Lisa-Jo Baker
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.

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

Reader Interactions


  1. Ah Lisa Jo! It was like that was written personally to me this morning!

    I was just beginning to wonder “What have you done?!” whilst thinking about squeezing 8 adults and 2 babies into my house for Boxing Day, but your post has encouraged me immensely.

    I love In.courage, I am finding every day there is a new post that means so much to me as a women, mother, Christian, wife. Thanks so much to everyone for all their posts!

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. THANK YOU for this post. You’ve convicted. You’ve inspired. Perspective is everything. Christmas blessings to you this year…

  3. Lisa-Jo,
    I’ve never opened my home have people over unless it was one or two adults and the same number of kids or less. We live in a condo. Its a large condo for the area, except we do not have a basement. We have people who live on either side of us and I worry if they will be disturbed by the noise, parking is a problem, etc. etc. etc. I also would think my house is not clean enough, I live too far out for people to come visit us (we live 20-25 minutes from church friends). I would love to have people over but once they were here we couldn’t move, so I don’t invite.

    Maybe this year my new years resolution should be to make an effort to invite people to my home. Monthly seems overwhelming but I would love that. Maybe if I just start out with the first one, the second one will be easier.


  4. I love InCourage – but this post is what I really needed. I LOVE to entertain but – unlike you – sometimes I do see all the ‘imperfections ‘ in where we live right now when you have a large crowd coming – so thank you for this – Merry Christmas 🙂

    • Oh Mihaela – I see all those imperfections all the time 🙂 I’m just learning that when I see the family sitting squeezed into my living room more, then the imperfections are all crowded out of my line of sight.

    • I’m learning there is a difference between entertaining (very Martha Stewart) and hospitality (much more Biblical). It’s a hard shift for me to make but much more enjoyable!

      • An interesting thought. I need to explore that idea. I love to have people over but am I entertaining or offering hospitality? I would prefer to do the

      • I never thought of it this way: Biblical vs. Commercialism.

        This article was for me. I always loved having company but as I have aged (70) and been unable to keep up with house and full time working, pets, etc., I just stopped inviting friends over, embarassed about house presented me and itself. Pets do a number on rugs etc. Renter as well, in same place for 12 years >> ready to move on come May 2014–

        Thank you for article/responses and Happy Christmas and blessings in new year.

  5. Oh, Lisa-Jo-, thank you for this. I am also a reluctant renter and have found the size of my house decreasing my capacity for hospitality. Thanks to your previous posts on this subject, I’ve really been working on correcting that. Last week, we hosted a third annual Christmas party at our house, and I decided to embrace the fact that it has grown in size as we have made more friends in this town. I invited more people than I thought could possibly fit in this house, and most of them came. It was our best party yet! Because I let go and focused on the friendships, I had such a good time. Thanks for your inspiration on this subject, and Merry Christmas!

  6. Such a great post! It reminds me of the Scripture in Proverbs that reads, “as a man thinks within himself, so he is.” Father, may we come to you to have a mind change !

  7. Very well said! Thanks for sharing. Guests really do not care about what we have, don’t have, or the size of our homes, they just want to spend time with us! Hard to remember when we are so focused on our “stuff.” Again, thanks for this reminder! Such great timing with the holiday season.

  8. This was just the topic of a conversation with some friends. We love hospitality, but are always hesitant for just the reasons you mention. We are figuring out where to put the extra five-ish people who have said they are going to join us after all for Christmas. After reading this, I will find space.
    Thanks for the fresh perspective.

  9. I feel ya, sister. It’s hard to get over that hump of feeling everything isn’t perfect or it’s too small or it’s whatever. My goal for 2012 is to declutter so the room we have feels big and to open the doors.

  10. What a wonderful gift you received by opening your heart door! I’m anot a renter ( unless you count the bank as my landlord) but my hospitality is most stunted by perfectionism. Perhaps hospitality’s kryptonite is nothing more than discontent…. Blessings!

  11. So familiar! We, too, live in a very small apartment (at least by American standards). Yesterday, after church, I spontaneously invited 6 people over for lunch. If I had had time to think about it, I would have completely stressed out. But since I didn’t have time to stress, I just had fun. And it was lovely.

    We, too, hosted a family of five in our home a few months ago. It was a stretch of space but it was wonderful and fun to share our lives with this family in close quarters for a few days. Much better than if they’d stayed in a hotel.

    Here in Hungary, there is a saying “Lots of good people fit in a small space, too”. How very true!

    • My fondest memories are a bunch of us (sometimes 10 !) going to a friends after church. I mean moms and kids. The men always had to go home to watch football. Her house was TINY I mean TINY, could hardly have two people stand in the kitchen. We would grab some take out chicken and sides and all chip in on it. She had a tiny table that was always littered with lots of stuff. Ok….the house was always a mess ! Had to kick a path to the table to eat. But it was the best time ever ! She had a bunch of kids and toys everywhere. She’d say, “Love me, love my mess ! ” and we did ! I so miss those days.

  12. I love people over, including all the hyperventilation that comes with it! But living in a 1 bedroomed flat (appartment) with 2 adults, a preschooler and a toddler, complete with open plan living room/kitchen for all my kitchen disasters in full view of any guests, means that I’ve held back from inviting anyone over this year…we’ll see, we’ll see….

    I love this place 🙂

  13. I would give almost anything to squeeze my two children with their mates and five grandchildren into into our bath off the only bedroom small apartment this year for Christmas or for that matter anytime. So many years due to us or our daughter living over sea we have not had both our children, their mates and our five grandchildren in one place. Won’t happen this year either. Due to this WHEN we are together it usually is very crowded but always, always worth it and no one goes away complaining about the mess or being crowded. 2014 is the next year we will all be together unless God has other plans, hopefully by then we will an extra bedroom in sunny California. I am already planning in my head. Merry Christmas girls…soak up all the sweet crowded time God allows you this season.

  14. Thank You for a wonderful post! I too am a renter with carpets that are so bad I have threatened to pull them up and just walk on the plywood, concrete, or whatever lurks below. However, I am learning a similar lesson and to put my lesson into practice have decided to host not only Christmas dinner at my house but a Christmas Eve Brunch.

  15. My OCD stunts my hospitality. The thought of the mess afterwards is what sends me hyperventilating. Like you, Lisa-Jo, I am married to a man who transcends this silly issues and loves to entertain. So, twice a year, because he is also the pastor, we invite the whole church over and generally have about 30-50 people show up. I pray, swallow hard, and enjoy it. But it’s the everyday little things I try to get over, like having playdates HERE and not just in my friends’ houses because the mess is theirs. I want my house to be a safe heaven for my kids’ friends, even if they make a mess, and I’m working on that a step at the time.

  16. I like to say my door is always open, but there are many days I’m cringing that no-one takes me up on it! Too much stuff, too much clutter, too much dust! We entertain a close family for dinner every other month. Together we total 12 or 13 depending how many come – my 4, their 8 or nine! We’ve know them so long that the mess doesn’t matter, except, when I start thinking about all these people in my house, my house “shrinks”. The boys rooms seem so small to house all those kids playing, I start counting chairs. I wish for higher ceilings! These people are all 6 feet tall even most of their teenage children! As for chairs, they know to always bring 4 – 5 folding chairs with them! : ) Then I expand the dining room table. Clean off the kitchen table for the younger kids and sometimes through up an extra card table. It always works out and we enjoy every minute together. Through the years I’ve kept my “cringing” to myself as my chine dishes rattle in the cabinet when they all “run” by, or as they all herd together in the small bedroom there is. Once together, no one notices the ‘smallness’. There’s just smiles and laughter and maybe a bit of bickering – but that comes with closeness! It’s a joy to have them visit and I appreciate my smaller “space” and peacefulness even more, when everyone has headed home.

  17. Well it’s not really the size of my house that keeps me from having people over. It’s the clutter. With 5 children from 4-20 there is constant traffic and mess. I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. So I am embarrassed wen anyone comes to the door. Any suggestions?

      • If you mean thow away type clutter, give each of them a trash bag and tell them the first one to fill it up with junk gets 5.00 !

  18. Perfect post as we had surprise guests last night….We also have three kids under the age of 6. I sat on the floor! haha!

  19. I posted recently on hospitality. It really isn’t about a fabulous house….it’s about how you make a guest feel while they visit!

  20. Sounds like a church lock-in we had years ago. I have big rooms – but not many of them. We moved all of my living room and dining room furniture onto the front porch and rolled out the sleeping bags for the kids —- it was amazing and my two (now adult) kid still talk about my willingness to do those kinds of things.

    so much fun.

  21. if i could cheer loud enough for everyone to hear, i would. lovely, lisa-jo. simply wonderful truth that is not preached often enough!

  22. This is so good! It’s an area I have been challenged in, and I have a dear friend who challenged me to just go for it. For years, I had the idea that my home had to be perfect to be worthy of guests. But my family and friends didn’t pay attention to the carpet that needs to be replaced or the small size.

    I still struggle with wanting everything to be perfect, but I am trying to grow in this area. Thanks so much for posting this! Good to know many of us are in the same boat and feel the same way. God must have reasons for us to be nudged to grow in hospitality.

  23. Thank you so much for this post! I am busy cleaning all sorts of dust bunnies this morning, grumbling about imperfections! You are right; perspective is everything! I may need to write the kryptonite quote down for me to recall again later (when I forget AGAIN!!)
    Merry Christmas and thanks for helping to change my perspective!

  24. Lisa-Jo , you have obviously written on a subject that has touched many hearts, including my own. We are in the DC area right now house hunting – moving from the Midwest where the cost of living is not nearly
    as high. What a great reminder to not dwell on the downsize, but to ‘supersize’ my heart. Thank you-God’s timing, even w things like blog topics, never ceases to amaze me.

  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!! I stress about how my house isn’t perfect…not perfectly clean or perfectly decorated. And this stops me from inviting people over. I keep thinking, “when I get the house the way I want it, I’ll feel more comfortable.” Thanks for the reminder that my guests are there to visit me, and not my home 🙂

  26. Hospitality has always been our favorite way to show love to our friends and family, but it was hard to get back in the ‘groove’ once we moved into our fixer-upper. When there are tiles missing from your ceiling, it makes you nervous about inviting people over, ya know? But we got over and it made our lives so much better! Thank you for this lovely post 🙂

  27. I love this. I remember reading in a book on hospitality something like : Hosting is Look at me and what I have and have done. Hospitality is: Look at how the Lord has blessed me, please let me share with you.

    As the holidays approach, I struggle to be Hospitable. We are host family for a Chinese student at a local university, and she will be spending part of her Christmas break in our home. Half of me wants to love her with the love of Christ, and share all of His blessings with her – we are so excited. Half of me is freaking out over the mildewy caulk in the bathroom and the stains in the carpeting. What will she think???

    Wrong focus.

    What will God think?

    Much better.

    Thank you.

  28. Thank you, so much, for this post! I cannot tell you how much I needed to read it. We moved into our current rental nearly 3 years ago because we weren’t able to sell our house in another city 2 hours away and my son and I were still determined to follow my husband to his new job. 3 years later, and a surprise set of twins added, we finally just sold our house in the other city and we’ve made the big decision to stay in our rental until we can pay off all debt and save up a decent down payment for a new house. I have been avoiding inviting friends over like the plague since we moved into our mid-century bungalow with all its creaks, cracks and imperfections. My family has not been able to visit as often as before because of lack of bedroom space and our social life had been stunted. Thanks to your article, though, I am determined to change that during this holiday break…..thank you!

  29. WOW… I so so so needed this today! I stepped out of my “comfort zone” and offered to have “Big Family” Christmas at MY house this year. I’ve been kicking myself ever since, because my house isn’t as nice as the others, or as clean, or modern. My furnishings are old, hand-me-downs or Craigslist finds. I have three teens (messy rooms & their (also the guest) bathroom is GHASTLY. I don’t have more than 3 or 4 matching dishes or silverware. My lawnmower is broken, so the yard is also messy.

    This blog was RIGHT on time and the perspective that I needed. It’s about having my family with me. I am lucky enough to still have my maternal grandparents living and most of us are all in the same city. It’s about having friends over and just spending quality time with people. Not “things” or “gifts” or brand new leather couches… and spotless bathrooms (UGH!). So I spent my weekend cleaning the common areas & bathrooms & will leave bedroom doors shut! (We will tackle those another day!) THANK YOU for releasing my anxiety and silly notions of perfection so that I can truly enjoy my time with my family and friends. God bless your heart & the words He blesses you to write!

  30. Thank you for this post. I’ve struggled with
    our carpets needing to be replaced and things not being perfect which has caused me to neglect inviting people over at times. I should put your post on our refrigerator to continually remind me. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  31. This post hit home. Our family of five is living with my MIL in her 3 bedroom house while we build a house. We’ve been there since March 2011 and our house wont be don’t until July 2012. We are.the social entertainers of our group but have little entertaining since moving. I miss it immensely. This post is giving lots to ponder and think about.

  32. Love it! I find I can spend so much time trying to get the details of the house perfect before I have people over, decorations just so, gourmet food (just bought!), entertainment just awesome….Yesterday I met a stranger who shared a friend of mine. When I gave my name she said, “Oh, you’re the one who has such a spirit of hospitality and has such great gatherings at your home!” No comment on how beautiful (or not) my house was, no praise on my food offerings, just a simple commendation that I have people over. I thought about it and realized that this, the joy of hosting and reaching out to others, is what I want to be known for and not the quality of my food or beauty of my decor. Perfect reminder for all the people and strangers and weary souls that will enter my door this holiday season!

  33. Yes, perfect timing. Perfect Post. We are praying about the space we will find in Budapest as a home for our family…our heart is to be in the city and the hub of ministry, but we’ve known all along we will sacrifice space BUT your post keeps my perspective and how we will make it work when family comes etc…bring on the tiny flats, we are ready!!:}:}:}

  34. This post was a tough one for me. I’ve never been comfortable with formal hospitality. If someone should happen to drop in, that’s fine. But inviting people over? Panic time. I feel like my small house has to be pristine and the meal special and that about puts me into a panic attack. I also attend a church where most of the members have large, beautiful homes with all the amenities and more. So I am admit that I am embarrassed by my older, modest home with the worn-out furniture and bathrooms and kitchen that really need a remodel, that we cannot afford
    It’s pride, I know and a feeling of inferiority. I would like to overcome this.
    My husband came from a family where there was a constant stream of visitors and their homes were never fancy. I know he would be happier if I were more at ease with hospitality.
    Thanks for the wise words.

  35. What a blessing to see so many other women who feel this way. This is such a timely message for me. We’ve just hosted two small gatherings and my husband pointed out that I greeted our first guests with, “Hi…so glad you’re here…so sorry about the cramped space…I hope you’ll be comfortable”. Talk about making guests uncomfortable right away.

    The next small group gathering didn’t go that way. I promised to keep my mouth shut – no matter what I was thinking – and let the comfort settle in. And it did; however I still feel reluctant to have people over.

    THANK YOU….I, too, am now in prayer with God to help heal this pride within me.

    • Oh, man, I do that too — I immediately greet my guests with an apology about my small house, inadequate seating, lousy cooking. What in the world am I thinking??? I am trying so hard to stop that nonsense. Looking back, some of my most favorite gatherings have been in small houses. I never felt they were lacking. They were cozy and comfortable and full of people I love. How can that ever not be enough?

    • I greet people with an apology too “Sorry the garden is such a mess – sorry the sitting room is so small – sorry I don’t have somewhere to hang your coat”…. and so on. I am going to make a conscious effort to not apologise any more, and to just focus on making people comfortable and welcome.

  36. Great post! We went from a new 4,000sq ft home to a 1,200 sq ft 1970’s duplex rental and for the 3 yrs we lived in our rental I never wanted to entertain. My mind was set that I needed all that square footage in order to entertain. I regret not welcoming friends & family into our home. Since then we’ve had to move several hours away into a larger home but because of the distance we aren’t able to see them often. I miss them greatly and regret not having spent more time with them and welcoming them over all because our living conditions were less than perfect…in my mind. Happy Holidays!

  37. You are one of the best I’ve ever met at making people feel welcome, Lisa-Jo. You’re so good at throwing open the door of your heart–so glad you’re doing the same with your home! Sure hope I get to visit one day!

  38. oh so true…we lived in 1300sq feet…7 of us….and God taught me and my kids…hospitality is in the heart….not the size of the home…our house was overflowing with people at times…some living with us on a couch…those were really sweet times….we live in a bigger house now…one we own…and the prayer that I prayed all those years ago…”everyone would feel welcomed…loved and His presence”…this prepared me for where I walk today….
    I always love your honest heart….
    Blessings to you

  39. Love. This. We live in a 2 bedroom – 1 bath apartment and I just learned that we will be hosting Christmas this year. If it was the regular everyone comes over for the afternoon kind of meal, that would be one thing. But here in Peru, it is a meal at midnight and everyone stays up till the sun comes up or rests wherever possible. I cannot imagine where everyone will sleep or how all almost 20 of us will fit, but I know that it isn’t about having enough “space” — it is being willing to share the space you have. Now…to find enough chairs, plates, silverware and pillows for everyone to enjoy Christmas 2011.

  40. Like your other readers, I can TOTALLY relate! I love having friends over, having a full house. But, unlike you, while I have the two small bedrooms, the one tiny bathroom, I don’t have space for the dining chairs, much less the table. I worry when persons want to come over because I see the lack of space (and dare I say the invasion of my space), and the obvious (at least to me…) need for things to be more orderly…… and I could go on and on and on…… Thanks for your encouraging post. I pray that God will help my hospitality be larger than my house and eventually my house be as large as my new-found hospitality. Blessings

  41. This reminds me of the Christmas a couple of years ago – when we had between 2 and 9 extra people in our home for 3 weeks straight. Added to our 5, it was a FULL house! I said “come on over!” to everyone and only later asked “what was I thinking?!” But I just went with it and while it was stressful, it was oh so worth it. I probably won’t have that many people for that long again, but for that one year, it was good. It was nice that we do have a good-sized home (not huge by any means, but big enough), although our extra beds are air mattresses and we had people sleeping in every available nook. We also ate in shifts – with the kiddos at the coffee table because there wasn’t room at the dining table.
    This year, I’m expecting about 24 for Christmas dinner. Not sure how we’ll all fit (I have 10 chairs), but I’m not worried. Because our family cares about being together, not where we sit to eat.

  42. Thank you for the great reminder… I think that next year will be the first annual Christmas party at my house…only because we don’t have the time now to do it this year…and I will be inviting more people over the rest of the year. 😉

  43. What a great article, Lisa-Jo! I can relate — several years ago I had eight of my family members staying with my father and me for four months — it was tight quarters with only one shower, even though two bathrooms — but we made it through and we still love each other. Opening a home for hospitality was a trait I learned from my mother who always took people in from the time we were small children, be it family members or traveling musicians or missionaries, and later on, friends of ours. She wanted to put “give me your tired, your poor” on our front door, but my father thought that was going a bit too far.

  44. Thank you so much for your post! I truly get it and I appreciate this encouragement to shift my attitude:)

  45. I totally thought you were describing my house – carpets, bedrooms, chairs and all! The difference is, I love my space, and generally it doesn’t bother me – the shuffle. But I love to share my space, however small it be. The problem is, no one comes. We invite and invite. We hope and hope. Everyone always already has plans. And we are alone. Lonely. Left out of community.

  46. AS a (now ) Grandmother who raised four kids ina house with one bathroom I appreciate the seniments and feelings of this story. I too used to think my house was tto small for family gatherings or company, but as i have seen time and agiain when i make no apologies and rely on the love and example of Jesus , Guesta always feel the warmth and welcome of a home filled with love. It doen’t matter how samll or large the space if you fill it with God’s love and HIS hospitalitiy. Thanks you for your sharin. This whole website is WONDERFUL!

  47. Also Please excue me tying on a laptop with a flat surface.. My bifocals don’t always pick up the typos!

  48. Lisa-Jo,
    How many times have I allowed spaced to cramp my ability to be hospitible? Too often. Thanks for reminding me it isn’t about the space we share, but the relationships. Perfect post especially with the holidays approaching.

  49. space isn’t my issue but my clutter/mess mismatching furniture is! This is a great reminder for me that my true friends won’t care what my house looks like inside, as long as I invite them. 🙂

  50. you wrote this for me.. i know you did!! Thanks for the healthy dose of perspective..will treat my holiday company with love and laughter, instead of anxiety over my less than perfect house~
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  51. You could have written this story for me! I also am a renter of small space with three kids and the hubs. For a year, I struggled with the “inability” to entertain. You are right, all it takes is one impromptu sleepover to realize the guests are staying in your house because they want to be with YOU, not your space! We had the most wonderful visit with kids sprawled out onto the floors and adults on air mattresses. Thanks for sharing your story – I’m right there with ya! Merry Christmas 🙂

  52. I don’t think I realized until now just how reluctant I had become at inviting overnight guests once our babies filled our guest rooms or at having dinners larger than would fit around our table. And there is no need for this reluctance. I have never once been to a friends home and thought, “I can’t believe they don’t have more seats at the table”. If i don’t expect this from others I certainly shouldn’t expect if from myself. My eyes are opened, thanks Lisa-Jo!

  53. Thank you so much for this post ! I really need it not only today especially but always ~ I always think things have to be perfect to have people over so I pretty much stink at the gift of hospitality ~ I love it once people get here I just don’t like the anticipation ~
    Lots of hugs for a wonderful and needed pep talk !

  54. I love this. Wherever we are, our hearts and arms should be open. We just have to stumble over our own pride sometimes, first. 🙂

  55. Oh my gosh, as I read your story this afternoon it resonated with me in such a BIG way…. it made me wonder if you were writing ‘my story’ ? This fact of living in a small house with my eclectic collection of home decor and accessories leaves me often times feeling less than when the thought of having guests into our home although, like you, absolutely LOVE having dear friends and family over to my house. Thank you for allowing me to ‘view’ my circumstances in the light that Christ has meant for us to do. Bless you and and your family this Christmas Season. 🙂

  56. Wow, thank you for your honesty! I feel the same way and your story truly hit home! My husband and I downsized to a 600 sq foot cabin that we adore!! That is until I am in the position of inviting folks over. And then it all seems sooo, sooooo, soooooo cramped and old. But truth be told, we LOVE our home!! Thank you so much for sharing and thank you for the reminder!

  57. Love how it all turned out! Our house is similar to yours and I feel the same way. I get anxious when people come over. I need to shift my view 🙂

  58. Oh, how I NEEDED this! I have ADD and I’m OCD. Parties I’ve created in the past have been disasters because I was too tired and stressed to enjoy them. This year I created my own invitations to a Christmas open house and sent them to a total of about 40 people (if you count the kids). Today I just panicked; WHAT HAVE I DONE? We are in a 2 bedroom 1 and 1/2 bath apartment, and NOTHING (food, cleaning, etc.) is coming together, and two of the people I invited are total strangers. Thanks to you, I now realize that if I just concentrate on making everyone feel welcome and loved, it will be okay. THANK YOU!

  59. Hi Lisa,
    I am encouraged by your article. I live in apartment with 2 Bedrooms and 1 Bath. By God’s grace, I have opened home for people to stay over. But recently, my place is filled with stuff. After I read your article, I will clean up more and invite people to come.

  60. We’ve always traveled to visit family 3 to 4 hours away, so we have sleeping on the floor and group up alllllll figured out – I love it when my house is full of people (preferably non-fighting teens – LOL) – I am so happy you were blessed to overflowing – Praying you experience an abundance of that this next year!

  61. Great article! I’m being asked to take over as hostess for my girls dance team and their families for holiday parties, team breakfasts, etc. In my little house?? How can I not welcome some of the nicest kids I know and their families. Thanks for helping me change my ‘attitude’.

  62. “Big hospitality is a matter of the heart and not the architecture.” I’m trying to remember this. I live in one of the smallest houses in fancy-schmancy suburbs. I hate to decorate, etc. and on and on… This is a great post. Thanks for the reminder.

  63. A few years ago we went back to our home state and hoped to stay with relatives. My grown daughter, her little two year old, and I made the visit. No one was able to hostess us, so we booked a place online at a motel. When we got there, we realized why it was a good price;, it served prostitutes and was filthy. It was no place for a child. The entire trip was so difficult. We had no place to store milk for the little one, we had to go out to eat and spend a lot of money, or eat cheap fast food that was not healthy for the baby. We had two sides of a a HUGE family there in the sate, yet no one had room despite their 3 bedroom homes. I will never go again, and I don’t think my daughter will either. I walked away from that experience wondering what family really means if they won’t even open their home to us when we came for a visit. I think we need to talk about hospitality more. It is one of the prerequisites for a deacon I believe… Thanks for the thought provoking post.!

  64. I loved this one! I am currently living in a very small rental house. We had to sell our dream house where I loved to invite people to visit. I’ve had nobody to visit here. But you’ve given me much to think about.

  65. Love. This. I’m actually at a point now where I have a different problem: we’ve got more room than we’ve ever had, but keeping up with it overwhelms me. I’m not as hospitable as I should be because I’m embarrassed that everything isn’t as clean and neat as I’d like. We had four couples over on Friday night and our bedroom door was practically locked and bolted (although I let one of my BFFs go in before everyone else arrived and quickly wrap a present for me while I cooked).
    The funny thing is that apparently I said 6 p.m. on the invitation, but in my head it was 7. The first guests arrived at 7:05. Thank goodness for late friends (that’s Atlanta traffic for you!). I would have *died* if everyone had been here an hour earlier: the house, food, and hostess would NOT have been ready. 🙂

  66. This post was so timely and encouraging. I’ve felt, sometimes, that all I really needed was a kick over into courageous territory where I — with the help of God — can be warm, gracious, and grateful enough to invite His Spirit into my small house and make it a welcoming, cozy place for any guest.

    There IS a way to change things so that mismatched chairs brought in from other rooms can feel charming, and time spent sprawled across the living room furniture AND the carpet while chatting is worth far more than the convenience of a crisp hotel room. I think it just takes some sustained mettle on my part — keeping those inward insecurities and complaints at bay with gratitude. What I believe I’d offer to Jesus, I think I can offer to the ones He loves.

    All that to say… thanks for the boot, Lisa-Jo. 🙂

  67. I struggle with five pigs living in a small a house, no storage, and many unfinished projects that are difficult for me to overcome. I needed this reminder. Going to go call some friends right now. Thanks!

  68. Wow! I can relate! I love having company, but have a small home also. I cringe when I know someone is coming. But I try to encourage myself to just have a loving home and welcome guests. I have to ask myself, how would Jesus feel if he came over for the day? Thanks for sharing. Its comforting to hear others who struggle with the same issues. Merry Christmas!

  69. […] And if you are worried your home isn’t big enough or finished enough for hosting people this season, do yourself a favor and read this post by Gypsy Mama :: Your House is Only as Big as Your Hospitality. […]

  70. I can’t believe how much I related to your post.
    I moved into a very run down rental at the beginning of our southern hemisphere winter, and although I have managed to tidy the house and garden quite significantly, it’s still a long way from “pretty” yet and I felt very insecure inviting people round, as though it is somehow a personal reflection of who I am.
    Out of the blue a friend from Australia announced she is arriving for two weeks on 28th December (Surprise !!). I initially stressed and then thought….if it was the other way round, I wouldn’t be looking at her house…I would just be grateful for the hospitality. And somehow that really took away the stress. After all, this is my friend and she knows the year we’ve had.
    Now my cousin in Ireland has asked if he and his friend may come for a month next December and with a complete lack of reservation I was able to say, “Of course!! You will be more than welcome!”
    Isn’t it funny how we don’t judge others and yet convince ourselves that others are judging us 🙂

  71. This brought a smile and memories of 20 years ago shortly after my divorce. I had moved from a 3500 square foot home to a tiny 2-bedroom townhome, and it was my turn to host the ladies’ group! When the night came, there were women on every flat surface including the stairs, and we had the best time ever. Thanks for the reminder that my guests come to see me and not my house.
    Blessings and Merry Christmas,

  72. Girl, this is one of my fave Gypsy posts ever! Oh, I know I’ll say the same thing tomorrow, but still. 🙂

    It also reminds me of the time I surprised my hubs for his birthday and invited 3 families from across the country to stay a weekend with us. We had 7 adults and 9 kids ages 7 and under in our smallish house. But oh, the time we had! Memories made over that weekend are some of our very favorites!

    Love you, Lisa-Jo! xoxo

  73. Wow, this post spoke to my heart! I am constantly appologizing for the size and appearance of my house–have for years. Time to be hospitable–small house or not! Thanks for the encouragement, Lisa-Jo. Wishing you a blessed Christmas!

  74. Lisa-Jo
    I loved your post and the willingness to make your small house large by heart.
    When we were a young family, we went to a ritzy church and I offered my home two times for Sunday School parties, but was turned down both times as they looked for a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood. I was heartbroken as I was brought up rather poor, but my family was always hospitable.
    After these occurances, I went through a time of not wanting to invite others over because of one thing or another that did not seem up to par about our house. My husband said that if our house was not good enough for our friends, then we had the wrong friends.
    Those words spoke to my soul. I began throwing parties, having a plethora of people for overnights, and entertaining individual families once or twice a week for dinner. From there, we became experts, taking the hospitality I had grown up with to new levels. When our oldest child was in college, we moved to a bigger house and it has been called the bed and breakfast, has been chosen often to be the site of group parties, has housed fifteen plus young people at length twice when their college was closed for hurricanes. It has become our mantra to open our home over and over and over. Sometimes, it has been small, in need of repair, not decorated in the finest, but it has been a happy expression of love and acceptance. I am blessed.

  75. Thank you… wish I had read this before Thanksgiving when my Sister, her husband, their 4 kids and my parents came for the holiday. Our house is smaller than our last 2 rentals: it’s magnificently and sprawling all 1300 square feet. In addition to our family of 5 and snowy weather, I lived your thrilled and happy feeling before the” wave of embarassed dissapointment” and hyperventilation hit. Thanks for the change of perspective.

  76. Thank you! Brought tears to my eyes as I was convicted. I’m also a reluctant renter, in a teeny tiny house, that I must say I have been embarrassed about for a couple of yrs. This past year God has been convicting me of not being thankful for what he has blessed me and my family with. I have felt His gentle leading toward being more hospitable, but have still been reluctant about it. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  77. What incredible insight into hospitality. You have changed my perspective completely. I visit my friend who lives in a small town upstate twice a year. We stay for a weekend. Her small house feels like a bed and breakfast. Her hospitality is amazing. I always think, well if I had this or that then I could be just like her. the reality is, I have me and my own way of doing things which are equally nice. I just need to go on the strength I have to develop my hospitality gene.Tthanks so much for this post! Merry Christmas!

  78. This concept is something that have known for years and didn’t even realize it! I can remember having folks in my house when we had ripped up the kitchen floor after a leaky dishwasher ruined everything and se just walked across the plywood like it was hand-made Italian tile. I didn’t even know that some people would be shocked or surprised that I didn’t postpone or back out of hosting the holiday party. We were living in a 2-bedroom house with one bath at the time, too. Yet, I was so proud because it was OURS! Now, I’m fortunate enough to have a larger home and a full basement and can host loads of people comfortably. Somehow we always seem to be the place for celebrations no matter what the season. So, what started out as ignorance has continued as bliss!

  79. I love this piece, and relate but from a different place. I find my own sinful nature makes me an ungracious hostess. I am overwhelmed by my own expectations for cleaning, meal planning and cooking, entertainment, more cleaning….on top of an already full schedule and now Christmas. I choose task over time then resent missing the beauty of it all. (yes, Mary and Martha come to mind). Is it image? I genuinely want family and friends to come and be comfortable, which for me assumes all these things. But you’ve I spired me to re-claim my Christmas, in it’s less than perfect state. And I know He will meet me there!

  80. You know, this is so timely for me. This morning in our moms\’ group two people shared about opening up their homes to those in need, and I was stricken to realize that my first reaction was to think of the chaos, the loss of privacy, the broken routine, the mess. I have always wanted a beautiful home … but perhaps a home of beauty and belonging is my new goal. I just wrote a post about this ( and I am eager to see who God may send my way….. Thanks so much for the challenge to think outside the lines again.

  81. You know, I’ve always prayed that God would give me a house where we could have company…lots of it:) Come to find out He’s shown me time and again it isn’t about having the right house for guests but having the HEART to be hospitable no matter where we live!!!

    Love this post~

  82. if there is any area our perfectionism shines through…and hinders us the most…and i include myself in this comment!…it is in our hospitality! we withhold it from those who need it most for reasons they wouldn’t even notice…b/c they would so love to be part of a family. they may be college students far from home, international students or visitors, singles, widowed, etc. they don’t care what our homes look like, they would just love to be IN a home.
    i remember so much hospitality being given from my parents’ home…and the wonderful people we met…often missionaries. we learned how to entertain in terms of making guests feel comfortable, listening to them talk about the worlds they lived in and worked, learned about other professions…so interesting. it was wonderful to meet the many people who came through our home. it is such a blessing to our children as well.

  83. Hmm, I think I have the opposite problem. Our family has a 3000 sf home, and most of the time it is clean enough for guests. I love to decorate, so even my garage sale finds look good. But, I find that I have a hard time with people, especially women, feeling comfortable in my home. It makes me very sad. I am always inviting people over, but am often turned down. One brave woman even told me that coming to my house made her feel badly about herself, that she couldn’t decorate or keep her house clean. I wish I knew the secret to make everybody comfortable. I try to be super nice, reassuring and casual in my entertaining, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. It just proves your point, that having a nice, clean, decorated space is not the answer.

    • Julie I would SO come over with my loud, messy boys and my crawling every where baby girl and we would embrace you and your space. Thanks for reminding us that hospitality goes both ways.

  84. The first thing people see when they come through our front door is a large sign that reads: “May our home always be too small to hold all our family and friends.”

  85. Thank you so much. I really needed to read this. I so limit my hospitality by my house. Small, cramped, hand-me-down furniture. Disorganized b/c my art studio is our dining room. But my heart is huge, and if home is where the heart is then my home can be huge. I will measure my home by heart now, not by square footage and furnishings and lack of dust.

  86. yay! …we too were in a not-very-guest-friendly house in the jungle for two years and were constantly “blessed” with visitors… my only thing was I liked to know when they were coming, you know, at least an hour ahead of time or so… my husband tends to think that’s WAY too much to ask 😉

    anyway, it was a lot for all of us, but now it seems that the Lord is about to bless us with a much bigger place! we’re all very excited 😉

    amy in peru

  87. Thank you for this…what an encouragement! We recently moved to a different part of the country and are renting a house 1/3 of the size of our old one. It is old and full of flaws…but your post has inspired me to see the goodness of it and open our doors. Thank you!

  88. We’ve lived in a house that I have a love/hate relationship with. Small projects that turned into disasters and never were completed to the point where having someone in would be embarrassing. If I count the number of times I’ve made a commitment to “just get it done,” it would be in the hundreds. Between work and an energy level that borders on zero, it just doesn’t get done. And when I play the comparison game with my friend’s huge and beautifully decorated home, I just feel overwhelmed. Thanks for a post that reminds me of the need to rethink hospitality and making others feel welcome.

  89. My favorite saying from one of my mom’s longest friends, that I clung to when we lived in a tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bath house was:

    “Homes with love have elastic walls”

    I think it must be true, because we still have friends refer to our house as “Hotel California” because people may “check out” after staying with us, but they never leave! 🙂 And that is just the way I like it!

  90. This really IS the best in the history of the world! I was just lamenting the same thoughts earlier today. I haven’t been as hospitable since we’ve been in this wonky rental with the carpeted kitchen. Thanks for the swift kick. 🙂

  91. I love this post! So glad I stumbled up on your site and this article. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment, currently looking for a rent house, with a 16 month old and one on the way. We host our church small group, which is growing, and to which we frequently have visitors looking for a home group. At times, the space is so small. I love to have people over though too. I have felt limited by the space, but this article was inspiration and encouragement to keep going, keep giving, and keep opening our home!

  92. Thankyou! We don’t often have overnight guests – it’s been years in fact, but I was recently thinking that we COULDN’T ever have them due to our lack of any even remotely suitable guest quarters. Why did it never occur to me that we could offer our guest OUR bedroom, and even our daughter’s bedroom (for kids) and just camp out in the family room or basement. So inspiring. 🙂

  93. Wow! This really hit home with me. Being South African and now living in the UK in a much smaller house than we are used to, I have the same problem! Our house is so cluttered all the time due to a lack of space and cupboards, we’re too embarrassed to invite people for just a get-together, let alone sleep-over! However, your post has given me some food for thought and I will definitely begin to change things around here!

  94. I needed to hear this today Lisa-Jo, thanks! After months of house hunting, this week we decided to lay our search to rest and renew the lease on our 2-bedroom apartment. We used to be the couple with the nice big house that everyone came to. Now I’m usually too embarrassed to tell people where I live. You’ve encouraged me to look beyond our cramped space and expand our hospitality. Thanks!

  95. This has certainly made me think but in a diff way. I am terminally ill so every day is a blessing. At Christmas we manage to fit the kids and the Grandkids and usually a few others as I can’t bare thought of people alone at this time of year!lol ! But this year there is no one coming and I felt v sad until I read this and my thought process has changed to ‘thank God for all the busy Christmas’s’ !! So on that day I will save my memories up so I can sit remember…. Memories r a blessing and always make me smile ! Merry Christmas to you and your Family. X

  96. Lisa-Jo, I can TOTALLY relate–not in the sense of the smallness of the house, for we have been blessed with a spacious home, but in the sense of panic re: the imperfection. I have long struggled with the “disease to please” and find that especially true in exposing myself to visitors.
    I’ve been on a mission for quite awhile to get all areas of the house under control b/c as a woman working outside the home for my entire life, I’ve had to juggle life’s demands at work & at home. The house itself, while clean, would usually suffer. (A better choice than having my family not have healthy meals & not have my presence at their functions, right?)
    Though I’ve been making steady improvements and almost have the downstairs whipped into company-ready shape, I recently went into PANIC MODE! b/c I was asked by a former colleague if he could spend the night with us while attending an event in a nearby city.
    The upstairs–where he’ll have more privacy–is a disaster! With multiple job changes, two tornadoes (a few years ago), & other life complications, that area has become a warehouse of our past lives & future projects. I’ve made progress in 3 areas up there, but 2 unavoidable spaces really are horrifying.
    I’ve got to read and re-read your post to remind myself that even if I don’t get everything done prior to his visit (still, thankfully, a month away), all will be okay. The hospitality’s the thing!
    Thanks so much for a great reminder! My breathing has slowed already. 🙂

  97. Lisa Jo,
    Thank you so Much for this. I have also felt that My home was not quite good enough for the Hospitality I would love to show. Then a very close friend of mine told me “If you want to see me, come on by, if you want to see my house, make an appointment” I know it seems silly, but that seemed to change my perspective a great deal. Now any family member, neighbor, friend, stray child’s friend, visiting reletive, or even a reletive of a church member is always welcome in my home for a cup of coffee, tea, dinner, to spend the weekend if needs be. Even if I do have a few dishes in the sink.

  98. Every year when the girls were little, I had my annual Christmas Coffee. The house was big, the rooms were decorated, the food was lovely, the fire was burning. Fun and hospitality was had by one and all. Then….loss of job, marital separation, losing house, renting three places in three years put an end to Christmas Cheer and community. BUT….can I tell you, that I literally, at 12:00 last night, I hesitantly, sent out an evite for the coffee. This season I have noticed so many, many lonely people (I live in a big city). People who you would think were just too, too busy and had too, too many friends. Not so. There are so many lonely souls. So…I’m opening up my home. Resurrecting Christ’s call to show hospitality and comfort those who need comforting. Prayers to all this CHRIST-mas season. Thank you for this post. I believe it was God’s confirmation.

  99. I’m not a renter, but I’m now living in a small house – three bedrooms/ 2 baths. I’m applying the Seven principles by Jen Hatmaker, which are helping me to get rid of unnecessary stuff. I worked on two rooms and my room is the goal now. I went through my china cabinet and books. I have 50 books in the trunk to be given away. I wish to have friends over as I used before. The last Christmas gathering four years ago had 16 friends over. I don’t know how I’ll make it now. I miss my husband who is in Heavan.

  100. Merry Christmas..I love your post..however, I ‘do’ love my little home..BUT, over the past..say “10” years have lived in a ‘fog’ of depression ‘on & off’..through 2 failed marriage’s since ’86 & raised my amazing 3 son’s basically on my twins 24 (1 married) and another son 21…which the 2 single son’s still live @ ‘problem’ with hospitality is that my home is a constant ‘mess’. I just have no energy or will power to ‘tidy’ & keep things in order. I love my boy’s but they basically don’t help that way either..they do help out financially a bit..and I am finally back to work on a steady mid-night shift after being off work for different reasons for several years…but my home is ‘overwhelming’ now & I look at the ‘mess’ & get more depressed..I do have my folks coming for Christmas & they are great encouragement but they also feel I should be ‘kicking my boy’s out’ & finding an even ‘smaller’ place..believe me my home IS small & for my mortgage ~ I wouldn’t find anything even close to what I pay. I don’t want to move. I just have too much ‘stuff’ and purging is likely my only option..i just have ‘sentimental’ value on ‘stuff’ & have a hard time of letting go of the past. I don’t even like opening my front door when someone knocks at it…just afraid of what people will see..I’m ‘not’ a hoarder you see on the show ‘hoarders’ but, if something doesn’t change somehow…my fear is that is what my home will look like in another 10 years. I know this is sooooooo off of your topic & you are more getting ‘accolaides’ of ty’s for your lovely posting..but I just needed to share my ‘horror’ in my heart with someone..ty for reading & listening & offering any help if you have any…btw..i do still suffer from depression..BUT, I try everyday to put 1 foot infront of the other to keep going…however, some days, I do wish I would just be ‘taken Home’ …..not to leave my children or my family, just to be free of so much stress of life

  101. Very fun. Thank you for taking the time to write this. We’ve only two bedrooms and one bath and paint peeling and walls cracking with the shift of the seasons… and I, too, feel stunted sometimes… when I begin to compare places and spaces. As long as no one asks about what we’ll do when the children are older, “Boys and girls can’t share a room forever,” our hearts are very full and happy and we are truly content.
    One evening, I sat in a restaurant with a group of women (well-meaning sisters wanting a night out) talking about their new homes and stressful remodeling projects going on in their houses and (because it always seems to come up) how hard it must be for us to live in such a tiny one. As I started to feel my delight in God’s beautiful provision begin to disintegrate, I cracked open my little crescent cookie and pulled out the paper within: “A small house can hold as much happiness as a big one.” While I hold no stock in “fortunes”, I could not help but beam and remember the little banner hanging on the wall of our tiny dining room/school room that declares our family is to be about enjoying God and that our fullness of joy is found in HIS presence- no matter our physical surroundings.
    I framed the “fortune”- the reminder of God’s overabundant blessing to our family- the very next day. It still sits on our hand-me-down piano with the broken leg and the sticky keys and we are deliciously happy because we have Christ and the lines have truly fallen for us in pleasant places. Indeed…♥

  102. I have this plate i always hang wherever i live. It’s words says it all and It has helped me throughout many years and often decisions i have made regarding my company …….It simply says this………..,
    “My house is small, no mansion for a millionaire, but there is room for love and there is room for friends, thats all I care” it has reminded me year after year that when love is present, my small house is a mansion filled with the love of family and friends and the awesome presence and Love of a Big God.

  103. Thank you for all of your encouraging words of wisdom. Too often we tend to look at the negatives instead of all of the precious miracles in our busy lives. I tend to see all of the imperfections one needs to stop and think of the precious friends/relatives that will be enjoying all of your hard work of serving those yummy goodies. Just go for it and what the heck….yesh!

  104. Thank you so much for this. I saw it in my email and I knew it was written for me and I had to read it. God was speaking to me through your post. God bless you.

  105. I was meant to read your message today! Just retired, I find myself avoiding joining gardening & other groups that meet in members’ homes. Your words and the postings are inspiring. I need to change my house-focused thoughts to love of family & joys of friendships. Thank you!

  106. Obviously there is no end to those who needed this post, including me! I hosted thanksgiving dinner for 8 adults and 5 kids and NO KITCHEN TABLE! Plus I am disabled and yes only one bathroom. When I think back, I don’t even remember us eating, but whatever we had, it was good! My son and husband both helped me cook, all I had to do was give orders! Then it all got cleaned up with others helping, and we played games and talked. I was grateful that all my family was.there and we get along and are healthy. Two days later we went to another relatives for another Thanksgiving dinner, and they had tables and everything I would want. But my 26 year old son told me we had a way better thanksgiving! I didn’t ask why, but I think it is the sense of family and love in our house. You don’t need tables or bathrooms or a perfectly clean house when its filled with love.

  107. My way that worked for me is by; drinking lots of water staying away from anything that contains sugar. Lots of salads, Yogurt w/o the goodies & fresh Veggies & fruits.
    And for in between when hunger strikes and it will keep Almonds/Walnuts (plain). And do not skip meals smaller meals means eating more often.
    Exercise, keep that body moving even using vacuuming as an good workout. It’s all about keeping things moving, hope this helps. One needs to remember that it’s NOT a one time plan, it’s a life time plan. Almost forgot no Alcohol it has tons of calories. Have a tall ice water instead. Make it a goal and think thin & healthy. Begin your goal with a prayer ask for his assistance. That is what I do it may work for you too.

  108. Thanks Lisa Jo!!!

    It is pride that is keeping me from intertaining like I know that I should in order to make someone else enjoy a special time of fellowship. I host my share of ministry related events, but I do pick and choose those that I am most comfortable with. Most of my friends and family have grand homes that you see in magazines that are decorated in every inch with extravagance and beauty. I need a mind shift when it comes to being comfortable with this tremendous blessing that I have been given by God. I want to give my house to The Lord and do what He is calling me to do to bless others regardless of how “I” feel that it looks.
    Thanks a million!!!