Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~THINK First~ March 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:11 am
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Hey you, with your finger hovering over “post,” can what you’re about to share be perceived as malicious, either by means of direct attack or passive-aggressively? Think about that, would you please, before you blurt out something you can never take back.

Social media has made it far to easy to be a cowardly bully. Everyday I see at least one post that is obviously meant to make someone or some group feel bad about themselves. Granted, I have several friends who are already combatting this trend by posting encouraging words every time they are online, but the problem is still prevalent.

What does one have to gain from being mean-spirited and hate-filled? What good can possibly come from slandering someone publicly with no consideration for who else could be affected by your rant? Does it invoke a feeling of power to seek one’s own revenge? Does it make you feel better about yourself to know that someone feels miserable about themselves at your hands?

I would venture to say that for the most part, when given these points some consideration, you would think twice before you rapid-fire posted in the midst of your anger or frustration.

One of my favorite Christian authors talks about the beauty of the “pause” and how taking the time to ask yourself 3 questions can drastically change the outcome of any situation:

  1. Are my words kind?
  2. Are my words true?
  3. Are my words necessary? (From LysaTerkeurst.com)

Imagine yourself today with a literal pause button. Before you speak, with your mouth OR your hands, give yourself a moment to think so that you can respond with grace rather than vengeance.

Friends, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, too, hurt & betrayed and desperate for someone to come alongside me and validate my anger. While it may make us feel better in the short-term, it will likely make us feel that much worse once the dust settles and we realize that how we reacted was no better than the original offense. Let’s just agree to make the effort, one day at a time, to choose our words carefully. And when we mess up, know that there is forgiveness and grace to try again tomorrow.


“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” (Proverbs 29:20 NLT)

 

~Harmonious Living~ March 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:38 am
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I went to bed last night with the windows wide open, thanks to the lovely Spring weather we’re having. This morning I was awakened by a chorus of birds just chatting away. I’m laying here now, listening to all of the varying chirps, too many to count, and each one as beautiful as the one before. All of these little birdies with their own unique voice, singing their own tunes and yet they harmonize flawlessly. They’re not the same size or color, they don’t all live in the same type of nest, and yet here they are, singing their hearts out, together, making the loveliest music. 
Maybe we could all learn a little lesson from the birds. 

We may not look alike, sound the same, be similar in size, skin tone or ethnic background. We may live different lifestyles, have opposing beliefs or wildly different upbringings, but does that have to mean we can’t all sing our songs in harmony? Diversity is a wonderful gift that we should use to learn from one another rather than use to sow discord among our peers. While we may be different in numerous ways, we are all apart of the human race, in this life together, don’t you think we should act like it? 

 

 

~Avoid Mockers~ February 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:56 pm
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We’ve been gone from home for just at 3 months now. One thing about moving hours away from everyone you’ve ever known, you have lots of time to think…perhaps a little too much time! Now I’m not saying this is specific to me, but it is something I’ve observed having been removed from varying situations.

I’ve had a rather painful, if not obvious revelation: some people want to see you fail for no other reason than sheer malice.

Fortunately, for every one of them, there is someone who celebrates your triumphs, encourages you & truly wishes you great success…hang on to them.

You shouldn’t be overly concerned with those who wish you no good, who seem, in fact, to thrive off your misfortune. Don’t try to interpret why they have such harsh feelings for you, your efforts will likely prove futile. There is a solid chance they may not be completely aware why they have such feelings of contempt aimed squarely at you. Even those you have wronged and forgiveness seems out of their reach, don’t allow yourself to become all-consumed by it. If you’ve made your peace with them and more importantly, the Lord, let it go.

“Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” (Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT)

Instead be thankful for those who love you, the real you, the ones who forgive your shortcomings, shoulder your burdens and actually defend you against the cynics.

I have said this in numerous posts and I’m going to say it again, be kind always. Add to that, even when you’ve been wronged, feel misjudged or when someone shoots you the death stare….be kind always. We are all a messed up bunch of sinners and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we can get on with the business of loving one another.

 

~Superficial Change~ February 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:23 pm

May I be so bold as to say that we have all found ourselves at a place where we were desperate for change at one time or another. Circumstances have left us far from content and we find that we are searching for some way, any way, to feel better. 

Oftentimes when those feelings rise up, when we’re down in the gutter of life, the first thing that comes to mind is that which will bring instant gratification. A new hairdo, a wardrobe makeover and a tighter physique are all within the realm of possibilities. We’ll rush to the salon, whip out the plastic with a resounding “charge it” and exercise like a fiend all in the name of “something new.” When that doesn’t bring the satisfaction we had hoped for, we start looking at the bigger picture. Conceivably, a shift in our line of work, a new home, a different locale… even a brand-spankin-new family, springs to mind as the fix we need. 

We’re flailing, doing everything we can conjure up to mend whatever is broken or find what we believe is missing all the while accomplishing nothing other than added frustration. We feel hopeless to deal with the heart of the matter so we continually fight to manipulate that which we can control. 

While I am by no means an expert on such matters, I have had a single moment of clarity in the midst of my own past struggles:

No amount of external changes can give you freedom if you are trapped inside your mind. 

“You can’t put lipstick on a pig,” in other words, you can’t hide what’s underneath. And there really is no point in trying to, because eventually, the facade cracks and you’re left exposed. So let’s spare ourselves the exhaustive work of trying to recreate our outsides and just deal with the insides from the start. How? The answer is simple…and complicated…get wisdom.  

 

Seek to find the root of the problem and be receptive to the solution. It requires more strength, courage and gumption than simply skimming the surface but it’s effects are longer lasting. 

 

~Annonymous Tears~ February 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:51 am
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Today started out as one of those days where the tears were just beneath the surface. It was the craziest thing because I couldn’t even pinpoint the source of my sudden sensitivity. The feeling of tension in my chest was ever present as was the constricting of my throat as I choked back the waterworks.

For those who don’t know, I’m a natural cryer, meaning I do it often and for seemingly no real good reason. I’ve been accused of being tenderhearted more than a time or two in my life, which is a blessing & a curse. Typically, even if no one else can comprehend what is causing my emotional distress, I usually know which is what had me flabbergasted this morning.

Rather than try to hash it out, I chose avoidance. I attempted to beat the weepies into submission. First I tried the death machine, (elliptical in layman’s terms), to no avail. Next up, I pounded the pavement. For a solid 2 miles my mind was jumbled & I was growing more frustrated by the minute. The release of endorphins usually works. That’s when I started talking to Jesus, nothing heavy, just a “Hey Jesus, what’s up with me today?!” There was a nice, soft breeze while I ran accompanied by the lightest of showers, and that’s when I got my answer and felt at peace.

Sometimes, it’s ok to just be sad; inexplicably, possibly even somewhat irrationally sad, because even if we don’t know the source of our sorrow, Jesus does and he knows precisely what to do with it. It could be there is someone you love going through hell and that sudden sadness you feel is a stirring in your spirit to pray for them, even when no name or specific need comes to mind. Maybe there’s something in your own life that you haven’t given much thought to and this is the Lord’s way of calling attention it so that it can be dealt with before it festers. It could be something else altogether!

My point is, when those feelings of overwhelming sadness strike, rather than run from it, (literally in my case), take a moment and pray about it. There is a verse that has always brought me comfort that comes to mind and I hope that it brings you peace as well.

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Even when unnamed, silent tears fall, they are never in vain. Not one goes unnoticed by the One who knows the number of hairs on your head. Let that sink in today.

 

~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.*

 

 

 

~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)