Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Fear Blocks Potential~ January 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:06 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

fear is a liarWhat would you do if fear was not part of the equation?

I’d say every one of us has something in the back of our minds that we would like to try, a nagging desire that we can’t shake. Then fear shows up and talks us out of it…again.

Fear has many faces and presents itself in varying ways. I’ve put together a list of a few that have been a stumbling block in my own life.

Practicality. This makes no sense. I don’t have the resources. This will take away our family’s security and set us up for financial struggles.

Rejection. The sheer thought of someone shooting me down is enough to make me nauseous. Feelings of anxiety so powerful they nearly suffocate me for fear someone will say the dreaded “no” stop me dead in my tracks.

Ridicule. I’ve had nightmares of people laughing in my face or even worse, behind my back. My dream is silly. My abilities are insufficient. It is laughable that I ever thought this could be successful.

Failure. I have failed enough times in my life that I have zero desire to do it again. The easiest way not to fail is to never try anything new. So I’ll just stick with what I know works.

Comparison. So-n-so already does something similar and they do it flawlessly. They speak fluently and with confidence. Their vision is clear. I can’t do it like they do so I might as well not even try.

Can you relate?

Here’s the thing about fear, it’s not of God.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7 ESV)

It’s all in your mind, something you’ve created as an excuse to keep you from doing that thing you know full well you are supposed to be doing. That’s right, I went there. Fear is just another excuse, a crutch that makes you feel better about walking away from your passion with your head hanging like a wounded pup. I’m not criticizing, I already told you I’ve been in those shoes. I’ve worn holes clean through the soles from overuse!

Because I have been there a time or fifteen, I can tell you that now is a good a time as any to STOP THAT! But don’t just take my word for it. The Bible gives a little encouragement to help you put fear in it’s place. Maybe try committing this to memory:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

If that doesn’t put a little pep in your step, I don’t know what will! You don’t have to look within yourself to find the courage to “do the thing”, you need only to look up to the God who’s promised to be with you every step of the way.

Make a decision that you are no longer going to allow fear to block you from reaching your potential. Do it soon. There is no time like the present…just sayin’.

 

 

 

~Dream a Little Dream~ January 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:43 am
Tags: , , , , ,

dreamWhat is your dream? What is it that you think, “if I could do _____ every day, then my life would be complete.”?

Now, ask yourself this, is that God’s dream for your life or is it yours?

Ouch, ouch and ouch!

I don’t mean to imply that your dreams and desires don’t line up with God’s Word. What I am proposing is this, have you asked Him if they do? The Bible tells us this:

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NASB)

Some may misinterpret this Scripture to mean that if you love and serve God, then He will give you everything that you want in life. That’s not how I see it.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” (Eze 36:26 ESV)

Once we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, He gives us a new heart, one that is in line with His will for our lives. If we stay fully submitted to Him, surrendering our need for control to allow Him room to work, then we can be certain that the dreams we have for our future are from the Lord and not our own selfish wants.

I have big dreams, friends. Not only for myself and my family, but for our church family as well. I am sure that you have some pretty big dreams yourself. I have been known to pray and ask God to “make things happen” in certain areas of my life. You know what I sometimes tend to forget? To pray and ask Him to show me what He wants to happen. Boo on that! Rather than approach His throne of grace with petitions for what we think is our dream, how about we seek His face and pray that He would plant a seed in our hearts for that which He has created us to do?

 

~Escaping Burnout~ November 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , , , ,

A wise man recently said, “Burnout does not come because you’re doing too much, it comes because you are doing too much that has no purpose.”

Thanks, Pastor Chad, I just love it when you stomp all over my feet from the pulpit!

Isn’t it amazing how one simple statement can be so convicting?! I can honestly say at this particular season of my life, I am not feeling that overwhelming exhaustion that comes with being stretched too thin. However, I have been there often enough that this spoke volumes to me.

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought maybe we could benefit from this little reminder:

You can’t do it all, you’re not supposed to do it all and half of what you’re freaking out about bears little to no significance to the general well-being of you and yours.

You are welcome.

Now, how do we avoid overcommitting ourselves to the point that we go about our tasks begrudgingly? I would suggest evaluating how you dispense of your time and talents.

  1. Are you serving out of a heart that feels compelled to do so or simply because you feel obligated?

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Eph 6:7 NIV)

If you know going in that your heart is not in it, you can be certain that it will be apparent by how you carry out the task. Wouldn’t it be better to gracefully say no, allowing an opportunity for someone who is passionate about it to say yes, rather than give less than 100%?

  1. Who are you aiming to please with your actions, God or man?

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10 NIV)

News flash, you can’t please everyone! So if your only reason for giving of yourself is to make someone happy, don’t go there.

  1. Are you seeking praise or recognition for your good deeds? (ouch, ouch, ouch)

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 6:1 ESV)

Check your motives…God already knows them. If you’re “helping out” so that your name will appear in the “thanks” column, you are not the person for the job.

There are plenty of opportunities for us to fill our days with useless busy work, leaving no room for the things that truly matter. In the coming days when it will be tempting to overextend ourselves, our budgets and our calendars, take pause and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your actions. If it doesn’t bring fulfillment to your life or lift up someone else’s, is it really that important? Choose to fill your days with that which brings a sense of purpose to your life and enriches the lives of those around you.

purpose

 

~Called With Confidence~ November 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:17 am
Tags: , , , ,
...because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too...

…because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too…

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV)

What is it that you feel called to do in the Kingdom of God?

I’ve met so many people who question that they’re called to do anything because they doubt their gifts. God has blessed each one of us with specific talents that can be used to glorify Him. Whether or not we choose to do so is entirely up to us. Most of the God given talents we have can be used for worldly gain or to further the Kingdom. God will not force our hand to do His work, He seeks those who are willing then He makes us able.

Therein lies the second problem we face when operating in our calling, we don’t see ourselves as worthy of sharing The Gospel because we feel ill-equipped due to our countless mistakes or faults. Stop that! You have been redeemed, washed clean from your past, it is not to be used as a crutch to keep you from doing what YOU KNOW God is calling you to.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor 26-29 NLT)

One of my favorite sayings from author Rick Warren states, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the people He calls.” Do you get that?! The God of the universe will provide the resources, He only needs you to say “Here I am, Lord, send me.”

Therefor, be confident in your calling. If you don’t believe in your “product,” you might as well quit trying to sell it. Because if you don’t buy into it, no one else will.

{Because} “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29 ESV):

  • Let your actions be fueled by your passion.
  • Speak boldly for Jesus, after all, does He not do the same for us when He intercedes to the Father on our behalf?
  • Stop being a scarey-cat, whom or what shall you fear with the God of Heaven’s armies on your side?
 

~My Very Own Road~ November 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:10 am
Tags: , , , ,

roaf=d“God never changes his mind about the people he calls. He never decides to take back the blessings he has given them.” (Romans 11:29 ERV)

How differently will you approach your Monday having read this one verse of Scripture?

Let it settle deep within in your spirit, stamp it across the fabric of your heart, so that the promise it declares resonates in your soul.

No matter how ill-equipped you feel today, regardless of the numerous times you have failed, God has not and will not remove His hand from your life.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

He knows you by name and has called you according to His purpose designed specifically for you. Do you know what that means?

Simply put, God has engineered a plan for each and every one of His children with our individual characteristics and strengths in mind. That is why my calling looks different from yours and why the paths we must take to fulfil our purpose may seem drastically opposite.

There have been days and I am sure, more to come, when I look around and see people whose lives have numerous similarities to my own and yet it seems they never experience the same hardships that I face. I find myself asking God, “Why? Why me…again?” If I actually allow Him to speak to me through His Word, I can see that He is refining me like silver in a fiery furnace or pruning away that which is unnecessary in order make room for new growth.

That is when I can read the words of 2 Corinthians 12 and embrace the path God has me on. Though it may be rocky, filled with potholes, and at times treacherous, it’s my course, just for me, and He has already gone before me to make a way where there seems to be no way.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(verses 9-10 ESV)

 

~Momma’s Gonna Need a Minute~ October 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:49 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to be left the heck alone?! Like no talky, no touchy, no looky, ‘get the heck out of my personal space’ kind of days?! That’s how I feel today!”

This would be the text message I sent my husband yesterday.  I wasn’t mad at anyone. No one had really done anything to upset me or make me feel ill, but I’m pretty sure it was within the spectrum of possibilities for me to physically assault someone. Grumpy doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. throat punchI’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have days where I feel downright hateful to the point that I’m concerned for the safety of those who get too close. Days like that I think I need to be forced to wear a warning sign around my neck, “Danger!!  Contents may explode upon contact!!”

Anyone else ever suffer through days like that?

Take heart, I may have pinpointed the cause. Every day, all day, I have someone “all up on me,” as I like to put it. The littles tug at my clothes, using me as a human paper towel and the occasional snot rag. My boys find humor in poking and throwing stuff or hiding around corners to scare the beegeezus out of me. My man just needs a little affection at the end of the day but sometimes, THIS is not huggable!

Physical touch is a beautiful thing but if you never have a moment to yourself, you may start to feel a bit like a foreigner in your own land, so to speak. This tends to happen most often when our calendars are so full that there is no way to pencil in some “me, minus all of you” time. I’m here to help you out, friends. The next time someone asks you to do something you have zero desire to do, don’t ignore that tightening in your chest that accompanies the realization that you’re never going to have a moments rest. Smile & say “No, but thanks for thinking of me.”

Now, take a seat in your favorite chair and forget about the to-do list that is invisible to the rest of your fam. Enjoy the entire cup of coffee before it has the chance to get cold because whatever the world needs from you, can wait a dang minute.

If you feel guilty, let’s all just take a minute to remember that even Jesus had to get away from the crowds and sit in silence in order to be refreshed to fulfill his life’s purpose.

 

~What I Learned From Watching “Frozen”…Repeatedly~ May 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:22 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Let it go, let it go!!!”

These words ring out in my house on a daily basis, from the mouths of my babes or the television speakers.  The ladies of the house are hooked on Disney’s latest hit, “Frozen,” self included.  What’s not to love about a musical that features a dysfunctional family?!  Combine that with the deceptively charming villain, a simple yet wise talking snowman, a reindeer that reminds us all of our favorite pet & the love interest who struggles to communicate his feelings, (something most ladies can relate to), and you’ve got yourself a hit!  Not to mention the wildly successful single from the movie soundtrack…seriously, these Disney people are on to something.

Around the 27th time of viewing this movie, something Queen Elsa belted out caught my attention:

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

It was one of those “aha” moments…like, how have I heard this song a bazillion times and not picked up on the depth of this verse?!

How many of you feel stuck?  Who can say that your current circumstances have you feeling confined, unable to move forward…paralyzed by fear?  Perhaps you are so consumed by thoughts of failure that you remain at their mercy, controlled by feelings and not by faith.  So many of us sense a pull to do something great but we place limitations on ourselves that have us convinced we can’t possibly find success through that avenue.

Fear can manifest itself in numerous ways but I have found the hardest to overcome for me personally is insecurity.  I oftentimes struggle to believe that I have what it takes to do anything meaningful.  I don’t like to admit this, but I think someone else needs to hear it.  The truth of the matter is, those of us who have accepted Christ as our savior have the most powerful resource available by way of the Holy Spirit.  We don’t have to rely on our own abilities but simply trust that if God planted a desire in our hearts, He will equip us with what is necessary to see it come to fruition.

Self-doubt, past mistakes, worldly rejection…all of these things are powerless against the plan of God.  We are not meant to be prisoners of our own minds or criticisms of our peers.  So let me pose this simple question, “What would you do if fear was taken out of the equation?”  Fill in the blank from this statement:  I will not let ____________ consume me.  I will fulfill my purpose.

Now, let it go.  Lay down all those self-deprecating thoughts and accept the gifts and talents God has given you and put them to use!  You are more.fear is not master

(For inquiring minds…yes, “Frozen” is currently being watched in the background.)

 

~Someone Else!~ March 26, 2014

“Honey, I have to do it!  If I don’t, who will?”

“Someone else!”

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

How many of my lady friends can relate to the above conversation?  Another project comes up and you feel obligated to say yes because you just know that if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.  Many, many times I have agreed to take on something that I really didn’t want to because I succumbed to the pressure of “everyone else has said no, we need you.”

Several years ago while I was pregnant with my Emma, I was being pulled in about 15 different directions.  I was volunteering for my kids school 4 days a week, teaching preschoolers Sunday school, singin’ in the choir & the praise team, serving on the PTA….you get the idea.  I remember vividly one Sunday morning, the praise team had just finished practicing and an elder started to approach me as I came down the stairs.  I had a sense of dread because the look on his face said, “I’m about to ask you to do one more thing….”  Keep in mind, folks, I wasn’t just pregnant, I was ginormously pregnant!  He proceeded to make his request for my assistance in another area of ministry.  As soon as I opened my mouth to give a reluctant ok, my man stood up from behind the drums, pointed one of his drumsticks at us both and said, “NO!  She says no!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!  Truthfully though, I was relieved.  I was about to add one more thing to my already overloaded calendar and it was something that I had zero interest in.  Initially I felt guilt-ridden because I was panicked that since I said no too, that this task was going to fall through the cracks.  Everything in me wanted to call him up and say, “I changed my mind, I’ll do it.”  But I resisted, (with the help of my voice of reason, aka, Jamie).

Here’s the deal, friends, you don’t have to do it all.  I know, I know…there are only a handful of people who do everything all the time because no one else will step up.  It’s ok, I promise you.  If it needs to get done, someone else will see to it.  It is entirely acceptable to choose where you will serve according to the gifts and talents that you have been blessed with by God.  Don’t believe me, take a look at the Truth, and let it set you free!

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

(Romans 12:6-8 NLT)

Kindly take note to the fact that nowhere in the above Scripture does it say that He has given all of these things to any one person.  This is why we are the body, working together not independently, to meet the needs of His people.  This obviously applies to the church and it’s various ministries, but can also be used to gauge how you book the rest of your calendar as well.  calling

 

~But God~ February 26, 2014

I just this moment left my women’s Bible study to come home and work on my Proverbs post in silence before I have to pick up my baby from preschool.  As I was leaving the group, Lysa TerKeurst via video was beginning to discuss what happens when you use the phrase “but God.”

Imagine my surprise when I come home, open my faded, tattered Bible to Proverbs 16 and the very 1st verse reads:

“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” 

Sometimes God is subtle when He’s trying to get your attention, this was not one of those times.  It’s like He knows sometimes I can err on the side of stubbornness and decided to send me a flashing neon sign in the form of confirmation.

The concept that Lysa was sharing about inserting the words “but God” into any situation changes the perspective entirely.  What may seem foolish, reckless or downright insane can suddenly make perfect sense when you add God to the equation.

I shared with my lady friends how when we say yes to God, we have our own preconceived notions of how He is then going to use us.  “Ok, Lord, I’m ready to serve you now.  Just so you know, I am writer, not a speaker, I work well with little kids, not teens and I can sing but Lord you know I have no rhythm so I’m not going to dance.  Now that you know all this about me, could you kindly open the door for my ministry.  Amen.”

Next thing you know, God’s pushing you to speak at a prayer group, lead an outreach for troubled teens and head up the new dance troop for your church! Not funny, Lord, not funny at all.  That is how God works!  He calls you to do what you cannot possibly do within your own abilities.  When you can feel the Lord yanking on you, leading you to do something for Him that is in exact opposition of your comfort zone…chances are that’s right where you are supposed to be!  Going against our norm ensures our full reliance on the Lord to complete the task at hand.

I have heard the expression, “tell the Lord your plans and he just laughs and laughs.”  He tells us quite clearly that we are to commit our actions to Him and then our plans will succeed (vs 3).  I happen to believe the reason being is when we truly submit ourselves to His leading, He will plant desires in our hearts.  It may come as a shock to some of you, but God can totally change your heart and mind to line up with what He wants you to do as opposed to what you want to do.  He stretches us, shapes us and molds us to do His work.  We are being refined and strengthened every single time we say no to ourselves and yes to Him.  The more we deny our own plans to take up the ones He has set before us, the more He will see that our faith and trust is in Him alone.  When that happens, God will start flinging doors wide open for you to share the Truth in ways you never dreamed possible.

If you are feeling a nudge to do something for God and you’re in the throws of a mental debate of wanting to be obedient but questioning, “God is this you because I’m not so sure you’ve got the right person for this?”  May I give you a very simple piece of advice?  The enemy will not ask you to do something that glorifies God.  If what you feel pressed to do is pointing people to Jesus and the absolute truth of His Word, it ain’t the devil.

Say yes to God and feel the warmth of His smile rest upon you.

“When the KING smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.” (vs 15)

She is awesome...very well stated.

She is awesome…very well stated.

*Day 16 of our Proverbs 31 day challenge…man this is good stuff!

 

~Why Do I Write?~ July 11, 2013

Is it because I think I know so much more than others?  Am I trying to make people feel bad about themselves?  Maybe I write so that I can pass judgment on everyone from behind the safety of my computer screen?

I have had to seriously ask myself the title question here lately because I’ve hit a lull.  I’ve lost some umph and I can’t quite pinpoint why.  So, I’ve thought about it and the answer I have come up with is the Great Commission:

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)

I write the things I do in hopes that it will shed some light on how Jesus wants us to live.  I feel like we’ve been given an incredible gift in the Bible as it gives instruction for life’s complexities, encouragement when we’ve lost our will to go on, and hope when the world around us offers nothing more than brokenness.  But not everyone picks up their Bible and digs into the words looking for answers to their questions.  Some people may feel intimidated by the Book itself or unsure how to navigate it’s MANY pages.  Others still may not have a wonderful church family to help guide them onto the right path and they’re desperately seeking someone to give them some direction.  So I write; about real life experiences that I think are relatable to most.  I speak simply and truthfully so as not to confuse my readers and to be honest, myself!

Each day we are faced with countless opportunities to choose what’s right.  We are also presented with an equal number of opportunities to choose what is wrong.  But how do we know what is right and what is wrong?  I personally believe in the power of conviction that is felt by way of the Holy Spirit.  I know when I’ve made a decision that doesn’t line up with the Word of God.  When I allow myself time to think before I act then I can usually get a good sense for what my response to any given circumstance should be.

What about people who are not saved and don’t yet have the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  How are they to determine if their actions are pleasing to the Lord?  This is why I share my stories.   So that others facing the same situations will know they are not alone.  I give advice according to God’s Word, not my own flighty opinions.  I put my own insecurities aside and spill my guts all so that someone may come to know Jesus.  Because to me, even one soul is worth it.great commission