by Dana Kennamer
Receiving the gift of Sabbath is difficult. Even in our churches, we often find ourselves so busy with all the good stuff to do, it is difficult to find time for the best stuff – relationships, rest, and renewal. The following books are wonderful resources to think about the gift of Sabbath and the things that get in the way. They all use wonderful humor to articulate a strong and poignant message. In our frenzied world, it is easy to miss what really matters. I have used these books with my college students, parents, children and even church leaders to think about how we might trust God enough to receive this gift that God is offering – Sabbath rest.
In Me, My Selfie & I, the award-winning writing team, Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Carroll, tell the story of a mom who gets carried away taking selfies – selfies of everything, filters and memes and tallying likes! Eventually, her daughter intervenes. “No more, Mom, we’re through.” Mom steps out of the selfie madness, puts her phone away and focuses on what was right in front of her all the time – a family to love and memories to make. The book ends with a message for all of us in this technology saturated world. “All screens go off now: our brand-new house rule. We cuddle and read. My family’s so cool. And then family pile. No selfies above. The BEST time of all, SELFLESS family love.”
In The Gift of Nothing, Patrick McDonnell introduces us to Mooch who wants to buy his best friend Earl a gift. But his friend had everything. He decides that nothing is what his friend needs. But finding nothing is hard. The world is full of stuff to buy, stuff to do and stuff to say. But where do you get nothing? Mooch finally gets the biggest box he can find and fills it with … Yes, you guessed it. Nothing! Then the friends enjoy nothing together. This simple book shares the powerful message. We could all use a lot more nothing in our lives. Especially with those we love most.
The pressure on families to go, go, go and do, do, do is real. There are so many wonderful opportunities. And don’t good parents provide these opportunities for their kids? Shouldn’t we find personal fulfillment through learning new things? Nancy Carlson published the book, Take Time to Relax, in 1991, but the story of this crazy beaver family is still true today. Tennis lessons, meetings, dance classes, dinner in the car – there is no time to rest for this busy family! Then the unexpected happens. A huge snowstorm forces them to stop. “What will we do?” the family exclaims. And then they figure it out. Make breakfast. Sing some songs. Play games together. Tell stories. When the storm lifts they realize they can still make some of their meetings and lessons. “NAHHH!” they say. And they settle in for more time together.
Contributed by Dana Kennamer, PhD. Dana directs the nationally recognized teacher education program at Abilene Christian University. While a passionate researcher on children's spiritual development, she is "Teacher Dana" to the children (and young adults) at her home church.