Surprise Twists and Turns!

It’s called the million dollar highway. Some sources also call it one of the world’s most spectacular (and dangerous) stretches of pavement. However, when traveled carefully in good weather, it’s a breath-taking experience of incredible vistas.

wow 5

Each one just as amazing as the last.

wow 3

One after the next, so incredible you scan constantly, not wanting to miss a single moment of the beauty.

wow 8

Sometimes you have to climb out of the car to see it all.

wow-7.jpg

But here’s the thing. This road is full of hair pin curves.

blog 2

They happen unexpectedly, usually with abrupt drop-offs on at least one side.

blog15

We drove this road last May, our borrowed van full of our son’s stuff. A dresser, bed, clothes. You get the idea. We moved him from his college apartment to his new home and job. It was a full van, and I am not great at driving with decreased visibility out the windows. My husband drives a work van full of stuff every day, so I requested the passenger seat.

The problem with the passenger seat is you have absolutely no control. You can’t hit the brake when you want to slow. You can’t control the position of the vehicle, no matter how close that sheer edge looks. You have to trust your driver. (And as most of you know, a nagging, fearful wife is not very effective in these situations. Your man knows how to navigate the terrain and will likely not do it your way just because you catch your breath and spout advice.)

20170430_120217
But the great thing about being in the passenger seat is you can more fully enjoy the view without the responsibility of navigation.

wow 2

If you can just let go of your fears and go with it.

The problem is that while you’re exclaiming over yet another incredible panorama, you don’t see that sharp turn ahead. Suddenly you’re upon it. Disequilibrium makes you gasp and grab something to steady yourself. Fear hits.

blog 35

The twist is not only sharp and quick, the grade is also steep.

blog 11

Even in the moment I felt the stirring as we drove last May.

The need to pay attention. The prompting to trust my driver to navigate the unexpected turns in the road, to let go of control, to enjoy the glorious ride.

And to remember.

Remember how it felt to trust and enjoy beauty instead of micro-managing.

To drink in the wonder and excitement instead giving into fear of what is around the bend or how suddenly the change came upon me.

Of course I’m not talking about navigating Route 550 from Durango through Silverton to Ouray.

I’m talking about life.

Maybe you relate. Maybe life has thrown you some curve balls, not necessarily bad, but certainly unexpected.

Or maybe you’ve chosen an unknown road. One you’re breathlessly excited about. But you feel insecure. You don’t know the appropriate speed or how to navigate the next bend. You don’t know how much fear you must face to take in all the glory and wonder of the choice.

The weeks following this trip I had both experiences. A breathless choice and an unexpected curve ball. I keep reminding myself to trust the One who guides me on the best pathway for my life, who advises me and watches over me. But sometimes I gasp at the steep road ahead or feel the disequilibrium when the sharp curve redirects.

I’m not ready to write much about the unexpected curve. It’s still unfolding. Right now all He has asked of me is a mindset change, a readjustment of my thinking, plans, and dreams. That alone is a sharp turn, one that causes me disequilibrium.

But I am ready to write about the choice to adventure. To stretch. To follow where His Spirit calls even though the journey is unknown, and I have never done anything like this.

This choice is exciting. A bit scary. Full of joyful wonder. Poking at my insecurities and inadequacies but breath-taking too. Beautiful. New.13903190_10154455712793179_4641395257159691296_n

I was chosen to serve with a women’s team traveling to Afghanistan later this summer. The eight of us will meet with several groups of beautiful, courageous ladies who have worked tirelessly to better their communities and build toward a hopeful future for their children and their country. Our team seeks to build relationship, to encourage, to believe in the hope they possess and to share our own for them.

As I step out into this journey, I am stretching. It’s not just the miles I will travel or the insecurities I posses about navigating an unfamiliar culture. It’s not even the pain and fear that arises when another bombing rocks the world of the people I already think of as my friends. It’s the longing to be better than I am. To love more. To have more strength. To serve well.

What about you? Where are you stretching? What call up your deepest longings and passions. Where do you feel a prompting to something new, something bigger than yourself?

May God bless us all.

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

PS Would you partner with me in this new adventure, my friend? If you’d like more information about the Afghanistan service trip, let me know. I’ll add you to my list of people getting updates. You can contact me by email: Paula at paulamoldenhauer dot com.

Get Soul Scents: Bloom for Free!

FREE May 14 – May 17

In honor of moms everywhere!

This third in the Soul Scents series of devotionals leads us from struggle to acknowledging the blessing of Immanuel in our lives. Paula courageously shares the raw and intimate moments of her own struggles in the valley of the shadow of death. Incredibly, hopefully, she leads us day by day into His Light, teaching us how to walk hand in hand with God at our side.   ~Susan Irene Fox

God’s love and his extravagant grace toward us is shared through Scripture, the beauty of nature and the author’s personal stories of pain revealing God’s ever present care and commitment to our “blooming.” I . . . found myself saying, “Yes, Lord, Yes! Do that in me!” . . . . Paula clearly knows her Lord and her honesty and vulnerability are so healing. . . . I highly recommend this devotional to anyone who needs a reminder that God is beyond good.  ~ Amazon Customer

rsz_pmapprov3-01In His presence we bloom in sunshine and storm. His Spirit carries us through the struggle, offering the love, strength, and wisdom we need for the times of trial. In the joyous seasons, His smile deepens our pleasure. Bloom in season and out!

The Soul Scents collection invites readers into an ever-deepening discovery of who God is and how He interacts with us. Combined, its four volumes, Awaken, Rooted, Bloom, and Flourish, offer a year’s worth of devotional reading. Each book has thirteen weeks of down-to-earth insight gleaned from Scripture and the author’s journey into spiritual freedom. The week-day readings include Scriptures and prayers. Rest in the Son’s embrace as you enter the beautiful heart of the Freedom Giver Himself.

I hope you enjoy this free gift!

Blessing to Your Home From Mine,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

18237796_10211980428041092_6907722748562976894_o

PS One of my Mother’s Day celebrations this year is the joy of our son Stephen’s recent graduation from Fort Lewis College. God is good and has done amazing things in his life! When he graduated high school, I wrote a piece about how he’d overcome great odds. Stephen’s college graduation was also a high day. That little boy who struggled with speech and learning to read graduated Summa Cum Laude! (If you have a struggling learner, you might want to check out that article, which includes links to resources.) He’s already started his first full-time job. He’s using his adventure education degree to serve at a camp where he will be assistant to the director of adventure activities. (If you’d like to support him in prayer or finances, email me, and I’ll have him send you more information.) Happy Mother’s Day to each of you moms reading today–I hope you enjoy your free gift!

Announcing the Winners!

It’s really fun how the drawing turned out! Empty-Nest Man won the book, The Joy of joy of letting goLetting Go: Releasing Your Teens into Real Life in the Big World! If the series on releasing our children to adulthood blessed you, I believe you’ll be blessed by his new blog. And as crazy as this seems that Empty Nest Man won the book on empty nest, I promise it was not rigged. I wrote out each name on paper and drew two. He was drawn first, and He chose his book!

Winner of the Colors of Hope inspirational coloring book is Lacey!

Her comment asked a question: Your devotional time sounds both joyous and thought-provoking, Paula. Just out of curiosity…not that it really matters, except for preference…do you use colored pencils, or crayons? My daughter has 17155194_10154303091171723_2711020159173082596_nbeen ill, and I bought a new box of over 100 crayon’s for her. Fresh, new crayons with a crayon sharpener included. There’s something special about using a new crayon or recently sharpened pencil.

My answer to Lacey was: I’ve been using markers or colored pencils, but that may be because I have pencils to sharpen but not fresh new crayons! I think that would be a great question for Lisa, though! 

So I contacted the expert, Lisa Samson who said:

Colored pencils would work better for the book. There are smaller spaces that would be hard to access with crayons. Although, there are some pages that would work just fine with crayon because they have been designed for people of all skills!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the drawings. I hope to do more in the future! Stay tuned!

Don’t Miss Free Books!

17155194_10154303091171723_2711020159173082596_nJust a quick reminder for my readers. We just finished two great blog series, a three-part series about the benefits of coloring, and a four-part series about the empty nest process. If you missed them, you might want to take a moment to look them up.

Any comment left on any post here on my blog between now and Easter will be put into a drawing for either Colors of Hope or The Joy of Letting Go.joy of letting go

Also between now and Easter  you can “buy” my novel, Titanic: Legacy of Betrayalfor FREE! Just download to your Kindle or Kindle app on any device.

Here’s what it’s about:

TitanicA secret. A key. Much was buried when the Titanic went down, but now it’s time for resurrection.

April 1912 – Olive Stanford boarded the Titanic determined to protect all she held dear. Her secret will go with her to the grave—but how can she face the afterlife carrying the burden of her actions?

April 2012 – Portland real estate agent, Ember Keaton-Jones, distrusts men, with good reason. Ever since her great-great-grandfather, Thomas, deserted the family after the fateful sinking of the Titanic, every Keaton male has disappointed. Ember is on the brink of a huge sale when a stranger shows up with a key to a century-old secret challenging everything she believes. She meets forward-thinking Jeff Dawson who is working in the family’s musty antique shop and finds an unexpected ally in unlocking the mystery of her past. But can they undo the legacy of Thomas Keaton’s betrayal?

Carefully researched, this engaging tale includes true stories of the Titanic embedded in historical fiction.

Hope you enjoy these gifts! Happy Easter!

Blessings,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

PS Want to support the authors in this post? Take a moment to review one of their books. Reviews are one of the best ways to get the word out about an author you love or a book that has touched your heart. Another way to help is to share this post on your social media outlets, or tell your friends about the free books!

The Joy of Letting Go 4

I believe how we navigate empty nest plays a huge role in how free our adult children will be to flourish in life.

This week Vicki Caruana, author of The Joy of Letting Go, shared wisdom and grace for joy of letting goparents like myself who navigate the challenges of transitioning to empty nest. I took extra time with what began as a short interview because this issue dovetails with my own passion to see people free to flourish, and these formative years can set our children on a path of freedom where they can grow and expand—or hold them back.

Find the joy in letting go isn’t always an easy process for me, yet I know how I navigate this long season of rotating doors and releasing my children into adulthood has powerful impact on them, on myself, and on how our family will function in the future. I’ve also learned that how I walk this out deeply affects how joyful or painful my son or daughter’s journey into adulthood is. I realize it hurts my teens and young adults when they have to fight for the very freedoms they should be offered as they mature. At the same time if I give freedom without responsibility, I set them up for failure. For me, one of faith’s greatest journeys is to step back and release my children in God’s capable hands when the temptation is to hover a little too closely.

In my opinion there are few things more difficult to navigate than knowing when and how to give our children the wings they need to fly free to flourish in life. I appreciate Vicki taking the time to help my readers and myself more deeply process these important issues. (Past blog interviews interviews include the process of letting gohow our approach to letting go helps with the transitions to college, and a parent’s role around a child’s identity and decision-making.)

I mentioned in the first blog of this interview series that a hardback copy of The Joy of Letting Go arrived in my mailbox the week of our oldest son’s wedding. Though I was privileged to read an advanced copy of the book and to offer my endorsement some weeks ago, re-reading selections at just that special time was a balm. (Thank you, Vicki!)

It’s interesting that during this time my son Seth was searching for the perfect song for our mother-son dance at his and Amanda’s wedding.

25He couldn’t find a song he liked, and his bride-to-be came to the rescue. She sent him several ideas, but her favorite was Mark Harris’s, “Find Your Wings.” Seth told me later he immediately knew it was the song he wanted, but that he didn’t want to influence me, so he sent me several links and asked my opinion.

When I listened to this song, I was alone in the car and free to sob–which I did! It said every single thing I wanted to say to my son as I freely offered him to the beautiful young women who now holds first place in his heart.

I’ve included the song with this last post about releasing our children into adulthood. I hope you are blessed as deeply as I was.

 

 

 

17553902_10155203843153179_2355221722148880384_n

To close our time with Vicki, I asked her to share a selection from her book that would most say what she wanted to say to us today. Thank you, Vicki!

Do I Stay or Do I Go?

___________________________________________________________________

Day 6

Don’t cry because you are leaving; smile because you were there.

Dr. Seuss

The image is still so strong. Every weekday for months, my five-year-old baby boy stood at the window of his preschool with both hands on the glass crying for me to stay. I couldn’t. I had to go to work—as a teacher I had about thirty more children waiting for me to show up. I endured the daily exercise of letting go that school year in the most excruciating way. In my mind I see the palm print of his small hand on the glass moments after his teacher enticed him away from the window. It imprinted on my heart in ways that followed us both through the next twenty years.

Fast forward five years later when our children were transitioning back into the public schools after being homeschooled for four years. I walked this same boy to his fifth grade classroom stopping just short of the door. After only a moment’s hesitation, he slipped into the brightly decorated room with the stealth of a ninja. He didn’t look back, but I lingered.

I sat in the parking lot for an hour trying to decide if I should stay—just in case—or go and let him be. Parent drop-off had ended and I was alone in the lot. I could see his classroom window from where I sat. I realized what I was waiting for—his hand print on the glass.

Thirteen years later we stood—my head only reaching his shoulders—with a jam-packed moving van and the dog nestled safely in the car that would follow. I couldn’t believe it was time to go—again. A mist-like rain covered us like dew and I felt hurried in this goodbye. How many times had I said goodbye? More times than I’ve recounted here to be sure. Why is it that each time feels like the last time?

After a tear-filled hug of this now fully grown and fully able young man, I saw through the car window clearly for the first time. In a last ditch effort, I wondered once more, should I stay or should I go? But he was fine. And it was time. We pulled out of the parking lot, and I watched him through the car window, with my hand pressed against the glass, as we now moved one mile at a time 2000 miles away.

One goodbye at a time.

Thought Poke

Letting go is a cumulative process. We have had so much practice up to the point of departure. Instead of remembering all the times you were parted, remember all the times that you were there.

~Vicki Caruana

Friends, I (Paula) wish many blessing to each sweet momma (or dad!) whose own journey into empty nest includes those tears that are joy and grief mingled.

Don’t forget! Vicki Caruana and Lisa Samson, who I interviewed last week, both offered to do a giveaway. So . . . if you comment on my blog between now and Easter, your name will go into a drawing for one of their books!

Blessings,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

The Joy of Letting Go is available now from:

jill s

“Our hearts are always connected to our children, whether they are four or forty. In these fifty-two devotions, Vicki Caruana beautifully shows us that cutting the apron strings doesn’t mean cutting the heart strings. This journey of letting go can be life-giving – for you and for your children.”
Jill Savage, founder of Hearts at Home
     and author of No More Perfect Marriages

Free Kindle of My Novel!

In honor of the April 15th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the book I co-authored with Kathleen E Kovach, Titanic Legacy of Betrayal, will be free on Amazon’s Kindle the following dates: TOMORROW and Saturday, April 7 – 8, and Easter weekend, which coincides with Titanic’s Anniversary (April 14, 15 and 16).

Happy Easter from Kathy and me. We hope you enjoy this gift!

TitanicA secret. A key. Much was buried when the Titanic went down, but now it’s time for resurrection.

April 1912 – Olive Stanford boarded the Titanic determined to protect all she held dear. Her secret will go with her to the grave—but how can she face the afterlife carrying the burden of her actions?

April 2012 – Portland real estate agent, Ember Keaton-Jones, distrusts men, with good reason. Ever since her great-great-grandfather, Thomas, deserted the family after the fateful sinking of the Titanic, every Keaton male has disappointed. Ember is on the brink of a huge sale when a stranger shows up with a key to a century-old secret challenging everything she believes. She meets forward-thinking Jeff Dawson who is working in the family’s musty antique shop and finds an unexpected ally in unlocking the mystery of her past. But can they undo the legacy of Thomas Keaton’s betrayal?

(PS, don’t forget that if you leave a comment on any of my BLOG posts between now and Easter, your name will go in for a drawing for a book. Winner gets either The Joy of Letting Go, by Vicki Caruana or Colors of Hope, by Lisa Joy Samson.)

The Joy of Letting Go 3 (Influencing Destiny)

Today’s interview with Vicki Caruana, author of The Joy of Letting Go, probes the issues around our role in our children’s future and identity. (Past interviews interviews include the process of letting go and how our approach to letting go helps with the transitions to college.)

Vicki, The Joy of Letting Go offers 52 daily readings that help parents by offering grace and wisdom in the letting go process. I loved the title of Day 5, “Alma Mother.” The wisdom of that particular reading is something I hold dear. One of my most passionate beliefs is that only God has the right to shape someone’s destiny. I don’t mean that parents/spouses/friends don’t get to give positive input; I mean that in the end, God and the person get to choose his or her path and destiny. You quote Psalm 16:11 which says, “You make known to me the path of life” (NIV).

The psalmist is talking about God, not his mother (lol!). It’s really hard not to constantly think Momma knows best, but I know that even when I do have a “better” way for my child, it’s his or her life not mine.  And sometimes God is orchestrating something very different than I would. You wrote, “Sometimes what you think is the best choice may not be the right choice. We need to allow our kids to tell us they don’t like peas so they don’t have to resort to hiding them under their mashed potatoes.”

What are some warning signs that we’ve fallen into the “momma knows best” trap?

Well, momma does know best! It’s funny. . . I’ve spent a lot of time promoting that parents know their kids better than anyone else and can and should be their greatest advocates. As a teacher I know this is true. But I also know that we tiptoe (or should) around being an advocate without being an adversary. There are times when going to bat for your child is warranted, while at other times it will only delay their development into independent and responsible adults. There is a tug of war always being waged. It began when they were about three years old and said to us “I do it by myself!” They’ve been telling us in so many words that they know what they want and would like the chance to make their own decisions. When we fall into the trap of basically sending them away with just a pat on their sweet little heads as if to say, “Oh, aren’t you just the cutest?” and disregard the assertion of authority over their own lives, we foster one of two responses. They’ll either hide their peas under the mashed potatoes or they will throw their peas at you in a food fight!  Many of our kids may not be developmentally ready to confront us and assert their independence. But don’t mistake their compliance with agreement. Eventually they will find a way to live their lives on their own terms; it may not be in a positive life-giving way if we silence their disagreement.

One of your daily reading is entitled, “Lord , Shut My Mouth!” Talk a little bit about the danger of our words (and unspoken attitudes!) in the letting go process.

It is said that silence means agreement, but the silent treatment conveys just the opposite. So it isn’t always a matter of keeping your mouth shut about what we think about our children’s decisions; it’s about being discerning about the power our words or our silence has on our children’s confidence. I picture walking hand in hand with our son – Chip on one side and me on the other – and we hold on tight and if we come to a puddle on our path, we lift our son up and over it. That only works when they’re two to five years old. After that, they’re too big to lift up over that puddle. I can walk side by side with our son and point out the puddle, but it’s up to him to step over or around it. If he doesn’t pay attention, he’s going to find himself ankle deep in muddy water. Do I say “I told you so”? Do I belittle his lackluster efforts to avoid the puddle? No. I myself step around the puddle before us and keep walking. When he catches up, he’s learned that he needs to watch where he steps.

In that same entry you talk about how sometimes it is good to speak wise words, but even in this how sometimes they will fall on deaf ears. How can one know when to speak and when to be silent?

Knowing when to speak and knowing when to be silent is very individual. Each situation, each child-parent relationship requires its own discernment. I still believe in the litmus test that if there is danger for a child’s mind, body, or soul you must speak up. But if it is a matter of preferences, likes and dislikes, then my opinion is let it go. All of this may fly out the window if our kids come directly to us for advice. Once they do that, the door opens and I guess so does my mouth!

You talk about the very real angst of watching our children make decisions we know will bring them pain. Is it our job to protect from pain?

Angst – yes, that’s the perfect word for this experience! I’m not convinced it’s my job to protect them from pain. I do believe it’s my job to keep them safe. As our children grow into their own “firsthand faith”, they will learn, just as we have, that suffering – and with it often pain – is part of our perfecting; it’s part of our good and God’s good purposes. Admittedly, watching my sons make decisions I suspect will bring them pain brings me straight to my knees! Maybe that’s where God wanted me all along.

What about decisions that seem contrary to how we raised them? How can we wisely navigate this situation?

This is happening to all of us – I doubt any of us can escape it in one form or another. I recognize that it can be disappointing, discouraging, and maybe embarrassing. After all, how often do we post on Facebook that our son no longer goes to church or that our daughter has dropped out of college? We don’t or if we do, we’re really looking for sympathy from our friends.  Those realities are benign compared to what is really going on in the lives of parents of teens and young adults. Again I compare this to our relationship with God. How often do we stray from how He raised us? He is so set on relationship with us that He chooses to love and to remain steadfast with arms wide open even as we run around like our yellow lab, Bella, after a squirrel in our backyard. Make home a safe place always to come home to and remain steadfast. That way, when our children run in a zigzag after that squirrel, they still know they can come back to you because they can rely on you being right where they left you – with arms wide open.

Friends, I find myself constantly on my knees asking the LORD to guide my adult children and to show me when to speak and when to be silent. Perhaps that’s why today’s questions with Vicki were especially meaningful to me. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did! We’ll have one more interview with Vicki on Friday. Looking forward to sharing an excerpt from her book!

Don’t forget: Vicki Caruana and Lisa Samson, who I interviewed last week, both offered to do a giveaway. So . . . if you comment on my blog between now and Easter, your name will go into a drawing for one of their books!

Until Friday,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

The Joy of Letting Go is available now from:frannie.jpg

“Vicki lovingly mixes her sense of humor, wisdom, and insights together in such a way that I know my friends will love this devotional as much as I do. Even though my own children are forty, thirty-eight, and thirty-seven, and I have a grandson in the Air Force, the challenge to find joy in the letting go remains. This devotional helps moms of all ages do just that. I’ll be picking up multiple copies as gifts.”
Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love