Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~A Love Like No Other~ May 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:02 pm
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“Do you love me?”

“Yes, you know I do.”

“Well, how come?”

If you have been in a relationship for any length of time in your life, you’ve likely had some variation of this conversation. I personally like to harass my husband at random by feigning ignorance and insisting on a complete rundown. The ‘how come’ is usually followed up with a list of reasons. “The list” is probably comprised of things you do or say to make your significant other feel special along with different qualities and traits they find endearing.

But God loves you just because you exist. There is nothing you can do or say to add to or take away from His affections.

His love is everlasting, free from conditions and expectations.

People can & do stop loving you, either because of something you did or because they had a change of heart. You can’t force God’s hand on this one. You can push Him away & deny His pursuits but His invitation remains open-ended.

When God says “I love you” there’s no list of why attached or bullet points to be met. He simply does. All you and I have to do is accept it.

 

~Practice What You Preach~ May 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:07 pm
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Being an adult often puts us in awkward positions where we have to choose between how we want to act and how we should.

Recently I was upset over something I read. In the spirit of complete transparency, I was also angry. My gut reaction was to fire off an emotional response which is exactly what I was doing when I looked over to see my 14 year old daughter. And I thought of all the times she has come to me furious or crushed over something a friend said or did to her. All the advice I had given about handling  yourself gracefully and with as much dignity as possible came to mind.

  • Don’t engage in exchanging insults.
  • If you can’t seek reconciliation, don’t seek vengeance in it’s place.
  • Say how you feel without making accusations.
  • Think about what you want to say, choose your words carefully and remember once they’re out there, you can never get them back.

So I stopped my rant, deleted every word, and shut it down.

Anger is not a sin, but you can sin in your anger.

I have failed at this very thing numerous times, when I reacted without hesitation. I still carry regrets from those moments. I’m glad my girl was sitting close by, keeping me from making yet another mistake. Thankfully, her presence was enough to remind me that I’m supposed to be setting an example here. If I had responded with a hot temper, after all the things I’ve tried to instill in her about dealing with these situations, I would be the worst kind of hypocrite. Practicing what you preach, it’s heavy, but necessary if you wish to be taken seriously. I would never encourage anyone else to be hateful, regardless of whether they felt it was warranted or not, so I had to take my own advice.

You are not responsible for how others perceive you or how they react to what you say. You are, however, accountable for every word you speak.

 

 

~Lessons From The Checkout~ May 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:58 pm
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I woke up yesterday morning feeling weepy. I had been working on a personal piece before bed the night before that had me bawling so I guess you could say I was emotionally hungover.

I chatted with my brother, my hubs & my bestie. Fortified by their words, it seemed plausible that I could venture outside the house.

Bad. Idea.

I went to the big box store, the one that makes me question humanity. I had a sentimental purchase to make, but again, I thought I was good so no biggie. I managed to only sniffle a bit while shopping. And then I entered the checkout line.

When I say the cashier was salty, I’m being generous. Normally I can deal with a total stranger being indifferent, but considering the previous 24 hours, I was praying she’d hurry the heck up before I burst into tears standing right in front of her. I made it, barely. I went snottin’ & snivelin’ through the parking lot and wouldn’t you know it was a rainy day so I didn’t even have my sunglasses to hide behind. To make matters worse, I had my two little girls with me. Ugh.

Who out there besides me cries even harder when someone asks, “what’s wrong?” Add in the fact that it was my babes looking up at me with their big doe eyes and let’s just say the dam exploded.

Once I got my wits about myself, a few things occurred to me.

  • I cry a ridiculous amount, to the point of dehydration.
  • I should never set foot out the door without tissues.
  • Rainy days & Mondays always bring me down.

Ok, seriously. What was really nagging at me was my interaction with the cashier. She was oblivious to the hot mess before her. Just as I had no way of knowing what she’d been through to make her react to me the way she did. Y’all know how I like to tell you to be nice always? This is why.

I really needed someone to be sappy, sugary, overbearingly sweet to me. But maybe she did too, and neither one of us could deliver. Both of us were looking to the wrong source for comfort.

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Had I taken the time to be comforted before I left the house, I might have been able to try a little harder to make that cashier smile. But I didn’t and an opportunity was wasted. IMG_4096

We are all going to have bad days, when the last thing we should do is head out into the world without our “Does not play well with others” sign. It’s imperative that we take time to nurture ourselves if we intend to be of any use to anyone else. When your heart hurts, pray for peace, seek out the people who love you most and let their words & God’s comfort wash over you. And be healed. It’s really hard to shine your light through a cloud of hurt, bitterness, anger or the like.

 

 

~Don’t Be The Scary “Evangelist”~ May 12, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:05 am
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IMG_4028Yesterday I had to run to the grocery store for what felt like the bajillionth time this week. As I was dragging my youngest girls through the parking lot, we came up on a couple of older,(respectfully), ladies in what appeared to be an intense conversation. As we got closer, I realized it was one sided and the non-verbal party seemed totally detached, like she couldn’t wait to make her great escape. Just as we started to pass by, Chatty Cathy leans in, so close the other woman could probably smell what she had for breakfast, and hissed “Jesus is coming…” followed by Lord only knows what because I picked up the pace. The poor woman bobbled her head and cut her eyes with a silent plea of “get me out of here”. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t contemplating her salvation or where she was going to spend eternity.

On another occasion, also quite recently, we were driving down the road and passed a dude with a megaphone in one hand and a Bible in the other, shoutin’ and shakin’ that Bible like he was about to beat someone with it. He didn’t look like a man who loved the Lord, he looked angry, mean and crazy!

In both instances, I had to shake my head a little as we rushed by. What on earth about cornering someone in a parking lot and literally hissing in their face or screaming like a lunatic at a busy intersection makes someone think they’re winning souls for Jesus?! I was mortified. It is possible to share the love of Christ without trying to scare the ever-loving bejeezus out of people!

I love the way The Message translation words the following verses from 1 Corinthians, (paying special attention to the words in bold):

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (9:19-23)

In my opinion, becoming a servant as it implies here simply means to put someone’s needs above our own. I’m not of the opinion that we can never put ourselves first, doing so would seriously deplete us and prohibit us from doing any good. I do think we can all be aware of the needs of those around us and do our part to alleviate the strains and pressures that are within our means. And instead of screaming and shaking our judgy fingers at people, how about we meet them where they are and try to serve them in a practical manner. To me, trying to understand life from another’s perspective and offering hands-on assistance speaks much louder than a megaphone dripping with hellfire and brimstone. I truly believe that we can never go wrong when we choose love over criticism, judgment or hate. Seeing people who claim Christianity acting a fool in public is nothing new and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. But what we can do is try to be a different kind of Christian, one who is more concerned with loving and helping our brothers and sisters than we are about cramming Scripture and fear down their throats. After all, not everyone will understand a Bible verse but everyone can appreciate a good deed done selflessly.

 

~Be Nice or Pipe Down~ May 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:17 am
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Why belittle someone based solely on the fact that they have made different life choices than you? Do their decisions somehow disrupt the path that you are on? These are questions that I’ve considered when I see people tearing each other down.

I am not referring to those who offer sound, helpful advice, (helpful being the keyword), or those who share their opinion without dragging someone through the mud to make a point. This is only meant for those who are just outright hateful to other human beings for no other reason than not approving of some aspect of their life. It’s just not necessary. 

If you don’t like the way someone chooses to live their life and you find it impossible to be kind, would it not be better for everyone if you simply stepped out of the picture? It is not my intention to sound accusatory, however, if you are being mean, condescending or judgmental in regards to another’s personal choices, you are out of line. End of story. Sure, you’re entitled to your opinion, but no one is obligated to listen to it much less give it any consideration. So if you find that you are being overly critical, especially when your two cents were not requested, you may want to brace yourself for a little backlash. 

We could all benefit from realizing that we can be friends with someone, or at the very least civil, and not agree with every decision they make! I don’t understand why this is so hard for some. Could you imagine how dull life would be if every person in your circle was EXACTLY like you?! 

 Initially this post had quite the angry tone. I edited, multiple times, to try and take the sting out, hopefully I was at least moderately successful. The last thing I want is to come off as mean or bitter but I also didn’t want to downplay how much of an issue I think this has become. I feel like I should clarify that no one has ruffled my feathers, not directly anyways. I’m just so over mean spirited people and the damage they are inflicting. BE NICE!!! And if you can’t, then at least be quiet.