The Sabbath: Making it Work for My Family

Taking a Sabbath – an intentional time of rest. Seriously? Who has time for that? No matter what season of life you’re in – school, career, marriage, kids, empty nester (they tell me they’re busier than ever, but as a mom with four young kids, I don’t know if I buy it!!) –  life is busy. Sabbath-taking seems outdated and impossible. The Ancient Israelites, the early Jesus followers – life was simpler then, right? They could manage it. Nowadays, life is so fast-paced, advanced, full. And besides, isn’t the Sabbath rooted in legalism and rule-keeping?

As part of our Spring Soul-Training and Good and Beautiful Life series at Vineyard North, author James Bryan Smith challenges our thinking around the Sabbath. The Sabbath forces us out of the role of God in our lives. Allowing God to take care of us, we relax and enjoy life. The sabbath is a gift to help us rest, trust and surrender control.

Find out below how one woman at Vineyard North is taking Spring Soul-Training seriously and now, for the first time, trying out the discipline of the Sabbath in the midst of her busy life as a wife, mom and full-time guidance counselor.


1. Introduce yourself.

My name is Nicole Deckrow. I’m 32. I’ve been married to Dustin for nine years. We have three kids – Hayden, 5, Reese 2 1/2, and Teagan, 2 months. We live in Grand Rapids. I’m a high school guidance counselor for a public Class A school.

2. How long have you been following Jesus?

I have been following Jesus for most of my life really. I grew up in a Catholic home and went to a Catholic school. I have always believed in God and Jesus. But it wasn’t until I met my husband in college and attended Vineyard North with him in 2002 that I really stepped into a real relationship with Jesus.

3. Were you familiar with the idea of keeping the sabbath? If so, what did you think of it? Did you have reservations about it?

I am familiar with the idea of keeping the Sabbath. Growing up it meant going to church on a Sunday and that was about it. As I got older and listened to some sermons at various places and some other discussion about it, I got a very legalistic impression of how it was supposed to look. I heard ideas of no cooking, no laundry, no TV, no going out to eat – basically a day of doing nothing but going to church and being with family. I was always very turned off by this perception of the Sabbath and felt that this was not possible to uphold in a family like ours, where I’m a working mom.

I need Sunday to do laundry. I do all my meal planning on the weekends. Sunday is the one day of the week I have time to cook a recipe that requires more time, which I really enjoy. Not to mention, Sundays after church we usually grocery shop and I love to go do activities with the kids like skiing, hiking or swimming. I felt some resentment toward pastors preaching about this when they all seemed to have stay-at-home wives. I’d think to myself, “How convenient for them that they have the time to commit a whole day to doing nothing!”

4. What has renewed your interest in the sabbath?

I have been reading The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith and one of his exercises talks about upholding the Sabbath and letting God be in control. I started by making another snide comment to my husband about how annoyed I was that the author assumed we all have time for this. Between working full time and having three little ones, I certainly don’t get a day off! These comments – full of bitterness – led my husband and I to have a really good conversation about the Sabbath and what this could look like for OUR family. What it really boiled down to was that I want something like this – a designated time where I can just relax and shut off my nonstop inner dialogue to-do list, but I didn’t see how this was at all feasible. And I also didn’t agree with all the legalism surrounding the Sabbath.

5. How will/does the Sabbath look like for you?

OK, well, I think it will look different and it will be ever evolving, but here is where we are at for now. It could look different every week, but it is the mental state and spirit of our heart that is important. We’ve decided to commit to a day of fun and family. It could be going for a family hike, playing board games at home, having some quiet time to read/be with God. It could be for a half-day one day and two hours the next week. The point is that we are committing time to give our worries and to-do lists up to God to just rest and play. We are acknowledging Him and thanking Him for this time of rejuvenation. We are also committing to a special Sabbath meal once per week where we make it special, honor God, and pray for/bless our children. This does not need to be the same day every week for us because our schedules vary with work travel, sports and activities.

6. Do you think the Sabbath works for families with young kids? How will you include your kids?

I think a legalistic Sabbath day would not work for the kids in our family because we have lot of different things going on. But I think teaching kids about the spirit of the Sabbath and about the fact that God wants us to have time to play together, have quiet time with Him and time to relax and restore is very important. I plan to include my kids by making them a big part of our Sabbath dinner and through conversations during our Sabbath time. My kids rarely see me slow down. So I think by explaining that God wants us to take time to be together with no agenda because He loves us will be something our kids will notice.

7. Why do you think the Sabbath is valuable?

I think it will be a big leap of faith for me personally to say, “I trust you with my time.” In my crazy life, time is very, very precious and so to give some of that time to God and be still is almost more difficult than a monetary tithe. I think it is valuable in general because our kids need us to slow down, our marriages need times of no agenda, and our minds need this time to be a better person throughout the rest of the week.

8. Do you think the sabbath is a one-size-fits-all kind of exercise or can you make it your own?

Absolutely not! I think it should look different for everyone. And it will continue to look different in each stage of your life. The point is that you are committed to recognizing it in some form and thanking God for that, because I believe it is meant to be helpful and to be a blessing to you.

Want to share your Spring ‘Soul’ Training story, email Pastor Lauren Befus.

Join us during Lent 2014 for Spring ‘Soul’ Training. You can join in by adding these group events to your calendar and then selecting some exercises to try out on your own during Lent. (PRO TIP: install the Vineyard App for easy access to this guide and weekly updates.)

Special events just for Lent:

  • Sun, April 6, 6pm: Naturally Supernatural Healing Prayer Training with Gary Best
  • Fri, April 18, 6pm: Good Friday Worship Service
  • Sun, April 20, 9 & 11 am: Two morning Easter services; invite someone along!

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