"Life Beyond the Picket Fence"

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

Raising A Girl With Healthy Self Image

Posted on Aug 31, 2014

Raising A Girl With Healthy Self Image

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

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

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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There Goes My Life – Thoughts From A Mom At Midnight

Posted on Aug 25, 2014

There Goes My Life – Thoughts From A Mom At Midnight

Her brothers carried her boxes out to the car. She asked an honest question, “Is there anything else I need to know?’

Her dad joked and said, “Nope, you’ll do fine.”

I looked into her eyes and I saw fear behind the questions.

Though she went to a university eleven hours away and has traveled internationally, there’s something different today. She’s moving to a new city ten hours away, taking her first “big girl” job as a college graduate.

God’s provided an apartment for her with a family she knows. What’s the fuss?

Kenny Chesney says it best, “There goes my life.” 

It’s that feeling I got the first time I dropped her off at her grandma’s house when she was four weeks old so I could get groceries. 

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Sometimes Being Weird Is The Best I Can Do

Posted on Aug 23, 2014

Sometimes Being Weird Is The Best I Can Do

The summer’s gone, another school year begins. As an educator and counselor, my life revolves around summer vacations and the school calendar.

And this summer was the weirdest ever.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been extra irritable. I even “lost it”a few times.

“Losing it”means verbal vomiting on whoever triggered the upsurge of emotions. Usually it’s a child or spouse. Or both.

I haven’t done it for a really long time. It’s especially frustrating because I write, speak and counsel on making healthy choices.

But I’m human, and even humans lose it.

I finally figured out why. Summer at our house has been weird. It’s the only word to describe it.

“Weird”means I have a university graduate, a returning college student, a high schooler and a middle schooler. It means I go through emotions of releasing my kids and having them return as adults who make their own decisions and who don’t like to be told what to do.

It means the whole family’s home but never at the same time.

They come and go but I don’t know who’s where.

There’s less food and more clutter and I can’t keep up.

I’m stretched but trying to hold it together.

I feel like I’m losing it, and on some days I do.

Then, I feel horrible.

Read the rest of this post here

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Four Lessons Learned From An Unlikely Pair

Posted on Aug 19, 2014

Four Lessons Learned From An Unlikely Pair

It’s my privilege to share this story my daughter wrote from one of her recent trips to Hope Of Life International, Zacapa, Guatemala. Kaylee’s spent seven months in the last two years in the mountains of Zacapa.

I want to share the story of an everyday unsung hero of mine. My friend’s story has been on my heart for awhile but has taken me time to find the words to do his extraordinary testimony justice. 

Our unlikely friendship formed over a bachata song. I recently discovered my love for the Latin-American singer Prince Royce a few months before moving to Guatemala. He sings bachata music and I thought his popular song Quiero Darte un Beso could be the national anthem of Guatemala because I heard it several times a day in Guatemala whether booming loudly from a bus, drifting out a window while walking through Llano Verde, or while being serenaded by Lolo, a 7 year old from the children’s home. 

In January 2014, I was spending one of my first days in Kelly’s House, the home for special needs children at Hope of Life Ministries in Zacapa, Guatemala. I found myself in a room with three boys – Juan Diego, Mesiel, and Chalito. I asked Chalito, the oldest of the three, if he liked music because I noticed a CD player on the table beside his bed. He responded enthusiastically. Not knowing what else to do as I stared at the three disabled boys, I picked a Spanish song on my iPod and pressed play. I talked to the other boys but quickly turned around as I heard Chalito singing quietly along to the music . “Do you like bachata?” I asked.  “Si,” he replied, “It’s my favorite.”  He proceeded to sing every word to all the songs I had in my library of Latino music.

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Raising Confident Girls & A Bible Study For Moms

Posted on Aug 17, 2014

Raising Confident Girls & A Bible Study For Moms

I’m posting today at Whatever Girls on 5 Truths For Raising Confident Girls in Today’s Culture. Don’t miss this important post. Read it here. 

I’m having a bible study at my home this school year once a month on Mondays from 9-11. Details still being made. If child care is essential for you to come, let me know. I will look into hiring a babysitter based on the essential needs and numbers, so there would be shared cost for a sitter. If you’re interested, comment below or email me at yoderbl@gmail.com. I’m looking forward to studying God’s word and encouraging moms!

And where is my house? Shipshewana, IN – I’ll share location privately in a message or email.  I’d love to see you!

bible study

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When You Just Want To See Jesus

Posted on Aug 12, 2014

When You Just Want To See Jesus

It’s only Tuesday.

My kids started school. Robin Williams took his life. A friend buried a baby.

All night I’ve been listening to Sandy Patti’s “We Shall Behold Him” because I was ushered into the presence of Jesus today during the funeral service of a little baby. My friend shared her intimate journey with Jesus from the moment she learned of the unexpected pregnancy that soon was diagnosed with complications. The baby was ushered into the presence of the King before she ever took a breath.

I heard the complete meaning of the words sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15)  as my friend honored her Savior and Lord, her Hope, her King, her Glory.

I rejoice in the knowledge and complete beauty of Jesus, my Savior, who’s the victor and crown in death. I grieve the sadness of their loss, but even more the countless thousands who suffer from mental illness and don’t know the freedom of life in Christ, of His complete love, grace and fullness.

I’m reminded that life isn’t about death, it’s about Jesus.

Tonight, I really just long to see Him face to face.

 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV





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Hearing The Voices Of Freedom

Posted on Aug 8, 2014

Hearing The Voices Of Freedom

It’s been a long time since I’ve really written. From the heart.

Heart writing requires time – time to reflect, time to write down what whispers in your soul.

I don’t know where to start – whether to write about standing in the Charleston slave market or on the battlefield at Manassas. Both are hallowed ground with stories to be told. Lives and lessons never to forget.

Or whether to write about the second time in a month a baby’s life has ended before it began.hearing the voices of freedom

Or whether to write about the woman set free from bondage and burdens and filled with the Holy Spirit before my eyes.

They’re all moments when you see a glimpse of God in both joy and sorrow.

When God’s grace gives peace in the midst of heartache.

As a student of history, people, and God, I’m learning how big God is and how little we make Him.

I’m learning throughout His story (history), life’s been complicated. I’m learning how much we limit God

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A Place Called Home

Posted on Aug 5, 2014

A Place Called Home
Home. The word conjures up images in each of our minds. For some, it’s a place. For others, it’s a person. Home is a place where you feel rest, comfortable, at peace.

It’s not something bound by four walls or family origin.

10496165_10204794404363852_5483339984707854110_oConsider these common statements about home,

“Home is where the heart is.”

“I feel at home there.”

“This is my second home.”

“I’m going home.”

“Home, sweet, home.”

“They went home to be with the Lord.”

Welcome Home.”

We all need a place we can call home, a place where our spirit is peaceful, where we feel comfortable and at rest. Where all seems right with the world.  

Where striving ceases and calm remains.

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The Great Do-Over In Raising A Girl

Posted on Jul 27, 2014

The Great Do-Over In Raising A Girl

I often share my testimony with women about my almost-near disastrous relationship with my only daughter. Five years ago I made hard decisions to change my lifestyle and behavior so I could salvage our relationship when she was a teen. She’s a recent college graduate whose heart and desire is for the Lord. God has worked His grace and power in our home and family.

I’ve shared a lot of things with moms of girls over the years – young moms exasperated with small kids, moms raising preteens fearful of the path their daughter might take, and moms in the trenches with teen girls. Here are twenty things I often share that I’m glad I did in raising a girl, and twenty things I would do over.

20 Things I’d Do Again

  1. Be a stay at home mom to watch her grow
  2. Have tea partiesIMG_0135.jpg
  3. Play dress ups
  4. Read books to her
  5. Take her to parks
  6. Sing to her
  7. Have play dates
  8. Lay beside her bed and pray for her when she’s sleeping
  9. Take her to museums
  10. Take her on a road trip
  11. Be honest about my life when she asked hard questions


Read the rest of the post here at Whatever Girls.

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