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Serving Others in an Imperfect Home

When we lived in this beautiful, brand new two story house I always imagined I would host wonderful parties, get togethers, and baby showers just as soon as I had stunning window treatments. And after I had stunning window treatments, I thought I should wait on the hosting thing until I had spectactular landscaping. Only after I got spectacular landscaping, I needed new furniture.

You know what happened before I could ever host any of those fun get togethers? We moved.

We have never since lived in a house as grand as that one, and it is likely we never will, but I have learned not to let that stop me from inviting people into my home.

The house we live in now needs a few boards replaced on the front porch, which is in deperate need of repainting. There is a missing drawer in the kitchen, and some of the windows are without curtains.

Even with all those obvious imperfections in our home, we have a few people over for life group/Bible study every week, and I am hosting a baby shower here on Sunday.

Hopefully, my smiling face and warm welcome distract the guests from my imperfect home.

We recently attended a fun birthday party at a friend’s house where we enjoyed hot dogs and birthday cake. With our large crew and the other guests in attendance, the hosts had to set up card tables and lawn chairs to accomodate everyone.

She briefly mentioned that she was sorry it was a little crowded, but I was so busy enjoying the company I hadn’t even noticed.

I hope you won’t let an imperfect home stop you from being hospitable. If you wait for perfection, you may never reach out to those who are just waiting to be invited into a loving home.

I bet your smiling face and warm welcome will distract them from the imperfections!

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Comments

  1. hi
    i have always said, it is not a fancy house that makes a home….i am raising my grandkids…. ive been married for 25 years, and never wanted a fancy house….i said the kids will not remember whether the house was clean or dirty or if it needed repair….or even had curtains….they will remember the love and attention and time you spend with them….and trust me…mine are grown, and they dont remember any of those things …only we always were doing things together….

  2. Jamie Bates says:

    While my home doesn’t have to be picture perfect for anyone to come inside, it needs to be clean and livable for me to feel comfortable. My home is a reflection of me as a woman, a wife and a mother. I was raised with wonderful loving parents in a messy and cluttered house. When we started having our own family I didn’t want my kids looking for shoes, or socks matched up with their mates and having to wipe 3 months of dust off the tv to watch it. That messy house while growing up did stick with me as I grew up and I was and still am determined to not have that be one of the things my children remember me for like I do still. Therefor I work my tail off to make the extra effort every day to keep it clean.

  3. I’d like to humbly add….or a perfectly clean house. I have a sign in our home that says clean enough to be healthy & dirty enough to be fun. In my own foolishness I’ve tried to keep pace with better “home cleaners” instead of seeking out what the Lord had for our family. Our house may never be perfectly clean but my focus is on the people not the house. We had a dear friend come over tonight to boxes on the table and toys on the floor, dishes in the sink (you know the scence…disaster city) and we smiled and the kids did a puppet show. I hope they remember the fun the love and the hospitality of our little humble abode. Great Post! :)

  4. When I posted I had not read Jamie’s post. My post is not in anyway a reaction or response to Jamies post. In fact, I also grew up in a very dirty house. May the Lord guide each of us to keep the kind of home that brings glory to Him. Blessings, Kyle

  5. We had our dinner guests come a few hours early. The house hadn’t been picked up yet and my kitchen was a mess. Typical home with five kids. I learned humility in a new way. I was touched by their comment that they don’t care and they feel comfortable anyway. It’s lived in. Filth is not okay, like how a bathroom ends up after weeks of not cleaning. But mess, that’s okay. We went on to have a wonderful evening.

  6. Well, it’s just as well our house doesn’t need to be perfect, otherwise we’d still be waiting to invite our *first* people ever! My only ‘thing’ is that the bathrooms do need to be clean.
    I wouldn’t like my house to be dirty, but as for tidyness – much as I love it – I simply never attain to it….
    Happy serving anyway :)

  7. Good luck on Sunday Connie with the shower…..

  8. Connie this is so true. When my husband was in the Navy and serving in the Persian Gulf there was a group of military wives that I became very close to. We would take turns hosting dinner at our homes each week. It never mattered that I had chocolate hand prints on the wall or piles of laundry in the hallway. What mattered was the company and spending quality time with friends. We became very close and learned to depend on each other while our husbands were away. It is a beautiful friendship that continues today. I live in NC, another in SC, another in CA, and another in TX.

  9. I completely agree with you. Last week I posted a similar thought … I stopped apologizing for my house.
    Thank you for your thoughts. (I continue to pray for your family & the job situation)

  10. The Lord has been dealing with me on this issue recently. We have dreamed of building our own home for 9 years now, had our forest-type “dream land” bought and everything, and even now we feel the Lord is preparing us to walk away and just be content here in our humble 3 bedroom 1940′s country home. How much better can we use our money for God’s glory, by living a bit more humbly, than throwing it all away on a giant house payment and wondering why there was never the extra leftover that we wanted to give? I am walking away from a big case of American Dreamitis and you know what, it feels good! Good thoughts, I defintely needed to read this. Thank you!

  11. I certainly agree. I don’t go around someone else’s house looking for dust bunnies and other messes. I just enjoy the company, and I figure that’s what the people I invite over are looking for, too. However, when people drop by unannounced and there are toys all over, I just say, “Excuse the mess; I have children,” and leave it at that. If they have a problem with a few toys on the floor, it’s their problem.

  12. Mommyof4Boys says:

    Sooo true! We built our dream home a few years ago with intentions of living in it forever. Two years later, we had to move and only b/c we were selling it, did I do all the things I “should have” done earlier. We prepared it beautifully for someone else! We now live in a much less grand house with limited storage and there are many things that are much less than perfect. However, the most important thing about this story is that I got pregnant with my third son right after we moved here. We soon found out he would be born with a serious heart defect. It just so happens that we had moved to a place that was 45 minutes from one of the top Children’s Cardiac units in the country and with his dramatic entry into the world that involved helicopters ambulances and cardiac teams, they save his life. If we had stayed in our “dream home” we would have been 6 hours from a childrens cardiac unit and his chances of survival would have been less than 1%. We have certainly been led down a much more humble and amazing path. I wouldn’t trade my kids for a million mansions so I have my dream home, it’s just packaged a little differently. :)

  13. I’m so glad you decided to post this today. I went to bed last night feeling just horrible about how we don’t have company very often. I *want* to. I love having people over for dinner or games or whatever. Despite my social anxiety, I’m a fun hostess.

    We live in a dump. It’s a clean dump! But the carpets are stained, the walls are scuffed, and the kitchen is so worn out you can’t really make it look good no matter what you do. It’s a double-wide. I’ve heard so many people sneer about double-wides I’m afraid to bring anyone in to see mine. I’m afraid the people we know wouldn’t want to be in my house because it’s not very nice. That’s really silly, and I think probably really sinful. Who am I to decide for them whether they’re snobs or not? ;-) Anyhow, I’m rambling because there are other things I’m supposed to be doing right now and I’m avoiding them.

    • Cindy, I often *want* to have company also but I don’t for fear of how my house might be judged… I keep it clean and tidy but that doesn’t do anything for the carpet or other things that are worn out and need repair/replacement. Just wanted to let you know I can relate.

      I’ve decided to face my fears and I’m having a party next month. Because I do want be hospitable and have company… I wouldn’t judge someone else’s home so I don’t know why I feel they’ll be judging mine.

      • Smockity Frocks says:

        I meant to also say we have a big red kool aid stain on the carpet in the dining room. It keeps me humble.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Cindy, I would be honored to have dinner at your house! Is next week okay? ;)

    • Cindy, I think the attitude of the hostess is so much more important than the state of the house. My aunt and uncle live in a very old farmhouse that is in need of some major repairs, but no one ever notices the clutter, or the outdated furniture, or any of the other imperfections, because they are so busy having a wonderful time with my aunt, who is the most gracious hostess, and her children, who are so fun and enthusiastic. If you truly show your guests the love of Christ they can’t help but have a good time :)

  14. When my mom and mother in law are sitting in the same room at the same time one says it is too clean and is perfect, the other says it is too messy and needs repair. I think it is just right! We keep working on it to fix it up as time and money allow, we try to keep the clutter under control and the dust at bay, but our home is work in progress. Most important, it is a home – filled with God, love, laughter and family! It is a place my children want to be!

  15. Well said! We all miss out on too much waiting for the idea of perfection that never quite gets there!

  16. This is such a true and lovely reminder. I am sister to and daughter of two perfectionist cleaners. I struggle- each and every time- with feeling judged when either comes to my home, because I’m just not that neat and tidy and I don’t dust three times a week. I apply that fear to having others over, too, and I need to just get over it! Thanks for this.

  17. Hi,
    since you posted about having folks in your home…I have a question for you. We are currently attending a church where fellowship seems to be a door swinging one way, into our home! Am I having a bad attitude by not wanting to have anyone over much anymore? In six months we have hosted approx 8 families. We haven’t been invited anywhere yet. Even as I am writing this I am feeling like I need to suck it up and put up. Please help!!

    • That happens to us, too. We’ve had several families over to our house in the last year, and no one reciprocates. It’s not that I need to be invited back to someone’s house, but I would like for them to show some kind of effort in getting to know my family, too, even if it’s just saying, “Hey, let’s go out to eat one night.” I’m looking forward to see what Connie has to say to you.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Patty, I have been in your position. It *is* hard when it feels like no one wants to reciprocate. I had to ask myself during that time if I was only inviting the “in” crowd. We started to then focus on inviting folks who maybe didn’t have anyone else asking them over. Maybe you can make a difference in the life of someone who can’t reciprocate because of financial strain, but it will not go unnoticed.

      I still get letters, 5 years later, from a sweet lady who is mentally impaired who calls me her best friend. Inviting her family over as such a monumental event that she never forgot it.

      • Virginia Werner says:

        Patty, Maybe they are embarrassed about their homes ? We had people invite us to their homes also but I couldn’t because we had tiny little house and no where for anyone but us to sit. But I did say I’d love to have you over but we have tiny house – and can’t afford to go out. But we did offer to bring food for next gathering.

  18. What a great reminder! I love this post. I was just telling Danny that I’d like to start inviting over families to dinner. It’s been a while since we have had anyone over that has two or more kids. It’s usually just the missionaries. I know my kids would love to have a family with kids over. And what a great time it would be!

  19. What a great reminder, Connie, thanks. I, personally, like to have everything “just so”, but I honestly don’t even think about it if I’m at a friend’s cluttered, lived-in-looking home. I wonder why that is: I’m so nit-picky about my own home, but I’m not at all bothered by others’ less-than-perfect homes. Curious. :)
    Sheila, mama to seven in September…

  20. This is something that my husband and I have really been working on recently. In fact this is exactly what I blogged about a few days ago.

    http://blessingandheritage.com/2011/06/hospitality-why-how/

    Thanks for your sharing your life with us. I have learned so much from you!

  21. This is so true! I have recently begun to realize that true hospitality doesn’t mean trying to impress my guests with my beautiful decor and spotless house, it means making my home warm and welcoming, a place where they can relax and feel comfortable. Instead of comparing my house to other houses, I am working on considering the needs of others before my own.

  22. This article blessed me so much, I have tears running down my face. We moved over a year ago from a beautiful home to the country and are now living in my grandparents old home place. We have 3 children, we’re crowded , all of “my stuff” is in storage because we had to choose what to bring with us and I chose for the kids to keep their stuff. I find myself not wanting to entertain guest, but after reading your article I’m determined to try to do more of it. My kids love company and as you say hopefully the guest are here for us not the place we live in. Thanks for this article and helping me keep the right perspective.

  23. VERY well said. WE too have a small home, and we have gotten it just the way we want it, but it’s not “grand” by any measure. Thank you for sharing a wonderful reminder!

  24. It is easy to fall into the lie that you have to have a grand home to be hospitable. Thanks so much for the reminder! We have a small home, right around 1000 sq ft. We host a weekly Bible study in our home and everyone is welcome, that does mean pulling out the camping chairs for everyone to have a place to sit. But it is cozy and everyone always feels welcome and comfortable. Luckily, we do have a large yard for all the kiddos to roam. We easily have 10+ kids here any given Bible study. Thanks for sharing!!

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