Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~When Sadness Overshadows Your Holiday~ November 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:52 am
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Sometimes holidays can make us sad, for any number of reasons. It can be all to easy to settle into that sadness, allowing it to steal our joy. So many of you have sufficient cause to be a bit down today. Your newsfeed will be flooded with images of happy families and perhaps you’re missing part of yours this year. It’s ok to miss them but try not to let it be all consuming, to the point you lose out on what is right in front of you. Regardless of what may be making a run at your joy today, surely there is at least one thing for which you can give thanks. Give yourself permission to mourn what is absent then shift your focus to what is present. I pray your blessings are more than enough today and everyday that follows.

 

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Thankful I get to celebrate with these lovelies.

 

~Learning to Relax~ December 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:19 am
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We’ve been in our new home for just over a week now. For many reasons, we decided that I would homeschool all five of our children for at least the remainder of this school year. One of the main perks the kids and I were looking forward to was a more relaxed schedule. No more screaming momma trying to rush the kids out the door by a specified time. Gone would be the days of frustration at trying to “get it all done.” And yet, I seem to be having difficulty adjusting to this lifestyle!

Apparently I’ve spent so many years rushing everywhere that I have forgotten how to chill the heck out.

The kids have done great with their school work, finishing in a fraction of the time had they still been in public school….which sent me into a panic, emailing other homeschool moms to calm my fears. Am I not assigning them enough work? Are my kids going to fall behind? Thankfully those mommas put my mind at ease before I doubled up the kids’ workload.

When the typical after school hour rolls around, we have nowhere we have to be. No practices, no bonus kids to pick up, absolutely no rushing out the door…ever. You’d think that would be pretty easy to get used to, and yet here I sit, telling you that it’s not!

Y’all are going to think I’ve snapped, but I actually Googled “what does the Bible say about relaxing?”

“Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.” (Ecc 11:10 ESV)

First of all, I’m pretty sure I’ve not read this particular verse before or if I have, it wasn’t very memorable to me. Secondly, I had to Google the definition of vexation: the state of being annoyed, frustrated, or worried OR something that causes annoyance, frustration, or worry. I’ve included another translation of this verse that drove the point home for me:

 Rid yourself of all worry and pain, because the wonderful moments of youth quickly disappear. (CEV)

I’ve been afforded an opportunity to slow it down for a while, to spend more quality time with my children without the anxiety that accompanies an overbooked schedule. They are growing insanely fast and Lord knows I am not getting any younger and I’ve been squandering this incredible luxury of essentially having them all to myself, even if only for a few months.

It’s time I make a genuine effort at learning to just relax and embrace this season with my beautiful family. If you have something causing vexation in your life, maybe today is a good time to say “no more.”

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Just in case you need a little help relaxing…the ocean always does it for me 😉

 

~Bah Humbug!~ December 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:21 am
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“Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.” (1 Peter 4:8 The Message)

Earlier this week, Mom & I took the kids out to run a few errands. Because of the randomness that was our shopping list, we decided to hit the nearest big box store as opposed to making several stops. In case any of you have lost count, I have five kids at home, so as you can imagine that brings a whole other level of good times to venturing into public.

What I can say about this particular experience is that it wasn’t my kids that tainted my mood, it was the grownups we encountered. Aisle after aisle we were met with people glaring at my not loud, but not quiet, brood. Then there were those with buggies planted firmly in the center of the row, refusing to budge when my son politely said “excuse me.” There was one highlight, locking eyes with the momma who’s four littles were engaged in a wrapping paper sword fight 😂 We made our way to checkout where I met my match, the sour faced cashier. I’m a stubborn woman, y’all, so I made it my life’s mission to get this woman to smile or at least speak! I tried everything, and she never even looked up…ouch! I will admit, it frustrated me. What on earth could make someone be so rude?!

This morning I was thinking about this little shopping trip and I believe I’ve pinpointed why it irritated me so much. We are in the midst of the Christmas season and yet a vast majority of people seem far from jolly. This is not a recent development, I’m sure you’ve seen it year after year as well. If you’ve ever been out on “Black Friday” then you’ve seen the worst of the worst…one time & never again! Perhaps what bothered me even more was how I allowed others’ attitudes to effect my own. So I’m determined to make it my goal this holiday season to be the light even when surrounded by sour faced, non-budging, disapproving faces.

Just keep smiling, friends, and chat up that cashier. Offer well wishes and be sincere! (I believe I just channeled my inner Dr. Suess for those lines.) You may not get the reaction you’d prefer but we don’t do life like we do to get a response, we do it to show the love of Christ. And the truth of the matter is, we have no clue what the strangers we meet are going through to make them interact with others the way they do. I don’t ever want to become so insensitive & hard-hearted that I can’t see past someone’s stern expression to offer a warm smile in return. If you are one of the ones struggling to find a reason to smile, think of just one thing you have to be thankful for and let that become your focus today.

Be kind always.

I am thankful for a toasty fireplace to write beside while getting lost in twinkling lights <3

I am thankful for a toasty fireplace to write beside while getting lost in twinkling lights ❤

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

~Say Thank You~ December 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:46 am
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It sounds simple enough, but we oftentimes forget. Especially in the everyday things that we tend to take for granted. Our appreciation goes unspoken leaving those around us feeling undervalued and quite possibly unloved.

Well boo on that!

It literally takes a moment to say thanks to those who deserve to hear it from you. Something that requires so little of your time has the power to make someone’s day.

I believe in leading by example, so I’m going to use this platform to go first!

Thank you, to YOU, my readers! I try to reach each one of you personally but that isn’t always possible as my stats tracker doesn’t exactly tell me who is reading my posts. At times I find myself ready to lay aside the writing when life gets busy. I justify my thoughts reasoning that no one really reads my ramblings so it wouldn’t be a big deal if I quit. Then one of you lovely people will send me a note of thanks or encouragement and I’m reminded that if even one heart is stirred by something I say, then it is totally worth the effort it takes to maintain this humble page.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thes 5:11 ESV)

Thank you to my church. I am so incredibly blessed with the lovingest bunch of people to do life with that it’s almost incomprehensible. They have celebrated my highs and helped to dig me out from my lows. Even when I’ve blown it BIG time, they’ve extended grace and offered help when it would have been just as easy to cast stones and dole out judgment. You all rock!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25 ESV)

To my tribe, who puts up with my crazy on a daily basis, surely your eternal rewards will surpass all others! My sweet Bella with her sunny disposition, thanks for making momma smile first thing every morning. To my micromanager, Emma, thanks mini-me for running the show when momma is away 🙂 For Autumn, my little evangelist, thank you for your faith in Jesus AND people that never falters! Peyton, the kid that gets me, thank you for still making me feel needed even though you’re a teenager now. Thank you to Isaiah, who somehow always manages to make me laugh even on the days when I really just wanna cry. Big ol’ thanks to my coffee making, foot-rubbing, problem solving husband who has yet to kill me in my sleep. I adore you all and couldn’t imagine how boring my life would be without my circus monkeys!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3 ESV)

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5:33 ESV)

This list could go on for miles, but I think you get my drift. A few minutes out of my day to let people know just how important they are to me. It cost me nothing, but will hopefully brighten their day! I’ve always heard that it takes two weeks to form a habit. So why don’t we all make it a point to say thank you to at least one person every day for the next 14 days? Maybe then we won’t become forgetful and inadvertently make those around us feel underappreciated.

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

photo cred-Sherry Phillips via Pinterest

 

~Control Freak~ October 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:45 am
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Hello, my name is Valerie and I have a problem.

Apparently I have a slight case of OCD when it comes to the cleanliness & organization of my home. While this wouldn’t be a big deal if I lived alone, it does pose a problem between myself and the other 6 people with whom I cohabitat. It’s not that they’re pigs, (not all of them anyways), but they don’t place as high a value on an orderly home as I do. They just don’t see the fun in housekeeping so it’s not a priority to them. I know, I don’t understand it either.

Just last week I went on a cleaning frenzy that included scrubbing the floors on my hands & knees and bleaching the ceilings…don’t ask. I was feeling pretty accomplished until my brood came rolling in with muddy cleats, soaking wet running shoes and an assortment of stuff to clutter my recently decluttered space. This would be when my alter ego unleashed its fury.

Here’s the thing, my kids and spouse do help out around the house, but they don’t do it my way, aka the right way! Autumn puts away the dishes but she puts my coffee cups right side up! Have you ever heard of such nonsense?! The boys ‘clean’ their room but not to my standards. My two littles like to help wash dishes which leads to a small flood across the counter that spills over onto the floor. My hubs will jump in and help with the laundry but will probably think twice about doing so in the future after that time I bit his head off for putting a hang-to-dry sweater in the dryer. (Ok, so I didn’t really bite his head off but if looks could kill, I’d be a widow.)

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Sadly, this is not the only area where I struggle with being a control freak. I love volunteering and giving of my time & talents but sometimes, I get a little twitchy when I think a task should be done more efficiently. I don’t know what my problem is but I fully intend to ask Jesus why He made me this way 😉 During a recent episode, I paused to think about the amount of undue stress I was causing myself by getting my britches in a twist when things weren’t run the way I would have done it. Since when did I become manager of the universe?!

At this point in my life, it would appear I have two options: I can continue with my controlling ways and drive my people batty to the point that they literally expect me to do it all OR I can do as the picture suggests and “tuck in my crazy” and simply be thankful for what they do instead of cringing at how they do it.

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “You are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is needed.”

(Luke 10:41-42)

 

~Ungrateful~ August 7, 2014

Recently I have found myself dealing with a large dose of resentment with a side of bitterness.

I blame social media.

Every time I log on, I’m bombarded with vacation photos. Before y’all get all judgy on me, let’s just remember that I’m human too & deal with the same feelings and obstacles that everyone else faces.

It seems like every person I know has been somewhere fantastic during summer break. Pictures of water slides, amusement parks, mountain cabins and the beach have not be in short supply. With every smiling face standing in front of a beautiful or exciting backdrop, I felt my anger go a little deeper.

My husband works incredibly hard. We are not reckless spenders. We are faithful in our tithes. Seriously, Lord, don’t we deserve a break too?! I hadn’t been praying about much but I was whining about plenty!

The other day as I sat wallowing in self-pity, I started scrolling through the camera roll on my phone. Self-pity quickly turned to guilt. We are so blessed with wonderful friends and family who have included us in some serious good times. Rather than be thankful for those moments of fellowship, I had focused in on the one thing we hadn’t been able to do.

Guilt has been replaced with gratitude.

As you can see, we may not have been on a vacation in the traditional sense of the word, but we have done our best to enjoy every bit of this break within the constraints of a tight budget. 

I may never understand why some struggle more than others, but what I can do is be thankful for what I do have-a healthy family and friends who love on us in ways I could never repay them for. If you have found yourself in a similar “whoa is me” pit today, will you join me in looking for at least one thing you can give thanks for?

 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

I may not like it, I certainly don’t understand it, but I do firmly believe that whatever happens in this life is directly in line with what God deems best for those of us who believe in Him.

 

 

~Gracious Receiving~ May 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:27 am
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As a mom of many, I have often times received what the world might consider lackluster gifts.  My children have given me pictures with one or two scribbles across the page, ABC gum (already been chewed for those who may not know) & “flowers” that the untrained eye might refer to as weeds.

Just the other day, Bella handed me the ugliest leaf in the entire yard.  The way she beamed at me when she said “for you Mommy” you would have thought it was the most lavish bouquet of flowers ever known to man.  On a bad day, I might have brushed her off and continued scrolling through Facebook to see what the outside world was up to.  But this day I was feeling blissfully content in my one on one time with my youngest so I poured on the kisses and thank yous for this strange but sweet gift.

I could tell by the triumphant look on her face that she was quite pleased with herself & her obvious knack for gift giving.

Then I saw this cute little picture today and it served as a gut check.

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How many times have I set aside that 15th half colored, torn in two picture of Strawberry Shortcake because it started to feel redundant making a big production over each and every one?  There have been many seemingly random gifts from little ones to me but what this simple quote reminded me is that even though it may seem like junk to us, to the precious gift giver, it may be the most extravagant treasure they’ve ever laid eyes on.

When anyone gives you a gift, whether it be tangible or maybe a simple spoken word, let your gratitude for their thoughtfulness shine.  As this sweet photo declares, when someone thinks enough of you to give it means at that moment, you are the most important person on the planet to them.  How about we make them feel the same in return?

“Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.” (1 Timothy 4:4 NLT)

 

~The Little Things~ May 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:41 am
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This morning I awoke to an empty bed.  I came up the stairs to a silent kitchen.  My husband was gone.

Did I get your attention?!  Before the panicked phone calls come rolling in, he’s not AWOL, this was planned.

I thought that I would love having the bed all to myself.  Turns out I barely slept in his absence.  Apparently I rather enjoy his warm body next to mine.  As I drug my butt up the stairs, there was no enticing aroma to greet me.  I actually had to be my own barista!  Folks let me tell you, coffee isn’t near as good when you have to make it yourself.    I didn’t get my gentle hug & kiss on the forehead before waking the kiddos, a moment that is just for us before the crazy commences, and it made me a little sad.

I can’t believe how many little things my husband does for me that I didn’t fully appreciate until this moment.

There are countless treasures that are part of my daily routine that I fail to give thanks for.  They seem insignificant when you look at the big picture but isn’t it the small things that when added up matter the most?  While my husband being gone triggered this thought, it isn’t exclusive to our relationship.  I hate to think of all the moments I take for granted with my children, too.

  • Our bedtime ritual with the girls.
  • Prayer on the way to school each day.
  • Hearing the boys laugh hysterically over something only the two of them could possibly understand.
  • Looking around the living room when we all pile up for movie night and seeing the look of contentment on everyone’s face at the SAME TIME!

It amazes me how it takes one of my people being gone to realize just how much I have to be thankful for.  Why can’t I appreciate all the gifts when they are being given?  It’s never too late to start so here is what I am relishing from this morning.

  • Carrying my sleepy 6 year old to the couch for breakfast while she nuzzled into the soft curve of my neck.
  • The chorus of “I love you” as the oldest 3 rolled out of the car at drop off.
  • The warmth of the sun on my face as I sit writing this post from the comfort and safety of our modest home.

What seemingly insignificant moment will you take notice of today?  Who extends an act of love & kindness that you’ve come to expect but rarely acknowledge?  Will you show them your appreciation today?161e9178e372f0b11c525e827f7367f7

 

~Keeping the Honeymoon Phase Alive~ May 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:56 am
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daily gratitudeYesterday was a Monday of epic proportions. It started off quite nicely, enjoying a run with a friend. Fast forward to preschool pickup time and this is when things started rapidly going downhill.  The fact that Bella had a meltdown when I dropped her off that morning should have served as a warning sign of things to come.  I won’t bore you with all the details, let’s just say the level of disobedience was at an all time high.

Later that night as I sat alone listening to the 2 littlest beings fighting, hitting & biting each other when they were supposed to be snug in their beds, I couldn’t help but stew a little.  If they’re Daddy was home they sure wouldn’t be acting like this.  What happened to being kind & loving to Mommy?  Do we really only get one day a year when the kids are obedient, giving & thoughtful?  Yes, I was feeling whiney.  I kept thinking about how wonderful the day before had been when everyone was going out of their way to show love and appreciation .  Why can’t they maintain that kind of attitude all year round?!

One day I’m served breakfast in bed, being told repeatedly how much I am loved and made to feel as though I am the most important person on the face of the earth.  The very next day, the demands return accompanied by huffs, eye rolls and short tempers.  How does the excitement of showing gratitude wear off so quickly?

It got me thinking, aren’t we sometimes guilty of doing the same thing to God?  We honor him and sing about his goodness on Sunday and by Monday morning we’ve forgotten about all the reasons why his praise should continually be on our lips.  The intensity of the moment dissipates, daily life kicks in and suddenly our songs of praise and adoration are replaced with whining and backtalk.

We are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder.” (Hebrews 12:28 NIRV)

God has given us countless reasons why our hearts should be glad and our lips should rejoice.  We need not look far to find something for which we can be thankful.  Let our words show the depth of our gratitude daily and not simply during Sunday worship.  In the same manner, those who have been placed in our lives deserve to be lifted up, praised and encouraged for all that they add to our lives, not just on the special occasion days, but everyday of the year.