Monday, April 4, 2016

Strengthen Your Family by Turning Off Media on the Sabbath

 The photo credit goes to JWPhoto
Strengthen Your Family by Turning Off Media on the Sabbath
By Rachel Branton
Exodus 20:8—Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Years ago as a young mother of three, I loved Sundays. I was a full time author, but I didn’t work on the Sabbath, and I used Saturday to run errands, so on Sunday the only goal I had was attending church and resting up for the week. This rest usually involved some form of television. And why not? My brain had to work overtime all week. I deserved a day to tune everything out.
However, my three active children had other ideas. “Mommy, he’s hitting me!” one would say. Or, “That was so funny when . . .” Or, “What did he say, Mom? What does that mean?”

I’d find myself saying things like “Be quiet!” Or, “I told you already five times to stop standing in front of the TV!” And, “I’ll explain in a minute. Let me hear!” Or simply, “SHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”
My words were often sharp and impatient, and I’d yearn to lock myself away—or maybe run away. The Spirit I’d felt at church would invariably vanish, and I’d be annoyed at the precious children I’d brought into this world.

Does this sound familiar? If you’re a parent of young children or even teens, I bet it does. But you can carve out one day to find a little peace and strengthen your family at the same time.

One day at church, a man talked about how he had chosen to turn off all media in his home on Sunday, testifying what a difference it had made for his family. In a moment of stark truth, I understood that television was standing in the way of keeping that good feeling with me all day, and sharing it with my children. Of being with them and teaching them.

That day, I didn’t turn on the television. And all at once I wasn’t yelling at kids to sit down or to be quiet. We were playing board games together and reading books. We were wrestling, and tickling, and playing hide-and-seek. I thought I’d miss the televisions shows, but I didn’t. Not a single one because I’d found something better, something infinitely more precious.

As the years passed and my three children grew to seven, my husband and I chose to also exclude video games and non-religious music in our home on Sunday. Instead, we have dinner together at home, go for a walk, play board games, make treats to eat or take to neighbors, or just sit and talk. We don’t go shopping, and the children don’t go play with friends. Every now and then we watch videos of our family, and maybe a couple times a year, we’ll watch a family-oriented movie, but we limit this to something that will include all of us.

Some of my children are now married but they often visit, returning to this safe haven from the world. Sometimes when I look around at my family, eating cookies and laughing, I’m filled with an unspeakable joy at this little slice of heaven. It is this feeling that helps us endure the difficult challenges we’ve faced. I believe we would have never glimpsed such joy if we hadn’t set aside this day, not only to worship the Lord but also to connect with family.

What worked for our family may be different from yours, but following God’s commandments is a great place to start. Begin thinking about your Sabbath and what changes you could make to bring your family closer.

Please share in the comments below what you have done to help strengthen your family, especially on the Sabbath.

Rachel Branton grew up on a little farm where she loved to visit the solitary cow and collect (and juggle) the eggs, usually making it back to the house with most of them intact. On that same farm she once owned thirty-three gerbils and eighteen cats, not a good mix, as it turns out. She is now married, mostly grown up, and has seven kids, including an active four-year-old, so life at her house can be very interesting (and loud), but writing keeps her sane. She’s been known to wear pajamas all day when working on a deadline, and is often distracted enough to burn dinner. She writes romance and children’s books under the name Rachel Branton and science fiction and fantasy under the name Teyla Branton. You can learn more about her on her website.

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