Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Don’t Hate The Girl Who Loves Herself~ March 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 3:30 pm
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“She thinks she’s so pretty.”

And what, prey tell, is wrong with that?!

When did it become a bad thing for a woman to like what she sees in her reflection? I have noticed that it tends to be other women who make this statement. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard a dude utter those words in my entire life.

So, ladies, why would we express such hostility towards another woman simply because she feels good in her skin?

Insecurity?

Jealousy?

Hatred?

Not one of those qualities is very becoming. Regardless of the reason behind it, there is no justifiable reason to say something so harsh about anyone. So what if “she” thinks she’s pretty? Does her confidence affect you negatively in some way? Would you prefer she knit pick every feature or that she balk at what she sees in the mirror? Would it make you feel better if she thought she was hideous and undesirable, unworthy of anyone’s attention? Even if her confidence errs on the side of conceit, that’s her issue to resolve, not ours to judge.

I can remember being a teenager and having thought this about a girl or two and I know it was pure jealousy on my part. I’d catch my latest crush looking their way and rather than appreciate the beauty he saw, I’d feel angry that it wasn’t directed at me. Now when I see an attractive woman, I will point her out to whomever I’m with, even my husband. I’m not trying to trick him into complimenting another woman so I can pout about how he must not think I’m good enough, (yes, that was me in my younger years), I am simply in awe of how uniquely beautiful we all are and want others to recognize it too.

Sister-friends, we can all be beautiful, it’s not a contest where only one girl wins. Remember that more times than not, the beauty people see in us is at least partially based on that which comes from within us. Don’t let that image be tainted by belittling someone who is confidant in who they are. Love yourself. And love that woman who thinks she’s so pretty….because she is, and so are you.

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (Prov 14:30 ESV)

 

~Leave A Message After The Beep?~ June 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:45 am
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Do you ever have one of those “aha” moments, when something suddenly clicks and you get it? I have them all the time. Sometimes it’s a nice and pleasant feeling where life just makes sense and other times it feels like I’ve been run down by an 18 wheeler! Sunday during the message, I had that squashed by a truck feeling.

The sermon was about how God answers prayers and at some point, I wrote down “If you want someone to answer you, don’t you have to call them first?” I can’t recall what Pastor said to trigger that thought but I’m guessing The Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something.

If you want or need something from the people in your circle, you have to go to them with your request. As much as we’d like to believe at times, no one can read our minds. In order for us to receive an answer, we have to first ask a question. Doesn’t that sound so simple?

While we know God to be omniscient, He does ask that we bring our petitions to Him in prayer.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. (Phil 4:6 AMP)

I have found myself to be guilty of waiting for God to answer when I haven’t bothered to ask the first thing of Him. I allow my mind to settle into “God knows my wants and needs” and get lax in my prayer life. God wants a relationship with me. He wants to talk to me. He is never off duty. If I call Him, there is no answering machine informing me that my call will have to wait. He sits at the ready to hear my pleas and takes pleasure in listening to the desires of my heart.

Those five little words are all the reason you need to pour your heart out to the Lord. He’s listening, are you speaking?

 

~Word of the Year~ January 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:51 am
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In January of 2014, I accepted a challenge from a fellow Christian blogger to choose ONE word as a motto of sorts for the year. This girl right here chose “reckless.” My thought process was to live reckless for God, letting go of my need to have all the details ahead of time and just follow where He led me.

Well, that’s not how my year started. I was reckless alright but not in a good way. As is oftentimes the case, right about the time I made up my mind to follow hard after Jesus, that’s the precise moment when the devil tried to intervene. Our number one enemy is a crafty little evildoer, so he found my weakest point and went to work convincing me that all hope was lost.  I found myself floundering and confused, feeling pretty darn certain that my whole life was falling apart. For a brief, yet excruciatingly painful time, I lived reckless with my heart. I shut out my family, my friends and worst of all, my Jesus. But as smart as satan may be, God is greater. Just when my heart couldn’t take anymore, He sent His saints to pull me back up and snap me out of my funk.

In retrospect, I can see that nothing was as bad as I had made it out to be. I let my guard down and gave the enemy a foothold into my life and it could have ruined me if not for God. I spent the remainder of 2014 living reckless in the way that I had intended, leaning hard into God’s will for my life and trusting without fail that His ways, while sometimes difficult to understand, are higher than my own.

Now that a new year is here, I debated on choosing a word for fear that it would be an open invitation for the devil to come at me again. Now I ain’t scared, but I ain’t crazy either and I’m not one to go looking for trouble when things are going just fine. But I don’t want just fine. I want spectacular.

So, this year, my word is GUARDED.

Not in the way that you might think.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thes 3:3 ESV)

I will guard my mind from thoughts that have no business occupying my time.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8 ESV)

I will guard my heart, filling it with promises from God so that I don’t find myself questioning His love for me.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39 NIV)

I will guard my mouth, making it a priority to choose my words carefully.

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” (Prov 13:3 ESV)

Lastly, I will guard my time, taking care to not overextend myself or my family to the point of exhaustion.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 ESV)

I am believing for a beautiful 2015, for me, my family, my church and for you, my friends. A closing bit of advice, if you decide to choose a word for 2015….remember to choose wisely 😉

be on guard

 

 

~When Did RAPE Become Funny…And Other Middle School Shockers~ December 10, 2014

For the last week or so, our oldest daughter hasn’t really been herself. She’s been moody and quiet and has pretty much stayed holed up in her room. We’ve continually asked her what was up and were met with the typical teenager response,  “Nothing.” We figured it was the hormones raging again and tried to give her some space. That is until yesterday.

A little backstory about our girl for those who don’t have the pleasure of knowing her personally. She is madly in love with Jesus. She talks about her faith anywhere, anytime to anyone who will listen. We often joke and call her our little missionary who’s trying to save the world one middle-schooler at a time! It breaks her heart into pieces when her peers are struggling which has led to many talks about the struggles kids are facing and why sometimes there’s nothing we can do but pray for them.

Now, for the current horror that’s got this momma fit to be tied.

Autumn was terribly upset when she got in the car yesterday but refused to talk about it in front of her little sisters stating she couldn’t repeat a word that was said. I didn’t think too much of it knowing full well that kids curse in school. However, color me shocked when the story unraveled. Apparently the word “rape” is being used as an alternative to many other, far less offensive words. Some examples “OHHH, he raped you!” Someone bumps into you in the hall or gym class, so you scream “RAPE!” at the top of your lungs. They even have a storage room they refer to as “the rape closet.” Yesterday, a GIRL friend of Autumn’s used it this way, “Like how she raped you in your sleep.” (the ‘she’ mentioned being my girl)

Autumn was mortified and told her “friend” that what she said was inappropriate. This young lady told my daughter she needed to learn how to take a joke! Are you kidding me?! What in the world is funny about a word that implies sexual violence?! Before the arguments come, I am well aware that is has another meaning, that point is moot in my opinion so I won’t even argue it with you. These kids are so desensitized that they will throw around words that have horrific meanings like they are saying the word “hello.” When Autumn wouldn’t back down, this young lady proceeded to find backup to verbally attack my girl, accusing of her being a bully instead of a Christian. Perhaps what made this hurt the most…this little girl is a church-goer.

This conversation opened up to other topics as well. Kids with social media names like “MyHeartBelongsToJesus” are defending their beliefs with a string of curse words….uhm, no. Babies are having babies. Young ladies are cutting their beautiful bodies and talking about it over lunch. Serious issues….casual conversations. Wow.

I am bringing this up, not to be a gossip, but to open the eyes of parents who may not have a clue that their kids are using these phrases so flippantly. But maybe they don’t realize the horror of rape. Maybe they haven’t considered that a classmate within earshot has actually experienced the word and their casual use of the expression makes them feel that much more ashamed and isolated.

My advice, be proactive.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6 ESV)

After talking with Autumn, I went into the boys room to discus it with them. Peyton said, “Why are yelling at us?” Oops, I was pretty upset when I approached them. “I just want you boys to know how I feel about this that way you won’t inadvertently repeat a phrase your friends use that is highly offensive and claim you didn’t know.” taste words

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt 12:36 ESV) 

Friends, we are living in a world that we must deal with these issues on a daily basis. It is our job to teach our kids the power of the words they speak. If we allow ourselves or our kids to become lax in our speech, we may find ourselves on a very slippery slope. It is true that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” and “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Prov 18:21 & Matt 15:18 ESV) So let us take care to guard our hearts, minds and mouths from what is detrimental to the soul.

 

~Are Your Words Promoting Healing or Hatred?~ November 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:08 am
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This morning I found myself feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the level of hatred blaring through the television and scrolling across my computer screen. I understand emotions are high during times of controversy but I don’t understand how it breeds such contempt among our brothers and sisters.

When I write, I don’t shy away from the controversial topics but I do try to be careful not to disrespect my readers and how what I say might affect them. On that note, let me preface this post with this, I do not have an opinion on the verdict that was read last night from Missouri. Not one thought.

Lest you think I am simply uneducated or that I’m too spineless to “pick a side,” allow me to share with you why I feel this way about this particular case and others of similar content.

The only information I have is from the media. It is my opinion that media executives are far more concerned about ratings than they are about educating their viewers. The more shocking the report, the higher the ratings. Therefore, I don’t consider it a reliable source to form an educated opinion.

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1 ESV)

I wasn’t there. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own lips, don’t think it with your small mind and spread it with your big mouth.” A little harsh, maybe. But it keeps me from adding to the chaos by gossiping or passing judgment. I wouldn’t want someone to form an opinion of me based on second hand accounts.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

I have no authority to judge, plain and simple.

“There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12 ESV)

Here is where I do have an opinion, nothing good can come from rioting and slanderous words. Rather than add to the darkness, should we not be the light? As tempting as it may be to share why so-and-so is in the wrong and so-in-so needs vindication, wouldn’t it be a better use of our time to show love while the rest of the world is screaming hate?prov 6

 

~Lost in Translation?~ October 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:50 am
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So I just recently discovered that my smarter-than-me phone has this wonderful feature known as talk to text. Color me excited!! I am hands down, the WORST texter in the world. I know this because my teenage sons tell me daily.

Yesterday was my first time using the fun little microphone at the bottom of the keyboard. I said my message, hit send and quickly realized my phone ain’t so smart after all. Apparently, it doesn’t speak Southern. My son’s name, Isaiah, came out “I’d say I.” Instead of night, it typed out “not.” Spouse found it humorous and suggested I say the word “ice,” one of the fam’s favorite words to make fun of me over, and see what genius phone spit out. Sadly, I can’t repeat what my phone sad, very foul mouth. I considered washing it with soap then thought better of it.

This minor inconvenience got me thinking about how often this happens in our face-to-face conversations. How many times do we shoot off what’s on our minds before taking the time to process how someone might interpret what we say? In my vast experience of ticking people off, I have discovered that nine times out of ten, the disagreement was caused by misunderstanding. The phrase, “that’s not what I meant,” has passed my lips more than a time or two. Although I may not have intended to upset the other person, I certainly didn’t pause to run my words through the Jesus filter. It’s a real thing, people, you have one too, and unlike my NOT-so-smart phone, this one can understand all accents.

Can you even imagine how many hurt feelings we could avoid if we took the time to consider how the other party’s personality might cause them to perceive what we’re about to say?! Mind blowing, right?! Eh, not really, more like a common courtesy that’s not so common anymore. The Book of Proverbs has numerous verses that speak to this issue, but I’ll just share a couple of my favorites.

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

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (18:2)

Let’s make a pact today to not be like a fool and actually take the time to choose our words carefully. It is far more rewarding to see someone smile as a result of your words than to watch tears slip silently down their cheeks.IMG_2659

 

~Stop Talking, Start Thinking~ March 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:35 pm
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“Observe the people who always talk before they think—even simpletons are better off than they are.” (Proverbs 29:20 Message)

The majority of my generation was taught to think before you speak, not the other way around.  However, it seems these days that people are getting more and more aggressive with their speech without taking into account what the repercussions may be.    

I’m going to share an illustration that I have seen done before to teach the power of words and the reality that they can’t be taken back once spoken.

The teacher stood at the front of the class as they all looked curiously at the items on their desk: a tube of toothpaste, a paper plate & a q-tip.  She was giving a lesson on thinking carefully before you allow yourself to speak, especially when you’re hurt.  She looked at her students and instructed them to take their brand new tube of toothpaste and squeeze every bit of it out onto their plate.  The idea of making a sloppy mess appealed to the children so they grinned and squealed as they made squiggly lines across their plates.  Once she was certain that each child had done exactly as she said, she moved on to part two of this little demonstration.  “Class, I want you to take your q-tip and try to put all of that toothpaste back into the tube.”  The gleeful expressions quickly turned inquisitive as they tried their best to scoop all that minty fresh mess back into a tiny opening to no avail.  After watching them struggle for a few minutes, this brilliant woman drove home her point.  “That toothpaste is like our words, it is easy to let them fall right out but impossible to put them back in.”toothpaste

A valuable lesson we all need to make an effort to remind ourselves of daily.  Words come so easily but they can pack a punch and once you let them pass your lips, there ain’t a thing in the world you can do to take them back.  So allow yourself time to think before you let your mouth get away from you.  You will be glad you did….and so will the rest of the world.

 

~Parents Need to PARENT~ March 10, 2014

I have determined that middle school is where sweet little kids turn into 3-headed dragons.  The chatter that has been circulating among parents and what little I can drag out of my own children would even make unsavory characters blush.  These kids are 11-14 years old and getting away with things that I didn’t even think about until college!

  •  Foul language is considered part of normal conversation.
  • “Twerking,” is the new craze at the dances…thank you, Miley Cyrus for your contribution to society.
  • CHILDREN are making out during school and some have already engaged in sexual activities.

Are you kidding me?!

So what’s a freaked out momma supposed to do when her kids have no other option than public school?!  How can I ensure that my kids can be stuck in the middle of these atrocious environments and come out unscathed & still living for Jesus?

Proverbs 28 is riddled with verses that we parents can pour into and pray over our children.

When your child is surrounded by a group doing all kinds of wrong and is unsure what to do:

“The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” (vs 1)

During school, when they see everybody getting by with doing whatever they want as opposed to what they should be doing:

“Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.” (vs 14)

“The blameless will be rescued from harm, but the crooked will be suddenly destroyed.” (vs 18)

If you have little disciples like we do, anxious to share the Word of God but fearful of rejection, who may be tempted to join the masses:

“Those who lead good people along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the honest will inherit good things.” (vs 10)

What happens when their closest friends turn from their church-upbringin’ roots and decide to embrace the false teaching that is attacking them from every direction:

“Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents.” (vs 7)

“It makes good sense to obey the Law of God, but you disgrace your parents if you make friends with worthless nobodies.” (same verse, CEV translation)

I am so utterly disappointed in the job that parents are doing these days.  They are succumbing to the pressures of this world by allowing their children to set the standards and the rules instead of demanding a certain level of respect and personal integrity.  These children that are acting out in public are belittling themselves.  God created us all to be spectacular and by behaving with so little self-respect and absolutely no dignity they are falling well below their potential for greatness.

I’m sorry about the soap box, I am just horrified at the downward spiral that are young people are falling into.  We can only expect so much from their educators and Sunday school teachers, at some point, Mom & Dad need to step it up a notch.  For those of you who may be living inside a bubble, oblivious to the hell your kids are raising when they walk out your door, I pray that the Lord would thump you on the head and open your eyes!  I can only pray that we are doing a decent enough job with ours because I know they are just as susceptible to temptation as the next kid and boy have my kids messed up at times.  So I am seeking the Lord on my behalf too.  I want my kids to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Mom & Dad, Nana & Grandad…it is time to hit your knees to protect your babies.steering

That is all.

 

~Not Your Fight, Not Your Business~ March 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 4:32 pm
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How many of you have heard the expression, “I don’t have a dog in this fight”?  For those of you who haven’t a clue what that means, you are basically saying you have no vested interest in an argument, debate or issue.  So, in other words, there is no reason for you to put your two cents in because the outcome has no bearing on your life.

With that being said, why is it that we often feel compelled to place ourselves squarely in the middle of a disagreement that has absolutely nothing to do with us?  I remember being in High School when every quarrel between two “friends” quickly evolved into a teeny-bopper version of gang wars as both sides rallied innocent bystanders into their tiff by sharing the details of their dispute.  The intent was to get as many people as possible to share the feelings of contempt for your foe so that you could feel justified and somewhat self-righteous when your “troops” outnumbered theirs.  The more people you could get to validate your side of the argument, the more right you must be.  Oftentimes facts were distorted in order to paint the most hideous picture as possible of the opposing party.  Before you knew it, half the school, at the very least, had taken a stance on one side or the other…of a disagreement that started between two people in which the end result would not be life changing for a single one of them.

I used to think that once we grew-up and matured into responsible adults, these petty situations would dissolve.  As much as it pains me to admit, once again, I was wrong.  I am now in my 30s and the “choose a side” mentality is still raging on among my peers.  Proverbs sheds a little light into the danger of placing yourself in the middle of fight that is not your own:

“You grab a mad dog by the ears when you butt into a quarrel that’s none of your business.” (26:17 MSG)

While I can relate to feeling defensive when someone hurts those near and dear to your heart, it is not our place to involve ourselves in the squabble nor should we cast judgment.  Want to know why?  We are getting one side of the story and we are hearing it from a hurting heart.  Their version of events will likely vary greatly from the other side of the fence.  Your vision will be skewed as you see the hurt in your friends eyes so you will most likely have no desire to hear the offenders position.  If you do attempt to be diplomatic, it may prove difficult as you’ve already formed your opinion based on what you heard first.

How can we provide a listening ear to the one seeking counsel without forming a calloused heart towards the opposing side?  We can form unbiased opinions, no matter the circumstances, by seeing all parties through the eyes of Jesus.  He knows we all fall short, abuse one another’s trust, disappoint others and ourselves with our shortcomings, and yet His love & ability to forgive remains unchanged.  If someone starts to confide in you and you can tell instantly that you are not going to be able to remain neutral, stop the conversation and recommend a trustworthy 3rd party they can reach out to.  In taking this approach, you protect yourself from being drawn into a dispute that can bring damaging consequences into your life.

relationSHIPS

*Day 26 of our 31 day reading challenge of the Book of Proverbs.  If you haven’t joined in, you’ve missed out on one of the easiest to read, life application books of the Bible.

 

~Navigating Grief~ March 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:10 am
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griefHow people deal with grief is varied based on the individual and the source of their pain.  There is no road map for how we are to cope with the many different types of loss, nor is there an instruction manual on how to comfort the one who’s hurting.

It used to be my nature to always try to cheer people up when they were down.  My initial reaction to someone crying was to attempt to make them smile.  I was a fixer.  However, after experiencing some life, I have learned that’s not the best course of action.  Walking with someone through a struggle means taking cues from them on how you can help them process their feelings and eventually move beyond their pain.

Offering to take a recently widowed woman on a singles cruise, probably is not the wisest idea.

While your friend is going through a nasty divorce is not the time to set them up on a blind date.

When your baby gets their heart broke for the first time, that whole “more fish in the sea” saying is not comforting.

For the parents who are experiencing the devastating loss of a child, chances are they’re not going to be much fun for a while so refrain from trying to force the social scene.

“Being happy-go-lucky around a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing his jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in his wounds.” (Proverbs 25:20 Living Bible)

Even in the above scenarios, no two people will grieve the same.  One person may savor a distraction that allows them to temporarily forget their pain while another prefers to sit and cry in silence while you hold their hand.  Again, that is why it is imperative to let the Holy Spirit guide you and be sensitive to the individual.  Trying to rush someone through the stages of grief may be detrimental to your relationship.  It may be that you only desire to see them smile, and your intentions are definitely in the right place, but taking too much of a lighthearted approach may cause them more pain.

Bearing one another’s burdens is a privilege and a way that we can honor the Lord by fulfilling this requirement.  In order to minister effectively in these super-sensitive areas, we must be willing to adjust our approach to suit the needs of the grieving rather than do what we think is best.