Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Exhausted Mom Tips~ March 2, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:06 am
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The last 12 hours have worn this momma slap out! Before I dive into my mom tips, you need the backstory.

Last night, while making breakfast for dinner, I was pulling double duty and having my 5 year old do her reading books at the table.

“Buh-uh-buh-buh-la-eh”

Enter two teenagers with packets about registering for classes NEXT YEAR.

“What?! Say it again!”

And she did, louder and slower than the first time.

Grounded sister wails from the back of the house.

“I have no clue what you’re saying! Spell it.”

My gravy was at the critical point here, so it’s not like I could just walk away and look at the word. I try to quickly grab something from the freezer and ice cream falls out on my feet.

“B-u-b-b-l-e.”

Now I’m all about my little kindergartener learning to read but sometimes you just want to scream, “sweet Jesus, it’s bubble!!!”

Later in the evening…all is quiet and a thunderstorm erupts. Big black dog turns into tiny lap dog at the crack of thunder. So instead of peaceful slumber, my night was filled with a pacing pup that intermittently jumped on the bed, whimpering and vibrating like a wind-up toy.

So let’s just say this morning was off. I’m trying to balance the checkbook and thought everyone was getting ready. Y’all know what they say about assumptions?? I bellow, “last call,” and realize youngest daughter is chilling in her pjs, chatting with big sister about the caboodle she wants for her birthday. Jesus take the wheel. I have never dressed a child so fast in my life. I yank Emma’s hair into a side pony for Eighties Day and we race out the door, late. I throw the car in reverse, looking into a mirror for the first time today.

Oh. Lawd.

Now for the tips….

  1. Upon realizing you look a hot mess, throw on some shades. Then it looks intentional instead of like you forgot to brush your hair.image
  2. It’s totally acceptable to throw four cartons of ice cream across the room because someone left just enough to say they didn’t eat it all and now they’re cascading out onto your toes.
  3. When it’s “throwback Thursday” on the radio, it’s wise to remember your teens have cell phones at the ready to make you a Snapchat feature. Better hone your car dancing skills. (WordPress said you can’t see the video so only my Facebook peeps will experience that pleasure.)
  4. Lastly, for now: laugh at yourself, hug your babies when they’re on your last nerve and thank Jesus for sunglasses, coffee, 90s hip-hop & grace.
 

~Empathy instead of pride~ August 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:01 pm
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About a month ago, something happened that made me withdraw from posting for a bit. I was so furious that I knew if I tried to write about it, all that would come across was my complete outrage. I try to encourage with the things that I post and when the wound was fresh, I didn’t have it in me to be Miss Susie Sunshine. So I guess I should begin with “the incident.”

My girls went out for ice cream with Nana & Papa Losh. Hubs and I were out with the boys so we were unaware of what had happened until it was all said and done. All was going well with the excursion until my youngest went to throw away her trash. As they went to leave, an older gentleman stopped my mother.

“Hey, that little girl right there…”

“Yes?”

“She flipped-off my wife!”

At this point, my little Bella dissolved into tears and buried her face into my mother’s legs.

“She’s only 5! She doesn’t even know what that means!!”

“Oh, she knew what she was doing”

“Are you serious, you are making a child cry!”

So this dude was relentless. A grown man made a child cry and he was quite indignant about it. He was proud of himself even. Somehow, my mom managed to keep her composure and get the girls out before she decked the guy in their presence. Papa Losh fired off a “shut your mouth” as the bully continued his rant as they were attempting to leave. Other patrons of the restaurant sat stunned at this guy’s over the top reaction to an obvious misunderstanding. What this man didn’t know was that my girl points with her middle finger. As a matter of fact, all of my kids did when they were younger.

I’m sure every parent out there can imagine my reaction to this story as it unfolded. Every part of me wanted to race to the ice cream shop in hopes that the man was still there so I could tell him what a stand up guy he was. Quite honestly, the only reason hubs & I didn’t bolt was because too much time had passed. So instead, we all fumed about what kind of human being could be smug about making a little girl cry. We all loved on Bella and explained to her that sometimes, people are just mean.

After this, every interaction I saw online seemed to be people attacking each other. Fights were  breaking out over politics and social movements, insults were thrown around as if they were no big deal, and people’s feelings were being hurt, intentionally. Over and over again and I couldn’t deal. I couldn’t encourage because I was so completely discouraged myself.

I know without a doubt that I have hurt people. I’ve made people cry, most often the ones I love the most. In spite of this truth, I can say with complete certainty that I have never once felt good about being responsible for someone’s pain. I could not wrap my mind around the level of meanness I was seeing, first with the ice cream debacle and then online. All I could picture when watching these fights fester was my little girl’s face all scrunched up and tear streaked and the face of a stranger, grinning smugly at his accomplishment. So I withdrew. I limited my contact with the outside world and skimmed over every post that appeared inflammatory. No part of me could comprehend what would inspire satisfaction, knowing that you were the cause of another’s pain.

During this time, what I’ve come to realize is, we can’t possibly understand why people hurt each other. We are meant to be empathetic, compassionate and do our best at making the world we live in a better place. My mom could have blessed that man out. I could have weighed in on the online attacks, berating the parties for their behavior. But what good would have come from that? In either circumstance, all we would have done was add to the hurt and anger and chaos.

My blood still boils when I think of my baby hurting at the expense of another’s poor choices. I still can’t say what I would have done had it been me that he addressed. My heart still aches when I see friends become enemies over opposing views. All I can say at this point is that I think it’s sad to look around and see people feeling prideful about their ability to inflict pain. It does happen, often, but even in our anger, even when it’s justified, if we dissolve someone to tears, can we at least try to be empathetic? Just try,that’s all any of us can ever do. angelou

 

 

~When Saying Nothing isn’t an Option~ July 8, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:13 pm
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 It’s been quite some time since I sat down to write. I thought it was because I had nothing to say but with a little more reflection, I think it’s because I’ve been struggling with having something encouraging to say and I don’t like to add to the constant negativity that surrounds us. Then I wake up this morning and see yet another string of horrific events.

Honestly, I have yet to recover from the mass shooting in Florida and much has happened since then. I rarely watch the news. That’s probably irresponsible of me but it truly depresses me to the point that it affects my ability to function. I feel helpless and frustrated and terrified to walk out the door with my children. I did tune in once this week to see that over 60 shootings occurred in Chicago over the holiday weekend. Granted there were only 4 fatalities but among the injured were a 5 & 8 year old shot while playing with sparklers! This morning social media informs me of not one, but two officer involved shootings followed up by a sniper attack?! I have a limited knowledge of all of the above because I can’t watch the video footage circulating and of course if we aren’t present, all we know is what the media presents. But it appears to me that every single instance was driven by hate. When did it become the norm to turn to rage & murder simply because you don’t “agree” with someone? Instead of people mourning the sensless loss of human life, arguments flare up over gun control, immigration and politics. I have never claimed to be the most educated but one thing I do know for certain is hate solves nothing.

I’ve been silent since the Orlando shooting because I have no desire to engage in these sorts of arguments. The moment I read an article about a momma texting her son who was later killed in that nightclub, my whole world changed. At any moment, that could be any one of us, staring down the barrel of a gun, begging for mercy where there is none. Possibly even more sobering, it could be any one of us on the other end of the line, where someone we love is the one in peril. People, can you even imagine? One minute you’re enjoying a night out, singing in your place of worship or just going about your daily business and the next, your world is flipped on it’s side.

So I won’t be engaging in a battle over whose lives matter, because to me, they all do. Vengeance is not mine to seek, instead I choose to pray for peace & justice for all victims.   

 

~Practice What You Preach~ May 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:07 pm
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Being an adult often puts us in awkward positions where we have to choose between how we want to act and how we should.

Recently I was upset over something I read. In the spirit of complete transparency, I was also angry. My gut reaction was to fire off an emotional response which is exactly what I was doing when I looked over to see my 14 year old daughter. And I thought of all the times she has come to me furious or crushed over something a friend said or did to her. All the advice I had given about handling  yourself gracefully and with as much dignity as possible came to mind.

  • Don’t engage in exchanging insults.
  • If you can’t seek reconciliation, don’t seek vengeance in it’s place.
  • Say how you feel without making accusations.
  • Think about what you want to say, choose your words carefully and remember once they’re out there, you can never get them back.

So I stopped my rant, deleted every word, and shut it down.

Anger is not a sin, but you can sin in your anger.

I have failed at this very thing numerous times, when I reacted without hesitation. I still carry regrets from those moments. I’m glad my girl was sitting close by, keeping me from making yet another mistake. Thankfully, her presence was enough to remind me that I’m supposed to be setting an example here. If I had responded with a hot temper, after all the things I’ve tried to instill in her about dealing with these situations, I would be the worst kind of hypocrite. Practicing what you preach, it’s heavy, but necessary if you wish to be taken seriously. I would never encourage anyone else to be hateful, regardless of whether they felt it was warranted or not, so I had to take my own advice.

You are not responsible for how others perceive you or how they react to what you say. You are, however, accountable for every word you speak.

 

 

~THINK First~ March 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:11 am
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Hey you, with your finger hovering over “post,” can what you’re about to share be perceived as malicious, either by means of direct attack or passive-aggressively? Think about that, would you please, before you blurt out something you can never take back.

Social media has made it far to easy to be a cowardly bully. Everyday I see at least one post that is obviously meant to make someone or some group feel bad about themselves. Granted, I have several friends who are already combatting this trend by posting encouraging words every time they are online, but the problem is still prevalent.

What does one have to gain from being mean-spirited and hate-filled? What good can possibly come from slandering someone publicly with no consideration for who else could be affected by your rant? Does it invoke a feeling of power to seek one’s own revenge? Does it make you feel better about yourself to know that someone feels miserable about themselves at your hands?

I would venture to say that for the most part, when given these points some consideration, you would think twice before you rapid-fire posted in the midst of your anger or frustration.

One of my favorite Christian authors talks about the beauty of the “pause” and how taking the time to ask yourself 3 questions can drastically change the outcome of any situation:

  1. Are my words kind?
  2. Are my words true?
  3. Are my words necessary? (From LysaTerkeurst.com)

Imagine yourself today with a literal pause button. Before you speak, with your mouth OR your hands, give yourself a moment to think so that you can respond with grace rather than vengeance.

Friends, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, too, hurt & betrayed and desperate for someone to come alongside me and validate my anger. While it may make us feel better in the short-term, it will likely make us feel that much worse once the dust settles and we realize that how we reacted was no better than the original offense. Let’s just agree to make the effort, one day at a time, to choose our words carefully. And when we mess up, know that there is forgiveness and grace to try again tomorrow.


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

 

~Bah Humbug!~ December 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:21 am
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“Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.” (1 Peter 4:8 The Message)

Earlier this week, Mom & I took the kids out to run a few errands. Because of the randomness that was our shopping list, we decided to hit the nearest big box store as opposed to making several stops. In case any of you have lost count, I have five kids at home, so as you can imagine that brings a whole other level of good times to venturing into public.

What I can say about this particular experience is that it wasn’t my kids that tainted my mood, it was the grownups we encountered. Aisle after aisle we were met with people glaring at my not loud, but not quiet, brood. Then there were those with buggies planted firmly in the center of the row, refusing to budge when my son politely said “excuse me.” There was one highlight, locking eyes with the momma who’s four littles were engaged in a wrapping paper sword fight 😂 We made our way to checkout where I met my match, the sour faced cashier. I’m a stubborn woman, y’all, so I made it my life’s mission to get this woman to smile or at least speak! I tried everything, and she never even looked up…ouch! I will admit, it frustrated me. What on earth could make someone be so rude?!

This morning I was thinking about this little shopping trip and I believe I’ve pinpointed why it irritated me so much. We are in the midst of the Christmas season and yet a vast majority of people seem far from jolly. This is not a recent development, I’m sure you’ve seen it year after year as well. If you’ve ever been out on “Black Friday” then you’ve seen the worst of the worst…one time & never again! Perhaps what bothered me even more was how I allowed others’ attitudes to effect my own. So I’m determined to make it my goal this holiday season to be the light even when surrounded by sour faced, non-budging, disapproving faces.

Just keep smiling, friends, and chat up that cashier. Offer well wishes and be sincere! (I believe I just channeled my inner Dr. Suess for those lines.) You may not get the reaction you’d prefer but we don’t do life like we do to get a response, we do it to show the love of Christ. And the truth of the matter is, we have no clue what the strangers we meet are going through to make them interact with others the way they do. I don’t ever want to become so insensitive & hard-hearted that I can’t see past someone’s stern expression to offer a warm smile in return. If you are one of the ones struggling to find a reason to smile, think of just one thing you have to be thankful for and let that become your focus today.

Be kind always.

I am thankful for a toasty fireplace to write beside while getting lost in twinkling lights <3

I am thankful for a toasty fireplace to write beside while getting lost in twinkling lights ❤

 

 

~How Do They Live With Themselves?~ September 15, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:27 pm
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people-sin-differently-do-not-judgeIf we are completely honest with ourselves, we all have at least one person that we have at some point felt this way about. When we see them, we snarl our nose in disgust or shake our heads full of judgmental thoughts or roll our disapproving eyes. I mean really, how can they live with themselves knowing the horrible mistakes they’ve made?

I’ll tell you what we don’t know about “them”. We will never know the battle that’s raged within them over every bad decision they’ve  ever made. We will never know the nights they have lain awake and wept over the lives they’ve  damaged and hearts left broken in their wake. When we look at them, all we see are their sins. Our unforgiving eyes bury them in even more shame and regret than they already carry.

At one point, they saw themselves just as we do. Their reflection brought on anguish that cannot be explained as their transgressions swept over them and gripped them at the core. Then one day, they accepted the grace and forgiveness they had always heard of but never fully grasped was available to someone like them.

So now when you see them and they no longer drop their eyes in shame when they meet yours, perhaps you’ll think of your own demons that you’ve battled that gives you such boldness to walk around making others feel unworthy. That’s right, I went there. Not one of us has lived a sinless, spotless life & I’m sure we all have something from our past we’d rather not relive.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matt 7:1-5 Message)

Your choosing to not shame someone over their past doesn’t excuse whatever they did to make you feel that way towards them. It takes a deep level of maturity to no longer seek vengeance. I have found when those feelings rise up in me, if I’ll take pause to think of all from which I have been forgiven, it knocks me down a peg or two and allows me to see them in a different light.

 

~Keepin’ It Real~ July 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:41 am
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I have a feeling that some of you are about to be seriously disappointed in me. I should start by telling you, I don’t swear, honest I don’t. I used to cuss like a sailor back in my pre-Jesus-loving days but I have since been redeemed and turned from my potty mouth ways. However, moments ago, I let a four letter word slip….and there was a witness!

It’s been one of those mornings where I feel like my brain is in a fog. I’ve tried to function like a normal human being but have found it rather impossible. So naturally I assumed I just needed another dose of caffeine. The coffee had gone lukewarm so I had to zap it in the microwave because coffee just isn’t coffee unless it’s scorching hot. Right as I went to grab my super cute mug from the machine of fire, my hand slipped and the nectar of the heavens went flying everywhere, including all over me. I did mention how hot I like my coffee, right?! Y’all it stung…seriously…and you know how I feel about my coffee so seeing it spill into the floor was a crushing blow. Before I could even think, the dirty word started to slip out. I caught myself midway through the “sh” sound and tried to throw on the brakes. So what came out was a whispered, slightly slurred, version of the word. I heard something behind me and slowly turned around to see Peyton…laughing. In my anguish I’d forgotten I was not alone. I started to tell him I was sorry for the slip when through his laughter he yelled, “REPENT”!!

That kid.

As I mopped up my mess, I did apologize, to Peyton & Jesus, for my faux pas. And I was thankful. Thankful for grace, even in the small moments. Thankful for kids who know their momma is human and can forgive her shortcomings. Thankful for a God who loves me, even when I slip in frustration. Thankful for the gift of repentance that draws us closer to that very same God. And lastly, thankful for the Keurig that quickly replaced my go-go juice so that this day can continue 😉coffee

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV) 

 

 

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:13 am
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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)

 

~Peacemaker or Fight Picker~ January 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:11 am
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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matt 5:9 NIV)

Peacemakers, huh?  What does it mean, exactly, to be a peacemaker?

-One who brings peace, especially amongst adversaries.-Thanks Google.

The exact opposite of “fight pickers.”

Here’s what I am reading between the lines. A peacemaker is someone who looks for a way to bring resolution to a conflict as opposed to stirring the pot and causing further strife.

Have you ever witnessed an argument before and wondered, “What are they trying to achieve here?” You watch, (in person or online since that’s a more common method of communicating these days), and it seems as though the only thing one or both parties hopes to achieve is to prove how right they are and how grotesquely wrong their adversary is. My inner people pleaser keeps me from chiming in 99% of the time but what I’m screaming on the inside is “What good is going to come from this?!”

I am by no means perfect in this area myself. I don’t always fight fair and my words don’t always travel through the God filter before they tumble out of mouth. I am, after all, a work in progress.

How different do you suppose our world would be if we would aim to find peace in the midst of disagreements as opposed to seeking our own agenda at every turn? I am not suggesting that we all cower from arguments, fighting is part of human nature. But how open are you to hearing the other person’s perspective when they are on the attack, slinging accusations and pointing fingers? Got you there, right? We are far more likely to listen when the approach is one of gentleness and the desired result is fixing a problem instead of inflating it to disastrous proportions.

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2;23-25 ESV)

Reminding yourself to be quick to listen and slow to speak is the last thing on your mind when someone has upset you, I know. That is why it’s important to commit these things to memory every day, when you’re not all fired up, then it will come more naturally the next time an argument presents itself.prov 1012

Love.  A four letter word that actually has a positive meaning. Let it flood every area of your life and see the life changing effect it has on you and all those you come in contact with.