Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Trust Without Borders~ December 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:38 am
Tags: , , , , ,

One of my absolute favorite songs right now is “Oceans” by Hillsong. I feel the lyrics adequately sum up my life over the past year.

More so than ever before, I have felt God calling me to do what is out of my comfort zone. Invitations have been accepted to be part of ministries that are growing and taking shape as we go. I’m the gal who likes to know the what, when, why and how of things in advance. So as you might imagine, stepping out into the unknown took great faith on my part. With the New Year now fast approaching, I have found myself floundering a bit and I think this morning I’ve discovered the source of my irritation.

I’ve been trying to figure how to make it all work on my own. It’s not that I stopped seeking God, but I was leaning heavily on my own abilities to plan, organize and multi-task. My mind has been racing with “I need to do this. I need to go there. I need to call so-n-so…” and the list goes on. With all the racket, I was having trouble hearing that still small voice that is always present to offer direction, encouragement and most importantly, peace. I was believing God for guidance, but I wasn’t trusting Him enough to give me what I needed when I needed it. My control-freakedness had put a strategically placed wall between me and my willingness to trust without limitations.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov 3:5 ESV)   

Not anymore. If called God me to it, He will lead me through it.

I feel certain there will be days when I struggle to find balance. Today is shaping up to be one of those days. I’m pecking this out one-handed, trying to write with a snotty 3-year-old in my ear, a snuggly wee one on my chest and a mind that is screaming over all the things I’d like to accomplish today.

But…

“(I) know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. .” (Rom 8:28 HCSB)  

That’s right. Even in the mundane, everyday life stuff, God is working, giving me grace for the moment. I only need to trust Him without borders.

Print

 

~I DO Care~ December 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:20 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I have felt very convicted over a 3 word phrase that I probably use every single day. The words aren’t ugly or said hatefully, but I believe the conviction came because they imply an emotion that could be perceived as hurtful.

Wanna know what it is?

“I don’t care.”

Whenever the kids ask me for something, like a snack or to watch a certain show, rather than give a simple yes, I typically say “I don’t care.” I’m not really sure how this came to be and it never stuck out to me until recently. But I don’t like it. Why would I tell my children I don’t care about anything?! Because truthfully, I DO care…about every little thing that concerns my people.

Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase. The results really hit home.

“Saying “don’t mind” sounds very polite and gentle. It’s like the person is saying “It’s ok with me.”; however, “don’t care” sounds stronger and it’s like the person is saying, “It doesn’t matter to me”.”-http://english.stackexchange.com

Synonym for I don’t care-uninvolved

That’s not at all what I mean when I say it! Jesus, help me!

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Prov 16:24 ESV)

While I never intended to be harsh, my careless use of a simple phrase indicates otherwise. Nothing about “I don’t care” is seasoned with grace. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how hateful it does sound.

Ephesians 4:29 has been on my heart fairly often lately and I have to wonder if that’s why the sudden feelings of guilt over my choice of words.

“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.” (ESV)

My kids, I’m sure like many of yours, never stop with the questions..

Can I have this?

Can we go there?

Will you get me..?

While the constant requests can be taxing on ones nerves, we should still take care to respond with love and kindness rather than harshness and irritation. I for one don’t want my kids to stop coming to me because they feel they are an aggravation to me.

This has become a habit to me, one that will take some time to break. But I am determined to do better in this area because even the simplest of words have the power to build up or tear down.

words

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life” (Prov 15:4 ESV)

I want to be that tree.

 

~I Ain’t Scared!~ December 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:25 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Recently, my husband and I were asked to step in as small group pastors at our church. It was both an honor and a privilege to be asked to fill this position and we happily accepted. However, I’d be lying if I said I had zero reservations. Not because I didn’t want to volunteer in this capacity, I truly have a heart for seeing people connect on a deeper, more intimate level within the church body. I did have a moment of panic when I thought of all the reasons why I am not qualified to be a leader. I had no doubts where my husband was concerned, just me and my hot mess of a self.

Thankfully God has a few words for moments such as these.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

This one verse helped me to realize a very simple truth, I am not afraid to be myself.

I am not afraid to tell you that I sometimes lose my patience with my kids. I can be a frustrated momma and use that to honor God by showing other aggravated parents how to take His Word and it apply it to their toughest parenting battles.

I am not fearful that you may find out that I’ve been known to argue with my husband. We’ve had some serious struggles in our marriage that made me wonder if we had any business helping other couples through their own hard times. But, every obstacle we’ve overcome by God’s grace has made us stronger and better equipped to counsel those who find themselves in similar predicaments. Besides, what a testament it is to God’s redemptive power on the days I wanna strangle my man and resist that temptation 😉

I choose to not shy away from admitting the mistakes that I’ve made, both in my past and the areas I continue to struggle with today. I could wallow in self-pity over my shortcomings but would rather use them as part of my testimony. The way I see it, if God hasn’t left or forsaken ME at this point, then there is definitely hope for you too!

Then there is the small matter of not “looking” the part. Hear me out…every time I see the leaders from our church, and other churches as well, they seem so pulled together. Half the time I leave the house wild eyed in my most fashionable pair of yoga pants complete with messy hair & yesterday’s makeup as coffee sloshes over my hand because of my refusal to use a travel mug. Doesn’t exactly scream “leader,” does it?! But you know what? God made me the beautiful mess that I am and He can use me to reach others just as I am. No need to put on airs and pretend to be something I am not.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that being a leader, at any capacity, doesn’t mean conforming to whatever preconceived image you have in your head of what a leader should look like. It means being comfortable in your own skin, in the life that God has given you, and using that to point others to Jesus.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

be you

 

~When Did RAPE Become Funny…And Other Middle School Shockers~ December 10, 2014

For the last week or so, our oldest daughter hasn’t really been herself. She’s been moody and quiet and has pretty much stayed holed up in her room. We’ve continually asked her what was up and were met with the typical teenager response,  “Nothing.” We figured it was the hormones raging again and tried to give her some space. That is until yesterday.

A little backstory about our girl for those who don’t have the pleasure of knowing her personally. She is madly in love with Jesus. She talks about her faith anywhere, anytime to anyone who will listen. We often joke and call her our little missionary who’s trying to save the world one middle-schooler at a time! It breaks her heart into pieces when her peers are struggling which has led to many talks about the struggles kids are facing and why sometimes there’s nothing we can do but pray for them.

Now, for the current horror that’s got this momma fit to be tied.

Autumn was terribly upset when she got in the car yesterday but refused to talk about it in front of her little sisters stating she couldn’t repeat a word that was said. I didn’t think too much of it knowing full well that kids curse in school. However, color me shocked when the story unraveled. Apparently the word “rape” is being used as an alternative to many other, far less offensive words. Some examples “OHHH, he raped you!” Someone bumps into you in the hall or gym class, so you scream “RAPE!” at the top of your lungs. They even have a storage room they refer to as “the rape closet.” Yesterday, a GIRL friend of Autumn’s used it this way, “Like how she raped you in your sleep.” (the ‘she’ mentioned being my girl)

Autumn was mortified and told her “friend” that what she said was inappropriate. This young lady told my daughter she needed to learn how to take a joke! Are you kidding me?! What in the world is funny about a word that implies sexual violence?! Before the arguments come, I am well aware that is has another meaning, that point is moot in my opinion so I won’t even argue it with you. These kids are so desensitized that they will throw around words that have horrific meanings like they are saying the word “hello.” When Autumn wouldn’t back down, this young lady proceeded to find backup to verbally attack my girl, accusing of her being a bully instead of a Christian. Perhaps what made this hurt the most…this little girl is a church-goer.

This conversation opened up to other topics as well. Kids with social media names like “MyHeartBelongsToJesus” are defending their beliefs with a string of curse words….uhm, no. Babies are having babies. Young ladies are cutting their beautiful bodies and talking about it over lunch. Serious issues….casual conversations. Wow.

I am bringing this up, not to be a gossip, but to open the eyes of parents who may not have a clue that their kids are using these phrases so flippantly. But maybe they don’t realize the horror of rape. Maybe they haven’t considered that a classmate within earshot has actually experienced the word and their casual use of the expression makes them feel that much more ashamed and isolated.

My advice, be proactive.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6 ESV)

After talking with Autumn, I went into the boys room to discus it with them. Peyton said, “Why are yelling at us?” Oops, I was pretty upset when I approached them. “I just want you boys to know how I feel about this that way you won’t inadvertently repeat a phrase your friends use that is highly offensive and claim you didn’t know.” taste words

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt 12:36 ESV) 

Friends, we are living in a world that we must deal with these issues on a daily basis. It is our job to teach our kids the power of the words they speak. If we allow ourselves or our kids to become lax in our speech, we may find ourselves on a very slippery slope. It is true that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” and “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Prov 18:21 & Matt 15:18 ESV) So let us take care to guard our hearts, minds and mouths from what is detrimental to the soul.

 

~Choose Your Friends Wisely~ December 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:07 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

friendsThis morning I watched as my oldest daughter ran to catch up with two of her besties to walk into school together and my eyes welled up with tears. Yes, I am a softie and at times overly emotional, deal with it!

But I am so incredibly thankful for my kids circle of friends. I have always prayed that they would be surrounded by like minded peers and once again, God has come through. This is especially important for my middle school kids. They are at the age where hormones are all over the place driving them and us crazy. Some classmates are starting to experiment with various “extra-curricular” activities.  Meanwhile, here they are trying to find where they fit in. Elementary parents, beware, your time is fast approaching! This is why it is so important to monitor who your children choose to socialize with.

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33 ESV)

Suzy Sunshine might be the most awesome, trustworthy kid on the planet, but if she surrounds herself with less than savory characters, she may buckle under the pressure to follow the crowd. Autumn tends to take after her mother and struggles with people-pleasing. Her closest friends are far more strong-willed than she and that gives her that extra support to stand firm on her convictions rather than caving to fit in.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov 27:17 NIV)

My girls’ friends make her better and I love em’ all!

Runner boy has maintained a workout schedule with our senior runner who intends to enter the ministry when he graduates. He looks out for my boy as an older brother would. Could a mom ask for a better role model for her son?! Both of my boys have older guy friends that are setting spectacular examples of how to live for God. When they started with the teen ministry at our church, they were given mentors with similar interests. They lead by example and have developed deeper relationships where if one of my boys were to slip up, these young men have gained their trust enough to call them on it.

“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecc 4:10 ESV)

These guys goof off with my boys but they also give them someone to look up to and that is priceless to this momma.

So as I watched my girl and her friends huddle in close this morning, I cried out of a grateful heart. They are all blessed with fabulous friends who put this momma’s mind at ease on a daily basis. I pray these friendships last a lifetime and that as they grow closer together that they would draw near to God and rely on each others strengths to endure the hardships that come with being a teenager.

 

~Say Thank You~ December 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:46 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It sounds simple enough, but we oftentimes forget. Especially in the everyday things that we tend to take for granted. Our appreciation goes unspoken leaving those around us feeling undervalued and quite possibly unloved.

Well boo on that!

It literally takes a moment to say thanks to those who deserve to hear it from you. Something that requires so little of your time has the power to make someone’s day.

I believe in leading by example, so I’m going to use this platform to go first!

Thank you, to YOU, my readers! I try to reach each one of you personally but that isn’t always possible as my stats tracker doesn’t exactly tell me who is reading my posts. At times I find myself ready to lay aside the writing when life gets busy. I justify my thoughts reasoning that no one really reads my ramblings so it wouldn’t be a big deal if I quit. Then one of you lovely people will send me a note of thanks or encouragement and I’m reminded that if even one heart is stirred by something I say, then it is totally worth the effort it takes to maintain this humble page.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thes 5:11 ESV)

Thank you to my church. I am so incredibly blessed with the lovingest bunch of people to do life with that it’s almost incomprehensible. They have celebrated my highs and helped to dig me out from my lows. Even when I’ve blown it BIG time, they’ve extended grace and offered help when it would have been just as easy to cast stones and dole out judgment. You all rock!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25 ESV)

To my tribe, who puts up with my crazy on a daily basis, surely your eternal rewards will surpass all others! My sweet Bella with her sunny disposition, thanks for making momma smile first thing every morning. To my micromanager, Emma, thanks mini-me for running the show when momma is away 🙂 For Autumn, my little evangelist, thank you for your faith in Jesus AND people that never falters! Peyton, the kid that gets me, thank you for still making me feel needed even though you’re a teenager now. Thank you to Isaiah, who somehow always manages to make me laugh even on the days when I really just wanna cry. Big ol’ thanks to my coffee making, foot-rubbing, problem solving husband who has yet to kill me in my sleep. I adore you all and couldn’t imagine how boring my life would be without my circus monkeys!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3 ESV)

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5:33 ESV)

This list could go on for miles, but I think you get my drift. A few minutes out of my day to let people know just how important they are to me. It cost me nothing, but will hopefully brighten their day! I’ve always heard that it takes two weeks to form a habit. So why don’t we all make it a point to say thank you to at least one person every day for the next 14 days? Maybe then we won’t become forgetful and inadvertently make those around us feel underappreciated.

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

 

~Tempted By ….~ December 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:35 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here we are at yet another very busy season for so many of us. We’ve got Christmas parties to attend, cookies to bake, gifts to buy and wrap, and so on and so on. Granted these are all things that I LOVE to do, but I still find myself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I also made a commitment to myself to maintain some sort of physical activity during the winter months when in years past I have allowed myself to slack off….way, way off!

This morning I nearly talked myself out of hitting the gym. Lord knows I needed to go because I am meaner than a two-headed snake when I don’t exercise (yet another reason I decided to keep it up this winter instead of terrorizing my family). But my sweet mini-me has randomly been getting sick in the middle of the night. All you momma’s out there know that equals no sleep, tons of laundry and the unfortunate task of scrubbing the carpet-bleh! So again, I almost didn’t workout this morning because a steamy cup of coffee and my cozy blankie sounded way more tempting. Then I remembered one of my favorite inspirational quotes for days like this.workout

True story.

This busy season has caused me to neglect other important areas as well-this blog, another website I write for, my precious small group-in other words, my ministries! The more I reflected on my little workout motto, the more I realized it reminded me of a Scripture that applied to my spiritual struggles:

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41 ESV)

Not all temptation is blaringly obvious nor does it all result in “big sin.” This morning I was tempted by comfort to forgo the important task of taking care of my body. I was tempted by laziness to not write this post because my DVR is full and I kinda wanted to veg and fall into a tv coma. While all temptations don’t look the same, what they do have in common is they are meant to distract you from something more important.

How about a quick prayer for us all today:

“Lord, I ask you today to center our hearts and minds around you. Let us not fall so easily into the trap of busyness. Help us to prioritize according to Your Word so that we won’t be lead astray by the numerous distractions we encounter each day. And when temptation comes, help us to see it for what it is and give us the strength and discernment to choose wisely. Amen.”