:

    Hang in there. I will say some prayers for you. I have these days all the time, and you know what? I wear my “by grace alone” necklace from your shop on those days. Everytime I touch it I say a prayer asking for more grace, and so far it has worked. I get through that day, and by the end I do feel God’s peace telling me to trust him.

    Thanks for creating the necklace. It has helped me alot. I hope it helps you too.

  4. I recently talked about the same thing. And got numerous emails from friends and readers saying the same thing. Its so good to know we’re not alone, isnt it?
    *BTW, I love my “Daily Grow in Grace” necklace from your Dayspring line. Its a constant reminder to me.

  5. Donna says:

    Thank you Lisa! It’s always a comfort to know we are not alone in our failings! Like you said, I think we all feel like we are lacking in our “to do” lists. I know I do and it’s nice to hear someone else say….Hey! I dont have it all together all the time either! Thank you for your always inspiring blog!

  6. Beth says:

    You are doing an amazing job. The days we feel like we’re failing are only gentle reminders that we are human. Everyone is flawed and struggling with something, no matter how put together they appear on the outside… Your honesty is what makes you special and what makes you relatable. You are an inspiration to others!

  7. Priscila says:

    Oh Lisa, why are women so prone to put ourselves under crazy perfection standards and scrutiny? I am so guilty of this too. I guess the key word you used there is grace. I have to be so careful not to fall into this mindset and always remind myself of grace. That my husband, my son don’t want perfection, they want me. :) thanks for sharing your heart. Love your blog (and that pretty jewelry you make!)

  8. Shelly says:

    Thank you for sharing this Lisa. It makes me feel better than someone that seems to have everything together like you do sometimes feels the same way I do.

  9. Corey says:

    Such an honest, important post. Thank you. You’re an inspiration in my own mothering journey. Much peace, always.

  10. Kerry says:

    “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
    2 Cor. 12:9

    Lisa, thanks for your honesty! May you feel the perfectly strong arms of our Savior holding you tight today. These days are gifts from God to us “list-makers” to remind us how much we really need him. (((hugs)))

  11. claudia says:

    yes, indeed…same here. this week is that kind of week, but maybe its good to see what I am doing and getting done, the nurturing of myself and my lovely little family. the laundry doesn’t seem to change, nor the chore list… my family tho is growing and changing all the time. I think I’d rather get behind on household than those things close to my heart..

  12. claudia says:

    oh, saw this quote:
    failure is an event, not a person. you are by no means a failure. just look at that sweet boy on your shoulder….

  13. cristy says:

    ” If I look like I have it together, then I’m doing a good job of faking it. ”

    oh. my. goodness.

    I’m pretty sure this is going to be my new catchphrase… that is… if you don’t mind me stealing it….

  14. Lennie says:

    Amen. All I have thought all morning was that I haven’t blogged for two days and how horrible that is. It is hard to do “it all.”

  15. Melody says:

    My husband posted this blog post to facebook and it is excellent. I HIGHLY recommend it for times like this.
    from the article:
    “You made the right choice once. And in that moment you were the person you want to be and that is a triumph. For one night, you were a person who went to bed early. One morning you woke up and the first words out of your mouth were positive so you were a morning person in that moment. Bam! Drop of Awesome.”

    You are an awesome person! {{hug}}

  16. That really resonated with me today. I keep way too many checklists and feel like a failure often when I don’t check every box. But this week I started accomplishing small things, like keeping the kitchen clean and curling my hair (haha) and it has made me feel great! I see your daily Instagram posts of you snuggling your boys, so in my book, you’re not failing- you’re doing exactly what you should be:)

  17. Heather S. says:

    You are not failing, Lisa. You are living. This is life. I totally get the feeling of the mental checklist. Why do we do this to ourselves, though? Really? There are things we really MUST do every day (blessing our husbands and our children should be at the top of the list right under spending time with Jesus), but so much that we put on ourselves isn’t really necessary at all. Take a moment. Breathe. Pray. Ask the Lord to reveal HIS plans for your day, I bet it’ll go a lot better than when you try to do it all yourself. Let Him carry you through and show you each step along the way. You are not a failure. You are wonderful child of God, lavished in the Father’s love. Don’t ever forget it.

  18. Stacy says:

    You put in to words what I’ve been feeling the last couple days. In these times when we feel so alone, it is so reassuring to know that we are not. Thank you for this!

  19. My list is so long this week and it needs to get done.
    I appreciate your realness in this post today.
    Love you!

  20. Amy K. says:

    Do you read Ann Voskamp? She did an amazing post on mothers that brought me to tears. There are so many pressures, especially with social media allowing us to have a window into each other’s lives (whether faked or genuine) that we use to judge our life and our circumstances in. I constantly feel that tug towards failure. But, I am reminded by Paul, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will see it to completion in the day Christ Jesus.” We are not finished. We are not done! We will always have success in Christ because he is our creator and sustainer. You are an amazing inspiration and I love that you put your heart out there and show us the truth. Keep up the good work mama!!!!

  21. Shanalea says:

    Been feeling like this too lately. Full time 2nd grade teacher, friend, wife, mother to 4 boys (who are homeschooled)…there is never enough time in the day to get everything done well. I know that grace is what I need to give myself, but sometimes I feel like I should get it all done. So today, I am focusing on grace and going moment by moment.

  22. Lisa says:

    I love how honest and real you are in this post. I try to always make time for the things that matter, and there will be enough time for the have to’s (eventually), too. Hang in there.

  23. colleen says:

    Lisa, This could have been me writing this post today. I just finished telling my own sister that I was failing at everything. And then I read your post. Giving you a pat on the back today as I give myself a little pat. Everyone needs a little pat and praise once in a while. We are enough!xoxo

  24. ellen patton says:

    I went on a 16 day road trip over Christmas (Boston to Florida and back) and then two weeks later flew to Oregon for a long weekend. It’s taken me another few weeks to get back on track and feel productive. It happens to us all!

  25. Kelly H-Y says:

    So very true … thank you for this post!

  26. Leslie says:

    Bless your heart! (as we say here in the South!) I just popped over to the blog because I’ve been meaning to thank you for the darling calendar included with my Christmas gift order! I have it by my vanity and it makes me smile every day — so there you go — your gift for creating and sharing is such a blessing! Hope you can rest in the assurance that you are enough. (and HE is more than enough!) So thankful for grace!

  27. karen says:

    “Beauty in failing.” I am going to look for it today, as I have a lot of “failing gong on here right this very morning……..

    My favorite, favoite necklace is your “By Grace Alone” and that is so very true, and helps me get through so much. You are a blessing Lisa, and may He bless you abundantly today!

  28. Kara M says:

    Amen! I’m right there with you. I think my friends get the brunt of my failure. So terrible! I wish I had more energy and more time to really invest in more people and build stronger friendships! I need to get in a habit of just sending cards. Keep them up even when I don’t feel I have much to give.

  29. Shannon says:

    Thank you. Last night I had a complete ‘Bad Mom’ meltdown over dirty dishes, laundry all over the place, toys on the floor, half finished crafts and too much stress at work that ended up in lots of tears on my part, last night and a deep funk all morning. Your post has helped me realize that I’m only human and I can’t do everything but the most important thing is that I love my son beyond all else. Thank you so much.

  30. JOCELYN says:

    Ah GRACE! My one little word. Such a beautiful thing! Sometimes when we get in that “pit” it seems like we are the only one that is there. It is nice to know that I’m not alone. …and GRACE is available for all! Thank you for sharing!

  31. It’s ALWAYS a relief to know that other women feel the same….

  32. Deana says:

    I too have been feeling this way. I find too that when this happened it sometimes feels so overwhelming to pick yourself up and start again. I am hoping that once spring is upon us it will get a bit better.
    I have all those balls to jungle and they keep dropping. I am a wife, mother of three (our middle child has autism and a heart defect), I advocate, volunteer, keep house and laundry, cook and garden and also try to run a business on line, which I have to create product for, which is actually my saving grace, plus being a spiritual person, I feel I have spiritual obligations to meet.
    So we must keep on keeping on and know that our efforts and kindnesses are making this world a better place. We can find peace in each other and realize it is our best efforts that are expected of us, not perfection and let go of those that are expecting the latter.

  33. my heart needed this post so much today. thank you for blessing me….

  34. Melanie says:

    Thank you for always putting your heart out there. I cannot tell you how many days I feel exactly the same way. If you get a minute, hop over to Ann Voskamp’s FB page and read her “tribute” to mom’s. She is a Christian author, and she posted it after the super bowl commercial in which Paul Harvey gave tribute to farmers. This is her version of a tribute to why God made mom’s. Fantastic read and very heartwarming and encouraging! Thankful for God’s grace! I hope you have a great week.

  35. jen says:

    this is right where I’m at now, too…thanks for the encouragement!

  36. Cerise says:

    These are quite honestly my favorite posts. So many times all we see online (facebook and blogs mostly) is perfection. Perfectly clean homes, amazingly productive women, happy, well behaved wonderful children. It’s sometimes easy to forget that no one is a super hero. It’s nice to be reminded that others go through the same struggles. And that others “fail”. Thanks.

  37. I’ve been feeling this way for so long and I think every mother probably does whether they admit it or not. I just want you to know that even though I don’t know you, I follow your blog and IG, and I think you are simply the BEST mom and your boys are so lucky to have a mom like you who takes the time to snuggle, enjoy the moments, etc. It’s very heartwarming to see your posts. XOXO

  38. Christy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Lisa! That is exactly how I have been feeling lately. I think we women have a great pressure to look like everything is perfect whether it is or not, so we fake it. We do each other a great disservice by not being honest in our struggles and allowing others to admit their struggles too. Thank you for being real and ministering to so many other women feeling the pressure to do all things and do them perfectly. True community and authenticity will only come when women are able to let down their guard enough to let others see them as they really are.

  39. Kate says:

    Thank God for grace! :)

  40. Melissakay says:

    I hate when I make the choice I focus on what I need to do… For business or home and then all of a sudden as I lay in bed I feel like I failed at the biggest task of all. I find as a mother on occasion we / I get so involved in “doing laundry, or a photo session, or a blog post…” That when my kids come in and say “hey mom…” My reply is almost auto “in a minute or not right now” and then at bed time my heart breaks because I look back and ask myself “why didn’t I stop for 5 minutes” I know the reality… We do a lot of family things together and if I did stop for the occasional “hey moms” I would never get anything done. I do know I choose the family or wife duties over “work” a lot but I still feel the guilt…. I know how you feel. And I am right there with you.., it is a horrible and sad feeling but sometimes we must. I need to learn to live with the times “I must” in order to appreciate the times “I can”

  41. Paige says:

    I just love you, Lisa. I so needed this today. After crying on the ohone with my cousin last night for 40 minutes about what a failure I am we need to be reminded of grace, even in times wehn we feel this way. xo

  42. I totally feel you on this one. I count a day successful when I can say that I loved my family in the best way I could. Bonus points if I brought joy and beauty to the world in some small way through an act of kindness, a poem, a laugh or a quite thank you. Thanks for keeping it real.

  43. Barbra says:

    As your necklace which I wear all the time says” by grace alone”. We live and breathe and have our being. Tis Grace has brought me thus so far and Grace will lead me home . All if the other “stuff” is fleating, constantly changing, and after all is said and done doesn’t really matter anyway!(except for the relationships we will carry into eternity).

  44. Stephanie says:

    Thank you! I SO needed this today. Thank you for the reminder of grace.

  45. Lori Ann says:

    What a perfect post for me today – I am feeling overwhelmed! We just moved into a new home, into a brand new rural town and I am scared and tired and feeling like I am not expressing grace with anything I do or anyone I love!

    Thanks for the post – I needed the encouragement to keep on going – and trying to be better and express that grace!

  46. Carol says:

    Lisa, I’ve had cancer twice. If I’ve learned anything from those experiences, it’s that my worth doesn’t come from anything you can see, not from my physical appearance, my accomplishmentrs, my lifestyle or my completed to-do list. My worth comes from God. He says I am beautiful. He says I am complete. He says I am enough. And He blankets me in His grace. Rest there, and be loved.

  47. cathy says:

    ahhhh….such a beautiful message to all of us! i was just beating myself up about feeling like this on the drive to work today….i can only tell myself….”tomorrow is a new day— just find joy in this one!”….. and off to make a hot cup of tea — and “feed my soul” (which is my all=time favorite necklace -a gift) : ) My joy today was a phone call from my son who has been so disconnected lately (age-22) : ( If you are doing your best —THAT is grace!

  48. Tanya says:

    As a woman old enough to be your mom – my words to you are forget about the dishes, the laundry, the email and phone calls. In the giant scheme of things, they don’t really amount to much. So take them off your list and do the things that make you and the people around you smile. Those are the moments that they will remember – not how many dirty dishes there were in the sink.

  49. thanks, lisa.
    thank you for authenticity.
    i pray that God speaks his delight over you, magnifies His grace on you, and hushes the lists and expectations.
    (i pray the same for me, and for your readers).

    thank you for the ways you glorify Him

  50. Rachel says:

    Perfect timing- such a perfect reminder thank you! You are right, there are plenty of us that feel like this every so often! It does help to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone and we should go easy on ourselves. Hugs

  51. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for a wonderful real life post, because at times it does seem like we have it all together but are really falling apart on the inside..I know this all too well. I’ve learned that there are things that are not going to get done, and then there are things that must be being with family, nuturing our children and relationships, these are the important things in life, the things the nuture our hearts and souls. When you look back at your life noone is going to remember the dirty dishes, unsweep floors or unanswered emails, they are going to remember the wonderful wife, mother, friend, business women you are..and all the joy you have brought so many others with your wonderful and inspiring creations.
    Let god put his hands on your heart and lift those fears of failure.

  52. Christine says:

    Thank you for your honesty. Must be something in the air lately, been feeling it as well. Tomorrow is a new day, just do your best each day. Be the best you, you can be!

  53. Faye says:

    Just prioritize. The rest can wait until tomorrow.

  54. emma kate says:

    one hundred times yes.
    i just keep telling myself ‘women can do ANYthing not EVERYthing’. x

  55. Kelli says:

    I love your honesty, Lisa! A big hug to you. We just do what we can, and that’s all we can do. And some days it’s more than others. You’re getting so many good tips here, so I guess one more can’t hurt: be gentle with yourself. For me, this means taking a bath with a magazine…and maybe a glass of vino. xoxo

  56. Brittany says:

    Thank you so much, Lisa! I needed this post and this encouragement to keep going, to keep trying. Thank you for reminding me of the grace that is there when I could use it.

    You’re and inspiration!

  57. Melissa says:

    Oh my word! How I relate to this so much today. These are literally some of the things I wrote about on my blog this morning. Thank you for sharing Lisa! BTW, I think I saw David and (I’m assuming) your M.I.L. at Target over the weekend. I looked around for you so I could say hi, but didn’t see ya. :) I hope you are having a better day, resting in who God says that you are.

  58. Tami says:

    Wow, I so needed to hear this today! Thanks for sharing.

  59. Lynn says:

    Someday you will look back on this period of your life and wonder how on earth you ever did what you now do….so speak to yourself with respect and kindness….because to do otherwise is to disrespect the you that is you right now….get rid of all those lists of what-a-good-mother-does, etc. etc. A good woman is a good woman. Period. Don’t waste your time — time is too precious. Trust me on this….I was where you are….and I did what you are talking about and I now know without a doubt that it was a waste of precious time. Hugs.

  60. Kristen says:

    Thank you!! I needed that!! Now I can go to bed without feeling guilty!

  61. Erin says:

    Thank you for the reminder that I’m not the only who feels this way many many days. As a full time working mom I many days fall in to bed feeling like I haven’t done well at anything, I’ve just done well-enough. I guess thar’s all we can ask if ourselves some days. Chin up! You’re in good company :)

  62. Lindsay says:

    Thank you for being honest, thoughtful and true to yourself.

  63. Shawna says:

    Honesty – LOVE this. You are certainly not alone! It’s so easy to get sucked into how perfectly everyone presents to be online and it’s refreshing to see someone keeping it real.

  64. LJoelle says:

    The good news is, your legs look fantastic!

  65. Thank you for your honesty Lisa! It is so easy for us outsiders to look at a blog and think that they blogger has it all together, but then it is so encouraging when one is brave enough to speak truth.

  66. monique says:

    I have been feeling like a failure for the last few months, but instead of allowing myself grace, I have been condeming myself. I love that you share your heart so openly…that you show you are flawed like th rest of us. When doing so it gives encouragement to some one like me…so thank you!

  67. Linda says:

    Thanks for sharing this Lisa! You really do an amazing job with how you juggle everything but it’s encouraging to also know you aren’t perfectly balanced and organized 24/7! You’re still someone to highly admire and you bring so much inspiration to countless lives.

  68. Melissa says:

    Are you sure you werent writing about my life? I swear you took the words and feelings right out of me. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being just who you are – amazing! =)

  69. Jen S says:

    Amen sister! You are speaking my language today! Let’s agree to hang in there together, K?

  70. Julie says:

    Lisa: Don’t think of it as failing. Think of it as being human. Think of it as being the mom who will put her things down to snuggle with her son…the dishes can wait. Think of it as the mom who hang out with her son….the dust will still be there tomorrow. Think of it as the woman who still wants to spend a few moments with her husband….there are still clean clothes in the drawers. You are probably in a hectic time where you are being pulled in a million different directions. From what you share with us, it sounds like you know what is important in life & what makes you happy. Don’t stress. It will all get done somehow…it just might take a little longer than you wanted.

  71. Beth says:

    You are “spot on” with me right now – I’m trying to learn life in “a new normal” after diagnosis with incurable diseases and am struggling greatly with lack of control – from meals to meds, laundry to lifting things, patience to playing with my children, etc. And it’s frustrating!!!! Thank you for your honesty – it’s refreshing!! It used to be that failure wasn’t an option in contrast to now, where it’s a reality – UNLESS I realign my thoughts to winning what’s really important and then the battlefield takes on a whole new meaning in light of eternity…
    (if my perspective on this helps any at all, you can read it at

  72. Suzanne says:

    I hang on to that Grace with everything I have and thank God for it daily! With out it, I’m not sure I could get out of bed in the morning. I go through phases – sometimes I feel like I can handle whatever life throws my way (I am woman, hear me roar), and other times I’m so overwhelmed by my most basic to do list (get up, take a shower, get kids off to school, go to work…) that I’m not sure what to do or how to do it. But, God gives us what we need. So I try and listen for the nudge to get me on to the next task (and the peace to skip the ones that can be skipped that day).

    Thank you for being so real, Lisa. You are an inspiration!

  73. Joan says:

    I know your pain. Us moms with children with extra challenges have an extra ball to juggle and an extra worry in our hearts. We are all flawed, really. My motto – normal is overrated, be you!

    I enjoy your blog and appreciate you sharing your life.

  74. Lisa says:

    I am the same way. There is not enough time in the day. What’s happening in my world is that it has cut into my sleep – which isn’t good. But how else am I to do it/ I homeschool, blogging, reading blogs, sewing for my biz, helping with violin practice, taking the kids to homeschool coop, dealing with this and with that and with the other. What is a mother to do?

  75. Beautiful and sincere words – thank you. I absolutely relate to this. I know that it isn’t a lot of consolation to hear that from the outside looking in, you are stunning.

    Instead, I will whisper encouragement and tell you that it is ok to go crawl into our Father’s presence and rest.

    You are loved!

  76. steph nelsen says:

    thank you for that! just what i needed to read today :)

  77. Helene says:

    Sometimes it’s hard to look in the light instead of the darkness. Look what torch you have there… David is the sweetest boy and your pic up there kills of tenderness. Stay positive!

  78. […] On Failing […]

  79. Such a great post. Some days these are my exact thoughts as a busy working Mom of three! Last Monday I posted “I Used To Be Awesome…” and your words above could have just been inserted in there, verbatim at some point. But yes… thankful that there is grace, hope & beauty to be found…
    So glad Nester linked to you today! :) Happy Easter, Claire

  80. Susan says:

    …and you do it all in nude pumps and camo. You rock, girlfriend!

  81. dianntha says:

    No, not fail….make of list of three important things each day and do those….why do we think we can do it all??? No one can do it all so do the important! Remember…people are always more important than dishes or laundry… Blessings, Dianntha

  82. vicki says:

    There is beauty to be found in failing.
    I needed that today.

  83. Kristi says:

    Thank-you for being so humble. I know we shouldn’t compare ourselves with others, but knowing I’m not alone means so much. Knowing I’m not the only woman who readily admits she is less than perfect is nice. We really do need a savior!

    And I don’t really know you, but I do keep up with your instagram pics mostly. I support you. We are the same in so many ways, much like so many other women. Let’s all be there for each other.

    It’s ok. We can’t be everything. But we love, and that is enough. At the end of the day, have we pleased the Lord? And if we feel we haven’t, than God He’s already forgiven us before we sin.

    Hang in there. I’m rooting for you!

  84. Shalene says:

    I feel like that often. In fact, just the other night I was so overwhelmed with it that it moved me to the point of weeping. But within that weeping, I was astounded by grace. I wrote about it here:

    Here’s to grace that abounds to us!

  85. Amy says:

    Sobbed last week out of nowhere about feeling like a total failure while my husband looked at me (sweetly and supportively) like I had 6 heads, and then huged me and told me I was totally wrong. Thanks for being real…

  86. When I look at the dust bunnies on the steps and dishes in the sink and piles of papers on the dining room table, it makes me feel like an utter failure. Why oh why can’t I just put them away … and keep the house spotless … and take perfect pictures … or have more blog followers. Yeah, I feel like a failure too.


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