"Never be lacking in Zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord … Practice hospitality."

-- Romans 12: 11.13 (NIV)

As the holidays close in on us, it's time to brush up on our skills to be hospitable hosts and hostesses.

With all the excitement about mealtime menus and decking the halls, we often get so caught up in preparations of the holidays that we forget the heart of the matter, which is love, thankfulness and hospitality.

I know from experience that we can be so focused on presenting the perfect turkey and mouthwatering dishes that we forget about the heart focus that surrounds serving the meal. To have one without the other destroys the purpose of the holiday gathering.

We look at things of God as spiritual, but much of the spiritual side of life is to put into practice God's practical commands. The ability to be hospitable is born inside each believer, and commanded by God that we put our gifts into practice. Some may have more of a knack for it than others, but if each of us gives it our best efforts, we can learn to become hospitable.

Hospitality is being able to invite others into our homes with the heart attitude to serve them as guests and to make them feel comfortable and cared for.

It's displaying a welcoming spirit, not one that whines and seeks self-approving accolades about the fact that we have to do the work with a heart to impress rather than bless our guests.

This holiday season, let's ask God to help us minister kindness and friendship at our meals. Let's make our guests welcome in our homes and not wish they stayed home. At the end of the day, we'll have experienced a joyful heart of hospitality.

• Annettee Budzban is a Christian author, speaker, life coach and nurse. She can be contacted at Annetteebudzban@aol.com or (847) 543-8413. Those interested in writing and publishing for fun or profit can contact her for details on her upcoming conference in January. Registration is required.