Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~People Pleaser No More~ October 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:51 am
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I have recently felt challenged in an area of my life that I have’t had to deal with for quite sometime. I’ve tried to put a word to the emotion and can’t seem to settle on one that fits. I’ve been faced with some hurt that has left me feeling “blah.” And yes, that is the best I can come up with when I think of this particular situation. I am not angry. I don’t feel unforgiveness. I’m not upset. I feel no ill will towards anyone. And yet, I also feel no desire to do anything.

This is an odd predicament to find myself in as I have spent my entire life being a people pleaser. I’ve always struggled with the thought that someone may not like me and have mastered the art of adaptation to fit into whatever mold each person expected of me. But something has changed and it is both liberating and slightly terrifying all at once.

“Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” (1Thes 2:4 NLT)

This is where I have missed the mark up until this point. I used to believe that if someone didn’t like me or my opinions, that meant I was failing God. How could I be effective in loving people if I can’t make them love me back?!

I realize now that my thoughts were skewed and misguided. I was naive to think that I could go through life being liked by all. Friends, I’ve had people hate me in response to a choice I made but I’ve also had those who simply didn’t like to be in my company for whatever reason, no explanation. Whereas I used to let it get me down and change my attitude when confronted by someone who was not a fan, I am learning to not let those around me have that much of an impact on how I perceive myself to be. I am imperfect, my word is fallible and at times I am completely unlovable. Even in those weaknesses and the multitude that I could add to the list, I know who I am. My self-worth is no longer hinged on what others say about me or directly to me. I am confident in who God says I am and that is sufficient cause for me to find freedom in the face of adversity.

pleasing people

 

~Time To Build An Ark~ September 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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This morning I am faced with a tough parenting decision that I really don’t want to deal with, mainly because I know it is going to make me public enemy #1 with the teenagers of the house. I feel like my hand has been forced and it’s either drop the hammer or watch them continue to make poor choices that are changing who they are, even if only bit by bit.

I am here to tell you that being a parent is NOT all fun and tea times. I’ve felt ill over it all morning, trying to brace for the backlash that is surely to come. What, pray tell, could have this mom of five feeling anxious? I’m about to set firmer electronic restrictions. If you have pre-teens or teenagers in your pack then you know what I’m up against.

I’ve spent most of the morning trying to come up with realistic limitations for the household, not just for the children, mom & dad can benefit from a reduction of screen time as well! I decided to take a break from the stress and open up my First Five app for today’s reading. (If you’re not familiar with it, search the app store, you want this one.) And wouldn’t you know there was a little nugget in there that fit this situation just so: “A storm doesn’t mean God forgot us. God remembered Noah and gave him instructions to build the ark. It was Noah’s obedience that kept his family safe when the flood rose.”~Wendy Pope

Here’s the thing when it comes to raising little people who will some day be an active member of society, sometimes you have to make the tough calls for their safety. They likely will not understand where we are coming from or even care to hear us out, but, like Noah, it is OUR job to ensure that we take the proper precautions to guard their hearts and minds against things which can lead to ruin. I loathe being the heavy! I want to be the cool mom that all the kids like and want to hang around. However, that is not my number one priority as a parent.

It’s time for parents to BUILD THE ARK! We have to protect our families, it is our duty. I am not suggesting that we shelter our children to where they are not prepared for the real world. What I am proposing is that we take into careful consideration what we allow them to be a part of, who we permit them to interact with and for the love of all that’s holy….MONITOR THEIR ONLINE PRESENCE!!! I can either be the bad guy or let them be exposed to the real bad guys out there.

We are fighting an uphill battle, friends, let’s help each other along with words of encouragement. I know I’m not the only momma struggling today. prov 22

 

~God Never Wastes A Hurt~ June 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:37 am
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“God uses adversity in this life to strengthen your faith.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1Peter 1:6 NIV)

God never wastes a hurt.” ~from sermon “The best of times in the worst of times” Pastor Chad Dunford

It was that last line that comforted me, like a warm hug offered at just the right moment. Read it again and let it resonate, God never wastes a hurt.

I often encourage my kids to refrain from using words like “always” and “never” because of what they imply. To say someone never does such-in-such means, “at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever.” Quite definitive language, wouldn’t you say? Now insert that definition into the aforementioned promise:

God, at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever, wastes a hurt.

Wow.

God does not cause us pain and suffering, it is the result of living in a fallen world. And yet His Word assures us that we will never walk through any tribulation on our own.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 ESV)

Even when we sit alone, certain that no one cares about the tears that stain the carpet….

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

Just when we allow ourselves to believe that it will always be this way…..

 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 ESV)

God can take your mourning and turn it into dancing. He can take that hurt that is pressing in on every side and use it to mold and strengthen you and glorify His name. When you think all hope is lost, take comfort in knowing:IMG_8085

God, at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever, wastes a hurt.

 

~Love before you speak~ December 23, 2013

When faced with adversity, how differently do you suppose the outcome would be if we stopped to ask ourselves, “is what I’m about to say coming from a place of love or condemnation?”

Oftentimes we don’t take the time to think before we speak.  We are so consumed by believing that we are right and they are wrong that we spat out our message with little to no regard to how it’s going to be received.  What is the point of speaking your mind if it falls on deaf ears?  What good does it do ramble on and on if the person you are trying to reach has built a wall between you and them so as to protect themselves from your unfiltered message?

Everyone has heard that the Bible stresses the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself.  How loving are you being when you’ve become so closed minded that you refuse to hear the other person’s feelings?  Just as you feel justified in your opinions, so does the one on the other side of the disagreement.  Why are you entitled to share your stance while you cut them off at the knees when they take theirs?

Love, people.  It’s an action word.  Loving others is the only thing that keeps people from diverse backgrounds living in harmony when society tells them that their differences should drive them apart.  Love puts the focus on the person and nothing more.

I remember when I was a bratty teenager my mom looked at me one day and said, “Valerie, I love you but right now I don’t like you very much.”  I learned a very valuable lesson from that statement.  Just because I love you doesn’t mean that I have to approve of or like everything you do and say.  Love, real love, should be free from contingencies.  My love for people is not based on what they do for me in order to deserve my affection.  It is based solely on my desire to extend the same grace that I receive on a daily basis, even in spite of my shortcomings that would dictate just how unlovable I am.worty

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-7 The Message)

 

~I Will Not Be Moved~ September 4, 2013

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.”

(Isaiah 50:7 NLT)

We are living in a time where Christians cannot open their mouths without facing criticism.  In some cases, outspoken believers are dealing with malicious words and even violent threats.  Christian businesses are being boycotted because of their religious beliefs.  Our children are mocked for praying over their meal in the public school cafeteria.  We receive hate mail when we say or write something that lines up with the Word but flies in the face of what the world says.

My response…so. what.

The Bible is filled with passages that warn us of the persecution we will face as followers of Christ and yet it pales in comparison to what Jesus endured so that we may have this life that we are living.  Let the mockers say what they will, I know where my help comes from.  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth!  He has already given us the victory.  We need not lose heart over a battle that is raging around us because it has already been won.

“He who gives me justice is near.  Who will dare to bring charges against me now?  Where are my accusers?  Let them appear!  See, the Sovereign Lord is on MY side!  Who will declare me guilty?”

(Isaiah 50: 8 NLT)

We who are brothers and sisters in Christ need to stand up for our religious rights.  All people are entitled to their beliefs.  ALL people.  That includes us.  I will not allow the government, media or any other organization cause me to cower from standing up for what I believe, which is simply put…the Bible.  I will spread the Word of God in a real, tangible way with loving words, thoughtful actions and a generous spirit.  And in so doing, show all the naysayers that we aren’t just a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.

Hold fast, saints.  Our faith is what keeps us strong when our faith is questioned.

I gotta get me one of these!

I gotta get me one of these!

“So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.”

 

~On Fire~ July 15, 2013

Do you realize that there are people in other parts of the world who face imprisonment, persecution and even death when they speak about Jesus?  Even in the times that we now live in, people can still be treated as criminals simply by opening a book…the Book.  But does that stop these brave people in foreign lands from expressing their faith and getting radical with their efforts to share it with others?  No, the answer is no.  There are missionaries all over the globe risking it all for Jesus; literally laying their lives on the line just to show their fellow man the gospels and the freedom that it brings.  Then there are those who are rejecting their country’s religion and embracing Christianity with reckless abandon, knowing that their lives hang in the balance but it’s a risk they are willing to take.

And here I sit, in a country protected by freedom of speech, religion, and so much more and I hesitate at times to speak about my Lord and Savior for fear of offending someone?  I’ve missed opportunities to share the truth about Jesus because I didn’t want confrontation, having to defend or justify my beliefs.  Did Jesus not die for me?  Doesn’t that make Him worth fighting for?  When I speak the name of Jesus, there is no danger of me being put to death, no threat of being locked away so why would I ever sit idly by and keep my mouth shut?

When looking for Scriptures about standing in the face of persecution, I came across a few verses in Jeremiah that I’d like to share.

“When I speak, the words burst out.  “Violence and destruction!” I shout.

So these messages from the Lord have made me a household joke.

But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in His name,

His word burns in my heart like a fire.  It’s like a fire in my bones!

I am worn out trying to hold it in!  I can’t do it!

I have heard the many rumors about me.

They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.”

They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.”

Even my old friends are watching me, waiting for a fatal slip.

“He will trap himself,” they say, “and then we will get our revenge on him.”

But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior.

Before him my persecutors will stumble.

They cannot defeat me.

They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated.

Their dishonor will never be forgotten.”

(Jeremiah 20:8-11 NLT)

Lord, I want to be on fire for you.  Help me not to squelch your Spirit when it pulls me to do or say something for your glory.  Give me boldness to live out my faith in public without fear of ridicule.  Remind me, Jesus, that it was you who first faced persecution and that there are still others today living for you in far less favorable conditions.  Let me never forget that your Word is full of the promise that you are always me, never forsaking me, and that the battle has already been won.  Empty me of all fear.  Fill me with assurance of who you are and the truth of your Word so that I can’t help but pour it out to all who are willing to hear.  And lastly, let the words that I speak and the things that I do be honorable in your sight, that I may take my last breath knowing that I have given the very best of me for my Jesus.  Amen.fire for god