Fellow parents, you know the drill. Wake up. Wake others up. Dress yourself and others. Feed yourself and others. Ensure you and the others have all things required for the day ahead. Review schedules and responsibilities with all parties. Disperse to van, car, school bus, car pool vehicle, etc. And that’s only the first hour!
Our kids are now 8, 11, and almost 14. Recently I was told that we’re living in a magical stage called “No D&D.” Apparently that refers to “No Diapers, No Drivers.” Who knew?! At times I’ve felt like its more apt name was “No R&M,” for “No Rest & No Money!” The “No Money” thing I learned to relax about long ago as I experienced God providing miraculously for my family over and over as a child. And, honestly, I cannot with integrity point the finger at my kids for the “No Rest” thing. Resting is not something this Type A, ultra-responsible, achievement-oriented, extroverted gal ever had on her radar since dropping her afternoon nap 36 years ago!
Rest? Once we got beyond the early years of parenting where maximizing everyone’s hours of sleep was a moment by moment pursuit, rest dropped off the priority list pretty quickly. We were busy doing lots of good things! How could we “carpe diem” if we were resting? Good moms don’t let their kids miss stuff, right?
But just about the time our kids were 5, 8, and 11 things started to unravel in my carefully managed web of schedules, responsibilities, and golden opportunity tapping. There was an increase in yelling, impatience, rudeness, arguing, petty jabs, inconsiderateness — and that was just ME!
One day while living this over-stretched life I was confronted with the question “Are you living a life worth imitating?” It was delivered at a workshop on mission and discipleship, not parenting, but WOW it hit me right in the parenting gut. Would I EVER want my kids to live as maxed out as I am? Was I creating a life for them that was just like mine? What would my kids say my priorities were for myself and for them? Yikes! But what in the world could I do about it? I have commitments I need to keep — and so do they!! Deep breath. OK, so now what?
One of my “so now what’s?” came in the form of an injury to my back that landed me in bed for days. DAYS!! Honestly, I had been hearing the Spirit say, “Gwyneth, slow down,” but I ignored the call to “be still,” and now I had no choice. This time it was my back, but thanks to a timely Heart and Stroke Foundation video in which an overwhelmed mom strokes out during the insanity of the morning routine, I began to realize that it could be much worse than my back. It could be my life. I started listening.
As I listened, God repeatedly brought John 15:1-8 to me. Read it. You’ve likely read it before. It is the passage about the vine and the branches, pruning and remaining, thus bearing fruit for God’s glory and showing ourselves to be His disciples. And the word that surfaced was REST. Rest in me. It had been a long time since rest had received a spot on my to-do list. It was time.
I am blessed beyond measure to have a godly man to share my life with. Theologically Dan was WAY ahead of me on understanding the Biblical mandate for Sabbath rest and practically he had already established a much healthier rhythm to his life that included rest. Now we needed to join together and figure out what Sabbath rest needed to look like as a family. How were we going to intentionally teach our children about the place of rest in the created order? What does that look like?
Sure, we would take them to Scripture and teach them about the significance of God’s resting on the seventh day and point out the rhythm of rest that Jesus modelled in His earthly ministry. And that would be necessary and good. But that didn’t answer how were we going to be obedient to God’s design for us to rest?
Here’s what we began building into our lives a couple of years ago: daily rest, weekly rest, seasonal rest, yearly rest, and Sabbath chunks. (We could add a year of Jubilee every 50 years, but we’re hoping retirement will help out with that one!) What does that look like in our family? Right now it looks like this:
- Daily Rest
- We begin our day by climbing into bed, similar to the Jewish tradition, surrendering to God and being dependent on Him for our very breath through the night
- When we are home, we have a “quiet rest” time after lunch, a rhythm from when our kids were little that is now renewed with greater intent and understanding. It’s a time during which everyone does a “filling up” activity.
- Weekly Rest
- On Sunday, “quiet rest” is rarely missed and is often for a longer period.
- Seasonal Rest
- We intentionally plan holiday time to ensure that we are away from regular responsibilities and routines as a family for several days (2-4) each winter, spring and fall.
- Yearly Rest
- We spend 10-14 days each summer away from our home and community to invest in being still and knowing God, each other and ourselves.
- As a couple we have committed to taking time alone (2-3 days) at least once a year.
- Sabbath Chunks (still in the planning stages)
- We began a conversation with our church regarding a sabbatical after Dan’s seventh year of ministry.
- We’re investigating some housing exchanges/international travel options for our family during that time.
So as you begin a new school year and the rat race begins, I would encourage you to talk to your spouse and our children about rest and how it is God’s gift and design for each of you. What will that look like in your family this year? You’ll never know until you try! If you would like to share your family’s journey with finding Sabbath rhythms in your life or you want to chat some more about our story, I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me at email@example.com