Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Hey, You With The Stone in Your Hand!~ January 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:34 am
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Some days I am seriously amazed at how downright mean people can be to one another. I don’t understand how we, who have been forgiven of much, can be so incredibly unforgiving of others.

I’ve watched on social media as people on opposite sides of an issue have attacked with such viciousness I’m left dumbstruck. The arguments rarely stay on point but rather become personal attacks that accomplish nothing other than “unfriending”.

I’ve sat at functions for my kids and heard the moms at the next table bashing “that mom”.  You know, because they know everything about that woman’s life so clearly they have the authority to discuss her transgressions publicly and decide her fate.

I’ve seen a husband and wife tell anyone and everyone who will listen about the problems they are having with their spouse….without ever having discussed it with their spouse first. Instead of seeking resolution with their partner in life, they are busy building their case to prove their rightness and their loved ones wrongness.

And it’s sad. Why can’t we see the hurt that we are causing in these situations?

Why can’t we disagree without spewing hate in each others faces?

Why can’t we put ourselves in that momma’s place that we are so quick to judge and ask ourselves how it might feel to know that those whispers two tables over are about you?

Why can’t we go to our spouse FIRST in times of trouble and tell THEM what we are feeling and give them a chance to make it right instead of looking for justification from our friends to hold onto that bitterness?

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph 4:31-32 NLT)

Be kind.

Be tenderhearted.

Forgive one another.

Maybe before we engage in some form of stone throwing, we should say these three little things to ourselves. If what we’re about to say or do doesn’t lineup with these basic acts of human decency, how about we forgo our participation and drop the stone?oscar

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col 3:12-13 NIV)

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Approach every situation from a place of love and watch how differently you react to even the worst possible scenarios.

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~My Heart Knows, It’s My Mind That Needs Convincing~ January 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:08 am
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I am currently training for my first, (and quite possibly last), half marathon. Myself and two lifelong friends from high school have made a vow to endure this together. The difference is…both of them have ran at least one before so they have the advantage of knowing they can do this. Lucky for me, one of the two is a local girl so we are logging our miles together which makes it a pretty awesome experience. The third musketeer lives at the location of our upcoming race so we are keeping up with her training via text.

Yesterday we were chatting about the long runs we have pending and the fact that I have never ran more than 7.5….ever. Her encouragement, “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Mind over matter.” Sounds simple enough but it was what I needed to hear. I train consistently and make proper fuel a priority so my body is able but my mind tells me otherwise.

In the same way that I am making preparations for this race, I prepare myself for the work I do in ministry. I pray, I read God’s Word, I seek counsel. My heart is full of God’s love and I feel ready. Then my mind chimes in and has me second guessing.

My mind will tell me that I’m not smart enough because I don’t have a college degree.

My mind will tell me I’m too young for people to have any faith in my abilities to lead.

My mind will tell me that my past isn’t really forgiven, by God or anyone else for that matter, and with that looming all around me, I can’t be an effective witness.

But my heart. My heart believes that God can use anyone who is willing. I can feel His strength when I step out in faith. I lean on the words of Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts,” believing that my shortcomings are no matter to God.

While my heart is confident, my mind can always use some tweaking. Like most of you, my thoughts can get a little crazy and I find myself wasting precious time essentially arguing with myself. It’s time that I take captive those detrimental thoughts and replace them with encouraging Scripture.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9 ESV)  

Yeah, that one ought to do it 🙂jeremiah 29

 

~Peacemaker or Fight Picker~ January 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:11 am
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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matt 5:9 NIV)

Peacemakers, huh?  What does it mean, exactly, to be a peacemaker?

-One who brings peace, especially amongst adversaries.-Thanks Google.

The exact opposite of “fight pickers.”

Here’s what I am reading between the lines. A peacemaker is someone who looks for a way to bring resolution to a conflict as opposed to stirring the pot and causing further strife.

Have you ever witnessed an argument before and wondered, “What are they trying to achieve here?” You watch, (in person or online since that’s a more common method of communicating these days), and it seems as though the only thing one or both parties hopes to achieve is to prove how right they are and how grotesquely wrong their adversary is. My inner people pleaser keeps me from chiming in 99% of the time but what I’m screaming on the inside is “What good is going to come from this?!”

I am by no means perfect in this area myself. I don’t always fight fair and my words don’t always travel through the God filter before they tumble out of mouth. I am, after all, a work in progress.

How different do you suppose our world would be if we would aim to find peace in the midst of disagreements as opposed to seeking our own agenda at every turn? I am not suggesting that we all cower from arguments, fighting is part of human nature. But how open are you to hearing the other person’s perspective when they are on the attack, slinging accusations and pointing fingers? Got you there, right? We are far more likely to listen when the approach is one of gentleness and the desired result is fixing a problem instead of inflating it to disastrous proportions.

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2;23-25 ESV)

Reminding yourself to be quick to listen and slow to speak is the last thing on your mind when someone has upset you, I know. That is why it’s important to commit these things to memory every day, when you’re not all fired up, then it will come more naturally the next time an argument presents itself.prov 1012

Love.  A four letter word that actually has a positive meaning. Let it flood every area of your life and see the life changing effect it has on you and all those you come in contact with.

 

~Nightmares Are No Match For My Jesus~ January 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:45 am
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Could you say no to this face?!

Could you say no to this face?!

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning…I’m talking 2 or so….my little mini-me came to my side of the bed with tears rolling down her chubby cheeks.

“Mommy, I had a bad dream. Can I please sleep with you?”

We try really hard not to make it a habit of letting our little ones crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night. My husband is a cuddler and it kind of creeps him out a bit to roll over and throw his arm over the 3-foot-tall version of his wife 😉

So in my half awake, one eye open state, I started to send her back to her own bed. That is until I looked into her big doe eyes and saw the look of panic on her face. Her voice broke when she tried to talk and she was actually shaking. Sorry husband, scoot your fanny over, mini me is coming in! The moment she crawled in next to me, she snuggled as close as humanly possible with her head on my shoulder and pulled my arm over her tiny frame. And she stopped whimpering, instantly. No more tears, no more shaky shoulders, no more ragged breaths. She was comforted at the exact moment I held her close.

Without even thinking about it, I started to pray for my girl, that God would protect her impressionable mind and fragile heart from things that would wake her in such a state. Sometime mid prayer, we both drifted off to sleep.

This morning I can’t help but draw a parallel to my relationship with the Lord. No matter the time of day, He is never too worn to open His arms to me. He is never too groggy to pull me close and soothe my soul. He is always prepared with words that bring comfort in the midst of the scariest of times and when I let Him, he can replace my tears of sorrow with tears of gladness.

I am overwhelmed, folks. My momma and daddy friends will know what I mean when I say sometimes, I’m just so exhausted that I don’t know that I have anything to give my babes…physically or emotionally. And then there is our heavenly Father, with more kids than we can ever count, and yet He is forever there for me, for you and for all His precious children without fail.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let he righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

Snuggle in close to Him and feel His strength. Let Him drape His arm around you. Now feel the heaviness in your life lift as He takes your burdens and cares and makes them His own. And find rest. Sweet, sweet rest.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” (Psalm 73:28 NLT)

 

~Fear Blocks Potential~ January 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:06 am
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fear is a liarWhat would you do if fear was not part of the equation?

I’d say every one of us has something in the back of our minds that we would like to try, a nagging desire that we can’t shake. Then fear shows up and talks us out of it…again.

Fear has many faces and presents itself in varying ways. I’ve put together a list of a few that have been a stumbling block in my own life.

Practicality. This makes no sense. I don’t have the resources. This will take away our family’s security and set us up for financial struggles.

Rejection. The sheer thought of someone shooting me down is enough to make me nauseous. Feelings of anxiety so powerful they nearly suffocate me for fear someone will say the dreaded “no” stop me dead in my tracks.

Ridicule. I’ve had nightmares of people laughing in my face or even worse, behind my back. My dream is silly. My abilities are insufficient. It is laughable that I ever thought this could be successful.

Failure. I have failed enough times in my life that I have zero desire to do it again. The easiest way not to fail is to never try anything new. So I’ll just stick with what I know works.

Comparison. So-n-so already does something similar and they do it flawlessly. They speak fluently and with confidence. Their vision is clear. I can’t do it like they do so I might as well not even try.

Can you relate?

Here’s the thing about fear, it’s not of God.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7 ESV)

It’s all in your mind, something you’ve created as an excuse to keep you from doing that thing you know full well you are supposed to be doing. That’s right, I went there. Fear is just another excuse, a crutch that makes you feel better about walking away from your passion with your head hanging like a wounded pup. I’m not criticizing, I already told you I’ve been in those shoes. I’ve worn holes clean through the soles from overuse!

Because I have been there a time or fifteen, I can tell you that now is a good a time as any to STOP THAT! But don’t just take my word for it. The Bible gives a little encouragement to help you put fear in it’s place. Maybe try committing this to memory:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

If that doesn’t put a little pep in your step, I don’t know what will! You don’t have to look within yourself to find the courage to “do the thing”, you need only to look up to the God who’s promised to be with you every step of the way.

Make a decision that you are no longer going to allow fear to block you from reaching your potential. Do it soon. There is no time like the present…just sayin’.

 

 

 

~Watch Your Mouth!~ January 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:43 am
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I was at the gym earlier this week and I overheard a conversation that had me hanging my head.

I’ll paint you a picture.

Two young boys were working out beside of me and talking loud enough that eavesdropping wasn’t necessary. I noticed them because I recognized one as being a talented athlete from a local high school. I was thinking, “how nice to see some kids are motivated to continue to push themselves during their offseason.” Then they opened their mouths. I was so disappointed to hear such ugly words coming out of their handsome faces.

These guys are obviously gifted in their sport of choice. They were good looking kids, (side note: if you are under the age of 25, you are a kid to me so this is not a reference to a small child.) Knowing what I do of the one, I am certain that younger athletes look up to him. That’s why I was hanging my head.

My kids are younger athletes who spend considerable amounts of practice & conditioning time with guys just like these two. I can safely say that this is not the kind of example I had hoped my kids would see from upper classmen.

Granted, there are some older kids that have been phenomenal at setting a shining example for the younger generation and for them I am so very thankful. I can only pray that my kids will be pulled to them and not the aforementioned group.

What I don’t understand is why they felt the need to talk that way in the first place. It was an everyday conversation they were having, about nothing of real significance, and yet they couldn’t communicate without dropping the “f-bomb every other word. It used to be that swear words were reserved for when you were highly emotional, aggravated or so angered over something that “normal” words couldn’t effectively convey your feelings.

I can’t really say why this bothered me as much as it did other than seeing just one more way that kids are growing more and more desensitized to things that used to be frowned upon in our society.

For those who may think I am overreacting, “their just kids being kids,” allow me to point out one very important Scripture.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart. Those are the things that make someone ‘unclean.’ Evil thoughts come out of a person’s heart. So do murder, adultery, and other sexual sins. And so do stealing, false witness, and telling lies about others. Those are the things that make you ‘unclean.’” (Matt 15:18-20 NIRV)

There is way too much careless speech being tossed around. People of all ages no longer take the time to process their thoughts before opening their mouths. There is a reason why the Bible warns us of the power of the tongue. Words can be an encouragement to the hearer or they can bring devastation. We need to get back to the practice of giving careful thought to the words we allow to pass our lips. May I exhort you to lead by example today? Speak life, refrain from useless words that add nothing to the conversation and prove that you can adequately express your emotions without cursing like sailor…as my maw-maw used to say!

 

~Dream a Little Dream~ January 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:43 am
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dreamWhat is your dream? What is it that you think, “if I could do _____ every day, then my life would be complete.”?

Now, ask yourself this, is that God’s dream for your life or is it yours?

Ouch, ouch and ouch!

I don’t mean to imply that your dreams and desires don’t line up with God’s Word. What I am proposing is this, have you asked Him if they do? The Bible tells us this:

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NASB)

Some may misinterpret this Scripture to mean that if you love and serve God, then He will give you everything that you want in life. That’s not how I see it.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” (Eze 36:26 ESV)

Once we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, He gives us a new heart, one that is in line with His will for our lives. If we stay fully submitted to Him, surrendering our need for control to allow Him room to work, then we can be certain that the dreams we have for our future are from the Lord and not our own selfish wants.

I have big dreams, friends. Not only for myself and my family, but for our church family as well. I am sure that you have some pretty big dreams yourself. I have been known to pray and ask God to “make things happen” in certain areas of my life. You know what I sometimes tend to forget? To pray and ask Him to show me what He wants to happen. Boo on that! Rather than approach His throne of grace with petitions for what we think is our dream, how about we seek His face and pray that He would plant a seed in our hearts for that which He has created us to do?