Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Are Your Words Promoting Healing or Hatred?~ November 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:08 am
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This morning I found myself feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the level of hatred blaring through the television and scrolling across my computer screen. I understand emotions are high during times of controversy but I don’t understand how it breeds such contempt among our brothers and sisters.

When I write, I don’t shy away from the controversial topics but I do try to be careful not to disrespect my readers and how what I say might affect them. On that note, let me preface this post with this, I do not have an opinion on the verdict that was read last night from Missouri. Not one thought.

Lest you think I am simply uneducated or that I’m too spineless to “pick a side,” allow me to share with you why I feel this way about this particular case and others of similar content.

The only information I have is from the media. It is my opinion that media executives are far more concerned about ratings than they are about educating their viewers. The more shocking the report, the higher the ratings. Therefore, I don’t consider it a reliable source to form an educated opinion.

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1 ESV)

I wasn’t there. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own lips, don’t think it with your small mind and spread it with your big mouth.” A little harsh, maybe. But it keeps me from adding to the chaos by gossiping or passing judgment. I wouldn’t want someone to form an opinion of me based on second hand accounts.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

I have no authority to judge, plain and simple.

“There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12 ESV)

Here is where I do have an opinion, nothing good can come from rioting and slanderous words. Rather than add to the darkness, should we not be the light? As tempting as it may be to share why so-and-so is in the wrong and so-in-so needs vindication, wouldn’t it be a better use of our time to show love while the rest of the world is screaming hate?prov 6

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~Escaping Burnout~ November 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:47 am
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A wise man recently said, “Burnout does not come because you’re doing too much, it comes because you are doing too much that has no purpose.”

Thanks, Pastor Chad, I just love it when you stomp all over my feet from the pulpit!

Isn’t it amazing how one simple statement can be so convicting?! I can honestly say at this particular season of my life, I am not feeling that overwhelming exhaustion that comes with being stretched too thin. However, I have been there often enough that this spoke volumes to me.

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought maybe we could benefit from this little reminder:

You can’t do it all, you’re not supposed to do it all and half of what you’re freaking out about bears little to no significance to the general well-being of you and yours.

You are welcome.

Now, how do we avoid overcommitting ourselves to the point that we go about our tasks begrudgingly? I would suggest evaluating how you dispense of your time and talents.

  1. Are you serving out of a heart that feels compelled to do so or simply because you feel obligated?

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Eph 6:7 NIV)

If you know going in that your heart is not in it, you can be certain that it will be apparent by how you carry out the task. Wouldn’t it be better to gracefully say no, allowing an opportunity for someone who is passionate about it to say yes, rather than give less than 100%?

  1. Who are you aiming to please with your actions, God or man?

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10 NIV)

News flash, you can’t please everyone! So if your only reason for giving of yourself is to make someone happy, don’t go there.

  1. Are you seeking praise or recognition for your good deeds? (ouch, ouch, ouch)

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 6:1 ESV)

Check your motives…God already knows them. If you’re “helping out” so that your name will appear in the “thanks” column, you are not the person for the job.

There are plenty of opportunities for us to fill our days with useless busy work, leaving no room for the things that truly matter. In the coming days when it will be tempting to overextend ourselves, our budgets and our calendars, take pause and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your actions. If it doesn’t bring fulfillment to your life or lift up someone else’s, is it really that important? Choose to fill your days with that which brings a sense of purpose to your life and enriches the lives of those around you.

purpose

 

~But Did You Ask?~ November 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:40 am
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My little Bella has been going through a phase lately, (Lord, please let it just be a phase), where she cries over every little thing.

Her jacket sleeve is inside out. Cry.

She can’t open her yogurt. Meltdown.

The baby doll won’t stay in the stroller. Fit.

Bubble Guppies goes to commercial break. The neighbors assume I beat my kid based on the level of screaming coming from this house.

When she is in the midst of one of these crying spells, it’s really hard to get through to her. She completely tunes me out and can only manage to focus on whatever it is that is earth shattering to her in that moment.

Yesterday, right as I was pulling out of the parking lot, she dropped her treat she had just been given at preschool. She was starting to wind it up, because let’s face it, the big meltdowns take some deep breaths to get the vocal chords all warmed up. Somehow I managed to lock eyes with her in the rearview mirror and very calmly said, “Isabella, did you drop your treat?” “YES…(complete with quivering lip and watery eyes.)” “Can I help you find it when we get home?” “OK.”

And that was it. At the moment when the intensity of her problem was at it’s peak, I got her to focus on me and the solution I could offer her rather than the problem itself.

So many times throughout our day together, I pose the question, “Did you ask for help?” The answer is always no at which point I encourage her to seek help when she can’t do something on her own as opposed to throwing herself in the floor over a stubborn foil lid or uncooperative baby doll.

What about you? What impossible situation are you facing today that has you pitching a fit as you desperately try to “do it yourself”?

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)

God has promised in His Word that He answers those who call on Him for help. He knows our needs and just like me with my Bella, He sees our struggle, but He’s waiting for us to invite Him into the situation.

” And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14 NIV)

ASK God for His help. Before you struggle to figure it out on your own, before the meltdown, before you throw in the towel, simply ask Him. Get your eyes off the problem and set them on the solution, Jesus!

Just in case you doubt that God is willing or able to intervene in your situation, how about a few more promises from Psalm 1:21:

He will not let your foot slip (v.3) – He is your firm foundation!

The Lord watches over you (v.5) – You have constant supervision, you’re never alone!

The Lord will keep you from all harm (v.7) – What more do you need to be reassured of God’s love for you?!morning prayer

 

~Called With Confidence~ November 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:17 am
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...because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too...

…because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too…

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV)

What is it that you feel called to do in the Kingdom of God?

I’ve met so many people who question that they’re called to do anything because they doubt their gifts. God has blessed each one of us with specific talents that can be used to glorify Him. Whether or not we choose to do so is entirely up to us. Most of the God given talents we have can be used for worldly gain or to further the Kingdom. God will not force our hand to do His work, He seeks those who are willing then He makes us able.

Therein lies the second problem we face when operating in our calling, we don’t see ourselves as worthy of sharing The Gospel because we feel ill-equipped due to our countless mistakes or faults. Stop that! You have been redeemed, washed clean from your past, it is not to be used as a crutch to keep you from doing what YOU KNOW God is calling you to.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor 26-29 NLT)

One of my favorite sayings from author Rick Warren states, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the people He calls.” Do you get that?! The God of the universe will provide the resources, He only needs you to say “Here I am, Lord, send me.”

Therefor, be confident in your calling. If you don’t believe in your “product,” you might as well quit trying to sell it. Because if you don’t buy into it, no one else will.

{Because} “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29 ESV):

  • Let your actions be fueled by your passion.
  • Speak boldly for Jesus, after all, does He not do the same for us when He intercedes to the Father on our behalf?
  • Stop being a scarey-cat, whom or what shall you fear with the God of Heaven’s armies on your side?
 

~My Helpmate~ November 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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Yesterday we attended the regional meet for our cross country team. This was our final stop before state championships. My nerves were frayed as they often are in these types of situations but luckily for me, my calmer, better half was able to attend.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t tell you how my rockstar husband ensured that our day went as smoothly as possible.

First off, you need to know that yesterday’s weather conditions were horrendous. For those of you familiar with cross country, you are aware that the courses are on grass so you also know that rain is not your friend. Well, it rained the entire time.

Cue the husband.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 4 ESV)

He took a half day from work in order to be there with us and honestly, I worked the poor man like a rented mule. He hauled our ginormous cooler all the way to the pine trees where the teams set up camp. I should probably mention that the parking lot is precisely half a mile away from the campsites. Yes, a half mile, in the rain, on nothing but slick mud and chewed up grass. Once we got into the sanctuary of the trees, we quickly realized that the rain was too heavy for the canopy of pines to shield us from the elements.

“Honey….would you be willing to go get our tent?”

You guessed it, the tent was in that same parking lot, half a mile away. But off he went to haul our rather large, incredibly awkward tent all by his lonesome. This feat alone earned him some serious bonus points, but wait, there’s more! One of our guys FORGOT HIS RUNNING SHOES! We asked every team we knew and not a soul had extra shoes. So what do you suppose husband of the year did? He traded shoes with our runner, cramming his feet into boots at least a full size too small, and spent the rest of the day with his toes curled.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Heb 13:16 ESV)

My man was “Johnny on the spot” the entire day. Whatever I needed, whatever I couldn’t or wouldn’t do, he filled in the gap. This morning as I reflected on how differently the day would have gone had Jamie not been there, this Scripture came to mind:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen 2:18 KJV)

Today we would use the word helpmate. However if you look at the origin of the words in Hebrew, help comes from the word azar, meaning to surround, protect or aid. Meet is from kenegdo which translates as, corresponding to, counterpart to, equal to matching.

I’d say that sums up our marriage quite nicely. Not only do we protect one another as husband and wife, but with our combined talents and strengths, we make up a whole. Where I am weak, he is strong. What he lacks, I make up. Not to be cheesy, but we complete one another, just as the Lord intended when He created the institute of marriage.

Take a look at your helpmate today, paying careful attention to the numerous ways you are polar opposites. Instead of viewing your differences as obstacles to overcome, focus on how they strengthen you as individuals and as a couple. Now thank God for the gift He gave you, I know I will.

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~Get Your Twinkle On~ November 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:24 am
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This time change thing has been wreaking havoc on our little household. Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30, but don’t judge, so did runner boy! This morning, my littles sprang out of bed at 6:30 which would have been fine, I was up, but they were GRUMPY! Here I was trying to make my way to coffee without making eye contact when all they wanted to do was squall in my face:

“Emma touched me!”

“Bella is on my blankie!”

“I don’t want that for breakfast!”

And so on, and so on.

Mind you we hadn’t even gone up the stairs at this point, you know, where the coffee pot resides. As I’m trying to navigate my way through the madness, one thing was on repeat in my muddled mind:

“in any and every circumstance I have learned…. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:12-13 NASB)

Yes Lord, even this, I can handle with you on my side.

Eventually we made it upstairs and when I rounded the corner into the dining room, this is what I saw.IMG_3164I leave Christmas lights over the doors to the back deck year round. I guess hubs forgot to unplug them before bed last night because normally they’re not on in the mornings. But man am I glad they were. Why, do you ask? Something about these twinkling lights brought me peace and a feeling of happiness I can’t really explain. I love, love, love Christmas lights and I suppose their presence brought about an instant calm. All which got me thinking, shouldn’t we as followers of Christ be like the sparkly lights, bringing happiness, peace and a sense of calm to the world around us?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16 NASB)

Everywhere we turn, we are faced with opportunities to share the love of God, through our speech and more importantly, through our actions. Each interaction we have with others brings a choice. We can choose to hear quickly, speak slowly and aim for peace. The alternative would be to react with haste, not taking pause to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, resulting in strife. One option shows Christ in us while the other may leave people questioning this faith we claim to possess.

So today, I challenge us all to shine bright for Jesus, causing the darkness to turn and flee. Choose to be as a lovely strand of twinkling lights, bringing beauty into a world full of ugliness.

 

 

~My Very Own Road~ November 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:10 am
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roaf=d“God never changes his mind about the people he calls. He never decides to take back the blessings he has given them.” (Romans 11:29 ERV)

How differently will you approach your Monday having read this one verse of Scripture?

Let it settle deep within in your spirit, stamp it across the fabric of your heart, so that the promise it declares resonates in your soul.

No matter how ill-equipped you feel today, regardless of the numerous times you have failed, God has not and will not remove His hand from your life.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

He knows you by name and has called you according to His purpose designed specifically for you. Do you know what that means?

Simply put, God has engineered a plan for each and every one of His children with our individual characteristics and strengths in mind. That is why my calling looks different from yours and why the paths we must take to fulfil our purpose may seem drastically opposite.

There have been days and I am sure, more to come, when I look around and see people whose lives have numerous similarities to my own and yet it seems they never experience the same hardships that I face. I find myself asking God, “Why? Why me…again?” If I actually allow Him to speak to me through His Word, I can see that He is refining me like silver in a fiery furnace or pruning away that which is unnecessary in order make room for new growth.

That is when I can read the words of 2 Corinthians 12 and embrace the path God has me on. Though it may be rocky, filled with potholes, and at times treacherous, it’s my course, just for me, and He has already gone before me to make a way where there seems to be no way.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(verses 9-10 ESV)