About the Author

Now graduated from her role as a homeschooling mom of 8, Dawn Camp devotes her time and love of stories to writing her first novel. She enjoys movie nights, cups of Earl Grey, and cheering on the Braves. She and her husband navigate an ever-emptying nest in the Atlanta suburbs.

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


  1. Dawn,
    I love the line, “Hospitality has more to do with the state of your heart than the state of your home.” I have a magnet on my fridge that says, “This is my mess and I love it!” As I get older, I am learning more and more to embrace my mess and not let it hinder my sense of hospitality.
    I jokingly tell visitors and friends to sign their initials in the dust on my coffee table and pull up a chair for a cup of coffee.

    I have signed up for (in)RL…but I do have to admit there is still that pesky pride that keeps me from exposing my “in process” home to strangers. The gaping hole in the kitchen ceiling where the roof leaked, the multitude of boxes and furniture without a place from my new husband moving in, floors that have seen the abuse of two children and three dogs, scaffolding on the outside to replace rotted wood and dormer windows, and on it goes. I need to give this some prayerful thought…but thank you for the nudge!


    • Bev, overcoming pride and letting others in (literally and figuratively) can be a brave thing, can’t it? I had actually written this post for February and then bumped it back because I wanted to write about the snow last month. Now our floors have been replaced, but things are still crazy because we had to box and move everything (and we’re still unboxing, trying to find some things, and re-boxing others for Goodwill). The loveseat is out of the entrance hall, replaced by a king size mattress that hopefully will be picked up this week by someone via Freecycle. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. I’m sharing it with our (in)couraging teachers group this morning, so relevant for us!

  3. Ever so perfectly timed. We just finished a huge plumbing overhaul that created quite the mess – and the mental upheaval it left in its wake may be less physically noticeable, but it is no less overwhelming!

    Thank you!!!

    • Bekah, I totally get what you’re saying. It completely messes with you to live in such a mess! It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Hang in there, sister. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful story, Dawn. As an Independent Consultant for Mary & Martha, it reminds me of my company’s mission statement… that having people in our homes is not about the ACT of entertaining or the illusion of perfection, but more about the method by which we open the doors and welcome them in for meaningful fellowship. Thank you for sharing a lesson of faith this morning. 🙂


  5. What a blessing this is today as we prepare to add our third dog into our home that already has, well, obviously 2 dogs but also a mammoth cat, four snakes, and 17 chickens. Okay, the chickens don’t live in the house, but the egg baskets are everywhere and the trail from our boots to and from the coops gives evidence to their presence. My house is clean and tidy so you’d think I’d let anyone in at any time…but that’s ABSOLUTELY not the case. I steer everyone clear of coming to my house because it smells like DOG. The leather couch has a dog smell, the rugs have a smell, and I can’t get rid of it no matter how much we wipe down that couch or steam clean the rugs. It’s a serious block to hosting Heart to Home in my house or having friends over for (in)RL. You hit the nail on the head with this story of yours. I’m really going to have to rethink this, aren’t I. Perhaps I could offer clothespins to clip on noses as my guests arrive. Advice?

    • Carol, I don’t have the best advice for handling the dog smell, but I’m truly impressed that your home is clean and tidy with all the animals you’re taking care of (and that doesn’t even count the people, which in my experience require a lot of clean up!). I say Just Do It. I’ll bet your dogs are awfully charming. 🙂

      • They’re dachshunds so they are rather charming, but the chickens take the prize!

        • I’ll bet! Our dog is old and tired and doesn’t do much besides bark when people arrive. Our hamster and guinea pigs are the scene stealers. :0

  6. “Hospitality has more to do with the state of your heart than the state of your home.” This is so very true… For a while we lived in a 1400 sq. foot space…we had 5 kids and sometimes had a single guy living with us…This was an ugly rental place on a retreat center. Right there I learned…it is not about beauty…space…but people feeling loved and welcomed. We teach our children without knowing…that more is caught than taught. I now see my married daughter with 2 small children…open their small space to young girls living with them…and now having college students over for activities…all crammed into their small space… while creating a very big space for those kids to feel loved.

  7. Dawn,
    You are always the picture of gracious hospitality–whether you are in your home or not. You are an inviting, warm, welcoming person who makes others feel important and loved. Thankful to be one of the people who will either grace your doorstep or the local Starbucks! 🙂

  8. Dawn, wow. What grace fills your heart to be able to take this type of experience and say, the mess is part of my story. Just beautiful! We haven’t had this type of thing happen in our home yet (doesn’t everyone at some point?!) but for me…it’s the everyday mess. Not the toys and clutter as those come and go. It’s the fact that my home is not spotless or may never feel fully cleaned. I read about Spring cleaning routines and I cringe, knowing I will never take the time to scrub the windows or dust every baseboard. So when I look at those spots in our home, I will now be reminded…each finger print on glass that could be shined is a part of our story…every dust bunny under the furniture scurried there to hide while my kids ran ruthlessly through the house. Thank you for this beautiful reminder and permission to let it go.

    • Jessica, my son said that we weren’t doing spring cleaning this year, we’d do spring renovating. 🙂 Yes, the everyday messes make me nuts, too, but I’ve realized that I micromanage things too much. Last night I asked my three youngest kids to handle the mess that had become of our dining room table (we haven’t sat down for a normal meal in a month or more because of the mess) and they cleared it perfectly. I just needed to go cook and quit thinking that I was the only one who could do the work. I also assigned my (honestly, a little lazy) 14yod a bookcase to restock yesterday and she grumbled, but did it. Score!

  9. Thank you for this timely reminder for so many reasons. I will enjoy thinking on this as a continue to declutter our chaos….. I was just taking a cheeky break when I saw this 🙂 Can I please ask how I can purchase this picture today – “this mess is part of my story” it couldn’t be more apt for this season I am in working with God, thank you Dawn x

  10. With four daughters, there is always laundry and/or dishes waiting to be done, toys scattered, school papers piling. I’m hesitant, even embarrassed to let people in. “This mess is part of my story” may just be life-changing words for me. Thank you for that beautiful thought.

  11. Very timely thoughts for me; thank you Dawn! I just recently moved to a new area to pastor a church. I finally have a place to invite people over, but I was waiting until I had ‘enough’ furniture in place before I did. But then I realized that might not be for months!

    So, this Sunday, I’ve invited my congregation to join me in my home after church for drinks & desserts. I want them to know they are welcome in my home and they need to know where I am in order to come. 🙂

    I’ve also invited some of my neighbors as well. I am excited and not even worried about not having all my furniture yet because as you said above, it is about the state of my heart (which is overflowing with anticipation!) not the state of my home.

    Blessings to you as you renovate and rebuild your floors and home!!

  12. Um, between your post and Holley’s today, I think God may be trying to tell me something. Like “Today you should be more excited about seeing your friend you haven’t seen in years than worrying about the fact your house is less than perfect.” So thank you. Also, I kind of like the rustic look of your sub-floors. 😉

  13. What a great reminder for those of us who struggle in this area. I love going to people’s homes where I don’t feel like I’m going to ruin something…where I can just “be”. I’m the only one who cares about my own house being perfect and can I just say how much freedom I’ve felt when I stopped caring so much about how things looked and tried to be more of a Mary in the presence of my friends and family? You’re right–the fellowship and comfort we feel as we walk into someone’s home–that’s totally at the heart of hospitality. Thanks 🙂

  14. Nine years ago, we moved into our just-built house. A month later, I came down with the flu, along with my 16 month old. As we were asleep, an unplanned nap, my then three year old took a ballpoint pen to our wood floors in our living room, scrawling his name into the recently laid and finished planks. In a new house, the marks looked so dramatic, and I know I was upset. When I felt better, I could laugh, throw a rug over the signature, and trust it was part of the story of our house. Today I went looking for those marks and couldn’t find them. Something that seemed a big deal then, I now cannot find, and truly it saddens me. These messes in our homes which seem big, aren’t. Not in the big scheme of things, and you may even miss the mess when your children grow up. Share now, build memories, and smile through it all, as much as possible; nothing here is forever.

  15. LisaJo Baker’s five minute Friday challenge today is WILLING. You are willing and the Father is very, very pleased with you and your willingness.
    IT will all come together and you will look back at this experience as an adventure of sorts. Until then, just hang tough!

  16. This is such a ‘simple’ trap, we all know about it and yet, I too fall into it. I love home making and I am an organized person so our home is often presentable. But… if it’s not… that should be okay with me. And it’s not. So I too fall into this trap. Why do we want to look good so badly????? Like you said, it’s not healthy, it’s going after the wrong thing!! God bless us all and teach us that a messy but open home is always better than a clean but empty one.

    • If we know perfection makes other people uncomfortable (and sometimes feel inferior, too), then why is that our goal? Something to think about . . .

      • For sure!! We strive to always be better than the other. We compare non stop. I have to be honest… sometimes I have a bad thought about a person just so I can feel good about myself. It’s beyond sad. Especially when you realize we have all the worth we can possible have or need.

  17. Great perspective. It’s hard to go through the challenges and small disasters, but our God is faithful to teach us how to be like him when we allow him to. After our big accident, when I was unable to do anything but recover, we had so many people come through our front door. I learned in a hurry that they were there to see us, not our house, and celebrate that we were alive and healing, not decorating and cleaning.

    • Sometimes I look around when things are a mess and imagine how I would feel if something unexpected happened and people were suddenly in our home (like after an accident). I love this: ” they were there to see us, not our house, and celebrate that we were alive and healing, not decorating and cleaning.”

  18. The timing of this is incredible, Dawn. Just the other day I emailed to someone, I would love to host an inRL meetup but my house is so small!

  19. “Hospitality has more to do with the state of your heart than the state of your home.” Such truth here and words that go straight to my heart. I often am waiting for one project or another to be done before I want to host company. I am never sorry for inviting people over – only sorry when I don’t. Thanks for this…

    • Mindy, I’m right there with you, the queen of unfinished projects. Just open your heart and your home right now and then you can invite people back to see the updates later. 🙂

  20. Excellent post, Dawn. One problem with the facade of perfectionism is that people don’t relate to “perfect” people. It can be hard to let go of such high standards, but also very freeing. 🙂

  21. One of my twenty something daughters who has her own apartment that she shares with someone, texted me a little while ago to ask if she could watch a movie at our house with a group of friends, in our big upstairs room. My first thought was the cat hair on one of the loveseats that I have neglected and of course, the hall bathroom up there, and before I let myself continue down that path of inventory of the cleanliness of my home, I just texted her back and said yes. I wish my first thought could be the yes, not what needs cleaned before they get here!

  22. You know my relative was one of the most miserable people i knew and also one of the most hospitable, i dont want to tell you how many people came to see this person when ill, i marveled how even in their mess ppl loved people loved being around this person, it sho nuff wasnt because they were perfect! So i read a story about a lady who just died and no one knew..for 6 years, thats so sad. Sometimes we need to get out of our selves and live, even if we have a limp.

  23. Dawn

    “Hospitality has more to do with the state of your heart than the state of your home.” That statement is so true. I love going to people’s homes to see them–not the picture perfect clean house. I want a lived in, rustic look. I would much rather be hospitable and have fun with people than spend hours cleaning my house and worrying about what others may think.

    BTW–I don’t care what others think of my home. I want to please God and He is truly happy when we share what He has given us.

    Blessings 🙂

  24. I so relate to the state of your house and I haven’t even (at least not that recently) had a flood. It is the normal state of my place. Even when I spend hours upon hours pulling it together if my kids are away for a weekend they come back and disaster ensues. When I lived in NJ there were only a small handful of close friends that ever were allowed to step foot in my disasterous home. I used to talk to people that rang the bell in the doorway never inviting anyone in as I was so ashamed. Now, I am living in Delaware and there are so few people in my life and they are basically all from my church so when there is a knock at the door I open it as I know I am accepted for who I am. It is a much better feeling.

  25. I would SO love to host gatherings for friends, some silver, some gold. We “inherited” two pugs, with great character, from our daughter when she moved home (3 yrs ago) Then, we rescued a kitten, who has since, grown into a LARGE cat.

    My problem, is my husband’s take on the animals. He DEPLORES their presence in our home. “Can’t BELIEVE our home is a BARN” I take care of them, clean their space (our 10×12 Master Bath) feed and water them, bathe them. Even keep candles burning, nonstop to mask the smell. Still, it is a CONSTANT source of friction. The dogs are precious, the cat is loving to me, our grown children and the grandchildren. When my husband walks in the room, the cat runs and hides, he swears he has done nothing to make her fear him.

    I have had many neck, back and shoulder surgeries. The house has been “let go”. At 55, I am tired. I would love to host, but have given up. His OCD personality, makes me to feel that the pug hair is my fault, therefore, no parties. The dogs have been a “part of our family” for 9 YEARS! He tells me, non stop, that I need to “get rid” of them. I am not heartless, I cannot “haul them off.” We are the ONLY family they’ve ever known. I am simply, at a loss……….