Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~When Life Is Just Too Short~ May 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:07 pm
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Days ago I opened the ol’ WordPress app on my phone and typed this title. That was it, no meat, just a headline that popped into my head for no apparent reason. I didn’t know what the post would be about until I read about a horrific accident in another state.

A caravan of family members were traveling home from a wedding when a semi caused a multi car accident. The first vehicle carried a pregnant mother and her toddler son. In separate vehicles were the husband & father to the pair and a set of grandparents. Immediately the news made us aware that the young boy was tragically killed. His grieving mother had to have an emergency c-section one month shy of her due date. I, along with every other person with a shred of faith I am certain, prayed for this family and that their sweet newborn would survive. He did not.

As I read the news yesterday, I simply cried. There is no way to fathom what this family is facing. As I wept for people I have never met, this title came back to me. While this is not the first time a terrible tragedy has occurred, it is one of those instances when life was definitely just too short.

It’s an expression I’ve heard my entire life but what does it mean? Life is too short for what exactly? And why does it take a death to remind of us just how fleeting it is?

Too short to live with regrets.

Too short to hold unforgiveness in your heart.

Too short not to dream.

Too short…

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 NIV)

The hard truth of the matter is, we haven’t the faintest idea when our time will be up. We are not guaranteed a certain number of years with our loved ones. We are literally not promised tomorrow. So now what? What do we do with this knowledge that we’ve really always known but oftentimes choose to ignore?

Live every single day as though it is your last. Cliche, maybe, but a simple truth just the same.

Don’t hold in the sentiments, say them frequently and mean them!

Dream BIG!! Stop limiting yourself and God. Trust that He will give you the desires of your heart and allow Him access to plant them there!IMG_7245

Prayers of peace and comfort for all of those dealing with loss today, tomorrow, and everyday to come. May we not be so consumed by the what-ifs of tomorrow that we let today slip through our grasp.

 

~My Heart Knows, It’s My Mind That Needs Convincing~ January 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:08 am
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I am currently training for my first, (and quite possibly last), half marathon. Myself and two lifelong friends from high school have made a vow to endure this together. The difference is…both of them have ran at least one before so they have the advantage of knowing they can do this. Lucky for me, one of the two is a local girl so we are logging our miles together which makes it a pretty awesome experience. The third musketeer lives at the location of our upcoming race so we are keeping up with her training via text.

Yesterday we were chatting about the long runs we have pending and the fact that I have never ran more than 7.5….ever. Her encouragement, “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Mind over matter.” Sounds simple enough but it was what I needed to hear. I train consistently and make proper fuel a priority so my body is able but my mind tells me otherwise.

In the same way that I am making preparations for this race, I prepare myself for the work I do in ministry. I pray, I read God’s Word, I seek counsel. My heart is full of God’s love and I feel ready. Then my mind chimes in and has me second guessing.

My mind will tell me that I’m not smart enough because I don’t have a college degree.

My mind will tell me I’m too young for people to have any faith in my abilities to lead.

My mind will tell me that my past isn’t really forgiven, by God or anyone else for that matter, and with that looming all around me, I can’t be an effective witness.

But my heart. My heart believes that God can use anyone who is willing. I can feel His strength when I step out in faith. I lean on the words of Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts,” believing that my shortcomings are no matter to God.

While my heart is confident, my mind can always use some tweaking. Like most of you, my thoughts can get a little crazy and I find myself wasting precious time essentially arguing with myself. It’s time that I take captive those detrimental thoughts and replace them with encouraging Scripture.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9 ESV)  

Yeah, that one ought to do it 🙂jeremiah 29

 

~Fear Blocks Potential~ January 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:06 am
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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’.

 

 

 

~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.

 

~Say Thank You~ December 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:46 am
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It sounds simple enough, but we oftentimes forget. Especially in the everyday things that we tend to take for granted. Our appreciation goes unspoken leaving those around us feeling undervalued and quite possibly unloved.

Well boo on that!

It literally takes a moment to say thanks to those who deserve to hear it from you. Something that requires so little of your time has the power to make someone’s day.

I believe in leading by example, so I’m going to use this platform to go first!

Thank you, to YOU, my readers! I try to reach each one of you personally but that isn’t always possible as my stats tracker doesn’t exactly tell me who is reading my posts. At times I find myself ready to lay aside the writing when life gets busy. I justify my thoughts reasoning that no one really reads my ramblings so it wouldn’t be a big deal if I quit. Then one of you lovely people will send me a note of thanks or encouragement and I’m reminded that if even one heart is stirred by something I say, then it is totally worth the effort it takes to maintain this humble page.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thes 5:11 ESV)

Thank you to my church. I am so incredibly blessed with the lovingest bunch of people to do life with that it’s almost incomprehensible. They have celebrated my highs and helped to dig me out from my lows. Even when I’ve blown it BIG time, they’ve extended grace and offered help when it would have been just as easy to cast stones and dole out judgment. You all rock!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25 ESV)

To my tribe, who puts up with my crazy on a daily basis, surely your eternal rewards will surpass all others! My sweet Bella with her sunny disposition, thanks for making momma smile first thing every morning. To my micromanager, Emma, thanks mini-me for running the show when momma is away 🙂 For Autumn, my little evangelist, thank you for your faith in Jesus AND people that never falters! Peyton, the kid that gets me, thank you for still making me feel needed even though you’re a teenager now. Thank you to Isaiah, who somehow always manages to make me laugh even on the days when I really just wanna cry. Big ol’ thanks to my coffee making, foot-rubbing, problem solving husband who has yet to kill me in my sleep. I adore you all and couldn’t imagine how boring my life would be without my circus monkeys!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3 ESV)

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5:33 ESV)

This list could go on for miles, but I think you get my drift. A few minutes out of my day to let people know just how important they are to me. It cost me nothing, but will hopefully brighten their day! I’ve always heard that it takes two weeks to form a habit. So why don’t we all make it a point to say thank you to at least one person every day for the next 14 days? Maybe then we won’t become forgetful and inadvertently make those around us feel underappreciated.

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

 

~Tempted By ….~ December 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:35 am
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Here we are at yet another very busy season for so many of us. We’ve got Christmas parties to attend, cookies to bake, gifts to buy and wrap, and so on and so on. Granted these are all things that I LOVE to do, but I still find myself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I also made a commitment to myself to maintain some sort of physical activity during the winter months when in years past I have allowed myself to slack off….way, way off!

This morning I nearly talked myself out of hitting the gym. Lord knows I needed to go because I am meaner than a two-headed snake when I don’t exercise (yet another reason I decided to keep it up this winter instead of terrorizing my family). But my sweet mini-me has randomly been getting sick in the middle of the night. All you momma’s out there know that equals no sleep, tons of laundry and the unfortunate task of scrubbing the carpet-bleh! So again, I almost didn’t workout this morning because a steamy cup of coffee and my cozy blankie sounded way more tempting. Then I remembered one of my favorite inspirational quotes for days like this.workout

True story.

This busy season has caused me to neglect other important areas as well-this blog, another website I write for, my precious small group-in other words, my ministries! The more I reflected on my little workout motto, the more I realized it reminded me of a Scripture that applied to my spiritual struggles:

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41 ESV)

Not all temptation is blaringly obvious nor does it all result in “big sin.” This morning I was tempted by comfort to forgo the important task of taking care of my body. I was tempted by laziness to not write this post because my DVR is full and I kinda wanted to veg and fall into a tv coma. While all temptations don’t look the same, what they do have in common is they are meant to distract you from something more important.

How about a quick prayer for us all today:

“Lord, I ask you today to center our hearts and minds around you. Let us not fall so easily into the trap of busyness. Help us to prioritize according to Your Word so that we won’t be lead astray by the numerous distractions we encounter each day. And when temptation comes, help us to see it for what it is and give us the strength and discernment to choose wisely. Amen.”

 

~But Did You Ask?~ November 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:40 am
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My little Bella has been going through a phase lately, (Lord, please let it just be a phase), where she cries over every little thing.

Her jacket sleeve is inside out. Cry.

She can’t open her yogurt. Meltdown.

The baby doll won’t stay in the stroller. Fit.

Bubble Guppies goes to commercial break. The neighbors assume I beat my kid based on the level of screaming coming from this house.

When she is in the midst of one of these crying spells, it’s really hard to get through to her. She completely tunes me out and can only manage to focus on whatever it is that is earth shattering to her in that moment.

Yesterday, right as I was pulling out of the parking lot, she dropped her treat she had just been given at preschool. She was starting to wind it up, because let’s face it, the big meltdowns take some deep breaths to get the vocal chords all warmed up. Somehow I managed to lock eyes with her in the rearview mirror and very calmly said, “Isabella, did you drop your treat?” “YES…(complete with quivering lip and watery eyes.)” “Can I help you find it when we get home?” “OK.”

And that was it. At the moment when the intensity of her problem was at it’s peak, I got her to focus on me and the solution I could offer her rather than the problem itself.

So many times throughout our day together, I pose the question, “Did you ask for help?” The answer is always no at which point I encourage her to seek help when she can’t do something on her own as opposed to throwing herself in the floor over a stubborn foil lid or uncooperative baby doll.

What about you? What impossible situation are you facing today that has you pitching a fit as you desperately try to “do it yourself”?

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)

God has promised in His Word that He answers those who call on Him for help. He knows our needs and just like me with my Bella, He sees our struggle, but He’s waiting for us to invite Him into the situation.

” And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14 NIV)

ASK God for His help. Before you struggle to figure it out on your own, before the meltdown, before you throw in the towel, simply ask Him. Get your eyes off the problem and set them on the solution, Jesus!

Just in case you doubt that God is willing or able to intervene in your situation, how about a few more promises from Psalm 1:21:

He will not let your foot slip (v.3) – He is your firm foundation!

The Lord watches over you (v.5) – You have constant supervision, you’re never alone!

The Lord will keep you from all harm (v.7) – What more do you need to be reassured of God’s love for you?!morning prayer

 

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:49 am
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“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.

 

~Love Yourself~ July 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:06 am
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For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you may have noticed my posts have been a bit sporadic over the last couple of weeks. This may come as a surprise to you, but every once in a while, I get discouraged. Shocker, right?!

Ok, so I’m messing with you, of course I get discouraged, we all do! Last week was particular frustrating for me. Nothing life shattering happened, I was just irritated. So much so that during Wednesday night Bible study, I essentially tuned Pastor out and sat in the back journaling my frustrations, (sorry Pastor, it wasn’t you, it was me).

I wrote about my lack of motivation to write. Ironic? Yes. I have a desire to one day publish and yet feel completely inadequate to reach that goal. My writing is too plain & there are far too many authors better equipped than I so who would want to pay to read my material?

My voice lesson didn’t go so hot either and that had my questioning if I should be involved in music ministry. Singing just doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to work at it, so maybe that means I should quit. In all honesty, my team doesn’t need me, right?

Times like this are incredibly difficult for me to overcome. I become my own worst critic & believe me, I am relentless with the harsh things I speak to myself. But then God gave me a little aha moment in the midst of my ramblings.

Recently I have caught my oldest daughter being rather hateful to her younger sisters more often than just typical spats that siblings are bound to have. When I called her out on it, I asked “Would you treat anyone outside of this house like that?!” Of course she responded with a resounding “No.” I followed up with, “Then why are you so quick to cut down the very people you should treat the best?!”

God has this way of taking the words I speak as a parent and making me turn them around on myself. I’m not always crazy about His methods, but He knows how to get my attention!

I would never look at another woman and call her a terrible mother.

I would never lock eyes with a friend struggling in their ministry and tell them their struggles were evidence that clearly they had missed their calling & it’s time to call it quits.

I would never belittle how someone chose to express their creativity.

And yet, these are all things I have screamed at myself. I am careful to choose kind and gentle words with others but berate myself every chance I get. Perhaps I should take my own advice given to my daughter, “If you wouldn’t talk to a complete stranger with such harshness than don’t speak it over someone you love.”

Yes, we should love ourselves. Even in our shortcomings, our struggles and our epic failures, we should show ourselves the same love and grace we extend to others. If like me, you tend to be gentler with others than yourself, try putting a different spin on a well known Scripture, love yourself as you love your neighbor.affe8253f3defec8b2654eefb29c8e31

 

~Let Me Take An Unfiltered Selfie~ July 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:17 am
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Do you know that there is an app that “touches up” your photos? I logged onto Facebook the other day and I had a recommendation to use said app.

Now I’m not sure what the ole’ Facebook is trying to imply, but color me offended!

The advertisement showed a beautiful young lady’s before and after the app worked it’s magic. I was not pleased with the results. The original showed each tiny freckle, her laugh lines and sections of stray hair that fell around her face. The retouched, so-called better, picture showed a spray tanned, perfectly manicured face and each strand of hair was placed just so. No more freckles, no soft lines to reveal her personality and no playful wisps of hair floating in her eyes.

Now you tell me how that kind of phony picture is more beautiful than reality?!

Yet another problem of the world we are living in. I’d like to go back in time and slap the fool who started the whole airbrushing craze. Now thanks to this app, you too can look just like the girl on the cover of a magazine. The completely unrealistic, professionally retouched, elongated here, slimmed down there version of what a woman should look like.

No. Thank. You.

I prefer to get my standard for beauty from the Bible:

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.” (SOS 4:7)

Those creases around your eyes…evidence that you laugh often, not a flaw.

The stretch marks that reach around your hips & creep down your thighs…reminders of the miracle of life that came from your body, not a flaw.

The wild hair that gets frizzy & unmanageable when it rains…a unique feature you inherited from your grandma, not a flaw.

The abundance of freckles, too numerous to count…yeah, I love freckles, not a flaw.

Every part of you is a lovely reminder of what an awesome, creative God we serve. All so uniquely different & yet the same- beautiful, treasured, valued, irreplacable- just as we are.

Here’s one final thought for you, my paraphrase of 1 Peter 3:3-4:

Rather than worry yourself over the latest hairdo, makeup trends & fashion faux pas. Instead of looking in the mirror in disgust at the cellulite dimples, spidery veins & bags under your eyes. Just maybe, it’d be better to concern yourself with what is on the inside making its way out. Your words, your thoughts, your service to others, the love of God pouring out of a willing vessel…these are the things that make you radiant, not the newest shade of lipstick or the hair product that cements every hair in place.

(This is not an actual translation but can be filed under Valerism should you need a reference.)2f07e870b6a1e1d9fb2ff4e39cf46f86