"Life Beyond the Picket Fence"

Life & Faith Beyond the Storybook Image with Speaker & Writer Brenda L. Yoder

Why Halloween Isn’t Fun And Games Anymore

Posted on Oct 31, 2014

When I was young, trick or treaters came to our door in my small town. I had a big orange pumpkin I took around the neighborhood getting candy. I don’t have any recollection of costumes I wore other than the punk outfit I wore as an 8th grader on my last Halloween excursion.

Halloween was a time for kids, candy, and was just a fun day.

As a mom, the first Halloweens came and went. We lived in the country so no one knocked on our door. I simply told my little ones that we don’t celebrate Halloween because it celebrates witches and ghosts, and those are not of God. As they were older, we had a few dress up parties in our house where the kids dressed up and I hid candy in their rooms. They visited their grandparents to show off how cute they were.halloween

In recent years, I’ve noticed Halloween lights on houses, yard decorations of ghosts, goblins, zombies and blood. I’ve heard store clerks greet me with “Happy Halloween.” Sculls and crossbones are everywhere and zombies and vampires are cool.

I’ve also heard elementary-aged kids say their favorite character is Freddy Kruger and they play hours of video games about death, zombies and the spirit world. This summer, I picked up a package of vampire blood I could have purchased at a computer store.  This week, 72% of people responding to The Today’s Show Facebook poll reported they believe in ghosts.

I have. I’m not scared by it, but I take it seriously. 

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Small Steps In Bold Faith

Posted on Oct 29, 2014

There’s a voice that’s been nudging me. It’s name is Faith.

I’ve heard it in a message about Abraham. God called him to sacrifice his son. Abraham obeyed, having faith God would provide or raise him from the dead. Abraham obeyed and believed in the unseen. That’s faith.

I’ve heard it from a friend who said her God’s bigger than circumstances that seem insurmountable.

I heard it from a small voice saying, “Do you believe me?”IMG_01732

Three situations for which I’ve been interceding. Each different. Each filled with pain that drives you to panic.

What will the outcome be?

Each filled with fear.

What if?

Each filled with questions.

What next?

I hear a small voice saying, “Faith is believing me for what you don’t see.”

I’m challenged by Abraham. The only thing he saw was his son, an alter, and firewood. There was no other option for obedience in sacrifice. He obeyed down to the final moment when God said, “Abraham! Abraham!” (Genesis 22:11).

He believed in God’s goodness even though the situation dictated God was playing some cruel trick.

Have you ever felt God was playing a cruel trick with your life circumstances? Have you ever held your hands on your hips and said, “Really, God?

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Why My Kids Don’t Do Energy Drinks

Posted on Oct 21, 2014

When energy drinks first came out, I decided they’d be off limits for my middle-school and elementary-age kids. They had enough energy as it was, why would you give them more?letting-your-teens-drink-energy-drinks

From experiences teaching and counseling teens, I see inerrant dangers when kids use unnecessary substances to alter behavior. It sets a precedence for using something outside of yourself to cope, something of which can become addictive.

I’m sensitive to addictive behavior because I’ve spent a lifetime undoing unhealthy behaviors I learned as a teen. At fourteen, I learned food and dieting helped me cope with adolescent struggles. It turned into years of addictive behavior dealing with any emotion or struggle I had. It’s taken years to completely undo the addictive nature of learned behavior.

That’s why I’m the weird mom who doesn’t give my kids energy drinks. It’s also why I was bothered when my college student received his textbooks from a popular textbook rental company accompanied by an energy drink. It was wrapped in bubble paper, looking all shiny – the answer for late night homework.

It’s one example of sinister and sneaky marketing that’s stealing healthy behaviors from our kids and young adults.

Read more here.

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When Humanity’s Falling Apart, He Holds It Together

Posted on Oct 17, 2014

Life beyond the picket fence isn’t just a ministry, it’s life - not the Instagram or Facebook kind, but the one you and I live that’s not the storybook image. The one that leaves a hole in your heart where pain, sadness, or loss resides.

Do you have a hole like that? IMG_0344 edOr is your pain so fresh and real that you’re afraid to give words to it? You’re living it, but you’re hiding behind the picture perfect image.

Regardless, it’s still there.

My life today is peaceful, though it hasn’t always been. Most things around me are in turmoil. The world, the lives of people I love, the kids whose stories bring a heartache I can’t explain.

When I came to the Father this morning, tears flowed for circumstances with uncertain endings. Intercession for people I love, for shattered dreams, for lives that weren’t supposed to be this way. I came in praise that Christ is victor over the dead. If I say He works and moves, I have to believe He’s going to work and move like He says He does.

In recent weeks, I’m drawn less to social media and more to the presence of Christ.

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3 Steps For Finding Wholeness

Posted on Oct 14, 2014

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Psalm 139:23

Do you ever wonder what God was thinking when gave you responsibilities? Like motherhood or leadership roles? You bring your hurts, insecurities, fears and past relationships into your roles. You bring your coping skills.

God created us to be whole women so we can be nurturers in His kingdom. The key to balancing life is finding wholeness. 

What does it mean to be whole?

Being whole means we don’t have gaping wounds in our mental and emotional make-up. It means we don’t look to our children, husband, or others to meet our needs. It’s facing our hurts and letting Jesus heal us and make us whole in His grace, love and presence.

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Shutting Out The Noise And Finding Rest

Posted on Oct 5, 2014

Today I sit in quiet. I’ve needed it, not just space away from others, but moments away from social media, TV and noise of life.IMG_1649

A book signing, preparations for a big event for teen girls & moms in Iowa, preparing for the Balance retreat, working 25 hours a week, writing deadlines, being a sports-mom, friend, and counselor. All this week.

And I found out I had cancer. Skin cancer. Removed, got it all, but nonetheless, cancer.

More than quiet, I need time with Jesus. 

I’ve been troubled as I’ve walked in the noise of life. Without time with Christ, everything else pulls from you. People, kids, social media. I’m confronted with the shallow stream of consciousness that’s stealing our mind and soul. 

A mind and soul longing for peace that’s only found in Christ.

I want to write a post full of eloquent words like other Christian writers, but I’m tired.

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When Your Children Hurt You

Posted on Oct 2, 2014

There are days your children hurt you.hurt

I heard a new mom share her complete joy when her firstborn was laid on her chest. The universal moment a mom feels where hope, joy, and love comes together.

New moms aren’t told how it feels when those feelings are invaded with hurt. Hurt that goes deep coming from the one you gave birth too.

It might be from things your child does physically or emotionally.

It might be from the choices they make or the words they say.

It might be from things they’re unable to control because of physical or mental limitations.

It might be from pain you’ve inflicted that’s coming back at you.

It hurts.

It hurts because you can’t make it right in the moment like you did during infancy, when cries were comforted by your presence or touch.

Now, they push you away.

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10 Things I Learned From 5 Minutes Of Fame

Posted on Sep 29, 2014

This weekend was my first book signing. I am honored to be published in Chicken Soup For The Soul: Reboot Your Life. It was a great time. I made new friends with Glow Bookstore owner Denise Henke, saw old friends (including my elementary school principal!) and was blessed by current ones.

My face was plastered in local newspapers and I had colleagues who said, “I know someone famous.”

I learned a lot in the last few days. So here are ten things I’ve learned during my five minutes of fame.10689709_792929140765531_4590506985338252729_n

1. People will say nice things about you. Enough said.

2. People will say bad things about you. Being noteworthy gives people who don’t know you permission to say weird things.

3. Your family keeps you humble. One of the boys didn’t realize why my name was on a local marquee and hubby went to the wrong location for the book signing. Obviously they didn’t read the newspaper.

4. Your job as mom is most important. In the two days of the book signing, I went to two conference meets, proofread a resume and grant application, answered phone calls from a child in tears just minutes before the event, and got up early to carpool.

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Finding Value In Family Relationships

Posted on Sep 25, 2014

In one week, our family’s downsized. College Graduate moved to the East Coast and College Boy returned to the university. That leaves the High Schooler and Junior, the middle school boy. “Our fun little family of four” I call the rest of us.IMG_1202

There’s a lot I like about a smaller family. We can go places with minimal cost. We can eat out every once in a while instead of almost-never. There’s less laundry, less arguing, and more quiet spaces in the house.

Today we decided to go hiking. In just a few minutes, we packed a less-than-army-size lunch and were off.  A fun and spontaneous family of four.

Family outings for six are a major undertaking. Rarely does everyone agree. There’s usually someone arguing, whining or complaining. Packing a lunch is a major feat and finding something cheap to feed everyone is rare.

Today was quick, easy and fun.

When we got home, High School Boy said, “Thanks for today, Mom,” then left for his girlfriend’s house.

Junior said, “Can I have a friend over? I get tired of being by myself.” 

College Grad texted, “I’m homesick.”

And now, I’m in tears.The yucky kind that makes your dog look at you with those “What the heck are you doing?” eyes.

Read more here.

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Helping Your Daughter Grow Through Pain

Posted on Sep 21, 2014

There’s a hanging basket on my porch that’s been a challenge this summer. I can pour lots of water on it, but within minutes the water leaks through the soil. Instead of the soil being saturated, the dirt’s depleted.

For soil to hold water for healthy growth, it needs nutrients. Enriched soil naturally happens with organic materials – dead foliage, food waste and manure. Things that are smelly and gross. When they do their work, the result is beauty, health and vitality.2014.09-Helping-Your-Daughter-grow-through-pain

The words “pain brings beauty”flashed through my mind the other day when water was running off the plant after watering it. Without smelly and gross things in your life, faith is like the flimsy plant – shallow and depleted. You receive the refreshing water Jesus gives, but it doesn’t absorb. It runs off, leaving you longing for more, never quite satisfied.

Is there truth in this analogy? Can pain really bring beauty?

My experience says yes. A friend recently has chosen beauty in the pain of losing a child. A woman diagnosed with cancer soon after her teen daughter became pregnant has moved from hopelessness to joy.

My own experience of allowing God to work through pain has brought a stronger, deeper faith I didn’t know before the hurt. God used the stink and stench of pain to draw our family closer to Him, seeking and experiencing His power, mercy and grace.

Read more here

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