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A Sweet Read

Sweet stories of second chances from a God of second chances. The stories in this collection will warm your heart and encourage you to keep on going when all your circumstances say otherwise. No matter where you are or what you’re struggling with, these stories will touch you where you’re at. Each story stands on its own, but in total, paints a picture of a God who offers second chances, and third chances, and more. Stories include forgiveness, living out your dreams, revising your opinion of others, and finding a forever home. A sweet read. Learn more.

Donna

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Awaken~A Paula Moldenhauer Devotional

Guest Post from the author of Soul Scents: Awaken  

Ten Years and It’s Still True

Paula awaken

What I found was joyously stunning.

Recently I read through hundreds of devotionals I’d written over a span of more than ten years. I was deciding which devotional thoughts I wanted to include my latest book project, Soul Scents ~ A Journey in the Son’s Embrace, which offers four volumes of devotional reading: Awaken, Rooted, Bloom, and Flourish. As I read, made my choices, and edited my heart rejoiced because I still believed it all.

The journey of the last ten years has been arduous, but the glorious truths our sweet Savior taught me along the way stand the test of time.

I may have been naïve in 2004 before the big storms hit. Back then I wrote in wonder as I absorbed new understanding of who Jesus is.  I may not have understood how deeply the concepts I penned would be tested. I certainly didn’t understand what I was praying as I offered my thoughts of praise and surrender, nor did I guess how God would take me at my word.

But I’m delighted to report it’s all true.

I edited word counts and clunky sentences, but the foundational concepts which I so naively typed many years ago needed no revision. And guess what? The devotionals I penned a few weeks ago are again written in wonder as I “absorb new understanding of who Jesus is.”

In 2004 I invited readers to go with me on a journey into the heart of Jesus. I declared we’d never run out of places to discover, and we never have. He shows us glimpses of His character then allows life experiences to solidify the understanding of the insight. Over time He takes initial understanding deeper and reveals new wonders of His Person.

To be vulnerable, our family rode some difficult waters after the earlier devotionals were written. In spring of 2015 I tried to write about the really hard years, but I often dissolved into tears at the computer.

The Lord called me away from those efforts and invited me to spend time with Him. I journaled, did some more Bible study in the Song of Solomon, and rested. Truth be told I spent a lot of time talking to my plants last summer! And the Lord, always the Healer, did what He does best and healed me.

In the fall the Lord released me back into focusing on development of Soul Scents. I wasn’t really surprised (although I was very pleased) when those months of seeking God resulted in devotions for volumes 3 & 4 of this collection. Even though I believed I was not productive last year, I was writing the rest of this series without knowing it.

I love how organic that is.

I’m excited to offer fellow travelers a year’s journey in the Son’s embrace. It begins with volume 1, Soul Scents: Awaken, and continues with a new devotional book releasing each quarter of 2016.

Soul Scents: Awaken is available on Kindle and in print. 

 

Bio:

Paula headshot

Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to be released into full potential through freedom in Christ and the empowerment of God’s grace. Published over 300 times in non-fiction markets, her first devotional book series, Soul Scents, releases in four volumes beginning with Soul Scents: Awaken. Paula’s first two novels released in 2012. Sometimes empty-nesters, Paula and her husband, Jerry, enjoy four adult children and a wonderful son-in-law. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, walking barefoot and talking to her flowers. For inspirational articles, book information, and speaking topics visit: www.paulamoldenhauer.com

The Midwife’s Tale Part Five

The Midwife’s Tale Part Five

Joseph smiled, then raised the child over his head. He closed his eyes and looked toward heaven.

“Elohenu.”  Blessed are You, O Lord our God.

I smiled, eyes closed. He was praying the traditional Passover blessing over his child.

“Thank You for entrusting us with this gift from You, Yahweh. You have favored us with Your presence in the form of this child. We will raise him and train him to hear You. He is Emmanuel, and He will save His people.”

I was spellbound with this dedication of the child to God. I knelt before them, my heart full and my eyes overflowing with tears. I may not know much about the ways of God, but at that moment I knew I was in His presence as never before. And for perhaps the first time in my life, I was speechless.

I don’t know how long I knelt there, praising God in my heart. All I know for sure is that when I finally stirred, the sun was peeking over the eastern gate.

I rose stiffly, knees protesting the hours spent on the floor.  Mary and Joseph slept side by side on the hay, and the infant lay in a manger, wrapped in some old cloths Joseph had found tucked in a small box. When he’d first pulled out the lengths of rough cloth, I’d been appalled that he would be content to wrap his child in cloths used to rub down newborn lambs. I’d even offered to go to my house and bring back some proper baby clothes.

Joseph shook his head. “Scripture says Emmanuel will come like a lamb to save His people. It seems fitting He should be wrapped in lamb’s cloths.”

A child sent as a lamb? It didn’t make any sense to me.  Lambs were used as sacrifices and  Jews don’t sacrifice their children, so I knew he didn’t mean that.  “How can this child be like a lamb of God?”

“All I know is what God has told us. This child will save His people.”

Outside the stable, I heard the sound of footsteps. I walked toward the opening of the cave and peered out.

Several men dressed in shepherd’s garb paused outside the stable.  They looked into the dawn sky and then back to the stable.

The oldest one spoke. “Is this where the Christ child can be found?”

Christ child? I knew about the Christ child. The one promised who would set the Jews free, who would operate in the anointing of God.

“What do you know of this child?”

One of the shepherds stepped forward.  “An angel appeared to us while we were standing watch over our sheep.  He told us to come here to see the Christ.”  He gestured to his fellow shepherds.  “Then more angels sang the child’s praises.”

More angels.  This couldn’t be any ordinary baby.  I looked into the night sky.  A large star shone upon the stable.  “Is that how you came to be here?”

The youngest nodded.  “The angel told us to look for a bright star that would point us to the child, and that He would be wrapped up like a lamb.”

Lamb’s rags.  I pointed to the baby inside. “He is in there.”

I wandered out into the courtyard area, listening to the sounds of the city coming awake for another day. I felt sorry for the people. I was pretty sure they had missed a miracle.

Don’t get me wrong. As a midwife, I know every birth is a miracle.  As a Jew, I believe the scriptures that say we are created by God, formed by His hand, known from our mother’s womb.

No, the miracle I’m talking about is that God would come to his people in the form of a tiny child, a lamb, to set His people free.

I know a big part of me was set free that night.

I’m going to keep an eye on this Christ-child. I think He is destined to something bigger than His parents, these shepherds, even I can imagine.

And I want to be there when that happens.

Donna

The Midwife’s Tale Part Four

The Midwife’s Tale Part Four

Joseph poked his head in through the doorway, and Mary smiled at him.  “She doesn’t believe about our baby, Joseph. Tell her about your dream.”

And so Joseph began relating the details of a most extraordinary dream he’d had, of God confirming Mary’s story about the child in her womb being conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Okay, so I really wasn’t in any position to contradict their story. I wasn’t there. And, I had a cousin who swore she was still a virgin after she had her first baby, even though we all knew better. Who was I to limit God?

The thing that really convinced me was their complete and unshakeable belief that God not only could but would work through them.  Joseph was a carpenter, not an educated man filled with prophecy from the prophets, or able to argue the scriptures to prove his point.  His hands were toughened by many hours of hard work. His strong fingers bore the marks of chisels and planes.

All he knew was what he believed God had told him in his dream. And he believed Mary when she told him about the visit by the angel.

This was the first time I had seen anyone risk their entire being for their belief in God.  I was humbled by their faith.

After another hour of minor contractions, Mary’s labor began in earnest.  I ushered Joseph out into the dark.  “Pray that God will ease her pain and make this child come soon.”

Joseph’s wan smile filled my heart. “God is already here, in this child. Nothing will go wrong.”

His simple words of faith and his complete trust in God pricked at my conscience. Here I was, a woman whose faith was none too evident in her life, a woman confident of her career, secure in her marriage, successful and comfortable, feeling a little envious of the uncomplicated faith of a carpenter and his wife in a stable in Bethlehem.

I wanted what they had.

Within a short time, Mary had put every ounce of strength she had into pushing a tiny baby boy into the world. His full head of dark hair heralded his coming, and his strong cry soon filled the stable.  Joseph came into the cave at the first cry, the worry lines erased from his face.  Kneeling beside his wife and new son, tears streamed down his face.  He reached for the child, and Mary passed the infant gently to its father.

Joseph stared into the child’s face for several moments as Mary and I watched. The infant reached a tiny hand to his father’s beard, grasping it between his miniature fingers.

Donna

The Midwife’s Tale Part Three

The Midwife’s Tale Part Three

I looked to her husband. “Wait outside.”  He cast an anxious look at his wife.  She nodded at him, then turned to face me again.

“Tell me what to do.”  Her dark eyes were filled with worry.

“Is this your first child?”  I set my satchel beside her head and loosened the strings.

She nodded.

“Have you ever assisted at a birth?”  I pulled a small sheet from the bag.

She shook her head, eyes closed. A tear ran down her cheek.

I forced a smile I didn’t feel.  “Fear will steal your joy. Don’t be afraid. You are in good hands. I am one of the best midwives in Bethlehem.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at me.  “I don’t know you, but I trust God, and I trust Joseph, and so I will trust you.”

I laid a hand on her protruding belly.  Deep inside I could feel the contractions that would soon increase to push this baby into the world. “Sit for a moment, take a rest. This baby isn’t going to come this minute.”

She relaxed onto one hip, and I leaned my head to her stomach and listened. Her heart beat regularly, and there — I could hear the baby’s heart beat, strong and sure.

Sitting back on my heels, I patted her hand. “Everything sounds fine. Now, let’s get you in position to deliver this baby.”

Over the next half hour we worked together, this scared young woman and I, to get her in the delivery position. I went over the stages of labor she could expect, and how long each might be expected to last.  As scared as she was, I left out the description of what could go wrong. She had enough on her mind right now not to deal with that.

When she was as comfortable as she was going to get in this dark damp cave, we knelt together, two women alone in the dark, as Joseph paced outside and the sheep in the corner nodded.

In between her contractions, when she could speak, we did what women do, what they have done for eons.  We talked.

I learned that Mary was a newly married maiden, married only six months before. My eyebrows raised at that, let me tell you. And when she told me the story of the baby she was carrying, about an angel of the Lord, in a dream, and the Messiah, well, I thought she was just trying to cover her indiscretion.

Donna

The Midwife’s Tale Part 2

The Midwife’s Tale Part Two

“Then where are you staying?”  Horror filled my heart at the thought of delivering a baby out in the open.

Now it was his turn to direct me, past the inn, down a dark alley, into a small courtyard behind.  He pointed to a small hole carved in the wall.

My heart leaped in my throat. This was worse than I had feared.  “In the stable?”  Animals, dirt, mold — this was not a fit place for any child to be born.

He nodded, eyes downcast, embarrassment evident.

“If you are here for the census, you have family. Why not stay with them?”

“We were detained on the road because my wife could not travel quickly. When we got here yesterday, there was no room for us anywhere.”

I nodded. The city was filled to overflowing.  Even my own small house, tight quarters for me, my husband, and my four children ordinarily, now housed two extra families in response to the decree for everyone in Judea to return to the city of their forefathers and be counted.  More than likely a new tax would be implemented as a result.  I might be a simple Jew, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew how this evil and oppressive government operated.

The man reached the entrance to the small cavelike structure and stopped.  He called softly, almost a whisper.  “Mary, it is me, Joseph. I have brought the midwife.”

He stooped over and disappeared inside.  I waited a moment, then followed him.

The first thing that struck me was how quiet it was in this small structure.  The man lit a small lamp, and the shadows danced in the corners.  The strong smell of hay tickled my nose, and the dust stirred up by my feet danced on beams of light.  In the far corner, a ewe hovered over its lamb, their eyes reflecting amber in the dim light.

In the center of the small shed knelt the woman. Crouched over, her forehead nearly touching the hay-strewn floor, dust fringed the edge of her skirt. She looked up, her face white. Perspiration glowed on her forehead and upper lip, and an ugly grimace crossed her face as another spasm came over her. I waited until the wave of pain passed, giving her the respect due her at this time.

A low moan escaped her lips, and my eye caught a restless movement in the corner. The lamb stood and pressed closer to its mother. The ewe nuzzled the infant, and it settled to its knees again in the hay.

The young woman moaned again, and my training took over. I knelt beside the woman and looked deep into her eyes. Laying my hand on her forehead, I was glad to feel the coolness of her skin beneath my fingers.

Donna

God Equips

This inspiring article is a great reminder of how God equips us to do the tasks set before us.

God has a will, or a plan for each of us. Psalm 139:16 (NLT) tells us, You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Each of us is on this earth for a specific reason. We may not know it completely right now. We may be in a season of preparation to enter that calling. But God has a plan for each of us.

Some are called to be pastors and teachers, some doctors, lawyers. Some to be auto mechanics, electricians, and plumbers.

Some, like myself, are called to be writers. Learn more.

Donna

Counting the Days: A 31-Day Devotional

Leeann Bett’s new book, Counting the Days: A 31-day devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, is available. If you are a numbers person or have a loved one who is, this might be a great book for consideration. A 31-day devotional designed to lead the reader into their daily quiet time, this book consists of 5-minute accounting-related devotionals. Immerse yourself in God’s word on a regular basis and see the positive changes in your walk with the Lord. Learn more.

Donna

Second Chances

Sweet stories of second chances from a God of second chances. The stories in this collection will warm your heart and encourage you to keep on going when all your circumstances say otherwise. No matter where you are or what you’re struggling with, these stories will touch you where you’re at. Each story stands on its own, but in total, paints a picture of a God who offers second chances, and third chances, and more. Stories include forgiveness, living out your dreams, revising your opinion of others, and finding a forever home. A sweet summer read. Learn more.

Donna

A Good Reminder

Sometimes we need a good reminder of why we do what we do as writers. It can be a long, lonely journey.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

Picture this . . . you’re sandwiched between friends, holding onto the safety bar with a vice grip. The car moves up and up. Your jaw is clenched. You reach the top and- Do you remember the thrill of a good roller coaster ride? What emotions rocketed through your body? I bet, if you’re like me, excitement and fear intertwined with each clickety clack of the wheels as they climbed to the top. Right? Learn more.

Donna