In our early years on staff, Dave and I tended to work a lot. Being together on campus was fun and life-giving (most of the time). With weekend retreats, late night IBD’s, and enthusiasm to create and innovate in our “off” time, we rarely took a true Sabbath day. After our first year of marriage, an older staff couple told us how they had taken a monthly weekend getaway their first year of marriage. The idea seemed so wonderful but also so impossible– how in the world could we afford to getaway every month? We thought it would be fun to get creative and try to do it. During our second year of marriage we went on 9 getaways– we camped, stayed wherever we could find a free place, and rented a condo twice. We found that being able to keep meals “in house” helped a lot with the cost. These unplugged weekends were awesome for our marriage, for time with Jesus, and for rest.
But when kids came (especially after two), leaving for a weekend became pretty difficult. Our monthly getaways turned into once-a-year getaways. We became more and more aware of our need for rest, but found ourselves asking, What does rest look like when you have little ones to care for? While going to church used to be fun and leisurely, now it was quite an ordeal as we got everyone up and out of the house (I was lucky to get a shower and usually did makeup in the car), checked in to the nursery (with at least one of our children screaming at drop off), scrambled to find a seat in the service (because we were usually late), enjoyed 45 minutes of getting my heart rate back to normal, then picked everyone up (along with half-wet macaroni crafts), and drove home to feed lunch and get down for naps. Whew! Church felt exhausting!
Things got easier as our kids got older—nap time became leisurely reading time for Dave and me. We’d keep meals easy and put our phones away for a while. But with our newest addition last fall, I wrote the following in a journal:
I honestly don’t know how to implement Sabbath in our family. On the one hand, Dave takes off 1-2 days each week, I don’t “work” with homeschool or laundry on the weekends, we try to keep meals easy and use paper plates; so in some respects, we rest. But during these days “off” we still have lively children, neighbors stopping by, guests in town, our church plant we are a part of, yard work, family outings, and on and on. The idea of getting time to truly get quiet with the Lord and listen feels like Dave and I have to tag team during the week in order for that to happen. That seems really different from staying in your tent all day eating yesterday’s manna.
I brought this topic to a mentor. She said not to expect a day of rest, necessarily, but to plan for a day of delight. She asked me, What things could you plan into your “Sabbath” day that would bring your family joy—things that would refresh your souls? What could you do ahead of time to ease the burden for the day?
The shift from trying to make our family of seven rest to planning a day into our week where we could enjoy one another and the Lord has been very significant! It is a day of being with
each other and the Lord. I’ve found myself eagerly anticipating our Sabbath days. During our mornings, we’ve planned family bike rides, hikes, and picnics, used gift cards for a celebratory meal out, had candle-lit tea parties and pancake breakfasts, read aloud, and rested in hammocks. During rest time in the afternoons, Dave and I ask each other—What do you need today?
Sometimes it is a nap. Sometimes it is time to connect with one another. Sometimes it is time away from the house for XTAWG. We use the afternoons to free each other up for those needs—and we try to go completely tech-free for at least four hours. We find that unplugging for even half a day frees us to not be distracted away from true rest and connection with our family and the Lord. And though we have still spent the day caring for kids and mediating sibling conflicts, we find that these days truly are a delight and a needed day of connection and refreshment for us.
We typically plan these days on Saturdays, because with five kids and being part of a church plant where we are often serving, Sundays can still be a bit crazy. We want to serve and engage while we are at church, and this often takes energy more than gives energy. We have gotten a bit smarter on Sundays (most of the time) by making a breakfast casserole the night before, picking out kids’ outfits the night before, packing the diaper bag the night before (see a trend here?) and leaving our house with plenty of time for check in.
If Sabbaths are tough for you, I wonder if this framework might be helpful? Our family loves adventure. Maybe yours loves art or creating? The possibilities are endless. What is one thing you and your hubby can start doing now to get more Sabbath and delight into your week? Whatever you decide, I pray it draws you closer to Him and each other.
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. Mark 2:27 NLT
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career twelve years ago (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and they currently lead the collegiate Nav ministries in Nashville. They have five children: Kate (9), Kylie (7), McKenzie (5), Daniel (4), and Andrew (baby). Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.