Speaking Engagements

Followers and Subscribers: I’ve Moved and Don’t Want To Leave You Behind

Couple with moving boxes.I’m excited to have the new site of Life Beyond the Picket Fence up and running with WordPress.org site.  While the transfer of followers from this site to the new one should be fluid,

  • if you are a follower or subscriber, please check to make sure you receive a new post to your inbox like usual.

I’ll be posting the usual Parenting Post tomorrow, Wednesday, July 3.

  • If you don’t receive this in your inbox, just subscribe to the new site or at the new site.
  • I also have a newsletter I’ll be sending frequently to keep you updated on the other sites I write for and other parts of the ministry, but you’ll need sign up for it at the new site.

You are important to me. Let’s stay connected!  So come on over to the new site at www.brendayoder.com.  Click the “Recent Blog” tab to follow the most updated blog.

See you over there!

Why I’m Not Afraid to Air My Dirty Laundry On Sundays

be still and know that I am GodLast Sunday we returned from a family trip in the wee hours of the morning. After attending church and eating a good meal, we spent the majority of the afternoon relaxing, what we normally do on Sundays. A day of rest. A day set aside for worship. A day different from the rest.

With today’s technology, it’s easy to do laundry without effort. You put clothes in a machine, turn a dial, and press a button. Going to my child’s bedroom requires more work than that.  It’s a simple process.

Last Sunday, I did the unthinkable – I did some laundry and hung it on the clothes line.

Gasp.

I’ve come a long way in being okay with hanging up laundry on Sundays occasionally.  We live on a main highway in a small conservative town. Stores aren’t open here on Sundays. People don’t mow lawns on Sundays. And you don’t air your dirty laundry on Sundays or people will see.

Like other unwritten rules, I’ve learned to assess the root and value of them.

Are they for man or are they for God?

I’ve learned to check my motives for breaking silent codes that bring looks of “I can’t believe she’s doing that.”  Hanging clothes on the clothesline on Sundays is one I’m not bothered by because there’s a principle I value:

I should be the same person in public that I am in private. 

If I’m okay with occasionally doing a few loads of laundry on Sunday, then I should be okay with letting people know about it.  God sees it anyway. I can’t hide things from Him.  He sees my dirty laundry.

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Does He see yours? Or do you try to hide it?

For years I hid my dirty laundry from others. Not the stinky-teen-boy kind, but the unhealthy behaviors I struggled with. Having an eating disorder was a very private thing. No one knew my stuff except me and God and my parents on occasions. I was good at hiding things.

Are you good at hiding things?

For years I responded to conflict with anger. As my children grew older, I couldn’t hide it. It began overtaking my relationships with them and their dad. It was easy to hide, too. I could do a lot of good yelling before going to church and sit really calm in that church pew.

There’s an unwritten rule you aren’t supposed to struggle with things.

You definitely aren’t supposed to be angry in a pacifist faith.

I learned to hide things real well.

So people wouldn’t see.

But God saw.

And as He nudged me to address the anger, the hurt, and rage, I felt more comfortable letting Him wash my dirty stuff. He was gentle with  it and He removed the stains and stink and filth and exchanged it for clean, bright, and beautiful through the forgiveness and power of His grace.

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It’s been a journey with me and God. As He’s changed me inside and out, things have changed in how I relate to unwritten rules.  I’ve learned to answer to God first, then my husband and family above anyone else.

Paul says, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent.” I Corinthians 4:4

What guides your choices?

Having a clear conscious in the eyes of others doesn’t make us innocent.

While it’s trivial, I’ve learned in my accountability with God, is okay to do laundry every once in a while on a Sunday. I’ve learned I answer to Him for my actions. I could have an empty clothesline every Sunday but be cheating on my husband Saturday night.

It’s all in how it looks, right?

Where do you need to get honest with God?

What I love most about God is that He sees everything and yet He pursues us because He wants a relationship with us.  He pursued me for years to change and heal from an eating disorder and to change and heal from anger, hurt, and rage that was inside of me. I’ve learned I can air my dirty laundry with Him and it’s okay.  He makes us clean and bright, to be on full display in His clothes of righteousness, not ours.

Will you let Him clothe you today? It’s safe  with Him. He won’t fail you.

Father, will you speak to each one reading these words and take the contents of their heart and make it what you desire? Will you equip those who struggle with unwritten rules and judgment from others to know you love them and are a God of grace, forgiveness, and freedom?  Will you continue to pursue those who are struggling with things inside their heart that only you know about?  

Thank you, Jesus, for washing dirty, smelling rags and making us beautiful in you. Amen.

How can I pray with you or encourage you as you learn to walk in freedom? I’d love to hear.

P.S. There will be a new look to Life Beyond the Picket Fence soon as I launch a new website for the blog.  You’ll be able to subscribe to a newsletter linking you to the other things happening here at the ministry and connect you with the other sites I’m writing for. If you are a current subscriber by email, I’m hoping the transition will be smooth. I’ll keep you posted when the site is launched so there won’t be interruptions in your connection here with us.  Thank you!

Slow and Steady Does Win the Race: The Challenge of Consistency

The Challenge of ConsistencyRemember that Tortoise and Hare?

There’s a saying,slow and steady wins the race.” Other words describing this principle are

  • consistency
  • perseverance
  • doing the work

Is it hard to be consistent and persevere when you don’t see it paying off?

In the Love Affair that’s Not With My Husband bible study, we’ve witnessed Esther being consistent and persevering in what Mordecai instructed her to do {Esther 2}. We’ve identified how hard it is to “trust and obey” when we don’t see the results of our efforts. 

Things You Feel

Whatever you call it –

  • impatience
  • discouragement 
  • frustration
  • self-pity

…if it pulls you away from being obedient, it impacts.

Doubts You Havea pity party

  • Have you ever had a knock-down, drag-out pity party with God?
  • Have you ever been impatient and jumped ahead of God?
  • Have you ever been discouraged by people whizzing by you while you’re consistent in the task you’re called to?
  • Have you ever felt God just doesn’t see you?

I’ve had these feelings. As the bible study ladies and I have been looking at God’s character and perspective, we’ve been reminded we don’t see what God sees. We don’t see the finish line. We don’t see what we’re overcoming by being consistent, persistent, and faithful. We don’t see the character God is forming in us when we do the steady work.

But God does. 

Like Esther, at just the right time God puts us in situations where the work pays off. Slow and steady does win the race, if we are patient and have faith in the One who holds all things in His hands.

Applying It To Scripture

The same is true for our study of scripture. When we’re faithful and consistent by spending time in His word, He builds things in our character we’ll need later on. By looking at God’s character when studying scripture, it gives us a picture of His faithfulness and reminds us that He is the only One who sees the whole picture!  Join us in studying God’s word by looking at

  • God’s perspective
  • God’s character
  • How you can apply His perspective and character to your personal situation.

We’re using these principles as we study the book of Esther, but you can use them in studying any scripture passage. We’d love to hear what qualities of God’s character you are learning about as you study His word.

I’m hoping to put together a simple resource to offer readers when our bible study is complete. In the meantime, whether it’s studying scripture, living your faith, parenting your children, or doing the job you’re called to do – be consistent, persevering, and don’t give up. 

Remember the rabbit probably got tired when the tortoise got his second wind.

tortoise and hare finish line

Sometimes being patience brings the opportunity for the last stretch to be the best one ever.

Slow and steady……whatever your race, He’s the one who brings you to the finish line.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

How To Be Strong When There’s A Weak Link

I’m 4% permanently partially paralyzed. A fancy way to say I have a torn ACL from a workman’s comp injury.

I have a weak link. 

As my surgeon released me from treatment, he said my knee will only be as strong as the muscle above it.

You have to keep that muscle strong.

For a lifetime.

Physical Therapist Working with Patient

No pressure there. In addition to working, doing ministry, being a wife and mother, spending time in God’s Word, eating right and exercising regularly, I have to keep my quad muscles strong or my knee will give out.

I have to make strengthening this muscle a priority because it’s the key to compensating for the weak link.

Do you have muscles you need to keep strong?

Are there emotional, spiritual or mental muscles to you need to strengthen to compensate for weaknesses?

how to stay strong when there's a weak link

My physical journey has spiritual parallels in more ways than one.

Knowing I have a weak link in my knee makes me feel like Paul the apostle and Jacob, son of Isaac.  Paul had a weakness he asked God to take away, but God’s response was, “My power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)). Jacob wrestled with God because he wanted God’s best for him, and was left with a lame hip (Genesis 32, NIV).

Both of them were marked by weakness which reminded them of their dependence upon God.

What weakness in your life causes you to be dependent upon God?

Strengthening my muscle teaches me to strengthen other spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles in my life. If I don’t, the weak ares of my spiritual, mental, and emotional world will collapse, like my knee.

As a woman who lives in the shadows of an eating disorder and other unhealthy behaviors, I know my weaknesses all too well.  I know if I don’t exercise self-control in all areas of my life (yes, all areas), the weak links buckle and I’m crippled emotionally, mentally, and physically.

I know the importance of strengthening what needs to be strengthened.

I live it, I breathe it.

I make choices every day to strengthen weak links so I remain strong.

Before I messed up my knee, I completed a half-marathon. I felt invincible.

Now reality awakens me. Just one foolish side-step and I come crumbling down.

I must strengthen the supporting muscle. I must rely on God to be strong in my weakness.

When life is going well, are you tempted to feel invincible, too?  Do you feel strong based on your own merit, apart from God?

how to stay strong when there's a weak linkEvery patriarch in scripture had a weakness that they needed God’s strength to overcome.

For Abraham, his honesty.

For Moses, his speaking ability.

For Joseph, his reputation.

For David, his love for women.

For Peter, his impulsivity and temper.

What is your weakness?  What do you need to strengthen so you are not defined by your weakness?

What choices to you need to make to keep your spiritual, emotional and mental muscles strong?

How can I pray for you or support you in this journey? I would love to do that.  Feel free to comment or to email me at yoderbl@gmail.com and I will pray with you and encourage you on that journey.

Your Father is with you always, His grace sufficient for you, His strength made perfect in your weakness.

For when you are weak, He is strong.

Friday Chat

I’m sitting in a hotel room with my family trying to quietly type. I don’t think it’s working.

There are lots of things happening in the ministry of Life Beyond the Picket Fence.

Parenting:  First, I’m excited to join the writing team at Ten to Twenty Parenting.  I’ll be joining them along TentoTwenty_badgewith Parents Space and Not Alone Mom where I write weekly.  I don’t post those articles here weekly, but if you want to join our Facebook page, you can catch all of them. This week I posted tips on helping sibling conflict while kids are at home during the summer – a topic a reader asked about. We chat a lot on the FaceBook page, so I’d love to be able to hear from you over there!

Encouragement: I’ve been sharing some pins from summertime at the Back Forty like on Facebook and Twitter like this one to encourage you.

Catch this on pinterest
Catch this on pinterest

Speaking: I’ve been speaking through central and southern Indiana the past two weeks sharing restorative hope with women as I share Hope Beyond the Picket Fence. As your church or women’s groups are planning fall and winter retreats, I’d love to share with your group, too!

Sharing Growing in Grace with women this spring.
Sharing Growing in Grace with women this spring.

Bible Study: I’m most excited about the Love Affair That’s Not With My Husband bible study that started in my home this week. Many women gathered as I’m sharing bible study tools that I’ve used over the years to study the bible in a way that brings depth and intimacy with Jehovah God.  We’re using these tools while we study the book of Esther like a “book club.”  There are some great women in a safe place, and we are excited about it!

Summer bible study

Writing projects: I have some things in the works while I’m home for summer vacation. Now – if we’d ever be home to work on them! I’m hoping to share some of those with you as they get accomplished.

Connections: Lastly, I’d love for you to check out my friends at iwokeupyesterday. These women have some great things going on at their ministry and I’ll be having Michelle share as a guest post in a few weeks.  They were kind to mention this ministry in a surprise  post!

And now my kids are all awake, so I need to go! Have a great Friday and may you know the fullness of God in who He is to you today!

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Home Improvement: Having Faith in the Unseen

Our dehumidifier - "Bucket is full."
Our dehumidifier – “Bucket is full.”

There’s a machine making background noise as I’m typing. It’s a dehumidifier taking the moisture out of the heavy summer air. Every twelve to fourteen hours, a light on the machine says, “Bucket Is Full” because the machine has collected enough unseen water particles from the air producing a tangible substance – water.

Amazing

I know there’s a sixth grade science fair explanation here, but every time I empty the bucket, I think of another simple-yet-complicated process – Faith. Continue reading “Home Improvement: Having Faith in the Unseen”

If Heaven Were A Place and Why I Stay Away

He stands in an empty room. It’s quite and still, but his heart speaks to memories the he holds.

I couldn’t stand in that room, so I stay away.

There are moments when the pain of what is gone is too great. It sears your mind and heart like a flaming sword reaching to the depths of your soul.

I choose to stay away. I don’t need that today.

I’d rather keep the memories as I know them. Memories of what was good, true, and pristine.Family Praying Before Dinner

Of a place completely safe and full of joy.

The place is a house that was filled with love, laughter, comfort and peace.

But things change, people pass from life to death, and lives move on.

The house will change, too, as it should, with a new generation bringing joy and laughter to its walls.

The empty house I avoid reflects the emptiness I feel on days where I want just one more moment as things were. Moments with people who are no longer here.

So I remember the house filled with a love which was a glimpse of the Father himself.

A plate that hung on the wall in this home.
A plate that hung on the wall in this home.

A table where no one was turned away.

A back door that was always open.

A path worn of little footprints.

For a time, heaven on earth.

If heaven were a place, it’d be there with all the memories that made the house a home.

That’s where I’ll keep it today –

The home that was like heaven in my heart.


What moments do you have that are like “heaven on earth?” Or how have you walked through grief and losses in your life? We’d love to hear from you!

The Important Things a Dad Does Wearing The Superman Cape

I was cleaning when Harold the Helicopter caught my eye.  Harold’s been sitting on my husband’s dresser for years.  It’s IMAG1166the spot where he keeps his important things, a sacred place I don’t usually disturb.

Dad can fix anything” was what my son said years ago when Harold first broke and he asked his dad to fix it. I remember telling Junior that Harold would be hard to fix. He emphatically reminded me that Dad Can Fix Anything.

So he gave Harold to his dad, who placed the toy on his dresser, among his important things to take care of. That was at least five years ago.

Poor Harold.  I don’t think he’s going to be fixed. 

At least he’s safe sitting on Dad’s shelf among The Important Things.

There are other things on my husband’s dresser along with Harold, a testimony to the honest faith my children have had that their Dad can fix anything.

Tractor wheels, rockets, Barbie toys, Star Wars figures, and Harold.

Time has gone quickly since Harold arrived among The Important Things.  Junior forgot about him. He transitioned from Thomas the Tank Engine to Star Wars and now to ESPN. 

So here Harold sits, but his presence isn’t forgotten.

It’s a testimony to the Power of Dad in the life of a child.Businessman Wearing Cape

To a child, their dad is a hero whether he wants to be or not, wearing an invisible cape only children can see.

As a counselor, I often hear kids say, “I don’t have a dad.” What they’re really saying is, “My dad isn’t a part of my world.” He’s absent, not present, or even known. But the child still yearns for his presence.

In their eyes, Dad’s presence, or lack of it, is immeasurably powerful.

As our kids have gotten older, I still hear, “Dad can fix it.” I’m often tempted to tell my older-and-wiser children their dad really can’t fix a lot of things. But I hesitate, knowing their hero with the cape will at least attempt to fix it, even though he may not succeed.

For his kids, the process itself is powerful. To them, it says, “Somehow, my Dad will take care of me.  If he’s not able to fix what’s broken, the effort itself will be bookmarked among “The Important Things” in life.

Just like Harold.

How do you let your children know you care about what is important to them? Perhaps it’s not fixing a toy, but how do you let them know what is important to them is important to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Father’s Day, Superman.

 

Why There’s Power In Sticky Situations

Making strawberry jam
Making strawberry jam

I was in the middle of this mess when I had a child who needed to talk. Two hours later, I feel like I had a marathon therapy session with my own child and now have to resume this sticky mess.  Real life  – important moments in sticky messes.

What moments do you need to give priority to even when it’s inconvenient?

I’m glad I listened to my heart this time.

Have a great week