Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~My Very Own Road~ November 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:10 am
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roaf=d“God never changes his mind about the people he calls. He never decides to take back the blessings he has given them.” (Romans 11:29 ERV)

How differently will you approach your Monday having read this one verse of Scripture?

Let it settle deep within in your spirit, stamp it across the fabric of your heart, so that the promise it declares resonates in your soul.

No matter how ill-equipped you feel today, regardless of the numerous times you have failed, God has not and will not remove His hand from your life.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

He knows you by name and has called you according to His purpose designed specifically for you. Do you know what that means?

Simply put, God has engineered a plan for each and every one of His children with our individual characteristics and strengths in mind. That is why my calling looks different from yours and why the paths we must take to fulfil our purpose may seem drastically opposite.

There have been days and I am sure, more to come, when I look around and see people whose lives have numerous similarities to my own and yet it seems they never experience the same hardships that I face. I find myself asking God, “Why? Why me…again?” If I actually allow Him to speak to me through His Word, I can see that He is refining me like silver in a fiery furnace or pruning away that which is unnecessary in order make room for new growth.

That is when I can read the words of 2 Corinthians 12 and embrace the path God has me on. Though it may be rocky, filled with potholes, and at times treacherous, it’s my course, just for me, and He has already gone before me to make a way where there seems to be no way.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(verses 9-10 ESV)

 

~Ungrateful~ August 7, 2014

Recently I have found myself dealing with a large dose of resentment with a side of bitterness.

I blame social media.

Every time I log on, I’m bombarded with vacation photos. Before y’all get all judgy on me, let’s just remember that I’m human too & deal with the same feelings and obstacles that everyone else faces.

It seems like every person I know has been somewhere fantastic during summer break. Pictures of water slides, amusement parks, mountain cabins and the beach have not be in short supply. With every smiling face standing in front of a beautiful or exciting backdrop, I felt my anger go a little deeper.

My husband works incredibly hard. We are not reckless spenders. We are faithful in our tithes. Seriously, Lord, don’t we deserve a break too?! I hadn’t been praying about much but I was whining about plenty!

The other day as I sat wallowing in self-pity, I started scrolling through the camera roll on my phone. Self-pity quickly turned to guilt. We are so blessed with wonderful friends and family who have included us in some serious good times. Rather than be thankful for those moments of fellowship, I had focused in on the one thing we hadn’t been able to do.

Guilt has been replaced with gratitude.

As you can see, we may not have been on a vacation in the traditional sense of the word, but we have done our best to enjoy every bit of this break within the constraints of a tight budget. 

I may never understand why some struggle more than others, but what I can do is be thankful for what I do have-a healthy family and friends who love on us in ways I could never repay them for. If you have found yourself in a similar “whoa is me” pit today, will you join me in looking for at least one thing you can give thanks for?

 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

I may not like it, I certainly don’t understand it, but I do firmly believe that whatever happens in this life is directly in line with what God deems best for those of us who believe in Him.

 

 

~You Gonna Scratch That Itch?~ July 22, 2014

For just about a week now, I have been trapped in some twisted version of Hell. Sleep has evaded me night after night as I lay tormented. My mind has been clouded,  rendering me completely unable to focus. All I can think about is that itch that I desperately want to scratch.

That’s right, friends, I have quite the impressive poison ivy rash. I got you, didn’t I?!

Ok, so this may not seem like a teachable moment but stick with me.

At the peak of my hellacious discomfort, when my ability to reason was rapidly slipping away, the thought of how heavenly it would feel to scratch almost made me cave. Digging my nails into the blistered skin would have brought instant gratification. Miraculously, I managed to regain my composure and resist the temptation because I realized that the “oh that feels good” feeling would have been temporary. Had I given in to this little desire, I would have opened myself up to infection and pretty much guaranteed that my recovery time would be extended. So in the end, I was able to rationalize that one moment of “oh yeah” wasn’t worth the potential consequences.

While my choice of analogy may seem silly, you can see where I’m going with this. We all have found ourselves in this type of predicament at least once in our lives. What do you do when you’re faced with an opportunity to do something that not only would feel good but that you really want to do?!

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.”

First off, you need to realize that you are equally susceptible to temptation as Joe Schmo who has never set foot in a church. Your life as a Christian does not protect you from being tempted. Secondly, you are not the only person to face this struggle. Regardless of what your demon is, someone else is fighting that same battle right now.

“And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

(1st Corinthians 10:13)

There it is, a promise from God that He won’t allow you to be overwhelmed. Not only that, but He will provide you with a means of escape. All that you & I need to do is look.

The next time you find yourself facing an itch that you desperately want to scratch, take a look at the consequences. Is that moment of pleasure worth a heinous infection that will poison other areas of your life?a53ca0f130778460c5521725ae02df3b

 

~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)

 

~Strength in my Weakness~ December 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:21 am
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So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT)

I don’t like to struggle.

I don’t like to be uncomfortable.

And I definitely don’t like being insulted.

However, these verses have helped me to realize that if my life was always hunky-dory, then I would really never have reason to rely on God.

Our Pastor has often said, “The Bible doesn’t say we should rejoice because of our circumstances but that we can rejoice in them.”  I have to remind myself of this when life isn’t going according to my plan.  I don’t have to give thanks for troubles, but I do need to learn from them.  Every challenge we face is an opportunity for growth.  When I choose to wallow in self-pity, I’m wasting the chance to strengthen my faith, increase my endurance and deepen my reliance on God.

Speaking from lots of experience on this issue, I know how incredibly difficult it can be to find joy when a loved one is sick, the debt collectors have you on speed dial or your marriage is on a slippery slope.  How can anyone expect you to be joyful when your life is a wreck, right?

You can rejoice right where you are, no matter how bad it seems, because God has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.

You can celebrate because He has said the battle is not yours but his and that you have already been given the victory.

You can hold your head high with a smile on your face because His word assures us that he who began this good work in us will not relent until it is finished.

So as hard as it may be, shift your focus from your struggles and thank God for the character he is building in you.  Think of it as if you were an athlete in training…by the time God is done working on you and me, our strength and endurance will rival that of the elite.

humility

 

~Quit Or Endure~ June 20, 2013

dont-quit“Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.  Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule…sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things…and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”

(Hebrews 10:32-34)

God calls each of us to serve in different ways.  Even when we are walking according to His word & serving Him faithfully, there may be days when we feel like giving up; the struggle is too great & not only can you not see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can’t even find the tunnel!

So what do you do when you feel like giving up?  When you’ve been stretched to thin, your limit was reached long ago and you have nothing left to give anyone, including yourself?  The way I look at it, you have two options:

1.  Quit- This of course will be the easiest of two.  You can simply throw in the towel and walk
away with what you have left.

2. Endure- This one is going to hurt a little.  Do you know that the word endure means to suffer patiently?!  I don’t know about you, but in this feeble mind the words suffer and patiently should not be allowed to coexist.

However, loving the Lord is not our ticket to a life of ease.  We are subject to the same troubles as those who do not love Him.  The difference is we are not alone in our suffering.

“So do not throw away (your) confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you!  PATIENT ENDURANCE is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised!”

(Hebrews 10:35-36)

When you feel like quitting, just keep going.  God never gives up on you, so don’t give up on Him!  And here’s the kicker and why I will always choose option #2, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.”  (Matthew 24:13)

Please know that I am not trying to downplay the struggles that many of you are facing, I simply want to encourage you not to quit.  Even when it feels as if you can’t take another step, take it.  God may be working on your breakthrough right now and you don’t want to walk away just before your miracle…do you?

 

~Stupid Devil~ May 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:38 am
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This is not the blog that I had originally started to post today.  However, my extreme frustration has inspired me to take a different route.  Apparently, I have seriously ticked-off the devil and he is coming at me with everything he has so this is my rebuttal.

Dear Satan,

You have no authority over my life.  No matter what stumbling block you throw onto my path, I have already been given the victory.  I refuse to believe the lies that you are currently filling my mind with.  I will continue to serve the Lord in every area of my life no matter how many times you try to trip me up.  You don’t scare me.  You are nothing more than a bully with self-esteem issues.  So you can take your attack elsewhere, it will prove ineffective with this girl.  Consider yourself “nanny-nanny-boo-booed”!

Signed-Me

Now that I have that off my chest, maybe I can function properly for the rest of the day.  Please excuse my non-traditional post.  I thought just maybe someone else might need to tell the devil off this morning too. 

“The wicked plot against the godly; they snarl at them in defiance.  But the Lord just laughs….”

(Psalm 37:12-13 NLT)