Where It All Started and More

Susan Irene Fox interviews me today on her wonderful blog. If you’ve never visited her space before, I invite you to scan her previous entries as well. Her posts are beautiful and inspiring, and I know you’ll come away encouraged.

Remember, I’m giving a book to some lucky person who comments on my last blog post. The give-a-way ends Monday morning, 9 a.m. MST, so leave a comment now for a chance to win!

Giving Away a Book!

rsz_pmapprov3-01To date I’ve not published a book that is as vulnerable and near to my heart as Soul Scents: Bloom. It’s a book about discovering Jesus as peace and hope during times of on-going trial. It explains some of my years of silence as a writer, times when life required too much for me to write outside the pages of my journal.

One Amazon reviewer said, “What sweet truth Paula shares on each page of this devotional. God’s love and his extravagant grace toward us is shared through Scripture, the beauty of nature and the author’s personal stories of pain revealing God’s ever present care and commitment to our “blooming.” I loved the prayers at the end of each day’s reading and found myself saying, “Yes, Lord, Yes! Do that in me!” I came away from the pages yearning for more intimacy with Jesus, to know him better and more. Paula clearly knows her Lord and her honesty and vulnerability are so healing.”

Words like that help me share the tender spots, giving me hope that the message which pours forth from me has a place in my readers’ journeys.

I’d love to *give* a copy of Soul Scents: Bloom to a reader who comments either here or on social media. If you comment more than one place, I’ll put your name in the drawing for each place  you comment. In your comment let me know whether you prefer a Kindle copy or a paperback.

My daughter has a different tender place, and I invite you to help me help her as she serves. For the July pay period on Amazon.com, I will donate 50% of my Soul Scents book profits to the effort below. 

In 2015 our daughter, Sarah, fell in love with the women and children of another country.
She traveled there to serve with a NGO (Non-Governmenal Organization) which provides education, health care, and economical support in a war-torn region. At present over 500 children receive education and healthcare, as well as one solid meal each day. The folks at the NGO also work with the families from the school and look for ways to help them gain income. Last year Sarah taught the children and visited in the homes, where she met with the mothers and helped identify needs, whether it was a micro-load to get a sewing machine so the mom could start her own business, or immediate access to food and other resources when the needs were urgent.

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This year Sarah and her husband, David, are returning to the people she loves. They have raised more than half of the funds needed for this service trip.

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Sarah and David advertise for a garage sale to raise funds.

Please consider buying one of the books below and help these precious children! (If you’d like to donate directly to this effort, email me, and I’ll get you the proper information, including how the donation can be tax deductible.)

And don’t forget to leave a comment for the drawing for a free copy of Soul Scents: Bloom!

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Awaken to a more intimate, peaceful relationship with God. The Soul Scents devotional series invites readers into an ever-deepening discovery of Who God is and how He interacts with us. Bathed in grace, this collection of thirteen week devotionals is down-to-earth, offering spiritual insight gained from Scripture and the author’s journey into spiritual freedom. Soul Scents: Awaken, the first in the series, features week-day readings which include Scriptures and prayers. Rest in the Son’s embrace as you enter the beautiful heart of the Freedom Giver Himself.

 

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Become 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.

 

 

 

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In His presence we bloom in sunshine and storm. His Spirit carries us through the struggle, offering the love, strength, and wisdom we need for the times of trial. In the joyous seasons, His smile deepens our pleasure. Bloom in season and out!

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. (Watch for Soul Scents: Flourish coming in September!)

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Soul Scents: Bloom!

The Winner and HER Book

Congratulations to Chris Richards who won the 21 Days of 14553970Love, Joy, Grace, and Christmas drawing. This beautiful hard-cover devotional set was donated by Kathy Ide, who created the collection.

The promotional was offered on my blog as well as on Facebook. The funny thing about519gHQxiWlL this particular winner is when she commented that she’d like to be included in the drawing, it reminded me I’ve been wanting to read her book, Shattered Trust. I had a hard time finding it initially because I couldn’t remember the title, and I didn’t realize she was writing under the name J. Chris Richards.

The good news is I was eventually able to download Shattered Trust right onto my Kindle, and I began reading it that night.

Shattered Trust is the perfect read for me right now. I’m pushing hard to release Soul Scents: Bloom, and I often find myself falling into bed drained, but unable to sleep after all those hours at the computer. That’s when I grab my Kindle and unwind with Chris’s engaging story while my husband breathes deeply next to me. I haven’t had the time and energy to read as much as I’d like before I click off the light, but what I have read has drawn me right in.

The story is about a policeman who realizes he’s not upholding the integrity of his badge. I’m not yet finished with the story, but so far he’s found support in unexpected places as well as opposition from some powerful enemies as he comes clean. His confession impacts the whole department–and not everyone there is happy when the truth comes out.

I look forward to discovering if Officer Taul can earn back the respect he craves–from himself and those around him. This isn’t my typical genre, but I find myself devouring the story.

I’ll close with a quote from one of the book’s reviews on Amazon: “Ms. Richards writes a provocative story relating the sometimes insurmountable odds of doing the right thing.”

Giving Away 21 Days of Love and More

20160620_142135Have you ever sensed internal growth as a result of reading good fiction? My friend Kathy Ide believes strongly in the power of story. As an editor and the founder and director of The Christian Pen, Kathy is also well connected to the authors she loves.

From her passion came a beautiful four book set of fiction lovers devotionals. Kathy and I reconnected recently when I served as faculty for PENCON, the professional conference for editors. When I told her how much I loved her idea of combining fictional stories with devotional thoughts, she immediately gifted me two sets–one to give away and one to read!

I began 21 Days of Love during a recent get-a-way with my best friends from college.2016-06-16 16.57.29

It was the perfect light reading for the setting–great little short stories with powerful takeaways.

If you’d like to win the set of these beautiful, hard-back devotionals, 21 Days of Love, 21 Days of Joy, 21 Days of Grace, and 21 Days of Christmas, leave a comment and an email address. I’ll draw a name from the comments here and on social media and send the books to the winner!

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

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Grandma’s Recipe

There’s something satisfying about being bonded through food to someone you love. Several years ago I happened upon a recipe for banana pudding in one of my cookbooks. It delighted me to see adjustments written next to it that said, “Grandma’s way.”

20160528_140939I started making the pudding. First it was a Fourth of July tradition, then the kids started asking for it more often. Pretty much every time I made it I thought about how happy it would make my sweet grandma to know her great-grandchildren loved one of her specialties.
Time passed. Our family is growing. Soon after our daughter, Sarah, married, I found out banana pudding is one of her husband’s favorites, and my making of the treat increased in20160517_153924 frequency. That’s why our youngest son’s girlfriend, Ariel, discovered it. It delighted me when I offered to bring it to her graduation party, and her eyes lit with pleasure.

Again, it’s that connection thing. My grandma loved people through food. The family even teased her that she had some kind of a disease that required her to keep people feed. She was a good-old-fashioned-homemade-simple-country-kind-of cook. Nothing was fancy. Everything was GOOD. And there was always PLENTY of it.

Now those who are part of us get a little of Grandma’s lovin’ through my cookin’. (Hear the southern click in? I am from Oklahoma originally.)

As a mom of three boys, I soon discovered there is something to the old adage that food is a way into a man’s heart. My husband loved it as I learned favorite recipes from his side of the family, too. Traditions have grown from that–like homemade cinnamon rolls to start a holiday morning (or just because it snows).

For the gluten-free set, I’ve found my mom’s apple crisp to be a hit. For birthdays it’s a toss-up whether the one celebrated wants the “famous” Moldenhauer chocolate cake, a recipe from Jerry’s mom, Fencine, or my famous banana cake, a recipe from my mom. (Then again, David still votes for banana pudding no matter what!) When I make Grandma’s chocolate gravy for breakfast, I make homemade biscuits from a recipe from my brother, Curtis.

Then there are my own discoveries. Like the “holly” (Challah) bread which I learned to make, in part, because it pleased my Jewish neighbor, Bernice. It was a childhood favorite for her back in New York. My daughter, Sarah still loves to braid the dough, something she’s delighted in since childhood.IMAG0704

My grandma was well-known for her pies. Sarah and I spent hours covered in flour when she was little. I showed her how to feel the dough to know how much flour was needed, and how to “work” it as little as possible to keep it flaky. She now claims to make better apple pies than I do. (Her brothers agree; her father doesn’t. Smart man.)

Isn’t it all about relationship? I love making food that triggers a memory of someone I love. Grandma, Fencine, and Bernice are now all with their Lord, but I love watching the new people in my circle of love as they connect to a circle of those who have passed on and left their recipes of love for me to share.

Now . . . for those of you on Facebook who requested the recipe, I share this family treasure. (For more on the step-by step process, visit this post, which doesn’t have ingredients, but does show pictures and further explain the process.)

Grandma Eunice’s Banana Pudding

In large serving bowl:

Layer vanilla wafers and bananas

Cream together in medium sauce pan:

1 C sugar, 2 eggs, 3 heaping T flour

Add the following and place on medium heat:

3 C whole milk

Stir pretty much constantly!

When pudding thickens and begins to boil, keep stirring and add:

1 t real vanilla, 2 T real butter

When butter is completely melted pour over wafers and bananas. Crumble some wafers on top and line round wafers around the sides if you want just ’cause it’s pretty.

(If you’re making this for Ariel, Sarah, or David, go for more cookies and less bananas. If you’re making it for Stephen, go lighter on the cookies and heavier on the bananas. Then again your special people might like it however you do!)

Confession: Grandma used margarine and imitation vanilla, but even the best recipes can use a little tweak. ;o)

Titanic Special Price Through Midnight

TitanicHi Gang! I interrupt my normal blogging to let you know the book I co-authored with Kathleen E. Kovach, Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal, is on sale through midnight. It was discounted to honor the anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. I’m sorry I didn’t let you know sooner! If you act now you can purchase the e-book on Amazon for 99 cents. (Of course this is a paperback available as well, but not for 99 cents. :-))

 

Broken and Healing

Denver boasts one of those late spring storms of destruction. My beautiful, fragrant tree, the one I love most of all, got hit this time. From her broken, jagged limbs come these thoughts.

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He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
~Isaiah 61: 1 NKJV

My beautiful ornamental pear tree is broken.

Just days ago I photographed her glory, an explosion of glorious white blossoms which scented the air with a fragrance that must be a whiff of heaven itself. I posted pictures to Facebook, and over sixty people liked the photo, some commenting on how perfect and pretty she was.

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Then the April snow began—the heavy, wet kind. At first blooms looked pretty, just slightly coated with snow that sparkled.

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Then they bent to the wet weight. Soon, tattered, they hung limp. Then even the limbs of that beautiful tree began to droop. Yesterday my husband shook the lower branches, hoping to protect her.

But the snow fell all night.

This morning I had to duck beneath her drooping arms to get to my car.

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While I worked the snow continued.

By the time I pulled around the corner to return home, it had happened. What last week were strong branches a child could climb upon were now severed limbs, snapped by the cold temperatures and the weight of the snow. My beautiful, beautiful tree is broken, jagged, wounded.

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My heart has been that way. Has yours?

A friend told me trees often break because they haven’t been pruned properly or at the right time. The Internet says you should wait until the cold of winter is passed to prune. In fact, late fall, when the tree is dormant is the best time. We pruned too early this year. On one of those glorious spring days we cut the limbs that were too close too our roof. I wonder if that’s why my favorite tree couldn’t handle this last late storm? Or maybe we didn’t prune the right places. I read today about the very precise way to prune a tree. It’s important to cut away the weak places so the tree can grow strong and robust.

I don’t know if a more expert tree trimmer could have prevented the damage I gaze at through my office window. Some storms are just too much no matter what you do. But it makes me think about God. About me. About this book.

In this volume of Soul Scents, I’m sharing storm stories. There were times my husband and I were broken. Parts of our life were dormant, and we were pruned. Jobs, churches, friendships, ministry, life passions—cut away neatly. The pruning started before the big storms. But there were weak places we held too tightly, refusing the snip of the pruning shears. During the storm those places fell too, only instead of neat, clean cuts they fell broken and jagged.

The good news is that even when a life storm rages harder and longer than we think possible, there is One who never leaves us. Sometimes He wisely prunes away the weaknesses; sometimes the world assaults and breaks us; other times we’re foolish and break ourselves. But He is the Master Gardner and knows just what to do help us grow strong again.

My tree will live. The snow stopped falling about an hour ago. The April temperature melts the mounded white more quickly. Even in the time since I began typing this devotional the beautiful limbs, almost relieved of the extra weight, have lifted. Those that snapped are the only ones now hugging the ground.

I love that tree.

I’m anxious to cut away the dead weight, but I am not heartless. I grieve those beautiful, blossom covered limbs that live no longer. Soon they will shrivel completely. What shocks me, though, is how many blossoms are springing back to life on the branches that survived! My pretty tree will soon be covered with fresh new leaves. She may have a few lopsided places, but she’ll keep growing. Next years she’ll stand stronger than ever. Her blossoms will once again decorate our yard and send their beautiful fragrance wafting right into my soul.

My friend, our Lord comes to heal our broken places. He refuses to leave us captive to our hurts or forever gazing at our destruction. He beckons us to step away from the rubble. He clears away the dead and severed parts, cutting the dead weight at those jagged breaks. He binds the wounds so they can heal.

Some things heal quickly. Others take a long time. Some wounds may be for heaven.

All wounds will heal.

Daily we stand stronger. More beautiful. And our lives send the aroma of Christ wafting out to souls hungry for His fragrance.

Sweet Lord, I trust You. Even when it is hard. Help me to surrender to pruning shears so that my weaknesses are more easily cut away. I want to stand strong even in storms. I know there are things that have been severed through storm, things I’ve held too tightly for normal pruning. These are especially jagged wounds. But even here weaknesses are cut away. Heal me where I am broken. I trust You to do it well. Where the wounds are the deepest I trust You to lead me out slowly, as I can handle the changes. I believe You are making me stronger. More beautiful. Make my life a fragrant offering that draws other to You.

*As I penned this devotional today I knew it was right for the first week of Soul Scents: Bloom, which releases in June. Books 1 & 2 are available now.

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