Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~When Sadness Overshadows Your Holiday~ November 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:52 am
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Sometimes holidays can make us sad, for any number of reasons. It can be all to easy to settle into that sadness, allowing it to steal our joy. So many of you have sufficient cause to be a bit down today. Your newsfeed will be flooded with images of happy families and perhaps you’re missing part of yours this year. It’s ok to miss them but try not to let it be all consuming, to the point you lose out on what is right in front of you. Regardless of what may be making a run at your joy today, surely there is at least one thing for which you can give thanks. Give yourself permission to mourn what is absent then shift your focus to what is present. I pray your blessings are more than enough today and everyday that follows.

 

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Thankful I get to celebrate with these lovelies.

 

~Your Love Never Quits~ January 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:54 am
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This blog has a stat tracker that keeps me in the know on site traffic. While not elaborate, the details include: number of visitors, the posts that were read on any given day and the most informative, search terms that led readers to my site. There are two search terms that I see frequently. The first, “Valerie Rutledge blog,” (thank you, by the way, to whomever follows my writings specifically). The second, and the one I want to address today, “you never loved me.”

It shocks me how often this phrase appears. Each time it grips my heart, seizing it up for just a moment. While I hope that finding their way to my blog ministers to them and brings healing, it pains me to know how many people are suffering in this capacity. I imagine downcast faces, sitting in front of a dimly lit screen, seeking answers for why they’ve found themselves in a loveless relationship or perhaps one which has recently ended.

My heart aches for you, that you’ve found yourself in this place of searching, trying to understand what went wrong. What did you miss or could you have done differently? The pain that comes from love that’s been lost is real and deep and incomparable to any other.

While I sincerely wish I could bring healing to your broken heart or answer the burning question of “why,” I cannot. What I can do is point you to a love that never fails. I can introduce you to the One that will never lead your thoughts down the path of “you never loved me.” His name is Jesus and a relationship with Him is a sure thing. He will never leave you nor forsake you. When you stumble or when you screw up monumentally, His love for you is steadfast.

I am not so gullible to believe that this will erase whatever pain you feel in this moment, when your heartbreak is fresh and the grief comes in waves. But I pray it soothes your soul, like the warmth of the sun as it kisses your skin or the familiarity of a trusted friend’s embrace. Let the Lord’s love mend your broken places today and know, sweet friend, that I am in your corner. IMG_1918

 

~When Life Is Just Too Short~ May 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:07 pm
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Days ago I opened the ol’ WordPress app on my phone and typed this title. That was it, no meat, just a headline that popped into my head for no apparent reason. I didn’t know what the post would be about until I read about a horrific accident in another state.

A caravan of family members were traveling home from a wedding when a semi caused a multi car accident. The first vehicle carried a pregnant mother and her toddler son. In separate vehicles were the husband & father to the pair and a set of grandparents. Immediately the news made us aware that the young boy was tragically killed. His grieving mother had to have an emergency c-section one month shy of her due date. I, along with every other person with a shred of faith I am certain, prayed for this family and that their sweet newborn would survive. He did not.

As I read the news yesterday, I simply cried. There is no way to fathom what this family is facing. As I wept for people I have never met, this title came back to me. While this is not the first time a terrible tragedy has occurred, it is one of those instances when life was definitely just too short.

It’s an expression I’ve heard my entire life but what does it mean? Life is too short for what exactly? And why does it take a death to remind of us just how fleeting it is?

Too short to live with regrets.

Too short to hold unforgiveness in your heart.

Too short not to dream.

Too short…

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 NIV)

The hard truth of the matter is, we haven’t the faintest idea when our time will be up. We are not guaranteed a certain number of years with our loved ones. We are literally not promised tomorrow. So now what? What do we do with this knowledge that we’ve really always known but oftentimes choose to ignore?

Live every single day as though it is your last. Cliche, maybe, but a simple truth just the same.

Don’t hold in the sentiments, say them frequently and mean them!

Dream BIG!! Stop limiting yourself and God. Trust that He will give you the desires of your heart and allow Him access to plant them there!IMG_7245

Prayers of peace and comfort for all of those dealing with loss today, tomorrow, and everyday to come. May we not be so consumed by the what-ifs of tomorrow that we let today slip through our grasp.

 

~From Selfish To Thankful~ May 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 3:56 pm
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I am going to preface this post with one simple statement: I am selfish.

Today is Mother’s Day and I have spent a good portion of time crying. Last night my mom’s father in law suddenly passed away. So instead of coming to join my family today, she and her husband are headed up north. This is the first time in my 33 years of life that I have not been with my mommy on Mother’s Day and it breaks my heart. Of course I knew last night she was precisely where she should be, by her husband’s side in this horrible time for him and his family but I knew I would be missing her tremendously today. Told you I am selfish.

Then I was awakened bright & early by a text sent from my oldest daughter who’d stayed the night with a friend:

Happy Mother’s Day mama!!! I love you so much, and I’m so lucky to have u as a mom. Thanks for always being there for me when I need someone to talk to or need someone to vent to. Or when I go on my rages about school…u sit there and listen, and help me through them. You’re an amazing person! I am so happy that I get to call you my mom! You are my role-model in life…I want to be like you! A great friend to everyone, a great person, and a great mom! I love you more than anything! 😘 Happy Mothers Day 😍

Here come the tears again.

Then I come upstairs to find the most beautiful poem, written & framed by my husband that somehow captured one of the saddest times of my life and one of the happiest at the same time:

Not so long ago, in a day full of despair
I looked all around, wondering why you weren’t there
So much pain and oh such grief
Why dear God has this happened to me?
The pain is still real and the memory remains
Still questioning why my fate was not changed
But now looking down at this sweet little face

I fully comprehend Your amazing grace.
The loss that I felt may never fully pass
But now there’s another tiny hand that I grasp.
So today I thank you for this bundle of love
Sent from a loving, holy Father above.
I see that you love me and your promise is true,
By this beautiful gift, sent straight from you.

Next to that lay three cards, a few highlights for you:

“She makes the best macrollny”~Emma

“I’m glad I ended up with you caring instead of someone not.”~Isaiah

“One of my favorite things you do is go to all my sports events.”~Peyton

(Both boys refer to me as “Team Mom”)

More tears.

Then the text messages started to roll in, not only from friends and family, but from some of my kid’s friends too! A message of gratitude was left on my facebook page from the parents of the sweet baby girl I get to love 5 days a week. My momma heart nearly exploded!

Finally we get to church and I promise you I made my best effort to keep it together, yeah right!

Our precious friends had the dedication service for their beautiful baby boy and allowed us the honor of standing with them in the altar. Lanny, my “sister-wife,” who has felt the same devastating blow of losing a child, stood next to her husband who held their sleeping son and I wept. I cried for her loss and mine but at the same time, tears of joy for the gift that lay snoozing on his daddy’s chest.

As I said, the tears have flowed freely today, some of sadness but even more from a place of gratitude and overwhelming joy. Am I missing my mom today? Absolutely! But I am thankful I still have my mom with me while some of you weep today because your mother is in Heaven. I am thankful for the house FULL of people that love me just as I am and that the little things I do for them mean more to them than I could have ever imagined.

mothers day 2015

From one momma to another, I pray each one of you can see the hand of God in your life on this day set apart to honor us. While you, like me, may have a reason to be sad today, I hope that the good far outweighs the bad. It has to, you are a mommy, is there any greater gift in all the world for which we could give thanks?!

 

 

~Navigating Grief~ March 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:10 am
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griefHow people deal with grief is varied based on the individual and the source of their pain.  There is no road map for how we are to cope with the many different types of loss, nor is there an instruction manual on how to comfort the one who’s hurting.

It used to be my nature to always try to cheer people up when they were down.  My initial reaction to someone crying was to attempt to make them smile.  I was a fixer.  However, after experiencing some life, I have learned that’s not the best course of action.  Walking with someone through a struggle means taking cues from them on how you can help them process their feelings and eventually move beyond their pain.

Offering to take a recently widowed woman on a singles cruise, probably is not the wisest idea.

While your friend is going through a nasty divorce is not the time to set them up on a blind date.

When your baby gets their heart broke for the first time, that whole “more fish in the sea” saying is not comforting.

For the parents who are experiencing the devastating loss of a child, chances are they’re not going to be much fun for a while so refrain from trying to force the social scene.

“Being happy-go-lucky around a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing his jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in his wounds.” (Proverbs 25:20 Living Bible)

Even in the above scenarios, no two people will grieve the same.  One person may savor a distraction that allows them to temporarily forget their pain while another prefers to sit and cry in silence while you hold their hand.  Again, that is why it is imperative to let the Holy Spirit guide you and be sensitive to the individual.  Trying to rush someone through the stages of grief may be detrimental to your relationship.  It may be that you only desire to see them smile, and your intentions are definitely in the right place, but taking too much of a lighthearted approach may cause them more pain.

Bearing one another’s burdens is a privilege and a way that we can honor the Lord by fulfilling this requirement.  In order to minister effectively in these super-sensitive areas, we must be willing to adjust our approach to suit the needs of the grieving rather than do what we think is best.
 

~Light A Candle~ October 15, 2013

1in4In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Since that time, this day specifically, October 15th, has been set aside to remember those sweet babies who are in Heaven with Jesus instead of in their mommy’s arms.

If you are one of the thousands of women who have suffered this painful loss or know someone who has, tonight at 7pm, light a candle in their memory.

Mourning is a very peculiar emotion and we all handle it differently.  No matter the stage of grief you are in, know that there is hope for a future.

I have written about my own personal experience with this in my blog Life After Loss .  I would invite you all to read it and feel free to share anything of your own experience as well.  It is through the encouragement of other women & the love of the Father that we find our strength to go on when it seems impossible.

“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” ~President Reagan

 

~Lessons from Job~ May 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:55 am
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“Job was blameless-a man of integrity.  He feared God and stayed away from evil.”

(Job 1:1 NLT)

Job was an incredibly blessed man.  He had good fortune, good health, and a large family to share his inheritance with.  By the world’s standards, he had it all.  When the Lord allowed satan to take all these “things” from Job, he still refused to blame God.  In one day, Job lost all his animals, crops, farmhands & servants; so basically, his livelihood.  Before this harsh reality could even set in, the news came that all of his children had been struck down.  Yet in his grief, Job responds, “The Lord gave me what I had and the Lord has taken it away.  Praise the name of the Lord!” (VS 21)  He knew that all he had did not belong to him but to the Lord.  Even when he was stricken with extreme illness and his own wife told him to forget about integrity, curse God and die, Job remained faithful.

“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

(Job 2:10 NLT)

From the outside looking in, Job had every reason to forget God.  He went from being “top dog” to barely existing.  BUT…

How hypocritical would we be if we praised God when things were good but doubted His existence in times of trouble?  God is the same all the time; are we not the ones who are fickle?

He is always good, we are prone to sin.

He is full of justice and mercy, while we sometimes seek revenge.

His love for us is the same on the mountain top as it is in the valley and we hinge our love on our circumstances.  We allow our feelings to dictate our relationship with God, but this is not faith.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and it gives us an assurance about things we cannot see.”

(Hebrews 11:1)

So whether we find ourselves in a season free from struggle or if we are in the midst of a battle, we should remember that our perspective is limited at best.  God is and always will be in control.  So do not allow your faith to falter like a wave that is tossed to and fro every time life throws you for a loop.  Instead be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3 NLT)treebywater