Author: Ann Murray Motherhood Refresh

Refresher: “Present Over Perfect”

FLASHBACK FRIDAYS! Over the next couple of months we will be featuring some of our favorite posts from the past on Fridays. Enjoy! (This post was originally published on 12/23/14).

Christmas is a comin’ and the goose is getting  stressed. Especially if the goose in question is hosting a get together. (If you’re not familiar with that Christmas carol reference, sorry about that.)

Meal planning. Shopping. Cleaning. Decorating. Cooking. A second round of cleaning (if you have kids). Often, these are the things come to mind when we think of inviting people into our home. Not just at the holidays, but year-round.

So, during our last Refresh moms’ group meeting, we took a closer look at this whole “hostess-with-the-mostess” business and how we can make it more enjoyable. Rebekah Jackson talked about her passion for hospitality and how the motto “present over perfect” helps her focus on what’s most important when entertaining – connecting with guests at the heart level.

With the “present over perfect” motto, it’s more about people and less about tasks. It’s more about building community and less about perfectly paired wine and food. And it’s more about being available and welcoming others into your home and less about having the nicest and cleanest house. This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the preparations, but it does mean we have an opportunity to build stronger, more authentic friendships by simplifying and being real.



There’s a story in the Bible where Jesus is at the home of sisters Martha and Mary. While Martha is diligently preparing the meal and consumed by housework, Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. When Martha complains about Mary not helping, Jesus says, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Martha’s intentions were good, but she was trying to be perfect. Mary, on the other hand, chose to be present and fully engage with Jesus. In the end, Martha misses out and I’m sure she felt regret. We’ve all been in Martha’s shoes where at the end of a party we’re thinking, “What just happened? How did I not talk to anyone?” Next time, let’s be more like Mary. Let’s do hospitality the “Jesus way” and watch our home become a sacred place for friends and family to gather.

“Always be eager to practice hospitality.”  – Romans 12:13

Here are some entertaining tips from Rebekah that can help you be present over perfect:

  • Choose a meal plan that makes you feel comfortable, happy, and relaxed. If you enjoy cooking big elaborate meals, go for it, but if it stresses you out, know that a simple home-cooked meal is best.
  • Don’t stress about meal time. It’s okay to not have food piping hot on the table when guests arrive. Consider having a few small and super simple appetizers for them to munch on. (e.g., grapes and blue cheese, hummus and pita bread, small cookies or crackers)
  • Allow for help! If people ask to bring something or stay to clean up, let them. Also, leave a few small tasks for people to jump in and help; this puts them at ease to not feel like you have everything together!
  • Don’t stress about table settings, dishes, etc. It’s ok to mismatch and provides you with a wonderful story to talk about around the table.
  • Don’t stress about a clean home! If you can’t resist tidying up a bit, walk around with a laundry basket and baby wipes. Use the laundry basket to gather out-of-place items and the baby wipes to quickly touch up any sticky marks on furniture or walls from tiny fingers.
  • Be intentional…be present! Be genuinely interested in what’s going on in other people’s lives. To open up deeper dialog, you can use a conversation starters book like 101 Conversation Starters for Couples by Gary Chapman.

Rebekah recommends reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, her hospitality guru.

Please join us at Refresh – A Group for Moms when the Spring 2017 semester begins in February. Sign-up and look for more info mid-January at 

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