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!

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.

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.

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

 

Mother’s Day: Inspiring Women and Messed-Up Experiences in Motherhood

MP900341759Today is Mother’s Day –  the day we think of the blessings of motherhood. In reflecting on this day, I’m reminded of inspiring women who had messed-up experiences in motherhood.  Many biblical women endured hard places, being forced to lean on the Lord alone and nothing else. For example:

  • Jocabed, mother of Moses knew her child would be taken away and killed if he were found.  Emotions if I were her?  Fear and anger (Lord, why would you give me a child only for him to be taken away or killed?anxiety and depression. But she responded with faith in God even though He gave her a child at a difficult time. Faith that He would take care of her and the child. Faith that the Author of their story knew what He was doing.
  • Mary, mother of Jesus knew her divine pregnancy defined her as morally corrupt and open for misunderstanding and judgment.  Emotions if I were her? Fear, anger, anxiety and ambivalence.  While knowing the honor and calling on her life, no doubt there were dark days for her, being aware of the whispers, looks, and judgment that came her way.  But she responded by clinging to the Lord she knew was writing her story, clinging to Him when no one else may have encouraged her.  She clung to him when she felt alone.
  • Sarah, mother of Isaac was pregnant past her prime, when her husband already had a child from another woman.  Emotions if I were her? Fear and anger (Lord, why would you allow Hagar to bear Abram’s child when you knew I was to have one?), anxiety, jealousy and bitterness.  While she knew she was bearing a child anointed by God, the strained relationship between her, Hagar and Ishmael must have caused some strife in her life.  She responded by remaining faithful the story line the Lord gave her, even though it was hard. Scripture tells us she laughed (Exodus 21:6) and took one day at a time.

There are truths these women encountered that face many of us:

Life wasn’t supposed to be this way

This isn’t what I expected

Motherhood has more pain than joy right now.

MP900227697I hear these statements when I share with women. Mother’s Day can be painful to individuals suffering in heartache, often alone.  But motherhood pain isn’t a popular discussion in bible studies, church meetings, coffee breaks or in social media.  Facebook or Twitter statuses rarely say, “Motherhood is not what I bargained for. I don’t think I can make it.”

If Hallmark doesn’t fit the bill for you this Mother’s Day, God’s Word does.  It shares the lives of real women in hard places, with real pain….. in places they didn’t expect to find themselves….places where there are no easy answers.  If you or a woman you know faces a tarnished Motherhood this year, share these principles from biblical women who were hard-pressed to find joy in motherhood.

  • They each knew the Lord intimately.  Each of these women could stand in their circumstances because they knew the Lord and His character when the truth of their circumstance dictated His absence from their situation.  God is never absent from our situation or that of our children He sees beyond the trial and knows the ending.  In that we can take hope.  When there’s no hope in sight, we must look to and know the author of the Story.
  • They clung to the Lord and His character.  Clinging conjures up visions of grasping hold of, refusing to let go because doing so would result in disaster (clinging to a raft vs. drowning, clinging to a ledge vs. falling to destruction).
    Clinging
    Clinging

    Despite their emotions, these women clung to the One they easily could have rejected.  If motherhood only includes blessings, then what do you cling to when the image of motherhood is not what you signed up for?   You cling to a sovereign, good God who sees the bigger picture…..clinging to the truth of His character when the “truth” of our emotions can lead us away from Him.  Our emotions can betray us.

  •  Motherhood does not define our happiness, but our relationship with God does.  What do you think got Mary through the whispers, misunderstandings and acts of judgment thrown her way?  If Jocabed’s happiness was determined by baby Moses, what was she left with when God’s plan took this child from her?  Happiness for these women did not rely on their motherhood or dreams for their children, but was rooted in their relationship and identity with the Living God. 

Wherever this Mother’s Day finds you, take encouragement from these women. They were real women whose encouragement didn’t come from the culture around them, but from the Lord authoring their story.  You can receive the same encouragement, too.

Lord, thank you that You are the Author of our stories.  Will you encourage each woman who is hurting this Mother’s Day?  Thank you.

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)

*****

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.

The Gap, The Holes, and the Race to Fill Them

boredomShe sat there with a batting glove on her hand.  It gave her power in the identity she’s forming.  She’s a fighter.  Inside is a girl who wants to be something else.  I see it in the way she cocks her head and the way her eyes get big when her heart softens.

He sat there saying he didn’t do it when the evidence said different. His mom was angry, again, out of frustration with her son who doesn’t think the way the rest of us do.  Another adult was exasperated because he couldn’t understand him either.  I saw I young man who doesn’t understand himself.  And we all sat, frustrated at a mental illness that can’t be ignored.

She sat rattling off the fun she was going to have with her dad who was getting out of jail.  They were going to the racetrack over the weekend because they would finally all be together.  She had a smile on her face and her hard-core demeanor had a softened glow about it.  Her dad was coming home.

He walked down the hallway swearing and texting.  His anger was too far-gone.   Mamma gave up on him long ago and he is free and loose to do as he pleases.  His  heart is soft, but the hunger for relationship and anger at the lack of it has hardened him.  He’s given up on himself because others gave up on him years earlier.  It’s only a matter of time before he self-destructs.

These stories live behind the eyes of a child.

Stories with gaps so large anything will fill it.

Anger, fear, blame.

We try to fix it, but some days it feels like

we’re dumping sand into a sink hole

and there’s no end in sight.

MP900402910But each day I pick up a shovel,

fill it with compassion,

the Truth of God, and encouragement

and pour it into the holes.

Hoping it will fill a gap somewhere.

Having faith that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it. (Phil 1:6)

Having faith that one man plants, another man waters, but God makes it grow. (1 Corinthians 3:7)

Trusting that God will fill in the gaps.

Who are you pouring into that needs to be brought before the throne of God?

Why I Run and Why You Need Freedom, Too

The sun was in my face, good music was in my ears, and my feet hit the pavement. As my feet hit the ground with Why I runeach strike, I was careful to land just right.  After months of being injured, having knee surgery, and currently undertaking physical therapy, I was aware that one wrong side motion could wipe me out again.   But six weeks of PT was working and I was able to jog several yards before slowing down to a walking pace.  I did this over and over again as I reveled in the freedom I had.

Freedom to run.  

Freedom of spirit.

Freedom of mind.

Over the last several months, I’ve realized why I run. I began running ten years ago.  At the time, it was my source of stress management. As a mom of four kids and working-full with teenagers, running was the only 30 minutes where my mind was my own, where no one could touch me or ask anything of me.

portrait of a mid adult woman jogging in a parkAs time has become more limited with the demands of parenting and life, running is sporadic, but a priority.  During the winter months, I’m dormant because of daylight savings and weather.  But running periodically in the winter is a release for me when stress or seasonal depression gets the best of me.   It gives me a boost, clears my mind, and brings balance to my body and spirit.

What do you do that gives you a clear mind and brings balance to your body and spirit?

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Living without the option to run poses a problem for me.  

I’ve realized if I don’t have healthy options to release stress, I’m tempted to turn to unhealthy options.

Confessions of a woman trying to live addiction-free for a lifetime.

I wish I could say food is never an issue for me, but I can’t.

Do you have something you run to when you’re stressed? What do you self-medicate with?  Technology? Shopping? Sports? Sleep? Alcohol? Medication?  Sex? Or do you, too, run to food?

I come from a family where comfort food is normal.

I grew up pushing against it and developed anorexia.  Then I became bulimic.  My development and identity as a teen and young adult revolved around food, though it was hidden.  There are reasons why people turn to food or other substances for self-medication.  There are payoffs.  It comforts. It nurtures.  You’re in control of your body, your mind and emotions for a few minutes as you feed your senses with momentarily pleasures.  To overcome an addiction, the payoff of overcoming it with healthy behavior has to be more enticing than what the addiction does for you.

Woman Standing on ScaleI can’t diet. I have to have freedom to choose what I eat. If I don’t messes with my mind.

I’ve learned if I don’t have the option to run, it messes with my mind.

There’s something spiritual about both of them being in balance.

It deals with freedom.

The freedom of your body, soul and spirit to experience joy and peace….like adrenalin that runs through your body when you run.

A rush of contentment, happiness, and top-of-the-world feeling.

What does that for you?  What gives you that rush? Is it healthy?  Or do you run to things that dull your senses?  Do you seek things that bring balance and freedom or things that bind you and bring destruction?

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I’ve done both.

I’ve fought hard to remain healthy and have balance in my life physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I’ve decided if I can only run one-hundred yards at a time, I’ll take it.

I need it. 

I don’t ever want to go back to being bound. 

So I fight to remain free.

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I don’t do this alone. 

My battle to remain free from the hold of food, self-harm, and addiction has been a journey between me and God.

He walks with me every step.

He fills me with peace and joy.

But I have to stay vigilant to keep Him in that place.

How do you fight for God to stay the center of your life?

Being Free
Being Free

What do you do to fight things off that are more enticing than the presence of God?

Living healthy is hard work.

Living balanced is hard work.

Living in the fullness of God requires action.

Draw near to God and He will draw near you.” James 4:8 (NIV)

Like running brings freedom to me, so does having the fullness of God in your life.

I’ve learned it’s worth pursuing both of them with vigilance.

Freedom of mind, body, and spirit is a glimpse of eternity where there will be “no death, or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4.)

Addictions only relieve this temporarily.

Healthy balance and the presence of God relieves this for a lifetime.

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Where do you need to experience freedom in healthy ways?

Where do you need to place God as the center of you life?

Where do you need to be balanced?

Ask the Lord of all goodness to empower you to make the changes needed to bring balance.  If you need a prayer partner, email me  at yoderbl@gmail.com.  It would be my honor to pray with you as you work to bring balance, center, and freedom to your life.

Holy Father, draw each of us to the healthy life you desire for us.  Give us grace to admit the things that are out of balance in our lives, and give us a glimpse of the goodness you have for us that is greater than any pay off our out-of-balance choices give us.  Equip us to do the hard work to live healthy.  Prompt us to make the first step in drawing nearer to you.  Thank you that You never fail.  Amen.

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