Allow me to introduce you to Paula Moldenhauer, an accomplished author of fiction and non-fiction books. Paula has also written over 300 articles on parenting, encouragement for moms, homeschooling, marriage and family, and general spiritual encouragement. She has recently published Soul Scents: Bloom, her third in the Soul Scents series of devotionals (there are four, one for each season). Since I too am I the process of writing a unique set of devotionals, I was at once intrigued and drawn in by the characteristic intimacy, insight and authenticity of the perspective of Paula’s devotionals.
Below you’ll find more in-depth information about how Paula wrote her books. Oh – and by the way, she’s giving away a free copy of her book – just click here! And during the month of July, if you purchase any of her devotionals on Amazon.com, she will donate 50% of her book profits to her daughter’s service trip to a war-torn region to serve with an NGO which provides education, health care and economic support to over 500 children (more information on her website).
Paula, this is a remarkably unique set of devotionals. How did you come up with the idea?
Years ago I had a devotional ministry on-line. It was one of the most wonderful God-things I’ve experience. The idea was my husband’s. Each week I mailed subscribers a new devotional. As the Soul Scents community grew in number, it also grew in relationships. I’m still friends with some of the subscribers who emailed me in response to the devotions. It was a precious season!
Then my family entered into several years of difficulty, and the demands of caring for my family didn’t leave space to continue the devotional ministry. The books grew out of this time of seeking God. The first two, Soul Scents: Awaken and Soul Scents: Rooted include a fair amount of content from those years of the on-line ministry, as well as devotions written more recently. Soul Scents: Bloom is mostly written from what I learned during the difficult season of several years when the Lord asked me to give up writing for the public and focus on the needs of my family. I learned a lot during those difficult years!
In this particular devotional called Bloom, you allowed yourself to be incredibly open and vulnerable. You showed us the raw and the intimate side of you. Why did you make the decision to do that?
It’s my experience that too often in Christian circles we put on our “best” face and hide our struggles. I believe that leaves most of us feeling more alone than the Lord wants. It was a vulnerable and genuine community of godly women that helped me survive the years I write about in Soul Scents: Bloom. In fact, I dedicate the book to them. While there are obviously respectable boundaries and wise choices around when and where to share, I believe it is time Christians take off the masks and stand together in authentic communities of prayer. As we are real and seek God together, we grow in Him by leaps and bounds, and we find the healthy relationships we’ve craved.
Bloom became more raw than I expected. The Lord asked me to spend some time in the book of Job to help frame the concepts I wrote about in this book. As I did so, He whispered, “I want to heal you, but you need to let me do it My way.” As He healed me, He called me to share about the process in the book. I believe writers are often called to brave the deep places in life and write about them. Everyone has deep places, but a writer enters into them and helps interpret them for world. I will admit, however, to feeling very vulnerable when the book released. It was not a happy day for me. In fact, the Lord and I had some heavy conversation because of the emotions I experienced that week! But He is good. Always. And even in that He brought more healing.
In this 13-week devotional, you help us transform from struggling with life and God to being able to simply be and breathe with God at our side. In a nutshell, what are the ways you help us do that day by day?
I think a huge part of the journey is giving ourselves permission to struggle. To be real. Life will have hardship. Sometimes our trials are bigger than we dreamed we could survive. Sometimes they would be doable, but they last so long. As “good” Christians, I think we often try to gut it out. Hang onto our favorite Bible verses and faith verbiage and “praise the Lord” our way through. But Jesus is a Person. I don’t think it is doctrine or theology that gets us through. It’s HIM. I suppose the most authentic advice I can give is to simply let go of the striving. Trying so hard to do it “right.” I think we need to be gentle with ourselves and turn our gaze upon the precious face of the only One who truly understands.
It’s about being with Jesus. Letting the Holy Spirit comfort and minister to us. But not in the “did you have your quiet time today” mindset. Instead we realize He is with us every single moment of our life. He is in the cool breeze. The fragrance of the flowers. The sunset. As believers we are ONE with GOD. I love John 14! We can take to heart the same words Jesus shared with His disciples when He told them not to be troubled. His promise to them was living as ONE through the indwelling Spirit. The AMPC says, “I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you.” Jesus then promises His peace and His presence. He is always there. We simply lean into Him in authentic, on-going, every-minute, always-there communion.
Now that you’ve published your set of four devotionals: Soul Scents – Awaken, Rooted, Bloom and Flourish – what’s next for you?
Actually Soul Scents: Flourish is now in process. I’m busy preparing for its release, coming this September. I really believe God asked me to do all four of these books in less than a year – but it’s been a whirlwind! I’m not sure what is after that, other than I’m getting more opportunities to speak and share these concepts through that venue.
I am also a fiction writer, and I hope He’ll release me to do a little playing with novel writing again. I find that sometimes I need a break from the deep journeys. Writing this series has been very deep. But if He has other plans, I’m on board!