Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~When Saying Nothing isn’t an Option~ July 8, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:13 pm
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 It’s been quite some time since I sat down to write. I thought it was because I had nothing to say but with a little more reflection, I think it’s because I’ve been struggling with having something encouraging to say and I don’t like to add to the constant negativity that surrounds us. Then I wake up this morning and see yet another string of horrific events.

Honestly, I have yet to recover from the mass shooting in Florida and much has happened since then. I rarely watch the news. That’s probably irresponsible of me but it truly depresses me to the point that it affects my ability to function. I feel helpless and frustrated and terrified to walk out the door with my children. I did tune in once this week to see that over 60 shootings occurred in Chicago over the holiday weekend. Granted there were only 4 fatalities but among the injured were a 5 & 8 year old shot while playing with sparklers! This morning social media informs me of not one, but two officer involved shootings followed up by a sniper attack?! I have a limited knowledge of all of the above because I can’t watch the video footage circulating and of course if we aren’t present, all we know is what the media presents. But it appears to me that every single instance was driven by hate. When did it become the norm to turn to rage & murder simply because you don’t “agree” with someone? Instead of people mourning the sensless loss of human life, arguments flare up over gun control, immigration and politics. I have never claimed to be the most educated but one thing I do know for certain is hate solves nothing.

I’ve been silent since the Orlando shooting because I have no desire to engage in these sorts of arguments. The moment I read an article about a momma texting her son who was later killed in that nightclub, my whole world changed. At any moment, that could be any one of us, staring down the barrel of a gun, begging for mercy where there is none. Possibly even more sobering, it could be any one of us on the other end of the line, where someone we love is the one in peril. People, can you even imagine? One minute you’re enjoying a night out, singing in your place of worship or just going about your daily business and the next, your world is flipped on it’s side.

So I won’t be engaging in a battle over whose lives matter, because to me, they all do. Vengeance is not mine to seek, instead I choose to pray for peace & justice for all victims.   

 

~A Selfless Daddy~ June 19, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:03 am
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I wasn’t going to do this but I’m so humbled by my husband that I had to share. It’s Father’s Day and I’m sure, like many of you, we had plans to celebrate. We were already crunched for time because it’s hubby’s weekend to work evenings but things went downhill fast.

It started with an unexpected trip to urgent care Friday night. I was right in the middle of cooking dinner when we discovered the blisters. So Jamie kicked off his weekend by holding a squirly 8 year old whose reaction to a throat swab is equivalent to that of someone being water boarded. Yesterday we made the unfortunate discovery that our washing machine was no longer with us. Family of seven, one who is sick, you can imagine the mountain of linens piling up. After making the trip to the pharmacy, dear hubby spent the little time he had before work shopping for a new machine because he didn’t want me frequenting the laundromat. Now it’s Sunday, the day we’d planned to go to early service for a message just for dads followed by lunch with all of our kids & our precious grandson. Instead, father-of-the-year is driving across town to borrow a pickup so he can install my new washer since the earliest Lowe’s could deliver was Thursday. 

Sacrificial love. On a day that should have been all about him, my man is tending to the needs of his family first, just as he does every other day of the year. 

I hope you all are as blessed as we are to have such a wonderful daddy in your lives. To my baby daddy: Happy Father’s Day, honey. We would be so lost without you!  

 

 

~Don’t Be The Scary “Evangelist”~ May 12, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:05 am
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IMG_4028Yesterday I had to run to the grocery store for what felt like the bajillionth time this week. As I was dragging my youngest girls through the parking lot, we came up on a couple of older,(respectfully), ladies in what appeared to be an intense conversation. As we got closer, I realized it was one sided and the non-verbal party seemed totally detached, like she couldn’t wait to make her great escape. Just as we started to pass by, Chatty Cathy leans in, so close the other woman could probably smell what she had for breakfast, and hissed “Jesus is coming…” followed by Lord only knows what because I picked up the pace. The poor woman bobbled her head and cut her eyes with a silent plea of “get me out of here”. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t contemplating her salvation or where she was going to spend eternity.

On another occasion, also quite recently, we were driving down the road and passed a dude with a megaphone in one hand and a Bible in the other, shoutin’ and shakin’ that Bible like he was about to beat someone with it. He didn’t look like a man who loved the Lord, he looked angry, mean and crazy!

In both instances, I had to shake my head a little as we rushed by. What on earth about cornering someone in a parking lot and literally hissing in their face or screaming like a lunatic at a busy intersection makes someone think they’re winning souls for Jesus?! I was mortified. It is possible to share the love of Christ without trying to scare the ever-loving bejeezus out of people!

I love the way The Message translation words the following verses from 1 Corinthians, (paying special attention to the words in bold):

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (9:19-23)

In my opinion, becoming a servant as it implies here simply means to put someone’s needs above our own. I’m not of the opinion that we can never put ourselves first, doing so would seriously deplete us and prohibit us from doing any good. I do think we can all be aware of the needs of those around us and do our part to alleviate the strains and pressures that are within our means. And instead of screaming and shaking our judgy fingers at people, how about we meet them where they are and try to serve them in a practical manner. To me, trying to understand life from another’s perspective and offering hands-on assistance speaks much louder than a megaphone dripping with hellfire and brimstone. I truly believe that we can never go wrong when we choose love over criticism, judgment or hate. Seeing people who claim Christianity acting a fool in public is nothing new and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. But what we can do is try to be a different kind of Christian, one who is more concerned with loving and helping our brothers and sisters than we are about cramming Scripture and fear down their throats. After all, not everyone will understand a Bible verse but everyone can appreciate a good deed done selflessly.

 

~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)

 

~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

 

~Leaving Home~ November 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:54 am
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All week I’ve tried to sit down and write this post. It’s not that the words wouldn’t come, but more like they won’t stop along with the tears that seem to be ever present. One week from today, we will load down a uHaul and leave the only place I’ve ever called home.

While I am excited for the next chapter of our lives, I am also terribly sad about leaving our quaint little community that has blessed us with so much more than just a place to live. Every place I’ve gone the last couple of weeks has brought me to tears. The preschool with the same sweet teachers who’ve taught all of my babies, the grocery store where I know everyone by name, and don’t even get me started on my church.

I really wanted to write some eloquent post about all the lovely people that I am going to miss and I just can’t, there are far too many to mention. What I will say is this, you all know who you are.

  • The friends who have loved me, cared for me, cried with me and laughed until we cried…you’re the best friends a girl could ever hope for, irreplaceable and lifelong sisters.
  • To my kids friends…I’ve watched you grow up right alongside my own children. They have been equally blessed with fabulous friends who have filled this house with giggles and strange odors…both of which I will miss more than I can put into words. Please come visit!
  • My cross country team, who has made me incredibly proud not only of their athletic ability but also of the caliber of young people they are. It was an honor to be your coach and I will always be one of your biggest fans! Remember, one at a time 😉
  • My family who has dropped everything to be there for me when I needed help, a hug or a swift kick in the behind…now you just have to make a road trip!
  • My church family, who leaves me in awe week after week just by being you. Your compassion, hospitality and genuine love for one another is a true reflection of Jesus. I will always call ANC home.

That’s really about all I can muster. The tears are blinding but my heart overflows with gratitude. Please pray for our family as we go through this transition and I will keep you posted on our adventures!!

Love, hugs and prayers. ~Valeriefriend prov

 

~How Do They Live With Themselves?~ September 15, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:27 pm
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people-sin-differently-do-not-judgeIf we are completely honest with ourselves, we all have at least one person that we have at some point felt this way about. When we see them, we snarl our nose in disgust or shake our heads full of judgmental thoughts or roll our disapproving eyes. I mean really, how can they live with themselves knowing the horrible mistakes they’ve made?

I’ll tell you what we don’t know about “them”. We will never know the battle that’s raged within them over every bad decision they’ve  ever made. We will never know the nights they have lain awake and wept over the lives they’ve  damaged and hearts left broken in their wake. When we look at them, all we see are their sins. Our unforgiving eyes bury them in even more shame and regret than they already carry.

At one point, they saw themselves just as we do. Their reflection brought on anguish that cannot be explained as their transgressions swept over them and gripped them at the core. Then one day, they accepted the grace and forgiveness they had always heard of but never fully grasped was available to someone like them.

So now when you see them and they no longer drop their eyes in shame when they meet yours, perhaps you’ll think of your own demons that you’ve battled that gives you such boldness to walk around making others feel unworthy. That’s right, I went there. Not one of us has lived a sinless, spotless life & I’m sure we all have something from our past we’d rather not relive.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matt 7:1-5 Message)

Your choosing to not shame someone over their past doesn’t excuse whatever they did to make you feel that way towards them. It takes a deep level of maturity to no longer seek vengeance. I have found when those feelings rise up in me, if I’ll take pause to think of all from which I have been forgiven, it knocks me down a peg or two and allows me to see them in a different light.

 

~Convicted By A Wave~ September 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:25 am
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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.

 

~Cherish Today, Don’t Wait For Tomorrow~ August 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:50 am
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I’m sitting on the couch, snuggled up with my youngest, choking back tears so she won’t ask questions that I don’t want to answer. It’s taking everything in me not to rush out the door to find my husband and retrieve our other children from their schools. For those of you who live near me, I’m sure you already know precisely why I’m battling this urge. For the rest of my readers, there was a shooting during a live newscast in which two lives were lost. Details are trickling in but what frightens me isn’t the why or the who, it’s the fact that this took place in what I would consider a relatively small & quiet community, much like the one I live in.

I feel physically sick over the loss of life. To think that these people reported for work this morning, they nor their families having any idea it would be their last. I am devastated by the reality check that has sent shock waves through to my very core. Every part of my momma-bird instincts is screaming at me to protect what’s “mine” but here I sit, talking with you.

Because like me, I think you also need this reminder today. Your life, my life and the lives of every single person we love and care about, are precious. Our days are numbered and not one of us knows when or how our time will come. For me, this brings an awareness to my spirit that cannot be overlooked. Had this horrific tragedy involved someone in my circle, how would I feel about the last interaction I had with them? I’m replaying my morning in my mind, questioning whether or not my final moments with my people were good enough. Did I tell them I loved them and did they know the depths from which I said it? Did I rush them out the door in a frenzy leaving them feeling agitated or worse? I just can’t friends, I simply can’t.

Every single day we are given with the ones we love is nothing short of a gift. Even on the days when the kids won’t stop fighting, the house is a mess, the bills remain unpaid and so on, this one life can take a drastic turn in an instant. Are we cherishing it or taking it for granted, assuming tomorrow will be better? Once again, the world we live in has dealt us an ugly reminder that we are not promised tomorrow so we must make the very best of today. Please, I beg of you, love deeply, give generously and be thankful. Do it today.

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matt 6:34 TLB)