Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Black, White, Polka-Dotted or Striped~ August 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:57 am
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If you ever wonder why there is racism in the world, take a look at how the media runs the headlines.

“Several black kids bully a little white girl.”

“An unarmed black male is shot down by a Hispanic.”

“A group of white teens brutally attack an Asian girl.”

(These are not actual headlines but are very similar to ones I have seen recently in the news.)

Why is there any reason to include the race, ethnicity, religious background, etc. in the headline?  Does it matter what the color of skin is?  Isn’t the issue that a child was bullied, an innocent person shot or that a girl was beaten?  Why make issue of the race of the individuals involved?  Shouldn’t we be outraged that a crime was committed and leave it at that?

When I read these type of news feeds, my stomach turns.  Not only because of the violence that is running rampant in our world, but because we are being fed hatred for one another based on skin tone.  It’s horrendous and shameful.  The media is using hate and discrimination to up their “numbers” all the while fueling the sickness that is tearing God’s people apart.  News stories such as these cause white children to fear their black classmates, or everyone who isn’t white to fear bald-headed, tatted-up men.  Does anyone else find this wildly offensive or is it just me?!  Those in positions of influence are using their “power” to create unwarranted, irrational fears between God’s family and this should not be!

Yesterday I shared a Scripture with my facebook friends:

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28 NLT

Either you believe this, or you don’t.  We were all created in God’s image, every last one of us.  We were placed on this earth for a purpose and I can assure you that not one of us was created to spread racial discord.  In Romans 2 verse 11 it says, “God shows no favoritism.”  Then in James 2 verse 9 we are told “if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.”  If the Lord who created the heavens & earth and everything in them is not interested in giving preferential treatment of any one people group over another, than who are we to do just that?

racism

**If I may add, I can’t stand referring to human-beings as a color!  This entire post was meant to make a point that we are not defined by the color of our skin nor should we pass judgment based on the same.**

 

~Big Girl Pants~ August 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:12 am
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Have you ever had someone hurt your feelings and you really, really wanted to pout about it?  Then your big girl panties start digging in and it reminds you that you’re too old to be walking around with your bottom lip sticking out so far you just might trip over it.  Unfortunately, pouty face doesn’t garner the same response when you’re in your 30s as it did when you were 2.

So, what is a nice Christian to do when someone triggers that childlike reaction: pull-up your britches, wipe your nose and whip out the Word.

In Luke 6 verse 29 we are told if someone smacks us in the face, we should turn and offer them the other side as well.  But not only that, if they steal our coat we should take off our shirt and hand it over as well!  Now imagine your elementary school self, someone smacks you in the face or steals your stuff and you likely would have done one of two things: hit them back or went crying & screaming to tattle to the teacher.  Here we are in grown-up bodies and we are faced with the same issues with the same inclination to fight back.  A harsh comment gets thrown out in your direction & it feels like a slap in the face.  Your gut reaction is to offer an even more vicious counter remark or whine to God about how unfairly you are being treated.  I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that ain’t how good Christian folk are supposed to behave.

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”

(Luke 6:27-28 NLT)

“Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”

(Colossians 3:13 The Message)

The next time you feel a younger, more immature version of your self trying to creep out to fight your battles for you, remember that as children of God we are called to be set apart, a holy people devoted to Him, living for Him and honoring Him with ALL of our actions.

 

~Selfless, Not Selfish~ August 26, 2013

I have a confession to make, the last couple of weeks I have been incredibly selfish.  I had completely shut my eyes to the needs of those around me and solely focused on that which affected me and my family.  I am ashamed to admit that I had the attitude of “what about me (us)?”

What about our financial needs?

What about my physical aches and pains?

What about my kids struggles?

And the worst of all, what about what I want?

The sad thing is that I didn’t even realize I had become so consumed with self until our Pastor prayed a prayer yesterday.  Now, I knew I wasn’t myself.  I had been feeling grumpy and agitated, impatient and just mean and I couldn’t figure out why.  Now I know, my focus was on my circumstances instead of on God.  I was behaving like a child with my hands out…not to extend help but expecting someone to drop something in them.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

(Philippians 2:4 ESV)

We were not placed on this earth to receive but to give.  I know that, deep down, I know that.  But unfortunately there are times I get side-tracked with shiny or comfy things and I forget just how blessed I am.  I don’t have to serve others, I get to.  We are a privileged people just because we belong to God who teaches us how to love others more than we love ourselves.

At the end of yesterday’s service, Pastor shared Romans 12 in it’s entirety as it is written in The Message.  It is an incredibly powerful paraphrase and I would encourage you all to read it.  For now, I will share the portion that spoke to me the loudest:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Lord, forgive me of my selfishness.  Help me to be deeply rooted in you so that my eyes are always open, my hands and feet always ready and my heart always willing.  Amen

romans 12

 

~Back To School~ August 21, 2013

B2SIf my normal readers can just bear with me, I’m all mommy today.  My 3 big babies start back to school today & I now officially have 3 middle schoolers (if my webcam was streaming you would see me fighting back the tears).  Tomorrow I will likely be absentee as my little Emma starts Kindergarten!

I’m sitting here with Autumn, Isaiah & Peyton listening to their first day jitters conversation and it’s the sweetest thing.  Big brother is giving pointers on getting from class to class on time and what to do when the locker jams, after all he is a pro at this.  Peyton just suggested that I tag along for the day, just in case they need me.

It’s bittersweet to watch them reach this milestone.  I am so proud of the young men and women they are becoming but I know it’s just one more day closer to their departure from my protective arms.  Thankfully I know they are always in the heavenly Father’s embrace.  I am praying for each and every child as they return to school this morning.  I pray that they would be surrounded by a hedge of protection everywhere they go.  I pray that their nerves would settle and that they would feel confident in who they are.  And most importantly, I pray that they would be a light for Jesus during some of the most challenging days of their life…pre-teen years.

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

1 Timothy 4:12 NLT

 

 

~A New Day~ August 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:34 am
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Sunrise-and-Clouds1“Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.”

(Ecclesiastes 11:7)

This verse made me think of my daughter’s favorite movie that we literally watch at least twice a day, Chicken Little.  Poor Chicken Little decides that he’s had enough of being the walking mistake and proudly announces, “Today is a new day.”  Sounds simple, but when said with conviction it can be transforming.

These words remind us that each day is a gift and we should awake with joy in our hearts and praise on our lips for the privilege of living one more day.  Whatever your yesterday was like, it is now a part of your past.  Today is what matters right now.  You and I have been given a fresh start in this day, full of promises from God.  We don’t have to live in defeat because of yesterday’s mistakes.  Nor do we glide along on the triumphs of days gone by.  We have a choice to make today our priority and appreciate the beauty that it brings.

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

(Psalm 118:24 NKJV)

 

~Walking Testimony~ August 15, 2013

“The Lord said,”I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.”

(Exodus 34:10)

God has promised to do such marvelous works in our lives that everyone we come in contact with should be able to see His hand upon us.  Sometimes I feel like this isn’t the case.  Even when God is moving on our behalf and we are blessed beyond measure, strangers and even those we know, don’t necessarily “see” God in our situation.  I happen to think it’s because we don’t always give Him the glory.  We forget to sing His praises when He answers our prayers.  We don’t share our testimony when He’s right on time with the provision that we need.  When He heals our bodies, restores relationships or renews our minds, we neglect to give Him the credit.  If we aren’t acknowledging His power and presence among us, then why would anyone around us, especially those who have yet to accept Him as their savior?

As Christians, we need to be sharing what God has done for us with anyone who will listen.  We need to give Him credit for all the good that comes our way because it all comes from Him.  We would have nothing if not for the grace of God who pours out blessings from Heaven for His children.  Remember that when you have some success, big or small, that if not for God, you would not be who you are where you are today.

Be certain today that those around you see how awesome are the works of the Lord by making it a point to turn the focus to Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

(James 1:17 NIV)

 

~Surrender~ August 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:20 am
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surrenderThis morning I was flipping through my notebook that I take with me to church.  I came across something that I had starred *Admit everyday-I can’t get through this day without you, God.  Otherwise you are saying, “I got this, God.  I don’t need your help.”*

I needed this reminder desperately.  To say that I have been feeling overwhelmed would be a mild understatement.  My mind has been reeling over decisions that need to be made & things that need to be done.  I have been guilty of trying to figure it all out on my own.  I have made the mistake of not asking God each and every day to guide my actions & thoughts.  No wonder I have been feeling as if my peace has been taken from me!

Not today.  Today I choose to surrender everything to the Lord.  Where I go, the things I do, the words I speak…I pray that God would be at the forefront of it all.  Today I will walk behind Him rather than trying to plow my own way.  Today I will rely on God’s promise and believe that He wants us to have a blessed life.  One that is happy, fulfilled, content, settled & prosperous not hectic, chaotic, rushed, stressed, empty & meaningless.

“This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’”

(Jeremiah 7:23 NLT)

 

 

~The “other” parent~ August 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:33 am
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What defines a parent?  Is it sharing the same genetics or are parents made?  I struggle with people who undervalue someone’s role as a parent because they weren’t mom or dad from birth.  Maybe I’m super sensitive because I was raised by a man who was not my dad by birth, but by choice and it would always upset me when someone would say he wasn’t my real dad.

Now I am raising my own non-biological children with zero involvement from their birth mother and it still makes me cringe when someone calls them my step-kids.  The phrase, “Oh, so they’re not your real kids?” will likely unleash a side of me that no one needs to see.  I am sharing this because I know I’m not the only one out there who feels the same way:

There is a word that I despise only few will understand.
It’s the title “step-mom” that makes my hair stand on its end.
By definition of the word I am simply the father’s wife.
Never mind the sacrifice & struggles that come with this new life.
But more than that, my heart is theirs as if they are my own.
Countless acts of love & care; mercy being shown.
I wipe their tears, keep them fed & I’m their biggest fan.
I make them feel loved & protected as only a momma can.
It is not simply through labor that a mother gets her name.
It’s the selfless act of daily tasks that she receives her fame.
It’s a sleepless night filled with worry because the fever spikes.
It’s running along beside them when they get their big kid bike.
It’s encouraging words, saying prayers & offering a helping hand,
Being ready with open arms when they need a soft place to land.
So please don’t call me step-mom, mommy will suffice.
For it is me, after all who tucks them in each night.

The act of mothering or fathering means to bring up a child with care and affection.  The Bible says we are to “train up a child in the way he should go.”  So in my opinion, it is of far less importance who brought you into this world than who is walking you through life.  Those who teach you values & morals, who nurture your dreams & provide for your physical needs….that’s a mom and dad.

My Mommy's Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

My Mommy’s Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

 

~Super-Mom, I am not~ August 6, 2013

I have recently started to work a part-time job outside of the home.  This has proved to be a bit challenging for someone who has been a stay-at-home mom for nearly 5 years where my only other job was babysitting full-time.  While I am grateful for the opportunity to help provide for my family, I find myself getting increasingly agitated when I have to rely on someone else to help me get them here, there and everywhere.  If I miss an opportunity to do something with them and someone else steps in, I get jealous.  (insert pouty face here)  And I’ve had to reduce the amount of blogs I post due to the madness that has become my life.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I have two boys playing football on separate teams, a daughter cheerleading & singing on the praise team at church and one of my football playing boys is also running cross country.  Today I saw our first conflict.  One Saturday this month, Peyton has a race @ 8am, Isaiah has 2 games @ 9 & 11 and Peyton has a game @ 12….and guess what?!  They are all in different locations, like 30-45 minutes away from each other!  This is where my control freak tendencies go into overdrive.  I can’t possibly be at all four events so surely the world is going to come to an end.  After all, it is not possible for my boys to function without their momma present.

If someone could kindly pass the scissors, I will cut the apron strings.

The problem is I get so riddled with guilt when I feel like I am failing my kids, but there is one of me and like 100 of them (this is only a slight exaggeration).  So this is where I have to remind myself that there is no way on earth that I could possibly do it all.  While I would like to think of myself as super-mom, it isn’t possible for me to be in two places at once and I don’t think my husband would be on board with cloning.

I had to tell my kids that I wouldn’t be able to be at each event they participated in that day, that Daddy and I would have to divide and conquer.  Their response, “NOOOO, we can’t do it without you there to tell us how awesome we are!!”  Totally kidding.  I believe it went a little more like, “OK.”  It would appear that my kid’s expectations of me aren’t nearly as out of this world as the ones I place on myself.

The point is, as parents we can seriously stress ourselves out trying to do and be everything for our kids to the extent that it becomes detrimental to us and our families.  We get so wound up that it causes us to be short-tempered with the very people that we’re trying to please. Our worries and anxieties that we aren’t doing this parenting thing good enough make us crazy!  But Scripture tells us that we don’t add any time to our lives by worrying.  I can fret all day about what I can’t do for my kids and miss out on doing what I can do.

So I commit today to make Matthew 6:34 my mantra:

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Rather than spend all of my precious time stressing over our hectic schedule in the coming days and weeks, I choose to give my attention to what God has for us on this day.

This is what the coat rack looks like when my mom friends gather.

This is what the coat rack looks like when my mom friends gather.

 

~Warning Signs~ August 2, 2013

grace over sinWednesday night during Bible study, our Pastor made a great analogy that I will attempt to paraphrase & expand on because it really made me think.

I’m sure you all have at some point in your life seen an athlete ruin his or her career because they didn’t take off the necessary time to recover from an injury.  The quarterback who takes a nasty hit to the head sending his brain bouncing around like a pinball in an arcade game but refuses to be benched.  Next thing you know he’s facing early retirement due to extensive brain damage.  What about the track star who feels a constant pain in her calf muscle but is so determined to win that she pushes herself even harder hoping the pain will work itself out.  She tears the muscle and is forced to quit the one thing she truly loves.  Or maybe it’s a pitcher who twisted his knee into an unnatural position but he fears he’ll be replaced by the rookie who’s been drooling over his spot all season long so he lies about just how bad it hurts.  The very next pitch, he totally blows out his knee, never to take the mound again.

The thing about physical pain is that it serves as a flashing red sign that you may need to slow it down, take a rest or have that “thing” checked out!

You may be starting to wonder when the analogy comes into play…well here it is.  Just as physical discomfort serves as a warning sign to an athlete that something could be seriously wrong, guilt is the warning sign that something is wrong in your spiritual life.  Say what now?

If you are in the middle of doing, watching or saying something and you get this awful twinge of guilt, that’s a pretty good indicator that you need to cease and desist immediately!  Sure you could push those guilty feelings down and make excuse upon excuse to yourself as to why you are justified in your actions, but can you afford the long-term damage that will cause?  For just as the athlete who ignores their body’s warning system toys with the possibility of a career ending injury, the person who refuses to listen to the Holy Spirit when it brings conviction takes the chance of blowing their eternal reward.

I know there isn’t a one of us who is free from sin.  We all are susceptible to different weaknesses and the enemy knows each and every one, but so does God.  And He has equipped us with all we need to battle our sinful cravings.  If you find yourself in a situation where you suddenly feel the need to look over your shoulder to make sure no one is watching, don’t ignore that feeling of guilt.  Capture it, repent before God and ask for His help to overcome your fleshly desires.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

(Philippians 4:8 NLT)