Hope, Healing, and Freedom for Hurting Souls

I Need a Break, but Jesus Never Does

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You may have noticed I didn’t send out my weekly blog post on Tuesday. The words just wouldn’t come. I am so weary in body, in mind, and in soul. I need rest in every way. So I have decided to take a break from blogging this summer. I need to learn to release the pressure I put on myself to post every week and to comment on other blogs. I will see how it goes whether it’s a couple of weeks or a couple of months.

Please know that even if I’m not posting every week, I will still be in prayer for you readers. If you have a special prayer request or need some support, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through email, ok?

And never forget that Jesus is available 24/7. You will never hear a busy signal. He longs for you to confide in Him, and He will always give you His full attention. He knows what you’re going through, He hurts when you’re hurting, and He understands your feelings better than anyone else can.

I will leave you for now with this song:

“Shoulders”
for King & Country

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders…

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We Will Be Rescued Because God Is Faithful

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“Peep! Peep! Peep!” The fluffy little ducklings cried out. They had fallen into a sewer drain. A deep, dark, damp dungeon with no hope of getting free. And yet they kept crying, hearing their mama answer them with distressed quacks.

Mama Duck could not rescue them, though her limping gave evidence of how she must have tried to.

My husband discovered these trapped ducklings just a few feet away on our condo driveway. Through the grate I could see at least three of them, but we were helpless to reach them.

I called Animal Control and asked if they could do something. They came quickly. A man looked through the grate on one side of the driveway while a woman was on the other side. They coaxed the ducklings to one end or the other, then reached nets into the openings at the sides of the curbs. They managed to rescue a dozen of them! They reunited them with Mama and brought them to a safer place.

At one point the woman asked me to hold one. He was quivering so badly. I could just imagine how afraid he was.

Have you ever tumbled into a dungeon of despair? Helpless. Hopeless. Afraid.

The ducklings kept crying, but there are times when we become so weak and discouraged that we can’t cry anymore. We can’t lift up our heads. We can’t grasp onto God’s promises to deliver us.

As the apostle Paul says in a time of crushing, overwhelming troubles, “We expected to die.”

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,
about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure,
and we thought we would never live through it.
In fact, we expected to die.
But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves
and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
And He did rescue us from mortal danger,
and He will rescue us again.
We have placed our confidence in Him,
and He will continue to rescue us.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-10

But like Paul, we didn’t die. Why? Because there is a Rescuer who is always willing and ready to pull us up again. Out of darkness and despair. He knows where we are and what we need. He hears our groans. He even hears our silence.

Sometimes we have to wait a while and it seems He will never come for us. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care, doesn’t understand, doesn’t love us. He has His reasons for not always answering immediately. Reasons for our good. In His time and way, He will come.

Troubles actually make us realize how insufficient we are in ourselves. They push us into the need for a Rescuer. They help us to grow more dependent on God.

God is faithful. He will do what He promises. Three times Paul assures us of this. He did rescue us. He will rescue us again. He will continue to rescue us. And each time He comes, He will gather us up into His safe and loving arms and breathe courage into our fainting hearts to keep taking one step at a time.

“Jesus gave His life for our sins,
just as God our Father planned,
in order to rescue us from
this evil world in which we live.”
Galatians 1:4 NLT

“Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Isaiah 46:4

“It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed,
Because His [tender] compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 AMP

A Child's Trust

“Rescue Me”
by Selah

“Rescue me, my God and my King
Water’s are rising and I cannot breathe
Wrap your arms all around me and
Carry me over, carry me over
(Rescue me)”

God is working

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New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More

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“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins?
Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable
to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Luke 12:6-7

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“Sparrows” by Jason Gray

“(Lalala) if He can hold the world He can hold this moment
(Lalala) not a field nor flower escapes His notice
Oh even the sparrow
Knows He holds tomorrow”

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ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 This month I have added another “P” Word:

❤︎  Pursuing Love ❤︎
“This is real love—not that we loved God,
but that He loved us and sent His Son
as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
1 John 4:10 NLT

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Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list.🙂 Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know.🙂

Love Embraced: A Journey In and Through Suffering by Anna Louise Smit

Love Embraced“Fear, Grief, PTSD and The Embrace of Love Not one of us is immune to suffering. So many of us have experienced loss, rejection, trauma and/or deep hurt. But often we decide to keep working, to keep going and to keep numbing that which we are terribly scared will break us into tiny little pieces. Love Embraced records the author’s own journey through such suffering, in: – caring for her mother dying of cancer – grieving her mother’s death – her diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and – working through repressed childhood memories. But, it also reveals how in starting to face that which she was too frightened to face, she began to embrace and be embraced by a mighty God into: – freedom – hope, – comfort, – peace, – strength and – deep joy.” (Amazon Review)

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Hope Harbor

Links That Inspire Hope and Healing 

 Coping With Death and Grief – A series of articles by Patricia Johnson – “Despite the gamut of emotions we feel, grieving for a loved one helps us cope and heal. The intense, heart-breaking anguish indicates that a deep connection has been severed. Without a doubt, grieving is painful. But it is also necessary.”

Need a Confidence Boost? – An article by Verla Wallace in Today’s Christian Woman – “Low self-esteem has become the number-one issue plaguing Christian women. Despite God’s assurance that he’s absolutely crazy about us, most of us can’t believe he means us.”

 101 Best Christian Affirmations – Bible verses written and spoken with beautiful scenery and soothing music

Nature Retreat

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
~ John Keats

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➺ Insect Macro Photography Video – by Cyrus Khamak – video showing the fascinating complexities of insects 

➺ African Photography Blog – Stunning African wildlife photos by Greg Du Toit

➺ Animal Safari: Wildlife That Makes You Say WOW! – 40 awesome photos taken by various artists on an African Safari

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Quotes

❤︎ “The bud of a rose is just as beautiful as the full bloom. Appreciate what you have at the moment.” ~ Anonymous

❤︎ “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” ~ Walt Disney Company, Mulan

❤︎ “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ~ Alphonse Karr

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Rainbow of Hope

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Rainbows proclaim hope. An assurance that God will always keep His promises. A confirmation that He is with us even in the darkest of times. A sign of His faithful love and care over us always and forever.

Over twenty years ago, shortly after I finally admitted to myself I was abused many years earlier and I began to deal with it, I went to a retreat for those who were victims of clergy abuse.

When I walked through the doors, I wanted to turn around and run back to my car and go home. Shame, fear, and hopelessness consumed me.

Then I saw her standing at the windows covering one wall. A nun staring out the window. As she stood there, a rainbow broke through the stormy clouds and brightened the sky.

The rainbow drew me to the window next to her. We were hushed with awe for several minutes.

Then she whispered, “I asked God for a sign.”

She shared her story of abuse by a priest and how afraid she was to be there. But God confirmed to her through the rainbow that she was where He wanted her to be.

This glorious rainbow inspired in both of us hope that God was on our side, He always keeps His promises, and He will never, ever abandon us.

Those days were gut-wrenching as we worked through the unspeakable pain of sexual and spiritual abuse from clergymen. I probably didn’t get as much benefit out of it as I could have if I had dared to open up more, but God still boosted me on the road to healing.

Two women pastors led the retreat, and on the final day, they held communion to whoever wanted to join them. Love, acceptance, and support warmed the atmosphere. One woman stood rooted to the floor several feet away. Her pain was so deep, and she wasn’t sure she belonged. Could she trust the love Jesus offers? Did He even want her? We gathered around her with love and assurance and God crumbled her defensive veneer. She stepped forward with us, and with tears flowing, we remembered how Jesus offered up His broken body and poured out His life blood for us.

I was still in deep pain but I had a renewed hope that God held us in His loving hands. Even though the healing journey would be painful, He would be with us every step of the way. And He has been, even though there were countless times when I felt like He had abandoned me. In hindsight I can see He was there even in those dark times of despair.

As one of the projects, each of us had a piece of construction paper with our name written in the middle of it and uplifting stickers on it. We were to write an encouragement or praise on everyone’s page. After we went home, the leaders sent our page to us. I still have it.

As I reread all the kind remarks, there is one that I want to pass on to you:

“Keep talking. Don’t allow Satan to take anymore from you than he has. You know where your power lies. In the Creator of the universe, the Creator of you. Call on His healing. He loves you, (insert your name here), and so do I.”

If you have been abused, in whatever way, don’t let Satan silence you or discourage you with his lies. Don’t let him rob you of your God-given voice. His power is nothing compared to God who created you. God has the power and the willingness to heal you. He even finds joyous delight in healing you.

There have been times in my life when I felt like a bruised and bleeding body tossed to the side of the road. No one saw me and no one cared. Then Jesus tenderly picked me up and held me to His bosom, cradling me with His love and compassion. He desires to do that for each of us again and again.

The healing process can be long and painful and downright overwhelming, but He is right beside us longing for us to trust Him as our Safe Refuge, to allow His grace to heal us, and to open our hearts to His love.

The next time you see a rainbow, whether in the sky or in a photo, remember God is faithful and always keep His promises. He will never abandon you. He is beside you even on those days when you can’t “feel” Him or see His signs.

“For no matter how many promises God has made,
they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him
the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:20

“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds,
I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant
between God and all living creatures
of every kind on the earth.”
Genesis 9:16

“So be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.
For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.
He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

A Child's Trust

“Tell Your Heart To Beat Again”
by Danny Gokey

“Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace…

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far…”

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Bloom With Love Wherever God Plants You

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Inspired by Quote: “Bloom Where You’re Planted” ~ Mary Engelbreit

We’re all planted in the garden of life. In the exact spot where God wants us to be. But sometimes we rebel against it. I know I do.

When the effects of past abuse and chronic illness sometimes drain the life out of me, I complain in my heart. I wish I was in a field where shame and insecurity didn’t taunt me. Where I didn’t feel so insignificant and worthless. Where a lack of physical health didn’t limit what I can do.

I see others who are more beautiful, fruitful, and significant than I am. Others who seem to make a much greater difference than I do in this hurting world. Others who bring much more light into the darkness of lives. And I grumble. I get jealous. I covet.

I recently read a devotion that reminds me of how easily I fall into that comparison trap:

An ancient legend tells of a king who walked into his garden one day to find almost everything withered and dying. After speaking to an oak near the gate, the king learned that he was troubled because he was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine overheard their conversation and added that she, too, was upset, for she could not bear delicious fruit like the pear tree. The pear tree heard his name and began to complain that he did not have the lovely odor of the spruce. And so it went throughout the entire garden.

daisyNear the very edge of the garden grew a little daisy. As the king approached, he noticed her bright little face, full of life. “Well, little flower,” said the monarch, “I’m glad to find that there is at least one happy face in my garden.”

“Oh king,” she said, “I know I’m little, and not many people notice me, but one day I realized that if you planted me here, you must have had a good reason. So, your majesty, I’ve determined to be the best little flower I can be!” (Read more – Bloom Where You’re Planted – George Whitten)

God has planted us where He wants us. We may feel choked out by losses, troubles, and negative emotions. But if we don’t accept where our Gardener has placed us and what He has given us, we will wither, not bloom as we were intended to.

When complaints, grumbles, and envy churn up in my heart, I feel so sad. I see Jesus with tears in His eyes. He has given me so much, He has a purpose in planting me where I am, and He is using me to make a difference, however limited my world may be. And the very things that get me down are what bring me nearer to His heart. They mold me more into His likeness. His likeness of love poured out.

When I fall into the comparison trap, I lose sight of the purpose I am here for in the first place – to bring God glory. It’s not about what I “do.” It’s about “being.” Being rooted in the depths of His purpose, not my selfish desires. Opening my heart to drink from His bottomless pool of renewing grace. Allowing the sunshine of His love to nourish me to bloom His love to others.

Sometimes our focus gets skewed in the muck and messiness of life. We start thinking everyone else is better than we are instead of remembering God uniquely created each of us with a special purpose. Each one of us is needed in His garden. None of us is insignificant in His eyes.

The Gardener delights in each of His plantings. He places each plant in such a way that it will compliment the other in the grand scheme of things. Where one serves a purpose to some souls, someone else brings what is needed to other souls. Plants are placed exactly where God can give the best nourishment to each and they can in turn pass on that nourishment to others.

We are in it for God. To His glory. And we can’t do that if we concentrate on another’s purpose in the garden instead of our own. As the little daisy said, “I know I’m little, and not many people notice me, but one day I realized that if you planted me here, you must have had a good reason. So, your majesty, I’ve determined to be the best little flower I can be!”

How is it possible to be the best little flower we can be? Accept where God has planted us, open our hearts to His nurturing love and grace, and let His love bloom in our lives for others to take comfort from.
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Every seed of kindness we plant,

However small, noticed or unnoticed,

Can bloom hope in the heart of a hurting soul,

A soul aching to be loved and cared about.

Every tiny seed planted will grow

And sprinkle seeds to others,

Making a difference in the lives of many.

“Three things will last forever —
faith, hope, and love —
and the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us
but to Your name give glory,
for Your mercy and loving-kindness and for
the sake of Your truth and faithfulness!”
Psalm 115:1 AMP

“Bring all who claim Me as their God,
for I have made them for My glory.
It was I who created them.”
Isaiah 43:7 NLT

“I am the Vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit,
for [otherwise] apart from Me
[that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 AMP

A Child's Trust

“Love’s Where It All Begins”
Inspiring Song About Love

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God Whispers “Rest, My Child”

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I started three different posts before this one, but I got stuck. I kept praying, “Please help me, Lord! Help me to know what to write!” But the words still didn’t come.

Finally, I had to go on an errand to help our landscaper pick out some perennials for between our condo and our neighbor’s. Since I had to travel to a small town where a wholesale nursery is, I hoped I might see some new-born calves skipping about in the country, so I took my camera with me. I didn’t see them, but I did spot a Great Egret on my way home.

I was so excited, because I rarely see one of them, but there it was, next to a pond not far from where we live. I parked along a side-road, walked towards it, and zoomed in on it. It was awesome! Thank You, God, for sending me another sign of Your love!

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In the pond, some geese and their little ones floated peacefully along.

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As I headed back to our van, bone weariness and brain fog closed in on me and my chest ached, all signs that it was time to rest my body.

God sweetly whispered, “Rest, My child.” An understanding filled me that sometimes I have to rest in spirit, too. To rest from being vulnerable in my writing. To give myself a break from those deep emotions that ravage my soul. To just stop and soak in how God still faithfully brightens life with His blessings, even in the midst of all the death, darkness, and pain in this world.

Then I knew God had answered my prayer as to what to write. There is a time for being vulnerable, but too much too often can tax us emotionally. We need to also allow ourselves to step back sometimes, to nurture our minds and spirits, to let the fuel of God’s love and grace replenish us again.

One of the ways God does that for me is by immersing myself in His creation. He uses it to reassure me that He is in control of every situation. That His power can work through any of our impossibilities. His creatures call out to my spirit, “God is faithful! He will take care of you! He will never abandon you!”

What does God use to replenish, revitalize, and refresh your spirit?

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Bath Time right outside my office window

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A baby house finch is being brave and venturing out of his comfort zone.

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Baby mourning doves

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It seems they are posing for me.

“You are worthy, O Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power.
For You created all things,
and they exist because You created what You pleased.”
Revelations 4:11 NLT

“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin?
But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground
without your Father knowing it.
And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God
than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29-31 NLT

“Look at the birds, free and unfettered,
not tied down to a job description,
careless in the care of God.
And you count far more to Him than birds.”
Matthew 6:26 The Message

“God Is Great”
by Hillsong United

God-knows

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Depression and Deliverance

HOPE-IN-JESUS

Created by Wordifactor.com

So often when I look back, it’s the bad times that first come to my mind, but I’m trying to view them instead through the lens of God’s goodness and deliverance. And yet it’s when we really remember how dark those days were that we can see how much deeper God’s love and grace are.

In 2013, something broke inside of me and I slipped into a deep depression. I wrote that November:

Some months ago one judgmental remark from someone put me into a tailspin and brought me face to face with painful memories of past abuse. At first I disassociated from my feelings. I didn’t want to feel at all, because it hurt too much. I continued on in life like a robot. But I became more and more depressed until one day something inside me broke. I sobbed and cried, “I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so sick of being strong drowningfor everyone around me…”

It was like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a sea of turmoil, gulping up water. In my mind Jesus was standing above the surface looking down at me and shaking his head. “Hopeless case, that one…” I felt so forsaken of God. His promises seemed bogus, and I could not grasp a single one.

The weight of depression stomped me down, down, down…

Roaring In
Shame-slapping Scowls
Stormy Emotions
Stomping Down
Sinking Me

I couldn’t have made it that dark day without the grace of God. By the end of the day my heart was still heavy, but the care and compassion loved ones gave me lifted me up to see a pinpoint of hope. And the next day, God had a pleasant surprise for  me.

“I will give thanks and praise the Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell aloud all Your wonders and marvelous deeds.”
Psalm 9:1

My husband suggested I take my writing pad and go to the Falls. He knew nature often relaxes and comforts me. It helps me to remember God still has all things in His control. I sat on a rock and watched the water rush over the red rock formations. I let the sound of it sooth my weary soul. I imagined the wind as the breath of God kissing my face and telling me I will make it through this.

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When I walked along the paths and around the Art Barn, I stopped in awe. There in front of me written in chalk down the front of the steps was a message that still impacts me today. “I will love you every step of the way. ♥” I knew it was God speaking directly to my despairing heart.

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Then I remembered a song – “Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe.

“Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy?
Why is pain a part of us?
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here
You’re real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart.”

Sometimes God sends the greatest comforts out of the deepest valleys, doesn’t He? My heart still felt wounded, but I knew I could run to Jesus and He would pull me up again out of the pit and set my feet upon the Rock.

“He reached down and drew me from the deep,
dark hole where I was stranded,
mired in the muck and clay.
With a gentle hand, He pulled me out
To set me down safely on a warm rock;
He held me until I was steady enough
to continue the journey again.”
Psalm 40:2 Voice

Out of that time, God led me in a new direction. Instead of Trudy Den Hoed: Freelance Writer, I changed my site to Freed To Fly: Hope, Healing, and Freedom for Hurting Souls. I stopped pressuring myself to build a writer’s platform and write for publication in magazines or a book. I became more deeply convicted that I’m here to write to God’s glory above all, and my desire to plant seeds of hope in the hearts of hurting souls became even stronger.

At the end of that year, God led me to (in)courage. And onward from there to Faith Barista, Holley Gerth, and Jennifer Dukes Lee. And though it remains a learning process, through these God-inspired women, God led me to be more authentic, to remember I am pre-approved by God, and to place my identity in Jesus. And through them, I gradually opened my heart to many more of you out there in Cyberville.

I set out to encourage others at this site, but I have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement many of you have given me. At first I felt uncomfortable and resisted it, because of a deep voice in me that says I don’t deserve it. But gradually, God is teaching me to receive encouragement as well as to give it. So thank you so much, my dear online friends.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Philippians 1:3

That toxic shame still often pierces the core of who I am and screams, “You’re worthless. How can someone like you ever make a positive difference? You don’t deserve comfort. You don’t deserve to be accepted. ”

Panic still creeps in and shouts, “Watch out! You’re going to be hurt again. Reinforce that wall.”

Healing is a process though, right? I have learned that many of you struggle with inadequacy, shame, and fear of trusting. And I know there are others among you readers who also do but remain silent onlookers. And that’s ok. I still pray for ALL who visit this site. God knows your needs infinitely more than I do. I keep asking God to bring hurting souls here and give them hope, healing, and freedom in Him. And sometimes God tells me to seek out hurting souls at other sites.

All of us have a story to tell, and there is not one story that is less important than another. There is not one hurt that is less painful than anyone else’s. Every story counts. Every. Single. One. So don’t let that bug bite you and tell you, “Your burdens are not as bad as someone else’s.” I know by experience that can stifle the grieving process. Every hurt needs grieving in order to start healing.

Remember! You are so special to God! You have been created uniquely for a special purpose only you can fill. Jesus loves you so much that He sacrificed His life for you. His arms are wide open with welcome, longing for you to run into them. Yes, life can be messy. Yes, it can hurt so much and be so hard. But He cares about broken hearts and delights to heal them.

A Child's Trust

“Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe

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