Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~13~ September 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:23 am
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Photo cred-cuz Kristy

Photo cred-cuz Kristy

Effective today, at 12:43 pm to be exact, I will have been a mommy for 13 years. There is no greater accomplishment that I could ever achieve that would bring the sense of pride I feel as a parent. God has so generously blessed me with a large family that I don’t deserve and it all started with the cutie in the picture above.

From day one, this kid has had my heart. We are so much alike in numerous ways and yet so completely opposite in others. He is analytical, I’m emotional. He’s hardcore competitive, I’m driven more by having a good time. He is strong willed & self confident, when I tend to be concerned about others opinions & still struggle with insecurities.

In spite of all our differences, he gets me & I get him.

This picture was taken at a recent cross-country meet and I feel it sums up our relationship quite nicely. I have always & will always be my boys number one fan, his momma-coach. I will be there to push, encourage & support him in all that he does. He will never have to question the passion I have to see him succeed. He will never doubt the love that I have for him, my first born. The one who gifted me with the title “Mommy.”

“And his mother stored all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:51

Thirteen years have gone by way too fast. I watched him walk into the school this morning, a teenager, knowing full well that as rapidly as these years have passed, the next five will go even quicker. My momma’s heart can’t take it. I want my boy to be my baby forever.

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.-Robert Munsch

Happy birthday to one of my greatest blessings, Peyton Andrew. You are a joy and a treasure. Words don’t always convey the depth of emotion behind them, but know this, there has never been a momma more proud of a son than I am of you.

 

~Mom, Mum, Mommy, Momma, Mother~ May 9, 2014

Two more days and we get to honor those who gave us life.  This may seem a bit biased as I am a Mommy myself, but I can’t think of a position in this life that is more sacrificial than that of a mother.

It begins with nearly a year of serving as a walking incubator.  Belly’s expand.  Swelling sets in causing a lack of separation of legs & feet resulting in what’s affectionately known as “cankles.”  You endure agony so intense that it doesn’t register on the “rank your pain” smiley face chart.  We’re not even going to talk about the changes to the once svelte body that now looks more like…well…like I said, we’re not going to talk about those unpleasantries.

Then there are the early years, when Mom barely has time to eat much less sleep, bathe or be bothered to groom herself.  Every moment is devoted to this tiny human that God has blessed her with.  She feeds, changes, swaddles, rocks, coos and kisses at all hours of the day.  Sleep deprivation makes her a bit loopy.  You haven’t lived until you’ve poured coffee “into”an upside down mug or put milk away in the cabinet.  She can no longer carry on an intelligent conversation.  Talks now revolve around breastfeeding woes, whose kid has the worst “blow-outs” and when will my body return to normal.

Toddler days, my personal favorite.  Little Johnny has suddenly became mobile.  That moment that you longed to see come has arrived and you find yourself questioning why you were in such a hurry?!  They climb counter tops, yank table clothes, ride the dog & follow you EVERYWHERE you go.  The bathroom is no longer your safe zone.  Now you throw away your favorite momentos destroyed by tiny hands, wipe grape jelly from the walls and vow to not harm this tiny terror who used to be so angelic.

Moving on to school years, finally a reprieve.  You daydream of all the things you will accomplish while your mini-mes are off to get their learn on.  But wait, now your phone rings off the hook!  “Can you bake this?  Can you volunteer here?  Can you sew?  Can you supervise?  Can you lead?  Can you reconstruct the Statue of Liberty while reciting the Declaration of Independence backwards?”  (Ok, so the last one is a slight exaggeration.)  And you do it all, not because you feel obligated but because you have been privileged enough to stay home full time so that you can be available for your kids at all times.  Roman noodles, PB & J’s and fried bologna have made this possible, so I would be remiss if I didn’t give them a shout out.

Then we enter a Hell known as “living with teenagers.”  This is a stage that I am new to so I don’t have much insight.  What I do know is that we deserve some sort of medal for not backhanding those left in our charge when they roll their eyes, shake their heads, huff with exasperation and slam doors as if they are the ones who have the right to be irritated!  We rush from cross country meets, to football games, to choir practice and dance class.  We rattle off stats and plays and brag about how much awesomeness is pouring out of our kids.  All the while, putting our own dreams on hold, not begrudgingly, but with excitement for what the future holds for these spectacular, complex, sometimes hateful, now taller than you, people.

Adulthood is when some might assume that mothering slows down.  Based on my relationship with my own momma, I can vouch for how wrong that assumption is.  My poor mother has counseled me, nurtured me & comforted me in all types of crisis, even more so now than she did as a child.  She’s helped to mend my broken heart.  She’s brought clarity to my muddled mind when I’ve been overwhelmed.  Probably the most meaningful are the times she’s let me sob over the mistakes I’ve made, only to reassure me that I am more than my failures.

I am forever grateful for the momma that I was given.  I am equally thankful for the 5 that call me mommy.  I can’t imagine what the world be like if God hadn’t blessed us with the gift of mothers.  In spite of all the ups and downs, the times were I’ve questioned my sanity and the moments of complete exhaustion, I wouldn’t trade this job for all the riches of the world.  Don’t forget to celebrate your mom this Sunday…and every single day that you are here on this earth.  She deserves your praise.  mother

“She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.  Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:  “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.  The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.  Give her everything she deserves!  Festoon her life with praises!” (Proverbs 31-Message)

 

~My translation of Proverbs 31~ March 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:08 pm
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Who can find a competent wife who still has some moral standards intact?  She is a priceless treasure, more valuable than the finest of things.  Her husband can rest assured that he is in good hands for she values honesty and integrity over all else.  Her purpose in the marriage is to bring her husband honor and to add to his life, not diminish it by belittling his authority as the head of the home or putting unrealistic demands on him as a provider.

She is a tireless worker, finding creative ways to meet the needs of her family.  She is a bargain hunter who swaps out hand-me-downs with her friends, clips coupons with a vengeance and knows when every store holds their weekly specials.  Sleeping in is a luxury she rarely allows herself.  Before the kiddos begin to stir, she has lunches packed, school papers signed and a road map for how her day will play out with her to-do list, no servant girls to dole out the chores to in this house.

She looks for ways to add income to her family’s resources, whether it’s at a 9-5 job, as an at-home business owner or by selling items the family no longer needs.  She is resourceful, determined, energetic and optimistic.  It is her goal to see that her dealings are successful without sacrificing time with her family which often means burning the midnight oil to get it all done.

Her hands are never idle as she is constantly preparing meals, typing emails, checking homework, writing proposals, doing laundry, cleaning house and the like.  She is never too busy to help those less fortunate.  She keeps her eyes and ears open to the needs of her community and volunteers her time for fundraisers and committees with goals of bettering the lives of her neighbors.

While she may not be a seamstress like her Ma-Maw was, she doesn’t fear the changing seasons because she knows how to transform a wardrobe from spring to winter on a shoestring budget.  She is a thrifty, money wise kind of girl.

Her husband is well known and liked within  the community.  He serves in the church, has a reputation of a hard worker and is known for his wise counsel.

This precious lady is as strong and unwavering as an oak tree but equally soft and tender at heart.  She walks with her head held high, fully confident in her abilities as a daughter of The King.  She is fearless when she looks to the future, even when her circumstances look bleak, for she knows who holds her in the palm of His hand and she smiles at the security that knowledge brings.  She doesn’t speak out of turn or toss her words around carelessly.  She gives careful thought to the counsel she gives, making certain to always point people to the Truth as opposed to a worldly opinion.  Even in correction, she is kind and loving, making sure that the theme of her speech is the message of Jesus.

Nothing escapes her attention within her home.  She does in fact have eyes in the back of her head, laser point vision and hearing so sensitive that her children wonder if she is superhuman.  The term laziness is a foreign concept to her.  Her backside rarely makes contact with the sofa as she can always think of one more thing that needs to be done.

Her little people think she is without question, the best mom on the planet.  They make her homemade gifts, handwritten cards and give hugs and kisses that melt her momma’s heart.  Her husband sings her praises to anyone who will listen and puts her at the top of his list, second only to the Lord.  “Baby, you are the best there is, we are incredibly lucky to call you ours!”

A beautiful face and a smokin’ hot body may be a nice commodity to some, but one day, gravity is going to kick in and all of that is going to disappear.  But the woman who loves the Lord and serves Him with all that she has will always be found beautiful in the sight of those she loves.  She will be known not for her appearance, but for her servant’s heart that is totally sold out for Jesus….in that she will find her fame and anxiously wait for her reward that is waiting for her when her time on this earth is through.strong woman

This concludes our 31 day reading challenge of the book of Proverbs.  I pray you found it to be a blessing.

 

~My Mom~ January 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:33 am
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Today is my momma’s 50th birthday!!!  I know, I know, hard to believe when she could still easily pass for my sister, right?

me and mom

In honor of her 50 years on this earth, I thought it would be fitting to list 50 things that she is and has been for me:

Beautiful

Courageous

Devoted

Encouraging

My Biggest Cheerleader

Kid spoiler

My BFF

All-knowing (through my teenage years)

Backstage Momma- no diva dance mom here, she was totally selfless

Hairstylist for every school dance

My confidant

Nurse…even as an adult

Shoulder to cry on

Problem solver

Babysitter-woot woot, send the kids to Nana’s!

Partner in crime

Loving

Nurturing

Understanding

Forgiving

My safe place

Towel wetter when I was in labor

On-call fixer

Bodyguard

Sounding board for all my ideas…good and bad

My how-to book on parenting questions

My voice of reason

Bold when it’s necessary

Gentle when it’s not

Generous

Thoughtful

The best Nana my kids could ask for!

Energetic…cause she’s 50! 50 years old 😉

Running partner

Short order cook because God forbid my kids have to eat something they don’t like

My “hey, can you bring this when you come” person

Faithful

Graceful

Hugger of necks

Kisser of boo-boos

2nd Mom to many of my high school friends

My right hand after the birth of my last and was forbidden to use the stairs…not easy when laundry is in basement for fam of 7

Unwavering in her devotion to our family

My “yes you can” when I’m “no I can’t”

My backup

My happy place when I’m a donkey on the edge

The glue that holds us together

Helper to many

Friend to most

Priceless to me

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMA!!!  You are my best friend, sister and Mom all wrapped up into one fabulous package!  Love you to the ends of the earth.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 

(Proverbs 31)

 

~Imperfect Progress~ November 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:08 am
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It’s 7 o’clock at night and my 2 year old is already in bed.  And all I can think about is waking her up to tell her how much I love her and how mommy’s so sorry she yelled.

But I won’t.  But I will write down the accounts of my evening that led to my now guilty heart.

I came home from my run to find my house in total chaos.  I’m fairly certain that every toy, book and crayon we own were scattered through every room in the house, with the exception of the boys room because they had enough sense to lock their door.  My dog, Kansas, is in heat so as I step over the broken crayons I see the tiny little spots all across the floor because apparently I am the only one equipped with the super-human powers it takes to wet a paper towel and clean it up.  The above mentioned 2 year old is screaming.  Why, you ask?  No reason, just because she really likes the sound of her voice at inhumane levels.  But I didn’t yell.

Next up I attempt to finish cooking dinner while Bella insists that the center of my closet size kitchen is the only place to build her blanket fort.  I somehow manage to convince her 2 sisters to clean up the messy house that they had no part in making, (yeah…right).  Bella takes off down the stairs after her sisters and I’m starting to feel pretty good about keeping my “raw emotions” in check.  As I wrap up dinner and call for the kids to come eat, little miss comes tearing around the corner…naked from the waist down.  “Bella,” I said rather cheerfully, “where are your pants?”  She snaps the towel from the counter and says,  “Dem’s wet so I threw em down the steps.”  I peek around the door down the stairs and I see not one, not two but three dark puddles on our lightly colored carpeted steps, three different steps naturally.  So as the kids sit down to eat, I scrub.  But I didn’t yell, yet.

Finally the mess is clean…enough…and I fix my plate right about the time that Bella decides she doesn’t want mac n cheese, she wants cheese crackers.  I give her a simple no, and her world as she knows it comes to an end.  Or so you would think had you seen the fit she threw herself into.  I stepped over her and attempted to eat with her kicking my arm and swinging her baby doll at my chicken and rice which was quickly losing it’s appeal.  (My life groupies are laughing, thinking I should have taken Carol’s advice and served myself first.)  And still, no yelling.

Finally I think our evening is calming down and that’s when I realize it’s quiet, way too quiet.  “Bella??”  No answer, dang it.  I hear someone in the bathroom, Lord, please don’t let that be my precious little one getting into trouble.  Sure enough, I push open the door and there she stands on top of the toilet, pant less again, looking for her toothbrush.  There is a puddle at her feet & on the floor around her.  Now…I yell.  I mean seriously, she was in the bathroom for heavens sake…on the toilet no less, and yet she manages to pee her pants again?  This mommy had reached her peak.

So, I fuss about her accidents and messy behavior and not eating her dinner, you know, because surely she knows exactly what I’m saying.  This is when I declare “It’s night-night time right now!” a whole hour before her normal bedtime.  Of course it was met with protest, “Mommy, noooo!”  “Sorry kid, momma ain’t having it anymore.”  (My fellow Unglued ladies are shaking their heads at me right now thinking, ‘I know what we need to discuss next week.’)

I drag her to bed and listen to her cry for a whole 2 minutes before she went out like a light.  I knew she was exhausted since she has also recently determined that she’s too good for naps.

And that’s when the guilt crept in and I had to resist the temptation to wake her so she would know that mommy isn’t really mad, just tired from an aggravating day.  But I let her rest.  Why should I disrupt her just to make me feel better about myself?

As the night wound down and I was able to sit and reflect, I stopped shaming myself for my not-so-nice mommy moment because the fact that I immediately realized I had overreacted revealed to me that I am in fact making progress.  That’s the beauty of bible study & devotions, if you are plugged into applying what you read, it will seep in and find it’s way into your heart.

There is a line from our book “Unglued” that sums up the woman that I desire to be.  Guys, don’t feel left out, it could easily be reworded to include you.

A Jesus girl who rises up and unexpectedly gives grace when she surely could have done otherwise reveals the power and the mystery of Christ at work-in her life and in the world. -Lysa TerKeurst

When looking back at how my night played out, I initially felt justified when I unloaded because look how much I had let go before I finally lost it.  But there isn’t to be a limit to our grace, the life of Jesus teaches us that.  Had I taken a moment to think before I spoke, I would have remembered that it isn’t my little girl who I am war against, it’s our enemy, Satan and I wouldn’t have given him a foothold into my night had I simply paused before reacting.

Today, amidst the pile of toys, accidents, crayon marks down the wall and whatever else may come at me, I am choosing to remind myself, “I am not an angry woman, I am a child of God.”

 

~The “other” parent~ August 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:33 am
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What defines a parent?  Is it sharing the same genetics or are parents made?  I struggle with people who undervalue someone’s role as a parent because they weren’t mom or dad from birth.  Maybe I’m super sensitive because I was raised by a man who was not my dad by birth, but by choice and it would always upset me when someone would say he wasn’t my real dad.

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

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

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

My Mommy's Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

My Mommy’s Day gift from my hubs & kiddos

 

~Stay-At-Home Moms Unite!~ April 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:00 am
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Busy-MomOk fellas, ya’ll are going to have to excuse me…today my post is all about the ladies.  However, you may find some wisdom in these words to keep you from meeting an untimely death.

As a full-time homemaker, I am often met with questions like, “What exactly do you do with all your free time since you are just a stay-at-home mom?”  This is where I have to remind myself that unless you have been there, done that, you really have no clue what an idiotic question that is.  Another favorite, “You can do that.  You have plenty of spare time since you don’t work.”  Again, counting to 1,000 to keep from going on a rampage.

Let me enlighten those of you who have had the audacity to say such a thing to my fellow homemakers.  We are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We do not get sick days, personal days or vacation days.  We are the cook, cleaning lady, personal finance manager and the mediator when fights break out on a daily basis.  We receive absolutely no compensation for all that we do.  While you get to leave the chaos for your job each day and are allowed to perform your tasks in relative seclusion, we are required to meet our quotas with one or more children hanging off our legs, dangling from our hip or gripping our ankles as we attempt to run away.  We rarely have a moment to ourselves, even the bathroom is no longer our sanctuary.  We go through the house putting toys and clothes back in their places, cleaning up crumbs from breakfast & wiping peanut butter finger prints off every surface, including the dog.  Only to turn around moments later to see that our work was done in vain.  You see, our lives are stuck on repeat.  We do the same thing, literally, every. single. day.

I’m sure you can see how this might get a little old at times.  I’m sure you can also understand why some days you may be risking your life if you ask us just what we did all day.  I’m not seeking your pity for the SAHM, we chose this life.  I am simply asking for the same respect that any other professional is given.  Being a full-time parent is my job and I take it quite seriously.  That is why I find it offensive when someone insinuates that I don’t work out of laziness.  Gotta love it when someone says, “It must be nice to stay home all day.”  Yes, being home all day with a house full of moody short people with no one to call in for back-up is a glorious life, you should be jealous.

One other thing that wears me out and I promise I’ll wrap this little fit-fest up.  “Your husband must really rack in the dough for you not to work.”  Yep, you got me there.  We’re loaded, we just hide it well.  *Sarcasm*  Being a single-income family is a sacrifice for the majority of us.  We don’t live lavishly and do without most of the luxuries that would really like to have.  The choice to stay home with our children was not made based on financial reasons.  I would venture to say that most SAHM do so because they feel that it is what’s best for their children, not the other way around.

My whole point in writing this post is to combat some of the criticism that we receive.  What is it about being a homemaker makes people feel they have the right to say such things to us?  I seriously doubt that any of the above statements or questions would ever be directed at a banker, lawyer, doctor, construction worker, etc.  I would like to add that I am not judging the momma’s who choose to work.  They are excellent multi-taskers who deserve some praise too.

But if you ask me why I stay home as opposed to working elsewhere, my answer would be;

“(I am) directing (my) children onto the right path, so that when they are older, they will not leave it.”

(Proverbs 22:6)

For me personally, that requires me to be home with them in the early years to provide them with a firm foundation.  I love my job and despite the struggles that it brings, I wouldn’t trade it for the highest paying job available.  My reward comes from seeing my children grow and mature into beautiful young men and women of God.

So if you get the chance today, give that overworked, underpaid, exhausted momma a hug or an encouraging word as opposed to making her defend her decision as the stay-at-home mom.