Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~What is Your Heart Full Of?~ February 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:47 am
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Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to talk about anything and everything except the Gospel?

I seriously loooove to talk. When I was a kid, that was the number one complaint my teachers had from Kindergarten all the way through high school. What can I say, I was blessed with the gift of gab! As an adult, I sometimes catch myself dominating conversations. I blame my lack of intelligent discussions through the day when talks consist of what Peppa will do next or fighting over why naps are a vital part of a toddlers day. But even so, talk I must. If I don’t have an audience, I talk to myself. I realize that makes me sound slap nuts and I’m cool with that.

So how is it feasible that someone who is never at a loss for words struggles to talk about God?

I can literally talk all day about parenting, health & fitness, music, books…you name it. Then someone asks me about my Jesus and even if only for a moment, I freeze! I’ve given it some thought & believe I’ve pinpointed a couple of reasons why this is the case.

1. Knowledge/Life Experience. I like to think that I am fairly knowledgeable on certain topics. I have 5 kids which equates lots of hands on parenting experience. I’ve been a runner for some time now and I coach so again, pretty confident in this area. I’ve dealt with a whole mess of heartache in my 33 years and I’ve made it through to the other side which helps me talk others through similar situations.

2. Time Invested. I didn’t become the mom, wife, coach, friend that I am today overnight. There have been many sleepless nights finding out what works to soothe a teething infant. Countless articles have been read and methods tested to find the best way to avoid shin splints and how to surge up a hill when your competitors are losing steam. We’ve had our share of counseling in our years of parenting & marriage that has given us the tools not only to strengthen our family, but help others strengthen theirs as well.

These things together give me confidence to talk openly to anyone at any time. Perhaps if we wish to talk with ease and boldness when it comes the Lord, we should apply this same formula.

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45 NIV)

Get into His Word. Get to know who God is and what He has to say about all of life’s idiosyncrasies. Look back on your life at the times He has moved on your behalf and use that to show others if He did it then, He can do it now.

“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.” (Matt 28:19-20 NLT)prov 4

In order to fulfill the Great Commission, we need to be so familiar with the Word of God that telling others about it is a natural as breathing. We do that by sharing often. The more time you spend talking to God and about Him, the easier it will become. It won’t feel like you are “preaching” at people when you talk about Him as the loving father He is as opposed to an ethereal being no one can relate to.

 

~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.
 

~Face to phone screen~ January 7, 2014

Like most cultural changes, I am sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that people prefer texting to talking, email over handwritten notes and tossing someone a gift card as opposed to a heartfelt, personal gift.  Is anyone else worried that we are rapidly losing our human connection?  It seems that the more we take advantage of these modern conveniences, the more desensitized we become.

Face to face conversations have been replaced with face to screen time.  I myself have been guilty of addressing issues with my husband via text because I didn’t want to deal with it in person.  I convinced myself I was saving us an argument by typing out my feelings because then I could edit what I said.  But that’s unhealthy and it certainly isn’t biblical.

What about when people take their conflicts to social media for all the world to see?  What exactly could you hope to gain by belittling one another in an open forum that allows others to jump into a conflict that’s not their own?  What I find amusing is that most of what people say online are things they wouldn’t dare say in person.  Just because you are letting your fingers do the talking doesn’t make your words less offensive.  You are still held accountable for what you say, whether you say it with your lips or your rapid firing fingertips as they fly across the keys.

How are we to handle conflict when it does arise, and it certainly will in healthy relationships?  My advice would be to turn to the words of Matthew 18: (please keep in my mind this is referring to our relationships with fellow believers)

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (verse 15)

Our initial reaction when someone hurts us is to tell someone else about it, then we can have someone validate our feelings & “take our side” in the conflict.  However, our first response should be to speak to the one who upset us.  When we go directly to the offender, chances are we will be able to quickly resolve our differences without need for a mediator because most people respect others who are able to communicate honestly.

What happens when you try the direct approach and it isn’t received too graciously?

“But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.” (verse 16)

Note that it doesn’t say rally the troops and turn it into “he said, she said” debate.  If you find yourself in the midst of an argument where one-on-one communication is no longer effective or constructive, it may be a good idea to seek godly counsel.  Agree on a neutral party who can speak wisdom into the situation without taking sides.  It may be someone from your pastoral staff, a friend whom you both respect or in some cases you may need to seek counsel from a professional.  The point is, if you are unable to hash out your grievances amongst yourselves, the next avenue needs to be seeking wise counsel, not ranting to anyone and everyone who will listen to build your case.

As you go through your day, if you find yourself tempted to ‘post’ about your problems, try this approach first.  Don’t succumb to the pull of social media to do your dirty work for you.  Human contact will always trump social media.  You will choose your words more wisely in person than you would sitting behind the safety of an illuminated screen.  And the person who has your panties in a twist will respond more rationally if you are “man enough” to speak to them as opposed to about them.

social media fight

 

~Your Encourager Needs Encouragement Too~ December 13, 2013

We all have at least one person that we can always count on to say just the right thing when we are down and out.  Chances are, it’s the first person you think of when you need prayer or counsel.  You consider them to be rock solid and faithful.  You can count on them to be there when you need them most and trust that they will keep your conversations confidential.  And most importantly, when they say they are going to pray for you, they do.

Obviously your person has it all together and never has struggles of their own, that’s why you are drawn to them for guidance, right?

Of course the answer is no.

The problem is that we often tend to see them that way.  We become so accustomed to seeking their help that we inadvertently overlook them when they are in the pit.  It’s not that we don’t want to be there for them in the same capacity that they have been for us, we just feel inadequate to minister to them.  After all, what could we possibly say to encourage the one who we look to for spiritual wisdom?

Who is your person?

  • Your pastor or their spouse
  • Mom or Dad
  • Your spouse
  • Your BFF:  Best Friend Forever not Big Fat Friend (sorry, couldn’t resist one of my fav movie references)

If it’s your pastor or his/her spouse, just think for a moment how many others likely have the same “it” person.  Can you even imagine how many counseling sessions they do or the number of prayer requests they must receive in a day?  And this is how it should be, they are spiritual leaders.  But even so, they need prayer too, probably even more so than some of those they are praying for!  Because of the tireless work they do for the Lord, it places a “most wanted” sign on their back for the devil.  They are vulnerable and subject to attack, same as you and me.

Mom & Dad…well they worry about you anyway, it’s part of the job description.  I am a grown woman and still want to run to my Momma when my world gets turned upside down.  They are our safety net.  Sometimes they have troubles and try to hide them from us because they don’t want to burden their children.

Husbands & wives automatically bear one another’s burdens, or at least they should.  I have been know to unload on my man the minute he hits the door in the evenings.  Maybe he’s had a rough day too but he keeps his worries and struggles to himself because he doesn’t want to put more on my already full plate.

Best friends are very often on the receiving end of our loaded gun.  They know us well, sometimes better than we know ourselves, and we know we can spew it all out and they’ll totally understand.  May I be blunt?  Don’t be the friend who monopolizes all of the talk time in the relationship.  Yes, your friend is an awesome listener, full of sound advice and love for you but don’t let their silent nod fool you into believing they have nothing to discuss themselves.

So how can you encourage the one who has lifted you up time after time?  Give them a call with no agenda of your own, just to say “hey, how’s it going with you today?” then listen for indicators that their typical response of “I’m ok” is a farce.  How about a card?  Never underestimate the power of the written word.  Technology has made hand-written notes a thing of the dark ages, but there’s something special about a tangible piece of paper that you can keep with you always.  If you have a little spare time on your hands, see if they are free for coffee and give them the floor this time.  Be creative.  The key is to make them your priority because, yes, your encourager needs encouragement too.

encourager

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another”

(Romans 12:10 NKJV)

 

~Casting Stones~ April 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:58 am
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Casting-StonesShe was contemplating an affair.  Immediately my mind went to, “How can a woman of God be so foolish?!”

Someone dear to me was experiencing gut-wrenching heartbreak but all I could focus on was the fact that she oughta’ know better!  Instead of listening to her and trying to think of how to guide her through this struggle, I was thinking of all the Scriptures that speak against adultery.  There wasn’t a helpful thought in my head, just judgement, plain and simple.  Then the Lord recalled to my memory,

“let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

(John 8:7 NIV)

Whoa.  How many times have you and I been quick to pass judgment on another for a mistake they have made?  How many times in self-righteous indignation have we scoffed, “I would never do such a thing!”  We’ve never contemplated this particular sin so we can’t wrap our feeble minds around how a fellow Christian can allow themselves to fall into this trap.

No one sin is greater than another and not one of us is without sin, not one.

Think about a time in your life when you slipped.  Had it not been for godly counsel, would you have found your way back onto the right path?  If someone hadn’t loved you enough to come alongside you and help you walk through your valley, where would you be now?  The Bible tells us this,

“If one of you should wander from the truth & someone should bring him back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death & cover over a multitude of sins.”

(James 5:19-20)

If you see someone you love beginning to roam aimlessly, offer words of wisdom and truth; not words of condemnation.  I’m sure you have heard the expression, you catch more bees with honey.  The same can be said for our Christian friends.  They will be more receptive to what you have to say if you cover your words with grace & humility.  And if you are like me and question whether or not it’s your place to say anything at all, think about verse 20-you will save him from death.  The truth, spoken in love, can save someone you care about from making a mistake that can lead to their spiritual death.  That’s heavy.  It is a huge responsibility to offer counsel to others, one that should not be taken lightly.  If you make yourself a student of God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit guide you, you will become more confident in your responses when someone comes to you for guidance.  When you do respond, let the words of Proverbs 15 ring in your heart:

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

(vs. 1)