Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~God Never Wastes A Hurt~ June 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:37 am
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“God uses adversity in this life to strengthen your faith.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1Peter 1:6 NIV)

God never wastes a hurt.” ~from sermon “The best of times in the worst of times” Pastor Chad Dunford

It was that last line that comforted me, like a warm hug offered at just the right moment. Read it again and let it resonate, God never wastes a hurt.

I often encourage my kids to refrain from using words like “always” and “never” because of what they imply. To say someone never does such-in-such means, “at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever.” Quite definitive language, wouldn’t you say? Now insert that definition into the aforementioned promise:

God, at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever, wastes a hurt.

Wow.

God does not cause us pain and suffering, it is the result of living in a fallen world. And yet His Word assures us that we will never walk through any tribulation on our own.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 ESV)

Even when we sit alone, certain that no one cares about the tears that stain the carpet….

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

Just when we allow ourselves to believe that it will always be this way…..

 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 ESV)

God can take your mourning and turn it into dancing. He can take that hurt that is pressing in on every side and use it to mold and strengthen you and glorify His name. When you think all hope is lost, take comfort in knowing:IMG_8085

God, at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever, wastes a hurt.

 

~Huff & Puff, Satan~ October 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:21 am
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After a week on hiatus, I’ve decided to buckle down and get back at it! This blog was started in response to the pull I felt on my heart to speak God’s truth to the weak and weary and man have I been both of those lately!  So today, I dropped all the babes at school, grabbed the laptop & a cup of coffee and retreated to my bed to hack out some profound wisdom with my doggie at my feet.

It didn’t take long before I started to feel the anxiety well up in my chest. I’ve neglected this blog for several day so I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten how to write and if this computer zooms one more time without me touching anything, I’m gonna scream….again.  Then I catch a glimpse of the book we are reading as a praise team and remember that the rest of the team is on chapter 6 and I’m struggling to finish chapter 3.  My inbox is flooded with requests for volunteers that I have yet to respond to, so maybe I should give that my attention instead of focusing on my ministry.  And I was gone all weekend fundraising so our house is a hot mess and the laundry is up to the ceiling so it’s pretty selfish of me to sit and sip coffee and try to talk to y’all when my family needs my services.

Well, hey Satan you didn’t waste anytime showing your hideous face on this lovely Monday morning.

Why is it that at the precise moment you decide to do something for Jesus, Satan jumps in and messes with your mind?!  Does he not have anything better to do?  Apparently the answer to that question is a resounding NO!  Surely I am not the only one fighting some Hell today.  So what say you, friend? Are we going to let the enemy attack our hearts and minds at every turn or are we going to lean hard into God and renew the fire and passion we once had to serve Him with gladness?

“Give me back the joy that comes from being saved by you. Give me a spirit that obeys you. That will keep me going.” (Psalm 51:12)devil

 

~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.

 

~My Testimony is More Powerful than Yours~ April 4, 2014

We all know at least one person who had the seemingly perfect childhood and that idealistic life has apparently followed them into adulthood.

  • Their parents have been married all their lives.
  • Growing up, they went to church every time the doors were opened.
  • They did things in the right order-marriage then sex and babies.
  • No substantial loss has ever crossed their paths.

Basically, they’re life would be described as smooth sailing.

So how is it, exactly, that someone who has walked through this life to date completely unscathed supposed to be able to effectively minister to someone?  Because our testimony should be more about the glory of God and His hand in our lives than it is about the struggles we’ve been through, or lack thereof.

Yes, I came from a “broken” home.  Yes, I had a child out of wedlock.  Yes, I struggled with an eating disorder.  Yes, I lost a baby and it broke my heart.  Yes, I was a hot, hot mess and this is only a couple of highlights from a long list of issues.

All of this may be true of the life that I have lived, but when I share with others about my trials, my focus is on God and how He walked me through each and every one and ultimately gave me the victory.  Here is my point:

Don’t discredit someone else’s testimony just because their story doesn’t seem as traumatic as yours.

Each and every one of us has a unique story that when told will minister to different people.  A lot of people can’t possibly relate to what I’ve overcome because they can draw no parallels to my life.  Those people need to hear from you.  Even if you feel as if you have nothing to offer because for the most part, your life has been sunshine & roses, maybe that’s exactly what someone needs to hear….that you don’t have to come from brokenness to live a life on fire for God.  By sharing our individual stories, together, we can reach the far corners of the world for Jesus.  single testimony

“Make sure in your hearts that Christ is Lord. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have. Be ready to give the reason for it. But do it gently and with respect.” (1Peter 3:15)

“My hope is, in you Lord, all the day long.  I won’t be shaken by, drought or storm.  A peace that passes understanding is my song and I sing, my hope is in you Lord.” -Arron Shust lyrics, My Hope Is In You

 

~Condemnation vs. Conviction~ March 17, 2014

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 KJV)

I would venture to say that nearly every Christian has allowed themselves to feel condemned at some point in their spiritual walk.  I know that when I have failed miserably, I have a tendency to be insanely hard on myself.  In my mind, I would rationalize that the only way for me to be truly forgiven of my sin was to punish myself relentlessly, then God would see that I was truly sorry for my transgression and accept my request for forgiveness.

It wasn’t until quite recently that I realized just how wrong I was in my twisted thought process.  I am currently reading “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst and it has been wrecking my world, but in a good way!  In her chapter that covers the obstacles that keep us from saying yes to God, she talks about the ever-so-subtle battle between the voices in her head that bring conviction and condemnation.  Her logic is simple: the voice of condemnation comes from Satan because the Bible tells us flat out that Jesus doesn’t condemn but convict.

Condemnation leaves us feeling hopeless and worthless.  Conviction invites us to make positive changes in our lives. -Lysa TerKeurst

The definition of condemnation is a punishment or sentencing and that is precisely what you are doing when you condemn yourself or others.  The trouble with that is the Word makes it clear that we are not the judge or the jury, but “God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12)  We have no authority to dole out punishment, not even to ourselves.

Conviction, however, is the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is that nudge you feel in your heart when you think of sinning or comes once you’ve already slipped.  Conviction is what reveals the sin in our life and causes us to repent and seek forgiveness.  Without it, how would know what is separating us from God and therefor preventing us from receiving all that He has for us?  Conviction is a gentle correction, comparable to that which a loving parent gives their child when they misstep.  It is meant to better us, shape us and mold us into the absolute best version of ourselves we can possibly be.

It is time that we lift the sentencing we’ve placed on our lives over past mistakes that we’ve repented of.  Let us embrace the love and forgiveness that conviction brings so that we can move beyond our failures and live as the conquerors that Jesus says we are.live victorious

 

~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)

 

~Overwhelming Victory (&Football)~ April 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:04 am
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boystackle

My 2 boys going for a tackle!

I am a football fan.  It would probably be fairly accurate to say that I am a full fledged fanatic.  I love the game at every level.  I’m the wild woman in the stands at my sons little league games; the intent listener during the radio broadcast of Friday Night Football; the screaming lunatic who unleashes all sorts of fury at the ref on television when my team is down in the 4th.

So when our small town high school team traveled to the state championship game last fall, this chic was over the moon!  They were the least likely to win, (at least according to their opponents).  It was a nail-biter of a game, but our guys came out on top.  Despite the obstacles they faced: fighting off the nay-sayers, pushing past physical pain, sacrificing of their time & talent; overwhelming victory was theirs for the taking.

Not unlike my hometown football team, we are often the underdogs in this life.  We face trial after excruciating trial that leads us to doubt that a victory will ever be within our reach, especially one of overwhelming proportions.  We are pressed on every side by our burdens.  We in-turn allow ourselves to believe that these low-points in our lives are evidence that God has removed His hand from us.  We ask ourselves, how can a god who loves me permit these hardships?

Think of the people in your life whom you love.  Are those relationships free from difficulty and pain?  I highly doubt that they are.  Are the problems that you encounter with your loved ones caused by an absence of care and affection?  While it may sometimes be the case, most of the time it isn’t a lack of love that brings about trouble but life in general.  This also is true of our Lord and Savior.  He loves us with an everlasting love.  He keeps a watchful eye on His children and never allows us more than we are able to handle.  He isn’t sitting on his throne in heaven strategically placing hurdles in our path at an attempt to trip us up.  That is the work of our enemy, the evil one who works relentlessly at setting traps for us, hoping to steal our peace.    But as the above verse states, we have the promise of an overwhelming victory.  Another way of saying the same thing would be: a crushing defeat over our adversaries.  It is not a battle that can be won within our own abilities.  However, with Christ, who loved us enough to die for us, no feat is too great.

The next time you are faced with a challenge that seems impossible to move past, call upon the Lord and He will answer you.  Take heart in the words of 2 Corinthians 4, verses 8-10, from The Message

We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us.”