Creating Rest Within Your Family
I’m constantly amazed at my friends and co-workers who are parents. Whether they have one child or three, the amount of activities, homework, chores, and sports that they juggle within any given day is amazing. Families are busier today then it seems like ever before. But how do you carve out the time needed to just, well, be a family together under one roof?
Author Melissa Spoelstra feels the tug and pull of hectic job and family schedules. In her new book, Total Family Makeover: 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home, she suggests practical ways for your family to not only find physical and spiritual rest, but to also discover creative ways to serve and grow together as a family.
God calls us as parents to be key disciple-makers in our children’s lives, but if we’re honest, some days it’s a battle just to get them dressed and ready for school on time. How can you mold their hearts when sometimes you can’t even find their shoes?
Disciples are made, not born. Whether your children are babes in arms or teenagers getting ready to leave the nest, making disciples at home starts with you! Give your family a makeover with this practical approach to helping your children learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
In Total Family Makeover, author Melissa Spoelstra gives parents a way—a sort of spiritual track to run on—when it comes to building family discipleship. She focuses on eight key habits of growth:
• Spending Time in Prayer
• Reading God’s Word
• Growing Through a Mentoring Relationship
• Finding Community in the Church
• Serving Others
• Taking Time to Rest
• Giving Back to God
• Sharing Your Faith
I’m happy to welcome Melissa today to share how she and her busy family have learned to be intentional about scheduling rest and downtime. Maybe there’s a few worn out families out there today who could be encouraged!
Early in our church-planting days, my husband needed administrative assistance. He asked me to help with paperwork, bulletins, emails, and other tasks. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem since for the first time in my life, I would have all four kids in school! With that mentality, I piled too much on my plate. I usually say I like to carry a platter rather than a plate because I’m a task-oriented kind of gal who likes to get involved! But when I added “administrative assistant” to my task list, even my platter began to overflow.
Our kids were all transitioning to new schools, and I signed up to volunteer in each of their schools. I still led a Bible study, participated in an international cooking class, and cleaning, cooking, and laundry didn’t evaporate from my to-do list. Suddenly I was drowning. I began to resent my husband for asking more of me with church-plant demands. It strained our marriage, stressed me out, and left me with no margin when one of my twins began to have significant health problems. She missed a lot of school and going to doctors’ appointments felt like a full-time job. Trying to keep all those balls in the air, I hit a wall emotionally.
Things got better as we found the problem with my daughter’s lungs and got the right medication. I also decreased my volunteer work and asked my husband to hire some clerical help for the church. These small changes paid big dividends toward my spiritual well-being. It also enabled me to love and serve others with a less of a Martha attitude! And I have been able to share this story with my children when they want to pile too much on their plates.
Many times life can be much more complicated than this illustration. Balancing work, parenting, and caring for a home can leave us feeling as if no easy solutions exist. One of my dear single-mom friends understands the principle of rest but struggles to live it out in the midst of life’s many demands. For others, trying to meet deadlines at work or caring for a sick child or family member reminds us that not every season of our life will show a balance between rest and work. The important thing is to do what we can to find rest and trust that our over-busyness will last only a season.
As we teach our children to follow Jesus, we find that He was never in a hurry, valued people over activities, and remains our true source of rest. God incorporated rest into the creation days, the Ten Commandments, and reminds us throughout Scripture to plan for rest stops. Yet our culture’s frenetic pace presents us with roadblocks to implementing God’s restful principles.
As you help your child navigate his own schedule, you can show him how to plan for rest. When signing up your child for activities, include her or him in the dialogue. Discuss:
- How will a recreational league with less commitment and intensity versus a travel team which requires many practices as well as weekends away impact time for margin and rest?
- How many events or responsibilities each week might make them feel overwhelmed?
- What impact will music lessons, sports commitments, church activities, and family responsibilities have on their ability to take time to obey God’s principle of rest?
- What kinds of activities help them feel rested?
Include in your conversation a story of time when you were overextended. Talk about how your lack of margin affected your ability to rest. How did it impact your relationships with God and others?
We find support for times of rest and quiet in Jesus’s life. He encouraged rest with His disciples. “‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31). We are making disciples at home. This means we must recognize the times when a quiet place is needed in our children’s lives. When my kids threw tantrums, got overtired, or experienced a few days with packed schedules, they often needed to take a respite. Usually they didn’t recognize they needed to withdraw, so my husband and I would lovingly mandate a rest.
As you consider your own family’s pace of life, plan to build in some margin for rest. Hide the electronics, go for a leisurely walk together, relax together with no other agenda, or perhaps plan a whole day with no scheduled plans. Stopping to rest shouldn’t produce guilt, but bring freedom as you help your children follow God’s way!
About the author:
Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God’s Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning book Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home and the First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree, Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness, and Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible studies. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at MelissaSpoelstra.com.