Keeping A Thankful Heart At Thanksgiving

baskets of pinecones

My sweet friends, Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. Does that make you feel happy, anxious, sad, nervous, harried? As women, we often carry the Martha-like burden of making sure all the moving parts are in place, and everything is ready for Thanksgiving day. I really understand that! We sometimes need to be reminded that at the heart of Thanksgiving is… well, thanksgiving.

My Unthankful Thanksgiving

Until recent years most of the heavy lifting, including the big bird, has fallen to me here at StoneGable and The Tanglewood House. And because most of my family does not live near that meant getting the house and guest room and bathrooms ready for a weekend full of family as well as planning, prepping, and preparing lots of meals besides Thanksgiving dinner. And for me, I wanted everything to be over-the-top special, wonderful, and perfect. By the time Thanksgiving dinner was on the table, I wanted to make this announcement…

Dear Family, I am so thankful for you and I want to sincerely thank everyone for coming! Enjoy dinner, and please clean up after yourself. I’m exhausted and my last nerve has been plucked! I’m going to bed. 

I was totally spent by then! Even though I did get lots of help, I carried around the full weight of being responsible for Thanksgiving. Looking back, how silly! 

Because Thanksgiving is not about the turkey or the tablescape or the stuffing (say it ain’t so!) or football games or parades with big balloons with Santa and his sleigh at the end of it. Thanksgiving is a state of the heart! 

A Story About A Woman Named Martha

I mentioned Martha above and I think this story from Luke 10:38-42 is a perfect illustration. For a minute let’s go back to first-century Israel as Jesus and His disciples are visiting their dear friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to them.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mary chose the better thing. And what was that? It was sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him. 

The Better Thing

The nugget of truth of these verses is not that Mary was lazy or that Martha was the frazzled and frustrated one left to do all the work. It was that in spite of all the preparation to be done, the LORD was in their presence, and spending time with Him was and is always the better thing.

Yes, there was lots to be done! No doubt about it, but for that small amount of time that Jesus was sitting, and when Jesus sat, that often signaled He was teaching, the only response was to sit and hear Him.

The rest of the story is not told and I’m only guessing when I fill in the blanks, that when Jesus got done talking He probably pitched in and helped. God is not a God who stands by the sidelines of our lives. He gets into the thick of them.

A Thankful Perspective

My friends, I’ve learned so much over decades of Thanksgiving dinners. Like Martha, it was all about the preparation and was distracted by all the minutia that had to be done.  What I really needed was to sit at the feet of my Savior early Thanksgiving morning when my house was quiet and all my chicks were in the nest and sleeping and spend time with Him.

Thanking Him for sleeping peeps, a turkey to eat, and dirty dishes, which is a sign of having plenty of food. I should have been thanking Him for his saving grace that spread like the wildfire of the Holy Spirit through my family. Thanking him for a thousand little things and a thousand big things. And millions upon millions of blessings.

So, all the other “stuff” of Thanksgiving seemed fun but small. Because acknowledging what God has done for me was the better thing and the right thing and the only best response to God on this day and every day!

My Prayer

This year, I pray that you will have a THANKS-giving day! Practicing the presence of God all day and keeping a running tab of not what you have to do but of what you are thankful for.

This Thanksgiving, I’ll be thanking God for you! You are such a blessing in my life! May the Lord bless you and give you thankful hearts! 

This is a beautiful verse…

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is Good. His love endures forever. Ps 126:1

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  1. Yvonne, I love your Sunday morning messages. They make my day and my week. You are so right about Thanksgiving. I somehow get lost somewhere between the mashed potatoes and the gravy and forget what the day is all about. Thanks for the sweet reminder and may you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving.
    Love & Light, Sharon

  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful reminder that Thanksgiving is not about the food, fun and celebration. Although we work hard to make it “perfect” it shouldn’t be work and the funny thing is that our families would enjoy it just as much of there was one less side dish, one less pie but that we were all together.

  3. Thank you for this reminder. I love you reminding us that dirty dishes mean we have had plenty to eat.
    Thank you Jesus for providing for us.

    1. Beautiful post and timely reminder to make sure my priorities are in order. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  4. Of course, we all know this, but to put it into practice requires intentionality and focusing on gratitude and all He has done for us. Many thanks for this timely reminder. You, my friend, have been a wonderful blessing in my life. May God richly bless you for all you do for others.

  5. Glenda Shine says:

    I am thankful for you. You have taught me many different ways to make our home beautiful. Most of all, you teach me that the most important way to make our home beautiful is to fill it with the Holy Spirit.
    Thank you.

  6. Sherri Snook says:

    Thank you for this message. Its just what I needed to hear and I appreciate it so much. I am thankful for you and will be saying a prayer of thanks for you.

  7. Sallie Russ says:

    You mentioned a planner that you use to make a master plan for the holidays. Would you mind sharing what kind of planner you use? Thank you.

  8. I shared your devotional tonight at my church council meeting – thank you so much for your wise words.

    On an unrelated note – you often refer to bringing up your decor-filled bins from your basement. Is there any chance you could show us how you store your out-of-season items? Do you have some type of organized storage shelving units? Thanks.

    1. My basement looks like a store! I have shelves set up like isles things fill the shelves according to their categories… candles, trays, Christmas, wreaths, faux flowers etc. Maybe someday I’ll share the basement.

  9. Sherry Leipzig says:

    I literally read through your words with tears running down my face. I just finished my morning devo and was trying to be thankful for this season. And it was hard! Until I read your message. Thank you for waking me up! Have a blessed thankful Thanksgiving! I know that I will.

  10. Saffia, Thank you! I will. Yes, I love the verse that the Lord inhabits our praises.

  11. Yvonne,
    Your Sunday morning posts refresh my soul! This post was spot on. We put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect and miss out on the most important thing – spending time with our family! Wishing you a blessed day and holiday season!

  12. Thank you sooooo much for keeping Jesus alive in your posts !! I Look forward to your message.

    1. Praise God for HIS message of blessings upon blessings. Thank you Tara and Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. Beautiful post and a reminder to keep Him at the center. Thank you! And bless you!

  14. Beautifully written-AMEN!
    Happy Thanksgiving

  15. Lynn Donnan says:

    Wonderful message! Thank you!

  16. Maria Elena says:

    I absolutely LOVE your messages….you truly are inspirational in your decorating tips but more importantly loving and thanking our Lord first and foremost! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  17. Thank you. Praying for the wildfire of the Holy Spirit in me and in our home and for my brother and his family many states away and for improving health for loved ones.

  18. Robin smith says:

    Beautiful! Thank you

  19. Yvonne, thank you for this reminder. It really hit home. I simply love your Sunday posts!
    Thank you for bringing both earthly beauty and the joy of Jesus into our homes!

  20. Yvonne, I am beyond thankful for you and your dedication to sharing , not only amazing home decor, but your love for God and His word. You have offered such encouragement to us, as homemakers, to be content with what we have, while making our homes as lovely and welcoming in every way. Your ideas throughout the years, have been greatly appreciated and implemented. May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  21. just what I needed to hear…..thanks

  22. Yvonne, thank you for this reminder to keep things easy and just enjoy the day. You are a blessing with all the scripture and inspiration you share with your readers. May you you have a peaceful and really fun thanksgiving weekend.!! You deserve it!!!

  23. This is such a beautiful post. I would love to share this on my Saturday newsletter this week. Blessings to you.

  24. What a great reminder as we get ready to host our family and friends. I’ve heard Martha’s story often and know that is my tendency, but never in the context of Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing that today!

  25. Beautiful message today!!! My name is Mary but I am definitely a “Martha” during the holidays. A good reminder we should enjoy our family & friends & be thankful for all we have instead of trying to make everything perfect!

  26. Great wisdom here. Thank you dear Yvonne. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  27. Jane Bentrott says:

    Haven‘t we all been there? Too much to do, too much cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc!!! I am a classic “Martha” and have always thought it was the right way to be. I need the reminder of this age old story from time to time. Thanks for this message to us! May you and your family have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

  28. Lisa Evans says:

    Yvonne thank you for the reminder of what is truly important . Have a blessed Thanksgiving !

  29. I went to copy and paste the verse, but I wanted you to know it is Psalm 136:1. I’m sure it is a type, but if someone else is trying to find it that might help. Have a blessed Lord’s day.

  30. Joan Wagner says:

    Thank you for such great words of wisdom, definitely
    ly the right perspective!

  31. Thank you so much for the beautiful reminder that we should be truly thankful on Thanksgiving day.

  32. I love that story. It’s true sometimes we get caught up in small stuff. I am looking forward to having Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t wait to see my sons, their wives and children. I only see them a few times a year so the time is very special. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  33. Judi Nolan says:

    Dear Yvonne, you are a blessing to us. Thank you for this beautiful Thanksgiving story and your wise words at the end of it. Yes, we complain about the shopping, the preparation of food and all that goes with the Holiday but some people have no one to do that with. We are the fortunate ones to have the dirty dishes and the family to be grateful for. Thank you, again and Happy Thanksgiving. Love, Judi Nolan😊💕🙏💕

  34. Thank you for the beautiful reminder from His Word.
    I want to use this everyday, and not be overwhelmed by the tasks of the day. I want to have a thankful, grateful, non-complaining heart!

    1. Me too! I was laying in bed this morning before and praying for a sweet, kind heart. Only by listening to the Holy Spirit can that happen.

  35. Mary Roberts says:

    Thank you for reminding me of what really counts! sometimes that’s all we need is a reminder
    May you and your family have a very blessed and safe Thanksgiving

  36. Yvonne, thank you for this very important reminder. I am GUILTY of feeling overwhelmed preparing for the Thanksgiving meal. However, with 2 elderly, frail parents, this year I will focus on all the BLESSINGS the Lord has given me and our family. We are truly blessed and I am grateful for salvation among many other things. I am also grateful for you and your blog. May God bless you and all your readers in this wonderful season of Thanksgiving.

    1. Thank you Susan! God bless you and your parents and all who come to your home.

  37. I got onto Pinterest after church to see how I could make breathtaking displays with the Christmas decorations strewn all over my house, so my Thanksgiving guests will think I’m truly amazing. Then I found this. Thank you so much for this much-needed truth. And thank you for using your platform to share the real Truth; may God use your efforts to add to His kingdom.

    1. Happy Sunday, Juanita! God bless you for asking God to use my blog for His kingdom. Happy Thanksgiving!