Living Fully: Or Do We Worry Too Much?

How does one live ready, and always? -Ann Voskamp

On a Friday, a few weeks ago and my day off from work, I had a million things “to do” on my list and in my mind. But I sat down to read some of Ann’s new book

Will I live life fully … or just empty?

My thoughts went directly to myself, and how I was feeling about the 12 friends coming over for a Super Bowl Party.

Okay, I’ll be honest here. With my writings about courage, challenging others to “invite,” guiding people along and encouraging them to “reach out,” my mind still goes toward the “my house isn’t good enough,” “what will they think?” “we need to remodel our bathrooms,” “what about the carpet,” and “will they like the food?”

Me, me, me.

Ann’s words this day were salve for an anxious mind and a nervous attitude about entertaining.

It’s not about me. It’s about dying to self, living, being gracious, giving out.

My focus for having people over is not about my house.

It’s not about gourmet food or the image that comes along with entertaining.

No, my focus needs to be sitting with my friends, engaging, having fun, laughing, eating, sharing stories, watching the game here and there, celebrating the Packers victory, and NOT worrying about my house.

How do we live fully?

Or do we worry about things that really don’t matter?

I’d love to hear whether you struggle and worry about ‘stuff’ when you know people are coming over?

(If you haven’t bought a copy yet, of Ann’s new book, One Thousand Gifts, you can HERE.)

30 comments on “Living Fully: Or Do We Worry Too Much?”

  1. Yes, at times I do worry. I read this quote years ago, and I try to keep it in mind “If you’ve come to see me, stop anytime. If you came to see my house, make an appointment.” Trying to find the balance with this!

    I think I’m going to get that book. I’ve been reading a number of blogs, where they have been posting about it.

    Also, I stopped at the library last night and glanced over at the new book section. Guess what I saw? Your book on the shelf!!!!! I thought, “Yah for Sandy!!!” All the way in W. Michigan!

  2. I do worry at times. This assignment has been helpful in that respect, though, because we were without our own things for so long and the provided furniture was just nasty. We had to let that go and build relationships while we had the time; we’ve learned that 2 years goes by pretty quickly so it’s best to dive right in! Even after our own household goods arrived, we got new furniture from the warehouse, and we spent time with other families in the embassy community, the pressure hasn’t really returned because we discovered we’re all in the same boat- and we have the same furniture! :)

  3. The first house that we bought was a total mess. The terrazzo floors were stained from old carpet and always looked dirty, the kitchen was a disaster and the people that lived their prior weren’t the cleanest people in the world. BUT with all that said and only 2 weeks living in the house we decided to have a Christmas party. I think it was when the cockroach crawled out from under the kitchen cabinet that I wanted to crawl into bed and suck my thumb. LOL! But because of the friends that I have the one guy stepped on it like it was nothing,(Only he saw it, thank goodness.) I cleaned it up and we continued on. The fact is, I didn’t let it stop me.

  4. I used to obsess about every detail when we were entertaining guests. Then, I had twins. All that changed. Things became a lot simpler. The meals were still good, but not nearly as extravagant. Our home was clean, but there are certainly toys and children’s books adorning our living space. Some of the details I used to deem SO important have gone by the wayside, i.e. lighting candles in every room, having fresh flowers in several vases through out the house. Spending time with friends is such a privilige and luxury for me these days, that I’ll take it, regardless of what shape my house is in. I just decided that relationships are more important than slaving away to make everything just perfect. I think before I missed out on good fellowship, because I was so busy perfecting the experience. What I realized what—no one really cares that much, or at all, even. My home is comfortable, it looks lived in, and is full of love and laughter. I’m sure that no one really missed the candles or the fresh flowers in every room.

  5. I do worry at times. If I’m not careful I fall into the trap of “my house looks bare and hodge podge”, there is no style. I’m not cooking something gourmet..will they still like it. It’s usually when I know that the people coming over have a bigger food budget and much nicer house than me.

    But thankfully those times are becoming more few and far between.

  6. I do think too much about it, even though my house has been so clean since we moved into a brand new home. Yet, I still fuss over little things. I think I’m actually more worried about people in general not liking me, it’s a silly thing but it goes deep. So that probably manifests itself in arranging and rearranging stuff when I know people are coming :)

  7. Oh yes. I definitely worry. I have been trying to cut down on my worrying :) But it’s hard!

    Most people don’t care about your home being perfect, they are just happy to be invited! I’m trying to remember that.

  8. Pingback: Tweets that mention Living Fully: Or Do We Worry Too Much? — Reluctant Entertainer --

  9. Having a toddler can cover a multitude of sins… It’s easy to blame small messes. Which isn’t exactly fair to her, but it takes a load off of me. I still do worry about things like whether they’ll like the food, whether the food is “fancy” enough, whether it’ll be done in time, & whether I should scrub the counters & stove (because those things I CAN’T blame on the little one). But in the end, it’s always about having fun & learning more about the people we’ve invited over.

  10. While we all worry about these things, it is how we allow ourselves to deal with them that counts. It is the gathering of the friends and family that counts, not that our carpet needs to be cleaned or that our house is not big enough. When we were in our last house, and it was 1100 square feet, we entertained, we invited everyone over, we got cozy, we laughed at how cozy at times but we had FUN. Move ahead to today, we have a much larger house, yeah I know and the kids are grown and there are only 2 of us, that is a whole other story. We still entertain, and we still worry about the food, the carpet, the drive to our house, we now live in the country. But as you said Sandy it is not about us it is about opening our homes and hearts to those around us. Thanks for reminding us about this.
    Blessings to you and yours
    Curtis & Sherrie

  11. My sister in law had a little plaque by her kitchen sink …
    My house is clean enough to be healthy and
    dirty enough to be happy.
    I’ve always thought there is a lot of truth to that.

  12. First of all, I love Ann’s book and have found myself going back to certain passages over and over. I DO get hung up on the imperfection of my home, my cooking, my decor. I TRY not to focus on those things and simply open up my home. Sometimes I’m successful, others not so much. I wish I could do it all the time and maybe with practice I can get there. Take the “me” out of the equation and go with the “them.”

  13. I do struggle with that sometimes, and interestingly enough sometimes I struggle with the opposite. When I hear “your house is so clean! I love your decorations, how do you do it? my house could never be this clean” Comments like these make me feel like people think I’m too perfect and I know I’m not. It makes me feel like I do too much, am too much of a perfectionist or something like that. I know there is a balance and the bottom line is whether I am obedient to how God wants me to live, keeping house included. I appreciate the reminder that my house is not all about me. It’s about others (my family included!)

  14. Oh, I always worry about “stuff”, to the point where I’m so exhausted I fall asleep during the party. This has happened on more than on occasion. One day I’ll strike a balance.

  15. I’ve been like you..obsessing about every little detail and in making sure my house is spotlessly clean. I hated slaving out before the guests arrived. It has always been days of work for me just for that half a day (night) of entertaining. Even though we live in a brand new house (all of 4,000sq ft) and I keep it quite clean. My cooking has always been good something which I used to plan / prepare way ahead of time.
    After the baby arrived we did have a few parties at our place till I realised it just was not possible anymore.
    Now it is mostly friends who have children mostly around the same age group as my toddler: Those who can appreciate the effort that goes into maintaining a house that is somewhat tidy and organized, food that is good and an evening that is full of laughter (with no meltdown or crankiness from one of the toddlers).
    The days of big parties are over. Some friends (with older kids) are beyond me to entertain now because of the toddler. I guess all that will have to wait, wait for probably another 10 years.

  16. I have always worried that way about entertaining. I have the same sentiments on the bathrooms because they are 50 yrs old, yellow tub, yellow sink, yellow toilet and are in need of updating, but they are always clean. I would hope that family and true friends would look beyond that and just appreciate being invited over and spending time with us in our home.

    I think having everything appear too perfect is actually a curse. All my life people have told me that I’m a Martha Stewart type and everything is always in its place, but this can actually add a lot of pressure, causing you to want to live up to perfection at all times, something that can never be obtained.

    For me, when I’m in other people’s homes, as long as it’s ‘clean’, I’m happy. There is a difference between clean and tidy. Apart from that, if the main course doesn’t work out, or things don’t go as planned, it never bothers me, just as long as their home is welcoming,

  17. I definitely worry about what my house looks like and my menu before I have friends come over. Oftentimes, I am stressing about the cleaning and what every detail in my home looks like that I am exhausted by the time my friends enter my house. I also spend too much time planning my menu hoping that it will appeal to everyone. I’m trying to get more tried and true recipes in my arsenal so I can fall back on them at the last minute. It’s always so comforting to read that others feel the same way and that I’m not alone in this.

  18. I have to admit – I worry a lot. About – what they will think of me, of my house, of the food….!
    Gosh. As I am writing this, I am thinking, is there a need to worry so much over these things that do not matter much. What matters is about having a great time with the guests. But, you know what, a lot of that worry actually also comes due to the mindset of the society. People do fuss over what food were they served; they go back and talk about the house; the dinner table and blah!
    But, that change has to come from each of us – from within us. The more each of us focus on people rather than on the setting, more and more will follow suit…
    Thanks for raising these questions. :) Got all of us thinking….

  19. Pingback: Link Love and A New Look | remodeling this life | remodeling this life

  20. What a beautiful post. My husband and I bought a starter home that is “quaint.” …hence the name of our blog. We have really made a lot of improvements and turned it into a cozy home but I am always reluctant to have people over. It’s difficult because we don’t have a lot space and I wonder where people will sit, if they’ll be comfortable, where they’ll congregate for conversation? Then we resigned ourselves to the fact that we have to entertain in the summer…but we live so far from everyone…where will they sleep? Certainly we don’t want to invite people out and then have them stay in a hotel. To make a short story long, thank you for your post. You’re right. It’s not about the logistics. It’s about spending time with family and friends…and good food and drink! I am convinced that it is the not-so-perfect party-setting that makes for great memories!

  21. Thanks for this reminder Sandy. I DO often worry about how people will like the food, and whether the arrangement I decided on for the table will suit the occasion, if they’ll notice the new stain (or hole in the case of this week – God help me…those dogs!), and speaking of dogs – if the dogs will behave well. It’s an endless mind battle. But then I remember that if *I* am at ease, then my guests will be too. They will remember more about the feel of the evening even than the look and the tastes of the evening. – It’s an every-occasion-pep-rally to get back to this place, but when I do – THAT’S when I love to entertain!

  22. I just blogged about this today as well and linked back to your post too! This was me yesterday and I had already started forming the blog post in my head and then I read your post this morning! :) We women need to stop worrying so much! Thank you for posting this!!!!!

  23. I’ve had the same experience. I used to host dinners with silver, candles and flowers — in COLLEGE. Now I have 3 small kids messing up right behind me as I clean, including a 3 year old girl who pulled all my drapes, including the hardware, off the living/dining room walls. I figure there will come a tipping point where it won’t be so rough. But in the meantime, I sweep the detritus off the dining table, throw it into a laundry basket, and put the basket on my desk in the bedroom. I try to go through the basket during naptime.

    What this is helped me realize is that I really do need to pare down everything this year so that I don’t spend so much time worrying about it all — how to put it away, how to hide it, etc…

  24. My focus is not about my house, it’s about having people over. Need to remember that.

  25. I drive myself (and my porr hubby) crazy when we entertain, which is pretty much! I want everything to be perfect, and it never is. It is so hard for me to let it go. I just spent all morning cleaning. I am a bit obsessed. And at my age don’t know how to stop. I really want this book, I ahve heard about it on several blogs recently. XO, Pinky

  26. I am reading Ann’s book. Wow, what a poet. But her words aren’t just pretty phrases, they are rich and deep and strong.

    I am amazed at how many ties there are with another book I’m reading–Nudge by Leonard Sweet. All about reaching out to others in love through the use of the five senses. It is so much what you are about–impacting the senses of others with hospitality.

    I am wanting to be more others centered.

    Thanks for making us think!

  27. Ann’s book is stopping me in my tracks. I can’t even make it past chapter one and two. So much to process. Such lovely life giving words. Glad you are reading it also.


  28. I must confess I read this post the other day, but didn’t comment because I wanted to think about it a little. I actually worry way too much and fret when guests ‘pop-in’ about the breakfast dishes that are still on the counter, or the magazines spread out on the coffee table…I worry about those things so much that when we do entertain I can’t relax and enjoy myself. My husband thinks so differently than I do about this and always tells me that family and friends aren’t coming over to look at our house or criticize our home, but they are coming to visit us and enjoy us. And the thing is I know this, but part of me just wants everything to be perfect when I know that is impossible, and really I don’t want everything to be perfect. I have been in homes that are designer perfect and they have left me feeling cold. I don’t want people to feel cold when they come for a visit. So, I really enjoy it when i come here and visit and you remind me (us) that things don’t need to be perfect. Thank you for that, Sandy. Oh, and I am planning a little dinner party for some friends of ours. Baby steps… :)

  29. Yes, I always worry- to the point that once I know that people are coming over, I turn into a crazy person. I know, not good. I am working on that… lately I haven’t invited anyone over, because all of the preparation just exhausts me, so I would rather not do it. Sad.

  30. Pingback: Mary & Martha Entertaining

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *