About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

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  1. Lisa-Jo,
    I jokingly tell people who pop in to “sign my guest book” which means carving your initials into the layer of dust on my coffee table. A very wise woman told me once that the difference between entertaining and hospitality is that in entertaining the focus is on “Me”…my house and how nice it looks, my things, my life. In hospitality the focus on the other person and my first question is, “How are YOU?” “What’s going on in your life?” It’s about welcoming them, not showing off my prettiest facade. I pray that my focus will always be outward so that others feel welcome in my home. I believe when that happens all the toys, clutter, dog fur balls, and dirty dishes just fade into the woodwork. Building community requires a willingness to share our “messy” with others. Loved this reassuring reminder!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. Lisa-Jo, you made me cry, really cry. I don’t worry so much about the state of my home (it’s almost always a mess!), but more about my own shameful state. I recently became a member of a large church and in the country I live in new people are expected to take the initiative in social contact (not so in my home country). And so, I’ve stayed a hermit because I’ve been too scared to reach out for godly friendship. I recently came back to faith and I am married to an unbeliever. These things and my own battle with grief and PTSD have made me hesitant to seek friendship, as I’m worried that I would be burdening the other person in my depressed state and also that they would look down on me and not accept me because unlike them, I’m not married to a believer. But deep down I crave godly community and have been praying for it too. Your post made me realize that I need to take a leap of faith and reach out, even if it scares me, trusting that God will go with me and that I really need to stop making excuses. Thank you for your example and these encouraging words.

    • Anna, I don’t know you, but I’m encouraged by your honesty and sincere yearning for more of the Lord. You already know that God is with you and it sounds like you are ready to allow the Hoy Spirit to open up your heart and home to healing and to other people. Thanks for the courage to share this!

    • Praying for you right now Anna. I know what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange country. Praying for at least one person to make a real connection with. Praying that you find very simple ways to reach out. And praying that people are so open and receptive. May you find company where you least expect it and friendship where you might not have thought to look.

    • Anna, so many of us struggle with that taking the first step. You are surrounded with God’s love and maybe He’s connecting you with some people online to help you be more comfortable in this situation. I am TERRIBLE at meeting new people. I have serious anxiety in social situations and in day to day life. It’s not easy to make connections with people. My best friend I met because she approached me. She also doesn’t normally take that step of meeting people either, but I was wearing a hair barrette that had horses on it. She and I started talking and we’ve been best friends for over a decade now. Thankfully we serve a God that helps us to speak when we aren’t that comfortable with it. God Bless Anna. I pray you make some wonderful connections.

      • Thank you, Dawn. I am terrible at it too. Once I get past that first meeting, I’m okay…but plucking up the courage for that is not always easy!

    • Praying with you Anna! God has blessed me over the last few years by showing me the way to true friendship. I pray that for you. I pray that you’ll persevere when adverity strikes and that you will reap the reward soon of belonging to someone as a true friend on earth!

    • Anna,
      Prayers for you my sister! Try to join a women’s Bible study or small group study at your church. That way you can get to know some people well and make 1-2 good friends. Proud of you for you openness and honesty! I will pray that God brings some good covenant friends your way to encourage you and share your life!
      (((hugs)))

  3. I’m currently reading Bread and Wine. Your post was like a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit. Nudging me to really get this. To listen. Let others in. Open the door- more.
    Thank you.

  4. I love this, Lisa-Jo. And I’m so bad at it. Not just the being real in my home, but being real, just with myself. I have poured my soul out to people and have had either no response or have felt judged and I’m afraid it has made me very wary of sharing too much. I’m always wanting to pray for others, but I very rarely share my life with anyone other than my husband. That has isolated me from having real girlfriends in my life. I tell myself that I’m fine with that, but then I feel that lonely pull. Praying God will show me when to “open the door” to my heart, mess and all.

  5. Lisa-Jo,
    Well, that hurt! The conviction to stop putting on a show and just be real, already, pierced my gut after reading this post. Ugh. I can so relate to the neurotic proving. As a woman, I can easily slide back into the false thinking of my worth is based on the cleanliness of my house. Thank you for this reminder to push forward in holding fast to true security.

      • Oh, for the days of Legos,tea parties with teddy bears on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink because of playing make believe for hours,etc! Now when friends drop in I have no one to blame for the messiness. LOL.
        Jesus welcomed people most of the time except for when He needed to be with Our Heavenly Father. And He certainly wasn’t put off by our mess as He took all of it to the cross because of His unconditional love.❤️

      • Amen! In fact I heave a sigh of relief when I walk into a home that is not pristine! I feel more at ease with signs that a home is lived in, not “presented”.

  6. Truly my house is like this most days! Last week I was at a friend’s house that homeschools three of her girls. I also have three girls and also a boy that homeschool so we get together regularly. Her couch had books and such all over it. I made a comment that this was one of MANY reasons I love her and her family so much. Her house is real. Yesterday in the midst of doing our school stuff, I just started laughing. I quickly snapped pictures of my couch which was COVERED in books and such. I also took a picture of the love seat which was covered in more books and two baskets of laundry. It tickled me so much.

    I frequently tell people the following: You are welcome at my house. It will probably NOT be clean. I may still be in my jammies. It will probably be a bit chaotic. It will definitely be NOISY. But I will welcome you (even if I’m grumpy) and there will be coffee to share.

  7. Ach – I’m trying so hard to break this in me. Whenever we have guests I’m the one running around like a madwoman trying to get everything just so. It has made having guests a real drag – especially for my husband. But this years I’ve been trying to forget about being perfect. I emailed my mom right before having company over this weekend, and she replied “Enjoy your company, and have a good time. Ease up on the expectations. Everyone knows none of us is perfect, so don’t stress about making it seem like it is. Enjoy your kids, your husband and your company. You’re having them over to bless them – so be a blessing. Relax.” My mom lives overseas, but even from far away she’s mentoring me in this 🙂 It made me tear up – as did your post 🙂 I appreciate your reminder, Lisa-Jo – reinforcing what I’m trying hard to learn. I want to be that kind of friend you’re describing!

  8. Wow, Lisa-Jo, you helped me identify something I’ve craved but hadn’t put words to. Friendships are truly gifts. I have friends, but I’mr realizing I don’t have many (maybe one? two?) I connect with on a heart-level. It’s easy to put on the facade, feels safe even. But in doing this, I’ve missed the beauty of walking through the ugly, of sharing in the struggles together. It’s when I can trust another with the things I’m wrestling through that true heart-connection happens, and that others feel safe trusting me with their stuff. Thank you for sharing this post.

  9. Gosh, I never worry about my homes appearance. What I do worry of is I walk with a cane and am oftenleft out of social gatheri gs or when help is needed. Of course I can’t lift or run…I van still have value. Society puts su h a stigma on people like me. I am getting ready to venture alone in s New town, New church, New home, New friends. I am nervous. If any have time, prayers would be appreciated. I want my heart to be at peace and open to this time in my life that I haven’t had to do for many years.

    • Thank you Lisa-Jo for rattling my cage of ‘facade’ and pretense. We women try our hardest to keep up, pretend and show-off—we are way too adept at putting on our ‘Sunday morning faces”. Your blog encouraged me to get real, stay there, and let go of all the “what’s this going to look like?” or “What’s she gonna think?” It’s time to just be who we are and where we are…whatever that may look like. Bless you dearly.

    • Praying for you now, Teresa. One of our good friends from our old church walked with a cane, but I know how much she loved coming to our Tuesday night ladies group at Panera. It was good to hear from her that she wanted to come and it made us feel so free to include her and simply offer an arm when we were getting in and out. Sometimes just letting folks know you’d love to join creates a great opportunity for them to extend the invitation. Praying you find welcome and community in your new church home!

    • Teresa Downum,
      Prayers for the new venture! May God guide you to the right place, church and friends you need! Don’t worry about the cane and what can/can’t be done. Tell others you want to be included–you might be surprised! God works in mysterious ways! I pray for blessings and God’s mercies on you!

      (((hugs)))

  10. Anna,
    I ditto Tricia’s comment…I love your honesty and I believe stepping into your home and sitting down with you would be a breath of fresh air!
    xx

    • Thank you, Bev. You are such an encouragement. BTW love the insight of your comment: yes, it really should be about serving others and not about our worries/concerns.

  11. Oh you’re making me feel so much better about my makeup-less, messy, frizzy hair days and all the clutter. Friends are friends, no matter what. Love what you’re doing to create community at incourage!

  12. Yes. Just: yes. Thank you so much for this reminder to not be afraid to let others “catch me right in the middle of my real life.”

  13. thank you..YES, i love this….I need to remember this when I have similar things laying all around house..mostly because after working all day the last thing I REALLY want to do is pick up around the house….and my kids are all older and should do this themselves..but you know its because I would have to “remind” them..FIRMLY…;)

  14. Lisa Jo,
    Women need to take off the many masks they wear and just be themselves. I love it when people are real and open with me. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not–just be yourself! We are all made for community to love and enjoy each other!