Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Make It Stop~ November 4, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:04 am
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I am sick to death of bullying!! I considered adding a few colorful words to embellish on that opening line to grasp your attention, making sure my point was clear because I am absolutely disgusted!

I know some of you may read into this and question who ruffled my feathers this morning. Allow me to clarify that while there have been some instances where the bullying has hit my own home, this goes far beyond the reaches of my little corner of the world.

It seems no one is off limits from the grasp of a bully. The workplace, the classroom, the ball fields, the canned goods aisle at the grocery store…all prime locations for the bully to strike. Under no circumstances is it ever ok to assert your dominance over another’s perceived weakness! Not ever. All bullying is wrong but for me personally, the worst is when someone in authority abuses their power, especially in the case of adult/child relationships. Can we just stop it already?! I would rather EARN someone’s respect than scare them into submission.

This is about more than just one specific offense. It’s the day after day reports of kids taking their lives over bully assaults. It’s the social media posts attacking everyone who doesn’t think like you or look like you. It’s the constant negativity in general that is simply exhausting. Words, said face to face or behind ones’ back, can be damning. Hateful stares leave lasting impressions. Physical altercations can instill fear and mistrust for a lifetime.

Maybe we should all step up to the challenge to intervene when we see bullying firsthand or at the very least, ensure we aren’t part of the problem. BE the change. Speak up amongst the silence. Fight for the underdog. And for the love of all that is good and holy, when you can not say something nice, than please just be quiet.image

 

~Be Nice or Pipe Down~ May 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:17 am
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Why belittle someone based solely on the fact that they have made different life choices than you? Do their decisions somehow disrupt the path that you are on? These are questions that I’ve considered when I see people tearing each other down.

I am not referring to those who offer sound, helpful advice, (helpful being the keyword), or those who share their opinion without dragging someone through the mud to make a point. This is only meant for those who are just outright hateful to other human beings for no other reason than not approving of some aspect of their life. It’s just not necessary. 

If you don’t like the way someone chooses to live their life and you find it impossible to be kind, would it not be better for everyone if you simply stepped out of the picture? It is not my intention to sound accusatory, however, if you are being mean, condescending or judgmental in regards to another’s personal choices, you are out of line. End of story. Sure, you’re entitled to your opinion, but no one is obligated to listen to it much less give it any consideration. So if you find that you are being overly critical, especially when your two cents were not requested, you may want to brace yourself for a little backlash. 

We could all benefit from realizing that we can be friends with someone, or at the very least civil, and not agree with every decision they make! I don’t understand why this is so hard for some. Could you imagine how dull life would be if every person in your circle was EXACTLY like you?! 

 Initially this post had quite the angry tone. I edited, multiple times, to try and take the sting out, hopefully I was at least moderately successful. The last thing I want is to come off as mean or bitter but I also didn’t want to downplay how much of an issue I think this has become. I feel like I should clarify that no one has ruffled my feathers, not directly anyways. I’m just so over mean spirited people and the damage they are inflicting. BE NICE!!! And if you can’t, then at least be quiet. 

 

~Don’t Hate The Girl Who Loves Herself~ March 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 3:30 pm
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“She thinks she’s so pretty.”

And what, prey tell, is wrong with that?!

When did it become a bad thing for a woman to like what she sees in her reflection? I have noticed that it tends to be other women who make this statement. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard a dude utter those words in my entire life.

So, ladies, why would we express such hostility towards another woman simply because she feels good in her skin?

Insecurity?

Jealousy?

Hatred?

Not one of those qualities is very becoming. Regardless of the reason behind it, there is no justifiable reason to say something so harsh about anyone. So what if “she” thinks she’s pretty? Does her confidence affect you negatively in some way? Would you prefer she knit pick every feature or that she balk at what she sees in the mirror? Would it make you feel better if she thought she was hideous and undesirable, unworthy of anyone’s attention? Even if her confidence errs on the side of conceit, that’s her issue to resolve, not ours to judge.

I can remember being a teenager and having thought this about a girl or two and I know it was pure jealousy on my part. I’d catch my latest crush looking their way and rather than appreciate the beauty he saw, I’d feel angry that it wasn’t directed at me. Now when I see an attractive woman, I will point her out to whomever I’m with, even my husband. I’m not trying to trick him into complimenting another woman so I can pout about how he must not think I’m good enough, (yes, that was me in my younger years), I am simply in awe of how uniquely beautiful we all are and want others to recognize it too.

Sister-friends, we can all be beautiful, it’s not a contest where only one girl wins. Remember that more times than not, the beauty people see in us is at least partially based on that which comes from within us. Don’t let that image be tainted by belittling someone who is confidant in who they are. Love yourself. And love that woman who thinks she’s so pretty….because she is, and so are you.

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (Prov 14:30 ESV)

 

~THINK First~ March 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:11 am
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Hey you, with your finger hovering over “post,” can what you’re about to share be perceived as malicious, either by means of direct attack or passive-aggressively? Think about that, would you please, before you blurt out something you can never take back.

Social media has made it far to easy to be a cowardly bully. Everyday I see at least one post that is obviously meant to make someone or some group feel bad about themselves. Granted, I have several friends who are already combatting this trend by posting encouraging words every time they are online, but the problem is still prevalent.

What does one have to gain from being mean-spirited and hate-filled? What good can possibly come from slandering someone publicly with no consideration for who else could be affected by your rant? Does it invoke a feeling of power to seek one’s own revenge? Does it make you feel better about yourself to know that someone feels miserable about themselves at your hands?

I would venture to say that for the most part, when given these points some consideration, you would think twice before you rapid-fire posted in the midst of your anger or frustration.

One of my favorite Christian authors talks about the beauty of the “pause” and how taking the time to ask yourself 3 questions can drastically change the outcome of any situation:

  1. Are my words kind?
  2. Are my words true?
  3. Are my words necessary? (From LysaTerkeurst.com)

Imagine yourself today with a literal pause button. Before you speak, with your mouth OR your hands, give yourself a moment to think so that you can respond with grace rather than vengeance.

Friends, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, too, hurt & betrayed and desperate for someone to come alongside me and validate my anger. While it may make us feel better in the short-term, it will likely make us feel that much worse once the dust settles and we realize that how we reacted was no better than the original offense. Let’s just agree to make the effort, one day at a time, to choose our words carefully. And when we mess up, know that there is forgiveness and grace to try again tomorrow.


“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” (Proverbs 29:20 NLT)

 

~Bah Humbug!~ December 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:21 am
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“Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.” (1 Peter 4:8 The Message)

Earlier this week, Mom & I took the kids out to run a few errands. Because of the randomness that was our shopping list, we decided to hit the nearest big box store as opposed to making several stops. In case any of you have lost count, I have five kids at home, so as you can imagine that brings a whole other level of good times to venturing into public.

What I can say about this particular experience is that it wasn’t my kids that tainted my mood, it was the grownups we encountered. Aisle after aisle we were met with people glaring at my not loud, but not quiet, brood. Then there were those with buggies planted firmly in the center of the row, refusing to budge when my son politely said “excuse me.” There was one highlight, locking eyes with the momma who’s four littles were engaged in a wrapping paper sword fight 😂 We made our way to checkout where I met my match, the sour faced cashier. I’m a stubborn woman, y’all, so I made it my life’s mission to get this woman to smile or at least speak! I tried everything, and she never even looked up…ouch! I will admit, it frustrated me. What on earth could make someone be so rude?!

This morning I was thinking about this little shopping trip and I believe I’ve pinpointed why it irritated me so much. We are in the midst of the Christmas season and yet a vast majority of people seem far from jolly. This is not a recent development, I’m sure you’ve seen it year after year as well. If you’ve ever been out on “Black Friday” then you’ve seen the worst of the worst…one time & never again! Perhaps what bothered me even more was how I allowed others’ attitudes to effect my own. So I’m determined to make it my goal this holiday season to be the light even when surrounded by sour faced, non-budging, disapproving faces.

Just keep smiling, friends, and chat up that cashier. Offer well wishes and be sincere! (I believe I just channeled my inner Dr. Suess for those lines.) You may not get the reaction you’d prefer but we don’t do life like we do to get a response, we do it to show the love of Christ. And the truth of the matter is, we have no clue what the strangers we meet are going through to make them interact with others the way they do. I don’t ever want to become so insensitive & hard-hearted that I can’t see past someone’s stern expression to offer a warm smile in return. If you are one of the ones struggling to find a reason to smile, think of just one thing you have to be thankful for and let that become your focus today.

Be kind always.

I am thankful for a toasty fireplace to write beside while getting lost in twinkling lights <3

I am thankful for a toasty fireplace to write beside while getting lost in twinkling lights ❤

 

 

~Let’s Laugh It Out~ February 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:13 am
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A little disclaimer before you read: This post is meant specifically for people in my little hometown. However, you may find that it also applies to where you live as well.

...and every other day too!

…and every other day too!

You might be surprised to learn that a parent pick-up line at an elementary school could have a town divided. It’s sad how something as simple as picking up your child can bring on the road rage but you better believe it does.

There are a few types of moms, (and some dads), that you can expect to encounter in the pick-up line. Each one has been met with attacks because their quirks are bugging the bejeezus out of the locals.

The mom who arrives an hour (or more) before pick-up time to wait for little Johnny. Before you judge this momma, let me tell you a little story. The year that 2 of my kiddos started Kindergarten, I was pregnant with another. My son LOST HIS MIND on the first day and for a highly emotional preggo momma, this caused my anxiety levels to sky rocket. So that afternoon, and the ones that followed for the first few weeks, I would get to the school as early as I could manage to make sure that my son was one of the first picked up. Why? Because in my warped, guilt ridden mind, he would somehow know that I loved him more if he got to skip out the door 30 seconds before his classmates. Fast forward to after the birth of one Miss Emma. The child who single handedly tried to destroy my ability to cope by refusing to sleep, like ever, unless you rode around for a bit to “rock” her. So I would leave my home with enough time to cruise her into sleepy time land, then park my mom wagon by the school and read about Jesus…because sleep deprived mommas need Jesus way more than you well rested mommas out there. I’ve heard similar stories from countless moms. Sure they could go inside and volunteer with “all that free time”, but what if that is literally the only me time they have? Yes, they could cut the apron strings and make little Johnny learn to deal with his anxieties if he’s not picked up in the first round of released kiddos. But if they’re not breaking any laws, let them be. We know not what makes these mommas tick, (unless we’ve been one), so rather than put them down, try to understand that they have their reasons, whether we get it or not.

Next, the crazed momma flying in on two wheels because she’s about to be so late that the cones are taken up and the nice lady with the walkie talkie is moving rapidly for the door. Again, been there…oh wait, currently doing that. Now that I have kids in 2 schools, there is no casual driving into the lot to get my elementary girl. First I must wait for my middle school brood to mosey on down to the car. Seriously, they are slower than molasses. By the time I maneuver through the mess of parked cars, slow moving cars & darting pre-teens who clearly never listened when Mom & Dad said to look both ways before crossing, I am down to mere minutes to make the cut off to get Em. So across town I dash with the handful of other parents facing the same struggle to beat the clock. Yes, our driving may be slightly erratic, we may have a crazed look in our eyes but do you know what a pain it is to park & go get your child from the office because you got there at 3:31?! ONE MINUTE LATE, PEOPLE!!! Cut this mom some slack. Chances are she’s got more kids than she has nerves left and she’s doing the best she can to get them all picked up and carpooled to whatever afterschool activity that comes next. She doesn’t mean to cut you off, perhaps with the noise from the back seat or worse, the smells…dear Lord the smells…she has lost her focus if only for a moment and didn’t realize that you got to that four way stop first. She’s not rude, she is tired! She’s overworked, underpaid and needs another cup of coffee.

Then there are the straight up law breakers. They double park, block driveways, pull up on sidewalks & run stop signs. These mommas are a bit harder to defend because they are acting illegally. They kinda scare me a bit because I am pretty sure they will mow you down if you even so much as think about cutting line. But what’s made these mommas act so irrationally? How many times have they been cut off or nearly sideswiped all in the name of holding their place in line? Maybe they have a brief window of time to pick-up and transport their child elsewhere before returning to a job where boss man makes their life incredibly difficult if they are so much as a nanosecond late. I don’t know, and neither do you, so maybe we can extend a little grace even when they wave at us with one fifth of their hand as they nearly run us off the road. Yes, they are behaving badly and need a serious timeout but one day, you or I might be that momma who has just had enough and we’ll be grateful for that innocent bystander who smiled and waved us ahead after we practically ran them down in our blind rage.

So I realize that I have made light of what can be a dangerous situation. Let’s face it, people have been known to snap in high stress situations behind the wheel. I only wanted to poke a little fun, lighten up a tense situation and maybe make you laugh a little. We’re all in this life thing together. We are going to mess up, daily, and likely offend people as we go. My suggestion is we pray each day that God would help us see others as He does…including the guy blocking your drive, the lady who nearly t-boned you and the lady who’s been parked along the street for two hours already. Frustrating-yes, a nuisance-possibly, a matter of life-and-death-unlikely. For my fellow carpool driving mommas & daddys out there, we really need to be more respectful of the non-parent drivers in our vicinity. They have the same right as us to be on the roads that just so happen to go by our babies schools without the fear of being plowed down by a parade of mini-vans and SUVs.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt 5:7 ESV)

“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” (Prov 14:29 NIV)

 

~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.

 

~I DO Care~ December 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:20 am
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I have felt very convicted over a 3 word phrase that I probably use every single day. The words aren’t ugly or said hatefully, but I believe the conviction came because they imply an emotion that could be perceived as hurtful.

Wanna know what it is?

“I don’t care.”

Whenever the kids ask me for something, like a snack or to watch a certain show, rather than give a simple yes, I typically say “I don’t care.” I’m not really sure how this came to be and it never stuck out to me until recently. But I don’t like it. Why would I tell my children I don’t care about anything?! Because truthfully, I DO care…about every little thing that concerns my people.

Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase. The results really hit home.

“Saying “don’t mind” sounds very polite and gentle. It’s like the person is saying “It’s ok with me.”; however, “don’t care” sounds stronger and it’s like the person is saying, “It doesn’t matter to me”.”-http://english.stackexchange.com

Synonym for I don’t care-uninvolved

That’s not at all what I mean when I say it! Jesus, help me!

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Prov 16:24 ESV)

While I never intended to be harsh, my careless use of a simple phrase indicates otherwise. Nothing about “I don’t care” is seasoned with grace. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how hateful it does sound.

Ephesians 4:29 has been on my heart fairly often lately and I have to wonder if that’s why the sudden feelings of guilt over my choice of words.

“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.” (ESV)

My kids, I’m sure like many of yours, never stop with the questions..

Can I have this?

Can we go there?

Will you get me..?

While the constant requests can be taxing on ones nerves, we should still take care to respond with love and kindness rather than harshness and irritation. I for one don’t want my kids to stop coming to me because they feel they are an aggravation to me.

This has become a habit to me, one that will take some time to break. But I am determined to do better in this area because even the simplest of words have the power to build up or tear down.

words

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life” (Prov 15:4 ESV)

I want to be that tree.

 

~Love Yourself~ July 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:06 am
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For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you may have noticed my posts have been a bit sporadic over the last couple of weeks. This may come as a surprise to you, but every once in a while, I get discouraged. Shocker, right?!

Ok, so I’m messing with you, of course I get discouraged, we all do! Last week was particular frustrating for me. Nothing life shattering happened, I was just irritated. So much so that during Wednesday night Bible study, I essentially tuned Pastor out and sat in the back journaling my frustrations, (sorry Pastor, it wasn’t you, it was me).

I wrote about my lack of motivation to write. Ironic? Yes. I have a desire to one day publish and yet feel completely inadequate to reach that goal. My writing is too plain & there are far too many authors better equipped than I so who would want to pay to read my material?

My voice lesson didn’t go so hot either and that had my questioning if I should be involved in music ministry. Singing just doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to work at it, so maybe that means I should quit. In all honesty, my team doesn’t need me, right?

Times like this are incredibly difficult for me to overcome. I become my own worst critic & believe me, I am relentless with the harsh things I speak to myself. But then God gave me a little aha moment in the midst of my ramblings.

Recently I have caught my oldest daughter being rather hateful to her younger sisters more often than just typical spats that siblings are bound to have. When I called her out on it, I asked “Would you treat anyone outside of this house like that?!” Of course she responded with a resounding “No.” I followed up with, “Then why are you so quick to cut down the very people you should treat the best?!”

God has this way of taking the words I speak as a parent and making me turn them around on myself. I’m not always crazy about His methods, but He knows how to get my attention!

I would never look at another woman and call her a terrible mother.

I would never lock eyes with a friend struggling in their ministry and tell them their struggles were evidence that clearly they had missed their calling & it’s time to call it quits.

I would never belittle how someone chose to express their creativity.

And yet, these are all things I have screamed at myself. I am careful to choose kind and gentle words with others but berate myself every chance I get. Perhaps I should take my own advice given to my daughter, “If you wouldn’t talk to a complete stranger with such harshness than don’t speak it over someone you love.”

Yes, we should love ourselves. Even in our shortcomings, our struggles and our epic failures, we should show ourselves the same love and grace we extend to others. If like me, you tend to be gentler with others than yourself, try putting a different spin on a well known Scripture, love yourself as you love your neighbor.affe8253f3defec8b2654eefb29c8e31

 

~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.