Written by: Angie Reese
When it comes to consistency, I am NOT your gal. I struggle with being consistent in most areas in my life. Dieting - nope. Exercise - nope. Even reading my Bible - it’s a struggle. I am so bad at this that when I shared that I was writing about consistency, a few people in my life actually laughed. Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt my feelings.
But I have an excellent example of consistency in my life. My husband is a rock star at this. If he finds it important enough to put it on his habit tracker, it gets done. I am amazed at his ability to do this. He reads his Bible daily, does a devotional, exercises, and practices a foreign language. Every. Day. For like, over 1,000 days in a row on some of that! It’s quite amazing.
So on one hand you have me - I don’t string more than a few days of consistency together. And on the other hand you have my husband - who doesn’t miss a day. There is a saying that goes “it takes all kinds” and I guess that is true in this case. My wise little sister even said “God calls people to be the message when they’re “not right for the job” all the time.” And she is right. So here I am.
Consistency is not one of those subjects that is talked about much when it comes to the Bible outside of us reading it for growth and intimacy with God. Both of those things are very important. But the thing that jumped straight into my head was the verse in Hebrews 13:8 that states,
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV)
This verse brings me peace in such a deep place. In this world that is ever-changing, Jesus is the same. Right now the price of groceries isn’t the same from one week to the next (hello eggs!), but HE is the same. Gas prices shift from hour to hour it seems, but HE is the same. I put off reading my Bible, but HE is the same. Just waiting for me. Just waiting for me to come and sit by His side and commune with Him. And He isn’t doing so with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face because it has been a few days since I cracked open my Bible. Rather, he is waiting patiently and calling to me like a Father that wants to see their child. Arms open and expectant.
So, when your diet fails - AGAIN - or you forget to get that snack for your child’s classroom, your workout gets put on the backburner, or you haven’t read your Bible in a few days, take a deep breath, remember that Jesus offers a clean slate policy and doesn’t keep a record of wrong, and make time for Him. Oh, and get those other things done too. Alarms help I hear.
Let me pray for us.
Jesus, thanks for being the loving friend that you are. Thank you for forgiving me when I mess up. Help me and my fellow sisters to be more consistent with everything, but especially spending time with you. Thank you for being constant and never changing. Your dependability is a rock in our lives. We love you.
Written By: Angie Reese
You will have to bear with me as I share with you my thoughts from this week. I am a little more scattered than usual, but I think that God has been putting this message on my heart to share with you. It is inspired by the book of Acts. Let’s take a look at a few quick verses.
Acts 16: 13-15
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
This simple mention of Lydia for some reason brings to mind robes of purple. The color of the robe they placed on Jesus during his crucifixion was purple. Lydia is a beautiful example of the simplicity of the gospel message we are blessed to know in completion today. This thought of purple and robes and salvation makes me think of the robe of righteousness that we are promised as believers and followers of Christ. What a beautiful robe! Purple is my favorite color, so I like to think of mine as purple as well. But what other robes are we placing on ourselves? In Tana Glanzman’s book “My Father’s Daughter” she talks about these robes. Let me share with you an excerpt from her book...
“Our Heavenly Father has generously and graciously dressed us as His children. A beautiful robe of righteousness awaits each child of God who chooses to humbly and willingly submit their hearts and lives, accepting the new identity that is theirs according to the inheritance they have received.
Often, however, we are tempted by the enemy of our souls to toss aside our robe of righteousness and replace it with something much less fitting. He tries to whisper in our ear that a robe of shame, insufficiency, or self-defeat really suits us better. He even helps us put it on, step by step, attempting to convince us the entire time that this is what we were intended to wear all along.” (pg. 77, My Father’s Daughter)
I couldn’t think of a more fitting description than what Tanya shares there. It makes my skin crawl thinking of the enemy helping me dress in such tattered and ugly robes as the ones she mentions. Sadly, we give into this on a regular basis and take off our beautiful royal robes that God Himself has given us, and replace them. The day that Lydia boldly responded to Paul’s Gospel message, she put on a robe - one she could never earn herself and more beautiful than her finest purple. This girl knew it too! I love how she convinces them to come stay with her. (Feisty women in the Bible are my favorite!)
So I will end with a question. What robe are you wearing these days? Is it a royal purple robe of righteousness or a tattered rag given by the enemy?
Dear Father, thank you for the royal robe of righteousness that you have given us. Please help us to remove those rags from the enemy and take our rightful place in your kingdom with confidence and pride. You are such a good Father that gives us good things, even if we could never earn them. Thank you for that.
Written By: Angie Reese
Lineage of Jesus.
Have you ever played “one of these things is not like the other”? That list makes it pretty obvious which one doesn’t belong. They all belong to one person though. If you immediately thought of Rahab when you saw those words, you are right on the money. If you aren’t sure who Rahab is or what she is about, take a quick look in the book of Joshua chapter 2. It will be worth your time to go read this short chapter and her short, but important story.
I remember being asked to teach the story of Rahab to a group of elementary students at a VBS we were having. As an adult, I was horrified. How was I going to explain this woman and her shortcomings to an innocent group of first graders? In my mind it became almost comical: “Now children, do any of you know what the word harlot means?” Big no there. But that was me focusing on her just like the people of Jericho did. However, praise God, there is more to her than just that.
In Rahab’s story she encounters two spies sent to the city by Joshua. These men were sent in to check things out before the Israelites were going to do their famous march around the city to destroy the wall. For whatever reason, they were found out and Rahab saved their lives by hiding them on the roof and then lowering them out her window (which was built into the wall of Jericho). This story has all the makings of a good movie - spies, a search, secrets, and a dangerous escape.
This woman, who had an ungodly profession, was known very well in the city. Enough so that the king sent to her and asked about the men who came into the city. She was one of those women that everyone knew and that knew about everything. I would imagine that this came naturally with the life she led. But that is not the most important part of her story. Let’s look again.
“...for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
Rahab had heard all the things that God was doing for the nation of Israel and she had a healthy fear and respect for what was going on. This caused her to recognize God as God. This in turn made it so she put her life on the line to save these two spies - that might not have been that good at spying (just noticing that they were found out pretty easily.)
When we recognize the power and might of our Lord God, life changes. Rahab and her family were the only ones we know of that were saved from the battle at Jericho. Her life had to have changed from that time forward. We read in her story that she asked the spies to save her in return for keeping their plan a secret. She knew destruction was coming to the city. She tied a red chord on her window and as the wall fell, she and her family stayed safe because of her faith.
Later, in Matthew 1, as we are taken through the lineage of Jesus, we see Rahab’s name again. She is one of two women mentioned (usually it didn’t matter who your mother was in a lineage - your father was the important one) as part of this. Rahab and Ruth - two very different women, but both mentioned.
I believe this story is a great example of how our faith can turn things around. We always say God can use anything for his good, and Rahab is proof! A woman who was worldly and far away from God at the time has an encounter with God and changes her life and the life of her family. And we think God isn’t using us? Think again! Can you imagine her testimony? How powerful would that story be?
Sisters, sometimes we are a mess - a hot, hot mess. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am downright lazy. I can’t seem to keep the house clean, laundry done, and myself together. I miss deadlines, say things I shouldn’t, participate in gossip, and just go through the motions of worship instead of really entering into God’s presence. However, time and time again, just like Rahab, I am used for HIS glory. When I am paying attention sometimes the Holy Spirit will put words of life and love into my mouth that help others. Sometimes I get it right and I actually teach my sweet little girls about God in a moment instead of losing my mind. And I give God all the credit for that.
God uses whatever he wants - the messy and broken - because He can! He knows we are a mess and he uses us anyway. I personally find hope in the story of Rahab. If he can use her, I know that I can allow him to move in my life and use me. Will you allow him to use your mess?
Lord, thank you for using us and all our mess for your glory. Thank you for stories like that of Rahab where your work and change is evident. I pray for each woman that reads this. Let her light for you shine through the difficult moments of this earthly life. Let her heart and her voice be used for you. Amen.
Written by: Angie Reese
Many of us have experiences that can relate to the story of Naomi found in the book of Ruth. We might be married, have lost a spouse, have daughters or daughters-in-law, lost children, or had to move to a new place. The book of Ruth is named after Naomi’s daughter-in-law, but so much of this story is about Naomi herself and how she responded to all of the hardships of a Jewish widow at that time.
Naomi’s name means “pleasant” and I get from the story of her life that she was aptly named. She is married and has two sons and they end up having to move from their homeland in Bethlehem to the country of Moab because of a famine. During the ten years she and her family live there her sons marry local women, but have no children. Then her husband and sons all die (we aren’t told how). This leaves her to make some hard choices. Being a foreign woman with no man to take care or protect her, Naomi makes the hard choice to go back home and wants her daughters-in-law to return to their own homes so they can remarry and move on with life. With much convincing, Orpha agrees, but Ruth insists upon remaining with Naomi and going back to Judah.
This is the first and biggest clue to me that Naomi was a special woman. She is so loved by her daughters-in-law that they don’t want to leave her side and return to their own families - especially Ruth! Mothers-in-law get a bad rap. They are depicted by the world as almost evil. This is usually where we stop thinking about Naomi in this book. Our attention goes to Ruth and we use her words to Naomi in wedding ceremonies to display our togetherness and commitment to one another. But let’s allow our gaze to move past that today.
When Naomi and Ruth return home, it doesn’t give us a lot of details as to what happened, but it seems like they were accepted back into society and had a place to live. This is where we see the bitterness of the situation come into play. As she is welcomed back, Naomi tells her friends to call her by a new name - Mara - which means bitter. She states that the Lord has dealt bitterly with her. She is angry about all that has happened and is blaming God. This really struck me and took me back to a place of loss.
When I was in college I got a phone call in the middle of the night. It scared me, of course. My mother was on the other end of the line telling me that my uncle had an accident and was in the hospital. We didn’t know if he would make it. I hit my knees. I prayed harder than I ever had in my life for God to keep him alive. A little later I got the second phone call telling me he didn’t make it. He was so young and had a family - three kids - that he was leaving. It wasn’t fair! Why? Why him and not the other guy in the car with him? I was so mad at God. I thought - He didn’t listen to my prayer because if he had my uncle would be alive. Bitter. Angry. Furious at my loss and the loss of my family.
Just like in the story of Naomi, it didn’t take me long to see that God was going to make good from a bad situation. In my story, the family was brought together like they never had been before. My aunt fell in love with a wonderful man who took in those three babies and raised them like his own. In Naomi’s story we see that the redeemer was Boaz.
Boaz allows Ruth to gather in his field and Naomi guides Ruth through the process of gaining Boaz as a husband. Fast forward a little and Ruth and Boaz have a son. Naomi’s bitterness melts away and her friends help her to name the child and she becomes his nurse. She again has the family that she lost. I can just see her smile as she holds that sweet baby boy and sees in him her own two sons.
For me, Naomi is a wonderful example of how to move through a situation that seems hopeless. She was angry at God, but was able to move through it and remain faithful. She had a spirit that allowed her to be a pleasant and lovable person, but had flaws. She had Ruth and the friends that are mentioned in the story to help her through a hard time. As with many women of the Bible, I see Naomi as one that I would enjoy getting to know as a friend!
Naomi went from pleasant to bitter, but was able to step back from that bitterness. Let’s allow that lesson to sink into our hearts. It’s ok to become upset, but don’t let your name be changed permanently to Mara. Naomi’s friends didn’t listen to her when she asked them to call her that because they knew that her character was one of pleasantness. I hope the same can be said about us when we face struggles!
There are so many amazing women named in the Bible. Eve, Sara, Rachel, Esther, Ruth, Mary. However, there is one important figure that we have to do some research on to find out what her name was. Like Eve, she was a mother of the human race. This woman is simply known as Noah’s wife. If you do just a little research outside the Bible, you will see that her name is most likely Naamah (pronounced Na-ah-mah). It just makes me feel better having a name for this woman. We don’t get a lot of insight into her life outside of the general story of the ark, but can you imagine?!
Noah’s wife is mentioned each time the Bible lists the people that were involved in the story. She is never mentioned by name, however. Neither are Noah’s son’s wives. But they, too, are mentioned each time. Take a moment and think back to the story of Noah and the ark. It is one of my daughter’s favorite stories. When she was afraid in a thunderstorm, she would crawl on my lap and I would tell her this story. And usually by the time I was done, she was comforted and the storm was ending.
Head on over to Genesis 6:9 and read the account of Noah and his family. You will miss so much if you don’t read it.
Right away in the story, we hear about how Noah was righteous among the men of the earth. We then read about how God was essentially disgusted with his creation, there is just this one family that is set apart. The human race was violent and wicked and corrupt. He decided that he was going to choose Noah and his family among all of the inhabitants of the entire world to save and start over with. What an honor! What a huge responsibility! And what do we hear about Noah and his family?
“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Genesis 6:22
The assumption I am making when I read this is that his family was in on this too. Knowing that God was about to destroy everything he created except this ONE family makes me think that they were led well by Noah, and they too were on the list of people worth saving. So what does all of this tell us about Noah’s wife? She was incredibly faithful.
She was faithful to Noah.
She stood by him and probably helped him in organizing, gathering, and building. It is widely thought that up to this point there had been no major rain - much less any flooding. For Noah to have been told from God that he was going to undertake building a large boat and that it was going to be made to float by a flood he would have had to have a family that stood beside him through all the work. Have you ever packed for a long road trip? My family loves doing stuff like this. One summer we went for six weeks camping around the USA. We loaded down our car, filled up the tank, and took off. Now, what most people don’t know is the amount of planning that had to go into that little trip. We planned financially and saved money so we could enjoy ourselves. We planned for lodging and campsites along the way. We planned for the stops we wanted to make along the way and all the sites to see. We planned for the different clothes we needed, the snacks we wanted in the car, and so many other minor things. This was three people in modern times that can stop by a Walmart and pick up whatever they forgot and it took months of planning. Imagine it being eight people and a ton of animals working toward what was going to be the end of the world as they knew it! I envision Noah’s wife calculating what everyone is going to eat and what supplies they needed for all the animals while the men were doing most of the physical labor. Oh, and Noah was 600 years old which means there is a good chance his wife was close to the same age!
She was faithful to God.
I don’t believe that Noah’s wife would have been chosen to be on the ark if she had not been a faithful believer. God was starting over and wanted the most faithful and pure start he could have. This would have been backward if Naamah had worshiped other gods or not truly believed what Noah was telling her came from the one true God. God knew that she was going to be one of four women responsible for starting the human race over again. She needed to be on His side with things.
The amount of faith it would have taken to listen to what Noah was saying, help him in preparation, and actually step onto the ark knowing that things were never going to be the same. Wow. My mind can’t comprehend it. I actually have a physical response to this thought. When I think about being in her shoes it makes my heart race! What an amazing example of faith.
This story focuses on a lot of physical details, but I wanted to share that insight with you. Just thinking about the faith of Noah’s wife - both to him and to God - makes me want to step up my game.
I know that my husband is happiest when we are on the same page. When we work as a team we can overcome so much. I would say we are healthier physically and emotionally when this happens. How can you come alongside your spouse or loved ones and show them that you believe they are living the life that God laid out for them?
I struggle with really giving myself time to align with God as well. Studying the Bible, taking time to really be in His presence, and truly talking to Him and worshiping Him are sometimes pushed to the side for normal everyday stuff. Since when is God less important? One of the things that I have been challenged to do is pray bold prayers. Our church is actually going through a time of challenging us to do that right now and journal our bold prayers and study bold prayers. How can you be more faithful to what God is telling you to do? Pray more? Serve more? Give more? Worship more?
The blessings that Noah’s wife - Naamah or otherwise named - was able to pass on to her family and future generations are directly related to her amazingly faithful life. I am so glad that when God looked down upon the world he saw at least one faithful family. He did amazing things with them and I know he can do the same with us if we are willing!
WRITTEN BY: ANGIE REESE
Joanna - if you are like me then you don’t think “Bible”, but rather hear the song in your head. Or maybe you think of a friend that has that name.
I was reading my Bible and the name jumped out at me. Who was this woman and why did I not know that she was there all along? Let me share with you what I found out!
Joanna is only mentioned in two sections in the Bible. Both of them in Luke.
Chapter 8 verse 1-3 tell us “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
Then again in Chapter 24 verse 9-11 it says “When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”
In these brief mentions of Joanna we get a snapshot of a regular everyday Christian woman during the time of Christ. Her presence in the Bible is not an accident and I feel like we can learn a few beautiful things from her.
Joanna was in a position to be generous. We read that she and other women were supporting Jesus and the twelve of their own means. They believed in what Jesus was doing and wanted to show their faith and support in the form of generosity. Making sure these 13 men had what they needed in everyday needs made it so they could focus on the work they were doing as “fishers of men”.
Need for Jesus
It mentioned in the first set of verses that Joanna and the other women were part of this group because they had been cleansed of unclean spirits or disease. They had recognized that they needed Jesus and his healing power. They had a strong enough faith in Him that they went to Him for help and found it. How amazing would it be to have had Jesus himself in the flesh heal you from something that would have set you so apart from society?
Love for others
Joanna and the other women mentioned not only showed this love by stepping into a servant role when taking care of the twelve and Jesus while they were near, but this extended in wanting to give Jesus a proper cleaning and burial ritual in his tomb. She and the others didn’t understand that Jesus would be rising from the dead and so they went down there to take care of him in one final way they knew how. What a surprise awaited them!
While she is not a major Bible character, I am so glad God pointed her out to me. Sometimes practical and timeless examples of women that we can look to as role models in our faith are difficult to find. We can learn from all of the women in the Bible, but Joanna has a special place for me now. She did what she did from a place of love and faith. I am sure Jesus and the twelve appreciated her and the care she took of them. I wonder how much wisdom she gleaned from being in their company for the time she had with them.
I hope Joanna can be an example to you as she has been to me.
Have you ever thought about the concept of redemption? If you are a saved believer then you most likely have on some level. Otherwise, it just might conjure up images of an action movie title (it actually is one, just so you know). Lately I have been thinking about redemption as we begin a new year. While Ecclesiastes assures us that there is nothing new under the sun, it can feel a bit like a redemption the further away from 2020 we get.
My niece, Norah, gave me a beautiful answer to the question, “What is redemption?”. Her answer was “getting a second chance”. That resonated with me. I have needed second chances (or third, fourth, fifth…) in my life many times.
As I think about a redemptive year, I think about the new chances I have for self-improvement in areas of my life that need it. I need to lose some weight. I need to be better about reading my Bible. I need to be more in tune with my kids when they are home and awake. I need to be proactive in learning my Portuguese so I can be a more effective missionary. All of these things were not completed in the last year (or two). So now I have another chance. That kind of thing feels good to me. It’s awesome to be able to hit that reset button and redeem yourself on various goals.
Let’s think deeper, though. Redemption in the Old Testament came through sacrificing animals on certain dates with very specific instructions OR through the high priest going into the Most Holy Place and communing with God for the people of Israel. If you weren’t part of the nation of Israel you had no hope and no redemption! With the arrival of Jesus, we see that these extensive practices come to an end. With his perfect sacrifice, Jesus redeemed us in the deepest sense of the word. While Norah’s answer about redemption was true, Jesus puts a new spin on it. It doesn’t just mean a second chance, but a complete and total exchange of all our mess ups for a clean slate - FOREVER! This means another chance no matter how many chances you have previously used. In video game terms - unlimited life. I kind of like that thought. Jesus gives us unlimited life. Who wouldn’t be excited about that!
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to seal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
This is one of the most awesome promises we have in the Bible. And the best part is that it is all throughout the Bible. The Old Testament is pointing out the need for it and telling us it is coming. The New Testament tells us that it is here and how we can achieve it. Jesus is the way! Giving your life to Jesus - crucifying the old man to the cross allowing Jesus to redeem you and pay the price for ALL your sins - is the only way to true redemption.
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I hope that you are living in a redeemed state today. If not, reach out to any one of us. We would LOVE to study or talk to you about how to make that commitment to Christ and live in a constant state of redemption. It is a beautiful and peaceful, hopeful and eternal thing. Take advantage of it today!
WRITTEN BY: Angie Reese
This month I have been facing some serious tiredness. I am a mother of three, a wife, and a fifth grade teacher. You know that saying in all the memes…”There’s no tired like teacher tired”? I try not to buy into that. There is also no tired like full-time mom tired, new mom tired, older person tired, chronically sick tired...the list could go on and on until we listed every person and circumstance in the world. The bottom line is: we are ALL tired.
My husband teases me because I love sleep. My favorite place in our house is my bed. I want to sleep in. I want to take naps. If I am trying to find rest and peace, my bed is where I want to go. I want to escape stress and chaos. And there is nothing wrong with having a place where you can relax. The problem is that I can’t always do that. I have adulting to do. As I was reading the articles from the other contributors this month I had a gut check. Am I seeking rest in this world or escape? Am I trying to carry all the burdens that God has asked me to give to Him or am I trusting Him?
I have been pouring all my time and energy into school and whatever is left over I have been giving to my family. Nothing has been left over for God. Not that I have completely ignored Him, but I certainly haven’t been treating him like I should. He’s kind of been stuck in a corner of my mind where I wander from time to time. Not cool. When my priorities get all messed up like this, He has a great way of gently bringing me back into focus. Realignment isn’t always easy, but I am always glad when it happens.
Psalm 28:7 says “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
(By the way, “exults” is another way of saying “is extremely happy”. I had to look it up.)
The LORD is my strength - not work. Not myself. If I am tired, what am I expecting to happen? Suddenly one night I get the perfect sleep and am no longer tired? That my fifth grade students are going to suddenly listen perfectly and understand fractions and long division? That my daughters and husband will start acting like sitcom family members and all problems will be solved within 30 minutes and then we get to have lots of laughs in a house that never seems to be dirty? No. Not even. We aren’t promised perfect. We aren’t promised understanding of everything. We aren’t promised health or happiness at every moment.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
This verse comes after the writer has just complained about all the wicked people around him seeming like they have everything. This verse is his reality check after all that “tired of the world” stuff has been expressed. It struck me as well in a similar way.
Instead of being tired and focusing on being tired, I need to re-prioritize. Give myself 15 minutes extra in the morning to sit and pray and put on my armor of God. Would that help me be a better teacher? It certainly couldn’t hurt! Instead of commiserating with co-workers about how stressful teaching is right now (don’t get me started on that one), use that time to get organized so I can leave work as soon as possible and get home to my family. God gave them to me and they deserve to have some of my “prime time” as well. After putting the kids to bed, take some time to read my Bible and reflect. What better way to leave things at His feet so I can sleep better?
Sometimes these things seem overly simple and obvious, but they aren’t. They are worthwhile and impactful. They can help me to realize that everything isn’t an emergency. I have help from God and in God and all that He has given me. It allows God to become my strength and my rest instead of trying to find rest on my own. (How’s that workin’ for you Angie?)
Tired happens. When it does, we need to rest our minds and our bodies, but more importantly we need to lean into the Lord so he can be our strength and renew and awaken our spirits so we can be good stewards of our lives.
Take some time to read or re-read the other articles on this topic, they are most certainly worth your time. Lyndsay’s article about doing things “unto the Lord” no matter how mundane they are and how this relates to obedience and holiness. Alexandria’s article reminds us that the God who moves mountains still hears our voice and reaching out to Him can be so refreshing and rejuvenating. Gay reminded us to pause and remember that our rest is found in God alone.
I thank God for these ladies and all their beautiful wisdom. I thank God for you all that join us each week as we reflect and study together. I pray that you find some rest and that in doing so, you rise up awakened in mind, body, and spirit in God.
Written by: Angie Reese
We got home from a two week road trip that was riddled with high temperatures and sudden thunderstorms. We were camping in a tent, so this made this rather difficult from time to time with all the setting up the tent, taking down the tent, cooking food, and entertaining the five and two year old girls (they are our daughters, not some random kids we picked up). When we got home, we originally had planned a week of relaxation, cleaning, and repacking because we were off on a two week mission trip to northeast Brazil (to the city of Caucaia). Instead, there had been a death in the family and so we washed clothes, repacked, and headed out of town again for a few days. After the funeral, we came back home and had about two days before heading to Brazil. We hadn’t packed anything!
We had to pack VBS supplies, gifts for friends, ministry items, bug spray, clothes...did I mention bug spray? The utter disarray of my living room, laundry area, kitchen table, and bedroom were stressing me out. I found myself walking in circles and not really accomplishing anything. Meanwhile, my husband was putting items in ziplock bags and distributing them between suitcases. He was trying to bring organization to all the crazy that was going on. Somehow, mostly due to my husband’s efforts, we got it all packed into four suitcases that weighed just under the maximum and got to bed at a decent time. This scenario happens in life so often. Things are chaotic, unaligned, crazy, wild, bonkers! And then suddenly it all just falls into alignment. And sometimes it falls apart.
When we are working “according to His purpose” (Roman 8:28) we are going to find out that things, no matter how crazy they might become, will fall into place. Now, they might not fall into the place you thought they would, but they will fall into the place they are supposed to. This seemed to prove itself true time and time again during this mission trip to Brazil. It is a lesson that I have to keep learning because I am just not getting it! As good mission leaders we make a plan. What we are doing each day. Who is in charge of what meals. Who is leading the team devotionals and sharing time. What supplies we need to accomplish our ministry goals. We have a plan. Insert 12 other people and this little thing we call “life” and somehow these plans turn into more disorder than anything else. But you know what? It all works out. Everyone gets enough food. We all sleep some. Devotionals and share times happen. Ministry happens in places and in forms we didn’t plan and it is beautiful and authentic. Lives are changed.
It’s like we could hand God this tangled up ball of junk we found in our pockets that we have been collecting for a while and he can make it into a beautiful work of art. And each time I just stand back and think, “Wow! How did He do that?”
I don’t want to minimize the pain that disarray can bring. When your children seem like they are running away from truth and Godliness as fast as they can. When your marriage might be on the brink of disaster. When mental health issues are weighing down on you so heavily that just getting up is cause for celebration. When loss and pain are breaking down the doors to your home. These things are serious. God sees them and he hears you. He loves you and he wants to bring you through these times. And your testimony of triumph in these times will be an amazing tool to bring others through similar paths.
Disarray isn’t always a bad thing though. Even the hardest times can be a beautiful mess that untangles in its own time. It can stress us out and confuse us, but it can also cause us to depend on each other and God. It can point us in a direction that we never thought we could or would go. And on the other side, where we find alignment with Him, we also find a beauty and peace that surprises us each and every time.
So, if you are sitting in a big ole pile of crazy right now, try to enjoy the mess. Make a mud pie. Smear it all around. Take a big whiff of it. Throw your head back and laugh loudly at Satan and tell him “not this time!”. Don’t let it turn you into a monster that is striving for impossible perfection. Then make sure that your goals are to His glory and find rest in the fact that it will all align itself with His help. Think of it as the shackles of bondage being broken, because that is exactly what it can be. Let the promises of scripture speak to your heart. Let them give you peace. Allow them to re-connect you with His purpose and alignment will come.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Written by: Angie Reese
Getting stains out of my kid’s clothes is not a strong suit of mine. I forget to pre-treat. I use the wrong temperature water. I throw it into the dryer before checking if the stain came out. It is a disaster. With a couple of rough and tumble, outside loving girls, this is a regular occurance. I groan as I fold clothes and see the booty of new shorts forever stained with dirt or the front of a shirt spotted with food stains. Sometimes I will have to repeat the process a few times before I can finally get a stain to come out.
You probably know where I am going with this thought if you have an idea of what our theme is this month: Impurity and refinement.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:7 it says, “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.”
Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
We walk around this earth and all its dirt every day. No matter how much we try, some of it splatters on us. We are exposed to music, television, movies, books, people, advertisements, and so much more that don’t align with a Godly perspective. We know the difference between right and wrong, but these things still influence us. If you go back to my visual of stained clothes, Christians walk around with Scotch Guard on, but the dirt still can get through.
The great part about this is that Jesus is so much better at cleaning those stains than I am. He knew the perfect combination of things to take even the toughest stain away - the love of our Father God, a life lived as a perfect example, willing sacrifice on the cross carrying the impurities of all generations, resurrection and ascension to heaven to intercede for us. Not only did he take out the initial stain, but he continually is there to wash us clean. Washing us over and over. Repeating the process from moment to moment if needed.
Here are some more laundry analogies:
Pre-treatment : daily time in the word
Heavy wash: prayer/repentance
Spin/rinse: Jesus' blood continually cleansing us
Line dry: meditation and reflection
It might seem a little silly, but we can all relate. As we walk through our daily lives, let’s be aware of those things we might come in contact with that can “stain” us. Take some time reflecting today on how amazing it is that Jesus loves us so much, that he values our purity so much, he washes us clean daily. That he gave His very life so that we could come into His presence and eventually live with Him forever in heaven. Our amazing Savior and our loving God value this purity that pierces our very souls.
What are some impurities that you can rid your life of today to bring you even closer to Him?
Written By: Angie Reese
We want to connect with you and encourage you! Click here to join our community of women over at our Sisterhood Conversations page!
The Pretty & Wise Collective features: