How to Invite People Over When You Live In Your House and it Shows



car on a jack


Three boys.

One man.

One non-running fixer-upper car on jacks. (because of course)

Gravel with grass growing through.

Poorly placed power lines.

Peeling paint.

Half scraped ceilings.

Half painted trim.

Un-refinished floors.

A pair of satellite dishes.

12 acres.

One fixer-upper.

And one woman who has decided that they should come anyway.

‘They’ being 30 of my favorite writers, creatives, mothers, sisters, and friends on the planet.

Because if not now, when?

















white flags, i give up




pink door

the barn

the girls


How do you invite people over when it’s not finished, fancy or perfect?

You simply say…

Come Anyway

I’m so grateful for this group of women who can be trusted with my imperfections. Imperfections in my home, and otherwise.

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, genuine, relaxing, fun, delicious, or worth it.

See more photos of our imperfect gathering here #atthewhitebarn and at Lisa Leonard’s blog, I used a few of her photos here too–thanks Lisa!


Related Hospitality Posts:

Why you’ve got to have guests when your house isn’t perfect

Beauty Hunters Always Welcome

The Power of the Imperfect

Hope for the weary home



  1. I LOVE this. So encouraging to not postpone hospitality and friendship, waiting for that “someday” that may never arrive. Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  2. xoxoxox

  3. I love that we were a part of your process! And then, we will get to celebrate as you continue to create and renovate! And most some of those pics of unfinished or damaged parts of your house, I didn’t even notice. I was so focused on the gift of presence of you and all of our friends! I love you and am grateful for you!

  4. Amanda Cottrell says

    Oh my goodness. This is absolutely encouraging. And empowering.

    Also, on a more shallow note, do you know where Ann Voskamp got her fabulous dress?

    What a blessed time!

    • Well, I’m shallow with you because I asked her the same thing. It was on sale at Nordstrom and it’s SO stunning and that comfy material that you could sleep in if you had to. :) xoxo

      • Anonymous says

        Jen – I guess we aren’t shallow at all. Just great taste. Lol. Gonna miss Becoming this year for the first time. Heading to France. Will miss y’all but see you in 2016. Love Becoming.

      • ashley henderson says

        im here in dallas tx this bitch says lil rickey name im like who are the guy that I said don’t come to my house being saying this is nicki minaj hood Im continually in jail behind there police said shut up for nicki be with lil wayne n chirp to lil rickey which is find but do I have to be followed paralegal

  5. I. Love. This. Thank you for being so real and raw and showing the imperfections of your home. I live in a country home with so much potential, but not enough time. Thank you for sharing your gift of making homes beautiful and for encouraging us that it doesn’t have to be perfect!

  6. Jennifer says

    LOVE this!! Thank you for posting! I feel so encouraged!

  7. I really love this post! I love that you said come now, instead of waiting for a perfect tomorrow. From the photos, your place may not be perfect in your eyes, but it did look charming and cute!

  8. Did this last night with some sweet friends who came in town unexpectedly! I’m always thankful when God helps me choose relationships over “the perfect image.”

  9. beautiful! I need to do this more. So easy to let insecurity come in the way, especially living in a semi-affluent area.

  10. Thank you for sharing this post as well as the previous one you did on having friends over when the home is less than perfect. I needed to hear that! We have just moved into a new place and found myself constantly stressing about getting it too look super pretty and cozy before having official visitors over, but truth is, it will always be a work in progress and it’s time to swing those imperfect doors wide open! x

  11. Thank you so much – for the smiling faces of those amazing ladies (including you), the imperfections (relieved as always I’m not alone) the beautiful decorations – so simple, so lovely – it all made me cry – it’s done my heart good.

  12. I saw a sign once that I have made my motto…”if you come to see me, come any time…if you come to see my house, make an appointment. I have been meaning to stitch it and hang by the front door, but for now I just verbalized it

  13. Wonderful post…as always. Your place reminds me so much of my grandparent’s farm; they had a lot of little buildings around the property, too—smokehouse, shed, pump house, barn, wash house….yes, even an outhouse (until they installed indoor plumbing). Thanks for encouraging us to invite folks even when our homes are not as up to par as we would like. I’m just like the rest of you—if I wait until it’s perfect, and I have all my ducks in a row, then it will probably never happen. And yes, I noticed (and liked) Ann’s dress, too.

  14. Thank you so much for this – for transparency & authenticity. We have weeds coming up in our gravel drive; half of the front yard is new grass hiding under straw, grass clippings & germination blankets; our backyard is a dirt pit waiting for another concrete wall to be poured. I could go on & on… The sad thing is, we do let it hold us back from opening our door and I can’t stand it! Thank you for the hope & motivation to not let it stifle us anymore!

    • ashley henderson says

      im here in dallas tx lill wayne follows me n beat me up with lil wayne they threating to im prison several of my apartments have been invited altho the Mexicans say its there please help me to be with lil rickey im lucy I do not know these hoes

  15. Texas Aggie Mom says

    Thanks for continuing to encourage us to overcome our tendency to wait til our homes are “perfect” to welcome others into them. While reading this and seeing the beautiful photos of your very real home, I was reminded of Jen Schmidt’s post earlier this year about the time she invited the entire church for chili with no prior planning, and I want to be more like both of you! I think it’s time for me to re-read your book with a focus on “How can I do this?” rather than “Isn’t it nice that she did this?”

  16. Yes I too love this post. I go back and forth between ” just invite them…if they are truly friends they won’t care about the imperfections” to “oh no it’s too stressful to try unsuccessfully to make it perfect so I am not having the gathering”. I am going to make an effort to plan the gathering before the end of the summer. These posts are definitely coming exactly at the same time. I love your home. it is beautiful. I also don’t notice the flaws that you do. <3

  17. As Tina Fey says on 30 Rock, “I want to go to there.” So many of us creatives who drink up your posts like hot children chugging cold Capri Sun in summer time would just die to go to a gathering like this! Geography is so frustrating sometimes… :D

  18. Lovely! What are the garlandy thingies in the pictures? Are they lights? Tassels? My phone piccies are too small or my eyesight is bad…but I gotta know…so pretty. Did you craft them? Anyhoo, your post makes me wanna grab people going by and say come in and sit a bit :)

  19. Hannah Reid says

    Love the streamers in the trees! And yay for including babies!

  20. I just love this. The very best kind of hospitality show and tell because it’s real…and absolutely beautiful. {jacked-up car and half-scraped ceilings and all} “Come anyway”–I’m gonna borrow that one. : )

  21. I am so in love with everything about this!!! The Bunting in the trees!!! Gorgeous! The warmth of friendship leaping off the page, thanks for sharing x

  22. Very lovely home you have. great pictures!!:)

    Rachel x

  23. What a fun looking gathering! Oh how I would loved to have been there to listen in on the conversations! BTW, your “imperfections” are very minor compared to all the beauty you have created! Someday I hope to visit you and your fixer upper. Rhondi xo

  24. Betsy Whitehead says

    Have you ever read “open heart, open home” by Karen Burton Mains? It’s an older book with some of the same views of hsospitality versus entertaining. Keep up the good work!

  25. This is amazing… so true!

  26. Thank you for sharing! Looks like a wonderful time! All the pre-planning and scurrying about to prepare for guests can be stressful(& incomplete)… But in the end, I always realize it’s the people that make the environment warm, welcoming, and enjoyable. I love the realness of your post(s)!

  27. One of the best things I learned during a year on the mission field is that people come to see YOU not your HOUSE. Of course, some people come to see your house, but ultimately, it’s the fellowship and community. I was welcomed to dinner even though they were just having PBJ or leftovers, and it was so freeing. We’ve somehow come to believe that entertaining needs to be an event with perfectly planned food and decor and “atmosphere” when really, we just need to practice hospitality. Seeing your broken switch plate and satellite dishes reminds me that you live in your house and I live in mine…we don’t have photoshopped, magazine worthy lives, we have REAL lives! Thanks for the encouragement to host and fellowship even if there is mail on the counter and toys on the floor.

  28. Sometimes I think that we think the people with the big blogs have perfect houses, and don’t live in neighbourhoods where the neighbours are awful or their houses aren’t finished. But it’s not about the house but how you live there. AT the moment we are living upstairs in the crèche of our church.

  29. Love this post. So encouraging. Thank you for this reminder that true friends overlook all that stuff, and “can be trusted with our imperfections.”

  30. I love this, Nester. You are so authentic. Most of us are afraid to be hospitable because something isn’t finished or perfect. Guess what, it never will be in this life. Thanks for the reminder. Btw, love the barn! Wish I had one. You are so blessed to have so many friends to share it with. Put them to work!! Haha

  31. I think the dog in the photo says it all…no frills, nothing fancy needed but SO relaxing and comfortable.

  32. My house is TORE UP right now, today and we just had my daughter, son-in-law and grandbabies from Texas for 10 days. All the assorted family who came through to visit with them. We have taken down walls for an open concept, removed linoleum and carpet to the bare sub floor while waiting for new wood floors to be installed. I want to entertain, because I miss it very much, and you have spurred me on to do it! My friends can see the before and after first hand!

  33. Yes!
    When we bought our ‘fixer’ of a house 14 years ago, we had a huge job on our hands, tearing out old carpets and linoleum, door trim (fake wood), and oh so much more. For a while we lived without trim around the doors but we flung our doors open wide and invited people to come be with us! People want to know they are important enough for you to invite them over. They don’t care, really what your home looks like, as far as decor goes, nor do they care if it is perfect or not! Trust me on this!

    Great post.

  34. I was just going to postpone our 2 year anniversary open house because of the unfinished projects. We live in a small town and of course our house is named after the previous owners (till we live here long enough). They are all curious. I share snippets on the blog but not everything! :) After reading your post, we’ll be sticking to the OG date. Who cares that the ceiling is still in need of mudding and paint, right?

  35. Do you know what makes me exhale and feel relief? The two satellite dishes. We just moved across the entire continent of North America to a lovely little Georgia home, and the only internet option was Exede, which is sitting next to our DirecTV satellite dish, the only option for tv. So thank you for this bit of relief.

  36. “Come anyway!” I absolutely LOVE this. You cultivate beauty, celebrate people, and show us how they can co-exist so imperfectly, wonderfully. It’s incredibly freeing. Thank you!

  37. This article ties in to my wife’s biggest fear. She is an entertainer and loves to have people over whenever she can. But we both live very busy lives and have 2 kids and 3 pets – which usually means that we have the ‘lived in’ home look down pat. She usually goes on quite a cleaning spree every time someone is invited over. I am not convinced that it is worth the work sometimes.

  38. Love it! We have been in our house almost 2 years and we have no trim- we took it down to paint and decided that the 14 mismatched styles were better off in the garage. We still have painter’s tape on the moulding and I am halfway through seeing new curtains for our great room…we just had 22 people over for brunch and no one cared!

  39. This is wonderful! I say “Amen!” You are bringing glory to God and encouraging so many women!!!

  40. it was really good

  41. Mesmerizing post.. anyway thanks from the depth of my heart.

  42. What a fantastic article.

  43. really awesome…

  44. The share your really gives us excitement. Thanks for your sharing. If you feel tired at work or study try to participate in our games to bring the most exciting feeling. Thank you!

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.