Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Eyes Open, My Love~ August 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:04 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

303db061470732e00637018689917ac8When things get real, my first thought is to shut my eyes tight, plug my ears & sing “Jesus loves me” at the top of my lungs. It’s not very practical, but my inner child just wants to avoid the unpleasantries of this life. Then again, I am a grown-up now and as nice as it would be to pretend I’m a princess living in an elaborate castle, the reality is I’m a mother of 5 who scrubs toilets daily in a humble brick house with scuffed up floors.

I know it would be easier if we could close our eyes. We wouldn’t have to see the horror that plays on the news every single day. We wouldn’t be able to read the collection notices that keep coming in the mail, further evidence that our financial situation is in a rapid decline. We wouldn’t have to watch our loved ones suffer with life threatening illness that makes us wonder if there is a God and if so, why won’t he intervene.

You know what else happens when we shut our eyes to life? We miss the ‘aha’ moments, when God shows up and miracles happen.

For every violent war story that fills the tv screen, there’s another of love in the midst of turmoil that restores our faith in humanity. When the numbers don’t make sense and it would seem that all hope is lost, God takes what we would call financial ruin and uses it as a testament of His provision for His children. As we watch sickness ravage the body, God brings healing in one of two ways: he calls his child home where pain & suffering cease or he does what only he can as the ultimate physician and makes the body whole again.

There is a song by Need to Breathe that inspired this post, “Keep Your Eyes Open.” Take a look at my favorite verse:

Just past the circumstance,

The first light, a second chance

No child could ever dance the way you do

Tear down the prison walls

Don’t start the curtain call

Your chains will never fall until you do

We could close our eyes to the world around us and avoid all the ugliness but in doing so we will also miss the beauty of God’s hands at work. No matter how bleak your circumstances, it ain’t over til God says it’s over. Focus on that instead of your worries for a change.

 

 

 

~Take Care of You~ August 20, 2014

Today I have just a bit of hump day encouragement for my ladies. How many of you have uttered one of the following statements, or one like it, in the last week:

  • I’m exhausted!
  • I am so stressed right now.
  • There’s not enough hours in the day to get it all done.
  • I really could use a break from it all!

I’m calling you out, girls! It’s ok though, because I tend to fall into this same pattern. If you are spending every waking moment tending to everyone else’s needs that you continuously neglect your own, you are like a ticking time bomb walking around fixin’ to explode in the face of some unsuspecting victim. You know it, I know it and so does every person in your circle. 

So riddle me this, how much good are you really doing for others if you’re uptight, on edge, sleepwalking or like myself, doing everything with a mild case of the shakes as a result of the copious amounts of coffee it took to inspire your body to function?

Sweet sisters, I saw this quote and thought of you.

b1f6cf7adcebd04652262a77dd5603f3

Get moving, trust me, there’s something euphoric about sweating out your frustrations. I mean, it’s either that are constantly fight the urge to punch someone in the face.

Put good things into your body. God is only going to give you the one you’re in right now, don’t fill it full of trash that makes you sluggish and irritable. Plus, you can totally justify that piece of cheesecake if you ate a salad for dinner.

Do what makes you feel pretty….because you are! If you feel best in full face, hair and nails, then do it up big! Personally, I feel most like myself in running shorts, a pony tail & a dash of mascara and you better believe I rock it 6 days a week. I do put on real pants for Jesus.

And lastly, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t let anyone, man or woman, steal your sunshine! This world is full of mean, hateful people who are more than happy to drag you down with them. It gets lonely down in their pit, they’re looking for company, don’t give it to them. Keep smiling, that really makes them twitch.

Today, in the midst of the insane amount of stuff you’re doing for others, do yourself (and them) a favor and carve out some you time. And do NOT feel guilty about it! 

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”  (3 John 1:2)

 

~Too Fast-paced To Fast~ August 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s been a little cray-cray in the Rutledge house over the last week. (For those not fortunate enough to have teens in the house, cray-cray means crazy. You’re welcome.)

The kids started back to school, way too early but I won’t even go there! The house is “decorated” like an office supply store with stacks of notebooks, folders, etc, etc stacked on every available surface. Then we have these piles of laundry that aren’t making it to their proper destination. Apparently the ability to move clothes from the floor to the laundry room becomes an impossible feat when one returns to school. Beds aren’t being made either because you know they just don’t have those precious moments to spare in the morning! It’s either brush the teeth or do their chores and proper hygiene trumps cleanliness. To further complicate things, we’ve all been trying to get acclimated to our jam packed schedules for the Fall without losing our minds and it’s proving to be a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. 

So yesterday I got stuff done & quite frankly I was feeling pretty dang good about myself. I was a baking, cooking, cleaning, clothes washing machine. I channeled my inner Martha Stewart & Betty Crocker simultaneously so you can just imagine the level of fabulous at which I was operating. Then evening hit and all that multi-tasking mojo left the scene. I did manage to get the kids to church but I had missed an errand or two that needed to be done prior to the start of today, so drop and go was the theme for the night. Miraculously, I made it back in time to pick them up and was chatting with another mom, that’s when it happened. 

I had completely forgotten that our church started 21 days of fasting and prayer on Sunday. You guessed it, hadn’t fasted a thing and this innocent conversation with a friend made me sick to my stomach. In all the busyness, I’d neglected something important. All my feelings of “yay me” vanished faster than the banana bread I’d whipped up earlier that day. 

Last night I lay in bed frantically racking my brain, trying to think of what to give up and what specific prayer to focus on for the remainder of the time. I was feeling incredibly guilty about my forgetfulness to the point that it was distracting. I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit and was reminded that this was not what a time of fasting is to be about. God can see straight to my heart and it was obvious that I was being driven by guilt and not a desire to hear from Him.

Discipline received, moving on.

My time of fasting and prayer will not be wasted feeling like a bad Christian because I missed the “start” date. The entire point of this exercise is to draw closer to God and make prayer a priority not to berate oneself for missing the mark. There’s no room for guilt in a heart that longs to serve a loving God. 

Prayers for my friends as we go through this together, focusing on our deepest needs and waiting expectantly to hear a response.

“We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!” “I will tell you why!” I responded. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap, and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “

(Isaiah 58:3-9 NLT)

 

~Ungrateful~ August 7, 2014

Recently I have found myself dealing with a large dose of resentment with a side of bitterness.

I blame social media.

Every time I log on, I’m bombarded with vacation photos. Before y’all get all judgy on me, let’s just remember that I’m human too & deal with the same feelings and obstacles that everyone else faces.

It seems like every person I know has been somewhere fantastic during summer break. Pictures of water slides, amusement parks, mountain cabins and the beach have not be in short supply. With every smiling face standing in front of a beautiful or exciting backdrop, I felt my anger go a little deeper.

My husband works incredibly hard. We are not reckless spenders. We are faithful in our tithes. Seriously, Lord, don’t we deserve a break too?! I hadn’t been praying about much but I was whining about plenty!

The other day as I sat wallowing in self-pity, I started scrolling through the camera roll on my phone. Self-pity quickly turned to guilt. We are so blessed with wonderful friends and family who have included us in some serious good times. Rather than be thankful for those moments of fellowship, I had focused in on the one thing we hadn’t been able to do.

Guilt has been replaced with gratitude.

As you can see, we may not have been on a vacation in the traditional sense of the word, but we have done our best to enjoy every bit of this break within the constraints of a tight budget. 

I may never understand why some struggle more than others, but what I can do is be thankful for what I do have-a healthy family and friends who love on us in ways I could never repay them for. If you have found yourself in a similar “whoa is me” pit today, will you join me in looking for at least one thing you can give thanks for?

 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

I may not like it, I certainly don’t understand it, but I do firmly believe that whatever happens in this life is directly in line with what God deems best for those of us who believe in Him.