Monthly Archives: December 2016

It Changed Everything

Gotta be honest. While I LOVE my beautiful tree and ornaments, this particular holiday season hasn’t been so great. But on Christmas Day I awoke and thought, “This is the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus coming for us in the moments of struggle. In the places of bondage. Where we need healing.” And so I worshiped.

I’m so grateful to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for coming as our Deliverer! For piercing the darkness and establishing His kingdom of Light. His coming changed everything. That is why I celebrate.

Wanted to share what I believe to be one of the best Christmas sermons I’ve heard. Hope you take time to ponder it. 

(Usually you can get video from I think there’s only audio right now because they take the week of Christmas off. Guessing there will be video next week if you prefer to watch instead of just listen.)

May God bless you with a very happy New Year, and may we all discover, at increasing depth, the love and freedom already ours in HIM.

Until next time,


My latest book, Soul Scents: Flourish, is now available. Or start with book one in the Soul Scents series, Soul Scents: Awaken, as you welcome the New Year. If you start with book one and follow the full series, you’ll have devotions for an entire year.

Just for Fun 3

That three-year-old I wrote about in one of the devotions I published here earlier in December grew into quite a woman. If you remember her love of Christmas trees from stories I told earlier, you’ll enjoy this glimpse into her grown-up living room.




Freedom carries on to the next generation. Another good reason to discover our own.

Thank you for sharing the journey!

Until next time,


Just for Fun 2

Yesterday I showed you our mountain adventure. Today the tree comes to my living room. Notice the special blanket that came to bless me all the way from Africa!


This is my third Christmas tree and the first year I added ornaments. The last two years we had only white lights, a reminder that Jesus’s brought light to a dark world. This year I felt released to add the ornaments. I sensed the LORD wanting me to remember how much I am loved. See, my tree was decorated by others. The balls, the snowflakes, the icicles, the ornaments–over the years love was poured out upon me in the form of these gifts, and I packed the treasures in a box until the day I could put them on a tree. Some of the decorations hanging here were given to me by students many years ago! I wish I could share all the stories, but I’ll just pick a few.

One friends teaches me to hang onto joy no matter what. She gave me this ornament several years ago. This year it dances upon my tree!


Many years ago our son was a competitive hockey player. We didn’t know he’d outgrown his skates, but found out they were two and a half sizes too small! We couldn’t afford to get him new skates, but someone told me the LORD told her to buy him skates. When she did, she sent us little skate ornaments and hope, peace, and faith hearts. These ornaments have been waiting almost ten years to hang on our tree! What a great reminder of God’s faithfulness. All praise to HIM!


This one was handmade by a woman who prays for the person she’s creating something for. She gave it to me the first year we had a tree.


This ornament was a gift in celebration of my first traditionally published book, Postmark: Christmas. My friend printed out the first page, cut it into strips, and curled them. It’s a reminder of how God blessed me with publication after all those years of praying and submitting and learning to write. That book released in 2012!


The year I got my first tree all kinds of surprises arrived in the mail and at my house. Lots of snowflakes from friends who knew about our snowflake cutting tradition. Here’s one.20161223_003158.jpg

Some decorations came from out of state. I’ll show you two. One is to commemorate a beach vacation and the other because that friend and I share an affection for Downton Abbey. I loved thinking of my special friends when I pulled the memories out of the box this year. So fun to finally use the little treasures!



The gifts kept coming this year! I love these snowflake balls!


I did buy this one myself to support women in Afghanistan who sew to provide food for their families.


Last but not least, I’ll share the most recent gift. This was handmade by a friend to honor the birth of our Savior AND to celebrate the release of Soul Scents: Flourish, which includes the Advent thoughts I shared last week.


Earlier this month I told you how our daughter, then three, told us she was going to get her own Christmas tree and how excited she was when, as a grown woman, she and her husband were staying with us when we got our first tree. I snapped a couple of pictures at her house this year. I’ll show you her tree tomorrow! Then I will move onto the New Year. Honest!

Until Next time!


Just for Fun

If you followed the Advent devotions the last month, you know how much I enjoy my Christmas tree. Thought you might think it fun to see a bit of this year’s tree saga. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking toward a blessed New Year!

1.  Borrowed hubby’s Carhartts for a trek in the mountains.


2. Recruited son and nephews with saw and muscles.


3. Asked for emotional support from a more experienced tree-picker-outer.


4. Had a terrible time choosing a big tree, but fell in love with this little one and was told I needed to saw it down myself. Felt a little sad, like it was sacrificing its young life for my pleasure. But not sad enough to let it live. (It’s very cute in my family room.)


5. After much debate found a tree that was greener (go lower on the mountain Auntie Paula, where there is more rain), tasted better (this one has a tinge of lavender), and was mostly well rounded for a mountain grown Douglas fir. The strapping young men were put in charge of the saw and the heavy lifting.


It was a fun adventure. My first time cutting down a live tree. Ever. Tomorrow I’ll show you what it looks like in my living room.

Win a Free Book!

I believe in the message God gave me in the Soul Scents series. I believe His truth and grace changes lives. Will you help me get the word out?rsz_pmapprov4-01

Let’s make it fun.

For an opportunity to win a Soul Scents book of your choice, do one or more of the following. For each thing you do, you will be entered one time:
1) Post about Flourish or any of the Soul Scents books with their Amazon links on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog (A ticket for each place/time you share!)
2) Leave a review on about any of the Soul Scents books. (A ticket for each book you review)
3) Send a group email to at least five friends telling them about one–or all–of the Soul Scents books. (Or email more people: 5 people=1 ticket!)

Then pop me a note at and tell me the ways you helped get the word out. (This is a contest based on trust. You don’t have to provide proof, just tell me what you did.) For each place you share I’ll enter your name in a drawing for the Soul Scents book of your choice! You can also choose between paperback or electronic versions. Contest closes on January 1st!

(And please share this post so others can participate!)


(Books are linked to Just click to view more information.)

Planted and Flourishing

In God’s eyes he was like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. But in our eyes there was no attractiveness at all, nothing to make us want him. We despised him and rejected him—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we didn’t care. ~ Isaiah 53:2–3, TLB

The verses. They sound like many of us, don’t they? Didn’t we feel the bitterest grief when those who should have loved us turned their backs? Haven’t we been despised? Felt unattractive? Been told we’re ugly?

And the soil of our lives. Oh my.

Many times it is dry and sterile ground.

Or maybe we only know the desert habitat.

Dry. Oh so dry.

But these verses describe the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.


Born in a lowly manger. Planted in the dry, sterile ground of Nazareth.

The thirty-year-old who had no place to lay his head.

The young man, cut down in the prime of His manhood, despised and rejected even as He saved.

He is a Savior acquainted with our grief.

Scripture says it was the “Lord’s good plan to bruise him and fill him with grief” (Isaiah 53:10, TLB).

But the passage doesn’t end there.

The next word is, “However.”

What a big difference such a simple word can make!

“However, when his soul has been made an offering for sin, then he shall have a multitude of children, many heirs. He shall live again, and God’s program shall prosper in his hands. And when he sees all that is accomplished by the anguish of his soul, he shall be satisfied; and because of what he has experienced, my righteous Servant shall make many to be counted righteous before God, for he shall bear all their sins. Therefore, I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great” (vv. 10–12).

After He suffered He was given many heirs, new life, a glorious role in a prospering plan, satisfaction, and honor.

There’s a however in our lives too.

This Jesus who flourished in such barren soil shows us how to do the same. He tells us to keep our eyes on Him and to watch how He did it. He let the shame fall away and surrendered to His Father’s plan. It led Him to glory, seated at the right hand of Almighty God (Hebrews 12).

In Isaiah, as God’s people surrender to His instruction, He gives this beautiful promise, “And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (58:11).

The Message says it this way:

“Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.

I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.

You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.

You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again” (vv. 10—12).

2013 Sarah's wedding

Don’t you love all those “re” words? Rebuild. Restore. Renovate. My friend, author and speaker Mary DeMuth, adds another “re” word. She says God will not only set us free, but will “re-story” our lives. “Many of us have hard stories,” writes Mary, “and those stories seem to be indelibly marked on us. And yet, Jesus intercedes. He restores and re-stories us, transforming our tale of woe into an epic of Whoa.”

Sounds like flourishing to me!

Father, take the rubble of my old life. Rebuild my foundations. Restore me. You’re the God who can fix anything, and I want to be known as one You’ve rebuilt, renovated, and re-storied. Bathe my life in sunlight. Make me like a well-watered garden, an ever-flowing spring. It’ll be even more grand, Lord, because of the parched places that tried to suck the life out of me. I can’t wait to see what You do in me!

Soul Scents: Flourish Available

The blogs I’ve shared this season are excerpted from the ending of Soul Scents: Flourish, the last book in the Soul Scents devotional series. It is now available in paperback and electronic versions on Amazon.

I invite you to come with me. To brave the deeper release. To seek Him for the deeper rsz_pmapprov4-01healing. So we can learn to live like daughters of the King instead of slaves. So we can quit striving and beating ourselves up with all that pressure, so we can walk through the pain to the other side. To freedom. So we can learn to live in His unforced rhythms of grace.

Soul Scents: Flourish. All 506 pages of the journey to healing. Short daily excerpts. Not an easy read, but an accessible one.

Here’s the back cover copy:

At just the right time in history God sent His beloved Son to set the captives free and claim victory over the darkness. At just the right time in each life God shows His child how to step into the freedom He already won.

Lie weeds twist around the good plantings of our heart, choking abundant life, but when we step into truth, the tendrils of that vile weed uncurl. In this fourth volume of the Soul Scents series, Paula talks about her journey out of emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse.  She says, “As God reveals how pain and abuse twists our understanding of who He is and how He works, the distrust falls away.  The root of the lie weed is exposed, and the Lord pulls that sucker out completely! In its place comes a deepened intimacy with Jesus and the joy we’ve prayed for but couldn’t find. We rise from the pain and live free to flourish.”

Take the Flourish journey and brave deeper healing, letting go of shame and learning to live as vibrant daughters of the King!

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.