“Don’t get so stressed out. I thought you liked cooking and entertaining, how can you get so stressed over it?”

My husband, who I affectionately call Beau, asked me this question just minutes before some new guests arrived to our home. I wanted to respond with some quip or at least a good defense but I couldn’t. He was right – why am I so stressed while I’m doing something I claim to love doing?!

I thought about this for weeks. Maybe I don’t actually love cooking. Or maybe I don’t like entertaining guests? I started to think about the times I did enjoy it and the times I felt it was a “success.” It was usually when I had prepared a delicious meal without mistake and it was especially a success if compliments for my meal and hospitality were overflowing.

At the time I thought there was nothing wrong with that. But as I analyzed why I get so stressed and if I really love cooking I realized my main goal was two-fold, perfection and praise for my efforts.

Gross.

Beau encouraged us to take a deeper look. Why were we inviting people into our home for a meal? In his book, A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester also makes room for us to seek why we invite people to our table:

“Meals can be a visual representation of our hearts…Consider how your meals express your vision for life. Think about who’s invited. How they’re served, what you hope to achieve and the layout of your home. Do they express the vision of the Kingdom of God?”

In those months Beau and I talked about why we do love entertaining and what our aim is. Our mission for our table is to invite others and serve them and love them extravagantly so God can use it as an opportunity to reveal His ultimate invitation to His table.

We invite. We Serve. We love. All to participate with God and ultimately bring people into His Kingdom so that one day we will be reunited at His grand feast.

It did not take long for me to realize that none of what I truly desired for inviting people to my table came close to serving a perfect meal or racking up compliments.

So we put a few ideas into practice. The first was, do not try a new recipe on first time guests! I constantly wanted to try some new and exciting and potentially fussy meal on new guests so I could impress them. Not only was it a little more complicated but also, because I did not know the recipe it required all of my attention to cook the meal instead of also being with the guests.

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Next little action we put into place: no need to have the meal all prepared by the time the guests arrive. We generally have people over around 6:30 or 7:00pm. By then I am famished and I am sure my guests are too. But I generally could not start cooking the meal any earlier because I have a full time job. So now, we create a type of happy hour environment for our guests. Beau pulls together a simple cheese plate or his famous bacon wrapped dates. He is also in charge of making delicious drinks for as our guests arrive. It takes the stress of getting the meal cooked quickly off me and it also opens room for great company and conversation in the kitchen.

Also, I started to have some simple tasks for my guests to do. I realized that often some of my guests wanted to help in the kitchen. So I set aside small things, like chopping an onion or grating cheese… so the guests that want to help can participate.

Lastly, Beau and I make sure to re-focus just before guests arrive. We remind ourselves that this is not about a perfectly cooked meal or compliments. It is about Jesus. You know how we do this little re-focus? We do a cheers to Jesus. We take a moment and lift our drinks; we both say a few things to Jesus and end with a clink of our glasses and a hearty cheers to Him. He is, in fact, the guest of honor.

Gosh it feels a little silly giving these no brainer tips but I love them because they are transforming how we serve. They have created a different atmosphere in my heart and I pray at my table. It completely changed my outlook, that a successful night is not determined if I come away feeling great about my meal, my home, my hospitality… but if my guests leave feeling great and loved and heard and seen.

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How do your meals express the vision of your life? What are the small, creative things you do in your kitchen or at your table so your intentions line up with your heart? Please share in the comments! I’d love to learn a few more tricks of the trade.

And here’s a cheers to Jesus. To the One who calls us to His table and reclines with us. May He sustain and renew us this day.

Paleo Snack: Bacon Wrapped Pitted Dates
Serves 10
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 slices of bacon (1 package)
  2. 24 whole, pitted dates
  3. 24 toothpicks
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Lay a single-layer of bacon strips on a plate and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (repeat with remaining bacon)
  3. Cut strips of bacon in half width-wise
  4. Wrap individual dates in half-strips of bacon, secure with toothpick at overlap
  5. Place on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, checking at 8 minutes
  6. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes
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Bri McKoy / Posts / Blog

Bri McKoy is a writer and an accidental lover of cooking. Marriage brought with it bliss. And a budget. So she began to step into the kitchen every evening and quickly discovered this is her art. She found that her food was a glue that allowed space for stories and rich community. Therefore she created and owns OurSavoryLife.com where she shares her recipes and the stories that come from her kitchen. She is also the leader of Compassion Bloggers and is passionate about giving bloggers an opportunity to use their platform to advocate for children in poverty.

  • Lori H

    I struggle with wanting perfection and for every guest to think that the evening was “the best ever!”. I have been working on my intentions and my heart as I do believe that hospitality is one of my gifts. I would rather it be to the Lord’s credit than mine. Thanks for these tips – I will put them to work!

    June 22nd, 2015 11:02
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    • Bri McKoy
      http://oursavorylife.com/

      Thanks so much for sharing, Lori. The struggle is real! I am so grateful to know I am not alone and I am even more grateful for your heart to be aligned with the Lord’s. You are a gift!

      June 22nd, 2015 13:42
      Reply
      02
  • Flower Patch Farmgirl

    Bri, your words here resonate my own truth. It’s so easy veer off course into seeking praise for doing something we were all called to do. And you’re right, nothing sucks the love out of a beautiful thing more! Thanks for this reminder.

    June 22nd, 2015 12:18
    Reply
    03
    • Bri McKoy
      http://oursavorylife.com/

      Shannan! What a gift to receive your comment. And to know I’m not alone. Thank you for the encouragement. Much love to you! xoxo

      June 22nd, 2015 13:41
      Reply
      04
  • Joy B. Rudolph
    http://joybrudolph.com/

    Bri, love the way you refocus right before guests arrive. Great idea!

    June 23rd, 2015 1:06
    Reply
    05
  • alison_1

    thank you for sharing this! I love when all of our friends are crowded into our yard and laughing and enjoying one another. But I often make these big food goals and do so much that I am tired when the party starts. And ornery if they didn’t like or try the food I made. And happy when they tell me its the best ever. We are having a lunch after church on Sunday and I’ve been brainstorming how to make it simple, to try to veer away from being…me. One way is that I let my husband do his idea for the main course! ha. sure, go ahead, do the work, honey! anyway, I love your tips. and your cheers to Jesus. thanks for the inspiration.

    June 24th, 2015 19:13
    Reply
    06

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