Smart and Simple Solution #5 – Set the Tone

Our Smart and Simple Solutions are about intentionally and practically creating space and time to help calm chaotic schedules – making it a little easier to facilitate your Sabbath practice.

This year, I am commuting A LOT, and I’ve come to realize that setting the tone during my commute helps me be more aware of and prepared for Sabbath moments during my day.

If you also find yourself driving a lot, here are a few ways to use your commuting time to set the tone (totally adaptable on public transit or walking):

  • Play worship music while you are driving and sing along. Making a joyful noise in terrible traffic both alters your mood and sets a different tone. (If you are on public transit or in a shared ride situation, maybe use headphones and sing-a-long in your head).
  • Pray out loud. I am often an “in my head”‘ kind of prayer person. I can get into a real and good conversation mode out loud with God while driving to or from school now. There’s lots of time, few interruptions, and plenty to talk about. (Again, in a shared vehicle, maybe not out loud, but if you are in a vehicle with family or friends, consider praying together!)
  • Listen to an audiobook or podcast. Audiobook options are limitless, and there are a crazy number of amazing podcasts available on almost any topic. You can study and learn, be encouraged or challenged, and often grow and be entertained while you listen. Download them before you go and play and learn along the way. I listen to one podcast specifically designed to encourage Christian single moms, a couple of home management ones, a Christian leadership one, and several lifestyle ones too. We’ll be talking about our favourite podcasts over in the Seeking Sabbath Facebook group today. Click the link to join that conversation.
  • Practice silence. In a life filled with constant noise, Sometimes the very best thing I can do for my spirit is to have a silent commute. No radio, no podcasts, just absolute quiet. Restorative quiet.
  • Sticky note scripture snippets in places you can see them without distraction. Be careful with this one. For years, I would have the odd sticky note on my dashboard. I will still occasionally put a main thought somewhere that I can see it and reference it easily, but it’s really critical to not be distracted while you’re driving. So use caution with this one!

Intentionally capturing my commute time has helped me be more aware and focussed all day. It’s given me some beautiful worship and prayer moments, and I arrive in a better mood and better ready to respond to my colleagues and family. It’s also meant that my heart is in a better place and more prepared for my Sabbath time.

I hesitate a little to suggest this though, because I don’t think quiet time in the car is your best option for growth and deep study, and I don’t want anyone to think I’m suggesting dropping other times with God because your prayed or worshipped on the road. Multi-tasking is not always your best spiritual growth tool! So consider using this Smart and Simple Solution as a supplement not a staple in your Seeking of Sabbath.

Smart and Simple Solution #4

I’ve just gotten back from a weekend long retreat with the women from my church. And, while I realize a full weekend break is a luxury that I can’t often afford, retreating is a smart and simple solution that I want to become more intentional about using to help navigate the reality and chaos of my busyness.

I don’t naturally stop well. In my house, my car and my office, I have trouble turning off my to-do list brain and focusing. I need to step out of my reality more often – literally and physically – I need to step out of my routine, my house, my work and my chaos

I’m trying a new solution, and I’m walking away.

Walking out my door, even just into my yard, my brain switches and I have a much greater probability of focusing my heart and mind.

Taking the whole weekend to retreat was amazing. The extended time away to focus and rest has been deeply rejuvenating. Going to a full weekend retreat isn’t a smart and simple solution that I can take into my “normal” life very easily though, but I’m going to aim to work a mini-retreat into my next few Sabbath times and see if physically stepping out of my house helps solve my focus problem. I’m going to try to include a mini-retreat like one of these:

·         Walking mini-retreat – I am going to walk for at least 20 minutes and look for prayer triggers in my community. I’m going to start by thanking God for my home as I exit and be intentional to engage my brain for prayer as I pass neighbours houses, the local school and park etc.

·         Coffee Date with Jesus – I am going to take my journal and Bible to a local coffee shop, buy a fancy coffee (which I rarely buy), and settle in to read and journal and enjoy the change in space and pace.

·         Find a friend – I realized this weekend just how important the relaxed fellowship aspect is to my relationships. I am going to connect with a friend outside of my house and ask good questions and be intentional and active in listening and praying.

I’d invite you to join me in stepping outside your normal space as a smart and simple solution to help you focus, either as part of a weekly Sabbath practice or as a daily habit. Join us over in our facebook group to chat about other ideas for stepping outside your normal and focusing better on Jesus.

Smart and Simple Solution #3

Today, I made myself a Sabbath Basket. I’m calling these simple solutions for a reason… this might be something everyone BUT me already had figured out! It’s super simple, but I expect it to be a significant solution to my rather scattered approach!

I am a random (scattered) thinker – and as a result, I don’t have a lot of routines, structure, or systems that stay the same for very long. My house gets pretty scattered, my bookshelf is very scattered, and things often end up in very strange places. Let me be real and honest for a moment and confess that I lost the same cup of coffee four times today.

So as I was looking for solutions that might help me do better at keeping my Sabbath focussed, I decided to start by just gathering things up for easy access.

My basket is filled with things to pull out both for my Sabbath times, and for my daily devotion time. And, I also picked a spot in my house to keep it – our house is small and I haven’t had a designated quiet space for myself (I didn’t even have a bedroom of my own until July!). Today I picked a corner to try and use consistently so I have a space with everything I need ready to go.

I put a Bible and a notebook in there, and a pen for taking notes. (My Bible looks a little worse for wear… but, this isn’t about being pretty!)

I put a very simple short devotion book in, and also two of the next books that I’m hoping to finish reading.

And I put in a colouring book, and a few art supplies. I am not super artistic, but I feel like space for creativity is important for me when trying to get my brain into a place of stillness. Colouring seems to engage just enough of my brain that I can really settle.

It’s important to note, all of these items were in my house. I didn’t have to go buy anything, I just had to think intentionally and gather things up.

I’m curious, do you have a basket or zone in your house that you designate for quiet times? What helps you focus? I’d love to have you comment below, or come join the conversation in our Seeking Sabbath Facebook group.