Do you struggle to keep up appearances – to get each room of the house looking Pinterest-perfect? Joy at Grace Full Mama does. In this season of holiday Pinterest overload, she shares that she often wishes her abode was as “put together” as the images she finds on the internet. Her reflection leads her to write about the most beautiful home she can remember, and it’s not what you might expect:

“I had these friends growing up. Their house was always full of fun, laughter, and silliness. We skated around the cement basement listening to Uncle Charlie on the radio on Saturday mornings. We made a slip and slide from black plastic, built forts behind the goat shed, and ate spaghetti straight off the table. When I came home from a weekend at their home, my little eight year old self exclaimed to my mom, “They have the most beautiful home in the world!” And I meant it. What I didn’t realize at the time is their house wasn’t really beautiful by appearances. Simple, a bit run down from the wear and tear of six kids, and never really all that clean.

What was it about their home that made it so, well, homey?

I met Jesus everywhere in that home. Quite literally, it was where I gave my life to the Lord, but I encountered Him in so many other ways. I found Jesus at the breakfast table as the mom scooped baked oatmeal and talked about heaven as though she had been there. I saw Jesus as the parents passed out homemade Valentine cards. I heard Jesus as the mom sat us kids down and lovingly got to the bottom of a childhood squabble. I played with Jesus when the parents jumped on the zip line and laughed long and loud. Laughter. Space and time to be together.  A home where Christ lives and breathes and plays and rests.”

In the iBelieve.com article “The Heart of Holiday Hospitality,” Marie Osborne shares a similar story of when spending Christmas with her boyfriend’s loud, loving family deeply impacted her.

“Now don’t get me wrong, I love a delicious holiday loaf, and I know we can love others through the food we serve and how we keep our home. But as much as I appreciate the efforts of those gifted in entertaining, I have been more deeply impacted by the hospitality of a warm, welcoming heart then a perfectly planned party.”

Crosswalk and iBelieve author Theresa Ceniccola dissects the Pinterest phenomenon, writing,

“The problem with the Pinterest approach to being creative is that it focuses on the outcome or the result, rather than the process or the journey. If you think about it, we’re all creative in our own ways. If you like to garden, cook or sew, you’re creative.”

And,

“…Creativity is not about imitation - it's about expression.

We’re all studying each other, trying to imitate or compete in some way. Well, we’re totally missing the point, friends! We’re overlooking the greatest opportunity to foster our own creativity. We don't need inspiration as much as we need motivation and permission to jump right in where (we feel) we don't belong.”

So as you jump into the Christmas season (and all the decorating, cooking, and baking that might entail!) remember: “I Am More Than the Sum of My Pinboards.” Marie Osborne reminds women in another piece that Proverbs 31 ends describing the most praiseworthy attributes of the idea wife. Hint: it’s not her stunning décor or picture-perfect cookies, but rather:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com

Publication date: December 4, 2013