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Joanna Gaines, I am not. My home will never be featured on HGTV as a style to copy, unless the look you are going for is an eclectic mix of LEGO and dirty socks. I've become more comfortable with the lived in look because it's real and, I'm going to let you in on a little secret, so am I.
Not that Joanna Gaines isn't real. I love watching Fixer Upper and seeing the beauty she creates in the homes that are passed over for so long. But I wonder how long those home stay looking immaculate and put together. I don't think the homeowners would ever let camera crews come back in and show the sticky finger prints on the walls and the crumbs all over the floor.
But HGTV and Pinterest have given us this viewpoint that our homes should be magazine spread worthy at any given moment of the day. I'm sorry, but no. There may be some people that really enjoy cleaning and organizing and making things shiny but I'm not one of them. I've been working on creating "manageable chaos" in our home. I aim to have a place for everything (which right now means getting rid of lots to make room for what we keep) and to have a general plan for each day.
But if I spend all my time working on keeping the house "pinterest perfect" then I'm missing out on so much more.
Our home is not laid out well for company. When we bought this house our goal was to find a home that had enough bedrooms for the seven of us and a kitchen or dining room that fit a table for seven of us. That was it. I guess we wanted a garage as well since we didn't have one at our first house. But we were scrambling to find a home because our house sold in 8 hours and we were expecting twins. It was a hot market for sellers and homes weren't lasting more than a few days on the market. We had to make a decision quick.
While we love our area and certain aspects of our home we have found that trying to entertain in this house leaves a lot to be desired. Trying to fit any more than eight people in the kitchen means bumping in to others, not enough chairs, and no where to put food. The living room is upstairs for the kitchen so groups get broken up and it's hard to converse with everyone.
I've got a heart for hospitality but this house kept causing me to second guess that feeling. To wait on building friendships that are so vital and desired. To put it off and wait for years down the road when we have a home that will fit more people in the same space in a better layout. You know, the house in my head that probably doesn't even exist and probably never will? Yeah, that house.
Thankfully Lisa-Jo Baker knocked some sense into me in her book, Never Unfriended.
"I learned that big hospitality has nothing to do with the size of the house. That big hospitality is a matter of the heart and not the architecture."
And there it was. In black and white. God knocking me upside my head and telling me to stop letting our home get in the way of loving people and showing them hospitality.
Will a different mindset change the layout of my house? Obviously not. But a different mindset can help me open the door and invite a friend over for coffee, even if we sit downstairs while the kids make a mess upstairs. We can still hear them, we can peek up the staircase to check on them, and we can drink our coffee while it's still hot because the kids are trapped by the safety gate at the top of the stairs. Maybe this layout isn't so bad ;)
So maybe I can overlook how my house is set up but I'm not the greatest homemaker either. I can keep up with the dishes fairly well and the clothes seem to get washed but I've shared my laundry piles before. There are seven people in this house - there will ALWAYS be laundry. And while the homemaking aspect of life has gotten significantly better because of taking this course I'm still completely me and err to the side of loaf on the couch vs. power cleaning. Or any cleaning. How can I invite someone over when my entire basement floor is covered in clothes and there is something sticky on the floor that I keep stepping over?
"If our houses need to be tidy, if all the laundry needs to be put away and all the floors need to be swept or vacuumed and the candles lit before we're comfortable inviting someone over, we'll never be up for it. Because 'ain't nobody got time for that.'"
Exactly. It's not real! And if I have to clean my home to a sparkle before I can invite someone over because they are going to judge how many streaks are on my window is that a real friendship? Friendships should be honest and transparent. It should happen in the spaces real life happens, not an HGTV set.
While I love the course I took from Stacy I didn't do it so I'd have a perfectly put together house when friends drop by. Heck no. Sorry Stacy, I love ya darlin' but it's just not real for me. I took a home management course for our own family. So we wouldn't be drowning in the tasks that are required to manage a home like cleaning toilets and washing bedding. But to impress people that might drop by? Nope.
I'm okay that my home doesn't and will never look staged. Life isn't staged. I want a raw and real home that breathes with the life of the people that inhabit it. Just like I want raw and real friendships that breathe with the lives of those sharing it together.
Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker releases on April 4th. You can pre-order your copy now then head to neverunfriended.com to snag yourself some amazing pre-order goodies. I was given an advance copy of the book as part of the launch team but my love for this book is purely my own. You'll probably hear me talk a lot more about it because it is chock full of awesomeness.
In a world where women can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger, how do we find friendships that we can trust to last? Maybe by first becoming those kinds of lasting friends ourselves.
As the community manager at the website incourage.me since 2010, Lisa-Jo Baker has had the chance to engage hundreds of conversations with women about friendship. She’s learned that no one can make us quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman. And nothing can wound as deeply as unkind words from a friend. While we are all hungry for friendship, it’s the fear of feeling awkward and being rejected, left out, or hurt (again) that often keep us from connecting.
But what if we knew we could never be unfriended? Would we risk friendship then?
Starting with that guarantee from the most faithful friend who ever lived—Jesus—this book is a step-by-step guide to friendships you can trust. It answers the questions that lurk under the surface of every friendship—What are we afraid of? What can’t we change? What can we change? And where do we start?—with personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, that lasts.
I've got a challenge for you: Invite someone over this week and DON'T stress over the state of your house. Instead enjoy their company and the chance to build up your friendship instead of panicking that there are crumbs on the couch cushions.