Tag Archives: faith

A New Day Added to Free Book Week!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Free to Flourish Publishing give-away week! I’ve loved it–it feels like a way to give all my faithful readers a big box of presents!

75% smallerOriginally Friday was to be the last day of the give-away, but a bit of a buzz has built around A Packaged Deal, so Free to Flourish extended the give-away of this title for one more day!

I don’t think of this story as a Christmas book, but there is an important scene that occurs on Christmas, so I thought you might enjoy tucking this one onto your Kindle to read the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The snow’s falling today at my house, and let me tell you, this is the perfect read for a snowy day.

So you can still get A Packaged Deal, the first title in the the Towering Pines series, for free download on Kindle. (If you’re a “real” book, I love to smell the pages person, you can purchase the paperback for  $9.99. I’m also doing a give-away for the paperback this month. I’m collecting names of people who comment here on my blog or sign-up for my newsletter, and one lucky winner (USA only) will get the book sent to them!)

I’m praying the Lord blesses you as you download the free books and read them. All books published by Free to Flourish carry the theme of freedom, inner-healing, and discovering the true essence of life, person, and self. They invite readers to be a part of the grand Love Story with Jesus.

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Merry Christmas and sweet blessings from my house to yours,

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PS I’ll be taking a break until January 1st, the launch day of my newest story, At Home with Daffodils, which is included in Barbour Publishing’s collection, A Bouquet of Brides.

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What’s Free to Flourish?

This week the publishing arm of Free to Flourish is giving away a lot of books. (Click here for the give-away schedule.) This video shares the passion behind everything I write and speak about and tells you what you can expect if you download one of our books, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.

Next to my computer is my passion statement. Every thing we do at Free to Flourish filters through this lens: “I write and speak to join with the Holy Spirit in setting captives free and healing the brokenhearted. To call forth the true essence of life, person, self. To be a part of the grand Love Story with Jesus.”

Blessings,

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My 2015 Christmas Miracle (Part 4)

It’s amazing how God can take something you’ve worked on for over a decade and turn it into a reality in less than a month.

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If you’ve read the first three posts in this series you know the miracle story of how God is taking a project from files on a computer to a published book in less than four weeks.

He is indeed a miracle worker and the Ultimate Gift Giver.

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As I type the words above I have to smile. I’ve been buried in edits the last two weeks. What jumps out at me more than anything is how the spiritual truths the precious LORD gave me over ten years ago are tried and true today. I wrote a devotional set back then about God’s gifts. I’m pretty sure I called Him the Ultimate Giver Giver or something very close.

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I edited more than 65 devotionals in the past month. The writing of the original content spans more than ten years. Much of what I wrote as a much younger woman was true but not deeply tested. I prayed prayers I didn’t understand and penned concepts not knowing what deep application would come of them in my own life. Maybe I was a bit naive, but whether the devotion was written in 2004 or 2015, the spiritual truths stand.

They may be better understood. I may be stronger and deeper and more tried.

But it is all real. All that spiritual discovery.

And that alone is breath-taking.

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One theme of Awaken is how we can stop striving to be Christ-followers and trust Holy Spirit to do what Scripture says He will do–remake us to be more and more like Jesus. These last ten years are a journey of learning to rest in His embrace, to keep my eye on the Savior, not myself or my circumstances.

I can say with more confidence than ever HE IS TRUSTWORTHY. In every situation, no matter how painful. In every life, no matter how messy.

The cover designs in this post were created thanks to  Kim Liddiard of the Creative Pixel. Her genius took my passion and Lisa’s artwork and combined them into a cohesive visual set. I love her concept of a sunburst coming from behind the tree as well as her use of creative fonts. I believe Kim’s inspired book covers show the progression of the vibrancy of the journey we take with the One who leads.

As I mentioned yesterday the Lord put the remaining components of my team together by the end of the day on Monday, November 30th. I’m grateful Kim worked me into her busy schedule of clients. Even if she weren’t a dear friend she is who I would want for cover design! The Lord also nudged Ruth Meyer to step in to do line edits and proofreading. It’s exciting to see who God called together for the birthing of Soul Scents Publishing.

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The final member of the team is my sweet Jerry who researches all the technical stuff I don’t want to think about while I create. Really these books began over ten years ago when he challenged me to set up a devotional website and mail a weekly devotion to subscribers. His vision led to four amazing years as the Lord sent a few thousand subscribers to walk with me on a spiritual journey in Jesus’ embrace. And from that journey another is birthed, more than ten years later. Stay tuned for information on the Christmas week release of Soul Scents: Awaken.

Blessings,

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Heart Rambles

There are deep places I don’t know how to process my way out of. Or if I even should.

Longing. Uncovering. Unveiling. Questioning.

The seemingly unrelated intertwine, vines growing in and out of each other, connected inside of me in some kind of whimsical garden where fruit trees grow over tomato plants and pumpkin vines wrap 1athemselves around rose bushes and potatoes sprout underneath the daisies.

Everything blooms and produces at once, whether in season or out.

Longing for much.

To create.

To embrace.

To enter.

Beauty, writing, twinkle lights, family, weighty words, advent flame, laughter, celebration,

Magical and spiritual, a slow dance and a jig.

Joy.

How can depth come from jigging or jigging from plumbing the depths?

How do the seasonal rhythms I  crave relate to thanksgiving, creating, relationship .  . . God?

What are words?

Their place within me and without?

And how is joy both cotton candy and meat and potatoes. Short magical romance and long soul-digging?

Being seventeen in a snap of the fingers, embracing pumpkin pie aroma when life grows hard, seeing the good where others criticize. Rose colored glasses? Impossible?

Judged. And yet desiring more, not less.

Entering into the moment. Creating the moment. Embracing the moment. Believing in the moment.

Vulnerable and child-like. Rolling eyes ridiculed. Lauded and applauded. Strength in soft flannel baby blanket.

Not Pollyanna, but not beyond liking her.

Miracle on 32nd Street silly.

Departures deep.

Both. Not either/or.

Stretching means embracing what others judge fluffy meaningless. And yet stretching also encompasses the deep places where others dare not tread.

Stretching means believing where some can’t.

And in all things, where are the words?

Do I trust them to germinate, to take root, to grow into an oak even as they pop up in crazy Dandelion yellow, determined little things, white daisies and bluets and Virginia Spring Beauties? Both platypus and regal lioness, tiny fish-tank turtle and mighty grey elephant? Dancing kitten and elegant giraffe?

Faith.

All this joy-seeking, word-growing, rhythm-searching returns there.

Of course.

Letting go of confusion, ego, questions. Holding longing loosely, lifting to Hands wiser than my own, while allowing the tears to beg for their place, for understanding and release, for fulfillment.

And yet knowing some ache is only treated in glory.

Letting it stand. Without giving up.

Trust.

Until Next Time,

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PS Found the rambling recently. I wrote it years ago, but it fits again as I re-enter my dreams to create. I let it go for a while, this focused writing thing. It was required, my time away. But now I return.

Letting Go (Again)

IMAG0129The house is empty except for me.

After all the bustle, all the people, all of the cooking and feeding and talking, I am exhausted.

But more than that, the Mommy heart once again has to say goodbye.

I awoke to my youngest son rushing out the door for his first “real” job. My husband left before that. The other boys (men, really) drove away yesterday to face the grind of a semester end and finals week. My daughter is with her husband.

The only sound I hear is the gentle hum of my laptop.

It would be easier to say goodbye if my boys had looked eager to leave. My oldest worked on a major paper until the minute he drove away, his stress levels palpable. My middle son is farther from home, too far for a quick weekend visit. He is where God has called him, (I know this!) but he is lonely. He said one of the things he missed most was an environment where spiritual conversations happen. That it is very dry where he is.

That it was hard to go back.

I suppose the tears slipping from my eyes have dual prompts. I miss him terribly, but I also cry for him, for the path he now walks, mostly alone.

Never alone. Because I have given him to the One who never leaves or forsakes.

But beyond the reach of Momma’s arms.

But never beyond the reach of Momma’s prayers.

Whew.

And so I’ll keep praying.

A friend told me, “Transitioning from under the wings of God at one’s parents’ house can be hard as children emerge into adulthood. It’s taking what was safe and “belonged” to mom and/or dad and making it your own, then trying to integrate it into the bold-faced truth of life. It’s almost like they have to learn how to walk again. A lot of the times they slip and fall or, if they’re tired of the bumps and bruises, decide to try another path. But God IS faithful and promises us this: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

This is right. It is so right–the moving out and beyond. I want them to be established. Independent. Strong.

My son can’t see his growth yet, but I do. He is emerging, growing into the skin of manhood he long ago donned. The foundation–for good or not, I pray for good–is laid. And now he builds.

Not me and dad.

Each child now adult chooses which bricks will make the man or woman.

I can no longer control. I can no longer choose for them.

Even my advice must be offered sparingly and with prayerful timing. Some personalities receive it more quickly than others.

It is my job to be wise about when and what I share with them. If I give them the freedom to be adults, they allow me the advice-giving. If I push too hard, their ears close.

Which is as it should be.

Really, it is not my life to build. I no longer pour the concrete, frame the structure.

It is their turn.

I survive this because they are not alone. The One who watches and sees, the One who promises to complete that which He started, is overseeing the process. And while my children still choose, there is a hand upon theirs helping them lift the right bricks. There is a whisper in their hearts directing their choices.

Thankfully, those kids have a lot of wisdom.

Still, there will be days they turn from the whisper, pick up a brick unsuited, nail the wrong board. But He will be there then, too. He is overseer. He will see the structure is solid.

And I will pray.

I will call out to the only One who can be with them forever. The only one who cares more than their dad and I do. The only One who makes any of us stand strong.

I hope the bricks I would not choose for them will be far and few between, but I will not despair when they come. Because all is never lost. I entrusted each of these precious children into the hands of the Faithful One when I could still cradle them in my arms. I entrust them to Him now.

He never falters.

He never wrings his hands wondering what to do.

He never gives up.

He always loves and builds.

He promised to finish the good work He started.

In me.

In them.

And so I’ll cry a little. Pray a lot.

And learn to let go.

 

 

 

Freedom to Move Forward

It’s like breathing deeper. Or flying. Or laughing for a long time.

This new sense of freedom.

Crazy how the layer must peel away.

And in each new layer of freedom how the heart soars.broadmoor 10

How I think I’ve arrived.

Only to find out weeks or years or months later that there’s a deeper level not yet lived out.

Last year it was in my body.

In my thirties it was in my mind, emotions, and spirit.

Yesterday it was a paradigm shift again, but more than that it was a very real change in how I do life.

Here’s the thing. Until my thirties much of my effort was centered around being good. I wanted to be good for God. To do it all right. As I’ve written before, that almost destroyed me, that crazy realm of perfectionism. And in one of those oh so sweet moments amazing moments, the God of the Universe chose to whisper to me, “Paula, all your life you’ve tried to be good. Get to know me, and I will make you good.”

And thus began the journey of letting go of the self-pressure to perform and clinging to the promise that the God who created me would complete His work in me and make me something better than I was.

At that time I remember thinking that life was really just about surrendering to the One. Moving when He directed. Instead of a myriad of rules I couldn’t keep straight, figure out, or live up to, there was one guiding word in my life: surrender.

And here I sit, about ten years later realizing that there was another layer of performance that had not yet been cleaned out. And that there have been times I’ve been paralyzed by it.

See, when life was about following the rules, there was a lot of pressure to do it right. When life became about following the Spirit, I wanted to do it right.

Somewhere in these last ten years I slipped back into the old rut of striving with a new face called living out God’s will.

Don’t get me wrong. I still want to live in God’s will.

Hang in here with me so I can explain.

Sometimes I’ve gotten so stressed about my ability to hear God or discern His will that I was held back in fear that I hadn’t heard correctly. Here’s an example:

Last fall my fabulous agent and I made the decision for me to focus a few years on writing category romance. It’s not the great American novel, nor it is the life-changing non-fiction work I dream of writing, but it is a genre I can write in the chaos of having children at home (or launching into the next stage, which frankly is way more momma work that I ever dreamed). It’s also a genre where I’ve been traditionally published and won some recognition.

So last fall I wrote a romance.

For the first half of the book I fought myself constantly. Somewhere deep inside I wondered if I was in God’s will. There had been a direction in my heart, wisdom in counsel, but not one of the rare, audible stamps of approval from Him. I doubted my decision, which made writing unnecessarily difficult. About half way through the story I began to see the unmistakable fingerprints of God flowing in the threads of my story, and my heart was at rest. Unfortunately I spent way too much energy on second-guessing myself before I finally came to grips that I was okay, and God was fine with my choice.

The last month or so I’ve been meandering through a book by Graham Cooke. I read a bit at night, pink highlighter in hand, and wonder if I’m retaining the concepts as I fall asleep. Over the last year I’ve also been memorizing the 14th chapter of John in the Bible, wondering if those deep magnificent concepts could somehow go even deeper than my cognitive understanding and change me. Wondering. Not knowing if I was learning or changing or growing or not.

But God is faithful to change us even when we don’t know we’re being changed. HE never stops working in us, even when we don’t know it is happening. Evidently my Spirit and His were processing when I didn’t even realize it because yesterday it all came together for me, and suddenly I felt it–that breathless, wonderful, want-to-laugh-out-loud-in-joy sense of new-found freedom.

It wasn’t even very different from how I’ve been striving to live, it just took out the striving, which is really what living with and for and in Jesus is all about, right?

Peace. Rest. Confidence. Joy!

Here’s the bright and brilliant and breath-taking truth: I am freed for forward movement.

Duh, right?

Here’s what I mean. My focus, my “job,” my only real goal in this walk with God is (or should be) getting to know Him. Growing in intimacy.

But I’ve spent way too much time focused on getting guidance, on what I’m supposed to DO instead of who I am in and with HIM and who HE is in and with me and who we are together.

Relationship. Beautiful, glorious, breath-taking relationship.

The kind where you enjoy life together. You talk about stuff. You laugh and celebrate and sometimes cry together. You simply BE in oneness.

See, when I am focused on relationship I’m not striving to figure out how to live life, I’m simply living it! Moving forward as I feel in my heart I am to move. Always pliable, surrendering to His nudges, but not striving to know His will, not struggling with decisions, not paralyzed by fear I might have misheard or made a wrong choice.

Just moving–walking, leaping, dancing, running, whatever the mood of the task or moment–forward.

I can trust that when the God wants to redirect or draw my attention to something I haven’t yet discovered, He will. Jesus said His sheep know His voice, and God told the prophet Isaiah, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”

I can trust my God to lead me. I can trust myself to know His Voice (and HIM to straighten me out if I miss it). I’m a grown-up and free to walk forward directed by who I am and who HE is in me. God doesn’t want to micro-manage me. He doesn’t want me to be afraid of every little misstep.

He wants me FREE and in motion!

The wonder of that–the joy of moving forward without constant questioning and too much striving to be sure I take perfect steps–makes me want to run forward and be brave and do new things and be comfortable with the old things I’m already doing.

And I have. But I’ll save that story for tomorrow.

May freedom fill your heart too,

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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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