About the Author

Sandy Coughlin is a wife & mom to three active teenagers, & author of The Reluctant Entertainer (Bethany House 2010). Based upon her inspiring blog, the book helps restore the lost art of hospitality and in the process helps women break free from isolation and into connection and deeper relationships...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
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Reader Interactions


  1. Yes they have. I can now say that, although my first instinct is to keep them out of my mess, I have learned to let them see the physical and spiritual messes in my life, and then Jesus gets the glory for cleaning me up and the fact I am no better than another. There is a message in our mess if we talk about it and let them see.

  2. Yes, my friends have seen my mess and you know what?? They love me anyway. I jokingly tell people who come to my door, “Come on in. Sign your name in the dust on my coffee table and let me pour you a cup of coffee or tea.” I’ve found that most people are intimidated by a “perfect” house. It took me a long time to learn that being human and being hospitable can go hand in hand. Thanks for a great reminder!

    • Similarly, I always say “My house may not be ready but my heart is.. Come on in!”

      And yes, I have plenty of dust for folks to sign their names – here too. (lol! that kinda cracks me up. I may use that line…)

      On the other hand…
      For me. I’ve been discovering that the mess is in me. I have great skill in avoiding “cleaning day” and that certainly is NOT what I have anticipated be in my life…

      Thank God for great friends – who inspire me to keep cleaning!! And who will want to come over to my home – whether I’ve cleaned or not. (although, that is usually when I do…) 😉

      ~ Bevy
      PS: I do have one of those rooms, too!

  3. I just love imperfection in people. It sends a message that we are all “Real”, “open” & ‘honest”! Perfectionism is just a rouse to show off, but probably not who you truly are!!

    I want to get to know you–the real you deep down in the dark, dank of life! 🙂

  4. I am so guilty of this. Like if my house is less than immaculate, I must not care about my life, or must not be thankful for what I’ve been given, or I’m lazy or….

    So much fear.

    Jason Grey has a great song about that. “There’s no Thief like Fear.” So true. Stealing my joy and my time, and my authenticity.

    It’s authentic vulnerability that breeds authentic vulnerability. And though we all secretly crave it, it’s like we also desperately fear it. Fear the pain of rejection or disappointment or judgement. And that manifests itself in so many little ways, just like this example.

    But oh, the freedom we can have in accepting ourselves – and others – as we are, where we are. No pretense, no expectations, no judgement, just LOVE. Just grace. Just mercy.

    I’m reminded: Galatians 5:13-14 “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

    Love yourself enough to let go of unrealistic expectations and pretenses – then love others the same. Or like we say on my site, Walk Agape.

    Thank you so much for this post!!

  5. Our mothers have made us crazy I think, trying to do everything, never stopping, never staying still, perfection perfection. Your point of just being yourself is great!

    • 🙂 “Our mothers have made us crazy …” Love that. When I became a mom, I told myself that I wouldn’t be one of those moms who frantically throws everything into the closet or under the bed when the doorbell rings. I would have a daily ‘tidy-up time’ so the house would always be in some semblance of order. Ha. Then the kids came. It hit me when I told my kids to clean their rooms one day, and they asked, “Why? Who’s coming?” Yep. I have become one of *those* moms. 🙂 Great post, great reminder.

      • I still think it’s okay to tidy up, Kate – I do it. But it’s not essential to hospitality. If I don’t have time, I have to let it go and just ENJOY the people! I agree, it’s a great reminder!

  6. You are so right, Sandy. When we let go of perfection, we free others to do the same.

    Two lines from Jessica’s comment above added more truth to the matter: “Oh, the freedom we can have in accepting ourselves – and others – as we are, where we are. No pretense, no expectations, no judgment, just LOVE. Just grace. Just mercy.”

    I’m still on the learning curve of being gracious and merciful to myself when it comes to perfectionism. Thank you for your shining, less-than-perfect example!

  7. I just want to “put a plug in” for those of us who don’t live in FEAR about our homes being seen messy…but who simply enjoy keeping a tidy home environment. Keeping things simple and tidy (daily) is my style — my personal preference for the way I live and enjoy my surroundings — regardless of who comes over, be it close friends or the Comcast Technician. 🙂 I keep my home and garage as tidy, clean, and organized as I can – not because I “fear” what someone else will think of me…but simply because I function best without chaos surrounding me. It’s OK if you are passionate about living in tidyness…we just need to have grace with others who are not so passionate about this topic of life. 🙂

    • Tidyness is what I strive for. But I’ve not always been able to achieve it, and I know there are a lot of other women out there who are in the same boat. But I do feel better in all ways when I’m organized — my schedule, house, family – life in general. Cheers to tidyness!

    • I completely agree! I commented below that during college my own room was always a mess. And yet these days, I really go nuts if things in my home aren’t tidy. Especially when I’m under stress, I do the dishes and run the vacuum cleaner obsessively. It’s not for others or what they think of me; I do it for myself, to keep my sanity. Let us never judge others when their houses are “too” messy OR “too” tidy. Let’s instead share what’s going on inside, what’s hurting our hearts or what we’re celebrating, and never mind what the environment looks like in our friends’ and neighbors’ homes. 🙂

  8. This just happened to me today! I invited a friend in after spending the afternoon together and forgot what my kitchen and family room looked like when I left. I said, “come on in, this is how it is, and it’s not pretty!” I may not have done it with a less close friend, but I need to learn how to do that. Another friend of mine has never hesitated to put on a pot of coffee for me no matter what her house looks like and never apologizes for the mess.

  9. Been there, done that. Thanks for your openness on something that so many of us struggle with. I often ask myself, “When will I ever learn?” 🙂 May your home be a warm and welcoming place filled with rich hospitality, regardless of its state of cleanliness.

  10. During college, I used to baby-sit for a family who clearly had a last-minute cleanup just before I arrived each time. The living room and kitchen always looked clean and tidy, but if you opened the door to the master bedroom (which the kids always did, bless them, without realizing that the baby-sitter wasn’t supposed to see into that room!), then all bets were off. That one room would be trashed, full of all the unfolded laundry, stacks of papers, and random toys without a home, plus the clutter that just builds up in a room. But I never told the parents that the kids had opened that door and I had seen into the room, and I really didn’t care. My own room looked the same way, and I didn’t think less of them or myself for it. 🙂

  11. I still struggle with my house being clean and straight all the time. My mom’s house is and when she comes over I see her survey mine and I know I don’t score well for her. I’m praying every day to lay down my need for human approval and with 4 teenagers and 1 preteen I have also learned that my relationships with them are more important than how clean their rooms are. Thankful every day that God continues to heal me in this area.

  12. I used to strive for perfection and always try to hide my mess as much as I can. But I have learned to let go of the mask, embrace the imperfection and mess, and just live.
    Real life is messy yet beautiful and I am not objected when my friends and the world sees it.

    Thank you for writing this beautiful post.

  13. The mess of the bedroom is the last thing on my mind, and even if the rest of the house is somewhat untidy, my friends come to visit me, not my house.