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.

 

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~Is That God’s Word or Man’s?~ April 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:33 am
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If you’re going to begin a conversation with “The Lord told me,” you’d better be dern tootin’ you heard right. Those words always put me on high alert. It’s not that I think God cannot or will not speak to us directly, but I realize the weight that comes with making such a proclamation. Either God has something He wants us to hear or the person making that statement wants to us to believe that He does, and it’s not always easily discernible which is the case.

I find it disheartening that anyone would use the name of the Lord in order to get their way. He is not a bargaining chip to be tossed on the table when circumstances are not as one desires. But His name adds a certain power that makes it tempting to use because you know if you do, people are going to listen up.

Many times I have overheard my little girls arguing over something trivial and one will yell, “but Mommy said!” They know that their best chance of winning the argument is by claiming to have someone with more authority on their side. The same case can be made when someone uses God’s name a little too frequently, especially in the midst of a battle.

I took my concerns over this to my husband and he had, yet again, an excellent idea. When someone gives you a message with the preface “God told me,” (or any variation thereof), kindly ask them if they can point you to Scripture that lines up with what they’ve just told you. God will never send you a word that doesn’t line up with His. 

When I was a baby Christian, I was horribly intimidated by people who spoke of God in this manner. I thought, surely they have a direct line to Jesus and I can never measure up so I should hang on their every word and do everything they say. Thankfully, those days are over for me and I have learned to weigh people’s “words” against God’s. I think it would do us all good to take it to prayer anytime we find ourselves in these situations. You do not have to take someone at their word simply because they brought His name into it. It is our responsibility to guard our hearts and minds and prayerfully consider what we allow in.  

 

 

~THINK First~ March 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:11 am
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Hey you, with your finger hovering over “post,” can what you’re about to share be perceived as malicious, either by means of direct attack or passive-aggressively? Think about that, would you please, before you blurt out something you can never take back.

Social media has made it far to easy to be a cowardly bully. Everyday I see at least one post that is obviously meant to make someone or some group feel bad about themselves. Granted, I have several friends who are already combatting this trend by posting encouraging words every time they are online, but the problem is still prevalent.

What does one have to gain from being mean-spirited and hate-filled? What good can possibly come from slandering someone publicly with no consideration for who else could be affected by your rant? Does it invoke a feeling of power to seek one’s own revenge? Does it make you feel better about yourself to know that someone feels miserable about themselves at your hands?

I would venture to say that for the most part, when given these points some consideration, you would think twice before you rapid-fire posted in the midst of your anger or frustration.

One of my favorite Christian authors talks about the beauty of the “pause” and how taking the time to ask yourself 3 questions can drastically change the outcome of any situation:

  1. Are my words kind?
  2. Are my words true?
  3. Are my words necessary? (From LysaTerkeurst.com)

Imagine yourself today with a literal pause button. Before you speak, with your mouth OR your hands, give yourself a moment to think so that you can respond with grace rather than vengeance.

Friends, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, too, hurt & betrayed and desperate for someone to come alongside me and validate my anger. While it may make us feel better in the short-term, it will likely make us feel that much worse once the dust settles and we realize that how we reacted was no better than the original offense. Let’s just agree to make the effort, one day at a time, to choose our words carefully. And when we mess up, know that there is forgiveness and grace to try again tomorrow.


“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” (Proverbs 29:20 NLT)

 

~Practice Active Listening~ January 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:53 am
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Growing up, reading was one of my favorite pastimes. I would get a new book, and within hours, I’d be finished and looking for the next. I always had the ability to tune everyone and everything out and become totally engrossed in the words on the page, becoming a part of the story. I loved discovering the idiosyncrasies of each character, picturing their mannerisms and imaging how they would react to any given situation.

Now with 5 kids under foot, reading has become more of a luxury. The days of tuning out the noise with ease have long since left me. However, the leniency of the last couple of months has afforded me the opportunity to get lost in a good book far more frequently and I think I’ve discovered a little something about myself.

First off, it is worth mentioning that I never just read anything. Anytime something speaks to me, I take notes and revisit it later. I don’t skim past new words, I take the time to stop and look them up (and occasionally send them to my word-nerd friend for her blog). I want to learn as much as I can, in non-fiction & fictional settings alike, because even fiction is riddled with hidden truths.

I have always felt that I am fairly good at reading people. I believe I owe this particular trait to my voracious appetite for reading. I am rarely satisfied with surface feelings, and can usually dodge the pretense that all is well. Prior to my loving Jesus days, I never realized the value of this gift. Now that I’ve served in various areas of ministry, I can see the depths of how it’s helped me to reach out to people. In the same manner that I make notations while reading, when I’m engaged in conversation, I’m tucking away little reminders, noticing facial cues and trying to soak in as much as I can about the other person. I think it’s vital that we are able to tune out any and all distractions when someone is sharing with us, even if the topic of conversation seems insignificant.

I challenge you to ask yourself, are you a good listener? Do your friends have your undivided attention or do they walk away from their time spent with you thinking that there were about a million other places you would have rather been in that moment?  Never underestimate the healing that comes from simply listening. Not everyone is looking for a solution to their problems, sometimes all they need is to be heard.

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Don’t be like the fool.

*A little something extra…be on the lookout for posts inspired my most recent readings.*

 

 

 

~Why Don’t They Like Me?~ January 13, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:25 am
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Book credit can be found in the comment section of this post. Thanks, Blake!*

I came across this snapshot and for the life of me I can’t recall where. I’ve tried to find the book that this exert was taken from, again coming up empty. These words from a single page have resonated with me since the first time I read them. You see, deep down I like to be liked. I want to get along with every person I’ve ever met and for them to think fondly of me and vice versa. It’s childish, really, to think that we can get along with every person who crosses our path. But that is where two short paragraphs, from a book I’ve never read, have given me a bit of freedom.

I truly believe it to be okay to not “be” for everyone. Just as we all have different taste in foods, hobbies, and the like, we have different taste in qualities that we desire in our relationships. The intricacies that define us may make us intolerable to some….but not all. Rather than spend your time trying to force someone’s affection, why not foster the relationships of the ones who do think highly of you?

While I know with assurance I am not for everyone nor is everyone for me, I am adamant that we can and should respect one another in spite of our differences. If you find yourself in the presence of someone who you’re not particularly fond of, or you know without a doubt they can’t stand you, be polite. Try to see that while they may not be your cup of tea, they mean a great deal to someone. That’s the beauty of this life we’ve been given, that we all have the ability to love and plenty of opportunities to receive. Don’t expend too much energy questioning why someone doesn’t like you. It is a far better use of time to celebrate what makes you uniquely, unapologetically you.

“Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 taken from The Living Bible)

 

~Time To Build An Ark~ September 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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This morning I am faced with a tough parenting decision that I really don’t want to deal with, mainly because I know it is going to make me public enemy #1 with the teenagers of the house. I feel like my hand has been forced and it’s either drop the hammer or watch them continue to make poor choices that are changing who they are, even if only bit by bit.

I am here to tell you that being a parent is NOT all fun and tea times. I’ve felt ill over it all morning, trying to brace for the backlash that is surely to come. What, pray tell, could have this mom of five feeling anxious? I’m about to set firmer electronic restrictions. If you have pre-teens or teenagers in your pack then you know what I’m up against.

I’ve spent most of the morning trying to come up with realistic limitations for the household, not just for the children, mom & dad can benefit from a reduction of screen time as well! I decided to take a break from the stress and open up my First Five app for today’s reading. (If you’re not familiar with it, search the app store, you want this one.) And wouldn’t you know there was a little nugget in there that fit this situation just so: “A storm doesn’t mean God forgot us. God remembered Noah and gave him instructions to build the ark. It was Noah’s obedience that kept his family safe when the flood rose.”~Wendy Pope

Here’s the thing when it comes to raising little people who will some day be an active member of society, sometimes you have to make the tough calls for their safety. They likely will not understand where we are coming from or even care to hear us out, but, like Noah, it is OUR job to ensure that we take the proper precautions to guard their hearts and minds against things which can lead to ruin. I loathe being the heavy! I want to be the cool mom that all the kids like and want to hang around. However, that is not my number one priority as a parent.

It’s time for parents to BUILD THE ARK! We have to protect our families, it is our duty. I am not suggesting that we shelter our children to where they are not prepared for the real world. What I am proposing is that we take into careful consideration what we allow them to be a part of, who we permit them to interact with and for the love of all that’s holy….MONITOR THEIR ONLINE PRESENCE!!! I can either be the bad guy or let them be exposed to the real bad guys out there.

We are fighting an uphill battle, friends, let’s help each other along with words of encouragement. I know I’m not the only momma struggling today. prov 22

 

~I Don’t Have Time~ August 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:01 am
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fog(Anyone else freak out when you let this sink in?!)

I don’t know if I’m super sensitive right now because our oldest just started high school and I came to the sudden realization that we only have 4 more years with him, but I’m struggling with the amount of time we actually spend together as a family.

I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom so I do get more time with my children than most. What bothers me is how our days are filled. My kids attend public school so their day starts early, up at 6:45. We rush around packing lunches, getting showers and stuffing backpacks…not my idea of quality time as most days this puts everyone in a foul mood. They spend just over 7 hours in school but it doesn’t end there. One of my kiddos is in band so she is at the school until 5:30, just as I am leaving the house to coach my XC team. Hubs arrives sometime while I’m at practice and eats dinner with 4 of the 5 kids. Runner boy and I shovel it in sometime after 7 depending on how long practice went. The littles have to crash at 8:30 or there is NO getting them up the next day. A quick math problem reveals we spend approximately one hour each weekday together when school is in session. Are you kidding me?!

One would think that weekends would be better, one would be wrong. Saturdays will become filled with invitational meets & band competitions that will cause us to divide and conquer. Sunday we’ll ride to church together, but quickly separate to go to our designated classes. After several hours there, we’ll grab lunch and crash from the exhaustion of the week, maybe a family movie after naptime….hold up, momma forgot she’s low on lunch supplies for the school week so to the grocery I go instead of relaxing with my family!

Y’all, time is fleeting and it scares me to think of how little we are investing into the family that we’ve been blessed with! I am terrified that one day down the road I will wake up to an empty house and broken heart over the number of hours I spent away from the people who mean everything to me! So what do we do?!

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Prov 90:12 ESV)

To me this means taking a quick inventory of what is necessary and what needs to go. Determine your priorities and start eliminating things you do simply out of obligation or because it’s what is expected of you, (or your tribe). There is no glorification in having an overcrowded schedule. You and I will not receive praise for making sure that our family calendar is packed full of clubs, sports, volunteer assignments, etc, etc, etc. I am NOT suggesting that we all become hermits, quitting every activity that means we have to go our separate ways for a time. What I am proposing is that we don’t become so focused on our “to do” list that we spend our days rushing through this one life we are given. I’m so tired of having to say the words “we don’t have time” to my husband and kids. If we have reached the point where we no longer have time for each other, then we are doing something wrong.

Like I said, maybe it’s just me dealing with having a high schooler and the thought that my “baby” starts big kid school next year, but I can’t shake the feeling that my time could be better spent when it comes to my circus and my monkeys. Sending my kids back to school this week was not a relief, it was hard. I know I sound like I’m complaining, and I guess in a way, I am. I have become increasingly jealous of our time. Anyone out there face this same struggle and have some words of wisdom to hand down to young momma’s everywhere dealing with these feelings?

 (I should have warned you all that this was not my most inspirational post ever written…sorry!)