beating a dead horse

That’s a terrible title {where did the horrible saying even come from?}.

But what I have to share today qualifies: it’s been said before. Over and over.

And yet, maybe we all need to hear it again.

// It’s not as pretty as it seems //

Take our kitchen, for instance.

I posted this photo on instagram with this caption:

“it only took four years to muster up the motivation to finish painting the kitchen”

A few minutes after posting, my friend Emily commented, “looks great!”.

Funny thing was, we had not painted it yet. We were just removing everything so that we could paint.

From a distance – from the outside – it looks pretty good.

Up close, you see this:

You would never notice the unfinished state that our kitchen has lived in these past several years by looking at photos on the blog. We do a good job of staging and photoshop-ing to get it looking just so.

But the truth is, it’s not as pretty as it seems.

. . .

Then there’s this:

I mentioned to my friend that I saw photos of her brother and sister-in-law and their new baby and their cute life and they looked so happy and is their marriage back on track?

No, she said. Their marriage isn’t great. They are struggling with this new baby. Not a lot of happiness.

I know better than to assume life is as good as it looks in photos.

And, yet, I still made big assumptions based on a few momentary snapshots.

. . .

The other day, my sister’s friend asked her if I was for real. Like, does my bathroom really look like that? Where’s the little scraps of toilet paper and dirty towels and overflowing trash can?

Well, goodness. Of course the bathroom is a mess. Our entire house is a mess.  I just pick it up before snapping photos.

We have a household full of messy people. Why there must be a light saber dropped in the middle of the floor of every single room, I can not explain. And the random socks – don’t get me started.

I do this for a living – staging and photographing, blogging about project successes and lovely things. I put on a good face and do my best to be honest, but don’t be fooled:

It’s not as pretty as it seems.

I don’t say this to be all downer on you. And like I said way up there, it’s been said many times before.

But I just wanted to remind you, remind me, that there is more to life than appearances.

Staged living rooms are good. Instagram photos of your trip to the pumpkin patch are darling.

Don’t stop enjoying the beauty of life and sharing it with others.  There is much to be grateful for and your highlights might just be the inspiration someone needs to find joy this day.

But also remember that under the happy faces and styled spaces lives a messy person. Someone who is flawed and struggles and tries her best to cover it all up with appearances. Rather than fall into that trap, let’s start being honest with each other.

If you write a blog, you don’t have to air it all out publicly. If you’re updating Facebook, there’s no need to give the gritty details of the battle you just fought with your toddler.  Or your husband. The general public doesn’t need to know your innermost struggles.

But your people do. You know, the ones you trust. The ones you can talk to and be open with.

Let’s not walk around pretending to be pretty and making assumptions about other people’s pretty lives.

Instead, let’s give grace and accept one another – however messy we are.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2

Poor horse. No more beating – time to bury this one.

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115 Responses to beating a dead horse

  1. danielle September 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Thank you. As an OCD clean freak and blessed parent of a 3 year old princess who often hosts large get togethers I mostly enjoy maintaining a clean house. But my high standards come at a price. This post has allowed me to listen to God and seek for that balance that comes from loving my family and inviting His Spirit into our lives. Especially when our house is not as pretty as it seems.

  2. Nicole Tarver November 15, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I have to say how much I love and refer to your website so often. I didn’t read all 113 comments, but I thought I’d let you know where the term “beating a dead horse” came from. I, personally, always find it so interesting where our phrasology comes from and the hisroty behind it. It really makes us in tune with our histories.

    Beating a Dead Horse

    A dead horse was the seaman’s term for the first month at sea, a month for which he was already paid and spent the money soon afterwards. To the seaman, with his money gone, he was working that first month “for free.” To mark the end of this “dead horse” month, the crew would make an effigy of a dead horse, beat the thing, and dump it overboard in celebration. To officers on the ship, beating a dead horse described the difficulty in getting the crew to do any extra work during this first month at sea.

  3. Tamra Krohn November 13, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Thank you so VERY much! I have tears in my eyes. Truth!

  4. April October 31, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    I can totally relate. We call our house the money pit because it’s old and is constantly needing repair and/or updating. Some days I wake up with a pit in my stomach thnking it’s never going to be completed.

    Then I remember this house means something to more than just us. It’s a part of our town’s history, and so many people have come to us with stories about it or asked if they could tour it. When people we know come by for the first time they ALWAYS say, “We wondered who lived here. This place has just come to life since you guys bought it.” Our friends are constantly remarking that it looks like it belongs in a magazine. When we talk about giving up and moving or building another house, our family and friends are shocked. “But you’ve put so much love and hard work into it!” I even have a friend who drives out of her way to see what’s new at our house when she drives to work, and then she texts me to say, “I love it.”

    These people don’t see the cracks, chipped paint, worn out carpet that can’t be replaced until we…, contractor bills, or the fights my hubby and I have over it much less the messy daily life that leaves the socks, backpack contents, Legos and dog hair everywhere. They see beauty and “perfection” which is what I want most of the time. Sometimes I want people to know our life is messy.

    We didn’t know much about home repair when we bought it. We just knew it was beautiful and special. We have learned a lot from books, magazines, home improvement stores and, of course, the internet. It hasn’t been all unicorns and butterflies which is the perception everyone gets about us from it. It’s been messy, aggravating, expensive, and sometimes bloody, hard work, but it has changed us for the better. We know so much more. We appreciate so much more, and we see others hard work and know it didn’t come without sacrifice.

    So when I wake up feeling the pit I close my eyes, and pray, “Jesus, I am so thankful for this house. Please help me remember to be thankful when times are tough not just when they are good.” I don’t always feel better immediately, but it I know He isn’t going to give us anything we can’t handle so I can get up, get dressed and keep going. And from the outside it looks seamless.

  5. Theresa Erwin October 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Emily,
    Thank you for such a timely message. It came when I really most needed to hear it.

    I loved the vierse at the end of your post, but when I looked it up in my bible the wording was different. What version bible did you get that wording from? (I’m using NIV.)

    Thanks!
    Theresa

  6. amyks October 26, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    So true and often so hard to do…thanks for the real reminder and the beautiful bible quote at the end! Have a great, but “messy” weekend!

  7. Jen October 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    AMEN! Many blessings of grace to you to! :)

  8. Nicole Salceda October 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Well said! Thank you for reminding us all and it’s soooo true! Love this especially, “let’s give grace and accept one another- however messy we are.”

  9. Becky October 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    You know what you can’t fake… Sincerity. Thank you for sharing your pretty, staged, sometimes messy life with us.

  10. Maria M. October 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Oh, Emily… you always seem to beat that dead horse right when I need it most. Hopefully, it’s just a stuffed effigy because I hope you never stop the reality checks. God bless you and your family. :)

  11. Camie October 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Thanks so much for the reminder and inspiring words. I love reading your blog and love writing my own, but it’s true, sometimes lief isn’t perfect and the “pretty” photos only capture the good things. There’s nothing wrong with sharing the pretty things, but I hear you, we don’t always know the “full picture” from the photos of our lives.
    I find myself constatntly being reminded that it is okay to not be perfect and be human…that is how God made me and through continual work and His help hopefully I get a little better one day :)
    Until then…we’ll enjoy creating and striving to be the women (mothers, wives, sisters, friends ,etc) that we ought to be and not beat ourselves up when we don’t do it perfectly.

  12. Heather October 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Emily… I love the way you write! You definitely have a talent {another one :)}. Beautiful post :)

  13. Margaret October 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Thank you! You bless me!!

  14. Catron October 25, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    You know how sometimes you read something or hear something and you just know that it was meant exactly for you at that exact moment? That’s how I feel about this post. I’ve had a few “hey, that’s close to what I needed to hear today” moments with your blog lately but today was the day. Today, you & Ephesians 4:2 were exactly what I needed.
    Thank you.

  15. TessaSak October 25, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Thank you for this. We still love you anyway. <3

  16. Wendy October 25, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Thanks for your post, Emily. I love your honesty. Your post hit home with me because sometimes I feel like I can’t work any harder than I am but nothing in my home looks that great. Thanks for the gentle reminder that everyone struggles.

  17. Tammy T October 25, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Thank you for that post. There is a point where we forget that we are more than just what we portray! That there might be some pain, or dirty floors, or some real-ness behind the beautiful photos! Lovely reminder!

    Tammy

  18. Stefanie October 25, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    Very well put! Thank you!

  19. Susan Sykes October 25, 2012 at 5:23 am #

    Words we all needed to hear and we all need to keep close. It is far too easy to get caught up in “appearances” and forget what is truly important. But believe me, I LOVE to look at pretty things! They make me smile and give me inspiration. Your words are a great inspiration as well. Thanks for the reminder Emily!

  20. Deana October 25, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    Thank you for the reminder…..we all do the best we can.

  21. Annette October 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    What a beautiful post! Thank you for the reminder to be real and honest…blessings to you!

  22. J October 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    You don’t know me and I never leave comments on blogs but I really needed this today so I wanted to say thank you for being real and honest. I really enjoy your blog, thank you again!

  23. katherine Landreneau October 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Well “put”, Emily! Thank you! There is enough ugly “out there”. I do enjoy the “pretty” and sweet, knowing full well that the other still exists! Just don’t want to see it all the time!
    God bless you! Enjoy the paint job!

  24. Natalie October 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    So true. I appreciate your wise words today.

  25. Kristin @ New House on the Block October 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Beautiful post! I love and appreciate your honesty!

  26. E October 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I struggle with knowing how much to share with everyone, both close friends and acquaintances, etc. The reality? My husband was unfaithful to me, he was fired from his overseas ministry job as a result, we sold off almost everything in our home and moved internationally back to the States in about 3 weeks with 9 suitcases total for our family of four. We lived in a friend’s basement for a month until we could move into low income housing. He is now having to interview for jobs like bus driver and custodian because his skill set is all ministry-oriented and that is not an option for us at the moment. Wonderfully generous people gave us a bunch of furniture, and I’m trying very hard to be grateful, but honestly, the furniture is just ugly. That’s all the lousy stuff. The good stuff? My marriage is better, more honest, more loving, and just better because of all this. My husband’s heart is amazingly soft and he is being convicted of and repenting of various sins from throughout his whole life. We’re seeing God provide like crazy. We are and will be better off because of this. Honestly, I just don’t even paint the whole messy picture for most of my close friends, and even my parents don’t know there was unfaithfulness, much less the general public (except here where I can be a little anonymous). I don’t want to rake my husband’s reputation through the coals. When I post a happy picture of our family on facebook, it’s because I don’t want to lose sight of the joy in the midst of all the junk. The response from some of our close friends–I don’t even care about the whys, I’m just glad you’re here. Talk about grace! Anyway, that’s my story behind the picture.

    • emily October 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      Thank you for sharing bits of your story with us. My friend Jami {thenatos.blogspot.com} shares much of her story and it is absolutely amazing and encouraging to hear broken people be honest about their brokenness and the ways the Gospel has come to life through it. I highly recommend reading through some of her old posts. She has some great wisdom about being honest – it doesn’t have to be done publicly unless it is something the Lord is asking you to do, but your story is important and it is a way that the Lord can use you to encourage others going through similar circumstances. Even though it feels shameful and embarrassing, it is your story. God can use it when you are open with it. I encourage you to share with those you trust.

  27. Christie October 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Sweet post, Emily.

    It is funny that the thing I dislike most about my rental house is the old, stained carpet … and it doesn’t even photograph badly! Then I feel like a shrew for even complaining about it, and really even more of a shrew when I realize how much I have to be grateful for. Yucky carpet really isn’t a big deal in the big picture … haha, it doesn’t even show in pictures!

  28. Laura @ Elegant Nest October 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Ha! love this post…so honest and true. From one blogger to another…you can only imagine what is in the pile pushed a few inches to the left and out of the “perfect shot”!

  29. Sarah October 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Wow! You are not only my favorite blogger because of your style and designs, but because of posts like this. You are so honest and lets not forget wise. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you!

  30. Heather October 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I totally agree w/ this! Yeah we look all cute and cleaned up at church but days are hard, life is messy and my goodness nothing is perfect! I think we judge our unperfect weekday self w/ the images we see in church or on blogs or on TV. We need to give ourselves a break!!

  31. Nora October 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I’m shocked to find your photos are staged. Here I was wanting to be like you when I grow up. Ha! I’m sixty-one, and never growing up. Loved your post. Very true that there is more to life than appearances.

  32. Julie Boldry October 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Thank you so much for your timely reminder that we all have struggles. As a fellow blogger (still learning) and entrepreneur (i sell fabric and quilt for people), I often fall into that trap of comparing myself to others based on what I see on blogs, etc. It’s easy to forget that we are all trying to put our best out there, but that best doesn’t happen every minute of every day. We are all human after all. Sometimes, the grace we need to extend is to ourselves.

  33. sarah@boxwood October 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    great post, and just for the record you never come off as fake or perfect, we all have flaws but no one wants to see a messy bathroom. thanks for cleaning yours up before you shot, it inspired me to get off my computer and do the same!

  34. H. October 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    You are a genuine person. Thank you for sharing yourself and your honest side!!! MORE of us need to do that.

    All the pretty- ness and magazine-like-life in fact IS NOT real life. I love a LIVED in house, I love my house and little handprints on my fridge and windows (someday I will miss this) light sabers, barbie shoes, hairbands, legos and shoes strewn everywhere….. You learn so much about a person, by how they LIVE when you see a house that is strewn with toys and baking supplies on the counter, scraps of crafts on the kitchen table, work in progress projects in the corner of each room in a house….this is not a dull house, but a houseful of love, fun, learning, creativity….YOUR house is such a house…we all can tell

  35. Kimberly October 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I’m reading the book “The Cure”. It speaks to so much of what you’ve said in your post today. Be comforted today! <3

  36. Lynn October 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Great post! It’s easy to get caught up in photos in the virtual world and then feel like real life is somehow lacking.

  37. Beverly October 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Thank you so much for this blog today. I have been feeling very discouraged and realized I have been living “the good life” vicariously in Blogland while beating myself up because I have way too many unfinished projects and the only finished rooms are the outdated ones that are needing to be re-done. Its good to be brought back to the real world and know that even the talented and efficient DIY bloggers have real lives (and real homes.)

  38. Martha October 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Yeah. Honesty is best. Helps us feel at home with each other! Thanks for the insight.

  39. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen October 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Coming from you, this makes me feel so much better about the state of my house! Messy indeed. Thanks for pointing out that you’re human too, because sometimes I wonder if your home ever looks anything less than perfection. I guess you just answered that one.

  40. SG October 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    “But your people do. You know, the ones you trust. The ones you can talk to and be open with.”

    Thank you Emily.

  41. Rachelle October 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Amen, sister.

  42. Peggy October 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    thanks, Emily!!

  43. Nicki October 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Wow! What a wonderful post today!

  44. Laura October 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Thank you for your post. Many times I feel that I am the only one without the constantly perfect house. We have very busy lives right now with 2 teenagers, and I choose to enjoy time doing things with them instead of renovating my house with the newest designs (even though I would love all new decor). We will have that perfect house again when we have an empty nest…maybe. =)

  45. Victoria October 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Hello!. My name is Victoria and I’m writing you from Valencia (Spain). I have just read your last post about beating a dead horse and I wanted to congratulate you. Right words, right expressions, it’s perfect! and absolutely right. Thank you very much!!

  46. Roxane Murphy Smith October 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Thank you for the gentle reminder! I’m a new follower of your blog and love watching you move through life in a beautiful, yet real way…

  47. Lili October 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    You are forever making me smile! Great post!

  48. Rebecca October 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    I love that you’re so honest with your readers. We love you for that! It makes all of us feel normal and not so “messy.” : )

  49. Janna October 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I write a blog and often find it frustrating to post about our home. We’re still in the ugly, half way there stage of renovating and when I see all the pretty pictures of finished homes and perfect looking families it makes it difficult to want to put pictures of our home out there for people to see. Reading this reminds me to be thankful for what I do have. A happy home, a happy (not perfect), but very good marriage and a healthy little boy.

  50. Genny October 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Emily, just recently came across your blog and I enjoy it so very much. I love this post — hits home so deeply. Thank you!

  51. Rebekah Tice October 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Wonderful reminder!! Thank you for this post.

  52. Kim @ Plumberry Pie October 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Yes, yes, so true;). Funny, last time my brother-in-law came in town he said, your house looks a lot cleaner on your blog. Yep, that’s right. And someone else said, I almost didn’t even recognize the pics of your house on your blog. Yeah, I know. And today, I’m frantically cleaning because my BIL is back in town. But now, I’m over it. Too tired. Good enough.

    I show moments of messiness on my blog, but I can only humble myself so much. Lots of special angle pics that’s for sure. My sis mentioned how nice my son’s room looked and the funny thing was, I just showed his bed…the rest of the floor was covered. I think his bookshelves had the stomach flu.

    Oh, and the random socks EVERYWHERE drive. me. nuts!!! My son can never find socks to wear because they never make it to the laundry. They are scattered all around the house. OK, so I started to babble there. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. Thanks for showing us a peek into the unfinished moments.

  53. Leenie October 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    ahhh i love this! it is right up there with your post “the state of affairs”… they are reminders that even though you post “pretty” a lot the time, that life isn’t always that way. I totally agree with Shanon’s comment above and I love love love that you are honest enough to share these tid-bits every once in a while, too. Just Married is maybe one of the worst movies but with the best quote I’ve ever heard about real life: “You don’t always see the hard days in a photo album, but those are the ones that get you from one happy snap shot to the next”

  54. Christi October 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Thank you for being transparent. We women-folk are so good and the comparison game, aren’t we? I know it all too well. This is one of the reasons I still am not a facebook girl. It just fuels that fire for me.

    I read this yesterday, and it seems to be much in line with what you are saying here. I thought it was soooo good. – http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/10/how-to-live-blog-write/

  55. Shanon October 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Simply, thank you. Its been an ongoing struggle for me, to see others photos of ‘perfect’ houses and ‘perfect’ children and ‘perfect’ hair and makeup – sometimes it feels like a constant reminder of all the ways I fall short, what I will never have or be able to live up to. Thank you for this reminder, that no one here on earth is perfect, that I don’t have to be, and that His strength is made perfect in my weakness!
    “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Apostle Paul, 2 Corinth. 12:9

  56. Jan Schiffman October 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Wow Emily. We’ll most likely never meet in this life but what an inspiration you are. You have a beautiful gift and you share it with all of us. Thank you. I feel so close you because what you said….. made me wanna give you a great big hug. Love you, love your blog.

  57. Lemonade Makin' Mama October 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Girl. What I love about this post is that we’ve all been there either on the receiving end of someone going “is she for real”” or the other end where we think that about another. Its so easy to seek out the pretty since that’s what we blog on, and I quickly forget that everyone else out there has light sabers on the floor too. :) Love that. Thanks for being real. It’s my goal too and I don’t think there’s enough of that out there. You’re a sweet heart.
    Sash

  58. aprairiegirlincalifornia October 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Emily- so your blog has been a favorite of mine. Your clean fresh way of decorating, your kids, the way we as readers can tell that you are doing an amazing job of raising respectful, decent children, and how you are not afraid to be open and honest …. This post just really tops all .. It is SUCH a good reminder!! for me even to try and “see” beyond my friends smiles into her heart and how it really really is going…
    Keep on :)

  59. Jenny Matlock October 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Wow. What powerful writing.

    And how true.

    I have a few pictures of ‘bad’ times that I really want to remember.

    I take them out once in awhile and look them when I’m feeling like things aren’t progressing as fast as I want.

    We forget how far we’ve come sometimes.

    And sometimes we all survive our lives just by putting a better spin on them!

    I like the beadboard in the kitchen…old or new!

  60. adrienne October 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Thank you Emily. Your post and God’s words spoke to me. I am very convicted by this scripture. God needed for me to hear it. Blessings on your day!

  61. Asia @ itsanorganizedchaos October 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I cannot write on an iPhone. :( hmmm do you have an edit button on here? LOL.

  62. Asia @ itsanorganizedchaos October 24, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Where you in my computer reading my journal entries or my FB messages to a friend. I usually don’t mind the venting about the kids because it makes me
    Not feel so alone. That my kids are the only ones who don’t know how to listen. I usually try to post happy things. I never say anything negative about my husband. I think I’d been so embarrassed if he Put my faults out there. But as a new blogger I do find it hard to find things to write about because I am struggling with my marriage and kids. I want to be honest but it’s very humiliating and sad to reread how sad things are. I’m a Christian So I do
    Believe in your words. However I’m loud, blunt, born and raised in NY. I feel
    Like if I am myself in the blog world I won’t be liked. I jaut wrote a post about
    Poop and puberty and I was think should I have written about that. But that’s me that’s our life. Anyway it’s true what you said. It’s hurtful that people think because you take a pretty picture that your fake. Maybe next time you should post a picture
    Of you sitting in a half painted kitchen with coffee stains on your shirt, Legos all over, your kids running around while and you just talking about every bad thing in your life. Till that’s please post your pretty pictures because I’ve got enough drama myself and seeing how to make a wealth
    Sometimes just makes me feel better.

  63. Carolyn October 24, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    What a great reminder, Emily. Thanks for your honesty and encouragement!

  64. {darlene} October 24, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    YES!!!!!!!! {awesome post!}

  65. Sarah Barksdale Design October 24, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Great post Emily, there is so much honesty in what you just said and sometimes we all need to be reminded to be happy with what we have and not judge or compare ourselves to each other.

  66. Julie M. October 24, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    Emily, I think this is my favorite post of yours to date. Very well said! Sometimes there is guilt associated with posting a photo of our beautiful family on the perfect day. But it was a good day, and others not so much. Enjoy life and be authentic. That’s all we can ask for. :)

  67. amber P October 24, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    great post emily! i do love the bones of your kitchen. did you build that island?

  68. Angela October 24, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Awesome, I sent this post to my step daughter in case she needed a pick me up. What I want to ask many bloggers is where do they keep all their decorating stuff? When they redo the fireplace for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Valentines Day etc…Anyway love your blog Emily, hope to one day take your class to vamp up my blog.

  69. Leslie October 24, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    The Lord has been teaching me lately that my perfectionism is not a virtue. I often look at blogs, instagram and facebook and feel like such a failure because my home doesn’t look like that or my life doesn’t seem so perfect. Thanks for this reminder. Your honesty and vulnerabilty is very endearing and one of my favorite things about your blog. It’s just encouraging sometimes to be reminded that no one is perfect and thank the Lord for salvation, a good marriage and healthy kids…the most important things, right?

  70. Brooke October 24, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    My 3 year old duaghter’s favorite song right now is “what if we were real ” by Mandisa. A great reminder for all of us. Thanks for sharing again! :)

  71. Holly Herick October 24, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Well written. I love the verse: “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2. In this age of blogging things can look really beautiful and unachievable. But the truth is, most people’s jobs revolve around making things look good.

    We built our home. We have many things that never got painted, caulked—finished. People never come over and point out the flaws. They comment on the good. Having friends and family that allow flaws and look at the good are a true blessing!

  72. Janice Whiting October 24, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Way to go, girl! Way to keep it real and thereby, giving so many mommies room to breathe. :)

  73. emily anderson October 24, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    i still stand firm in my “looks great” comment. cause to me, it really does. but you see the “ugly”…i don’t.

    loved this post. love you!

  74. Maureen C October 24, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    In a conversation about being hard on ourselves, someone once said to me, ‘we are good at comparing our inside-selves with other’s outside-selves’.
    So true. It has always stuck with me.

  75. Kristin October 24, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Thank you so much for writing this post. We are in the midst of painting our new (old – 1966) house and it’s so overwhelming and I, of course, want it to look perfect and can’t wait for it to be done. It’s hard not to feel discouraged when looking at design blogs and thinking it will never be “good enough.” So I appreciate your honesty today! It’s hard to relate to people who never admit anything is ever wrong.

  76. Kischa October 24, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Emily, Thank you so much for this post. This came with such perfect timing!!! His timing always seems to be far more perfect than our own. I cannot thank you enough! I am so often discouraged… that I can’t DO IT ALL. I work full time, keep books for my husband’s Landscaping company and we have 4 children (ages 5, 4, 2 and1). I love love reading all sorts of different blogs… and I can’t help but think “one day my kitchen counter will NOT be a catch all space and will be as beautiful as so and so’s blog” or “Oh that is simple DIY I can do that” but never do. Thank you again… this was so genuine… so you!

  77. tina October 24, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Truly worth repeating. Loved your blogs are like porn for women post a while back.
    “The right word at the right time
    is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
    And a wise friend’s timely reprimand
    is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.” Prov 25:11-12 (MSG)

  78. Nicole Flint October 24, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    thank you for writing this post today! i personally get pretty wrapped up in the ‘appearance’ of my house. like everyone else, i get tired of stepping over cars, balls, shoes, etc., but my grandmother said this to me a few months back and i replay these words in my head all. the. time- “one day they will be grown and gone and you’ll have plenty of free time to clean the house, so enjoy your babies and stop worrying about house work.” love reading your posts :)

  79. Katie October 24, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    I really like this post, on a few levels. I like that you are real, but I also like that you emphasize that the inner most struggles should be shared with “your people” but not the world. I think sometimes people swing the other way and it’s perceived as a bad or fake thing to post cute pics, etc. on Facebook. But, it’s facebook and “the general public”, not representative of “my people” and not the place I want to ask for the advice and love of those that I trust most. Speaking of facebook, do you notice how much our perception of ourselves and others is obtained from that? I’ve taken a few breaks from it which have been nice, but when I’m back looking at it and other people’s comments to me about it just remind me that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I think that is also at the heart of your post and another reason why I love it!

  80. Stephanie October 24, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    I love that you wrote this post TODAY. I have been thinking about this too. It was a very encouraging reminder.

  81. LeeAnn Clawson October 24, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Wow! You nailed that topic on the head! I always get embarrassed when my husband has invited friends over without telling me and the house is a wreck. I try and try again to tell myself, IT’S LIFE and it’s not always perfect, beautiful or organized….especially with a 2 year old. :o) Thank you for expressing how we all REALLY feel!

  82. kc October 24, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    i love your messy self.

  83. GingerMae October 24, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Thank you for being so honest in your post. It is too easy sometimes to follow someones internet “life” while comparing it with your own. Often times I find all the things “I could be doing” with my life after reading my blog roll, which leaves me feeling less than fulfilled in what I really am doing. This is a good reminder that all is not peaches and cream on the other side!

  84. Wendy October 24, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    amen :). I was just sharing these thoughts with my 16 yr old the other day relating to FB, etc.

  85. Lillian October 24, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    By far my most favorite post! Such sincere words that I could really connect wth. Thank you for keeping it real. You had shared a quote a while back that I keep mounted on my desktop; “be joyful always, pray contiually, give thanks in all circumstances.” I will be adding the Gratitude quote as well.

    Be well, Lillian

  86. gloria October 24, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Such a lovely post. Thank you.

  87. Angela October 24, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Good stuff. Thank you for the much needed reminder! :)

  88. Elizabeth S. October 24, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    This post is wonderful. I love your insight and ability to keep it all in perspective! Great blog post.

  89. Barbara LWK October 24, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    perfectly stated… thank you for your honesty and grace that you share through your website!

  90. rachel October 24, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    I was just thinking about this, this week. Two different friends of mine are getting divorced. Both have children and been married less then 5 years. I would have never known because both of their husbands proclaim on Facebook how much they love their wives..so much so that I thought..wow my husband never does that. And I started thinking how come he doesn’t?
    Appearances can be decieving. I’m learning to just focus on my little family and not worry about what anyone else is doing. That although my husband doesn’t prclaim on Facebook or to the world how much he loves me..he tells me everyday.

  91. shelley October 24, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Well said, Emily. Thank you.

  92. Cindy Lynn October 24, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I always love reading your posts & your ‘beautiful’ photos! This one was a great reminder of true life as it happens. I received the beautiful custom name prints & can hardly wait to give them as gifts!! Yay! Thank you!!

  93. Devon October 24, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Now that was beautiful! Thank you!

  94. Kate October 24, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. No, really. You have a great way with words and I always look forward to reading your posts. Thanks

  95. meg October 24, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    This is such good good truth. Thanks for your transparency. I loved meeting you at Influence! I was so thankful that Jami shared a lot of this same idea too – I definitely need to here it over and over again!

  96. Nicole October 24, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    I SO needed this today. Your words are much appreciated.

  97. Gwendolyn October 24, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    i’ve been thinking about starting a blog on and off for about 3 years now…oh my, i know, just take the plunge! i needed to hear this today, as these are a lot of the fears i’ve had about it. thanks for sharing!

  98. Trish @TheOldPostRoad October 24, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    Great post! I have to admit, I was thrilled to see your not-perfectly-finished baseboard. My whole house is in an “almost finished” state at all times, with plenty of MESS. I think that is the nature of being creative. You can’t be creative if you spend your entire day making sure everything is perfectly clean, perfectly perfect. Then the day is over and you did nothing creative.
    -Trish

  99. Raechel October 24, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    I so appreciate your honesty! It’s true, we often try so hard to have that perfect appearance because we assume that is what everyone else has! I love coming to your blog because it leaves me feeling inspired to do what I can to create, improve, and enjoy the beautiful things in life, not because it makes me feel inadequate or unable to ever “live a lovely life like yours.” Thank you for all the time and effort you put in to inspiring us and sharing your joy!

  100. Cherie October 24, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    Thank you so much for this post! We’ve been discussing the idea of “being real” in our church and small groups. It is so crucial to be real with those who are close to you, because if you’re not, no one can help. It’s always nice to put your best face forward, but you’re right. Reality (for everyone!) is not always pretty.

  101. Shelley October 24, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    I enjoy your blog so much for this stuff right here. You are always honest and real. Enjoy working on your kitchen!

  102. Nicole October 24, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    I really needed this post today.

    To remember that I’m not the only messy, struggling person.

    To remember that pretty things are still good for my soul to enjoy, and good to share for other people’s joy.

    And to remember to have grace with others, and myself, when things get messier in life than we like.

    So thankful for God’s grace today and the way my friends show it to me.

  103. Anja October 24, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    I agree – sometimes it is neccessary to keep up the facade, especially if you want to run your blog as a business and make money. If you have a design blog, then no one wants to see the toilet paper bits. For others blogging is just an outlet where they post other stuff as well, so nothing wrong with a dose of reality! ;-)

  104. Sally October 24, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Thank you so much Emily for posting this – I struggle every day with seeing perfection around me and focusing on all the wrong things. God is working hard in me right now and your words continue his message. You are truly an inspiration – your scripture cards I share with people and I love how you photogragh and decorate. Please please always know how much we appreciate your words, messages and scriptures! God bless you Emily.

  105. Amber October 24, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Thank you! I am in the middle of a home renovation and there are half started projects that take over my house. I get so discouraged because I am a single mom trying to be mom, dad, contractor, decorator, housekeeper, and chef not to mention work a full-time job. You have lifted my spirits this morning!

  106. Sarah October 24, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    Oh the random socks! As a monther of twin 5 year old boys, I know exactly what you mean. How can there be so many dirty socks lying around the house?! I loved this post.

    • lynda morris October 24, 2012 at 8:28 am #

      @sarah – just wait till those boys are 19 are play sports ( they change socks at least 3 times a day). The socks in my laundry room looks like I gave birth to twin octopuses!

  107. Jill October 24, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    What a perfect verse!!!!

  108. Heather October 24, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    You’re so right! Blogs show and edited version of people’s lives and sometimes it’s hard not to make comparisons (like where do people keep their STUFF???). I recently posted a photo of what I WANTED to do to my dining room and showed it to a co-worker. He was pretty impressed until I told him I had just photoshopped the pic together…it was what I WANTED to do…not what it actually looked like. The true photo would have showed 8 different paint swatches on the wall, and Avengers coloring book pages all over the wall! (not to mention the heaps of arts supplies in the corner!).

  109. Lynda October 24, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    I really enjoyed your post Emily! We all do have to remember that life is messy, and no ones home can be picture perfect all the time. I just mentioned in my post yesterday how I am too hard on myself and my own worst critic – need to give myself a break. We all need to give ourselves that break too! Happy painting, and your blog really is one of the ones I have to read every post. It is always lovely!

  110. Tonia October 24, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    Oh, Emily… you do not know how much this post lifted me up today. THANK YOU for showing pictures of a less-than-perfect kitchen. I struggle so much with toddlers and our house being perfectly clean – it’s just not possible. And seeing a bench/wall that needs painted makes me feel better about what people would see if they took a really close look at my kitchen wall behind our table.

    The other evening the best thing happened – we had unexpected company and our living room was a mess – Lincoln Logs everywhere, DVD cases, Halloween books and toys. But our guests came in, sat down and we had a great evening talking. Sure the mess was there, but it didn’t bother anyone…It was a little turning point for me because I realized that no one expects my house to be perfect except for ME…and I’m learning to let go of that.

    Thanks for always being real. God bless!

  111. Gudrun October 24, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    Words of wisdom – thank you so much :-)

  112. Dana October 24, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    I agree 100%. My post yesterday echoed this exactly!

  113. Michelle October 24, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    luv this post – it spoke directly to my heart! i’ve been feeling this way for a while, then i remind myself everyone has a messy house, undone projects, a bad day, etc and it’s ok to post the pix that captures a beautiful moment even tho it might have the load of unfolded laundry in it. thank you!

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