Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Mommin’ Is Hard~ February 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:09 am
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Lately I find myself alternating between wanting to trade in my kids for billy goats and refraining from wrapping around their legs so they can never leave. I attribute this to the fact that my baby is in kindergarten while my eldest is halfway through his sophomore year of high school. Every day is met with it’s own challenges. Aside from the obvious difficulties of trying to parent wildly different kids across an impressive age gap, I’m battling my own emotional chaos. I LOVE my babies; fiercely, wholly, without exception. But (y’all knew a but was coming) they exhaust me. My days are filled with fits and back talk, timeouts and tears, carpools and practices…fleeting moments are mine alone and sometimes those are wasted on my own tears. All because I’m 100% positive I’m doing it all wrong.

I yell too much. I don’t pray over them enough. I’m a nag about their chores, their eating habits, their school work, etc, etc. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. Oh, you failed your test? Totally my bad. Your knees are acting up again? I should just buy you new ones, that’ll fix them! You don’t have supplies for your project due tomorrow? How could I not use my mind reading powers to anticipate your every need? I’m such a loser!

While I am being a bit facetious, I am seriously terrified that when they leave, they’ll never come back and yet I can’t stop parenting and just be their BFF. You see my conundrum?!

This is where a couple of choice friends “come in clutch” as the teenagers say. (My kids are rolling their eyes if they’re reading this.)
I know when “those” days strike, I have a beautiful support system that will talk me off my ledge and remind me it’s not okay to use your kids as bartering tools or try to sell them on Etsy. 😉

Hold on mommas, we’re not as screwed up as we think we are. Do you, pray A LOT, pick your battles and find a solid friend to vent to. Do those things and we might all just make it out of this parenting gig alive and at least mostly intact.

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“Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (Proverbs 18-19 The Message)

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~Idol-less Easter~ April 17, 2014

For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you already know this story, but my opinions were too much to share in a comment section so here it is.

Yesterday afternoon when I picked the kids up from school, my middle school girl, Autumn, gets in the car and immediately shared the highlight of her day.  Apparently they had a substitute in one of their classes who thought it would be fun to hear what the kids had planned for celebrating Easter.  She went around the room, allowing each child a turn to speak.  When she reached my girl, Autumn said “I’m going to celebrate the love of Jesus!”

Here comes the good part…

Substitute replied, “That’s a matter of opinion,” then turned and walked away.

I started to respond, then I remembered it’s not nice to call names so I said a quick prayer, out loud, instead, “Dear Lord, please help all the misguided people in the world who haven’t a clue that Easter has nothing to do with plastic eggs and bunny rabbits.”

Aside from the fact that this “teacher” showed a complete lack of respect for my daughters beliefs, the public display of intolerance in front of a young, impressionable audience is a perfect example as to why we have a problem with freedom of religion in this country.  More than that, what exactly does the person think Easter is about?!

This morning, I was reading the responses on social media and it got me thinking about how often this sort of thing happens….

Thanksgiving has become all about the ginormous meal instead of taking pause to give thanks for all the blessings in your life for which you should be grateful.

Many people spend the Christmas season focusing on a fat, hairy man in a red suit & shiny packages, totally forgetting about the babe in swaddling clothes who was born to be the Savior of the world.

And now Easter has little to nothing to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus because a vast majority have busied themselves with fake grass, candy filled eggs & fluff-stuffed bunnies & chicks to have any time left to celebrate the true reason that the holiday exists in the first place!

Misguided people everywhere have fallen guilty to worshiping idols: the meal, the robust, red-faced man & Peter Cottontail are at the center of their family celebrations while Jesus stands at the door, awaiting His invitation to the party.  This family will be placing Him at the head of our table.  Yes, we will give our children treats and have a meal with our family.  We do allow our kids to participate in the madness that is an egg hunt but ask any one of them what Easter is about, and they’re going to tell you “Jesus.”

Don’t allow the commercialism of holidays to distract you from what is important, the meaning behind it all, is Jesus.

“He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake.”  (Romans 1:4-5)

I came across this Scripture and felt it summed up precisely what my Autumn did.  My girl loves her Jesus and she wants everyone she meets to know it and, in turn, to know HIM.  If she doesn’t get anything else right in her life, I will forever be proud of the conviction & steadfastness she displays while sharing her faith.  If my middle-schooler, at the risk of ridicule, can boldly declare her plans to celebrate the love of Jesus this Easter season, then what say you?

THIS....

THIS….

NOT THIS!

NOT THIS!

 

~Look Beyond the Smile~ February 24, 2014

“Hi, how are you?”

“Fine, and you?”

“Just fine.”

Hand shake, hug around the neck, smile and move on.

Sounds about right for a typical Sunday morning encounter at your local church, wouldn’t you say?

The trouble with this type of interaction is it oozes with “fakeness.”  It would be real easy for Christians to be satisfied with that blanket response that they will likely get from every person they greet in the congregation.  While some people may be just fine, the majority are lying.  It’s simpler to say that one little word than it is to be real with people.  Our job as ambassadors for Christ is to look beyond that pretty little, plastered on smile and see what’s going on inside the heart.

“Laughter might hide your sadness. But when the laughter is gone, the sadness remains.” (Proverbs 14:13 CEV)

This is why I urge you to pray for discernment when dealing with people within your sphere of influence.  Ask the Lord to show you signs of those who may be struggling and to give you the words to make them feel comfortable in opening up.  Pray that their hearts would not be hardened by whatever burden they are dragging around but that they’d be receptive to a listening ear and gentle spirit.

It breaks my heart to think of the many who walk around dying inside with the most beautiful smile on their face so no one ever suspects there’s turmoil just under the surface.  That’s why I always look at the eyes.  It’s the eyes that reveal sorrow and pain or true joy and happiness.

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”  (Matthew 6:22-23 The Message)

When you sense in your spirit that the one word response is phony, don’t be afraid to ask again, “Is everything ok?”  Sometimes people are giving you a simple answer because they don’t think you truly care but it may be that all it would take is a second time for them to see you are sincerely interested in their well-being.

And for the one who is hiding behind your “I’m fine” smile….stop it.  The next time someone expresses genuine concern for you, let them in so that you can quit wilting away on the inside.  God doesn’t want you to suffer in silence.  We were created to need other people.  And it is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help.  It takes more courage to seek counsel than it does to “tough it out” alone.fake smile

 *This is day 14 of our Book of Proverbs study.  Won’t you join us?!

 

~31 Day Challenge~ February 11, 2014

This past weekend my husband and I attended a marriage conference at our church.  It worked out so that all of our Life Group members were there as well which has provided ample subjects to dive into during our meetings!

We met with our friends last night and one thing that we all agreed on was the speaker’s challenge to read through the book of Proverbs in 31 days.  One chapter a day.  That seemed feasible and we decided to go at it as a group and hold one another accountable.  In an attempt at helping our group stay focused and see this thing through to the end, I’ve decided to write each day on what we read.  I don’t typically post every day so this will be a stretch for me.  But I think it will be good for me, our group members and even some of you that I’ve never met.

Now that I’ve explained what, let’s dive right in!

proverbs

Proverbs 1

From the very beginning, the author tells us what the purpose of the book is and to whom it applies.

These are the wise sayings of Solomon,
David’s son, Israel’s king—
Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,
to understand what life means and where it’s going;
A manual for living,
for learning what’s right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes
and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,
still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women. (Vs 1-6)

The purpose of the entire book of Proverbs is to teach us how to be wise, self-disciplined and live a successful life.  Yeah, I want that.

Perhaps the best part about the above verses is you know right up front that it offers something for everyone:

The new Christian and the veteran.

The simple learners and the most educated minds.

Men and women.

Young and old.

The very next verse tells us that the foundation of all wisdom is fear of the Lord.  When we submit ourselves to the Lord, He shows us things that we couldn’t possibly comprehend without His divine nature.  What once seemed confusing and frustrating can become crystal clear when we trust and fear God and his perfect plan for our lives.

Dear Lord, I pray over these next 31 days that you would reveal things to us that we’ve never known before.  I ask that you open our minds and soften our hearts that we may be receptive to your teachings.  Remind us that you left us this book so that we would have an answer for all of life’s many, complicated situations.  I pray that the words we read would strike a chord and relate directly to each and every need or question we may have.  And may it settle deep within our hearts, hidden there for us to recall at times when we need them most.  Amen.

Please join my friends and I as we go through one of my favorite books of the Bible.  We all will glean something different so let us encourage one another with what we learn.

 

~The Truth & Nothing But The Truth~ May 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:43 am
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blurredtruthEver know anyone who said the Bible is open to interpretation?  I know parts of the Bible can be confusing but I don’t see any “gray” areas.  Granted, some secret things belong to the Lord and only the Lord “but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of his law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

Knowing that, how can anyone say that they believe in God and then go through His Word, picking and choosing what is truth and what is subject to opinion?  The Bible in it’s entirety is what we are to live by in order for our Christian lives to be whole & complete.

In Deuteronomy 4:2, Moses tells the Israelites:

“Do not add to what I commanded you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.”

As oftentimes is the case, I see comparisons in God’s word to parenting.  My oldest son is the worst about doing “half” of what I ask him to do.  For example, I say “Isaiah, take all your dirty laundry downstairs, put your darks in the wash, your whites in the basket.  Don’t forget to bring up your clean clothes and put them all away.”  While he manages to get the clothes to the laundry room, they end up in a heap on the floor in the vicinity of the washing machine.  Clean stack may or may not reach it’s destination but they certainly do not find their way to the closet.  The end of his bed is about as far as he can manage.  When I call to his attention that he did not quite follow directions, I get the exhausted response of a teenager.  As he huffs and walks away, I explain the importance of listening to every word that is spoken, not just the highlight reel!

See the resemblance?  Some like to think that as long as they obey the main points of the Bible; do not kill, steal, cheat or lie that they can overlook the more intricate details lying just beneath the surface; details that can lead to a more intimate relationship with our Creator.  God is not a waster of words.  If He saw fit to give it as a command, then there was good reason behind it.  His word is for our benefit.  He didn’t throw out a random list of rules in hopes of making our lives miserable.  Just as any good parent would, He set boundaries for us to prevent us from self-destruction.

 

~How Yoga Gave Me Insight~ May 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:45 am
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Yoga2I enjoy experimenting with different forms of exercise in order to keep from becoming bored and ultimately quitting all together.  Once I discovered yoga, I was hooked.  I grew up as a dancer so I could easily relate those old skills to the balance and concentration that it took to do most of the interesting poses.

One day as I was practicing my “ohm” face, I nearly face planted when my two-year old gave me a little nudge while I had one leg lifted dangerously high behind me.  (Note to self: don’t do complicated balance poses in presence of little children).  She had been underfoot the entire time, but I didn’t have any trouble keeping focused and in control as long as both feet were planted firmly on the floor.

That’s when the thought came to me of how my yoga skills were quite like my faith.  When I stand with both feet digging in, I am practically unmovable.  (Notice I said “practically”, I am sure Ray Lewis could take me down).  But lift one leg and I become as unstable as a sapling in a windstorm.  In the same way, when I am grounded in the Word of God, deeply rooted in Him, my faith is steady, unshakable and firm.  However, if I allow myself to lose that focus, I open myself up to becoming subject to the numerous false teachings that beg for my attention.  My faith will no longer be like that tree that is planted along the living waters but more like a dandelion whose soft white bristles scatter at the slightest movement.  This is what the Scripture means when it says:

“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

(Colossians 2:7 NLT)

The deeper our roots go, the sturdier our foundation will be.  The sturdier our foundation is, the more fruitful our lives will be.  And the more fruitful our lives become, the more thankful we will be, even when to the outside world, we have absolutely nothing to be thankful for.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

(Ephesians 3:17 NLT)

May the love of God strengthen you today as you face whatever challenges that attempt to knock you off balance.

 

~Why You Shouldn’t Say Hate~ April 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:14 am
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hateThere is one 4-letter word that I detest above all others.  It is a word that when spoken sends shivers of annoyance down my spine.  The same word is not allowed to come out of the mouths of my children.  It is a word that I reserve for one thing and one thing only.

The word is “hate” and the thing is satan.

Why would this one word be more foul to me than every known curse word to man?

First of all, because it is used too freely.  People use the same word to describe their dislike of certain foods as they do to slander specific people groups.  I fail to see how one word can accurately convey your feelings on something of little or no importance and in turn be used to explain your opinion of another human being.

Secondly is the definition of the word itself.  It implies a level of passion that I feel has been grossly misunderstood.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hate as “an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear or anger.”

This is why I do not use the word or allow my children to do so unless of course they are referring to the prince of darkness.

I hate the devil.  I hate everything about him.  I hate the way he attacks your mind causing you to doubt who you are in Christ.  I hate how he uses people to do his evil work for him because he has no power without a vessel to work through.  I hate how he turns people against each other causing dysfunction among family and friends who once stood united.  I hate how he manipulates the weak when they are at their lowest, taking advantage of their brokenness.

I hate how he takes our focus off of people and puts it on their sin.

The last one is what I believe our biggest hurdle is as Christians.  We allow ourselves to get so wrapped up in all the wrong-doings of those around us that we convince ourselves we hate them.  We spit words of judgment and criticism with such vehemence that the last thing we look like are disciples of Jesus.

My challenge to you is this, if Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, should we not love sinners just as Christ loved us?

I find it perfectly acceptable to disagree with someone’s lifestyle and the choices they make.  I see nothing wrong with not encouraging behavior that does not line up with the Word of God which is the source of Truth.  Hate the sin, but love the sinner; for we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

We would be far more useful instruments of Christ if we showed love to our neighbors as opposed to spewing a message of hate.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God IS love.”

(1 John 4:8 NIV)