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Episode 104: Leaning Into Faith in Life’s Challenging Moments with Judy Dunagan

Brief summary of show:

Where do you turn in hard times?

Where do you place your fear in those moments of anxiety and overwhelm, as well as those moments that don’t feel as intense, yet cause us internal burden anyhow?

In this episode, Judy Dunagan joins me to talk about how we can learn to lean into faith in life’s most challenging moments.

Judy Dunagan is an acquisitions editor for the women’s Bible studies and books at Moody Publishers. A wonder seeker of God and His Word, Judy is passionate about discipleship and making God’s Word and prayer come alive in everyday life.

She is a speaker and Bible teacher and the author of The Loudest Roar: Living in the Unshakable Victory of Christ (Sept. 2022). Judy and her husband, Rick, live in Colorado and are the joyful grandparents of five littles. Connect at:

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [4:35] Why it's so hard to cast our fears and anxieties upon God

  • [8:10] Learning that we can't always 'fix' everything on our own

  • [9:20] Tools to help deal with anxiety

  • [12:05] How to stand firm when you're afraid

  • [14:25] How the enemy attacks us when we may not even realize it's a dark force

  • [17:05] The biggest issues we experience today as women

  • [20:50] The power of Psalms

  • [23:10] Why Judy wrote her book

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Judy

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

Natalie: As a busy woman, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious, especially in today's fast-paced world. Today, an expert on finding peace and rest in the midst of your busy schedule. Natalie: Hi friends, it's Natalie. I'm on spring break this week and I have spring fever. We're not traveling, but spending more time at home and time outside, and it's that little taste of spring that gets me excited for the renewal that comes with the season. Something I'm hearing from many of you is the feeling we all know of being. Sometimes we don't know why we're anxious. Other times we can attribute it to something specific happening in our lives. Whatever is causing anxiousness, I know as many of you do, it can be overwhelming, but let me tell you, it doesn't need to be. Today we're gonna talk about. Anxiousness in a very important way. I often talk about my faith and I have to tell you, without it, I don't know how I would get through anxious and overwhelming times. I turn to scripture in prayer to calm my nerves. I've been doing this for years. It's not really something that's happened overnight, but rather an intentional choice that I make every day. One verse I regularly turn to is be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46 10. When I read this, it just helps remind me that he's present in all situations and can help calm my anxiousness. It also suggests be still something a lot of us don't do enough. I know that I don't. I'm continually working on this as a busy mom. It is a challenge. Another verse I go to about anxiety that really resonates with me is do not be anxious about anything. Could it be any more clear? That's Philippians four, six. This verse reminds me that I can turn my worries over to God and trust his plan for my life. That word. , trust it's so hard, especially as, a strong woman to trust that when we turn it over that we really are turning it over. My guest today has spent most of her life encouraging and helping women. Judy Dunagan is an acquisitions editor for the Women's Bible Studies and books at Moody Publishers. She's also the author of the Loudest Roar, living in the Unshakable Victory of Christ, which released in September of 2022. Today, Judy shares her insights and wisdom on dealing with anxiety As a busy woman, we're gonna talk about cultivating a daily habit, finding a supportive community. Whether you are a working mom or a busy professional, Judy's practical advice and encouragement will help you find rest and peace in the midst of your busy life. Thanks so much for being here and for taking the time to work on yourself. Be sure to join me for more interviews and blogs, and to sign up for my newsletter. Let's get started today with Judy Dunigan. Judy, what a pleasure to speak with you today. And this is a topic I know all women struggle with, and I think it was there before, but something about our world today after Covid, we have so much anxiety and so much fear that we live Judy: with. . So true, Natalie, and I'm so grateful to be with you. Um, You know, I have dealt with anxiety really my whole life. I, it goes back to when I was a little girl. I battled it quite a bit, especially when I first became a mom because our family started moving overseas from my husband's job. And there were seasons where it would just overwhelm me to the point where I thought I could lose my mind to worry. And I'm sure a lot of your listeners can relate to that. Like you said, I mean, when Covid hit, we were all anxious. I heard one of the most Googled. Searches was anxiety and how to treat anxiety. And I've written a book called the Loudest Roar, living in the Unshakeable Victory of Christ, and one of my chapters is called When I Am Afraid, and it addresses our battle with anxiety. Natalie: Well, we know God tells us to cast our cares upon him. We know that we're supposed to hand it over and yet we don't do it. What? What is it that we're doing wrong? And it's so much easier to say, I've prayed about it, I'm done with it, and yet we're still living in a world that Judy: is difficult. . So true. I mean, we can cast that anxiety on the Lord and I, I recently looked up the word cast. It means to literally throw at him, . , and we can do that, but then we take it back, don't we? Mm-hmm. because it can overwhelm us again, or what we were worried about kind of comes back and it's really a daily surrender, I think. And there's some practical ways to do that in my book, but one way that I have, Especially when my girls were little and I'd be overcome with worry for them, I would turn my worries into prayers for them. So when my mind started to escalate with the what ifs and oh no, and is this illness gonna lead to being in the hospital, even my mind would escalate. I would just start praying over them and pray for protection. And I'd ask God to calm my anxious heart and help me to trust him more. And I think prayer is such a key. in the midst of anxiety is to calm our anxious heart. I also love listening to worship music, and I'll make myself listen to the lyrics and let those truths wash over me. Mm-hmm. when my mind wants to escalate to debilitating fear. Instead, I try to make myself look at the truth of God's word and to pray and also listen to worship. It's Natalie: so true though that we, we spend so much time thinking and dealing with our issues in this either the world or our kids, whatever it is, we spend so much time trying to figure that out on our own or fix it. . I, I find as a mom that I'm a fixer and I've had to deal with that where sometimes my kids or I need to go through the hardship that I'm going through. I need to go through it to get to the next level. But especially with my kids, I'm like, just let me fix that problem instead of letting them Judy: endure it. . Natalie: I wanna take a minute to tell you about one of the ways I keep my family healthy. I've been a customer of seeking health for several years, and I'm constantly amazed by the positive impact their products have had on overall health and wellbeing From the very beginning, the team at Seeking Health has been dedicated to helping me build a strong foundation for my health through their focus on optimizing digestion, reducing environmental exposures, and nourishing my body with. Pure high quality supplements. They've provided me with the tools and the knowledge I need to support my body's natural healing systems, and I have seen significant improvements in my energy immune function and overall sense of wellbeing. A few of my favorites, active Magnesium, the Glutathione Plus. Immune intensive. Also, the electrolytes we put in our water, in our family, all great products, and those are just a few. I'm grateful to the team at Seeking Health for their passion for prevention and their consistent commitment to helping with my family's health. If you're looking to take control of your health and build a strong foundation for your wellbeing, I highly recommend Seeking Health. You can get more information and a discount code by going to natalie Look for the Seeking Health logo and that discount code. Again, natalie The link is in the show notes. Judy: Yes, I think we do that. We're really good at that as moms, aren't we? Mm-hmm. , we wanna fix things and when we, we moved to Beijing, China when my girls were only three and five and they were kind of scared about the move. It was seemed like a big mystery to them. And I'll be honest, I was. Frightened as well. There was a lot of medical issues that we faced when we first got there. And so instead of just keeping it all to myself, I started to teach them how to pray about things they're afraid of. We even memorized a verse together Joshua one, nine before we moved there with motions, we even did it. And this goes along the lines of have I not commanded you? Be strong and. Do not be terrified. Do not be afraid for the Lord. Your God will be with you wherever you go. And Natalie, we were there just a few weeks when we were all headed to the clinic because we all had fevers and upper respiratory illness. We moved there in the dead of winter and one of my little girls started saying that first while we were driving to the clinic, and I'll never forget it. She was like five years old and that God had been teaching her to be able to do that as. . Natalie: Wow, that's powerful. And to give them those tools. So let's talk a little bit more about tools. Tools in dealing with anxiety. You mentioned worship music, you mentioned just going to prayer. But what are some other ways you can help people when they are feeling that sense of overwhelm, that anxiety. And for some it's escalated to panic attacks or other like very serious physical ways that they're dealing Judy: with that. Such a good question because I think it's very important to understand that sometimes with severe anxiety and panic attacks, it can be a medical condition. Mm-hmm. , it can be related to serotonin being depleted and having to go to a doctor and handle that with meds to help even that out. . It can also be related to trauma in your past, some trauma that you maybe don't even remember, but you start to show signs of panic attacks and severe fear. I've had many friends who have gone through that. Mm-hmm. and so they've sought out really great. Therapist to work with them to kind of look back and see what is causing this. And there can be P T S D, you know, I had a friend whose husband was dying of cancer. Mm-hmm. And going through all of his treatments, he lost his arm, even had to amputate it cuz it was in the muscle of the arm. Mm-hmm. And she was so stoic and so brave, and at all the doctor's appointment, taking the notes and taking care of her husband. And when he started to come out of it and was being healed and, and getting better, she started having panic attacks. Seemed to her to come outta nowhere. Mm-hmm. And it really was part of her PTs D of holding it together with that stress through that probably a few years. And then she knew he was safe and then it was like almost like her body giving her permission to get some help for her own trauma. Mm-hmm. . And I think I'm so grateful the day in which we live, because people are understanding this more. It used to be at the church, you know, they'd always make it spiritual. Well, you need to trust God more. Worries a sin and all this guilt, but it's very important to be balanced. But there is also an enemy. We're told in God's word that the enemy is like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devourer. That's in first Peter five. Mm-hmm. . And though God's word talks about this enemy, but we don't need to fear him. We need to know how to stand firm against him. And thankfully, our Lord Jesus has won the victory. Satan through our Lord Jesus', death and resurrection and ascension. And so my book talks a lot about how to stand firm in that victory, especially when he comes at us in an area where we're most vulnerable. For me it was anxiety, as I mentioned in China, where I thought I was gonna lose my mind to worry, and that's where I knew I had to run to his word and use those other tools, spiritual tools, to stand firm in my victory and to trust my. . Natalie: Yeah, I think that is so important. Talk more about that for me, because standing firm, when you are afraid, Judy: is, well, I'll just, so hard. Yeah. It is so hard, and it can sound like a pat answer, but mm-hmm. for me in China, my daughter Kelly was just three years old and she wasn't getting the medication she needed for strep throat. They would not give us antibiotics, which is a dangerous mm-hmm. diagnosis without antibiotics. And there was one night. where I was just overcome with fear. I mean, my mind went to thinking she's gonna get meningitis, I'm gonna lose her. And at that time there was no 9 1 1 that we could call. There was no urgent care in the middle of the night, and the closest hospital was two hours away. And so I knew I needed to wait out that night until the next morning. I could go to the clinic and say, , this baby needs some antibiotics. So that night, Natalie, there was just a surrender in my heart. My only hope was Jesus to make it through the night. Mm-hmm. , I needed to get a grip on my mind so that I could mother my child. And so I just, it was almost like I surrendered her to him as if I had her in my hands. She had fallen asleep in her room once the Tylenol kicked in for her fever, and it was as if I lifted her up and I said, I know you love. Jesus more than I do, and I'm gonna trust that you can heal her. I know you can heal her, but if you have a different choice for her life, I'm gonna still love you and follow you. Mm-hmm. . And there was a break in that extreme fear that the enemy, I really believe was trying to take me under. He was trying to make me question God's goodness and his mercy and his faithfulness. And then I also knew I had to run to God's word. And at that time I'd been reading Psalm 91, and for our listeners, that is one of the most powerful psalms. I call it a victory psalm. And just the first verse, I read it so much, I memorized it. And it starts out whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high. will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, and whom I trust. And so I read those verses and I claimed those truths that he's my refuge and my fortress, and then I can trust in him. And then again, the only way I could sleep that night was to listen to some praise music that finally helped me fall asleep so I could take good care of my daughter in the morning. And the Lord met me in that. So those are just some practical ways to do. . Yeah. Natalie: Can you talk a little bit more about how the enemy attacks us when we might not identify it that way? Mm-hmm. , we might not realize that that's a dark force Judy: and spiritual Natalie: warfare. And for those listening who have never talked about that or know about that, can you just tell us about that and where we might become more aware of? . Judy: Yes. I think it's very important to run to scripture, run to God's Word, and a key passage on warfare is in Ephesians six, 10 through 18. I won't take the time to read all of it. Mm-hmm. . But the first few verses say, finally be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand. The schemes of the devil, then this is key for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and authorities and cosmic powers over this present darkness against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand. Withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand firm. Now that can kind of sound scary when you first read that, this battle that's going on, but we see that battle in, in the book of Genesis with the fall when Satan came with his temptations. And we see it in the in revelation as well. But really we need to remember that the enemy is a defeated foe. You know, I had mentioned that verse. He's like a roaring. , but our God is the bigger line with the louder roar. Our Lord Jesus is called the line of Judah in Revelation and he is seated on the throne and Satan is a defeated foe, but he likes to make us think that he has a lot of power. Almost says if he has more power than our God, but we have to remember our Jesus has won the victory. And that we fight from the victory he's won with Jesus. And when you look at the armor, there's all the pieces of the armor spelled out in E again, Ephesians six, 10 through 18. I believe those pieces of the armor is Jesus. He's the one who covers us with his righteousness, his salvation, his peace and his truth, all the different pieces. And to remember, he is the one who covers us with his protection and he's in any battle we face. He's in that battle. Yeah. Natalie: those have given me comfort over the years. Absolutely. And teaching our children that to know that you will face hardships, that you will have battles and the enemy will work against you and make you question yourself. Right. Create anxiety, create situations but to defend ourselves and stand firm. what are the biggest issues you see? Today outside of anxiety, when you, you look, you work with a lot of women and I know that you speak a lot about these issues Outside of anxiety, what are the things you think we are dealing with in our world today as women? That we need to be aware of and get some Judy: help with? . Well, I think one area especially is lies that we believe about ourselves. Mm-hmm. and the enemy's part of that. We're told in God's word that the enemy is the father of lies and he accuses us. And you can see that in different stories in the Bible. but we also believe lies as well. You know, I grew up very insecure for many years. I'm the youngest of three girls, and there was a lot of comparison and beauty issues or success issues, and I think for some reason women especially deal with that. There's a lot. We, we put these high standards up. There's a lot of. Bomo, fear of missing out through Facebook posts or Instagram posts. We compare ourselves. We're hard on ourselves, whether it's in the workplace or we're not successful enough, or as a mother or a wife, or I could just name all of it. Mm-hmm. , and I really believe that it's so important, again, to run to God's word for our identity. One of the best passages for that is Ephesians one. It just lists who we are because of Jesus, we're beloved. You know, we're his daughters. He has forgiven us, and there's just so much. And you run to God's word to define you more than the world's standards is so important. And then I think a lot of people are believing lies about. Who God is. There's a lot of that going on in our world and even in the church. I have many people are leaving their faith and not trusting who Jesus is. Maybe because they're going through such hard things, it's hard to trust that he is good and again, just run to his word. I think some of the best places to find and to read about who our God is, is found in. the Psalms, and one of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 1 45, and I encourage people to read that out loud as they start to pray because it just exalts who our God is and it reminds us who he is and that his love is steadfast and that he is faithful, and that he's kind and he is good. . Natalie: I love the Psalms. Like it's just such a fun place to go when you don't know where to go. But ironically that my, my son who is in seventh grade had to write a psalm, had to write 16 verses and that was quite an exercise too. It was, yeah. You know, something about thankfulness, just write. and it was like, that's awesome. Good for him. Wait, what? It was such a fun exercise, but it was also like one now that he's got his own, you know, Psalm? It's his psalm. He wrote it for him. It's not in the Bible, but it's, it's, that would be an exercise in a journal. Like it's fun to rhyme. Right? And the pals are so beautiful. Like to just sit down and, you know, we talk about how being grateful. and having a gratefulness journal, prayer journal is another way. Mm-hmm. . But to just have a way to daily be grateful instead of coming up with the problems, we have to stop and reverse that and think of the things that we're grateful for. And so many of the psalms are about thankfulness and gratefulness and being happy Judy: instead of fear. Yes. . Yes. Yes. And I think um, journaling, Psalms or your own Psalm. I love that your son already got to do that without, it's so funny though. I wish I had it in Natalie: front of me. , he, he talk, he was trying to rhyme the, the comfort of a couch and all of its pillows with God's shelter being hard like an armadillo. Judy: I love that being tough. You gotta send it to me. I gotta read this. It was pretty Natalie: funny. So funny. But, but we had fun with it. Judy: It was a great exercise. Mm-hmm. , you know, David wrote a lot of the psalms. Of course he was the main psalmist or the one I loved. The most. And sometimes it'll tell you before the Psalm starts where he was. And if several times we're told he was in caves and he was hiding from King Saul or even his own son Epsilon. And I believe that he was fearful. I mean, he was running for his life and yet he turned to praising God or even lamenting, just pouring out his heart. There is a psalm that says, how long, Lord? How long will this continue? And I don't know about you, Natalie, but I've been there where. Journal, like how long Lord, where are you? And he wants us to do that. He trusts, he wants us to lament. He wants us to come to him with our sorrows and our hard questions and he will be faithful and meet us there. And I think the Psalms is such a great pattern or model for us to do that. Yeah. . Yeah. Natalie: Well, I think I mentioned not everyone who listens to this podcast. I, I talk a lot about health issues and this, this episode, there might be people listening going, oh wow, this is all about faith. I'm not used to this from this podcast. Talk a lot about health. We talk about family issues. Mm-hmm. , but I have found in, in my own life that without my faith I , don't know where to go with my problems. And so for anybody listening who's like, I don't know about this. Like, I'm, I'm not sure you're, you're talking about Jesus a lot and mm-hmm. , you know, maybe this is the door that needed to open for you to let go of some Judy: of that pain. Yes. I mean, that's the kind of God we have. He welcomes you and you can go to him with your questions and if you're a skeptic, he understands that. Mm-hmm. , he's such a gentle God. I really believe that. And just encourage anyone listening to just kind of seek him out. I think a good place to start is if you get a Bible, just read the Gospel of John and watch how Jesus was when. , this groaning earth. He went through everything we do. He was tempted in every way we are. He was sad. He was betrayed. , there's so many things. He knows exactly what we're going through and he's such a compassionate and kind savior. And I think if you just look at it from the perspective of some things you might hear about him, it's very different than if you just really look at his life and see how he inter interacted with the hurting and those who are really struggling. And it's really a beautiful, beautiful thing to see. Yeah. . Natalie: Well, I wanted to ask you more about your book before we close out. Why did you write it? What, what Judy: started. ? Well, I think a lot of it was because of just my working with women. I've been on staff at a church and now I work for a Christian publisher. I'm acquiring books written by women geared to women readers, and I started to see that many were feeling defeated almost as if the enemy or just were defeated in. Had more power than our God. And so I really wanted to help the readers to turn their eyes towards Jesus and all that he has won for us in terms of this personal relationship we can have with him and his protection over us, and how he cares about our sorrows and he cares about our grief and our questions, and to really just help the reader look at. the victory that he's won for us. It's also a very practical book. I have a lot of practical ways to pray, and I have a different worship song I suggest for each chapter, and there's questions at the end of each chapter so people could go through the book together. I'm hearing about. Groups going through the book together, they'll read it and then they'll gather every week and talk through the questions. And so I just wanted to share the hope of Jesus and who he is and how he loves us so deeply and wants to have this personal relationship with us. Yeah. Where Natalie: can people find it? I know in Googling it's on Amazon, but where can people find the book more about you and your teachings and what you're up. Judy: Well, my website is a great place to start. It's just my name, judy and Dunigan, D U N A G A N. So judy You all can subscribe there and if you subscribe, you can get a free downloadable resource that's called the Power of Praying Scripture. And it's just if you're dealing with anxiety or you're worried about an adult young adult child or there's just a lot of different issues. I have d. Prayers that I have written based on prayers in God's word. And, um, I also blog there and talk a lot about practical things as a mom and as a wife. So that's a great starting place. My, the link to my book is there as well, but they can also find my book on Amazon and the title is The Loudest. Roar and it's right there and they can order it. So I love that. I Natalie: love the title and I love what you have in the book, and I just appreciate your time so much, your inspiration and, and the gift that you give to people in teaching. Judy: Thank you, Natalie. Thanks for having me. So much fun to be with you. So nice Natalie: to have you.

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