Monthly Archives: May 2014

Photo Phobia? Oh, Brother.

Remember my post a while back about totally freaking out that I had a photo shoot? That I almost canceled because I felt so insecure about everything: how I looked, the few pounds I”d gained in the last couple of months of grief, having the “right” clothes, and all that silly girl stuff.

I write this blog with tears in my eyes.IMG_5685art 567x720

I love my photos. A friend who prayed me through my freak-out told me, “your smile is genuine and sweet.”

Oh, grace upon grace. A genuine smile after all that self-deprecating crap I’d put myself through.

These photos are a complete and total gift. I can’t wait to update the photos on my author website. (Those photos, too, were a complete and perfect gift at the time. That photographer, Kim Liddiard, is amazing.) But 50 plus pounds of weight loss was also a gift, and I look forward to the new-sized me on that site, too.

I’m still awed that my Creator saw fit to let me be a BENew beta tester and to help me through the physical and mental changes necessary to drop the extra pounds.

And now He does it again, abundance overflowing, with new head shot, a gift of Sandy Puc Photography. The ladies behind the camera did much to help bring forward my “genuine” smile, as you know from the post I wrote that day. They had a gift for making me comfortable as well as for capturing the real me. The gals there helped me pick the best shots when I felt overwhelmed, and the generosity of the studio blows me away. I can see why my friend and fellow author Megan DiMaria enjoys working there, and I’m grateful she mentioned me to them when they were talking about photographing women who’d gone through weight loss.

My heart is full.

To think I almost squandered this gift out of fear of not being “enough” that day. Oh, Jesus, will I ever learn?

Why, oh why do I fear the good things You give to me and to my family.

Help me to accept your gifts opened-handed, without fear, without worrying that I am not enough to handle them. Help me not to hide when you want me to step out.

Thank you, faithful blogging friends for your support on my scared day. Thank you for cheering me even when I can’t do that for myself. Thank you for helping me be vulnerable by telling me it matters to you and helps you be real, too.

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Until Next time,

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Fighting for Grace

Can I let it all hang out?

My fight to breathe in grace?

Some people are recovering alcoholics; I’m a recovering perfectionist. Which means, at its root, I’m a recovering religious legalist.

My desperate desire is to please and follow God. I want to be sweet and love Him and be loved by Him.

But as much as I long for perfection in this, I just can’t be perfect.

Sometimes I’m salty, not sweet.

20140526_133259My kitchen floor issue is still not resolved. We’re pulling up boards trying to find all the water, trying to let things dry out. I’m struggling to manage kitchen duty (and we’re one of those families that rarely eat out, don’t use pre-packaged food, and consume LOTS, so kitchen duty is a big deal) in a difficult situation.

Yesterday I chose to bake banana cake, Seth’s favorite. He’s home from college and well, it’s one of our love languages. And there is never a reason around here to do a single recipe, so of course I doubled it.

I’m leaning over floor boards that have been pulled up and stepping into cracks of sub-floor to try to work without further damaging my beautiful boards. (There’s a point.)

I’m ready to put the bananas in the batter, but Stephen pulls out a spoon and has a taste, one of his favorite things since childhood. His face scrunches up in distaste. I scoop a little into my mouth. It’s terrible. We add more sugar. No improvement. I taste the sugar. It’s bitter. Salty. I have no idea what 20140526_134405happened, but it was good for nothing but to be thrown away.

And I can’t help but think of myself like that canister of sugar. I want to be sweet. I’m supposed to be sweet. But I’ve been salty.

And something as non-life-changing as a dishwasher leaking under my favorite floor is what is tipping me over the edge. (There’s plenty of more important stuff I’m navigating, and I seem to handle that. But my floor! My beautiful floor!!)

I was mostly salty at God. I said some nasty stuff about Him to a friend. I don’t like to talk bad about those I love, and it hurts that I did.

And sometimes when I’m a jerk I think I should be thrown out like I threw out that salt. If I’m not sweet, I’m not doing my job, so just toss me in the trash.

But I KNOW that is my old mindset creeping in. Legalism. Pride. I’ve never been sweet all through every moment, and I never will be. It’s not my goodness that makes me close to God, it’s HIS.

My behavior is not going to separate me from God because Jesus’s behavior when He offered Himself on the cross is what connected God and me in the first place. It’s what keeps me connected long-term.

But I felt that old self-censure creeping in. That inability to believe I was worthy of His love when I was so nasty. That secretly He was a God who would withhold His gifts because I wasn’t being a good daughter.

So I typed a plea to a safe circle of friends asking them to pray, to help me hold onto Truth and not give into the old thought patterns. I wrote, “I know know know that God’s blessings are not dependent upon my perfection. I know that He forgives freely . . . I have been really angry with Him and acting like an entitled jerk. I’m struggling to get over my anger and to also to believe what my head knows, that I was forgiven for the awful things I said to and about Him even as I said them.

I know if one of my kids talked that way to/about me I would have been really hurt, yet I expect God to just take it from me and still open the floodgates of heaven and help me. It seems wrong.

Then I wonder about grace and unconditional love, and I suspect the root of my struggle is actually about not opening my heart to this grace, to this forgiveness, that my self-censure is returning to old crap . . .”

And one of my friends replied with the Truth and grace I already knew but struggled to receive, “There is NOTHING you can say to Him that hasn’t already been said. NOTHING you can do that hasn’t already been done. Peter argued with the LORD all the time. Paul was a murderer. David was an adulterous AND murderer. Abraham was a coward. Moses had no faith. Joseph was prideful. Jacob wrestled with the LORD to the point he had to have his hip dislocated.

“Paula, there is NOTHING God sees but your heart. It is a human heart that struggles with everyday life, yet when push comes to shove still leans on its Creator. Your relationship is so close that you can be honest with your God. DO NOT look at the Father-child relationship you have in human terms. God’s love is NEVER performance driven. Think of all the heroes we read about in the Bible and they all messed up big time. But they had one thing that the LORD loved more than anything–honesty before their King. That, my dear, sweet Paula, is what you have. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise.”

And so for the past two days I’ve told myself what I already know: God’s love is never performance-driven.

God’s love is never performance-driven.

God’s love is never performance-driven.

Always God’s love is mine, given freely, spilling all over me without measure. I don’t have to be a perfect child to access it. Even when I blow it He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves me.

And instead of casting me aside when I’m salty, he patiently remakes me into His image.

20140526_134248I baked those cakes over again, using good, sweet sugar. And they were the blessing I hoped they would be.

The blessing I want to be and often fall short of.

But GLORY-BE (southern roots showing here) like cakes I, too, can be remade.

Say a prayer for me, my friends . . .

Until next time,

paula cropped

Water Under the Floor

It’s not earth-shattering, Lord.

It’s not death or disease.

But even such a little thing can feel like destruction.

Even such a little thing is an assault on your gifts.

And they were your gifts.

In a time of financial empty you gave them to me, one at a time, over the long season of want.

A dishwasher and a new floor.

Both hand-me-down gifts that looked brand new.

I should have paid closer attention when something didn’t seem right in front of the dishwasher. Why did I wait until the beautiful floor seemed to buckle before sounding the alarm?

My heart dropped as the dishwasher was pulled from the cabinets and we saw the gush of water.

I cried as we began pulling up my beautiful floor, one long gorgeous board at a time.

We don’t live in financial nothingness now. But we’re still unprepared for this expense in this season of college bills and baseball teams.

Habit has long taught me to worry at such times.

But it has also taught me to give my worries to you.

That floor was your promise to me that all that was wrong in my home could be provided for in a snap when you chose to move.

Not only were the boards themselves a gift, the labor of love, the weekend of friendship was from you, too.

But hanging onto the gratitude is a bit testy while I watch my gorgeous floor boards crumble from the wet, smell the rank of saturated sub floor.

I’m not sure how to deal with this, Lord.

Even if there are enough scraps in the garage for the repairs, we don’t know how to cut and lay them.

And there is the issue of the gaping hole where a dishwasher used to be.

(I’m not thrilled about doing the volume of dishes we go through by hand, Lord.)

I want to fight through to gratitude and hope and praise and faith.

After all, if you cared enough to give me these gifts back then, isn’t such still important to you now?

The floor that my sweet family has walked upon, where I have fed precious children meal after meal. The room I’ve opened to guests, no matter how we had to crowded around my small table.

You care about my floor.

You care about my dishwasher.

You own the cattle on a thousand hills. This is not even pennies to you, this repair, this new provision.

Guilt whispers to remember all I have in this land of America. That I have dishes. Food to put in them. A comfortable home, pretty floor or not. Guilt says I should not care so much about such things as broken appliances and broken beauty.

But you’ve been showing me that your voice isn’t guilt.

You teach me to care about others, look for ways to serve and give, but not to pretend I don’t care about my own needs because they seem petty compared.

My needs and desires are my own.

And they are important to you, the hopes of this mom in America, just the same as the hopes of a mother in Africa who today prays for more immediate, life-giving needs.

I won’t live in guilt. I won’t pretend I don’t feel this need.

I won’t live in the knee-jerk hopelessness and worry of the past.

I will live in faith of provision.

I will live in the Truth that You see and care.

I will remember the provisions of the past and look to the provisions of the future, no matter what form they take.

Friends, I started praying with pen and journal this morning, talking to the God who Loves about this issue (and others). But this little blog beckoned, this place where I’ve chosen to be vulnerable about the big things and small. This place where I’ve asked for prayer, and it has been given.

I’m not sure why I choose to share this mundane problem. Maybe because I so desire to take a stand for hope and faith and to it in front of the whole of the Internet seemed definitive. Maybe because I know some of your stories and how my little tales of provision have given you hope in your own long season of want. Maybe because I know some of you will whisper a prayer for my attitude and my provision. Maybe just because we’re journeying together, you and me, and this is today’s journey.

As I type I whisper a pray for your journey of this day. Whether issues are big or small assualt or whether it is a day of sheer ease, I ask Him to bless you, to provide for you, to show His love. I pray that you have hope and faith. That neither you or I try to ease the stress by stuff that never fixes anything, like pigging out on cheese dip and chips. ;o)

Until Next Time,

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Photo Phobia

Is it a girl thing or a darkness thing?

Or both?

Before I opened my eyes this morning the heaviness attacked. The insecurities. The “less-thans.”


Because I had an appointment for a professional head shot.

All this angst over a picture?!?!

I don’t even mind being in front of a camera. Flashing my smile comes naturally.

But I almost cancelled.

Tears threatened. Voices assaulted from inside myself.

Look at those bags beneath your eyes. Make-up is not going to cover them.

You don’t have the right clothes. In fact, you never do. Even if you had lots of money to spend on them you wouldn’t know good taste.

And then I did something really smart.

I got on the scale. To torture myself, I guess. I knew I’d put on a little weight with all the hospital stays, grief, and inactivity of the last couple of months. I knew this and have been combating it. Walking again. Backing off the high calorie food (well, except for at the graduation party this weekend). So why, this particular morning, did I find it important to ascertain the exact number on the scale?

You’ve gained a few pounds. It’s going to show.

Wasn’t this picture supposed to be about the new, slimmer you?

How are you going to smile when you feel this way? It is a wasted effort.

I  would have chickened out except for one thing.

The photo session was a gift. A friend of mine encouraged the studio where she works to offer a free professional head shot in recognition of my weight loss so I could update my website.

How could I run from such generosity?

“Honey,” I told my husband. “I’m in one of those moods. If I talk to you about it you’re going to be frustrated, and it won’t be helpful, so this is me NOT talking about it. But would you please pray for me?”

“Is this about clothes for the picture?” His words trailed away as I stomped off, leaving him to take up my ridiculous attitude with God.

(My dear hubby likes to solve problems, and frankly when a girl feels fat and ugly and like she has no classy clothes a man can’t fix that.)

I cried to God above for mercy from my girl self. Emailed my closest praying friends and admitted my nasty girl moment. Asked them to pray that God’s joy would shine from me in those pictures even though I wanted to stay home, curl up, and cry.

I felt bloated and ugly and insecure and teary. I’d blame it on the monthly only I *think* I’m past all that at the ripe age of 48.

I grabbed my Body Balance and then my metabolism booster. Had some protein and a cup of coffee. Climbed into a hot shower.

The prayer and the water washed over me, and the darkness began to lift.

I put on eye shadow thinking I should have someone teach me how to properly apply it. Thinking I should have done this picture thing when my talented daughter with the cosmetology license was off work to make sure I looked right. Temptation to return to my inadequacy diatribe beckoned.

But I’d determined not to flake out, so instead I pulled out the mascara, dried my hair, and picked out my jewelry.

As I kissed my hubby good-bye he grabbed my hands and slowed my exit. “You. Are. Absolutely Stunning.”

Maybe husbands can help fix this dark girl stuff. Not forever silence it, but help.

I climbed into the car wondering where all the angst came from. Was it as simple as being a woman? Did it go back to the years of obesity? The lean years when I couldn’t buy new clothes?

Or was it deeper and more insidious?

Flipping radio stations between Christian music and the country stations, I sought positive input. It was  a love song from a country band that further shook me from my insecurities. Like God was asking me to receive those words from Him–romantic, loving words that said I was beautiful, important, and worth His notice.

I breathed deep of that idea.

Remembered HE made me. And I’d been dissing His handiwork.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s what you said, God. Thank you for making me. That You think I’m beautiful.”

When I finally pulled into the parking lot of the studio 45 minutes later I felt almost myself. No more lurking tears and only a touch of all that insecurity.

The session was actually fun. The photographers didn’t turn a critical eye to my clothing choices, just sweetly helped me make the best decisions. They pulled out that huge camera with the long lens and said things like:


You’re a natural!

You’ve got that joy thing going.

Love that smile.

You look great!

I told the ladies it would be cool if they’d just follow me around every day saying those things to me.

They laughed. I did, too.

But what if?

What if every time the darkness said I was ugly, fat, inadequate and without taste I’d said back, “I’m beautiful! I look great. Love my smile! I’m a natural!”


Why do we women find it so easy to be critical and so hard to be good to ourselves?

Why can’t we just embrace the beauty within?

Why can’t we simply believe in it? In ourselves?

Until Next Time,

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PS I started writing this yesterday but didn’t get it posted. Today I wonder what was so hard. The happy ending is that the pictures turned out great. I’ll post the two shots I chose when the final photos come in a few weeks. All that angst . . . for what?

Becoming a Novelist

A piece I wrote about the journey to becoming a novelists is featured today on Between Sundays. I’d love it if you’d check it out!

Here’s an excerpt:

If I’d known how much I had to learn, I may never have started my first novel. But, full of naiveté, I plunged into the process, asking the Holy Spirit to lead me. The first draft was fun to write. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer to see what would happen next. I laughed and cried as I typed away, causing my husband to shake his head in disbelief . . .

Click here for the rest of the story.

A Mom Releases Her Graduate

2Overwhelming gratitude. It is my offering today.

To the One.

See, from the beginning the world tried to crush this child of my heart.

In utero medication assaulted him. We prayed it would be of no consequence, this medication known to cause cleft palate.

Even in birth the struggle was more than normal. Those strong, wide shoulders, the shoulders that would one day carry so much, lodged and wouldn’t budge. His own body sought to block entrance. Stuck, even before he’d seen the world.

But he came through.

Near death at 9 months, hospitalized. Pale skin belying the life within. Struggling again for the very breath to survive. This baby who demanded solid food much earlier, who never seemed to be full, refused to eat. But he survived. Stephen is an overcomer.

Then a toddler, so cute with that white blond hair. Diaper crackling as he ran up and down, up and down the hallway, straight bowl-cut hair bouncing. Swish. Swish. Big smile.

Oh, Stephen!

This post is for you.

The joys and struggles.

Even then the tears. “I not talk good!” You wept when I couldn’t see your lips to discern your thoughts, and the words from your car seat floated out unintelligible as I drove, eyes on the highway.

It pierced me, that cry of desperation. One so young fighting to be heard.

I weep even now as I type.

But we fought together. You, me, Dad, and Jesus.

Cried out for answers.

And we fed you.

Lots of food.

Even then your auntie joked she’d done the grocery shopping so you could come over.

Free speech therapy came with preschool. Me, the mom who homeschooled, driving you to a public world at such a tender age. I fought for services if you went half-time instead of full, and they relented.

God gave you a teacher who loved you. Who saw your beautiful heart. We watched Angels in the Outfield, and you couldn’t understand how a daddy wouldn’t want his son. You talked and talked about it to me, to your teacher. She saw your compassion, and she cared. The last day of preschool she whispered to me, “Keep doing what you’re doing, Mom. Homeschool. The difference shows.” This public school teacher cheered me on.

Your speech teacher was awesome, continuing with you once you were school-aged, but she was also quick to point out to me any area she felt you were behind the public schooled children. It was silly, really. Different classrooms learn different things at different times. I know. I taught public school before you came. But I smiled and taught you to count to 100 or to do whatever little task she found deficient. At one point she mentioned that you made some sounds she’d never heard before except in children with cleft palate.

And I knew. God had answered my prayers.

The medication had sought to deform, but He didn’t let it, protecting you even in the womb. He allowed only a little whisper of a noise so we would know He had stood guard. Had protected from greater sorrow.

Even as that speech teacher said you were now “too good” for her services, she warned that you’d struggle in school.

I didn’t want to hear it.

I kept working with you. Held onto my philosophy that children, especially boys, be allowed to develop at their own rate.

I prayed. Sought help. Found resources. We made race tracks that looked like 8s, drawing the circles over and over, crossing at the mid-line, teaching the brain hemispheres to communication. Did full body exercises to force your arms, your legs to cross mid-line.

Often you cried. Those positions were painful to you, the tasks tedious.

But you started forming letters in one stroke instead of many tiny pieces.

We gave you fish oil, grapefruit seed extract, and lecithin.

Fed you. Always you needed lots of food.

Reading was still hard. A resource said we should focus on teaching you to rhyme. And so we rhymed and rhymed and rhymed. It didn’t come naturally to you. But a little progress. A little forward movement resulted.

Even with all the frustration reading lessons were a joy. We did lessons reading from a Toddler Bible, and you’d ask questions, deep, spiritual questions. How could you understand so much, make such spiritual connections at 4, 5, 6?

It took you a long time to learn to ride your bicycle. Even after I could no longer stay next to you, trying to help you find balance, you fought on your own. Trying again and again as I peeked often out the window to make sure you were safe.

You never gave up. Eventually you rode that bike.

But over the years .  . . tears and questions. Both yours and mind.

In the day you would ask, “Why is it so hard?”

“God has big plans for your life, Stephen.” My answer didn’t change. “He is teaching you perseverance. When you are old, and he gives you a task that really matters, you won’t give up like so many people would. You will do it because you learned as a child to work hard and never quit. You have something important, something good to do someday.”

“But why can’t I be good at something now?”

And in the night I would cry, begging God to help my son and to show me how to help him, too.

“Pray,” I’d tell you when the task overwhelmed. “Ask God to help you.”

And I watched character emerging. Tenacity. Diligence. Patience. Compassion.

Gymnastics was recommended to force the body to deal with mid-line issues. You hated it. Felt inferior. I didn’t let you quit that session, but promised you wouldn’t have to go back if you didn’t want to. Moldenhauers would not be quitters, but I also wouldn’t torture you.

Tenuous, this balance between stretching you without defeating.

Swim lessons helped. In-line hockey did what gymnastics didn’t, and the balance improved. Still, you struggled. Held your feet and head funny when you ran the bases in baseball.

Took three times as long as normal on school work.

But you didn’t give up. You worked so hard.

And I cried in private. It shouldn’t be so hard. You shouldn’t have to work that hard.

Please, God. I need answers.

And He led us to Anna’s House where you were treated for auditory, visual, and vestibular dysfunction.

Now a preteen you had your good days and bad. You hated the therapy. How it made you feel. You often fought it, but you didn’t quit.

Sometimes we both cried. Together and while hiding from each other.

I was mad at God. Mad I didn’t find this help sooner. That you suffered for so many years.

Now I know He had a plan.

The suffering produced more than ease ever could.

But then. Oh how it hurt.

But we set our faces like flint.

And you prevailed through NDD therapy, bi-lateral integration, listening therapy, and intensive phonetic and spelling sessions.

You took mixed martial arts and Anna cheered, telling me it would continue the bi-lateral integration you needed without all the specific exercises.

“He’ll catch up,” Anna said. “We’ve set him free to progress through normal developmental stages. It will all come.”

And slowly but surely it did.

I purposely put you with other teachers for your hardest subject, writing. I knew you wouldn’t believe me. I was only mom. But you were becoming a good writer. I thought if the other teacher told you it might stick.

You still talk about winning a giant gummy bear one day for the best short story in class. (Food. It’s always about the food.)

Even in classes your character shined. Your math teacher whispered that your calm, comforting spirit set the tone, even for her.

Suddenly you went from being the one without interests to having so many I couldn’t keep up. Baseball, guitar, mountain climbing, backpacking, mixed martial arts, volunteering, umpiring, teaching.

And always you were hungry. For food. For challenge.

The enemy tried to keep you stuck from the beginning. But now it was too late. You were moving forward. There would be no stopping the momentum.

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photo by the creative pixel

You loved your MMA instructor who taught you much about being a man who was strong and still compassionate, who helped you process how your physical strength and spiritual strength didn’t have to be opposed as a man of God. You became protective and your muscles hard as rock. We both cried when he left to be with Jesus forever.

Two varsity baseball letters. Continued straight A’s in your classes. Learning to lead as an umpire, standing tall as authority to people three times your age.

Then you were chosen, a waiting list of 60 who were not, to participate in the Outdoor Leadership Program. And you climbed mountains, explored caves, repelled down cliffs and floated in canyon rivers. Even there you stood out for the strength the struggles had birthed. And your peers elected you president. Said you were a strong leader. That you made them feel safe. That they could tell you cared.

You took a voice class, and the boy who once couldn’t hear pitch sang a solo for a full crowd. Sang well. And my young seventeen-year-old with the old soul fell in love with the greats from the past, singing Johnny Cash (much to his siblings’s chagrin).

Your diligence continued to pay off. The A’s came not just from your homeschooling momma, but from FACE teachers, Warren Tech, Front Range Community College, and Red Rocks Community College. When you did poorly on your first quiz in College Algebra you dug deeper, then earned a 92%.

But I worried about standardized testing. Though your work was no longer debilitatingly hard, you still read a little slow. If the ACT would just give you extra time I knew you would shine.

But they didn’t believe you needed it, despite all the hoops I jumped through to get you more time. I was mad, but you weren’t.

I think you were relieved.

You took the test without accommodations. Didn’t want any special attention. The score wasn’t what you could have done if you’d been allowed to work at your speed, but it proved you could perform at the college level. And that score, combined with your 4.0, earned you a merit scholarship to college.

Tomorrow you graduate, oh son of my heart. In front of a full auditorium I’ll be given 30 seconds to honor you. With your permission I will mention the struggle, not just the glow of success in these final years of high school. I have to. The success means multitudes more because of the challenge.

And now my tears start again.

How can I ever express how proud I am of my Stephen, my overcomer, my gentle giant, my warrior son, my Jesus and people-lover?

How can I truly honor the sacrifices you made to become all you could be, the way you dug deep, worked with diligence, fought through what could have destroyed you and came out a victor?

I’ll shout my gratitude to the world. Feed you mounds of food and throw a big party. It’s a process, this letting go.

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photo by the Creative Pixel

I’ve already released you to manhood. I had no choice, really. You embodied maturity. I’ll never forget how when my momma ways were too . . . momma-ish . . . you’d stand tall next to me, wrap a muscled arm gently around my shoulders, look me in the eye, and say, “I can handle this. I know what I’m doing. It will be okay.”

And I knew you were right.

But now I have to say good-bye, and oh how my heart breaks and greatly rejoices at the same time!

In a couple of weeks you’ll leave for the summer, working with kids, sharing God’s love at a camp in the mountains. And then you’ll be off to college. So far away.

I release you, my child, this six foot man of courage and compassion, of strength and gentleness, of perseverance and faith. I release you to live out your integrity, your diligence, your wisdom, strength, skills, and abilities. I know you will continue to be a good thinker. To serve others. To stand tall.

I offer you as a gift to this big ole world that tried to crush you, keep you stuck, hold you back. I send you flying forth, strong and confident. You will make the world a better place.


Thank you for indulging this momma. As I’ve said before we writer types process by typing it all out, and so I write. 

BTW, if you have a child with learning struggles, maybe there is something in my journey that can help you. I wrote the following articles to give hope and help to families struggling with learning: Tips for the Struggling Reader, My Hand in His: Homeschooling Through Learning DisabilitiesConfronting the Learning Disabilities Lie, An Interview with Anna Buck. You can also find several articles on parenting at my website or by putting Paula Moldenhauer into the search engine on

Until next time,

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Author Stuff – A Fun Interview

author ribbon


Ever curious about the other me–the author Paula?

The ACFW Colorado Inkwell honored me by inviting me to interview as their Author Spotlight for May. There were some unique questions and I had a lot of fun.

Here’s a taste:

1. People often say that writing and publishing a book is like birthing a baby. You’ve raised four children. What have you learned from that experience that helped with birthing your books?

What a fun question! Maybe the most important thing is comparing a first draft to a birth experience. We would never think a child is full grown just because he is born, but new writers too often think this way about first drafts. Birthing a first draft is a huge accomplishment and something to celebrate, but it is just the beginning of the book’s growing up. Most accomplished authors say they rewrite 5-15 times!

Another connection that comes to mind is how the birthing process itself differs with each book. My first child took 17 hours of labor. My second sailed through in under 2 hours. It’s the same with the books I’ve completed. Some took years to form, others were written in weeks. Some was excruciatingly painful to produce and others were (comparatively) easy… (Read more on the Inkwell!)

Until Next Time,

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Beauty in the Ordinary

20140505_144349-1-1My youngest son has a new girlfriend. She’s super cool and has a real heart for people. She’s traveled multiple times to third world countries, helped develop a video to promote a ministry to the poor in another country, serves little kids every week at church, and is constantly looking for ways to help women and girls who suffer.

All this and she’s only sixteen.

Last week she invited me to her house. She and her mom threw a jewelry party, only they weren’t raising money for themselves or working to get free product or even helping out a friend who had a small business. 100% of the profits of their party went to help women who need a safe place to live.

My girl and I went to the party, and my hubby joyfully encouraged me to spend money. I bought a gorgeous German silver piece and a less expensive, more whimsical set.

As much as I love the classy look of my more expensive necklace, I think my favorite is the other. It was made by a woman to dared leave a bad situation and believe she could have a new life. I’m not only impressed by her courage, I’m impressed by her ability to find beauty in places others wouldn’t.

See, the beads on my necklace are made from pinto beans.

Poor man’s food.

Polished and paired with silver.

This  woman saw beauty in the ordinary and dared to believe it could become something extraordinary. She took the raw materials available to her and created a fashion statement.

I wept when I showed the necklace and earrings to my husband. I want to be a woman who takes the mundane and makes it shine. Who sees art when others see dinner. Who takes whatever is at hand and reshapes it into beauty.

Who has eyes to see beyond.

Until next time,

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PS Been thinking about the possibilities of the Ditch the Can movement. Of how social network marketing could use this vehicle to raise funds for women like the one who made my necklace or to help orphans in Africa or buy school supplies. Dreaming about what it would look like to set up a chain of non-profits who helped support each other’s causes by building on each other. Anyone want to dream with me???

Ditch the Can, the Chair, the Dolrums


Ditching the Desert

I believe in giving oneself the space to heal after loss. That’s why I spent the last few weeks recuperating from the long hours of hospital stay 20140405_131421and eventual death of my beloved friend who was more like family. I slowed way down. Let the blog lie mostly silent. Spent a lot of hours in my (new) chair reading, being still. I’ve been taking time with the process. Throwing in the empty nest stuff I’m dealing with as well. Cleaning out old photos. Letting the tears drip. But even as I want to grieve well, I don’t want to live in the desert. And I certainly don’t want to gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. So I’ve been returning to healthier habits, taking my BeNew, walking, choosing raw spinach and strawberries and cashews. I’m going to walk through this valley, but I’m ditching the desert by making good, refreshing choices that aid the healing process.

Ditching the Chair

Okay, so we did get rid of the “famous” old blue recliner where I rocked all my babies. My daughter was20131222_140949 devastated, but not enough to give the worn out rocker a new home. But even as the old blue recliner goes, my memories do not. All four kids piled into one big heap. Babies nuzzling at the breast. Older kids, hot with fever and usually too old to held, clinging to Momma, rocking through the long night. Quiet hours pouring my heart into my floral journals. Whispers of heaven as I talk to God and listen to His responses to my questions and pleas. Hot tea sipped. Novels devoured along with the popcorn and chocolate. I loved that old blue recliner, but I release it just as I must release the long season of child-rearing. (But not before I proved that I lost enough weight that my brother and I could both fit in it!)

Ditch the Can

For me the Ditch the Can movement isn’t so much about ditching a Redbull or Five Hour Energy. I wasn’t IMAG3027-1-3really into those things. But what I do need to ditch is narrow perspectives. I’m ready to live a freer life on my terms, not tied to a publisher or a time-clock for income. DTC is kicking into gear for hubby and me, showing us what it’s like to live outside the boundaries of traditional thinking and to step into a place where we can ditch a lot of stuff like debt, miserly living, worry about finances, small thinking, and boxed in living. If you want to know more, visit my new page on this blog.



Ditch the Sitting

Okay. I’m still going to sit. I love  my new recliner, moved from Bernice’s house next door into my living room. I’m in that chair now, typing this blog, clinging to a bit of her presence.20140507_100115 But I’ve been sitting too much. Getting slow and stiff. This week I decided, “ENOUGH!!” I’ve clocked about 15 miles in my tennis shoes the last four days. I saw an airplane tail hanging out of a house, inhaled the fragrance of three different colors of lilacs, and strolled with a fluffy bunny (for real!). I walked with hubby and walked alone. I walked without a destination and I walked to Gunther Toody’s to have lunch with a friend. I walked in silence, strode forward while talking non-stop to my husband, and clocked multiple miles in prayer. I walked in the sunshine, the wind, and the drizzle. (I did stay home when it hailed, however.) And you know what? I loved it. Every step, every vista, every conversation and even the solitude. And walking makes me remember how it heals to get into the fresh air and notice things like bird song and flowers, lilac scents and cloud designs.

Ditching the Have-Tos

canopyDuring this season of transition and grief one thing I’m for sure ditching is the expectations I too often place upon myself to manage according to some arbitrary “have-to.” The world pushes us to rush through change, to get over sorrow, to perform instead of live. To do instead of be. I’m ditching the have-tos. I’m choosing to weep when I want to weep. To laugh when I want to laugh. To read a book even if there’s laundry. To take care of my heart and not just the dishes. Sure I’m prioritizing the stuff the calendar requires. I’m not advocating total negligence. I still believe in being responsible even in the season of grief. But I don’t have to rush through this time. I don’t have to perform, perform, perform. I give myself permission to “be.” For as long as I need to. For interludes throughout my day or week. To pause instead of push. To sit under a tree and stare upward.

Until next time,

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PS If there is a theme to these random reflections, maybe it’s ditching the doldrums. Choosing not to let the hard times of life steal away the good–like hope and dreams for the future, getting outside and enjoying blues skies, embracing good memories even as I allow for grief and season change. Even the time to mourn is ditching the doldrums. That, too, is good. Healthy.