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  • Writer's pictureLinda Thomson

Autumn Gatherings & Winter Welcomes

A crisp fall welcome to all of you and to the lovely ladies I met at the “Welcome Home for the Holidays” Seminar with author and speaker Sheri Torelli and myself in Highland California at the Immanuel Baptist Church.

At the Holiday Seminar Sheri reminded us to choose well in life and love and to be realistic with our time, money, and energy with the holidays. Also she asked us, “What is your Cooking Personality?” We had a lot of fun with this!

Our choices were:

Polly Pressure Cooker - She does well under pressure and is good at organizing all of us too.

Mary Microwave - She does not plan ahead, she is fun and spontaneous and you never know what’s going to happen.

Lucy Le Creuset - She likes everything perfect, is easily flustered and needs lots of praise. The upside of sweet Lucy is her food is amazing and we all want to be invited over to her house.

Cori Crock-Pot - She is not a self-starter but she is tried and true and can always be counted on.

We had a real treat when authors and speakers Tracy Klehn and Shirley Almeida joined Sheri over tea. We were encouraged to be intentional and set up times to get together and to make friendship a priority. Sheri shared, “Let us keep our eyes open to who needs to be invited into the embrace of friendship.” Our guest vocalist for the morning was Lynda Fletcher. Using the incredible gift of singing God’s given her she sang “Don’t Save it All For Christmas." With that in mind I informed everyone that we don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas to reach out; here are other noteworthy occasions coming up to share with a girlfriend:

Nov. 1st is Authors Day

Nov. 10th is Forget Me Not Day

Nov. 13 is World Kindness Day

Dec. 7th is Letter Writing Day!!

As promised, here are the highlights and pictures of my presentation. May you be encouraged to open wide the doors of your home to welcome and reach out to live life together in the community of faith, hope and love.

Home | Around My Table

Tablescape Planner for the Holidays

Planner Point 1 – PURPOSE

Planner Point 2 – PRAYER

Planner Point 3 – PLAN & PREPARE

Around the table is where some of the best moments of the holidays take place and in the next couple of months we will have many opportunities to host family and friends. As we begin, here is a quote I love on what our focus should be every time we open our doors:

“It’s not about the house, it’s about the heart.”

First Planner Point – PURPOSE

Colossians 4:17 says “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Nothing compares to being about the Lord’s business, and you are an important part of God’s plan to draw others to Himself and hospitality is one way to do that.

God calls us to “practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 NLT What better way to do that than by sharing God’s love with neighbors and others when you open your home for a friendly get-together?

Galatians 6:10 further instructs us, “Therefore, whenever we have opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” Look for these opportunities. Think of this: Every time we make a connection with someone, something powerful happens, whether we realize it or not. Whether it’s an invite to lunch, a spontaneous gathering, or a monthly meet-up, when we open our doors and our hearts to others we are the hands and feet of Jesus.

I can imagine most of us do not have a lot of spare time and the time we spend reaching out needs to mean something. We want what we do to matter and to count for God’s Kingdom. We want to be a woman who encourages, builds bridges, and offers hope to those around us.

“Focus on investing in your guests, not entertaining them.”

Second Planner Point – PRAYER

James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Pray and ask the Lord to direct you as you set this time aside to minister.

Psalms 25:4-5 says, “Show me Your ways… Teach me Your paths… Lead me…” How grateful I am that He desires to guide us in all that we do including reaching out to others.

“Prayer is the way you defeat the devil, reach the lost, restore a backslider, strengthen the saints, send missionaries out, cure the sick, accomplish the impossible, and know the will of God.”

- David Jeremiah

Third Planner Point – PLAN & PREPARE

Because the holidays are a busy time for everyone and my guests are carving time out of their schedules to come over, I like to make it count. I want to create a gathering that is both beautiful and thoughtful, enjoyable and comforting so that my guests want to pull up a chair and linger longer. When planning a get together do you want a small intimate gathering, large party or something in between? Consider how many people can fit in your entertaining space comfortably or take it outside. You should always have a planned place for everyone to sit down- bench, chairs, couch, folding chairs, if your outside quilts on the grass are nice and hay bales covered with material, sheets or vintage tablecloths are fun.

Party style: casual, formal, traditional, minimal

Theme: decide your theme and color scheme.

Invitations: your first impression will be made before guests arrive. Creative invitations allow you to express the atmosphere and style of your gathering be it e-mail, mail, phone, or text. Make it easy to RSVP – texting or emailing regrets only. Include expected dress, at the holidays I make it casual, the last thing I want a guest of mine to have to do is have the added expense of an expensive outfit. (Example – Dress: Christmas causal.)

Start with what you have, offer it to God,

and watch Him grow something beautiful.

Tablescape Tips:

Add height when preparing a tablescape with baskets, cake stands, upturned wooden crates, lamps, branches.

Add texture with table cloths, fabric swatches, curtains, throws, table runners.

Add interest with books, clocks, sleighs, flowers, greenery, candles, teacups, mason jars, words, banners, lanterns.

Welcome station: add a tray for keys or a designated place or room for purses, diaper bags, jackets.

Margin: leave margin for yourself and your schedule. Finish prepping early. Be done with grocery shopping, food prep and the final touches on your table the day before. Then leave it alone (you know what I mean, enough is enough ;) Leave margin in your day to refresh yourself. The last thing your guests want to see is a frazzled and exhausted hostess.

Pray: for your guests before they arrive and for your conversations.

When we open our doors to others

we open our lives up

for God to work in wonderful ways.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” Colossians 3:23-24 ESV.

I will leave you with a prayer I found:

“Show me today when I am open to You and to those around me, as well as when I am closed to You and those You have put into my life. I want deeply to have more open space for You in my life, and that it may be a space that offers peace to others. Yet so many things in my life fill up the space and prevent me from being with You and from genuinely being with others. Most of them are good things, yet still they create clutter in who I am. I need Your wisdom today, Lord, to know which things to clear out and which things are genuinely mine to be used for Your glory. If something needs to go so that I can have more open space to offer, help me to loosen my grip on it, and if something should stay, may it be used freely as Your gift for the sake of others. In the name of the One who is preparing a place for me. Amen.”



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