Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Physical Health Strengthens Our Spiritual Health~ February 24, 2015

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“Physical health is a spiritual discipline.” ~Rick Warren

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1Cor 9:27 ESV)   

Our small group is currently doing the “Transformed” study by Rick Warren. It is a seven part series with focuses on spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational, financial and vocational health. It’s good stuff, people. Last night we began our study on physical health.

I have always done a fairly decent job in taking care of my body. I am by no means perfect. For example, my friend, Lisa, and I ran 12 very long miles Sunday. Did I replenish with the appropriate balance of carbs & protein? No, I rewarded myself with this….funyunsAs I said, not perfect. But I felt like I’d earned it. I knew a bag of overly processed, onion “flavored”, sodium filled rings was a poor choice but I felt justified. So last night we fire up the DVD and one of the first Scriptures shared was 1st Corinthians 6:12:

“Everything is permissible for me-but not everything is beneficial.”

Dang it!

God has given us the right to choose what we put into our bodies. We are provided with a plethora of options, both healthy and not so much. Where we often make the mistake is thinking as our culture dictates: it’s my body, I’ll do what I want. Besides, my choices don’t affect anyone but me.

Wrong again.

Food is fuel. Think of it like this, if you went out and bought a beautiful, high-performance sports car, would you put low-grade gasoline in the tank? The truth of the matter is, your body performs at a higher level when you fill it with the proper nutrients.

Then there is the fitness side of our physical health. Something Pastor Rick said in his message really resonated with me, “How you treat your body is a reflection of the body of Christ. It is not about vanity.” (Loose paraphrase)

There was a time when I worked out excessively. It was my number one priority. The more I saw results in the mirror and on the scale, the more time I devoted to my physique. And it had nothing to do with honoring God with my body. I wanted to look good, plain and simple. It became addictive to the point that it was detrimental to the rest of my life. Exercise was my idol.

While it is good to maintain a fitness routine, just like anything else if done in excess, it can bring you to ruin. Our physical health is all about balance.

  • Making wise choices with what we eat.
  • Taking care to not consume things which are harmful to our bodies.
  • Incorporating physical activity to keep our bodies fit and able.

If you or I are not healthy, then we are not going to be of much use to anyone. It’s difficult to give of your time and talents if you are rundown, stressed out or sickly. You must take care of yourself in order to take care of others.

God is not seeking perfection. Don’t make the mistake of idolizing someone who you perceive as having the perfect body and healthy lifestyle. Focus on being the best version of yourself, not somebody else.

The first Scripture our Autumn learned when she was itty-bitty was Psalm 139:14, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Yes, we are. Each one of us, completely unique individuals created to do something magnificent. Don’t let your health be a stumbling block along the path that God has set you on. daniel plan

 

~My Heart Knows, It’s My Mind That Needs Convincing~ January 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:08 am
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I am currently training for my first, (and quite possibly last), half marathon. Myself and two lifelong friends from high school have made a vow to endure this together. The difference is…both of them have ran at least one before so they have the advantage of knowing they can do this. Lucky for me, one of the two is a local girl so we are logging our miles together which makes it a pretty awesome experience. The third musketeer lives at the location of our upcoming race so we are keeping up with her training via text.

Yesterday we were chatting about the long runs we have pending and the fact that I have never ran more than 7.5….ever. Her encouragement, “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Mind over matter.” Sounds simple enough but it was what I needed to hear. I train consistently and make proper fuel a priority so my body is able but my mind tells me otherwise.

In the same way that I am making preparations for this race, I prepare myself for the work I do in ministry. I pray, I read God’s Word, I seek counsel. My heart is full of God’s love and I feel ready. Then my mind chimes in and has me second guessing.

My mind will tell me that I’m not smart enough because I don’t have a college degree.

My mind will tell me I’m too young for people to have any faith in my abilities to lead.

My mind will tell me that my past isn’t really forgiven, by God or anyone else for that matter, and with that looming all around me, I can’t be an effective witness.

But my heart. My heart believes that God can use anyone who is willing. I can feel His strength when I step out in faith. I lean on the words of Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts,” believing that my shortcomings are no matter to God.

While my heart is confident, my mind can always use some tweaking. Like most of you, my thoughts can get a little crazy and I find myself wasting precious time essentially arguing with myself. It’s time that I take captive those detrimental thoughts and replace them with encouraging Scripture.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9 ESV)  

Yeah, that one ought to do it 🙂jeremiah 29

 

~Lost in Translation?~ October 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:50 am
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So I just recently discovered that my smarter-than-me phone has this wonderful feature known as talk to text. Color me excited!! I am hands down, the WORST texter in the world. I know this because my teenage sons tell me daily.

Yesterday was my first time using the fun little microphone at the bottom of the keyboard. I said my message, hit send and quickly realized my phone ain’t so smart after all. Apparently, it doesn’t speak Southern. My son’s name, Isaiah, came out “I’d say I.” Instead of night, it typed out “not.” Spouse found it humorous and suggested I say the word “ice,” one of the fam’s favorite words to make fun of me over, and see what genius phone spit out. Sadly, I can’t repeat what my phone sad, very foul mouth. I considered washing it with soap then thought better of it.

This minor inconvenience got me thinking about how often this happens in our face-to-face conversations. How many times do we shoot off what’s on our minds before taking the time to process how someone might interpret what we say? In my vast experience of ticking people off, I have discovered that nine times out of ten, the disagreement was caused by misunderstanding. The phrase, “that’s not what I meant,” has passed my lips more than a time or two. Although I may not have intended to upset the other person, I certainly didn’t pause to run my words through the Jesus filter. It’s a real thing, people, you have one too, and unlike my NOT-so-smart phone, this one can understand all accents.

Can you even imagine how many hurt feelings we could avoid if we took the time to consider how the other party’s personality might cause them to perceive what we’re about to say?! Mind blowing, right?! Eh, not really, more like a common courtesy that’s not so common anymore. The Book of Proverbs has numerous verses that speak to this issue, but I’ll just share a couple of my favorites.

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

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (18:2)

Let’s make a pact today to not be like a fool and actually take the time to choose our words carefully. It is far more rewarding to see someone smile as a result of your words than to watch tears slip silently down their cheeks.IMG_2659

 

~What I Learned From Watching “Frozen”…Repeatedly~ May 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:22 am
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“Let it go, let it go!!!”

These words ring out in my house on a daily basis, from the mouths of my babes or the television speakers.  The ladies of the house are hooked on Disney’s latest hit, “Frozen,” self included.  What’s not to love about a musical that features a dysfunctional family?!  Combine that with the deceptively charming villain, a simple yet wise talking snowman, a reindeer that reminds us all of our favorite pet & the love interest who struggles to communicate his feelings, (something most ladies can relate to), and you’ve got yourself a hit!  Not to mention the wildly successful single from the movie soundtrack…seriously, these Disney people are on to something.

Around the 27th time of viewing this movie, something Queen Elsa belted out caught my attention:

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

It was one of those “aha” moments…like, how have I heard this song a bazillion times and not picked up on the depth of this verse?!

How many of you feel stuck?  Who can say that your current circumstances have you feeling confined, unable to move forward…paralyzed by fear?  Perhaps you are so consumed by thoughts of failure that you remain at their mercy, controlled by feelings and not by faith.  So many of us sense a pull to do something great but we place limitations on ourselves that have us convinced we can’t possibly find success through that avenue.

Fear can manifest itself in numerous ways but I have found the hardest to overcome for me personally is insecurity.  I oftentimes struggle to believe that I have what it takes to do anything meaningful.  I don’t like to admit this, but I think someone else needs to hear it.  The truth of the matter is, those of us who have accepted Christ as our savior have the most powerful resource available by way of the Holy Spirit.  We don’t have to rely on our own abilities but simply trust that if God planted a desire in our hearts, He will equip us with what is necessary to see it come to fruition.

Self-doubt, past mistakes, worldly rejection…all of these things are powerless against the plan of God.  We are not meant to be prisoners of our own minds or criticisms of our peers.  So let me pose this simple question, “What would you do if fear was taken out of the equation?”  Fill in the blank from this statement:  I will not let ____________ consume me.  I will fulfill my purpose.

Now, let it go.  Lay down all those self-deprecating thoughts and accept the gifts and talents God has given you and put them to use!  You are more.fear is not master

(For inquiring minds…yes, “Frozen” is currently being watched in the background.)

 

~Your Encourager Needs Encouragement Too~ December 13, 2013

We all have at least one person that we can always count on to say just the right thing when we are down and out.  Chances are, it’s the first person you think of when you need prayer or counsel.  You consider them to be rock solid and faithful.  You can count on them to be there when you need them most and trust that they will keep your conversations confidential.  And most importantly, when they say they are going to pray for you, they do.

Obviously your person has it all together and never has struggles of their own, that’s why you are drawn to them for guidance, right?

Of course the answer is no.

The problem is that we often tend to see them that way.  We become so accustomed to seeking their help that we inadvertently overlook them when they are in the pit.  It’s not that we don’t want to be there for them in the same capacity that they have been for us, we just feel inadequate to minister to them.  After all, what could we possibly say to encourage the one who we look to for spiritual wisdom?

Who is your person?

  • Your pastor or their spouse
  • Mom or Dad
  • Your spouse
  • Your BFF:  Best Friend Forever not Big Fat Friend (sorry, couldn’t resist one of my fav movie references)

If it’s your pastor or his/her spouse, just think for a moment how many others likely have the same “it” person.  Can you even imagine how many counseling sessions they do or the number of prayer requests they must receive in a day?  And this is how it should be, they are spiritual leaders.  But even so, they need prayer too, probably even more so than some of those they are praying for!  Because of the tireless work they do for the Lord, it places a “most wanted” sign on their back for the devil.  They are vulnerable and subject to attack, same as you and me.

Mom & Dad…well they worry about you anyway, it’s part of the job description.  I am a grown woman and still want to run to my Momma when my world gets turned upside down.  They are our safety net.  Sometimes they have troubles and try to hide them from us because they don’t want to burden their children.

Husbands & wives automatically bear one another’s burdens, or at least they should.  I have been know to unload on my man the minute he hits the door in the evenings.  Maybe he’s had a rough day too but he keeps his worries and struggles to himself because he doesn’t want to put more on my already full plate.

Best friends are very often on the receiving end of our loaded gun.  They know us well, sometimes better than we know ourselves, and we know we can spew it all out and they’ll totally understand.  May I be blunt?  Don’t be the friend who monopolizes all of the talk time in the relationship.  Yes, your friend is an awesome listener, full of sound advice and love for you but don’t let their silent nod fool you into believing they have nothing to discuss themselves.

So how can you encourage the one who has lifted you up time after time?  Give them a call with no agenda of your own, just to say “hey, how’s it going with you today?” then listen for indicators that their typical response of “I’m ok” is a farce.  How about a card?  Never underestimate the power of the written word.  Technology has made hand-written notes a thing of the dark ages, but there’s something special about a tangible piece of paper that you can keep with you always.  If you have a little spare time on your hands, see if they are free for coffee and give them the floor this time.  Be creative.  The key is to make them your priority because, yes, your encourager needs encouragement too.

encourager

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another”

(Romans 12:10 NKJV)

 

~Blinded By The Log~ November 4, 2013

Tomorrow is election day and can I just say how glad I will be when it’s all over!  I have had about all the “he said, she said”, slanderous, malicious, back-biting campaigns I can take!

Why is it that politicians ads focus more on what the other guys did wrong instead of what they themselves propose to do right?  I find it rather frustrating that they are spending exorbitant amounts of money tearing each other down all the while one of our countries biggest issues is debt.  Does anyone else take issue with this?

Show me the guy (or gal) that runs an honest campaign, focusing solely on their morals and intentions if elected and that’s the one who gets my vote.

In the last couple of weeks, it’s gotten to where every other ad on television is politically based.  Having it been so in-your-face, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to campaigns and life right where we’re at.

How many of you have ever dealt with a “politician” in your life?  You know the type.  Someone who uses the vast majority of their time and energy putting the focus on what everyone else around them is doing wrong so that hopefully no one will notice their own blunders.  I would venture to say you have all been either on the receiving end of this sort of behavior…or you have even been the guilty party a time or two (gasp)!

I find that people are more receptive to what I have to say when I use my own personal experiences as an example.  Today I’m turning the tables….I’m going to show you how I’ve been the ugly politician.

My marriage has had it’s fair share of ups and downs (relax honey, I’m not airing our dirty laundry).  We have argued, hurt one another’s feelings and  neglected the other’s needs.  In the midst of one our more recent valleys, I found myself making a list of everything he did wrong.  It was locked away in my mind, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.  All of my thoughts were centered around his short-comings.  My attitude and actions towards him were reflective of this list that scrolled through my mind on repeat.  Not once did I pause to think of my role in the problem.  I justified my behavior thinking that surely everyone would see it my way if I were to point out all his flaws, so to speak.  Then one day it hit me.  It was if the Holy Spirit gently asked me, “what about you?”

You see, I was behaving just like the politicians that get on my last nerve.  I was painting this hideous picture of my opponent, aka hubs, hoping that if I could keep the attention on all the wrong things he had done, no one would notice where I was falling short, myself included.  As I said, this battle was happening internally, but eventually it would have come out because what you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45).  I would have bad mouthed my partner in this life in hopes of gaining favor with those around us.

Maybe you can relate to this example and you’ve been the one dishing the dirt.  Or maybe you’ve encountered a “politician” in friendship, the workplace, or heaven forbid, church!  May I encourage you today?  When faced with someone bent on tearing you down, before you turn it into a full blown mud-slinging showdown, take pause and think of what personal demons they may be battling that is making them point the finger at you.  If you are like me and are doing the finger pointing, look inwards and perhaps you will find that you have some work you need to do and that other person isn’t so bad after all.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye.’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your bother’s eye.”

(Matthew 7:2-5 NIV)

 

~Pray From Your Heart~ October 8, 2013

Last night we started back up our life group meetings here in our home.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically a small group that gathers to discuss the sermon from the previous week but even more than that, we do life together.  We hold each other accountable, help one another and have committed to be “on call” should anyone in the group need us no matter the time of day.

I love these people.  They are my family and I value them more than they will ever know.

Two things stand out to me from last nights meeting.

The first was an act of service.  We were gifted a fridge from another precious family in our church.  That in and of itself was a God thing!  It was sitting in the dining room and as we were breaking for the evening, one of our members offered to help us swap out the new for the old AND haul off the old one!  Without any hesitation, everyone got to work.  The ladies and I emptied the contents of the fridge and the men got to sweatin’.  Now maybe you are a better housekeeper than me, but for those of you normal folks, I am sure you can imagine how the floor where the fridge once lied looked….fuzz anyone?  My sisters hit their knees, in their nice clothes, and started scrubbing.  That is love.

The other moment that I keep replaying was during our prayer time.  For that part of the night, we bring in all of the children as well.  We had 11 kiddos present & we were outnumbered!  Everyone gets an opportunity to give their prayer requests and as I am sure you can imagine, 5 year old girls will talk as long as given the floor.  So let’s just say we had a lengthy list.  To wrap it up I looked at hubs and said, “pray us out!”  He looked at me and responded with, “uh…”  That is when sweet, blond-headed, middle school child who does not belong to me looked at him and said, “It’s ok, Jamie, just pray from your heart.”

I melted.  Out of the mouths of babes.

Two vital, biblical lessons were displayed here last night.

First, use what God has given you, right where you are at to be of service to others.  You don’t have to be an eloquent speaker to show God’s love.  Take whatever unique gift He has blessed you with and use it to glorify His name.

 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”

(1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT)

Lesson number 2, pray from a heart that yearns for God letting the Holy Spirit guide you.  Nowhere in the bible does it say your prayers have to be poetic.  But they must be sincere.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.  Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

(Matthew 6:7-8 NLT)

I thank God for these groupies who are walking in obedience to the Lord.  I pray that each one of you would be blessed with a group of friends to do life with.  Having godly friends to help shoulder your burdens is one of the greatest gifts our Father has given us.  He created us to need one another, don’t shy away from that.GEM

 

~Teach With Grace~ September 30, 2013

teaching-wordle“I hate teaching new people stuff.”

Seriously, that wasn’t very nice.  Quite honestly I was so caught off guard by their comment that I was speechless.

Now a couple weeks later I have mastered my witty comeback, “Well, where would you be had no one taken the time to teach you the skills that you now possess?”

Ok, so maybe not so witty, but true…right?

I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy in training that this was the “leader” he was placed under.  If he would make such a comment to me, someone simply passing by, can you imagine the attitude he put off on his pupil?

Then I thought about how “seasoned” Christians can sometimes by to the “newbies.”  Are we responding to their questions and uncertainties with an attitude of, “I hate teaching new people stuff” or are we being gracious and patient as someone once was with us?

You know, I think that so many young Christians quit because they’ve been made to feel that they had to have it all together the moment they received salvation.  Someone in a position of spiritual authority has made the life of faith seem like an instantaneous change rather than a continual growth process.  So when they slip, and we all know they will, rather than seek guidance & forgiveness, they just walk away feeling frustrated and defeated because they were unable to reach the impossible standards that were set before them.

I know that we can’t all be teachers, nor do I consider myself one, but in my opinion, once you claim to be a Christian, you have automatically become an example that people will look to for guidance.  I do see myself as a willing vessel who is happy to share what I learn from the Word as it not only helps others, it helps me as well.  It is not an annoyance to help a new Christian with their walk, it is a privilege to watch them learn and transform into a new creation.

As you encounter those who have just begun their journey, withhold the judgment and go heavy on the love.  Think of who you were when you first accepted Jesus as your Savior, if you were like me, you were absolutely clueless what to do after you prayed the sinners prayer!  Be gracious and gentle and help people.  Help them overcome the obstacles that trip them up as opposed to becoming agitated that they are still having the same problems.

Don’t be like the guy who hates teaching new people stuff, be like Jesus who lived for it.

“Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have

commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

 

~The Words of Our Testimony~ September 16, 2013

testimonyLast night I had the privilege of sharing my testimony with a small group of young adults.  It was, by far, one of the most amazing things I’ve been a part of since beginning my walk with the Lord.

It was pretty awesome that our pastor had just spoke that morning on the importance of sharing our struggles with others.  After all, what good are we doing anyone by walking around like we’ve got it all figured out?  I can honestly say, that even with this message still playing in my mind, I wasn’t sure that my story could really make any kind of difference.  BUT, I was willing to share.

Once we got going with the interview, God just took over.  I was able to share so much of myself; about who I was, what I’ve gone through, who I am & my hope for what is still to come.  And as I was going through the details of my not-so-fairy-tale past, I got to relive the grace and mercy that God has showered me with over the years.  I was, and I am still, in complete awe of the work that God has done in my life.  Even when I was unaware of His presence, He was with me; protecting me & leading me towards the life that He had planned for me.

I can’t say that I have always known the importance of sharing one’s testimony, but having done so in this setting, I totally get it now.  The feeling of liberation that I experienced afterwards was unreal.  When you lay it all out there for others to see just how big a wreck you used to be, before Jesus, and how much of an impact accepting Him has had on your life, it is not just for their benefit but for yours as well.  Being real about the struggles that we still face, even with Him as the Lord of our lives, shows that we know we are all just a bunch of messed up sinners in need of a Savior…daily, not just a one time “Lord forgive me for everything, amen” kind of Savior.   It opens the door for others to find their way to a full and complete life with Jesus while at the same time reminding us of how far we’ve come with Him in control.

In searching for a Scripture to share that would sum up how I felt about this opportunity to share with others, I came across 2 Corinthians, verses 1-5:

“When I first came to you, dear brothers & sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.  For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.  I came to you in weakness-timid and trembling.  And my message and my preaching were very plain.  Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied on the power of the Holy Spirit.  I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

I pray that each one of us would use our testimony of God’s goodness to help transform the lives of others.  When you become transparent for the sake of growing the Kingdom, you will be amazed at the transformation that takes place in your life.  And even if you never know on this side of eternity the impact that you may have made on someone’s life, one day, it will all be worth when you hear the Lord himself say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

~I Get To~ September 10, 2013

privlege

I woke up nice and early this morning so that I would have time to post without interruption.  Just as I was firing up the computer, two little cuties came tearing around the corner giggling and dragging their blankies behind them.  I really wanted to be aggravated that once again my “me” time was facing a full scale invasion of little people, but then they crawled up on the couch and wrapped each other in a hug.  Immediately my frustration with them dissolved and I was thankful that I held off on an early morning tongue lashing.

I can’t tell you how many times this same scenario has played out differently.  The kids, the spouse, a friend need my attention but my mind is so consumed with the “I have to’s” that I push them aside or worse, berate them for asking more from me when clearly my plate is already full.

A prime example would be this blog.  I can be sitting at the computer, fingers flying across the keys, and then one of the five will approach me.  In one of my not-so-shining moments, I might say something like, “Can’t you see that I’m right in the middle of something?!  I have to get this done and posted by 7!”

Why?  Why do I have to have my post out by a set time?  Does the internet shut down?  No.  This is one of the many random, unrealistic, unnecessary expectations that I have put on myself and then went on to punish my loved ones as if they somehow made me this way.

Not nice.  Not nice at all.

A lot of my friends are in the throws of what I would call our “busy season” so I know I can’t be the only one feeling the pressure and strain of an overwhelming schedule.  My prayer today is that each one of us would check our “have to’s” at the door and replace them with “get to’s.”

I don’t have to fix my kids breakfast, I get to.

I don’t have to drive an hour to watch my son play 2 minutes of football, I get to.

I don’t have to do 5 loads of laundry today, I get to.

It is an honor and a privilege to take care of others, not an obligation.  Now, if only I can remind myself of that the next time I start to come undone when I am interrupted from the task at hand.

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”

(1 Timothy 5:8 NLT)

**Bonus Material**

As I was attempting to complete this post this morning, let me give you a rundown of how it all played out.

Kid one:  “When are you going to tape my finger?”  (football injury)

Kid two:  “Hey momma, can you fix me that peanut butter toast?”

Kid three:  “When you get a chance today, can you go buy me white cheer shoes?  I’m the only one who doesn’t have them?”

Kid four:  “I thought you were going to pack my lunch today?!”

Kid five:  *non-stop screaming*

This is truly laughable!  Every time I would start to write again, the next kid would roll in!  Could it be that the devil really didn’t want me to blog today?!