Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~He Protected Me~ April 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:39 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

protection“The Lord protected me when I was under attack.”

Our Pastor spoke these words during his Good Friday message and they have resonated with me since. There have been a few instances in my life when I felt like I was under attack.

At times, the attacker has been a visible enemy. I’ve had my reputation on the line when gossipers chose to spread their distorted version of events to anyone who would listen. I’ve been in “relationships” where my vulnerability was exploited. There have been a handful of times when a man has used his strength to control me. And yet, in each of these circumstances, God shielded me from ruin. No irreparable damage was done. I’ve been blessed with true friends & family whose opinion of me cannot be swayed by slander, who would never take advantage or lay a malicious hand on me.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” (Psalm 138:7 ESV)

Then there have been times when my adversary was the one who specializes in the sneak attack, Satan. Here’s the thing about the onslaught of the devil, you don’t always realize that you are under siege, that is until it’s all said and done and you look back on the situation. That’s why the Bible warns us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)  He is crafty and creeps in when your defenses are down. He will take advantage of your weaknesses, remind you of all your failures and convince you that you have no future. Even in these times, the Lord has prevailed, reminding me of who HE says I am.

But that’s not what struck me about this statement from Pastor. What stirred in my spirit was the profound truth that God protected me even in the moments when I didn’t know I needed it. And by that I mean, He protected me from myself. If there has ever been someone I could accuse of singlehandedly attempting to destroy my life, it would be me. I have belittled myself. I’ve made insanely bad choices. I’ve sabotaged perfectly healthy relationships in favor of the not-so-healthy variety. I’ve hidden my need for help from loved ones and ran hard & fast from God. And yet, I am still here. Still loved by God. Forgiven of all the crappy mistakes I’ve made and welcomed back with eagerness into His loving arms. He has saved me from ruin.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)

“The Lord protected me when I was under attack.”

 

~I’m Worn~ February 4, 2014

As you know from my previous post, this girl was dealing with some junk.  All of my demons that I thought I had under control decided to rear their hideously ugly heads in unison…they’re thoughtful like that.  So I made a break for it.

While I’m sure curiosity has gotten the best of some of you; the specifics of where I went, for how long, etc; those minor details have little to no bearing on what was accomplished in my time of solitude so keeping them to myself.

I do intend to share over time things that were revealed to me during the quiet, but I wanted you all to know where I started.

Worn.

I was worn.

There is one particular verse in the song I shared that sums it up:

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Crazy, isn’t it?  How can someone who seems to have it all together from the outside be a hot mess on the inside?!  That answer is easy, I like to call it repressor-itis, (not a word but it fits).  This would be the disease that takes over your life when you choose to cram all of your emotions, struggles & malfunctions down really deep where you think no one can see them, not even God.

I had somehow managed to place the most unrealistic expectations on my life all while convincing myself that it was everyone else who had set the demands.  The standard of excellence that I had was so high that I constantly found myself falling short, way short.  I felt like a failure, a liar and a hypocrite.  The worst part is that I was taking it out on everyone around me.  After all, it was their fault I felt this way.  That is when I knew that it was time for an intervention…with Jesus.

When I allowed myself to really stop and reflect on all of my baggage, I realized that the problem wasn’t everyone else, it was me.  And I didn’t like that, not at first anyway.  Admitting that the issues where internal was hard because it meant that I couldn’t place the blame on anyone other than me.  Then it was like a little light went off somewhere in the very deep, very dark recesses of my mind.  If the problem is within me, then it is within my ability to repair it.  With the help of the Lord, of course.  Because people let me tell you, this girl has so many major malfunctions that a team of shrinks, pastors and self-help gurus would flee if they caught a glimpse of all the crazy that’s going on in my head.  But Jesus, He’s got this.  There is not one thing about me that He can’t handle.

And for the first time in a long time, I breathed a little easier.  Do I feel like the battle is over, um, no.  I do believe that the worst is behind me.  I must admit that I was terrified to be alone at first, I was scared of what I might discover.  Here comes the kicker.  What I discovered is that I kind of like me.  Not the me that I try to convince everyone that I am, the “I-got-it-all-figured-out-church-lady-who-never-needs-anything-from-anyone.”  I’m talking about the real me that most people have never seen.  You know what else I remembered?  I enjoy reading…and dancing…and singing…and letting the sun hit my face just right…and listening to silence…and laughing, out loud!  And I didn’t feel guilty, not one bit, that I can enjoy being away from my kids.

So, in a nutshell, there it is.  The truth.  You may be a little disappointed to know these things about me.  Or maybe you will feel a little liberated yourself.  Because if “super mom”, (as some of you nut jobs have dubbed me), can be a bit more forgiving of herself, then maybe you can too.

For those of you who have been crazy with worry…it’s ok…I’m back 🙂  A new and improved version of the girl you thought was long gone.

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.  You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.”

(Psalm 71:20-21 NIV)

 

~Today is your last day~ January 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:53 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

should havesWhat if today was really your last day?

Would you have regrets?

Would you be content with the life that you have lived to this point if it suddenly came to a screeching halt?

While today might not be your last day, it very well could be.  So, ask yourself this….knowing that your time here is limited, would you change anything about your life right now?  Is the change something within your means to make?  If so, what are you waiting for? 

I am painfully aware that this post is nothing  more than a series of questions with no real answers which goes against everything I’ve written up to this point.  For whatever reason I have found myself in a perpetual state of what ifs.  I can’t say that I am lost, but confused and searching, yes.  Time for some me time.  A time of refreshing, where no one is looking to me to meet their needs so that I can tend to my own.  While this may sound incredibly selfish, (because it is), it is also absolutely necessary.  Please forgive my transparency.  I hope that it doesn’t disappoint my readers to know that I am human and battle the same stumbling blocks as you.

I will return to blogging, soon most likely.  Maybe even in a day or two.  But if it takes me longer, just pray for me.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  (Mark 6:31)

Yeah, no time to eat (think, sleep, etc), I can relate.

Blessings, friends.

 

~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)

 

~Reflection~ September 12, 2013

self-reflectionThe leader of our church’s young adult ministry has implemented a pretty interesting teaching technique.  He has asked some members of the church and community to sit in and be interviewed about their lives.  By allowing them to share their testimonies, he is giving these young adults real life examples of how Jesus can take any mess and turn it around.

This chic is up next in the hot seat!  Last night we sat down and did a pre-interview so that he would have an idea of what topics to discuss…and which ones were off limits!  At first I was like, “you want to ask me what?!”  But in my attempt at being completely transparent, I left no area of my ugly past untouched.  We covered it all!  The mistakes, the day I realized enough was enough, the times I still struggled after I accepted Jesus as my savior and my favorite part, the victories.

And it was amazing to me just how much I had forgotten.

All the things that I’ve overcome.

The issues that I still have.

The promises that God has made to me.

The promises that I have made to God.

The past can be a dangerous place to meddle, but when visited for the right reasons, can cause you to reflect on how you became the person that you are right now.  Had I not endured some of the hardships in my younger years, I feel sure I would not be half the woman I am today.  Rehashing some of those things with a neutral party reminded me of many things but most importantly, it reminded me that I am redeemed, set free and have much to give thanks for.  It reignited a flame that I wasn’t even aware had begun to dwindle ever so slightly.

Going in to this project, I will admit I was a bit intimidated about sharing very personal details of my life with people I barely “know.”  However, after my experience last night, I must say I’m really looking forward to sharing my testimony….the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright atrocious…all so that someone else may find the same freedom and peace that I now have the privilege to walk in.

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

(Galatians 5:13 NLT)