Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Mommin’ Is Hard~ February 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:09 am
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Lately I find myself alternating between wanting to trade in my kids for billy goats and refraining from wrapping around their legs so they can never leave. I attribute this to the fact that my baby is in kindergarten while my eldest is halfway through his sophomore year of high school. Every day is met with it’s own challenges. Aside from the obvious difficulties of trying to parent wildly different kids across an impressive age gap, I’m battling my own emotional chaos. I LOVE my babies; fiercely, wholly, without exception. But (y’all knew a but was coming) they exhaust me. My days are filled with fits and back talk, timeouts and tears, carpools and practices…fleeting moments are mine alone and sometimes those are wasted on my own tears. All because I’m 100% positive I’m doing it all wrong.

I yell too much. I don’t pray over them enough. I’m a nag about their chores, their eating habits, their school work, etc, etc. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. Oh, you failed your test? Totally my bad. Your knees are acting up again? I should just buy you new ones, that’ll fix them! You don’t have supplies for your project due tomorrow? How could I not use my mind reading powers to anticipate your every need? I’m such a loser!

While I am being a bit facetious, I am seriously terrified that when they leave, they’ll never come back and yet I can’t stop parenting and just be their BFF. You see my conundrum?!

This is where a couple of choice friends “come in clutch” as the teenagers say. (My kids are rolling their eyes if they’re reading this.)
I know when “those” days strike, I have a beautiful support system that will talk me off my ledge and remind me it’s not okay to use your kids as bartering tools or try to sell them on Etsy. 😉

Hold on mommas, we’re not as screwed up as we think we are. Do you, pray A LOT, pick your battles and find a solid friend to vent to. Do those things and we might all just make it out of this parenting gig alive and at least mostly intact.

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“Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (Proverbs 18-19 The Message)

 

~A Selfless Daddy~ June 19, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:03 am
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I wasn’t going to do this but I’m so humbled by my husband that I had to share. It’s Father’s Day and I’m sure, like many of you, we had plans to celebrate. We were already crunched for time because it’s hubby’s weekend to work evenings but things went downhill fast.

It started with an unexpected trip to urgent care Friday night. I was right in the middle of cooking dinner when we discovered the blisters. So Jamie kicked off his weekend by holding a squirly 8 year old whose reaction to a throat swab is equivalent to that of someone being water boarded. Yesterday we made the unfortunate discovery that our washing machine was no longer with us. Family of seven, one who is sick, you can imagine the mountain of linens piling up. After making the trip to the pharmacy, dear hubby spent the little time he had before work shopping for a new machine because he didn’t want me frequenting the laundromat. Now it’s Sunday, the day we’d planned to go to early service for a message just for dads followed by lunch with all of our kids & our precious grandson. Instead, father-of-the-year is driving across town to borrow a pickup so he can install my new washer since the earliest Lowe’s could deliver was Thursday. 

Sacrificial love. On a day that should have been all about him, my man is tending to the needs of his family first, just as he does every other day of the year. 

I hope you all are as blessed as we are to have such a wonderful daddy in your lives. To my baby daddy: Happy Father’s Day, honey. We would be so lost without you!  

 

 

~Just a Mom~ December 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:59 am
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Many times over the years I’ve had people ask me what I do for a living. More often than not, my response has been, “I’m just a mom.” It never really occurred to me that I almost sounded apologetic about my decision to be a stay at home mom until my daughter completed an assignment that included the age old question, what do you want to be when you grow up? She simply wrote, a mom.

Not “just” a mom, but a mom. I was suddenly very aware that my choice of words implied that being a mom was somehow subpar to every other occupation.

One of the many definitions of the word just states “no more than.” So all these years, I’ve essentially been saying, “I’m no more than a mom,” as if I’m: 1-embarrassed by that or 2-have no identity outside of that. Neither of which are true.

I love being a stay at home mom. Even this morning my own mother and I were discussing having no regrets over the amount of time we’ve spent with our children. My mom stayed home with us, too, and reassures me often that I’ll be thankful I did when my children are grown. When I talk with working mothers, I don’t feel ashamed that I don’t help “bring home the bacon,” so why would I imply with my words that I am?

There have been seasons when I felt like ALL I was revolved around being a mom, especially in the wee baby stages when I was the food source and therefor at the beck and call of my little tapeworms. However, I know that I have more to offer this world outside of my mothering abilities.

As I’ve thought about what message I’ve unintentionally conveyed, I’m reminded of the importance of filtering our words. Countless times I’ve heard our Pastor say that every word matters when he’s hashing out a verse of Scripture, the same is true of the words we speak. It’s amazing to me how one four letter word can change the tone of your message:

I am a mom.

I am just a mom.

Do you see it?!

I am flattered that my daughter wants to be a mom when she grows up. That one statement revealed to me that my girl looks at what I do as something to strive towards, not some overlooked, unappreciated title. And while I am a mom, I am so much more and so are all of my other mom friends, those who work outside the home & those who don’t. Ladies, (and fellas too), you are not just any one thing. You are a beautifully complex individual, completely unique and vitally important…yeah, you rock!

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“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

(Psalm 139: 14 NLT)

 

~Time To Build An Ark~ September 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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This morning I am faced with a tough parenting decision that I really don’t want to deal with, mainly because I know it is going to make me public enemy #1 with the teenagers of the house. I feel like my hand has been forced and it’s either drop the hammer or watch them continue to make poor choices that are changing who they are, even if only bit by bit.

I am here to tell you that being a parent is NOT all fun and tea times. I’ve felt ill over it all morning, trying to brace for the backlash that is surely to come. What, pray tell, could have this mom of five feeling anxious? I’m about to set firmer electronic restrictions. If you have pre-teens or teenagers in your pack then you know what I’m up against.

I’ve spent most of the morning trying to come up with realistic limitations for the household, not just for the children, mom & dad can benefit from a reduction of screen time as well! I decided to take a break from the stress and open up my First Five app for today’s reading. (If you’re not familiar with it, search the app store, you want this one.) And wouldn’t you know there was a little nugget in there that fit this situation just so: “A storm doesn’t mean God forgot us. God remembered Noah and gave him instructions to build the ark. It was Noah’s obedience that kept his family safe when the flood rose.”~Wendy Pope

Here’s the thing when it comes to raising little people who will some day be an active member of society, sometimes you have to make the tough calls for their safety. They likely will not understand where we are coming from or even care to hear us out, but, like Noah, it is OUR job to ensure that we take the proper precautions to guard their hearts and minds against things which can lead to ruin. I loathe being the heavy! I want to be the cool mom that all the kids like and want to hang around. However, that is not my number one priority as a parent.

It’s time for parents to BUILD THE ARK! We have to protect our families, it is our duty. I am not suggesting that we shelter our children to where they are not prepared for the real world. What I am proposing is that we take into careful consideration what we allow them to be a part of, who we permit them to interact with and for the love of all that’s holy….MONITOR THEIR ONLINE PRESENCE!!! I can either be the bad guy or let them be exposed to the real bad guys out there.

We are fighting an uphill battle, friends, let’s help each other along with words of encouragement. I know I’m not the only momma struggling today. prov 22

 

~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?!

 

 

~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)

 

~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.