First Impressions

Donned my painting clothes yesterday morning, determined to get back in the house-painting groove.Evening Reflections Yes, the vacation is definitely over. *smile* Is there any other chore more tedious to home-owners than painting? Or scraping, preparatory to painting? If there is, please let me know in comments, it might help me complain less!

It’s a long nasty story, but I’ve been trying to get my house painted for at least 7 years now. It wasn’t a priority to Hubby, and then when it was, he wanted us to spray the paint on, but our sprayer is very touchy–it’s definitely a two-person job. Have I mentioned yet that my hubby hates painting? He and I spray-painted one side of the house about four years ago, and another side two years ago. So this last May, I decided to start painting with a paint brush and I’m gettin’ her done! Eight hours slapping paint just today, Woo-HOO!

With every brush stroke I’m loving this house more. Its tattered exterior has long been an embarrassment to me…so to see pristine whiteness take over the weathered gray is magical. I find myself strangely exhilarated. Hubby is even impressed, and has forgiven me for resorting to a lowly paint brush.

How many times have I talked myself out of extending hospitality because of the sad shape of my siding? Too ashamed to count… Why do I worry so much about what people think? It really boils down to “first impressions” doesn’t it? We want our best face forward when we invite people over. Especially people who haven’t seen our home yet or who live in “House Beautifuls”. So we either dither ourselves into a panic over clutter in the corners or, like me, peeling home exteriors and falling-down barns, or we shrink back within ourselves and wave limply at the nice hospitable thought as we say bye-bye to an opportunity that could have blessed both parties. Us and them.

It’s really crazy that we worry about it at all. Here’s a question for you, do you really *care* what your friends’ homes are like when you walk in the door to visit them? If they look lived in, doesn’t it instantly relax you? It does me. One of my best friends is exactly like me. Her home was an old farmhouse till they built new last year, and her back porch and mine could have been twin sisters–they both looked like a twister had ripped through the night before. And we laughed about it. It bonded us. Silly but true. (So quit worrying about your houses!)

I’m so glad our Heavenly Father isn’t concerned with first impressions. If He was, good night, who could stand? His first impression of all of us? Black with sin! Yet He loved us sinners so much that He gave up His only son for our salvation. That’s amazing. We didn’t have to clean house first, or dress in white linen and go through a ceremony. Nope, He took us as is. Even when we continue in sin, He still loves us and forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Best of all, He doesn’t see us as sinners once we accept His gift of salvation. He sees us through the filter of His holy Son. That is grace. Grace we could learn a thing or two from.

So extend grace on yourselves and try not to let your lack of House Beautiful keep you from enjoying life. Here’s a little secret: I’m more in awe of friends who welcome drop in’s despite their messy houses, than I am of friends who have impossibly clean homes. Now doesn’t that make you want to invite the neighborhood over ASAP?

16 thoughts on “First Impressions”

  1. Ouch…this hits close to home. Literally. I honestly (sheepishly) am kinda grossed out sometimes when I “accidentally” see someone’s house, unprepared for guests, and it’s shockingly dirty. This is not a common occurance, but it’s happened once or twice. I’m humbled & embarassed that I’m bothered and they’re not, and would like to blame my reaction on my mother! Yikes!

    I sometimes think that we’ve allowed ourselves to buy the cultural lie that our home is only “our” space, and so we don’t feel compelled to keep things tidy constantly. In other words, if, for example, I want to let the laundry and dishes pile up and take a nap in my unders on a Sunday afternoon, I am quite irritated if someone makes an unexpected visit. I selfishly think they have interrupted my time to relax, instead of being happy to extend hospitality. Do you see what I’m saying? Does anyone else suffer from this?

    I think if I stayed up on my housework, I wouldn’t be as prone to freak out when someone stops by unexpectedly. And I’m with you – I SOOOOO admire women who are happy to have me over without notice, and when I walk into their house its not “company clean” (dusted, no toys on the floor, windows sparkling, throw pillows perfectly arranged, etc) but the dishes are done, you can walk across the floor, and it just feels like home. I guess that’s the standard that I set for myself…and rarely live up to. I’m going to shut up now – I’m confessing too much! :) …and I need to do those dishes sitting in my sink…

  2. Dear Friends,

    I’m sure the house you have been grossed out at is mine. I am the worst about leaving dishes dirty.

    I’m always most comfortable in a house that is clean but has a few toys out. My best friend growing up had a mom who always liked everything very clean. We could not even sit on the bed because it might mess it up. Needless to say the majority of the time she came over to my house.

    Andrea’s last blog post..Restoritive Power of Spanking

  3. Oh no, no, no!!!!! I thought after I posted that I hoped no one I know in “real life” that reads this blog will think it’s their house I was referring to – it’s NOT!!!!! Your dishes have never bothered me, nor any other aspect of your house. Honestly! I love you and love that you’ve seen my house at its worse and vice versa and neither of us cares! That’s what real friends are for. :)

    I know of houses where you can’t sit on this couch or use this room, etc. like you mentioned and that is no way to live either!! Talk about unwelcoming.

  4. Ah you girls are my breath of fresh air! I’m so glad you can identify with this. Yes! There is a difference between lived in and filthy! We’ve all had our filthy moments, who hasn’t, especially after a week of sickness, etc, but lived in simply means you have a life apart from constantly keeping house! When I see a young mom whose house isn’t spic and span, you know what I automatically assume? That she spends a lot of time with her children, and that they are allowed the freedom to play and create without her constantly jumping down their throats to ‘clean it up’. I had a mom like that, so relaxed about all my projects. My only rule was to clean up after my cooking experiments. I’m not so much that way, not like I want to be. Though my daughter’s room is usually the one I’m most embarrassed about when company drops in! We do well to keep the beds made in there and that’s about it…I just blame it on three overly creative girls sharing a bedroom!

    I think it’s a shame that we let our houses matter so much. Even when mine is super clean, I’m sometimes reluctant to invite people over. I just feel so exposed to their criticism or judgment. I’m not a landscape artist, we have overgrown bushes and a dangerously ugly barn half collapsed across from the house that dh is patiently tearing down to salvage the barnwood–it’s huge so it’s the first thing everyone notices, etc! My hubby has never been worried about what other people think so his lackadaisical attitude has been SOO good for me because I’m guilty of being hyper-paranoid about things like that. I’m not so much these days as I was our first 5-8 years married! And he’s getting more concerned about appearances, which is nice too!

    Anyhow, I’ve only been in one disgustingly filthy home, neither of yours, ah-hem!, and at the time I only felt so sorry for the overwhelmed mother and thought that I must have stopped by on the worst day in the world, though she was SO gracious and invited me to sit and talk anyway. My kids even commented later about certain things that had bothered them, and they were young enough at the time that I was shocked they’d even noticed! Ah well. It’s easier to be the surprise company than it is to relax and not worry over these things. What we can do is try not to pass on our finicky-ness to our children. And when they bring it up, as mine did, show a LOT of grace in your reaction/response to what they saw.

    So when are you girls coming over for a visit? :)

  5. Painting? You and me both girl. My dh and I have done about 3/4 of the interior of our house, it was an awful flat white before now it’s a lovely glossy 1/4 spanish white – truly nice! You’re right about God doing more than taking a first outside glance at us, beauty is skin deep.

    Amy’s last blog post..Food prices are going up!

  6. You’re so right. We recently went through something similar with having wedding guests stay with us. I was so worried that our house would be too small, but just had faith and we all fit just fine! I “enjoy” painting but I”m not sure I could tackle an entire house…let alone with a paint brush. What an accomplishment though!

  7. This is a subject I go round and round about. I was raised in a pretty neat house growing up. I like my home to be clean and tidy most of the time. I just feel better when it is. However, I am not the type of person who likes my children to feel they must not mess up, or touch anything, so daily it gets clean, and by night, it no longer looks so nice. I try to do my cleaning first thing in the morning. I like to work up a bit of a sweat, then I figure, I am getting a work out and a clean house, and I don’t have to pay for a gym, or a maid!!!

  8. Lol, Juli, thanks for the laugh! I wish I could say I think about all the money I’m saving when I’m outside painting or scraping! Usually I’m wondering just how much it costs to hire a painter anyway!!! πŸ˜‰ But it HAS been great exercise, my arms are really toning up! Of course, that could be partly b/c of my total gym equipment!

    Colleen, welcome back from your honeymooning!!! And congratulations, I’m so happy for you guys, can’t wait to see more wedding pics!!! Per your comment here, my home is small as well, yet we’ve had overnight guests quite often and though it’s a tight fit(yes, I’m always wishing for a guest room!), it usually works out fine. Love grows best in little houses, right?

    Amy, the Spanish white sounds rich and beautiful! That is so wonderful that your dh helps you! Mine helps me do pretty much anything, but never interior painting! I think painting indoors is best done with a friend. I’m always on the lookout for someone I can trade help with! Congrats on giving your home such a great new look, it’s fun to fix things up, I love it, wish I had more of it in me…

    Andrea, we should plan a group get-together after church, maybe even in the fellowship hall, or at Pizza Hut? That would be a blast. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing on the 20th, I’ll check. But I would love to have you and Haley and all the girls over to lunch and play someday…do you have any dr appts coming up? πŸ˜‰

  9. Thanks for the welcome back to bloggy-land. I’m glad to see I still have a few readers left. With the kids both having their own rooms, it open up a lot of space for guests! I’m trying to talk my brother and his family to come back up for the forth of July!

  10. I’m so glad you are back! It’s been wonderful following you and SR’s romance from the very beginning…and knowing that you made it to the wedding and now, into married life and all that entails–even more, step-momhood! The fourth is right around the corner, isn’t it? How’d that happen already?! :)

  11. Messy doesn’t bother me, especially when there are children in the house. I do my best to keep my house nice and tidy, but with two little boys and a hubby that is just as sloppy, it is hard.

    However, dirty or filthy is going into a home where you can’t even walk in the house without stepping on something, rotten food on the counters or plates with rotting food, a stove that has never seen a dishrag or counters for that matter. Bathroom, ewww…I can’t even tolerate a little spittle of toothpaste, if I see it I clean it. Let’s not even get started on the toilet. That has to stay clean.

    I know of a couple that that have no children and their is house is what I just described, there is no excuse for two grown adults to live in such filth.

    I don’t mean to brag, but people always ask me how I keep my home so neat and clean? Easy, I keep up with it.

    I have a routine and I stick with it.

    Leticia’s last blog post..Off the politics today and something different…

  12. Fun to read your thoughts on it, Leticia! I would much rather keep up with the housework than let it all accumulate, for sure, but I don’t always reach that goal! However, I have to share about the toothpaste in the sink! My 3yo is so proud of herself…she keeps the bathroom sink shining! I’ve gotten onto the kids enough about rinsing the sink out after brushing, that even she is finding pleasure in keeping it clean!

    Mary’s last blog post..Filthy or Lived In?

  13. I’m glad it’s not just me that has trouble actually finishing a project. We have in our house what we call the “stress board.”

    It started out as a good idea– a whiteboard to write down quick notes, things that we found we needed to get at the store (like soap, etc) but it quickly changed into a list of all the projects that need to be accomplished.

    Up on the board went letters that needed to be written, jobs that needed to be completed, and long term things– like going to get a new dishwasher or painting the porch– that we needed to remember.

    Let’s just say that it’s been transferred to paper a few times. I think what we need is a good plan.

    But back on the topic– you’re right, first impressions can often get in the way of service. We may think that because everything in our house, our live, etc. isn’t perfect we can’t serve.

    It’s like those that won’t witness because they’re testimony isn’t perfect. But that’s mostly the point– we aren’t perfect yet, but we know One who is.

    MInTheGap’s last blog post..Rejoice in Your Own Wife

  14. Well said, this would be a nice blog post of its own, MIn. I like the idea of the stress board but I think it would serve to discourage and depress my hubby. This has certainly been his year to get a lot of fix-it projects tackled, and it’s so thrilling on my side. I know keeping our place nice is more important to me than it is to him, so I see these things as huge labors of love. Putting a new back door in, fixing the glass inset in my horse-shoe coffee table, helping me finish spray-painting the house, and the whole “chicken barn” fiasco…it’s so much fun to accomplish things together. I can see how marking a big thick black line through those things on the stress board would be mighty good therapy! And kind of addictive too…hopefully? πŸ˜‰

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