Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Sleep is my enemy~ December 17, 2013

“So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
    How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
    sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
    poverty your permanent houseguest!”

(Proverbs 9-11 The Message)

This time of year is the absolute worst for people like me.  You know the type, the ones who thrive off sunshine and warm temps.  I am seriously dragging right about now.  This morning, I laid in the bed tuning out the sound of my alarm as the sound of the wind whipping outside my window drove me further under my nice, warm blankie.  While the minutes ticked by, I did a mental rundown of all the things that needed my attention.  My desire for more rest had me trying to adjust my schedule to accommodate my laziness.  Trouble is, my agenda for today is already jam-packed with not a lot of wiggle room.  So I rolled myself out of bed, rather reluctantly, and headed for the coffee pot.

What if I had went the other route…choosing to lay in bed rather than complete my normal morning routine?  Ultimately, thinking about the trickle down effect is what got me out of bed in the first place.  You see, if I choose to neglect my responsibilities, it doesn’t impact only me, it alters the life of those around me as well.  I am the “alarm clock” for my children, so as momma goes, so goes the house.  It kind of sets the tone for a bad day when it begins with your mother running behind you like a drill sergeant barking orders to “hurry or you’re going to make us late!”  Who is making us late, mommy dearest??

Most of my life experience revolves around being a mommy, but the same application can work for non-parents too.  What happens when you drag your heels and are late for work?  Who has to rush around picking up the slack, doing the work of two while you enjoy a little more slumber?

I know we all occasionally oversleep, unintentionally, that isn’t what I am referencing.  I’m talking about those who choose to succumb to idleness knowing the negative impact it’s going to have on their lives and those around them.  No one ever gained success in life by sleeping in on a regular basis….just sayin’.

In my desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman, I chose today to not eat of the bread of idleness but to rise and tend to the affairs of my family in hopes that my children would rise up and bless me and that my husband would praise me also. 

Having the same routine every single day can be tiresome & boring, but just think of what would happen if we all decided to not do our part tomorrow.  So shake it off, weary one, I am right there in the trenches with you!

7 am...that's funny, couldn't find an alarm with my actual time!

7 am…that’s funny, couldn’t find an alarm with my actual time!

 

~The “other” parent~ August 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:33 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 

~Mean Girl~ July 29, 2013

There is a mean girl living inside of me.  She looks exactly like me…until she opens her mouth.  The worst part about her is she tends to show herself to some of the most beloved people in my life, my children.

It makes no sense, but sometimes I can be incredibly hateful and short with the biggest blessings God has ever given me.  I sat and thought on it and realized that just maybe it’s because not every single moment of parenting screams “blessing”!

Allow me to paint you a picture.  It has been one of the longest mornings of mommy-hood in my life.  Everything my kids can do wrong has been done with flair.  Glorious naptime arrives and for the first time all day my butt connects with the couch.  Just as I start to truly relish the quiet, I hear rustling from the girl’s room.  I tiptoe to the door and listen….”Mooommmyyyy, I poop!”  Down the stairs I go and there stands my Bella in her crib, pant-less.  It would appear I have a little Picasso on my hands and with no crayons in sight, she has decided to improvise.  Here comes my mean girl.  As I look upon the mess that I have the privilege of cleaning up, my mind is reeling “NOTHING about this moment shouts blessing!!”

I lectured my 2 year old with enough vehemence to make a military general retreat.  Half a bottle of bleach & one bath later, the smoke clears and I realize just how foolish I would have sounded had anyone been listening in.  My daughter didn’t do anything different than nearly every other child has done at some point.  But I was so tired and frustrated from a very long morning and she made an easy target for me to unload on.

However, I refused to let my mean girl win.  Just because “she” felt justified in her response, didn’t make it right.  So I used the best weapon I have to shut her up, the Bible.  The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom when it comes to controlling our anger.

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”  (14:29)

The next time one of my children, or anyone else for that matter, throws a crick into my day, I have to choose to exercise understanding over acting a fool.

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”  (15:1)

When my knee-jerk reaction is to respond with a hot-temper, I am teaching my children to do the same.  With every harsh word I speak, I’m stirring up the “mean girl/boy” inside of them just dying to come out.

“Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.”  (19:11)

Some wrongs cannot be overlooked when it comes to parenting, but as a wise woman once said, “You have to pick your battles.”  Thanks Mom, as always, you were right.  Respect is something that everyone craves but few work to get.  Granted it is a given that children should respect their elders, we make it far easier on them when we express grace & mercy rather than going off like a raving lunatic.

This is obviously an area where I am a work in progress.  There are days when I feel like I should be wearing a warning, “Caution: Mean girl crossing.”  It is by God’s grace that I can and will overcome.  I ain’t no quitter!  On the most difficult days when I struggle to bite my tongue, my goal is to recall the words of James 1:19:

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:  You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.”

Sometimes it is to my benefit to count to 100 before I open my mouth!hand over mouth

 

~Discipline~ June 26, 2013

“That hurt!!”  These words have been shouted from all of my children at one time or another.  My response, “it was supposed to hurt, punishment isn’t meant to be enjoyable.”  Now before you pass judgment, I rarely spank my children.  However, if the crime calls for it, so be it.  I am more prone to take away luxuries or extra activities which garners the response, “that’s so unfair!”  Yep…it is.  But how well would my children and yours turn out if they were never held accountable for their behavior? What kind of adults would they become?

Then there is the discipline we receive from God as his children.  

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes each one He accepts as his child.”

(Hebrews 12:5-6)

It is the same with our heavenly Father as it is with parents.  Discipline is given out of love, not as a form of torture!  It is meant to better us and train us in how we should live.  It hurts, it feels unfair, but it is necessary.  Don’t let God’s discipline set you back.  On the contrary, be encouraged that He loves you enough to care and wants to see you reach your “peaceful harvest of right living.”  Perhaps all He thinks you need is a little “time-out”….don’t argue, just have a seat.timeout-chair

 

~Little Eyes Are Upon Us~ June 17, 2013

I recently saw a tv commercial for bottled water where the little boy does exactly as his father does.  Every movement, every choice he made, he did because his father did so first.  I have noticed the same to be true of my boys.  They are looking at their daddy to see how they should behave.

I was talking with my mother just this week about how different things are now.  Saying things like: “please, thank you or yes sir or ma’am” have gone out the window.  Boys no longer open doors for girls as they once did, why should they, she can get it herself.  In public, you see these young men berating their girlfriends instead of treating her like a lady and you have to wonder, where they are learning that behavior.

I am not trying to place the blame solely on the dads, however, your boys are watching you whether you realize it or not.  Do you ask for things politely or do you make demands?  When you go through the door, do you step back and let your wife and daughters go ahead of you or do you rush in and let the door slam in their face?  How do you talk to your wife in front of others?  Do you honor her with your words or tear her down?  I know with my husband, nothing gets him hotter than when one of our boys talks disrespectfully to me.  He comes to my defense like a wild man and makes it perfectly clear that he will not tolerate that sort of behavior.  And it melts my heart.  Because I know, that by his actions, he is teaching our boys to one day be protective of their spouses and to treat all women with respect.

Now guys, don’t fret.  Even if your dad didn’t exactly set a shining example on how to do this kid-raising thing, your Father in heaven is happy to show you the way.  It is never too late to get in the Word which is full of advice for all your parenting woes.  The very best way that all kids learn is through example, so start living out what it teaches in front of them. Although it may sound good to say, “I’m the adult so do what I say not as I do,” it doesn’t typically fly with the little people.  If you want kind, respectful children, then be a kind and respectful adult for them to model their behavior after.

Shadow-of-Father-and-Son

“Direct your children onto the right path

and when they are older,

they will not leave it.”

(Proverbs 22:6 NLT)