Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Let’s Laugh It Out~ February 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:13 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A little disclaimer before you read: This post is meant specifically for people in my little hometown. However, you may find that it also applies to where you live as well.

...and every other day too!

…and every other day too!

You might be surprised to learn that a parent pick-up line at an elementary school could have a town divided. It’s sad how something as simple as picking up your child can bring on the road rage but you better believe it does.

There are a few types of moms, (and some dads), that you can expect to encounter in the pick-up line. Each one has been met with attacks because their quirks are bugging the bejeezus out of the locals.

The mom who arrives an hour (or more) before pick-up time to wait for little Johnny. Before you judge this momma, let me tell you a little story. The year that 2 of my kiddos started Kindergarten, I was pregnant with another. My son LOST HIS MIND on the first day and for a highly emotional preggo momma, this caused my anxiety levels to sky rocket. So that afternoon, and the ones that followed for the first few weeks, I would get to the school as early as I could manage to make sure that my son was one of the first picked up. Why? Because in my warped, guilt ridden mind, he would somehow know that I loved him more if he got to skip out the door 30 seconds before his classmates. Fast forward to after the birth of one Miss Emma. The child who single handedly tried to destroy my ability to cope by refusing to sleep, like ever, unless you rode around for a bit to “rock” her. So I would leave my home with enough time to cruise her into sleepy time land, then park my mom wagon by the school and read about Jesus…because sleep deprived mommas need Jesus way more than you well rested mommas out there. I’ve heard similar stories from countless moms. Sure they could go inside and volunteer with “all that free time”, but what if that is literally the only me time they have? Yes, they could cut the apron strings and make little Johnny learn to deal with his anxieties if he’s not picked up in the first round of released kiddos. But if they’re not breaking any laws, let them be. We know not what makes these mommas tick, (unless we’ve been one), so rather than put them down, try to understand that they have their reasons, whether we get it or not.

Next, the crazed momma flying in on two wheels because she’s about to be so late that the cones are taken up and the nice lady with the walkie talkie is moving rapidly for the door. Again, been there…oh wait, currently doing that. Now that I have kids in 2 schools, there is no casual driving into the lot to get my elementary girl. First I must wait for my middle school brood to mosey on down to the car. Seriously, they are slower than molasses. By the time I maneuver through the mess of parked cars, slow moving cars & darting pre-teens who clearly never listened when Mom & Dad said to look both ways before crossing, I am down to mere minutes to make the cut off to get Em. So across town I dash with the handful of other parents facing the same struggle to beat the clock. Yes, our driving may be slightly erratic, we may have a crazed look in our eyes but do you know what a pain it is to park & go get your child from the office because you got there at 3:31?! ONE MINUTE LATE, PEOPLE!!! Cut this mom some slack. Chances are she’s got more kids than she has nerves left and she’s doing the best she can to get them all picked up and carpooled to whatever afterschool activity that comes next. She doesn’t mean to cut you off, perhaps with the noise from the back seat or worse, the smells…dear Lord the smells…she has lost her focus if only for a moment and didn’t realize that you got to that four way stop first. She’s not rude, she is tired! She’s overworked, underpaid and needs another cup of coffee.

Then there are the straight up law breakers. They double park, block driveways, pull up on sidewalks & run stop signs. These mommas are a bit harder to defend because they are acting illegally. They kinda scare me a bit because I am pretty sure they will mow you down if you even so much as think about cutting line. But what’s made these mommas act so irrationally? How many times have they been cut off or nearly sideswiped all in the name of holding their place in line? Maybe they have a brief window of time to pick-up and transport their child elsewhere before returning to a job where boss man makes their life incredibly difficult if they are so much as a nanosecond late. I don’t know, and neither do you, so maybe we can extend a little grace even when they wave at us with one fifth of their hand as they nearly run us off the road. Yes, they are behaving badly and need a serious timeout but one day, you or I might be that momma who has just had enough and we’ll be grateful for that innocent bystander who smiled and waved us ahead after we practically ran them down in our blind rage.

So I realize that I have made light of what can be a dangerous situation. Let’s face it, people have been known to snap in high stress situations behind the wheel. I only wanted to poke a little fun, lighten up a tense situation and maybe make you laugh a little. We’re all in this life thing together. We are going to mess up, daily, and likely offend people as we go. My suggestion is we pray each day that God would help us see others as He does…including the guy blocking your drive, the lady who nearly t-boned you and the lady who’s been parked along the street for two hours already. Frustrating-yes, a nuisance-possibly, a matter of life-and-death-unlikely. For my fellow carpool driving mommas & daddys out there, we really need to be more respectful of the non-parent drivers in our vicinity. They have the same right as us to be on the roads that just so happen to go by our babies schools without the fear of being plowed down by a parade of mini-vans and SUVs.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt 5:7 ESV)

“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” (Prov 14:29 NIV)

Advertisements
 

~Guys…Know Your Role~ September 10, 2014

Yesterday I made a comment on my Facebook page in regards to how I feel about “men” who hit women in response to all the media coverage of a certain NFL player who not only hit his then pregnant fiance, but hit her hard enough to knock her unconscious.

My post: Any “man” that hits a woman should be left alone in a room with that woman’s Daddy. That’s my 2 cents.

I had a few friends comment, most in agreement with me, but one in particular got my attention and that’s what I’d like to elaborate on today 

Comment: Agreed! What’s with all the abuse lately? Has it always been this bad and we’re just seeing more of it in the media? Or are more men losing respect and any sense of protective responsibility? Ridiculous.

Umm, wow. 

I haven’t been able to shake these words since I read them. 

Is violence against women only a recent development? No. However, I do think it used to be more taboo for anyone to speak up or out against it. When I was young, I recall seeing my biological father hit his girlfriend in front of me & her daughter. The memory is fuzzy but what remains crystal clear is that no phone calls were made & she didn’t leave. Why? I don’t know, even to this day, I do not know.

Mostly what we see now is when someone in the public eye is involved in a domestic dispute. We haven’t a clue how many terrifying situations are playing out behind closed doors where there are no surveillance cameras to capture the evidence.

What really struck me about my friend,  Jay’s, comment was the last question he posed, “are men losing respect and any sense of protective responsibility?”  It pains me to even think it, but I’m afraid the answer is yes. 

Growing up I knew my daddy, (not my biological father, but the man who raised me), would have “handled” any guy who hurt me, physically or otherwise. My mother taught me to have enough self respect to never allow myself to be treated as anything less than a treasure. My girlfriends and I had each other’s backs, we didn’t laugh about it with the guys making the hateful comments.

Nowadays, you can turn to just about any secular radio station and within minutes hear a song that uses derogatory names to describe “their women” or explicit lyrics that paint a VERY distorted idea of what love is. Young men are quick to name call their girlfriends when she upsets them. Even simple gestures like holding the door for ladies seems to be a reason for fellas to mock their peers as if it makes them less of a man to behave like a gentleman.

I believe it’s time for the old-fashioned guys to take a stand. Don’t be afraid to set a shining example of how a real man is supposed to treat all women. Teach your sons what the Bible says about honoring your mother & respecting your wife. When you see a woman being mistreated, don’t shrink into the shadows as if you didn’t see it….speak out and defend her! Guys, you were created to be a protector and a provider, step into your role! Don’t allow yourself to become desensitized to what should enrage you. 

As a fairly strong woman, I am fully aware that in most cases, I, like so many of my friends, can defend myself. But, I am equally proud to say that if any man ever challenged me, they’d have to go through my hubs, my dad and my boys before ever getting to me. As it should be.

“Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

“Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise) so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3)

<br />
IMG_2092.JPG

 

~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

 

~Thanksgiving~ November 28, 2013

Gratitude

This past month, several friends have been taking part in the month of gratitude by posting each day what they are most thankful for on social media.  I have participated and listed things ranging from the people that I am most grateful for all the way to something as simple as a hot cup of coffee.

Today, I want to give thanks for what I often take for granted, my Lord.

He is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides.  When I look back over my life, there are many times when I should have hit bottom.  There have been countless times where finances weren’t just low, they were nonexistent, and God would send us a blessing by way of a brother or sister in Christ, a break from one of our debtors or an unexpected job opportunity.  As I sit here today, we may not have all we want, but God has provided us with all we need and for that I give him thanks.

He is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord who heals.  Immediately my thoughts take me back to this time last year when Peyton was in excruciating, unexplainable pain.  I have never cried out to God like I did during those weeks, and He came through.  Just last night, both my little girls were restless because of irritating coughs that kept them from laying down peacefully.  I started to jump up and grab the cough medicine and changed my mind.  Instead I prayed and asked God to touch my girls, to take away the cough and bring them comfort that only the Great Physician can bring…and off to sleep they went without another sound.  His healing may not come in the ways we would like or in the timing we would prefer, but it is available to those who call on his name.

He is Abba, Father.  As a parent, I know the lengths that I would go to for my children.  As a Christian, I know that it still pales in comparison to what God has done and will do for me.   He is not some distant, uncaring God.  He is near to us and loves us with an unfailing love that is difficult to comprehend.  In a world where love is often hinged on meeting expectations of another, God’s love is unconditional.  When I am at my most unlovable, He still opens his arms wide and invites me to run into them.

So today, I give thanks to the one who is at times overlooked for all his goodness.  I will praise the name of the Lord, for He alone is worthy of my praise.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.

(Psalm 100:4 NLT)

 

~The “other” parent~ August 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:33 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

What defines a parent?  Is it sharing the same genetics or are parents made?  I struggle with people who undervalue someone’s role as a parent because they weren’t mom or dad from birth.  Maybe I’m super sensitive because I was raised by a man who was not my dad by birth, but by choice and it would always upset me when someone would say he wasn’t my real dad.

Now I am raising my own non-biological children with zero involvement from their birth mother and it still makes me cringe when someone calls them my step-kids.  The phrase, “Oh, so they’re not your real kids?” will likely unleash a side of me that no one needs to see.  I am sharing this because I know I’m not the only one out there who feels the same way:

There is a word that I despise only few will understand.
It’s the title “step-mom” that makes my hair stand on its end.
By definition of the word I am simply the father’s wife.
Never mind the sacrifice & struggles that come with this new life.
But more than that, my heart is theirs as if they are my own.
Countless acts of love & care; mercy being shown.
I wipe their tears, keep them fed & I’m their biggest fan.
I make them feel loved & protected as only a momma can.
It is not simply through labor that a mother gets her name.
It’s the selfless act of daily tasks that she receives her fame.
It’s a sleepless night filled with worry because the fever spikes.
It’s running along beside them when they get their big kid bike.
It’s encouraging words, saying prayers & offering a helping hand,
Being ready with open arms when they need a soft place to land.
So please don’t call me step-mom, mommy will suffice.
For it is me, after all who tucks them in each night.

The act of mothering or fathering means to bring up a child with care and affection.  The Bible says we are to “train up a child in the way he should go.”  So in my opinion, it is of far less importance who brought you into this world than who is walking you through life.  Those who teach you values & morals, who nurture your dreams & provide for your physical needs….that’s a mom and dad.

My Mommy's Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

My Mommy’s Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

 

~Little Eyes Are Upon Us~ June 17, 2013

I recently saw a tv commercial for bottled water where the little boy does exactly as his father does.  Every movement, every choice he made, he did because his father did so first.  I have noticed the same to be true of my boys.  They are looking at their daddy to see how they should behave.

I was talking with my mother just this week about how different things are now.  Saying things like: “please, thank you or yes sir or ma’am” have gone out the window.  Boys no longer open doors for girls as they once did, why should they, she can get it herself.  In public, you see these young men berating their girlfriends instead of treating her like a lady and you have to wonder, where they are learning that behavior.

I am not trying to place the blame solely on the dads, however, your boys are watching you whether you realize it or not.  Do you ask for things politely or do you make demands?  When you go through the door, do you step back and let your wife and daughters go ahead of you or do you rush in and let the door slam in their face?  How do you talk to your wife in front of others?  Do you honor her with your words or tear her down?  I know with my husband, nothing gets him hotter than when one of our boys talks disrespectfully to me.  He comes to my defense like a wild man and makes it perfectly clear that he will not tolerate that sort of behavior.  And it melts my heart.  Because I know, that by his actions, he is teaching our boys to one day be protective of their spouses and to treat all women with respect.

Now guys, don’t fret.  Even if your dad didn’t exactly set a shining example on how to do this kid-raising thing, your Father in heaven is happy to show you the way.  It is never too late to get in the Word which is full of advice for all your parenting woes.  The very best way that all kids learn is through example, so start living out what it teaches in front of them. Although it may sound good to say, “I’m the adult so do what I say not as I do,” it doesn’t typically fly with the little people.  If you want kind, respectful children, then be a kind and respectful adult for them to model their behavior after.

Shadow-of-Father-and-Son

“Direct your children onto the right path

and when they are older,

they will not leave it.”

(Proverbs 22:6 NLT)

 

~Daddy Issues~ May 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:58 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

abba_fatherI can remember being a little girl standing by the door of our 1970s trailer complete with multi-colored shag carpeting, my Minnie Mouse suitcase by my side, waiting for my father to come pick me up for our weekend visit.  More times than not, mom would hang up the phone, force a smile and inform me that something had come up and he would not be coming for me, again.  My earliest memories of my father were of disappointment and rejection.  As I got older and the broken promises came, I started to make light of his excuses.  I remember an extended period when any time he missed an event he’d say he was busy building fence so I would joke that by now he must be fencing in most of the surrounding counties!  While I joked and acted indifferent, inside I was beating myself up.  Granted I had a very loving step-dad, (the man I still call dad to this day), who was at my side during every step of my childhood, there was a part of me that always felt damaged because I was unwanted by my own father.

This feeling of being unlovable became a major stumbling block in my late teens & early twenties when I started dating.  I truly believed that no man could ever really love me when my own father obviously did not.  That led to destructive behavior and desperation to please the current beau.  I became whoever I thought the boyfriend wanted me to be.  I made my decisions based on what I thought would win me their approval and make them love me.  I was so desperate for a man’s love that I was blinded to the poor choices that were devastating my life.  I wasn’t true to myself and I definitely wasn’t living for God….because I didn’t know Him.

When I was 23, I started dating a pastor’s kid.  So naturally, I started going to church because I knew that was what he would want me to do.  The first time I heard an old time southern preacher refer to God as Abba Father, I was like, “seriously, no thanks.”  I had a pretty lousy image etched in my brain of what a father looked like so I was not feeling it, if you get what I’m saying.  That relationship turned into a friendship but I kept going to church.  I liked the people, they were sweet and accepting and I just felt good when I was there.

Even after I asked for God’s forgiveness and accepted Him as my personal savior, I would cringe when I heard someone refer to Him as “daddy” or “papa.”  I had so much unforgiveness in my heart for my earthly father that I could not accept the love of my heavenly father. I loved the Lord and I knew that He loved me but I could not get past my worldly views of a father to fully grasp the depth & width of His love for me.  Then one day, it clicked.  I was at a women’s conference and the speaker talked about being bound by the unforgivenss in our lives and how it was hindering our walk with God.  I made a decision to forgive my biological father for his absence in my life.  I chose to no longer let his mistakes dictate my relationship with my Creator.  I took the insecurities of my past, laid them at the cross and I LEFT THEM THERE!

How many of you out there struggle with the same thing?  Maybe your father was an absentee dad too, or worse than that, maybe he was around but was abusive to you in some way.  Let me tell you from my own personal experience, even those of you who were lucky enough to have the most fabulous daddy in all the world, our Father in heaven loves you infinitely more than any man on earth ever could.  Once you realize that simple truth and embrace it with all of your heart, you will experience the same freedom that I am happy to say I walk in each and every day.  Don’t let you perception of God be based on a human.  People will let you down, but God’s love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on you or me.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:38-39)