"Life Beyond the Picket Fence"

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

Trust: My Lesson That God Provides

Posted on Nov 21, 2014

Moms, here’s the real deal of parenting.

Recently, I’ve had to literally place one of my children in my Father’s hands, asking Him to provide for them because I can’t. Have you been in a spot like that with one of your kids? No matter if they’re toddlers, teenagers or adults, more moments than not include situations where we can’t “fix it.”

While God has stretched me, He’s called me to completely trust Him. I’ve been teaching a bible study about Sarah and Abraham, and it’s greatly impacted me. The Holy Spirit has been telling me I need to believe God will provide for my child just like he did for Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22).

Today, He did.

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The Key for Managing Holiday Busyness

Posted on Nov 17, 2014

As the holidays approach, I see stress everywhere. I hear it in voices of friends, colleagues and women I speak to.  The pressure of holiday busyness on top of “normal life” causes angst – at least it does for me. Does it cause stress for you, too?

My thoughts immediately go to two women in Luke 10:38-42, Mary and Martha.  My internal “good Christian woman” measuring tool for the holidays is Ornament Hanging from Decorated Christmas TreeMartha-like.  The woman who does everything:

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’” (Luke 10:40)

Even though the list of things to do over the next weeks gets longer, I want to be like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to what He said (Luke 10:39).

Jesus says, “Daughter, dear Daughter, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (The Message, paraphrase from Luke 10:41-42)

Even during the holidays, we have to remember what’s most important. I want to avoid getting worked up over things that aren’t eternal.  

Balancing holiday busyness still centers in spending time with Jesus first.  It takes priority over everything else. Like the Wise Men, we need to worship, adore, and rest in Him by spending time at His feet – in prayer, in His Word, and in praise.

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10 Ways To Teach Sexual Integrity To Teens

Posted on Nov 12, 2014

Believe it or not, what our teens believe about sex and the intrinsic value of others is more important than grades, sports awards or college. Their choices in these areas define their character and future relationships. It affects their physical, emotional and mental health. What adults believe aboutsexual_integrity teens, sex, and integrity is a big deal.

Media, technology, video games and social media make sexual acts public, dehumanizing and normalized. Kids as young as twelve are becoming the fastest population viewing online pornography. When kids are desensitized to sex, their moral compass changes. As parents, we’re still guardians of their soul.

In this sex-saturated world, how do you teach sexual integrity to teens?

  1. You have to live it.  Kids pick up parental values by watching, listening and modeling your behavior. If you view pornography or lack sexual integrity, you shouldn’t expect anything different from your teens. Even if you do these things in private, they have an effect on your family.
  2. Assess the sexual messages in your home. Read the rest of the post here.


Brenda’s new book “Who Do You Say I Am?” for teen girls is now available on Amazon. Order it here.
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A Response To Brokenness

Posted on Nov 7, 2014

But let all those who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.IMG_0159
For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous,
You surround them with your favor as with a shield.  Psalm 5: 11-12

I’ve desired the sound of silence for days, needing silence, taking silence, wanting all to be silent. It makes me stay away from this space, not because I want to, but because I needed silence. Away from the busyness, away from the craziness of the upcoming holiday season, away from brokenness and pain. Time to spend just with God, with those I love, and in rest.

This was a week of too much pain – in the lives of people I love, the children I work with, the families I serve, the world around me and my own heart. “Everyone’s broken” I told my husband just last night.

And it hurts.

As I came to Psalms this morning, this verse gave strength and courage to my soul. Even the righteous are broken and experience pain. The health and wealth gospel does none of us service when pain is our reality. “This isn’t the life I thought I’d live” someone said. My heart cried. How I know that pain.

But God is never absent from our pain or circumstances. He’s never absent from when we’ve lived and responded righteously. These verses have become my prayer today, that God will spread His protection over those who have not abandoned Him in pain, but have pushed into Him, who take refuge in Him.

That He will surround them with His favor as a shield. And He will bless them, in the ways He knows bring Him glory.

That’s my prayer for you as I write this. It’s my prayer today for myself, my family, and others I love walking in pain. I don’t understand it all, but we live in a fallen world, and in pain, His favor and glory can shield and protect.

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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.

[Tweet “Something’s changing in the culture and I wonder if you’ve noticed.”]

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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