Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Guys…Know Your Role~ September 10, 2014

Yesterday I made a comment on my Facebook page in regards to how I feel about “men” who hit women in response to all the media coverage of a certain NFL player who not only hit his then pregnant fiance, but hit her hard enough to knock her unconscious.

My post: Any “man” that hits a woman should be left alone in a room with that woman’s Daddy. That’s my 2 cents.

I had a few friends comment, most in agreement with me, but one in particular got my attention and that’s what I’d like to elaborate on today 

Comment: Agreed! What’s with all the abuse lately? Has it always been this bad and we’re just seeing more of it in the media? Or are more men losing respect and any sense of protective responsibility? Ridiculous.

Umm, wow. 

I haven’t been able to shake these words since I read them. 

Is violence against women only a recent development? No. However, I do think it used to be more taboo for anyone to speak up or out against it. When I was young, I recall seeing my biological father hit his girlfriend in front of me & her daughter. The memory is fuzzy but what remains crystal clear is that no phone calls were made & she didn’t leave. Why? I don’t know, even to this day, I do not know.

Mostly what we see now is when someone in the public eye is involved in a domestic dispute. We haven’t a clue how many terrifying situations are playing out behind closed doors where there are no surveillance cameras to capture the evidence.

What really struck me about my friend,  Jay’s, comment was the last question he posed, “are men losing respect and any sense of protective responsibility?”  It pains me to even think it, but I’m afraid the answer is yes. 

Growing up I knew my daddy, (not my biological father, but the man who raised me), would have “handled” any guy who hurt me, physically or otherwise. My mother taught me to have enough self respect to never allow myself to be treated as anything less than a treasure. My girlfriends and I had each other’s backs, we didn’t laugh about it with the guys making the hateful comments.

Nowadays, you can turn to just about any secular radio station and within minutes hear a song that uses derogatory names to describe “their women” or explicit lyrics that paint a VERY distorted idea of what love is. Young men are quick to name call their girlfriends when she upsets them. Even simple gestures like holding the door for ladies seems to be a reason for fellas to mock their peers as if it makes them less of a man to behave like a gentleman.

I believe it’s time for the old-fashioned guys to take a stand. Don’t be afraid to set a shining example of how a real man is supposed to treat all women. Teach your sons what the Bible says about honoring your mother & respecting your wife. When you see a woman being mistreated, don’t shrink into the shadows as if you didn’t see it….speak out and defend her! Guys, you were created to be a protector and a provider, step into your role! Don’t allow yourself to become desensitized to what should enrage you. 

As a fairly strong woman, I am fully aware that in most cases, I, like so many of my friends, can defend myself. But, I am equally proud to say that if any man ever challenged me, they’d have to go through my hubs, my dad and my boys before ever getting to me. As it should be.

“Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

“Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise) so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3)

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~Seeing Grey~ July 28, 2014

6e3ef532ac671146c0756602673a4d20First the books were released and our news feeds blew up with conversation of “mommy porn.” Now that the movie is set to debut on Valentine’s, (classy move Hollywood), once again my screen is flooded with Grey.

I’m not typically one to shy away from controversial topics when it pertains to what I will and won’t write about. I’ll be honest, I have considered this off limits since the day I realized that I know a great number of women who read the books and are now anxiously awaiting the day it hits the big screen. I didn’t want to offend anyone with my opinion. But, being silent isn’t really my style & it would make me look like a hypocrite to remain close trapped on this when I have been so outspoken on other matters.

Before diving in to this post, let me preface with this, I am not condemning those of you who have chosen to consider this entertainment. It will become clear that I do not agree with you, but I don’t think less of you. Oftentimes a differing opinion is offensive & sparks heated arguments. That’s not my goal here. My only reason for breaking the silence from my side of the debate is to shed a little light as to why I think this type of material needs to be avoided.

Now, I have not read any of the books so I am aware that my opinion is based on limited information. What I have done is read book reviews, followed conversations of those who have read & most recently watched the 2 minute trailer that was aired on daytime television. I have more than enough material to state my case.

Countless women are touting this as nothing more than fantasy, a somewhat twisted romance novel, meant to bring excitement into the boring lives of stay at home moms everywhere. Surely the women making these lax comments have never been at the mercy of a man who made them feel the very real emotions that come along with this type of “relationship.”

I’m guessing those who find this type of fantasy exciting have never had a man use the weight of his body to prove his strength over you, rendering you completely helpless to fend off whatever came next. I’d say it’s safe to assume that you’ve never been in a position where your naivety and eagerness to please in order to feel loved & accepted was used as a tool of manipulation in order to fulfill someone’s selfish desires. I bet you haven’t a clue what it does to one’s self-esteem to submit to some level of degrading behavior because you’ve been made to believe that is what love is about.

Perhaps it simply hasn’t occurred to you who sing the praises of this book and others like it that you may be unknowingly condoning the horror that someone you know and care about has either walked through or worse yet is currently enduring? Kind of takes the lighthearted aspect out of, “it’s just a book.”

Friends, this is no more “just a book” than Playboy is just a magazine. It is one more way that we are becoming desensitized to what we should find offensive. There is nothing morally right about a woman’s vulnerability being exploited in order to satisfy the self-serving desires of a domineering man. It’s abusive & embarrassing to have someone claiming to love you persuade you to express that love in ways that leave you feeling ashamed and used. Why on earth would any woman, Christian or not, build up this type of behavior?

My initial thoughts were about are my girls. I would be mortified to think that my beautiful, intelligent, strong willed little ladies would grow up to believe that this sort of behavior is not only acceptable but applauded. I cringe at the possibility that one day a man would enter their lives that would play on their weaknesses and manipulate them into sacrificing their integrity in order to gain their affection.

Then there are my boys. Most days it feels like we’re fighting a losing battle as we desperately try to instill values that are rapidly being labeled as old fashioned. We encourage simple things like opening doors & surrendering your seat for ladies while their peers label women with titles I won’t dare repeat. My desire for them is to admire a woman who respects herself and has enough regard for her body & sexuality to protect it, not willingly lay down her beliefs to satisfy them.

How can we effectively teach these principles if we are a walking double standard?

That, in a nutshell, is why I personally will not read or watch anything that turns violence & degradation into a desirable quality for a mate. I prefer to keep my idea of love and intimacy in tact, where two people commit to honor the other above themselves. I refuse to allow my children to see me choose entertainment where women are objectified and dominance is regarded. I can’t get on board with the group proclaiming harmless fun for a girls night out. I won’t give the impression of indifference by keeping quiet.

I don’t expect this article to change anyone’s mind. I do hope that it makes you pause before taking such a laid back approach to what you allow yourself to be exposed to.

For those of you who are interested, these are just a few of the Scriptures I found helpful in regards to this matter & others like it.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” Psalms 119:37

“And so I insist-and God backs me up on this-that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion .” Ephesians 4:19 

 

~Don’t be a Swinging Door~ April 1, 2014

We recently completed a six week study of the Song of Solomon during our Sunday morning services.  It was a powerful string of messages that elaborated on the many facets of the “Love Story,” as our pastor adequately titled the sermon series.

The final message was on lasting love.  Isn’t that what we all desire, a love that withstands the test of time and all the junk that comes with it?  Ladies, don’t you crave a relationship that uplifts, nourishes and endures?  I would venture to say that not one of us would choose to be the other half of a twosome that tears down, destroys and falls to pieces at the first sign of fleeting bliss.

One little statement was like a clanging gong in my ears and that is what I would like to elaborate on today:

  • Girls, don’t be a swinging door.

I have not shared very much of my past because it’s under the blood.  However, I do feel that sharing of oneself opens the door for others to see what a hot mess you used to be before Jesus and see that there is hope when they look at where you are now, after Jesus.

So here goes nothing.

I was not a wholesome young lady.  My daddy issues made me think that I had to do whatever, whenever to get and keep a man.  After all, when your own daddy doesn’t want you, there must be something crazy wrong with you, right?  I wasn’t a one-night-stand girl, but I did engage in premarital sex with men that I was involved with.  It still hurts a bit to say that, but again, I’ve been forgiven and redeemed so go ahead and throw your stones if you must, they won’t break this glass.

The day that I finally realized I had it all wrong was when I became involved with my now husband.  He opened my eyes to what it’s like to truly be loved and valued for who I was, not by what I could do for him.  I no longer felt like I had to lower my standards and discard my morals in order to make him want to stay.  It was a condition-less love, what I had always longed to find.

So when pastor shared this Scripture from Solomon, I teared up just a little:

“What will we do for our sister if someone asks to marry her?  If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower.  But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar.” (8-9)

This is the young woman’s brothers speaking on her behalf, ready to protect their baby sister’s virtue, if you will.  I couldn’t necessarily relate to the protective older brother, but it made me think of Jamie and how he was man enough to say, “I love you enough to stop you from compromising your worth to satisfy a lustful desire.”  I really hit the jackpot with him.

The problem with today’s young people is the lack of people in their lives teaching them the importance of saving the intimacy for when they are mature, self-confident & married!  When you allow yourself to become one with someone, you are giving away a part of yourself that you will never get back, not ever.  Young people who are feeling the pressure of what this generation claims to be acceptable, take it from someone who did it all wrong, having sex or even other acts of intimacy before you are joined in marriage is damning.  It will mess with your mind, your heart and your very soul for a long, long time.  Girls, you are not junk, you deserve better than to be with one guy this week and cramming your tongue down the throat of another the next, (that’s right, I went there).  If he won’t “date” you without that stipulation, trust me when I say, he isn’t worth the waste of your breath.  Kids now are more sexually charged than I can even understand.  Middle-schoolers are making out in school and having sex….OMG!!!  I really could stroke out just typing those words.  Why do you suppose it is that 12 & 13 year old BABIES are giving away something they should treasure?  My theory, no one has told them what they are worth.  Their self-esteem is based on the opinions of others as opposed to a confidence that comes from within.  No one has made them feel that they are priceless and worthy and should be treated as such.  So in closing, please, allow me….

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  There is no one who is just like you.  You are so loved by the Lord, that He knows the number of hairs on your head and He sings over you while you sleep.  You are more precious than the most valuable of jewels and your beauty is flawless.  You possess a greatness that isn’t hinged on what someone else says of you.  You are treasured, you are loved and you are priceless.  Stop letting others decrease your worth by using you for what you have to offer them.  Protect your moral integrity and respect yourself.  Don’t lower your standards, set the bar high and the ones who deserve your attention will rise up to meet them.  You are in fact royalty, don’t you think it’s about time you started acting like it?value

 

~My translation of Proverbs 31~ March 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:08 pm
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Who can find a competent wife who still has some moral standards intact?  She is a priceless treasure, more valuable than the finest of things.  Her husband can rest assured that he is in good hands for she values honesty and integrity over all else.  Her purpose in the marriage is to bring her husband honor and to add to his life, not diminish it by belittling his authority as the head of the home or putting unrealistic demands on him as a provider.

She is a tireless worker, finding creative ways to meet the needs of her family.  She is a bargain hunter who swaps out hand-me-downs with her friends, clips coupons with a vengeance and knows when every store holds their weekly specials.  Sleeping in is a luxury she rarely allows herself.  Before the kiddos begin to stir, she has lunches packed, school papers signed and a road map for how her day will play out with her to-do list, no servant girls to dole out the chores to in this house.

She looks for ways to add income to her family’s resources, whether it’s at a 9-5 job, as an at-home business owner or by selling items the family no longer needs.  She is resourceful, determined, energetic and optimistic.  It is her goal to see that her dealings are successful without sacrificing time with her family which often means burning the midnight oil to get it all done.

Her hands are never idle as she is constantly preparing meals, typing emails, checking homework, writing proposals, doing laundry, cleaning house and the like.  She is never too busy to help those less fortunate.  She keeps her eyes and ears open to the needs of her community and volunteers her time for fundraisers and committees with goals of bettering the lives of her neighbors.

While she may not be a seamstress like her Ma-Maw was, she doesn’t fear the changing seasons because she knows how to transform a wardrobe from spring to winter on a shoestring budget.  She is a thrifty, money wise kind of girl.

Her husband is well known and liked within  the community.  He serves in the church, has a reputation of a hard worker and is known for his wise counsel.

This precious lady is as strong and unwavering as an oak tree but equally soft and tender at heart.  She walks with her head held high, fully confident in her abilities as a daughter of The King.  She is fearless when she looks to the future, even when her circumstances look bleak, for she knows who holds her in the palm of His hand and she smiles at the security that knowledge brings.  She doesn’t speak out of turn or toss her words around carelessly.  She gives careful thought to the counsel she gives, making certain to always point people to the Truth as opposed to a worldly opinion.  Even in correction, she is kind and loving, making sure that the theme of her speech is the message of Jesus.

Nothing escapes her attention within her home.  She does in fact have eyes in the back of her head, laser point vision and hearing so sensitive that her children wonder if she is superhuman.  The term laziness is a foreign concept to her.  Her backside rarely makes contact with the sofa as she can always think of one more thing that needs to be done.

Her little people think she is without question, the best mom on the planet.  They make her homemade gifts, handwritten cards and give hugs and kisses that melt her momma’s heart.  Her husband sings her praises to anyone who will listen and puts her at the top of his list, second only to the Lord.  “Baby, you are the best there is, we are incredibly lucky to call you ours!”

A beautiful face and a smokin’ hot body may be a nice commodity to some, but one day, gravity is going to kick in and all of that is going to disappear.  But the woman who loves the Lord and serves Him with all that she has will always be found beautiful in the sight of those she loves.  She will be known not for her appearance, but for her servant’s heart that is totally sold out for Jesus….in that she will find her fame and anxiously wait for her reward that is waiting for her when her time on this earth is through.strong woman

This concludes our 31 day reading challenge of the book of Proverbs.  I pray you found it to be a blessing.

 

~Enough~ March 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:49 pm
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“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die.  First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty or riches!  Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.  For if I grow rich, I many deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?  And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”  (Proverbs 30:7-9 NLT)

In a world where it seems that everybody is constantly seeking more; more money, more recognition, more time; and at times will stop at nothing to “have it all,” maybe we could learn a little something from Agur here in Proverbs.

These two favors that he asks of the Lord really sum up a simple life of obedience. His desire to always be honest and to be known for such, is honorable. How often do we catch ourselves telling little lies and later thinking, “I shouldn’t have done that.” It could be someone asks you to be involved in something that is really of no interest to you but instead of just telling them that, you come up with some elaborate excuse for why you can’t…lie. Maybe your kid wants you to chaperone a field trip but you really can’t stand this other parent that you know will go so you tell little Susie that Mommy already has plans that day….lie. Or is it a request from your spouse to spend a romantic evening alone when you’d rather sit glued to your computer playing one of your fave games, “Sorry honey, I’m not feeling so hot.”…lie.

You get my drift. It is just as easy to lie as it is to tell the truth but the truth doesn’t make you feel like a heaping pile of junk when you reflect on it later.

His second request is spot on. This man has discovered a truth that escapes so many of us-a life of simple abundance is enough. I’m not saying that riches destroy everyone, some people have learned how to use their success for the good of many rather than being so consumed with their wealth that they lose touch with humanity.  There are those who have become so confident in their own abilities because of their prosperity that they feel no need for God and therefor deny his existence, after all, they are self-made, no God’s work here.  Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum, where the lack is so severe that the one struggling starts to believe there can’t be a God, because if He did exist, how could he allow this to happen?

One of my favorite verses of Scripture in regards to giving is Peter 3:6 “Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have I give thee.” The richest people in the world are those who have learned that money has little to do with true success or happiness.  Wealth comes from knowledge of the Lord and trust in His provision for you and yours.  Maybe you don’t live with excess and you go week-by-week like we do, that’s fine with me because I know that God knows just what I need and He will never leave the righteous out begging for bread.phil 419

 

~Benefits of Wisdom~ February 12, 2014

Day 2-Proverbs 2proverbs 2

Yesterday we discovered the entire purpose behind the book of Proverbs is to encourage us to seek wisdom and understanding from the Lord so that our lives would be in alignment with Scriptures.  The same point is reiterated in chapter two.  Something you may have noticed about the Lord, when something is really important, He gets a little repetitive.  I suppose He thinks we’re hard headed and need to be told multiple times to be sure it sinks in.  He’s right, by the way.

Did you know that you have to ask God to give you wisdom and insight?  He wants us to seek out understanding.  Think about it, when someone asks you for something you know that they believe you have what they need.  Asking implies that you want to learn and are actively listening.

Once we have sought these gifts from the Lord, he makes us four promises that require very little from us:

1.  He (the Lord) grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  

Honesty has always & will always be the best policy.  I can say there have been times in my life that telling the truth was painful, either to me or the person I was sharing with, but it is absolutely necessary in order to live the blessed life.  You want to have deep connections with people & know how to respond in any given situation, be honest-with them, yourself and the Lord.

2.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

Moral uprightness, strong principals…that is how integrity is defined.  The Lord wants his children to have a backbone and stand by their convictions.  You stand up for what the Lord declares as true and he will shield you from your adversaries. 

3.  He guards the path of the just

Be fair.  Stand up for the innocent.  Don’t condemn the guilty.  The Lord is the one who sits on the judgment seat, thank goodness because I do not want that job and quite honestly I don’t want you in that position either!  Let your hearts and minds be open and kind and the Lord will direct your steps.

4.  and protects those who are faithful to him.

I like this one.  God had promised his divine protection over my life if I am committed to him.  God’s love for me is steadfast, does he not deserve the same in return.  I think yes.

(Proverbs 2: 7-8 NLT)

Seek wisdom, trust that God wants to grant you understanding, have a reverential fear of Him and watch how your life is transformed during this reading challenge.  God is moving, people.  It’s up to us if we go with Him or sit and watch from the nosebleed section.

*This is day 2 of our 31 day reading challenge, it’s not too late to join us!  One chapter of Proverbs a day, February 11-March 13.  There will be a post here for each reading. Blessings!*