I can’t be the only one feeling like this: overwhelmed, stressed, apprehensive, exhausted. I am not sure what the culprit is. Some blame it on 2020, but the truth is that I felt like this before now. Feeling like this causes us to ask: Is this what life is supposed to be like? I may not know much, but I do not believe that life is supposed to be like this for us, sisters.
The number of times that “rest” or some version of the word is mentioned in the Bible is surprising (no I didn’t count, I just noticed). A few of my favorite examples of rest are when Jesus and the twelve get on the boat and a storm comes up in Mark 4 and is so bad that these experienced fishermen are freaking out. Jesus is sleeping through all this! If you ask my husband, that is my kind of sleeping!
Another example, just a few chapters later in Mark 6:31, Jesus tells his disciples:
“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure to even eat.”
As a mother, wife, and teacher, I can relate to this. How many times are we so busy taking care of other people’s needs that we forget to take care of ourselves? Jesus recognized that this was happening and helped the disciples take a moment of rest.
So, Angie, what is the point? Jesus rested. His disciples rested. I am still stressed out!
If we take a moment to read in Psalm 4:8, there is a beautiful passage.
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Our rest, our peace, our sense of safety - all of these things are found in God. He didn’t send His son to earth so we could be a stressed out mess. He sent him so we could find a rest and peace that we didn’t and couldn’t otherwise have! This verse in Psalm reminds me that God ALONE gives us the environment where we can truly have rest. He has everything under control even when it seems like it is all falling apart.
I love the visual of a child sleeping in their father’s arms. Total trust. Total safety. Total rest. Be that child with God. Let him gather you up. Rest your head on His shoulder. Let His voice be the only one you hear as he tells you that he wants to grant you rest to your very soul. In order to do this, we might have to go away to a desolate place. We might have to stop the insanity of being so busy for a moment and hide in the closet or bathroom and just BE.
Our pastor reminded us this morning during the message that we are always in God’s presence because he is everywhere. We just need to take a moment and be aware of Him. I know that if we can make that a habit, our lives will take a turn toward rest in a restless world.
I wish you all a few moments of rest as we remember Jesus’ birth this week. As humble as it was, it was amazing. And the reason for it, beautiful ladies, is for us to have that wonderful father-daughter relationship with God himself. And part of that is the peace and rest He brings into our lives if only we will take the time. You are worth that time. You are worth that rest. You will be all the better for it. It was made for you. Accept that sweet gift of rest.
WRITTEN BY: Angie Reese
As I sat down to write this article, I kept coming back to the same verse over and over. Jeremiah 29:11-13
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
We are talking about purpose this month, and that is something that I have always struggled with. What is my purpose? I see friends who are doing amazing things, leading groups, growing businesses, living what seems to be a profound and purpose filled life. And then I look around me. Piles of laundry, a floor that needs to be swept, dishes in the sink, dog hair on the carpet, kids that need a bath. What is the purpose in all this?
Well sisters, the purpose is for me to show Jesus to my children, husband, and friends, and co-workers.
My best friend reminded me that my purpose is to love, be kind, and keep doing what I am doing in raising my kids. She isn’t wrong. That verse in Jeremiah tells me that God has plans for me and that those plans are for good things. His plans are my purpose. He is the one that blessed me with this family. Why WOULDN’T that be my purpose?
He also tells me in that verse that I need to be calling upon him and seeking him with all my heart so I can find him. I don’t know about you, but when I set my focus on Jesus for the day I am amazed at all the things that seemed to be a big deal dissolve away and I am able to focus on my true purpose better.
I also believe that our purpose can change depending on the season of life we are in. Right now, as I said, mine is for my family. There are women out there who are not married, don’t have children, have raised their children, or who are still raising children. No matter what season of life you are in, God has a plan - a purpose - for you. I’m not going to lie, I am looking forward to the season of purpose that doesn’t involve diapers.
So let’s circle back to that comparison of purpose thing I had going on. When I see friends walking in their purpose I can’t compare my life or purpose to theirs. Looking at someone else’s life and comparing it to yours is never a good idea, but especially if you are trying to figure out your purpose. Seek God with all our heart. You will find him. He will reveal to you what your purpose is. Who better to show you purpose in your life than the one that made you?
I know this article has been a little all over the place. This topic is one that I struggle with, as I said. I want you to know that I am praying for you. Yes you. If you are reading this article, I am praying that you allow God to speak to you and help you either find your purpose in him or find contentment in the purpose he has given you. It has taken me a long time to get to that point and I still have times when I wonder. He knows the plans he has for you - and they are for good and a future and hope.
WRITTEN BY: Angie Reese
When the time came for me to really let her go and say goodbye at the airport, the tears came. How could I impart upon her all the things I hadn’t said? How could I make sure she was making good choices and being safe? How could I let my baby go to the other side of the country without me? She was so young! I was afraid for her. Afraid for things she had never even thought about. This precious gift that God had given me was leaving me and it was time for me to let go. This was me sending my oldest daughter off to Seattle, Washington. She was going to be fine. I knew that in my heart. But not seeing her every day and not hearing her singing in the house and her silly laughing with her little sisters was going to leave a hole.
The fact of the matter is that I am no good at letting things go. I am afraid. Fear gets a foothold in my heart and I can’t seem to release things to God like I am supposed to. Proverbs 3:5 says we are to trust God and not lean on our own understanding. Philippians 4:6 says we aren’t supposed to be anxious, but let request be known to God. Romans 8:28 promises that it will all work together for those that love God. So why is this so hard?
The enemy is smart and knows how much we like to be in control. He knows what kinds of things make us worry and anxious and fearful. He knows that letting go in faith is hard enough, but when you add a touch of fear, it makes it even harder.
We hold tight to so many things. So many of these things are meant to be left at Jesus’ feet. This includes our kids! Yes, we are supposed to take care of them, but there comes a time when we do let go. He loves our kids even more than we do! He loves us more than we can imagine! Sweet sisters, we have to learn to let him take over in so many areas of our life. That job you want? He’s got a plan for it. The spouse you were given? God has it under control. That worry for health issues? He already knows how it is going to work out. That worry in the back of your mind that keeps you up at night striking fear in your heart for it to work out? Already taken care of according to His plan.
The opposite of FEAR is FAITH (a strong form of trust). That is power in our hands! The power that lives in us is built on that faith.
2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
We must rest on that promise. We are told we have POWER, LOVE, and SELF-CONTROL in the face of our fears.
I let a few tears flow that day I put my 18 year old daughter on a plane to Seattle. I am guilty of telling her that she can always come home. But I let her go. I left her in the hands of the Father that loves her even more than I do and knows that she was raised to be independent. What do you need to leave at the feet of Jesus today? I promise that you will be glad you did. Let your fears of letting go be the first things to go.
WRITTEN BY: ANGIE REESE
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Leadership: You won’t be searching long before you find a book, article, or expert on it. But what does the Bible say about it? It says a lot when it comes to specific leadership of elders and deacons, but we are not all in those categories. I want to look at 2 Timothy 2:15. It says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
This verse comes in the midst of Timothy warning the readers about quarreling, irreverent babble, and false teachings.
I believe that this verse can tell us a lot about Godly leadership on all levels. Let’s dive in to see what I mean.
“Do your best…”
I don’t think that Godly leadership is perfection. Anyone who has ever set foot into a church will know this. There are opinions and speculations that sometimes go astray from where they should. But we aren’t told to be perfect. Or even near perfect. We are told DO YOUR BEST. This means thinking before we speak, find out what the Bible says about it before we act, consider others, and then do your best.
“...present yourself to God as one approved…”
As a leader, we need to remember that we are leading under God’s approval. He is the one that is the ultimate leader of leaders. When we are leading - whether it be just our children or a group of ladies, or a worship service for a huge group - we must put ourselves under God’s authority. We need to present ourselves to him and get HIS approval before we seek to lead others.
“...a worker who has no need to be ashamed…”
Leaders sometimes have to be ready to lead by example. We have to be willing to get into the trenches with everyone else and do what needs to be done. If we are doing this, we aren’t seeking approval or title or some throne or pedestal to be placed on. Again, we are presenting ourselves to God first. If we do this, we should never be ashamed of the work we are doing to glorify Him.
“...rightly handling the word of truth.”
This is the big one. If we aren’t handling (read Teaching and Living) the word of truth correctly, then we don’t need to be a leader. Ouch. That was harsh, I know. But when it comes to God’s word and leading people you have to be sure (as sure as possible) that you are doing the right thing. This means that as leaders we have to be in God’s word more often, praying more often, and keeping our ears open to what God is telling us as OUR leader. Leading others astray through false teaching is a very serious offense in God’s eyes.
As we lead our families (and possibly other women), I hope we all seek His approval. There can be no other approval more sweet than knowing we are leading others rightfully closer to Christ and salvation.
Written By: Angie Reese
Head over to the COMMUNITY and join the conversation!
The words “I WAS” were scratched into the wall. The person who did this probably had to have used their fingernail. There was nothing else allowed in this room. I was sitting in the waiting area of the mental health portion of the hospital. You know, the place where you have to go when you become suicidal. I was there with my oldest daughter - admitting her into the unit for teens. How did I get here? How did we let things get this bad before we intervened in a strong way? She said she wanted to die. She didn’t think she had any worth. Later, she would cry that she just wanted to be normal. She didn’t realize that almost everyone felt that way - but what is “normal” exactly? What she also doesn’t see is her worth and her beauty. She doesn’t see that she is what God made her and she has been fighting against it. I fight my own mental health demons on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel victorious and sometimes I am left in a heap on the floor hoping that tomorrow won’t be this bad. ALL of us need a reminder.
You are beautifully and wonderfully made. Do you see that dot there? At the end of the sentence? It is a period. It signifies the end of a thought. You are beautifully and wonderfully made - PERIOD. Not IF or WHEN or BECAUSE. Period.
Psalm 139: 13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Our identity can’t be caught up in someone or something else. It isn’t healthy for a reason. We were MADE by God and for God. His words are wonderful. When did we forget that “I know that full well” part? Was it because of the cruel things that someone else who was hurting said to us? Is it the comparison game we get caught up in? Is it rejection from the opposite sex? Whatever it is, it is NOT from God because he made you - knit you together. Have you ever knit or crocheted something? I haven’t but my mother does. There is an element of perfectionism that has to go into it. If not, the entire piece is ruined. I don’t think that word was used by mistake here. Knitting happens on purpose. It happens precisely. It happens over time. It happens through the hands of the knitter- in this case, God Himself.
When you can put those things into the proper perspective you follow the story that is laid out in the Bible and you see that you have so much value that Jesus died for you so you could be with him eternally. That is pretty serious. First, you were made perfect as you are by God and then God’s very own son died for you. How much more do we need to know? He thinks YOU are worth it, worthy of it, and in need of it.
Back to the waiting room. The white walls. The hard rubber chairs. The skinny window. The sounds of angry and disturbed people echoing off the walls in the hall or the other room. The smell of hospital cleaner. The worry in my heart. The desperation in my daughter. The words “I WAS” on the wall. I want to finish those words - that sentence. I was unworthy, but Jesus made me worth more than gold. I was angry, but grace has covered me and now I am able to forgive. I was lost, but Jesus left the 99 and came and found me hiding in the dark and picked me up and brought me home.
I hope that you can see that your “I WAS” statement doesn’t have to be a sad ending of a desperate cry for someone to know you are here. God sees you. He loves you. He made you. Rise up and hold your head high knowing that you were made perfectly you for this world and we need you.
WRITTEN BY: ANGIE REESE
I looked out the window of the kitchen at our little farm and saw my husband working in the yard. A little way away in the green grass, our middle daughter, Alora, was spinning circles. The green grass, the blue sky, the wind in her hair, the sun on her head, her blue dress and hot pink rain boots. It was a perfect moment. One of those that you want to capture in your heart. Your sweet little girl is as wonderful and innocent and free as the wind itself. She doesn’t doubt her worth or her beauty. She doesn’t worry about how she looks. She doesn’t worry about anything. This has to be part of what Jesus is referring to when he says we have to “become like little children” so we can enter into the kingdom (Matthew 18:3).
It is sad to say that along the way I have lost that child-like freeness. I am assuming some of you have as well. It makes me a little sad when I think about that loss. But I am reminded that God still sees me as his little girl. The thing about little girls, if you haven’t been around one lately, is that they are little sparking balls of joy. Even the ones that are rough and tumble tomboys! It is just something they can’t help! Where does this come from? I have thought about this a LOT lately. I have been reading a book written by someone I went to college with - Brad Montague. You probably know him as the adult behind Kid President. He wrote a book recently called “Becoming Better Grownups”. It is full of simple wisdom on the subject of how adults can become more like children and be better adults. It is really wonderful, and I think it is worth the read. He spends a good amount of time in the book talking about the concept of child-like joy. He even labels children as “joy rebels” because they can find joy in ANYTHING!
To me, joy is something that is deep within. Nothing can hinder it. Not a bad day, grumpy spouse, cranky children, messy hair...it is an attitude more than anything. James 1:2 even tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” And he even gives us a reason why in verses 3-4:
“because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
So if I understand this right, we are supposed to be happy even when things are not good because it will make us mature, complete, and not lack anything. That seems kind of important. I would like to feel like I am all those things. I would love to capture the feeling that I see in my daughter as she spins circles in the sunshine or after she comes across something hard and joyfully says “It’s ok, I can try again!” The hard part is getting back to that place after all the cynicism of the world has been drummed into our heads. I would like to share a few simple reasons to regain some joy:
WRitten BY: Angie Reese
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If someone asked you “what does the word worship mean?” how would you answer that? Would you have thoughts of church services? People bowing down to an object? People raising their hands while singing? This word can be so many things! When I was younger, worship was a list of things we did in church: sing, pray, commune, listen to a sermon. Simple, straight forward, and boring. There was no emotion outside of wishing I were somewhere - anywhere else. After being married for several years my husband, oldest daughter, and I found ourselves in a new town away from family and looking for a place we could call a church home. We visited several places close by and even took far-fetched suggestions from people who really loved their own congregation. None of these places was what we were looking for. It was a formula that we had somewhere in our minds. When we gathered to WORSHIP (there is that word again) we wanted it to be truth, love, community, youth, experience. It was hard to find for some reason! Then it happened - we walked into a service in a high school auditorium and the word WORSHIP was not only alive, but for me, redefined.
Worship should be alive. In Romans 12:1 we are told that we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and that this is true and proper worship. In John 4:24 we are told that worship has to be in spirit and in truth. And in Matthew when we read the story of the birth of Christ we are told that wise men and shepherds traveled to worship. All of these verses are full of a sense of action.
When we walked into the auditorium at this new place, we were surprised at how many people kindly greeted us. We were surprised so many people were gathering in a make-shift church setting. It was totally foreign to us. Service began and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this group of people had what I wanted. They completely allowed themselves to be immersed in the moment and were truly worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Now, this is not to say that other people in other congregations were not. I could just feel it in a real sense in this situation. It was what my spirit needed - had been craving. Eyes were closed, hands were raised, people were singing at the top of their voices songs of love and praise to God. People were really coming to the presence of God’s throne to worship. There was a sermon and it was so applicable and so rooted in the truth of the Bible. As the sermon ended people went forward and prayed with one another and tears fell from my eyes. This was such an experience. I wondered if it was like this every week, or was I just hungry for a church home? As positive as the experience was, it caused me to really question. Were these people for real? How can you maintain this? Was this something I could be a part of?
We continued going to this congregation. The feelings of true worship in the presence of God continued each week. I was home.
Now, circle back to my original question: What does the word worship mean? To me, it was coming into the presence of God during a time each week with fellow Christians. It can also mean coming into God’s presence on your own. It can involve singing, praying, sermons, meditation, and other things as well. I think the common threads we need to recognize are that it is coming into God’s presence, a spirit-lead experience, and rooted in truth. Why these three things? We have to remember who we are worshiping! The one true living God. The author of life. He deserves our attention and in order to worship him we have to enter into his presence. The spirit was given to us to help us on a daily basis, but also to guide us in ways of prayer and worship. And finally, we are told of the many aspects of worship in the Bible - which is full of truth. As we explore worship this month I hope you will continue to think about what it looks like, sounds like, feels like, and means to you. I feel like my definition of worship has changed even since this experience of redefinition. It will probably continue to grow as I grow in my knowledge and understanding of God and what he wants for us and from us.
written by: angie reese
It was late night and everyone in the house was asleep. I was sitting on the couch crying. Again. This was a bad cycle I had found myself in. Depression is a thief and right now it wasn’t only stealing my sleep but it was stealing my joy as well. And I felt helpless to fight it. I had done all the normal things that helped - talk about it, get some sunshine, take my medicine, push on - but none of it was helping now. What else could I do? The obvious answer from the other side didn’t seem so obvious then. I did however, reach for my Bible and with tears prayed for a word from God to help ease this deep sorrow enough that I could at least sleep. As always, He showed up.
Psalm 107: 8-9 “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
I latched onto these verses and thought that if I was ever hungry and thirsty for God, now was the time. I needed to remember to be thankful. His promise for wonderful deeds and satisfaction if I just reach out to Him. This was the lifeline I needed. As I prayed in that moment I also heard the words “I AM” resonating within my heart.
I knew from growing up in church that God used this phrase to refer to himself with the children of Israel. In Exodus 3:14 it says “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Isrealites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
This meant something to them because it was telling the Israelites that the God their fathers had worshiped - that THEY worshiped - was the one who was sending Moses. What was this supposed to mean to me at this moment?
God is eternal and constant and wants me to lean on him. He sends us help and comfort through the Holy Spirit. I had been running away. I had been trying to overcome things on my own. While I believe that I need the medication, because there is a time and place for it, I also think that I need God! He was telling me I AM for you. I AM here to comfort you. I AM listening. But most importantly he was telling me I AM enough. The same God that called Israel out of enslavement in Egypt was caring about me right now. He cared that I wasn’t sleeping, that I was feeling hopeless. He cared that my days felt heavy and lost. He wanted me to turn to Him. He wanted me to remember His power was what would help me through. As much as I wanted someone to take away the sadness, no one in my life could do that. They weren’t meant to. God made me and knew what I needed. He wants to satisfy me - if I will let him.
I was able to sleep after that. It was a corner that I turned in that cycle of depression. Of course, I might have another round of the same. But, that verse will be much quicker to come to my mind and comfort me. I will be faster to remember to turn to God, I hope.
What is the great I AM trying to tell you? I AM….?
Written bY: Angie Reese
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