"Life Beyond the Picket Fence"

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

5 Parenting Tips for Choosing Battles

Posted on Mar 24, 2015

Choose your battles well..Well-300x300

This would be the single piece of advice I’d give to parents of teens and tweens. As a counselor, teacher, and parent, it’s brought sanity to otherwise overwhelming circumstances.

I wished I learned it earlier.

Instead, I learned it the hard way.

I’ll be honest – I was over-bearing and reactionary when my older children were young. I was so intent on raising them well, I said “no” way too much.

When my oldest was sixteen, most things were a battle. Our family was falling apart

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about choosing battles.

1. Relationships with your children are more important than your rights. Parental rights are something to which you innately cling. When your rights strain your relationship with your teen over trivial things, lay your rights aside. Your relationship with your teen is more important.

Read the rest of the article here


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Why I Air My Dirty Laundry on Sunday

Posted on Mar 19, 2015

Once we returned from a family trip in the wee hours on a Sunday morning. After attending church and eating a good meal, we spent the majority of the afternoon relaxing, what we normally do on Sundays. A day of rest. A day set aside for worship. A day different from the rest.

With today’s technology, it’s easy to do laundry without effort. You put clothes in a machine, turn a dial, and press a button. Going to my child’s bedroom requires more work than that.  It’s a simple process.

Last Sunday, I did the unthinkable – I did some laundry and hung it on the clothes line.


I’ve come a long way in being okay with hanging up laundry on Sundays occasionally.  We live on a main highway in a small conservative town. Stores aren’t open here on Sundays. People don’t mow lawns on Sundays. And you don’t air your dirty laundry on Sundays or people will see.

Like other unwritten rules, I’ve learned to assess the root and value of them.

Are they for man or are they for God?

I’ve learned to check my motives for breaking silent codes that bring looks of “I can’t believe she’s doing that.”  Hanging clothes on the clothesline on Sundays is one I’m not bothered by because there’s a principle I value:

I should be the same person in public that I am in private. 

If I’m okay with occasionally doing a few loads of laundry on Sunday, then I should be okay with letting people know about it.  God sees it anyway. I can’t hide things from Him.  He sees my dirty laundry.


Does He see yours? Or do you try to hide it?

For years I hid my dirty laundry from others. Not the stinky-teen-boy kind, but the unhealthy behaviors I struggled with. Having an eating disorder was a very private thing. No one knew my stuff except me and God and my parents on occasions. I was good at hiding things.

Are you good at hiding things?

For years I responded to conflict with anger. As my children grew older, I couldn’t hide it. It began overtaking my relationships with them and their dad. It was easy to hide, too. I could do a lot of good yelling before going to church and sit really calm in that church pew.

There’s an unwritten rule you aren’t supposed to struggle with things.

You definitely aren’t supposed to be angry in a pacifist faith.

I learned to hide things real well.

So people wouldn’t see.

But God saw.

And as He nudged me to address the anger, the hurt, and rage, I felt more comfortable letting Him wash my dirty stuff. He was gentle with  it and He removed the stains and stink and filth and exchanged it for clean, bright, and beautiful through the forgiveness and power of His grace.


It’s been a journey with me and God. As He’s changed me inside and out, things have changed in how I relate to unwritten rules.  I’ve learned to answer to God first, then my husband and family above anyone else.

Paul says, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent.” I Corinthians 4:4

What guides your choices?

Having a clear conscious in the eyes of others doesn’t make us innocent.

While it’s trivial, I’ve learned in my accountability with God, is okay to do laundry every once in a while on a Sunday. I’ve learned I answer to Him for my actions. I could have an empty clothesline every Sunday but be cheating on my husband Saturday night.

It’s all in how it looks, right?

Where do you need to get honest with God?

What I love most about God is that He sees everything and yet He pursues us because He wants a relationship with us.  He pursued me for years to change and heal from an eating disorder and to change and heal from anger, hurt, and rage that was inside of me. I’ve learned I can air my dirty laundry with Him and it’s okay.  He makes us clean and bright, to be on full display in His clothes of righteousness, not ours.

Will you let Him clothe you today? It’s safe  with Him. He won’t fail you.

Father, will you speak to each one reading these words and take the contents of their heart and make it what you desire? Will you equip those who struggle with unwritten rules and judgment from others to know you love them and are a God of grace, forgiveness, and freedom?  Will you continue to pursue those who are struggling with things inside their heart that only you know about?  

Thank you, Jesus, for washing dirty, smelling rags and making us beautiful in you. Amen.

How can I pray with you or encourage you as you learn to walk in freedom? I’d love to hear.

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5 Thieves that Steal God’s Best in Raising Girls

Posted on Mar 15, 2015

I have a new resource for teen girls and moms of teen girls. Information on Who Do You Say I Am can be found here. 

Moms, our daughters pick up more that you think they would from our lives. They take their cues from us.

Here are 5 thieves that steal God’s plan for raising girls in an artificial world.

  1. Lack of authenticity. In order for your daughter to be equipped for a culture that promotes inauthenticity, she needs to see what being real looks like from you. How do you interact and present yourself in your adult world? Does your daughter see you present yourself one way in front of one and another way in front of other groups? How do you present yourself among peers?
  2. Women and girls naturally compare themselves to others, but this isn’t God’s plan of us. The spirit of comparison comes from the enemy and does damage to ourselves and the body of sisterhood. Does your daughter see or hear you compare yourself with other women? When you model contentment instead of comparison, it gives strength to your daughter to do the same.
  3. Seeking other’s approval before God. This is probably the hardest strategy in personal growth among women. We tend to look to others for approval instead of God. This struggle isn’t just a teen problem, but a problem for women of all ages. How are you doing in this area? Are you modeling how to please God above others?
  4. Read the rest here. 
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Why Chosen Isn’t a Dirty Word

Posted on Mar 11, 2015



I said the word.

It was like a deep, dark, secret I was finally releasing. A gift I wanted to share, but wasn’t sure how it would be received at the Bible study in my home.

As children of God, we’re chosen. We’re pursued by the King and Creator of the universe. It’s a special and honorable position.

You are chosen.

Being a chosen child of God isn’t a theological debate over Calvinism, predestination, or free will. The fact is  – if you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you chose God.

And He chose you.

Yet saying “you’re chosen” is almost a dirty word.

It’s easy to say “Jesus loves me” but it’s hard to say, “Jesus chooses me.”

Yet Jesus, the bridegroom of His church, says to His bride, “I choose you. I love you immensely.”

There’s nothing prideful by saying you’re chosen. Let’s get over that. When you accept your position as the chosen child of God, there’s security and belonging.

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Hearing the Silence

Posted on Mar 8, 2015

There’s a quiteness in my soul tonight. The washer and dryer are spinning. College boy and the girlfriend are laughing downstairs, and there’s a silent stillness of sleep.

It’s late for me, but a good late. A late of peace and rest.

Things came to a halt this week, within twenty-four hours. Basketball season is over for Middle Kid. A few weeks of quiet before the next sports season starts.

Revival is done, for now. Thirty days of rest the Lord has said. Thirty days of rest before the next phase.

When I heard Kyle Martin, evangelist for Time To Revive, talk about resting, my mind and body were quiet. I’ve honesty been exhausted the last several weeks. A little bit of this, that, and a lot of big stuff in between.

Rest became personal to me. Permission to unplug. To say “no.” To pull back and be still.


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Guest Post & A Giveaway: #Live2015

Posted on Mar 6, 2015

It’s my privilege to share a guest post from Kimberly Muench. I’ve recently connected with Kimberly as she’s joined the writing team of 10 to 20 Parenting with me. Email me at yoderbl@gmail.com if you’re interested in entering your name for her book – the give-away for this post!

Motherhood:  A Basketful of Life Lessons

by:  Kimberly Muench

It’s ironic how, as parents, we believe we are our children’s teachers.  I can tell you this, after twenty-eight years of parenting five different souls, it is our children who are our greatest teachers. Here are some of the most important lessons I have been taught through parenthood:

Faith.  Having faith in my child’s ability to discover, trust, and use their intuition.  This has worked in tandem with choosing to listen to my own inner voice.  Some of my most challenging parenting moments (like when my oldest was in the throes of an addiction to alcohol) have been in choosing to put my ego (anxiety) aside and act on my gut instinct.

Calm.  Purposely choosing a lifestyle that allows me to have (a) more time and (b) more patience to connect with those whose lives have been entrusted to me.  I realize I am blessed to have the choice to stay home with my kids, and also for them to see me pursue my dream of writing to help and encourage others.

Courage.  Having enough passion about everyday life issues (such as electronic use and social media Kim headshotlimits/boundaries) to say our family won’t do what every other family does, in this house we make our own rules (ie:  we don’t do or have sleepovers).   To stand up for what we believe in takes courage in today’s culture.

Patience.  Almost everyday I receive a lesson in patience.  When my kids don’t listen to a request I’ve made I take a breath, step back, and find another avenue to use instead of flying off the handle.  It takes practice and an incredible amount of patience (and discipline) not to simply emotionally react to the situation at hand.

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7 Steps for Dealing with Anger

Posted on Mar 2, 2015

Anger is an emotion I’ve struggled with over my lifetime. Do you ever struggle with anger?7 Steps to deal with anger

As a child, I got angry when I didn’t feel heard, when I felt no one took me seriously or when my feelings weren’t validated. As the youngest, the way I got my voice heard was when I yelled or said outrageous things that exploded from inside.

When I reached adolescence, my anger and voicelessness went inside. I learned to silence myself by disappearing, either starving or stuffing my emotions through an eating disorder.

As an adult, I’ve learned self-control with anger, though it’s not easy at times.

How do you control anger? How do you deal with it so that it doesn’t get the best of you ? Here are seven ways to work at anger.

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She Brought Her Mess to God

Posted on Feb 25, 2015

God’s word never ceases to bring new lessons. Lessons hidden in pages and lives of others from whom we can learn.

I’ve been teaching and learning about mothers in scripture this year. Each month, other moms come to my home and we study the “Messed Up Moms” of the Bible. One impacting me is Hannah.

In the pages of 1 Samuel 1-3, we see a woman whose security is completely in God and her relationship with Him. On the surface you see a woman who’s as messed up as you and I are. She’s gossiped about and tormented by her husband’s other wife. She’s disgraced and heartbroken, unable to bear children. She’s so depressed she can’t eat. Her pastor misjudges her character and thinks she’s drunk.

Can you relate? I can.

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25 Tips on 25 Years of Marriage and Parenting

Posted on Feb 22, 2015

This year, I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary with my high school sweetheart. We’ve been romancing25-tops-on-marriage for thirty-one years this month. We’ve been through a lot, particularly in parenting, finding that parenting teens and tween are the roughest years in marriage.

So here are 25 tips on marriage and parenting I’ve learned in twenty-five years of marriage.

1. Marriage is hard work, so work at it.

2. Parenting is hard work, so work at it, too.

3. Take family vacations for memories and laughter.

4. Let go of expectations on family vacations.

5. Build other things into your family life other than kids’ sports and activities.

6. Don’t let your children take the important place your spouse should have.

7. Your spouse will be with you long after your children are gone, so make that relationship a priority.

8. Don’t let your kids pit you against one another.

9. Parent together. (Read the rest here at 10 to 20 Parenting).

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#Live2015 Guest Post and A Giveaway

Posted on Feb 18, 2015

              I’m excited to share Laurie Whitesel’s work with you as part of the #LIVE2015 series, in addition to a giveaway of her new book, “What’s Right Here.” I’ll be sending it to one of you! To enter the giveaway, just email me and I’ll put your name in a drawing. My email is yoderbl@gmail.com
               I first met Laurie through her blog, Laurie’s Gentle Healing Notes.  Laurie and I both have a background of an eating disorder and she has journeyed to healing through writing. agt
               Laurie has studied and taught in the areas of early childhood education and dance. She earned a B.A. in psychology in 1995 and worked in special education classrooms for 12 years, before becoming a new mom. It was then, after a long struggle to recover from anorexia, that she turned inward to find peace and healing. She discovered, after searching outside of herself for decades, a place of stillness within that had been with her all along.
                Here are some questions I asked Laurie to share with you.
1. Laurie, tell me how you first started blogging:
I started blogging to integrate all of the healing work I had done. I had spent time with healers, explored on my own, and healed myself from a persistent eating disorder. It had been quite a long journey, and I had absorbed and experienced much truth.
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