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Thanksgiving

Hosting a Thanksgiving gathering is more about the atmosphere than the applesauce. Don’t worry about fancy centerpieces or perfect food. Create an honoring environment to ensure a memorable day. Here are five tips for hosting your group. These are the ideas and actions I carry into a holiday week to engage in meaningful experiences for myself and everyone involved. No matter who is gathered around your table or on Zoom, these points help create a beautiful time!

  1. Celebrate our wins. Celebrate each person and how God has brought them this far. Celebrate what your family has overcome. Truly take a full account of the good in your world. Rather than being the low-key family that just keeps plugging along, take time to savor, cherish, and celebrate what each one has accomplished. “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:31) Some of us are soaring above it all; others are running, and some are barely walking. For every situation, celebrate the ways God is supplying strength!
  2. Grieve our losses. Many of us have come from families that never acknowledge the hard times, the wounds, the losses. But being vulnerable and honest about what didn’t go right this year is ironically a wonderful way to draw closer.  Create a safe space for each person to share what they are grieving in this time. Some hurts and losses can’t be fixed, but acknowledging them may bring healing. “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
  3. Welcome God to our party! Even Christian families struggle to embrace a spiritual element in their holiday time. Either the wine starts flowing too early or the football game is so loud or the rush to get the perfect meal to the table takes over. We must create the margin somewhere in this day to welcome God into our hearts and minds, as well as our conversations. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (Psalms 34:3)
  4. Look in the mirror. Seriously though, I’ve gone an entire Thanksgiving Day where I never once glanced in a mirror. No one really knows how much us moms work to make the details run smoothly, so I look myself in the eye and say, Maggie you did a great job! You planned and prepared a beautiful meal, you loved people well, you created a gracious family culture and a legacy for others to continue. Girl, I’m proud of you. And I smile. Then I probably run into the kitchen to frantically get stuff out of the oven but that’s ok. I had my moment.
  5. Keep the main thing the main thing. I don’t care if someone is acting horribly or if our team loses or if the election actually was rigged. This is a holiday. Take a break from the drama and savor the goodness of God in your world. Look people in the eye and tell them how precious they are to you. I’ve never regretted a moment I spent loving God or loving people. “This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

 Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! If you read this blog on FB, let me know which points you are implementing! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, you can find my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold.

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Coming Home

When many of us return home for Thanksgiving, we quickly revert to old family patterns and expectations. We’ve all seen it, the one labeled sensitive in junior high is still thought of as delicate. The favored one still gets the best seat at the table. The responsible one is still expected to do all the dishes and so on. Sometime we have to take a step back from what we think we know about each other and allow curiosity and openness to reveal what’s new.  Of any year in our lifetime, 2020 is surely the year to bring a fresh approach to our family time.

Believe it or not, Jesus went through this same scenario with His family. In Mark 3 we get the uncensored version of how some families respond to change. A multitude had surrounded Jesus so that He couldn’t even get a bite to eat. “But when His own people (His family) heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.””  (Mark 3:21) It’s almost as if his family was saying Dude, you are a carpenter not a rabbi! What the heck, man? The brothers of Jesus later grew accustomed to His new position and encouraged Him to go to Jerusalem for essentially a publicity hype to boost His popularity. Scripture doesn’t sugar-coat it by summarizing: “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” (John 7:5) Jesus later defined family as “whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

Jesus spent the majority of His life in His family household. But His family only knew Him in the flesh. The did not know Him in the Spirit. They didn’t know His purpose or calling. They had to grow and process new information about Him just like everyone else. Many people He grew up around could not accept Jesus for who He became. They questioned, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son?” The passage concludes, “So they were offended at Him.” (Matthew 13:55-57) Is there offense in any of our gatherings?

In our homes over Thanksgiving, people we have known in the flesh will be gathered around our table. Instead of looking at them in the flesh- the way they speak and interact, the ways we’ve always known them to be, why not look at them with spiritual eyes? Ask God to reveal His calling on their life.  Ask God to give a glimpse into HIS heart for our families. We can ask God to give specific scripture for someone at our table. He alone knows what encourages us and reminds us that He sees our heart. This Thanksgiving, allow the Holy Spirit to usher in a refreshing presence of curiosity and acceptance. Surely this is the heart of creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.

Next week I will share five tips for hosting a loving and beautiful holiday gathering. I’m excited for new ways of creating the culture we long to possess! Thanks to everyone who has been sharing my blog and remember you can sign up to receive it in your email by going to www.MargaretAllen.org and scrolling to the bottom of Monday’s with Margaret. We just started the second printing of my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.  Get it anywhere books are sold.