I've been ruminating on the topic of excellence, or thriving versus surviving, for the better part of the month, and I think it's time I finally get it out into words. Forgive me if I'm a bit disorganized, but hopefully what I'm trying to get it will still be apparent. There seems to be two currents running in modern society about what a woman should be. The first is the classic post-feminist Superwoman who does it all with aplomb and style. Then there's the inverse - the woman who is constantly being told by her fellow women that it's okay to have a messy house, disheveled appearance, unorganized life, and chaotic role as home-tender. I think that started out as merely reactionary, allowing us a respite from the incredible pressure of doing it all, all the time, perfectly. But I think it's now become a more common state of perpetual being and a trap that we women fall into and use as an excuse to lower our standards and demand less of ourselves than what we are capable of. As Christian women we have a calling to excellence - we are, after all, shining lights for all the world to see, and earthly representatives of Christ's kingdom. We are Christianity's "movie trailer". We must, in the daily mundane existence we all share, capture the attention of our non-Christian peers enough so that they want to know more. They see and admire something in us that gives us an opening to witness. I remember hearing once that the wisest missionaries minister to the physical body first - providing food, shelter or whatever necessities people need, and then they have created a basic trust that gives them an opening to mentor people spiritually. I think we run-of-the-mill suburban wives and mothers are everyday "missionaries" and that one of the best ways we can witness to our peers (probably the hardest group to reach - successful, comfortable people don't tend to think they need God as much as the poor and broken down) is by pursuing excellence in our everyday lives and our little kingdoms (whether that be at work and at home, or, for the stay-at-home mom - exclusively at home), and displaying the results of that pursuit with greatest humility. Now, that doesn't translate into a Martha Stewart-ready home at any moment, perfect hair and makeup before you even step out of the master suite, and candlelit gourmet dinners with fresh flowers on the table. You have to find out which things are important to you, your spouse, and your child. You can't do absolutely everything all the time. Don't ever confuse excellence with perfection. One is humanly impossible and will lead to constant failure. Instead, prioritize those things which are important to you, and, many times each day, just push yourself to do a little bit more than you feel like doing. That is excellence, always pushing yourself beyond what you thought were your capabilities, and I truly feel that that is what God demands from all Christians. Thankfully, He willingly and continually provides His strength and perseverance to all of those who ask Him for it in prayer. Isn't, at the end of the day, that always the answer? Prayer, prayer and more prayer.