Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Another “F” Word~ March 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:12 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

silenceThis past week has been a bit wild for me so there has been little to no time to write…boo.  I was just going to let it go until Monday, then my little Belly-boo decided to provide me with material for a weekend post.

My Mom was in yesterday and we were out running errands together, just the three of us.  Miss B. was quite full of herself, barking her orders from the backseat as we made our various stops.

“I want my sucker now!”

“Let’s go to the store first!”

And here comes the big one:

“Where’s my freakin’ egg?”

I BEG YOUR PARDON!!!!  “Bella Grace, don’t you say that!  Who told you that word?!”

Cute as can be, she pointed at herself.

Obviously, I know she had to have heard it somewhere and as Mom and I were hashing out it, we had the painful realization that it has crossed the lips of nearly everyone in our home.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Typically, the context in which it’s been used has been more of a light-hearted tone, “Are you freakin’ kidding me, that’s hilarious!!”  You get the jist.

But the sound of that word coming from my sweet girl’s mouth sounded so foul that I knew we had to start being more mindful of how we speak.  Is it a swear word?  I guess not but it sounded so similar to the other, detestable “f” word that it made me cringe.  It made me think, what does the word actually mean anyway?  The Bible warns us not to speak idle words because one day we will give an account for every single one.*  Truthfully, I had been using this word occasionally and overlooking my preteens using it without having a clear understanding of what we were actually saying.  Well surprise, surprise, it is defined as “a euphemism for…..” you guessed it, THE “f” word.”

I feel about as big as an ant.  Epic fail, no momma of the year award waiting for me, even my babe is basically swearing.

Very quickly this morning, I looked for a Scripture for myself and to share with the fam so that we won’t be so careless with our choice of words.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Even the descriptive words we use to express emotion, should be carefully weighed to be certain that we aren’t dishonoring the Lord in our speech while setting a not-so-shining example for the little eyes and ears that are upon us in the process.  Nothing about the word in question brings encouragement to those who hear it, so I’d say it’s time we retire it’s usage.

*Matthew 12:36

 

~Face to phone screen~ January 7, 2014

Like most cultural changes, I am sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that people prefer texting to talking, email over handwritten notes and tossing someone a gift card as opposed to a heartfelt, personal gift.  Is anyone else worried that we are rapidly losing our human connection?  It seems that the more we take advantage of these modern conveniences, the more desensitized we become.

Face to face conversations have been replaced with face to screen time.  I myself have been guilty of addressing issues with my husband via text because I didn’t want to deal with it in person.  I convinced myself I was saving us an argument by typing out my feelings because then I could edit what I said.  But that’s unhealthy and it certainly isn’t biblical.

What about when people take their conflicts to social media for all the world to see?  What exactly could you hope to gain by belittling one another in an open forum that allows others to jump into a conflict that’s not their own?  What I find amusing is that most of what people say online are things they wouldn’t dare say in person.  Just because you are letting your fingers do the talking doesn’t make your words less offensive.  You are still held accountable for what you say, whether you say it with your lips or your rapid firing fingertips as they fly across the keys.

How are we to handle conflict when it does arise, and it certainly will in healthy relationships?  My advice would be to turn to the words of Matthew 18: (please keep in my mind this is referring to our relationships with fellow believers)

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (verse 15)

Our initial reaction when someone hurts us is to tell someone else about it, then we can have someone validate our feelings & “take our side” in the conflict.  However, our first response should be to speak to the one who upset us.  When we go directly to the offender, chances are we will be able to quickly resolve our differences without need for a mediator because most people respect others who are able to communicate honestly.

What happens when you try the direct approach and it isn’t received too graciously?

“But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.” (verse 16)

Note that it doesn’t say rally the troops and turn it into “he said, she said” debate.  If you find yourself in the midst of an argument where one-on-one communication is no longer effective or constructive, it may be a good idea to seek godly counsel.  Agree on a neutral party who can speak wisdom into the situation without taking sides.  It may be someone from your pastoral staff, a friend whom you both respect or in some cases you may need to seek counsel from a professional.  The point is, if you are unable to hash out your grievances amongst yourselves, the next avenue needs to be seeking wise counsel, not ranting to anyone and everyone who will listen to build your case.

As you go through your day, if you find yourself tempted to ‘post’ about your problems, try this approach first.  Don’t succumb to the pull of social media to do your dirty work for you.  Human contact will always trump social media.  You will choose your words more wisely in person than you would sitting behind the safety of an illuminated screen.  And the person who has your panties in a twist will respond more rationally if you are “man enough” to speak to them as opposed to about them.

social media fight

 

~This Day~ November 26, 2013

rockingchairHere lately I have found myself in a place that I really don’t care to be, trapped in my own mind, consumed by what our future holds.  I’ve been running possible scenarios through my head.  “What if this or that happens?  Then what do we do?”

When I looked at my calendar, I would skim over the list for the day and then spend a great deal of time stressing over what was coming up for the remainder of the week.

Even house work had become counterproductive.  I would flit from room to room accomplishing nothing.

Scatterbrain-initis….it’s a disease, I am sure of it.  But I am lucky enough to be blessed with friends that remind me of what the cure is.

Sunday, a sweet sister asked to pray for me.  While she prayed, she asked the Lord to give me what I needed for each day, and that’s when it clicked.  I had been wasting precious time every day focusing on the next day, week and sometimes even the entire month in advance.

In the Lord’s prayer, we are told to pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” I believe that applies to more than just food.  Every morning I should be asking God to meet my family’s physical needs, yes, but I need him to meet my emotional and spiritual needs as well.  My prayer time needs to include asking him to equip me with the grace it takes to handle all of the life happening around me.  Wisdom would be nice when faced with challenging momma moments, so I should probably be seeking that too.  Then I need to say amen and trust that the Lord will sustain me and my family for that day without fear of what the next day will be like.

I came across a quote that really got my attention:

“What will defeat you if you let it, is not all the things you worry about, but all the worrying itself.” -Brian Vaszily

I don’t want to live defeated.  God has said that I am more than a conqueror through him who loves me and worry is robbing me of that gift.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

(Matthew 6:34 The Message)

 

~Blinded By The Log~ November 4, 2013

Tomorrow is election day and can I just say how glad I will be when it’s all over!  I have had about all the “he said, she said”, slanderous, malicious, back-biting campaigns I can take!

Why is it that politicians ads focus more on what the other guys did wrong instead of what they themselves propose to do right?  I find it rather frustrating that they are spending exorbitant amounts of money tearing each other down all the while one of our countries biggest issues is debt.  Does anyone else take issue with this?

Show me the guy (or gal) that runs an honest campaign, focusing solely on their morals and intentions if elected and that’s the one who gets my vote.

In the last couple of weeks, it’s gotten to where every other ad on television is politically based.  Having it been so in-your-face, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to campaigns and life right where we’re at.

How many of you have ever dealt with a “politician” in your life?  You know the type.  Someone who uses the vast majority of their time and energy putting the focus on what everyone else around them is doing wrong so that hopefully no one will notice their own blunders.  I would venture to say you have all been either on the receiving end of this sort of behavior…or you have even been the guilty party a time or two (gasp)!

I find that people are more receptive to what I have to say when I use my own personal experiences as an example.  Today I’m turning the tables….I’m going to show you how I’ve been the ugly politician.

My marriage has had it’s fair share of ups and downs (relax honey, I’m not airing our dirty laundry).  We have argued, hurt one another’s feelings and  neglected the other’s needs.  In the midst of one our more recent valleys, I found myself making a list of everything he did wrong.  It was locked away in my mind, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.  All of my thoughts were centered around his short-comings.  My attitude and actions towards him were reflective of this list that scrolled through my mind on repeat.  Not once did I pause to think of my role in the problem.  I justified my behavior thinking that surely everyone would see it my way if I were to point out all his flaws, so to speak.  Then one day it hit me.  It was if the Holy Spirit gently asked me, “what about you?”

You see, I was behaving just like the politicians that get on my last nerve.  I was painting this hideous picture of my opponent, aka hubs, hoping that if I could keep the attention on all the wrong things he had done, no one would notice where I was falling short, myself included.  As I said, this battle was happening internally, but eventually it would have come out because what you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45).  I would have bad mouthed my partner in this life in hopes of gaining favor with those around us.

Maybe you can relate to this example and you’ve been the one dishing the dirt.  Or maybe you’ve encountered a “politician” in friendship, the workplace, or heaven forbid, church!  May I encourage you today?  When faced with someone bent on tearing you down, before you turn it into a full blown mud-slinging showdown, take pause and think of what personal demons they may be battling that is making them point the finger at you.  If you are like me and are doing the finger pointing, look inwards and perhaps you will find that you have some work you need to do and that other person isn’t so bad after all.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye.’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your bother’s eye.”

(Matthew 7:2-5 NIV)

 

~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)

 

~What happened to grace?~ June 27, 2013

graceSocial media has once again inspired me.  It seems that everyone has an opinion on a certain well-known Southern lady and something that she did or said many years ago.  Now, before anyone fires off hate mail my way, let me make my point.

What we all are seeing, hearing, and reading about this case is only what the media is allowing, so I believe we’d all agree that our information is limited.  Do any of us really know what this woman said or thought 30 years ago or even yesterday for that matter?  I understand that she made offensive remarks about a certain ethnic group, and I am not defending that fact.  However, how many of us can stand up and say we have not once ever said something derogatory, discriminating or offensive about another human being?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and never sins.”

(Ecclesiastes 7:20 NASV)

It is because she is in the limelight that her mistake is being broadcast for all the world to see.  And it is for this same reason that most of America feels they have a right to judge her.  But what if someone flung open the door to our past so that all of our transgressions were laid out for the whole world to see?  How many of us would lose friends over something we or they did many years ago?

My girlfriend and I were talking about this last night at church and it all comes down to one word: grace.  The vast majority of our population has no grace.  There is no forgiveness of wrongs, no room for human error, nor is there any mercy.  Someone blunders and the world cries foul and screams for justice.  The offender attempts to apologize and we collectively turn our backs refusing a 2nd chance.  Why?  We are neither judge nor jury.  It is not our place to sit back and condemn another HUMAN BEING from the comfort of our homes based solely on what we think we know.  The truth of the matter is, no one knows another’s heart condition.  We can’t see into someone’s heart and know if they are sincere or simply tossing out words that they think we want to hear.  But that’s not our problem.  We are supposed to forgive and leave the judgment to Christ.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  (Luke 6:37 NIV)

I could go on with verse after verse but they all carry the same message, forgiveness is far sweeter than judgment.  Think of it this way, how would you want others to respond if it was your fanny in the hot seat?  Just a little something to think about today.

*I feel I should add that this post is not about where I stand on what this particular woman did.  I really just wanted to give people a different perspective on how we respond to our fellow brothers and sisters in the midst of a “scandal.” *

 

~God Is For You~ June 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:27 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

is-god-for-youWhat do you do when you reach a point where you believe God is able, but you are not so sure that He is willing?  You stand looking at your mountain, knowing that God could hurl it into the sea, but it won’t budge.

In Matthew chapter 9, a father approaches Jesus asking him to heal his son.  He says to Jesus:

“If you can do anything, do it.  Have a heart and help us!”

Jesus said, “If?  There are no ‘ifs’ among believers.  Anything can happen.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe.  Help me with my doubts!”

(vs. 22-24 The Message)

This father obviously believed in Jesus or he wouldn’t have asked for his help in the first place.  But something made him question whether Jesus would be willing to help him.  Maybe as we face our troubles today, we have our own set of doubts.  We’ve prayed to God to help us, so it’s not that we doubt Him, we doubt ourselves.  Could it be that we think the reason we are trapped in an endless struggle is because we’ve let Him down; that we’re not worthy of His mercy?

“That is why the Lord says,“Turn to me now, while there is time.

Give me your hearts.  Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.

 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.”

Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate,

slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He is eager to relent and not punish.

Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse.”

(Joel 2:12-14 NLT)

God’s grace and mercy is for everyone.  Not one of us is unworthy to receive it if we will turn our hearts to Him and allow Him to shape and mold us.  Believe with your heart, confess with your mouth and know in your mind that the Lord of all lords is eager to relent today.  Be prepared to receive a blessing instead of a curse.  Walk in victory.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

 

 

~Quit Or Endure~ June 20, 2013

dont-quit“Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.  Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule…sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things…and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”

(Hebrews 10:32-34)

God calls each of us to serve in different ways.  Even when we are walking according to His word & serving Him faithfully, there may be days when we feel like giving up; the struggle is too great & not only can you not see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can’t even find the tunnel!

So what do you do when you feel like giving up?  When you’ve been stretched to thin, your limit was reached long ago and you have nothing left to give anyone, including yourself?  The way I look at it, you have two options:

1.  Quit- This of course will be the easiest of two.  You can simply throw in the towel and walk
away with what you have left.

2. Endure- This one is going to hurt a little.  Do you know that the word endure means to suffer patiently?!  I don’t know about you, but in this feeble mind the words suffer and patiently should not be allowed to coexist.

However, loving the Lord is not our ticket to a life of ease.  We are subject to the same troubles as those who do not love Him.  The difference is we are not alone in our suffering.

“So do not throw away (your) confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you!  PATIENT ENDURANCE is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised!”

(Hebrews 10:35-36)

When you feel like quitting, just keep going.  God never gives up on you, so don’t give up on Him!  And here’s the kicker and why I will always choose option #2, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.”  (Matthew 24:13)

Please know that I am not trying to downplay the struggles that many of you are facing, I simply want to encourage you not to quit.  Even when it feels as if you can’t take another step, take it.  God may be working on your breakthrough right now and you don’t want to walk away just before your miracle…do you?

 

~The Narrow Path~ April 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:03 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

“You are my servant. You have chosen to know me, believe in me, & understand that I alone am God. There is no other God-there never has been, & there never will be. I, yes I, am the Lord, & there is no other Savior.”

(Isaiah 43:10-11)

This is one of those verses in Scripture that I feel inadequate to add any of my limited knowledge to.  It is authoritative and complete, leaving no room for misinterpretation.  The words speak of the magnificence of God and assure us that there is none other than He.  More than that, it reminds us that our life of obedience to Him is a choice.

God, in His infinate mercy, gives us the gift of free-will.  We can just as easily choose to rebuke Him as we can choose to follow Him.  If we are brutally honest with ourselves, following Him is much more difficult than the alternative.

The Lord has set before us two paths:

  1.        The highway to hell is broad, and it’s gates are wide for the many who choose that way. 
  2.        But the gatway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

(Matthew 7:13-14)

Option number one is the most popular.  It is the easy way out.  No real decision has to be made, you simply live your life by your own rules, deciding for yourself what is right and wrong.  The second option sounds far less appealing than the first.  You know right upfront that it will not be easy.  There will be no “wiggle room” on this path.

The hard truth of the matter is, we must choose one.  There is no third option.  If you have not chosen the path that leads to Jesus, then by default, you have chosen the way of the destroyer.  Make your decision wisely, it is a matter of life or death.

If I may insert one final thought, how many things in your life worth having have you gained easily?

heavenvshell