Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Practice Active Listening~ January 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:53 am
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Growing up, reading was one of my favorite pastimes. I would get a new book, and within hours, I’d be finished and looking for the next. I always had the ability to tune everyone and everything out and become totally engrossed in the words on the page, becoming a part of the story. I loved discovering the idiosyncrasies of each character, picturing their mannerisms and imaging how they would react to any given situation.

Now with 5 kids under foot, reading has become more of a luxury. The days of tuning out the noise with ease have long since left me. However, the leniency of the last couple of months has afforded me the opportunity to get lost in a good book far more frequently and I think I’ve discovered a little something about myself.

First off, it is worth mentioning that I never just read anything. Anytime something speaks to me, I take notes and revisit it later. I don’t skim past new words, I take the time to stop and look them up (and occasionally send them to my word-nerd friend for her blog). I want to learn as much as I can, in non-fiction & fictional settings alike, because even fiction is riddled with hidden truths.

I have always felt that I am fairly good at reading people. I believe I owe this particular trait to my voracious appetite for reading. I am rarely satisfied with surface feelings, and can usually dodge the pretense that all is well. Prior to my loving Jesus days, I never realized the value of this gift. Now that I’ve served in various areas of ministry, I can see the depths of how it’s helped me to reach out to people. In the same manner that I make notations while reading, when I’m engaged in conversation, I’m tucking away little reminders, noticing facial cues and trying to soak in as much as I can about the other person. I think it’s vital that we are able to tune out any and all distractions when someone is sharing with us, even if the topic of conversation seems insignificant.

I challenge you to ask yourself, are you a good listener? Do your friends have your undivided attention or do they walk away from their time spent with you thinking that there were about a million other places you would have rather been in that moment?  Never underestimate the healing that comes from simply listening. Not everyone is looking for a solution to their problems, sometimes all they need is to be heard.

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Don’t be like the fool.

*A little something extra…be on the lookout for posts inspired my most recent readings.*

 

 

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~Your Love Never Quits~ January 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:54 am
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This blog has a stat tracker that keeps me in the know on site traffic. While not elaborate, the details include: number of visitors, the posts that were read on any given day and the most informative, search terms that led readers to my site. There are two search terms that I see frequently. The first, “Valerie Rutledge blog,” (thank you, by the way, to whomever follows my writings specifically). The second, and the one I want to address today, “you never loved me.”

It shocks me how often this phrase appears. Each time it grips my heart, seizing it up for just a moment. While I hope that finding their way to my blog ministers to them and brings healing, it pains me to know how many people are suffering in this capacity. I imagine downcast faces, sitting in front of a dimly lit screen, seeking answers for why they’ve found themselves in a loveless relationship or perhaps one which has recently ended.

My heart aches for you, that you’ve found yourself in this place of searching, trying to understand what went wrong. What did you miss or could you have done differently? The pain that comes from love that’s been lost is real and deep and incomparable to any other.

While I sincerely wish I could bring healing to your broken heart or answer the burning question of “why,” I cannot. What I can do is point you to a love that never fails. I can introduce you to the One that will never lead your thoughts down the path of “you never loved me.” His name is Jesus and a relationship with Him is a sure thing. He will never leave you nor forsake you. When you stumble or when you screw up monumentally, His love for you is steadfast.

I am not so gullible to believe that this will erase whatever pain you feel in this moment, when your heartbreak is fresh and the grief comes in waves. But I pray it soothes your soul, like the warmth of the sun as it kisses your skin or the familiarity of a trusted friend’s embrace. Let the Lord’s love mend your broken places today and know, sweet friend, that I am in your corner. IMG_1918

 

~Grateful Mommy~ January 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:11 am
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Some days I look at any one of my babies and think surely my heart will explode from the love I feel for them. Today it’s Bella, with her sleepy eyes and tousled hair, straight out of bed in her Elsa slippers. She makes a beeline for me as I sit reading with coffee in hand and lays across my lap. There’s nothing spectacular about the moment. She does the same thing nearly every day. But today when I look at her squishy face with the dusting of freckles across her nose, I tear up.

One day she’ll stop greeting me this way. One day she’ll walk right past me to the kitchen to fix her own breakfast. One day she’s going to stop pressing her nose to mine as she promises to love me forever, even on her birthday. Thankfully, today is not that day. However, I can’t know when that inevitable day will come.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, why I’m so overcome with emotion, maybe I’ve been reading too many books that pull on the heartstrings!! What I do know is my children are gifts. Even when I’m worn, hurt or furious, they are my prize, my biggest accomplishment and the joy they bring far outweighs the nuisances that pepper our daily routines.

So when Isaiah puts his big man feet on every available surface, Peyton cuts me to the quick with his sometimes curt words, Autumn rolls her teenagry eyes at me, Emma stomps off in defiance or Bella dissolves into a puddle of tears over the word “no”, I pray I can recall these tender moments when love is almost tangible.

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“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!” (Psalm 127:3-5 The Message)

 

~Why Don’t They Like Me?~ January 13, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:25 am
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Book credit can be found in the comment section of this post. Thanks, Blake!*

I came across this snapshot and for the life of me I can’t recall where. I’ve tried to find the book that this exert was taken from, again coming up empty. These words from a single page have resonated with me since the first time I read them. You see, deep down I like to be liked. I want to get along with every person I’ve ever met and for them to think fondly of me and vice versa. It’s childish, really, to think that we can get along with every person who crosses our path. But that is where two short paragraphs, from a book I’ve never read, have given me a bit of freedom.

I truly believe it to be okay to not “be” for everyone. Just as we all have different taste in foods, hobbies, and the like, we have different taste in qualities that we desire in our relationships. The intricacies that define us may make us intolerable to some….but not all. Rather than spend your time trying to force someone’s affection, why not foster the relationships of the ones who do think highly of you?

While I know with assurance I am not for everyone nor is everyone for me, I am adamant that we can and should respect one another in spite of our differences. If you find yourself in the presence of someone who you’re not particularly fond of, or you know without a doubt they can’t stand you, be polite. Try to see that while they may not be your cup of tea, they mean a great deal to someone. That’s the beauty of this life we’ve been given, that we all have the ability to love and plenty of opportunities to receive. Don’t expend too much energy questioning why someone doesn’t like you. It is a far better use of time to celebrate what makes you uniquely, unapologetically you.

“Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 taken from The Living Bible)

 

~What is the assignment?~ January 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:31 am
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I’ve been homeschooling the kiddos for just about a month and half. While I believe we are finally beginning to navigate the new waters, every single day, Emma will inevitably ask me “what am I supposed to do?”

Each day I write out their assignments for every subject along with any special instruction needed.  I try to make it so they’re able to be self sufficient, learning to work at their own pace and be held accountable for their class schedule. Each time Emma asks the question that I know is coming, my response is always, “what is the assignment?” She hates that, by the way. She’d much rather I walked over and held her hand, so to speak, giving her direction and correction at every turn because she doubts her ability to do it alone, but I won’t. I want her to do her assignment, as instructed, and go over it with her to see where she still needs improvement and where she excels. She would prefer I do it with her to ensure she is answering each question correctly as she goes.

This morning while reading my devotion from the First Five app, I was reminded of how I do the same thing with my assignments in life. It spoke to me so loudly, I wanted to share with you but my technology-challenged self can’t seem to link it to this page. I can share the image…..

 

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In this short devotion, Lysa shares the story of Moses and his reluctance to approach Pharaoh to let the Lord’s people go. He felt inadequate to handle what felt like a huge assignment. As Lysa points out, “The resistant way Moses responds lets me know he misunderstood his assignment. Moses thought he was to bring enough power in his words to convince Pharaoh. And since his words lacked power before, it’s no wonder he thought this was a terrible strategy. But God never told Moses to bring the power. Moses was simply told to bring the words. Moses’ job was to be obedient to God. God’s job was everything else.”

Just like my Emma, it seems we often get caught up in the end result causing us to shift our focus from the task at hand. We center our thoughts around what should happen, allowing doubt to creep in making us question our ability to simply perform the task that’s been given.

I’ll leave you with one final example. Let’s say your assignment is to pray for others. Instead of focusing on the Holy Spirit and what He prompts you to pray, you worry about the impact your words will have on the one you’re praying for. “Will they receive salvation? What if this prayer goes unanswered, will they doubt God? What if my words are lackluster?” You’re assignment isn’t to save them or provide the answer to their prayer, that’s God’s part. You’re job is to pray with sincerity and allow God to speak to them through you.

“Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.” (Prov 3:5-6 ERV)

 

~Hiding~ January 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:24 am
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I’m going to begin this New Year with a confession. Don’t get too excited, nothing really scandalous, just something I’ve refrained from sharing.

I have not been to church since we moved in November. There it is.

I have my reasons, all of which can be argued as insufficient. My main reason, I miss my church and in my mind, no other group of believers can live up to their legacy. I realize how silly that sounds but for those of you who know me and how long it took me to find a church, I’m sure you understand.

Of course now that I’ve opened myself up to think about it, I can see just how unfair I’m being to any potential “new” church. I’ve been closed off to the idea of being close, family close, to another part of the body. My mindset has been like that of a toddler, “I don’t WANT a new church! I want my OLD church!!”

But here we are, looking for where we are going to settle in the next couple of months. I came across a house that on paper, looks perfect for us. In my excitement, I mapped out distances to hubs workplace, our beautiful daughter & her family, the beach….and on a whim, I searched out churches in the vicinity. Upon finding two whose beliefs and mission statements aligned with our home church, I realized just how much I missed it. The feeling of family, safety, hope & unity….I need it back in my life. So as much as I deeply miss my people, this new year needs to be a time of making new connections & finding a place to grow & serve.

So, say a little prayer for us if you will. Pray my old anxieties don’t creep back in & that we find somewhere we can all be plugged in. Thank you, my faithful friends and Happy New Year!

Church should feel like family because we are brothers & sisters in Christ.

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Heb 10:25 NLT)