Monday, September 26, 2011

Sweet Sabbath ~ A New, but Weekly Highlight

Last week the fall semester schedule moved into full swing for me.  Already back to homeschooling for the year, off to a great start with our Classical Conversations program, dance, piano, guitar, baseball, and cross country begun, last week brought the addition of my final weekly commitments ~ helping Robert lead a mid week small group for freshmen in college, leading a Bible/book study for young women at Amherst College, and teaching a Sunday school class for women on the same book at church on Sunday mornings.

Since it was the first of these weekly group commitments, introductions and ice-breakers were typical fare.  When it was my turn to share where I go to school (I don't; I teach school at my dining room table.), what my major is (plate spinning, i.e. time management and food prep), and what a highlight from my week was with the women from Amherst College, I thought my "highlight" might sound too spiritual, but it was truly my highlight, so I shared it anyway.

"Well, it was Monday," I explained, "when I got to spend two hours sitting at the picnic table in my backyard, reading, praying, and journaling."

I explained briefly my struggle to STOP in life, my fear that the world (or plates) might stop spinning if I did. I shared my guilt over leaving anything undone or incomplete whether it be housecleaning, my email inbox, thank you notes, remembering birthdays, returned phone calls, or organizing the linen closet. I explained that wrapped up in all of that is the ungodly perspective that I can earn favor with people and God by always being on top of everything, and that that's why I've been trying to honor and obey the Lord by truly observing the Sabbath, but on Mondays, because Saturdays and Sundays are simply not conducive to Sabbath. (Our whole family worked at Cooper's cross country meet on Saturday from 7am to 3pm, and Sunday....well, it's more non-stop than Saturdays!)

That particular Monday, I was only able to observe the Sabbath for two hours.  This was a definite disappointment to me, because it was not my goal or ideal of "stopping" for an entire day, but for two hours, I did stop.  I walked away from the kitchen and the school/dining room table, and I sat down.  And it was wonderful.  Now, I have made a practice of spending time reading the Word and praying on an almost-daily basis, but taking a whole day affords an extended time for this and other restful activities.

He met me there in those two hours ~ of course.  He used His Word to perfectly intersect with another book I am currently reading.  He answered theological questions that I had, just days before, asked Robert about. He encouraged me, and it was pretty clear that He was not displeased with my two hour Sabbath.

It was my highlight of last week.

It's Monday again today, and I think it will be another highlight of my week.  (Well, except that I'm going out of town later in the week and will get to see wonderful friends!)  Today was a full day Sabbath.  Yes, even the blogging that I am doing right now is a part of it, because it's for Him and it's enjoyable to me.  It's not "laborious work" as the books of Leviticus and Numbers often urge/command the Israelites (and us) to refrain from. (I know it's a "Law", but one that encourages trusting in Grace.

It did require laborious work to get here, though.  Yesterday, after teaching Sunday school, attending worship service, cooking lunch (this requires getting up before 6a.m.), and hosting people for lunch, I got busy cleaning and preparing for the week.  All dishes were done, all rooms put back in order, kitchen table de-cluttered, thank you notes written, email inbox nearly emptied, and menu planning and grocery shopping were done.  I sat down with Kory and helped him make his school schedule for the entire week, because then he's on his own and doesn't require further direction from me.  I checked in with Kayla and Cooper to make sure they were well on their way to being prepared for Classical Conversations on Tuesday, and knew what schoolwork to do on Monday.  Appointments for the week were made, a fresh batch of granola was made, and I even baked everyone puffed pancakes for dinner.

Then I headed upstairs around 9:30pm and snuggled into bed with Robert who had "Friday Night Lights" queued up on his laptop.  We watched one episode (because we have self-restraint unlike some other church planters from big football states that we know), and the Sabbath began by unwinding with Coach and Tami Taylor, Tim Riggins, Landry, and a full night's sleep.  (May sound silly, but we don't really watch any TV, and almost never in bed, so it's pure luxury to us.)

Want to know what I did on this Sabbath Monday?

  • Slept in till 7:30
  • Went for a 5 mile run (yes, it's laborious, but also mood-boosting for me!)
  • Worked out at the gym (see above)
  • Got some preaching tips from my hubby over a yummy breakfast at Whole Foods (kids at home doing pre-planned work)
  • Sat at my picnic table reading my Bible and praying and journaling for two hours (He was so present.)
  • Showered and dressed....slowly
  • Got a haircut (which always includes a scalp massage)
  • Went to GoBerry for local dairy frozen yogurt topped with raspberries (frozen yogurt for lunch ~ woohoo!)
  • Ate frozen yogurt and raspberries with homemade granola on a bench in the sun
  • Read my current book ~ The Holiness of God ~ on the same bench in the sun (found out that Jacob's Ladder was an OT reference to Jesus)
  • Came home to tell you all about it...

And now Kayla is in the kitchen "cooking" the very simple dinner I planned for tonight ~ packaged chicken pesto sausages from Trader Joe's, brown rice, and frozen peas.

Much was left undone, but I'm learning that much will always be undone. Much was also accomplished yesterday affording a bit more freedom in the resting today.  I really think this is the life rhythm that the Lord was requiring ~ work hard, and then trust Me with the rest ~ both the tasks remaining and the actual ceasing of work. I've never really trusted Him with those things before. 

At the picnic table, I spent time reading and praying through Psalm 116.  I'm not totally sure what the specific meaning of "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones" is, but I'm fairly certain that the fleshly death to sin is a part of what He holds precious.  Only He can accomplish this in us, and when He does, it is beautiful to Him.  Today I thanked Him for "loosing my bonds" to perfectionism and pride, and I "offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving" to Him by not doing much at all.

It's a highlight because it reminds me of the gospel, and my salvation, for which I did nothing at all.


Lori M. said...

Yes, and amen.

Melanie said...

Hi Lori! So glad you can relate. Hope you are doing well!

Julie said...

Just stumbled upon your blog, and I'm so glad I did! This post was just what I needed to hear - I have trouble leaving things undone, which often cuts into my time with God. Thank you for your honesty, and of course for your wonderful gluten free recipes!!! (I'm saving up my almond pulp to make your raw cheesecake recipe - yummy!)

Melanie said...

Hi Julie! I'm so glad you decided to say hi. I pray you find some time for rest this week and that the Lord blesses it abundantly.

Oh ~ and I can't wait to try the chocolate smoothie that is on your blog right now. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Yikes! You have self restraint unlike other church planters from football prone states? Ouch.

Melanie said...

Hello Anonymous ~ that "self restraint" comment was a little inside joke meant for my dear friend and church planter's wife who was watching the same series with her husband, and because I know she sometimes reads my blog. It was NOT a blanket statement. Sorry for the misunderstanding.