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.

Supermom Does NOT Live Here

I had a paper due at midnight, and I handed it in with almost two hours to spare. That’s pretty much the story of my semester. I am 10 months away from becoming a teacher and it’s crunch time – loads of assignments, presentations, and starting to visit the classroom where I will gain my actual teaching experience. It’s exciting. And, it’s busy.

Plus, my son got married last week. My daughter came home for the wedding from out of province. My other two kids continue to go to school, come home, and expect to eat and have a relatively functional parent and normal life. Oh, and I was in a car accident AND spoke at a women’s retreat too.

Reality check – I am not super mom! There’s a stack of dishes on the counter, a pile of laundry knee deep in my bathroom, and Sabbath (in the full sense of the word) is not happening right now.

I told one of my professors that I blog about pace and rest and seeking sabbath in a chaotic life. She literally laughed. She suggested that I shouldn’t expect to be resting until July.

I don’t know how to tell her that I’m not planning on giving up on Sabbath. Logically, she’s right. But, spiritually, she is very, very wrong.

Someone prayed for me last week. I told them all the pieces I was juggling. They said that God had given them a picture as they prayed. They saw me eating a giant pie, one piece at a time. And, she said that when the pie was finished, I said that it was good. How amazing is that. It’s really a fabulous picture and a wonderful strategy.

All I can do is manage one piece of the pie at a time – slowly and intentionally. If I try to rush through the whole pie, I’ll make myself sick. But, if I stay slow and steady, I can enjoy each piece. I can finish. And, I can say that it was good.

So, my past few weeks have been unsuccessful when it comes to full Sabbath rest – but they have had moments of peace, quiet and rest. It’s been a matter of taking life one bite at a time, resting in between, and knowing that it’s good.

Super mom doesn’t live here, and that’s OK. I’ll get through what’s important and do what I can each day. And, I’ll be OK with the reality of the season. I won’t give up seeking Sabbath, but I’m not going to beat myself up over my Sabbath-fails along the way.

It’s always a good time to stop and seek God, and I will.

I will rest. I will stop. I will breathe deeply. And, I will manage just one piece of pie at a time.

Stop is a verb

I had mistaken the definition of stop. It’s clearly a verb. It’s an action word.

Stopping is not passive. It doesn’t just happen. So why do I expect it to?

In my world, stopping only happens with intention, planning and prioritizing.

The school year has hit our family in full force now. My kids are in big and busy years, but different this year is that I’m in school too. I’m in an intensive, full-time professional program. You should see the reading lists for my classes. Oh my word! So. Much. Reading.

It would take almost no effort at all to justify stopping any attempt to seek, find or practical Sabbath this school year. Everyone would understand. But, God has put it so strongly on my heart, that I can’t let it go.

Instead, I’m doing the opposite and have explained to my children that we are trying something different this year. We are calling a stop to all school work for Sundays. I want, no… I need one day a week where I’m not doing it, not thinking about it, and not nagging my children about it.

Let’s be honest, this isn’t going to be easy and we may not manage it perfectly. We are going to have to be diligent, intentional and focussed the balance of the week… and organized (which I am not). But, having the boundary in place is our best chance of actually keeping a day of rest.

Do you have boundaries around your Sabbath practice? Are there things you have to be intentional to stop or to start? I’d love to know how this works in your life. Join in the conversation. Comment below, or jump over to our Facebook group, where we can chat.

Back to School, Busyness and Sabbath?

I work on call during the summer. My work can be quite predictable and fairly easy to gauge, and so I was pretty confident that I had this whole week off work to get organized, do housework and focus on back to school stuff. BUT, things didn’t go the way I planned.

I got called out to work for the whole balance of the summer. Financially, this is AWESOME. But, in every other way, it really isn’t! I will not have a week day off to get anything significant accomplished, or fit in some rest before we go back to school.

This year, my youngest child is entering her last year of elementary school. My third born is entering his last year of high school. And, I made the big decision to take a year long educational leave and go back to university myself. So there are some serious milestones attached to our back to school. Oh, and did I mention, child #1 is getting married in less than 6 weeks. And, child number 2 got engaged just this week! YAY!

When I talk about my life, and I talk about busyness, I feel a bit like Paul boasting about all the things in his resume in 2 Corinthians! Let me show you just how gifted at being busy I am…

Honestly, this is my reality. And each season seems to bring its own busyness. I don’t think its going to get naturally less busy any time soon. But, at least I can hold Paul’s perspective that my confident has to come from something other than what keeps me busy.

I had a lot of things I had hoped to get accomplished during my days at home this week – and that didn’t happen. If we are going to be honest, I’m further behind than when the week began. I’m heading into this weekend, and my windows for rest are small. I’m already questioning whether I’ve set myself up for a Sabbath fail!

But here’s what I know to be true:

1)      I need to choose to rest even in the middle of chaos

2)      There will ALWAYS be something that looks like it needs to get done “first”

3)      I don’t have to be legalistic, with a whole bunch of self-imposed rules to judge my Sabbath

4)      Sabbath rest is God’s gift to me. Appreciating it, and spending time honouring him is my gift back. And no stack of dishes, pile of laundry or shopping trip is worth missing it.

So, as I head into this weekend, already aware that I’ll be practicing Sabbath is a pretty imperfect way, I invite you to also find your time to stop. Rest. Breathe deeply. Don’t miss the gift in the midst of the mess or endless to-do list.

If you are serious about seeking Sabbath for yourself, or curious as to what that even might look like, head over to our Facebook group – where we can connect and chat and encourage each other. 

Smart and Simple Solution #1

To create space for Sabbath, I’m finding that I need to be intentional and intelligent in how I approach my “normal” six days – so when my window for rest comes, I’m not such a scattered or disorganized mess that I miss it!

My goal is to test and blog about one “Smart and Simple Solution” each week that makes my day-to-day life easier to manage – and makes seeking Sabbath just a little easier too.  

My #1 new favourite thing and the #1 Solution I’m sharing with you is… drum roll please… online grocery shopping.

This is seriously the best thing.

My closest grocery store has a Click & Collect service, where I can make my online grocery list, confirm a time slot, and hit click. I used to grocery shop on my way home from work – and typically finished tired, hungry and a little miserable… And, then I’d still have to get home and cook! URG!

Now, it’s like I have an assistant who will run to the store for me. And, while I can’t really afford a personal assistant, I can afford the $3 fee that the store charges for this luxury. (It’s $5 for a prime time or weekend time slot).

I am saving myself a whole lot of hassle. It’s giving me back well over an hour a week. My planning is better. I literally “stick to my list” in the store and don’t end up with impulse purchases. I love this service! It’s definitely a Smart and Simple Solution worth sharing!

If you want to try this, and you live near a Great Canadian Superstore, message me and I will send you a link for a code for $10 off your first order. If not, google and see which grocery stores in your area offer this service and try it.

Leave a comment and let me know how this solution works out for you, or share a Smart and Simple Solution of your own. We’re all seeking together and I’d love to hear what’s working for you!

Sabbath Recipes and Perseverance

I’m finding it easier to identify what is NOT good Sabbath practice for me than to nail down what IS my best practice. And, while I’ve been experimenting and seeking Sabbath consistently, no two weeks have been quite the same.

I haven’t found a formula for Sabbath that exactly “works” for me. I have no quick and easy, tested and true, three or four step recipe for a perfect Sabbath that you can ALWAYS count on to turn out right (or that you can download for a small fee!)

I’ve been reading a lot and trying different ideas. One of the books I recently read, which touches on this topic, is “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” Author Joanna Weaver suggests the closest thing I’ve found so far to a “Sabbath recipe” – as she lists three components of a Sabbath. To seriously simmer down her full thoughts (found on page 185-186 in the original 2000 edition for those who want to go back to the source), she suggests:

  • The Sabbath needs to be different, contrasting noticeably with the other six days.
  • It should be a day of devotion with time to focus our hearts and minds on God alone.
  • And, it should be at least partially a family day, with time spent with our family of faith in corporate worship and fellowship.

I think those are some really good ingredients for a successful Sabbath. For me, I know that I also need to intentionally include some sort of literal, physical rest – ideally a nap or maybe two. I find that I want to read or study, and have casual connections with friends. It is a good day to go for a walk, or out for coffee with a friend knowing that the work can wait.

In my weeks of experimenting, I’ve had some really good Sabbath experiences, and some gong shows. Literal gong shows. No rest, no downtime, no particular devotion to be found amongst the crazy! Sabbath fails, shall we say.

I found encouragement in Weaver’s book to persevere. Here’s what she says:

“When it comes to our spiritual lives, a lot of us are all-or-nothing people. If we aren’t automatically perfect, we just give up. When Christ-like virtues like patience and kindness seem hard to come by, we abandon our character development and decide holiness is for those better equipped. But when we give up, we’re giving up on our part of the partnership. Perseverance is one of our responsibilities in this process of being changed.” (pg 202, I added the bold emphasis myself!).

Perseverance is my responsibility in the process of being changed. Hmmmm… I need to name that, claim that, cross stitch and frame that! (but seriously… who am I kidding! I’m not making time to cross stich anything!)

Perseverance is what I’m bringing to my search for Sabbath. I’m going to keep on keeping on, and I sure hope that in the process, I am changed. And, I hope that you’ll stick with me. Maybe we can figure out this Sabbath thing together.

If you are interested in getting your own copy of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World”, it has been re-released since the 2000 edition that I have dog-eared on my shelf. I found mine at Value Village, but if you don’t happen to come across a copy and want to buy one, click on this link for ordering information from Amazon.ca.