Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Nightmares Are No Match For My Jesus~ January 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:45 am
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Could you say no to this face?!

Could you say no to this face?!

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning…I’m talking 2 or so….my little mini-me came to my side of the bed with tears rolling down her chubby cheeks.

“Mommy, I had a bad dream. Can I please sleep with you?”

We try really hard not to make it a habit of letting our little ones crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night. My husband is a cuddler and it kind of creeps him out a bit to roll over and throw his arm over the 3-foot-tall version of his wife ūüėČ

So in my half awake, one eye open state, I started to send her back to her own bed. That is until I looked into her big doe eyes and saw the look of panic on her face. Her voice broke when she tried to talk and she was actually shaking. Sorry husband, scoot your fanny over, mini me is coming in! The moment she crawled in next to me, she snuggled as close as humanly possible with her head on my shoulder and pulled my arm over her tiny frame. And she stopped whimpering, instantly. No more tears, no more shaky shoulders, no more ragged breaths. She was comforted at the exact moment I held her close.

Without even thinking about it, I started to pray for my girl, that God would protect her impressionable mind and fragile heart from things that would wake her in such a state. Sometime mid prayer, we both drifted off to sleep.

This morning I can’t help but draw a parallel to my relationship with the Lord. No matter the time of day, He is never too worn to open His arms to me. He is never too groggy¬†to pull¬†me close and soothe my soul. He is always prepared with¬†words that¬†bring comfort in the midst of the scariest of times and when I let Him, he can replace my tears of sorrow with tears of gladness.

I am overwhelmed,¬†folks. My¬†momma and daddy friends will know what I mean when I say sometimes, I’m just so exhausted that I don’t know that I have anything to give my babes…physically or¬†emotionally. And then there is our heavenly Father, with more kids than we can ever count, and yet He is forever there for me, for you and for all His precious children without fail.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let he righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

Snuggle in close to Him and feel His strength. Let Him drape His arm around you. Now feel the heaviness in your life lift as He takes your burdens and cares and makes them His own. And find rest. Sweet, sweet rest.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” (Psalm 73:28 NLT)

 

~I DO Care~ December 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:20 am
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I have felt very convicted over a 3 word phrase that I probably use every single day. The words aren’t ugly or said hatefully, but I believe the conviction came because they imply an emotion that could be perceived as hurtful.

Wanna know what it is?

“I don’t care.”

Whenever the kids ask me for something, like a snack or to watch a certain show, rather than give a simple yes, I typically say “I don’t care.” I’m not really sure how this came to be and it never stuck out to me until recently. But I don’t like it. Why would I tell my children I don’t care about anything?! Because truthfully, I DO care…about every little thing that concerns my people.

Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase. The results really hit home.

“Saying ‚Äúdon‚Äôt mind‚ÄĚ sounds very polite and gentle. It‚Äôs like the person is saying ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs ok with me.‚ÄĚ; however, ‚Äúdon‚Äôt care‚ÄĚ sounds stronger and it‚Äôs like the person is saying, ‚ÄúIt doesn‚Äôt matter to me‚ÄĚ.”-http://english.stackexchange.com

Synonym for I don’t care-uninvolved

That’s not at all what I mean when I say it!¬†Jesus, help me!

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Prov 16:24 ESV)

While I never intended to be harsh, my careless use of a simple phrase indicates otherwise.¬†Nothing about “I don’t care” is seasoned with grace. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how hateful it does¬†sound.

Ephesians 4:29 has been on my heart fairly often lately and I have to wonder if that’s why the sudden feelings of guilt over my choice of words.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)

My kids, I’m sure like many of yours, never stop with the questions..

Can I have this?

Can we go there?

Will you get me..?

While the¬†constant requests can be taxing on ones nerves, we should still take care to respond with love and kindness¬†rather than harshness and irritation. I for one don’t want my kids to stop coming to me¬†because they feel they are an aggravation to me.

This has become a habit to me, one that will take some time to break. But I am determined to do better in this area because even the simplest of words have the power to build up or tear down.

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“A gentle tongue is a tree of life”¬†(Prov 15:4 ESV)

I want to be that tree.

 

~Momma’s Gonna Need a Minute~ October 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:49 am
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“Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to be left the heck alone?! Like no talky, no touchy, no looky, ‘get the heck out of my personal space’ kind of days?! That’s how I feel today!”

This would be the text message I sent my husband yesterday.¬† I wasn’t mad at anyone.¬†No one had really done anything to upset me or make me feel ill, but I’m pretty sure it was within the spectrum of possibilities for me to physically assault someone. Grumpy doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling.¬†throat punchI’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have days where I feel downright hateful to the point that I’m concerned for the safety of those who get too close. Days like that I think I need to be forced to wear a warning sign around my neck, “Danger!!¬† Contents may explode upon contact!!”

Anyone else ever suffer through days like that?

Take heart, I may have pinpointed the cause.¬†Every day, all day, I have someone “all up on me,” as I like to put it. The littles tug at¬†my clothes, using me as a human paper towel and the occasional snot rag. My boys find humor in poking and throwing stuff or hiding around corners to scare the beegeezus out of me. My man just needs a little affection at¬†the end of the day but sometimes, THIS is not huggable!

Physical touch is a beautiful thing but if you never have a moment to¬†yourself, you may start to feel a bit like a foreigner in¬†your own land, so to speak. This tends to happen most often when our calendars are so¬†full¬†that there is no way to pencil in some “me, minus all of you” time. I’m here to¬†help you out, friends. The next time someone asks you to do something you have zero desire to do, don’t ignore that tightening in your chest that accompanies the realization that you’re never going to have a moments rest. Smile & say “No, but thanks for thinking of me.”

Now, take a seat in your favorite chair and forget about the to-do list that is invisible to the rest of your fam. Enjoy the entire cup of coffee before it has the chance to get cold because whatever the world needs from you, can wait a dang minute.

If you feel guilty, let’s all¬†just take a minute to remember that even Jesus had to get away from the crowds and sit in silence in order to be refreshed to fulfill his life’s purpose.

 

~13~ September 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:23 am
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Photo cred-cuz Kristy

Photo cred-cuz Kristy

Effective today, at 12:43 pm to be exact, I will have been a mommy for 13 years. There is no greater accomplishment that I could ever achieve that would bring the sense of pride I feel as a parent. God has so generously blessed me with a large family that I don’t deserve and it all started with the cutie in the picture above.

From day one, this kid has had my heart. We are so much alike in numerous ways and yet so completely opposite in others. He is analytical, I’m emotional. He’s hardcore competitive, I’m driven more by having a good time. He is strong willed & self confident, when I tend to be concerned about others opinions & still struggle with insecurities.

In spite of all our differences, he gets me & I get him.

This picture was taken at a recent cross-country meet and I feel it sums up our relationship quite nicely. I have always & will always be my boys number one fan, his momma-coach. I will be there to push, encourage & support him in all that he does. He will never have to question the passion I have to see him succeed. He will never doubt the love that I have for him, my first born. The one who gifted me with the title “Mommy.”

“And his mother stored all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:51

Thirteen years have gone by way too fast. I watched him walk into the school this morning, a teenager, knowing full well that as rapidly as these years have passed, the next five will go even quicker. My momma’s heart can’t take it. I want my boy to be my baby forever.

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.-Robert Munsch

Happy birthday to one of my greatest blessings, Peyton Andrew. You are a joy and a treasure. Words don’t always convey the depth of emotion behind them, but know this, there has never been a momma more proud of a son than I am of you.

 

~Love in a Sweatshirt~ September 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:42 am
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Early on in the football season, the boys were given discount cards to sale as a fundraiser. Isaiah brought his stack home determined to unload all 20 so as to earn a free hoody. This overextended momma let him know right up front that this year, he was on his own! Normally my shy guy bribes his social butterfly sister to do the peddling for him, but not this time. He harassed the entire neighborhood along with the majority of our church family. No one was safe, from the teenagers to the granny-mothers who hadn’t a clue what he was selling, he didn’t discriminate between his targets.

All for a sweatshirt.

Low and behold, he managed to get rid of every last one. Kudos son, on a job well done.

Last week while I was away with my cross country team, I get a text from football boy.¬†The¬†sweatshirt had arrived. Naturally I proceeded to pick at him about how I couldn’t wait to borrow it since we wear the same size. “No way, Mom. You’re not taking my hoody.”

The next day, gameday, brought on another opportunity to tease him about¬†my¬† new attire for the game. Somewhat irritated, he adamantly refused my requests as he threw on his jersey before school. I let him be and went on to make breakfast and pack lunches. Then just before we walked out the door, he came in to the kitchen, brand new personalized hoody in hand. “Here, momma, you can wear this to the game tonight.”

Lord help me not to cry like a big sap!

Some of you may think I’ve flipped my lid. I mean, what’s the big deal, it’s just a shirt, right? Uhm, no, it’s much more than that. He worked his little tail off to earn that reward and he chose to share it with me, his super proud momma. I knew this was his way of saying, “Love you Mom.”

After he left for the day, I looked at my mom and said, “I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees tonight, I’m wearing this sweatshirt!” And I did, with a huge smile on my face that was also bittersweet. His hoody….was too big for me. So with the sleeves hanging over my hands, I waited for him at the gate post game to talk about how he’d get that missed interception next time. And as he stood looking down at me, my heart melted. My little boy ain’t so little anymore. Now every time I pull on his prized possession and it swallows my smaller frame, it will be like wrapping up in a warm hug from my oldest son who’s growing up way too fast without my permission.

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb, his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!”

(Psalms 127:3-5 The Message)

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~The Fellowship Factor~ June 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:49 am
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I don’t know about the rest of you, but this weekend was one for the books for the Rutledge fam! ¬†And to think, we almost said no to it all.

As most of you know or could likely presume, extended vacations for our family of 7 are not in our coupon-clipping, discount-rack-shopping budget! ¬†This is a fact that has oftentimes depressed and frustrated me. ¬†Rather than let our restrictions keep us down, we have committed to make the best of the moments we do have this summer. ¬†Even so, when my momma suggested we drive the hour and a half to her place then the additional 3 ¬†hours to the beach for the day, I was apprehensive. ¬†My old self started calculating gas cost and trying to decide if it was worth it for just a few hours of sand & sun. ¬†When I thought of how much we all love the ocean and the possibility that we’d go another summer without seeing it, I stopped calculating and started packing for our day trip. ¬†With early mornings and long drives, the sour faces had me thinking we’d made the wrong decision. ¬†But once we got there & buried our toes in the hot sand & felt the spray of saltwater on our tired faces, something miraculous happened….we ALL enjoyed the day. ¬†No one complained about the PB sandwiches we ate out of the back of the car instead of heading to a restaurant for lunch. ¬†Not a huff was heard about having to wash their hair in cold, outdoor showers or changing in cramped, sandy dressing rooms before hitting the road again. ¬†We even managed to leave without both of the boy’s shoes & no one had a meltdown….self included! Everyone was simply thankful for the 5 hours of family fun.

Yesterday we had a cookout with friends that we had planned a couple weeks ago. ¬†As you might imagine we were all a bit worn from our quick trip not to mention the fact that 2 of our 7 had turned a lovely shade of red thanks to fair skin & poor application of sunscreen. ¬†On the short drive over, the grumbles and snarling faces had me on edge about how the afternoon was going to pan out. ¬†I was working on my excuse to leave early because obviously time with friends wasn’t a good call. ¬†But once we got there and the slip-n-slide came out, all the attitudes disappeared and we stayed well into the evening.

I’m sharing our weekend with you for one reason. ¬†So many times we neglect the fellowship portion of our faith. ¬†We are all so busy with our own lives that we feel there is no room for activities with “outsiders.” ¬†When our schedules become overbooked, the first thing to go are the extras we’ve planned with friends. ¬†This is unfortunate as time spent with family & friends is refreshing and brings encouragement to our weary souls. ¬†We are designed to need one another yet we are quick to rely on our independence when life gets crazy. ¬†Maybe what we all need is to swap out time spent worrying over how to solve our problems for a little more time around a campfire with good friends, gooey marshmallows & stories that make you laugh until you cry. ¬†Or maybe you need an impromptu drive to your favorite spot to remind you what life is truly about.

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“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:25

group slip n slide

 

~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)

 

~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: ¬†‚ÄúMany women have done wonderful things,¬†but you‚Äôve outclassed them all!‚Ä̬†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)

 

~My Life as a Ring Master~ April 24, 2014

I have oftentimes described my life as a circus.  Having 5 kids, this is a pretty spot on description as I tend to have to be in 3 places at the same time on any given day.

These last couple of weeks have exhausted me to the point of having little to no time to write and it is seriously weighing on me! ¬†I get a¬†little moody & snippy when I’m run down and even more so when I feel like I have to let something I love go to the wayside to make room for yet one more thing for someone else. ¬†Man, I sound like a selfish whiny-pants, right?!

The reality is, my right now is only a season and that simple phrase has become my mantra, “this is only a season, this is only a season, THIS IS ONLY A SEASON!!!”

Sleep deprivation, overcrowded calendars and lack of me time can bring even the “super-i make everything from scratch-have boundless amounts of energy-mom” down. ¬†I’m sure you can imagine what it does to this “super simple-poptart slingin-my butt is draggin without my coffee-mom”!! ¬†So this morning, before I even sat up in bed, I prayed this little prayer, “Lord, help me today to focus on you and not my hectic schedule. ¬†Remind me that this life is a gift, even in the busyness, and I should act accordingly and not like a bratty two-year old. ¬†And one more thing Lord, give me the strength to perform each and every task I have committed myself to with excellence as unto you for it IS you who deserves all the credit. ¬†Amen”

To my fellow overworked, underpaid, totally exhausted, baggy eyed mommas, I salute you. ¬†We can do this for we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength. ¬†(It doesn’t hurt to toss in a pot of coffee and some nutter butters to nudge things along, just sayin’) ¬†May today be abundantly blessed, productive and our eyes be open to the beauty of the chaos. ¬†Now, go do this thing!being a mom

 

 

~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‚Äôt 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