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About the Episode

Your Sabbath practice needs structure to it. Yep, even for those of you who are a bit more free-spirited in nature. In this episode, I explain why and offer three tips for structuring your Sabbath practice!



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This is the Simply Sabbath podcast. You’re listening to episode 13.

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.

Today. I want to address an objection I get sometimes from mostly people who are doers, people who would describe themselves as doers, who would describe themselves as active. They’ll say to me, “I couldn’t do a 24 hour rest. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I’d be so bored. I’d be like bored out of my mind.”

And it makes me chuckle because my Sabbaths are anything but boring. I sometimes wish they were longer. Sometimes it feels like 24 hours isn’t even enough. Um, and so it makes me chuckle a little bit when I hear this objection from people.

I think it is a misconception that people have because uh the word Sabbath in the Western Christian culture has been applied to mean Sunday. It’s been applied to mean the Lord’s day… is what we call it. And it’s been applied to just the day of Sunday. It’s often applied to this idea of going to church and praying and being pious and not doing anything but other than spiritual work, which is kind of funny considering it’s supposed to be a day of rest. Right? But yet we have somehow twisted it into being work. It’s just holy hustle instead of regular hustle.

I understand how we got here only because I read a really good book that I would recommend everybody read. I think even if you, um, aren’t necessarily keen on the idea of making it a 24 hour day of rest, I still think that we need to understand how we got here, how we went from the early Christian Church, which consisted mainly of Jewish believers, who would have observed Sabbath, to going to church on Sunday for a couple of hours and then treating the rest of the day just like any other day of the week. How did we get here? How did we travel so far from this idea of Sabbath that God didn’t just give to the Israelites?

So I often recommend this book. It’s called a A Brief History of Sunday: From the New Testament to the New Creation and I’ll link to it in the show notes. Um, it’s Justo L González I believe is how you say his last name. But, I will link to it in the show notes. And what I love about this book is that it’s not meant to convince you of anything. It is not meant to convince you to observe sabbath, it’s not meant to convince you not to observe Sabbath. It simply tells you how we got here, how we moved from this group of Jewish believers to a couple of hours on Sunday worshiping God. It’s very fascinating. I highly recommend it. So definitely check that out.

But when people say to me that they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves, I think they have this idea in their heads that Sabbath is something that means doing nothing. And I get it because the word Sabbath means to cease, but what they’re forgetting, it doesn’t mean to cease everything. It means to cease working. It means to cease striving, and it means to enjoy and to dwell with the things that we’re creating.

If you remember work with not a result of the fall working existed in the garden. Adam was set into the garden and told to tend to it, to multiply and rule and subdued the earth. He was meant to cultivate the garden. So work was not the result of sin, the difficulties, the hardship, the fact that work would pull us away from the intimacy of resting with God that was the curse. That was the result of sin.

And so I just want you to remember that when you’re thinking about the fact that what would I do with my 24 hour day? How in the world am I going to spend 24 hours doing nothing? My simple answer to that is you’re not, you are going to spend your time enjoying the life that God has given you.

You are going to use your 24 hours to be refueled and recharged and refreshed. Now, how do you do this? You structure your Sabbath. I know for some of you, you just totally cringed when I said structure your Sabbath. Some of you are free spirited and you don’t like being put in a box and you don’t like being told what to do and you don’t like plans and you don’t like anything like that.

I am not like you, I don’t quite get that. I’m not going to pretend that I do. I am a planner true and through. Now I do have some friends and some family members who are more free spirits and we’ve had many conversations about planning things so much to the point where you offer no room for spontaneity or creativity. And that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about planning every minute detail of your Sabbath. I’m talking about structuring. Structuring is different than planning. Structure gives a framework in which you can rest.

Let me give this as an example: structuring your Sabbath is like creating a budget for your finances. You create freedom when you budget your money. When you know exactly how much you have to spend and how you can spend it, you gain freedom in not having to worry. You gain freedom in not being anxious. And you gain freedom in knowing you have enough. The same is true of structuring your Sabbath. When you structure your Sabbath, you create a framework in which you can truly 100% rest.

Because you know, one, the things that you prioritize in your resting– so for instance, say you find a refueling and recharging and refreshing through painting, and that needs to be a priority for you one day out of the week, you need to paint. And yet, if you don’t structure your Sabbath to allow for that, it’s not going to happen. We know how things go.

Time is a very easy thing to encroach on. It’s very easy to push other things aside. To push the thing aside that you know you need to do for the needs of others, especially those of us who are moms. We know what it’s like to self sacrifice to the point where we don’t even recognize our own needs. And that’s not biblical. In fact, God gave the command to the whole family to go out and gather manna. Isn’t that interesting? He didn’t say “women go out and gather the manna and you men just sit on your bottoms and do nothing.” No, he gave it to everybody because preparation is important part of resting.

And that brings me to my second point. When you structure your Sabbath, you know What it is that you intend to do and you can prepare for it. And in your preparation, you can protect that time. You want to paint on your Sabbath? You’re going to have to prepare for that. You’re going to have to make sure you have supplies. You’re going to have to make sure you have space. You’re going to have to make sure that you have time set aside for it.

Which brings me to point number three: when you are preparing to rest in a way that brings you enjoyment and in a way that brings you peace. In a way that allows you to connect with your heavenly father, there’s a little bit of excitement there. There’s a little bit of anticipation. You begin to want to make sure that this happens.

You begin to almost crave it.

You start to see Sabbath as what you could do instead of what you have to not do.

Let me just stress that right there. When you structure your Sabbath, you begin to see what you can do instead of fixating on what you can’t. Sabbath is not about the work you’ve ceased from. Sabbath is about the rest you enter into. And when you structure your Sabbath, you give priority to the ways you need to rest. You don’t over-schedule, you don’t over-commit and you don’t let things take away from the thing you need to do. It gives you a chance to prepare. It gives you a chance to get excited. There’s freedom in it.

So, how do you structure your Sabbath? Well, I actually have a whole guide for this. It’s called The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath. And this guide helps you to incorporate not only moments of rest for yourself, but moments of rest for your entire family. In that guide, I talk about the 5Rs and and these five RS are what we use to structure our Sabbath. So if you’re interested in learning a little bit more about how I structure my Sabbath, how I’m you might be able to structure your Sabbath. There’s some sample schedules in there. There’s five steps, some videos, some examples, it’s all there. It’s free. You can go to simplysabbath.com/busymomsguide. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well, but it’s there. Go get it, download it. It will help you. I promise you, it will help you. That’s why I created it. I, I know when I first started practicing Sabbath, I had no idea how to structure it. Had no idea how to wrap my brain around what I was going to do for the next 24 hours of rest. I was in the same position you were, and I kind of piecemealed something together. I’ve refined it over the years. I want to help you get past all those hours of research that I had to do. So I put together the guide and so you can just go sign up for it. You’ll get an access to it right away. And you could start implementing this the next week for yourself.

So in there I talk about the 5Rs um and how I structure my Sabbath, but, I’m not going to get into all that today. I think that would make this episode way too long, but instead, I’m just going to give you three tips for starting to think about this, and then I hope you go and download that guide.

The first tip is when you structure Sabbath, make sure you know, when your start and stop time are. don’t just say, ah, I’m going to Sabbath on Friday. That’s too loosey-goosey. You need to have a start and a stop time because those anchor your Sabbath. You welcome in the Sabbath. You welcome in the workweek. Those are your anchors. And so once you have that, once, you know what day, what times, then you can start breaking it down by hour.

My second tip for you is when you’re structuring your Sabbath, keep about, I want to say like a quarter 25% of your time routine and repeatable. The rest of your time, keep it more open-ended what do I mean by this? So if you only have five hours that you’re going to Sabbath, I would say make the first hour and a half something that is regular, a regular routine. You open up the Sabbath or you welcome the Sabbath by saying a prayer, eating a meal together and maybe playing a game. And that starts your Sabbath time. And then, and this is the same thing, you do this every single week, same time, same way. You repeat it. This signals to your mind, we’re entering into a special time. It trains your mind to recognize, ah, this time is different from all the other times.

And so when you do that, it helps you to just enter into that aspect of rest a little bit more easily. The rest of the time, I would put a little bit more generic open-ended thing to it. So you might do after you pray, have your meal and play game, then you might say for an hour, everybody rests in their own way.

And I talk more about this in the guide, but you’re going to need to talk about this stuff before you actually get to Sabbath. Do not wait until the day of Sabbath to figure out what you’re going to do that day. Talk about it the day or two before. But when you get to that hour, you think you guys can rest in whatever ways you want to, but you’ve kind of predetermined and this can change from week to week. One week, you might want to spend an hour reading, the next week you might want to go spend the hour taking a walk. That’s what I mean by keeping it open-ended. This allows for it to be, for those of you who are more free-spirited, this doesn’t box you in quite as much. But it also just gives you a chance to reconnect with God in the way that you need for that specific week.

My third tip for you when you’re structuring your Sabbath, it’s to include a time of reflection and prayer, quiet time if you will, this is different than that hour that I said, oh, you should at least have an hour of where like everybody goes rest in whatever way they want to. This is different. This is a time where you pull out a journal or you just sit quietly and you just pray and ask God to help you to reflect on your week and to give you eyes to see your week through his perspective. I have found that including this into my Sabbath has given me a deepened faith and a deepened joy.

Because I begin to see things that maybe feel hard and difficult in the moment, I begin to see them for what, and, you know, sometimes they are just difficult and hard, but sometimes I can see God’s hand working in it a little bit more clearly when I take the time to stop and reflect. And so I would suggest that when you’re considering structuring your south, that you include a time of reflection and prayer.

However you structure your Sabbath and there really is no wrong, or right, right way to do this, I give you the guide just as a starting point to see what you could do. But scripture is not prescriptive in this. There are some things that scripture told the Israelites not to do, and I will probably be exploring that a little bit more in a future episode, but there’s not as many rules and regulations around Sabbath as it might seem. What we typically think of with Sabbath, the traditions that have been passed down through the generations of Jewish families, those traditions were develop and maintained. They’re not prescriptive in scripture.

So the thing I want you to take away is that however you structure your Sabbath, it doesn’t really matter, the key is that you structure it. Because that will help you anticipate, get excited, get prepared, and allocate your time in a way that protects your rest, in a way that gives you space for that rest.

You are essentially creating traditions for your own home, creating a culture of rest in your home. Um, I talked with Ruth Pauley about this, and I’ll link to that episode in the show notes as well. But talking about the idea of creating a culture of rest in your home, and that’s essentially what you’re doing with structuring your Sabbath, you’re creating this culture of rest. This way in which your family observes Sabbath. You may want to incorporate some traditions. You may want to keep it very generic. However you want it to be, just make sure to structure it.

So the question I want to leave you with this week: What could your Sabbath look like if you got to do what you wanted to do?

Until 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: What could my Sabbath practice look like if I got to do what I wanted to do?

Grab the free guide to structure your Sabbath practice: 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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