Wednesday, November 27, 2013

turkey out. tree in -- coming prepared. {grace words wednesday}

“let us come into His presence with thanksgiving.” 
~ psalm 95:2

it's thanksgiving eve morning. is there such a thing? why yes, of course there is. certainly for those who will spend the day in the kitchen preparing everything one can possibly prepare ahead -- for that person, thanksgiving eve morning matters very much.

maybe some of us don't have a turkey or stuffing to whip up this week, but we all have something to prepare --- we certainly all have our hearts to get ready.

some of you have joined me for my daily thanksgiving posts this month and i do hope that has encouraged you a little. (if you want to find them all in one place click on: daily thanksgiving posts). it has blessed me to have some posting accountability, but, if i'm honest, it has also been a challenge. there have been some days when i didn't really feel like coming up with another picture or verse or word. that stuff doesn't always just effortlessly roll off the tongue or out of the computer ... sometimes, but not always. but this month of thanksgiving was motivating for me, nonetheless. and i knew, whether there were two or two hundred of you coming along, it was a good and necessary exercise for me. it was good for me to find the thoughts of thanksgiving even on the days when thanksgiving was not my first thought.

one thing this month of continuous posting taught me is that thanksgiving isn't just about feeling thankful, sometimes it's about preparing our hearts so that we can choose to be thankful. sometimes it's about saying the words in order to surrender the way. it's about deliberately preparing a path for praise. preparing.

and for those of you who are cooking the big meal tomorrow, you know all about preparation, right? it would be very challenging to run out last minute today and be fully ready for tomorrow. we all know what would happen if we threw a frozen turkey in our shopping cart on this wednesday with hopes of cooking it up on thursday. it doesn't work that way. and neither do we. we can't just show up at the table and hope for some really good thursday thanks to be ready in our hearts. maybe that will kinda work ... or maybe it kinda won't.

but whether we're whipping up a meal or whipping out some thankfulness it helps to be ready ... it helps to come prepared.

now, i'll admit, i'm not always the most prepared girl on the block. (some of you laugh). i forget items on my list. i forget my list. i even forget to make a list. this frustrates me (and a few other dear ones) to no end. growing up i had visions of how organized i'd be about things like holidays and the hoop-a-la that accompanies them. i grew up with dreams of everything being "just so" ... but rarely is it ever "just so." sometimes it is just so crazy or just so cuckoo or just so chaotic. but since i've given up a bit on the pursuit of the just-so-perfect, i have come to realize it is not really about the meal or the home or the hoop-a-la anyway, but about the heart. and though i've probably forgotten something on my list already today, i do hope, in this month, i haven't forgotten to prepare my heart.

not just for the meal tomorrow. but for the message of this continuous holiday season which kicks into full gear sometime in the midst of tomorrow. yes, i'm talking about christmas. the christmas message. have you ever thought about how the thanks-giving prepares us for the gift-giving?

since we're eating with friends tomorrow, i'm not preparing a big meal (hooray for me). but i will be bringing along one of our family traditions. my friend, diana, who is hosting, asked if we had any to share. now she might have been talking about a favorite dessert or potato dish, but i am bringing the tradition of putting a christmas ornament at everyone's place setting.

christmas ornaments on thanksgiving? yes!

i started this a few years ago with my family. i put an ornament by each place setting to remind us that thanksgiving must proceed gift-giving. we all know as soon as the turkey is taken out to the trash the mad scramble into christmas mode begins. some of us even have our trees in the garage ready to go. turkey out. tree in. it's like a funny holiday dance. we are quick to move on. i get it. i know why we feel like this. i understand the pressure of preparing. we, too, like to put up our tree the weekend after thanksgiving. and there's nothing wrong with that.

this christmas ornament on the thanksgiving table isn't intended to speed up that process, but to slow it down; to remind us to give the thanks before we get or give the gift. seem a little backwards? perhaps. but what if thanksgiving did come before gift-giving. wouldn't the giving be greater, sweeter, more beautiful if done with a heart of gratitude?

as we prepare our homes and transition from one holiday to another, let's continue to prepare our hearts. let's turn our attention toward december desiring to be fully in God's presence, keeping in mind that thanksgiving isn't over, but can continue to spill into this next season. the verse i put on this year's thanksgiving ornament is from psalm 95:2: "let us come into His presence with thanksgiving." we come into His presence. we come to adore Him. we come to give gifts. we come to worship the babe in the manger, but let it be our words of thanksgiving which help lead us into the worship of His holy presence.

because, honestly, is there any gift greater? any gift more worthy of our thanksgiving?

this ornament is a reminder that these two holidays aren't in opposition. they aren't fighting for the lime light, but are working together. collaborating. cooperating. making clear the message of Christ. it is because the Christ-child was born in that manger that we have real thanksgiving in our hearts.

oh friends, let's celebrate the season this week and next month ... let's prepare our tables. let's prepare our hearts. let's enter into His presence.

“let us come into His presence with thanksgiving.” 
~ psalm 95:2

{grace words: thanks * giving * prepare * gifts * His presence *}

dear Jesus, on this thanksgiving eve we long to come into your presence. in all of our holiday preparation help us to prepare our hearts for you. give us words to praise you and hearts that want to pursue you. teach us how to combine our thanks-giving and our gift-giving that we might truly know the blessing of all you've so freely given. amen.




*** don't forget to head over to becky's blog at the word of God and a cup of joe. becky is wrapping up her series this month on marriage.

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