Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Thanksgiving~ November 28, 2013

Gratitude

This past month, several friends have been taking part in the month of gratitude by posting each day what they are most thankful for on social media.  I have participated and listed things ranging from the people that I am most grateful for all the way to something as simple as a hot cup of coffee.

Today, I want to give thanks for what I often take for granted, my Lord.

He is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides.  When I look back over my life, there are many times when I should have hit bottom.  There have been countless times where finances weren’t just low, they were nonexistent, and God would send us a blessing by way of a brother or sister in Christ, a break from one of our debtors or an unexpected job opportunity.  As I sit here today, we may not have all we want, but God has provided us with all we need and for that I give him thanks.

He is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord who heals.  Immediately my thoughts take me back to this time last year when Peyton was in excruciating, unexplainable pain.  I have never cried out to God like I did during those weeks, and He came through.  Just last night, both my little girls were restless because of irritating coughs that kept them from laying down peacefully.  I started to jump up and grab the cough medicine and changed my mind.  Instead I prayed and asked God to touch my girls, to take away the cough and bring them comfort that only the Great Physician can bring…and off to sleep they went without another sound.  His healing may not come in the ways we would like or in the timing we would prefer, but it is available to those who call on his name.

He is Abba, Father.  As a parent, I know the lengths that I would go to for my children.  As a Christian, I know that it still pales in comparison to what God has done and will do for me.   He is not some distant, uncaring God.  He is near to us and loves us with an unfailing love that is difficult to comprehend.  In a world where love is often hinged on meeting expectations of another, God’s love is unconditional.  When I am at my most unlovable, He still opens his arms wide and invites me to run into them.

So today, I give thanks to the one who is at times overlooked for all his goodness.  I will praise the name of the Lord, for He alone is worthy of my praise.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.

(Psalm 100:4 NLT)

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~This Day~ November 26, 2013

rockingchairHere lately I have found myself in a place that I really don’t care to be, trapped in my own mind, consumed by what our future holds.  I’ve been running possible scenarios through my head.  “What if this or that happens?  Then what do we do?”

When I looked at my calendar, I would skim over the list for the day and then spend a great deal of time stressing over what was coming up for the remainder of the week.

Even house work had become counterproductive.  I would flit from room to room accomplishing nothing.

Scatterbrain-initis….it’s a disease, I am sure of it.  But I am lucky enough to be blessed with friends that remind me of what the cure is.

Sunday, a sweet sister asked to pray for me.  While she prayed, she asked the Lord to give me what I needed for each day, and that’s when it clicked.  I had been wasting precious time every day focusing on the next day, week and sometimes even the entire month in advance.

In the Lord’s prayer, we are told to pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” I believe that applies to more than just food.  Every morning I should be asking God to meet my family’s physical needs, yes, but I need him to meet my emotional and spiritual needs as well.  My prayer time needs to include asking him to equip me with the grace it takes to handle all of the life happening around me.  Wisdom would be nice when faced with challenging momma moments, so I should probably be seeking that too.  Then I need to say amen and trust that the Lord will sustain me and my family for that day without fear of what the next day will be like.

I came across a quote that really got my attention:

“What will defeat you if you let it, is not all the things you worry about, but all the worrying itself.” -Brian Vaszily

I don’t want to live defeated.  God has said that I am more than a conqueror through him who loves me and worry is robbing me of that gift.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

(Matthew 6:34 The Message)

 

~You’re an Overcomer~ November 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:17 am
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I had just dropped the big kids off at school and was headed back across town.  As always, my radio was turned to Spirit FM but I had the volume down a bit low because I had been talking to Emma just before she jumped out of the car.

All of a sudden, my 2 year old, Bella, squeals “Turn it up!!”

So I did.

The song that was playing was one that I’ve heard dozens of times but had never really listened to the words.  Clearly the Lord wanted to get my attention this morning and He used my wee babe to do so.

The song was Overcomer by Mandisa.  There is one section of the lyric that got me.

The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There’s nothing He can’t do
He’s telling You

The one who overcame death is living inside of me, what can I not do?

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”    

(John 16:33 ESV)     

I needed to hear this promise today.  Thank God that my sweet Bella wanted to crank the tunes first thing this morning.

I wanted to share the song & video with you all on this beautiful Friday.  Let me warn you, it’s a tear jerker (or at least it was for this weepy chick).

 

~3 Words~ November 21, 2013

I was recently presented with the challenge of asking myself what 3 words I want people to think of in regards to my life after I have gone on to my heavenly reward.  How will I be remembered?

I decided to look at this from a different perspective and ask myself how I want people to think of me right now, before I am gone.  How do I want people to characterize me in my absence?

This proved to be somewhat difficult as I would much rather place my focus on others than look inside and do my own soul searching.  Being gut-level honest with ourselves about the person we desire to be oftentimes opens our eyes to where we may be missing the mark.  In doing this exercise in the present tense, as opposed to thinking futuristically, I am hopeful that it will allow me start making adjustments now and continue doing so until I have become all that Christ designed me to be.

Having said all that, I did manage to come up with my 3 words.

1.  Genuine

2.  Compassionate

3.  Faithful

Being genuine is not something that comes easily.  It’s not that I choose to be deliberately dishonest, that isn’t what I am referring to.  I’m talking about complete transparency about my own struggles and having a vested interest in helping others with theirs.  This requires me to leave my “mask” in the drawer and be open about things that I would prefer to keep safely tucked away behind the “I’m ok, you’re ok” mentality.  It means that I will admit fault, seek forgiveness and actually pray for others when I say that I will do so.  Simply put, I want to be known as someone who is real &  approachable not fake & standoffish.

Where compassion is concerned, I believe this is something that I have been gifted with.  I am incredibly tender-hearted and sensitive to the plight of those around me.  In a room full of people, I am naturally drawn to the one hurting the most.  I never let someone cry alone and it brings me much joy to celebrate victories as well.  My hope is to never let this attribute become insincere or robotic in nature.  I feel deeply and want to be known as someone who uses their sensitivity to love, nurture & heal.

Faithfulness is just one of the character traits that represents the Holy Spirit dwelling in me.  Building a reputation as being dedicated and loyal is vital to serving in ministry.  Not only do I desire to express this type of devotion to others, but I want them to see my unwavering hope in the Lord.  I want my life to reflect my foundation in God’s word, regardless of the difficult circumstances I am faced with.  In living my life in this manner, I hope to be known as a devoted servant to God and his people.

So there you have it, the 3 simple words that I long to be known by.  Can I ask you all to do the same today?  Will you set aside some time to reflect on your own life and who it is you feel the Lord wants you to be?  If you do this little exercise, I would love for you to come back and share it here with me.  Even if you don’t want to elaborate, I invite you to post your 3 words to uplift and encourage one another.

who i am

 

~Holiday Blues~ November 19, 2013

Ever have one of those days where all you want to do is cry?  You may be crying for a very specific reason or, like I sometimes do, for reasons that you can’t quite explain.

Welcome to my Tuesday, and if I’m to be completely honest, it’s how I spent Sunday and Monday too.  I haven’t been able to get a grip, and do you want to know why?

Guilt.

How the world makes me feel.

How the world makes me feel.

What has me feeling guilty?  My kids Christmas list.  More specifically, my boys list.  Like most boys their age, every request they have made is a pricey one.  They are no longer content with legos, nerf guns & balls of various sizes.  Now the list consists of a laptop, cell phones & a huge trampoline for the yard.  It’s not that our kids are ungrateful for what we give them, it’s more about their hobbies and interests changing drastically that causes the rise in price of gifts.  Naturally we can’t buy all of these things so they will have to settle for the items at the bottom of their list.  And they will be content with that.  Christmas morning they will give us a sweet, understanding smile and express gratitude for what they have…and that makes me cry even more!

Here is the problem, I have let my guilt of not being able to give extravagant gifts steal my joy.  This time of year is my absolute favorite.  I look forward to Thanksgiving more than any other holiday.  But this year I’ve lost sight of what the holiday is about because I’ve been so consumed by the very opposite.  I have gotten sucked into the trap of materialism and the commercialization of the holidays.  So I decided to sit and list all the reasons I have to be thankful…and it’s too long to share.  Next up, I decided to list all that we can and do give our kids and weighed it against what we cannot provide.  And you know which list was longer?  Of course you do.

Does all of this stop the flow of tears?  Not yet, but it will.  I can’t help but desire to give my family more.  I do suffer with guilt because I don’t add to our family income.  I can hear the words of my sweet friends who reassure me that I am giving my family something of greater value by just being a wife & mommy, but still I struggle.

I share these very personal feelings with you all because I know I am not the only one who battles these emotions, especially this time of year.

Are you the parent who wants to spoil their kids just this once?

Or maybe it’s your spouse that you long to lavish with the beautiful jewelry she deserves for all the love she pours out year round.

Perhaps your parents are the ones you wish to repay for all the years that they have given selflessly to you and you’d love to surprise them for a change.

It could be that all of the above apply to you and then some.

May I ask that we pray for one another today?  Can we take a moment to call on the Lord on behalf of others who are in the same position?

Lord, I ask that you be with me and those like me today who are struggling with feelings of inadequacy due to what we are unable to give.  Shift our focus to all that we have to be thankful for.  Show us ways in which we can express to our loved ones just how much they mean to us without feeling guilt over lack of material things.  Remind us, Lord, what these upcoming holidays are about: gratitude, family and most importantly, You.  Let us not be so consumed with what the world pushes us towards that we miss what you are calling us to.  And when the overwhelming emotions come, comfort us as only you can by speaking straight to our hearts. 

 

~Imperfect Progress~ November 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:08 am
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It’s 7 o’clock at night and my 2 year old is already in bed.  And all I can think about is waking her up to tell her how much I love her and how mommy’s so sorry she yelled.

But I won’t.  But I will write down the accounts of my evening that led to my now guilty heart.

I came home from my run to find my house in total chaos.  I’m fairly certain that every toy, book and crayon we own were scattered through every room in the house, with the exception of the boys room because they had enough sense to lock their door.  My dog, Kansas, is in heat so as I step over the broken crayons I see the tiny little spots all across the floor because apparently I am the only one equipped with the super-human powers it takes to wet a paper towel and clean it up.  The above mentioned 2 year old is screaming.  Why, you ask?  No reason, just because she really likes the sound of her voice at inhumane levels.  But I didn’t yell.

Next up I attempt to finish cooking dinner while Bella insists that the center of my closet size kitchen is the only place to build her blanket fort.  I somehow manage to convince her 2 sisters to clean up the messy house that they had no part in making, (yeah…right).  Bella takes off down the stairs after her sisters and I’m starting to feel pretty good about keeping my “raw emotions” in check.  As I wrap up dinner and call for the kids to come eat, little miss comes tearing around the corner…naked from the waist down.  “Bella,” I said rather cheerfully, “where are your pants?”  She snaps the towel from the counter and says,  “Dem’s wet so I threw em down the steps.”  I peek around the door down the stairs and I see not one, not two but three dark puddles on our lightly colored carpeted steps, three different steps naturally.  So as the kids sit down to eat, I scrub.  But I didn’t yell, yet.

Finally the mess is clean…enough…and I fix my plate right about the time that Bella decides she doesn’t want mac n cheese, she wants cheese crackers.  I give her a simple no, and her world as she knows it comes to an end.  Or so you would think had you seen the fit she threw herself into.  I stepped over her and attempted to eat with her kicking my arm and swinging her baby doll at my chicken and rice which was quickly losing it’s appeal.  (My life groupies are laughing, thinking I should have taken Carol’s advice and served myself first.)  And still, no yelling.

Finally I think our evening is calming down and that’s when I realize it’s quiet, way too quiet.  “Bella??”  No answer, dang it.  I hear someone in the bathroom, Lord, please don’t let that be my precious little one getting into trouble.  Sure enough, I push open the door and there she stands on top of the toilet, pant less again, looking for her toothbrush.  There is a puddle at her feet & on the floor around her.  Now…I yell.  I mean seriously, she was in the bathroom for heavens sake…on the toilet no less, and yet she manages to pee her pants again?  This mommy had reached her peak.

So, I fuss about her accidents and messy behavior and not eating her dinner, you know, because surely she knows exactly what I’m saying.  This is when I declare “It’s night-night time right now!” a whole hour before her normal bedtime.  Of course it was met with protest, “Mommy, noooo!”  “Sorry kid, momma ain’t having it anymore.”  (My fellow Unglued ladies are shaking their heads at me right now thinking, ‘I know what we need to discuss next week.’)

I drag her to bed and listen to her cry for a whole 2 minutes before she went out like a light.  I knew she was exhausted since she has also recently determined that she’s too good for naps.

And that’s when the guilt crept in and I had to resist the temptation to wake her so she would know that mommy isn’t really mad, just tired from an aggravating day.  But I let her rest.  Why should I disrupt her just to make me feel better about myself?

As the night wound down and I was able to sit and reflect, I stopped shaming myself for my not-so-nice mommy moment because the fact that I immediately realized I had overreacted revealed to me that I am in fact making progress.  That’s the beauty of bible study & devotions, if you are plugged into applying what you read, it will seep in and find it’s way into your heart.

There is a line from our book “Unglued” that sums up the woman that I desire to be.  Guys, don’t feel left out, it could easily be reworded to include you.

A Jesus girl who rises up and unexpectedly gives grace when she surely could have done otherwise reveals the power and the mystery of Christ at work-in her life and in the world. -Lysa TerKeurst

When looking back at how my night played out, I initially felt justified when I unloaded because look how much I had let go before I finally lost it.  But there isn’t to be a limit to our grace, the life of Jesus teaches us that.  Had I taken a moment to think before I spoke, I would have remembered that it isn’t my little girl who I am war against, it’s our enemy, Satan and I wouldn’t have given him a foothold into my night had I simply paused before reacting.

Today, amidst the pile of toys, accidents, crayon marks down the wall and whatever else may come at me, I am choosing to remind myself, “I am not an angry woman, I am a child of God.”

 

~Support, Carry & Take~ November 14, 2013

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

(Galatians 6:2 NKJV)

There is a story about Moses in the book of Exodus that I feel gives us the perfect visual of what it means to bear another’s burdens.

The Israelites were at war with the Amelekites.  Up to this point, the Lord had been working through Moses in various ways to speak to His people.  Oftentimes he had Moses raise his staff, and this time would be no different.  As the two armies battled, so long as Moses kept his arms raised with staff in hand, the Israelites held the advantage.  But when he dropped his arms, the tables would turn.  Naturally, after some time his arms became weak and too tired to lift.  Moses’ friends, Aaron and Hur came alongside of him, found him place to rest and stood on either side….holding up his hands.  Because of their love for their friend and their willingness to shoulder his burden when he was to weak to do it alone, Moses’ held steady and the victory belonged to the Israelites.

Isn’t that a beautiful picture?

God calls us to readily be available to help others.  And He doesn’t tell us, “listen to your friends issues and walk away having done nothing.” It clearly says to bear them.  In looking up the definition of the word, I found three interesting synonyms: support, carry & take.

When someone comes to you, hurting and seeking guidance, try applying these three things.

1.  Support them by truly listening to the issue at hand.  Be sincere in your desire to help them and reassure them that they are not alone in this struggle.  Encourage them as often as it crosses your mind, not just in that moment, but in the days to come.

2.  Carry them when the battle is too much and the weight is so heavy that they can no longer stand, offer them assistance in other areas of their life that would lighten their load.  Maybe you fix them dinner a couple nights or offer to watch the kids; think about what would help you out in the situation and do that.

3.  Take the need as if it were your own and cover it in prayer.  Beat down the doors of heaven for you friend, believing that God hears each and every one and that He will come through right on time with the perfect response for them.

And in so doing these things, you honor the Lord.

Friendship is a precious gift from God.  Friends are great during the good times, but necessary in the low times.  Give thanks for the godly friends in your life today.  friendship