Between A Rock and Hard Place {Or A Buggy and A Pig}

photo (23)I live in the middle of the third largest Amish community in the United States. Driving in our area requires a certain level of acquired proficiency.  Slow-moving horse and buggies are plentiful, and maneuvering around them is a skill only the locals know how to do.   Only out-of-towners actually follow a buggy until the dotted yellow shows up.   In our neck of the woods, passing buggies is an accepted practice, even when the rules say, “Do Not Pass.”  

Which makes driving behind a buggy and in front of a cop car like being stuck between a Rock-and-a-Hard-Place. 

This is where I found myself recently.  I gritted my teeth in frustration as my Honda hovered at 2 mph.  I just wanted to get through our quaint little town so I could get home in a timely fashion.

Being in tight spots bring dilemmas. 

Dilemma # 1: If I passed the buggy as usual, I would be break the law (double yellow all over the place) and I didn’t want to test Mr. Deputy to see if he followed the unwritten rules or was an enforcer of the Real Deal.

Dilemma # 2: If I followed Mr. & Mrs. Amish Neighbor at horse & buggy pace, I would get home in the next millennium.  So there I sat, frustrated, trotting along in my horseless carriage.  I decided to turn on a side-street to escape the dilemma of to-pass-or-not-to-pass. MP900438355

Freedom, at last!

While processing my options, I was reminded that not every rock-and-a-hard-place situation is that easy to get out of.  Life hands us complicated situations, and frustration follows when answers to life dilemmas aren’t cut and dry.  Rock and Hard Places are difficult moments.

I learned something being behind the buggy.  Normally, I would have {safely} passed the buggy on a double yellow, went on my merry way, no big deal.  Everyone does it.   Sound like life situations?  You know what God’s word says, but you recognize the unwritten rules people live by.  The “everybody does it, it’s no big deal” unwritten rules.  The ones that justify behavior because everyone does it.

I learned something being watched by Mr. Policeman, who personified many things in Rock and Hard places.  For me, I didn’t like being watched even though I was obeying the law. I was afraid of being pulled over and felt the MP900440905 (1)peering, judging eyes of someone behind me.

Can you relate to that? Sometimes hard situations become more complicated because we feel the eyes of judgment behind us, even when obediently walking with God.   I’ve lived in those places, where judgment and scorn peered at me though I was doing what God called me to do.  In those moments, I’ve learned to cling to the Truth God provides, resting in the knowledge I’m being obedient to Him, even though others question it.

There’s freedom in that kind of obedience, even when you feel pinned between a rock and a hard place.

In my Honda, freedom came when I escaped the dilemma of unwritten rules and judgment.   I wonder if it’s like that in life, too.

I’m reminded to seek God and obediently walk in God’s will for my life, regardless of how others respond to it.  In this, there’s peace.

Even pinned between rocks and hard places, there is freedom.

What areas can obedience bring even greater freedom for you?

And remember, when visiting Amishville, take the side roads.

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)

*****

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.

Getting Ready to Cross Over

They stood before the great River.

They fought hard, endured much, and it was before them.Great River

The time was Now.

The Promised Land.

All they hoped and dreamed of and been promised.

“They camped….for three days” (Joshua 3:2)

Do you camp for three days before you are ready for something big in your life?

As I read this verse I was startled because this is not my natural instinct – to wait, to rest, to prepare.

How many times do you get to a point in your life you are ready to just GO because you finally know where God is taking you?

We can learn a thing or two from Joshua and his men.  They waited.  They strategized.  They gained composure before claiming what God had prepared them for.

“When you see the Ark of The Covenant…..you are to follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” Joshua 3:3-4

These words grip me.  Not only did the men wait before going where God called them, but they were instructed to follow the Presence of God (via the Ark) because they had never been to the place they were going before, and they didn’t know which way to go.

Is God calling you to something new? If so, here are thought-provoking principals from this passage.

  • Wait for God to lead.
  • Stay behind the Father, do not run ahead.
  • Keep your eyes on His Presence because He knows where you’re going {you don’t}.
  • Keep your footsteps in His path because He knows what the new environment is like and the challenges you may have.

Sand Dunes Along Ocean

I don’t know about you, but I tend to see new opportunities and jump into them.  I tend to know what God has called me too but am tempted to run ahead.  Then I get frustrated and disillusioned when the honeymoon period of the “new thing” wears off.

I’m challenged to take these principles to heart, not just for new opportunities, but for every day.

  • Wait for God to lead.
  • Stay behind Him
  • Keep my eyes on His presence because He knows where I need to go.
  • Keep my footsteps in His path because He knows what’s up ahead.

I hope these principles bring you hope, strength, and peace, too, for your situation.

Where and what is God calling you to?  Will you be  patient?  Will you wait for Him to lead, and keep your eyes on Him and rest in His presence?

Father, help us to be like Joshua’s men…..waiting, staying behind you, keeping our eyes on your presence and our feet in your path.  Help us to see, hear, and follow you.

Grace

I’m also posting today at She Stands and Encourage 24/7.

I struggle with it,” he said.

Judgment is what he was struggling with. He is also wrestling with grace.

I’ve wrestled with judgment and grace.

Judging others when they broke the rules I thought I had to live by in order to be accepted.

Wresting with grace because I didn’t really know what it was.

Then, I learned.

I learned boxes are things people put around each other, trying to make ourselves and others fit into so we feel comfortable.1-photo (26)

I learned a box is something people put God into when we don’t understand Him, His grace,  so we will feel comfortable.

I’ve done that.  

I’ve lived in boxes I put around myself because I thought it was what being a Christian looked like.

I’ve lived with God in a box because I listened to others more than I thirsted for Him.

Then, I fell.

I fell into places I thought I’d never be. I wrestled with things I never thought I’d wrestle with.  I saw gray places that were formally black and white for me.

I fell out of the box and things around me looked different.

Only God remained the same.

As He sifted, shook, and sifted some more, I realized I needed to know Him more because everything I knew was no longer the same.

As I ran after Him, He ran towards me.

And we met in grace.

Woman with Arms in the Air

Grace showed me I knew nothing except Him and his undeserved kindness.

Grace showed me I was that person – the exact ones I judged.

Grace showed me there was nothing good in me, yet He still deemed me valuable and lovable.

Grace showed me God’s power in the ugliest of places.

Grace showed me man’s ways are no comparison to the great riches of a forgiving, grace-filled Creator.

Grace showed me being right is no comparison for the peace of God.

Grace showed me I can be the worst sinner. And so can you.

Grace showed me God loves the greatest sinner, me and you.

Grace showed me unwritten rules are damaging, but God’s precepts are perfect.

Grace showed me I am capable of great damage when bitterness and anger take root.

Grace showed me freedom comes from releasing what is God’s to take care of.

Grace showed me what redemption looks like, and it’s better than simply being a good person.

Grace showed me God pursues us when we are walking away from Him.

Grace showed me God meets us where we are and will walk with us where He wants us to be.

Grace showed me God’s character is bigger then what humans think of Him.

Grace showed me I don’t have to know all the answers. 

Grace showed me the greatest riches on earth

or the greatest approval rating of all time

is nothing compared to the riches found

in experiencing God’s grace, love, and mercy.

Since I’ve met grace and have ceased from wrestling, I don’t know many more answers.

But I do know God’s peace that passes all understanding and guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6).

My prayer for you today is that God will show you His grace in the areas you are wrestling and struggling in, that He will give you rest.

May His grace and Word abound in your spirit today, tomorrow, and the next day, until you, too, know nothing else but His grace.

“What then, shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? But Him who did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Jesus Christ, who dies – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

No, in all things we are more than conquers through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, not anything else  in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:28-39 NIV

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13: 34-35

As you’ve received God’s undeserved kindness, share it with others.

May His grace about to you today,

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P.S. Chuck Swindoll at Insight for Living is currently airing a series on “Grace Awakening” {I receive no compensation from mentioning this ministry or resource}.

Steps in Overcoming Obstacles: Keep Walking

Man Wearing Knee BandageI have a messed up knee. A torn ACL, torn meniscus, possible compression fracture.  Today I’ll be seeing an orthopedic doctor to find out the course of treatment.  Since the injury two months ago, I haven’t been active.  That’s been hard for me.  Being active is a part of a life-long strategy of healthy living as a recovered bulimic.  It’s not something I take for granted.

This week, I put my running shoes on and decided to walk.  We’ve had several inches of snow with temperatures in the teens, so walking outside is not an option.  Using our elliptical is too strenuous on the injured knee.   Obstacles to exercise have kept me sedentary.  I finally decided to overcome the obstacles.

As I walked a circle for forty-five minutes in my basement, the mundane act was life-giving.  I realized how tempting it was to tell myself that if I couldn’t run, I might was well not try.  I knew the longer I stayed away from healthy behavior, the easier it was not to engage in it again.  I realized how easily lies creep in when you need to overcome obstacles.

Sometimes, you just need to walk.

Man Walking Along Line in Road

So, how do you overcome life’s obstacles?

  • Walk in the direction of the obstacle.  Obstacles have power over us when we feel helpless in overcoming them.  Walking towards them makes them more manageable.
  • Doing what you can is better than doing nothing at all.  I’ve felt helpless in the area of physical activity lately.  But when I began walking, I gained energy and was encouraged in what I could do.
  • Don’t aim for perfection.  A lie of the enemy is “If I can’t do it the way I’d like, it’s not worth trying,” or “If I don’t think I’ll succeed, I won’t try.”  Perfection shouldn’t be a life goal.  Doing your best regardless of circumstances should be.
  • Think outside the box. My elliptical has been a vital tool in being active during snowy Midwest winters.  Part of me wanted to believe I couldn’t do anything with a bum knee.  I resolved to do what I could to get myself moving again.  My tennis shoes and a basement free of furniture were options for me.  Not ideal, but it worked.
  • Don’t lie to yourself. No matter how much time transpires between the present and the eating disorder days, old, familiar lies quickly can creep in.  Cognitive distortions and unhealthy thinking patterns are obstacles to most of us.  Recognizing triggers for faulty thinking is essential in overcoming obstacles.
  • Keep moving.  When I speak on addictions and overcoming obstacles, this principle is an essential truth.  As long as you are moving forward, you’re overcoming something,  you’re not being defeated, and you’re taking steps toward healthy behavior. Living addiction-free is a lifelong process.  Walking forward towards the goal is the action plan.

What obstacles face you?  What fear is holding you back from stepping toward healthy behavior, healthy relationships, or achieving hopes and dreams?  What steps to you need to take today?

Whatever you do, keep walking.

The Hidden Trap of Motherhood (and More)

Each Friday I post at Not Alone Mom with Kristin Nelson as part of her ministry team.  This week’s post is a personal one I processed as a woman with insecuritiesphoto (1) – The Hidden Trap of Motherhood.  Perhaps you can relate. Feel free to read it here.

If you missed this week’s parenting post, you’ll want to read  it here.  It’s written by a guest writer, Amy Mitchell, who poignantly shares her journey as a mother of a child with ADHD.  Don’t miss it!

If you haven’t read any of the inspiring stories shared here, feel free to catch up on  them here.  Next weekend, I will be sharing a powerful story of a mother who found herself addicted to painkillers and her journey out of addiction.  You won’t want to miss it.

On a personal note, a dear friend of mine shares her recent journey with cancer on her blog here.

I am thankful for you, the readers and visitors who share life beyond the picket fence with me.  If you aren’t familiar with part of my journey, I recently wrote about it as a guest writer for Amy Mitchell.  Lastly, if you haven’t joined Life Beyond the Picket Fence on Facebook, I’d love for you to come and visit.  I try to post inspiring, challenging, or humorous things throughout the week that I don’t have time to blog about.  Come and connect if you wish.

May God supply all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus today (Phil 4:19).  If I can lift you in prayer, feel free to contact me at yoderbl@gmail.com.

Have a great weekend,

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The Notecard Series: Precious. Honored. Known

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The Notecard Series are posts based on old, spiral-bound notecards I wrote statements I needed in front of me at all times.  As a stay-at-home mom, they perched on a window sill above my kitchen sink.  As a teacher, they sat on my desk.  Some days, they were words to cling to.

This faded, warped notecard says,

I have called you by name you are mine. You are precious and honored in my sight.” Isaiah 43

As a young twenty-something, mom of two preschoolers, these words were gold to me.  To this day, these words sink deep into my soul.  I come back to them to when insecurities, doubt, fear, and angst enters my being.  When do you feel insecure, have doubts, are gripped by fear, or feel messed-up inside?

God calls you by name.  

You are precious and honored in His sight.

 You are His.  Rubber Stamp

There are days I feel fragile, hit hard from outside and within. Days my value is shredded because I look to others to define it.  Do you have days like that? Weeks like that?  A life like that?

It means a lot to hear the God of the universe say He has “called me by name.”  I used to hate my name because I didn’t like the person attached to it.  Most of my life I’ve been ashamed of who I am, of who God made me.   Yet these words tell me I’m precious and honored in the sight of Him who created me, and so are you.  Precious, honored and known.  

We are His.

When I think of precious and honored things, I think of fragile differently.  Precious is something highly esteemed and valued.  So is honor.  Humans desire this.  We spend our lives trying to receive it.

Like a thick, lush robe put on the shoulders of a king, with a crown of sparkling gems, so is God’s wardrobe of honor He wants to dress us in.  He created each of us full of faults yet highly valued.  He knows everything about us {the good, bad, and ugly} and He calls us tenderly by the name He has given us.

A precious name with honor. 

Has someone devalued, disrespected or shamed you? Has doubt or fear lied to you saying you are not worthwhile?

God’s Word has  something  to say about that.

You are precious and honored in His sight,

He has called you by name.

You are His. 

Receive the robe of honor and the crown of royalty because it is who you are,

A Child of the King.

Precious.  Honored.  Known.

Dear Father, will you pour the fullness of who we are in You into our body, soul, and spirit?  Will you help each one reading these words  know they are not a mistake, that their value and identity is in who You say they are, not others?  Will you call each one by name and meet their needs in a way that lets them know you precious and honored they are. Thank you for knowing each one of us by name.

Amen.

In Him,

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An honor from Ellie at http://newcreationsministries.wordpress.com/ for passing the Versatile Blogger Award my way.  She is committed to sharing healthy living at her site and she is a great encourager.  Thank you, Ellie.  Please stop by and visit her site.

This is an opportunity to share several blogs:the-versatile-blogger-award

These are just a handful of great blogs, there are many, many more. Encourage them by visiting if you get the chance.

Why I Hate Resolutions

I also posted on hating Christmas, and it earned me a phone call from the Ricki Lake Show.  I must not have hated Christmas enough, though, because I didn’t win the golden ticket to be a guest on their show.

I’m crushed.

During the New Year social media buzzed about resolutions, goals, and one word descriptions for 2013.  This stresses me out.  I can’t think of a word for 2013 because I’m exhausted from 2012.  Vacation would be my word for 2013, but my principal and husband probably wouldn’t like that.MP900309664

Resolutions and goals are good.  As a counselor in a school, in private practice, and as a service provider to the community, I assist people in achieving goals all the time.  But I’ll share a secret with you:

{there’s nothing magical about January 1}

Sometimes, I just have to be blunt.  Call me the Geico therapist.

Changes are hard.  And yet they’re not.  We can psych ourselves into thinking we have to achieve epiphany moments for change to happen.  This isn’t so.  Significant change happens over time.  Slow and steady wins the race.  You may plan for change on January 1, but if you don’t start until July 23, you’ll still get the same results.

Just Do It.  

What changes do you need to make?  Resolutions sound epic.  Change really is mundane and simple. Just don’t eat that carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  Don’t drive by that bar on the way home from work.  Don’t type that URL into your computer.  Walk away from that challenging preschooler and lock the door behind you until you calm down.

Just Do It.

MP900289488In your plan for change, know you’ll mess up.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but setting realistic expectations is important.  Change is a process.  Small moments are crucial.  You take one step forward.  Your next step might be forward, standing still, or taking a step backwards.  The goal is to MOVE FORWARD.

When I made the decision to tackle a seven-year-old eating disorder, it didn’t happen over night.  I made a resolution not to take the messed-up addiction into my marriage.  Unfortunately, it didn’t go away once I walked down the aisle.  I had to work at it.  Every day.  Every hour of every day for several years.  But the more I said “No” to the  learned patterns, the easier it became to change the behavior.  The more victorious steps I took, the healthier and stronger I became.

There were steps backward.  In those moments, it was easy to think, “Why try?  I failed, again.”  But that’s when I had to look at the victories I already achieved.  Even when I took a backward steps, I was at a different place than when I started.

The same is true for you, this day in January that’s not January 1.  If you have not yet started towards your goals for the year, then get out of your rut and start moving.  Take one step today.  That’s all.  And celebrate it.  Make a big deal about it, at least between you and God.  No one may ever see the progress you make in your goals but Him.  And He’s cheering for you.

But you have to make the steps, first.  We have a gracious God, full of power for any insurmountable feat, but He requires that we do our part of the work.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”   James 4:8

Notice this promise comes with initial action on our part.  We have to move towards Him, and He will move towards us.  It’s the same with reaching goals.  We have to move towards the goal.  We have to invite God into our journey for His power to be manifest.  For years I prayed that God would take away the vicious cycle I was in as a teenager with an eating disorder.  It was only until I resolved within myself to surrender the struggle and walk towards victory that God’s power was made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Change is hard because it requires us to give up the payoff, even when it’s not healthy.  Once you have tasted newness, it’s easier to give up the garbage of the past.

If I could offer you one word for 2013, it would be Forward.  No matter where you are, and whatever goals you’ve set for yourself,  Just. Walk. Forward.

Don’t get stuck with your behind in your past. (Pumbaa, Lion King).

Forward 2013. 

Hard to Love

I love country music because it’s about real life. A current song out now is “Hard to Love” by Lee Brice. As I listen to the lyrics, faces of people cross my mind.  People who are hard to love, and the people who love them.

Read the rest of this devotional posted at Circle of Friends Ministry today.  What a privilege to contribute to their ministry!

This ministry also is the publisher of Isn’t It Time for a Coffee Break by Amelia Rhodes.  The giveaway is open until Wedneday, January 9.  Details can be found here.

A giveaway with encouragment!
A giveaway with encouragment!

What a privilege to partner with them sharing good truth about life and friendships.  Have a great week!

Brenda

Ministry to Moms

When I was a young mom, I {knew} how I wanted to raise my family.  We started having children and my dream  began.

A strong-willed, temperamental child, a few more toddlers later, motherhood was not the the idyllic picture I originally had.  I often felt alone, wondering if I was the only mom struggling.  My friend’s children didn’t have open outbursts like Microsoft Clipartmy challenging one.  Why couldn’t I have a compliant child?  Was I the only mom who struggled with frustration, shame, guilt, and {anger}?

Unfortunately, our struggles compounded over the years.  We felt like we struggled alone for a long time.  We’ve been through a lot, but God has been good in replacing the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:22).  I’ve seen first hand the power of lives redeemed and overcoming adversity through perseverance and steadfastness.   I could write a parenting manual on “What Not to Do.”  But, through God’s grace, we’ve also discovered how to parent in the midst of difficulty.   We’ve learned things we would not have known if the going was easy.  We are still parenting.  Through our pain, we have grown and learned, and have been able to encourage others when the parenting road gets rough.

I began Life Beyond the Picket Fence a few years ago, reaching out to any one whose parenting or life experience was not the storybook image.  I figured if I felt alone, others may feel alone, too.  From that, this ministry has evolved.

I’ve had the privilege to meet another mom, Kristin Nelson, who has the same heart for mothers who feel alone in their walk.  Her ministry is focuses on reaching women, moms-in-the-trenches, who need encouragement.  She wants moms to know they are not alone.

I was that alone mom.  I needed a space like Not Alone Mom.

I have the privilege to join her ministry as a weekly contributing writer on parenting every Friday.  She, in turn, will be contributing here also.  Please read her complete bio here.Kristin Nelson

The ministry at Life Beyond the Picket Fence reaches a variety of people other than just moms.   Join me Fridays at Not Alone Mom for parenting posts and here on Wednesdays for parenting posts from myself and other writers.  It’s a privilege to join others who desire to parent well in the midst of real life challenges.  Together, we are not alone.

Also, visit My Catholic Blog for a mention of a past post on Raising Children in Favor with God and Man and other parenting tips.  Thanks, Janet, for the mention!

Blessings to you this day, this weekend, this New Year.

Brenda