"Life Beyond the Picket Fence"

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

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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Why You Need To Come

Posted on Sep 18, 2014

One day last spring, I wanted to get a journal for a friend who was going through a rough time. Wanting to shop local, I decided to stop in the new bookstore I’d 1898221_669549736436806_1447421206_nnoticed located on State Road 5, south of Shipshewana. I walked in and saw a spiral-bound journal with a camper on the front at a reasonable price – just the perfect gift to give my friend who was going on a camping trip out West where she could clear her thoughts.

I was in the Glow Bookstore.

After spending just a few minutes looking around, I was blessed by being there. As a therapist and person in ministry, the resources I saw on the shelves weren’t just the most popular titles at the Walmart checkout, they were powerful books by reputable writers and Christian teachers and included titles I recommend to parents, clients, and people who ask for recommendations.

This is a place of ministry,” I thought. “I’m glad they’re here.”

Denise with author Wanda Brunstetter.

Denise with author Wanda Brunstetter.

When I found out the owner was Denise Henke, I knew why the place had a feeling of ministry instead of business. Though I’d never met Denise personally, I knew of her family and her husband’s ministry at a local church. It’s a powerful church whose ministry impacts our community.

That’s why I’m excited to partner with Denise and The Glow Bookstore for the upcoming book signing and release of “Chicken Soup For The Soul: Reboot Your Life,” in which my story is published. I want my community to come inside this new treasure in our community!  Will you join us Friday, September 26 & 27th? Their grand opening will be that day complete with give-aways, gift bags and free balloons for kids. I’ll be there for the book signing from 2-6 on Friday, Sept. 16 and 1-5 on Saturday, Sept. 27.

I asked Denise questions about her passion for Christian ministry through books and media resources. Read and share!

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When God Removes Bitterness

Posted on Sep 11, 2014

I learned something today. bitternessI sat in a room with forty other people and learned they weren’t so different from me. We worshipped God, shared honestly with each other, and worked towards a common goal. 

Five years ago I would have never imagined I’d be part of a group like this. In fact, five years ago, I wanted to go far away from this faith group. Damaged, unheard, voiceless and angry, I wanted to be somewhere else. But God said no. He didn’t call me away. In fact, His instructions were for me to be myself in this group, to follow Him, and fruit would develop.

I fought against Him for a while. In fact, I thought I was being obedient by staying, but I did it with a bitter heart. “I’ll do this for You, Lord, but I don’t know why.” I continued to allow a bitterness to fester and I was miserable in the process. 

Let it go.” He said.”I’ll take care of them. You obey me.”

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When Marriage Isn’t What You Thought It’d Be

Posted on Sep 9, 2014

I’m excited to host my friend Sherri Wilson Johnson as a guest author today. Her new fiction book, “To Laugh Once More” is being released this week.  You can get it on Kindle for $1.99 this week!

As a little girl, I dreamed of being a wife and mother. I was born in 1966 and there wasn’t much else for a little girl to aspire to be. I loved my Legos and built ToLaughOnceMoreFinalhouses all the time, complete with a room for all the babies I’d have one day. I played with Barbies and pretended to be Ken’s wife. Of course, when I got my Barbie airplane, I have to admit, pretending to be the flight attendant (or stewardess, as they were called then) was a guilty pleasure of mine. My dad didn’t let my mom work even after we were grown and it was pretty clear that he thought I’d start an occupation after graduating while waiting for my prince charming to come and sweep me off my feet. Although I wanted to be the next big nightly news anchorwoman, I let my mind settle on “just” being a wife and mom.

Along came my prince charming a few years later, and I couldn’t wait to be his wife. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump right in and start having babies, but I could definitely see what our future was going to look like. We owned a company and worked side-by-side every evening cleaning office buildings. We spent late nights at Dunkin’ Donuts, came home, and snuggled until the morning light. In less than a year, I became pregnant (surprise) and the lazy days of hanging out together and the carefree nights of working alongside one another until 2:00 a.m. came to a grinding halt.

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The 100 Day Challenge

Posted on Sep 8, 2014

Finding balance is a constant challenge. Though I write and speak on balance, seasons of life bring different obstacles in achieving the balance you’d like to have. I’ve been frustrated the last year with things I want to do, but don’t have time to do consistently, at least simultaneously.

They say to be a writer, it’s important you write daily, even if it’s for a little bit. I’ve never made this a priority and I miss moments of inspiration.

Being in God’s word for me in non-negotiable. But on busy days, I often put it off, when it’s probably what I need the most.

For over ten years, running has been a priority for my physical, mental and emotional health, especially as an eating disorder survivor. Since I tore my ACL twenty months ago and we had a horrendous winter in 2014, I haven’t prioritize running.

But I need it. It’s the best thing that manages stress. I just feel better.

So for 100 days, I’m committing to do these Three R’s daily.

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Kim de Blecourt And Ukrainian Orphans

Posted on Sep 7, 2014

It’s my pleasure to share my friend Kim de Blecourt’s upcoming journey to assist Ukrainian orphans. Could you consider partnering with her?

What A Cockroach Taught Me About God

I pulled my only cooking pot off the counter to start dinner. That’s when I saw him. The huge cockroach fell onto the kitchen floor, and boldly strutted across to the darkness under the cooking area.

I totally lost it.

“Where are you, God? You got me here and you told me to be patient, and now…where are you?” I pounded my fists on the counter and kicked the cupboards before I slowly sank to the floor.

It was March of 2010. I had been living in the Odessa Oblast of Ukraine for over 10 months, after our dream of adoption had become a nightmare. The prosecutor assigned to our adoption was opposed to international adoption, and he did everything in his power to make it known through our adoption.

During my months of moving from hotel rooms to rented flats, I had suspected I wasn’t alone in many of my kitchen areas. Evidence of insects and rodents were left behind just often enough to convince me to keep everything I could inside my refrigerator.

As I watched the cockroach scoot under the cabinet that held the two-burner stovetop, my disappointment continued to pour out. I didn’t edit myself or try to be proper or sweet or soft-spoken. I wanted to know where God had been because I hadn’t felt his presence for quite a while.

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Boomers, Osteens and The Lost Generation

Posted on Sep 4, 2014

(Congratulations to Kristine Stutsman for winning Betsy Tachella’s book!)

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Baby Boomer Victoria Osteen’s statement that worship is for self and not God. There’s a lot of talk about the self-centeredness of the church. My friend, Ingrid Lochamire, wrote a great post about Boomers and Millennials leaving the church.

The Me generations are having a faith crisis.

I’m part of the generation sandwiched between the Boomers and Millennials. I don’t know if we’re Generation X or Y. We’re the Lost Generation.

I was born in 1968.

The year Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed.

The year of riots and the Tet Offensive.

The year all hell broke loose in the nation.

The year before Woodstock, where conflict and pain was subdued by sex, free love, and mind-altering drugs. When “if it feels good, do it” became the new religion and the accepted norm.

I was raised Old School by parents born during the Depression. 

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Seventeen Problems by Betsy Tachella

Posted on Sep 2, 2014

It’s my privilege to share an excerpt from my friend Betsy Tachella’s new book, “Speak To Me Lord, I’m Listening.” She’s also giving away a copy to a reader – comment below or send me an email and I’ll put your name in the drawing. The entries will be open through Saturday, September 7.

Seventeen Problems

Prayer is such an integral part of our Christian walk, yet how many times do we approach God with an issue that needs attention and really expect to hear an answer? Sometimes things build up in our lives, and we become overwhelmed. 

Several months after we settled into our home in Southern California, I experienced a nagging sense of frustration. Feeling emotionally fragmented, I noticed stress and exasperation were my constant companions.

One morning, I awoke almost immobilized by these overwhelming feelings and thoughts.  What’s bothering me, Lord? I’m feeling frustrated, but I can’t put my finger on why? Will you reveal to me what is wrong?

By faith, I awaited His answer. “…if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name.” (Jn. 16:23).

Having brooded over my mood for several weeks, I knew that something was stealing my peace. Maybe you have had this experience, where you know something is out of kilter, but you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what it is. With pen and paper in hand, I listed the things that floated across my mind. My list gradually unfolded as I engaged in listening prayer and heard God’s voice.

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Raising A Girl With Healthy Self Image

Posted on Aug 31, 2014

Notes From An Eating Disorder Survivor

When I gave birth to a daughter, I was terrified. At twenty-three, I was still a girl myself, struggling with my own issues – an eating disorder, insecurities, and identity issues. If I struggled with my own body issues, how was I going to raise a girl with a healthy self-image?

Her birth forced me to face the underlying issues of the eating disorder. I didn’t want her to know the hell I lived beginning at fourteen when I became anorexic, then bulimic. I wanted her to have a life free of bondage, free of the obsession with weight and food. I wanted her to be healthy,something I’ve diligently pursued as a lifetime principle over the last twenty-three years.

As I watched my daughter graduate from college this spring with confidence and a healthy body image, I acknowledged six principles that contributed to breaking the cycle of disordered eating.

  1. Using the words “healthy” or “unhealthy” and eliminating the word “fat.” Since she was a toddler, I used these words to guide food choices and to help her understand the importance of balanced eating and body image. The first time she used the word “fat” she was in middle school. We had a healthy discussion about body image and I don’t remember the word “fat”being used by her again.
  2. Complimenting her character and not physical characteristics. I made a conscious effort to complement my daughter on character and behavior and not physical appearance. I tried to avoid comments, positive or negative, referring to her weight. A comment I received as a sixth grader sent me into a tailspin of losing weight. I was an 88-pound skeleton by eighth grade.
  3. Being conscious of comments about my physical appearance in front of her. When my daughter was young, I worked hard not to let her know my insecurities or pity-parties. Read the rest here.


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Interview with Cindy Bultema And A Red Hot Give-away!

Posted on Aug 26, 2014

I’m excited to share a new Bible Study with you by friend Cindy Bultema, a writer, speaker, bible teacher and mom. Cindy grew up in a non-Christian home with an atheist father and spent her time in unsatisfying relationships and doing drugs. It wasn’t until she overdosed and almost died from a cocaine overdose in 1996 that she realized she needed God in her life.

From that moment, she dedicated her life to Christ and became active in her church and realized a passion of teaching and talking with women about faith.

Cindy loves the Lord, loves her family, and loves life! She lives in Michigan with her husband and their four children. With over 15 years of experience in ministry, Cindy has trained leaders and created programs within a variety of settings. Cindy is also a sought-after speaker, Bible teacher, blogger, and encourager. Her story of faith after the tragic death of her fiancé is told in the Day of Discovery DVD “He Loves Me.

She’s the author of a new bible study, Red Hot Faith that you can start with women in your church or community. Here’s more about the study:

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