Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~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!

 

~He Protected Me~ April 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:39 am
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protection“The Lord protected me when I was under attack.”

Our Pastor spoke these words during his Good Friday message and they have resonated with me since. There have been a few instances in my life when I felt like I was under attack.

At times, the attacker has been a visible enemy. I’ve had my reputation on the line when gossipers chose to spread their distorted version of events to anyone who would listen. I’ve been in “relationships” where my vulnerability was exploited. There have been a handful of times when a man has used his strength to control me. And yet, in each of these circumstances, God shielded me from ruin. No irreparable damage was done. I’ve been blessed with true friends & family whose opinion of me cannot be swayed by slander, who would never take advantage or lay a malicious hand on me.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” (Psalm 138:7 ESV)

Then there have been times when my adversary was the one who specializes in the sneak attack, Satan. Here’s the thing about the onslaught of the devil, you don’t always realize that you are under siege, that is until it’s all said and done and you look back on the situation. That’s why the Bible warns us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)  He is crafty and creeps in when your defenses are down. He will take advantage of your weaknesses, remind you of all your failures and convince you that you have no future. Even in these times, the Lord has prevailed, reminding me of who HE says I am.

But that’s not what struck me about this statement from Pastor. What stirred in my spirit was the profound truth that God protected me even in the moments when I didn’t know I needed it. And by that I mean, He protected me from myself. If there has ever been someone I could accuse of singlehandedly attempting to destroy my life, it would be me. I have belittled myself. I’ve made insanely bad choices. I’ve sabotaged perfectly healthy relationships in favor of the not-so-healthy variety. I’ve hidden my need for help from loved ones and ran hard & fast from God. And yet, I am still here. Still loved by God. Forgiven of all the crappy mistakes I’ve made and welcomed back with eagerness into His loving arms. He has saved me from ruin.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)

“The Lord protected me when I was under attack.”

 

~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’.

 

 

 

~Dream a Little Dream~ January 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:43 am
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dreamWhat is your dream? What is it that you think, “if I could do _____ every day, then my life would be complete.”?

Now, ask yourself this, is that God’s dream for your life or is it yours?

Ouch, ouch and ouch!

I don’t mean to imply that your dreams and desires don’t line up with God’s Word. What I am proposing is this, have you asked Him if they do? The Bible tells us this:

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NASB)

Some may misinterpret this Scripture to mean that if you love and serve God, then He will give you everything that you want in life. That’s not how I see it.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” (Eze 36:26 ESV)

Once we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, He gives us a new heart, one that is in line with His will for our lives. If we stay fully submitted to Him, surrendering our need for control to allow Him room to work, then we can be certain that the dreams we have for our future are from the Lord and not our own selfish wants.

I have big dreams, friends. Not only for myself and my family, but for our church family as well. I am sure that you have some pretty big dreams yourself. I have been known to pray and ask God to “make things happen” in certain areas of my life. You know what I sometimes tend to forget? To pray and ask Him to show me what He wants to happen. Boo on that! Rather than approach His throne of grace with petitions for what we think is our dream, how about we seek His face and pray that He would plant a seed in our hearts for that which He has created us to do?

 

~Word of the Year~ January 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:51 am
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In January of 2014, I accepted a challenge from a fellow Christian blogger to choose ONE word as a motto of sorts for the year. This girl right here chose “reckless.” My thought process was to live reckless for God, letting go of my need to have all the details ahead of time and just follow where He led me.

Well, that’s not how my year started. I was reckless alright but not in a good way. As is oftentimes the case, right about the time I made up my mind to follow hard after Jesus, that’s the precise moment when the devil tried to intervene. Our number one enemy is a crafty little evildoer, so he found my weakest point and went to work convincing me that all hope was lost.  I found myself floundering and confused, feeling pretty darn certain that my whole life was falling apart. For a brief, yet excruciatingly painful time, I lived reckless with my heart. I shut out my family, my friends and worst of all, my Jesus. But as smart as satan may be, God is greater. Just when my heart couldn’t take anymore, He sent His saints to pull me back up and snap me out of my funk.

In retrospect, I can see that nothing was as bad as I had made it out to be. I let my guard down and gave the enemy a foothold into my life and it could have ruined me if not for God. I spent the remainder of 2014 living reckless in the way that I had intended, leaning hard into God’s will for my life and trusting without fail that His ways, while sometimes difficult to understand, are higher than my own.

Now that a new year is here, I debated on choosing a word for fear that it would be an open invitation for the devil to come at me again. Now I ain’t scared, but I ain’t crazy either and I’m not one to go looking for trouble when things are going just fine. But I don’t want just fine. I want spectacular.

So, this year, my word is GUARDED.

Not in the way that you might think.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thes 3:3 ESV)

I will guard my mind from thoughts that have no business occupying my time.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8 ESV)

I will guard my heart, filling it with promises from God so that I don’t find myself questioning His love for me.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39 NIV)

I will guard my mouth, making it a priority to choose my words carefully.

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” (Prov 13:3 ESV)

Lastly, I will guard my time, taking care to not overextend myself or my family to the point of exhaustion.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 ESV)

I am believing for a beautiful 2015, for me, my family, my church and for you, my friends. A closing bit of advice, if you decide to choose a word for 2015….remember to choose wisely 😉

be on guard

 

 

~Trust Without Borders~ December 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:38 am
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One of my absolute favorite songs right now is “Oceans” by Hillsong. I feel the lyrics adequately sum up my life over the past year.

More so than ever before, I have felt God calling me to do what is out of my comfort zone. Invitations have been accepted to be part of ministries that are growing and taking shape as we go. I’m the gal who likes to know the what, when, why and how of things in advance. So as you might imagine, stepping out into the unknown took great faith on my part. With the New Year now fast approaching, I have found myself floundering a bit and I think this morning I’ve discovered the source of my irritation.

I’ve been trying to figure how to make it all work on my own. It’s not that I stopped seeking God, but I was leaning heavily on my own abilities to plan, organize and multi-task. My mind has been racing with “I need to do this. I need to go there. I need to call so-n-so…” and the list goes on. With all the racket, I was having trouble hearing that still small voice that is always present to offer direction, encouragement and most importantly, peace. I was believing God for guidance, but I wasn’t trusting Him enough to give me what I needed when I needed it. My control-freakedness had put a strategically placed wall between me and my willingness to trust without limitations.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov 3:5 ESV)   

Not anymore. If called God me to it, He will lead me through it.

I feel certain there will be days when I struggle to find balance. Today is shaping up to be one of those days. I’m pecking this out one-handed, trying to write with a snotty 3-year-old in my ear, a snuggly wee one on my chest and a mind that is screaming over all the things I’d like to accomplish today.

But…

“(I) know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. .” (Rom 8:28 HCSB)  

That’s right. Even in the mundane, everyday life stuff, God is working, giving me grace for the moment. I only need to trust Him without borders.

Print

 

~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.”

 

~Huff & Puff, Satan~ October 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:21 am
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After a week on hiatus, I’ve decided to buckle down and get back at it! This blog was started in response to the pull I felt on my heart to speak God’s truth to the weak and weary and man have I been both of those lately!  So today, I dropped all the babes at school, grabbed the laptop & a cup of coffee and retreated to my bed to hack out some profound wisdom with my doggie at my feet.

It didn’t take long before I started to feel the anxiety well up in my chest. I’ve neglected this blog for several day so I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten how to write and if this computer zooms one more time without me touching anything, I’m gonna scream….again.  Then I catch a glimpse of the book we are reading as a praise team and remember that the rest of the team is on chapter 6 and I’m struggling to finish chapter 3.  My inbox is flooded with requests for volunteers that I have yet to respond to, so maybe I should give that my attention instead of focusing on my ministry.  And I was gone all weekend fundraising so our house is a hot mess and the laundry is up to the ceiling so it’s pretty selfish of me to sit and sip coffee and try to talk to y’all when my family needs my services.

Well, hey Satan you didn’t waste anytime showing your hideous face on this lovely Monday morning.

Why is it that at the precise moment you decide to do something for Jesus, Satan jumps in and messes with your mind?!  Does he not have anything better to do?  Apparently the answer to that question is a resounding NO!  Surely I am not the only one fighting some Hell today.  So what say you, friend? Are we going to let the enemy attack our hearts and minds at every turn or are we going to lean hard into God and renew the fire and passion we once had to serve Him with gladness?

“Give me back the joy that comes from being saved by you. Give me a spirit that obeys you. That will keep me going.” (Psalm 51:12)devil