"Life Beyond the Picket Fence"

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

Stand Still and Watch the Lord Rescue You Today – Laura Kurk

Posted on Apr 23, 2014

Stand Still and Watch the Lord Rescue You Today – Laura Kurk

I was a shy, overly sensitive girl who grew up in a family of logical, science-loving, strong Christians. My mom’s background was in microbiology. My dad was a dentist. My brother, always the investigator, became a neurosurgeon at the birthplace of neurosurgery. Along the way, he’d also received a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, and married a surgeon. My husband is an engineer. I’m woefully outnumbered.

But I am neither scientist nor logical. I prefer pen and paper and books. Words and beauty. Nature and solitude. When, as a girl, I disappeared every Saturday, my family didn’t know that I was writing stories, wrapping them in plastic and duct tape, and sinking them with heavy rocks in the creek that ran through my family’s land.

I’d been given more than my share of empathetic awareness of the world and the pain I saw in others sometimes became unbearable. Writing was a release valve—a way to dial down my sensitivity to a manageable level. I’ve got room inside to breathe again if I write. All the unresolved conflicts of the past and the hopes for the future collide and become something new, something better. Writing is good medicine.

Around the time I was realizing that I could make a go of a writing career, I found myself facing an untenable laura-thumbnail (1)situation with a terminally ill dear friend and some other challenging issues. Anxiety and depression became uninvited guests in my life, and it seemed that with every turn, I would fall on my face. I think I forgot how to breathe. My heart had broken into pieces.

These were dark days, but the beauty of this time was that every time I fell, God was there. He picked me up and put me back together. He was so close that, at times, I could feel his breath on my face. I felt his hand wrapped around mine. His words would wash over me and my saving verse became:

“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today…the Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:13-14

I would pray this verse. I would say it to my children. I would whisper it in the night. And after a while, it worked its way into my soul. It became part of me, part of my personality, part of my strength. It gave me the courage to find my purpose.

This time in my life taught me so much. I learned lessons like these:

  • My weaknesses make His strength more beautiful.
  • My job is to find the meaning in every moment he allows me to experience.
  • Life is too short to waste words.
  • No one ever seems to say what they mean.
  • Dishonesty and subterfuge are so much safer, so much easier. Habitual, really, in our culture.
  • I wanted to live with my whole heart. I wanted to find authenticity and live honestly. I wanted to say what I meant.

I realized that in his own time, God had prepared me to be the author that he’d envisioned, a brave and honest one. To write the books that he wanted written. My first novel, Glass Girl, was born. I kept it raw and difficult to read at times but the emails I receive from readers all over the country say that it is exactly that level of honesty they’ve searched for. They are dying for somebody to tell it straight, but show a path out of the weeds of life.

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How to Grow Older Gracefully

Posted on Apr 21, 2014

How to Grow Older Gracefully

Easter weekend is about endings and beginnings. It’s about new life, living in resurrection power, leaving death behind and walking in the fullness of God’s grace.

Every Easter we talk about the empty tomb. The challenge comes in living in the “in between.” I mean, what does it mean to live a resurrected life – really?

This Easter weekend I made a significant personal step by trusting the power and grace of Jesus in my life. Before you judge me for being vain or materialistic, just listen to my story.

There comes a time when you have to let go of the past and consciously walk into your future by making for provisions today. For me, that conscious decision pertained to body image, security, self-acceptance, and facing the future with grace instead of fear or hatred.

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Got Balance Series – Defining Priorities

Posted on Apr 14, 2014

Got Balance Series – Defining Priorities

The recent “Got Balance“retreat tackled issues moms struggle with trying to balance the never-ending responsibilities of being a wife, mom, and woman. Every time I do the retreat, women ask for more – more encouragement, more practical ways to balance things, more refreshment for the daily journey.

My hope is to have an e-book done in a few months including material from the retreat. In the meantime, I’ll be posting much of that material here in addition to weekly posts on faith and life. Look for the “Got Balance Series” in the title indicating posts for moms and parents!

So…… how do we balance this thing called Motherhood?

My thoughts immediately go to two women in Luke 10:38-42: Mary and Martha.  Women have been wrestling with the Mary/Martha syndrome since the time of Christ.  As a young mom, my internal “good Christian woman” measuring tool was Martha-like.  The woman who did everything:

  • A cheerful helpmate to her husband
  • A creative and patient mom
  • An organized, fastidious homemaker
  • An involved, busy leader at church
  • Etc.

I was doing pretty good meeting my goals until my fourth child came – I fell off the bandwagon.  I couldn’t keep up.  

  • I needed my husband to help me.
  • My patience was short and my creativity gone.
  • My house was clean, but lunch money and permission-slip forms sent me into panic-mode.
  • I was involved and busy at church but served with a grumpy, defeated spirit.
  • (Can you identify?)
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What A Little Rejoicing Can Do – A Challenge

Posted on Apr 10, 2014

What A Little Rejoicing Can Do – A Challenge

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice! (Phil 4:4)

It’s easy to rejoice when things are going well. It’s hard to rejoice when things are going wrong.  How many times when I awake, my conversation with Jesus is moaning and groaning, “Lord, please do this or that today.”

 

In the morning, when I arise, let me rejoice. 

I recently spent a few days in a mountain cabin with my firstborn who just returned from several months in Guatemala, pouring her heart into orphans she has grown to love. She’s spent six months out of the last two years with these children. She’s built relationships with them. She’s called to full time ministry, but as she prepares to graduate from college, she knows she can’t go yet. While in the mountain cabin, she and I spent time thanking God for what He’s done, what He will do, and what He is doing.

I’m learning to rejoice, even in the unknowns. MP900387785

Unknowns are hard places to rejoice. You don’t know what’s ahead. The fear of the unknown can paralyze you. I’ve lived in that fear before, stuck in emotions, not liking the wide world of “what’s next.” Your prayers become, “Lord, please!” Rejoice and thanksgiving are the last thing on your lips. 

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The Mother-Daughter Relationship – Whatever Girls

Posted on Mar 31, 2014

The Mother-Daughter Relationship – Whatever Girls

I’m excited to be posting my first article today with The Whatever Girl ministry of Erin Bishop, a ministry focused on mothers and daughters being intentional.  It’s timely today as I prepare for my daughter’s return from Guatemala in two days. I’ll be taking her to a the hills of Tennessee for a few days as she re-enters the American world a different person she left over three months ago. A description of her experience coming home a “triangle” can best be described here. It’s the end to her third trip to an orphanage with Hope of Life where she has learned to love the children deeply. 

She’ll be graduating a month later from Liberty University, and while she desires to enter missionary work full-time, she has to pay off her college loans before that’s possible. Her heart in one place, but reality says something else. Do you remember that transition from college to “real life,” not knowing “what’s next?”

Our journey has been on that’s been God-ordained, and nothing short of a miracle. I’m excited to share my passion for encouraging moms as a writer for Whatever Girls. I’ll be posting here every other month.

Join me today in a post on the Mother-daughter relationship here.

How can I pray for you today?

 

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The Angry-Irritated Mom and Why She Feels Alone

Posted on Mar 28, 2014

The Angry-Irritated Mom and Why She Feels Alone

How dare he act that way” I thought as I left my mother-in-law’s house. I was embarrassed at the outburst my toddler was having.

No, no, I don’t want to go home!” my eighteen-month old screamed as I picked him up to take him home. His little legs were still kicking as he and I went to the car.

Bad mom” echoed in my head. “What am I doing wrong that he acts that way?” I wondered.

I was angry and ashamed.

Have you ever felt that way?

Does the behavior of your toddlers or tweens bring out the worst in you?  Do you ever feel like a complete failure not only because of your child’s behavior but also because of your feelings in the moment?  I shared these feelings at the Got Balance? retreat last weekend, and I’ve received emails from moms who struggle with anger, thanking me for letting them know they’re not alone.

Moms aren’t supposed to be angry or have negative feelings toward their child.

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Being Intentional In Busyness

Posted on Mar 24, 2014

Being Intentional In Busyness

May my God supply all of your needs according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19

It’s ironic the busiest week our family’s had in a long time is the week I spoke on “Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All.” Whether it’s God’s sense of humor or attacks from the enemy, it was what is was, and now it’s over. 

And the next week begins, with more busyness. When does it ever stop?

The more I engage in life and with others, the more I’m convinced you have to be intentional about big and small things in life, faith and parenting. 

This past week my son’s varsity basketball team won a semi-state championship in the Hoosier state. Our IMG_1132community has a long-standing tradition for good, disciplined basketball teams for over forty years. They weren’t ranked or were expected to make it this far in the tournament. In fact, when I planned the Got Balance? retreat, I asked my son and husband about the odds we’d be at the state tournament that day. “Pretty slim” they both said. 

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Four Lessons I’ve Learned to Share With Moms

Posted on Mar 14, 2014

Four Lessons I’ve Learned to Share With Moms

I’ve recently spoken at and will speak at two conferences specifically ministering to moms. The first conference was the Arise Conference with the Not aLone Mom ministry team and second is the “Got Balance?” retreat next Saturday in my hometown. Part of the content includes how moms put our identities in expectations, roles, and ideals we have of womanhood. Those of you following this blog for a while have followed my journey of wrestling with these topics. As I reflect on the messages I’m sharing with moms, here are four things I’ve learned through the journey.

1. Clarity of who you are in Christ. A friend of mine once told me I worry too much about what people think of me. Do you struggle with that? I’m constantly learning to find balance between pleasing God and others. As you learn more about who you are in Christ, the opinions of others minimize in comparison to the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. 

2. Praising God balances your perspective. One small verse in Philippians impacts me, “I thank God for you every time I remember you,” because it causes me to thank God for people and situations that come across my mind. Praising God moves our focus from self and what’s temporal and draws us to look at Him and the eternal. This perspective brings a different outlook on any situation.

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Healing and Hope of A Spring Thaw

Posted on Mar 7, 2014

Healing and Hope of A Spring Thaw

The sun is beautiful today, reflecting it’s glory off the snow-covered ground that’s been our view for the last three months. For most of the cold-belt, it’s been the winter of all winters. Over 100 inches of snow in our area. The winter that’ll never end.

Despite the single degree weather this week, today it’s above freezing. Standing in my driveway, I hear water running down our eaves-spouts. Evidence of a spring thaw slowly beginning. 

Do you need a spring thaw? More than just the one that melts the snow on your porch, yard, and driveway? 

Where does life’s winter grip you? Is it a relationship, a dead-end job, a season of life, a low-grade depression that just won’t shake? There are things in life that grip you, leaving you cold and trapped like the relentless winter of debilitating storms.

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Do You Need Balance? I Really, Really Do

Posted on Mar 1, 2014

Do You Need Balance? I Really, Really Do

You have to practice what you preach, so the saying goes. So I’ve been practicing what I preach – that’s why I’ve been absent from the blog the last two weeks. Three weeks from today, I’ll be teaching on Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All. Personal balance requires doing what’s most important at the time and not trying to do everything when there’s too much to do. So I’d be lying to you if I had tried to do everything that’s been packed into my life the last two weeks.

  • A trip to Pensacola, FL, to speak on prayer at the ARISE conference (driving 28 hours in 3 days because flights were undependable). More details here.

    Highlights from the ARISE conference

    Highlights from the ARISE conference

  • Ministering to moms in powerful ways through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • Speaking to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in Indianapolis.
  • Working twenty-five hours a week at my “real job” as an intermediate school counselor.
  • Seeing clients privately as a Christian counselor.
  • Attending theater productions and multiple varsity basketball games of my younger sons.
  • Visiting with my daughter via Skype conversations while she’s in Guatemala, often into the wee hours of night.
  • Preparing for and teaching a parenting series at our church.
  • Meeting writing deadlines.
  • Preparing for the retreat.
  • Laundry, dinner, remaining somewhat insane.

There are times and seasons that demand more of our time. Certain weeks, we have to let some things go. On top of all of these things, I haven’t posted here. I told myself none of you were waiting breathlessly for my next post. But my kids needed their mom to be present with them. I needed to save money by cooking from scratch rather than buying ready-made food that would have made life easier. I had to say no to people and opportunities because I wasn’t the only who could meet their needs. I can’t do it all, and neither should you.

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