Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Teach With Grace~ September 30, 2013

teaching-wordle“I hate teaching new people stuff.”

Seriously, that wasn’t very nice.  Quite honestly I was so caught off guard by their comment that I was speechless.

Now a couple weeks later I have mastered my witty comeback, “Well, where would you be had no one taken the time to teach you the skills that you now possess?”

Ok, so maybe not so witty, but true…right?

I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy in training that this was the “leader” he was placed under.  If he would make such a comment to me, someone simply passing by, can you imagine the attitude he put off on his pupil?

Then I thought about how “seasoned” Christians can sometimes by to the “newbies.”  Are we responding to their questions and uncertainties with an attitude of, “I hate teaching new people stuff” or are we being gracious and patient as someone once was with us?

You know, I think that so many young Christians quit because they’ve been made to feel that they had to have it all together the moment they received salvation.  Someone in a position of spiritual authority has made the life of faith seem like an instantaneous change rather than a continual growth process.  So when they slip, and we all know they will, rather than seek guidance & forgiveness, they just walk away feeling frustrated and defeated because they were unable to reach the impossible standards that were set before them.

I know that we can’t all be teachers, nor do I consider myself one, but in my opinion, once you claim to be a Christian, you have automatically become an example that people will look to for guidance.  I do see myself as a willing vessel who is happy to share what I learn from the Word as it not only helps others, it helps me as well.  It is not an annoyance to help a new Christian with their walk, it is a privilege to watch them learn and transform into a new creation.

As you encounter those who have just begun their journey, withhold the judgment and go heavy on the love.  Think of who you were when you first accepted Jesus as your Savior, if you were like me, you were absolutely clueless what to do after you prayed the sinners prayer!  Be gracious and gentle and help people.  Help them overcome the obstacles that trip them up as opposed to becoming agitated that they are still having the same problems.

Don’t be like the guy who hates teaching new people stuff, be like Jesus who lived for it.

“Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have

commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

 

Where are my Glasses?!?! September 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:20 am

I love this post from fellow blogger, Shelly, about serving God out of obligation and duty rather than from a heart that longs to serve Him. Please read and enjoy her insight on something that most of us have all been guilty of a time or two, (or three or four)!

Come Undone

I barged through the door after a long 12hr shift. I’m exhausted. My son was supposed to empty the dishwasher…of course, he conveniently “forgot”. The dirty dishes lay piled in the sink. I tried to explain to him why it’s important to do his part…about commitments & his promise to have it done. I pleaded with him to remember next time. My remarks were met with forced & insincere, “Sorry, Mom”. Those words just sat there bearing their meaningless tone, as he begrudgingly unloaded the dishwasher. I thought about how God must feel when I do things out of duty, commitment, and/or obligation….or when I meet Him with my insincere apologies. I know I should have written in my blog like 55 days ago, but I’m busy. I know I should have read my devo and sought your advice instead of everyone else’s, but I didn’t have time to find my…

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~Goody-Goody Is A Bad Thing?~ September 25, 2013

hurt peopleRecently I was talking to a young lady who is oftentimes ridiculed for being a “goody goody” and it made me think of so many other young people who are made to feel ashamed for being good Christians.  What kind of a messed up world are we living in when those who live righteously are mocked?  When did it become acceptable to belittle someone based solely on the fact that they have chosen a life that lines up with the Word as opposed to submitting to the pressure that the world places on them to conform?

This is not exclusive to our children.  Many adults are faced with this same trouble.  Friends poke fun behind their backs because they don’t participate in the same “recreational” activities or refuse to follow the crowd.

Well, the good news is, those who are being mocked right now…you are in the same shoes that Jesus once walked.  So let people laugh and make fun.  Recall to mind the words of your childhood, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”  Don’t respond to their attacks in anger, but with gentleness and grace.  It has been my experience that people make fun of what they don’t understand.  So make it a point to show them the way to the same Jesus that you serve by not retaliating.  After all, if you seek vengeance, are you really any different than the rest of the world?

 “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.   For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

(1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV)

 

~Courageous Warrior~ September 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:53 am
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Today is an incredibly special day.  On this day, 12 years ago, I delivered my very first miracle.  At 12:43 pm on September 24th, 2001 Peyton Andrew came into this world. 

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis, you know that when my children’s birthdays roll around, I have shared with you their name meanings.  Today will be no different!

First you should know that when I named my son, I had no clue what either name meant.  The first name was chosen because I am a football fan and at that time Peyton wasn’t ragingly popular like it is now!  Andrew was a bit more sentimental, it was my Pa-Paw’s name and also the middle name of my baby brother.

After a little research I found that Peyton means “warriors palace” and Andrew is “manly, courageous, brave.”  Naturally when I relayed this information to my son, he puffed out his chest and said, “yeah, I’m manly.”  Crazy kid!  In all seriousness, I do feel that it describes the young man he is becoming.  He has battled sickness in his body like a mighty warrior, refusing to admit defeat.  In spite of his smaller frame, he doesn’t back down or feel inferior to larger opponents on the race course.  He is confident in his abilities both intellectually and athletically.  And when the mockers come, (and boy do they come out of the woodwork once you hit middle school), he doesn’t let that deter him from giving his all at whatever he does.

On this day that belongs to my boy, this is the man that I pray he becomes as he continues to grow in the Lord:

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

(Psalm 1:1-3 NLT)

peyton

 

~Do I Have To Be A Doormat?~ September 20, 2013

I have been on the receiving end of a lot of rude behavior in my life.  Now that I love Jesus, I wonder how I am to handle these rude encounters.  I know we are to turn the other cheek and all, but when somebody does something directly offensive to you…repeatedly…to the point that there is absolutely no respect for you, your family or your property, then what?

Does being a follower of Jesus mean I am to be a doormat, allowing anyone & everyone to treat me as they choose and simply smile and walk away?

There is a specific incident that I am referring to from my own perspective.  While I usually attempt to be very direct with my posts, I am intentionally being vague as to avoid “pointing fingers.”  However, I will add just one more tidbit of information.  The offenders who have me seriously upset are church people, (let me clarify that they are not from my church people).  The reason that this is incredibly relevant is that as I watch this continued offense unfold before my very eyes, I wonder if this is the way they treat all people?  Are they at the local grocery store showing a general lack of respect for others, acting as though they deserve preference?

**I had typed to this point as of yesterday…while the offense was taking place.  Then I took a break because I was very aggravated and needed to change courses in my mind before I unloaded.  That’s when I found my way to Lysa TerKeurst‘s page.  The Lord really has a way of guiding us when we pause.  The title of her post I came across, “And I had the perfect comeback.”  In it she describes an incident on a flight where a couple is incredibly rude to her and her friends.  Below is the exert that spoke to me in my circumstances:

Have you ever wanted to put your Christianity on a shelf and be as mean to someone as they are being to you? You know, just let loose and seriously break bad on somebody.

Maybe not, because you are nice. And most of the time, I am too. But in this moment I didn’t want to apply a single bit of my own “Unglued” advice. I won’t tell you what I wanted to say but I can assure you it didn’t involve being kind or gentle.

But this is the exact point where I had to make a choice.

A choice of who I wanted to partner with in this situation…God or Satan.

If I chose to go the route of anger, harsh comebacks, and retaliation, I would have basically stepped into Satan’s camp and caused conflict escalation. If, however, I chose to go the route of gentleness and grace, I would be partnering with God and would continue to make progress with my raw emotions. Like Philippians 3:16 reminds me, “Only let us live up to what we’ve already attained.”

And there that is!  I was amazed at God’s perfect timing once again.  I do not believe that God wants us to take abuse from anyone, so please understand that this is not what I am referring to.  I am referencing those agitating offenses that we are guaranteed to face from family, friends and complete strangers.  Yes, at the time it may seem like a major ordeal that requires us to puff out our chests and give them a serious tongue lashing.  But when you pause and look at the big picture, is it worth blowing your witness to “go off” like a crazed person?!  As Lysa put it,  “Why would I want to trade the peace of partnering with God for a few cheap moments of putting someone else in their place?”

Proverbs19_11

Thank you, Lysa, for your sound, biblical advice once again.  And a special shout out to Jesus for keeping your hand over my mouth and leading me to your truth once again.

 

~Chaotic Peace~ September 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:04 am
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invincibleToday, I am sick.  The head in a fog, wrap up in a blankie, where’s my momma with some homemade soup kind of sick.  Because of my current muddle-headed condition, I debated on writing.  Then I remembered my Jesus and all the pain, suffering, humiliation & mockery He faced and yet He still shared the Good News.

Just as I made up my mind to post, my dog decided it was a good time to relieve herself inside.  Naturally she didn’t just hit one spot but felt it was a good idea to walk through the dining room, living room & hallway (which is carpeted) as she made her way towards the front door.  Nice, Kansas.  It was about this time that Bella dumped her entire bowl of cereal in her lap and goes into freak out mode.  Tallest daughter comes around the corner, I squeal at her to stop…too late, she steps in doggie puddle.  Here is where I come to the realization that the devil has declared me public enemy number one.  Seriously people, satan hates me.

I now have approximately 5 minutes to pack two lunches, one snack, sign “must return today” papers and tape two bad knees on runner child.  The mad dash to the car commences as I slosh hot coffee all over myself.  Really, at this point, color me surprised.

Driving to school #1, I say our prayer for the day.  I asked God to bring us peace in the midst of our chaos.  We thanked Him that even on our roughest day, He is with us, caring for us and giving us much needed guidance.  We prayed for traveling mercies for the days events & healing for Momma’s yuck and the boy’s knees.  And you know what happened?  We experienced peace.  In spite of the hectic, crazy house we just left behind, we had a moment of “aahhhh.”

This is why prayer is key.  Regardless of what you are facing, how miserable you feel and how many messes you must clean before 8 am, prayer can bring an unexplainable tranquility.  I believe that it’s through conversation with God that He draws near and comforts us in the stillness.  Days like today it would have been easy not to pray with the kids on the way to school.  I was tired, grumpy, feeling gross, covered in spilt coffee and still reeling about having to cleanup the “yellow river.”  And yet the moment I said the name of Jesus, all was right with the world…even if just for a moment.

“May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.”

(Numbers 6:25-26 NLT)

May you all find rest in the Lord today.  And if you, like me, hit a bump in the road that attempts to derail your entire day, whisper the name of Jesus and put the devil back in his place.

 

~The Words of Our Testimony~ September 16, 2013

testimonyLast night I had the privilege of sharing my testimony with a small group of young adults.  It was, by far, one of the most amazing things I’ve been a part of since beginning my walk with the Lord.

It was pretty awesome that our pastor had just spoke that morning on the importance of sharing our struggles with others.  After all, what good are we doing anyone by walking around like we’ve got it all figured out?  I can honestly say, that even with this message still playing in my mind, I wasn’t sure that my story could really make any kind of difference.  BUT, I was willing to share.

Once we got going with the interview, God just took over.  I was able to share so much of myself; about who I was, what I’ve gone through, who I am & my hope for what is still to come.  And as I was going through the details of my not-so-fairy-tale past, I got to relive the grace and mercy that God has showered me with over the years.  I was, and I am still, in complete awe of the work that God has done in my life.  Even when I was unaware of His presence, He was with me; protecting me & leading me towards the life that He had planned for me.

I can’t say that I have always known the importance of sharing one’s testimony, but having done so in this setting, I totally get it now.  The feeling of liberation that I experienced afterwards was unreal.  When you lay it all out there for others to see just how big a wreck you used to be, before Jesus, and how much of an impact accepting Him has had on your life, it is not just for their benefit but for yours as well.  Being real about the struggles that we still face, even with Him as the Lord of our lives, shows that we know we are all just a bunch of messed up sinners in need of a Savior…daily, not just a one time “Lord forgive me for everything, amen” kind of Savior.   It opens the door for others to find their way to a full and complete life with Jesus while at the same time reminding us of how far we’ve come with Him in control.

In searching for a Scripture to share that would sum up how I felt about this opportunity to share with others, I came across 2 Corinthians, verses 1-5:

“When I first came to you, dear brothers & sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.  For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.  I came to you in weakness-timid and trembling.  And my message and my preaching were very plain.  Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied on the power of the Holy Spirit.  I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

I pray that each one of us would use our testimony of God’s goodness to help transform the lives of others.  When you become transparent for the sake of growing the Kingdom, you will be amazed at the transformation that takes place in your life.  And even if you never know on this side of eternity the impact that you may have made on someone’s life, one day, it will all be worth when you hear the Lord himself say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

~Reflection~ September 12, 2013

self-reflectionThe leader of our church’s young adult ministry has implemented a pretty interesting teaching technique.  He has asked some members of the church and community to sit in and be interviewed about their lives.  By allowing them to share their testimonies, he is giving these young adults real life examples of how Jesus can take any mess and turn it around.

This chic is up next in the hot seat!  Last night we sat down and did a pre-interview so that he would have an idea of what topics to discuss…and which ones were off limits!  At first I was like, “you want to ask me what?!”  But in my attempt at being completely transparent, I left no area of my ugly past untouched.  We covered it all!  The mistakes, the day I realized enough was enough, the times I still struggled after I accepted Jesus as my savior and my favorite part, the victories.

And it was amazing to me just how much I had forgotten.

All the things that I’ve overcome.

The issues that I still have.

The promises that God has made to me.

The promises that I have made to God.

The past can be a dangerous place to meddle, but when visited for the right reasons, can cause you to reflect on how you became the person that you are right now.  Had I not endured some of the hardships in my younger years, I feel sure I would not be half the woman I am today.  Rehashing some of those things with a neutral party reminded me of many things but most importantly, it reminded me that I am redeemed, set free and have much to give thanks for.  It reignited a flame that I wasn’t even aware had begun to dwindle ever so slightly.

Going in to this project, I will admit I was a bit intimidated about sharing very personal details of my life with people I barely “know.”  However, after my experience last night, I must say I’m really looking forward to sharing my testimony….the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright atrocious…all so that someone else may find the same freedom and peace that I now have the privilege to walk in.

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

(Galatians 5:13 NLT)

 

~I Get To~ September 10, 2013

privlege

I woke up nice and early this morning so that I would have time to post without interruption.  Just as I was firing up the computer, two little cuties came tearing around the corner giggling and dragging their blankies behind them.  I really wanted to be aggravated that once again my “me” time was facing a full scale invasion of little people, but then they crawled up on the couch and wrapped each other in a hug.  Immediately my frustration with them dissolved and I was thankful that I held off on an early morning tongue lashing.

I can’t tell you how many times this same scenario has played out differently.  The kids, the spouse, a friend need my attention but my mind is so consumed with the “I have to’s” that I push them aside or worse, berate them for asking more from me when clearly my plate is already full.

A prime example would be this blog.  I can be sitting at the computer, fingers flying across the keys, and then one of the five will approach me.  In one of my not-so-shining moments, I might say something like, “Can’t you see that I’m right in the middle of something?!  I have to get this done and posted by 7!”

Why?  Why do I have to have my post out by a set time?  Does the internet shut down?  No.  This is one of the many random, unrealistic, unnecessary expectations that I have put on myself and then went on to punish my loved ones as if they somehow made me this way.

Not nice.  Not nice at all.

A lot of my friends are in the throws of what I would call our “busy season” so I know I can’t be the only one feeling the pressure and strain of an overwhelming schedule.  My prayer today is that each one of us would check our “have to’s” at the door and replace them with “get to’s.”

I don’t have to fix my kids breakfast, I get to.

I don’t have to drive an hour to watch my son play 2 minutes of football, I get to.

I don’t have to do 5 loads of laundry today, I get to.

It is an honor and a privilege to take care of others, not an obligation.  Now, if only I can remind myself of that the next time I start to come undone when I am interrupted from the task at hand.

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”

(1 Timothy 5:8 NLT)

**Bonus Material**

As I was attempting to complete this post this morning, let me give you a rundown of how it all played out.

Kid one:  “When are you going to tape my finger?”  (football injury)

Kid two:  “Hey momma, can you fix me that peanut butter toast?”

Kid three:  “When you get a chance today, can you go buy me white cheer shoes?  I’m the only one who doesn’t have them?”

Kid four:  “I thought you were going to pack my lunch today?!”

Kid five:  *non-stop screaming*

This is truly laughable!  Every time I would start to write again, the next kid would roll in!  Could it be that the devil really didn’t want me to blog today?!

 

~I Will Not Be Moved~ September 4, 2013

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.”

(Isaiah 50:7 NLT)

We are living in a time where Christians cannot open their mouths without facing criticism.  In some cases, outspoken believers are dealing with malicious words and even violent threats.  Christian businesses are being boycotted because of their religious beliefs.  Our children are mocked for praying over their meal in the public school cafeteria.  We receive hate mail when we say or write something that lines up with the Word but flies in the face of what the world says.

My response…so. what.

The Bible is filled with passages that warn us of the persecution we will face as followers of Christ and yet it pales in comparison to what Jesus endured so that we may have this life that we are living.  Let the mockers say what they will, I know where my help comes from.  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth!  He has already given us the victory.  We need not lose heart over a battle that is raging around us because it has already been won.

“He who gives me justice is near.  Who will dare to bring charges against me now?  Where are my accusers?  Let them appear!  See, the Sovereign Lord is on MY side!  Who will declare me guilty?”

(Isaiah 50: 8 NLT)

We who are brothers and sisters in Christ need to stand up for our religious rights.  All people are entitled to their beliefs.  ALL people.  That includes us.  I will not allow the government, media or any other organization cause me to cower from standing up for what I believe, which is simply put…the Bible.  I will spread the Word of God in a real, tangible way with loving words, thoughtful actions and a generous spirit.  And in so doing, show all the naysayers that we aren’t just a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.

Hold fast, saints.  Our faith is what keeps us strong when our faith is questioned.

I gotta get me one of these!

I gotta get me one of these!

“So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.”