Tromping on All or Nothing (Again)

Peace in the midst of chaos. Balance. You’d think I’d be better at it. I’ve had ample opportunity to learn.

I think (hope) I’ve made progress in cultivating joy in times of emotional struggle and sorrow. But old habits creep up in new places.

During early marriage there were a few phrases I heard often from my husband. One was, “it’s not all or nothing, honey.”

Here on A Benew Journey we’ve talked often about taking back our lives. I shared my story of how being benched help me learn to care about my own needs and find a healthier lifestyle, prioritizing my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Enter the new test of balance: Overwhelming Good!

When my husband and I returned  from helping go through my mother-in-law‘s home we were emotionally and physically fatigued. God and loved ones met us with a wonderful surprise. A friend told me she’d prayed for years for an opportunity to bless our family. This came when she was able to gift us not only materials for a face-lift to parts of our home, but also her expertise. Having just remodeled her own house, she knew how to do things we didn’t.


While we were gone she and our children dug in, pulling down old, out-dated wallpaper, emptying shelf after shelf of books, and reshaping the walls so they would look beautiful when painted.


Notice the gratitude wall in the hallway . . .

Then my friend ordered the materials to rebuild our ancient privacy fence. These answers to years of prayer overwhelmed me with gratitude. After taking a day to unpack and assimilate, I dug in thinking I’d have a brand-new family room in a week, and that if the boys helped on a week-end we’d have the post holes dug. My friend and I could leisurely add the other boards while my husband was at work.


It’s not quite what happened. We are on day 19 or 20 of the family room project, and only about half the holes are dug and filled with cement and a new pole. (And that much only happened with several friends pitching in.)

This morning I felt the call to be still. To talk these wonderful (though somewhat challenging) situations over with the Lord. I have other work to do, commitments to keep. I’ve been skipping my walks (isn’t painting enough exercise?) and giving into less healthy food choices out of exhaustion. I want to bury myself in this project. To GET IT DONE.

This morning I realized it isn’t just the bad that gets me out of balance. It’s the good. The exciting projects. The work I love. I felt His whisper, His reminder to be on guard against all or nothing living. (I guess He and Jerry are on the same page.) That what is accomplished in this day is sufficient. That healthy choices are important and pushing too long and hard, even in the good things, is a step backward not only in my physical health journey, but my joy. In my life.

There will always be overwhelming tasks. It is my goal to be a wildly productive woman. But if I forget the moments–If I don’t embrace life on the overwhelmingly busy days, then I’m back to square one, rushing, but not living. Meeting goals without enjoying the beauty of moments well lived.

I painted over my gratitude wall, my 1000 little breathless moments recorded in multi-colored magic marker. (We won’t talk about how many coats of paint it took to cover the marks of the orange sharpies!) As we painted I felt those thanksgivings were the foundations of the new, beautiful space. The color I chose is called “refreshed.” And that’s what noticing life’s good moments did for me, it refreshed my heart, helped it live more fully alive.


Beneath these beautiful, refreshed walls is a foundation of 1,000 moments of beauty, things noticed by choice, by slowing down and savoring. Gifts from the hand of Creator God who gives all good things.

My BeNew journey continues. When the good (or difficult) things in life bring unexpected responsibilities, when something wonderful happens that requires more hours than I dreamed, I can’t live all or nothing, throwing myself into conquering the project. I’m learning to prioritize life. The moments. The beauty. The healthy choices that keep me strong for the next project.

Two days ago I completed bookshelf #1. Non-fiction neatly alphabetized and housed in cases of misty surf and calming celadon. (blue-gray and green)


Do not be deceived. This bookcase is now full!

Tomorrow I’ll paint and hang a homemade bookcase for my fiction collection. Or maybe that will wait until next week. But it will get done. And I will chose to sleep. To be responsible with other commitments and not just bury in this project. I will take time to make Sam homemade biscuits. I will pray. Enjoy the outdoors. Breath the fragrance of fall and actually notice it.

How about you, my friend? Are you resisting tunnel vision? Are you living life, breathing in the breathless moments, or just conquering time?

As you work, embrace joy. See the faces of those you love. Hear their words. Taste your food. Have a little fun . . .

IMAG0586Until Next Time,

moldenhauer signature3



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17 thoughts on “Tromping on All or Nothing (Again)

  1. Caryl Kirtley October 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm Reply

    Well said and definitely something I needed to hear!! Thank you, my friend! (And, SOOO thrilled for your home makeover, yea!!)

    • Paula Moldenhauer October 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm Reply

      You and Mike will have to come and stay with us and see it! ;o)

  2. Joyce McCall October 10, 2014 at 12:58 am Reply

    I love your writing. Great reflections and beauty in your thoughts.

  3. Rebekah October 10, 2014 at 1:27 am Reply

    That last picture is so inspiring. 🙂

    • Paula Moldenhauer October 10, 2014 at 3:09 am Reply

      I thought it communicated! Leave it to my youngest and my son-in-law to turn hard work into fun.

  4. paulfg October 10, 2014 at 5:46 am Reply

    “It is my goal to be a wildly productive woman.”

    Within a beautiful post, that phrase stuck with me. That each of us is blessed with a different passion – and living with that passion and our one life is what makes each of us unique: the way we each “balance” each day, each challenge, each frustration, and each choice. And then add the dynamics of relationships and …. wheeeeeeee …. 🙂

    • Paula Moldenhauer October 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm Reply

      Paul, I firmly believe God has plans for me that He has not yet fully revealed. Part of me fears them because I love being home-centered and so much of my past has been driven and overwhelmed. He is teaching me that I can step into greater destiny without giving up the new-found peace, the joy in simplicity, the love of quiet, family, home. It’s not the just the pace, it’s the attitude. Not just the tasks, but the way we approach them. He has spent years healing me of performance driven behavior. Now He’s teaching me to perform without the driven stuff, the tense stuff. To seek beauty and peace and joy even as I work hard, To stop having tunnel vision.

      • paulfg October 10, 2014 at 8:31 pm

        I think you are right. And I think that applies in different, but similar, ways for all of us if we allow and trust. Walking in faith. Real steps with all the real “stuff” that goes with it. My learning? I will make you enough if you allow, Paul. It’s the “allowing” bit I struggle with.

  5. […] Puzzle piece 1: Paula Moledenhauer: “Tromping on all or nothing again” – […]

  6. realchange4u October 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm Reply

    Seeing God in his creation.Love this reminder. Be blessed.

  7. Susan Irene Fox October 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm Reply

    What a GREAT reminder. I get in that get-it-done-now mode, too, then wind up exhausted and depressed. Thanks, Paula. Perfect timing.

    • Paula Moldenhauer October 12, 2014 at 10:21 pm Reply

      Hi Susan! Thank you for the kind words. So glad this encouraged you!

  8. Marie Keates October 13, 2014 at 7:15 am Reply

    I’m starting afresh too. My blog was hacked. I’ve lost it all. Some may be salvageable given time, we shall see. I’m starting over with just like you painted over the gratitude wall. The blog may be gone but the memories remain. Paula, please, please, please back up your blog! This is happening to lots of WordPress users.

    • Paula Moldenhauer October 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm Reply

      Oh Marie! That’s awful. Thank you for the advice. I will try to learn how to do that soon. Heading over to your new blog now!

  9. Does God Shop? | A BENew Journey November 5, 2014 at 11:00 am Reply

    […] whole new family room thing is a bigger deal than most of you know. I’ve prayed for at least ten years to be able […]

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