Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~The Thrill Is Gone~ June 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 1:36 pm
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This morning I went for a run with my usual running partner.  Initially, all was right with the world and we were settled in to a decent pace.  About a mile and a half in, my body started to resist.  Try as I might, I couldn’t will the cramps away nor could I outrun them.  At the 2.5 mark, I had to walk.

I left feeling somewhat frustrated.  It seems the more I try to do the “right thing,” the more I am met with opposition.  I try to eat healthy, for the most part.  I mean we all need to cheat once in a while!  I exercise on a regular basis & I drink enough water to hydrate a camel.  And yet I’m not reaching the goals that I have set for myself.

It’s enough to make me want to say the heck with it, grab a box of Krispy Cremes and chase them down with a 2 liter of Coke!! It’s really hard to keep at something when:

  1. It’s harder than you expected.
  2. You hit an obstacle.
  3. The outcome isn’t what you had anticipated.

While my current struggle is with health & fitness, I have been in this exact predicament in my marriage, in parenting and in my writing ministry. So what does one do when they reach a lull in life or ministry?  When the initial excitement wears off, you lose momentum & frustration sets in, do you throw in the towel?

Let me take you to my favorite chapter in the Bible, Hebrews 12.

  1. Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.  While this applies directly to sin, it can mean so much more.  What is it that you are struggling with today?  Is there something you can remove from your life that would help you to succeed?
  2. Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  Really?  One might ask how endurance is possible in the midst of fatigue and when the odds just aren’t in your favor.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.
  3. 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.  Doing the right thing is rarely going to be the easy way.  It is often the path less chosen and you may even find yourself on it completely alone.  Fighting for your marriage when it seems all hope is lost; staying firm in your parenting convictions when “so-and-sos” mom let’s their kid do it; sticking with your calling when it doesn’t seem to be doing anybody any good; buckling down on your health & fitness when you plateau & the benefit isn’t clear-none of these things are easy, but they are virtuous.

It is normal to become weary at any task throughout life.  Quitting is enticing, especially when the only alternative is to plow through that which seems impossible.  Let me assure you, eyes on Jesus=nothing is impossible.6a0a33efe69987c2c803a7c5e62bcfd7

 

~Chin Down, Eyes Forward, Arms Moving~ April 15, 2014

Last night I attended a track meet in which two of my children were participants.  Track meets can be fun to watch.  If you have 5 hours to spare, I highly recommend you attend one.  This particular meet was kinda rough as the skies had opened up just at the start and completely saturated the track, sand pits, runways….and bleachers.  Boo.

The kids were troopers though and went to work.  The majority of the runners participate in multiple events.  My two are distance runners meaning their events included the 1600,800 and 4 x 400 relay.  A total of 1.75 competitive miles.  As you might imagine, while the night drags on…and on….and on, they get a little run down.

Exhaustion sets in and it’s as if the weight of their heads is too much for their necks to hold up.  They give in to the pull and let their heads drop back, mouths wide open, sucking in air.

The sound of competitors feet, hard and fast behind them, tempts them to look over their shoulders to see just how much they are closing the gap.

Event after event, their bodies start to wear down and their once perfect form starts to deteriorate.  Their arms swing wildly as they approach the finish line one more time.

Myself and the fellow momma bears, (and 1 nana), scream frantically from the stands “Come on!!  You can do it! One more lap!!  You’re almost there!!”

But one coach on the infield caught my attention.  He was standing about 50 meters from the finish line and every time one of his kids would come by, this is what he would say, “Chin down, eyes forward and keep those arms moving front to back.”

Words of wisdom.  And I’m not talking about strictly for running.

Life gets tough and the burden of it all weighs you down.  You drop your head in defeat.  You start looking backwards, thinking the past was so much better than the present.  You decide you just don’t care anymore about doing things the “right way” and you start flailing.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

When you’re tired of trying and feel like giving up, that’s when you need to buckle down.

When the enemy is nipping at your heels, attacking you in every aspect of your life, keep your focus.

When it seems you’ve given your very best and it’s all for nothing, don’t lose your form.  Keep doing what you know to be right and true all the way through to the finish.

Chin down, eyes forward, arms moving.

That is how we will win the most important race we’ll ever run.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. 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.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” (Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT)

champion

One more time:  CHIN DOWN, EYES FORWARD, ARMS MOVING.

 

~Our Personal Cheerleader~ June 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:55 am
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cheerleadingThis past Saturday, my runner participated in a 5K race in our hometown.  He hadn’t been training much, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out for him, especially in the heat.  This particular course is pretty challenging with lots of curves and one too many uphills and not nearly enough downs.  So I decided to sit this one out and become his cheerleader for the day.

At the mile marker, my momma and aunt met up with him to push him to run his hardest.  At the mile and a half point, I took over giving him breathing tips and encouragement as we ran.

“Momma, my knee hurts.”

“Push through it son.  You’re halfway there at 12 minutes in.  You can do this.”

I patted him on the back and split off to let him run the next mile solo as I used backstreets to get closer to the finish.

Anxiously I waited near the top of the last hill, watching closely for his neon pink socks.  Finally I saw him.  I glanced at my watch and I knew if he pushed it, he was going to set a new personal best.  So I did what any momma would do, I screamed like a lunatic at him to hustle.  As soon as he met up with me, I started sprinting.  I could see how tired he was but I knew he wouldn’t back off if I stayed right with him, making him run harder and talking him through the rest of the way.

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

“No, you’re not.  Look at your time, son.  Home stretch….now RUN!!”

My aunt met us near the finish and together, with my momma, hubs and the rest of our kids looking on, we basically raced him for the finish.  The clock flashed 25:08.  He’d done it.  He beat his best time by nearly a minute.  He received a 3rd place trophy in his age division which only made his achievement all the more sweeter.

Afterwards, he told us that he couldn’t have done it without all of us cheering him on and giving him the boost he needed to go faster.  It also helped that my momma had gone along the route with outdoor chalk and wrote “Go Peyton” across the road in a couple of places.  At one point during our final sprint, I had thought to myself, “you’re pushing him too hard” but I didn’t back down.  Seeing how proud he was of himself and hearing him express how thankful he was that we had been there for him made me realize that I had been right to push him.

I know another story about a parent who pushes their child.  The parent is Jesus and each one of us are His children.  Our lives are very much like this 5K course: challenging, full of uphill climbs and unexpected turns.  But just like my family and I were there to coach my son through his run, Jesus is right by our sides screaming words of encouragement and driving us to be our very best.  There will be times in each of our lives that we will be exhausted.  We may cry out to God, “I just can’t go on.”  But He will be there to tell us that we can.  He’ll push us beyond what we think we can handle to prove that because of His love for us, He will bring us through to the finish.  Our Father wants to see us succeed and He will do His part to see that we do.  And although He may not use sidewalk chalk to give us encouraging words, He has given us the Scriptures which are full of “cheers” to help us through life’s most difficult struggles.

For Peyton, having his family by his side made him feel empowered.  We can experience that same feeling by “knowing in our knowers” that Jesus is by our sides, screaming “Go (insert your name here)!!!”

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not grow faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31 NLT)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. 

But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33 NIV)