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Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family's Experiment with Holy Time

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  48 reviews
“Life felt like a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle with 600 pieces.” So writes MaryAnn McKibben Dana in the introduction of her book. As she considered her family’s frenetic suburban existence—a relentless list of work, errands, carpool, dishes, e-mail, bills, yardwork—she knew something had to change.

The family faced a choice: to continue at the same frantic pace or to fight back
Paperback, First edition, 157 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Chalice Press
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4.10  · 
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 ·  238 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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May 03, 2012 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
From Publishers Weekly:
Dana brings a fresh voice and energy to the familiar topic of time management as understood by people who would describe themselves as either religious or spiritual but not religious: Sabbath-keeping. Bringing the gift of self-awareness and irony, Dana notes that a four-minute difference in school bus rides ought not to prompt a letter-writing campaign from anxious parents. She also brings theological awareness of the historical practice and meaning of Sabbath-keeping. Dan
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This truly is a book [xii] "...for anyone who wants to learn to live at a savoring pace." Inspired by a visit to Iona, PC(USA) pastor MaryAnn McKibben Dana spent twelve months from September 2010 through August 2011 (literally) practicing keeping a weekly sabbatical day with her spouse and their three kids. "Sabbath" means to stop, to cease work and worry; keeping sabbath means bringing life back into balance by living fully and simply in this present, gifted "now," if only for 24 hours, 12 hour ...more
Jay V
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'll admit upfront, I read this book because the author is a dear friend. As a non-theist single guy, I didn't expect it would speak to me. I was surprised when it did. I'm not sure the message I received is the one that was sent, but I learned from it regardless.

The book traces the Dana's one year experiment in keeping the Sabbath. MaryAnn writes about the very real challenge of carving out time each week for this busy family of five and the things they tried that worked and didn't work. This
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When I got this book & saw that it was aimed at a "family's" experiment in observing the Sabbath in the Suburbs, I thought, well, I'll read it but not much of it will apply to me. You see, I'm an empty nester & I live in the heart of Washington DC. Was I ever surprised? Of course there are wonderful stories about this young family & their adventures with slowing down for just 1 day a week. Parts of many of the stories made me laugh out loud. I loved the author's honesty about not doi ...more
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book for our "crazybusy" culture and those infected with "hurry sickness." The author, a Presbyterian minister, wife, and mother of young children, shares her own family's attempts to find sanity and peaceful approaches to time for a whole year. Church language is minimal -- the book is accessible to people without a faith background and those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious. The book's organization, by month beginning in September, makes it easy for most ...more
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Every page is honest. There is no judgment passed, no soap box stood on. Her story invited me to witness her family in an intimate way while preserving family in her own way. The entire memoir is an invitation to consider sabbath in your own way, on hour own terms... With the clear conviction that sabbath is intentional,
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm an atheist yet found this book to be an essential guide to life. One doesn't need to believe in a divine Sabbath to understand the essential nature of taking time off from the hectic world we live in. I'd encourage families of all faiths and of no faiths to read and make use of this book's wisdom.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Although I checked it out of the library, I think I'll buy this one. It merits coming back to and checking up with. A fine mix of concrete tips, thoughtful theology and good stories. A great book for discussion.
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don't judge this book based on the bad cover design the publisher picked. This is a remarkably thoughtful, practical, much-needed text that seriously examines sabbath--but in the context of busy working families who are part of the rat race, however unwillingly, and are exhausted.

Fun fact: When my husband read this book for the adult ed class at our church, I had just birthed one kid and had a toddler. He was all "you should read this book" and I was all "sabbath isn't for parents--or women." I
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. It is the first book about keeping the Sabbath that I have read that takes into account real life with real children. I loved the way the author pressed into finding a way to have Sabbath, even when life and activities weren't cooperating. She never gave up, just kept trying new things. Brilliant.

Here are my personal notes, with page numbers:

15 don't change your environment
18 The imperative voice is very anti-Sabbath
28 Parenting isn't repetitive. It's liturgical.
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This truly is a book [xii] "...for anyone who wants to learn to live at a savoring pace." Inspired by a visit to Iona, PC(USA) pastor MaryAnn McKibben Dana spent twelve months from September 2010 through August 2011 (literally) practicing keeping a weekly sabbatical day with her spouse and their three kids. "Sabbath" means to stop, to cease work and worry; keeping sabbath means bringing life back into balance by living fully and simply in this present, gifted "now," if only for 24 hours, 12 hour ...more
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Re-read this in 2018 in preparation for preaching on Sabbath rest. I found it helpful again, though perhaps not quite as helpful as the first time. I appreciate the authentic voice of the author as she writes about her family's experiment with Sabbath, and the way the rules and the experience change over time. There are some brilliant ideas and quotes, as well. Still a very helpful read.

The only hesitation in my review this time around is that I constantly wondered how things might be going now
Rev. Deb
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In one week, I am working all night, all day, and running errands anywhere from our home to NW DC, covering over 300 miles (and a tank of gas) with hardly blinking an eye. And though I may play Christian music, I am not taking time to refresh my heart and make space for God. It is a terrible habit of the suburbs that we think a half day once a week can be a "sabbath" -- particularly those of us in vocational ministry!

MaryAnn has managed to get "real" with those of us who play at this game of rel
Ruth Everhart
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-friends-wrote
What does it mean that God wants our time, specifically one day in every seven?

If you're ever struggled with the concept of Sabbath, this book is for you.
If you've ever thought Sabbath was an impossible abstraction, this is for you!

The author brings us along on her family's journey through a year of keeping the Sabbath, suburban-style. The ups and downs, the ridiculous and the sublime. There is nothing too "holy" about this book, and yet it is touched by the sacred!

Word has it that the author
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My pastor mentioned this book in a sermon a couple of years ago, so I bought it, but never "had the time" to read it. I am so glad I finally did. I really, really loved this book. Rev. Dana's writing style was so relateable, and easy to digest. I learned that Sabbath isn't exactly what I thought it was, and that it is actually different for everyone. I found Rev. Dana's supplemental videos (at really helpful while I read. I read this book just at the right time -- it ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-my-office
I was interested in this book as I had done a similar experiment and written a paper while in school. The book is written in an easy to follow style and is a testimony of the author's feelings and experiences. The author clearly states this is not a how-to or academic theological study of the topic and that is correct. For those looking for a testimony on a person's experiment with Sabbath this is a fine book to read. For those looking for a deeper theological study of Sabbath the bibliography o ...more
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I picked up this book hoping to be able to recommend it to the young families I work with, but I ended up seeing myself in every page. This is the most accessible and honest encounter with sabbath that I have ever read. It is well written, and Dana keeps you turning the pages--both because you quickly become invested in her family's sabbath experiment and because she breaks open sabbath in a way that makes you want to start your own sabbath practice. I don't think you need to be a parent or live ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a little slip of a book but I'm glad to have read it. It was interesting to read a Christian take on Sabbath taking, especially from an author so aware and respectful of Jewish sources and practices. It also filled a gap the author noted, which was Sabbath literature featuring young children. Even though it reaffirmed that I do have specific beliefs about the Sabbath, the looseness with which the author approached Sabbath was inspiring to me, reminding me that, as ever, done is better th ...more
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it

I don't have kids, but I still found this book to have great insights into keeping a discipline of rest in the week. MMcKD does an artful job of interlacing Jewish and Christian perspectives, while finding with her family their own flexible but deeply intentional way of practicing Sabbath. And how Sabbath can creep into all corners of your life, not just staying relegated to a little weekly corner. Great book.
Judy Zimbelman
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
MaryAnn shares her family's experience for trying to preserve one Day a week for Sabbath. Her experimental year goes through some of the historical views of Sabbath and some of her experiences at a religious retreat center. But it shows the stress of family life and the hurriedness that our culture has created. It also showed the rewards from slowing down and being more intentional with work, play and relationships.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is an honest month-by-month account of a family endeavoring to set aside time away from working and scheduled events and tasks. I appreciated the author's candor about which chores do and don't get done when a commitment to sabbath is made. As a full-time pastor, I appreciate her listing out the regular tasks of the pastor, whether full-time or part-time, and the time it takes to accomplish them. Well done.
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book! MaryAnn writes with honesty about her family's experiment of keeping Sabbath for a year. She acknowledges the trials, celebrates the triumphs, and shares how this spiritual practice transforms their thinking and lives in very healthy and wonderful ways! It's a great read and fun to watch this family grow together and grow deeper in their spiritual practice as the year goes along. I highly recommend it!
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I almost gave this 4 stars... it was better than I thought it would be. I liked how the author related raising young children and a parent's desire to cherish their childhood to the challenges of the real world today. It was a little bit "dear diary" in style, but overall very readable and has some good ideas for families.
Allison Fetch
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I couldn't wait to pick up this book, it sounded so perfect for some of the challenges we are starting to face as a family, and I'm encountering as an individual. The writing was superb and the anecdotes made me feel like I know her family members. I also found her higher level discussions very approachable. Overall I found this to be a thought providing read.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Like the author, I've toyed with the idea of observing Sabbath, and how. I appreciate how she wrote so personally about her family's journey, but confess that it was hard to relate to large swaths of it because I don't have children. Still, enough of her examples resonated with me that I'm looking forward to my next day to just be.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Are you tired of reading just another Sabbath book that says, "rest, rest, rest" with no concern for the fact that life in the modern age is busy, complext and overscheduled? Then, MaryAnn's book is for you. Fresh, thoughtful and inviting you feel like you are sitting at her kitchen table as you read.
Ric White
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been looking for a book like this for a while Practical, actual application for the Sabbath. There are some things here and there I disagree with, and I am disappointed in the author's recent blog post about her current view on Sabbath. However, it is a life that I don't live, so I will just take this book for what it is: a great kickstarter to a better lifestyle.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. Practical, funny, and helpful, Dana does not live in some Utopian world where there are no sabbath day soccer matches, play rehearsals or need to go and buy groceries to make lunch tomorrow. She holds up thoughts as to how to preserve a time of togetherness without setting out elaborate frameworks that would never work in the real world.

Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this one, especially as a working mother of a small child. It was relatable and thoughtful and funny without feeling forced as some of these year-long projects do. Highly recommended if you are interested in the subject.
Ann Kietzman
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever wished for a closer relationship with God? Have you wanted to observe the Sabbath, but couldn't figure out how to fit it into your hectic life? This book follows the author and her family on a one year journey as they strive to honor the Sabbath.

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