Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~My Name~ July 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 1:02 pm
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Today is my birthday! If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, then you know that I have recently looked up the name meanings of my children and when their birthdays roll around, I share it with you. So I thought for fun, that I would look up my name too. My name is Valerie Deaune (pronounced Dion…like the football player). Valerie means to be strong and Deaune means divine.
When I first read ‘to be strong’ I thought, “that is so not me.” First of all I don’t look strong physically. Secondly, I am usually the girl that can’t hold it together when she hears something sad. I am a cry baby.
Then I got to thinking about some of the things that I’ve been through in my 32 years and realized that I’m probably a lot stronger than I think. Strength doesn’t necessarily mean that you can handle whatever life throws at you without batting an eye. To me it means you get through the struggles and pains, complete with battle scars & war stories because strength means to endure and I have certainly done that. I have endured an absentee parent, emotionally abusive relationships, the loss of a child, the debilitating sickness of yet another child, fighting for my children when their BM broke their hearts…not to mention the daily battles that women face every. single. day. So, yeah, maybe I am kinda strong.

Divine was what really threw me for a loop because it means to be “of, from or like God.” All I could see was the word ‘like’ and it was tripping me up! Zoom in on the middle word though…from. Now THAT I am! I am from God.  That put a smile on my face!

vals fam

I am one blessed woman 🙂

 

~Mean Girl~ July 29, 2013

There is a mean girl living inside of me.  She looks exactly like me…until she opens her mouth.  The worst part about her is she tends to show herself to some of the most beloved people in my life, my children.

It makes no sense, but sometimes I can be incredibly hateful and short with the biggest blessings God has ever given me.  I sat and thought on it and realized that just maybe it’s because not every single moment of parenting screams “blessing”!

Allow me to paint you a picture.  It has been one of the longest mornings of mommy-hood in my life.  Everything my kids can do wrong has been done with flair.  Glorious naptime arrives and for the first time all day my butt connects with the couch.  Just as I start to truly relish the quiet, I hear rustling from the girl’s room.  I tiptoe to the door and listen….”Mooommmyyyy, I poop!”  Down the stairs I go and there stands my Bella in her crib, pant-less.  It would appear I have a little Picasso on my hands and with no crayons in sight, she has decided to improvise.  Here comes my mean girl.  As I look upon the mess that I have the privilege of cleaning up, my mind is reeling “NOTHING about this moment shouts blessing!!”

I lectured my 2 year old with enough vehemence to make a military general retreat.  Half a bottle of bleach & one bath later, the smoke clears and I realize just how foolish I would have sounded had anyone been listening in.  My daughter didn’t do anything different than nearly every other child has done at some point.  But I was so tired and frustrated from a very long morning and she made an easy target for me to unload on.

However, I refused to let my mean girl win.  Just because “she” felt justified in her response, didn’t make it right.  So I used the best weapon I have to shut her up, the Bible.  The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom when it comes to controlling our anger.

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”  (14:29)

The next time one of my children, or anyone else for that matter, throws a crick into my day, I have to choose to exercise understanding over acting a fool.

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”  (15:1)

When my knee-jerk reaction is to respond with a hot-temper, I am teaching my children to do the same.  With every harsh word I speak, I’m stirring up the “mean girl/boy” inside of them just dying to come out.

“Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.”  (19:11)

Some wrongs cannot be overlooked when it comes to parenting, but as a wise woman once said, “You have to pick your battles.”  Thanks Mom, as always, you were right.  Respect is something that everyone craves but few work to get.  Granted it is a given that children should respect their elders, we make it far easier on them when we express grace & mercy rather than going off like a raving lunatic.

This is obviously an area where I am a work in progress.  There are days when I feel like I should be wearing a warning, “Caution: Mean girl crossing.”  It is by God’s grace that I can and will overcome.  I ain’t no quitter!  On the most difficult days when I struggle to bite my tongue, my goal is to recall the words of James 1:19:

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:  You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.”

Sometimes it is to my benefit to count to 100 before I open my mouth!hand over mouth

 

~Story time~ July 25, 2013

There is a story floating around social media about a pastor who posed as a homeless man before beginning his job as the new pastor of a sizable church.  Out of curiosity, I googled it to check the validity of the story.  While I didn’t find any hard evidence to either validate or negate the story, what I did realize is that the point was not whether or not it was a true story, but the message of the story itself.  I have shared the story below for those who feel compelled to read it.  Maybe it is a farce meant to stir the hearts of complacent Christians everywhere.  I’m ok with that.  Didn’t Jesus tell “stories” in order to open our eyes and hearts to how we are to live as Christians?

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.
As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”
He then dismissed service until next week.
Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

Helping-the-homeless

photo found on momitforward.com

Now, be honest with yourself, would you have been one of the 3?  Just a little food for thought to inspire us all to do a little soul searching today.  I pray we would all have a heart like Jesus, always ready and willing to serve those less fortunate than us.

 

~Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings~ July 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:28 am
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feelingsThere is a reason why the Bible says we are not to live by feelings alone. Feelings are deceiving! Just because something feels good to the flesh, doesn’t automatically make it good for the soul. It has been my experience, that most of the time, what feels good to us is the opposite of what is best for us.
Feelings are self-motivated. It’s all about me, who cares what everyone else thinks or how it’s going to affect my future? I want to do what makes me happy and gives me that sensation that I crave.
Too often people base their decisions on emotions rather than what they know to be true. This can be incredibly reckless. A prime example would be when people divorce because “they’ve lost that loving feeling” so to speak. When you took your vows, did you say for better or worse? A big part of the “worse” is when your feelings falter so you think that means you no longer love that person you vowed to hold through thick and thin. Feelings are fickle. One day I may feel head-over-heels in love with my man. The next day he forgets to do some random thing I’ve asked of him and suddenly that swooning feeling is evaporating. Do I truly love him less because of his actions, nope. Love is more than how you feel, it’s a commitment that should not hinge on what the other person does for you.
Now think of the same scenario as it pertains to your faith and relationship with God. One day you can sense God’s Spirit so strongly that you’re certain if you closed your eyes, when you opened them you’d see the Lord before you. He is answering your prayers, (the way you want them to play out), all is going great with everyone you love….you feel fully devoted to Him. Here comes the wrench. You are worshiping your heart out but you don’t get that goose bump feeling like you did last week so God’s presence must not be there. Your little one falls ill, a loved one dies, your finances crash…you don’t feel so close to God anymore because clearly He has removed His hand from your life. Oh that people would wake up and realize this is a trick of the enemy! Our feelings will mess with us at every turn. So it is vitally important that we base our lives around foundational truths rather than our roller-coaster feelings.

“Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.”

(Proverbs 28:26 NLT)

 Our emotions are not good indicators because they are ever changing. But God is always the same. His Word does not waver nor does His love for us.

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

(Romans 10:17 NIV)

Faith comes by hearing, not experiencing a feeling….’nuff said.

 

~Just A Glimpse~ July 22, 2013

heaven“A glimpse by definition is an impermanent thing.”  A random movie quote that made me take pause and think, what if we were given a glimpse into Heaven?

We’ve read the description and heard it preached numerous times on what it will be like in Heaven.  Some of us are better visual learners, so we can’t quite grasp the gloriousness of it all.  But what if we could have ourselves a little preview?  We could catch a glimpse of the beauty of the city itself, the people all free from pain and sickness…LOVING each other, the Lord himself before our very eyes where we could worship Him face to face!  Do you think that this impermanent opportunity would cause us to permanently adjust our behaviors?  If we could get a visual of what our reward was going to be, would we stop placing so much emphasis on what was pleasing to us right now and shift our focus to laying up treasures in heaven?

Now think on the opposite side of the spectrum, what if that glimpse was into the pits of hell?  You could see the flames, feel the heat & see the endless suffering that would be your fate if you chose to reject the gospel.  Hmmm…not so pleasant if you ask me.

The truth of the matters is, both heaven and hell are real.  Our belief or lack thereof doesn’t change that fact.  Just as 2 + 2 has to equal 4, you will certainly spend eternity in one place or the other.

“But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.”

(Romans 6:22-23 The Message)

 

Hypocrisy July 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:53 am

I read this story on two separate blogs yesterday. It’s message is a reminder that I think we all need so I wanted to share with my friends! Why would the ‘world’ around us believe if we ourselves express doubt? Don’t be a hypocrite. If you say you believe in the power of prayer, then pray with expectancy and give God the credit when He comes through for you.

Morning Story and Dilbert

In a small town in America, a person decided to open up a bar business, which was right opposite to a church. The church & its congregation started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning bolt struck the bar and it was burnt to the ground. The church folk were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the bar owner sued the church authorities for $2 million on the grounds that the church through its congregation & prayers was ultimately responsible for the demise of the bar shop, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons for the bar shop’s…

View original post 89 more words

 

~ABCs of Christian Life~ July 16, 2013

abcAccept without alterations
Believe without barriers
Care without caution
Dream without doubts
Encourage without envy
Follow without fear
Give without gain
Hope without hesitation
Invest without interest
Journey without judging
Kneel without knowing
Love without limitations
Minister without manipulation
Nurture without notoriety
Obey without omission
Pray without prerequisites
Question without quarrel
Respect without restrictions
Serve without selfishness
Testify without timidity
Understand without umbrage
Volunteer without vanity
Worship without waning
X-emplify without x-piration
Yield without yearning
Zig without zagging

 Being a follower of Christ is so much more than just going to church on Sunday.  Hopefully this fun format will help us to remember how we should live daily as we interact with others.  Do you have any ABCs you’d like to add?

(By the way, I am well aware that exemplify and expiration don’t actually start with ‘x’ but that’s a hard letter so I had to get creative!)