4 small changes that bring rest

rest post

Rest. You’ve seen this word come up in my writing week after week. It was almost two years ago when I first realized I need to celebrate a Sabbath weekly, meaning we chose as a family to set apart one day a week when we we not work. We did it regularly for a while, but then it faded, life piled on. I put no boundaries on my work, so it seeped into everything. But I kept circling back to rest. I longed for my heart to find a space of silence, I hungered for rest for my mind.

You, too? Every corner of our world is shouting at us, telling us to work harder, be more, get more, buy more. If you take a moment to catch your breath, you can feel you need to try harder while failing at the same time. Work, busyness, creation is celebrated as the answer, but maybe what you’re looking for is rest, permission to stop, permission to say, “I can’t do it all.” 

In the middle of all of this, I “met” Shelly Miller online, and I found a home in her beautiful blog. She’s passionate about Sabbath celebrations, and her weekly Sabbath Society emails started arriving in my inbox. Week after week I read gracious, gentle words about Sabbath, why it mattered, why rest is beautiful and how to honour it (you can sign up for the emails here and pre-order Shelly’s book about Sabbath keeping, Rhythms of Rest here and here). Even in the many weeks when I was busy all days of the week, the minutes I took to read the email gave me moments of rest. Now it is the fuel I need to keep going.

We have slowly been working our way back to a weekly Sabbath celebration from Saturday evening to Sunday evening – I don’t believe it matters what day of the week is set aside for rest, but I think it is necessary to set aside a specific day or amount of time. Here are four small, weekly lifestyle changes that have made a big difference for us.

[ba-dropcap size=”4″]1[/ba-dropcap] Work hard. Maybe this has been the most ironic thing about disciplining myself to rest. Rest requires hard work. It means that Saturday is no longer a sit around and relax day, Friday is often busy as well. I make sure the laundry is washed and hung up somewhere where I can’t see it, or folded and put away. Dishes are washed. Food is bought, put away or cooked. We bring our home to a state of order. Often I get snack bags ready for Sunday. In the middle of this work, when I’m tempted to leave things undone, Sabbath is my motivation. I get to not do anything tomorrow, so get this done now. 

[ba-dropcap size=”4″]2[/ba-dropcap] Simplify. We’ve started eating the same dinner on Saturday and Sunday nights – the abend brod, German for evening bread. In Husband’s home in Germany every night the dinner is always the same: bread, butter, a selection of cold meats, cheeses, pickles and cherry tomatoes. I never understood cold food that isn’t a salad until I found weekends even more exhausting than the week because I was cooking all the time. German women are smart, the abend brod saves time and energy, and it’s easily repeated week after week (as a meal, as an item on a grocery list, as food my children will eat with joy and zero whining).

rest post 2

[ba-dropcap size=”4″]3[/ba-dropcap]  Find daily pockets of rest. Yesterday I had a rare nap from one of my children, and suddenly had an hour of silence. I instinctively reached for my laptop for no reason, and I felt nausea wash over me. I’ve learned to listen to my body. I set it down, and picked up The Year of Cozy instead. I thumbed through it, and let the photos and the beauty minister to my soul. It was only 15 minutes but a solid soul exhale. Even in the middle of the hard work, it has given me so much to take 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there of soul rest. For me it usually means listening to a few songs that bring rest, reading a book, looking at something beautiful, the scent of something I love. It reminds me daily that rest matters, and it gives me even more reason to crave and work for the full day of rest.

[ba-dropcap size=”4″]4[/ba-dropcap] Light candles. I learned this in Sweden: Everything looks better, feels better, is better by candlelight. Our boys are easily quieted by the flickering lights, and the promise that they can blow it out when the meal is finished. It’s a gentle, beautiful touch that sets this day apart. Bonus? It’s easy and cheap.

Now it’s your turn: How’s your resting life? What small changes can you do to bring more rest to your life? 

Maybe you’re frustrated by the list of big goals but wanting to seize your life and change? Small changes are for the rest of us, the ones whose dreams mock us from the sidelines, the ones who yearn for change but know they can’t just shove everything to one side. We do it bit by bit, piece by piece, and we believe that each piece is making a difference. If you want to read more about small changes, you can start here 3 Small Things That Make a Big Difference.

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13 thoughts on “4 small changes that bring rest”

  1. tHE IDEA OF ABEND BROD really appeals to me. Actually, all four ideas appeal to me. I started buying more candles after reading Happier at home by gretchen rubin but obviously I’ve falled out of the habit of lighting them regularly. Need to reboot.

    • Hi Yettie! Thanks for commenting, and I’m so sorry about the comment box. It’s some sort of glitch that I can’t seem to figure out – you are totally fine :). I loved Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project book, sounds like I need to read this one, too :).

  2. My comment above is making me cringe on so many writing style levels. The comment section (or font) is only showing lower case so I can’t tell what’s been capitalized and what hasn’t. Sorry for the lack of case-awareness 🙂

  3. Hi dear Devi, once in awhile i visit your blog and just want to tell you it’s awesome, fun and wise. Thanks for sharing your musings!
    Marion Lviv Ukraine

  4. Devi – this is beautiful. Thank you of the encouragement to rest, the reminder to work to prepare for the rest and the continued feeding of the soul.

  5. Dearest Devi,
    Thanks for continuing to write. I like you write about yourself without any fear or holding back. Just want to encourage you to keep going.

  6. Like you I’ve learned the hard way that I need my Sabbath day of rest. I consciously spend time on my Sunday reading works that uplift my soul and feed my spiritual creativity. We also have a tradition of popping popcorn and either watching a family show or playing board games or just all hanging out in the same room discussing life. Our kids know it’s a day for family so they stay home and don’t go to activities with friends. I know keeping the Sabbath day holy for our family has brought us closer together. Thanks Devi for these insights!


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