We woke up to snow today...
Everyone else was taking down Autumn decor early and putting out all things Christmasy, but I was not ready!
I love Fall... my wish is that he would hang around until... well, you know... until almost Spring!
This is nice too!
(and now maybe I am ready... but my Christmas decorations will have to wait until after next weekend anyway!)
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.
Maybe the idea of the holidays is still a bit dreamy (and unrealistic, possibly.) but for me,
Hope springs eternal in the Fall!
I was challenged myself a couple of years ago (thanks to this post by Shauna Niequist) to be more spontaneous about it! Less Pinterest-worthy entertaining (Amen? I sense a collective exhale!), 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 and make time 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 (You know, 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 filled 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!
P.S. I'm linking up with these lovely writers:
The Community over at #SmallWonders and #WordswithWinter
Laura Boggess over at #ChasingTheBlueFlower
Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday
HOLLEY GERTH FOR #COFFEEFORYOURHEART
* Updated post. Originally Published on November 21, 2013
This has become a favorite reposting of mine because oh my goodness, we all need this reminder!
How can I be praying for you this week? I would be honored to talk to God regarding whatever is on your heart!