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About the Episode

What exactly is work? We have so much work to-do as moms and some of it feels like we can’t put it down. So how can we stop and rest? How can we take a Sabbath when we’re not even really sure what counts as work and what doesn’t?



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You’re listening to episode 10 of the simply Sabbath podcast

Rest doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. If you feel like you’re about to break from exhaustion. Let me invite you to Simply Sabbath, a podcast for the burnt-out Christian mom, who longs to get back to the core of who she is and to reclaim the deep joy and stabilizing peace Jesus has for her in her every day– without the mom guilt that often accompanies self-care practices.

Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach and I help busy moms just like you add a simple restful family Sabbath to their week. So they can experience a refueling that gives them exactly what they need to live the life that God has called them to. I’m so glad you’ve joined me today. Let’s get to it

You want to know what work is. I totally get this because our culture and our world looks so vastly different than the Israelites’ did. When God gave the Israelites the command to observe the Sabbath, they weren’t even in their own country. They were just beginning to establish the nation of Israel and the culture and all things that would follow with observing the Sabbath. They were still in the wilderness. And so what exactly does work look like now when we’re not in a wilderness? When we’re not in a culture that collectively sabbaths together.

What does it look like for the stay-at-home mom who doesn’t leave and goes to her nine to five? What does it look like from the work-from-home mom who has to create some boundary in her home because she also doesn’t leave for a nine to five. What does it look like for the mom who does leave for her nine to five, but she comes home and have to be mom still.

What is work?

We have so many things as moms and it can be really frustrating because some of it feels like we can’t stop it. Some of it feels like we can’t put it down. So how can we stop? How can we take a Sabbath when we’re not even really sure what we’re supposed to be sabbathing from?

My understanding of what work is has evolved as I’ve practiced Sabbath. I now know when I’m working. I now know when it’s something that’s life-giving to me, when something is joyful, and when something is work. When something is my striving.

It’s taken me a long time to get to there. And so if you don’t know exactly what you’re supposed to be ceasing from yet, just give it time, first of all. We’ll talk a little bit more in a few minutes about a little bit more of a guideline for what that means, but for right now, I just, I want to encourage you not to feel the pressure to define exactly what it is that you’re ceasing from. Because as you Sabbath week after week, you’ll find that that becomes clearer and clearer for you. That the ways in which you work, the ways in which you strive, the ways in which you aim to be productive, look slightly different from your neighbor. And so worry more about being attentive to the way that you’re moving through that space of rest.

I think that we all know that we need to rest, but we’re not sure what to rest from. And that’s why we ask what counts as work? We want a to-cease list. like, what should I stop doing in order to rest?

I think that in order to really answer that question, what do we cease from? What do we stop doing? What do we rest from? We have to first go back to the beginning. So in Genesis, 1:31 through Genesis chapter two, verse four, it said:

God looked over everything he had made. It was so good. So very good. It was evening. It was morning, day six. Heaven and earth were finished down to the last detail. By the seventh day, God had finished his work. On the seventh day, he rested from all of his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a holy day because on that day, he rested from his work. All the creating God had done.

I think this is important to note because what you are about to do has less to do with creating a don’t list and everything to do with a mindset shift that will be challenged week after week. To Sabbath is to stop working. To work is to make a Sabbath a necessary next step. The two go hand in hand they coexist. So in order to know what you’re ceasing from on day seven, you need to know what you’re creating days one through six.

A good exercise in figuring this out, figuring out what exactly are you creating days one through six, is to think about the different roles you carry. Think about what you’re creating within those roles.

So if you’re a stay-at-home mom, part of that role is being a home manager, right? What do you create within that role of home manager? You might create a budget. You might create a clean space to live. You might create healthy meal plan. You have that role and you create those things within that role.

You know, a role you might carry is a homeschooling mom, you have to create lesson plans, or create your environment as a place to learn. You also mainly create opportunity to learn by, you know, working through a workbook with your kids, or by doing a project with them, taking them on a field trip, whatever. That takes time. It’s what you’re doing. That’s what you create during that space.

If you’re a momprenuer and you have a business, you probably already know what you’re creating. If that’s the case, it’s a little bit more easy to define what work is in that space, in that role. But you know, you’re creating a product or a service that your customer can use.

Even our roles as mother and friend and wife, we are creating relationships within those roles. And there is a community aspect to Sabbath that I, I don’t want you to just dismiss, but I also recognize that some relationships, feel more like work than they do enjoyment. And so, um, I just want to acknowledge that I want to acknowledge that some relationships they can be a little bit of work. That might be something you might have to cease from during the Sabbath is trying to establish relationship during that time.

I love the way Isaiah 58, 13 through 14 puts it:

“If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, if you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s holy day of a celebration. If you honor it by refusing business as usual making money running here and there, then you’ll be free to enjoy God. Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above at all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob. Yes, God says so.”

Business as usual. I think that’s the key here, honestly. First six days, we work in various ways, the roles that we were just talking about, doing the things we need to do, but on the seventh we’re to remember our original design to dwell with God and others in just pure enjoyment.

So I’ll give you some examples, of the way that I know others within our culture are ceasing from their work, but ultimately you need to decide what it is you have been given to cultivate in this very individualistic culture we live in. It is on you to decide what it means for you to cease working on day seven so that you can dwell with God in all he has entrusted to your care and enjoy it. I think that’s the key here is that we work so we can enjoy the things that we’ve cultivated. And I think that’s what we see in the garden. We see God creating and cultivating and bringing to life humans, animals, habitat… And then he gets to enjoy his creation. He doesn’t just move on to the next thing. He actually enjoys the thing that he has cultivated. He spends time with it. And I think that just a beautiful picture, and I think we need to start embracing that for our own lives. God has given us things to cultivate he’s given roles and responsibilities to us. And he saying here, go work this field that I’ve given you to tend to. But don’t miss out in enjoying the fruits of your labor.

So what are examples? Well, I know business owners who will not make any sales. We’ll actually be talking to business owner in a future episode where they actually even turn off their online sales. It’s online, but they close it down. They, they don’t take sales during their Sabbath time. Which is really cool. We’ll get to talk to her more.

Uh, and then I have heard of women who don’t do any housework because for the rest of the week, that’s what they strive so much to do. That’s what they’re cultivating. They’re cultivating a clean space and on the Sabbath, they don’t do that work.

Um, I know some of you are like, but how do we keep a clean home? Let me remind you. It’s just for one day. Just for one day. The house is not going to fall down if we don’t vacuum for that 24 hours. The house is not going to fall apart if we don’t dust it, you know, if we don’t wash the dishes.

But here let me, let me get really practical with you because I know this a big hangup for a lot of us.

This is a really great opportunity to help your children to prepare for Sabbath: have them go vacuum their rooms and sweep the floors before you guys begin your Sabbath time.

If you’re like me who really hates the sink full of dishes, use paper plates. Throw them away afterwards.

Unload your dishwasher before your Sabbath begins and then when you get done, just stick them in the dishwasher instead of placing them in the sink, place them in the dishwasher. And even if you want to hit start, like it’s not the end of the world if you hit start. But, um, is that really work? You’re not doing, you’re not working. The dishwasher is.

How, how nuance do you really want to get with it? Are you just getting caught up in the legalities of it? And are you missing the heart of it? Man was not meant to serve the Sabbath. The Sabbath was meant to serve man. Do you really think that God, when he established the Sabbath and he was walking with Adam and Eve in the garden that he was thinking, okay, I want you to avoid hitting the start button on a dishwasher?

Or was he really wanting us to remove distraction from enjoying the things that we have cultivated throughout the week?

I want you guys to understand that, like, this is not something to get so hung up on if like milk spills on the table, you’re like, I can’t wipe it up because that would be working. No, it’s, it’s kinda that whole like donkey falls into a well on Sabbath, you pull them out of the well, right? It’s the same thing. Like if there’s something catastrophic that happens in your home, you’re going to take care of it. At the end of the day, the idea is to remove the distraction from enjoying the thing that you cultivated throughout the week.

So, I’ll get off my soap box now. I think I’ve given you maybe a couple of things to consider with that, with the housework one.

Homeschooling mom, and this one’s a little bit easier because we typically only do school Monday through Friday, but you homeschool moms, I know you’re lesson planning, you’re preparing for the week often on the weekends. So here’s what I would encourage you to do: I would encourage you to really hold fast to that day of rest rule and do not create lesson plans, do not prepare on the Sabbath. It is only one day. You can use the next day to do it, okay?

Some of my friends, they’re introverted and they need that downtime from being on in the world, cultivating relationships, cultivating, you know, customer service or whatever it is and the industry that they work in. And so they kind of put a hard, fast rule on Sabbath as being, um, just their family and that’s okay. It’s what do you need? What are the roles you carry? What are the responsibilities you carry? What do you create in those spaces? And how can you rest from them in a way that refreshes and refuels you? That’s really what the heart of this is. How can you enjoy the things that you’ve cultivated throughout the week?

Some people have asked, like, is something like gardening, is that work? For some of us that’s work. For others of us that brings so much enjoyment. And it’s not anything that they’ve worked on throughout the week. They’re not, they’re not gardening to feed their families. They’re, they’re not gardening to, to, um, to survive. It’s not a job. It’s just something that they enjoy doing.

I think it is the same as writing or painting or things like that. I used to write on the Sabbath. That’s what I used to do for fun. And now I don’t, I don’t write on the Sabbath because I spend so much time writing throughout the rest of the week. So since that’s the role I carry right now as writer. I, and I work on that throughout the week. I don’t do that on the Sabbath.

I hope this has kind of a jumping off point for you as you explore what should be on your to-cease list. That’s what I call my, do not work on the Sabbath in these ways, list. It’s my to-cease list. And so you might want to develop one for yourself. What roles do you have? What things do you create in those roles? What do you need to Sabbath from in order to enjoy the fruits of your labor?

So I will leave you with this question, ask yourself: which area of work in my life do I need to learn to simply dwell in for one day?

I’ll see you next time.

Hey, I just want to say thank you for joining me for today’s conversation. I know many things demand your attention. I don’t take lightly the privilege it is to share your time. I want to make things as easy and simple for you. So I’ve linked to all the resources mentioned in the episode in the show notes, and you can always find the link and more helpful information on my website, www.simplysabbath.com.

As we say our goodbyes, let me remind you that what we’re talking about in this podcast is not just another thing to add to your to-do list. This is not another expectation for you to live up to. It is a gift out stretched from the hand of your creator. An invitation to press pause on walking alongside Jesus in all the things He’s called you to do. And instead the down, across from Him and just be with Him.

It is an invitation to Simply Sabbath.

Now What?

Ask yourself: Which area of my life do I need to learn to simply dwell in for just one day?

Grab this free guide to start practicing Sabbath: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath


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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!

I help busy moms add a simple, rest-filled family Sabbath to their week. If that sounds like something you want for your week, but don’t know where to start, grab this free how-to resource: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath.

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