I don't know if God works this way with other people, but when He wants to teach me something, He repeats it. Repeatedly.

I suddenly find myself faced with the same truth or idea over and over again. The thought may be presented in different contexts and come from different sources. But each one has the same resonance in my heart. It's as if God is saying,"Consider this. Measure yourself against this. Be prepared to change."

Almost two years ago, I read a short article in Discipleship Journal magazine that included the following Q&A with Eugene Peterson:
DJ: What spiritual practice has most shaped your walk with God?

Eugene: Keeping a weekly Sabbath -- a day my wife and I define as "praying and laying." A day we don't do anything that has to be done.

When we realized that the command to keep a Sabbath is one of the most repeated in Scripture and yet the most ignored in our culture, we had to readjust radically the way we were living. No other decision has made as much difference to our lives across the board. It has impacted our marriage, children, church life, friendships, writing ... the works.

Sabbath-keeping shifted our attention from what we were doing for God to what God was doing for us. Our work became subsumed in His.
The keeping of a modern-day Sabbath is a fairly new idea in most Christian circles. Certainly, it's not a practice I grew up with, and I grew up deep within the Evangelical subculture. (My proof: I get 98.5% of the jokes on Stuff Christians Like. Jon is my people.) So when I heard Eugene Peterson credit Sabbath-keeping as the number one spiritual practice to impact his faith, I sat up and took notice.

Since that time, I've done a fair amount of research on the Sabbath. I know its history, its traditions, its benefits and dangers. Many people I know and respect practice the idea of Sabbath in different ways, and there's both freedom and beauty in that.

But yet today, two years later, I still struggle with integrating Sabbath into my daily, wife-mother-cooker-cleaner life. As most Moms know, there are no days off in this business. And I'm OK with that; really, I am. I love my life, and I know it won't always be this way. But right now, I can't imagine taking a whole day to "pray and lay." I love the concept. But I don't know how to fit it into my practical, everyday existence.

I have some thoughts about this, which I'll share later in the week. But for now, I'd like to open it up for discussion. Do you practice a Sabbath and/or know someone who does? (Link to Wiki there, if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) If so, what does it look like? If not, why not?


  1. We attend church and teach a small group and all of the things you're
    "supposed to do," but I've yet to figure out how to incorporate a true sabbath into my week. I still need to do laundry, clean up something, or run to the store for something...but this is something that has been convicting me for a while. I'll be interested to see what others have to say on this issue and learn from their insight.

  2. I'll say that we try really hard to make Sundays a day of rest. Sure, there's laundry and meals and usually always something that has to be done, but more than anything we try to make our Sundays look and feel different than the rest of the week. We nap, we read, we sit and linger over coffee or the Sunday paper. We play games, we let the answering machine get the phone, we don't have playdates, and we just enjoy spending the day as a family.

    Sometimes, if we've had a horribly busy week we even stay home from church (*gasp*). I'm sure some people don't understand that, but if every day of the week, including Sundays, have us on the go, I don't see any sort of Sabbath in that.

    I think the idea of a true Sabbath is so intriguing. Can't wait to read your posts later.

  3. Hi! I found your blog via Megan @ SortaCrunchy. I'm reeeeeally intrigued by the concept of keeping a Sabbath after reading your post, and I'm eager to hear more. One of my main hurdles in maintaining the relationship with God that I'd like to have is just sheer busyness...or perceived busyness. I'd love to have a regular Sabbath day, but how to do that in my current stage of life (stay-at-home-mom craziness) is the question that I must think on. Can't wait to hear more!

  4. We used to attend church on Saturday nights, so we considered Sunday the closest thing to a Sabbath we could have. It was wonderful for us as individuals and as a family. Now we live in an area where there are no church services on Saturday night and we have definitely noticed a difference in our week. They weekend gets away from us and we are not nearly as rested on Monday morning. I can't wait to read your posts.

  5. I just posted & asked about the Sabbath last weekend - with some people leaving comments regarding their own methods of rest. Check it out, if you life, at

  6. Kinda/sorta/casually...I try to take the day off on Saturdays from household stuff (my work) WITHOUT GUILT. But I don't follow it as though it's the law...sometimes stuff has to be done. I really think its about resting from the noise and business of everyday...which looks a little different for everyone. That's my 2 cents :)

  7. Oh, Kelly, I could write a novel on this topic! This is one that is so near and dear to my heart. So bear with me. First, a bit of background on us...

    My husband is currently in a season of working 3 jobs. He works from home, "punching a time clock" from 8:30-5:30pm, then immediately leaves to work as a closing server at Chili's on Tues, Thurs, Fri and Sat. He generally doesn't get home until at least midnight or 1am. Then, he is also a sound tech at our church, so Wednesday nights he's there and Sunday has him leaving home at 6:45am, and not being done until 1pm. We eat out as a family then nap for a couple blessed hours and head to our evening small group (the highlight of our week!)

    Like I said, it's a "season" for us - hopefully the Chili's work will decrease by the end of the year and the payoff of some major debt.

    My point, however, is that there just is no TIME for a Sabbath for us now - even though we desperately WANT one. I've often thought about how MINISTRY families can incorporate a Sabbath, especially ones like ours, that work other full-time vocational jobs and don't have the luxury of taking a Friday off to make up for Sunday's frenetic pace.

    On a more practical note, I do try to have all housework/chores/yardwork done throughout the week, with the major projects completed on Saturdays. Yes, us mommas will always have to cook on Sabbaths, (thank the Lord for crock pots and grills) but I do feel like unless it's a dire emergency, planning can take place to get that laundry completed on Friday, and the toilet can surely wait one more day to be scrubbed. :)

    Sorry for the novel - but you sure have landed on a dear topic to me! Looking forward to all the comments and your future posting on the subject!

  8. Our dear friend introduced me to a "solitude day" a few years back. I have taken them a few times, but they feel so indulgent! In fact, they probably feel that way becuase satan would do anything to keep us from communing with our Creator! Anyway, the premise is to take one day a month for just you and God. I have gone to our nature center and walked the trails with my Bible and a little lunch, or sat at a coffee shop and read or journaled...Just a time set a date. You know? I think I could plan ahead a dinner to pop in the oven for the fam and Dad can play with the kiddos for an afternoon once a month.
    The hardest part for me is choosing it, getting away from the "tyranny of the urgent" and choosing the important. Afterall, when my kids are grown and out on their own I hope I'll be thanking God in heaven that they saw Him in me ever increasingly, not that they learned such wonderful laundry skills.

  9. I'm with you on Stuff Christians Like. Boy, do I get it!

    Our pastor reminded us last year that the Sabbath doesn't have to be on Sunday. Maybe Saturday is the day that you choose. The important thing is that you make it a priority, and nothing else gets in the way of that. And maybe for starters you can only really do it for a morning...that's okay too.

    Can't wait to hear how it works for you!!

  10. That's hard! There's always something to do! I'm glad that the rest I find can be scattered throughout the week. We usually don't take a full day off, but we have plenty of down time.

  11. We listened to a Rob Bell sermon in the car one day, with "Sabbath" as the topic. I tried to find it online, but I can't be sure which is the right one. But it was worth considering this topic, one that, you're right, doesn't get much attention.

    One thing is for sure, itis often difficult to figure out how to turn an Old Testament-implemented law and turn it into a New Testament principle (especially if you try with animal sacrifices - yuck!), but whether or not Sabbath is meant as a command for us in the most literal sense as in the OT, at least the idea helps us remember, "Oh yeah, we're not machines. Time to slow down. Time to STOP. Time to think, time to pray, time to listen, time to reflect, receive, converse, share. How about time to BREATHE?!?!?!" Honestly, I rarely take time for these things and it shows.

    We enjoyed a relaxing, quiet Sunday afternoon yesterday. My husband worked on some genealogy stuff (which he loves) and I made brownies (which we both love), and didn't do much else. But it still wasn't pointed/focused on anything spiritual. Sure, it was relaxing, but I'm not sure if I would call it a sabbath. I felt and still feel like it waas a wasted afternoon because of all the stuff I could do or create or read or organize or whatever! I don't think I felt very sabbath-like yesterday. I just felt lazy. There is a difference!

    I don't know if the concept of a sabbath is just a very individual thing, where your sabbath is going to look different than my sabbath, or if sabbath looks different everytime it is implemented. (Is it an entire day like Sunday or a couple hours every evening?) I don't know. From the comments here it appears that sabbath is a very fuzzy idea in the minds of most Christians.

    *I don't like writing on my blog, so I write on yours. I have considered this, athough without using the term "sabbath". I'm there with ya, ladies:

  12. Hi Kelly,
    I'd have to say no, we do not. But we do attend church as a family and Sunday's tend to me a little more relaxing than other days. But depending on the season, we have things going on. Overall Sundays do feel different in our home though :)
    Great post! That baby is getting too big!

  13. My husband and I talk about this all the time. We dream of quiet, restful, reflective Sundays. It looks good on paper...

    But then Sunday morning comes and the simple act of readying six children for church makes those dreams vanish. We tell ourselves it will be easier when they are older.

  14. I don't as much as I'd like to, I did as a kid, no chores, no shopping, no homework etc.
    A blogger who I LOVE who does keep Sabbeth (and has 6 kids) is Janet at

  15. I enjoyed reading both your post and all of the comments.

    I first read this yesterday, but when I went to comment, the kiddos needed me. Anyways, it was ironic because I was actually trying to implement somewhat of a Sabbath at our house. For me, that means I "let things go" for the day. I thought it would drive me crazy and that the house would be a complete wreck. I was pleasantly surprised. My husband and I spent nap time relaxing with each other. It was wonderful. Of course, we were at church all morning, so we really weren't home that long.

    Okay, this is long enough, but one more thing. I'm reading Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent. She really explores the idea of Sabbath and taking life at a slower pace. It has been good for me to read this before my kids enter the crazy season of being involved in different activities. Okay, I really will stop.

  16. We do NOT keep a Sabbath. And I'm way intrigued by what you've learned on it.

  17. We attend church twice on Sundays and keep a sabbath as the sabbath was meant to be kept! We don't do anything that even resembles work, only the bare essentails! And I have 4 under 7! We read, play games, sleep, etc. between church services or visit with others in our congregation. It's, for us, a day set apart from the rest of the week! And a day that we honour wholeheartedly!

  18. I stumbled upon your blog via the link made at the Compassion's blog site (congrats on getting the traffic there!). This post also got me thinking ... I thought 7th Day Adventists only did the Sabbath Day thing ... I better go research!

  19. Walker and I JUST had this discussion, because we were talking about how our kids will not be on sports teams that play on Sundays, and how that was gonna be a huge battle. And I said well, we better start changing some stuff now, because otherwise Shep is going to say "well how come I can't play soccer on Sunday but you can go to Target, huh?" And he would have a good point.

    IN FACT, sister mind twin, I thought about posting pretty much your very post.

    No answers yet, just the revelation that we need to get our rears in gear before they start asking.

  20. I do have one point tho -

    Keeping the Sabbath is a Commandment. TOP TEN. Right up there with murder and adultery.

    It is not a suggestion. It is not a nice thought for when we are less busy. It's a COMMANDMENT.

    It doesn't seem as important to us, but obviously it is very important to God. It is not one of "those old testament things" any more than murder is an old testament thing. And as Eugene Peterson said, the benefits of keeping it have been as great to him as the benefits of not murdering anybody have been.

    So, if we claim to love God, we need to devote as much time to figuring this one out as we devote to not having an affair and not stealing and not saying the GD word.

    And I say this, just as guilty as anyone else.

    I needed that reminder.

  21. I have friends who keep a Saturday Sabbath. What they watch on television has to be uplifting, they generally go for an outing that will turn their minds toward God (I got to go on one of these--without my camera, dang it!) I have watched their lives and how they live out their convictions. They have three sons who are learning that what God commands is important to take notice of. So with that background, I've done a study on the Sabbath. Here's my post on it: One thing I have gleaned from watching this lived out in such a real and devoted way is that it is one of the Big Commandments and God hasn't sent a memo to rescind it.

  22. I had missed this post, thank you for pointing me to it. What an inspiring quote from Eugene Peterson!