Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~I Ain’t Scared!~ December 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:25 am
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Recently, my husband and I were asked to step in as small group pastors at our church. It was both an honor and a privilege to be asked to fill this position and we happily accepted. However, I’d be lying if I said I had zero reservations. Not because I didn’t want to volunteer in this capacity, I truly have a heart for seeing people connect on a deeper, more intimate level within the church body. I did have a moment of panic when I thought of all the reasons why I am not qualified to be a leader. I had no doubts where my husband was concerned, just me and my hot mess of a self.

Thankfully God has a few words for moments such as these.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

This one verse helped me to realize a very simple truth, I am not afraid to be myself.

I am not afraid to tell you that I sometimes lose my patience with my kids. I can be a frustrated momma and use that to honor God by showing other aggravated parents how to take His Word and it apply it to their toughest parenting battles.

I am not fearful that you may find out that I’ve been known to argue with my husband. We’ve had some serious struggles in our marriage that made me wonder if we had any business helping other couples through their own hard times. But, every obstacle we’ve overcome by God’s grace has made us stronger and better equipped to counsel those who find themselves in similar predicaments. Besides, what a testament it is to God’s redemptive power on the days I wanna strangle my man and resist that temptation 😉

I choose to not shy away from admitting the mistakes that I’ve made, both in my past and the areas I continue to struggle with today. I could wallow in self-pity over my shortcomings but would rather use them as part of my testimony. The way I see it, if God hasn’t left or forsaken ME at this point, then there is definitely hope for you too!

Then there is the small matter of not “looking” the part. Hear me out…every time I see the leaders from our church, and other churches as well, they seem so pulled together. Half the time I leave the house wild eyed in my most fashionable pair of yoga pants complete with messy hair & yesterday’s makeup as coffee sloshes over my hand because of my refusal to use a travel mug. Doesn’t exactly scream “leader,” does it?! But you know what? God made me the beautiful mess that I am and He can use me to reach others just as I am. No need to put on airs and pretend to be something I am not.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that being a leader, at any capacity, doesn’t mean conforming to whatever preconceived image you have in your head of what a leader should look like. It means being comfortable in your own skin, in the life that God has given you, and using that to point others to Jesus.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

be you

 

~Is it time to let go?~ December 31, 2013

Undoubtedly the Lord is trying to make a point for me and mine.  It seems like everywhere I look, I am faced with the reoccurring message of letting go.

“Is what you’re trying to hold onto holding you back from something greater?’

“You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but God has something awesome and new in store for you, yet, if you are afraid to let Him lead you out of that pond, you will never know that that He has an ocean for you to sail on…Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.”

And in my own thought process, I continually find myself at war with feelings of anxiety at the thought of losing what is familiar.

Change is scary, at least for creatures of habit like myself.  At the same time, I can appreciate the fact that remaining stagnant doesn’t automatically equal safety.

Have you ever heard the expression, “familiarity breeds contempt”?  I wonder if that’s the place that I currently find myself in.  Has my inability to accept change and my outright defiance towards something new caused me to settle into an unpleasant place?  I feel like Oscar the Grouch…”this is MY house….these are MY things…this is MY LIFE!  And you can’t make me move on!”

Thankfully my deeply rooted faith wouldn’t let me keep my mad face on for too long.  I turned to one of my favorite books in Scripture for some help:

“But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

(Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT)

I don’t want to be the girl who is so busy looking backwards that I completely miss what is right in front of my face.  Some of life’s circumstances look bleak and downright awful…to the point that you can’t possibly see any good ever coming from it.  However, we are getting this story one page at a time while God is working with the whole book so doesn’t it make sense to trust His plans over our own?let go

 

~James Isaiah~ October 17, 2013

I’d like to begin by asking for your prayers.  We now, officially, have a teenager in the house!

Dear Lord, please give me grace to survive this difficult time.  Help me not to strangle him when he rolls his eyes at me.  And if it’s not asking too much, could you please not turn my hair gray all at once.  Thank you, Jesus and amen.

Now that we have that out of the way, HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY, James Isaiah!!

Name meaning time!

James is my husband’s name as well as his father’s.  Knowing it was a biblical name, I was expecting it to mean something godly.  Substitute.  James means substitute.  I was a bit confused by this until I thought about the job of a substitute teacher.  They fill in for another, doing all the duties that one is unable to perform.  In other words, they stand in the gap for someone who needs assistance, for whatever reason.  While this may not always be the case with my son, (he is a teenager and they’re not always known for being the most helpful), he is wonderful with small children.  I’ll give you a perfect example.  Even though today is his birthday, a little league football coach has asked him to help run his practice after Isaiah attends his own hour and half football practice, and he willingly agreed.  This coach sought his help because the younger boys look up to him and it inspires them to play harder.  I’d say that sums up what a substitute does rather well.

Isaiah is probably one of my husband’s favorite books in the bible.  He chose this name for his son.  It is the name that he answers to, unless he’s in trouble in which case he gets the 3 name holler.  It is one of my favorite name meanings for my children.  Isaiah means God’s helper.  Yes and Amen.  That is exactly what I desire for my young man.  He already shows a willingness to help with church activities and I pray that as he grows physically, his desire to serve the Lord will develop as well.  There is nothing that matters to me more in his life than raising him to be a godly man.

I love you, muchos, Izzy!  I am so proud of the young man that you already are and beyond excited that I have the privilege of watching you continue to grow and mature.

Daddy & his boys (birthday boy is in the middle)

Daddy & his boys (birthday boy is in the middle)

“…for you are a chosen people. You are (a) royal priest, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

(1 Peter 2:9 NLT)

 

~I Will Not Be Moved~ September 4, 2013

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.”

(Isaiah 50:7 NLT)

We are living in a time where Christians cannot open their mouths without facing criticism.  In some cases, outspoken believers are dealing with malicious words and even violent threats.  Christian businesses are being boycotted because of their religious beliefs.  Our children are mocked for praying over their meal in the public school cafeteria.  We receive hate mail when we say or write something that lines up with the Word but flies in the face of what the world says.

My response…so. what.

The Bible is filled with passages that warn us of the persecution we will face as followers of Christ and yet it pales in comparison to what Jesus endured so that we may have this life that we are living.  Let the mockers say what they will, I know where my help comes from.  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth!  He has already given us the victory.  We need not lose heart over a battle that is raging around us because it has already been won.

“He who gives me justice is near.  Who will dare to bring charges against me now?  Where are my accusers?  Let them appear!  See, the Sovereign Lord is on MY side!  Who will declare me guilty?”

(Isaiah 50: 8 NLT)

We who are brothers and sisters in Christ need to stand up for our religious rights.  All people are entitled to their beliefs.  ALL people.  That includes us.  I will not allow the government, media or any other organization cause me to cower from standing up for what I believe, which is simply put…the Bible.  I will spread the Word of God in a real, tangible way with loving words, thoughtful actions and a generous spirit.  And in so doing, show all the naysayers that we aren’t just a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.

Hold fast, saints.  Our faith is what keeps us strong when our faith is questioned.

I gotta get me one of these!

I gotta get me one of these!

“So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.”

 

~Graduate~ May 31, 2013

graduationThese last couple weeks have been full of major milestones in the lives of our children.  First we had Emma’s preschool graduation, time for big girl school!  Then my beautiful step-daughter, known around here as Kiki, graduated from high school.  Next up were the two 5th graders, Peyton & Autumn, who celebrated their final year of elementary school with a promotion ceremony.  We small town Southerners like to celebrate every step!

Each program was different but they each held the same theme.  It’s time to move forward.  The kids were encouraged to leave the things of their previous years behind, to use them as a learning experience and to embrace what their futures held for them at the next stage of life.  It was funny to me how the same message could apply to a 5 year old, 11 year olds and a 17 year old!

Then I got to thinking how we go through many “graduations” in our lives; again, the message often being the same.  When we move through the various stages of our lives, we have to leave behind the former things and focus on what’s to come.  However, we become so consumed by things of our past, that our present is neglected and our future seems nonexistent.

While we are young, we can make the mistake of living a care-free life, using the excuse that we are young and just want to have a good time before the responsibilities of adulthood kick in.  Scripture warns us:

“Don’t let the excitement of your youth cause you to forget your Creator.  Honor Him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”

(Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT)

As we get older and make the common mistakes that teens and early twenty-somethings often do, we can allow the shame and embarrassment of those mistakes to haunt us.  We can become gripped by fear that someone from our past will pop-up in our present and cause those in our lives now to look down on us with disdain.  Don’t worry, there is a Word for that too:

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth…”

(Isaiah 54:4 NIV)

Now you’re an adult and you’ve blown it big time.  You had a child out of wedlock, you’re divorced, you filed bankruptcy, you had an affair…this list could rattle on forever.  You are so wrapped up in the mistake that you made that the future looks dim at best and insignificant at worst.  Try this approach:

“…I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I press on…”

(Philippians 3:13 NLT)

No matter what season of life you currently find yourself in, there is no sense in living in your past.  You must graduate on to the next thing God has in store for you.  Even if your past holds no regrets or mistakes; (first of all, you’re fooling yourself, we ALL have something lingering from our past where we’d like a redo); you can’t live off your past victories either.  This may very well be one of if not the best “life” Scriptures:

“But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?”

(Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT)

The point being, if you are so busy looking back, you’re going to miss what’s coming right at you!  Who wants to realize they’ve missed God because their past was at the forefront of their heart and mind instead of the present?  There is a reason why our eyes are in the front of our heads and not the back!