For When You’re Just Plain Ready for a Break (Plus Giveaway)


11703596_10207774708269587_5031492076919605996_o (1)This week I’m excited to welcome my friend and fellow writer, Brenda L. Yoder to Once Upon A Writer. Brenda is launching the release of her latest book, Balance, Busyness and Not Doing it All, and I recently had the chance to preview this amazing resource for busy moms. With loads of fresh truth and practical ideas I found this book to be a much-needed refreshment for all the weary places of my mama’s heart. Part workbook, part Bible Study, part heart-to-heart talk with a trusted friend, Brenda’s book is a must-read for moms of all ages and stages.

 The following is a conversation between Brenda and me as we discuss a few of the topics from Balance, Busyness and Not Doing it All. Be sure to check out the end of this post for your chance to win a copy of Brenda’s book!

 Brenda, what inspired you to write this book and who is this book for? 

“Balance” was written in response to a retreat I do on the same topic. After the first retreat, my inbox was flooded with emails from moms asking where they could find the book so they could go over the material or give it to a friend or daughter they thought should be at the retreat. I only had articles I’d written on the subject to offer them. At first I developed an e-book, but then an editor encouraged me to develop it into a trade book. The target audience is for moms who are raising kids, whether they are in their twenties or fifties, married or single. Women who previewed the book mentioned they appreciated that it spans a wide range of ages.

In Chapter Eight, “What’s Most Important,” you write about being available to your kids when they want to play and/or talk? How does a busy mom stay available to her family and their needs and still take time to nurture her own heart? 

There’s so much in the book that addresses this, but a simple answer would be developing priorities that allow you to do both. Many women are involved with activities that drain them, or involved because they feel guilty if they say “no” to a request to serve or volunteer. When women function in their strengths and essential needs for their current season of parenting, you’re not as drained emotionally or physically. This chapter talks about learning what’s essential for your current season of parenting. It’s the heart of defining priorities and busyness. When you’re busy doing what you love, you eliminate unnecessary busyness. This, in turn, allows more time to be available for your kids and inherently fosters self-care.

I love what you wrote in this book about marriage and the practical wisdom you share. What are a few specific ways you keep your marriage simple?

Letting things go and seeking God exclusively. For years I was critical of my husband, focusing on what he wasn’t doing to meet my needs. After fighting over things in which we would stalemate, I realized he couldn’t meet my needs in the way I was expecting. This wasn’t easy. I’ve found the more I pursue God to meet my needs, the less I look to my husband to do so. It’s freeing to be able to let things go.

Brenda, I know you and I are both blessed with husbands who support our work, our dreams, and our goals in many special ways, but I also know there are moms out there who are single or have husbands who don’t make their needs a priority. What words of wisdom and advice do you have for either a single mom or a mom with an unsupportive husband? 

As a counselor, I know many women don’t have husbands or parenting partners who are cooperative or even kind. I tried to be sensitive and practical in the book for women whose parenting partner is absent. I was encouraged by moms who previewed the book for a book party I hosted. One single mom said how important the chapter, “Don’t Parent Alone,” was to her. She was encouraged to reach out to her support system as she parents her son. A few moms whose husbands are less supportive said the principles on developing an intimate relationship with Jesus were crucial to them. It’s not natural for women to seek out help or assistance in parenting, but God doesn’t intend for us to parent alone.

When life gets crazy-busy at your house what’s your go-to stress reliever that gets you off the tight-rope-way of doing life and into a more balanced lifestyle? 

Time alone is essential for me, and taking the time when I need it is important. This may include an afternoon or evening going someplace just by myself, without even spending money.  I’ve been known to tell my family that from 8-11 on a Saturday morning I’m going to be outside working or in my bedroom reading and they’re not to disturb me. I’ve learned when my limit of being around people 24/7 has reached its threshold, and how ugly I get when I don’t take a break.

These mini-breaks often include time with God. Sometimes I keep my Bible and notebook with me at work and even spend extra time at work talking to God before I come home to the busyness and noise.

What specific things do you try to do on a daily(ish) basis to keep your love affair with God alive and well? What are some ways a busy mom might incorporate her children into this love affair lifestyle?

 One thing I do is carve out time for non-rushed quiet time during my week. It’s not always daily, but I choose 3-4 times a week, either in mornings or after kids are in bed, to spend time in God’s word. This, above all, has brought balance to my life. When I taught, I often used time right before school to spend time with God at my desk. It made a difference in my day.

How do I incorporate a love affair with scripture with my kids? I wish I could say it’s something structured, but it’s not. Other than our family worship times I explain in the book, the best way I share my love for God’s word is just in conversations with them. It might be telling them about something God’s taught me, using biblical principles to address everyday problems, or praying with them at bedtime. I suppose that’s what God means in Deuteronomy when He instructs parents to talk about His word “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:7).

What is your number one nugget of advice for a mom with…

Young children? Don’t take for granted what they’re able to learn. Teach the moral reasons for why you’re telling them yes or no, and instill an honor of God and His word in your home. Take time to play with them.

Teenagers? They need you now more than ever before. Listen to what they’re not saying and look beyond their behavior. Don’t get into power struggles and listen more than you talk.  Spend time with them doing things that are fun. Look beyond the moods and emotions. As Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” Let them know you trust them when they’ve proven themselves trustworthy. Don’t make a big deal over little things.

Adult children? Release. Don’t enable, and don’t steal their struggle. A friend of mine once told me, “They’ll figure it out.” They will. It’s important adult kids develop their own identity, faith, and life apart from you. God intends for kids to separate and grow up.

What message do you hope to leave in the hearts of busy moms through the writing of this book? 

What you live is what your children will remember you by. Don’t be busy with non-essential things for the wrong reasons. Stop doing what you think you’re supposed to do to please people or out of guilt. Pull back and listen to God for His priorities for your stage of parenting. Then live it.

I’ve watched Brenda hold my four-month-old baby in her arms so I could write for a few uninterrupted minutes, and I’ve been blessed by her servant’s heart as she lugged a car seat all over downtown Holland to help me during a weekend retreat. She is, in everyway, the epitome of friendship and motherhood. In keeping with her giving nature Brenda has provided a copy of Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing it All for one of my readers.

To enter my “Balance Giveaway” please post a comment below or to my Facebook link between now and next Saturday. All names will be entered into a drawing, and the winner will be announced in next Sunday’s post.

Many thanks to Brenda for all her help with today’s post. If you’d like to learn more about Brenda, her books, and her ministry please visit her at, and be sure to look for Balance Busyness and Not Doing it All on Amazon and at

IMG_1886edcr Brenda roundBrenda L. Yoder, LMHC, is an author, speaker, educator and counselor. Her books, Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All and Who Do You Say I Am released in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, can be found at where she writes about faith, life, and parenting beyond the storybook image. Brenda’s also a parenting columnist for 10 To 20 Parenting, Choose Now Ministries, and Whatever Girls. She has a mental health column in her local paper, and has been featured in Chicken Soup For The Soul: Reboot Your Life. She was twice awarded the Touchstone Award for teachers.

When Brenda’s not writing, working, or speaking, she’s a wife and mom to four children, ages teen to young adult. You can connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Periscope (@BeyondPicketFenc) and Twitter.

11 thoughts on “For When You’re Just Plain Ready for a Break (Plus Giveaway)

  1. I have been reading Brenda’s book that my Duaghter Cheri has and as a 55 year old Grandma I found great tips in every chapter still to help me with my busyness . After recently losing my Husband to cancer. My lifestyle And normalcy has gone out the window . So in creating my New life it really helps me to not want to do it all or do everything that Herb and I did together. I can’t and to say no at the right times . And Jesus is my number 1 go to.

    • LaVera, thank you so much for your comment. I am sorry to hear about your recent loss and am thankful that Brenda’s book has been a help and a comfort to you. Keep trusting God and turning to Him. He will show you what you can handle and will give you peace of mind when you have to say no. My prayers are with you and your family.

  2. This sounds like a very helpful book for my stage in life with a 7 & 8 year old. I liked the question about “What’s Most Important”. One of the main things I am constantly trying to balance. This is a great interview as well.

    • Thank you, Karen! I think you would find this book very helpful. It’s one of the best I’ve read on this topic…and I’ve read lots! No matter what stage of life and/or parenting we’re in it’s always good to find new insights, practical ideas, and encouragement and I hope this post has been a source of that for you. Blessings to you and your family!

  3. This is such a relevant topic for me right now, as a SAHM of 2 that I also homeschool. I really struggle with balancing the kids, the home, my husband and trying to find time for me. I think I’ll be checking this book out for sure, I believe it’ll help me with this struggle.

    • April, I hear you! I am a homeschooling mom of three who often feels like my days fly by and all I did was juggle the immediate needs around me…which always seem to be many. This book was a huge encouragement to me and I hope it will be a help to you too. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

    • April, your role is extremely busy and the challenges of caring for you children while homeschooling is not without challenges and breaks. Blessings to you as you seek His wisdom in all of it!

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