Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~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 ❀

 

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~Cherish Today, Don’t Wait For Tomorrow~ August 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:50 am
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I’m sitting on the couch, snuggled up with my youngest, choking back tears so she won’t ask questions that I don’t want to answer. It’s taking everything in me not to rush out the door to find my husband and retrieve our other children from their schools. For those of you who live near me, I’m sure you already know precisely why I’m battling this urge. For the rest of my readers, there was a shooting during a live newscast in which two lives were lost. Details are trickling in but what frightens me isn’t the why or the who, it’s the fact that this took place in what I would consider a relatively small & quiet community, much like the one I live in.

I feel physically sick over the loss of life. To think that these people reported for work this morning, they nor their families having any idea it would be their last. I am devastated by the reality check that has sent shock waves through to my very core. Every part of my momma-bird instincts is screaming at me to protect what’s “mine” but here I sit, talking with you.

Because like me, I think you also need this reminder today. Your life, my life and the lives of every single person we love and care about, are precious. Our days are numbered and not one of us knows when or how our time will come. For me, this brings an awareness to my spirit that cannot be overlooked. Had this horrific tragedy involved someone in my circle, how would I feel about the last interaction I had with them? I’m replaying my morning in my mind, questioning whether or not my final moments with my people were good enough. Did I tell them I loved them and did they know the depths from which I said it? Did I rush them out the door in a frenzy leaving them feeling agitated or worse? I just can’t friends, I simply can’t.

Every single day we are given with the ones we love is nothing short of a gift. Even on the days when the kids won’t stop fighting, the house is a mess, the bills remain unpaid and so on, this one life can take a drastic turn in an instant. Are we cherishing it or taking it for granted, assuming tomorrow will be better? Once again, the world we live in has dealt us an ugly reminder that we are not promised tomorrow so we must make the very best of today. Please, I beg of you, love deeply, give generously and be thankful. Do it today.

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matt 6:34 TLB)

 

~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) 

 

 

~From Selfish To Thankful~ May 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 3:56 pm
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I am going to preface this post with one simple statement: I am selfish.

Today is Mother’s Day and I have spent a good portion of time crying. Last night my mom’s father in law suddenly passed away. So instead of coming to join my family today, she and her husband are headed up north. This is the first time in my 33 years of life that I have not been with my mommy on Mother’s Day and it breaks my heart. Of course I knew last night she was precisely where she should be, by her husband’s side in this horrible time for him and his family but I knew I would be missing her tremendously today. Told you I am selfish.

Then I was awakened bright & early by a text sent from my oldest daughter who’d stayed the night with a friend:

Happy Mother’s Day mama!!! I love you so much, and I’m so lucky to have u as a mom. Thanks for always being there for me when I need someone to talk to or need someone to vent to. Or when I go on my rages about school…u sit there and listen, and help me through them. You’re an amazing person! I am so happy that I get to call you my mom! You are my role-model in life…I want to be like you! A great friend to everyone, a great person, and a great mom! I love you more than anything! 😘 Happy Mothers Day 😍

Here come the tears again.

Then I come upstairs to find the most beautiful poem, written & framed by my husband that somehow captured one of the saddest times of my life and one of the happiest at the same time:

Not so long ago, in a day full of despair
I looked all around, wondering why you weren’t there
So much pain and oh such grief
Why dear God has this happened to me?
The pain is still real and the memory remains
Still questioning why my fate was not changed
But now looking down at this sweet little face

I fully comprehend Your amazing grace.
The loss that I felt may never fully pass
But now there’s another tiny hand that I grasp.
So today I thank you for this bundle of love
Sent from a loving, holy Father above.
I see that you love me and your promise is true,
By this beautiful gift, sent straight from you.

Next to that lay three cards, a few highlights for you:

“She makes the best macrollny”~Emma

“I’m glad I ended up with you caring instead of someone not.”~Isaiah

“One of my favorite things you do is go to all my sports events.”~Peyton

(Both boys refer to me as “Team Mom”)

More tears.

Then the text messages started to roll in, not only from friends and family, but from some of my kid’s friends too! A message of gratitude was left on my facebook page from the parents of the sweet baby girl I get to love 5 days a week. My momma heart nearly exploded!

Finally we get to church and I promise you I made my best effort to keep it together, yeah right!

Our precious friends had the dedication service for their beautiful baby boy and allowed us the honor of standing with them in the altar. Lanny, my “sister-wife,” who has felt the same devastating blow of losing a child, stood next to her husband who held their sleeping son and I wept. I cried for her loss and mine but at the same time, tears of joy for the gift that lay snoozing on his daddy’s chest.

As I said, the tears have flowed freely today, some of sadness but even more from a place of gratitude and overwhelming joy. Am I missing my mom today? Absolutely! But I am thankful I still have my mom with me while some of you weep today because your mother is in Heaven. I am thankful for the house FULL of people that love me just as I am and that the little things I do for them mean more to them than I could have ever imagined.

mothers day 2015

From one momma to another, I pray each one of you can see the hand of God in your life on this day set apart to honor us. While you, like me, may have a reason to be sad today, I hope that the good far outweighs the bad. It has to, you are a mommy, is there any greater gift in all the world for which we could give thanks?!

 

 

~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: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (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 🙂 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

 

~My Helpmate~ November 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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Yesterday we attended the regional meet for our cross country team. This was our final stop before state championships. My nerves were frayed as they often are in these types of situations but luckily for me, my calmer, better half was able to attend.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t tell you how my rockstar husband ensured that our day went as smoothly as possible.

First off, you need to know that yesterday’s weather conditions were horrendous. For those of you familiar with cross country, you are aware that the courses are on grass so you also know that rain is not your friend. Well, it rained the entire time.

Cue the husband.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 4 ESV)

He took a half day from work in order to be there with us and honestly, I worked the poor man like a rented mule. He hauled our ginormous cooler all the way to the pine trees where the teams set up camp. I should probably mention that the parking lot is precisely half a mile away from the campsites. Yes, a half mile, in the rain, on nothing but slick mud and chewed up grass. Once we got into the sanctuary of the trees, we quickly realized that the rain was too heavy for the canopy of pines to shield us from the elements.

“Honey….would you be willing to go get our tent?”

You guessed it, the tent was in that same parking lot, half a mile away. But off he went to haul our rather large, incredibly awkward tent all by his lonesome. This feat alone earned him some serious bonus points, but wait, there’s more! One of our guys FORGOT HIS RUNNING SHOES! We asked every team we knew and not a soul had extra shoes. So what do you suppose husband of the year did? He traded shoes with our runner, cramming his feet into boots at least a full size too small, and spent the rest of the day with his toes curled.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Heb 13:16 ESV)

My man was “Johnny on the spot” the entire day. Whatever I needed, whatever I couldn’t or wouldn’t do, he filled in the gap. This morning as I reflected on how differently the day would have gone had Jamie not been there, this Scripture came to mind:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen 2:18 KJV)

Today we would use the word helpmate. However if you look at the origin of the words in Hebrew, help comes from the word azar, meaning to surround, protect or aid. Meet is from kenegdo which translates as, corresponding to, counterpart to, equal to matching.

I’d say that sums up our marriage quite nicely. Not only do we protect one another as husband and wife, but with our combined talents and strengths, we make up a whole. Where I am weak, he is strong. What he lacks, I make up. Not to be cheesy, but we complete one another, just as the Lord intended when He created the institute of marriage.

Take a look at your helpmate today, paying careful attention to the numerous ways you are polar opposites. Instead of viewing your differences as obstacles to overcome, focus on how they strengthen you as individuals and as a couple. Now thank God for the gift He gave you, I know I will.

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