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So I promised you on Monday to get really granular on Sabbath tips. This is the article that breaks down how to build Sabbath into tips and even a template. Usually, my Surviving SAHD articles are short but this one just needs a few extra words to give you all the info you need in one place.
Before we dive in, I am curating a few resources that I have used to create this list. To get those resources you need to subscribe here. Also, this will close out on the Christian Hospitality Series. I wanted to give you some really actionable tips to build something special and unique to your family. I hope this helps.
Ok, so you thought man, “Sabbath sounds like a great idea, but how do I go about it?” How do you actually Sabbath in this day and age? Well here is how you build a Sabbath day from a few months’ worth of research. Now, this is the basics, but I encourage you to change and alter this entire post to work for you and your situation. I am simply providing the basic recipe. This recipe assumes that you will be inviting God into your day. That looks different for everyone depending on your relationship with God.
The first thing you need to do is reflect on what is restful to you. What fills your soul up? What makes you feel energized to take on the world? Remember the goal is not to be productive but to be rested and satisfied.
2. Incorporate the Family
Now that you know what works for you figure out what works for the family. If you are single, you might want to build in some margin to be a part of or hang out with another family. The point is to acknowledge that what you find restful might not be restful for the other members of your family.
3. Plan the perfect Sabbath.
This will not be your Sabbath (at least at the beginning). However, building out the schedule (in writing) for a perfect Sabbath gives you a visual view of everything that might need to occur on a Sabbath day. Pro Tip: notice what is not on your Sabbath schedule that you typically do on that Sabbath day.
4. Now reorganize your life
Sabbath ain’t easy at the beginning. It might mean spending some extra time doing laundry off normal schedule to make sure you aren’t doing it on the Sabbath. It might mean cooking meals the night before so it’s just leftovers, or eating frugally during the week so you can order out during the Sabbath.
Try out your Sabbath plan. Guess what it won’t work. Because if you are Sabbathing you won’t be stressed to get everything crossed off a list, you will be resting. Because Sabbath is so counter-cultural, it is going to take many tries for you to figure it out. Guess what if you have kids, then their needs and desires during Sabbath are going to change over time too.
6. Stop again
Maybe what you thought would be restful isn’t. Maybe you tried to pack too much into Sabbath, or maybe Sabbath was terrible. So stop and reflect again. Talk to your family and try it again.
7. Practice Sabbath
How you ever noticed that it’s called a doctor’s practice or law practice? That is because they are never done learning or practicing to get better at their craft. Sabbath is a practice. We have to keep doing it until we get better at it. Sabbath is something we are invited to enjoy. Practice isn’t always fun, but when we do it often enough we get better and it does become more enjoyable.
Pro Tips to Build Sabbath
Now, you have the basic build of Sabbath. You are going to have to experiment with your family, but you don’t have to do it alone. You can always tweet, email or comment on this post with your successes or goofy failures. Here are some of the Pro Tips for using those building blocks well.
- Invite God – God wants to bless us with the Sabbath. He invites us constantly into His rest for two reasons. 1. To rest, we have to have faith that we won’t fall behind the world. Faith in God is the building blocks of our relationship with God. 2. It makes space for God to come into our lives. When we aren’t running around like chickens with our heads cut off, God has space to enter into our lives and do things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. To sum – God is present and God gets to do things with that presence.
- Sabbath like a waiter walks – Think about how a waiter carries a tray full of food. Do they look at the tray? Nope, they look at their feet to navigate the terrain or they look at the destination or surrounding to adjust as needed. If you look at how you build Sabbath while you Sabbath, it is like looking at a tray while trying to carry it to the table. You will drop it for sure, either tripping over something, bumping into someone or simply losing balance. Set the plan for Sabbath and then let it ride. Walk the path. Don’t focus on the list of things or the schedule, or you will lose the whole point of the journey just like a waiter who drops all the food meant for the destination.
- Unexpected results – Sabbath might look like something completely different than what you imagine that first time. That’s ok. God is probably going to do something unexpected. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the spontaneity and fun. God is all about fun and party. It might not go the way you expect it too, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get the rest your soul so desperately needs.
- Changing the Week – When you first start out you will change your week for the Sabbath. That’s ok. You will have to prepare for it, and it will be work. You know that old saying working for the weekend. It will feel like that in kind of the worst way. But, over time you will find that Sabbath will change your week. When that happens you are hitting your Sabbath stride and you will be surprised at how much more you get done better because you build in Sabbath to your week. It is worth the investment.
- Go to bed early – While Sabbath lasts traditionally from sun down to sun down – You might as well go to bed early both nights and get some stellar rest. The health benefits might last you a few days if you only do that.
- Do nothing – Challenge yourself to do nothing other than to process or sit there for at least 15-30 minutes. The amount of activity in your brain during that rest might surprise you and re-energize you for the day or week.
Sample Sabbath Schedule for my house
I have taken into account many of the things my family finds restful and it definitely won’t be perfect and it might change a lot after our first try. You will just have to check back for continued reports on Sabbath. Also don’t forget that this will probably not last long, and none of these activities may make your list. Also, you don’t have to do Sabbath on the same day as me. Your Sabbath could be Wednesday or Monday, or only for a couple of hours as your schedule allows. The point is to rest, invite God and be with family. That’s it.
Friday night Sun – down:
Small Group Bible Study – This is the best way for us to start a Sabbath. We get to start with God and some of our favorite people in the community. Yeah, we probably don’t go to bed early this night, but as far as rest goes for my two extroverts (wife and son) it doesn’t get much better. They have so much energy that they just blabber at each other the whole ride home which of course often just ignores the bejeezus out of my introverted self. However, it is a great way to start Sabbath. When we don’t have a small group meeting, I am thinking that I will have to step up and plan a family devo or make sure we have other people in our home that night.
Saturday Morning wake up 7ish
Pancake feast – There was a time when Jewish fathers would wake up their children with honey on the Sabbath to remind them how sweet the Sabbath is. I think a chocolate chip and blueberry syrup covered pancake feast might do the same. Plus, my son loves pancakes. My wife likes a hot breakfast. I need the fuel for the next activity which means it’s a win-win-win.
Yard work – Now I know that may seem counter-intuitive to most of you, but my son and I bond the most over yard work. He loves helping me out, and for you, long time readers mowing holds a special place in my SAHD heart. I hope my daughter enjoys it too when she gets here. Yard work also gets me and my son out of my wife’s hair. She can clean, relax, journal, do a workbook, have lunch with a friend or do nothing. I don’t care, but she gets some good energizing time to herself.
Lunch and showers. I love showers and my son loves sandwiches. Put the two activities together and he is ready for a nice long nap. Guess what! I get to nap too.
Wake up from naps and watch some TV. I don’t know why but life just goes better when we just hunker down on the couch until dinner and watch some TV. At this point, we probably haven’t watched any or done any tech all day and some TV on the couch is nice.
Eat food maybe have Grandma and Grandpa or aunts and uncles over or head to their place? Maybe head to the nearby park.
Sleep early to get ready for Sunday – Me – play some video games or read.
Along the Way
It’s not that complicated. We just hang out and invite God in along the way. That’s all raising Christian kids is. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the Shema, it tells us to talk about God along the way. God isn’t the destination. He is part of the journey and part of that journey is being hospitable to ourselves by resting. The resting just has a special name: Sabbath. So what does or would your Sabbath look like? Got any tips to share? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.