Tag Archives: freedom

Wandering and Pondering

There is no goal but movement.

No map dictating the journey.

No planned route.

On the days I set aside time to exercise for at least an hour, I simply walk forward.

I haven’t had much time for free wandering. Or I haven’t made it lately. My routes have been quicker and planned to burn 2-300 calories.

But today the wanderlust hit again.

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I thought I’d harvested all the vistas within an hour’s foot travel. That my neighborhood had been explored.

But today I gave myself an hour.

I took a turn I hadn’t taken before.

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And as my feet moved, I pondered last year’s wanderings.

Was the Spirit chuckling as I meandered day after day, making unexpected discoveries? Did rub eager hands waiting for the day HE nudged me to knock on a stranger’s door to see if they needed food?  the day a pastor I’d never met asked me to pray for him, or when I felt a spiritual confrontation like a physical assault when God led me to a gathering to walk through and pray?

Did He do this on purpose? Train my inner person to loosen up by first freeing my feet?

I’d almost forgotten the breath-taking wonder of taking off out the front door not knowing what He was going to lead me to do next.

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Until today.

When I once again pounded the sidewalk realizing this brave meandering in my familiar neighborhood has done more than release my body. The courage I’ve found here, just walking to lose weight, shook loose some sort of interior control mechanism so I could find courage to move forward in life.

So I could figure stuff out that I hadn’t yet.

Would last week’s epiphany have come if last year’s walking had not?

Today I walked the familiar route past the library and the park and kept going.

At first it was more of the same. Fences around a trailer park. Not especially exciting.

I determined to see beauty.

I noticed the homes with rosebushes, big canopied tents sheltering tables and grills. Heard music flowing. Brushed beneath the fresh green leaves of a huge tree.

And then came the surprise. A park I’d forgotten with a nature path I didn’t know existed.

Off I meandered, gravel crunching beneath my feet, curving through verdant grass. First down a hill, then following a stream, then on paved walk into a new neighborhood.

The houses and streets were unfamiliar, though I knew I’d driven through it further north.

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I kept walking, thinking I would find my way back to a road I knew.

But a nudge sent me turning right when I meant to go straight.

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Such a lovely street unfolded before me with home after home with beautiful landscaping, and all those flowers made my heart full.

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More unexpected treasures.

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Found just because I moved forward.

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Flowing with the promptings of my heart.

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In freedom.

And now that I’m learning to flow forward in life, not just in my neighborhood meandering, what else might I discover in this place?

This freedom place.

Until next time,

moldenhauer signature3

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Freedom to Move Forward Part II

south sudanI did something brave.

Different.

Unexpected.

(If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, this one won’t mean as much, so check it out!)

Just over a week I was surprised by the desire to visit a third world country as part of a team reaching out to spiritual leaders of a new country learning its freedom.

While I have long desired to serve others and even wished I could meet special people, like my World Vision “daughters,” I’ve never been one to jump at the idea of this sort of thing. Europe I’ve dreamed of visiting. Third world countries? Not so much.

But I couldn’t resist the truth: I was interested, longing to go, even.

But my mind went other directions, and I let the thought drop for over an hour until I “accidentally” stumbled right into the informational meeting about this trip.

Again intrigued, I stayed. Longing. Wondering.

I came home and went on-line to check out the application procedures. My computer wouldn’t let me into the system, and I walked away frustrated. Ended up in bed sick the next day and dragging for several after. But always in the back of my mind the desire lingered.

I prayed. Asked friends to pray. It seemed too big a decision to make without one of those huge, red check marks in the sky beside the “yes” (not that I’ve ever had that exact cosmic direction, but you know what I mean).

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As real life got in the way I assumed this, like many of my ideas (I’m pretty impulsive and interested in many thing!), would fall away.

Until Sunday, the deadline for that application.

Sunday Jerry and I took a drive in the mountains, lingered over a picnic lunch, and explored all the stuff 20140629_132412of yesterday’s post. As we descended back to the Colorado plains in our little silver car we were freer than when we began the climb. Hopeful for next steps. Excited about living outside the fear of getting it wrong.

We hit I-70, just below Genesee where the view opens up and reveals Denver far below, and I caught my breath.

“South Sudan,” I whispered.

“So it’s back to that,” said Jerry.

“I don’t have to wait for a cosmic sign. I can apply.”

And so I did.

God had revealed the freedom to move forward, to follow that desire inside of me calling out for attention.

To do something brave.

Different.

Hard and unexpected and adventurous.

To do it with His blessing even without a shocking confirmation of His will.

I could simply go for it.

Something that might turn out breath-takingly beautiful. Something that might hurt. Or even be dangerous. Certainly uncomfortable.

Something bigger than me.

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I came home, and my stupid computer (I say this with great affection) still wouldn’t let me into the application process. I stumbled a moment. Was it a sign I shouldn’t do this? I shoved the thought away and went with the forward motion of my heart.

Jerry offered me his computer, and I was in on the first try.

I don’t know yet if I will be chosen to even interview for one of the spots, much less as part of this team.

But I had the FREEDOM to try. The FREEDOM to reach way beyond who I am to do something I’ve never once before imagined.

The tears pool in my eyes as I type.

Where can I go in my newly-understood freedom of forward movement? What possibilities lie ahead that I never before dreamed? I have a catch in my chest where the breath should come out. It seems so crazy wonderful big.

This blog started as an inside-out journey to physical weight loss.

And that freedom plays into this one.

About a year and a half ago I was out for my walk. The pounds had dropped away. I had another 20 to go. I trotted downhill when blindsided by the urge to run. I couldn’t resist. I let those feet fly, pounding the pavement like I hadn’t done in years and years and years.

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to run! “What in the world are You doing with me, God?” I whispered. “What are you preparing me for?”

I heard no answer, but felt his chuckle in the breeze upon my face.

At 210 pounds the idea of the sort of venture I applied for on Sunday would have been immediately dismissed.

But I am freed for forward movement. Free in my body. In my heart. In my mind. In my spirit.

I couldn’t sleep Sunday night. I just kept soaring.

Wishing you a freedom discovery of your own,

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(South Sudan pictures taken from Wiki.)

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,

moldenhauer signature3

Gulps of Grace

I just clicked off on the cordless phone, thoughts churning. My friend is an abuse survivor, no longer a victim, a woman of great integrity and strength. One of my heroes. I’m reminded of her journey forward, of how her abuser kept her in a stranglehold of condemnation and low self-esteem for far too long. How even survivors, victors who’ve long overcome have to keep fighting to maintain their freedom, especially when people who don’t understand knock them down again.

On the radio yesterday a woman called a talk show for advice. Her “husband” was clearly destroying her emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, but still she argued that she “should” stay to do the “right” thing.

If you know me well, you know I am not easily angered. But this. This makes me want to fight hard against the lies, against the boxes, for FREEDOM!

challah bread 9This morning’s phone call from my victorious friend who’d once again endured a senseless assault by a clueless do-gooder left me reeling, as did that lady on the talk show.

I reached for Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts Devotional in an attempt to right the churning inside of me. Ann reminded me that giving thanks is declaring my trust in God and that without the ability to trust God there is no joy.

For years I begged God for joy. Instead His offering was to allow seven years of grueling circumstances far beyond my control. I’m beginning to understand Ann’s words, that giving thanks is about joy and about trust and about choosing. It is curling up with the Bread that nourishes my soul.

So I today I wrote little notes of gratitude instead of dwelling on all that angers me. And what came out surprised me.

I thank Him for: freedom air gulped and eventually breathed in natural rhythm. 

When I first stepped out of my own crap, of walls self-imposed and imposed by others, of boxes of perfectionism and guilt and performance, I couldn’t breathe freedom every day, every minute, like life. I grasped for it. Looked for it. Begged for it. Gorged on it when I found it.

I found it in grace.

I gulped grace. Sucking it in for survival. Guzzling it. Only pure grace, the truth of it, fed me. The gulps pounded into my malnourished system, setting it free, a little at a time.

I sucked in the grace air as I could understand it, when I could appropriate it.

Grace.

God’s complete unconditional love and acceptance. The favor He offered even though I didn’t deserve it.

Wiki says it this way: . .  grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”,[1] “the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”.[2] It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man – “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”[3] – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

For years I lived without freedom. I didn’t know it. But I was controlled by the self-condescension of one who could never live up to her own ideals and of one who tried so hard to please others that I lived in a straight-jacket of effort and failure.

I didn’t understand grace saturated the very air I breathed. That I didn’t have to chase after it or fight for it, grabbing and suffocating.

I didn’t get that always, always, always my Creator surrounds me with loving acceptance, cheering me on in my victories, helping me to my feet in my failures, never condemning, only offering Himself and His grace, longing to love me and remake me into one who could love Him, myself, and others.

I had heard about God’s love, about grace, all my life, but I didn’t appropriate it to myself–thus the gulping when I happened upon grace. The gorging on it when I began to understand.

But over time–years, not weeks–I began to feel less desperate. My soul began to know grace would never run out, never be beyond my reach, never disappear.

And I began to breathe normally. Rhythmically.

In freedom.

Once in a while something happens. My throat constricts once again, and I struggle. I am hurt or I hurt others. My imperfections are glaring. And my breathing gets erratic as I take huge, gulping, heaving breaths.

Grace. My lifeline.

As I inhale I stabilize. My breathing becomes natural. Saturated with freedom.

As I type right now I finally understand how all of this comes together. Why in my need to reach for hope, for peace, I seek to offer thanks, to trust God, to hold onto joy. Why in the midst of this churning I wrote those words: freedom air gulped and eventually breathed in natural rhythm. 

It’s because of the process of freedom. It’s because when my friend first fought out of an abusive situation she, like me, had to gulp grace bubbles. She couldn’t yet understand the air was saturated, and grace was always there, free.

It’s like my friend and I spent years under putrid water, pressed down by the voices that said we would never be good enough to deserve such freedom as normal breaths. But eventually we had to breathe, to lift our heads out of the water before we drowned. At first we could only raise our head on occasion, could only allow ourselves stolen gulps because we thought we deserved no more. Didn’t even deserve those gulps, really, just needed them so much we had to take them.

Over time we began to understand that the air was ours, given freely by a loving God, and that we didn’t have to earn it with good behavior. We bobbed for a while at the surface where the air was  tainted by the smell of stinking water. But it was better. At least we were breathing more often, even with the times we were pulled back under. Then came the day we slowly swam toward shore. Swimmers still get their face wet, but they also have air. And they are moving forward

It was a while before we climbed out, touched the shore, realized how good and pure the air could be and that we were given the right to breathe it.

And sometimes, on bad days, we still forget. That cesspool of unworthiness and condemnation is always there, waiting for us to climb back in.

But we’re getting better, my friend and me. We’re choosing to stay away from the stinky water.

We’ve gulped freedom and are learning to breathe it in natural rhythm.

Breathing with you today, my friend.

Until next time,

moldenhauer signature3

About That Weight Thing

Been processing life pretty hard. You’d think when a gal’s pushing 50 she’d have it all figured out. Evidently not. Life keeps sending transitions, putting me on my toes, changing. So I write about graduations and weddings and broken dishwashers and grace.

But as real life rushes and changes and challenges I want to hold onto all that stuff I learned in the year of my journey back to health.

And I haven’t thought about all that much lately.

Here’s the thing. I’ve spent the last few months fluctuating between caring about my new healthy habits and blowing them off. As I wrote many times, weight loss and stronger, healthier bodies require a life-long willingness to change, not a one-time diet.

51pZjxywRgL._SL500_SS100_I’m disgusted with myself tonight. I ate a whole box of Raisnets. Not exactly a great choice, but a once in a while splurge would not be that big a deal. The problem is I’ve been splurging for days. It’s easy to do when you spend a week attending parties.

But it’s beyond all those graduations and weddings and baby showers.

Maybe the lack of concern for my body is related to sending my third born off to work in the mountains this summer only to then send him to the dorms at his chosen college.

Or maybe it’s related to the fact my daughter will be traveling with a humanitarian team to a not-so-safe country.

Could it be that I just didn’t care about focus while my house was torn apart with the dishwasher leaking under the floor saga?

There’s other stuff, too. Deep processing of grace and freedom. So deep that I’ve had tension stomachaches again, the kind I used to get when I was trapped in perfectionism and legalism.

But really, is any of that worth losing the hard-earned freedom of regaining my normal weight? Aren’t all of those a return to emotional eating?

Honestly, I’ve chosen NOT to be intentional about what I’m eating.

I feel sluggish. I’m not staying on a good sleep schedule. I’m ignoring the fresh spinach in the crisper. A friend posted something to facebook that explains exactly how I feel. Anybody relate?

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So I could use prayer, my friends. I look at pictures of when I was over 200 pounds and remember how I got that way one pound at a time. How I promised myself I’d never do that again.

I want to nip this attitude in the bud NOW.

I want to walk again. Do crunches and planks. Eat better food. I want freedom of movement and clarity of thought and all the gifts of being the size God intended when He created me.

Tonight I’m reminding myself that every single choice for health is stepping back on the road I want to be on. I don’t have to allow this behavior to continue. I can live in the freedom of healthy choices.

Any advice?

Until Next Time,

moldenhauer signature3

Monday Morning Makeover ~ Heart of the Matter

Want to find hope and healing and success? Let’s get to the heart of the matter! How? We can start at our mouths and follow the trail. Solutions don’t come from treating the symptoms, but the symptoms can give us clues to the cause, then we can truly heal from the inside out.

Video: Want hope and healing? Follow the trail to the heart

Embracing Simple Pleasures

Are you like me? There’s nothing like a cold day to make me want to bake.

As the house empties of children, and I continue the goal of staying more fit, I find myself not indulging in a day of baking quite so often.

But even as I have backed off of this high caloric habit, I refuse to let it go completely. There is freedom in hanging onto life’s simple pleasures, choosing moderation instead of all or nothing when it comes to forming healthy habits.

And there’s nothing like the aroma of bread baking to make a house feel practically magical.

Oh the joy of a sprinkle of flour across a clean counter top and the feel of dough pliable in my hands! My absolute, very top favorite dough sensation is the feel of holly bread being shaped beneath my fingertips. (Challah bread for the more precise.)

Before winter gives way to spring I must celebrate this simple pleasure.

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The only problem with this photo series is I forgot to get a picture as the bread was pulled all warm and golden brown from the oven. (“Look at that! Another example of brown that I LOVE,” she thinks as she remembers her last post on earth tones.)

I guess you’ll have to take my word for it. It looks–and tastes–heavenly.

As you continue on the weight loss journey–or the journey of life–what simple pleasures do you embrace?

Simple pleasures: Challah bread