Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Gracious Receiving~ May 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:27 am
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As a mom of many, I have often times received what the world might consider lackluster gifts.  My children have given me pictures with one or two scribbles across the page, ABC gum (already been chewed for those who may not know) & “flowers” that the untrained eye might refer to as weeds.

Just the other day, Bella handed me the ugliest leaf in the entire yard.  The way she beamed at me when she said “for you Mommy” you would have thought it was the most lavish bouquet of flowers ever known to man.  On a bad day, I might have brushed her off and continued scrolling through Facebook to see what the outside world was up to.  But this day I was feeling blissfully content in my one on one time with my youngest so I poured on the kisses and thank yous for this strange but sweet gift.

I could tell by the triumphant look on her face that she was quite pleased with herself & her obvious knack for gift giving.

Then I saw this cute little picture today and it served as a gut check.

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How many times have I set aside that 15th half colored, torn in two picture of Strawberry Shortcake because it started to feel redundant making a big production over each and every one?  There have been many seemingly random gifts from little ones to me but what this simple quote reminded me is that even though it may seem like junk to us, to the precious gift giver, it may be the most extravagant treasure they’ve ever laid eyes on.

When anyone gives you a gift, whether it be tangible or maybe a simple spoken word, let your gratitude for their thoughtfulness shine.  As this sweet photo declares, when someone thinks enough of you to give it means at that moment, you are the most important person on the planet to them.  How about we make them feel the same in return?

“Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.” (1 Timothy 4:4 NLT)

 

~My Writing Process~ May 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:59 am

Happy Saturday folks!!

This past week I was approached by a fellow blogger who I now call friend about participating in a blog tour.  Now, for this non techy gal, she might as well have been speaking an alien language.  Heather had to go into a rather lengthy description of exactly what she was asking me to do.  Bless her heart, I bet she had no idea how complicated I would make things!

First let me say that I am breaking the rules, that’s just how I roll.  Part of this blog tour is to include 3 fellow bloggers whom I find inspiring.  That part is no problem, there are many writers that I have connected with whose writings are thought provoking & encouraging. However, I think I was supposed to ask them before including them.  Surprise!! I’m going to have to ask forgiveness instead of permission! So let’s get this thing rolling.

Heather Mertens over at 40 Year Wanderer is quite the chic.  She has been through some stuff in her life and she pours it all out on her fabulous blog.  Her writing is much like mine in the way she takes a down to earth approach and does her level best to give life application points to her message.  Check it out and I am sure you will find it worthwhile.

Now for the all about me section, because who doesn’t want to know more about me-haha!

1. What am I working on?

Not losing my mind.  Oh wait, I think this is supposed to be about my writing. Currently the only thing I am working on is this blog.  I love it.  For now, it is enough for me.  I will say that one day I would like to put together a collection of some of my favorite pieces to be published as a devotional.  Who knows what the Lord has in store?!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This one is easy.  I am simple.  I don’t use big words.  I write just like I speak, like a southern girl who loves to chat.  So you will often find grammatical errors and made up words on my site.  But you will also see a genuine heart that desires to see my readers lives changed for the better.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because it is what I feel the Lord calling me to do.  There are days when I fight a serious battle with my material.  I have even deleted entire posts only to come back and rewrite them because I truly felt that it had to be said.  Some of my posts are lighthearted and comical because I often write about my life and let’s face it, life with 5 kids kind of provides its own comic relief.  Other days I get all up in your business by talking openly about mistakes I have made that make you feel like just maybe you could forgive yourself for the same thing.

I write what I do so that others can see through my life just how a gracious, loving God can redeem even the shadiest of characters.

4. How does my writing process work?

What process?! LOL!  It basically goes like this: I can be going about my day doing any random number of things when a post idea will come to me…it has to be Jesus folks because I am just not that creative.  When I sit down to write, it rolls out.  Sometimes nice and neatly and other times it’s a hot mess thrown out across the screen.  Either way, it works for me.  I simply allow myself to be sensitive to what the Lord might want someone to hear on that day and that is what I write.

There is one word that sums up my writing process, obedience.

The three sites that I am featuring are as follows, and in no particular order as they are all fabulous.

Lessons By Heart  Tami is one of those ladies who has encouraged and inspired me from the very beginning.  Her blog is all about Jesus and the numerous times she has seen Him at work in her life.  In her words, “Following His example, I write living parables.  Jesus can be found in any story, I’ve discovered.”

iChristian I just love Steve.  On this blog you will find beautiful photography, timely Scriptures & quotes and a man who shares his passion for the Lord and love of others freely.

loveYOURlife Lisa has the sweetest soul and it shows in her posts.  Everything she writes has a verse or two attached and she takes the time to hash it out and make it apply to right where we are living now.

I know that my readers will enjoy these fantastic blogs just as much as I do.  The content found in each site will uplift, point to Jesus and at times convict, but the one thing you will never find is condemnation.

Now for the 3 bloggers that I just threw under the bus, I ask that you spread the love by doing this very same thing on your website!  Share who did this to you, (that’d be me), answer the 4 questions and tell us who you think your followers might also enjoy reading!

Be blessed, friends!

 

 

~Words That Edify~ May 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:35 am
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88cbe9916022264801da89be5f01eb20Recently I was in a very public place where I overheard a not-so-nice conversation.  It wasn’t as if I was eavesdropping, they were purposefully speaking loud enough for all within earshot to hear.  These two ladies were talking to a complete stranger about their dislike of a teacher.  It just so happened that the teacher in question is someone who I know personally and happen to think quite highly of.

As I sat debating on what to do, the woman listening to the rant commented, “I had actually hoped my child would get them this year and was disappointed when they did not.” Conversation over.

I honestly was stunned that these ladies would be so bold as to talk negatively about someone to a total stranger.  What if this woman they were venting to had been the daughter or best friend of the person they were talking about?! Awkward!!  Besides that, I feel pretty confident in saying that this mother had not expressed her concerns with the actual teacher that she was so comfortable gossiping about. Unfortunately, this is not the first time where I’ve been in a similar situation and I would venture to say that most of you have also found yourselves in the same predicament.  When you are involved in a conversation and talks turn to gossip, things go from friendly & chatty to painfully uncomfortable in the blink of an eye.  Mostly because I am attempting to avoid confrontation, I typically walk away saying nothing when these sticky situations arise.  However, there have been times where I felt inclined to defend the person who wasn’t present to do so themselves.

The words of Ephesians provide us with this simple advice:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  (4:29)

Tell me, what does it benefit a person to speak badly of them in their absence?  What good thing can come to those who are doing the talking?  What if, when faced with an offense, we took our grievances directly to the other party rather than to anyone and everyone who will listen?  Having a mature conversation with your offender opens the door of communication and will oftentimes lead to resolution or at the very least an understanding of the other party’s position.  The alternative of bashing them to another, or worse yet, via social media, will only cause discord.  Furthermore, the one delivering the blows comes out looking far worse than the one they are attempting to paint in an unfavorable light.

When in doubt, it may help to ask yourself, “how would I feel if someone said this exact thing of me?”  If the thought of it makes you squirm, then you should hold your tongue.

 

~Soul Pep Talk~ May 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:53 am
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Does anyone besides me pay particular attention to people’s faces as you cross paths?  Whether it be driving past on the roads or brushing by in the grocery store, I am always drawn to people’s expressions…more specifically, their eyes.

It is quite true that the eyes are the window to one’s soul.  Someone may plaster on the most convincing smile but if you look beyond the pearly whites, you see something else entirely. I know personally that when I am attempting to “hide” my emotions, I won’t make eye contact for too long for fear that someone will see the truth.  Allowing people to see what’s behind that smile would mean having to deal with the junk that you are trying desperately to repress.

I often pass people in close proximity in our town because the roads are narrow and the traffic moves relatively slow.  This morning, as I neared an intersection, a lady coming from the opposite direction caught my attention.  I didn’t know her, didn’t recall seeing her before, but her face gripped my heart.  You could see the anguish in her expression.  I locked eyes with her as we passed and tossed her a smile.  She made a halfhearted effort to smile back but the truth was still in her eyes.  Immediately the words of Psalm 42 came to mind, “Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?”  This lady was hurting.  It is highly unlikely that I will ever know what was causing such distress in her life but how many times have I seen a similar look in the eyes of someone I can reach and chose to look the other way?  How many times have I been the one attempting to hide behind a phony grin?

The next verse from Psalm 42 speaks directly to the soul, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my savior and my God.”  How I wish I could have conveyed that message to the unknown woman at the intersection of 4th & Monroe.  But since I cannot, let me speak to your soul & mine.

Regardless of what is causing the sadness in your eyes, we have a hope that surpasses all understanding.  Let your soul find rest in the peace that comes from knowing that the God of angel armies is always working towards your best interest.  He will make a way in the wilderness.  He will provide when the resources have run dry.  He will bring clarity when your mind has you frustrated & confused.  He will take the shattered pieces of your heart and make it whole again.  He longs to see your soul restored and the glimmer return to your eyes, that’s how deep His love for you runs.

Be kind to yourself today and if the opportunity presents itself, share a soul pep talk with someone who may need it even more than you or they may realize.4037a947ef493dca6300b14eb9eb0fe7

 

~The Little Things~ May 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:41 am
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This morning I awoke to an empty bed.  I came up the stairs to a silent kitchen.  My husband was gone.

Did I get your attention?!  Before the panicked phone calls come rolling in, he’s not AWOL, this was planned.

I thought that I would love having the bed all to myself.  Turns out I barely slept in his absence.  Apparently I rather enjoy his warm body next to mine.  As I drug my butt up the stairs, there was no enticing aroma to greet me.  I actually had to be my own barista!  Folks let me tell you, coffee isn’t near as good when you have to make it yourself.    I didn’t get my gentle hug & kiss on the forehead before waking the kiddos, a moment that is just for us before the crazy commences, and it made me a little sad.

I can’t believe how many little things my husband does for me that I didn’t fully appreciate until this moment.

There are countless treasures that are part of my daily routine that I fail to give thanks for.  They seem insignificant when you look at the big picture but isn’t it the small things that when added up matter the most?  While my husband being gone triggered this thought, it isn’t exclusive to our relationship.  I hate to think of all the moments I take for granted with my children, too.

  • Our bedtime ritual with the girls.
  • Prayer on the way to school each day.
  • Hearing the boys laugh hysterically over something only the two of them could possibly understand.
  • Looking around the living room when we all pile up for movie night and seeing the look of contentment on everyone’s face at the SAME TIME!

It amazes me how it takes one of my people being gone to realize just how much I have to be thankful for.  Why can’t I appreciate all the gifts when they are being given?  It’s never too late to start so here is what I am relishing from this morning.

  • Carrying my sleepy 6 year old to the couch for breakfast while she nuzzled into the soft curve of my neck.
  • The chorus of “I love you” as the oldest 3 rolled out of the car at drop off.
  • The warmth of the sun on my face as I sit writing this post from the comfort and safety of our modest home.

What seemingly insignificant moment will you take notice of today?  Who extends an act of love & kindness that you’ve come to expect but rarely acknowledge?  Will you show them your appreciation today?161e9178e372f0b11c525e827f7367f7

 

~Keeping the Honeymoon Phase Alive~ May 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:56 am
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daily gratitudeYesterday was a Monday of epic proportions. It started off quite nicely, enjoying a run with a friend. Fast forward to preschool pickup time and this is when things started rapidly going downhill.  The fact that Bella had a meltdown when I dropped her off that morning should have served as a warning sign of things to come.  I won’t bore you with all the details, let’s just say the level of disobedience was at an all time high.

Later that night as I sat alone listening to the 2 littlest beings fighting, hitting & biting each other when they were supposed to be snug in their beds, I couldn’t help but stew a little.  If they’re Daddy was home they sure wouldn’t be acting like this.  What happened to being kind & loving to Mommy?  Do we really only get one day a year when the kids are obedient, giving & thoughtful?  Yes, I was feeling whiney.  I kept thinking about how wonderful the day before had been when everyone was going out of their way to show love and appreciation .  Why can’t they maintain that kind of attitude all year round?!

One day I’m served breakfast in bed, being told repeatedly how much I am loved and made to feel as though I am the most important person on the face of the earth.  The very next day, the demands return accompanied by huffs, eye rolls and short tempers.  How does the excitement of showing gratitude wear off so quickly?

It got me thinking, aren’t we sometimes guilty of doing the same thing to God?  We honor him and sing about his goodness on Sunday and by Monday morning we’ve forgotten about all the reasons why his praise should continually be on our lips.  The intensity of the moment dissipates, daily life kicks in and suddenly our songs of praise and adoration are replaced with whining and backtalk.

We are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder.” (Hebrews 12:28 NIRV)

God has given us countless reasons why our hearts should be glad and our lips should rejoice.  We need not look far to find something for which we can be thankful.  Let our words show the depth of our gratitude daily and not simply during Sunday worship.  In the same manner, those who have been placed in our lives deserve to be lifted up, praised and encouraged for all that they add to our lives, not just on the special occasion days, but everyday of the year.

 

~Mom, Mum, Mommy, Momma, Mother~ May 9, 2014

Two more days and we get to honor those who gave us life.  This may seem a bit biased as I am a Mommy myself, but I can’t think of a position in this life that is more sacrificial than that of a mother.

It begins with nearly a year of serving as a walking incubator.  Belly’s expand.  Swelling sets in causing a lack of separation of legs & feet resulting in what’s affectionately known as “cankles.”  You endure agony so intense that it doesn’t register on the “rank your pain” smiley face chart.  We’re not even going to talk about the changes to the once svelte body that now looks more like…well…like I said, we’re not going to talk about those unpleasantries.

Then there are the early years, when Mom barely has time to eat much less sleep, bathe or be bothered to groom herself.  Every moment is devoted to this tiny human that God has blessed her with.  She feeds, changes, swaddles, rocks, coos and kisses at all hours of the day.  Sleep deprivation makes her a bit loopy.  You haven’t lived until you’ve poured coffee “into”an upside down mug or put milk away in the cabinet.  She can no longer carry on an intelligent conversation.  Talks now revolve around breastfeeding woes, whose kid has the worst “blow-outs” and when will my body return to normal.

Toddler days, my personal favorite.  Little Johnny has suddenly became mobile.  That moment that you longed to see come has arrived and you find yourself questioning why you were in such a hurry?!  They climb counter tops, yank table clothes, ride the dog & follow you EVERYWHERE you go.  The bathroom is no longer your safe zone.  Now you throw away your favorite momentos destroyed by tiny hands, wipe grape jelly from the walls and vow to not harm this tiny terror who used to be so angelic.

Moving on to school years, finally a reprieve.  You daydream of all the things you will accomplish while your mini-mes are off to get their learn on.  But wait, now your phone rings off the hook!  “Can you bake this?  Can you volunteer here?  Can you sew?  Can you supervise?  Can you lead?  Can you reconstruct the Statue of Liberty while reciting the Declaration of Independence backwards?”  (Ok, so the last one is a slight exaggeration.)  And you do it all, not because you feel obligated but because you have been privileged enough to stay home full time so that you can be available for your kids at all times.  Roman noodles, PB & J’s and fried bologna have made this possible, so I would be remiss if I didn’t give them a shout out.

Then we enter a Hell known as “living with teenagers.”  This is a stage that I am new to so I don’t have much insight.  What I do know is that we deserve some sort of medal for not backhanding those left in our charge when they roll their eyes, shake their heads, huff with exasperation and slam doors as if they are the ones who have the right to be irritated!  We rush from cross country meets, to football games, to choir practice and dance class.  We rattle off stats and plays and brag about how much awesomeness is pouring out of our kids.  All the while, putting our own dreams on hold, not begrudgingly, but with excitement for what the future holds for these spectacular, complex, sometimes hateful, now taller than you, people.

Adulthood is when some might assume that mothering slows down.  Based on my relationship with my own momma, I can vouch for how wrong that assumption is.  My poor mother has counseled me, nurtured me & comforted me in all types of crisis, even more so now than she did as a child.  She’s helped to mend my broken heart.  She’s brought clarity to my muddled mind when I’ve been overwhelmed.  Probably the most meaningful are the times she’s let me sob over the mistakes I’ve made, only to reassure me that I am more than my failures.

I am forever grateful for the momma that I was given.  I am equally thankful for the 5 that call me mommy.  I can’t imagine what the world be like if God hadn’t blessed us with the gift of mothers.  In spite of all the ups and downs, the times were I’ve questioned my sanity and the moments of complete exhaustion, I wouldn’t trade this job for all the riches of the world.  Don’t forget to celebrate your mom this Sunday…and every single day that you are here on this earth.  She deserves your praise.  mother

“She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.  Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:  “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.  The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.  Give her everything she deserves!  Festoon her life with praises!” (Proverbs 31-Message)