Are your children learning to over commit from you? Wife and mom, Melissa Spoelstra, tells what she does to ensure that her family honors the Sabbath and learns to rest and enjoy each other's presence.
Are your children learning to over commit from you? Wife and mom, Melissa Spoelstra, tells what she does to ensure that her family honors the Sabbath and learns to rest and enjoy each other's presence.
Bob: There’s a reason why a lot of people today are spiritually depleted—it’s because they haven’t taken time to rest. Here’s Melissa Spoelstra.
Melissa: We’re tired. We run so hard and our Creator God, knows us and He made us and designed us for rest. I mean if He really wanted to get the point across, He could put it in the days of creation—maybe He could put it in the Ten Commandments—maybe He could talk about it throughout the prophets—and then, where’s that passage about Jesus being in a hurry? Jesus did not take away the concept of rest. He did not come and obliterate the concept that we were created to rest.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How can we do a better job of being still and knowing that God is God? We’ll spend time exploring that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know it’s a shame that your wife can’t be in—
Dennis: I was just thinking about that Bob.
Bob: —on this series of interviews we’re doing this week because she would resonate with everything that’s been said already but she’d really resonate with what we’re going to talk about today.
Dennis: Well, we’re talking to Melissa Spoelstra about a Total Family Makeover: 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home. Melissa welcome back, first of all.
Melissa: Thanks so much.
Dennis: Secondly, thanks for working on this book and doing this—this is going to get passed on to our kids who are raising their children and discipling them. She’s got eight ways you can disciple your children—spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word, growing through mentoring, finding community in the church, serving others, taking time to rest. That’s what we’re going to talk about today in this busy culture. Number seven—giving back to God and number eight—sharing your faith. I like that—that you’re calling them to evangelism.
Bob: What you’re doing is you’re calling parents to first model all eight of these. This really fits the pattern of the spiritual disciplines—the spiritual practices—that have been a part of the church for centuries. You haven’t found some new magic formula for discipling kids; right?
Melissa: No; I say that all the time. And these aren’t necessarily the only eight things about what it means to follow Jesus—but these are just a place to start and a track to run on and I think that’s what we need.
Bob: You got to model it as parents and then you have to instruct—or train—or teach your children how this becomes a part of their lives.
Dennis: If Barbara was here, she would absolutely put an exclamation point around number six, about teaching your children to rest. We live in a busy culture today. She thinks parents—as well as kids—don’t honor the Sabbath as we should.
Melissa: It’s unlike it’s ever been. If you look at progress in history from the beginning of time to the industrial revolution, there was very little progress. People lived close to the land, children died, crops failed. Then from the time of the industrial revolution until really about 25 years ago, there was a lot of progress—the electric motor, the airplane, the radio. But it’s really been in the last 25 to 30 years that progress has gone vertical.
My kids can’t imagine a world without WiFi or Google or constant contact with people at any given moment—so there almost is such a new challenge when it comes to rest because we’re constantly being notified and we’re packing our schedules to the gills leaving no margin—
Melissa: —for the things we all know happen in life. Things go wrong—cars break down, people get sick.
Bob: And then in the middle of all of that, there is the new phenomenon of FOMO which you’ve heard about, the “fear of missing out.” [Laughter] What happens is somebody comes up and says, “Hey, have you heard?” And you go “No, I haven’t heard.” All of a sudden you feel like, “I’m not as in touch as I need to be—I’m not as plugged in as I ought to be—I missed out on some news that somebody else got before me.” It just drives us to stay glued to our devices—to stay perpetually in motion and never get away for solitude or for rest.
Dennis: I want to ask you this. Are there any devices in operation on Sunday at your home?
Melissa: Hmmm. Great question! [Laughter] These are the contentment feeds you’ve just talked about—these things that—this fast pace of life. We decided many years ago to say, “What would it look like for us to have a media free day on Sundays—to say no phones, no iPods?” This happened for me in one of those moments at home where I noticed it was really quiet.
I looked up over the top of my laptop and I saw two kids on devices. I saw my husband on his laptop and realized the other two kids were downstairs watching TV. It wasn’t one of those sweet momma moments, where you’re cuddling with your kids or you’ve just finished reading a story. It was one of those “What are we all doing? We’re all in the same house and yet we’re not connected.”
Dennis: Are you a mean mom?
Melissa: It is my kids least favorite part of this whole spiritual rhythm. I mean, we are the meanest parents in the world because we still do it. And did I mention my children—my daughters were 16? The other day, they came home from church and of course they don’t have their phones. They can barely survive without them because they could—the fear of missing something—they could be missing something—someone might be trying to get ahold of them. They’re so used to being constantly notified—notifications, notifications, notifications. They almost don’t know what to do in their own skin without that kind of a communication.
So, Sarah, my daughter, says to me, “What are we supposed to do? I’m bored. I don’t know what to do.” [Laughter] We’re laying around on the couches in the living room and I said, “Well, Sarah, why don’t you tell us a story.” She said, “Once upon a time there were two really mean parents who took away their kids’ phones for no reason at all.” [Laughter] And we all laughed. You know what happened? We all fell asleep on those couches.
I woke up before everyone else and I looked at my sleeping children—because they’re at their best, right? [Laughter] We love to watch our kids sleep. They’re so beautiful and we cherish them. I thought, “There’s a reason that we’re unplugging—because we’re tired.” We run so hard. Our Creator God, knows us and He made us and designed us for rest. I mean if He really wanted to get the point across, He could put it in the days of creation—maybe he could put it in the Ten Commandments—maybe He could talk about it throughout the prophets if He thought it was important.
Bob: Oh, wait!
Melissa: Oh, wait! Then where’s that passage about Jesus being in a hurry? You know that one verse about—Oh, wait!
Bob: Yes; that’s not in there, is it?
Melissa: There’s not one either. Jesus did not take away the concept of rest. He did fulfil the Sabbath—it is not a mandated law that it has to look a certain way—but He certainly did not come and obliterate the concept that we were created to rest.
Bob: Okay, what was your maiden name?
Melissa: Holman. H-o-l-m-a-n.
Bob: Alright. I want to go back to when Melissa Holman was 16 years old, growing up in your home. You were a church going family.
Melissa: We were.
Bob: Sunday look any different than any other day for you?
Melissa: Well, we went to church.
Bob: Yes. Beyond that?
Melissa: No; not really.
Bob: You seem to have grown up fine and you love Jesus. I’m just here to play the—
Bob: —I’m not going to say whose advocate I am here. [Laughter] I’m just here to say—
Melissa: But my life moved at a slower pace—something has changed. There were no travel sports. There were no travel sports certainly on a Sunday—certainly not on a Wednesday night—where I grew up. It is not what it used to be.
You used to could go to school and learn to play a sport at a school—but someone has sold a lie—and I think it’s that advocate that you were talking about— [Laughter] That if you don’t put your kid in this activity from the time that they’re three or four, that they’re never going to be able to play it in school—and they’re never going to get a scholarship—and they’re going to be doomed for life if you don’t sell your soul to travel sports and arts and activities.
Dennis: When I was a kid, the culture automatically protected Sunday. There was a strange phenomena called blue laws.
Melissa: Yes; I remember them.
Dennis: Stores were closed. Things didn’t happen. What do you encourage your kids to do on Sunday? Because Barbara always pointed the kids toward reading great literature—reading great books.
Melissa: For some that are wired up that way—reading great books is a wonderful thing. For two of my kids, that’s great. For the other two, they are more extroverted. They maybe want to play a game that’s interactive or just have—this is going to be a shocker—a conversation. Just talk to each other without ever checking your phone. It is like a learned habit for all of us—even for moms and dads—that we don’t go five, ten minutes without checking our email. Or to see if we have a text notification—or to see if there’s a Facebook—somebody’s liked something. To take a whole day and not do that, breeds an opportunity to talk uninterrupted. It’s a lost art—uninterrupted talking.
Dennis: Much of the social media mitigates against any kind of an in-depth relationship. We’ve got a lot of kids today who aren’t dating and aren’t getting married because they don’t know how to do relationships. They’ve not been forced to do them in high school, college, and as young adults.
Bob: The only conversations they’ve had all week have been text conversations that they’ve had with friends.
Melissa: Or for boys, over a headset while their shooting up things on a X-Box.
Dennis: Yes; right.
Bob: You know you think about Sunday—about the principal of the Sabbath and you’ve already said Jesus is the fulfillment of the Sabbath. This gets a little tricky when you start to talk about this subject in church circles because there are different understandings of how the Sabbath is to be understood in the time of the new covenant. But I’ve always heard—in addition to the idea of rest—there’s the idea of spending time in worship on Sunday—that is being a part of the church community but it’s also personal study and devotion and time in God’s word. Then there’s the opportunity for serving others which is a break from—
Dennis: Yes; that’s right.
Bob: —the norm and spending time on the Sabbath, you might think, “Serving others—that’s not resting if I’m raking the next-door neighbor’s yard.” Well, you’re resting from what you normally do—
Bob: —and you’re serving others in a way that is a profitable exercise.
Melissa: It’s an opportunity to brainstorm ways to bless other people—to bake cookies or to work on a project. For me personally, I am tied to my laptop. I find I look forward to Sunday just because I’ve made this limitation and I know I can’t go to it. So, I’m not feeling any of the “I should be doing” because we’re set free. The Sabbath, Jesus said, is not for God—it’s for us. It’s a gift that He gave us to say, “It’s okay, and it’s not only okay, it’s necessary.” To take some time to stop doing what you normally do and to remember God.
It’s throughout Scripture—throughout all the festivals—all of the Feast of Weeks and the Passover—all of them talk about Sabbath and how important that is.
Dennis: We need it.
Melissa: We do.
Dennis: Pastors need it to. You’re married to a pastor.
Melissa: I am.
Dennis: When does he get his Sabbath?
Melissa: Typically are Mondays, because that’s his day off. So, he has a little bit of Sabbath in Sunday afternoon but we have a small group on Sunday nights that we attend. For him with the message to preach, for those of you who’ve done that—any kind of presentation that you deliver—there’s some down time that’s needed after that to be able to rest. But he does take a day off on Monday and it’s a day for him to be able to catch up on any Bible reading he’s behind with—a time for him to pray—a time for him to be alone at times—or for him and I to maybe have a date and invest in our marriage, now that our kids are all in school.
Dennis: That’s what we did on Sunday night. Barbara and I had a standing date. We didn’t make all four out of four Sunday nights in a month or all five Sunday nights but we would make four out of five or three out of four. And we had a date we would go on and it was a time to reconnect as a couple and have somebody else prepare the food—
Dennis: —and us to have a conversation. Many times interestingly, of all the things we would argue about or talk about, it was the schedule.
Dennis: It was not only what we’d been doing and analyzing that, it was looking to the next week and to the next month, next six months and taking a hard look at “How much have we committed to?” and “What do we need to be careful about here?”
Bob: Well and let’s just be honest, if somebody’s driving activity in your home, it wasn’t typically Barbara, was it? I mean you’re the guy who likes to keep busy and keep after things and you’re more likely to crowd the schedule than she is; right?
Dennis: Well, here’s the thing. Moms are looking out for their kids and their development. I think Barbara—in her desire to see the kids developed—it took some other disciplines around the number of activities that our kids could participate in to establish boundaries that gave our kids—again, margin.
You mentioned this earlier and we haven’t talked about it since. But I think one of the reasons why people are so stressed out in relationships when something goes haywire—a car does break down—somebody does get sick—there’s no margin to be able to be shock absorber and be able to handle it.
Melissa: It’s not like parents are going out and looking for this, it’s coming right at them. My email is full of the school band, the cheerleaders, everyone wants volunteer hours, wants to add more trips—more things. The concert band is going to go on a trip somewhere and they not only need to go on the trip but then they need to raise money for it.
Then there’s the recruiters who want you on their travel club team and they’re telling you your kid is the next star player and you’ll really be inhibiting him and crushing his creativity if you don’t allow him to do this—you look around and well, everybody else is doing this. We can just get swept into the culture and what they’re doing and not even realize it.
Bob: There was a season in your life—in your marriage where your calendar—your schedule had gotten so crowded—so overloaded that it was putting a strain on you and on all the relationships at home; right?
Melissa: Absolutely. We all have different seasons---I call it crisis mode---that we live in—and sometimes, that’s not up to us. When our daughter was in the hospital for 15 days—we were overloaded and it was crisis mode. When there is something going on with extended family—when there’s a season maybe that your kid’s in a play or a musical and it’s going on—but the problem is that we can’t live in that crisis mode.
Bob: Then I’m thinking back to the time when you were the church administrator.
Bob: That’s when you were trying to live in every moment being full of something and it was wearing everybody out.
Melissa: You find a breaking point—and that’s what it was. My husband was planting a church and of course, there was no church secretary—so, who gets signed up? The pastor’s wife. We were transitioning our kids from private schools to public schools. So, there was a little bit of momma fear in me that thought—I needed to volunteer in every single class room—and be the head of the PTO—and just go full force into all of these things.
When we add just one little thing here and one little thing there, we don’t realize the impact of all those little things put together. We can say, “Well, this is only on Friday nights or this is only on Monday mornings,” but you add all those things up together and there is no space left. There’s that—margin refers to that little pink line that goes down the notebook paper—the line of margin so that you can add a note or make an edit on that piece of notebook paper. In the same way, we have filled that page—every white space is filled and that’s why we create emergencies. So, I had to let some things go during that time—I had to realize “This was for a season but I’ve got to step down.”
Dennis: Do you have any children that are activity addicts? They’ve got to have activity—you don’t have to name them.
Melissa: Thank you—they’ll thank you.
Dennis: Yes; exactly.
Melissa: Yes. I have kids who are athletes and who work and who are great students and who are very involved in their youth group and things like that. The YouTube videos that they watch over and over again—it’s almost like when something isn’t scheduled for them, they almost don’t know what to do with themselves. When they have a little bit of time to be intentional with rest—to be productive—they just keep going, going, going.
We’ve had to confront kids—at different times in our parenting—with this area of rest to say, “Hey, we’ve noticed a pattern in your life.” Before I came here, our daughter’s going, going, going and then we had some discipline issues we needed to discuss with her—just some attitude things—and the tears came out and she began to express just how exhausted she is. We had to lovingly walk her through some of the choices she’d made in her schedule and talk about what can we let go, so that this isn’t happening. Don’t you think our enemy wants to use this?
Melissa: This harried-ness because then we’re not as intentional when we’re in a hurry.
Dennis: Barbara read a book when we were raising our family, called The Hurried Child. I believe it was David Elkind as I remember. He had a theory—actually it was proven in his book—that we’re robbing children of their innocence and their childhood—forcing them to grow up and make adult choices before they’ve got all the gear both in their character and their spiritual lives and conscience to be able to make those decisions.
Melissa: I also believe their missing some important key life lessons that come with margin and not having everything so scheduled. Now it’s like you’re on this team and you have to try out for it and there is all this pressure and this going on whereas before we played ball in the backyard.
Think about some lessons we got there. We had to pick teams. We had to make allowances for younger players—those are some important things that you learn in the backyard as you’re making these decisions. But now everything is more professional—more organized—but they’re not doing the organization. They’re being just put in the back of the car and—“get your uniform on” and “let’s go” and dinner on the go.
Isn’t that something that we’ve lost in this harried pace—is a family dinner—to sit down and just talk with each other—to say what’s been going right in our day and what’s not been going right in our day. It is challenging. We have had to say no to so many good opportunities.
Bob: Alright; I’m for naps on Sunday. I’ll vote; okay. All in favor? Aye.
Bob: Okay; we’re good.
Dennis: I’m also for resurrecting a word that you just mentioned—“no”.
Dennis: We used to laugh about this but Barbara and I would walk out into the yard and I said, “You know just once a week we need to go out in the yard and say, ‘No’ to a tree.” [Laughter] Say, “No, we’re not going to do it. No, we’re not going to do it.” Just so we’re practicing—
Bob: Just practice.
Dennis: We hear the words because I think it’s easy as you just said. You compare with what everybody else is doing and everybody else is harried and hurried.
Melissa: The culture isn’t running toward rest—but Jesus calls us to.
Bob: That’s the big picture here—we’re back to the big picture, which is what we’re trying to do with our kids—is raise them to be healthy followers of Christ. People who know what it means to be followers of the Savior. So, this is not simply a pragmatic tip to help your kids get more rest and get them off their devices—we’re talking about something that’s designed to help their spiritual sensitivity grow. And in the process of being still—what is it the Bible says? “Be still and—
Dennis, Bob, Melissa: —know that I’m God.”
Bob: We can draw closer to Christ in the midst of this rest that we’re hearing talked about.
Dennis: Melissa, I sure appreciate you writing this book. I think this is going to be a big help to a lot of parents who are looking for a very practical way to disciple their kids. I mean putting it simply.
Dennis: Thanks for doing it.
Melissa: Thanks so much for having me.
Bob: Well and let’s hope some families will get your book and start implementing some of the eight practical steps you’ve outlined for making disciples at home and have a makeover. That’s the title of the book, Total Family Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra. You can order the book from us online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can call to order if you’d prefer—our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com and you can order online or call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY.”
You know the thing about implementing some of these habits we’ve been talking about today is that you do have to be purposeful and intentional. The same thing’s true with your marriage. If your marriage is going to be strong and healthy, you’ve got to be intentional about that too. I bring that up because a lot of times we’ll hear from people when we talk about the Weekend to Remember® getaway. They will say to us, “You know we’ve always wanted to go to one of those but there has always been something going on that weekend.”
I thought to myself today—if couples would make a decision in June about going to a Weekend to Remember in September—or October or November or December and they’d get that on the calendar—then nothing would get in the way. They’d be intentional about building into their marriage. If you’ve never attended a Weekend to Remember getaway, why don’t you put it on the calendar now and plan to attend this fall. There’s more information about the Weekend to Remember at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Let me just say a “Thank you” to those of you who partner with us to make events like the Weekend to Remember possible. More people are able to attend the Weekend to Remember because folks like you help support and provide both scholarship funding and you help defray the cost of the Weekend to Remember as you donate to FamilyLife Today. In addition, you make it possible for more people all around the world to hear this program, you keep our website up and going. You are really partnering with us to effectively develop godly marriages and families and we appreciate that partnership.
If you’ve never donated, it’s easy to do. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Or you can mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at P.O. Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223. Let me just say thanks in advance for whatever you’re able to do in support of this ministry. We do appreciate you.
We hope you can be back with us tomorrow. We’re going to introduce you to a couple who have decided that they’re going to take care of kids who may just be with them for a few days or a few weeks or a few months—or years. They’re never quite sure how long a child is going to stay in their home but their hearts and their doors are open. We’ll meet TJ and Jenn Menn tomorrow. Hope you can be there for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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