Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Don’t Deposit Opinions~ November 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:20 am
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“What’s the matter, Emma?”

I had just picked up the last of my school kids yesterday and my typically chatty, smiley girl was sulking.

“Nothing.”

I lowered the rear view mirror so I could quickly lock eyes with her.

“Emma, we all can tell something is wrong so just spill it.”

“Susie Q called me stupid!” (Name changed 😉)

“Well, are you stupid?”

“NO!!”

“Of course you’re not, so why does it matter what she said? Baby, just because someone said something about you doesn’t make it true.”

And that seemed to be enough for my girl. She was right back to her normal self, not giving another thought to the opinion of one of her peers. That’s when it hit me, how many times have I sulked over something someone said to or about me?

We all have had someone be the opposite of nice to us. Someone’s called you a name, spread a rumor about you, sent you a nasty-gram and in the spirit of total honesty, you’ve been the guilty party as well, I know I have. Some of you blessed souls out there genuinely seem to have the ability to let it roll right off your back while others really struggle with letting opinions take root. I’m somewhere in the middle, depending on the offender and the depth of “meanness,” I can either shrug it off or take it to heart. When it comes to what others think about you, you have a choice, save it in your memory bank or delete it.

While I do think it’s wise to give thought to what others say about you, brief thought that is, I do not believe it’s healthy to let it alter how you see yourself. My husband, wise man that he is, once shared this little nugget of truth with me when I was seriously damaged goods because of another’s words, “Who you are is defined by how you live and how God sees you. People’s opinions, although worth considering at times, are not the final definition.”

Words hurt, friends, I get that. It is impossible to control what others say so it is up to us to guard our hearts and minds from such things. smile

 

 

~Hey, You With The Stone in Your Hand!~ January 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:34 am
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Some days I am seriously amazed at how downright mean people can be to one another. I don’t understand how we, who have been forgiven of much, can be so incredibly unforgiving of others.

I’ve watched on social media as people on opposite sides of an issue have attacked with such viciousness I’m left dumbstruck. The arguments rarely stay on point but rather become personal attacks that accomplish nothing other than “unfriending”.

I’ve sat at functions for my kids and heard the moms at the next table bashing “that mom”.  You know, because they know everything about that woman’s life so clearly they have the authority to discuss her transgressions publicly and decide her fate.

I’ve seen a husband and wife tell anyone and everyone who will listen about the problems they are having with their spouse….without ever having discussed it with their spouse first. Instead of seeking resolution with their partner in life, they are busy building their case to prove their rightness and their loved ones wrongness.

And it’s sad. Why can’t we see the hurt that we are causing in these situations?

Why can’t we disagree without spewing hate in each others faces?

Why can’t we put ourselves in that momma’s place that we are so quick to judge and ask ourselves how it might feel to know that those whispers two tables over are about you?

Why can’t we go to our spouse FIRST in times of trouble and tell THEM what we are feeling and give them a chance to make it right instead of looking for justification from our friends to hold onto that bitterness?

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph 4:31-32 NLT)

Be kind.

Be tenderhearted.

Forgive one another.

Maybe before we engage in some form of stone throwing, we should say these three little things to ourselves. If what we’re about to say or do doesn’t lineup with these basic acts of human decency, how about we forgo our participation and drop the stone?oscar

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col 3:12-13 NIV)

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Approach every situation from a place of love and watch how differently you react to even the worst possible scenarios.

 

~Are Your Words Promoting Healing or Hatred?~ November 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:08 am
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This morning I found myself feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the level of hatred blaring through the television and scrolling across my computer screen. I understand emotions are high during times of controversy but I don’t understand how it breeds such contempt among our brothers and sisters.

When I write, I don’t shy away from the controversial topics but I do try to be careful not to disrespect my readers and how what I say might affect them. On that note, let me preface this post with this, I do not have an opinion on the verdict that was read last night from Missouri. Not one thought.

Lest you think I am simply uneducated or that I’m too spineless to “pick a side,” allow me to share with you why I feel this way about this particular case and others of similar content.

The only information I have is from the media. It is my opinion that media executives are far more concerned about ratings than they are about educating their viewers. The more shocking the report, the higher the ratings. Therefore, I don’t consider it a reliable source to form an educated opinion.

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1 ESV)

I wasn’t there. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own lips, don’t think it with your small mind and spread it with your big mouth.” A little harsh, maybe. But it keeps me from adding to the chaos by gossiping or passing judgment. I wouldn’t want someone to form an opinion of me based on second hand accounts.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

I have no authority to judge, plain and simple.

“There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12 ESV)

Here is where I do have an opinion, nothing good can come from rioting and slanderous words. Rather than add to the darkness, should we not be the light? As tempting as it may be to share why so-and-so is in the wrong and so-in-so needs vindication, wouldn’t it be a better use of our time to show love while the rest of the world is screaming hate?prov 6

 

~Words That Edify~ May 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:35 am
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88cbe9916022264801da89be5f01eb20Recently I was in a very public place where I overheard a not-so-nice conversation.  It wasn’t as if I was eavesdropping, they were purposefully speaking loud enough for all within earshot to hear.  These two ladies were talking to a complete stranger about their dislike of a teacher.  It just so happened that the teacher in question is someone who I know personally and happen to think quite highly of.

As I sat debating on what to do, the woman listening to the rant commented, “I had actually hoped my child would get them this year and was disappointed when they did not.” Conversation over.

I honestly was stunned that these ladies would be so bold as to talk negatively about someone to a total stranger.  What if this woman they were venting to had been the daughter or best friend of the person they were talking about?! Awkward!!  Besides that, I feel pretty confident in saying that this mother had not expressed her concerns with the actual teacher that she was so comfortable gossiping about. Unfortunately, this is not the first time where I’ve been in a similar situation and I would venture to say that most of you have also found yourselves in the same predicament.  When you are involved in a conversation and talks turn to gossip, things go from friendly & chatty to painfully uncomfortable in the blink of an eye.  Mostly because I am attempting to avoid confrontation, I typically walk away saying nothing when these sticky situations arise.  However, there have been times where I felt inclined to defend the person who wasn’t present to do so themselves.

The words of Ephesians provide us with this simple advice:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  (4:29)

Tell me, what does it benefit a person to speak badly of them in their absence?  What good thing can come to those who are doing the talking?  What if, when faced with an offense, we took our grievances directly to the other party rather than to anyone and everyone who will listen?  Having a mature conversation with your offender opens the door of communication and will oftentimes lead to resolution or at the very least an understanding of the other party’s position.  The alternative of bashing them to another, or worse yet, via social media, will only cause discord.  Furthermore, the one delivering the blows comes out looking far worse than the one they are attempting to paint in an unfavorable light.

When in doubt, it may help to ask yourself, “how would I feel if someone said this exact thing of me?”  If the thought of it makes you squirm, then you should hold your tongue.

 

~Small Town Rumor Mill~ February 21, 2014

“By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.” (NKJV 11)

If any of you have ever lived in a small town, you know precisely how true this verse of Scripture can be.  Everybody either knows everybody or knows someone else who does.  This can be a blessing or a curse depending on the character of the people in said town.  The small town feel brings a sense of comfort in raising your children in a safe environment.  When tragedy hits close to home, there is nothing like the love of a tight knit community to rally around those in need.

Unfortunately, the door swings the other way too.  If you make a mistake in my hometown, you better believe everyone will know it before the sun goes down.  Not only that, but some will form their own opinion of how circumstances played out and repeat their distorted version of the truth to anyone who will listen.  Proverbs 11 has a description for that kind of person: He who belittles and despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. (AMP 12)

It is always wise to mind one’s business when the rumors take to spreading like wildfire in a dry forest.  This is an area that I often struggle with for myself and my preteen daughter because for whatever reason, it seems as though the females are far more prone to be loose-lipped than our fellas.

Recently, both I and my girl have had our confidence betrayed.  I would describe us both as open books.  We are not fearful of sharing personal details of our lives when we feel like it may benefit another, even if we don’t know them that well!  However, this does at times backfire.  In both instances, feelings and struggles were shared in hopes that the one we were reaching out to would see things in a different light.  While the way it happened for me was different than it was for my girl, the things we said in private were repeated.

And it hurt.  Tears were shed, questions of “why” bounced around and thoughts of wanting to become more closed off were considered.  But that’s not who we are.  We could easily allow the gossip to make us bitter and harden our hearts toward others, but we choose to turn the other cheek.  Part of the calling on both our lives is to encourage hurting people.  Hurting people sometimes hurt you.  It may be unintentional on their part.  They’re hurt, they are acting out of their own pain and that may come out as an attack on you.

The important thing to remember about gossip is that it not only brings pain to the ones you are talking about, it’ll ruin you too.  You can’t spread malice about another human being and expect to come out unscathed on the other side.  It may also change your perspective if you consider that the ones who gossip with you are likely gossiping about you to someone else.

“A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (NLT 13)

Words may be a bit harsh, but this could not be more true.

Words may be a bit harsh, but this could not be more true.

 *All of the verses above are from different translations of Proverbs 11.  The 31 day study continues 🙂

 

~Psalm 15, the Expanded Version~ May 3, 2013

Photograph by Carl Waltz-this is a place in Wisconson called Holy Hill. So striking, I had to share!

Photograph by Carl Waltz-this is a place in Wisconson called Holy Hill. So striking, I had to share!

Psalm 15 is all about who will be allowed to live in the house of the Lord.  It is basically a guide as to how we should live if we desire to please the Lord and ultimately, one day, ascend His holy hill to live with Him forever.

In reading this psalm, I thought I would break it down, verse by verse, and elaborate on the meaning of each instruction that is given.

First, the question is proposed:

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?”

The first response is, “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous”

Let me start by pointing out that living a blameless life does not mean that perfection is required of you.  It says in 2 Peter 3:14 that we are to “make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.”  Making an effort means you are trying for something, not that you have already obtained it.  In addition to this, in Philippians 2:14-15 we are given further direction on how we should behave in order to be counted as blameless: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”  In other, more simple, words, be a light amongst the dark.

The second response to the question is, “(he) who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman”

I would venture to say this is probably one of, if not the, hardest for most people.  Because we’re not just talking about malicious words, we are talking about gossip.  Maybe you’re not going around spreading lies about others but if you have ever started a conversation with, “Well I heard…” then you have gossiped, (preaching to myself here people).  Whenever an uncomfortable topic comes up among friends, like another’s financial situation for example, if you feel it would be rude to correct the chatty group, simply say, “I don’t feel comfortable discussing someone’s private matters” and excuse yourself from the conversation.  This one is for my fellow southern lady friends: it does not erase what you said about someone when you follow it up with, “Bless their heart.”  Just throwing that one out there!

Next up on our list of responses on how to dwell in the house of the Lord: “(he) who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord.”

I would think that this is fairly self-explanatory but for the sake of making my point, I’ll add my two cents.  We are not to go around praising the works of the morally corrupt.  Remember, if they’re not serving God, they are serving somebody!  Who do you want to give your honor and support to?  Those who fear the Lord will do so by honoring Him in all that they do, in public and behind closed doors.  Those who don’t, well, they’re pretty easy to spot!

This next one is kind of rough, “(he) who keeps his oath even when it hurts”

No one in their right mind would choose to do something that is painful!  There will be times in your life that the commitments that you have made will be almost unbearable.  This could be the sacred institution of marriage to the man (or woman) who is wearing on your nerves so bad you don’t think you can survive another moment in their presence.  What about those kids you promised to raise up and train in the way they should go?  Don’t try to tell this momma of five that there haven’t been days when you would gladly trade them in for billy goats!  Here’s the thing about an oath, it is a solemn promise with God as your witness, that you will fulfill the commitment at all cost.  Life is full of painful moments but they are not an excuse for washing your hands of your responsibilities.

Last, but most certainly not least, “(he) who lends his money without usury (interest) and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.”

If it is within your means to give, do so out of cheerful heart.  If you give with the mindset of what’s in it for me or what will I get in return, then you might as well keep your “gift” to yourself.  God wants us to love our neighbors and offer a helping hand as often as possible.  It has been my personal experience that even when I don’t think I have it to give, when I obey the Lord, He always provides.  Always.

In closing, the last verse of this beautiful psalm says,

“He who does these things will never be shaken.”

From this point going forward, I will always see Psalm 15 as my own personal road map on how to climb the most treacherous of hills in order to spend my eternity with the One who gave it all.