Picture Perfect

Aren't they beautiful, a picture perfect moment - if we had social media then, I would definitely have posted - showing my success as a mother (the beautifully decorated mantel, their matching outfits, they are in a perfectly straight line and they are all smiling... well, sort of).  I would also have wanted it to convey Frank's photography mastery and the fact that he had helped set up the picture and supplied the funds for the matching outfits! 

1997 - 16 years ago, and I clearly remember the moments leading up to this "Norman Rockwell family moment."  So, let's be honest here, the moments before were more like the perfect storm! 

Let me just give you a few highlights:  It took us at least an hour to get them in the den, dressed for the picture.  Katie, a 6th grader, thought it was the dumbest thing we had ever done - "I am much too old for this!" was her comment, along with a few others.  Kellie, 2nd in line, was very unhappy with the fact that her sweater had to match Mollie's, her younger sister, and not Katie's, her older sister.  The sweater was also extremely "itchy", and we had dealt with numerous tears!  Mollie didn't understand why SHE couldn't sit in bouncy seat; she was tired and didn't want to stand up!  :(  Her pants had stripes on them, and she HATED stripes!  Clay had fallen out of the chair 3 times before this picture, because he kept leaning to the right, but we didn't want to strap him in, because it would RUIN the picture!  He had completely covered the first Christmas outfit when he projectile vomited all over himself... I think he had a 101 degree fever at the time!

I truly am laughing out loud right this minute as I reminisce about the amount of stress I felt.  Hear my clearly, I was thrilled to send this picture out with our Christmas cards that year - I was appreciative of the sweet comments about our children.. but I knew the "secrets" of that day.

Is there anything wrong with wanting a lovely picture of our families to share with others the joy they bring us - Absolutely not!!  I assume when our Kellie gets married this April, that we will be sure to snap some glorious pictures of all the family - creating those lasting memories.  My point here is that NONE of us are living a perfect life with perfect kids and a perfect marriage... whew, what a relief!  There, I said it loud and clear!  If you are a Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace fan, you can even shout it, "We are NOT perfect!"  I don't really think any of us have the misconception that we ARE perfect; I just think, for me anyway, I wasn't sure I wanted everyone else to know. 

So what do we do with that?  Do we string out all our disappointments, failures, and disasters on social media or in every conversation we have?  Of course not, but we aren't afraid to share struggles and challenges with those we have the privilege of influencing. 

Since the first of the year, I have been coupling Psalms with Romans in my reading... interesting combination.  I look  to Psalms to help direct my praise and worship and then to Paul in Romans as he challenges me/us to "be honest, faithful and nonjudgmental".  The Romans were a bit uppity in the fact that "they" had followed the law of circumcision, and the "others" had not.  Now I'm hoping this would not have been media worthy discussion 2,000 years ago, but it was a "we've got it all together" kind of comparison.

Early in Romans 1 Paul says, I want to be with you so that, "we can be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."  Read it in the King James Version, "That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."

And in The Message it reads, "But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you."

Oh sweet friends, did you hear that!  We are all in this together - comforting, encouraging, giving to each other!  Oh, how I love God's word!!! 

Honestly I wish I had the before picture of the one above... I might just share it with you... and with all social media options!  Hang in there - you are encouraging me and so many others!!


  1. Dear Susan:
    I very rarely read anyone's blog, much less comment. However, your subject is something a close friend and I have discussed on numerous occasions, the idea that we have to present ourselves to others Christians and non Christians as having the "Norman Rockwell Life". A "perfect life" if you please, even before social media was such a huge part of us sharing the "perfect" part of our lives for everyone to admire and even envy!
    I am part of a group of 7 women, who decided in 2006 to meet for dinner once a month to catch up and stay connected by sharing what was happening in our lives. We were all part of the Cornerstone Sunday School Class at Crescent Baptist at the same time. The class no longer exists and only 2 of the women are still members of Crescent Hill. We were friends when our children were very young and back then we shared our parenting concerns, our funny stories openly and honestly. Now fast forward15 plus years; all our children are grown, all of the women are still married to the same spouse, I 'm the only widow, which has changed the social dynamics somewhat; especially when the subject of spouses arises and at our annual Christmas meal, the only time husbands are included to join us for an annual meal.
    One member lost her youngest son in a tragic car accident the summer. We were all there surrounding her with our love and support; as they were for me when Chuck was sick and eventually left this earth for eternity.
    However at our monthly dinners none us want to bring up the unpleasant things that are happening in our lives because we are all pretending to live a" the Norman Rockwell picture perfect life". Of course the strange thing is we all know that none of us are, but there is a pretense that we feel we need to keep up with one another.
    What has changed from the days when we shared our parenting problems, jokingly discussed our husbands bad habits and every day annoyances that occured in our marriages and in our family. I think we all had expectations when we were younger that we would achieve that "perfect life" and are too embarrassed to let each other know it doesn't exist! Somehow we have failed! But only in each other's eyes, not God's.
    He doesn't expect perfection; just faithfulness in HIS promises and to accept HIS grace, the gift he gives us unconditionally.
    I heard an anti-Facebook person refer to it as the "In your FACE book" . I am afraid those who use social media to share only the good things happening in their life are unaware that those who are dealing with life's struggles feel inadequate! But who wants to share or read about all the unpleasant things happening to others.
    Personally, I wish there was a social media outlet where people could share honestly and openly about their struggles without judgment or worse being ignored! An outlet where you mentioned a source of encouragement.!

    1. Sue Ann.....what you experienced in your lifetime is a true blessing. There are very few of us who have that kind of relationship with other women. Our families take us away, our jobs, our children, our husbands, hobbies even our Lord. But the one thing that cannot be taken away is the love you shared and the "we are in it together" mentality. I have recently joined a Sunday School class that has this mentality and it is wonderful, a beyond words blessing, one in which you know, it was a "God" thing. Perhaps God gave you this group of women when you needed it most. It takes a lot of strength and faith to lay it all out, to let your dirty laundry air so to speak, but it is a true blessing when it happens. I think most of us worry that our disappointments in life may pull someone away from our Lord and Savior so we are very cautious. That is why you may not see much of it on Facebook, our intent is to bring people to the Lord but it's a tightrope you walk. Too much bad news and they think God is weak, too little bad news and they think you must be perfect. We all juggle these emotions because our witness depends on it. I don't know about anyone else, I'm just speaking from my point of view. I know God doesn't want perfection and you know God doesn't want perfection but there are millions of people out there that don't know that, so that is why we study, we pray and discuss and we serve, hoping the right combination of happiness, despair, disappointment, hope and love will be the right combination. I hope one day you will take your witness to Facebook, give it a try, you have a lot to say and you know what, just maybe someone will open their heart to our Lord and Savior because of it.

  2. Such sweet wise words from 2 thoughtful sisters!!