Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Get Your Twinkle On~ November 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:24 am
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This time change thing has been wreaking havoc on our little household. Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30, but don’t judge, so did runner boy! This morning, my littles sprang out of bed at 6:30 which would have been fine, I was up, but they were GRUMPY! Here I was trying to make my way to coffee without making eye contact when all they wanted to do was squall in my face:

“Emma touched me!”

“Bella is on my blankie!”

“I don’t want that for breakfast!”

And so on, and so on.

Mind you we hadn’t even gone up the stairs at this point, you know, where the coffee pot resides. As I’m trying to navigate my way through the madness, one thing was on repeat in my muddled mind:

“in any and every circumstance I have learned…. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:12-13 NASB)

Yes Lord, even this, I can handle with you on my side.

Eventually we made it upstairs and when I rounded the corner into the dining room, this is what I saw.IMG_3164I leave Christmas lights over the doors to the back deck year round. I guess hubs forgot to unplug them before bed last night because normally they’re not on in the mornings. But man am I glad they were. Why, do you ask? Something about these twinkling lights brought me peace and a feeling of happiness I can’t really explain. I love, love, love Christmas lights and I suppose their presence brought about an instant calm. All which got me thinking, shouldn’t we as followers of Christ be like the sparkly lights, bringing happiness, peace and a sense of calm to the world around us?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16 NASB)

Everywhere we turn, we are faced with opportunities to share the love of God, through our speech and more importantly, through our actions. Each interaction we have with others brings a choice. We can choose to hear quickly, speak slowly and aim for peace. The alternative would be to react with haste, not taking pause to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, resulting in strife. One option shows Christ in us while the other may leave people questioning this faith we claim to possess.

So today, I challenge us all to shine bright for Jesus, causing the darkness to turn and flee. Choose to be as a lovely strand of twinkling lights, bringing beauty into a world full of ugliness.

 

 

~Lost in Translation?~ October 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:50 am
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So I just recently discovered that my smarter-than-me phone has this wonderful feature known as talk to text. Color me excited!! I am hands down, the WORST texter in the world. I know this because my teenage sons tell me daily.

Yesterday was my first time using the fun little microphone at the bottom of the keyboard. I said my message, hit send and quickly realized my phone ain’t so smart after all. Apparently, it doesn’t speak Southern. My son’s name, Isaiah, came out “I’d say I.” Instead of night, it typed out “not.” Spouse found it humorous and suggested I say the word “ice,” one of the fam’s favorite words to make fun of me over, and see what genius phone spit out. Sadly, I can’t repeat what my phone sad, very foul mouth. I considered washing it with soap then thought better of it.

This minor inconvenience got me thinking about how often this happens in our face-to-face conversations. How many times do we shoot off what’s on our minds before taking the time to process how someone might interpret what we say? In my vast experience of ticking people off, I have discovered that nine times out of ten, the disagreement was caused by misunderstanding. The phrase, “that’s not what I meant,” has passed my lips more than a time or two. Although I may not have intended to upset the other person, I certainly didn’t pause to run my words through the Jesus filter. It’s a real thing, people, you have one too, and unlike my NOT-so-smart phone, this one can understand all accents.

Can you even imagine how many hurt feelings we could avoid if we took the time to consider how the other party’s personality might cause them to perceive what we’re about to say?! Mind blowing, right?! Eh, not really, more like a common courtesy that’s not so common anymore. The Book of Proverbs has numerous verses that speak to this issue, but I’ll just share a couple of my favorites.

“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” (29:20)

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (18:2)

Let’s make a pact today to not be like a fool and actually take the time to choose our words carefully. It is far more rewarding to see someone smile as a result of your words than to watch tears slip silently down their cheeks.IMG_2659

 

~Wise Child, You Bless My Soul~ March 5, 2014

“My child, if your heart is wise, my own heart will rejoice!  Everything in me will celebrate when you speak what is right.”
(Proverbs 23:15-16 NLT)

As a momma, I can truthfully say that nothing brings me greater joy than realizing my kids “get it.”

We have 3 pre-teen/teen children, 2 boys 1 girl.  Our girl is our little evangelist.  She will tell anyone and everyone about Jesus and try to lead them through the sinners prayer before they even realize what’s going on!  Her and several of her Jesus-girl friends have started a Bible club at school where they talk and share prayer requests….IN SCHOOL!!  Go girls!  They are shining their lights so bright and out in the open that there is no doubt in my mind that they are absorbing every bit of what we and the church leaders are pouring into them.

Now my boys are a different story.  Most of the time they seem so checked out and goofy that I’m pretty sure they haven’t heard a word of the sermons preached, lessons taught or correction given at home.  Then the little jokers surprise me.

Just the other day, one of my boys randomly walked in the kitchen and announced, “It just gets on my nerves.”

“Ok, son, what exactly are we talking about here?”

“Well, when kids at school talk about how much the looooove Jesus then turn around and cuss or act rude to someone.”

I kept my cool but inside I was doing my go Jesus dance!  Not only did he disprove of the immature behavior of some of his peers but he immediately recognized that their actions didn’t line up with what they claimed their beliefs were.  And it made him ill.

An overwhelming sense of pride washed over me as I watched the aggravation cover his face as he talked about how annoying it is to listen to people say one thing and then live in complete opposition of what they just said.  My boy is listening and receiving what we’re preaching.

This isn’t the only time they’ve melted this momma’s heart.  Boy #2 is my macho, tough guy, joke playing little sneak.  He thrives on trying to make people laugh regardless of how foolish he looks in the process, he is his father’s son.  So I tend to think there isn’t a serious bone in his body.  Until the day he came to me about a little girl in school who is struggling and had opened up to him and another friend about her self-deprecating thoughts.  You could see the tenderness in his expression and the compassion in his voice.  He was truly concerned about this girls well-being.  I just wanted to burst into tears and hug his neck but again, not cool, so I listened intently while my heart was bursting with the realization that we must be doing something right.

Being a parent in the days that we are living in is painfully hard even on its best day.  Our kids are faced with issues and temptations that we can’t even fathom.  It is scary.  Most parents think they are failing miserably at the job of raising confident, godly children, but when they give us those little “aha” moments, what joy it brings to our souls.  Keep at it, weary mom & dad, I promise you they are hanging onto your every word & looking to you for an example.  That’s a heavy load, and one that I pray you and I will take seriously.  If you want your children to live a life that honors the Lord, check yourself and make sure that there aren’t some changes you might need to make.what you teach

 

~Spare the Rod~ March 1, 2014

We have all had those moments as parents when we’d like to crawl in a hole because of embarrassment from our children’s behavior.  My personal best came in the middle of a very crowded superstore.

It’s been a couple of years ago now, but boy do I remember it clearly.  My sweet little Emma was going through a fit-throwing stage like I have never witnessed before.  Truthfully, I thought that type of behavior was a myth or at least something that only happened to other people.  My children would never pitch a fit in public, I trained them better than that.

Wrong.  Seriously, I was wrong.  I suppose I underestimated the power of the flashy toys & sugary treats strategically placed at toddlers eye level at the front of every store in America.

My mother and I were attempting to get my 5 children to the checkout line when Emma spotted something she desperately wanted.  I said No.  Cue the meltdown of epic proportions.  She flung herself down in the floor and screamed like I had just beaten her within an inch of her life.  People started to stare as I tried to talk rationally to my little “princess.”  That’s when it happened, I smacked her little behind, right there in front of everybody.  For those of you who have done the same in public, you can imagine the looks of disgust that were thrown my way.  The fact that she has a face like a doll and had crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks was not helping my case.

Thankfully my momma handled the rest of my children while I dragged Emma out to the car and attempted to strap her in to the car seat.  It was not going so well for me as she was still writhing and screaming at glass breaking decibels.  Finally I managed to strap her in and stood leaning against my mom-mobile as I waited for the rest of my brood.  The screaming continued from inside the vehicle as concerned passers-by looked on with mixed emotions.  Most of them wore looks of judgment as if I had somehow failed as a parent because my 3 year old was uncontrollable.  For all I know, they were the same ones who had witnessed the “whooping” inside the store moments before.  But I was cool with it because I know what the Bible says about discipline.

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

You see, I could have easily given into my crazed child in the store when she demanded the toy “or else” and completely avoided the embarrassing fit.  However, my logic is that it would be more humiliating to see that child grow into a disrespectful adult with an undeserved sense of entitlement because I didn’t parent them while I had the chance.  I want to give good gifts to my babies, too, but I have learned that those things need to be earned to teach them ethics and build their character in the formative years.

I know it’s hard to punish your children, especially when it has to be done in front of others.  It is natural that we are concerned how outsiders will view our choice of correction, but they are not going to be held accountable for the upbringing of our kids, we are.  Proverbs 13 reads : “Those who don’t correct their children hate them.  But those who love them are careful to train them.”  While it is difficult to explain to our children that we are disciplining them out of love when we are in the midst of doling out punishment, point out to them that God also disciplines the one He loves and we are following his leading.

One day, when they turn out to be well-rounded, respected adults, they will likely thank us for not catering to their demands but instilling in them biblical values and moral standards that they would have otherwise missed out on had we chosen to “spare the rod and spoil the child.”parenting

 

~His Truth, Not My Opinion~ February 28, 2014

Here fairly recently, I had myself a little freak out moment.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of prayer requests and those who were seeking guidance.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the opportunity to minister to others and I consider it a privilege to walk alongside those who are hurting, but not too long ago, I panicked!

I was fretting over what to say and feeling immense pressure that I was going to mess someone up with my advice.  Somewhere in the midst of my crazy, the Lord gave me the most beautiful revelation.  God is not asking me to share my opinion with those who reach out to me, He has commanded that I share His Word.

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (vs 2)

“Those whose hearts understand what is right get knowledge.  The ears of those who are wise listen for it.” (vs 15) 

The last thing I want is to open my mouth like a blubbering fool and let my own ideas and thoughts pour out.  But if I am scouring the Bible for wisdom, when I give counsel, it will be His truth that comes out and not my personal opinion.  While I could allow this to stress me even further, it actually gave me a sense of peace and freedom in my ministry.  Other translations of verse 15 say the ears of the wise seek out knowledge.  Basically, go look for it!  You can be certain that whatever you pursue, eventually you’re going to find it, whether that be good or evil.

We must constantly remind ourselves that so long as we are seeking the Lord’s face, listening for that still small voice and submitting to His leading, then we can feel confident in the words that we speak to the one in need.

When someone thanks me for my insight, I am quick to point them to Jesus.  It is not wisdom from within that I speak of but Biblical truth that brings about understanding and correction when needed.  I am a vessel for the Lord to work through, just as all others who are answering the call to minister in however the Lord sees fit.  I pray that I would never take for granted the immense honor that it is to be an ambassador for Christ.  May those who seek to glorify the Lord with the work of their lives be emboldened by the power of the Spirit that lives in the hearts of those who diligently seek Him.wise doubts

*The above Scripture references are from Proverbs 18 as part of the 31 Day Reading Challenge of the Book of Proverbs.

 

~Reward now…or Later?~ February 25, 2014

lose soulDoes it bother anyone else when you look around and see the people who are living like hell thriving while the godly seem to struggle?  This used to be a real issue for me in my early years as a Christian.  I would basically fuss at God.  “Why is that heathen excelling while my friend who loves you is barely scrapping by?  Lord, are you even paying attention?!”

“The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good….Even hell holds no secrets from God- do you think he can’t read human hearts?”  (Proverbs 15:3 & 11 NLT/Message)

These verses were incredibly freeing for me.  I’m not going to pretend to fully understand the why behind it all, but a wise man, also known as my husband, once shared a profound truth with me: “The wicked are receiving their reward now while ours is being stored up for us in eternity.  It’s one of the tricks of the enemy.”  I would much rather struggle for a little while in this life in order to receive my blessings in Heaven than live as the world calls blessed now and spend eternity in the fiery pits of Hell.

“It’s better to obey the Lord and have only a little, than to be very rich and terribly confused.” (Proverbs 15:16 CEV)

While it may appear to those of us on the outside looking in, that the one who is successful has it all, we haven’t a clue what demons they are dealing with behind closed doors.  I wrote this poem about a year ago and shared it on this blog last May.  It is relevant to this post, so I am sharing once again.

The Rich Man

I know a man who has it all;

big house, nice car, designer clothes.

He’s attained success in his career,

good luck follows him wherever he goes.

So why is it that his demeanor

is down-cast, sullen and morose?

Could it be that beneath all the accolades

lies a secret that nobody knows?

While wealth and good fortune are his for the taking,

his spiritual life; a disaster in the making.

He gives no recognition to the God

who gave him a firm place to stand.

God deserves none of the credit;

he is a self-made man.

His days are filled with good times and laughter

but what about what happens after?

In the quiet of darkness, he lies alone.

Inside the recesses of his mind

where “light” has never shone.

For even though he has it all, there is one thing he lacks.

A relationship with his Creator

has slipped right through the cracks.

Life without our Lord and Savior is really no life at all

So the rich man isn’t actually rich

for he remains broken from the fall.

So do not envy my friend, the rich man

for his riches shall all pass away.

His achievements will prove to him useless

before the Lord on Judgment Day.

For the one who submits that God is Lord over all, our pain lasts but a moment, while our joy is everlasting.  For the one who seeks earthly possessions over heavenly gain,  “you must be humbled before you can be honored.”  (Proverbs 15:33 ERV)

*We are at our halfway point of the Book of Proverbs study.  Let us continue with diligence and a a willingness to let the Lord reveal new wisdom to us.

 

~Small Town Rumor Mill~ February 21, 2014

“By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.” (NKJV 11)

If any of you have ever lived in a small town, you know precisely how true this verse of Scripture can be.  Everybody either knows everybody or knows someone else who does.  This can be a blessing or a curse depending on the character of the people in said town.  The small town feel brings a sense of comfort in raising your children in a safe environment.  When tragedy hits close to home, there is nothing like the love of a tight knit community to rally around those in need.

Unfortunately, the door swings the other way too.  If you make a mistake in my hometown, you better believe everyone will know it before the sun goes down.  Not only that, but some will form their own opinion of how circumstances played out and repeat their distorted version of the truth to anyone who will listen.  Proverbs 11 has a description for that kind of person: He who belittles and despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. (AMP 12)

It is always wise to mind one’s business when the rumors take to spreading like wildfire in a dry forest.  This is an area that I often struggle with for myself and my preteen daughter because for whatever reason, it seems as though the females are far more prone to be loose-lipped than our fellas.

Recently, both I and my girl have had our confidence betrayed.  I would describe us both as open books.  We are not fearful of sharing personal details of our lives when we feel like it may benefit another, even if we don’t know them that well!  However, this does at times backfire.  In both instances, feelings and struggles were shared in hopes that the one we were reaching out to would see things in a different light.  While the way it happened for me was different than it was for my girl, the things we said in private were repeated.

And it hurt.  Tears were shed, questions of “why” bounced around and thoughts of wanting to become more closed off were considered.  But that’s not who we are.  We could easily allow the gossip to make us bitter and harden our hearts toward others, but we choose to turn the other cheek.  Part of the calling on both our lives is to encourage hurting people.  Hurting people sometimes hurt you.  It may be unintentional on their part.  They’re hurt, they are acting out of their own pain and that may come out as an attack on you.

The important thing to remember about gossip is that it not only brings pain to the ones you are talking about, it’ll ruin you too.  You can’t spread malice about another human being and expect to come out unscathed on the other side.  It may also change your perspective if you consider that the ones who gossip with you are likely gossiping about you to someone else.

“A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (NLT 13)

Words may be a bit harsh, but this could not be more true.

Words may be a bit harsh, but this could not be more true.

 *All of the verses above are from different translations of Proverbs 11.  The 31 day study continues 🙂

 

~Truth in Love~ February 19, 2014

truth in loveI have always struggled with the concept of giving other adults “correction” in brotherly love.  Mostly because it makes me feel uncomfortable.  I know that my past is speckled with mistakes of various kinds and that alone makes me feel ill-equipped to lead others away from the transgressions that they currently find themselves knee deep, or worse.

However, we are not called to live a life of comfort.  The Bible does instruct those of us who are led by the Spirit to restore the ones who have strayed in an attitude of humility.  This is where we desperately need discernment!  If we see someone struggling in an area that the Bible makes clear can serve as a stumbling block in their life, we need to take pause before opening our mouths.  First of all, we need to seek the Lord’s face because we should never move forward in counseling without Him.  Secondly, if we still feel the pull to approach them, we need to spend time in the Word looking for Scriptures that will point them back on the path towards righteousness.  Lastly, we should be in prayer that the Lord would soften their hearts to be receptive to the words that He is giving us to speak to them.

If we don’t make certain that we are responding to the Lord’s leading in these very sticky situations, we can be met with some unwelcome responses.

  • They may turn the tables on you:  “Who are you to say one word to me when you yourself used to do the very same thing?!”
  • Perhaps they will point the blame elsewhere:  “Well, so-and-so does it too and I don’t see you getting in their business!”
  • Worst of all, they may attempt to justify their actions:  “I don’t feel convicted about it and it’s not harming anyone else, so how about you just back off?!”

Proverbs 9 warns us:

“If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.  So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.  But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different—they’ll love you for it!  Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.” (Vs. 7-9 The Message)

These words are basically telling us to “know our audience.”  It will do us no good, nor the person in question, if they are closed off to the Word of God.  Only those who seek to honor God with their lives will be open to loving & gentle instruction.

“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11 ESV)

I don’t believe that anyone is a lost cause, however the words of Titus instruct us to know when to step back.  It is not our job to “save” anyone.  We can point them towards the One who can and trust that God will do what only He is able.

 

~Be Quiet, Wisdom is Speaking~ February 18, 2014

I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,whose ways I hate with a passion—pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me, those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life—armloads of life!” (Proverbs 8:12-21 The Message)wisdom listens

There are two kinds of wisdom:

Book Smarts

Common Sense

I am a big fan of reading as much as you possibly can.  Books open your mind and imagination and spark creativity in the most unique way.  However, reading can only gain you so much knowledge if you are unable to apply that which you are studying.

The entire Book of Proverbs revolves around wisdom.  In this 31 day study, it may begin to feel a bit redundant when you flip open your Bible and the header for the day’s chapter is wisdom related.  “Seriously, how much can one say about wisdom?  I get it already!”

But do you get it?

 We can memorize every line of Proverbs and still not live our lives with wisdom as it is referenced in the Scriptures.  You can have the most intelligent mind among your peers and be severely lacking in common sense.  Biblical wisdom is having the ability to discern right from wrong.  This is disturbing, but a good portion of serial killers are highly educated minds with insanely high IQs yet they can’t differentiate between good and evil.

Wisdom is not something you read about and grasp instantaneously.  You have to seek it, daily.  Before your feet even hit the floor each morning, you should be asking God for discernment in all that you deal with in the course of that day.  If you are not actively pursuing wisdom, foolishness will find you.  A life lived with wisdom will be pleasurable and prosperous while the one who rejects it will find themselves on a crooked path that leads to destruction.

 

~Immorality~ February 17, 2014

We have reached day 7 of our 31 day study of the Book of Proverbs.

On day 5, I used the term “immoral woman” as an analogy to any number of temptations that could ultimately lead to sin.  Today, I’m going straight at the literal meaning of the term.

While chapter 7 talks only of the immoral woman, I am going to broaden that to include the immoral man.  I have readers of both genders and I am aware that immorality is not exclusive to either sex.

As many of Proverbs begin, pointing us to wisdom & insight, so does chapter 7.  We are instructed to “let them protect (us) from an affair with an immoral woman (man), from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman (man).”  This is a verse I know a little something about.  As most of you know, I make my very best attempt at being transparent with you, not so you can throw your stones but so that we can grow and learn together in our relationship with the Lord.

Let me begin by saying I have never been unfaithful in my relationships, past or present.  I can not speak to the pain of a physical affair as I have never been on either side of that obstacle.  I am not, nor have I ever been, a promiscuous woman as that definition applies.  I can, however, relate to what happens when an emotional connection is sought from someone other than your partner.  I have been the guilty party and I have been the victim.  Yesterday our pastor made a statement that sums up the ‘why’ for both circumstances, “If you don’t speak words of affirmation to your spouse (fiance, girlfriend, boyfriend) someone else will.”  For me personally, that is precisely how I ended up on both sides of this stumbling back.  When I was the victim, in retrospect I can easily admit that I was not sewing anything positive into my relationship.  I wasn’t being outwardly destructive either which is why at the time I couldn’t understand where any of the fault lied with me.  As the guilty party, I had been dealing with multiple issues and emotions that I felt were not being validated by my partner.

When we are at our lowest point: beaten down, brokenhearted, lost & questioning-that is precisely when the devil will slip right in and do what he does best.  Confuse the ever-loving fire out of you.  As a Christian, that should have served as a waving red flag because God is not the author of confusion.  I can comfortably speak for both instances and say that the guilty party, (self included), justified their actions by leaning on the fact that there was no physical aspect to the connection made.  Want to know another interesting point Pastor made yesterday, “most affairs start with words.”  Even though I nor the person who abused my trust had ever contemplated a physical affair, by making an emotional connection with someone outside of the relationship we could have easily slipped right on down that slippery slope.

In spite of the devastation & hurt feelings that the misuses of trust caused in my relationship, loving and thriving connections were restored.  There is one practice and one alone that allowed the unforgivable to be forgiven: Confession & Repentance.  When I was hurt, forgiveness was sought first from the Lord and then requested of me.  When I acted a fool, I followed the same procedure.

1st John chapter 1 assures us that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness IF we confess our sins to Him.  We are also given the promise that He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west and blotted out our transgressions for His own sake and remembers them no more.  (Psalm 103:12 & Isaiah 43:25)

If the Lord himself can forgive me and the ones who hurt me, then who I am to withhold forgiveness from those who seek it?  If God removes our sins from us, than who am I to drag them back up and use them to beat others OR myself down?

Back to the point of Proverbs 7, not one of us is exempt from temptation of any kind.  We are all weak and subject to sin.  The good news that Proverbs overflows with is that God does not ask us to go at it alone.  He gives us solid teaching and words that bring about an awareness that we could otherwise not comprehend.  When facing the urge to look outside of the relationship that God has blessed us with to seek solace, let us first bury our faces in His Word for strength to resist then we will be equipped with all that we need to mend broken relationships and avoid falling into immoral ones.

This is my picture of GRACE.

This is my picture of GRACE.

*It’s not too late to join us in our 31 days through the Book of Proverbs.  If you wish to start from the beginning, the first post is “31 Day Challenge” listed in the archive section of this blog for the month of February.*