Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Separation Anxiety~ April 29, 2014

I sat down to write this morning and found myself feeling horribly intimidated.  With our hectic schedule over the last couple of weeks combined with my allergy-induced fog, I have had very little time, much less ability to focus, in order to write anything worth reading.  I finally overcome the time restraint obstacle and get slapped in the face with a new one, fear.

When I am able to write on a consistent basis, I feel confident, not necessarily in myself, but in my connection with the Lord and the ability to discern His voice to what He’d have me to share with you all.  After essentially a two week sabbatical from writing, with a post or two tossed in for good measure, my worry is that I have lost that momentum that I once had in doing what I truly feel called to do.

And I am a little freaked.

It scares me to think that I could so easily lose the feeling of intimacy that I have with the Lord.  Life is busy, most likely always will be, but too busy to fellowship with my Creator?  Yikes.

Driving my kids to school, a Scripture came to mind, seemingly out of nowhere (wink, wink):

“Remain joined to me, and I will remain joined to you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain joined to the vine. In the same way, you can’t bear fruit unless you remain joined to me.”  (John 15:4 NIRV)

I hadn’t forgotten about the Lord during my busy season but I had certainly neglected my time with Him.  I believe that is why I felt scared to post today.  My lack of communication with God had me feeling fruitless, like I had become separated from Him to the point of losing the gift that He has given me to encourage through writing.  I was looking in rather than looking up, failing to remember that my help comes from the Lord.  I can’t do this writing thing on my own.  It’s by His grace alone that I am able to share my story, combined with His word, in order to lift up the downcast and brokenhearted through the power of a multi-faceted testimony.  The very next verse in John 15 goes on to say, “…apart from me, you can do nothing.”  Rather than see this as a belittling, you are nothing without me attitude, I see it as a promise that He is always with me and gives me the strength and skills to do things that could never be done within my own ability.

One simple word, vital to our strength

One simple word, vital to our strength

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~My Life as a Ring Master~ April 24, 2014

I have oftentimes described my life as a circus.  Having 5 kids, this is a pretty spot on description as I tend to have to be in 3 places at the same time on any given day.

These last couple of weeks have exhausted me to the point of having little to no time to write and it is seriously weighing on me!  I get a little moody & snippy when I’m run down and even more so when I feel like I have to let something I love go to the wayside to make room for yet one more thing for someone else.  Man, I sound like a selfish whiny-pants, right?!

The reality is, my right now is only a season and that simple phrase has become my mantra, “this is only a season, this is only a season, THIS IS ONLY A SEASON!!!”

Sleep deprivation, overcrowded calendars and lack of me time can bring even the “super-i make everything from scratch-have boundless amounts of energy-mom” down.  I’m sure you can imagine what it does to this “super simple-poptart slingin-my butt is draggin without my coffee-mom”!!  So this morning, before I even sat up in bed, I prayed this little prayer, “Lord, help me today to focus on you and not my hectic schedule.  Remind me that this life is a gift, even in the busyness, and I should act accordingly and not like a bratty two-year old.  And one more thing Lord, give me the strength to perform each and every task I have committed myself to with excellence as unto you for it IS you who deserves all the credit.  Amen”

To my fellow overworked, underpaid, totally exhausted, baggy eyed mommas, I salute you.  We can do this for we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength.  (It doesn’t hurt to toss in a pot of coffee and some nutter butters to nudge things along, just sayin’)  May today be abundantly blessed, productive and our eyes be open to the beauty of the chaos.  Now, go do this thing!being a mom

 

 

~Idol-less Easter~ April 17, 2014

For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you already know this story, but my opinions were too much to share in a comment section so here it is.

Yesterday afternoon when I picked the kids up from school, my middle school girl, Autumn, gets in the car and immediately shared the highlight of her day.  Apparently they had a substitute in one of their classes who thought it would be fun to hear what the kids had planned for celebrating Easter.  She went around the room, allowing each child a turn to speak.  When she reached my girl, Autumn said “I’m going to celebrate the love of Jesus!”

Here comes the good part…

Substitute replied, “That’s a matter of opinion,” then turned and walked away.

I started to respond, then I remembered it’s not nice to call names so I said a quick prayer, out loud, instead, “Dear Lord, please help all the misguided people in the world who haven’t a clue that Easter has nothing to do with plastic eggs and bunny rabbits.”

Aside from the fact that this “teacher” showed a complete lack of respect for my daughters beliefs, the public display of intolerance in front of a young, impressionable audience is a perfect example as to why we have a problem with freedom of religion in this country.  More than that, what exactly does the person think Easter is about?!

This morning, I was reading the responses on social media and it got me thinking about how often this sort of thing happens….

Thanksgiving has become all about the ginormous meal instead of taking pause to give thanks for all the blessings in your life for which you should be grateful.

Many people spend the Christmas season focusing on a fat, hairy man in a red suit & shiny packages, totally forgetting about the babe in swaddling clothes who was born to be the Savior of the world.

And now Easter has little to nothing to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus because a vast majority have busied themselves with fake grass, candy filled eggs & fluff-stuffed bunnies & chicks to have any time left to celebrate the true reason that the holiday exists in the first place!

Misguided people everywhere have fallen guilty to worshiping idols: the meal, the robust, red-faced man & Peter Cottontail are at the center of their family celebrations while Jesus stands at the door, awaiting His invitation to the party.  This family will be placing Him at the head of our table.  Yes, we will give our children treats and have a meal with our family.  We do allow our kids to participate in the madness that is an egg hunt but ask any one of them what Easter is about, and they’re going to tell you “Jesus.”

Don’t allow the commercialism of holidays to distract you from what is important, the meaning behind it all, is Jesus.

“He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake.”  (Romans 1:4-5)

I came across this Scripture and felt it summed up precisely what my Autumn did.  My girl loves her Jesus and she wants everyone she meets to know it and, in turn, to know HIM.  If she doesn’t get anything else right in her life, I will forever be proud of the conviction & steadfastness she displays while sharing her faith.  If my middle-schooler, at the risk of ridicule, can boldly declare her plans to celebrate the love of Jesus this Easter season, then what say you?

THIS....

THIS….

NOT THIS!

NOT THIS!

 

~Chin Down, Eyes Forward, Arms Moving~ April 15, 2014

Last night I attended a track meet in which two of my children were participants.  Track meets can be fun to watch.  If you have 5 hours to spare, I highly recommend you attend one.  This particular meet was kinda rough as the skies had opened up just at the start and completely saturated the track, sand pits, runways….and bleachers.  Boo.

The kids were troopers though and went to work.  The majority of the runners participate in multiple events.  My two are distance runners meaning their events included the 1600,800 and 4 x 400 relay.  A total of 1.75 competitive miles.  As you might imagine, while the night drags on…and on….and on, they get a little run down.

Exhaustion sets in and it’s as if the weight of their heads is too much for their necks to hold up.  They give in to the pull and let their heads drop back, mouths wide open, sucking in air.

The sound of competitors feet, hard and fast behind them, tempts them to look over their shoulders to see just how much they are closing the gap.

Event after event, their bodies start to wear down and their once perfect form starts to deteriorate.  Their arms swing wildly as they approach the finish line one more time.

Myself and the fellow momma bears, (and 1 nana), scream frantically from the stands “Come on!!  You can do it! One more lap!!  You’re almost there!!”

But one coach on the infield caught my attention.  He was standing about 50 meters from the finish line and every time one of his kids would come by, this is what he would say, “Chin down, eyes forward and keep those arms moving front to back.”

Words of wisdom.  And I’m not talking about strictly for running.

Life gets tough and the burden of it all weighs you down.  You drop your head in defeat.  You start looking backwards, thinking the past was so much better than the present.  You decide you just don’t care anymore about doing things the “right way” and you start flailing.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

When you’re tired of trying and feel like giving up, that’s when you need to buckle down.

When the enemy is nipping at your heels, attacking you in every aspect of your life, keep your focus.

When it seems you’ve given your very best and it’s all for nothing, don’t lose your form.  Keep doing what you know to be right and true all the way through to the finish.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

That is how we will win the most important race we’ll ever run.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” (Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT)

champion

One more time:  CHIN DOWN, EYES FORWARD, ARMS MOVING.

 

~Don’t Confuse Silence with Absence~ April 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:47 am
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“Can anybody hear me?
The silence is deafening
Why do You feel so far away?”

I heard these lyrics this morning after I dropped the kiddos off at school and it pulled at my heart.  I am not at this place in my life right now, but I know some of you are.

You pray and you cry out and it feels like all you get in return is silence.  It seems as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling as they remain unanswered.  Surely God has removed His hand from your life as is evident by your current circumstances.  Everything is going to hell in a hand basket.  Your feet aren’t firmly planted on the solid rock but sliding continuously down the mudslide that has become your existence.

People, I have been there and done that and I didn’t just buy the t-shirt, I got the sweatpants, hat & sunglasses to match!

I have literally screamed at God, “Why aren’t you answering me?!?!  What have I done that you would turn your face from me?!”  You know what He said…nothing.  Radio silence.

Take a look at the next verse of the Meredith Andrews song that caught my attention on this beautiful day:

“When I know You’re here with me
But I just need the faith to see
Nothing can separate me from Your love
From Your love.”

There it is, that promise that we hear over and over again, not one thing can cause God to stop loving us.  Even in the moments when we are certain He has totally abandoned us, He is right there in the valley holding our hands and leading us through.

This song is hands down my favorite reminder of how strong God’s love for us truly is.  Please listen and be blessed by the ministry of Jeremi & Amy Richardson.  (http://www.jeremiandamyrichardson.com/)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

 

~Too Busy to Give Thanks~ April 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 1:38 pm
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busy

Don’t be “this” girl

Today I have been met with the hard reality of an overbooked schedule.  And I am exhausted.  I won’t bore you with the details of all that’s being juggled, just know that I am not exaggerating when I say I am overwhelmed.

But worse than being worn out and frustrated at my lack of time, I feel horribly guilty.  Our women’s group has started Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts.”  While we are about two weeks in, I have barely managed to read the first chapter much less start my list of gifts.  How in the world have I allowed myself to get so busy that I don’t even have time to write one thing that I am thankful for?!

Our house is being shown this afternoon so I have been cleaning like a lunatic & washing everyone’s bedding.  Why?  I don’t know, just in case the potential buyers want to check things out Goldilocks style and try out each bed.  I’d hate to think the house didn’t sell because of drool stains on the pillowcases.  My husband just ran by and noticed the extreme fatigue in my face.  Once again, he delivered some profound truth:

“Honey, we all appreciate a clean home but there is no reason to wear yourself out.”

How bout that?  Here I’ve been running myself in circles trying to get it all done meanwhile neglecting something as precious as naming my blessings and it’s all of my own doing.  No one has placed these crazy expectations on me, I do it all by myself.

Sometimes I wonder if I even read my own blog.  See the following:

https://peacefulpromises.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/someone-else/

https://peacefulpromises.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/it-is-ok-to-say-no/

https://peacefulpromises.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/expectations/

Clearly, I have allowed my “to do” list to take priority over my “need to” list.  So what if there’s a little dog hair on the couch or the laundry basket isn’t completely empty when company comes calling?  I believe it’s time to start that list of things for which I am thankful:

1.  A husband who reminds me that I am loved for who I am, not what I do.

“It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves?”

(Psalm 127:2 The Message)

 

~My Testimony is More Powerful than Yours~ April 4, 2014

We all know at least one person who had the seemingly perfect childhood and that idealistic life has apparently followed them into adulthood.

  • Their parents have been married all their lives.
  • Growing up, they went to church every time the doors were opened.
  • They did things in the right order-marriage then sex and babies.
  • No substantial loss has ever crossed their paths.

Basically, they’re life would be described as smooth sailing.

So how is it, exactly, that someone who has walked through this life to date completely unscathed supposed to be able to effectively minister to someone?  Because our testimony should be more about the glory of God and His hand in our lives than it is about the struggles we’ve been through, or lack thereof.

Yes, I came from a “broken” home.  Yes, I had a child out of wedlock.  Yes, I struggled with an eating disorder.  Yes, I lost a baby and it broke my heart.  Yes, I was a hot, hot mess and this is only a couple of highlights from a long list of issues.

All of this may be true of the life that I have lived, but when I share with others about my trials, my focus is on God and how He walked me through each and every one and ultimately gave me the victory.  Here is my point:

Don’t discredit someone else’s testimony just because their story doesn’t seem as traumatic as yours.

Each and every one of us has a unique story that when told will minister to different people.  A lot of people can’t possibly relate to what I’ve overcome because they can draw no parallels to my life.  Those people need to hear from you.  Even if you feel as if you have nothing to offer because for the most part, your life has been sunshine & roses, maybe that’s exactly what someone needs to hear….that you don’t have to come from brokenness to live a life on fire for God.  By sharing our individual stories, together, we can reach the far corners of the world for Jesus.  single testimony

“Make sure in your hearts that Christ is Lord. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have. Be ready to give the reason for it. But do it gently and with respect.” (1Peter 3:15)

“My hope is, in you Lord, all the day long.  I won’t be shaken by, drought or storm.  A peace that passes understanding is my song and I sing, my hope is in you Lord.” -Arron Shust lyrics, My Hope Is In You