Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Never Let Up, Finish Stronger Than You Started~ April 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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Earlier this week I attended a track meet where two of my children competed. As is often the case, an everyday life event proved itself to be an opportunity for a learning experience.

Allow me to set the scene.

Our boys team is on the track for the 1600 meter race, also known as the mile. Four repetitious laps around an oval track could drive anyone mad but three of our athletes quickly take the lead and settle in to a comfortable pace. The number two spot is held by my Peyton.  Their training takes over as they huddle together for the first three laps, competitors close behind but not close enough to make them sweat. As they enter the final 200 meters, our top distance runner pulls away in a beautiful sprint easily securing his spot as top dog. Rounding the final turn, Peyton still holds 2nd with his teammate literally on his heels. Neither one quickens their pace, content with their respective 2nd and 3rd place finishes. With their eyes rightly focused on the finish line, they fail to hear their opponents footsteps as they fall deathly silent on the rubber track. I, along with every other fan for our school, start to scream at the boys to kick it to no avail. Fourth place sails past them just before they step across the line to take 2nd. My mom and I lock eyes knowing what is coming. Even from a distance we can see the vibrant red creep up Peyton’s neck to his face as he realizes the mistake he just made.

Slowly Peyton makes his way to me, shrugging off every congratulations that is extended, exuding such obvious rage that his friends quickly retreat. I brace myself for impact while contemplating how to deal. Do I go into mommy mode and coddle him, making excuses for his faux pas or do I slip into coach mode and use this as a teaching moment? Through gritted teeth he says, “I didn’t know he was so close! I didn’t even sprint, I had plenty left!!” Very calmly, choosing my words carefully, I responded, “You should never base your performance on someone else. You give it everything you’ve got, regardless. Don’t you ever let up and always, always finish stronger than you started.”

He paced for a bit and we talked with his teammate who ended up in 4th about the importance of finishing strong and finally, he calmed down. I can safely say that they both learned their lesson.

Reflecting on that conversation, I can easily see where this lesson can be applied to other areas of life. In the workplace, whether that be in or outside of the home, in our family, our community, our church…literally in any area of our lives…we should never fall into comparing our efforts to those around us. If we would all make it our priority to do our level best at everything we do, then even if we fail by the worlds standards, we will have succeeded. It isn’t about what so-and-so does or where you measure up in the big scheme of things. Life is about knowing that you’ve laid it all out there, being the best possible version of yourself every step of the way. By moving forward in this manner, you can rest assured that you will definitely finish stronger than you started.start finish

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” (1Co 9:24-27 The Message)

 

 

~Spare the Rod~ March 1, 2014

We have all had those moments as parents when we’d like to crawl in a hole because of embarrassment from our children’s behavior.  My personal best came in the middle of a very crowded superstore.

It’s been a couple of years ago now, but boy do I remember it clearly.  My sweet little Emma was going through a fit-throwing stage like I have never witnessed before.  Truthfully, I thought that type of behavior was a myth or at least something that only happened to other people.  My children would never pitch a fit in public, I trained them better than that.

Wrong.  Seriously, I was wrong.  I suppose I underestimated the power of the flashy toys & sugary treats strategically placed at toddlers eye level at the front of every store in America.

My mother and I were attempting to get my 5 children to the checkout line when Emma spotted something she desperately wanted.  I said No.  Cue the meltdown of epic proportions.  She flung herself down in the floor and screamed like I had just beaten her within an inch of her life.  People started to stare as I tried to talk rationally to my little “princess.”  That’s when it happened, I smacked her little behind, right there in front of everybody.  For those of you who have done the same in public, you can imagine the looks of disgust that were thrown my way.  The fact that she has a face like a doll and had crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks was not helping my case.

Thankfully my momma handled the rest of my children while I dragged Emma out to the car and attempted to strap her in to the car seat.  It was not going so well for me as she was still writhing and screaming at glass breaking decibels.  Finally I managed to strap her in and stood leaning against my mom-mobile as I waited for the rest of my brood.  The screaming continued from inside the vehicle as concerned passers-by looked on with mixed emotions.  Most of them wore looks of judgment as if I had somehow failed as a parent because my 3 year old was uncontrollable.  For all I know, they were the same ones who had witnessed the “whooping” inside the store moments before.  But I was cool with it because I know what the Bible says about discipline.

“Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (Proverbs 19:18 Message)

You see, I could have easily given into my crazed child in the store when she demanded the toy “or else” and completely avoided the embarrassing fit.  However, my logic is that it would be more humiliating to see that child grow into a disrespectful adult with an undeserved sense of entitlement because I didn’t parent them while I had the chance.  I want to give good gifts to my babies, too, but I have learned that those things need to be earned to teach them ethics and build their character in the formative years.

I know it’s hard to punish your children, especially when it has to be done in front of others.  It is natural that we are concerned how outsiders will view our choice of correction, but they are not going to be held accountable for the upbringing of our kids, we are.  Proverbs 13 reads : “Those who don’t correct their children hate them.  But those who love them are careful to train them.”  While it is difficult to explain to our children that we are disciplining them out of love when we are in the midst of doling out punishment, point out to them that God also disciplines the one He loves and we are following his leading.

One day, when they turn out to be well-rounded, respected adults, they will likely thank us for not catering to their demands but instilling in them biblical values and moral standards that they would have otherwise missed out on had we chosen to “spare the rod and spoil the child.”parenting

 

~If Only We Came With a Pause Button~ February 23, 2014

“Wise people think before they act; fools don’t-and even brag about their foolishness.”  (Proverbs 13:16 NLT)

In the heat of an “intense moment of fellowship,” also known as a fight, it is often hard to hold thy tongue.  Most of us are hardwired to go blow for blow when someone makes us mad, whether it be with words or literal blows!  The concept of turning the other cheek becomes a near impossibility when our blood pressure reaches it’s boiling point.

While most of us later regret when we act out of anger, there are some who are quite proud of themselves for their less than savory responses in combative situations.  Why?  What in the world makes someone boast about their ability to belittle or physically hurt another human being whom God loves?!

Proverbs 13 clears that right up for us…a fool, synonymous to: idiot, moron and a 3 letter word that also means donkey.  (No offense, just a fact, look it up.)  Only someone who is completely lacking in respect for others and themselves finds it amusing to advertise that which they should be ashamed of.

When we find ourselves in the midst of a disagreement, it would be wise of us to learn how to operate our internal pause button.  Unfortunately, it is not accessible to anyone else so no one can punch it for us.  It may be that you need to walk away from the situation for a bit.  Maybe you are far more self-controlled than I and you simply need to take a deep breath to regain composure and speak with wisdom and understanding.  Others can count to 10 and feel a sense of calm while others still may need to count to say 1000 before the rage meter drops a notch or two.

The whole point is to find what works for you to keep from flipping your lid and blowing your witness when you are upset.  Nothing about a hot-tempered fool screams “I Love Jesus!!!”  Let the words from James be written on your hearts so that when controversy comes, and you better believe it will, you will be able to quickly call it to remembrance and shut. your. mouth.

“You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.  So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (James 1:19-21 NLT)

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*If you are new to this site, you have stumbled upon a 31 day reading challenge on the Book of Proverbs.  Want to start from the beginning?  Search “31 Day Challenge” in the tool bar on the left!  Also found in the February archives.

 

~Fast or Diet?~ January 16, 2014

prayer and fasting“I haven’t lost a pound since I started this fast 2 weeks ago!  My husband has dropped the weight, but not me.  So I quit.”

**little disclaimer- to my church family who is currently fasting, this was not a comment from someone in our congregation, relax**

Color me dumbfounded.

The last time I checked, fasting was not the latest weight loss craze but a means of connecting with God.

The more I thought on this comment, the more I realized that surely this is not the only person to ever use fasting as a way to reach their goal weight.  And I guess when you think about it, some diet plans do call for you to abstain from certain foods, such as sweets or high calorie beverages.  But that’s not the kind of fasting we’re talking about here.

In the simplest explanation I can think of, biblical fasting means to give something up for a set period of time and replace it with bible study and prayer.  I’ll give a couple of examples.

You decide to fast breakfast for 2 weeks.  During those 2 weeks, you would dedicate “breakfast time” to reading your Bible, talking to God or simply being still in His presence.

Maybe you opt to shut off your electronics for a week.  Rather than tune in to your fav show and tune out what’s happening around you, you decide to focus in on God and seek His face.

If I am to be totally honest, fasting is still somewhat new to me too.  I wasn’t raised exercising this particular discipline so I am learning as I go…key is, I am willing to learn.  Based on the comment stated above, I wanted to share with others who may have a desire to fast but are unsure how to proceed or maybe don’t understand the concept behind it.

I have attached two articles that our Pastor has shared with us that I feel are very informative on the ins and outs of Biblical fasting.   Again, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but if you have questions, I’m willing to help you dig through the Word to find them!  Blessings to all.

http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/7-steps-to-fasting/index.htm

http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/index.htm

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

(Matthew 6:16 NLT)

 

~Discipline~ June 26, 2013

“That hurt!!”  These words have been shouted from all of my children at one time or another.  My response, “it was supposed to hurt, punishment isn’t meant to be enjoyable.”  Now before you pass judgment, I rarely spank my children.  However, if the crime calls for it, so be it.  I am more prone to take away luxuries or extra activities which garners the response, “that’s so unfair!”  Yep…it is.  But how well would my children and yours turn out if they were never held accountable for their behavior? What kind of adults would they become?

Then there is the discipline we receive from God as his children.  

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes each one He accepts as his child.”

(Hebrews 12:5-6)

It is the same with our heavenly Father as it is with parents.  Discipline is given out of love, not as a form of torture!  It is meant to better us and train us in how we should live.  It hurts, it feels unfair, but it is necessary.  Don’t let God’s discipline set you back.  On the contrary, be encouraged that He loves you enough to care and wants to see you reach your “peaceful harvest of right living.”  Perhaps all He thinks you need is a little “time-out”….don’t argue, just have a seat.timeout-chair