Hey there! It’s my first post here on Or So She Says, so a little bit about me: I’m Rachel Evans Davis and I run The Mormon Home, a place where I celebrate and share my faith. A lifelong Mormon, I have a passion for making a home wherever I live. We recently moved to Southern California and are putting down roots with our four boys. (Hint, that’s me in the skirt: I’m the only girl in my family!)
On my site I share printables, super simple tips, and activities to help nurture faith at home and at church. These days I am serving in the children’s organization at church—in Primary—so there are lots of very practical “How To” ideas about teaching children and preparing for some of the common faithful celebrations and meetings of Mormonism.
When I started The Mormon Home, we had just moved to the Bay Area and I was groping for a sense of home! During that time it felt critical that my sons continued to identify themselves as Mormon and I wanted to do everything I could to help. I was re-evaluating family traditions and activities to be sure they were binding our children to our faith. During my study and research, I came across two lovely books about other faith traditions: A Day Apart: Shabbat at Home and The Catholic Home. Both books are full of practical “How To” ideas for families who are teaching children and celebrating faith! Sound familiar? I felt a natural bond with the authors and readers of these books—we are all striving to nurture the traditions that strengthen faith. The wisdom I found helped me see my goals are common to other faithful families, whether Jewish, Catholic, or Mormon.
The goals of faithful families can often be distilled into one simple idea: we seek to incorporate sacred elements of faith into everyday family life. Of course, each faith has different doctrine guiding these celebrations, but there is so much we can learn from each other! I hope to weave some of what I’ve learned from these two books and from the practices of Judaism and Catholicism that helped me see my faith traditions in a new, inspired way.
For example, one of my favorite elements of A Day Apart: Shabbat at Home was the careful preparations suggested for Shabbat worship. In many traditional Jewish homes, Shabbat is a time for family meals, studying the Torah, candles, singing around the table, and a meal with wine and loaves of Hallah.
But beyond the traditional preparations, it’s encouraged to prepare to make Shabbat extra special. Originally from Wendy Mogel, she teaches: “Judaism commands us to perform hiddur miztvot, to beautify the commandments, to go the extra mile. By preparing special foods and setting the table with special care for Shabbat dinner, the mystics say that we get a taste of the world to come.” (Wendy Mogel, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, found on p. 15 of A Day Apart.)
It made me think about my preparations for my own Sabbath! I have always tried to prepare for Sunday by ironing clothing or packing the Sunday bag the day before. I avoid shopping, entertainment, and stores on the Sabbath: very typical Mormon behavior.
But beyond the expected behavior, I could see that special, extra preparations for the Sabbath could fill my Sunday with more meaning. My reading made me want to do better at going the extra mile. The book gave me a few starters and I came up with a few more on my own: ten ideas to make your Sabbath more delightful! I never do all of these things on one Sunday, but mindfully adding one or two makes my Sunday more reverent, thoughtful and fun. Are they a fit for you?
- The first tip is derived from A Day Apart: set the table with the good china. Preparations for Shabbat include setting the table beautifully. There’s no better excuse to bring out the nice china than a meal meant to bring delight! It doesn’t have to be heirloom place settings, of course. Just make an effort to beautify the everyday act of eating dinner together.
- Wear a special piece of jewelry—something from a mother, grandmother or friend. Keep that special person in mind during prayers during the day.
- Make a special dessert or recipe to share with family or friends. Sunday is a great day to try something new.
- Buy or gather flowers to decorate your Sunday table or place them near your bedside table to bring delight when you wake up.
- Connect with those you love who live far away. Call, email, write…
- Clean your windows on Saturday and leave all your curtains open on Sunday, letting as much light in as possible. Remember Christ’s role to bring light.
- Make sure you are clean and ready for the Sabbath—take a bath or shower and clean your clothing. Doing these things with purpose and care can be meaningful.
- Rearrange your physical environment: place a favorite family photo, painting, or object in a new place to help remind you of your focus for the Sabbath. Place a photo of Christ of a temple on the kitchen table or near the front door. Simply placing a familiar image in a new spot can draw your eye and remind you of the meaning of Sunday.
- Prepare yourself for learning at church—a fresh notebook or pen, print the lesson beforehand, or choose a scripture to memorize (or ponderize) during your hours at church.
- Put together a Sabbath playlist of meditative, restful music to listen to on your drive to church, during preparations for services, or to bring peace around your home on Sunday.
For more inspiring and faith-building posts, check out the following: