Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Mommin’ Is Hard~ February 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:09 am
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Lately I find myself alternating between wanting to trade in my kids for billy goats and refraining from wrapping around their legs so they can never leave. I attribute this to the fact that my baby is in kindergarten while my eldest is halfway through his sophomore year of high school. Every day is met with it’s own challenges. Aside from the obvious difficulties of trying to parent wildly different kids across an impressive age gap, I’m battling my own emotional chaos. I LOVE my babies; fiercely, wholly, without exception. But (y’all knew a but was coming) they exhaust me. My days are filled with fits and back talk, timeouts and tears, carpools and practices…fleeting moments are mine alone and sometimes those are wasted on my own tears. All because I’m 100% positive I’m doing it all wrong.

I yell too much. I don’t pray over them enough. I’m a nag about their chores, their eating habits, their school work, etc, etc. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. Oh, you failed your test? Totally my bad. Your knees are acting up again? I should just buy you new ones, that’ll fix them! You don’t have supplies for your project due tomorrow? How could I not use my mind reading powers to anticipate your every need? I’m such a loser!

While I am being a bit facetious, I am seriously terrified that when they leave, they’ll never come back and yet I can’t stop parenting and just be their BFF. You see my conundrum?!

This is where a couple of choice friends “come in clutch” as the teenagers say. (My kids are rolling their eyes if they’re reading this.)
I know when “those” days strike, I have a beautiful support system that will talk me off my ledge and remind me it’s not okay to use your kids as bartering tools or try to sell them on Etsy. ūüėČ

Hold on mommas, we’re not as screwed up as we think we are. Do you, pray A LOT, pick your battles and find a solid friend to vent to. Do those things and we might all just make it out of this parenting gig alive and at least mostly intact.

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

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~Hiding~ January 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:24 am
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I’m going to begin this New Year with a confession. Don’t get too excited, nothing really scandalous, just something I’ve refrained from sharing.

I have not been to church since we moved in November. There it is.

I have my reasons, all of which can be argued as insufficient. My main reason, I miss my church and in my mind, no other group of believers can live up to their legacy. I realize how silly that sounds but for those of you who know me and how long it took me to find a church, I’m sure you understand.

Of course now that I’ve opened myself up to think about it, I can see just how unfair I’m being to any potential “new” church. I’ve been closed off to the idea of being close, family close, to another part of the body. My mindset has been like that of a toddler, “I don’t WANT a new church! I want my OLD church!!”

But here we are, looking for where we are going to settle in the next couple of months. I came across a house that on paper, looks perfect for us. In my excitement, I mapped out distances to hubs workplace, our beautiful daughter & her family, the beach….and on a whim, I searched out churches in the vicinity. Upon finding two whose beliefs and mission statements aligned with our home church, I realized just how much I missed it. The feeling of family, safety, hope & unity….I need it back in my life. So as much as I deeply miss my people, this new year needs to be a time of making new connections & finding a place to grow & serve.

So, say a little prayer for us if you will. Pray my old anxieties don’t creep back in & that we find somewhere we can all be plugged in. Thank you, my faithful friends and Happy New Year!

Church should feel like family because we are brothers & sisters in Christ.

“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.” (Heb 10:25 NLT)

 

~Leaving Home~ November 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:54 am
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All week I’ve tried to sit down and write this post. It’s not that the words wouldn’t come, but more like they won’t stop along with the tears that seem to be ever present. One week from today, we will load down a uHaul and leave the only place I’ve ever called home.

While I am excited for the next chapter of our lives, I am also terribly sad about leaving our quaint little community that has blessed us with so much more than just a place to live. Every place I’ve gone the last couple of weeks has brought me to tears. The preschool with the same sweet teachers who’ve taught all of my babies, the grocery store where I know everyone by name, and don’t even get me started on my church.

I really wanted to write some eloquent post about all the lovely people that I am going to miss and I just can’t, there are far too many to mention. What I will say is this, you all know who you are.

  • The friends who have loved me, cared for me, cried with me and laughed until we cried…you’re the best friends a girl could ever hope for, irreplaceable and lifelong sisters.
  • To my kids friends…I’ve watched you grow up right alongside my own children. They have been equally¬†blessed with fabulous friends who have filled this house with giggles and strange odors…both of which I will miss more than I can put into words. Please come visit!
  • My cross country team, who has made me incredibly proud not only of their athletic ability but also of the caliber of young people they are. It was an honor to be your coach and I will always be one of your biggest fans! Remember, one at a time ūüėČ
  • My family who has dropped everything to be there for me when I needed help, a hug or a swift kick in the behind…now you just have to make a road trip!
  • My church family, who leaves me in awe week after week just by being you. Your compassion, hospitality and genuine love for one another is a true reflection of Jesus. I will always call ANC home.

That’s really about all I can muster. The tears are blinding but my heart overflows with gratitude. Please pray for our family as we go through this transition and I will keep you posted on our adventures!!

Love, hugs and prayers. ~Valeriefriend prov

 

~When Did RAPE Become Funny…And Other Middle School Shockers~ December 10, 2014

For the last week or so,¬†our oldest daughter hasn’t really been herself. She’s been moody and quiet and has pretty much stayed holed up in her room.¬†We’ve continually asked her what was up and were met with the typical teenager response,¬† “Nothing.” We figured it was the hormones raging again and tried to give her some space. That is until yesterday.

A little backstory about our girl for those who don’t have the pleasure of knowing her personally. She is madly in love with Jesus. She talks about her faith anywhere, anytime to anyone who will listen. We often joke and call her our little missionary who’s trying to save the world one middle-schooler at a time! It breaks her heart into pieces when her peers are struggling which has led to many talks about the struggles kids are facing and why sometimes there’s nothing we can do but pray for them.

Now, for the current horror that’s got this momma fit to be tied.

Autumn was terribly upset when she got in the car yesterday but refused to talk about it in front of her little sisters stating she couldn’t repeat a word that was said. I didn’t think too much of it knowing full well that kids curse in school. However, color me shocked when the story unraveled. Apparently the word “rape” is being used as an alternative to many other, far less offensive words. Some examples “OHHH, he raped you!” Someone bumps into you in the hall or gym class, so you scream “RAPE!” at the top of your lungs. They even have a storage room they refer to as “the rape closet.” Yesterday, a GIRL friend of Autumn’s used it this way, “Like how she raped you in your sleep.” (the ‘she’ mentioned being my girl)

Autumn was mortified and told her “friend” that what she said was inappropriate. This young lady told my daughter she needed to learn how to take a joke! Are you kidding me?! What in the world is funny about a word that implies sexual violence?! Before the arguments come, I am well aware that is has another meaning, that point is moot in my opinion so I won’t even argue it with you. These kids are so desensitized that they will throw around words that have horrific meanings like they are saying the word “hello.” When Autumn wouldn’t back down, this young lady proceeded to find backup to verbally attack my girl, accusing of her being a bully instead of a Christian. Perhaps what made this hurt the most…this little girl is a church-goer.

This conversation opened up to other topics as well. Kids with social media names like “MyHeartBelongsToJesus” are defending their beliefs with a string of curse words….uhm, no. Babies are having babies. Young ladies are cutting their beautiful bodies and talking about it over lunch. Serious issues….casual conversations. Wow.

I am bringing this up, not to be a gossip, but to open the eyes of parents who may not have a clue that their kids are using these phrases so flippantly.¬†But maybe they don’t realize the horror of rape. Maybe they haven’t considered that a classmate within earshot has actually experienced the word and their casual use of the expression makes them feel that much more ashamed and isolated.

My advice, be proactive.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6 ESV)

After talking with Autumn, I went into the boys room to discus it with them. Peyton said, “Why are yelling at us?”¬†Oops, I was pretty upset when I approached them. “I just want you boys to know how I feel about this that way you won’t inadvertently repeat a phrase your friends use that is highly offensive and claim you didn’t know.” taste words

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt 12:36 ESV)¬†

Friends, we are living in a world that we must deal with these issues on a daily basis. It is our job to teach our kids the power of the words they speak. If we allow ourselves or our kids to become lax in our speech, we may find ourselves on a very slippery slope. It is true that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” and “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Prov 18:21 & Matt 15:18 ESV)¬†So let us take care to guard our hearts, minds and mouths from what is detrimental to the soul.

 

~Choose Your Friends Wisely~ December 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:07 am
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friendsThis morning I watched as my oldest daughter ran to catch up with two of her besties to walk into school together and my eyes welled up with tears. Yes, I am a softie and at times overly emotional, deal with it!

But I am so incredibly thankful for my kids circle of friends. I have always prayed that they would be surrounded by like minded peers and once again, God has come through. This is especially important for my middle school kids. They are at the age where hormones are all over the place driving them and us crazy. Some¬†classmates are starting to experiment with various “extra-curricular” activities.¬†¬†Meanwhile, here they are trying to find where they fit in. Elementary parents, beware, your time is fast approaching! This is why it is so important to monitor who your children choose to socialize with.

“Do not be deceived: ‚ÄúBad company ruins good morals.‚ÄĚ (1 Cor 15:33 ESV)

Suzy Sunshine might be the most awesome, trustworthy kid on the planet, but if she surrounds herself with less than savory characters, she may buckle under the pressure to follow the crowd. Autumn tends to take after her mother and struggles with people-pleasing. Her closest friends are far more strong-willed than she and that gives her that extra support to stand firm on her convictions rather than caving to fit in.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov 27:17 NIV)

My girls’ friends make her better and I love em’ all!

Runner boy has maintained a workout schedule with our senior runner who intends to enter the ministry when he graduates. He looks out for my boy as an older brother would. Could a mom ask for a better role model for her son?! Both of my boys have older guy friends that are setting spectacular examples of how to live for God. When they started with the teen ministry at our church, they were given mentors with similar interests. They lead by example and have developed deeper relationships where if one of my boys were to slip up, these young men have gained their trust enough to call them on it.

“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecc 4:10 ESV)

These guys goof off with my boys but they also give them someone to look up to and that is priceless to this momma.

So as I watched my girl and her friends huddle in close this morning, I cried out of a grateful heart. They are all blessed with fabulous friends who put this momma’s mind at ease on a daily basis. I pray these friendships last a lifetime and that as they grow closer together that they would draw near to God and rely on each others strengths to endure the hardships that come with being a teenager.

 

~Say Thank You~ December 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:46 am
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It sounds simple enough, but we oftentimes forget. Especially in the everyday things that we tend to take for granted. Our appreciation goes unspoken leaving those around us feeling undervalued and quite possibly unloved.

Well boo on that!

It literally takes a moment to say thanks to those who deserve to hear it from you. Something that requires so little of your time has the power to make someone’s day.

I believe in leading by example, so I’m going to use this platform to go first!

Thank you, to YOU, my readers! I try to reach each one of you personally but that isn’t always possible as my stats tracker doesn’t exactly tell me who is reading my posts. At times I find myself ready to lay aside the writing when life gets busy. I justify my thoughts reasoning that no one really reads my ramblings so it wouldn’t be a big deal if I quit. Then one of you lovely people will send me a note of thanks or encouragement and I’m reminded that if even one heart is stirred by something I say, then it is totally worth the effort it takes to maintain this humble page.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thes 5:11 ESV)

Thank you to my church. I am so incredibly blessed with the lovingest bunch of people to do life with that it’s almost incomprehensible. They have celebrated my highs and helped to dig me out from my lows. Even when I’ve blown it BIG time, they’ve extended grace and offered help when it would have been just as easy to cast stones and dole out judgment. You all rock!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25 ESV)

To my tribe, who puts up with my crazy on a daily basis, surely your eternal rewards will surpass all others! My sweet Bella with her sunny disposition, thanks for making momma smile first thing every morning. To my micromanager, Emma, thanks mini-me for running the show when momma is away ūüôā For Autumn, my little evangelist, thank you for your faith in Jesus AND people that never falters! Peyton, the kid that gets me, thank you for still making me feel needed even though you’re a teenager now. Thank you to Isaiah, who somehow always manages to make me laugh even on the days when I really just wanna cry. Big ol’ thanks to my coffee making, foot-rubbing, problem solving husband who has yet to kill me in my sleep. I adore you all and couldn’t imagine how boring my life would be without my circus monkeys!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3 ESV)

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5:33 ESV)

This list could go on for miles, but I think you get my drift.¬†A few minutes out of my day to let people know just how important they are to me. It cost me nothing, but will hopefully brighten their day! I’ve always heard that it takes two weeks to form a habit. So why don’t we all make it a point to say thank you to at least one person every day for the next 14 days? Maybe then we won’t become forgetful and inadvertently make those around us feel underappreciated.

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

 

~Ungrateful~ August 7, 2014

Recently I have found myself dealing with a large dose of resentment with a side of bitterness.

I blame social media.

Every time I log on, I’m bombarded with vacation photos. Before y’all get all judgy on me, let’s just remember that I’m human too & deal with the same feelings and obstacles that everyone else faces.

It seems like every person I know has been somewhere fantastic during summer break. Pictures of water slides, amusement parks, mountain cabins and the beach have not be in short supply. With every smiling face standing in front of a beautiful or exciting backdrop, I felt my anger go a little deeper.

My husband works incredibly hard. We are not reckless spenders. We are faithful in our tithes. Seriously, Lord, don’t we¬†deserve¬†a break too?! I hadn’t been praying about much but I was whining about plenty!

The other day¬†as I sat wallowing in self-pity, I started scrolling through the camera roll on my phone. Self-pity quickly turned to guilt. We are so blessed with wonderful friends and family who have included us in some serious good times. Rather than be thankful for those moments of fellowship, I had focused in on the one thing we hadn’t been able to do.

Guilt has been replaced with gratitude.

As you can see, we may not have been on a vacation in the traditional sense of the word, but we have done our best to enjoy every bit of this break within the constraints of a tight budget. 

I¬†may never understand why some struggle more than others, but what I can do is be thankful for what I do have-a healthy family and friends who love on us in ways I could never repay them for. If you have found yourself in a similar “whoa is me” pit today, will you join me¬†in looking for at least one thing you can give thanks for?

¬†“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God‚Äôs will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

I may not like it, I certainly don’t understand it, but I do firmly believe that whatever happens in this life is directly in line with what God deems best for those of us¬†who believe in Him.