Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Weakened By Grace~ July 3, 2014

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Over the last few weeks, our praise team has been sitting down in between services and sharing bits of our testimonies with the group. It’s been incredible to hear the diversity in our backgrounds and yet God has placed us together to serve Him in one accord.

During this process, I’ve been reminded once again of the importance of sharing your story with others.

aa656b0df16cf04f58ca212c0ba41bcdFor just a moment, think of your church from the perspective of a newcomer. When they come through the door, they’re met with smiling greeters & a hospitality team 
serving up a delicious cup of coffee. From there, they enter the sanctuary where the worship team leads the congregation in songs about God’s grace & redemptive power followed by the Pastor bringing a word that is simultaneously corrective & uplifting. Service draws to a close and the altars open for prayer. They watch from their seat as people kneel to pray and the prayer team moves in to intercede on the behalf of others.  As they leave the building, their mind fills with insecurities. “I can’t fit in here, everyone has it all together & I am a mess.”

But when you share your testimony, people are allowed to see where you came from to reach where you are right now. It shows the hand of God in your life & gives a new hope for theirs. 

I will say this, sharing your testimony can be exhausting.

This last Sunday was my turn to speak to the table and after 10 minutes, I was spent. Not because I am still bound by my past, quite the contrary. When I share what God has brought me through, the realization of His restoration in my life makes me weak, every single time. I am overwhelmed at the number of times He protected me, before I knew Him or had any desire to seek Him.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”- and I am the worst of them all. BUT GOD had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT)

 

~Worth the Cost?~ November 12, 2013

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our 7 year anniversary…yay us!!  We were able to mark the occasion with a weekend away, just the two of us, which is something that has happened only a handful of times in our marriage.  Leading up to the trip, we went back and forth for weeks about whether or not we should actually go.  After all, we really couldn’t afford it and with Christmas so close it felt irresponsible to spend what we had saved on just us.

When it came down to the day to leave, we still had made no reservations and no real decisions on where to go but decided it was necessary and off we went.  You see, we have been so incredibly busy these last few months that we have barely crossed paths.  All of my time has been dedicated to the kids activities.  All of his time has been spent working to provide everything that the kids and I have needed to be so involved.  So the decision we made was to get away, reconnect and simply spend uninterrupted time with one another.

And you know what happened?

We did exactly that and realized just how much we had missed each other!  Yes, it cost us money to take this trip but what we gained was worth the cost.  We came back refreshed and thankful for our 7 years together with hopes of many more to come.

Just as our decision to spend this time away cost us something, nearly every decision you make in your life costs you something as well.  Let’s just say we had went the other way and chose to stay here and keep going at the breakneck pace we had been at for the last few months, allowing the space between us to widen further, that could have led to marital problems therefor costing us far more than what we shelled out for this weekend trip.

Sometimes the choices we make cost us way more than our finances.

If we choose to be dishonest in a situation, it costs us our credibility.

If we choose to act recklessly and live a “carefree” life, it costs us our integrity.

If we choose to place anything- person, place, things or activities-before God, it costs us our spiritual connection with Him.

I had to make a choice last Friday that I was going to focus solely on my man rather than all of the other stuff that keeps me so busy.  Maybe you are in a similar situation where you are faced with a decision and you are weighing the cost.  It may be something as harmless as making time for a loved or maybe it’s on the other end of the scale and you’re contemplating a very poor decision.  Know that whichever way you choose, there will be consequences…good or bad.

What if instead of dishonesty we chose the truth?  It may cost you your job, but you will gain righteousness.

“Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.”  Proverbs 12:19

How about choosing to live according to the Word as opposed to the world?  You may lose some friends, but you will gain a family that supports you and lifts you up rather than pull you down.

“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us.  And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”  Romans 15:4

“Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

What if we made a conscious decision to make God 1st in our lives?  It will cost us the control that we desire, but we will gain a freedom that allows us to live in peace knowing that our lives in the hands of our maker who is far more capable than us.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’   These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”  Matthew 6:31-33

Sunset-equally breathtaking

Sunset-equally breathtaking

Another 'win' with the decision made-a spectacular view. God's marvelous creation

Another ‘win’ with the decision made-a spectacular view. God’s marvelous creation

 

~I Get To~ September 10, 2013

privlege

I woke up nice and early this morning so that I would have time to post without interruption.  Just as I was firing up the computer, two little cuties came tearing around the corner giggling and dragging their blankies behind them.  I really wanted to be aggravated that once again my “me” time was facing a full scale invasion of little people, but then they crawled up on the couch and wrapped each other in a hug.  Immediately my frustration with them dissolved and I was thankful that I held off on an early morning tongue lashing.

I can’t tell you how many times this same scenario has played out differently.  The kids, the spouse, a friend need my attention but my mind is so consumed with the “I have to’s” that I push them aside or worse, berate them for asking more from me when clearly my plate is already full.

A prime example would be this blog.  I can be sitting at the computer, fingers flying across the keys, and then one of the five will approach me.  In one of my not-so-shining moments, I might say something like, “Can’t you see that I’m right in the middle of something?!  I have to get this done and posted by 7!”

Why?  Why do I have to have my post out by a set time?  Does the internet shut down?  No.  This is one of the many random, unrealistic, unnecessary expectations that I have put on myself and then went on to punish my loved ones as if they somehow made me this way.

Not nice.  Not nice at all.

A lot of my friends are in the throws of what I would call our “busy season” so I know I can’t be the only one feeling the pressure and strain of an overwhelming schedule.  My prayer today is that each one of us would check our “have to’s” at the door and replace them with “get to’s.”

I don’t have to fix my kids breakfast, I get to.

I don’t have to drive an hour to watch my son play 2 minutes of football, I get to.

I don’t have to do 5 loads of laundry today, I get to.

It is an honor and a privilege to take care of others, not an obligation.  Now, if only I can remind myself of that the next time I start to come undone when I am interrupted from the task at hand.

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”

(1 Timothy 5:8 NLT)

**Bonus Material**

As I was attempting to complete this post this morning, let me give you a rundown of how it all played out.

Kid one:  “When are you going to tape my finger?”  (football injury)

Kid two:  “Hey momma, can you fix me that peanut butter toast?”

Kid three:  “When you get a chance today, can you go buy me white cheer shoes?  I’m the only one who doesn’t have them?”

Kid four:  “I thought you were going to pack my lunch today?!”

Kid five:  *non-stop screaming*

This is truly laughable!  Every time I would start to write again, the next kid would roll in!  Could it be that the devil really didn’t want me to blog today?!

 

~Back To School~ August 21, 2013

B2SIf my normal readers can just bear with me, I’m all mommy today.  My 3 big babies start back to school today & I now officially have 3 middle schoolers (if my webcam was streaming you would see me fighting back the tears).  Tomorrow I will likely be absentee as my little Emma starts Kindergarten!

I’m sitting here with Autumn, Isaiah & Peyton listening to their first day jitters conversation and it’s the sweetest thing.  Big brother is giving pointers on getting from class to class on time and what to do when the locker jams, after all he is a pro at this.  Peyton just suggested that I tag along for the day, just in case they need me.

It’s bittersweet to watch them reach this milestone.  I am so proud of the young men and women they are becoming but I know it’s just one more day closer to their departure from my protective arms.  Thankfully I know they are always in the heavenly Father’s embrace.  I am praying for each and every child as they return to school this morning.  I pray that they would be surrounded by a hedge of protection everywhere they go.  I pray that their nerves would settle and that they would feel confident in who they are.  And most importantly, I pray that they would be a light for Jesus during some of the most challenging days of their life…pre-teen years.

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

1 Timothy 4:12 NLT

 

 

~What happened to grace?~ June 27, 2013

graceSocial media has once again inspired me.  It seems that everyone has an opinion on a certain well-known Southern lady and something that she did or said many years ago.  Now, before anyone fires off hate mail my way, let me make my point.

What we all are seeing, hearing, and reading about this case is only what the media is allowing, so I believe we’d all agree that our information is limited.  Do any of us really know what this woman said or thought 30 years ago or even yesterday for that matter?  I understand that she made offensive remarks about a certain ethnic group, and I am not defending that fact.  However, how many of us can stand up and say we have not once ever said something derogatory, discriminating or offensive about another human being?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and never sins.”

(Ecclesiastes 7:20 NASV)

It is because she is in the limelight that her mistake is being broadcast for all the world to see.  And it is for this same reason that most of America feels they have a right to judge her.  But what if someone flung open the door to our past so that all of our transgressions were laid out for the whole world to see?  How many of us would lose friends over something we or they did many years ago?

My girlfriend and I were talking about this last night at church and it all comes down to one word: grace.  The vast majority of our population has no grace.  There is no forgiveness of wrongs, no room for human error, nor is there any mercy.  Someone blunders and the world cries foul and screams for justice.  The offender attempts to apologize and we collectively turn our backs refusing a 2nd chance.  Why?  We are neither judge nor jury.  It is not our place to sit back and condemn another HUMAN BEING from the comfort of our homes based solely on what we think we know.  The truth of the matter is, no one knows another’s heart condition.  We can’t see into someone’s heart and know if they are sincere or simply tossing out words that they think we want to hear.  But that’s not our problem.  We are supposed to forgive and leave the judgment to Christ.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  (Luke 6:37 NIV)

I could go on with verse after verse but they all carry the same message, forgiveness is far sweeter than judgment.  Think of it this way, how would you want others to respond if it was your fanny in the hot seat?  Just a little something to think about today.

*I feel I should add that this post is not about where I stand on what this particular woman did.  I really just wanted to give people a different perspective on how we respond to our fellow brothers and sisters in the midst of a “scandal.” *

 

~Discipline~ June 26, 2013

“That hurt!!”  These words have been shouted from all of my children at one time or another.  My response, “it was supposed to hurt, punishment isn’t meant to be enjoyable.”  Now before you pass judgment, I rarely spank my children.  However, if the crime calls for it, so be it.  I am more prone to take away luxuries or extra activities which garners the response, “that’s so unfair!”  Yep…it is.  But how well would my children and yours turn out if they were never held accountable for their behavior? What kind of adults would they become?

Then there is the discipline we receive from God as his children.  

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes each one He accepts as his child.”

(Hebrews 12:5-6)

It is the same with our heavenly Father as it is with parents.  Discipline is given out of love, not as a form of torture!  It is meant to better us and train us in how we should live.  It hurts, it feels unfair, but it is necessary.  Don’t let God’s discipline set you back.  On the contrary, be encouraged that He loves you enough to care and wants to see you reach your “peaceful harvest of right living.”  Perhaps all He thinks you need is a little “time-out”….don’t argue, just have a seat.timeout-chair