Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Today is your last day~ January 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:53 am
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should havesWhat if today was really your last day?

Would you have regrets?

Would you be content with the life that you have lived to this point if it suddenly came to a screeching halt?

While today might not be your last day, it very well could be.  So, ask yourself this….knowing that your time here is limited, would you change anything about your life right now?  Is the change something within your means to make?  If so, what are you waiting for? 

I am painfully aware that this post is nothing  more than a series of questions with no real answers which goes against everything I’ve written up to this point.  For whatever reason I have found myself in a perpetual state of what ifs.  I can’t say that I am lost, but confused and searching, yes.  Time for some me time.  A time of refreshing, where no one is looking to me to meet their needs so that I can tend to my own.  While this may sound incredibly selfish, (because it is), it is also absolutely necessary.  Please forgive my transparency.  I hope that it doesn’t disappoint my readers to know that I am human and battle the same stumbling blocks as you.

I will return to blogging, soon most likely.  Maybe even in a day or two.  But if it takes me longer, just pray for me.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  (Mark 6:31)

Yeah, no time to eat (think, sleep, etc), I can relate.

Blessings, friends.

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~Mourning that which you never had~ January 29, 2014

Just over a week ago, I attended the funeral of my closest cousins’ grandfather.  We grew up very close so I knew him as a child and was happy to honor his memory.  I sat behind my cousins and watched them shed tears as they made peace with the finality of the moment.

As I left the funeral home, I cried too, but for a different reason.  Watching people very close to me grieve the loss of someone dear to them made me realize I was lacking something.  I don’t have a grandfather.

I had no relationship with my biological father so by extension, no relationship with his dad.  As most of my readers know, I was raised by the man who chose to be my father, (not a step-dad,never, ever call him that, he is my dad).  His father, my Pa-paw passed away when I was young.  He was a very quiet man and difficult to get close to.  Not because he wasn’t loving, he just wasn’t expressive with his feelings, if you know what I mean.  When he passed, I don’t remember feeling sad because I was too young to really grasp what was going on and we didn’t have that closeness that some do with their grand-dads.  Then there would be my mom’s father.  I will not share personal details of my mother’s story but this man was not someone I cared to know nor was he someone we were ever around.

And that’s it.  I can’t really say why this sudden realization saddened me, but it did.  I wanted those precious memories that my cousins will now cherish.  I wanted the words of wisdom that can only come from an older, wiser, more seasoned generation.  I have no old phrases that “grandpa used to say.”  So my ride home became a time of mourning that day as my heart ached for something I would never have.

Death has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?  It makes you think on things that would normally escape your attention or that you would typically push deep down inside the safety of your heart.  A blogging friend shared this quote yesterday and it gripped me at my core:

There is a wealth of unexpressed love in the world. It is one of the chief causes of sorrow evoked by death: what might have been said or might have been done that never can be said or done.
Arthur Hopkins

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” 

(Psalms 39:4-5 NLT)

I pray that it doesn’t take death to make us appreciate life.  My hope is that I will learn to cherish each moment I am given and that I will never waste an opportunity to show love.  If our lives are but a moment, wouldn’t it be a shame to waste it?

As for my hurting heart from the lack of grandfatherly love, you never know, the Lord may just place a surrogate in my life.  He loves me that much.

greatest loss

 

~What is Happy?~ January 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:04 am
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“I just want to be happy.”

So many times I have had friends look at me with tears in their eyes as they whispered those words.  And my heart broke because I could see the pain and confusion they were feeling….and I could relate.  I too have been the girl who sat crying, feeling lost and wondering where my happy went.

But what is happy?

Is it a feeling, a state of being, an action, a choice, a lifestyle?

Truthfully, I have no idea.

I did turn to google for an answer, and as always, it didn’t disappoint.  I was provided with a rather long list of synonyms for the word that made me wonder if we’ve got it all wrong.

First up was a list that dealt with your outer appearance:  smiling, beaming, grinning, radiant.  So part of happy is a choice to plaster the smile on your face and look the part.  “By all accounts, she appeared happy from the outside looking in.”  In this case, it is easy to fool others into believing you are good when truthfully you are falling apart on the inside.  This kind of happy can be deceptive.

Next was an abundance of synonyms that I would consider to be feelings:  thrilled, exhilarated, ecstatic, overjoyed.  All of these typically come as a result of something great happening to you.  In this case, your happy is dependent on outside influence & the feeling may be fleeting once the circumstances change.  “For the first time in a long time, she was happy because she was rewarded for her efforts at work.”  What happens when the initial excitement wears off, does the feeling stick?  This kind of happy is fickle.

Then it got a little deeper:  pleased, content, satisfied, gratified.  To me, these words imply a constant, unchanging foundation.  So in other words, this kind of happy is not contingent on anyone or anything, it’s an inner peace that cannot be shaken.  “She was happy with her life.  Through the successes & failures, highs & lows, gains & losses…she was happy.”  These kind of people don’t have different circumstances, they have a different attitude toward their circumstances.  This kind of happy is steadfast.

So the question is:  What kind of happy are you looking for?  Is it a feeling that comes and goes based on the world around you?  Or are you seeking a deeper sense of contentment that is firmly rooted in something that doesn’t waver?

“I have learned to be satisfied with what I have and with whatever happens.  I know how to live when I am poor and when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of how to live through any kind of situation—when I have enough to eat or when I am hungry, when I have everything I need or when I have nothing.  Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do.” (Philippians 4:11-13 ERV)

happy people

 

~Which side of the bed did you get up on?~ January 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:26 am
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Have you ever given any thought as to how you start your morning impacts the rest of your day?

This morning my youngest woke up crying.  Great.  I immediately started dreading the day because nine times out of ten, tears first thing in the morning mean a long, whiny, fit-filled day lies ahead.  However, my hubs hadn’t left for work yet so he brought her in to lay in bed with me and flipped on the cartoons.  After a few minutes, she was content watching Micky Mouse and snuggling with momma.  When it was time to rise and shine, she was as pleasant as can be.  All smiles, no tears, as we fixed breakfast and prepared for the day.

Having some time to reflect, my mind drifted to a different scene.  This one involves me and how I begin my days.  Some mornings I wake up mad at the world.  I can’t really explain why, maybe I had bad dreams or maybe it’s because I ate that brownie right before bed, could be anything really.  The point is, I am angry…at nothing…ready to tear out of bed and be the best mean girl I can be.  Picture the worst mother on earth, slamming doors, flinging lunchboxes and barking orders at her sleepy-eyed babes.  How bout that for a visual?

But, and you know there is always a but, when I wake up like that, I have learned how to ward off the hateful beast.  I thank Jesus.  I lay in my bed under my awesome blankie and talk to God.  I thank him for another day on this earth with my loved ones.  I thank him for our health.  I thank him for his provision.  And on and on I go until I can safely get out of bed with a smile on my face instead of the vicious scowl that was there when I first woke.

It’s not always easy to give thanks first thing in the morning, especially if you’ve had a rough night with little to no sleep.  Been there a time or two.  But, regardless to how bad your night was, there is always something to be thankful for.  Always.

One of my favorite songs comes to mind, and maybe it will help you too.  There is a line that comes directly from Scripture that reminds me of the hope we have each and every day:  There might be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.

If you woke up with your mad face on, it’s not too late to turn your day around.  Sit and meditate on all that you have to be thankful for.  If you can’t think of something right off, trust me, it’s there just beneath the surface waiting for you to take notice.

 

~Hate accomplishes nothing~ January 20, 2014

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. ”

-Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream” August 28th, 1963

While Dr. King was speaking about racial injustice, I feel that we could take his words of wisdom and apply them to any circumstances in which adversity is at the forefront.

We live in a diverse country where varying beliefs, values & opinions are in abundance.  I have seen time and time again when those variances cause people groups to pit themselves against one another.  There are no peaceful talks with mutual respect.  No.  It becomes a battle of who is right and who is wrong.  Ugly words are spewed.  Hate is spread like wildfire.  And just as in Dr. King’s time, nothing is accomplished.

If we are faced with a struggle of inequality or discrimination, what good will it do to engage in dishonest practices or bitter talk?  Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is remain dignified when someone is attacking who you are.  But there is something to be said about one’s character when you can lift your head high & hold your tongue during the fiercest of attacks and let your composure speak volumes.

When differing opinions present themselves, rather than allowing our differences to divide and cause hatred among us, can we not embrace one another in brotherly love?  Because we are in fact brothers and sisters.  We are all a part of the human race.  How you dress, whom you love, where you worship, the color of your skin should not dictate the treatment that you receive from others.  Respect should not be based on commonalities.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

(Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

 

~My Mom~ January 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:33 am
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Today is my momma’s 50th birthday!!!  I know, I know, hard to believe when she could still easily pass for my sister, right?

me and mom

In honor of her 50 years on this earth, I thought it would be fitting to list 50 things that she is and has been for me:

Beautiful

Courageous

Devoted

Encouraging

My Biggest Cheerleader

Kid spoiler

My BFF

All-knowing (through my teenage years)

Backstage Momma- no diva dance mom here, she was totally selfless

Hairstylist for every school dance

My confidant

Nurse…even as an adult

Shoulder to cry on

Problem solver

Babysitter-woot woot, send the kids to Nana’s!

Partner in crime

Loving

Nurturing

Understanding

Forgiving

My safe place

Towel wetter when I was in labor

On-call fixer

Bodyguard

Sounding board for all my ideas…good and bad

My how-to book on parenting questions

My voice of reason

Bold when it’s necessary

Gentle when it’s not

Generous

Thoughtful

The best Nana my kids could ask for!

Energetic…cause she’s 50! 50 years old 😉

Running partner

Short order cook because God forbid my kids have to eat something they don’t like

My “hey, can you bring this when you come” person

Faithful

Graceful

Hugger of necks

Kisser of boo-boos

2nd Mom to many of my high school friends

My right hand after the birth of my last and was forbidden to use the stairs…not easy when laundry is in basement for fam of 7

Unwavering in her devotion to our family

My “yes you can” when I’m “no I can’t”

My backup

My happy place when I’m a donkey on the edge

The glue that holds us together

Helper to many

Friend to most

Priceless to me

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMA!!!  You are my best friend, sister and Mom all wrapped up into one fabulous package!  Love you to the ends of the earth.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 

(Proverbs 31)

 

~Fast or Diet?~ January 16, 2014

prayer and fasting“I haven’t lost a pound since I started this fast 2 weeks ago!  My husband has dropped the weight, but not me.  So I quit.”

**little disclaimer- to my church family who is currently fasting, this was not a comment from someone in our congregation, relax**

Color me dumbfounded.

The last time I checked, fasting was not the latest weight loss craze but a means of connecting with God.

The more I thought on this comment, the more I realized that surely this is not the only person to ever use fasting as a way to reach their goal weight.  And I guess when you think about it, some diet plans do call for you to abstain from certain foods, such as sweets or high calorie beverages.  But that’s not the kind of fasting we’re talking about here.

In the simplest explanation I can think of, biblical fasting means to give something up for a set period of time and replace it with bible study and prayer.  I’ll give a couple of examples.

You decide to fast breakfast for 2 weeks.  During those 2 weeks, you would dedicate “breakfast time” to reading your Bible, talking to God or simply being still in His presence.

Maybe you opt to shut off your electronics for a week.  Rather than tune in to your fav show and tune out what’s happening around you, you decide to focus in on God and seek His face.

If I am to be totally honest, fasting is still somewhat new to me too.  I wasn’t raised exercising this particular discipline so I am learning as I go…key is, I am willing to learn.  Based on the comment stated above, I wanted to share with others who may have a desire to fast but are unsure how to proceed or maybe don’t understand the concept behind it.

I have attached two articles that our Pastor has shared with us that I feel are very informative on the ins and outs of Biblical fasting.   Again, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but if you have questions, I’m willing to help you dig through the Word to find them!  Blessings to all.

http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/7-steps-to-fasting/index.htm

http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/index.htm

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

(Matthew 6:16 NLT)