Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Physical Health Strengthens Our Spiritual Health~ February 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:22 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Physical health is a spiritual discipline.” ~Rick Warren

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1Cor 9:27 ESV)   

Our small group is currently doing the “Transformed” study by Rick Warren. It is a seven part series with focuses on spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational, financial and vocational health. It’s good stuff, people. Last night we began our study on physical health.

I have always done a fairly decent job in taking care of my body. I am by no means perfect. For example, my friend, Lisa, and I ran 12 very long miles Sunday. Did I replenish with the appropriate balance of carbs & protein? No, I rewarded myself with this….funyunsAs I said, not perfect. But I felt like I’d earned it. I knew a bag of overly processed, onion “flavored”, sodium filled rings was a poor choice but I felt justified. So last night we fire up the DVD and one of the first Scriptures shared was 1st Corinthians 6:12:

“Everything is permissible for me-but not everything is beneficial.”

Dang it!

God has given us the right to choose what we put into our bodies. We are provided with a plethora of options, both healthy and not so much. Where we often make the mistake is thinking as our culture dictates: it’s my body, I’ll do what I want. Besides, my choices don’t affect anyone but me.

Wrong again.

Food is fuel. Think of it like this, if you went out and bought a beautiful, high-performance sports car, would you put low-grade gasoline in the tank? The truth of the matter is, your body performs at a higher level when you fill it with the proper nutrients.

Then there is the fitness side of our physical health. Something Pastor Rick said in his message really resonated with me, “How you treat your body is a reflection of the body of Christ. It is not about vanity.” (Loose paraphrase)

There was a time when I worked out excessively. It was my number one priority. The more I saw results in the mirror and on the scale, the more time I devoted to my physique. And it had nothing to do with honoring God with my body. I wanted to look good, plain and simple. It became addictive to the point that it was detrimental to the rest of my life. Exercise was my idol.

While it is good to maintain a fitness routine, just like anything else if done in excess, it can bring you to ruin. Our physical health is all about balance.

  • Making wise choices with what we eat.
  • Taking care to not consume things which are harmful to our bodies.
  • Incorporating physical activity to keep our bodies fit and able.

If you or I are not healthy, then we are not going to be of much use to anyone. It’s difficult to give of your time and talents if you are rundown, stressed out or sickly. You must take care of yourself in order to take care of others.

God is not seeking perfection. Don’t make the mistake of idolizing someone who you perceive as having the perfect body and healthy lifestyle. Focus on being the best version of yourself, not somebody else.

The first Scripture our Autumn learned when she was itty-bitty was Psalm 139:14, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Yes, we are. Each one of us, completely unique individuals created to do something magnificent. Don’t let your health be a stumbling block along the path that God has set you on. daniel plan

 

~Tempted By ….~ December 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:35 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here we are at yet another very busy season for so many of us. We’ve got Christmas parties to attend, cookies to bake, gifts to buy and wrap, and so on and so on. Granted these are all things that I LOVE to do, but I still find myself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I also made a commitment to myself to maintain some sort of physical activity during the winter months when in years past I have allowed myself to slack off….way, way off!

This morning I nearly talked myself out of hitting the gym. Lord knows I needed to go because I am meaner than a two-headed snake when I don’t exercise (yet another reason I decided to keep it up this winter instead of terrorizing my family). But my sweet mini-me has randomly been getting sick in the middle of the night. All you momma’s out there know that equals no sleep, tons of laundry and the unfortunate task of scrubbing the carpet-bleh! So again, I almost didn’t workout this morning because a steamy cup of coffee and my cozy blankie sounded way more tempting. Then I remembered one of my favorite inspirational quotes for days like this.workout

True story.

This busy season has caused me to neglect other important areas as well-this blog, another website I write for, my precious small group-in other words, my ministries! The more I reflected on my little workout motto, the more I realized it reminded me of a Scripture that applied to my spiritual struggles:

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41 ESV)

Not all temptation is blaringly obvious nor does it all result in “big sin.” This morning I was tempted by comfort to forgo the important task of taking care of my body. I was tempted by laziness to not write this post because my DVR is full and I kinda wanted to veg and fall into a tv coma. While all temptations don’t look the same, what they do have in common is they are meant to distract you from something more important.

How about a quick prayer for us all today:

“Lord, I ask you today to center our hearts and minds around you. Let us not fall so easily into the trap of busyness. Help us to prioritize according to Your Word so that we won’t be lead astray by the numerous distractions we encounter each day. And when temptation comes, help us to see it for what it is and give us the strength and discernment to choose wisely. Amen.”

 

~Take Care of You~ August 20, 2014

Today I have just a bit of hump day encouragement for my ladies. How many of you have uttered one of the following statements, or one like it, in the last week:

  • I’m exhausted!
  • I am so stressed right now.
  • There’s not enough hours in the day to get it all done.
  • I really could use a break from it all!

I’m calling you out, girls! It’s ok though, because I tend to fall into this same pattern. If you are spending every waking moment tending to everyone else’s needs that you continuously neglect your own, you are like a ticking time bomb walking around fixin’ to explode in the face of some unsuspecting victim. You know it, I know it and so does every person in your circle. 

So riddle me this, how much good are you really doing for others if you’re uptight, on edge, sleepwalking or like myself, doing everything with a mild case of the shakes as a result of the copious amounts of coffee it took to inspire your body to function?

Sweet sisters, I saw this quote and thought of you.

b1f6cf7adcebd04652262a77dd5603f3

Get moving, trust me, there’s something euphoric about sweating out your frustrations. I mean, it’s either that are constantly fight the urge to punch someone in the face.

Put good things into your body. God is only going to give you the one you’re in right now, don’t fill it full of trash that makes you sluggish and irritable. Plus, you can totally justify that piece of cheesecake if you ate a salad for dinner.

Do what makes you feel pretty….because you are! If you feel best in full face, hair and nails, then do it up big! Personally, I feel most like myself in running shorts, a pony tail & a dash of mascara and you better believe I rock it 6 days a week. I do put on real pants for Jesus.

And lastly, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t let anyone, man or woman, steal your sunshine! This world is full of mean, hateful people who are more than happy to drag you down with them. It gets lonely down in their pit, they’re looking for company, don’t give it to them. Keep smiling, that really makes them twitch.

Today, in the midst of the insane amount of stuff you’re doing for others, do yourself (and them) a favor and carve out some you time. And do NOT feel guilty about it! 

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”  (3 John 1:2)

 

~Quick Fix is not a Reality~ November 7, 2013

instant resultsI have seen an abundance of articles on super foods that reduce body fat, miracle creams that banish cellulite & one trick wonders that suddenly take your spare tire and transform it into rippling, washboard abs.  Are we really that gullible?

If we would be honest with ourselves about the amount of time it took for our bodies to get into the physical condition that it is currently in, then we would know with absolute certainty that it’s going to take time to undo the damage, so to speak.

And yet so many seem to have a similar philosophy when it comes to their Christian walk.  We spend years forming bad habits, nursing unhealthy relationships, accumulating debt and so on but expect it all to right itself when we get saved.  It’s like we’re waiting for God to snatch us up out of our old life and place us in a new one where all our baggage is checked at the door.

Just as no super food is going to miraculously cause 20 pounds to fall away without exercise, no cream is going to smooth your dimply thighs overnight & I have yet to find that ab machine that produces fitness magazine cover results without making serious diet changes.  The same is true for all the “yuck” from your old life when you make a commitment to live for Christ.  You have to put in the work!

I know this is short and simple today, but I have encountered quite a few disheartened saints lately that I feel need a reminder that life with Jesus doesn’t equal instantaneous change.  It’s a process that will have peaks and valleys.  If you find yourself in one of those valleys where the walls on either side of you seem so ridiculously steep & slick that you can’t possibly get a foothold to climb your way out, take heart in knowing that God is right there beside you, cheering you on.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

(Romans 12:12 NIV)

 

~I Am Not Cut Out For This~ October 4, 2013

Ever have one of those days where you are pretty sure you’re not getting anything right?  You are actually fairly certain that you are doing everything wrong.

Welcome to my Friday.

I just returned home from unloading the majority of my brood and I am completely exhausted.  How is this possible you say when I’ve only been up for 3 hours….children.  I have children.

I’m not sure about the rest of the population, but my little blessings can sometimes make me question my sanity.  We have the exact same routine every morning and yet they seem to suffer complete amnesia within each 24 hour period.  Today was no exception.  Mix in short-tempers, whiney pants and sleep deprived momma’s and you get disaster of epic proportions.

I came unglued.  I did not allow myself a pause before I reacted.  I let my mean girl out and she brought her “A” game.  And then I felt guilty.  So, like any good Jesus-loving momma would do, I gathered my kiddos into a circle in the living room.  I told them I don’t care if we’re late, we are going to hash this out right now.  I explained that this was no way to begin our day and we prayed that God would soften our hearts to one another in the mornings.  After all, we are in this together, aren’t we?

No sooner had I said amen did I realize 5 year old daughter is crying.  “What’s wrong now?”  “I MISS DADDY!!!”

Win.

So, today I am thankful for God’s mercies which are new each day because I am pretty sure I empty that cup daily.  I am thankful that this day is Friday and if Jesus loves me even a little, (and I know He does), I along with all my children will sleep-in tomorrow morning.  I am thankful that my family is resilient and forgives me my shortcomings when I admit I am wrong.  And I am thankful for the Daddy that my daughter cries for when Mommy has lost her mind.

Happy Friday, friends.  Hope my manic ranting has brought you some comic relief on this lovely Fall day.  Please enjoy the advisory poster below, brought me a good laugh just when I needed it.

mommy chart

 

 

~Warning Signs~ August 2, 2013

grace over sinWednesday night during Bible study, our Pastor made a great analogy that I will attempt to paraphrase & expand on because it really made me think.

I’m sure you all have at some point in your life seen an athlete ruin his or her career because they didn’t take off the necessary time to recover from an injury.  The quarterback who takes a nasty hit to the head sending his brain bouncing around like a pinball in an arcade game but refuses to be benched.  Next thing you know he’s facing early retirement due to extensive brain damage.  What about the track star who feels a constant pain in her calf muscle but is so determined to win that she pushes herself even harder hoping the pain will work itself out.  She tears the muscle and is forced to quit the one thing she truly loves.  Or maybe it’s a pitcher who twisted his knee into an unnatural position but he fears he’ll be replaced by the rookie who’s been drooling over his spot all season long so he lies about just how bad it hurts.  The very next pitch, he totally blows out his knee, never to take the mound again.

The thing about physical pain is that it serves as a flashing red sign that you may need to slow it down, take a rest or have that “thing” checked out!

You may be starting to wonder when the analogy comes into play…well here it is.  Just as physical discomfort serves as a warning sign to an athlete that something could be seriously wrong, guilt is the warning sign that something is wrong in your spiritual life.  Say what now?

If you are in the middle of doing, watching or saying something and you get this awful twinge of guilt, that’s a pretty good indicator that you need to cease and desist immediately!  Sure you could push those guilty feelings down and make excuse upon excuse to yourself as to why you are justified in your actions, but can you afford the long-term damage that will cause?  For just as the athlete who ignores their body’s warning system toys with the possibility of a career ending injury, the person who refuses to listen to the Holy Spirit when it brings conviction takes the chance of blowing their eternal reward.

I know there isn’t a one of us who is free from sin.  We all are susceptible to different weaknesses and the enemy knows each and every one, but so does God.  And He has equipped us with all we need to battle our sinful cravings.  If you find yourself in a situation where you suddenly feel the need to look over your shoulder to make sure no one is watching, don’t ignore that feeling of guilt.  Capture it, repent before God and ask for His help to overcome your fleshly desires.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

 

~ABCs of Christian Life~ July 16, 2013

abcAccept without alterations
Believe without barriers
Care without caution
Dream without doubts
Encourage without envy
Follow without fear
Give without gain
Hope without hesitation
Invest without interest
Journey without judging
Kneel without knowing
Love without limitations
Minister without manipulation
Nurture without notoriety
Obey without omission
Pray without prerequisites
Question without quarrel
Respect without restrictions
Serve without selfishness
Testify without timidity
Understand without umbrage
Volunteer without vanity
Worship without waning
X-emplify without x-piration
Yield without yearning
Zig without zagging

 Being a follower of Christ is so much more than just going to church on Sunday.  Hopefully this fun format will help us to remember how we should live daily as we interact with others.  Do you have any ABCs you’d like to add?

(By the way, I am well aware that exemplify and expiration don’t actually start with ‘x’ but that’s a hard letter so I had to get creative!)

 

~POP Day~ May 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:42 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Today is POP Day, Put On Purple.  It is a day to wear purple in honor of those who suffer from lupus.  In all honesty, I would know nothing about this disesase if it were not for a dear friend of mine whose mother has it.  I have asked her to share her story with us, not only about her mother’s illness but about how growing up with a sick mommy has made her who she is today.

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs. Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues and creates auto-antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These auto-antibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

…..Hmmm, ok. Try explaining this to a 2 year old, “No baby, mommy can’t play with you right now because she’s sick and doesn’t feel good.” I learned from an early age that my mommy was different from other mommys. When I was born almost 30 years ago shortly after my mom found out that she had Systemic Lupus. At first it wasn’t very serious. She was still active and could work a public job. She had her good days and bad days but nothing we couldn’t deal with.

Then the bad days started to out number the good days. The symptoms and effects of meds helped that along. I was a young only child with a sick mommy and a dad who worked and traveled doing ministry. So I did what any good little girl would do, I became mommy’s little helper. I would keep my room sparkling clean. I would even fix my own food and occupy myself with art or the occasional cartoon. I also became a “nurse.” When mom was feeling really bad I’d bring her a snack or play beside the bed so she wouldn’t be alone. Sometimes when I was really worried I would sneak in while she was napping, say a little prayer and make sure she was still breathing.

As I got older she had many complications arise over the years. She took chemo at one point to help get it under control. When I was 13-14 years old she had a stroke in her brain which caused her to seize and caused her to bleed into her spine and caused permanent nerve damage that still causes her pain to this day. Her Lupus attacked her kidneys which caused kidney failure. She was on dialysis for several years but came off, which is a miracle in itself. She had a minor heart attack. One of the heart tests they do with dye caused her to go on dialysis again which she now takes 2 days a week for 3hrs. From years of steroid use to help treat the Lupus and its effects she developed diverticulitis. She had a small piece of her colon removed and had to temporarily have a colostomy bag. (And boy was she happy that it was only temporary) These are just some of the “highlights” as they say.

“What a hard life”……..”What an awful thing for a child and her family to go through”…..”That’s so sad”……..are some of the responses I’ve heard over the years.

Yes it was a hard life sometimes. Having anxiety and stress at such a young age and worrying that your mommy might not be here tomorrow, sleeping with a spoon under your pillow because you were afraid that she might have another seizure and you needed to be prepared…….but something else happened as well. I became very independent. If I didn’t know how to do something instead of yelling, “MOM!!” I would figure it out on my own. I hugged and kissed my mom and dad goodbye even if they were going to the store and told them I loved them. I took the “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” verse very seriously. I always said I was sorry and forgave quickly. I cared about other people and tried my very best to “walk in their shoes” to understand their hurt and pain. I was thankful for a loving godly home and I trusted that no matter what happened God would take care of us and provide for us.

Today I am a 29 1/2 year old woman who loves my family and the Lord with all of my heart. I wake up everyday and ask myself, “Who needs a word of encouragement today?”, “What can I do to help someone else?”, “How can I show God’s love to someone?” I could’ve grown up to be an angry, selfish, bitter person who couldn’t understand why God would allow those things to happen to my family over and over and over again…..but I didn’t. I grew up to be a strong willed confident godly woman who tries to make a difference in someone else’s life everyday.

I also became very health conscious. 3 years ago I lost 55lbs and changed my diet and lifestyle. I did research and educated myself. I realized that I only have one body to get me through this short life and that I needed to take better care of myself. After all, I’m sure my mom would give anything to have a fraction of the good health that I have. Changing my lifestyle was to better my health, to honor my mom and to be an example to others.

While trying to write this piece the words of a song called “Blessings” by Laura Story came to mind: “Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops, what if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”

So what’s the moral of this long story???? When life pushes you down and stomps you and kicks you while you’re down there……..get back up and live your life. Tell your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them. Forgive and FORGET! Try to better yourself everyday. Serve others cheerfully. Smile. Laugh. Be thankful for what you have. Trust in the Lord and do His will and all the rest will fall into place.

Be blessed!

This is my sweet friend, Yulanda with her husband, Christopher, Momma Mary & Dad, Vernon @ a lupus fundraiser walk last year.

This is my sweet friend, Yulanda with her husband, Christopher, Momma Mary & Dad, Vernon @ a lupus fundraiser walk last year.

 

~What You See Vs. What The World Sees~ May 14, 2013

This past Sunday, as part of the Mother’s Day message, we were shown a video produced by Dove.  In this video, women were asked to sit behind a sketch artist who then drew them based on their descriptions of themselves.  He did not see their faces beforehand, he only had their words to go on.  They were also asked to get to know one of the other women from the study.  Then they sat behind the same sketch artist and answered the same questions about the other woman.

The outcome was astounding.  When the two photos were placed side by side, it was obvious that the women did not see themselves in the same light that others did.  The self-descriptive photos showed a less attractive version of the same woman whose beauty shone through in the sketch based on someone else’s words.

It was upsetting to see just how harshly we women judge ourselves.  When we look in the mirror, we see every flaw: a crooked nose, a pimpled chin, crows feet at the corners of our eyes.  We are so focused on all the things we don’t like about appearance that we cannot see the beauty that lies in our individuality.  When others look at us, they see our hearts, not our flaws.  While we are busy critiquing ourselves, others are admiring us for who we truly are.  Why is it that we can see the beauty in others but refuse to see it in our own reflections?

It made me think of how many times someone has given me a compliment and I have quickly shot them down.  My husband tells me all the time how beautiful he thinks I am.  Instead of hearing the love in his words, I come back with comments like, “I look awful today!” or “You have to say that, we’re married.”  When someone praises me for being a good mother, I have been guilty of thinking to myself, “if only they knew how many mistakes I have made just this week, would they still think so highly of me?”

I don’t know why so many of us are hard on ourselves but what I do know is that is not how God intended for us to live.  Every feature that we despise about our appearance was created by the hand of God.  By fussing about all that we find fault with, we are insulting Him!

“He has made everything beautiful in its own time.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

That includes us too.  Everything that God created is a work of art, each one magnificent in its own way.  Try to see yourself as your loved ones see you, or better yet, the way God sees you.  Watch this video and you will see precisely what I mean.

“I will praise you because I, (insert your name here), am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, and that includes me.  Now I know that full well.”

(Psalm 139:14-made personal)

 

~Spiritual Health~ April 15, 2013

MBSLogoI am terrible at maintaining healthy eating habits, good exercise rituals and Lord knows my sleep pattern is all out of whack!  My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and I should take care to treat it that way, but I don’t always do so well with that self-discipline.  What I have noticed though, is when I am eating right, running regularly and doing my absolute best to get at least 6 hours of sleep, I am a much nicer version of me.  On the reverse side, if I stuff my face full of every piece of chocolate I can find hidden in my kids room, ignore my need for activity and choose a late night marathon of Duck Dynasty over a good nights rest, well, let’s just say the world need beware.

Along the same lines, my attitude towards others is directly connected to the amount of time I spend in the word, nurturing my spirit.  While my physical body has many needs that require my attention, my soul craves direction from God.  When I deprive my body from essential needs, I become worn physically and unable to perform certain tasks.  When I starve my soul of the nourishment it desires, I am emotionally unfit to handle even the slightest hiccup in my day.

Studying God’s Word requires the same discipline and endurance as maintaining physical health.  It will not always come easily.  There will be days when you will try and talk yourself out of it.  Sometimes you are going to want to choose a bad habit over what you know to be best for you.  That is why you must train yourself to make time reading the Scriptures part of your daily routine.

I have heard it said that it takes only three weeks to develop a habit.  This is normally used in reference to exercise & dieting but it can also hold true to establishing a devotional time.  For the next 21 days, I challenge you to set aside a dedicated time each day for you and God.  No two people are alike, so you may decide on 20 minutes first thing in the morning while another may prefer a time during their lunch hour.  Be sure to set a goal that is reachable for you so that you will stick to it.  The point is to make a commitment to yourself and to God to do something that is sure to make you a better person in the long run.

Just as it takes time to see results from a new diet & exercise regimen, it may take some time before you notice a change in your spiritual life.  But I am betting within the first week, you will be hooked.  Nothing you do during your day is more fulfilling or can sustain you like a conversation with your Creator.

I hope to hear from you all how you progress through the next 21 days.  Should you choose to accept this challenge, please let me know & allow me to encourage you along the way.  Be blessed and happy learning!

“Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful,

but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever”

(1 Timothy 4:7b-8, MSG).