God Is Greater Than Whatever We Face in 2018

Are you discouraged or afraid of what awaits us in this new year? Perhaps while others are singing “Happy New Year,” you are entering this year with worry about what’s around the corner for us in this journey of life.

I think being a worrywart is my life’s default mode. It can weigh my heart down so much that I have trouble remembering how strong God is to overcome the giants blocking the way. I compare myself with the giants instead of comparing the giants with God.

I’m learning step by step to trust God and His all-sufficient grace more than the giants. And more than my feelings. My feelings can sway with the wind and can be misleading. They can cause me to cower and curl up in a ball of defeat when the giants overshadow me. They tell me that God has forgotten to be merciful in this world.

Not true! God’s Almighty power, love, and faithfulness never sway or change. God is loyal, constant, and steadfast. He was faithful in the past, He will be faithful today, and He will remain faithful in our future. He still has this whole world and every single heart in His hands.

So does He condemn us when we do worry? Never! There is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) Others may tell us worry is a sin and we should “just have faith,” making our burdens even greater. But God knows how weak and frail we humans can be. He understands us more than anyone. His patience with us is bottomless. His love for us never lessens when we slip into worry or distrust of His plans.

Isn’t His love amazing?! No matter what we do or don’t do, He just keeps on drawing us into His love and inviting us to surrender our anxiety and burdens into His Almighty Hands and His all-sufficient grace.

“Come to Me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

We cannot know what will happen this year, and it’s a good thing we don’t. But God always knows. He has plans for each and every one of us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future.

Does this mean there won’t be struggles, losses, or pain in our lives? Definitely not. Here we will have trouble. But the wonder is that even when it “feels” like God’s designs are against us, the absolute truth is that He is still working out everything towards our good.

The hope and future He plans to give us may seem a long time coming. But it will come, because He is a faithful Promise-Keeper. Someday our journeys here will end in a most glorious conclusion.

Meanwhile, may we take His hand and follow Him wherever He may lead us in this year, remembering that He has promised to be our refuge through all the storms in life and our Almighty strength in all our weakness. We are safe in His hands. He has proved that in the past, and He will continue to be our help today and in the future.

“God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble.”
Psalm 46:1 AMP

“You Raise Me Up”
by Josh Groban

“When I am down and, oh, my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until You come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on Your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be…”


Anxiety and Resting in Jesus

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“I need to make puppy chow,” I told myself as I thought of what to bring to our Christmas gathering with our kids and grandkids this year. Last year I was sick that whole week prior to our gathering, so when one of my granddaughters asked me on short notice to make puppy chow, I knew I had to tell her I was sorry but I couldn’t this time. Even when I’m at my “normal,” I have to pace myself in order to reserve energy for the day of an exciting event.

And now a year later, it was still bothering me! It’s crazy how hard I can be on myself sometimes. I texted my granddaughter, “Guess what I just made?” She had no clue. She said she often doesn’t remember her food requests.

It baffles me why I get so wound up when I can’t do something someone asks of me. I’m always overanalyzing. Often when I think people must feel hurt or let down, it ends up that the situation never entered their minds again. Like water off a duck’s back.

At times I feel more grounded in Jesus and filled with His love, and all the stress and worry falls away. But then the I-never-do-enough monster knocks me flat and helpless.

I carry this drive that I must “do” more to show I care into my relationship with Jesus as well. I need to relax and let it sink in more that He is going to love me no matter what. I don’t have to earn His approval. He loves me just the way I am. And He knows I love Him. He just wants me to “be” the me He created me to be in whatever season of life He has placed me, not to stress out about doing more or being better.

Sometimes I have to persuade myself, “Give yourself a break! Why are you always putting yourself on a guilt trip? Just cool it. Relax and let yourself lean into Jesus, His love, His grace.”

Broken one, He loves you, too! Do you sometimes fret that you should “do” more? For Him and for others? We don’t have to earn His love or approval. He accepts us just as we are. He loves us unconditionally. He freely gives us His grace. He longs for us to leave our worries and cares to Him and to lean hard on Him within the circling arms of His love.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this;
it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward
for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it.”
Ephesians 2:8-9
“Give all your worries and cares to God,
for He cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:7

In Jesus arms

Lean Hard

by Octavius Winslow (1800s)

Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of your care;
I know your burden, child. I shaped it;
Balanced it in Mine own hand; made no proportion
In its weight to your unaided strength,
For even as I laid it on, I said,
“I will be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden will be Mine, not hers;
So will I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My own love.” Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder that upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come:
You are not near enough. I would embrace your care;
So I might feel My child reclining on My breast.
You love Me, I know. So then do not doubt;
But loving Me, lean hard.

A Child's Trust

“Be Still, My Soul (In You I Rest)”
by Kari Jobe

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Depression and Deliverance

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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.

love

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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