Aaah yeah... if I were a bird - I WOULD fly around seeking out Autumn! I think one of the things I love most about Autumn is simply just how cozy it is!
Image by Karrilee Aggett
Even when the temperatures are falling outside, the invitation is open to go out, enjoy that crisp Fall air, and then retreat to some place warm and inviting!
I think it is easiest in the Fall to create a space that is nourishing and welcoming. All the lit candles, and yummy scents of the season - maybe it's just me, but there is something special in the atmosphere around this time of year that seems to beg for Community!
It helps that the holidays are not quite here yet, but they are approaching quickly. We turn our thoughts to family and tradition and we continue (or begin) to count the blessings and we find ourselves ever more thankful this time of year - even when there are so many things for which we are not giving thanks... it seems that the atmosphere itself is charged with a bit of refocusing and looking for the good.
The idea of the holidays is still a bit dreamy (and unrealistic, maybe.) but for me,
Hope springs eternal in the Fall!
I wouldn't say that hostessing came naturally to me... we did very little entertaining as I grew up. But I have learned and practiced and tried (and failed) and now, I can honestly say that I am happiest when I have my family and/or a few friends gathered in close... coffee and talking, games and laughter, snacks and a movie. It doesn't really matter, I just love having people in my home. I was challenged myself last year (thanks to this post by Shauna Neiquist) to be more spontaneous about it! Less Pinterest-worthy entertaining, and more heart-to-heart, spur of the moment get togethers!
Recently (due to the holidays, I am sure!) I have been reading posts and articles about battling Perfectionism... about the pro's and con's of the (dreaded?) Drop In, and about the stress of having people fill your home for the holidays and I get it... I really do! I can come off all Hostess-y and Chilled... but I admit if my doorbell rings unexpectedly, my heart races and I scan the rooms with panic in my throat and vulnerability fogging my vision.
You see - I like things picked up... put away (-ish) but I am not a clean freak. Oh - it's clean... but it's no where NEAR spotless. My Little is all grown up and out of the house so for the most part things stay where I put them and if there is a mess, it's our own doing. Our house? It's lived in ya'll!
But more than readying my Home for company, I want to prepare my heart for Christ... I want to prepare Him room, first in me... and then fill up with His Presence to overflowing so He pours out all over my home and guests. Some days I remember it's easier to do this first off... before any of the Bossy Lists come into focus again. On other days, I take breaks in the midst of the busy for a worship song or just a few quiet deep breaths to invite Him in.
In this world with Pinterest and the amazing Blogosphere, you can get tips and ideas on how to decorate and what to make and what little I can offer in those regards could get lost in the shuffle... but more important than decor and recipes, this is what I know:
The house can be spotless, the menu divine...
but if you have not done the work of
creating an atmosphere of Gathering In,
-well if you, like me, have done it both ways
then you know the difference!
One leaves you exhausted and glad that it's finally over...
The other refreshed and ready to do it again (someday!)
So here are my easy tips of creating an atmosphere of Gathering In for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or any time you plan to fill your home for any occasion...
Don't worry. They really are simple:
1. Determine what the Agenda is for the party/meeting/gathering...
2. and stick to it!
Is it fun and games; an evening of laughter and relaxing? Then keep it light... pray that your guests have fun... and prepare your heart ahead of time!
Is it for a time of prayer and worship; a time to dig deeper in the Word? Then set the mood with dim lighting and soft music, be prayed up and in tune, and prepare your heart in advance.
Is it a family dinner chalked full with family drama brewing; an attempt at peace making or simply a date to reconnect again over the table? Pray for your guests and prepare your heart in advance.
Are you seeing a pattern?
Yes... it's that easy.
No matter the reason or the season... no matter what decorations or party favors are dug out and displayed, the most important How To that you need to remember is this:
Before the first guest arrives...
Invite Him In!
If you want to create an atmosphere of welcoming, of safety and love... of grace and laughter... if you want to create a home that feels warm and inviting... then before or during or after you do all the work of cleaning and arranging, of baking and table-setting, of stressing and fretting all the What If's and If Only's... then take a moment and breathe deep and prepare Him room...
Oh - He will always come! He's waiting to be invited in to all of your celebrations and festivities... to all of your every days. ...and not in a religious, every-gathering-must-contain-the-Gospel sort of way - but in a real life, I-LOVE-you-and-want-the-BEST-for-you, and I-am-relational-and-I-LOVE-it-when-you-open-your-heart-and-your-home-and-be-relational-too sort of way!
And that way?
Well... that way is just always, always better!
How about you? Are you a natural hostess with the mostess or does having a house full stress you out?
Either way... preparing Him room will help bring a bit more grace to the Gathering!
If you, like me, enjoy a few special touches in your holiday decor, as a DaySpring affiliate, can I just say - they are having some amazing Pre-Black Friday Sales right now! It's the perfect time to pick up a few pieces, as well as get in some early holiday shopping!
* Updated post. Originally Published on Novermber 21, 2013
Linking up with Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday
...and with Kelli Woodford with the
Unforced Rhythms Community
How can I be praying for you this week? I would be honored to talk to God regarding whatever is on your heart!