If you struggle with a chronic illness, opening your home to show biblical hospitality in the traditional sense can be challenging. However, with a bit of planning and giving yourself grace, I have gathered biblical hospitality tips to help you continue to share biblical hospitality in your home while taking care of your health.
My Chronic Illness and Biblical Hospitality
I have struggled with a chronic illness daily for over five years and have found it can make a person feel very isolated. I realize everyone's chronic illness journey is different and causes a wide range of emotions and physical challenges for each person. Many people deal with persistent physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing.
All of these hinder a person's social life and the ability to have a guest come into their home for a time of fellowship centered around a meal. My purpose is to help others share biblical hospitality despite the challenges and struggles they deal with physically and mentally.
Why Practice Biblical Hospitality When You Are Chronically Ill?
Good question. It has taken me many years to work through becoming vulnerable by opening our home for a meal and fellowship with others. Honestly, I am still struggling and working on this.
First, we must remember the purpose of God commanding Christians to open their homes and share biblical hospitality with others. God wants Christians to be set apart from other people by how they live their lives, and He wants their lifestyle of loving others to reflect His relationship with humanity. The practice of hospitality, then, becomes a symbol of God's love for and grace towards sinners whom He desires to bring back into a relationship with Himself.
God does not expect us to share a meal with others only when life is all rosy. Life is messy and hard, especially if you deal with chronic illness daily. However, there is nothing in scripture that states show hospitality only when you feel great. God wants to use our chronic illness to minister His truth and love through us, even in the hard times.
Actually, these might be the best times for us to reach a lost or broken person. God's plans, no matter what is going on in our own lives, are for us to encourage someone and point to the purpose of our existence, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Biblical Hospitality Tips If You Struggle With Cronic Illness
Let's look at the 5 steps for opening our home and sharing a meal despite our health struggles. We will then break each one down into actionable steps.
- Plan ahead: It's important to pace yourself and plan in advance, so you don't overexert yourself. This might mean preparing meals or other arrangements well in advance so that you can take your time and not feel rushed.
- Keep it simple: You don't need to go all out with elaborate meals or decorations. Keeping things simple can still be a warm and welcoming gesture.
- Communicate your needs: Don't be afraid to communicate your needs with your guests. Let them know what you're comfortable with and what you need help with.
- Focus on quality time: Hospitality is about more than just providing food and drinks. It's about creating an atmosphere of warmth and connection. So focus on spending quality time with your guests, whether that's through conversation or shared activities.
- Consider virtual options: If you're not up for hosting guests in person, consider hosting a virtual gathering instead. This can be a great way to connect with others without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Let me first remind you the most important thing is to take care of your health first. Your guests will understand and appreciate your efforts to show hospitality in whatever way you can.
Here are some tips to help you plan ahead.
- Determine the guest list: Decide who you want to invite for dinner. Consider the number of guests and the amount of energy you have. A few smaller gatherings over a couple of months would be easier to manage when you don't feel up to par than one big party.
- Choose a menu: Select a menu that suits your guests' preferences and your own cooking abilities. I am giving you permission right now. It's ok to buy already prepared food for your menu, so keep that in mind as you plan. Choosing a dinner theme also makes planning a menu easier. Some of my favorite menu ideas are Casual Party Menus, Mexican, Indian, Italian and Greek. Also, as you plan, ask guests if they have any dietary restrictions or allergies.
- Give yourself extra time: When chronic illness is part of our daily life, we need to give ourselves more time to get normal tasks done. Plan your menu well in advance, so you have enough time to shop for ingredients and prepare the dishes.
- Consider the timing: Decide on a time that works for you and your guests. Factor in what time is best for you. I feel better in the mornings and early afternoons. So, serving breakfast or lunch on the weekend relieves a lot of pressure on me emotionally.
- Communicate with your guests: Email or text your guest several days before your planned time together. Confirm the time and address of your home.
- Prepare food in advance: Choose to serve dishes you can prepare in advance, which can save time and reduce stress for you. When I entertain, I use recipes that do well in a slow cooker. This cooking utensil gives me the freedom to make a great meal ahead of time without worrying I will overcook it. If I have a few bad hours in my day, it's ok. Dinner will still be ready as planned.
- Focus on the experience: Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the company of your guests. This is a time to share life, encourage others and meet needs you might otherwise learn about that your guests have. Focus on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere and enjoying your time together.
By following these tips, you can plan a successful dinner party that your guests will enjoy and appreciate.
Keep Your Menu Simple
Sometimes, the best meals are the simplest ones. Here are some tips to help you serve your guests a simple yet delicious, easy-to-prepare meal.
- Stick to familiar ingredients: When planning your meal, stick to ingredients that you're familiar with and have cooked before. This will help you feel more comfortable in the kitchen and reduce the chance of taking extra time to correct any cooking mishaps.
- Choose recipes with few ingredients: Look for recipes with a short list of ingredients. It will make shopping day and preparation easier. Try my 4 Ingredients Slow Cooker Chicken or 5 Ingredients Crock Pot Potato Soup.
- Use shortcuts: Consider using shortcuts like pre-cut vegetables, canned ingredients, or pre-cooked proteins. This can save you time and effort in the kitchen.
- Keep it balanced: Aim to include a balance of protein, vegetables, and grains or starches in your meal. This will ensure your guests have a satisfying and well-rounded meal. You don't need to go overboard with a bunch of side dishes. Serve a simple salad, a vegetable or grain dish, and a main dish topped off with a loaf of bread.
- Get set up early: Honestly, I have good hours in my day and not-so-good hours. I suggest while you are feeling good, go ahead and set your table and get out the serving dishes you will be using. I do this the day before or even earlier sometimes.
- Simplify presentation: You don't have to go all out with elaborate plating and presentation. Keep it simple by serving your dishes family-style, with everything on the table for guests to serve themselves.
❤️ I'm giving you permission: It's ok to use paper plates, napkins, and disposable silverware. There are so many cute options on the market now. Remember, making cleanup easy for you is a good choice. Focus on your guests, not the mess.
Create A Food Bar For Easy Entertaining
You could also serve your meal by creating a fun food bar. This is one of my favorite easy ways to host a meal. They’re perfect for creating an informal atmosphere, easy to prepare in advance, and giving your guests lots of options. Check out the best 16 food bar ideas and pick your favorite for your next party.
Slow Cooker Recipes For Easy Meals
Slow cooker recipes are a great way to prepare meals for dinner guests easily, and it helps keep you out of the kitchen when guests arrive.
Be sure and try one of my favorite crockpot recipes, Marry Me Chicken. If you need an easy snack recipe, then be sure to pull out your slow cooker for this Cracker Barrel Cheesy Hash Brown recipe. I have How To Thicken Chili In A Slow Cooker tips if your crockpot chili is too runny.
🍍Reminder: It's not about the complexity of the meal but about showing love to others over a relaxing dinner. With these tips, you can serve your guests a delicious and satisfying meal without much stress or fuss.
Ask For Help
Hosting a dinner party can be a lot of work, and your guests can definitely help out to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. Asking guests to help will make them feel more at home and relaxed.
- Bring a dish: Ask your guests to bring a side dish, dessert, or appetizer. This will not only lighten your load but also give your guests a chance to contribute to the meal.
- Help with preparation: Invite your guests into the kitchen and have them help with last-minute preparations. They could chop veggies, place food on the table or be in charge of getting everyone's drinks. Again, this will help them feel comfortable and welcome to be included as part of the family, so to speak.
- Serve themselves: Rather than serving everyone individually, consider serving the meal family-style and letting your guests serve themselves at a food bar. This will allow them to choose the portions they want and take some of the work off your shoulders.
- Clear the table: After the meal, ask your guests to help clear the table and do the dishes. This will allow you to enjoy your time with your guests and make cleaning up faster and easier.
- Offer leftovers: If you have a lot of leftovers, ask your guests if they want to take some home with them. This will give them a chance to enjoy the meal again later and ponder the conversations you all had around your dinner table.
So, don't be afraid to ask for a little help from your guests, and be sure to thank them. Remember, biblical hospitality is focused on making a guest feel welcome and sharing life's challenges and blessings while enjoying a meal together.
Hospitality Tip: Focus on creating a warm relaxing time after the meal is over. People relax with a full belly and become more open to sharing their life through conversations. It's your time to minister to any needs your guest might have and find ways that you could pray for them.
Focus On Quality Time With Your Guests
Spending quality time with your dinner guests is an important part of being a good host. Here are some tips for how to do it:
Biblical Hospitality Tip: Take a moment before your guest arrives to pray for the time you will be spending with your guests. There have been many prayers lifted up to God that I could physically make it through a meal without physical pain.
- Set the tone: From the moment your guests arrive, make them feel welcome and comfortable. Greet them with a warm smile, and offer them a drink as dinner preparations are finalized. Purposely focus on engaging them in conversations. Ask simple questions and take an interest in their answers.
- Focus on your guests: During the meal, focus on your guests and their interests. Ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation, and listen attentively to their responses.
- Create a relaxed atmosphere: Create a relaxed atmosphere that encourages conversation and enjoyment. Play some music, dim the lights, or light some good-smelling candles to set the mood.
- Share stories: Share stories about yourself or your family with your guests to help them get to know you better. Don't just share the good times. It's also important to share struggles and hard times. Become vulnerable. Also, encourage guests to share their own stories as well.
- Play games or have activities: Consider playing games or having activities that encourage interaction and laughter. Board games, card games, or trivia are great options. Here are my Favorite Board Games For Adults.
- Don't rush the meal: Take your time during the meal and enjoy each other's company. Linger through the meal. Be sure everyone is finished eating before moving on to the next course too quickly.
- Offer dessert and coffee: Offer dessert and coffee to your guests to extend the evening and give them a chance to continue the conversation. This is key to biblical hospitality. Your guests are getting more comfortable and feel safe to share their thoughts and needs.
Remember, spending quality time with your dinner guests is about creating an enjoyable and memorable experience for everyone. By focusing on your guests, creating a relaxed atmosphere, and engaging in conversation and activities, you can create an evening that your guests will remember fondly.
Free Party Planner
Be sure to grab your copy of my free party planner. This is a great way to get organized when planning to have guests over for dinner. Printable grocery list, brainstorming sheets, blank menus, and count down lists are all bundled in this free planner.
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