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!

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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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!

What You’re Born To Do: Lesson From a Killer Dog

I learned a lesson from a killer dog. This spring our Boston Terrier was killed by another family pet, an English Shepherd. Both were outdoor dogs along with our German Shepherd. The kinship reminded me of the furry friends on Homeward Bound.  They were steadfast dog-friends and would play endlessly around our little homestead.

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingSomething went wrong in that cold spring day. My husband found our Boston cowering under a car in our barn. When Ron picked her up, blood spurted out of a wound and there were bite marks on the side of her body.  “Play-fighting” gone bad.

The culprit, our English Shepherd, had blood near her mouth. She wanted to be stroked like usual, not knowing the harm she had done.  We knew.  The Boston didn’t live.  We decided our Shepherd needed a new home.  One where she could run and herd animals, which is the nature of her species. She needed to do what she was born to do.

Are you doing what you’re born to do?

Our Shepherd was designed to be a herding dog for other animals. Though we have animals on property, we don’t have the need for her as we did when we were still milking cows. Every morning before milking, my husband would go into the pasture and herd the cows towards the holding pen.  A great job for an English Shepherd.  Without animals to herd, she wasn’t able to exercise her God-given abilities and calling in life. She became restless, aggressive, and destructive.

Can you relate? Do you ever feel restless, irritated, and angry? Have you ever considered the connection between anger, discontentment, destructive behavior and the frustration of not doing what you’re wired to do? Do you ever wonder why you’re jealous of others or why you lash out through gossip, mean words or back-handed comments?

Just like my dog put her out-of-sync energy into destructive aggressiveness, we can put our out-of-sync energy into being destructive or into a state of long-term frustration and irritation.

We weren’t meant to be this way. We were meant to be free, to have joy and fulfillment from being and doing what God’s design is for us. The problem comes when we don’t exercise our calling, our gifts, our leg irons“bents.”  It’s similar to students who love working with their hands or are body-kinesthetic.  Many of them shut down or learn to hate school because they spend the whole day reading, writing and doing math. They get irritated and restless, some to the point of being assertive or angry. They feel stifled, misunderstood. Trapped.

Do you feel stifled, misunderstood, or trapped? What would it look like for you to soar in your gifts, talents – the things that make your heart sing?

Like our dog who needed a home where he could “be” in his life’s purpose, we need the space to do this, too!

I’m not going to give you an inspiring message to “be all you can be.” Most of us can’t quit our job tomorrow or abandon our kids to be all we want to be.  If so, I would trade in laundry to be the Laurie Partridge equivalent for Hillsong.

But – you can become more aware of what your heart cries out in the big and little moments of lifeWhat makes your heart burst forth in song? What brings passion to your soul? What is the root reason of your discontentment, frustration or irritation? Once you discover these things, you’ll be more aware of how God’s wired you and whether you have an outlet in your life to do and be what He has created you for.

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I wasn’t created to do laundry. I definitely wasn’t created to sing like Laurie Partridge. But I am wired to minister and communicate hope to others through teaching, writing and speaking.  A few years ago when I was in grad school for counseling, I was sharing with a stranger about a subject in History I loved teaching in the classroom.  The person approached me later and said, “When you talk about teaching, your eyes light up. It’s your passion. You were made to teach.”

He connected with my soul.  My heart does sing when I communicate what I’m passionate about – either in print, in front of people, or one-on-one as I share about Him.

What makes your heart sing? Do you have opportunities to do exercise this passion in your life? If not, what do you need to do to connect with that joy inside of you? I’d love to hear from you –please share your journey with us!

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Some ministry announcements:

Recently a few readers request topics for me to write on either here or the other sites I write for.  I’d love to hear from you, too.  What topics would you like to see me write on related to faith, parenting, or life?  Please respond with those comments on the ministry’s Facebook page and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a surprise giveaway as a “thank you” for partnering with me.  You can get to the Facebook page here.

Those of you who are prayer warriors, I’m speaking to two different groups this week in southern Indiana on Hope Beyond the Picket Fence. Would you pray for hope to be received by women who need encouragement? Thank you.

Sharing Hope Beyond the Picket Fence
Sharing Hope Beyond the Picket Fence

Also, I’m speaking throughout the Midwest this summer and fall.  If your women’s group is in need of a speaker for a fall or spring 2014 retreat, please consider this ministry! I’d love to tailor the needs of your group through biblical teaching and authentic encouragement.  Feel free to contact me at yoderbl@gmail.com for more details or visit the speaking tab for topics I frequently speak on.  Do you have a theme or subject you don’t see or would like for me to speak on a blog topic you’ve read here? Just let me know and I will design a retreat or individual topic for that theme.

Have a great week – and I’m praying for God to show you how He has made your heart to sing!

Facing Insecurities: Why I Don’t Look In The Mirror

It’s summer time here on the Back Forty.

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With summertime comes natural beauty, fresh fruits and veggies from our garden.

The first strawberries of the season.
The first strawberries of the season.

With the changing of the seasons come the changing of life’s seasons, too. Years roll from one to another… and we’re the same person in all of them. I’m the same person I was many summers ago….ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

You are, too.

Every once in a while I hear the voice of the fifteen-year-old me though I’m well-aged past fifteen. 

She {or he} is inside of you.

Does she {or he} ever catch you by surprise?

????????She recently caught me by surprise when I realized how much I shied away from looking in the mirror. A full-length mirror showing body parts I’d rather keep covered by sweatshirts and layers of winter gear.

I realized how much I hate looking in the mirror. But it’s how I cope.

Cope with what?

 You’re probably rolling your eyes.  

Yes, I’m considered “small” if you compare me with others

But I can’t compare myself with others.

It’s as dangerous as looking in the mirror.

Because the fifteen year old me says how unworthy, disgusting, and repulsive I am when I do.

Do you have similar lies that whisper in your ear?

Your lies are different than mine.  Maybe yours say, “You’re stupid, ugly, not-good-enough,” or worse.

At fifteen, I was bound by an eating disorder that kept me in prison for all of adolescence and young adulthood.  I work hard at living addiction-free, but I can’t separate myself from the girl I was in childhood. I’m the same person even though I’ve dropped the chains of the past.

Do you have chains in your past?

Insecurities get the best of us.  My mirror-avoidance behavior reminds me that insecurities still whisper in my grown-up self.

I’m no different than you.  Do you have insecurities?

While avoiding the mirror may seem cowardly, it’s my way of honestly living with my weaknesses while not letting them cripple me.  It’s hard work to live healthy and balanced when you’ve had distorted thinking and addictive behavior in your past.

Can you relate?

Your struggle may be different, but if you battle insecurities, it’s a challenge.  Here are things I’ve learned in living with a life-long challenge.

Facing insecurities takes courage. It’s easier to hide behind our insecurities. It’s safe to hide behind self-MP900262788pity.  It’s comforting to enable our insecurities.  “I’m can’t do that, so I won’t try.”  “I was hurt in my past, so I need to self-medicate.” “That doesn’t feel comfortable, so I won’t…..” The list goes on.  Acknowledging our insecurities and saying, “What am I going to do about it?” requires courage to face what we don’t want exposed and courage to push ahead regardless of what our self-talk says.

Facing insecurities requires realistic thinking.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Realistic thinking means setting goals you can handle.  Looking in a full-length mirror is damaging to me. That’s why I avoid the darn thing.  It’s also why I don’t weigh myself or consider dieting.  These things will send me back to disordered-eating in a heart-beat.  Finding life-long, realistic goals you can be successful at is important in overcoming insecurities.

Facing insecurities means knowing your limits.   Going on diets and Facing Insecurities Why I don't look in the mirrorgetting on a scale plays mind games with me.  What things play mind-games with your insecurities?  How can you strengthen your resolve to work through your insecurities while balancing the weaknesses of your limits? This is crucial in not being bound by your weaknesses.

Facing insecurities means you give grace to yourself when needed.   Early spring is never the best time for me to look in the mirror.  I’m not as fit in the winter and I carry extra weight.  These are issues for me even though I don’t obsess over them.  When the fifteen-year-old me begins whispering lies about myself, I counter-act the lies with truth.  My image does not define me.  I’ve learned to give accurate grace to myself when self-loathing begins.  Where do you need to give yourself grace?

What insecurities lurk in your shadows?  What lies does your younger-self tell you?  I’d love to encourage and support you in your efforts to lay them at the feet of Jesus and start taking steps toward the the peaceful-you.  Feel free to share in a comment below or email me at yoderbl@gmail.com.  

Fans in Stadium Celebrating

It would be my privilege to pray with you and cheer you on.

Parenting Series: Raising Kids is Not So Easy

MP900227797Raising kids is not so easy. Teaching kids to respect each other is a lifelong process.  How siblings treat each other is crucial to the health of a family and a child’s individual development.  It’s tempting to ignore it when siblings hurt one another or don’t get along.

But you can’t. 

There’s not an easy answer to the problem because children have unique differences.  They go through ages and stages.  They each have their own perspective on things.

Sometimes I want to just relish in the happy family times and ignore the underlying things that brew. Doing this would be negligent. Isaac {Genesis 25} didn’t correctly deal with his sons Jacob and Esau and that didn’t turn out so well.  Teaching children how to navigate through sibling relationships is a skill they can use in other relationships in life.  

Parenting is difficult. There are times, even as an experienced counselor, I sit on my child’s bed thinking, “I don’t know how to help this situation.”  I’m thankful prayer is an ever-present resource as a parent. I can’t always help a situation or change another person’s perspective or heart, but God can.

This week has been one of “those” weeks.  A week full of family highs and lows.  Do you have weeks like that?  Weeks where you glow in the goodness of family life and then want to pull your hair out at the reality of it all – sibling rivalry, fighting, teenage melt-downs and hormones. 

At least that’s how some family days roll at our house.

As a professional writer, speaker, educator and counselor, I interact heavily in social media.  Sometimes I internally rollMP900382671 my eyes at easy “how-to” articles on parenting even though SEO data says it’s the best way to get readers. I’ve probably written some of those because a social media expert told me to.

I apologize.

There’s nothing “easy” about parenting.  

That statement won’t get me invited on the Today Show.  But I’m still raising my kids. Some days, it’s exhausting. 

How about you?  How do you impact your child’s relationships with their siblings?  What are the  stresses you experience and things you’ve found helpful?  I’d love to hear your thoughts today because I hope I’m not alone.

Father, give each of us wisdom for the journey of parenting.  Give us the words and counsel as we minister to our families. Amen.

The Power of Hope and Compassion: Let’s Git-R-Done

This week has been crazy. We’re getting ready for graduation and open house next weekend. The second time around isn’t so bad, but it’s a great reason to get things done around the house that need to be done.  We’re operating is “Git-R-Done” mode.

photo (91)Like cleaning, painting, and the other “normal” stuff that happens every spring at life on the Back Forty….planting garden, 4-H animals, tending these things while doing the “real stuff”of life like working and raising kids.

Tired has entered our vocabulary just a few time this week.

I love this kind of tired. There’s something meaningful in planning, preparing, “git-r-doning” that brings rest and peace to a soul at night. Getting things accomplished, seeing the fruits of your labor, and having things in order.

But one night this week, I went to bed early after doing nothing but working nine hours and bringing home Little Caesar’s Pizza. I was exhausted that day, mentally and emotionally.

Do you ever have days like that?

It’s one of the hazards of being a counselor.  As I came home from a normal day counseling at an intermediate school, I walked and talked with God while my kids ate Little Caesar’s.

The kids I work with are heavy on my heart this week, but there’s so much more to it.  Because their lives are normal for many families in our community, in your community.  Kids who don’t know their dads.  Kids who witness violence in their homes leaving them scarred and emotionally messed-up.  Kids who understand their parent’s priorities don’t include them.  Kids who are on the brink of making good choices or ones that will set them on a path for self-destruction.

I’ve come to believe one of the greatest powers in human connection lies in words of hope.  Not false hope, but real hope.

Hope in choice.

Hope in what you can control.

Hope in seeing the good in a situation.

Hope in a future that is yet unwritten.

Hope in a God who is personal.

I sat in a meeting with a mother who broke down in front of three other adults. She had been strong and brave all year, but the restraining order she had against her child’s father told me much more.  As she was leaving the administrator’s office, I took a risk, hugged her, and said, “God bless you.”

She sobbed more and clung to me like a life preserver.

The risk of compassionate words in that moment spoke truth to my soul.

We need each other.

The boy in my office cried because he’s not accepted by the Latinos and he’s not accepted by the whites. He’s mixed. He’s not accepted by his mom or his dad. A product of a sexual encounter, he doesn’t know family. He finally said through his tears, “I hurt. I don’t belong anywhere.”

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong anywhere?

As I came home with Little Ceasar’s and put my cleaning clothes on, I longed for each child to know what “home” is.  I longed for each adult walking through life with childhood scars to know what it feels like to belong, to be accepted.  I long for each of us walking through life in difficult places to have someone reach out and say, “God bless you for where are at today. You’re a survivor.”

If you’re a person who can give hope to another, let’s Git-R-Done. MP900387256

Let’s take a risk in caring, in sharing, in reaching out.

Let’s be the hand of Jesus and words of hope that give life to others. 

Will you do that with me today?

Will you stop the busyness for just a moment to give a moment of life to another?

God bless you, my reader, for the places you have walked and have received hope for tomorrow.

If you are walking in hard places today, let me pray with you on your journey. You can email me at yoderbl@gmail.com

Join my for other posts this week:

Mother’s Day Legacy: My Daily Prayer at www.notalonemom.com

Being Intentional About Quality Family Time This Summer …at www.parentsspace.com

The How’s To’s for Making A T-shirt Quilt at www.parentsspace.com

 

Forty-five. Why Mid-life Is Not What I Feared

Today I’m forty-five. Not forty, not fifty, but halfway in between.MP900178613

Half of my life is completed, if I live until ninety, by the grace of God.

For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Ten years ago, for my thirty-fifth birthday, I borrowed a friend’s convertible and went out on the town with a few friends. It was the year I went from being a stay-at-home-mom to a first year high school teacher. The year I discovered I was a person in addition to being a mom and wife. The year I received as much from my students as I gave to them, if not more. The year I fell in love with the art of teaching, with pouring into the lives of people, and believing the best in the human spirit.

Thirty-five was good.

Mountain in Italy
The view on top of a mountain in Sicily overlooking our village.

In the last ten years, I’ve been from mountain tops to valleys, from joy to pain, from captivity to freedom. As I reflect on forty-five, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be at this moment in time {except, perhaps, on a mountaintop in Italy}.

At forty-five, here are some lessons I’ve learned:

  • Doing the unthinkable is do-able. I never thought I’d go to my father’s village in Sicily within my lifetime. But they said they were going and I said, “I’m going, too.”  It was a trip of a lifetime, the best of the best of times in my life.
  • Making your dreams part of your life is do-able. I never thought I would own a convertible {which I did for a short time}, run a half-marathon, write professionally, or work part-time at a job I love. These things didn’t just “happen,” they took time, commitment, determination, and thinking outside the box {except for the convertible.}  But I dared to think “why not” instead of “that won’t work.”

    The convertible that cost as much as our lawn mower. It was nice while it lasted.
  • Thinking “why not?” instead of “that won’t work” shatters the limits we put on life experiences.  My internal dialog naturally says, “Don’t tell me ‘no’ unless there’s a good reason.”  This probably got me in trouble as a child, but it’s how I think.  I’ve learned there are possibilities to things that don’t look do-able or practical.  This has proven true not only in building a house and raising children, but also in problems in life.  It’s tempting to see only the possibilities right in front of us instead of every available option. I prefer the every option available route, and it’s proven life-altering. So, if there’s a way, I usually try to find it.
  • It’s never too late to try or learn something newI started teaching late in life, after I raised my little ones.  It was still possible to enter a career semi-late.  I went back to school full time  at 40 to choose another career that fit our season of life better.  It’s never too late to learn something entirely new or to say, “I think I can do this.” 
  • Living intentionally makes all the differenceI’ve learned my limits. I can’t do it all, so I intentionally choose what I do.  A statement by Chuck Swindoll impacted me over fifteen years ago when I was driving down a country road:    Only two things are eternal, – God’s word and people. This statement continues to shape my life when I’m tempted to invest time and energy  into something that pulls from what’s most important for my season of life.  It’s my plumb-line.
  • When in doubt, give graceI wasn’t always a grace-filled person. But as I’ve received grace and have seen the change in makes in others when they receive grace, I’ve decided there’s greater good in giving grace.  That’s the power of the God we serve.  Grace is the greatest gift He gives, and we have the opportunity to extend it to ourselves and others.  I’ve seen it change lives. 

My list could go on.  But it’s my birthday and I have things to do today on my day off, like dig in the dirt and sit and do nothing.  So I’m off to do nothing.  I hope each day you can grab a quiet moment with the Lord, receive His grace, and enjoy the gift of life He gives us each day.

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Here’s something from my garden to you, for a pick-me-up for your day today.

In His love,

Brenda

I’m A Fighter. Why Fighting For What’s Important Is Worth It All

photo (87)Thank you to those who read Kaylee’s inspiring story, “Loving the Kids“.  Her words were a gift because we’ve seen the depth of her journey. Like her dad, she’s not one to put herself out there.  I honor her words because it’s a testimony to her love of Christ and willingness to go outside her comfort zone for a greater cause, wanting others to see the orphans she’s fallen in love with. I encourage you to look onto sponsoring a child a Hope of Life International by clicking here.

If you read the prelude to her story, you’ve witnesses a mother’s journey in letting a child go.  A process with much depth, sorrow, and scars behind it.

Each of us have battle wounds, my daughter and I.

I hold back from sharing our journey where the conversation between me and you is anonymous.  It’s an intimate, personal story.  It’s my story. My daughter has her story.  Both of us are Jesus’ story.

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (NKJV Genesis 50:20)

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When my little girl came into the world, like your firstborn, she was all I dreamed of.  Smiling young doctor holding a beautiful newborn baby.But God doesn’t prepare us for the challenges of parenting, the things in our children that bring out the worst in us.  God gave me a beautiful daughter with passion, a strong will, an internal sense of right and wrong, and wisdom in many ways.

All the things that reek havoc in a toddler and teenage body.

Do you have a child like that?

Even if you’re not a parent, you have relationships that challenge you. How do you handle them?  Do you may shrink back, run and flee, or stay and fight?

I’m a fighter.

So is she.

The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

I did the best I could as a first-time parent in moments that took me by surprise. Moments where both of our wills went to head to head.  Christian parenting books didn’t tell me what to do with a passionate, temperamental child. Oh, I read the books {The Strong-Willed Child}.  We even taught the parenting classes {3x}.  But “the right formula” didn’t work for our situation.

Hilly RoadAnd the battled raged on.

As we walked, climbed, fought, got up and walked, climbed, fought again, God worked in us and through us.

I’m convinced there’s nothing separating me from the worst behavior on earth, except for the grace of God and the love I have for him. 

I am a selfish creature. Are you?

When anger, bitterness, pride, insecurities, and “my rights” rule in my heart, I become a fighter that can destroy myself and relationships.

But when I choose to let the Lord of the universe change me

He trades these ugly things for His character:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)

As a woman, I’ve walked a journey that’s challenged everything I thought I knew about life, God, parenting, relationships, and the picket-fence life I dreamed of.

Things aren't what we expect them to be.
Things aren’t what we expect them to be.

Do you have expectations of life that have been shattered?

When the bottom fell out of my life and my family, I was faced with one choice.  Choose to change or let my anger and bitterness destroy our family, my relationship with my daughter, and the hope and future God had planned for us.

A future taking His child to a mountain where she kisses His children’s tears.

A future where she runs to her Father for her identity and security.

*******

It’s easy to fight when it comes naturally.

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But it’s hard when you’re fighting to change destructive behavior and trying to hold on to what’s most important in life.

 Family, relationships and your character.

Are there behaviors you need to change that are impacting your health and the relationships around you?

There is hope.

Hope for our relationship came when I realized I couldn’t change her or anyone else in the equation.  I could only change myself and what I could control.

I’m a fighter, so I fought for change.

I’m passionate, so I ran after God, declaring God’s work and presence I believe He promises in His word.

I’m strong, so I pushed through the guilt, shame, insecurities, worry, and judgment I wanted to run from.

Qualities the enemy meant for destruction, but God meant for good.

It was worth it all.  

I’m redeemed by a God who knows the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still loves me.

I’m restored in relationships with my daughter and family. My sons know Jesus is real because they’ve seen two lives transformed before their eyes.

I’m a sinner saved by grace.

That’s really all I know.

*******

Each of us have battle wounds of some sort. 

We can take those battle wounds and submit them to the work of the Living God.  Or we can pick at the scars, preventing them from fully healing, keeping them alive and well so the pain never goes away.

How are you taking care of your wounds today?  Are you choosing to let God heal them, or do you continue to let them fester and deprive your soul of peace?

It’d be my privilege to pray for you, no matter what your wound, no matter what you’re needing to fight to over come, not matter what relationship that needs to be restored.  Email me at yoderbl@gmail.com. It would be my honor to bring you before the throne of God in prayer as your prayer warrior.

Thank you for listening, for reading, for sharing part of our journey.  I share my full “Hope Beyond the Picket Fence” story of hope and restoration with audiences throughout the Midwest.  It would be my privilege to share it with your women’s group, mom’s group, or church group to bring encouragement in areas that people are afraid and shamed to talk about. Email me at yoderbl@gmail.com if you would like more information.

Dear Jesus, that you for  your love, your grace, the hope that you give us in our weaknesses and failures. Thank you that you are the hope we have for change in areas we need to change.  Thank you that you created everything about us and you have the capacity to turn our weaknesses to strengths for your honor and glory.  Thank you for the restorative work you do in our lives, and that your mercies are new every morning.

We love you, Lord Jesus, our redeemer and friend. Amen.

Friday Chat: What’s Your Measuring Tool?

I’m posting today at Not Alone Mom for moms.  Who do you measure yourself against?

Read about it here.

I posted about rest this week at Parents Space – you can read it here.

It’s been a busy week as a counselor working with kids in a school.  You can read about that here.

I had a great time speaking at two venues this past week – a “Clean Up My Mess” Retreat for moms near Indianapolis.  I had a fabulous time visiting and sharing with moms – my passion.

Sharing with Moms about Measuring Up, Balancing, and Pouring Out
Sharing with Moms about Measuring Up, Balancing, and Pouring Out
It was a special day. The MOPS group at Zionsville Presbyterian Church did a fabulous job pampering the women.
It was a special day. The MOPS group at Zionsville Presbyterian Church did a fabulous job pampering the women.

I also shared Hope Beyond the Picket Fence in Kalamazoo, MI on Tuesday.  What great times connecting with women!

Today I’m working on the t-shirt quilt.

T-shirt Quilt in process
My job is to crop and sew these babies together this weekend!

How was your week?

Have a great Friday!

Brenda