"Life Beyond the Picket Fence"

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

5 Truths About Being A Teenager

Posted on Dec 15, 2014

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9 (NIV)Truths AboutBeing A Teenager

Your teen years are some of the most exciting yet confusing times. Your emotions are random, intense and all over the place. You feel alone or misunderstood. You feel like you can’t do anything right or that no one cares. Do you ever wonder if why you feel the way you do?

If you do, youre not alone. In fact, here are five universal truths about being a teenager.

  1. Your feelings will lie to you. The emotions you feel are more intense during adolescence, especially in the middle school and early high school years. Your feelings are often magnified, making you feel out of control. How you feel in the moment is not always an accurate assessment of a situation.
  2. Read the remainder of the article here at Whatever Girls.



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Don’t Steal The Struggle

Posted on Dec 12, 2014

God doesn't


A quote from my upcoming book, “Magnified: Finding God’s Best in Busyness.”

Do you need to God to meet you in your pain?

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5 Ways Parents Can Respond To A Sexualized Culture

Posted on Dec 6, 2014

If you’ve heard Kim Kardashian’s name in the news recently, you know the diva bore her back and front-side for an interview in The Paper.

A great role model.

Kim_K_pop_cultureNot that Kim Kardashian’s a role model, but we can’t deny our teens are influenced by people and things in pop culture. Middle schoolers soak up what’s around them. Have you thought about what your child’s soaking up?

As Christian parents, you’re probably vigilant about what your kids are exposed to. As a parent of middle schoolers for over a decade I’ve been adamant about what my kids see or don’t see, what they’re exposed to or who they hang out with.

But there’s a slow moral drip in the American conscious that permeates a teen’s life no matter what you do. In a culture where violence, sex and licentiousness is everywhere, how do you shelter your teen?

In addition to what you keep out of your teen’s life, it’s important to be intentional about what you pour into them. When a sponge is wet, it can’t soak up more liquids even when more fluid is poured on top of it. Our kids are similar. When we pour good things in first, they’re less likely to absorb the bad.

This isn’t new to you – you’ve been pouring good things into your child since birth. This is a reminder to not let up during the middle school years. It’s easy to get to the teen years and get caught up in wanting your child to fit in, to think they know enough to make the right choices, to trust them.

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10 Ways To Simplify During The Holidays

Posted on Nov 30, 2014

Another holiday has come and gone. A good holiday. One full of gratitude, family, and thanksgiving. How was your holiday? I hope it was a day on which you could give thanks.

The holiday season usually causes me angst. I like the lights of Christmas, but I don’t like winter. Thanksgiving marks the end of good weather and ushers in the long winter and seasonal depression I push against. The holidays bring extra stress in an already busy schedule.10 Ways To Simplify During the Holidays

I used to approach the next several weeks rather Scrooge-like. A lot of work for one day that’s high on expectations. I’ve worked hard in recent years to get rid of Scrooge and find balance between the hype and Grinch. This year, I’m choosing simplicity as I enter the holiday season. Here are ten things I started this week to make the holidays more peaceful all around.

1. Limiting time on social media. While I appreciate my personal and professional social networks, I’m pulling back from time spent on them and posting. I’ve realized how much we (myself included) post everything about our lives and I’m declining from broadcasting every event of our holiday season. Spending the last five days away from other’s lives and enjoying my own has been a release I can’t explain.

2. Decorating with simplicity. I’m one of those people who

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5 Principles About Acceptance & Friendship

Posted on Nov 24, 2014

My most recent post at Whatever Girls, a post for teen girls, and an excerpt from the ebook, “Who Do You Say I Am?”.accept


People will fail you, but God never will.

It’s easy to talk about accepting yourself and having confidence, but how do you really do that in relationships with friends and peers?

It’s important to have friends who accept you and with whom you feel comfortable. How do you feel around your friends? Here are five things to consider in relationships as you grow in confidence and authenticity.

1.   Being comfortable and confident in who you are draws others to you, making you a leader rather than a follower.

2.   Rather than changing your interests to fit in, find peers who have similar interests with yours. Get involved in activities in- or outside of school where you can find friends who have similar interests and hobbies.

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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.

I have. I’m not scared by it, but I take it seriously. 

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