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Rest in the middle of stress – Charlotte Osborn

The word stress is much used in our 21st century vocabulary. It was first used by Dr. Walter B. Cannon who studied and taught in the Department of Physiology at Harvard University, USA. In 1915 he became interested in the physical reactions of his laboratory animals when they felt they were in danger.  While studying digestion in his animals, Dr. Cannon noticed that physical changes in the function of the stomach would occur when the animal was frightened or scared. The ‘fight-or-flight’ response, also called the ‘acute stress response’, is an automatic reaction to a potentially dangerous situation. Our brains react quickly to keep us safe by preparing the body for action. The result of these natural reactions produce symptoms, which can negatively affect our bodies and minds.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes one of the definitions of stress as;  ‘A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’ Whilst the word: ‘stress’, is relatively recent, the realities of its meaning have been part of everyday life since almost the beginning of time. There are many factors  that contribute to the stress of human life; 

  • Painful and difficult physical and mental health conditions, 
  • Loss and pain caused through
  • Traumatic events which shake our world,
  • And at the time of writing: an unexpected global pandemic – Covid-19.

A UK-wide survey in 2018, found that almost three quarters of adults (74%) have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.* Whilst doctors might not have had as much physiological and psychological understanding before 1915, they used different words to describe it. ‘Stress’ isn’t a word that appears in the bible, but we read plenty about its companion – ‘troubles’. 

Jesus said to His followers in John’s gospel, 
“In this world you will have troubles. 
But take heart! 
I have overcome the world.

God’s answer to overcoming human troubles and stress was to send His son Jesus as the Saviour of the world. God promises His Rest that affects our heart, mind and body in our daily lives. Knowing and experiencing God’s REST is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Over recent months we have faced some serious stress and trouble through the Coronavirus. I have found myself crying out to God for His help in the challenges we face both personally and globally. Although we may have found that our daily lives have changed pace during this time, I have realised that physical rest doesn’t always equal rest in my heart or mind. 

The REST that the psalmist writes about in Psalm 62 is different from our human understanding of the word. 
I find rest in God; only he can save me.

The key to finding genuine, and lasting REST, has nothing to do with relaxing on holidays (although they are excellent and important!) True REST is found in God, regardless of what our circumstances may look like at any given moment. 
It is interesting to note that in both the words stress and troubles, we can find letters which spell out the word REST. They are hidden in the middle of S-TRES-S and surrounding our TR-OUBL-ES.

I’ve had to do some ‘de constructing’ of the stress and troubles and let God re-order ’His truth in my heart, mind and body. Like working out an anagram, I needed to see the letters from a different perspective. I had to lose two big ‘S’s’ from my stress mindset! He’s turning my S-tres-S into His Rest

The ‘S’s’ I had to lose from STRESS were my Self and my Striving. I had to surrender my Selfto God again, release my Striving and trust that even in the difficulties and challenges, He was working out His plans and purposes for me. 
This is a daily choice to surrender my ‘Self and Striving’ and receive God’s gift of REST in His grace and love.

The last spoken words that Jesus said to His disciples were that:
He will be with us always, until the very end of the age. Matthew 28;18

Whatever stress or trouble we are facing, He is there with us and His promise of REST can be found. 


Charlotte Osborn is an evangelist at heart and she’s passionate about sharing the good news of God’s love & hope with the world. She is a speaker & event facilitator who seeks to encourage others to find creative ways to share their own stories.
As a qualified nurse, she runs her own home care business, supporting people through the many changing seasons of their lives. She has 3 fantastic grown up children who she counts as friends and she lives in the beautiful Cotswolds UK with her equally fantastic husband!

This is just one of the articles from the rest issue. Get your copy here.

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Meander with me – Noreen Sevret

As the early evening sun made it’s way through my back yard by the river, I took a deep breath as I slowly walked with my husband and our two dogs. The day had been full, and my mind was tired. As we walked, I listened to the evening sounds and felt a covering of rest within.

The sounds of the birds drew my eyes upwards toward the blue cloudless sky, and I simply stood there with my face lifted up, glimpsing the blue beyond the treetops above me. I asked God, “Is this what it feels like to rest, Lord? I surrender to the rest this brings to my soul; what I feel inside as I notice what You have made.”

I look out a bit further and see the river flowing gently past the land I have called home for the past 27 years. It is a place of rest I find here under these trees and beside this river. I crouch deeper to get a better view of the many wildflowers growing between the lens of my camera and the large tree that has broken off in the distance.

We found a swarm of honeybees tonight way up in one of the trees and stood watching them work away; probably honeybees from our neighbor’s bee hives. I heard the voices of children playing together in the neighbor’s yard next door, their laughter sweet music to my ears, and the sound of a lawnmower in the distance up river.

The rest I feel in this place gives me a fresh perspective on what it means to find rest. I feel it when I walk away from the work and the many things that tug at the corners of my mind. In my tiredness, I find God is waiting for me. He knows that what He made will refresh me and give me rest that I need. It’s a rest that is a gift for the weariness of my heart. A time to let Him speak to me in the way I need Him to now. It’s a time to surrender the reality of the rush and walk into refreshing rest for my mind.

It is here that my strength is renewed, much like King David refers to in Psalm 23:1-3, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” NLT

I find a refreshment here by the river and in the early evening sun. I know I walk not only with my husband but with God as well. As we meander back toward our home, the evening sounds are restful and are like a sweet hush to quiet the noise of the day and provide strength and rest for my soul.

Noreen Sevret lives on a picturesque river in Upstate New York with her husband and their son. She has a passion for finding beauty in unexpected places from behind the lens of her camera and writing about how God speaks to her heart through that picture. She facilitates journaling classes at her church. Noreen enjoys spending time with family, writing worship songs, playing the piano, reading, participating on book launch teams, going out for coffee with friends, and going to beautiful places in NYS and beaches in NJ with her husband. She also works as an office manager and writes content for her companies FB page., IG: @writerbytheriver.

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Finding rest in the storms of Motherhood – Laura Rizakallah

When the word “rest” comes up among a group of mothers I can guarantee I will hear some snarky comments, see a few eye rolls and even sense some animosity among friends if one lucky momma in the group mentions she may have gotten some rare and coveted rest. Many moms just hear the word “rest” and quickly change the topic as they take a swig of coffee to wash down the reality that their heart, soul, mind and body are weary beyond words. There is little understanding of how a woman called to care for the lives of children who depend on her every waking and sleeping minute can even think about caring for herself.

We mamas make time to laugh. Play. Cook. Drive. Prepare. Listen. Schedule. Order. Clean. Organize. Fold. Hug. Wipe. Communicate. We are intentional and serious about this role of motherhood that demands us to be present and delights us with joy. But where is there time for rest?

We schedule nap time and quiet time and time outs for our children because we know without them they are not as healthy and whole as they could be. We know the value of rest for our children, but do we know the value of rest for ourselves? We would love to sit and read a magazine in the sunshine of a breezy afternoon with a cup of coffee; but we find that as soon as we stop the intense movement of motherhood we fall fast asleep and awaken to “Mooooooooooom I NEEEEEEED you” and we are behind schedule, in a puddle of our own drool, with no dinner made and a feeling of guilt for falling asleep. 

Motherhood is intense. But rest is intentional.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

I read this scripture hundreds of times over my life, but as a mom I would read it (with dark circles and blurred vision from not sleeping in 15 years) and be, “YES! Jesus! I want rest! Give me this unattainable gift!” Motherhood reality however, kept this promise too far away from me. I was convinced God was mocking me or that this promise was for the “without children” demographic. How was God going to give me, a mom of six children ages 2-16, this ambiguous gift of REST? Would he miraculously insert an oasis in the middle of my mess (He knows I can’t go anywhere without a babysitter!). Would He remove the heavy load? (That didn’t make sense because I didn’t want him to remove my kids!) Send the merry maids so I can put my feet up? (Honestly, they didn’t even have to be merry….. even miserable maids would work!)”

At the age of 42 I gave birth to our sixth child. I felt like I was caught in a washing machine in a never ending spin cycle. I was in a state of delirium and dysfunction most days. My body hurt. My mind was numb. My spirit was empty. My emotions were fragile. Weary is different than tired. Tired can be fixed with a nap. Weary is an inside tired that manifests in other issues. Weary must be met with intentional rest. The literal meaning of rest as used in this verse our of Matthew is:

I. to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect her strength

II. to give rest, refresh, to give one’s self rest, to TAKE rest

III. to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation

God gives us rest and we must permit ourselves to make space in our motherhood to receive it.

Psalm 46:10 says to, “Be still and know that I am God.”

If we pause our internal posture amidst our crazy, messy and overwhelming lives and allow God to have the heavy load we are carrying daily; we will find Him in a refreshing new way. In that quiet calm we get new expectation and vision for what we have been called to care for as He quietly cares for our soul. He visits us in the stillness and when we are found we are refilled with hope and vision. Vision for motherhood restores us to continue valuing motherhood. We pause. He provides.


God Himself rested on the 7th day of creation. He looked around Him and saw that everything was very good and He paused. He set aside time to be still. I bet he looked around at all He had created and just delighted in it. In our pausing we can see the details and the destiny of all we get to be a part of. Life becomes a duty when don’t pause to look around at the delightful details God is creating in the hard work of motherhood. The Hebrew word for rest is Shabatt. It literally means rest. The Sabbath was given to us as an intentional way to create space to rest in our lives. If God values rest, so should we. 

Motherhood is intense. Rest in intentional. In our family we choose to find ways to stop the regularly scheduled crazy of life and delight in each other. It’s intentional. It’s relational. It’s delightful.

We aren’t loosing anything by setting aside a day to rest. We are gaining peace, joy, calm in the chaos and restored vision and refilled relationships. Rest gives back what we give away. Rest is a practice that keeps us so we can keep on keeping on. Rest is not an event (like a manicure or an afternoon away with friends), it is a way of living. A rhythm. A cadence. Shabatt helps us remember the rhythm so we don’t get lost in the rigor.

Choosing to Shabatt gives us the opportunity to restore, refuel, reflect. Wonder and ponder, dream and remember. Setting aside a day to rest gives us the opportunity to know God, find God and recover our strength.

Storm Stopper

Another way I have learned what rest means to me as a mother of many is to learn how to trust the storm stopper and not look into the storm.

Did you ever read the story of Jesus in the storm found in Matthew 8:23-27? We find Jesus fast asleep in the midst of all the crazy whirring of wind and clatter of thunder while beating rain pounds against the boat. (This kind of noise reminds me of motherhood!)

The kind of rest that Jesus was experiencing was the kind of internal rest that trusted beyond the storm. He knew He had power over the storm and therefore could rest assured knowing the storm was temporary and would not harm him or the disciples with him. We can choose to be still and rest while life is whirling and twirling and clanging and banging around us. We can learn to abide.

Abiding is the active choice to live in God’s presence internally no matter what is happening externally. But, you say, I can’t stop the storms in my life. The chaos of children. The insanity of schedules gone out of control. The furious and crazy rhythm of life and all it brings…. I can’t stop it! How can I rest in it. We learn to trust the one who quiets the storms while we go through them.

In motherhood we must learn to rest in the hope of the storm stopper and not get shaken by the storm. When everything is threatening to sink our soul and flood our life boat with water we want to freak out and jump out! Jesus shows us that we can learn to be at peace in the stormy parts of motherhood because we trust Him to speak to the storm and cause it to stop. AND even if He doesn’t, we can learn to rest in His power and peace as we ride out the storm. Abiding allows our soul to stay connected to the source of peace even when the situation around us has threatened to disconnect us from peace. Abiding in our source of strength, hope and power gives us an internal peace that passes anything we can understand or see in our external chaos.

As mothers we see the storms of life but we stay connected to the power source of peace on the inside so we are not shaken by the power of the storm on the outside. Rest replenishes the soul of our inner girl so we can keep pouring out. Rest was given by God to us to give back what we have given away. Resting is meant to restore our empty places. Motherhood is intense. Resting is intentional. Motherhood is a calling. You are a gift. Rest is how we protect the calling and the gift God has given your family in your powerful role as mother.


Quiet your heart and ask God how you can learn to insert an intentional pause into your daily life. Practice being still and waiting to hear His voice whisper life back in to your weary heart. Intentionally begin to answer the questions below as you wait on the Lord to renew your strength as you rest in His power, presence and peace.

  1. How can you set aside a day you and your family can practice Shabatt? What does that look like practically?
  2. What stormy situations can you stop focusing on and start focusing on the power of the storm stopper?
  3. Where can you intentionally insert a pause (even if it is just 5 minutes a day) so you can intentionally be still and know your God.

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Laura Rizakallah is a freelance writer and speaker. Laura lives in upstate NY with her husband and their six children. Laura’s desire is to connect her audience with God. Laura’s speaking and writing has inspired and impacted others to connect with God over the last 15 years. Laura writes bold, beautiful & brave words that stir your heart. Every word, invites you to live the crazy amazing life of love, hope and faith you were born for. Laura believes that a girl and the gospel are a powerful force God uses every day to turn ordinary into extraordinary. Laura believes that every woman can live her purpose, pursue her passion and IGNITE the world with the power and love of Jesus Christ.

This is one of the articles from iola the rest issue. Read more about it and get your copy here.