Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~What is the assignment?~ January 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:31 am
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I’ve been homeschooling the kiddos for just about a month and half. While I believe we are finally beginning to navigate the new waters, every single day, Emma will inevitably ask me “what am I supposed to do?”

Each day I write out their assignments for every subject along with any special instruction needed.  I try to make it so they’re able to be self sufficient, learning to work at their own pace and be held accountable for their class schedule. Each time Emma asks the question that I know is coming, my response is always, “what is the assignment?” She hates that, by the way. She’d much rather I walked over and held her hand, so to speak, giving her direction and correction at every turn because she doubts her ability to do it alone, but I won’t. I want her to do her assignment, as instructed, and go over it with her to see where she still needs improvement and where she excels. She would prefer I do it with her to ensure she is answering each question correctly as she goes.

This morning while reading my devotion from the First Five app, I was reminded of how I do the same thing with my assignments in life. It spoke to me so loudly, I wanted to share with you but my technology-challenged self can’t seem to link it to this page. I can share the image…..

 

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In this short devotion, Lysa shares the story of Moses and his reluctance to approach Pharaoh to let the Lord’s people go. He felt inadequate to handle what felt like a huge assignment. As Lysa points out, “The resistant way Moses responds lets me know he misunderstood his assignment. Moses thought he was to bring enough power in his words to convince Pharaoh. And since his words lacked power before, it’s no wonder he thought this was a terrible strategy. But God never told Moses to bring the power. Moses was simply told to bring the words. Moses’ job was to be obedient to God. God’s job was everything else.”

Just like my Emma, it seems we often get caught up in the end result causing us to shift our focus from the task at hand. We center our thoughts around what should happen, allowing doubt to creep in making us question our ability to simply perform the task that’s been given.

I’ll leave you with one final example. Let’s say your assignment is to pray for others. Instead of focusing on the Holy Spirit and what He prompts you to pray, you worry about the impact your words will have on the one you’re praying for. “Will they receive salvation? What if this prayer goes unanswered, will they doubt God? What if my words are lackluster?” You’re assignment isn’t to save them or provide the answer to their prayer, that’s God’s part. You’re job is to pray with sincerity and allow God to speak to them through you.

“Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.” (Prov 3:5-6 ERV)

 

~Condemnation vs. Conviction~ March 17, 2014

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 KJV)

I would venture to say that nearly every Christian has allowed themselves to feel condemned at some point in their spiritual walk.  I know that when I have failed miserably, I have a tendency to be insanely hard on myself.  In my mind, I would rationalize that the only way for me to be truly forgiven of my sin was to punish myself relentlessly, then God would see that I was truly sorry for my transgression and accept my request for forgiveness.

It wasn’t until quite recently that I realized just how wrong I was in my twisted thought process.  I am currently reading “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst and it has been wrecking my world, but in a good way!  In her chapter that covers the obstacles that keep us from saying yes to God, she talks about the ever-so-subtle battle between the voices in her head that bring conviction and condemnation.  Her logic is simple: the voice of condemnation comes from Satan because the Bible tells us flat out that Jesus doesn’t condemn but convict.

Condemnation leaves us feeling hopeless and worthless.  Conviction invites us to make positive changes in our lives. -Lysa TerKeurst

The definition of condemnation is a punishment or sentencing and that is precisely what you are doing when you condemn yourself or others.  The trouble with that is the Word makes it clear that we are not the judge or the jury, but “God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12)  We have no authority to dole out punishment, not even to ourselves.

Conviction, however, is the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is that nudge you feel in your heart when you think of sinning or comes once you’ve already slipped.  Conviction is what reveals the sin in our life and causes us to repent and seek forgiveness.  Without it, how would know what is separating us from God and therefor preventing us from receiving all that He has for us?  Conviction is a gentle correction, comparable to that which a loving parent gives their child when they misstep.  It is meant to better us, shape us and mold us into the absolute best version of ourselves we can possibly be.

It is time that we lift the sentencing we’ve placed on our lives over past mistakes that we’ve repented of.  Let us embrace the love and forgiveness that conviction brings so that we can move beyond our failures and live as the conquerors that Jesus says we are.live victorious

 

~Is silence golden?~ December 5, 2013

Let me just begin by saying that if you are a woman, you need to at least read the book Unglued.  Even if you can’t do the study that goes along with it, the book alone can change your life.  You men folk could probably learn a thing or two about what makes your lady tick…literally…so maybe you should pick it up too.

Lysa has been all up in my business these last few weeks but it’s ok, she’s ministering not meddling.  She has a knack for making one aware of issues you either didn’t know you had or were in extreme denial over.  One particular thing that drew my attention was when she referenced how some of us have the habit of biting our tongue when we’re upset, thinking that we are being more spiritual by saying nothing.  You mean that isn’t the case?  Let me tell you something friends, I have bitten my tongue until I’ve tasted blood and nothing about the thoughts in my head screamed “Jesus girl.”  I would convince myself that I was taking the higher ground because I didn’t say what I was really thinking, all the while making mental notes of all the wrongs the offender had ever committed.

There is one verse in Proverbs that I based my “stuff-it-in” logic on, “it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”   I do believe that we honor God when we choose to forgive an insult rather than retaliate.  BUT, are we really overlooking the offense when we say or do nothing while building feelings of resentment for another person?

This just in-bitterness is not biblical.

If I am to be completely honest with myself, half the time when I chose to remain quiet it was so I could think, (rather smugly), that I was holier than thou.  Typing that out makes me realize just how nasty of a mindset that is!

There are times that nothing needs to be said.  My mother would call that choosing your battles wisely.  However, if you can’t truly let it go and move forward, than you need to address the issue before it has time to fester.  Think of it relation to a minor cut.  Let’s say you slice your finger and it doesn’t seem too bad so you don’t clean it up and it goes untreated.  After some time you notice it isn’t healing like it should but you think, “It’s just a little cut.  No need to do anything, it will heal eventually.”  Before you know it, that little cut becomes infected.  Having chosen to ignore the need for treatment, what began as a minor injury has now spread throughout the entire body like wildfire.

The same can be said for hurt feelings that you push down as opposed to hashing them out with the one who has you upset.  Dealing with your emotions is far healthier than swallowing them down until you choke.  Just think, would you rather deal with a tiny wound and be healed or allow it to seep in like a poison and consume you?bitter root

 

~Imperfect Progress~ November 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:08 am
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It’s 7 o’clock at night and my 2 year old is already in bed.  And all I can think about is waking her up to tell her how much I love her and how mommy’s so sorry she yelled.

But I won’t.  But I will write down the accounts of my evening that led to my now guilty heart.

I came home from my run to find my house in total chaos.  I’m fairly certain that every toy, book and crayon we own were scattered through every room in the house, with the exception of the boys room because they had enough sense to lock their door.  My dog, Kansas, is in heat so as I step over the broken crayons I see the tiny little spots all across the floor because apparently I am the only one equipped with the super-human powers it takes to wet a paper towel and clean it up.  The above mentioned 2 year old is screaming.  Why, you ask?  No reason, just because she really likes the sound of her voice at inhumane levels.  But I didn’t yell.

Next up I attempt to finish cooking dinner while Bella insists that the center of my closet size kitchen is the only place to build her blanket fort.  I somehow manage to convince her 2 sisters to clean up the messy house that they had no part in making, (yeah…right).  Bella takes off down the stairs after her sisters and I’m starting to feel pretty good about keeping my “raw emotions” in check.  As I wrap up dinner and call for the kids to come eat, little miss comes tearing around the corner…naked from the waist down.  “Bella,” I said rather cheerfully, “where are your pants?”  She snaps the towel from the counter and says,  “Dem’s wet so I threw em down the steps.”  I peek around the door down the stairs and I see not one, not two but three dark puddles on our lightly colored carpeted steps, three different steps naturally.  So as the kids sit down to eat, I scrub.  But I didn’t yell, yet.

Finally the mess is clean…enough…and I fix my plate right about the time that Bella decides she doesn’t want mac n cheese, she wants cheese crackers.  I give her a simple no, and her world as she knows it comes to an end.  Or so you would think had you seen the fit she threw herself into.  I stepped over her and attempted to eat with her kicking my arm and swinging her baby doll at my chicken and rice which was quickly losing it’s appeal.  (My life groupies are laughing, thinking I should have taken Carol’s advice and served myself first.)  And still, no yelling.

Finally I think our evening is calming down and that’s when I realize it’s quiet, way too quiet.  “Bella??”  No answer, dang it.  I hear someone in the bathroom, Lord, please don’t let that be my precious little one getting into trouble.  Sure enough, I push open the door and there she stands on top of the toilet, pant less again, looking for her toothbrush.  There is a puddle at her feet & on the floor around her.  Now…I yell.  I mean seriously, she was in the bathroom for heavens sake…on the toilet no less, and yet she manages to pee her pants again?  This mommy had reached her peak.

So, I fuss about her accidents and messy behavior and not eating her dinner, you know, because surely she knows exactly what I’m saying.  This is when I declare “It’s night-night time right now!” a whole hour before her normal bedtime.  Of course it was met with protest, “Mommy, noooo!”  “Sorry kid, momma ain’t having it anymore.”  (My fellow Unglued ladies are shaking their heads at me right now thinking, ‘I know what we need to discuss next week.’)

I drag her to bed and listen to her cry for a whole 2 minutes before she went out like a light.  I knew she was exhausted since she has also recently determined that she’s too good for naps.

And that’s when the guilt crept in and I had to resist the temptation to wake her so she would know that mommy isn’t really mad, just tired from an aggravating day.  But I let her rest.  Why should I disrupt her just to make me feel better about myself?

As the night wound down and I was able to sit and reflect, I stopped shaming myself for my not-so-nice mommy moment because the fact that I immediately realized I had overreacted revealed to me that I am in fact making progress.  That’s the beauty of bible study & devotions, if you are plugged into applying what you read, it will seep in and find it’s way into your heart.

There is a line from our book “Unglued” that sums up the woman that I desire to be.  Guys, don’t feel left out, it could easily be reworded to include you.

A Jesus girl who rises up and unexpectedly gives grace when she surely could have done otherwise reveals the power and the mystery of Christ at work-in her life and in the world. -Lysa TerKeurst

When looking back at how my night played out, I initially felt justified when I unloaded because look how much I had let go before I finally lost it.  But there isn’t to be a limit to our grace, the life of Jesus teaches us that.  Had I taken a moment to think before I spoke, I would have remembered that it isn’t my little girl who I am war against, it’s our enemy, Satan and I wouldn’t have given him a foothold into my night had I simply paused before reacting.

Today, amidst the pile of toys, accidents, crayon marks down the wall and whatever else may come at me, I am choosing to remind myself, “I am not an angry woman, I am a child of God.”

 

~Beware, Unchecked Emotions On the Loose~ October 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:08 am
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Yesterday, a small group of women from my church started the bible study, “Unglued” by Lysa TerKeurst.  For those of you who either know me really well or even just through this blog, you are aware of my ability to sometimes spew my emotions onto my family.  My hopes are that through this study, I will learn to stop letting my feelings get the best of me in life’s tricky situations and use God’s word to combat my raw emotions before I allow them to sabotage my most valuable relationships.

Before we’d even left the church yesterday, I knew there was something from the guide that I would be sharing with you all today!  Lysa gave us a list of “animals,” asking which described us best when faced with an unglued kind of situation:

Wounded bear:  I am hurt & unpredictable, so watch out!

Agitated skunk:  I may or may not create a stink, but the threat is always there.

Deceptive peacock:  Who me?  I’m not upset.  Look at all my pretty feathers!

Crouching tiger:  I many not attack now, but I will strike back when you least expect it.

Screech owl:  Prepare for a tirade!

Barricading beaver:  No time to say what I’m really feeling.  I’m too busy building a wall between us.

Or maybe you are another animal altogether.

Here is what I found interesting about this word picture, I am a different animal depending on who I am dealing with.

Outside of my home, especially in church, you are going to get the deceptive peacock.  I will put on a happy face and present a calm, collected exterior while on the inside my emotions are just below the surface begging to come out.  I do the same with my husband.  You know how it goes, “Honey, are you ok, what’s wrong?”  “Nothing.  I’m fine.”  Nobody’s buying all that fakeness so stop trying to sell it!

Now, with my poor kiddos, beware of the screech owl!  Granted I don’t yell at my kids all the time, but definitely more than I should.  Nine times out of ten, the tirade begins after I’ve attempted to make my point calmly a time or five to no avail.  I let my anger get the best of me and just like a rubber-band that’s pulled taut, I snap.  Only to instantly feel ashamed and guilty that I could be so vicious with the most wonderful gifts I’ve ever been given.

There has to be a better way to deal with these out-of-control, reckless emotions…and that is my goal during these next 6 weeks.

I am curious as to which animal you all relate to best, that is if you are willing to share.  Either way, I invite you to examine yourself and be totally honest with how you are handling your relationships.  Are you being controlled by your emotions like I can sometimes be?  If so, whether you are doing this study along with us or not, let’s allow God to show us a better way to deal with the circumstances that trigger our unglued reactions.

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”

(James 1:19-20 NLT)

 

~Do I Have To Be A Doormat?~ September 20, 2013

I have been on the receiving end of a lot of rude behavior in my life.  Now that I love Jesus, I wonder how I am to handle these rude encounters.  I know we are to turn the other cheek and all, but when somebody does something directly offensive to you…repeatedly…to the point that there is absolutely no respect for you, your family or your property, then what?

Does being a follower of Jesus mean I am to be a doormat, allowing anyone & everyone to treat me as they choose and simply smile and walk away?

There is a specific incident that I am referring to from my own perspective.  While I usually attempt to be very direct with my posts, I am intentionally being vague as to avoid “pointing fingers.”  However, I will add just one more tidbit of information.  The offenders who have me seriously upset are church people, (let me clarify that they are not from my church people).  The reason that this is incredibly relevant is that as I watch this continued offense unfold before my very eyes, I wonder if this is the way they treat all people?  Are they at the local grocery store showing a general lack of respect for others, acting as though they deserve preference?

**I had typed to this point as of yesterday…while the offense was taking place.  Then I took a break because I was very aggravated and needed to change courses in my mind before I unloaded.  That’s when I found my way to Lysa TerKeurst‘s page.  The Lord really has a way of guiding us when we pause.  The title of her post I came across, “And I had the perfect comeback.”  In it she describes an incident on a flight where a couple is incredibly rude to her and her friends.  Below is the exert that spoke to me in my circumstances:

Have you ever wanted to put your Christianity on a shelf and be as mean to someone as they are being to you? You know, just let loose and seriously break bad on somebody.

Maybe not, because you are nice. And most of the time, I am too. But in this moment I didn’t want to apply a single bit of my own “Unglued” advice. I won’t tell you what I wanted to say but I can assure you it didn’t involve being kind or gentle.

But this is the exact point where I had to make a choice.

A choice of who I wanted to partner with in this situation…God or Satan.

If I chose to go the route of anger, harsh comebacks, and retaliation, I would have basically stepped into Satan’s camp and caused conflict escalation. If, however, I chose to go the route of gentleness and grace, I would be partnering with God and would continue to make progress with my raw emotions. Like Philippians 3:16 reminds me, “Only let us live up to what we’ve already attained.”

And there that is!  I was amazed at God’s perfect timing once again.  I do not believe that God wants us to take abuse from anyone, so please understand that this is not what I am referring to.  I am referencing those agitating offenses that we are guaranteed to face from family, friends and complete strangers.  Yes, at the time it may seem like a major ordeal that requires us to puff out our chests and give them a serious tongue lashing.  But when you pause and look at the big picture, is it worth blowing your witness to “go off” like a crazed person?!  As Lysa put it,  “Why would I want to trade the peace of partnering with God for a few cheap moments of putting someone else in their place?”

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Thank you, Lysa, for your sound, biblical advice once again.  And a special shout out to Jesus for keeping your hand over my mouth and leading me to your truth once again.

 

~Yes!~ July 12, 2013

yes to GodYesterday I posted, “Why do I write” then I received my devotion via email from Proverbs31 ministries and this little exert jumped out at me:

“You may be thinking, my yes can’t affect others like this. I don’t have that kind of influence. But we cannot even begin to understand the plans God has for us. There is always a far-reaching ripple effect when a woman says yes to God. We don’t have to see the spread of the influence to know it’s there. The power of saying yes to God is beyond anything we could ever imagine.” -Lysa Terkeurst

Confirmation is one of the best gifts God can ever give us.  Self-doubt can be your worst enemy, I know it is mine.  I have really struggled with continuing to write on my blog because I don’t know that it makes a difference.  I have battled my mind when it is screaming that no one really cares what I have to say so why bother?!  Why bother??  Because God called me to do it!  I may never know the effects that my writing has on another, if any effect at all.  What I do know is that it isn’t about me anyway, it’s all about Jesus and what He is able to do in and through us when we are willing.

So I am going to keep saying yes to God when He pulls me to put my fingers to the keys and tell about His goodness.  I will give the devil a resounding no when he uses my weaknesses to attempt to shut me up.  Will you join with me today and say yes to something God has placed in your heart?

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

(Galatians 6:9 NLT)