Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Practice What You Preach~ May 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:07 pm
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Being an adult often puts us in awkward positions where we have to choose between how we want to act and how we should.

Recently I was upset over something I read. In the spirit of complete transparency, I was also angry. My gut reaction was to fire off an emotional response which is exactly what I was doing when I looked over to see my 14 year old daughter. And I thought of all the times she has come to me furious or crushed over something a friend said or did to her. All the advice I had given about handling  yourself gracefully and with as much dignity as possible came to mind.

  • Don’t engage in exchanging insults.
  • If you can’t seek reconciliation, don’t seek vengeance in it’s place.
  • Say how you feel without making accusations.
  • Think about what you want to say, choose your words carefully and remember once they’re out there, you can never get them back.

So I stopped my rant, deleted every word, and shut it down.

Anger is not a sin, but you can sin in your anger.

I have failed at this very thing numerous times, when I reacted without hesitation. I still carry regrets from those moments. I’m glad my girl was sitting close by, keeping me from making yet another mistake. Thankfully, her presence was enough to remind me that I’m supposed to be setting an example here. If I had responded with a hot temper, after all the things I’ve tried to instill in her about dealing with these situations, I would be the worst kind of hypocrite. Practicing what you preach, it’s heavy, but necessary if you wish to be taken seriously. I would never encourage anyone else to be hateful, regardless of whether they felt it was warranted or not, so I had to take my own advice.

You are not responsible for how others perceive you or how they react to what you say. You are, however, accountable for every word you speak.

 

 

~Lessons From The Checkout~ May 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:58 pm
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I woke up yesterday morning feeling weepy. I had been working on a personal piece before bed the night before that had me bawling so I guess you could say I was emotionally hungover.

I chatted with my brother, my hubs & my bestie. Fortified by their words, it seemed plausible that I could venture outside the house.

Bad. Idea.

I went to the big box store, the one that makes me question humanity. I had a sentimental purchase to make, but again, I thought I was good so no biggie. I managed to only sniffle a bit while shopping. And then I entered the checkout line.

When I say the cashier was salty, I’m being generous. Normally I can deal with a total stranger being indifferent, but considering the previous 24 hours, I was praying she’d hurry the heck up before I burst into tears standing right in front of her. I made it, barely. I went snottin’ & snivelin’ through the parking lot and wouldn’t you know it was a rainy day so I didn’t even have my sunglasses to hide behind. To make matters worse, I had my two little girls with me. Ugh.

Who out there besides me cries even harder when someone asks, “what’s wrong?” Add in the fact that it was my babes looking up at me with their big doe eyes and let’s just say the dam exploded.

Once I got my wits about myself, a few things occurred to me.

  • I cry a ridiculous amount, to the point of dehydration.
  • I should never set foot out the door without tissues.
  • Rainy days & Mondays always bring me down.

Ok, seriously. What was really nagging at me was my interaction with the cashier. She was oblivious to the hot mess before her. Just as I had no way of knowing what she’d been through to make her react to me the way she did. Y’all know how I like to tell you to be nice always? This is why.

I really needed someone to be sappy, sugary, overbearingly sweet to me. But maybe she did too, and neither one of us could deliver. Both of us were looking to the wrong source for comfort.

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Had I taken the time to be comforted before I left the house, I might have been able to try a little harder to make that cashier smile. But I didn’t and an opportunity was wasted. IMG_4096

We are all going to have bad days, when the last thing we should do is head out into the world without our “Does not play well with others” sign. It’s imperative that we take time to nurture ourselves if we intend to be of any use to anyone else. When your heart hurts, pray for peace, seek out the people who love you most and let their words & God’s comfort wash over you. And be healed. It’s really hard to shine your light through a cloud of hurt, bitterness, anger or the like.

 

 

~Harmonious Living~ March 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:38 am
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I went to bed last night with the windows wide open, thanks to the lovely Spring weather we’re having. This morning I was awakened by a chorus of birds just chatting away. I’m laying here now, listening to all of the varying chirps, too many to count, and each one as beautiful as the one before. All of these little birdies with their own unique voice, singing their own tunes and yet they harmonize flawlessly. They’re not the same size or color, they don’t all live in the same type of nest, and yet here they are, singing their hearts out, together, making the loveliest music. 
Maybe we could all learn a little lesson from the birds. 

We may not look alike, sound the same, be similar in size, skin tone or ethnic background. We may live different lifestyles, have opposing beliefs or wildly different upbringings, but does that have to mean we can’t all sing our songs in harmony? Diversity is a wonderful gift that we should use to learn from one another rather than use to sow discord among our peers. While we may be different in numerous ways, we are all apart of the human race, in this life together, don’t you think we should act like it? 

 

 

~Annonymous Tears~ February 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:51 am
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Today started out as one of those days where the tears were just beneath the surface. It was the craziest thing because I couldn’t even pinpoint the source of my sudden sensitivity. The feeling of tension in my chest was ever present as was the constricting of my throat as I choked back the waterworks.

For those who don’t know, I’m a natural cryer, meaning I do it often and for seemingly no real good reason. I’ve been accused of being tenderhearted more than a time or two in my life, which is a blessing & a curse. Typically, even if no one else can comprehend what is causing my emotional distress, I usually know which is what had me flabbergasted this morning.

Rather than try to hash it out, I chose avoidance. I attempted to beat the weepies into submission. First I tried the death machine, (elliptical in layman’s terms), to no avail. Next up, I pounded the pavement. For a solid 2 miles my mind was jumbled & I was growing more frustrated by the minute. The release of endorphins usually works. That’s when I started talking to Jesus, nothing heavy, just a “Hey Jesus, what’s up with me today?!” There was a nice, soft breeze while I ran accompanied by the lightest of showers, and that’s when I got my answer and felt at peace.

Sometimes, it’s ok to just be sad; inexplicably, possibly even somewhat irrationally sad, because even if we don’t know the source of our sorrow, Jesus does and he knows precisely what to do with it. It could be there is someone you love going through hell and that sudden sadness you feel is a stirring in your spirit to pray for them, even when no name or specific need comes to mind. Maybe there’s something in your own life that you haven’t given much thought to and this is the Lord’s way of calling attention it so that it can be dealt with before it festers. It could be something else altogether!

My point is, when those feelings of overwhelming sadness strike, rather than run from it, (literally in my case), take a moment and pray about it. There is a verse that has always brought me comfort that comes to mind and I hope that it brings you peace as well.

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Even when unnamed, silent tears fall, they are never in vain. Not one goes unnoticed by the One who knows the number of hairs on your head. Let that sink in today.

 

~Learning to Relax~ December 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:19 am
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We’ve been in our new home for just over a week now. For many reasons, we decided that I would homeschool all five of our children for at least the remainder of this school year. One of the main perks the kids and I were looking forward to was a more relaxed schedule. No more screaming momma trying to rush the kids out the door by a specified time. Gone would be the days of frustration at trying to “get it all done.” And yet, I seem to be having difficulty adjusting to this lifestyle!

Apparently I’ve spent so many years rushing everywhere that I have forgotten how to chill the heck out.

The kids have done great with their school work, finishing in a fraction of the time had they still been in public school….which sent me into a panic, emailing other homeschool moms to calm my fears. Am I not assigning them enough work? Are my kids going to fall behind? Thankfully those mommas put my mind at ease before I doubled up the kids’ workload.

When the typical after school hour rolls around, we have nowhere we have to be. No practices, no bonus kids to pick up, absolutely no rushing out the door…ever. You’d think that would be pretty easy to get used to, and yet here I sit, telling you that it’s not!

Y’all are going to think I’ve snapped, but I actually Googled “what does the Bible say about relaxing?”

“Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.” (Ecc 11:10 ESV)

First of all, I’m pretty sure I’ve not read this particular verse before or if I have, it wasn’t very memorable to me. Secondly, I had to Google the definition of vexation: the state of being annoyed, frustrated, or worried OR something that causes annoyance, frustration, or worry. I’ve included another translation of this verse that drove the point home for me:

 Rid yourself of all worry and pain, because the wonderful moments of youth quickly disappear. (CEV)

I’ve been afforded an opportunity to slow it down for a while, to spend more quality time with my children without the anxiety that accompanies an overbooked schedule. They are growing insanely fast and Lord knows I am not getting any younger and I’ve been squandering this incredible luxury of essentially having them all to myself, even if only for a few months.

It’s time I make a genuine effort at learning to just relax and embrace this season with my beautiful family. If you have something causing vexation in your life, maybe today is a good time to say “no more.”

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Just in case you need a little help relaxing…the ocean always does it for me 😉

 

~Don’t freak the freak out!~ September 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:13 am
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Some days I have these moments of clarity where all is right with the world, everything makes perfect sense and the word zen could be used to describe my state of being. So far, today has NOT been that day!

We have some changes happening in Chez Rutledge and up until this morning, I was pretty relaxed about it all. For whatever reason, I decided at approximately 8:15am on a Wednesday was a great time to freak the freak out!

How are we going to make this work?

When will everything fall into place?

Why are we not getting clear & precise direction?

What the heck made me think I could be all calm and cool about anything?

My “nature” is to worry and fret and plan ahead and know what’s happening “play-by-play” style. We are currently in a “roll with it” stage and my brain went all spastic and nearly short circuited. Then in true Jesus fashion, I had a gentle one word reminder…rest. My first thought was, “Seriously, Lord?” Then I reread my devotion about stillness and quickly pulled references on “rest”.

“And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14 ESV)

No matter where we go, what we are doing or whom we are with, the Lord himself goes with us which should give us rest in the form of peace.

“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat;for God gives rest to his loved ones.” (Psalm 127:2 NLT)

Being a child of God gives us an assurance that we will have what we need, when we need it without fail. In these words, we find rest in His provision.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30 Message)

If you’ve ever found yourself seeking counsel from a Christian during times of hardship, I am sure you’ve heard the phrase, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” Sometimes when the struggle is real and deep or even painful, those words feel empty and crass. However, there is profound truth in the verse above. God gives us rest in His promises. We will never be defeated so long as we walk according to His plan for our lives.

So don’t freak the freak out over whatever is happening in your life right now. What seems overwhelming to us is simply all in a day’s work to the one who never slumbers. Y’all, He’s got this so just rest already!season

 

~The Heart Speaks~ July 21, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:21 am
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Have you ever said something and immediately thought to yourself, “where did THAT come from?!” I know I have, on more occasions than I care to admit.

Good people have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and that’s why they say things that are evil. What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts.” (Luke 6:45 ERV)

(We could probably go ahead and add….what people say with their fingers as well. Because let’s face it, we do a whole lot more talking through the written word than face-to-face.)

This Scripture hurts my heart because I know I have allowed things into my life that have caused me to act uncharacteristically.

The first thing that comes to mind is frustration. Being a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes find myself completely overwhelmed by the demands of the little people in my life. Instead of pausing and seeking direction from The Word, I allow myself to be consumed by my emotions. What flows from my heart in those moments are snippy, sarcastic words that do nothing to remedy the situation but rather cause the frustration to seep into the hearts of the ones I am dumping on.

What about hurt? This one tends to have the reverse affect on me. When I feel hurt by someone, I shut down, building a wall to protect myself from further damage. That is no more healthy than if I lashed out. Instead of talking it out and making room for healing to begin, my lack of communication keeps the hurt bottled up, allowing it to fester until it does come out in my speech. A hurting heart will change your perspective and therefor the things you say in response to any number of scenarios. It’s in those moments, when the wounds run deep, that we have to remember “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Ask Him to heal your hurts so that the healing can begin before it takes root in your spirit.

For me, anger is probably the most dangerous of emotions that can fill my heart and come screaming out of my mouth. It’s not that I anger easily, but when I do, it’s usually a major offense that I feel cannot be ignored. Anger causes me to react with little to no thought about how my words are going to impact the person on the receiving end. Anger makes me not care about others. It makes me speak harshly, without grace, without love, without compassion. Anger makes me mean. So how are we to keep anger from getting a foothold in our lives? How do we LET IT GO when we really want to hold onto that wrong and feel justified in our madness? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7) Pray for God’s peace to take the place of that anger that is sure to bring ruin.

There are many other things we can allow into our hearts, either good or bad, that will eventually come out of our mouths. Let’s strive to replace bitterness with forgiveness, hate with love, judgment with empathy and more of the like so that the words we speak will be helpful for building others up according to their needs, that they may benefit those who listen. (from Eph 4:29)heart

 

~Stop The Labeling~ June 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:13 am
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Labels, you see them every which way you turn.labels

  • Heterosexual
  • Homosexual
  • Black
  • White
  • Democrat
  • Republican
  • Christian
  • Conservative
  • Liberal

Labels that place us into a specified group that cause others to dislike us…and vice versa…based solely on the fact that our group ain’t their group. Why is it that we’ve made it impossible to belong to a society where there is no need for such labeling which leads to dissension?

What purpose do labels serve other than to bring division and sow discord amongst brothers and sisters? Yes, that’s what we are, brothers & sisters in Christ. We are all descendants of the Lord and He loves us equally. I do not believe it was ever the Lord’s intentions to see us tearing each other to shreds over our differences.

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26-28 NLT)

We are ONE nation under God. Why are we allowing all of these unnecessary classifications to divide us? Even if we fit into the same “grouping”, we are NOT always going to agree on every aspect of life! It’s ridiculous to assume that we can walk this life without disagreements but why are we so quick to blame our arguments on a label? “It’s because I’m ___________.” Discrimination is, unfortunately, still prevalent in this nation so sometimes it may very well be true that a disagreement stems solely from that. However, it could be that someone just disagrees with your opinion, plain and simple.

To be clear, I have friends that fall under every category I named above. But when I look at their faces, I see who they are and what I love about them, not some scrolling list of adjectives.

A little advice from my husband: “Love each other and pray for understanding. Don’t assume to know someone based solely on what you see. Embrace the differences. Something that totally changed my life not too long ago was my prayer to see people as God does. Try it…it will reconfigure your thought process.”

 

~Peacemaker or Fight Picker~ January 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:11 am
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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matt 5:9 NIV)

Peacemakers, huh?  What does it mean, exactly, to be a peacemaker?

-One who brings peace, especially amongst adversaries.-Thanks Google.

The exact opposite of “fight pickers.”

Here’s what I am reading between the lines. A peacemaker is someone who looks for a way to bring resolution to a conflict as opposed to stirring the pot and causing further strife.

Have you ever witnessed an argument before and wondered, “What are they trying to achieve here?” You watch, (in person or online since that’s a more common method of communicating these days), and it seems as though the only thing one or both parties hopes to achieve is to prove how right they are and how grotesquely wrong their adversary is. My inner people pleaser keeps me from chiming in 99% of the time but what I’m screaming on the inside is “What good is going to come from this?!”

I am by no means perfect in this area myself. I don’t always fight fair and my words don’t always travel through the God filter before they tumble out of mouth. I am, after all, a work in progress.

How different do you suppose our world would be if we would aim to find peace in the midst of disagreements as opposed to seeking our own agenda at every turn? I am not suggesting that we all cower from arguments, fighting is part of human nature. But how open are you to hearing the other person’s perspective when they are on the attack, slinging accusations and pointing fingers? Got you there, right? We are far more likely to listen when the approach is one of gentleness and the desired result is fixing a problem instead of inflating it to disastrous proportions.

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2;23-25 ESV)

Reminding yourself to be quick to listen and slow to speak is the last thing on your mind when someone has upset you, I know. That is why it’s important to commit these things to memory every day, when you’re not all fired up, then it will come more naturally the next time an argument presents itself.prov 1012

Love.  A four letter word that actually has a positive meaning. Let it flood every area of your life and see the life changing effect it has on you and all those you come in contact with.

 

~Get Your Twinkle On~ November 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:24 am
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This time change thing has been wreaking havoc on our little household. Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30, but don’t judge, so did runner boy! This morning, my littles sprang out of bed at 6:30 which would have been fine, I was up, but they were GRUMPY! Here I was trying to make my way to coffee without making eye contact when all they wanted to do was squall in my face:

“Emma touched me!”

“Bella is on my blankie!”

“I don’t want that for breakfast!”

And so on, and so on.

Mind you we hadn’t even gone up the stairs at this point, you know, where the coffee pot resides. As I’m trying to navigate my way through the madness, one thing was on repeat in my muddled mind:

“in any and every circumstance I have learned…. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:12-13 NASB)

Yes Lord, even this, I can handle with you on my side.

Eventually we made it upstairs and when I rounded the corner into the dining room, this is what I saw.IMG_3164I leave Christmas lights over the doors to the back deck year round. I guess hubs forgot to unplug them before bed last night because normally they’re not on in the mornings. But man am I glad they were. Why, do you ask? Something about these twinkling lights brought me peace and a feeling of happiness I can’t really explain. I love, love, love Christmas lights and I suppose their presence brought about an instant calm. All which got me thinking, shouldn’t we as followers of Christ be like the sparkly lights, bringing happiness, peace and a sense of calm to the world around us?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16 NASB)

Everywhere we turn, we are faced with opportunities to share the love of God, through our speech and more importantly, through our actions. Each interaction we have with others brings a choice. We can choose to hear quickly, speak slowly and aim for peace. The alternative would be to react with haste, not taking pause to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, resulting in strife. One option shows Christ in us while the other may leave people questioning this faith we claim to possess.

So today, I challenge us all to shine bright for Jesus, causing the darkness to turn and flee. Choose to be as a lovely strand of twinkling lights, bringing beauty into a world full of ugliness.