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Sabbath: Market Day of the Soul

Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace pose for the cover of The Art of Relationships Podcast.

Sabbath has never been more important than it is right now. Between online school, work, church, and Zoom fatigue, we need a reminder to set time aside for rest. Being stuck at home all day doesn't mean we aren't wearing ourselves out. Author Arlene Pellicane returns to talk about rest, Sabbath, and more on today's podcast episode.

Speaker 1:    Welcome to the Art of Relationships. This podcast is produced by the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. For additional resources on healthy relationships like videos, blogs, or events near you, visit our website at

Chris Grace:    Well, welcome to another Art of Relationships Podcast. I'm Chris Grace.

Tim Muehlhoff:    And I'm Dr. Tim Muehlhoff.

Chris Grace:    And we have just come to you live from Biola University here at the Center for Marriage and Relationships. If you want to find out a little bit more about what we do here at the Center for Marriage and Relationships, go to our website, Many of you all were there and logged on through that and there's a number of blogs and podcasts, speaking events that we do, videos, all kinds of cool things. We also have Facebook, and Instagram, and everything else, and you might want to check that out.

    So one of the cool things, Tim, that we get to do is invite guests. We interview so many fun guests. We had Gary Chapman, recently, or at least a couple of years ago now. If that's recent, I don't know. Gary has written a book with another writer who has just been special to us because we've had her on our podcasts before and that's Arlene Pellicane. Tim, why don't you introduce Arlene, and just say welcome.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Arlene, thank you so much for coming back and joining us. We didn't scare you off the first time.

Arlene Pellican...:    It wasn't scary at all. So, I was like, "Oh, I want to come back."

Tim Muehlhoff:    Oh, that's great. Well, you're an author, you're a mother, a wife, and you are also a fellow COVID struggler just like all of us. And, one issue I wanted to bring up that we didn't cover last time was, the Puritans have this idea of a Market Day of the Soul. We call it Sabbath. But I love the analogy the Puritans use, just like you would go to the market to stock up for goods that would last you for the next week or two, the Puritans believe that you should do that for your soul, that you should take this time to focus on God, and prayer, meditation, scripture reading, and stuff like that.

    How much more important do you think this idea of Sabbath is now becoming when we realize COVID is not going anywhere quickly, and that we're all going to be stuck in this? So maybe this is God's way of reviving this idea that most Americans ignore, which is this idea of Sabbath.

Arlene Pellican...:    I love that picture of the market. That's beautiful. So I had not heard that before with the Puritans. I think if you're listening to this podcast, then you are lucky enough to get this idea in your head that, "Man, I need to do this," because I think COVID gave us time for most of us. Now, for some of us, it made us busier than ever. I get that. But for a lot of people, all of a sudden you're like, "Oh, I'm not running to this, and I'm not running to that. This has been canceled and I can't do that. My kids are no longer in practice, and I don't have to shuttle everyone to school anymore."

    All of a sudden, you're like, "I have time." So in that way, you could be really intentional about having a rhythm of whether it's Sunday after church that you have a certain thing you do. Maybe it's a walk around a lake that you do, whatever it is, but something that you add to your schedule that you used to not have time for, but that would be refreshing for your soul. Maybe it's something you do as a married couple. Maybe it's something you do as a family but how interesting. Because I think it can be our tendency to lose this opportunity because just in the absence of things to do, we just fill it easily with like, "oh, what are we going to do? Well, let's just hang out." Well, what does hanging out usually look like? After a while you end up on the couch and you end playing around, watching something. You might start with a board game, but you're going to end up on the couch.

    So on purpose thinking, what can we do to replenish ourselves? I also think that idea of change of place gives you that change of perspective, because we're stuck in our houses all the time. So, you're in your house all the time. So when you go to the grocery store, you're like, "This is amazing," to go out and stand with people in my... I love this. And so I think that change of place, if there is like mountains or a Lake or an ocean, or a pretty outlook, just anything within 30 minutes of your house to think about, is there a place that I can go so that I can get out of my house, that I can go talk to God, that I can maybe have a conversation and have fun with my family, whatever it is. And I think that's really important.

    So one amazing thing that came out of COVID. So I have a daughter who is in sixth grade, and she's really missing her friends and going to school, and she loves ensemble and she was going to be Mufasa in The Lion King, and that got canceled. And so she's just like, "man, this COVID thing has been hard." But she loves horses. But we don't know anybody with a horse. But she went to horse camp one year and she loves horses. So we thought, we will ask our senior pastor, "do you know anyone with horses?" So we ask him, and not only does he give us a name, he gives us the most amazing gentlemen who I just couldn't speak well enough about him, but he's almost 80 and he's done... he's been horse riding all his life.

    And so we assist him on the ranch every Saturday morning for about three and a half hours. And my daughter will go and she'll shovel poop. And she learns how to comb the horse. And she has a lesson and all these amazing things. Well, while she's doing that, I walk around the ranch and I, at the beginning part where it's still cool, and I pray and I talk to God, and I'll take a lap and I'll say, "okay, I'm just going to listen to you God." And those are things I would have never done before COVID, or that practice, I would not have thought to do that if I wasn't there at the ranch with her. So look for ways to get out of your normal space and have time that is replenishing to you.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Yeah. I love that. And here's another good thing I think about COVID is, so we're all sick of Zoom meetings.

Arlene Pellican...:    Exactly. Yes.

Tim Muehlhoff:    But one thing my wife and I have done is realized, "boy, with Zoom, there are no borders." So there are couples that we love. And we only get to see maybe once a year at the Family Life Speaker retreat. So we set up some virtual dates with somebody in North Carolina, somebody in Ohio. And that is so fun. We all had our cups of coffee and we had this literal Zoom double date that lasted probably like two hours and just catching up and not feeling hurried and stuff like that. So I get that we're all tired of the screen, but to use it intentionally and to say, what are some fun things that we can do and now, because, and what a great gift of God, technology, that we can now reach out to people all across the world and have some fun, double dates that we just normally wouldn't have thought of.

Arlene Pellican...:    That is a great idea. And I love it. You don't frame it like a Zoom meeting, you frame it like double date from coast to coast and people are feeling like "this is exciting." Next week Australia, so that's exciting. So what a good idea. That's great.

Tim Muehlhoff:    And you know what also, Arlene, is pull together parents and share ideas. So we got this idea and it worked pretty well. So Netflix is both great and it's a black hole that you will never come out of, right? Again, we have three adult children but they're all here because my son's in law school but they're virtual so he came back home. My son graduated as a physical therapist. He's trying to save money, pay down debt, and he's got a job. And then my son just graduated from Biola. So we all like to laugh. So here's what I said, "okay, each person pick a comedy that you think is the perfect comedy and you can't say no to it. You can not decline."

Arlene Pellican...:    You've got to watch it. Yeah. You've got to watch it.

Tim Muehlhoff:    All my word. One of my kids picked, what was it, Stepbrothers with... it was horrible. Arlene, it was horrible and they're laughing their heads off. And I'm going, how is this funny? But knowing I would get revenge because I could take my movie that they had to... so I actually didn't pick a movie. I cheated. I said, I'm going to pick Three, Frasier's, remember that sitcom Frasier?

Arlene Pellican...:    Totally.

Tim Muehlhoff:    That's going to add up to an hour and a half. And they watched Three. Arlene, it was so fun to watch and be resistant at first. And then they started to slowly crack and go, "okay, that was funny. all right. That was funny." To me, that's a fun way to use it. You know what I mean?

Arlene Pellican...:    That's a fun way to use it. Yes.

Chris Grace:    Arlene, as you go through things like this and if you discovered over time, some of the changes, you've been writing in this area for a while. You've been writing certainly and publishing for a number of, gosh, a couple of decades almost. How has it changed over time? And is it getting better or have you found that your work with people with other parents, is it just harder today or does this thing, for a lot of people they just, "no, it's just natural and easy," or have you seen changes since you started in this field?

Arlene Pellican...:    Yeah. I think there are some things that remain steadfast. I consider myself a strength as I love to encourage people. So I'm the person on the sideline. That's like, "hey, you can do it." And so I feel like that is always a need to come alongside of families, of parents, of married people and say, "no, don't give up, you can do this, let's do this, let's try this and let's be practical." So I feel like those things are there, but the rapid things that have changed have just been the technology of, my kid is playing video games all the time and how do I spend time with them? Or my kid is so depressed, they're only 10 or 11 or 12 and they're dealing with depression and they're talking about how they want to end their life. And it's like, how did this happen? So things like that, that's different, and especially for younger kids.

    And then in couples, it's just that slow fade away from each other that is now being aided by technology. Because sometimes it's hard to find something to talk about, but with your phone, you can always find something you're interested in, and so easy. And so I think those kinds of things, of people fading away from each other because they're in the same space, but we're separated by our technology. And things used to have a beginning and an end. Like think of a favorite show, a favorite show would begin, then it would end and you have to wait another week to watch Frasier. But now you can stream the whole thing all at once. And that's just how life is.

    So instead of natural stopping points that would occur in your technology, and then all of a sudden now you have just dead space and, "hey, let's start talking." There is space now, let's talk. Instead of that, it's just, you can constantly be online, there's noise. So there's a lot much more noise now. And because of that, the relationship isn't as strong because you haven't been able to talk to each other. So I think that's really unfortunate. And, Mark Matlock is another [bio Olin 00:11:43], and I just talked to him on my Happy Home Podcast. And he just said these two very important words, screens, decipher.

    And it's just this idea that in a home, as you are being bombarded by what yo watch, by the news, by your social media feed, by your YouTube videos, by what's being recommended, most of these things that are queued up and recommended, they're not necessarily like, "oh, this is how you solve this problem with your spouse." This is how you really get in there and and read and persevere through school. This is how you respect your parents even when you disagree with them. These are not the things that people are watching on a continual basis. And so you're being deciphered by this idea of, "hey, if I'm not happy, I'm out, this must not be working." "Hey, this isn't easy so I'm out." All these things, so that I think is the big change on the family landscape, is that we've got to get those distractions and minimize them so that we really can have better relationships with our loved ones.

Tim Muehlhoff:    And we need to use technology to help us cope with technology. So I discovered this crazy thing called Netflix. I just came across it and-

Arlene Pellican...:    You and two others.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Yeah. And on one hand, it's wonderful. I've watched some things that I think are some of the best things I've ever seen, and thought provoking, and I'm thinking, "man, this is evangelistic even though it's created by non-Christians, some of them. But here's the thing, for every two good things on Netflix, there's a bad one. There's sexually oriented, and that's why on my computer, I mentioned this last time we had you on, is I have what they call screenshot. [Calmanise] does this, which I think is brilliant, is that on my computer and my Android phone, periodically, and I don't know the algorithm, it takes a picture of what's ever on my computer. Like whatever's there.

    And so there's no way to jump it. There's no way to anticipate it. There's no way to be cute in what you Google and don't Google. And so for me, I would not venture into Netflix without it. And I'm just so blown away of how many people... well, here's what really blows Chris and I away, is what college students today think is okay.

Arlene Pellican...:    Yeah.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Like you go back 20 years, that would have been, hey, there is no other word for that. That's porn. I don't know what else to say, but today it's like, oh no, that's not really bad. And I'm like, wow-

Arlene Pellican...:    And you're like, no way, that's extreme. And people are like, no, that's normal. No, that's extreme. And that comes with the... think of it that they're getting the screen so much sooner. So instead of waiting till 16 years old and you're like, "oh, I watched my first rated R movie at 16," or something like that, right? They're seeing this much sooner. And that's where you see this change of, okay, if you see it when you're so young, then it's just got to get more appealing, more crazy, more sexual, more whatever. So by the time they get there, it's like, what is this?

Tim Muehlhoff:    Okay. So let's get that controversial.

Arlene Pellican...:    Yeah.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Okay. I love the fantasy genre. I'm a huge fan of the Hobbit Tolkien, Middle-earth kind of stuff. So everybody kept talking about Game of Thrones, right? Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones. And I thought, well, this would be great. So I sit down, watch one episode of Game of Thrones. And I'm sitting there going, there is no... a, I would not watch this on my computer because a bad scene just got screenshot. I'd have some explaining to do. And again, in fairness to those listeners who may be Game of Thrones fans, I've only watched one or two episodes, but it's been critiqued by certain people. Some of the rape scenes have been very disturbing even to people that are fans of the show.

    And so I'm like how normalized that was and how many people watch it. And you start to feel like, "I'm a Puritan. My gosh." So that to me is the lowering of our defenses maybe, that now it's like, "oh, but it's so good. And yeah, there's these sex scenes and rape scenes, but it's really good." And I don't doubt it's really good. I mean the money, the actors, the writers, I have no doubt from an artistic standpoint that if we were objective, we'd say, "hey, that's obviously really good writing and acting whatever." But those scenes, I don't know what to do with that. What are your thoughts?

Arlene Pellican...:    Yeah. So I also have not watched it for that reason. And I would just go back to, okay, as a... I think of it as two ways. So as a parent with your kids, that you would be thinking of, okay, these are things you cannot unsee. So I'm going to be very careful as much as my power for you not to watch something like that, right? And the screenshot and that whole idea of whether it's bark or whatever you put on your children's device if they have one, your devices, all those things to report what's being said, I think those are good things. But you're really going for the heart because no matter what you put into control, your kid can find a way around it. Like if I say you can't watch Game of Thrones, your... my kids going to find a way around it.

    So it's really more that heart of developing self-control. So at the heart of that is, okay, I cannot control you my child. Although we as parents want to, that's why we give them the phone so we know exactly where they are, and exactly what they're doing, and exactly what they're watching, exactly who they're talking to. But the goal there in parenting, it's not that I control you. My goal is that you learn self control on your own. And that's why I'm like, okay, you're not going to put that in your pocket because I don't want you to be able to pull up Game of Thrones whenever you want to, because why would I give you that monster challenge when you're just 12, 13, 14, 15 years old, right?

Tim Muehlhoff:    Yeah.

Arlene Pellican...:    And then as an adult, just that idea of, okay. In one of my books, Calm, Cool, and Connected, one of the ideas is to brush daily and live with a clean conscience so that at the end of the day, you could ask God as you brush your teeth, was there anything I saw online that I really shouldn't have. And there's that daily checking, how am I doing? And so when you watch something like that and you realize, I couldn't really say to God, yeah, I watched that of my own volition and I decided to keep watching and I'm going to watch it again tomorrow. So it's between you and God, and you're like, that's not cool. I'm not going to do that. It's the idea of thinking of what's lovely and pure and virtuous, and you go, that's not any of those things. And you're right. So that's terrible that that can be so mainstream and so accepted and yet so vulgar. And it does show you 2020 compared to even 1980, it's very different.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Yeah.

Chris Grace:    Arlene, all of this reminds me of a story back when I was in college, the... television of course, was about the worst social media that you could be exposed to at the time. And they had bad shows on back then. But I remember being most impacted in this area, not by somebody telling me how bad television was or how bad these programs were, or, and I think it's the same today. But I was most impacted by watching somebody who modeled it, who lived it, but he didn't have to tell me. And so it was a friend of mine that actually was very concerned. He was newly married and he had listed all of the programs that were good and appropriate, and those that were not, and he had them on a list. And one day I was in his home and I saw the list and it was on his TV and I picked it up and I said, "what's this?"

    And he just said, "well, these are the programs I can watch and the programs I can't watch. And I write them down and I pray about them and I show them to my wife and, and that way I know, and she knows what's in." Anyway, all of that modeled for me something very powerful. So I wonder, Arlene, what have you found? As a social psychologist, I'm concerned about the brain and technology and things like that. But I'm also profoundly interested in the idea that we as parents really can speak a whole lot of words that our kids don't listen to, but our actions and our behaviors demonstrate a whole lot. They watch us, they pay attention to what we do.

    And I think sometimes we need to be much more intentional about letting them in on our own stories, in our own journeys, our own processing, our own plans. And much like seeing that list, sometimes our kids need to know, what are you doing? And not in any other way other than just to say, this is what between me and God, what we've decided. And so for you, have you found some parents being successful in just living this life, or are a lot of parents dealing or struggling sometimes with saying one thing and yet their behavior in life is doing something else?

Arlene Pellican...:    Yeah. There are both on both sides. I think of a family that was raised in church and you would think, oh, their kids would be very godly because they're very involved in church, etc. But one thing that we had observed is that in the movies that they had around the house, they had a lot of rated R movies, just all around. And I'm not saying this to be judgmental or whatever, but that's just the way it was. And so later, one of the daughters had gotten pregnant before she got married. And our thought was, when you watch things as a family or tolerate them, let's say in your living room sitting there, then you're saying that's okay. But you don't feel that way as a parent, sometimes you're not thinking like, "oh, because I put this rated R movie here, I'm saying go ahead and have sex before marriage." But you are if you are putting it there right in front of everyone to see in your living room. So you contact trust that too.

    I have another friend who is very diligent and probably more the opposite extreme. If I would watch obviously Star Wars or something like this, and that friend would be like, "oh, that's awful." You understand? So the opposite extreme. And so there are both extremes, but I feel like even with that opposite that would say, "oh, we don't want Star Wars and things like that." But I watched that girl and she is healthy. She's okay, she's going to be okay from that. And when she's older and out of the house, if she wants to go to watch Star Wars, I think more power to her. So I think there is something about choosing your entertainment, choosing what you do with your time, choosing what you do with your checkbook, all those things, not a checkbook anymore, but you understand what your finances. Choosing what you do with those things, that talks, that speaks to your kids more than you telling them.

    So if they see, "oh, you give to charity on purpose," and you might not talk about it a whole lot, but they see the mail come through and things like that, then it does plant the idea in them, "hey man, when I'm an adult, maybe I'll give on purpose to charity too." And I say on purpose, not just like, "oh, I feel guilty, here's a dollar." But, okay, these are things we care about, so we will every month commit ourselves for these things, right? So on purpose. So I think what's most important is your kids are watching you. I am in a mom's in prayer group. And it's just the idea of it is two moms praying for the school and for your kids, really simple idea. But my kids know, "oh, on Monday mornings, mom," now I do it via Zoom, "but mom does a mom's in prayer group."

    And they know, so what does it show them? "Oh, prayer is something mom believes in. I am being prayed for." So it's not something I talk to them necessarily about, but they know it's happening. So I think they watch, like, what's on our Netflix list? What social media do we use? Are we constantly looking at it? And we really care about what people say about our photo or do we just post it not caring, move on with our lives? So they watch all those things. And I think what we model is, so it speaks volumes.

Chris Grace:    Yeah. They're like sponges, especially the younger the kid, they just sponge it up. So go ahead, Tim.

Arlene Pellican...:    So Arlene, they don't just watch... so I want to get your opinion on this. They don't just watch us, they watch other christian families. And so I want to hear your advice for a different christian family who just has different standards. Like I'll never forget, my kids played Pop Warner football, and the coach was going to take them out to a movie after the practice. And so we had a policy, I just need to look up what this movie is, or plugged-in, right? And so we didn't feel comfortable with it. So we just said, "hey guys, we're really sorry, man, but you can't go." And they were bombed. They're the only two people who couldn't go.

    So guess what? Next weekend was a birthday party, pizza party at a Christian family from our church. And it was pizza, and they're going to watch a movie and a sleep over and guess what the movie is, same movie.

    Oh no.

Tim Muehlhoff:    So now I'm like, "hey, so sleepover's awesome. Pizza's awesome but you can't watch that movie." And then the mom got offended and sent me an email saying, "I'm sorry." So my kids were like, "you think you're better than they are. They're a Christian family. They go to church and you should think," So that was a weird moment of my kids going, "hey, this is a Christian family. They're absolutely a Christian family and they're okay with that movie. This is your problem." So how do you negotiate other Christian... and I don't want to say we were right and they were wrong, but what happens when different family loves the Lord, but they have different standards?

Arlene Pellican...:    I would go to that essential, non-essential talk, like talk about how there are some essential things for the Christian faith. I believe that Jesus died, He Rose again. These are essential, but there's the non-essentials. Should we watch this movie? Should I wear short shorts? Should go to the Saturday night service or the Sunday morning? Should the worship music be loud, etc. So I'd have this conversation and say, so for us, for me personally, I think that movie is a, "hey, I'm going to skip that." But maybe for that family, they're like, "we think the benefits... we think the good outweighs the bad so we're going to watch it."

    And I'd be casual about that and say, so they're making a different decision and that's okay. They can do that for their family. That's a non-essential, I'm not going to freak out about it, but you I'm sorry, my child. So since you're on my side here, I'm sorry. We're still going to have to skip that movie. Does it make me think of it more? Sure it does because I understand you're thinking, why can't you do this as another Christian family? So, does this make me uncomfortable? Yes, it does. But you know what? This is how we do it, so I'm sorry. You're just going to have to skip that.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Yeah, no, that's good. I think that's good.

Chris Grace:    Well, Arlene, it has just been awesome listening to all of the things that you bring to this area and you have a number of books out there. Your most recent one co-written with Gary Chapman is Screen Kids. But that's not all, there's some other great ones out there that you have that have just been very helpful, right? Grandparenting Screen Kids, is just that as well. So, Arlene, let me just say thank you so much for being on our program. It's been good to have you, good to hear from you. We're so glad that your biology education in my class has impacted you in such a way that it's propelled you [crosstalk 00:27:32]-

Arlene Pellican...:    Exactly. And if I would have known Tim then, he would have propelled me as well, for sure.

Tim Muehlhoff:    Thank you.

Chris Grace:    That's right. No doubt. And, Arlene, is just great. You've got so much out there and let me just encourage people to go check out. Tell us about your podcasts real quickly.

Arlene Pellican...:    Yes. It's the Happy Home Podcast. So you can listen to that and that's available through Access More or anywhere that you listen to podcasts, whether it's iTunes or wherever, but Access More is this cool platform that's done by [Caleb] and [Erewhon 00:28:04], and they've curated some podcasts for you. So, Happy Home Podcast, and then my latest book is Screen Kids with a companion book, Grandparenting Screen Kids.

Chris Grace:    Oh, that's awesome. Well, Arlene, again, what a joy to have you and to hear from you again, and we look forward to seeing you on campus sometime soon.

Arlene Pellican...:    Thank you so much, I would love that.

Chris Grace:    Bye. Take care.

Speaker 1:    Have you ever been asked to mentor a young married couple, but were afraid to say yes? Thankfully, the Center for Marriage and Relationships is here to help. The CMR's Marriage Mentoring curriculum covers important topics like communication, forgiveness, and the ever important sexual intimacy. It even provides tips on when and how to refer a couple for professional help. Sound interesting? Check out the resources page on our website at