Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~When Hurt Makes You Want To Quit~ June 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:01 am
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I am a very sensitive gal, sometimes…oftentimes…to a fault. I let my feelings get hurt and take offense when others could and do let it roll off their backs. I make no apologies for that. My sensitivity is also what helps me to connect with others.

Today, I was unfriended. I made a mistake. A misunderstanding took place in a group setting. I called it out. It was then clarified, on both parts. I thought all was right with the world. That is until a separate message came through where no one else could see it. I was accused of a handful of things that don’t bear repeating.

Ouch.

I went from furious, to hurt, to eventually over it. Here’s why.

I am 100% comfortable with the prioritization of my life.

I am confident in who God says I am.

At the ripe old age of 33, I have come to the realization that you can’t please everyone so you best just focus on pleasing God.

Hurting people hurt people. 99.9% of the time, it is unintentional. It could be someone is having a horrible day. Perhaps they are physically ill, dealing with relational issues, fighting a spiritual battle I know nothing about it…the why isn’t important, it’s just a fact that if you’re dealing with any other struggle, it will affect how you respond to any give situation. I am not excluded from this little phenom.

Lastly, because of you, my friends. I posted on social media about my hurt and that we all should be more careful in our word choices, myself included. And without fail, you lovelies did what you do best, offered love & acceptance for who I am, flaws and all.  IMG_7346

I will not deny my place in this particular hurt. I read a message and took it one way while the author claims to have intended something else entirely. This is why writing can be dangerous. If you’re not looking me in the eyes, I can very easily misinterpret what you mean. This doesn’t excuse the words that were said to me, but it does force me to take a careful look at how I post on this blog.

My only goal is to reach people through total transparency, which includes admitting when I’ve made mistakes and seeking forgiveness.

Here’s the best news, God’s Grace & mercies are new each and every morning. Breathe it in. Yesterday is over, today I get to try again to give my best for God. And I will.

The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matt 12:37 NLT)

 

~My Heart Knows, It’s My Mind That Needs Convincing~ January 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:08 am
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I am currently training for my first, (and quite possibly last), half marathon. Myself and two lifelong friends from high school have made a vow to endure this together. The difference is…both of them have ran at least one before so they have the advantage of knowing they can do this. Lucky for me, one of the two is a local girl so we are logging our miles together which makes it a pretty awesome experience. The third musketeer lives at the location of our upcoming race so we are keeping up with her training via text.

Yesterday we were chatting about the long runs we have pending and the fact that I have never ran more than 7.5….ever. Her encouragement, “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Mind over matter.” Sounds simple enough but it was what I needed to hear. I train consistently and make proper fuel a priority so my body is able but my mind tells me otherwise.

In the same way that I am making preparations for this race, I prepare myself for the work I do in ministry. I pray, I read God’s Word, I seek counsel. My heart is full of God’s love and I feel ready. Then my mind chimes in and has me second guessing.

My mind will tell me that I’m not smart enough because I don’t have a college degree.

My mind will tell me I’m too young for people to have any faith in my abilities to lead.

My mind will tell me that my past isn’t really forgiven, by God or anyone else for that matter, and with that looming all around me, I can’t be an effective witness.

But my heart. My heart believes that God can use anyone who is willing. I can feel His strength when I step out in faith. I lean on the words of Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts,” believing that my shortcomings are no matter to God.

While my heart is confident, my mind can always use some tweaking. Like most of you, my thoughts can get a little crazy and I find myself wasting precious time essentially arguing with myself. It’s time that I take captive those detrimental thoughts and replace them with encouraging Scripture.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9 ESV)  

Yeah, that one ought to do it 🙂jeremiah 29

 

~Tempted By ….~ December 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:35 am
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Here we are at yet another very busy season for so many of us. We’ve got Christmas parties to attend, cookies to bake, gifts to buy and wrap, and so on and so on. Granted these are all things that I LOVE to do, but I still find myself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I also made a commitment to myself to maintain some sort of physical activity during the winter months when in years past I have allowed myself to slack off….way, way off!

This morning I nearly talked myself out of hitting the gym. Lord knows I needed to go because I am meaner than a two-headed snake when I don’t exercise (yet another reason I decided to keep it up this winter instead of terrorizing my family). But my sweet mini-me has randomly been getting sick in the middle of the night. All you momma’s out there know that equals no sleep, tons of laundry and the unfortunate task of scrubbing the carpet-bleh! So again, I almost didn’t workout this morning because a steamy cup of coffee and my cozy blankie sounded way more tempting. Then I remembered one of my favorite inspirational quotes for days like this.workout

True story.

This busy season has caused me to neglect other important areas as well-this blog, another website I write for, my precious small group-in other words, my ministries! The more I reflected on my little workout motto, the more I realized it reminded me of a Scripture that applied to my spiritual struggles:

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41 ESV)

Not all temptation is blaringly obvious nor does it all result in “big sin.” This morning I was tempted by comfort to forgo the important task of taking care of my body. I was tempted by laziness to not write this post because my DVR is full and I kinda wanted to veg and fall into a tv coma. While all temptations don’t look the same, what they do have in common is they are meant to distract you from something more important.

How about a quick prayer for us all today:

“Lord, I ask you today to center our hearts and minds around you. Let us not fall so easily into the trap of busyness. Help us to prioritize according to Your Word so that we won’t be lead astray by the numerous distractions we encounter each day. And when temptation comes, help us to see it for what it is and give us the strength and discernment to choose wisely. Amen.”

 

~Not My Words~ May 1, 2014

“I use words as an expression…my words point to the Word….THE WORD has a name…Jesus Christ.”

Several times since beginning this writing thing, I have had people praise my posts.  There have been those who have reached out for counsel after feeling convicted from something I said.  I have received private messages with words like, “This post was for me.  I needed to hear this today, more than you know.”  Words of encouragement, prayers for blessing & pats on the back have not been lacking.

I don’t say these things to brag, quite the contrary.  I tell you this to give God every bit of the glory.  You see, I rarely have a moment when I sit down to write where the words that pour out are mine.  I do share life experiences, funny child-rearing stories and my testimony, one little piece at a time.  But what is reaching people, changing lives and tugging on heartstrings, has absolutely nothing to do with me.  It is Jesus.  His words, His promises, His grace & forgiveness, His love, His ever present help & strength.

When I write or talk about Jesus, my desire and hope is that I will be hidden and that He alone will be seen, heard and magnified.  Because I know that my words are weak and my mind is feeble, I long for the Holy Spirit to takeover at every ordained opportunity.

I am thankful that the Lord chooses to use me in this, my ministry.  I am also thankful for my brothers & sisters in Christ who have come alongside me and encouraged me in this gift.  And yes, that is how I view this blog, as my gift from the Lord to be used to point people to Him.  I am grateful to fellow Christian bloggers whose words have prodded me, nurtured me, brought me peace and left me in complete awe of what a beautiful Savior we live and breathe for.  I just wanted to take today to say thanks.

This song has quickly become one of my favorites.  This particular version was quite lengthy and I wasn’t sure why until midway through, a gentleman stepped up to the mic and started reading.  The quote above is what caught my attention and prompted this post.  Listen.  Let the song & his words settle deep into your soul.  Be blessed today knowing that “His perfect love could not be overcome.”

 

~His Truth, Not My Opinion~ February 28, 2014

Here fairly recently, I had myself a little freak out moment.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of prayer requests and those who were seeking guidance.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the opportunity to minister to others and I consider it a privilege to walk alongside those who are hurting, but not too long ago, I panicked!

I was fretting over what to say and feeling immense pressure that I was going to mess someone up with my advice.  Somewhere in the midst of my crazy, the Lord gave me the most beautiful revelation.  God is not asking me to share my opinion with those who reach out to me, He has commanded that I share His Word.

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (vs 2)

“Those whose hearts understand what is right get knowledge.  The ears of those who are wise listen for it.” (vs 15) 

The last thing I want is to open my mouth like a blubbering fool and let my own ideas and thoughts pour out.  But if I am scouring the Bible for wisdom, when I give counsel, it will be His truth that comes out and not my personal opinion.  While I could allow this to stress me even further, it actually gave me a sense of peace and freedom in my ministry.  Other translations of verse 15 say the ears of the wise seek out knowledge.  Basically, go look for it!  You can be certain that whatever you pursue, eventually you’re going to find it, whether that be good or evil.

We must constantly remind ourselves that so long as we are seeking the Lord’s face, listening for that still small voice and submitting to His leading, then we can feel confident in the words that we speak to the one in need.

When someone thanks me for my insight, I am quick to point them to Jesus.  It is not wisdom from within that I speak of but Biblical truth that brings about understanding and correction when needed.  I am a vessel for the Lord to work through, just as all others who are answering the call to minister in however the Lord sees fit.  I pray that I would never take for granted the immense honor that it is to be an ambassador for Christ.  May those who seek to glorify the Lord with the work of their lives be emboldened by the power of the Spirit that lives in the hearts of those who diligently seek Him.wise doubts

*The above Scripture references are from Proverbs 18 as part of the 31 Day Reading Challenge of the Book of Proverbs.

 

~But God~ February 26, 2014

I just this moment left my women’s Bible study to come home and work on my Proverbs post in silence before I have to pick up my baby from preschool.  As I was leaving the group, Lysa TerKeurst via video was beginning to discuss what happens when you use the phrase “but God.”

Imagine my surprise when I come home, open my faded, tattered Bible to Proverbs 16 and the very 1st verse reads:

“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” 

Sometimes God is subtle when He’s trying to get your attention, this was not one of those times.  It’s like He knows sometimes I can err on the side of stubbornness and decided to send me a flashing neon sign in the form of confirmation.

The concept that Lysa was sharing about inserting the words “but God” into any situation changes the perspective entirely.  What may seem foolish, reckless or downright insane can suddenly make perfect sense when you add God to the equation.

I shared with my lady friends how when we say yes to God, we have our own preconceived notions of how He is then going to use us.  “Ok, Lord, I’m ready to serve you now.  Just so you know, I am writer, not a speaker, I work well with little kids, not teens and I can sing but Lord you know I have no rhythm so I’m not going to dance.  Now that you know all this about me, could you kindly open the door for my ministry.  Amen.”

Next thing you know, God’s pushing you to speak at a prayer group, lead an outreach for troubled teens and head up the new dance troop for your church! Not funny, Lord, not funny at all.  That is how God works!  He calls you to do what you cannot possibly do within your own abilities.  When you can feel the Lord yanking on you, leading you to do something for Him that is in exact opposition of your comfort zone…chances are that’s right where you are supposed to be!  Going against our norm ensures our full reliance on the Lord to complete the task at hand.

I have heard the expression, “tell the Lord your plans and he just laughs and laughs.”  He tells us quite clearly that we are to commit our actions to Him and then our plans will succeed (vs 3).  I happen to believe the reason being is when we truly submit ourselves to His leading, He will plant desires in our hearts.  It may come as a shock to some of you, but God can totally change your heart and mind to line up with what He wants you to do as opposed to what you want to do.  He stretches us, shapes us and molds us to do His work.  We are being refined and strengthened every single time we say no to ourselves and yes to Him.  The more we deny our own plans to take up the ones He has set before us, the more He will see that our faith and trust is in Him alone.  When that happens, God will start flinging doors wide open for you to share the Truth in ways you never dreamed possible.

If you are feeling a nudge to do something for God and you’re in the throws of a mental debate of wanting to be obedient but questioning, “God is this you because I’m not so sure you’ve got the right person for this?”  May I give you a very simple piece of advice?  The enemy will not ask you to do something that glorifies God.  If what you feel pressed to do is pointing people to Jesus and the absolute truth of His Word, it ain’t the devil.

Say yes to God and feel the warmth of His smile rest upon you.

“When the KING smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.” (vs 15)

She is awesome...very well stated.

She is awesome…very well stated.

*Day 16 of our Proverbs 31 day challenge…man this is good stuff!

 

~Stay Strong~ April 17, 2013

Fear of FailureRecently while trying to help our oldest daughter practice a song for church, my husband pointed out to her that she was not completing her words.  Let me explain.  Instead of singing, “How great is our God,” she was singing, “How gray is our Gaa.”  It was actually quite funny to hear him sing it back to her but the song kind of loses its meaning when you don’t finish strong!

He comforted her by pointing out that a lot of children make the same mistake and encouraged her to keep at it.

Later I was thinking about this little lesson and it reminded me of how we can be in our work for God.

When we first begin a new endeavor, we go into whole-heartedly, fully devoted to what God has called us to do.  We start out with boldness and determination.  There is nothing more important than fulfilling the purpose that God has suddenly laid on our hearts.

Then we hit the first road block.  This new ministry is not going to be as easy as we had thought.

People are not always receptive to your style of teaching.

The funds that you were prayerfully expecting did not come through.

The church you attend is not into contemporary worship, drums in church, never!

Suddenly you’ve lost your “umph.”  You no longer spend hours in preparation, honing your craft.  The desire you once felt for your calling has dwindled from a raging blaze to a barely smoldering ember.  The song in your heart no longer sounds like full powered version of, “how great is our God.”  Now your spirit quietly mumbles, “how gray is our Gaa.”

I can almost hear God saying the very same words to us as my husband spoke to our daughter, “It’s ok, lots of children make that mistake.  But don’t give up just yet.  Keep trying, you will get it.”

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

(Hebrews 12:1-3)

Just because your new ministry isn’t taking off quite like you had hoped it would, does not mean that it is a failure.  Regardless of what your platform is; teaching children, leading Bible study, singing or playing on a worship team, writing a devotional blog ; this message can apply to you.  Just think of where we would be right now if Jesus had called it quits at the first sign of adversity.

 “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

(Hebrews 12:12-13 NLT)