Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Convicted By A Wave~ September 3, 2015

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Every morning and every afternoon I drive the exact same route to my children’s schools, as do most other parents in town. So I typically find myself crossing paths with the same people once, sometimes twice, a day. I wave, albeit with a coffee cup in hand, at every car I pass. Well, except for one. There is one vehicle that I pass both morning and afternoon. I don’t know the driver, I just know we must have children in the same school. I used to wave, everyday, but not once was it ever reciprocated. So, with a bit of self-righteous indignation, I stopped.

This morning as I passed them once again and kept one hand firmly on the wheel and the other on my ceramic mug, I felt a twinge of guilt. Since when do I base my behavior on that of others? So what if this person never raises their hand in greeting? Do I need to be acknowledged for every little act of kindness I offer, even something as simple as a wave? Y’all, this seriously rocked my world and this was all before breakfast!

Just last night I shouted words of encouragement to one of my runners at an XC meet “They don’t set your pace, YOU do!!” Should that not be the same approach we take in our dealings with others in our day-to-day? Should we not do OUR best to be the light regardless to whether or not we see the fruits of our labors? How we treat others is not a reflection of them, it’s a reflection of us. I don’t want to start allowing bitterness to take root in my heart just because someone doesn’t respond to me the way I think they should. do to others

Be you, always. Wave to your heart’s content. Offer a “cheers” to that momma holding on to her coffee for dear life. Smile at the cashier who seemingly hates life. It’s making a difference, if not in their life, in yours.

 

~Fear Blocks Potential~ January 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:06 am
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fear is a liarWhat would you do if fear was not part of the equation?

I’d say every one of us has something in the back of our minds that we would like to try, a nagging desire that we can’t shake. Then fear shows up and talks us out of it…again.

Fear has many faces and presents itself in varying ways. I’ve put together a list of a few that have been a stumbling block in my own life.

Practicality. This makes no sense. I don’t have the resources. This will take away our family’s security and set us up for financial struggles.

Rejection. The sheer thought of someone shooting me down is enough to make me nauseous. Feelings of anxiety so powerful they nearly suffocate me for fear someone will say the dreaded “no” stop me dead in my tracks.

Ridicule. I’ve had nightmares of people laughing in my face or even worse, behind my back. My dream is silly. My abilities are insufficient. It is laughable that I ever thought this could be successful.

Failure. I have failed enough times in my life that I have zero desire to do it again. The easiest way not to fail is to never try anything new. So I’ll just stick with what I know works.

Comparison. So-n-so already does something similar and they do it flawlessly. They speak fluently and with confidence. Their vision is clear. I can’t do it like they do so I might as well not even try.

Can you relate?

Here’s the thing about fear, it’s not of God.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7 ESV)

It’s all in your mind, something you’ve created as an excuse to keep you from doing that thing you know full well you are supposed to be doing. That’s right, I went there. Fear is just another excuse, a crutch that makes you feel better about walking away from your passion with your head hanging like a wounded pup. I’m not criticizing, I already told you I’ve been in those shoes. I’ve worn holes clean through the soles from overuse!

Because I have been there a time or fifteen, I can tell you that now is a good a time as any to STOP THAT! But don’t just take my word for it. The Bible gives a little encouragement to help you put fear in it’s place. Maybe try committing this to memory:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

If that doesn’t put a little pep in your step, I don’t know what will! You don’t have to look within yourself to find the courage to “do the thing”, you need only to look up to the God who’s promised to be with you every step of the way.

Make a decision that you are no longer going to allow fear to block you from reaching your potential. Do it soon. There is no time like the present…just sayin’.

 

 

 

~I Ain’t Scared!~ December 16, 2014

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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

 

~But God~ February 26, 2014

I just this moment left my women’s Bible study to come home and work on my Proverbs post in silence before I have to pick up my baby from preschool.  As I was leaving the group, Lysa TerKeurst via video was beginning to discuss what happens when you use the phrase “but God.”

Imagine my surprise when I come home, open my faded, tattered Bible to Proverbs 16 and the very 1st verse reads:

“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” 

Sometimes God is subtle when He’s trying to get your attention, this was not one of those times.  It’s like He knows sometimes I can err on the side of stubbornness and decided to send me a flashing neon sign in the form of confirmation.

The concept that Lysa was sharing about inserting the words “but God” into any situation changes the perspective entirely.  What may seem foolish, reckless or downright insane can suddenly make perfect sense when you add God to the equation.

I shared with my lady friends how when we say yes to God, we have our own preconceived notions of how He is then going to use us.  “Ok, Lord, I’m ready to serve you now.  Just so you know, I am writer, not a speaker, I work well with little kids, not teens and I can sing but Lord you know I have no rhythm so I’m not going to dance.  Now that you know all this about me, could you kindly open the door for my ministry.  Amen.”

Next thing you know, God’s pushing you to speak at a prayer group, lead an outreach for troubled teens and head up the new dance troop for your church! Not funny, Lord, not funny at all.  That is how God works!  He calls you to do what you cannot possibly do within your own abilities.  When you can feel the Lord yanking on you, leading you to do something for Him that is in exact opposition of your comfort zone…chances are that’s right where you are supposed to be!  Going against our norm ensures our full reliance on the Lord to complete the task at hand.

I have heard the expression, “tell the Lord your plans and he just laughs and laughs.”  He tells us quite clearly that we are to commit our actions to Him and then our plans will succeed (vs 3).  I happen to believe the reason being is when we truly submit ourselves to His leading, He will plant desires in our hearts.  It may come as a shock to some of you, but God can totally change your heart and mind to line up with what He wants you to do as opposed to what you want to do.  He stretches us, shapes us and molds us to do His work.  We are being refined and strengthened every single time we say no to ourselves and yes to Him.  The more we deny our own plans to take up the ones He has set before us, the more He will see that our faith and trust is in Him alone.  When that happens, God will start flinging doors wide open for you to share the Truth in ways you never dreamed possible.

If you are feeling a nudge to do something for God and you’re in the throws of a mental debate of wanting to be obedient but questioning, “God is this you because I’m not so sure you’ve got the right person for this?”  May I give you a very simple piece of advice?  The enemy will not ask you to do something that glorifies God.  If what you feel pressed to do is pointing people to Jesus and the absolute truth of His Word, it ain’t the devil.

Say yes to God and feel the warmth of His smile rest upon you.

“When the KING smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.” (vs 15)

She is awesome...very well stated.

She is awesome…very well stated.

*Day 16 of our Proverbs 31 day challenge…man this is good stuff!

 

~Hypocrite~ January 14, 2014

yellingEver found yourself living in a contradiction?

Let me paint you a not so pretty picture.

Two of my older kids have been at each others throats for the last few days.  They pick non-stop, mess with the other’s belongings, “accidentally” bump into one another, etc, etc.  Last night, I’d had enough.  They were supposed to be washing the dishes but all they were getting accomplished was a whole lot of smart alack comments back and forth.  The more aggravated they got, the louder they got.

After I had reached my limit- “STOP YELLING!!!”….I yelled.  (You can’t see me but I promise I’m hanging my head in shame.)

Well hello there pot, how bout we leave kettle alone and deal with ourselves!

I was so frustrated with them and myself that I just went to bed.  Laying there I couldn’t help but realize that I was a part of the problem in my attempt at being the solution.  Granted, there are times as a parent you have “elevate” your voice to get your child’s attention.  However, in this case, my raised voice only added to the chaos and I am fairly certain I did not get my point across so I basically yelled & made myself feel bad for nothing.  I knew there was a Scripture for my predicament but I couldn’t recall it to my memory.  So this morning, I searched “what does the Bible say about leading by example.”  What I found made me want to cry:

“Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.”

(1 Peter 5:2 & 3 NLT)

This verse is under the heading of “advice for elders” but can easily be applied to parenting.  Most people, including the little ones in my care, will typically be more responsive to my instruction if I do as I say.

Maybe, just maybe, they will be less likely to rip each other’s heads off if I control my tongue even in the midst of my anger towards them.  If they see me taking pause to check my emotions and speak calmly and rationally, perhaps they will start to do the same.  I believe they will learn better from that example than they will from me simply telling them that’s what they are supposed to do regardless of how I behave.

I don’t want to be a hypocritical momma.  When my kids are grown raising their own brood, I want them to think “I hope I can be for my kids what my mother was for me” and not “I hope I am nothing like my mother.”  Ouch.  Even typing that stings.

So today, how about a little prayer for all my parent friends out there:

Dear Lord, help us to be more like you and less like ourselves.  Help us to put aside our shortcomings in order to be the very best moms and dads we can be.  Let us look for ways that we can improve our parenting techniques and in so doing improve the quality of life of those in our circle.  Most importantly, remind us that we can call on you for help when we feel overwhelmed and under- equipped.  In Jesus name, amen.

 

~Teach With Grace~ September 30, 2013

teaching-wordle“I hate teaching new people stuff.”

Seriously, that wasn’t very nice.  Quite honestly I was so caught off guard by their comment that I was speechless.

Now a couple weeks later I have mastered my witty comeback, “Well, where would you be had no one taken the time to teach you the skills that you now possess?”

Ok, so maybe not so witty, but true…right?

I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy in training that this was the “leader” he was placed under.  If he would make such a comment to me, someone simply passing by, can you imagine the attitude he put off on his pupil?

Then I thought about how “seasoned” Christians can sometimes by to the “newbies.”  Are we responding to their questions and uncertainties with an attitude of, “I hate teaching new people stuff” or are we being gracious and patient as someone once was with us?

You know, I think that so many young Christians quit because they’ve been made to feel that they had to have it all together the moment they received salvation.  Someone in a position of spiritual authority has made the life of faith seem like an instantaneous change rather than a continual growth process.  So when they slip, and we all know they will, rather than seek guidance & forgiveness, they just walk away feeling frustrated and defeated because they were unable to reach the impossible standards that were set before them.

I know that we can’t all be teachers, nor do I consider myself one, but in my opinion, once you claim to be a Christian, you have automatically become an example that people will look to for guidance.  I do see myself as a willing vessel who is happy to share what I learn from the Word as it not only helps others, it helps me as well.  It is not an annoyance to help a new Christian with their walk, it is a privilege to watch them learn and transform into a new creation.

As you encounter those who have just begun their journey, withhold the judgment and go heavy on the love.  Think of who you were when you first accepted Jesus as your Savior, if you were like me, you were absolutely clueless what to do after you prayed the sinners prayer!  Be gracious and gentle and help people.  Help them overcome the obstacles that trip them up as opposed to becoming agitated that they are still having the same problems.

Don’t be like the guy who hates teaching new people stuff, be like Jesus who lived for it.

“Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have

commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)