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

 

~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’.

 

 

 

~Called With Confidence~ November 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:17 am
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...because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too...

…because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too…

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV)

What is it that you feel called to do in the Kingdom of God?

I’ve met so many people who question that they’re called to do anything because they doubt their gifts. God has blessed each one of us with specific talents that can be used to glorify Him. Whether or not we choose to do so is entirely up to us. Most of the God given talents we have can be used for worldly gain or to further the Kingdom. God will not force our hand to do His work, He seeks those who are willing then He makes us able.

Therein lies the second problem we face when operating in our calling, we don’t see ourselves as worthy of sharing The Gospel because we feel ill-equipped due to our countless mistakes or faults. Stop that! You have been redeemed, washed clean from your past, it is not to be used as a crutch to keep you from doing what YOU KNOW God is calling you to.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor 26-29 NLT)

One of my favorite sayings from author Rick Warren states, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the people He calls.” Do you get that?! The God of the universe will provide the resources, He only needs you to say “Here I am, Lord, send me.”

Therefor, be confident in your calling. If you don’t believe in your “product,” you might as well quit trying to sell it. Because if you don’t buy into it, no one else will.

{Because} “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29 ESV):

  • Let your actions be fueled by your passion.
  • Speak boldly for Jesus, after all, does He not do the same for us when He intercedes to the Father on our behalf?
  • Stop being a scarey-cat, whom or what shall you fear with the God of Heaven’s armies on your side?
 

~The Little Things~ May 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:41 am
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This morning I awoke to an empty bed.  I came up the stairs to a silent kitchen.  My husband was gone.

Did I get your attention?!  Before the panicked phone calls come rolling in, he’s not AWOL, this was planned.

I thought that I would love having the bed all to myself.  Turns out I barely slept in his absence.  Apparently I rather enjoy his warm body next to mine.  As I drug my butt up the stairs, there was no enticing aroma to greet me.  I actually had to be my own barista!  Folks let me tell you, coffee isn’t near as good when you have to make it yourself.    I didn’t get my gentle hug & kiss on the forehead before waking the kiddos, a moment that is just for us before the crazy commences, and it made me a little sad.

I can’t believe how many little things my husband does for me that I didn’t fully appreciate until this moment.

There are countless treasures that are part of my daily routine that I fail to give thanks for.  They seem insignificant when you look at the big picture but isn’t it the small things that when added up matter the most?  While my husband being gone triggered this thought, it isn’t exclusive to our relationship.  I hate to think of all the moments I take for granted with my children, too.

  • Our bedtime ritual with the girls.
  • Prayer on the way to school each day.
  • Hearing the boys laugh hysterically over something only the two of them could possibly understand.
  • Looking around the living room when we all pile up for movie night and seeing the look of contentment on everyone’s face at the SAME TIME!

It amazes me how it takes one of my people being gone to realize just how much I have to be thankful for.  Why can’t I appreciate all the gifts when they are being given?  It’s never too late to start so here is what I am relishing from this morning.

  • Carrying my sleepy 6 year old to the couch for breakfast while she nuzzled into the soft curve of my neck.
  • The chorus of “I love you” as the oldest 3 rolled out of the car at drop off.
  • The warmth of the sun on my face as I sit writing this post from the comfort and safety of our modest home.

What seemingly insignificant moment will you take notice of today?  Who extends an act of love & kindness that you’ve come to expect but rarely acknowledge?  Will you show them your appreciation today?161e9178e372f0b11c525e827f7367f7

 

~What I Learned From Watching “Frozen”…Repeatedly~ May 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:22 am
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“Let it go, let it go!!!”

These words ring out in my house on a daily basis, from the mouths of my babes or the television speakers.  The ladies of the house are hooked on Disney’s latest hit, “Frozen,” self included.  What’s not to love about a musical that features a dysfunctional family?!  Combine that with the deceptively charming villain, a simple yet wise talking snowman, a reindeer that reminds us all of our favorite pet & the love interest who struggles to communicate his feelings, (something most ladies can relate to), and you’ve got yourself a hit!  Not to mention the wildly successful single from the movie soundtrack…seriously, these Disney people are on to something.

Around the 27th time of viewing this movie, something Queen Elsa belted out caught my attention:

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

It was one of those “aha” moments…like, how have I heard this song a bazillion times and not picked up on the depth of this verse?!

How many of you feel stuck?  Who can say that your current circumstances have you feeling confined, unable to move forward…paralyzed by fear?  Perhaps you are so consumed by thoughts of failure that you remain at their mercy, controlled by feelings and not by faith.  So many of us sense a pull to do something great but we place limitations on ourselves that have us convinced we can’t possibly find success through that avenue.

Fear can manifest itself in numerous ways but I have found the hardest to overcome for me personally is insecurity.  I oftentimes struggle to believe that I have what it takes to do anything meaningful.  I don’t like to admit this, but I think someone else needs to hear it.  The truth of the matter is, those of us who have accepted Christ as our savior have the most powerful resource available by way of the Holy Spirit.  We don’t have to rely on our own abilities but simply trust that if God planted a desire in our hearts, He will equip us with what is necessary to see it come to fruition.

Self-doubt, past mistakes, worldly rejection…all of these things are powerless against the plan of God.  We are not meant to be prisoners of our own minds or criticisms of our peers.  So let me pose this simple question, “What would you do if fear was taken out of the equation?”  Fill in the blank from this statement:  I will not let ____________ consume me.  I will fulfill my purpose.

Now, let it go.  Lay down all those self-deprecating thoughts and accept the gifts and talents God has given you and put them to use!  You are more.fear is not master

(For inquiring minds…yes, “Frozen” is currently being watched in the background.)

 

~Someone Else!~ March 26, 2014

“Honey, I have to do it!  If I don’t, who will?”

“Someone else!”

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

How many of my lady friends can relate to the above conversation?  Another project comes up and you feel obligated to say yes because you just know that if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.  Many, many times I have agreed to take on something that I really didn’t want to because I succumbed to the pressure of “everyone else has said no, we need you.”

Several years ago while I was pregnant with my Emma, I was being pulled in about 15 different directions.  I was volunteering for my kids school 4 days a week, teaching preschoolers Sunday school, singin’ in the choir & the praise team, serving on the PTA….you get the idea.  I remember vividly one Sunday morning, the praise team had just finished practicing and an elder started to approach me as I came down the stairs.  I had a sense of dread because the look on his face said, “I’m about to ask you to do one more thing….”  Keep in mind, folks, I wasn’t just pregnant, I was ginormously pregnant!  He proceeded to make his request for my assistance in another area of ministry.  As soon as I opened my mouth to give a reluctant ok, my man stood up from behind the drums, pointed one of his drumsticks at us both and said, “NO!  She says no!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!  Truthfully though, I was relieved.  I was about to add one more thing to my already overloaded calendar and it was something that I had zero interest in.  Initially I felt guilt-ridden because I was panicked that since I said no too, that this task was going to fall through the cracks.  Everything in me wanted to call him up and say, “I changed my mind, I’ll do it.”  But I resisted, (with the help of my voice of reason, aka, Jamie).

Here’s the deal, friends, you don’t have to do it all.  I know, I know…there are only a handful of people who do everything all the time because no one else will step up.  It’s ok, I promise you.  If it needs to get done, someone else will see to it.  It is entirely acceptable to choose where you will serve according to the gifts and talents that you have been blessed with by God.  Don’t believe me, take a look at the Truth, and let it set you free!

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

(Romans 12:6-8 NLT)

Kindly take note to the fact that nowhere in the above Scripture does it say that He has given all of these things to any one person.  This is why we are the body, working together not independently, to meet the needs of His people.  This obviously applies to the church and it’s various ministries, but can also be used to gauge how you book the rest of your calendar as well.  calling

 

~Joyeux Noel!~ December 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:12 pm
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Twas the night before Christmas & all through this house

Not a creature did stir, except for my spouse.

Who wrestled with wood and flat ironed sheets

To construct pop out tents for his little girls treats.

All thanks to me, his dear, darling wife,

Who can’t even wield a dull butter knife,

Sprung said request on this man of mine:

“What’s the big deal, you’ve got plenty of time!”

So during the night while the rest of us snored

My dear, sweet hubby worked until four!

Working his magic with no time to spare

On the gift that “store bought” can’t even compare

While he may have secretly wished to have strangled

Miracle of all miracles…here I sit unmangled

All thanks to Emma & Bella who shrieked with glee

“Thanks so much Daddy, for the gift you MADE for me!”

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The finished product!