(A personal note before I begin… In discussing Sabbath day observance: This is what the we felt the Lord was prompting us to do. Sabbath day observance is a personal thing and something each individual needs to prayerfully decide how the Lord is calling their family to honor that day. My intention is not to make anyone feel judged or corrected, simply to share how we personally feel called to spend our Sabbath day and to testify that great blessings come from setting the Sabbath day apart from the rest of your week.)
If you asked each member of our family which day of the week stands out as a favorite you would get a variety of answers. Some would say Wednesday, for with it comes co-op and church activities, thus the chance to be with friends. Others might answer Friday, the day that marks the end of the school week and our field trip day. Others would probably say Saturday because Daddy is home.(Yea!) But as for me, Sunday is probably the day I look forward to the most. It is my day of rest, of renewal, of recommitment…
It is a day set apart from the rest of the week.
When Toby and I married we made a commitment to set Sunday apart from the rest of the week as a day of worship and a day of rest. We chose to make an active effort to dedicate that day to the Lord and follow His commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy.
We made the decision that for our family that would mean attending church to learn about, and worship the Lord. That we would refrain from activities that would require someone else to have to work on the Sabbath and miss out on the opportunity to worship or spend time with their family; like shopping, going to the movies, or going out to eat. That we would, as much as possible, refrain from the work of the week. This meant that Toby would schedule his jobs (as much as possible) to the other six days of the week so that we as a family could be together on the Sabbath. This also meant my “work” would also be accomplished (as much as possible) in the other six days of the week so that it could be a day of rest for me as well. Other than the basic necessities like cooking and dishes, I refrain from housework, yard work, and chores on the Sabbath as well.
We also encourage our children to plan out their work week in a manner that allows them to set aside the Sabbath as a day different from their school days. This means finishing lessons for the week during the other six days so that they don’t have to do schoolwork on Sundays to stay on track.
So what do we do on Sundays? Well, first and foremost, we attend church as a family.
This Sunday was a big one for Ozzie who moved from Primary (for ages 3-11) into Young Men’s (ages 12-18.) He was presented with his Faith in God award was was able to help the other young men pass the Sacrament bread and water. I must admit I was holding back tears as my wee little man stood so tall and proud in his suit and tie.
Then we come home around 1:30 and have spaghetti for lunch. This has become a tradition that began 12 or 13 years ago. While everyone is changing out of their church clothes Toby starts the water boiling and makes lunch for the family, giving me the day off, so I can have some time to sit in the silence of my room and have some quiet time.
After lunch we take naps. When the kids were babies we would tuck them into their cribs to nap and then climb into our own bed for Sunday naps. This is a cherished and needed tradition. I find that Sunday afternoon naps help me catch up on the sleep I may have lost during a busy week and allows me (and I’m speaking for Toby too) to start the new week more refreshed.
Inevitably between the ages of 6 and 12 our children resist the idea of afternoon naps. The rule then became that they had to stay in their room for an hour and could read or play quietly in their beds. Sometimes they would stay awake but often we would find them asleep by the end of our naps.
My three big kids, who are now teenagers, live for Sunday naps. 🙂 Oh, how the tides have turned!
The rest of our Sabbath day varies from week to week. It is sometimes spent going on a walk as a family, writing letters, playing games as a family, etc. The goal is simply to pick activities that allow us to bond as a family, focus on the Lord, and serve others.
For example two Sundays ago, as one of our Sabbath activities, we took everyone’s yearly measurement on our growth wall. We do this every Valentine’s day at our home. It is always fun to see how much everyone has grown since last year.
Sometimes we do some therapy activities that encourage bonding or strengthening family connections. This past week Ozzie and I made a memory chain of his biological sister Zoey. It began as a memorial chain of his biological grandmother but the work was too overwhelming so we moved to less heartbreaking memories.
To make the memory chain I would say things like:
“Pick a bead that represents Zoey’s birth month.”
“Add a bead that reminds you of her favorite holiday.”
Find a bead that represents your saddest memory with Zoey.”
He would then dig through our bead container and would add the bead that matched that memory. We would talk through it, with me taking notes, so that we can work on it in therapy with Miss Tina. It was a great therapy tool!
Sometimes, however, I find we struggle with how to best use our Sundays. Our little ones sometimes become so focused on what we don’t do on the Sabbath,
(like not being able to play video games)
that they lose sight of the heart reasons behind the directive.
I felt that it was a good time to have a refresher on Sabbath Day observance, and now that the kids are older, allow them to help set up the plan for Sabbath Day observance and get their input. I decided to do this for Family Night on Monday.
I began with an object lesson I found online.
In the center of the dining room table I placed a variety of condiments that I know my children like on their food. I also placed a bowl of ice cream on the table with sundae toppings. Then I covered everything up with a dish towel.
Toby and I called the children in. We began with a song and prayer and then with a raise of hands I asked who liked ketchup…mayo…butter…honey…bbq sauce…vinegar…etc. Once we had established that these were all delicious toppings I asked for a volunteer. Rusty raised his hand. I lifted the dish towel, revealing the bowl of ice cream and the toppings we had discussed and told him to put all the condiments he said he likes onto his ice cream.
It looked disgusting by the time all the condiments were added. I asked if he wanted to eat his sundae. He shook his head, “no.” Grace spoke up and said that she would try it.
When I asked Rusty why he wasn’t going to finish his sundae…
after all he likes every condiment he put on it,
“I like those things, BUT they’re NOT good on SUNDAES!”
Ahhh, YES. Exactly.
I went on to explain our lesson. There are lots of great activities we enjoy, but just because they are good doesn’t mean they are “good on Sundays.” 🙂
We read some scriptures to see what the Lord has said about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and then we began our activity. We made a “Sunday Cans.”
As a family we talked about things we could do on the Sabbath that would draw us closer together, help us grow, renew us and prepare us for the upcoming week, help us have a more eternal perspective, and draw us closer to Christ,
and we wrote them on slips of paper to put in our “Sunday Cans” can.
The goal was to help them focus on what can be done with our Sabbath day observance rather than focus on what we can’t do on Sundays.
Now if any of my cherubs approach us on Sunday to inform us, ” I’m bored! There is nothing we are allowed to do!”
I can sweetly point out our “Sunday cans” can and say, “Pick something.” 😉
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Then we ended family night with sundaes… of course!
We put away the ketchup and vinegar and let them top their sundae with chocolate, caramel, and sprinkles instead.