Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Lessons From The Checkout~ May 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:58 pm
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I woke up yesterday morning feeling weepy. I had been working on a personal piece before bed the night before that had me bawling so I guess you could say I was emotionally hungover.

I chatted with my brother, my hubs & my bestie. Fortified by their words, it seemed plausible that I could venture outside the house.

Bad. Idea.

I went to the big box store, the one that makes me question humanity. I had a sentimental purchase to make, but again, I thought I was good so no biggie. I managed to only sniffle a bit while shopping. And then I entered the checkout line.

When I say the cashier was salty, I’m being generous. Normally I can deal with a total stranger being indifferent, but considering the previous 24 hours, I was praying she’d hurry the heck up before I burst into tears standing right in front of her. I made it, barely. I went snottin’ & snivelin’ through the parking lot and wouldn’t you know it was a rainy day so I didn’t even have my sunglasses to hide behind. To make matters worse, I had my two little girls with me. Ugh.

Who out there besides me cries even harder when someone asks, “what’s wrong?” Add in the fact that it was my babes looking up at me with their big doe eyes and let’s just say the dam exploded.

Once I got my wits about myself, a few things occurred to me.

  • I cry a ridiculous amount, to the point of dehydration.
  • I should never set foot out the door without tissues.
  • Rainy days & Mondays always bring me down.

Ok, seriously. What was really nagging at me was my interaction with the cashier. She was oblivious to the hot mess before her. Just as I had no way of knowing what she’d been through to make her react to me the way she did. Y’all know how I like to tell you to be nice always? This is why.

I really needed someone to be sappy, sugary, overbearingly sweet to me. But maybe she did too, and neither one of us could deliver. Both of us were looking to the wrong source for comfort.

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Had I taken the time to be comforted before I left the house, I might have been able to try a little harder to make that cashier smile. But I didn’t and an opportunity was wasted. IMG_4096

We are all going to have bad days, when the last thing we should do is head out into the world without our “Does not play well with others” sign. It’s imperative that we take time to nurture ourselves if we intend to be of any use to anyone else. When your heart hurts, pray for peace, seek out the people who love you most and let their words & God’s comfort wash over you. And be healed. It’s really hard to shine your light through a cloud of hurt, bitterness, anger or the like.

 

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~Be Nice or Pipe Down~ May 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:17 am
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Why belittle someone based solely on the fact that they have made different life choices than you? Do their decisions somehow disrupt the path that you are on? These are questions that I’ve considered when I see people tearing each other down.

I am not referring to those who offer sound, helpful advice, (helpful being the keyword), or those who share their opinion without dragging someone through the mud to make a point. This is only meant for those who are just outright hateful to other human beings for no other reason than not approving of some aspect of their life. It’s just not necessary. 

If you don’t like the way someone chooses to live their life and you find it impossible to be kind, would it not be better for everyone if you simply stepped out of the picture? It is not my intention to sound accusatory, however, if you are being mean, condescending or judgmental in regards to another’s personal choices, you are out of line. End of story. Sure, you’re entitled to your opinion, but no one is obligated to listen to it much less give it any consideration. So if you find that you are being overly critical, especially when your two cents were not requested, you may want to brace yourself for a little backlash. 

We could all benefit from realizing that we can be friends with someone, or at the very least civil, and not agree with every decision they make! I don’t understand why this is so hard for some. Could you imagine how dull life would be if every person in your circle was EXACTLY like you?! 

 Initially this post had quite the angry tone. I edited, multiple times, to try and take the sting out, hopefully I was at least moderately successful. The last thing I want is to come off as mean or bitter but I also didn’t want to downplay how much of an issue I think this has become. I feel like I should clarify that no one has ruffled my feathers, not directly anyways. I’m just so over mean spirited people and the damage they are inflicting. BE NICE!!! And if you can’t, then at least be quiet. 

 

~Don’t Hate The Girl Who Loves Herself~ March 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 3:30 pm
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“She thinks she’s so pretty.”

And what, prey tell, is wrong with that?!

When did it become a bad thing for a woman to like what she sees in her reflection? I have noticed that it tends to be other women who make this statement. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard a dude utter those words in my entire life.

So, ladies, why would we express such hostility towards another woman simply because she feels good in her skin?

Insecurity?

Jealousy?

Hatred?

Not one of those qualities is very becoming. Regardless of the reason behind it, there is no justifiable reason to say something so harsh about anyone. So what if “she” thinks she’s pretty? Does her confidence affect you negatively in some way? Would you prefer she knit pick every feature or that she balk at what she sees in the mirror? Would it make you feel better if she thought she was hideous and undesirable, unworthy of anyone’s attention? Even if her confidence errs on the side of conceit, that’s her issue to resolve, not ours to judge.

I can remember being a teenager and having thought this about a girl or two and I know it was pure jealousy on my part. I’d catch my latest crush looking their way and rather than appreciate the beauty he saw, I’d feel angry that it wasn’t directed at me. Now when I see an attractive woman, I will point her out to whomever I’m with, even my husband. I’m not trying to trick him into complimenting another woman so I can pout about how he must not think I’m good enough, (yes, that was me in my younger years), I am simply in awe of how uniquely beautiful we all are and want others to recognize it too.

Sister-friends, we can all be beautiful, it’s not a contest where only one girl wins. Remember that more times than not, the beauty people see in us is at least partially based on that which comes from within us. Don’t let that image be tainted by belittling someone who is confidant in who they are. Love yourself. And love that woman who thinks she’s so pretty….because she is, and so are you.

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (Prov 14:30 ESV)

 

~THINK First~ March 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:11 am
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Hey you, with your finger hovering over “post,” can what you’re about to share be perceived as malicious, either by means of direct attack or passive-aggressively? Think about that, would you please, before you blurt out something you can never take back.

Social media has made it far to easy to be a cowardly bully. Everyday I see at least one post that is obviously meant to make someone or some group feel bad about themselves. Granted, I have several friends who are already combatting this trend by posting encouraging words every time they are online, but the problem is still prevalent.

What does one have to gain from being mean-spirited and hate-filled? What good can possibly come from slandering someone publicly with no consideration for who else could be affected by your rant? Does it invoke a feeling of power to seek one’s own revenge? Does it make you feel better about yourself to know that someone feels miserable about themselves at your hands?

I would venture to say that for the most part, when given these points some consideration, you would think twice before you rapid-fire posted in the midst of your anger or frustration.

One of my favorite Christian authors talks about the beauty of the “pause” and how taking the time to ask yourself 3 questions can drastically change the outcome of any situation:

  1. Are my words kind?
  2. Are my words true?
  3. Are my words necessary? (From LysaTerkeurst.com)

Imagine yourself today with a literal pause button. Before you speak, with your mouth OR your hands, give yourself a moment to think so that you can respond with grace rather than vengeance.

Friends, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, too, hurt & betrayed and desperate for someone to come alongside me and validate my anger. While it may make us feel better in the short-term, it will likely make us feel that much worse once the dust settles and we realize that how we reacted was no better than the original offense. Let’s just agree to make the effort, one day at a time, to choose our words carefully. And when we mess up, know that there is forgiveness and grace to try again tomorrow.


“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” (Proverbs 29:20 NLT)

 

~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.

 

~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.*