Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Escaping Burnout~ November 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:47 am
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A wise man recently said, “Burnout does not come because you’re doing too much, it comes because you are doing too much that has no purpose.”

Thanks, Pastor Chad, I just love it when you stomp all over my feet from the pulpit!

Isn’t it amazing how one simple statement can be so convicting?! I can honestly say at this particular season of my life, I am not feeling that overwhelming exhaustion that comes with being stretched too thin. However, I have been there often enough that this spoke volumes to me.

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought maybe we could benefit from this little reminder:

You can’t do it all, you’re not supposed to do it all and half of what you’re freaking out about bears little to no significance to the general well-being of you and yours.

You are welcome.

Now, how do we avoid overcommitting ourselves to the point that we go about our tasks begrudgingly? I would suggest evaluating how you dispense of your time and talents.

  1. Are you serving out of a heart that feels compelled to do so or simply because you feel obligated?

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Eph 6:7 NIV)

If you know going in that your heart is not in it, you can be certain that it will be apparent by how you carry out the task. Wouldn’t it be better to gracefully say no, allowing an opportunity for someone who is passionate about it to say yes, rather than give less than 100%?

  1. Who are you aiming to please with your actions, God or man?

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10 NIV)

News flash, you can’t please everyone! So if your only reason for giving of yourself is to make someone happy, don’t go there.

  1. Are you seeking praise or recognition for your good deeds? (ouch, ouch, ouch)

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 6:1 ESV)

Check your motives…God already knows them. If you’re “helping out” so that your name will appear in the “thanks” column, you are not the person for the job.

There are plenty of opportunities for us to fill our days with useless busy work, leaving no room for the things that truly matter. In the coming days when it will be tempting to overextend ourselves, our budgets and our calendars, take pause and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your actions. If it doesn’t bring fulfillment to your life or lift up someone else’s, is it really that important? Choose to fill your days with that which brings a sense of purpose to your life and enriches the lives of those around you.

purpose

 

~Openhanded Generosity~ February 13, 2014

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.  If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

(Proverbs 3:27-28 NLT)

“Let me pray about it first.”

We have all likely been on the giving and receiving end of this statement.  While some things do require time in prayer, others…not so much.

Have you ever felt that nudge in your spirit to give to someone?

You may feel led to hand that guy with the cardboard sign a $20.

Perhaps you see an elderly woman with the bare necessities in her shopping cart behind you and you think, “I should pay for her items.”

It could be the single mom counting out change to buy diapers that catches your eye.  You have extra, should you help her out?

The neighbor’s spouse down the street who you’ve never met suddenly passes away.  You think about taking them a meal but that would be weird, right?

All of the above scenarios are times when you need to act, not go home and meditate on it for a bit.  The Lord sets before us opportunities to be his hands & feet, the last thing we want to do is squander those moments.  Here is a good way for to know instantly what you should do:  Will it honor the Lord?  If the answer is yes, go for it!  That hesitation you feel about helping a complete stranger is not the Lord.  Countless times in Scripture, He encourages us to open our hands to the needy, our homes to the homeless and our love to the unlovable.  If it’s within your means to help your fellow man, whom the Lord loves just as much as he loves you, then do it!  No need to stop and pray, sing a hymn or look for signs and wonders.  If you are low on funds and think you can’t possibly help your neighbor when you can’t support yourself, you’ve got time & talents too, don’t you?  Giving is so much more than a handful of cash.

You will find that once you start to look for ways to be a blessing to others that it becomes one of the most natural, fulfilling things you will ever do.  Beyond that, when you give to others, you are opening the door for God to bless you!

“Honor the Lord with the best part of everything you produce.  Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.”

(Proverbs 3:9-10 NLT)

We honor the Lord with our tithe AND offerings.  It is required of us to give back to God the 10% but can you even imagine how he beams with pride when we go above that to help those who are less fortunate?

sacrifice of giving

Day 3 of our Book of Proverbs study…give, give, give.  That is all.

 

~Miraculous Blessing~ January 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:58 am
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Our little family has had it’s share of highs and lows over the last few years.

When I was pregnant with Emma, we were told she exhibited signs of downs syndrome.

We watched helplessly as Peyton suffered with excruciating headaches.

We’ve fought the legal system to protect two of our children from a dangerous environment.

We have sat and looked at our bills only to realize the money wasn’t there.

And in all these struggles, one thing has proven true each and every time.  The moment that we decided to release our worries and cast all of our cares onto the Lord’s capable shoulders, He showed up.  I’m not talking about a little pat on the back.  I mean the kind of move of God that blew our minds and left us completely awestruck at His love for us.

With Emma, we prayed and decided to ignore the doctors urging and forgo the extensive testing.  Miraculously, the elevated numbers dropped and I delivered a healthy baby girl with ease.

Some of you know how Peyton’s story turned out.  After months of fretting and crying to God, he was healed in an instant…and I do mean an instant.  One day he was sick, the next day it was all over.

We are still in the throws of a fight over two of our children, but we know that the victory has already been given to us as the battle belongs to the Lord.

As for our financial worries, I can’t tell you how many times God has showed up in the craziest of ways.  We have been granted unmerited favor with debtors, we’ve received gifts of items we desperately needed but couldn’t possibly afford-like a refrigerator, and we’ve been showered with blessings from the most random of places just when we needed them most.

Last night was no exception.  I won’t share all the details, but I had to give God a shout out.

We had an unexpected visitor show up on our doorstep.  I was clueless to what was going on until it was all over because I was downstairs putting 2 rambunctious girls to bed.  I came up the stairs to find my husband with a look of shock on his face.  He could hardly put into words what had just taken place.  The Lord sent us a miracle through someone that we could have never anticipated.  This person handed something to my husband and said that the Lord laid it on their heart to give it to us and wouldn’t let them alone about it until they did!

There are no words to explain to you just how awestruck we all were in this house last night, we still are.  We know the Lord loves us, He’s proven it time and time again, but it still amazes me to see Him work in such a tangible way.

The moral of this story is to completely lean into God and trust that He will always give you just what you need at the very moment you need it.  Looking back over our story, how could we not trust him?!

To our guardian angel who was obedient to the Lord- I pray that you will be doubly blessed for the love and generosity that you extended to our family.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

give

 

~Story time~ July 25, 2013

There is a story floating around social media about a pastor who posed as a homeless man before beginning his job as the new pastor of a sizable church.  Out of curiosity, I googled it to check the validity of the story.  While I didn’t find any hard evidence to either validate or negate the story, what I did realize is that the point was not whether or not it was a true story, but the message of the story itself.  I have shared the story below for those who feel compelled to read it.  Maybe it is a farce meant to stir the hearts of complacent Christians everywhere.  I’m ok with that.  Didn’t Jesus tell “stories” in order to open our eyes and hearts to how we are to live as Christians?

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.
As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”
He then dismissed service until next week.
Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

Helping-the-homeless

photo found on momitforward.com

Now, be honest with yourself, would you have been one of the 3?  Just a little food for thought to inspire us all to do a little soul searching today.  I pray we would all have a heart like Jesus, always ready and willing to serve those less fortunate than us.

 

~Blessing In A Box~ June 14, 2013

boxesFor all you haters out there who think God doesn’t care about even the smallest details of your life, let me share a little story with you.

On Tuesday, June 11th I posted a blog titled “Hissy Fit.”  In said blog I mentioned as a passing thought that my curling iron had broken the week before we left for vacation.  This was not the primary point of my blog, just a little bit of back-story to lead up to the main event.  The next day, in the early afternoon, I received a random package addressed to me.  I knew I wasn’t expecting anything so my curiosity was peaked.  Once I opened the box, I quickly realized it was full of goodies from my sweet Aunt Lisa who has a knack for surprising me with her thoughtfulness and generosity.  There were all sorts of fun little girly things in there for me and my little ladies.  But here comes the good stuff….at the very bottom of this overflowing box was not 1, not 2 but 3 curling irons!!!  Seeing as how I had just posted about my broken pretty hair maker the day before, there was no way for her to have known that I needed a new one.  But I know who did …my Jesus.  (Just in case you are still doubting me, I did ask her and she mailed the package a couple days BEFORE my post.)

Now, this may seem like a random coincidence to some people, but for me, it was a gift to me not only from my Aunt Lisa, but from Jesus-both who love me enough to think of me in the big and small things.  If this doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will!  Keep your eyes peeled, you never know when God will drop a blessing in your lap, or in my case, on your doorstep!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us, to Him be glory….”

(Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)

I would say sending me three curling irons when I really only needed one is going exceedingly and abundantly above what I would have asked or imagined.  If you could see me now I’m doing my happy Jesus dance!

 

~Cheerful Giver~ May 16, 2013

“Give freely & spontaneously.  Don’t have a stingy heart.  The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work & ventures.  There are always going to be poor & needy people among you.  So I command you: Always be generous, open purse & hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor & hurting neighbors.”

helpinghands(Deuteronomy 15:10-11)

Most times we tend to think of giving strictly in relation to money.  If you read these verses from The Message closely, you see that it says open purse AND hands.  Being a generous giver is more than handing someone a check and walking away.  It is a heart condition.  While it is good to give to those in financial need, don’t stop there.

When you see someone hurting, offer a warm embrace or a listening ear.

If your elderly neighbor could use a handy man, offer your skills free of charge.

What about the momma who has reached the end of her rope?  Encourage her by sharing your own parental struggles so that she won’t feel so alone.

We all have something we can give to help another.  Even if your cash is running low, your love tank is full.  Pour out what you have every chance you get “for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV)

 

~Prepare Your Heart, Not Your Storehouses~ April 9, 2013

Have Matthew6-20-21you ever watched the show Doomsday Preppers?  It is a documentary about people who commit all their time, money and energy preparing for the “what-ifs” in life.  Their stock-piles of food, water, and weapons, along with a whole host of other necessities, envy that of your local big-box store.  All of this so that when whatever disaster they fear most strikes, they will be able to sustain themselves and their families free from outside assistance.  They spend thousands of dollars on things such as armored cars and converting hot-tubs into water filtration systems, (you can’t make this stuff up).  A whole business has evolved from people’s paranoia; building pods that can be installed at safe distances below the earth’s surface to protect you from…well, anything I guess.  In their minds, it is only a matter of time before tragedy of apocalyptic proportions will strike and they feel that all of their “stuff” will save them from total demise.

Seriously people, is this not hilarious to you as well?!  I find it amusing that these people actually think that all their planning will do them any good in the event of nuclear warfare, a string of natural disasters or whatever else their brains can concoct.

They are focusing all of their efforts on the wrong things.  When they should be seeking God and His provision, they have turned into self-seeking hoarders.  They have become so obsessed with preparing for disaster that they haven’t prepared their hearts for the Lord.

I see a lot of comparison between the “preppers” and the man from the parable that Jesus told in Luke 12:

“A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.  He said to himself, “What should I do?  I don’t have room for all my crops.’  Then he said, ‘I know!  I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones.  Then I’ll have enough room to store all my wheat and other goods.  And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come.  Now take it easy!  Eat, drink, and be merry!”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool!  You will die this very night.  Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

(vs. 16-21)

What good are wealth and supplies if you do not have God?  How sad will it be for those who think they have everything they need when Jesus Christ returns and all they can say is, “Hey Lord, I was so busy preparing for the worst that I forget to make way for the best!”  Or even worse than that, they confuse the end time events with just another disaster.  They’ll think of how right they were to prepare and be ever so proud of themselves for taking precautions for their families.  While they are busy patting themselves on the back, they will miss the trumpet blast and they, along with their misguided families, will be left behind as the saints ascend into heaven with the Lord.

Do not make the same mistake as these “preppers,” being so plagued by fear and worry that it becomes all consuming.  Instead of trusting in your own abilities to protect your family, put your faith and trust completely in God.  Rather than devoting your garage to your disaster supply area, open up your storehouse and give it those who need it right now.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Matthew 6:20-21 NIV)