Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Escaping Burnout~ November 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:47 am
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A wise man recently said, “Burnout does not come because you’re doing too much, it comes because you are doing too much that has no purpose.”

Thanks, Pastor Chad, I just love it when you stomp all over my feet from the pulpit!

Isn’t it amazing how one simple statement can be so convicting?! I can honestly say at this particular season of my life, I am not feeling that overwhelming exhaustion that comes with being stretched too thin. However, I have been there often enough that this spoke volumes to me.

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought maybe we could benefit from this little reminder:

You can’t do it all, you’re not supposed to do it all and half of what you’re freaking out about bears little to no significance to the general well-being of you and yours.

You are welcome.

Now, how do we avoid overcommitting ourselves to the point that we go about our tasks begrudgingly? I would suggest evaluating how you dispense of your time and talents.

  1. Are you serving out of a heart that feels compelled to do so or simply because you feel obligated?

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Eph 6:7 NIV)

If you know going in that your heart is not in it, you can be certain that it will be apparent by how you carry out the task. Wouldn’t it be better to gracefully say no, allowing an opportunity for someone who is passionate about it to say yes, rather than give less than 100%?

  1. Who are you aiming to please with your actions, God or man?

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10 NIV)

News flash, you can’t please everyone! So if your only reason for giving of yourself is to make someone happy, don’t go there.

  1. Are you seeking praise or recognition for your good deeds? (ouch, ouch, ouch)

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 6:1 ESV)

Check your motives…God already knows them. If you’re “helping out” so that your name will appear in the “thanks” column, you are not the person for the job.

There are plenty of opportunities for us to fill our days with useless busy work, leaving no room for the things that truly matter. In the coming days when it will be tempting to overextend ourselves, our budgets and our calendars, take pause and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your actions. If it doesn’t bring fulfillment to your life or lift up someone else’s, is it really that important? Choose to fill your days with that which brings a sense of purpose to your life and enriches the lives of those around you.

purpose

 

~Called With Confidence~ November 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:17 am
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...because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too...

…because I love this quote and the ballet slippers too…

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV)

What is it that you feel called to do in the Kingdom of God?

I’ve met so many people who question that they’re called to do anything because they doubt their gifts. God has blessed each one of us with specific talents that can be used to glorify Him. Whether or not we choose to do so is entirely up to us. Most of the God given talents we have can be used for worldly gain or to further the Kingdom. God will not force our hand to do His work, He seeks those who are willing then He makes us able.

Therein lies the second problem we face when operating in our calling, we don’t see ourselves as worthy of sharing The Gospel because we feel ill-equipped due to our countless mistakes or faults. Stop that! You have been redeemed, washed clean from your past, it is not to be used as a crutch to keep you from doing what YOU KNOW God is calling you to.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor 26-29 NLT)

One of my favorite sayings from author Rick Warren states, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the people He calls.” Do you get that?! The God of the universe will provide the resources, He only needs you to say “Here I am, Lord, send me.”

Therefor, be confident in your calling. If you don’t believe in your “product,” you might as well quit trying to sell it. Because if you don’t buy into it, no one else will.

{Because} “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29 ESV):

  • Let your actions be fueled by your passion.
  • Speak boldly for Jesus, after all, does He not do the same for us when He intercedes to the Father on our behalf?
  • Stop being a scarey-cat, whom or what shall you fear with the God of Heaven’s armies on your side?
 

~My Helpmate~ November 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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Yesterday we attended the regional meet for our cross country team. This was our final stop before state championships. My nerves were frayed as they often are in these types of situations but luckily for me, my calmer, better half was able to attend.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t tell you how my rockstar husband ensured that our day went as smoothly as possible.

First off, you need to know that yesterday’s weather conditions were horrendous. For those of you familiar with cross country, you are aware that the courses are on grass so you also know that rain is not your friend. Well, it rained the entire time.

Cue the husband.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 4 ESV)

He took a half day from work in order to be there with us and honestly, I worked the poor man like a rented mule. He hauled our ginormous cooler all the way to the pine trees where the teams set up camp. I should probably mention that the parking lot is precisely half a mile away from the campsites. Yes, a half mile, in the rain, on nothing but slick mud and chewed up grass. Once we got into the sanctuary of the trees, we quickly realized that the rain was too heavy for the canopy of pines to shield us from the elements.

“Honey….would you be willing to go get our tent?”

You guessed it, the tent was in that same parking lot, half a mile away. But off he went to haul our rather large, incredibly awkward tent all by his lonesome. This feat alone earned him some serious bonus points, but wait, there’s more! One of our guys FORGOT HIS RUNNING SHOES! We asked every team we knew and not a soul had extra shoes. So what do you suppose husband of the year did? He traded shoes with our runner, cramming his feet into boots at least a full size too small, and spent the rest of the day with his toes curled.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Heb 13:16 ESV)

My man was “Johnny on the spot” the entire day. Whatever I needed, whatever I couldn’t or wouldn’t do, he filled in the gap. This morning as I reflected on how differently the day would have gone had Jamie not been there, this Scripture came to mind:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen 2:18 KJV)

Today we would use the word helpmate. However if you look at the origin of the words in Hebrew, help comes from the word azar, meaning to surround, protect or aid. Meet is from kenegdo which translates as, corresponding to, counterpart to, equal to matching.

I’d say that sums up our marriage quite nicely. Not only do we protect one another as husband and wife, but with our combined talents and strengths, we make up a whole. Where I am weak, he is strong. What he lacks, I make up. Not to be cheesy, but we complete one another, just as the Lord intended when He created the institute of marriage.

Take a look at your helpmate today, paying careful attention to the numerous ways you are polar opposites. Instead of viewing your differences as obstacles to overcome, focus on how they strengthen you as individuals and as a couple. Now thank God for the gift He gave you, I know I will.

IMG_1397

 

~Learn to Lean~ September 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:31 am
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Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask me, “How do you do it with 5 kids?!” This question is usually accompanied by a look that says, seriously lady, what’s the secret?

Well, I keep a fully stocked mini-bar, my Xanax never runs out and I have a personal assistant.

Totally kidding.

The truth is, I have learned to lean.

Very recently a worn momma asked how I manage my kids overlapping schedules. I looked her dead in the eye and said, “Honey, you’ve got to learn to ask for help!”

You see I am incredibly blessed with a fabulous group of women who lighten my load, encourage my weary self and keep this scatter-brained momma updated so as not to forget some vital activity my kids are supposed to participate in! Today I’d like to give honor where it is due and sing the praises of a few of my ladies…aka…saints.

First up, not surprisingly, is my super fantastic Mom. Without her, I’m pretty sure I’d have thrown in the towel a long time ago on this whole child rearing thing. She talks me down & reminds me that the teenage years are just a season and there’s no need for me to threaten to sale my kids or to throw myself off the back deck. When she’s here, I never have to ask her for help, she simply swoops in and does whatever is needed. She does dishes, hauls the bags for our cross country team and keeps me sane in the midst of the war zone that our home can sometimes be. She is, hands down, my number one girlfriend.

Then there are the sweet sisters from my life group. God gave me the bestest bunch of women to do life with, you should totally be jealous. Carol helps me with my band girl when my coaching schedule prevents me from being available to run her to and fro. Beyond that, she’s my Jesus girl who keeps things in perspective when I can’t see the good in my struggles. Sarah takes care of my dancing queen every week, again because of my coaching commitments. She treats my girl to an after school treat, gets her dressed & ready and even brings her home afterwards! As if that weren’t enough, she sends me reminders often that she is praying for me. Crystal is my encourager. Even when I know I’m failing miserably, she somehow manages to make me feel like supermom. Tina is my life preserver. We live close to one another and I can’t count the times she’s jumped in and helped me out when I’ve forgotten something or someone! Then there’s Rachel. Not only do my little girls adore her, but so do I. This woman gives me complete freedom to be my crazy, messed up self without fear of judgment.

See?! I told you to be jealous! These women are rock stars!

Now for Julia. My mom friend who has also found herself seriously outnumbered. Her 4-1 ratio helps her relate to my 5-1. There are many parallels in our lives that made us fast friends. She’s a writer, coach, health concious, stay-at-home mom who’s parenting style is pretty dang similar to mine. She’s the only person I know who burns up the roads more than me and reminds me we’re human so it’s completely okay to be exhausted beyond comprehension. But best of all, she’s my Friday morning running partner. On these runs, we vent, dream, encourage and solve all the worlds problems while we sweat and beat out our frustrations on the pavement. She makes me feel like I’m not the last of a dying breed as we fight to teach our kids “old school” values in the midst of a culture that promotes self over selflessness. In my opinion, every mom needs a Julia in their lives.

Nowadays it seems women are so busy trying to out-mom one another that we miss out on our most valuable asset, each other! I for one am happy to admit I would be lost without my tribe! We were not created to compete but to complement. So let’s do as the Word instructs us in Galatians 5 & 1st Thessalonians 6: “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”IMG_2448

 

~Someone Else!~ March 26, 2014

“Honey, I have to do it!  If I don’t, who will?”

“Someone else!”

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

How many of my lady friends can relate to the above conversation?  Another project comes up and you feel obligated to say yes because you just know that if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.  Many, many times I have agreed to take on something that I really didn’t want to because I succumbed to the pressure of “everyone else has said no, we need you.”

Several years ago while I was pregnant with my Emma, I was being pulled in about 15 different directions.  I was volunteering for my kids school 4 days a week, teaching preschoolers Sunday school, singin’ in the choir & the praise team, serving on the PTA….you get the idea.  I remember vividly one Sunday morning, the praise team had just finished practicing and an elder started to approach me as I came down the stairs.  I had a sense of dread because the look on his face said, “I’m about to ask you to do one more thing….”  Keep in mind, folks, I wasn’t just pregnant, I was ginormously pregnant!  He proceeded to make his request for my assistance in another area of ministry.  As soon as I opened my mouth to give a reluctant ok, my man stood up from behind the drums, pointed one of his drumsticks at us both and said, “NO!  She says no!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!  Truthfully though, I was relieved.  I was about to add one more thing to my already overloaded calendar and it was something that I had zero interest in.  Initially I felt guilt-ridden because I was panicked that since I said no too, that this task was going to fall through the cracks.  Everything in me wanted to call him up and say, “I changed my mind, I’ll do it.”  But I resisted, (with the help of my voice of reason, aka, Jamie).

Here’s the deal, friends, you don’t have to do it all.  I know, I know…there are only a handful of people who do everything all the time because no one else will step up.  It’s ok, I promise you.  If it needs to get done, someone else will see to it.  It is entirely acceptable to choose where you will serve according to the gifts and talents that you have been blessed with by God.  Don’t believe me, take a look at the Truth, and let it set you free!

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

(Romans 12:6-8 NLT)

Kindly take note to the fact that nowhere in the above Scripture does it say that He has given all of these things to any one person.  This is why we are the body, working together not independently, to meet the needs of His people.  This obviously applies to the church and it’s various ministries, but can also be used to gauge how you book the rest of your calendar as well.  calling

 

~Openhanded Generosity~ February 13, 2014

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.  If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

(Proverbs 3:27-28 NLT)

“Let me pray about it first.”

We have all likely been on the giving and receiving end of this statement.  While some things do require time in prayer, others…not so much.

Have you ever felt that nudge in your spirit to give to someone?

You may feel led to hand that guy with the cardboard sign a $20.

Perhaps you see an elderly woman with the bare necessities in her shopping cart behind you and you think, “I should pay for her items.”

It could be the single mom counting out change to buy diapers that catches your eye.  You have extra, should you help her out?

The neighbor’s spouse down the street who you’ve never met suddenly passes away.  You think about taking them a meal but that would be weird, right?

All of the above scenarios are times when you need to act, not go home and meditate on it for a bit.  The Lord sets before us opportunities to be his hands & feet, the last thing we want to do is squander those moments.  Here is a good way for to know instantly what you should do:  Will it honor the Lord?  If the answer is yes, go for it!  That hesitation you feel about helping a complete stranger is not the Lord.  Countless times in Scripture, He encourages us to open our hands to the needy, our homes to the homeless and our love to the unlovable.  If it’s within your means to help your fellow man, whom the Lord loves just as much as he loves you, then do it!  No need to stop and pray, sing a hymn or look for signs and wonders.  If you are low on funds and think you can’t possibly help your neighbor when you can’t support yourself, you’ve got time & talents too, don’t you?  Giving is so much more than a handful of cash.

You will find that once you start to look for ways to be a blessing to others that it becomes one of the most natural, fulfilling things you will ever do.  Beyond that, when you give to others, you are opening the door for God to bless you!

“Honor the Lord with the best part of everything you produce.  Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.”

(Proverbs 3:9-10 NLT)

We honor the Lord with our tithe AND offerings.  It is required of us to give back to God the 10% but can you even imagine how he beams with pride when we go above that to help those who are less fortunate?

sacrifice of giving

Day 3 of our Book of Proverbs study…give, give, give.  That is all.

 

~Selfless, Not Selfish~ August 26, 2013

I have a confession to make, the last couple of weeks I have been incredibly selfish.  I had completely shut my eyes to the needs of those around me and solely focused on that which affected me and my family.  I am ashamed to admit that I had the attitude of “what about me (us)?”

What about our financial needs?

What about my physical aches and pains?

What about my kids struggles?

And the worst of all, what about what I want?

The sad thing is that I didn’t even realize I had become so consumed with self until our Pastor prayed a prayer yesterday.  Now, I knew I wasn’t myself.  I had been feeling grumpy and agitated, impatient and just mean and I couldn’t figure out why.  Now I know, my focus was on my circumstances instead of on God.  I was behaving like a child with my hands out…not to extend help but expecting someone to drop something in them.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

(Philippians 2:4 ESV)

We were not placed on this earth to receive but to give.  I know that, deep down, I know that.  But unfortunately there are times I get side-tracked with shiny or comfy things and I forget just how blessed I am.  I don’t have to serve others, I get to.  We are a privileged people just because we belong to God who teaches us how to love others more than we love ourselves.

At the end of yesterday’s service, Pastor shared Romans 12 in it’s entirety as it is written in The Message.  It is an incredibly powerful paraphrase and I would encourage you all to read it.  For now, I will share the portion that spoke to me the loudest:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Lord, forgive me of my selfishness.  Help me to be deeply rooted in you so that my eyes are always open, my hands and feet always ready and my heart always willing.  Amen

romans 12

 

~ABCs of Christian Life~ July 16, 2013

abcAccept without alterations
Believe without barriers
Care without caution
Dream without doubts
Encourage without envy
Follow without fear
Give without gain
Hope without hesitation
Invest without interest
Journey without judging
Kneel without knowing
Love without limitations
Minister without manipulation
Nurture without notoriety
Obey without omission
Pray without prerequisites
Question without quarrel
Respect without restrictions
Serve without selfishness
Testify without timidity
Understand without umbrage
Volunteer without vanity
Worship without waning
X-emplify without x-piration
Yield without yearning
Zig without zagging

 Being a follower of Christ is so much more than just going to church on Sunday.  Hopefully this fun format will help us to remember how we should live daily as we interact with others.  Do you have any ABCs you’d like to add?

(By the way, I am well aware that exemplify and expiration don’t actually start with ‘x’ but that’s a hard letter so I had to get creative!)