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.

Saying Good-bye and the Power of the Mundane

photo flowersI’m sitting on my porch swing taking in the day I hope will never end.  The sun is on its way down to slip behind the trees in an hour or two.  The flowers are bright around me and a breeze is on my cheek.  The birds are singing,  the cattle are walking to a cool place for shade.  Another Sunday gone, another week comes to an end. So predictable yet so different. 
                            This week my oldest son is graduating.  Up until now things have been routine.  Days have been predictable like every season we’ve walked through.  Today as he shared in church, he reminisced on things that have influenced him…...Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, the support he and his classmates have received in being part of a faith community.
                          “Being in a small town, there’s accountability. Because if you mess up, everyone knows,” he said.  A doubled edged-sword in ways.  My son declared it instrumental in helping him make choices growing up.  There’s value in everyone knowing your name.
                            Today’s not quite the same as I sit on my front porch rocking to the low bellows of the hungry cows.  In the routine of photo (87)life, somewhere my boy became a man. A man who has surrounded himself with friends who hold him accountable.  A man who has chosen to love God not because we said so, but because he has learned of His grace, faithfulness, and unconditional love.  A man who began walking out of my life years ago as I realized I needed to release him to be the leader God has called Him to be.
This week we will celebrate, say good-bye, and let go.
                                 Every mother releasing her son knows its different than releasing a daughter. Somewhere along the way your role changes as you step aside to let him grow and figure out who he is.  There are times to step back so he can develop strength.  Times where you have to be strong and push him into the storm so he can figure out how to survive, all the while watching with a life raft ready at a moment’s notice.  Times where you must step back and let his father instruct and discipline.  Times where you still touch his cheek with a kiss because he is still a little boy inside a man-size body.  Times where the best words are, “I’m proud of you.”
                               This boy has been a big brother, his sister’s best friend, and a son who has held me accountable when my actions or words did not match what I believed. He has been the voice of reason when needed.  In the ordinary and routine moments, he has grown into a man who is ready for the next step.
                        I believe raising kids for moments like these lie in the mundane and routine, in the moments we live when we think no one is watching.  One thing this child and I know how to do is forgive, trust, and give second chances. Important moments for us have included the words, ” Will you forgive me?”
                               I have two more boys to raise in mundane moments.  Six years from now, sitting on my porch swing, I will be saying good-bye to my last knight in the household.  I’m reminded to not rush these days on or to close my eyes to what is ahead.  Each child God gives us is one to be fully seen and known.  They are kings and queens in the making, not for our glory, but for His.
                        I’ll shed lots of tears this week along with other moms and dads celebrating the milestone of graduation.  I’m thankful for each tear of joy, sorrow, and sadness along the way.  Each one a part of the process of releasing a child to fly, lead, and grow.
                        Don’t miss the moments each day.  Let the wind blow on your cheek as the sun slips beyond the horizon. Read a book, sing a song.  Let your boy dazzle you with his charm or your girl snuggle in your arms. Shed a tear, laugh out love, and kiss a cheek.
 photo (86)
And let the mundane and routine bring blessing when the last goodbye is said.

Parenting Series: Things I’d Do Over in Raising Girls

I’m posting at Parents Space today one of my most popular posts on raising girls.

If you’ve been reading the blog the last week, you know the challenges and journey I’ve had in raising my girl.

Here is a simple list of things I’d do again in raising a girl and things I’d do different.

Join me at Parents Space
Join me at Parents Space

Read about it here at Parents Space.

Have a great day!

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.

MP900405622

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.

Why The Breakfast Club is Still Relevant Today

CB100664When I taught high school Sociology, we studied stereotypes and social groups via the movie “The Breakfast Club.”  As I’m watching it at home tonight, I realize the movie’s content may be even more accurate in today’s high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools than it was thirty years ago.

As a present elementary/middle school counselor and former high school teacher, I’m concerned more and more about children, families, and what’s happening in society.  It’s not about bombings or shootings, but our ability to face life, adversity, pain and fear.  Recently, a shooter threatened to attack five schools in our local area on a particular day.  On that day, more than half of the students were kept at home due to fear. The day went without a hitch, the threat was not realized, and strategic safety measures were put in place.

The same day, two bombings occurred in Boston.

The irony? More and more children are not safe in their own homes.  Violence and sex are in video games, apps on tablets and phones.  Sexual harassment, cyberbullying, dating violence is occurring at younger ages in schools.  Drugs, addictions, and self-medication is increasing in our families.  Kids’ reading levels are low not because schools aren’t teaching them, but because it’s a rare thing that someone at home is reading to them.  Children stay up late using technology in their rooms when parents think they’re asleep.  In a recent poll I did of 5th graders, 3/4 of the classroom admitted they are on Ipods, smartphones or tablets when their parents think they’re sleeping.

Do you know what your kids and grandkids are watching and who they’re interacting with?

Danger doesn’t lurk at finish lines or at the hands of a random gunman…but in our homes, in society and in hearts left unguarded.

Recently I read an article titled “Why Social Media is Better Than Your Granny.”  It was the morning after the Boston bombings.  I read it before starting my day as a counseling professional in a large urban school.  I was stunned by the comment in this article that “Grannies don’t live forever…” but social media does.  Feel free to read the article.  This was the response I posted:

I’m a teacher and counselor in today’s schools, both rural and urban, and also am a behavioral professional. While kids benefit from technology, nothing replaces relationship for them in their development. Today’s kids lack human interaction because they are exposed and reliant on technology too early in life. It effects their social, academic and emotional development. Human nature doesn’t change over time and nothing replaces the power and influence of relational people in our lives and the lives of children.Four Hands Joined Together
“Grannies don’t live forever”…. Everyday I see the power of human connection and inter-generational connection that fills gaps in the souls of people. Call me a fool, but at the end of human life – our own or our grandparent’s, who will be standing there? What will we be remembering? Will we wish we spent more time with someone who loves us in our worst days or for our best online behavior? What will you tell your child when your mom dies? Perhaps you haven’t encountered this yet. Perhaps you don’t sit with kids experiencing grief over grandparents who they know love them and nurture them more than their own parents. Hashtags don’t answer the questions or fill the voids.

A narcissistic society feels good from social media because it feeds self-absorption. Today’s kids are craving nurture and attention from the people in their lives. The power of encouragement by people they have genuine relationships is what they want. A majority of today’s kids are raised by grandparents. Why? Their parents are either self-destructive or self-medicated and they leave their children to the care of their parents. They are more invested in their online presence than their physical and emotional presence with their kids. Have a child tell you their mom spent money on herself instead of buying birthday gifts for them. Have a grandma tell you in tears she is the only stable thing in a child’s life. Then tell me that granny doesn’t matter….that Twitter will fill that child’s soul.

When purchased Twitter followers and FB friends fail to engage or respond, Grandma will always be there. I’d rather have Grandma.

Why does The Breakfast Club still speak so loudly?  Because it displays the complexity of relationships, the power of human connection, connectedness, and community.  In a world of bombings, shootings, Twitter, Apps, and Facetime, the power of human connection still trumps all.

It’s been a rough week in America, in our schools, and as a counseling professional. But a colleague of mine shared this video which shows the power of human connection far beyond social media.  Click the link below to watch.

The Power of Human Connection

Where have you seen the power of human connection this week?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

PS…Those of you who are “prayers,” pray for me Saturday as I speak to women for a retreat in Zionsville, IN. Thank you!

In His love,

Brenda

Taking Risks Despite the Gloomy Forecast

Our Back Yard
Our Back Yard

I’m going to try” I said.

Snow was no longer coming down, but school had just been canceled.  The winds were blowing snow across the road in front of our house.   I checked the weather between Indiana and Virginia.  “Winter advisory for Shenandoah Valley” the Weather Channel said.

I had planned to make a trip from Northern Indiana to visit my daughter in college in western Virginia during the only weekend available between now and May.  She was homesick after spending most of the holidays in Guatemala before returning to school in January.  Her time at home the past year has been slim, only a few weeks here and there between school and a summer spent in Guatemala.

She needed Mom, and Mom needed her. 

Phone on our porch
Phone on our porch

After hearing her tears on the phone an hour earlier when I told her I didn’t think I could make the trip, I assessed the storm traveling east through the country.  Forecasts between Here and There showed things would “clear up” by noon.  I would be on the road well into the evening either way.

As I saw the blue skies outside my window, I told my husband, “I’m going to try.  If it gets bad in the first few hours, I’ll turn back.”

You’re crazy,” he said.

As I drove cautiously through the first hours of snow and slush, the roads got increasingly drier and I continued on.  The five hours of mountain driving through the Shenandoah Valley were clear and dry.  The sun slipped behind the mountains and by dark I was on her doorstep.

I made it.

We spent much needed time together over the next twenty-four hours.  “Thank you, mom, for coming,” she said often.  I reflected on what we would have missed if I wouldn’t have taken a risk.

A risk into the unknown ahead of me.

Road to ObtaclesA risk that had potential danger.

A risk that had two unknown outcomes.

I could try and hope for success

or fail to try and be in comfort, not knowing what the outcome would have been.

I tried.

And succeeded.

Every mile of road I wondered how much life is like the choices I was faced with.

How many times do we look at projected outcomes and decide not to try.

How many times do the conditions ahead scare us from doing risky, meaningful things.

I wouldn’t have risked the weather for just anyone.

But for my baby girl, I would risk everything to be near her, to hear her breathe as she sleeps, to see her beautiful smile, to hold her just once more.

For important things, risks are live-changing.

I’ve learned not to take relationships for granted. 

As I write this, families in my circles are grieving losses and wondering if theirs will be next.

I’ve learned certain things in life are worth taking the most daunting challenges.

I’ve learned my Savior is on the other side of the mountain knowing the forecast between me and Him.

I’ve learned when I step out in faith into the blowing, blustery present, sunshine and clear skies might be right around the corner.

But if I don’t try, I’ll never know.

Where in your life are the conditions around you discouraging you from stepping out, taking an important risk, from saying, 

“I don’t know the outcome, but the least I can do is try?”

Sometimes the mountains are literal.

Sometimes they are figurative.

I am so thankful I took a risk last weekend, saying “I’m going to try”

though my husband shook his head.

Who’s shaking their head at you?

My girly boots and shovel
My girly boots and shovel

Putting boots, a shovel, and blanket into the car, I prepared myself for challenges I might face as I set out.

What do you need to do to prepare for the risks ahead of you?

My heart led my head that morning.

I am so thankful it did.

Sometimes, life just has to be that way.

Where have you risked with your heart and have been blessed by it?  What have you learned from risks you have made?  We would love to hear them.

“I will go before you and will level the mountains” Isaiah 45:2

Parenting Series: Improving Relationships with Your Son (Part 2)

Josh Kisseeby Joshue Kissee (Manbuilders.com)

Author Tim Ferriss blogged about reality distortion field and rarity of giving your full attention to another person.

“We are living in a world where no one, it seems, has attention for anyone or anything for more than a few moments. How rare it is when someone pays attention to us. Consider the wording of the phrase: pay attention. In industrialized nations, at least, attention is becoming almost as scarce a resource as money. Someone who “pays” it to you is giving you something of true value.”

Your son should be rich in attention that you pay.one one one father son

Seriously. My sons love their one-on-one time with Dad. If I taught them nothing {let alone strategically used ManBuilders tools}, the one-on-one seals the knowledge of knowing that you love him. More than any other skill, your love and the quality of your relationship with him is the one that will outlast all others.

You may need some help. My wife has helped me tremendously in keeping me accountable to continue the one-on-ones. With five sons, it’s difficult for me to give each of them one-on-one time per week. I wish it could be done, but there just isn’t enough time. So we make sure each week a different son receives this time. It works out to be roughly one per month, per son. The Law of Proactive scheduling comes into play by posting their schedule on the wall or by letting them know that once a week there is someone who will get a one-on-one.

My sons will tell me when they are close to the month mark from their last one-on-one with me and say “it’s been a while dad” or “we never do one-on-ones” anymore, even though it was just last month. That’s how much they crave it!  It’s not because I’m a superhero. The key is that during our time, no matter what we are doing, my attention is fully glued on them.

They love it.

So all well and good. It sounds like I have it all under control. Don’t be mislead. I’m just onto a really good thing that I know works. Everyone knows that if you find something that works, you keep doing it. If you find success, you keep doing the things that make you successful. This is one of those things.

Schedule it and make it happen!

Now for some ideas. Consider choosing from the list of low-moderate-high cost options for having a great one-on-one with your son. You could also reference any of the ManBuilding Ideas.

One-on-One Ideas

Free One-on-One Ideas

  • Walk to a local park that has a playground
  • Spend time alone with him in his room. Shut the door, play with him, and talk.
  • Play make-believe/pretend with him outside and transform this into hide-and-seek.
  • Have a scavenger hunt for your son’s favorite toy (indoor or outdoor). Give him a reward when you find it!
  • Sing songs together. If you play a musical instrument, let your son join you and sing with you.
  • Explore in a patch of woods near your home. Pretend like you are in search of enemy soldiers or animals that you are hunting.

Cheap One-on-One Ideas (low-cost or transportation required

  • Have a water balloon fight. Nothing else to say here.
  • Paint his face with face paint like a soldier and go on a secret search and destroy mission together at night. Use sticks or dowel rods like guns as you go hunting for the snipe.
  • Draw/color together alone and talk about his pictures
  • Get out some paint and make a mess together
  • MP900202050Go to the park and have a picnic together while playing his favorite sport.
  • Go outside and paint with sidewalk chalk
  • Go to the library and let your son pick out books that HE is interested in. Take them home and spend time reading with just him. Make sure you ask him questions about the stories that open his imagination so you can listen.
  • Go for a bicycle ride in your neighborhood. If you have a bicycle, ride yours. If not, jog around him and get some exercise!
  • Play a board game (no video game). Good games for this age may include Battleship, Shoots and Ladders, CandyLand, and many others. Just look for the age range on the box when selecting the game at the store.
  • Build with Legos together.

Moderate Cost One-on-One Ideas (low to moderate cost and transportation almost certainly required)

  • Take your son swimming, just you two, and focus on him having a good time. Pretend you are in a water war with each other and encourage his imagination.
  • Take your son fishing and don’t expect to fish yourself! This is about his time with you. He will get his line tangled, lose his bait, and require your constant attention. Just plan on doing little fishing yourself and this experience won’t drive you crazy!
  • Take your son on a camping trip overnight. This could be in the backyard, on private land, at a local/State park, or in the living room. The key is to have a tent and sleep in it with him. This is a powerful one-on-one for boys. If you can build and safely maintain a fire, even better!

In our next post, we will review the second in our four-part series, The Power of Positive Words. The article will be filled with a variety of ideas you can start using immediately when spending your newly scheduled time with your son.

What have been the best one-on-ones with your son? Any tips to share with the community?

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}.

God Made a Farmer

I married a farmer.  Though I’m a mental health professional, I’ve learned answers to life’s problems can be solved in lessons of farm life.  On Superbowl Sunday, a commercial aired titled “God Made a Farmer,” with a poem read by Paul Harvey.  The words of this  have gone deep into my soul, because it reflects answers our society and individuals need so desperately. These are lessons I’ve learned and applications made from paraphrased portions of “God Made a Farmer,” with some farm pictures at Life Beyond the Picket Fence {post copyrighted by Brenda L. Yoder}

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“God Made a Farmer:” God needed someone willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go into town  and stay past midnight at the meeting of the school board.

Application: We need people willing to work hard getting mundane, important jobs done, day in and day out, making impact both personally and in community.

Life Lesson: Practice of little things that are healthy, worthwhile, and consistent builds character and makes impact.

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“God Made a Farmer”: God needed someone willing to stay up all night with a newborn colt only to watch it die, and after drying his eyes, say, “Maybe next year.”

Application: We need people willing to take risks, caring for man, animals, and nature, experiencing disappointment, hurt, and frustration, yet being willing to do it all over again, no matter the cost, because he/she believes in hope of the next time.

Life Lesson: Engaging in life involves risks, being disappointed, frustrated, and hurt, but experiencing them teaches life goes on, new things come, and hope is always before you. “When you fail, try again.”

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God Made a Farmer:”  God needed someone who can shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, make a harness out of haywire, feedsacks, and shoe scraps.

Application: We need people willing to be innovative to get the job done, on the spot, to problem solve with resources available, because others are counting on them.

Life Lesson: There is always an answer to a problem.  Sometimes it requires thinking outside the box and being willing to find a solution with the unthinkable.  If it’ll work, don’t be afraid to try.

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God Made a Farmer:” God needed someone who can finish his 40 hour week by Tuesday noon, take his tractor back and put in another 72 hours during planting and harvest.

Application: We need people willing to get the work done, no matter the cost, doing it well, working with others, without thought of what they will get out of it.

Life Lesson: There are seasons in life where you have to do hard things, leaving you exhausted and weary.  Harvest will come, but you have to do the work.1-IMAG1408-002

God Made a Farmer: God needed someone strong enough to clear trees and heave bales and gentle enough to deliver lambs and wean pigs.

Application: We need people strong enough to tackle insurmountable tasks, yet gentle enough to show compassion and tenderness to the vulnerable.

Life Lesson: A balanced character is one strong enough to tackle the biggest challenges and gentle enough to be compassionate when needed.

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“God Made a Farmer:” God needed someone who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadowlark.

Application: We need people willing to take time from their own needs to serve the needs of others who are unseen and hurt.

Life Lesson: There is always time to help others in need.

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“God Made a Farmer:” God needed someone who plows deep and straight and doesn’t cut corners.

Application: We need people willing to do their best work, who won’t cheat or cut quality because he/she can.

Life Lesson: Do your best and be honest even when you can slack or get away with something.

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“God Made a Farmer:” God needed somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, rake, disc, plow and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk.

Application: We need people doing every task needing to be done, no matter how large or small, simply because they are able and willing.

Life Lesson: Those willing to be teachable and to do work of any kind gain skills in every area of life.

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“God Made a Farmer:” God needed somebody who’d bail a family together with a soft, strong, bonds of sharing.

Application: We need people willing to stop, touch, laugh, speak, and cry with each other, putting aside the noise and instant gratification, and living in powerful, simple, quiet moments, not centered on self, but others.

Life Lesson: Today’s families need roots, strength, and real relationships in a disconnected world.

Photo taken the day we sold our dairy herd.
Photo taken the day we sold our dairy herd.

God Made a Farmer:”  God needed someone who would laugh, and then sigh, when his son says he want to spend his life doing what dad does.

Application: We need people living a life worthy that their children would want to emulate them.

Life Lesson: Live each moment as if your children were watching.  They are looking to and counting on you.

What farming principles to you need to grow in?

From our farm to yours,

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Updates

It seems like forever since I’ve posted.  It’s been one of those weeks. Do you have weeks like that?

This past weekend my husband and I traveled 22 hours to be with our daughter for 36 hours, moving her into her new Couple with moving boxes.apartment three states away.  She’s a junior in college.  During her Christmas break, she flew from the Back Forty to Guatemala and back to her university only to begin classes the next day.  She moved in with new roommates but only had a bed and her dorm paraphernalia.   She tweeted this morning about homesickness, and this is all part of releasing and letting go.  She is called to overseas mission work when she graduates, and we know this “all” is part of the process. But it’s never easy.

Wednesday I found out I have a torn meniscus, a torn ACL, and a possible compression fracture in my right knee.  It’s the result of a staff-student basketball game I participated in on December 19 where I twisted my knee while guarding a 6th grade girl.  Thank goodness for worker’s compensation insurance. I’ll find out next week the course of action for treatment.  So that knee-brace in the Mustang?  I guess it’s for real.  Expect for the Mustang. So much for my basketball career.

But basketball is what keeps me busy this day.  My two oldest boys play varsity and junior varsity basketball in a state MP900439489and school where basketball is King and the weekend entertainment for the county.  Everyone comes out to watch basketball year after year, it’s talked about in the coffee shops, and it’s finally our turn to be in the Starting Five.  If you’re familiar with Hoosiers, that’s our town.

Our youngest son is staring as Edmond in the high school production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe next weekend.  This is quite an honor since he is just in 6th grade.  This is our non-basketball playing son, and it’s a joy to see him excel and the gifts God has given Him.

Being youth group sponsors, we’ll have junior high kids at our house for the Superbowl.  That’s all I have to say about that.

That’s life this week at the Yoder camp.  Nothing inspirational today, just a chat over my morning cup of coffee at 5:00 -am while Hubby is driving in blizzardy-conditions to play basketball with a few other oldies.  He does this every Friday morning before school.  He’s one of the Hall of Famer’s in our little town’s basketball Hall of Fame that exists in the minds of everyone who’s watched Westview basketball for forty-plus years.  He can still “shoot a three” and blow people out of the water.  Yes, I still feel like a school girl with a crush on him when I say that.  And yes, I cheered on the side lines.  Not in a knee brace.

I am posting at Not Alone Mom today, so about mid-morning, check that out.  Contributing writers are writing about love in February.  Today’s post is Loving and Leaving Alone, reflections on the teenage journey.

This weekend, don’t miss Candi’s inspirational story that I’ll be posting here.  She’ll share about overcoming an addiction with prescription drugs and alcohol and the pieces that played into “getting hooked” as a young mom.  What a privilege to share that.

I’m sharing a few blogs I’ve been blessed by reading:

Morning Story and Dilbert   (you have to read today’s post)

Real Simple Faith

To My Brother With Love

I believe in these writers and their efforts in blogging world.

Also, if you haven’t joined Life Beyond the Picket Fence on Facebook, I’d love to have to visit.  We are almost at the “100” mark, so I’m giving away a CD of beautiful piano music by a friend, Heather Streeval, who just made her first recording, to the 100th “friend.”  She plays “by ear” I love this CD and want to give it to one of you!

Have a great Friday!  I’d love to hear how your week has gone.  How can I pray for you?   And please take the time to read Candi’s story this weekend – you won’t want to miss it!

My love to you In Him,

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