Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Harmonious Living~ March 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:38 am
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I went to bed last night with the windows wide open, thanks to the lovely Spring weather we’re having. This morning I was awakened by a chorus of birds just chatting away. I’m laying here now, listening to all of the varying chirps, too many to count, and each one as beautiful as the one before. All of these little birdies with their own unique voice, singing their own tunes and yet they harmonize flawlessly. They’re not the same size or color, they don’t all live in the same type of nest, and yet here they are, singing their hearts out, together, making the loveliest music. 
Maybe we could all learn a little lesson from the birds. 

We may not look alike, sound the same, be similar in size, skin tone or ethnic background. We may live different lifestyles, have opposing beliefs or wildly different upbringings, but does that have to mean we can’t all sing our songs in harmony? Diversity is a wonderful gift that we should use to learn from one another rather than use to sow discord among our peers. While we may be different in numerous ways, we are all apart of the human race, in this life together, don’t you think we should act like it? 

 

 

~Avoid Mockers~ February 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:56 pm
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We’ve been gone from home for just at 3 months now. One thing about moving hours away from everyone you’ve ever known, you have lots of time to think…perhaps a little too much time! Now I’m not saying this is specific to me, but it is something I’ve observed having been removed from varying situations.

I’ve had a rather painful, if not obvious revelation: some people want to see you fail for no other reason than sheer malice.

Fortunately, for every one of them, there is someone who celebrates your triumphs, encourages you & truly wishes you great success…hang on to them.

You shouldn’t be overly concerned with those who wish you no good, who seem, in fact, to thrive off your misfortune. Don’t try to interpret why they have such harsh feelings for you, your efforts will likely prove futile. There is a solid chance they may not be completely aware why they have such feelings of contempt aimed squarely at you. Even those you have wronged and forgiveness seems out of their reach, don’t allow yourself to become all-consumed by it. If you’ve made your peace with them and more importantly, the Lord, let it go.

“Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” (Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT)

Instead be thankful for those who love you, the real you, the ones who forgive your shortcomings, shoulder your burdens and actually defend you against the cynics.

I have said this in numerous posts and I’m going to say it again, be kind always. Add to that, even when you’ve been wronged, feel misjudged or when someone shoots you the death stare….be kind always. We are all a messed up bunch of sinners and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we can get on with the business of loving one another.

 

~Annonymous Tears~ February 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:51 am
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Today started out as one of those days where the tears were just beneath the surface. It was the craziest thing because I couldn’t even pinpoint the source of my sudden sensitivity. The feeling of tension in my chest was ever present as was the constricting of my throat as I choked back the waterworks.

For those who don’t know, I’m a natural cryer, meaning I do it often and for seemingly no real good reason. I’ve been accused of being tenderhearted more than a time or two in my life, which is a blessing & a curse. Typically, even if no one else can comprehend what is causing my emotional distress, I usually know which is what had me flabbergasted this morning.

Rather than try to hash it out, I chose avoidance. I attempted to beat the weepies into submission. First I tried the death machine, (elliptical in layman’s terms), to no avail. Next up, I pounded the pavement. For a solid 2 miles my mind was jumbled & I was growing more frustrated by the minute. The release of endorphins usually works. That’s when I started talking to Jesus, nothing heavy, just a “Hey Jesus, what’s up with me today?!” There was a nice, soft breeze while I ran accompanied by the lightest of showers, and that’s when I got my answer and felt at peace.

Sometimes, it’s ok to just be sad; inexplicably, possibly even somewhat irrationally sad, because even if we don’t know the source of our sorrow, Jesus does and he knows precisely what to do with it. It could be there is someone you love going through hell and that sudden sadness you feel is a stirring in your spirit to pray for them, even when no name or specific need comes to mind. Maybe there’s something in your own life that you haven’t given much thought to and this is the Lord’s way of calling attention it so that it can be dealt with before it festers. It could be something else altogether!

My point is, when those feelings of overwhelming sadness strike, rather than run from it, (literally in my case), take a moment and pray about it. There is a verse that has always brought me comfort that comes to mind and I hope that it brings you peace as well.

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Even when unnamed, silent tears fall, they are never in vain. Not one goes unnoticed by the One who knows the number of hairs on your head. Let that sink in today.

 

~Practice Active Listening~ January 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:53 am
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Growing up, reading was one of my favorite pastimes. I would get a new book, and within hours, I’d be finished and looking for the next. I always had the ability to tune everyone and everything out and become totally engrossed in the words on the page, becoming a part of the story. I loved discovering the idiosyncrasies of each character, picturing their mannerisms and imaging how they would react to any given situation.

Now with 5 kids under foot, reading has become more of a luxury. The days of tuning out the noise with ease have long since left me. However, the leniency of the last couple of months has afforded me the opportunity to get lost in a good book far more frequently and I think I’ve discovered a little something about myself.

First off, it is worth mentioning that I never just read anything. Anytime something speaks to me, I take notes and revisit it later. I don’t skim past new words, I take the time to stop and look them up (and occasionally send them to my word-nerd friend for her blog). I want to learn as much as I can, in non-fiction & fictional settings alike, because even fiction is riddled with hidden truths.

I have always felt that I am fairly good at reading people. I believe I owe this particular trait to my voracious appetite for reading. I am rarely satisfied with surface feelings, and can usually dodge the pretense that all is well. Prior to my loving Jesus days, I never realized the value of this gift. Now that I’ve served in various areas of ministry, I can see the depths of how it’s helped me to reach out to people. In the same manner that I make notations while reading, when I’m engaged in conversation, I’m tucking away little reminders, noticing facial cues and trying to soak in as much as I can about the other person. I think it’s vital that we are able to tune out any and all distractions when someone is sharing with us, even if the topic of conversation seems insignificant.

I challenge you to ask yourself, are you a good listener? Do your friends have your undivided attention or do they walk away from their time spent with you thinking that there were about a million other places you would have rather been in that moment?  Never underestimate the healing that comes from simply listening. Not everyone is looking for a solution to their problems, sometimes all they need is to be heard.

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Don’t be like the fool.

*A little something extra…be on the lookout for posts inspired my most recent readings.*

 

 

 

~Your Love Never Quits~ January 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:54 am
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This blog has a stat tracker that keeps me in the know on site traffic. While not elaborate, the details include: number of visitors, the posts that were read on any given day and the most informative, search terms that led readers to my site. There are two search terms that I see frequently. The first, “Valerie Rutledge blog,” (thank you, by the way, to whomever follows my writings specifically). The second, and the one I want to address today, “you never loved me.”

It shocks me how often this phrase appears. Each time it grips my heart, seizing it up for just a moment. While I hope that finding their way to my blog ministers to them and brings healing, it pains me to know how many people are suffering in this capacity. I imagine downcast faces, sitting in front of a dimly lit screen, seeking answers for why they’ve found themselves in a loveless relationship or perhaps one which has recently ended.

My heart aches for you, that you’ve found yourself in this place of searching, trying to understand what went wrong. What did you miss or could you have done differently? The pain that comes from love that’s been lost is real and deep and incomparable to any other.

While I sincerely wish I could bring healing to your broken heart or answer the burning question of “why,” I cannot. What I can do is point you to a love that never fails. I can introduce you to the One that will never lead your thoughts down the path of “you never loved me.” His name is Jesus and a relationship with Him is a sure thing. He will never leave you nor forsake you. When you stumble or when you screw up monumentally, His love for you is steadfast.

I am not so gullible to believe that this will erase whatever pain you feel in this moment, when your heartbreak is fresh and the grief comes in waves. But I pray it soothes your soul, like the warmth of the sun as it kisses your skin or the familiarity of a trusted friend’s embrace. Let the Lord’s love mend your broken places today and know, sweet friend, that I am in your corner. IMG_1918

 

~Grateful Mommy~ January 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:11 am
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Some days I look at any one of my babies and think surely my heart will explode from the love I feel for them. Today it’s Bella, with her sleepy eyes and tousled hair, straight out of bed in her Elsa slippers. She makes a beeline for me as I sit reading with coffee in hand and lays across my lap. There’s nothing spectacular about the moment. She does the same thing nearly every day. But today when I look at her squishy face with the dusting of freckles across her nose, I tear up.

One day she’ll stop greeting me this way. One day she’ll walk right past me to the kitchen to fix her own breakfast. One day she’s going to stop pressing her nose to mine as she promises to love me forever, even on her birthday. Thankfully, today is not that day. However, I can’t know when that inevitable day will come.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, why I’m so overcome with emotion, maybe I’ve been reading too many books that pull on the heartstrings!! What I do know is my children are gifts. Even when I’m worn, hurt or furious, they are my prize, my biggest accomplishment and the joy they bring far outweighs the nuisances that pepper our daily routines.

So when Isaiah puts his big man feet on every available surface, Peyton cuts me to the quick with his sometimes curt words, Autumn rolls her teenagry eyes at me, Emma stomps off in defiance or Bella dissolves into a puddle of tears over the word “no”, I pray I can recall these tender moments when love is almost tangible.

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“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!” (Psalm 127:3-5 The Message)

 

~Learning to Relax~ December 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:19 am
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We’ve been in our new home for just over a week now. For many reasons, we decided that I would homeschool all five of our children for at least the remainder of this school year. One of the main perks the kids and I were looking forward to was a more relaxed schedule. No more screaming momma trying to rush the kids out the door by a specified time. Gone would be the days of frustration at trying to “get it all done.” And yet, I seem to be having difficulty adjusting to this lifestyle!

Apparently I’ve spent so many years rushing everywhere that I have forgotten how to chill the heck out.

The kids have done great with their school work, finishing in a fraction of the time had they still been in public school….which sent me into a panic, emailing other homeschool moms to calm my fears. Am I not assigning them enough work? Are my kids going to fall behind? Thankfully those mommas put my mind at ease before I doubled up the kids’ workload.

When the typical after school hour rolls around, we have nowhere we have to be. No practices, no bonus kids to pick up, absolutely no rushing out the door…ever. You’d think that would be pretty easy to get used to, and yet here I sit, telling you that it’s not!

Y’all are going to think I’ve snapped, but I actually Googled “what does the Bible say about relaxing?”

“Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.” (Ecc 11:10 ESV)

First of all, I’m pretty sure I’ve not read this particular verse before or if I have, it wasn’t very memorable to me. Secondly, I had to Google the definition of vexation: the state of being annoyed, frustrated, or worried OR something that causes annoyance, frustration, or worry. I’ve included another translation of this verse that drove the point home for me:

 Rid yourself of all worry and pain, because the wonderful moments of youth quickly disappear. (CEV)

I’ve been afforded an opportunity to slow it down for a while, to spend more quality time with my children without the anxiety that accompanies an overbooked schedule. They are growing insanely fast and Lord knows I am not getting any younger and I’ve been squandering this incredible luxury of essentially having them all to myself, even if only for a few months.

It’s time I make a genuine effort at learning to just relax and embrace this season with my beautiful family. If you have something causing vexation in your life, maybe today is a good time to say “no more.”

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Just in case you need a little help relaxing…the ocean always does it for me 😉

 

~Your Gift is a Gift to You Too~ November 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:43 am
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It’s been two weeks since I’ve sat down to write. Normally I would chastise myself for allowing so much time to pass without doing what I truly feel is part of my calling, but not today. Today I am simply thankful for the opportunity and the gift of writing. Too often I believe we take our gifts for granted, thinking of them as only being beneficial to those we serve. However, this morning as I carved out a few minutes of quiet to let my fingers fly, I realized just how much my gift is a gift to me also.

Sharing my life with you is a blessing to me. Writing gives me the freedom to be gut level honest about my struggles and my victories. While it’s always my hope that it will minister to whoever finds their way to my page, there has never been a post that didn’t speak to me first and inspire me to take stock of my own life. What I realized this morning as I sat curled up under my fleece blanket with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand while the rest of the house was perfectly still was simply this: when I write, I am forced to shut everything else out and focus only on what the Lord has laid on my heart in that moment. And that is the gift.

The last couple of weeks have been busy with our typical commitments mixed in with some major life changes. I was looking at my writing as one more thing I had to do, another obligation, and in all honesty, feeling somewhat bitter about not having the time to fit it in but for the wrong reasons. This morning as I slowly let the words come out, I realized how peace overtakes me in those moments when the only “noise” that seeps in is the sound of my fingers on the keys.

What is your gift? Have you stopped to reflect on how it changes your life? Maybe say this little prayer with me today:

Dear Lord, today I am thankful for the gifts and the talents, both great and small, that you have given me. Help me to see how even while I use them for your glory, they are a blessing to me. In your precious name, Amen. James 1

 

~Set Your Mind~ October 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:15 am
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Yesterday, during a highly agitated moment, I text my friend Julia about my endless frustrations and she sent me the most beautiful (and timely) response: I like these lines from a prayer: “Lord, help us to be: Cheerful when things go wrong; Persevering when things are difficult; Serene when things are irritating.”

Can I get an amen?!

Seeing as how my morning got off to yet another rocky start, I quickly pulled up her message and read it again…and again…and again. Then it dawned on me that the words reminded me very much of one of my favorite verses, Romans 12:12:

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (NIV)

While I love both her message & this Scripture, some days, (most days), it is far easier said then done. Life just gets in the way! I want to be full of joy and patience and faithfulness but I’m surrounded by things that suck the happy right out of me. But is it not up to you and me to not allow joy-suckers into our lives? Doesn’t the Bible teach us to set our minds on things above instead of things of the earth? In other words, focus on the One who knows all, sees all and can handle all as opposed to focusing on the problems, struggles, negativity, bad moods and overwhelming to do lists.

Today’s message is short and sweet, I almost didn’t bother to share. But I thought, “what if they don’t have a friend like mine to help them set their mind right?” So thanks, Julia, for the prayer that I needed. I hope this message makes the way into the hearts of others, who like me, have allowed a joy-sucker into their lives far too early this morning.

Be blessed….and BE a blessing!

 

~People Pleaser No More~ October 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:51 am
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I have recently felt challenged in an area of my life that I have’t had to deal with for quite sometime. I’ve tried to put a word to the emotion and can’t seem to settle on one that fits. I’ve been faced with some hurt that has left me feeling “blah.” And yes, that is the best I can come up with when I think of this particular situation. I am not angry. I don’t feel unforgiveness. I’m not upset. I feel no ill will towards anyone. And yet, I also feel no desire to do anything.

This is an odd predicament to find myself in as I have spent my entire life being a people pleaser. I’ve always struggled with the thought that someone may not like me and have mastered the art of adaptation to fit into whatever mold each person expected of me. But something has changed and it is both liberating and slightly terrifying all at once.

“Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” (1Thes 2:4 NLT)

This is where I have missed the mark up until this point. I used to believe that if someone didn’t like me or my opinions, that meant I was failing God. How could I be effective in loving people if I can’t make them love me back?!

I realize now that my thoughts were skewed and misguided. I was naive to think that I could go through life being liked by all. Friends, I’ve had people hate me in response to a choice I made but I’ve also had those who simply didn’t like to be in my company for whatever reason, no explanation. Whereas I used to let it get me down and change my attitude when confronted by someone who was not a fan, I am learning to not let those around me have that much of an impact on how I perceive myself to be. I am imperfect, my word is fallible and at times I am completely unlovable. Even in those weaknesses and the multitude that I could add to the list, I know who I am. My self-worth is no longer hinged on what others say about me or directly to me. I am confident in who God says I am and that is sufficient cause for me to find freedom in the face of adversity.

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