Archive for December, 2017

I am learning to be thankful, even when I don’t understand. Thankful, even when I hurt, and thankful even when those around me are prospering and I’m suffering. Suffering is not forever—but thankfulness is.

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In certain parts of the world women, for centuries, have balanced baskets on their heads to carry heavy loads. Don’t know about you, but if I tried this heady feat everything would slosh, splatter, and splash out the basket, leaving behind me a trail of trash.

But don’t we all balance heavy bundles of actions, reactions, and emotions in our hearts? And sometimes don’t our out-of-control lives slosh and smear over everyone in our realm of influence?

Christmas Clutter

Especially this time of year.

The last two weeks on my calendar have been so overloaded I’ve had trouble reading the times places and things I should be doing. And half-way into this over-the-top zealous plan I’d instigated, a melt-down ensued that splattered all over my husband. One word led to another and morphed into a major confrontation.

I’m sure that has never ever happened at your house—has it?

Sitting in church yesterday our pastor delivered a message from the Lord, aimed straight at my heart—How to Handle Bad Daysand he illustrated some symptoms that lead to bad days—discouragement, restlessness, and foolishness. Dr. Jeffress went on to illustrate how Elijah found himself in the predicament of some very bad days. He had abandoned his calling, lost his perspective, was tired, careless, and then he stumbled. Tears filled my eyes as our pastor drove the stake of God’s Word right into the load of my mess.

Then he gave a few certain warning signs of coming bad days…being physically and emotionally exhausted. And the Holy Spirit stirred the waters of my soul and more tears confirmed His message to me. We’re two weeks away from Christmas and the load I had tried to balance sloshed out behind me. But his next words slammed and stuck. “Sometimes…” he said, “…the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

The voice of my husband echoed in my ear. “Why don’t you stop what you’re doing, and take a nap? You’re exhausted.” But the Holy Spirit pulled back my veil of excuses and whispered, “Sunday is to be a day of rest.” And I squirmed. On the way to church that morning, I’d mentally scheduled my afternoon…doing catch up chores.

But the next truth was really difficult to absorb, because I’m forever rehearsing this to those who come to GriefShare—Holding onto unrealistic expectations is toxic. I knew that principle was applicable to grief, but bearing up under the mountain of unrealistic expectations I’d assigned myself was toxic too?  And tears of shame burned the rims of my eyes. “Yes, Lord.” I admitted. “I am guilty as charged—for years. Please forgive me.”

Dr. Jeffress delivered one final truth. “Believing you are indispensable.” Ouch! “And you become despondent if you believe it’s all about you.” And the Spirit of God pushed His finger into the foolishness of how far I had traveled with a basket filled with wrong thinking. Thinking if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. But Dr. Jeffress’ conclusion brought relief as I acknowledged my guilt, accepted His forgiveness, and confirmed my commitment to change—God is responsible for events in my life and in the lives of my family—not me.

And I booked it home and took a long, rehabilitative nap!

Perhaps you’re right there with Elijah and me as we approach the final weeks of the 2017 Christmas Celebration—over committed, restless, tired, with a pathway of sloshes, splatters, and splashes littering the landscape behind you. May I suggest you read Elijah’s bad day experience in the 19th Chapter of 1 Kings and compare this with your current trajectory. Has God asked you like He questioned a frightened, overwhelmed, and undone Elijah, “What are you doing here?”

If so, what would be your answer?

It’s so easy to become ensnared in the commercial deceptions of this Holy Time of Year, and the want-to of making this Christmas special for your family. I have great news… God made this celebration special over two thousand years ago. There’s nothing we can add to make it more special except surrendering our lives to Jesus. God promised A Savior—born to die for your sins and mine—from the beginning pages of Genesis.


“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-8 NAS).

When we admit our sin, turn away from each one, and trust Jesus’ blood is enough to save us and change our lives. I no longer languish in the sins of the past. Those blemishes and stains of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are gone—washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb of God. The only thing we’re required to do is become a conduit of His love—letting His Spirit change and fill our hearts to over-flowing with His love. His grace. And His mercy. Then allowing His unsearchable love to saturate us and soak into the lives of those He gives us to love every moment of every day.




Heart Matters 2

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What A Thing!

Take a few minutes to feast on this explanation of “WHAT A THING!” And consider why we must celebrate Christmas!

Ernie's Musings

Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

… Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:5-7)

The Christmas season is upon us once again, and once more, I sense the dilemma of mixing the commercialization of the season by the world with the celebration of the First Advent. Any Christian well taught in Scripture recognizes that Jesus was not born on December 25, but thanks to the Catholics, we are stuck with that date. Regardless of how one feels about that, it is appropriate to set aside a special time to contemplate the magnitude of the miracle that is the Incarnation[1] – God becoming a man.

Consider our leading verse. No other religion

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I’m excited to introduce y’all to my new friend and prolific author Paula Moldenhauer. Paula is not only a Heart’wings’ sister, she’s a teacher, a mom, a publisher (whew, I’m tired already),  and I’m hoping all of you will take a moment to get to know this off-the-charts busy writer-lady. So Paula, are you ready for the third-degree?

Paula Mauldenhauer

You bet–bring on those questions! I’ll do my best. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about God and what He’s done in my life.

Well Ms. Paula, let’s begin with your writing. When did you first realize you wanted to write? And what’s the first thing you ever wrote? (Love notes excluded—of course)

Third grade. Mrs. Duncan’s class. We were told to write a story using personification. I wrote about a pencil and eraser who fought all the time but had to come together to save our classroom. I knew then I wanted to write stories as a career. I still love that little story and used to read it to my third graders when I taught elementary!

Tell us about your family, where you grew up, and where you live now.

In my earliest years we moved a lot. Until fourth grade I was always the new girl in school. Mrs. Duncan’s class was the first year back in the town of my birth, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where I lived until I fell in love with my husband, Jerry, and moved to Denver, Colorado.  Jerry and I have four children, two children-in-law, and as of last week, a daughter-in-law to be! My youngest son proposed the Friday after Thanksgiving from a float in a Christmas parade! It was like our family’s very own Hallmark Christmas movie ending! So fun!

Wow! That must’ve been exciting. Did you cry? I know I would have! How and when was your first book published?

My first book contract was great fun because I received it in front of about 500 of my “best” friends. Barbour Publishing awarded it to me at an American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) conference. My novella, “You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch,” was included in the collection, Postmark: Christmas. That same story was later a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for novella of the year, blessing upon blessing came its way.  It released in 2012, and that year my best writing buddy and I co-authored and indie-published another book, Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal.

Do you have a life-scripture verse? If so, how did that verse become the one God meant for you?

As a child—actually about the same time I decided to be a writer in third grade—I found Romans 8:28 and clung to it. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose” (KJV).  I loved God, and my parents told me He had called me, so I figured He would work everything out for good in the long run.  There was a lot of turmoil in my childhood home, and I can’t over-emphasize the importance this verse played in my life. It was my life-line through a lot of confusion and hurt.

When I started writing, I bumped into Psalm 32:8 in a devotional book I read. I was praying about my decision to pursue writing as a career, and I asked the Lord if I would be published. Every time I prayed about it, I heard that Scripture in my mind, “I will lead you on the best pathway for your life. I will guide you and watch over you.” I’m not sure what version of the Bible that particular wording is from. I think the New Living Translation is the closest, but no matter which translation I read, the same meaning held me together. God knew best and was leading me. That thought helped me handle a lot of disappointment and struggle.

In recent years the Lord opened Isaiah 61 up to me as a life calling. I paraphrase part of that passage in the mission statement I have for my writing and speaking. “I write/speak to join with the Holy Spirit in setting captives free and healing the broken-hearted. To call forth the true essence of life, person, self. To be a part of the grand Love Story with Jesus.” This is also the passion statement for my indie publishing company, Free to Flourish.

Has there ever been a special moment when you felt the presence of God leading you in a direction and you had no idea where He was leading? Tell us about that.

As a young homeschooling mom, I felt significant disappointment around the fact that raising our four children meant I didn’t have the time to write like I’d dreamed of doing since I was a third grader. The Lord promised me that as I fulfilled His call to mothering and homeschooling, that He would be the keeper of my writing dreams.

A few years later He led me to start a devotional website and to write for an on-line homeschooling magazine. I wrote faithfully for four years, sending a weekly devotion to subscribers, and the Lord grew that list of readers. It was a wonderful experience. Then He asked me to put my writing away for a time and focus fully on my family. In 2015 He prompted me to gather those devotions from years before and to combine them with new content to create a devotional book series, which I called Soul Scents: A Journey in the Son’s Embrace. The Lord sent me a team including artists, designers, editors and formatters. I literally had an artist (Lisa Joy Samson) sit at my kitchen table and offer me cover art right after Carmen Barber, who is now my right-hand gal, offered to format the series! Our team released a new book every quarter of 2016! It was stunning, but He wasn’t finished.

This fall He prompted me to release several fiction pieces, and an indie publishing house, Free to Flourish Publishing, was born. I never planned that. I still write for traditional markets, both fiction and non-fiction, which is the part of the writing dream I prayed and planned for all along. But I never knew I would love managing the whole process of producing quality books. He literally put the opportunity in my lap and wouldn’t let me ignore His leading. I’m just barely glimpsing how the Lord is pulling my life together, making sense of it, and honoring His promise to that tired young momma to be the keeper of her writing dreams.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

I love singing, time with those I love, and walking/hiking in nature.

What is the greatest life changing moment in your life to date?

There is no way I can pick one unless it is the decision I made as a seven-year-old to follow Jesus. It was the best decision I’ve made. The second-best choice is close—marrying my sweet Jerry. But I think life is full of defining moments. Sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones with the greatest long-term payoff!

Please give new writers the counsel you wish you had received when you first entered this writing journey.

I have to refer to your earlier question about life verses. This journey is best lived in reliance on Jesus. For most of us it is not an easy road. Many times, I’ve wished for a more stable life with a consistent salary that didn’t require giving so much of my heart and emotion into my job. But writing is not really an occupation for me, it is a vocation. Maybe as Christian writers we need to wrestle with that. Is writing about goals and career and financial success, or is it about pouring out the grace and truth our Lord pours in. If it is the latter, every day is a success, rejection letter or new contract. (Even if it doesn’t always feel like it!)

Give us a tour of your new release or releases and a glimpse into why you wrote this/these book/books.

This Christmas season I am excited to release a novella collection called Tinseled Tidings. The individual books are available on Kindle, and all three are combined in a paperback collection.


First in the collection is a re-packaging of You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch. This playful love story grew in depth as my heroine processed something I was processing—what does John 10:10 look like for someone who has walked through a lot of pain. How do you let go of fear of destruction and scarcity and step into the abundant life Jesus promises?


Book two, The Joy Scrooge, grew out of my very confusing relationship with celebrating Christmas. The hero is grieving and can’t celebrate without some inner healing. My reasons were different, but to step into holiday celebration hasn’t been easy for me either. (You can read about that in the free Advent devotional found at www.paulamoldenhauer.com/gifts.) Thankfully in the story, a spunky pediatrician wearing an elf costume teaches the hero and his son to drop the Scrooge ‘tude and embrace joy! The Holy Spirit is doing that with me.

Tinseled Tidings small Fruitcake

The third book, Fruitcake Fallout, is an historical set in World War II. It grew out of Song of Solomon 4:7, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” (KJV).  We’re the bride of Christ. He covered us with His blood and dressed us in robes of righteousness. Sometimes I think we miss out on the beauty of a deeper relationship with Him because we’re hung up on our imperfections—the very ones He cleansed us from. He sees us as altogether lovely—and so of course that’s how the hero of this love story sees the heroine, even though she looks at herself quite differently.

I love this collection because it is light and fun and encouraging. I have crazy costumes, a retired policeman who spouts silly poems, a family legend about a love potion—and then the Holy Spirit shows up as together we write and drop these nuggets of grace and truth into the story. It’s a breath-taking experience for me as a writer when that happens.

A Packaged Deal, releases later in December, and a novella in Barbour’s Bouquet of Brides collection, releases in January.

Here’s a summary of the stories in The Tinseled Tidings collection:

You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch ~ Retired police officer Rick Stanton dons a Grinch costume for the holidays and “patrols” Christmas, Florida to promote the festive town. Everyone falls under his charm except the person he most wants to impress—Postmaster Edie Hathaway. The Grinch is stealing Edie’s heart, but will Edie learn to trust him before he gives up on love?

The Joy Scrooge ~ Spunky pediatrician Krista Fjeld loved Tait Skroog for most of her life, but when Tait and his young son, Timmy, move back to town, she is shocked by the change in her old heart-throb. Embittered by his wife’s death, Tait is paralyzed by fear and grief. Will Krista convince him to embrace life—and her—or is the risk too great for everyone?

Fruitcake Fallout ~ Family legend says that the Preston fruitcake recipe makes young couples fall in love. But when WAC Evelyn Preston sends one to her high school crush stationed overseas during WW II, she snags the wrong private! When Willie Baxter tries to clear up the unintentional deception, will Evie give his poor smitten heart a chance?

Paula, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us. May God continue to bless you and your family! Here are the links to some of Paula’s wonderful books. Check ‘em out—great Christmas presents for friends!

Soul Scents: A Journey in the Son’s Embrace:


The link for the Tinseled Tidings collection:



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