Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Leave A Message After The Beep?~ June 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

Do you ever have one of those “aha” moments, when something suddenly clicks and you get it? I have them all the time. Sometimes it’s a nice and pleasant feeling where life just makes sense and other times it feels like I’ve been run down by an 18 wheeler! Sunday during the message, I had that squashed by a truck feeling.

The sermon was about how God answers prayers and at some point, I wrote down “If you want someone to answer you, don’t you have to call them first?” I can’t recall what Pastor said to trigger that thought but I’m guessing The Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something.

If you want or need something from the people in your circle, you have to go to them with your request. As much as we’d like to believe at times, no one can read our minds. In order for us to receive an answer, we have to first ask a question. Doesn’t that sound so simple?

While we know God to be omniscient, He does ask that we bring our petitions to Him in prayer.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. (Phil 4:6 AMP)

I have found myself to be guilty of waiting for God to answer when I haven’t bothered to ask the first thing of Him. I allow my mind to settle into “God knows my wants and needs” and get lax in my prayer life. God wants a relationship with me. He wants to talk to me. He is never off duty. If I call Him, there is no answering machine informing me that my call will have to wait. He sits at the ready to hear my pleas and takes pleasure in listening to the desires of my heart.

Those five little words are all the reason you need to pour your heart out to the Lord. He’s listening, are you speaking?

Advertisements
 

~From Selfish To Thankful~ May 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 3:56 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

 

I am going to preface this post with one simple statement: I am selfish.

Today is Mother’s Day and I have spent a good portion of time crying. Last night my mom’s father in law suddenly passed away. So instead of coming to join my family today, she and her husband are headed up north. This is the first time in my 33 years of life that I have not been with my mommy on Mother’s Day and it breaks my heart. Of course I knew last night she was precisely where she should be, by her husband’s side in this horrible time for him and his family but I knew I would be missing her tremendously today. Told you I am selfish.

Then I was awakened bright & early by a text sent from my oldest daughter who’d stayed the night with a friend:

Happy Mother’s Day mama!!! I love you so much, and I’m so lucky to have u as a mom. Thanks for always being there for me when I need someone to talk to or need someone to vent to. Or when I go on my rages about school…u sit there and listen, and help me through them. You’re an amazing person! I am so happy that I get to call you my mom! You are my role-model in life…I want to be like you! A great friend to everyone, a great person, and a great mom! I love you more than anything! ūüėė Happy Mothers Day ūüėć

Here come the tears again.

Then I come upstairs to find the most beautiful poem, written & framed by my husband that somehow captured one of the saddest times of my life and one of the happiest at the same time:

Not so long ago, in a day full of despair
I looked all around, wondering why you weren’t there
So much pain and oh such grief
Why dear God has this happened to me?
The pain is still real and the memory remains
Still questioning why my fate was not changed
But now looking down at this sweet little face

I fully comprehend Your amazing grace.
The loss that I felt may never fully pass
But now there’s another tiny hand that I grasp.
So today I thank you for this bundle of love
Sent from a loving, holy Father above.
I see that you love me and your promise is true,
By this beautiful gift, sent straight from you.

Next to that lay three cards, a few highlights for you:

“She makes the best macrollny”~Emma

“I’m glad I ended up with you caring instead of someone not.”~Isaiah

“One of my favorite things you do is go to all my sports events.”~Peyton

(Both boys refer to me as “Team Mom”)

More tears.

Then the text messages started to roll in, not only from friends and family, but from some of my kid’s friends too! A message of gratitude was left on my facebook page from the parents of the sweet baby girl I get to love 5 days a week. My momma heart nearly exploded!

Finally we get to church and I promise you I made my best effort to keep it together, yeah right!

Our precious friends had the dedication service for their beautiful baby boy and allowed us the honor of standing with them in the altar. Lanny, my “sister-wife,” who has felt the same devastating blow of losing a child, stood next to her husband who held their sleeping son and I wept. I cried for her loss and mine but at the same time, tears of joy for the gift that lay snoozing on his daddy’s chest.

As I said, the tears have flowed freely today, some of sadness but even more from a place of gratitude and overwhelming joy. Am I missing my mom today? Absolutely! But I am thankful I still have my mom with me while some of you weep today because your mother is in Heaven. I am thankful for the house FULL of people that love me just as I am and that the little things I do for them mean more to them than I could have ever imagined.

mothers day 2015

From one momma to another, I pray each one of you can see the hand of God in your life on this day set apart to honor us. While you, like me, may have a reason to be sad today, I hope that the good far outweighs the bad. It has to, you are a mommy, is there any greater gift in all the world for which we could give thanks?!

 

 

~He Protected Me~ April 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:39 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

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.”

 

~God Wants to be Your BFF~ March 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:39 am
Tags: , , , ,

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Prov 18:24 ESV)

Think of your very best friend. That one person you share EVERYTHING with. They know your past, your present and the dreams you have for your future. You talk¬†about your worries and¬†struggles.¬†You can’t wait to tell them about your¬†triumphs. When you need to cry it out, you have them on speed dial! Y’all are rocking the words of Galatians 6:2….carrying burdens like it’s nobody’s business. Seriously, nothing is off limits with your person.

Smiling yet? Yeah, me too.

I never hesitate to talk with my friend. I will go off on a rant about what’s bothering me with no hesitation. I’ll ask for her opinion on day-to-day issues and life changing things too. It has never crossed my mind that my insignificant stuff may sound whiny to her because we’re friends, and that is what real friends do for one another….they share life. All of it. The good, the bad, the ugly and the downright messy.

This morning during my devotion, I came across this Scripture in Philippians:

“Don‚Äôt worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have.”(4:6 ERV)

Everything? Seriously? I am guilty of not taking all my needs to the Lord. In my mind, I feel silly bothering the Almighty with my more trivial needs. I picture God sitting on His throne with a backlog of prayer requests and then my seemingly silly need shows up on his desk and he rolls his holy eyes. But, did you know the Bible says He is a jealous God? He wants to be first in our lives. When you have something to celebrate, fuss over, cry and scream about…He’d like for you to do that with Him.

Here is my struggle, when I do this with my friend, I can see her face and read the empathy in her expressions. I can hear her voice when she offers feedback. If I need a hug, her touch is tangible. Not so with God. Sometimes I find it difficult to pour out my heart to someone whose voice is not audible to me or whose embrace I cannot feel. I’m just being real here.

This is why it is so important to stay in His Word. It offers us the encouraging words we need to hear. The depth of His love for us leaps off the pages. The Bible give us understanding and peace in our hearts. Even if we can’t see God’s face, we can feel that He cares for us by the promises that overflow from Scripture.

“And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God‚Äôs peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds.” (Phil 4:7 ERV)

It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have friends, He does. He knows that we need each other to do life. That is why we are instructed to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”(Heb 10:24-25 ESV) However, He wants the number one spot, the Best Friend Forever title.

best friends

 

~Nightmares Are No Match For My Jesus~ January 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:45 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Could you say no to this face?!

Could you say no to this face?!

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning…I’m talking 2 or so….my little mini-me came to my side of the bed with tears rolling down her chubby cheeks.

“Mommy, I had a bad dream. Can I please sleep with you?”

We try really hard not to make it a habit of letting our little ones crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night. My husband is a cuddler and it kind of creeps him out a bit to roll over and throw his arm over the 3-foot-tall version of his wife ūüėČ

So in my half awake, one eye open state, I started to send her back to her own bed. That is until I looked into her big doe eyes and saw the look of panic on her face. Her voice broke when she tried to talk and she was actually shaking. Sorry husband, scoot your fanny over, mini me is coming in! The moment she crawled in next to me, she snuggled as close as humanly possible with her head on my shoulder and pulled my arm over her tiny frame. And she stopped whimpering, instantly. No more tears, no more shaky shoulders, no more ragged breaths. She was comforted at the exact moment I held her close.

Without even thinking about it, I started to pray for my girl, that God would protect her impressionable mind and fragile heart from things that would wake her in such a state. Sometime mid prayer, we both drifted off to sleep.

This morning I can’t help but draw a parallel to my relationship with the Lord. No matter the time of day, He is never too worn to open His arms to me. He is never too groggy¬†to pull¬†me close and soothe my soul. He is always prepared with¬†words that¬†bring comfort in the midst of the scariest of times and when I let Him, he can replace my tears of sorrow with tears of gladness.

I am overwhelmed,¬†folks. My¬†momma and daddy friends will know what I mean when I say sometimes, I’m just so exhausted that I don’t know that I have anything to give my babes…physically or¬†emotionally. And then there is our heavenly Father, with more kids than we can ever count, and yet He is forever there for me, for you and for all His precious children without fail.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let he righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

Snuggle in close to Him and feel His strength. Let Him drape His arm around you. Now feel the heaviness in your life lift as He takes your burdens and cares and makes them His own. And find rest. Sweet, sweet rest.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” (Psalm 73:28 NLT)

 

~You Gonna Scratch That Itch?~ July 22, 2014

For just about a week now, I have been trapped in some twisted version of Hell. Sleep has evaded me night after night as I lay tormented. My mind has been clouded,  rendering me completely unable to focus. All I can think about is that itch that I desperately want to scratch.

That’s right, friends, I have quite the impressive poison ivy rash. I got you, didn’t I?!

Ok, so this may not seem like a teachable moment but stick with me.

At the peak of my hellacious discomfort, when my ability to reason was rapidly slipping away, the thought of how heavenly it would feel to scratch almost made me cave. Digging my nails into the blistered skin would have brought instant gratification. Miraculously, I managed to regain my composure and resist the temptation because I realized that the “oh that feels good” feeling would have been temporary. Had I given in to this little desire, I would have opened myself up to infection and pretty much guaranteed that my recovery time would be extended. So in the end, I was able to rationalize that one moment of “oh yeah” wasn’t worth the potential consequences.

While my choice of analogy may seem silly, you can see where I’m going with this. We all have found ourselves in this type of predicament at least once in our lives. What do you do when you’re faced with an opportunity to do something that not only would feel good but that you really¬†want¬†to do?!

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.”

First off, you need to realize that you are equally susceptible to temptation as Joe Schmo who has never set foot in a church. Your life as a Christian does not protect you from being tempted. Secondly, you are not the only person to face this struggle. Regardless of what your demon is, someone else is fighting that same battle right now.

“And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will¬†show you a way out so that you can endure.”

(1st Corinthians 10:13)

There it is, a promise from God that He won’t allow you to be overwhelmed. Not only that, but He will provide you with a means of escape. All that you & I need to do is look.

The next time you find yourself facing an itch that you desperately want to scratch, take a look at the consequences. Is that moment of pleasure worth a heinous infection that will poison other areas of your life?a53ca0f130778460c5521725ae02df3b

 

~Fight or Flight, What He Says~ July 1, 2014

*Guest blogger…my husband! After my post last week ,Fight or Flight, I asked him to share from his side of the struggle. Our transparency with you is for two simple reasons, that those who are struggling right now will see they are not alone & that if there was hope for us, there is certainly hope for you too! Now, meet Jamie.*

Recently, we have had to take a real hard look at our marriage.  For quite some time, we had been teetering on the edge of disaster.  I love my wife and I have since day one.  She is an awesome woman and a wonderful mother. As you all know, she is always putting others before herself.  So what could have possibly been the problem?  I think to put it very simply, we didn’t know how to talk to each other…especially me!  I can’t speak for her but, here is my perspective.

I realized she was an amazing person immediately.  She had some issues but, I had some pretty substantial ones myself.  I was just coming out of a really nasty marriage when I met Valerie.  I was an emotional wreck.  Betrayed, rejected, and alone with two small children….she swooped in and saved me.  Loneliness, heartache, and worthlessness were all washed away when she came into the picture.  She saved us.  She became an important part of our lives immediately, even while we were just dating.  It was like a fairy tale…only the princess saved the prince.

Looking back now, I can see that I thought she was the cure- all for my problems.  She was the answer I needed to fix my life and the lives of my kids.  She didn’t seem to have a problem with that.  She took over. Taking care of the kids, doing everything a good Mom does.  She was amazing and the kids looked to her as Mom almost immediately.  I was just awestruck at how great everything had turned out.  I really felt so blessed to have her in our lives.  I was so awestruck that I looked at her as superhuman.  I put her on a pedestal in my heart…one that she never asked to be on.  It is very good to have a high opinion of your wife but, I went a little too far.  I put way too much stock in how she treated me from one moment to the next.  I did not allow her to have a moment of weakness without somehow thinking I had done something wrong and she was upset with me.

Soon, the family started growing, she became more involved with their school, and my work schedule became ridiculously hectic.  Our time together began to dwindle, and what time we did have was spent with me watching her sleep.  I began to grow bitter.  I refused to see just how busy she was in life and focused only on the fact that she didn’t have time for me.  Caught in my selfishness, I allowed a distance to grow between us.  Eventually this distance made a major impact on our intimacy.  It was at this point that my mind began to play tricks on me…reminding me of how the last relationship went. Recalling that a lack of intimacy is a sure sign that either she is seeing someone else or that she wants to be seeing someone else.  I was still carrying so much baggage from the last go around, that I couldn’t bear the thought of it happening again….especially with this woman.  She was the best…if I couldn’t make it with her, then I was doomed to be forever alone.  I didn’t know what to do so, I did nothing.  I just locked everything up inside and hoped no one would notice.  Instead of this feeling going away, it grew into a hideous beast of anger, distrust, anxiety, and frustration.  I was mad.  I was mad at her for not being able to read my mind and know how to fix this.  I was mad at me for not having the courage to stand up and make a change.  I was just mad at life.

Eventually the anger began to work its way out.¬† It started small with sarcasm and mumbling under my breath.¬† Eventually it became worse.¬† I started watching programs and movies full of violence, language, and yes, even nudity.¬† Somehow watching this junk allowed a little release of the pressure building inside my broken heart.¬† I justified my actions by reminding myself that these are just guy movies‚Ķas long as there isn‚Äôt an ‚ÄúX‚ÄĚ in the rating box, it‚Äôs not a problem. I was terribly wrong.¬† Not only was it reeking¬† havoc in my heart, it made a huge impact on hers.¬† Let me say this to all the fellas out there.¬† My wife is gorgeous.¬† She is one of the most beautiful creations God has made.¬† What I was watching had nothing to do with her.¬† I have always, and will always find her extremely attractive but, when your wife sees you looking at another woman inappropriately; it sends the same shock as you telling her she is fat and ugly!!!!¬†¬† There were other explosions of anger that occurred throughout this time.¬† Most I was able to let out away from my family but, not all.¬† I have never put my hands on my wife in anger.¬† But, in her mind, these eruptions were just as bad.

So we were able to walk through these situations through the grace of God.  But, I wasn’t able to get over any of this.  Not only was I still dealing with the lack of affection and connection…now I’m dealing with the guilt of hurting the person I care the most about.  Once again…I was a wreck.  My self-worth had bottomed out and I began to think that maybe, just maybe she would be better off with someone who didn’t have so many issues.  I didn’t know what else to do.  Because of the mistakes I had made, I felt that I had destroyed any chance of fixing this thing.  I felt she would never forgive me, even though she said she had.  We had moments of fun, moments of joy, moments of tenderness….but, there just was a connection that was missing.

Finally, after 7 years we were able to sit down and open up.  It was a God moment.  She told me what she had struggled with and I opened up about some of my struggles…we began talking again.  For far too long, we did not take the time to share who we were and what we wanted. I just assumed she knew me and knew how to make me happy.  If one of us would have made an attempt at any time, I believe this would be a much different story.  The truth is, neither one of us wanted to be that vulnerable.  As she stated in her last post, we BOTH lived in the state of reaction.

So what does all this mean? Here is my advice to all those reading.¬† We all want to be loved.¬† The kicker is that the expression of love takes on different forms for different people.¬† It is important to learn who your spouse is and express your love to them in ways they can see and understand as being love.¬† Be understanding of each other.¬† Even now, looking back at all these situations we have been through, I do not see every one of them in the same light that she does.¬† So who is right?¬† If I want to help her heal, then I need to look at it from her eyes.¬† If she wants to help me heal, she needs to understand my perspective.¬† Marriage is about loving in spite of and loving through.¬† We may never see things exactly the same.¬† ‚ÄúNo big deal‚ÄĚ to her, may be monumental to me or vice versa.¬† TALK to each other.¬† Don‚Äôt assume to know what your better half is thinking and, likewise, do not assume that they know what you are thinking. Life is difficult. Marriage is hard. Do not make it harder by walking separately.

My final thought is this.  The entire time that we have been married, we have been surrounded by some amazing and wonderful people who would have been happy to help us at any time.  I was too embarrassed to ask!!!  God has put people in each of our lives for this very reason.  We are supposed to call on our brothers and sisters in our times of need.  And believe me, we were in need.  Your relationship is far more precious than your pride.  This is the type of situation where you have to choose one or the other because you will not be able to keep both your pride and your spouse.

There is so much more to share but, I have given all I can for now.¬† I am so thankful for my wife.¬† And the relationship we have struggled to build.¬† Is it perfect? Nope. Do we have it all figured out? Not hardly.¬† But, we are here together.¬† My reason for sharing this story is for this one purpose:¬† I hope that it will speak to someone who is at their wits end in their marriage, and maybe give a little strength to hold on.¬† I think that in my marriage, somehow, at some point, a wall had been constructed between us.¬† I don‚Äôt know who built it, when it was built, or why‚Ķbut, it was there.¬† My prayer is that if you find yourself sitting beside a pile of bricks with a mortar trowel in your hand, stop! Ask yourself, ‚Äú am I really ready to block this path?‚ÄĚ ¬†Once that wall is built, it is extremely difficult to tear down.¬† Not every relationship can be saved ,but, maybe, if you try again, yours can.¬† Right now, we are tearing down some walls‚Ķbrick by brick, by brick.Good Marriage