Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~God Never Wastes A Hurt~ June 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:37 am
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“God uses adversity in this life to strengthen your faith.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1Peter 1:6 NIV)

God never wastes a hurt.” ~from sermon “The best of times in the worst of times” Pastor Chad Dunford

It was that last line that comforted me, like a warm hug offered at just the right moment. Read it again and let it resonate, God never wastes a hurt.

I often encourage my kids to refrain from using words like “always” and “never” because of what they imply. To say someone never does such-in-such means, “at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever.” Quite definitive language, wouldn’t you say? Now insert that definition into the aforementioned promise:

God, at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever, wastes a hurt.

Wow.

God does not cause us pain and suffering, it is the result of living in a fallen world. And yet His Word assures us that we will never walk through any tribulation on our own.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 ESV)

Even when we sit alone, certain that no one cares about the tears that stain the carpet….

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

Just when we allow ourselves to believe that it will always be this way…..

 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 ESV)

God can take your mourning and turn it into dancing. He can take that hurt that is pressing in on every side and use it to mold and strengthen you and glorify His name. When you think all hope is lost, take comfort in knowing:IMG_8085

God, at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever, wastes a hurt.

 

~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)

 

 

~The Thrill Is Gone~ June 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 1:36 pm
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This morning I went for a run with my usual running partner.  Initially, all was right with the world and we were settled in to a decent pace.  About a mile and a half in, my body started to resist.  Try as I might, I couldn’t will the cramps away nor could I outrun them.  At the 2.5 mark, I had to walk.

I left feeling somewhat frustrated.  It seems the more I try to do the “right thing,” the more I am met with opposition.  I try to eat healthy, for the most part.  I mean we all need to cheat once in a while!  I exercise on a regular basis & I drink enough water to hydrate a camel.  And yet I’m not reaching the goals that I have set for myself.

It’s enough to make me want to say the heck with it, grab a box of Krispy Cremes and chase them down with a 2 liter of Coke!! It’s really hard to keep at something when:

  1. It’s harder than you expected.
  2. You hit an obstacle.
  3. The outcome isn’t what you had anticipated.

While my current struggle is with health & fitness, I have been in this exact predicament in my marriage, in parenting and in my writing ministry. So what does one do when they reach a lull in life or ministry?  When the initial excitement wears off, you lose momentum & frustration sets in, do you throw in the towel?

Let me take you to my favorite chapter in the Bible, Hebrews 12.

  1. Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.  While this applies directly to sin, it can mean so much more.  What is it that you are struggling with today?  Is there something you can remove from your life that would help you to succeed?
  2. Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  Really?  One might ask how endurance is possible in the midst of fatigue and when the odds just aren’t in your favor.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.
  3. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.  Doing the right thing is rarely going to be the easy way.  It is often the path less chosen and you may even find yourself on it completely alone.  Fighting for your marriage when it seems all hope is lost; staying firm in your parenting convictions when “so-and-sos” mom let’s their kid do it; sticking with your calling when it doesn’t seem to be doing anybody any good; buckling down on your health & fitness when you plateau & the benefit isn’t clear-none of these things are easy, but they are virtuous.

It is normal to become weary at any task throughout life.  Quitting is enticing, especially when the only alternative is to plow through that which seems impossible.  Let me assure you, eyes on Jesus=nothing is impossible.6a0a33efe69987c2c803a7c5e62bcfd7

 

~Chin Down, Eyes Forward, Arms Moving~ April 15, 2014

Last night I attended a track meet in which two of my children were participants.  Track meets can be fun to watch.  If you have 5 hours to spare, I highly recommend you attend one.  This particular meet was kinda rough as the skies had opened up just at the start and completely saturated the track, sand pits, runways….and bleachers.  Boo.

The kids were troopers though and went to work.  The majority of the runners participate in multiple events.  My two are distance runners meaning their events included the 1600,800 and 4 x 400 relay.  A total of 1.75 competitive miles.  As you might imagine, while the night drags on…and on….and on, they get a little run down.

Exhaustion sets in and it’s as if the weight of their heads is too much for their necks to hold up.  They give in to the pull and let their heads drop back, mouths wide open, sucking in air.

The sound of competitors feet, hard and fast behind them, tempts them to look over their shoulders to see just how much they are closing the gap.

Event after event, their bodies start to wear down and their once perfect form starts to deteriorate.  Their arms swing wildly as they approach the finish line one more time.

Myself and the fellow momma bears, (and 1 nana), scream frantically from the stands “Come on!!  You can do it! One more lap!!  You’re almost there!!”

But one coach on the infield caught my attention.  He was standing about 50 meters from the finish line and every time one of his kids would come by, this is what he would say, “Chin down, eyes forward and keep those arms moving front to back.”

Words of wisdom.  And I’m not talking about strictly for running.

Life gets tough and the burden of it all weighs you down.  You drop your head in defeat.  You start looking backwards, thinking the past was so much better than the present.  You decide you just don’t care anymore about doing things the “right way” and you start flailing.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

When you’re tired of trying and feel like giving up, that’s when you need to buckle down.

When the enemy is nipping at your heels, attacking you in every aspect of your life, keep your focus.

When it seems you’ve given your very best and it’s all for nothing, don’t lose your form.  Keep doing what you know to be right and true all the way through to the finish.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

That is how we will win the most important race we’ll ever run.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” (Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT)

champion

One more time:  CHIN DOWN, EYES FORWARD, ARMS MOVING.

 

~Quick Fix is not a Reality~ November 7, 2013

instant resultsI have seen an abundance of articles on super foods that reduce body fat, miracle creams that banish cellulite & one trick wonders that suddenly take your spare tire and transform it into rippling, washboard abs.  Are we really that gullible?

If we would be honest with ourselves about the amount of time it took for our bodies to get into the physical condition that it is currently in, then we would know with absolute certainty that it’s going to take time to undo the damage, so to speak.

And yet so many seem to have a similar philosophy when it comes to their Christian walk.  We spend years forming bad habits, nursing unhealthy relationships, accumulating debt and so on but expect it all to right itself when we get saved.  It’s like we’re waiting for God to snatch us up out of our old life and place us in a new one where all our baggage is checked at the door.

Just as no super food is going to miraculously cause 20 pounds to fall away without exercise, no cream is going to smooth your dimply thighs overnight & I have yet to find that ab machine that produces fitness magazine cover results without making serious diet changes.  The same is true for all the “yuck” from your old life when you make a commitment to live for Christ.  You have to put in the work!

I know this is short and simple today, but I have encountered quite a few disheartened saints lately that I feel need a reminder that life with Jesus doesn’t equal instantaneous change.  It’s a process that will have peaks and valleys.  If you find yourself in one of those valleys where the walls on either side of you seem so ridiculously steep & slick that you can’t possibly get a foothold to climb your way out, take heart in knowing that God is right there beside you, cheering you on.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

(Romans 12:12 NIV)

 

~Quit Or Endure~ June 20, 2013

dont-quit“Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.  Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule…sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things…and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”

(Hebrews 10:32-34)

God calls each of us to serve in different ways.  Even when we are walking according to His word & serving Him faithfully, there may be days when we feel like giving up; the struggle is too great & not only can you not see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can’t even find the tunnel!

So what do you do when you feel like giving up?  When you’ve been stretched to thin, your limit was reached long ago and you have nothing left to give anyone, including yourself?  The way I look at it, you have two options:

1.  Quit- This of course will be the easiest of two.  You can simply throw in the towel and walk
away with what you have left.

2. Endure- This one is going to hurt a little.  Do you know that the word endure means to suffer patiently?!  I don’t know about you, but in this feeble mind the words suffer and patiently should not be allowed to coexist.

However, loving the Lord is not our ticket to a life of ease.  We are subject to the same troubles as those who do not love Him.  The difference is we are not alone in our suffering.

“So do not throw away (your) confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you!  PATIENT ENDURANCE is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised!”

(Hebrews 10:35-36)

When you feel like quitting, just keep going.  God never gives up on you, so don’t give up on Him!  And here’s the kicker and why I will always choose option #2, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.”  (Matthew 24:13)

Please know that I am not trying to downplay the struggles that many of you are facing, I simply want to encourage you not to quit.  Even when it feels as if you can’t take another step, take it.  God may be working on your breakthrough right now and you don’t want to walk away just before your miracle…do you?