Category Archives: Free to Flourish

Forsaken?

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photo from wiki

I’m propped upon pillows in my bed. It’s daytime, but the room is quiet. Isolated. In the distance there’s a periodic hum of neighborhood traffic. The humidifier bubbles. Sometimes the heater hums. I watch a shadow on my wall. The spiny needles on the dancing limbs of an evergreen sway on this unexpected screen.

Those dancing limbs mesmerize.

I glance left to the window, but the tree is outside of my line of vision. Still, the sun projects the tree-image, painting a square, window-shaped display, right there in front of me.

The movement gives hope. A promise, maybe?

Another cough demands my attention. I  hold aching ribs so the cough doesn’t hurt so much. But that makes it hard to cover my mouth. It’s this awkward struggle to know which is more important. To protect my side from piercing pain or my bedroom air from more germs.

Maybe I have COVID-19. Maybe I don’t. According to the on-phone doctor, my risk factors and “mild to moderate” symptoms don’t make me a primary candidate for a test kit. At 4:55 this morning, that thought made me cry–not that I’m not being tested, but that theses symptoms are at best moderate, which means out there are people who feel worse than I do. I cry because the racking cough and breath-stealing mucus would be such a horrible way to go.

Are they, too, isolated? When it’s the end? (In the darkness, the drama builds.)

This morning I hit the crying stage, so that means I’m about to get better.  Life, like books, hits the bleakest moment right before the resolution. (Or maybe books like life?)

The angle of the sun has changed. There are no more dancing shadows on my wall.

Funny how I have much to say, and yet I stare at this screen.

For about three years I’ve been a writer who couldn’t write. I sat in that thought this morning–tears streaming. (Of course today is crying day, so, dear reader, I wouldn’t think too much of all this talk of tears.)

This morning I watched church on-line. Only it didn’t feel like church. It felt like my very own heart played out in front of me on that screen, through someone else’s lips.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Not because I’m sick. Not this illness.

Just . . .

I want to hear His voice again.

I’ve heard Him before. In the joy of nature, the love of others, the whisper of my heart. In seasons I’ve heard Him clearly. Like in real words that pour from His Spirit within me and out upon the pages of journal after journal.

It really happened. One friend called me a mystic. Another a Psalmist.

But, in the last years, God’s silence has deepened.

Now it’s this crazy faith walk where I don’t hear him like before, feel Him like before, see Him like before, but I can’t deny the truth that He is there. I see the results of His hand. The miraculous stories of the last three years of my life would make you catch your breath. Only God. Only GOD. ONLY GOD.

But while His movement has been clear, His voice is muffled. Who am I kidding? It is worse than muffled.

My God, my God why have You forsaken me?

He hasn’t. I know He hasn’t. I see Him working still.

And I know the truth. It is He who promised to be with me until the end of time. My God, (The Holy Scripture says it, and I believe it, experience it) will never leave or forsake me.

Because His presence has nothing to do with me earning it. God’s constant, never-forsaking, always-there presence is a gift of Christ.

He was forsaken. When Jesus cried out upon the cross, asking His Father where He was, Jesus took everything upon Himself that separated the creation from the Creator.

Now separation is over.

Jesus chose to be forsaken–for that space of time–so that you and I would never, ever, not-even-once be.

But that doesn’t negate the silence.

And what I heard on this link sunk way down deep. And validated my life. And nourished my hope. And reminded me that all is well.

 

 

 

Flourishing Moments

f2f memes portrait - Page 007Need a quick pick-me-up each morning?

I post short, encouraging thoughts on my author/speaker page on Facebook daily.

Just follow me there! If you pin my page to the top of your feed, Flourishing Moments will automatically post to your timeline so you don’t have to go looking for them.

Here’s a sample:

The true essence of our destiny is living as a masterpiece. It’s easy to let our good works or our service become the focus. But God didn’t say our work is the masterpiece, He says we are.

Flourishing Moments are that pause in your day that helps you take a breath and refocus.

Hope to see you there!

(Lurk and read, like and share, or comment. I love to interact with readers there!)

Blessings,

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Hung Up on Weight?

My body.

It takes up too much of my thought life.

Especially the negative zings, which don’t belong in my head at all.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that in 2012 I started paying attention to my body and lost 55 pounds.

Unfortunately I’ve found some of those pounds again. To be honest, I don’t know how many because I’m afraid to get on the scale.

I learned a lot about where I turn for comfort in 2012 and 2013. I mean you can pray and read Scripture and love your family and talk to your friends and all of that but still try to eat your negative emotions.

I got a lot better. I learned to pause to think about what was really going on when I craved food. And usually I could let go of the craving.

So here we are about 5 years later.

I haven’t totally gone backwards, but I’ve shrugged off more fresh veggies and healthy exercise choices than I am willing to admit.

And lately I’ve given space again to the negative “I’m fat” thoughts.

This has been going on awhile, and has really cranked up in the stress of the aftermath of my husband’s heart attack.

So why I am writing about it now?

Today I browsed blogs written my folks who’ve recently followed mine. I’ve had some new follows by people talking about health and weight and body image, including a young girl from another country. She’s only 15 but, like me, she’s focused on her body.

I’m 52.

I don’t know if it will comfort or discourage her that I still think about this stuff.

I was reminded this weekend of a blog post I wrote a few years ago. I posted a picture of how I really looked and a picture of how I thought I looked, which was much heavier. This memory made me wonder how much of my weight gain since that day is related to never truly being able to see myself as I truly was.

It’s hard enough in your 50s with these struggles, but what about this young girl–and all the others like her? What would it mean to all of us if we saw ourselves as we really are?

Not just our real weight.

I mean the real weight of our existence.

What if we saw ourselves as amazing, strong, worthy, and beautiful?

What if we understood our value?

Ladies, we are God’s treasure. The Creator of the whole universe had us specifically in mind even before the world began. GOD dreamed us up. He not only loves us, He likes us. He thinks we’re beautiful and unique and of great value.

He also knows all the wonderful things we are capable of–the ways we can impact our world for good–if we can break out of negative self-focus and live fully aware of our value and how He’s wired us to live in this world.

I was recently talking to Him about all the stuff bugging me. When I got to my weight, I swear I heard Him laugh. Not at me. Not in a mean way. Just a laugh that seemed to include a shrug, as though I made way more consequence of it than He did. As if all the things I found unattractive were not even an issue for Him. As if His focus was somewhere entirely different than those pesky extra pounds.

As if He thought I had better things to think about and do than to worry about how I looked in the mirror.

I’m not saying He doesn’t care about my weight or health. He proved His personal attention to this area of my life time and again as I lost weight and learned to make healthier choices five years ago.

What I’m saying, is that He isn’t hung up on my weight.

It doesn’t limit or diminish His approval.

He isn’t wringing His hands or spending precious thought time on the number on a scale.

He’s thinking about His women in a whole different way.

Sure, He thinks we’re beautiful. He designed us to be beautiful! It’s just that He knows beauty isn’t a number on a scale or a perfect figure or perfect outfit. Beautiful is being fully present in this world. 

Taking up our own space.

Living out our destiny of bringing goodness in our own unique way to our little corner of the world.

So to my new 15 year old follower and to myself, this is what I have to say.

Be healthy. Eat well. Live active and strong. It’s good for you!

But it is not your totally and need not be your world.

(Your world is so much bigger than a number on a scale!)

It is not your identity.

It doesn’t deserve undo focus in your thought life.

You have so much more to think about. So much more to do.

Like notice a sunset or a shaft of bright light.

Like laugh with a friend or encourage someone who needs a bit of help.

Like enjoy amazing music or art or poetry.

Or create it.

Like love.

Love others.

Love God.

Start by loving yourself.

To do that you receive love.

You believe you are of great worth to your Creator.

You tell your Creator you want to believe you are valuable.

You ask Him to help you change your thinking so that you don’t focus negative thoughts about yourself

You start seeing the gifts, the strengths, the beauty, the courage you possess.

As as you receive God’s love, then you share it.

You help a friend see his or her worth. See that there is more to them than what people think or say (and that’s what I’d tell another new follower, this one from India).

There is more to you than even than you know.

And it is good.

Until Next Time,

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PS It’s not too late to download that free Easter devotional on my website, Soul Scents: Selections for Easter.

 

 

FREE Easter Devo/Catch Radio Show

27661605_10155965319319351_348329889_nDoes the cross of Jesus make a difference in daily life? How do you experience that? What does the work of the cross do beyond paying for sin and providing a ticket to heaven?

Soul Scents: Selections for Easter, which offers five weeks of devotional reading and contemplation questions for the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter, is available as a FREE PDF download at: http://paulamoldenhauer.com/gifts/ (If you prefer to read on Kindle, it is 99 cents at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079RPD9YG)

Journey deeper into the Son’s embrace this Easter! Soul Scents: Selections for Easter dives into the glorious wonder of what it really means when Jesus died, rescuing us from the shadows of living in the kingdom of darkness and moving us to a new address in the kingdom of light. It tackles such issues as spiritual freedom, identity as the beloved, living as a new creation, and the difference between cycles of saying we’re sorry and true life-giving repentance. (Adapted from the Soul Scents collection)

Also wanted to invite you to tune into Step into the Light, where I’m interviewed by Patti Shene tomorrow at 8 a.m MST. We’ll talk about some of the same concepts in Selections for Easter. I’m really excited about this and hope you’ll join us!

Until next time,

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The Winner!! And February Contest

Congratulations to Becky who won January’s contest for A Bouquet of Brides!

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Becky! I’ll be in touch, and your book will arrive soon! Thank you for commenting often on January’s blog posts. I enjoyed our interactions very much!

Here are the contest details for February:

  • Every new post you comment on during the month of February gets you one chance to win. (This could be a lot of chances over the course of the month!)
  • Follow my blog during the month of February and get three chances to win
  • Sign up for my newsletter during the month of February and get five chances to win!

The contest details are a little different this month, so read them carefully! If you missed the first two blog posts this month, you’ll still be counted in the drawing if you comment on them. They are two of my favorites, talking about the inspiration for and the historical context of At Home With Daffodils, my novella in that book Becky will soon be reading!

The book to win this month is  Soul Scents: Rooted.

PMApprov2-01Become rooted in your identity as the beloved! Soul Scents: Rooted, the second book in the Soul Scents devotional series, includes topics such as worthiness, spiritual battle, and destiny. The week-day readings include scriptures and prayers.

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.  Rest in the Son’s embrace as you enter the beautiful heart of the Freedom Giver Himself.

Thank you to all who participated in January’s contest. I had so much fun! Hope you did, too. I enjoyed seeing every new newsletter and blog sign-up, and interacting with those of you who commented here was a delight!

Until Next Time,

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FLAW = Free to Live As Worthy

If you’re like me, flaws can really bug you. The Lord is graciously teaching me to step out of self-judgement and offer myself the same grace as He offers me.

The gals in my prayer group and I were talking with the Lord about this awhile back. One of the women was given this acronym as we prayed. FLAW = Free to Live As Worthy.

This concept is the focus of my first installment of Flourishing Moments. Flourishing Moments is something that grew out of some questions I’ve been asking myself and the Lord: How can I bless people who follow my blog, newsletter, or author page? What can I offer that is of value? What truly makes a difference?

I’m not sure of all the answers yet, but I do have a starting place.

Flourishing Moments begins this week on my author/speaker page on Facebook.

Each week day I’ll post words I believe will encourage us as we seek to love Jesus and be loved by Him. The thoughts are designed to help us lay down our struggles and self-judgement and receive His boundless grace.

Here’s the post I shared there today so you can get a taste of what you can expect from Flourishing Moments. I hope you’ll join me on my author page! Maybe even mark my author page to pin to the top of your daily FB news feed so you can see these posts each morning. God-given truth refreshes the soul, yes?

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Photo by Tonya Vander

Do you ever feel flawed?

Most of us do at some point. Heck, most of us feel flawed daily. The thing is, how we see our flaws determines how we weather this journey we’re on.

It’s important as we heal that we understand God’s perspective on our faults and failures and those faults and failures of people who hurt us.

Our flaws. Their flaws.

We humans are hard on ourselves and others, holding people to high, unattainable standards. We experience tremendous judgment and pain when we (or they) don’t “live up.” Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed with our flaws that we go to the other extreme and pretend they don’t exist. Or we acknowledge our flaws but blame others for our faults and failures. Sometimes we do that with people who’ve hurt us too. We make excuses for the people who’ve behaved badly or pretend the incidents never happened.

All of this is, of course, a lie.

The great news is that Jesus came so all of us could be Free to Live As Worthy. His blood cleansed us. He believed we were worthy of His gift. He knows us inside and out, and our flaws don’t worry Him. He set us free from the dark stuff. He daily works within us to finish the good work He started.

Next time you’re hung up on a flaw, why not remember the cross and look at it this way. FLAWs don’t have to take us out, they can be reminders that we are:
Free to
Live
As
Worthy

~ Thoughts adapted from Soul Scents: Flourish.

Blessings,

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PS I’d love feedback from those of you who hang out here at my blog. I’ve been thinking about how to continue to share about the books–I’m loving these posts by fellow authors–but also to share the kind of thing I shared today. Another idea is some series. A friend suggested I do a blog series on starting a spiritual journal. And I’m aching to write a series about the things Jerry and I are learning as he recovers from his recent heart attack. What would bless you. Any thoughts?

Devotional Thoughts in the Aftermath of Heart Attack

FINAL design for devotionalsMy husband had a heart attack on December 31st. I’m still processing (with gratitude) the experience, and the first public telling (beyond facebook posts) is published today on Devotionals for the Heart. It was written soon after we got back from the hospital, when I first started sorting things out in my mind, spirit, and emotions. I have more thoughts buzzing in my head that I’m sure will soon find their way onto a blog or into another devotion. But this is the first. I thought you might enjoy knowing where to find it. Devotionals for the Heart is Alexis Goring’s new devotional blog, and I’ll write for them once a month for 2018. She has several wonderful writers. Check it out!

Until Next Time,

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