Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~My Helpmate~ November 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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Yesterday we attended the regional meet for our cross country team. This was our final stop before state championships. My nerves were frayed as they often are in these types of situations but luckily for me, my calmer, better half was able to attend.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t tell you how my rockstar husband ensured that our day went as smoothly as possible.

First off, you need to know that yesterday’s weather conditions were horrendous. For those of you familiar with cross country, you are aware that the courses are on grass so you also know that rain is not your friend. Well, it rained the entire time.

Cue the husband.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 4 ESV)

He took a half day from work in order to be there with us and honestly, I worked the poor man like a rented mule. He hauled our ginormous cooler all the way to the pine trees where the teams set up camp. I should probably mention that the parking lot is precisely half a mile away from the campsites. Yes, a half mile, in the rain, on nothing but slick mud and chewed up grass. Once we got into the sanctuary of the trees, we quickly realized that the rain was too heavy for the canopy of pines to shield us from the elements.

“Honey….would you be willing to go get our tent?”

You guessed it, the tent was in that same parking lot, half a mile away. But off he went to haul our rather large, incredibly awkward tent all by his lonesome. This feat alone earned him some serious bonus points, but wait, there’s more! One of our guys FORGOT HIS RUNNING SHOES! We asked every team we knew and not a soul had extra shoes. So what do you suppose husband of the year did? He traded shoes with our runner, cramming his feet into boots at least a full size too small, and spent the rest of the day with his toes curled.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Heb 13:16 ESV)

My man was “Johnny on the spot” the entire day. Whatever I needed, whatever I couldn’t or wouldn’t do, he filled in the gap. This morning as I reflected on how differently the day would have gone had Jamie not been there, this Scripture came to mind:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen 2:18 KJV)

Today we would use the word helpmate. However if you look at the origin of the words in Hebrew, help comes from the word azar, meaning to surround, protect or aid. Meet is from kenegdo which translates as, corresponding to, counterpart to, equal to matching.

I’d say that sums up our marriage quite nicely. Not only do we protect one another as husband and wife, but with our combined talents and strengths, we make up a whole. Where I am weak, he is strong. What he lacks, I make up. Not to be cheesy, but we complete one another, just as the Lord intended when He created the institute of marriage.

Take a look at your helpmate today, paying careful attention to the numerous ways you are polar opposites. Instead of viewing your differences as obstacles to overcome, focus on how they strengthen you as individuals and as a couple. Now thank God for the gift He gave you, I know I will.

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~Fight or Flight, What He Says~ July 1, 2014

*Guest blogger…my husband! After my post last week ,Fight or Flight, I asked him to share from his side of the struggle. Our transparency with you is for two simple reasons, that those who are struggling right now will see they are not alone & that if there was hope for us, there is certainly hope for you too! Now, meet Jamie.*

Recently, we have had to take a real hard look at our marriage.  For quite some time, we had been teetering on the edge of disaster.  I love my wife and I have since day one.  She is an awesome woman and a wonderful mother. As you all know, she is always putting others before herself.  So what could have possibly been the problem?  I think to put it very simply, we didn’t know how to talk to each other…especially me!  I can’t speak for her but, here is my perspective.

I realized she was an amazing person immediately.  She had some issues but, I had some pretty substantial ones myself.  I was just coming out of a really nasty marriage when I met Valerie.  I was an emotional wreck.  Betrayed, rejected, and alone with two small children….she swooped in and saved me.  Loneliness, heartache, and worthlessness were all washed away when she came into the picture.  She saved us.  She became an important part of our lives immediately, even while we were just dating.  It was like a fairy tale…only the princess saved the prince.

Looking back now, I can see that I thought she was the cure- all for my problems.  She was the answer I needed to fix my life and the lives of my kids.  She didn’t seem to have a problem with that.  She took over. Taking care of the kids, doing everything a good Mom does.  She was amazing and the kids looked to her as Mom almost immediately.  I was just awestruck at how great everything had turned out.  I really felt so blessed to have her in our lives.  I was so awestruck that I looked at her as superhuman.  I put her on a pedestal in my heart…one that she never asked to be on.  It is very good to have a high opinion of your wife but, I went a little too far.  I put way too much stock in how she treated me from one moment to the next.  I did not allow her to have a moment of weakness without somehow thinking I had done something wrong and she was upset with me.

Soon, the family started growing, she became more involved with their school, and my work schedule became ridiculously hectic.  Our time together began to dwindle, and what time we did have was spent with me watching her sleep.  I began to grow bitter.  I refused to see just how busy she was in life and focused only on the fact that she didn’t have time for me.  Caught in my selfishness, I allowed a distance to grow between us.  Eventually this distance made a major impact on our intimacy.  It was at this point that my mind began to play tricks on me…reminding me of how the last relationship went. Recalling that a lack of intimacy is a sure sign that either she is seeing someone else or that she wants to be seeing someone else.  I was still carrying so much baggage from the last go around, that I couldn’t bear the thought of it happening again….especially with this woman.  She was the best…if I couldn’t make it with her, then I was doomed to be forever alone.  I didn’t know what to do so, I did nothing.  I just locked everything up inside and hoped no one would notice.  Instead of this feeling going away, it grew into a hideous beast of anger, distrust, anxiety, and frustration.  I was mad.  I was mad at her for not being able to read my mind and know how to fix this.  I was mad at me for not having the courage to stand up and make a change.  I was just mad at life.

Eventually the anger began to work its way out.  It started small with sarcasm and mumbling under my breath.  Eventually it became worse.  I started watching programs and movies full of violence, language, and yes, even nudity.  Somehow watching this junk allowed a little release of the pressure building inside my broken heart.  I justified my actions by reminding myself that these are just guy movies…as long as there isn’t an “X” in the rating box, it’s not a problem. I was terribly wrong.  Not only was it reeking  havoc in my heart, it made a huge impact on hers.  Let me say this to all the fellas out there.  My wife is gorgeous.  She is one of the most beautiful creations God has made.  What I was watching had nothing to do with her.  I have always, and will always find her extremely attractive but, when your wife sees you looking at another woman inappropriately; it sends the same shock as you telling her she is fat and ugly!!!!   There were other explosions of anger that occurred throughout this time.  Most I was able to let out away from my family but, not all.  I have never put my hands on my wife in anger.  But, in her mind, these eruptions were just as bad.

So we were able to walk through these situations through the grace of God.  But, I wasn’t able to get over any of this.  Not only was I still dealing with the lack of affection and connection…now I’m dealing with the guilt of hurting the person I care the most about.  Once again…I was a wreck.  My self-worth had bottomed out and I began to think that maybe, just maybe she would be better off with someone who didn’t have so many issues.  I didn’t know what else to do.  Because of the mistakes I had made, I felt that I had destroyed any chance of fixing this thing.  I felt she would never forgive me, even though she said she had.  We had moments of fun, moments of joy, moments of tenderness….but, there just was a connection that was missing.

Finally, after 7 years we were able to sit down and open up.  It was a God moment.  She told me what she had struggled with and I opened up about some of my struggles…we began talking again.  For far too long, we did not take the time to share who we were and what we wanted. I just assumed she knew me and knew how to make me happy.  If one of us would have made an attempt at any time, I believe this would be a much different story.  The truth is, neither one of us wanted to be that vulnerable.  As she stated in her last post, we BOTH lived in the state of reaction.

So what does all this mean? Here is my advice to all those reading.  We all want to be loved.  The kicker is that the expression of love takes on different forms for different people.  It is important to learn who your spouse is and express your love to them in ways they can see and understand as being love.  Be understanding of each other.  Even now, looking back at all these situations we have been through, I do not see every one of them in the same light that she does.  So who is right?  If I want to help her heal, then I need to look at it from her eyes.  If she wants to help me heal, she needs to understand my perspective.  Marriage is about loving in spite of and loving through.  We may never see things exactly the same.  “No big deal” to her, may be monumental to me or vice versa.  TALK to each other.  Don’t assume to know what your better half is thinking and, likewise, do not assume that they know what you are thinking. Life is difficult. Marriage is hard. Do not make it harder by walking separately.

My final thought is this.  The entire time that we have been married, we have been surrounded by some amazing and wonderful people who would have been happy to help us at any time.  I was too embarrassed to ask!!!  God has put people in each of our lives for this very reason.  We are supposed to call on our brothers and sisters in our times of need.  And believe me, we were in need.  Your relationship is far more precious than your pride.  This is the type of situation where you have to choose one or the other because you will not be able to keep both your pride and your spouse.

There is so much more to share but, I have given all I can for now.  I am so thankful for my wife.  And the relationship we have struggled to build.  Is it perfect? Nope. Do we have it all figured out? Not hardly.  But, we are here together.  My reason for sharing this story is for this one purpose:  I hope that it will speak to someone who is at their wits end in their marriage, and maybe give a little strength to hold on.  I think that in my marriage, somehow, at some point, a wall had been constructed between us.  I don’t know who built it, when it was built, or why…but, it was there.  My prayer is that if you find yourself sitting beside a pile of bricks with a mortar trowel in your hand, stop! Ask yourself, “ am I really ready to block this path?”  Once that wall is built, it is extremely difficult to tear down.  Not every relationship can be saved ,but, maybe, if you try again, yours can.  Right now, we are tearing down some walls…brick by brick, by brick.Good Marriage

 

~Fight or Flight~ June 26, 2014

This morning I was flipping through my notebook that I use for note taking at church as well as ideas for my writing. I came across 3 bullet points from a recent study on the Songs of Solomon that literally took my breath away.

  • Act, not react
  • Focus on the good, not the bad
  • Talk, not walk

This little tidbit from a sermon on how to handle conflict in marriage rocked my world this morning. Why you ask?

Jamie and I have been married for 7 & a half years. In that seemingly short span of time, I have seriously considered leaving him three times. This may come as a shock to some of you & it may even make you think less of me but I’m okay with that. My realization this morning may help save someone else’s marriage, so share I must.

What rattled me about my simple notes was how our 3 major struggles lined up, in order, with these points. I won’t go into great detail about each circumstance but just enough to show you how wrong I was in how I dealt with them.

Our first real fight happened as a result of an unexpected, scary situation that caused us both to react poorly. Jamie’s response to my anger was what had me eyeballing the door. I was totally focused on what he did and my attitude towards him was a reaction to that. There was no constructive talk to help restore our marriage, only anger for what I considered unforgivable. I didn’t speak to the man for 2 months. Doesn’t that sound fun to live with? We both allowed ourselves to be controlled by our emotions, neither one of us willing to do the work. I didn’t want to “act” but rather live in a perpetual state of reaction as if that validated just how wrong he was. Somehow, in spite of ourselves, God managed to get through to us and eventually the peace talks began.

Round 2 was a bit more explosive. The “why” is not important, just believe me when I say it was an intense moment of fellowship if I’ve ever seen one! When the dust clouds settled, I found it difficult to think about anything other than this one negative. Never mind all the good qualities of our marriage, surely this one was a deal breaker.

This last scenario was far more subtle. Overtime, I had slowly stopped communicating with my man. I had developed the mindset that I was tired of talking. Why bother when the results weren’t what I desired? I had checked out. There was no one issue that could be pinpointed & therefore resolved but more like a decision had been made that I’d married the wrong man. Truth be told, I had one foot out the door.

But God. (2 incredibly powerful words when used together)

God had something different in mind for us. One little phrase snapped me out of it and reminded me of the vows I took.

You don’t have the right to say, “I’m done with this” in marriage. (Our Pastor is one smart cookie.)

I made a commitment, to my husband, our children & most importantly, the Lord, to see this thing through, come hell or high water. And you’d better believe they are both coming at your marriage!

In the midst of our marital struggles, I thought I had earned the right to quit. In retrospect, I realize that while I may have had the right to be upset, I certainly couldn’t justify throwing away the life we had built because of his shortcomings & my self-righteous anger.

Would I have handled our battles differently if I’d had these little nuggets of truth before our first showdown? Probably not. I needed to grow & learn how to be in a committed relationship, a process that is ongoing. In sharing all of this from my own personal struggles, my hope is that this message will reach the one who is where I was…weighing the pros & cons of fight or flight.

A man, (or woman), who makes a vow to the Lord or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do.” Numbers 30:2

To have & to hold, in sickness & in health, for richer or poorer, to love & to cherish til death due us part…remember those words? I’m thinking “come hell & high water” should be added to the list!

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~My translation of Proverbs 31~ March 13, 2014

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Who can find a competent wife who still has some moral standards intact?  She is a priceless treasure, more valuable than the finest of things.  Her husband can rest assured that he is in good hands for she values honesty and integrity over all else.  Her purpose in the marriage is to bring her husband honor and to add to his life, not diminish it by belittling his authority as the head of the home or putting unrealistic demands on him as a provider.

She is a tireless worker, finding creative ways to meet the needs of her family.  She is a bargain hunter who swaps out hand-me-downs with her friends, clips coupons with a vengeance and knows when every store holds their weekly specials.  Sleeping in is a luxury she rarely allows herself.  Before the kiddos begin to stir, she has lunches packed, school papers signed and a road map for how her day will play out with her to-do list, no servant girls to dole out the chores to in this house.

She looks for ways to add income to her family’s resources, whether it’s at a 9-5 job, as an at-home business owner or by selling items the family no longer needs.  She is resourceful, determined, energetic and optimistic.  It is her goal to see that her dealings are successful without sacrificing time with her family which often means burning the midnight oil to get it all done.

Her hands are never idle as she is constantly preparing meals, typing emails, checking homework, writing proposals, doing laundry, cleaning house and the like.  She is never too busy to help those less fortunate.  She keeps her eyes and ears open to the needs of her community and volunteers her time for fundraisers and committees with goals of bettering the lives of her neighbors.

While she may not be a seamstress like her Ma-Maw was, she doesn’t fear the changing seasons because she knows how to transform a wardrobe from spring to winter on a shoestring budget.  She is a thrifty, money wise kind of girl.

Her husband is well known and liked within  the community.  He serves in the church, has a reputation of a hard worker and is known for his wise counsel.

This precious lady is as strong and unwavering as an oak tree but equally soft and tender at heart.  She walks with her head held high, fully confident in her abilities as a daughter of The King.  She is fearless when she looks to the future, even when her circumstances look bleak, for she knows who holds her in the palm of His hand and she smiles at the security that knowledge brings.  She doesn’t speak out of turn or toss her words around carelessly.  She gives careful thought to the counsel she gives, making certain to always point people to the Truth as opposed to a worldly opinion.  Even in correction, she is kind and loving, making sure that the theme of her speech is the message of Jesus.

Nothing escapes her attention within her home.  She does in fact have eyes in the back of her head, laser point vision and hearing so sensitive that her children wonder if she is superhuman.  The term laziness is a foreign concept to her.  Her backside rarely makes contact with the sofa as she can always think of one more thing that needs to be done.

Her little people think she is without question, the best mom on the planet.  They make her homemade gifts, handwritten cards and give hugs and kisses that melt her momma’s heart.  Her husband sings her praises to anyone who will listen and puts her at the top of his list, second only to the Lord.  “Baby, you are the best there is, we are incredibly lucky to call you ours!”

A beautiful face and a smokin’ hot body may be a nice commodity to some, but one day, gravity is going to kick in and all of that is going to disappear.  But the woman who loves the Lord and serves Him with all that she has will always be found beautiful in the sight of those she loves.  She will be known not for her appearance, but for her servant’s heart that is totally sold out for Jesus….in that she will find her fame and anxiously wait for her reward that is waiting for her when her time on this earth is through.strong woman

This concludes our 31 day reading challenge of the book of Proverbs.  I pray you found it to be a blessing.

 

~Nag, Nag, Nag~ March 3, 2014

Ladies, I hate to do this to you but if I didn’t write about the quarrelsome wife at some point during our Proverbs study then it really wouldn’t have been an accurate depiction of all that the book covers.  I’m going to make this easier on you by focusing on my own experience as a nag.

I have a happy and fulfilled marriage….now.  Let’s just say that hasn’t always been the case.  Now I was always an excellent homemaker.  My home was never dirty, the laundry was done daily, my cupboards were never bare and meals where prepared right on schedule.  I was taking very good care of my man and providing for most of his needs.  But, and you all knew the but was coming, I was not doing any of these things with a cheerful heart.  My husband was coming home to a picture perfect house with a not-so-picture-perfect wife living in it.  When it came to him, I was unpleasant.

However, I was a different kind of nag because I rarely vocalized my complaints.  I preferred the make-him-read-my-mind-method.  He knew I was agitated but I liked to mix things up by making him play a continual game of “guess what you did wrong today?!”  Doesn’t that sound like a fun time?  Even though I knew I wasn’t exactly being a good wife, I felt comfortable with the fact that I was a good enough wife by keeping up my home.

Wanna hear when my revelation came?

We had a marriage conference at our church and Joe McGee made a simple statement that was profound, convicting and freeing all at once:  “You are your husband’s wife, not a house wife.”

“It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.” (Proverbs 21:9 NLT)

And all the homemakers say…OUCH!!

Here I thought I was doing a bang-up job by providing a well-kept, comfortable home when truthfully I was tearing it down little by little with my own hands.  A house is a home because of the people who live in it, not because of it’s appearance and I was neglecting my people.  Yes, they were well taken care of but my little people could see and feel the tension between me and my spouse.  What kind of example was I setting for my girls- So long as you take care of your ‘job’ then it’s ok to neglect your husband’s physical, spiritual and emotional needs?  That is not the life I desire for my kids and I realized it was no longer acceptable for me either.

Both my husband and I made some changes in how we treated one another.  Perhaps one day I can convince him to share with you but for now, I will let you in on what I did.  First, I made a conscious decision to focus less on my to-do list and make my get-to list my priority.  In other words, my chores took a back burner to conversation with Jamie, story time with the girls and rainbow tag with my older kids and their friends.  Then I decided that rather than fuss about what my husband was not doing, I would praise him for the ample things he did for which I should be thankful.  Lastly and most importantly, I stopped clamming up when I was upset.  Ladies, our guys cannot read our minds!  If you aren’t willing to speak up about what bothers you, then you really don’t have a right to be angry when it doesn’t improve.

Marriage is a gift and a treasure.  Yes, there will be times in the valley but if we nurture our relationship we will survive the trials when they come raging in.

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*This is day 21 of our chapter-a-day study of Proverbs.  If you wish to read from the beginning, search 31 day in the tool bar to the right and go from there!  Happy learning!

 

~Treat Your Wife Like Wisdom~ February 14, 2014

Something that has always intrigued me is how wisdom is referred to as “she” and “her” in the Bible.  Naturally, being a lady, I initially thought, “That’s right!  Women are the smart ones!”  Of course I had to reluctantly admit that’s not why a neutral noun was replaced with a feminine pronoun.

A quick synopsis would be: If wisdom is a woman, man is the head of said woman, Christ is the head of man so ultimately wisdom is Christ himself.

Moving on.

Since today is Valentine’s Day, my Proverbs 4 post is in relation to married (or soon to be so) couples.  Specifically, I’m speaking to the men.strong marriage

Read the following verses:

“Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.  Lover her, and she will guard you.  Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!  And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.  If you prize wisdom, she will honor you.  She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.”  (vs. 6-9)

Now, everywhere you see the word wisdom, replace it with “wife.”

“Don’t turn you back on your wife, for she will protect you.  Love her, and she will guard you.”

Fella’s, it is hazardous to your health to turn your back on your lady.  Having a wife is like having a second pair of eyes & ears and an extra mind & heart.  Why would you turn your back on that kind of support system?  It is to your benefit to love her.  The maddest I have ever been is when I felt someone had insulted my husband.  I can easily overlook an offense when it affects only me, but you attack my husband and you will see a whole other side to this normally tame gal.  Guys, you may think you don’t need your lady to “guard” you, but we see things differently than you do.  Gaining the feminine perspective to situations can save you from trouble.

“If you prize your wife, she will honor you.”

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.  The love Christ has for us is the most sacrificial example of love there is; He gave his life for us.  Likewise, husbands are called to love their wives in the same manner.  Place your wife’s needs above your own and she will in turn honor you all the days of her life.  Unfortunately, I have heard husbands say of their spouse, “she has no respect for me.”  Quick question, are you treating her as if you cherish her?  That is, after all, what it means to prize her.

For this last analogy, I am going to use The Message translation of the 2nd half of verse 8 & verse 9.

“Throw your arms around your wife—believe me, you won’t regret it; never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.  She’ll garland your life with grace, she’ll festoon your days with beauty.”

Hold. Your. Wife.  You may look at her and think, “this…is NOT huggable!”  Do it anyway.  We find comfort and safety in your embrace, even if we don’t say so.  Speaking for myself, when I feel the support of my husband, it gives me a whole new level of confidence and assurance in who I am and what I am called to do.  It allows me to be a better wife & mother but more than that, his love and support encourages me to be a better servant to the Lord.  That will bring honor to my husband and family.  That will add grace and beauty to our lives.

Ok ladies, can I get an amen?!

All joking aside, these verses spoke to me in the exact way I translated them above.  Truthfully, we ladies could just as easily look at it in relation to our men but I wanted to address the guys for a change.

I hope that you all have a blessed and happy Valentine’s Day.  I pray that we would all take the time and put forth the effort into loving our spouses the way that God designed it to be.  extraordinary spouse

 

~Silence is Deadly~ February 10, 2014

This past week my mother was staying with us.  I had just gotten home from dropping off the older kiddos so I was down to one little person in the house.  Mom & I were hanging out in the kitchen, fixing breakfast and talking when Mom suddenly stopped.

“It’s quiet.  Should we be concerned?”

“Yup.  Quiet is always a bad sign in this house.”

Well there that is.  Quiet never spells anything good in our home.  It’s an indicator that something not so good is about to hit the fan.

Silence is the number one relationship killer.  I guess I should say relationships because all good ones require communication, not just the one with your spouse.

You want to have a successful marriage?  Never stop talking.  I’m sure all my male readers just clicked “unfollow.”  Sorry fellas, but if you’re wife goes clam on you and suddenly your little chatter box barely breaths a word to you…you in trouble.  BIG trouble.  You see, a woman talks because she believes that you care enough to hear every little thing that she feels, thinks & cares about.  If she stops the communication, chances are it’s because she thinks you’ve checked out and could care less about what she has to say anyway so what’s the point in wasting her breath?

If you desire close friendships, be open with people.  Talk about your struggles, your dreams your success and in doing so, it allows others to feel comfortable to do the same.  If there is one thing I’ve learned through blogging, it’s that people respond to realness.  If you drop the act and get down in the dirt where life is lived, people will be drawn to that and connect with you on a more personal level.

How bout the parent/child relationship?  So many parents think communication with their kids is a one way street….wrong.  Not that I have all the answers, but come on now.  Yes, Mom & Dad are in charge of their brood but does that mean you can’t give explanations behind your rules and expectations?  While children may be under our authority, I believe they should have some freedom to speak their minds.  With 5 kids living in this house, they may have come from my husband and I but they couldn’t be more unlike us in some areas.  It’s unbelievable!  I catch myself looking at them and thinking, “Dear God, this can’t be my kid.  They are nothing like me!”  That is why I feel it’s important to communicate with them; you talk they answer and back and forth you go until you have a better understanding of one another.  Couldn’t hurt.  Just sayin’.

It is my opinion that there is one thing that brings a screeching halt to all communication, regardless to which type of relationship you are dealing with.

You ready for this?

Assumptions.

Don’t make me spell it out, but we’ve all heard what assume really means when you put a couple of perfectly placed spaces.  I’ll give you a hint, it has something to do with a barn animal who appears in the Bible a time or two.

So many times, I have been guilty of being tight lipped because I assumed I knew what the other person was going to say in response.  I’d press it down, fight it out within myself and leave the other party completely out of the conversation.  Acting like this is horribly unfair.  You and I aren’t giving the other person a chance to prove us wrong.  (It is possible that we are wrong, by the way.)

I’m going to give you a real simple statement to say to yourself the next time you find yourself assuming you know what someone else is going to say or do:  “I don’t know nothing.”  (Grammar teachers everywhere are cringing.)

Because truth be told, if you never give the other person the opportunity to engage in open conversation with you, then you really don’t know a thing about them.  Not one thing.  I may elaborate on the this some other time, but for now, TALK to the people in your life!  Disregard all preconceived ideas about who you think they are and how you think they will react, open your mouth & your ears and communicate!conversation

Here is a two step plan to ensure that your conversations will be free from judgment.  You have to complete step one in order to make step two happen:

1.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

(Colossians 3:16 NKJV)

2.  “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

(Colossians 4:6 NIV)

 

~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

 

~The “other” parent~ August 9, 2013

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What defines a parent?  Is it sharing the same genetics or are parents made?  I struggle with people who undervalue someone’s role as a parent because they weren’t mom or dad from birth.  Maybe I’m super sensitive because I was raised by a man who was not my dad by birth, but by choice and it would always upset me when someone would say he wasn’t my real dad.

Now I am raising my own non-biological children with zero involvement from their birth mother and it still makes me cringe when someone calls them my step-kids.  The phrase, “Oh, so they’re not your real kids?” will likely unleash a side of me that no one needs to see.  I am sharing this because I know I’m not the only one out there who feels the same way:

There is a word that I despise only few will understand.
It’s the title “step-mom” that makes my hair stand on its end.
By definition of the word I am simply the father’s wife.
Never mind the sacrifice & struggles that come with this new life.
But more than that, my heart is theirs as if they are my own.
Countless acts of love & care; mercy being shown.
I wipe their tears, keep them fed & I’m their biggest fan.
I make them feel loved & protected as only a momma can.
It is not simply through labor that a mother gets her name.
It’s the selfless act of daily tasks that she receives her fame.
It’s a sleepless night filled with worry because the fever spikes.
It’s running along beside them when they get their big kid bike.
It’s encouraging words, saying prayers & offering a helping hand,
Being ready with open arms when they need a soft place to land.
So please don’t call me step-mom, mommy will suffice.
For it is me, after all who tucks them in each night.

The act of mothering or fathering means to bring up a child with care and affection.  The Bible says we are to “train up a child in the way he should go.”  So in my opinion, it is of far less importance who brought you into this world than who is walking you through life.  Those who teach you values & morals, who nurture your dreams & provide for your physical needs….that’s a mom and dad.

My Mommy's Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

My Mommy’s Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

 

~The Word As My Weapon~ July 4, 2013

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.”

(2Samuel 22:17-20 NLT)

What is your “powerful enemy” that has you drowning in deep waters today? Who is holding you down beneath the darkness attempting to drown you? Which one of life’s struggles have you so bound that you can’t see the light hovering just above the water’s surface? God is there, with His mighty hands, reaching down to lift you to a place of safety. Your enemy may be a strong one, but God is all the more powerful.

Are you facing financial ruin, with a mountain of debt that seems impassable?

“You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21 NLT)

Is your marriage falling apart before your eyes, struggling with forgiveness of some past hurt?

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 NIV)

Have your children rejected God and instead chosen to live dangerously close to the edge?

“Direct your children onto the right path and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NLT)

No matter what you are facing, God is standing at the ready saying, “I’ve got a word for that.” His Word is full of promises just waiting for us to take hold of. The enemy is clever and knows just how to manipulate each one of us. If we stay in the Word and commit it to memory, we will be armed and ready for any hurdle that satan throws onto our path. Don’t lie down and admit defeat today, stand up and fight. Hold up your shield of faith as you battle using the Word of truth as your weapon.Two Edged Sword

“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NIV)