Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Soul Scents with @PaulaMoldenhauer

Jaime here. I'm in Chicago this week on a work trip, so a wonderful author-friend and fellow literary agency-mate has honored me with her presence today. Paula Moldenhauer is a wonderful author and you will  be so blessed to meet her today and receive some devotional insight on this beginning of the week! I know I am!


Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write it?

Oh my goodness! It’s been a whirlwind. I released the four-book Soul Scents devotional series, culminating with Soul Scents: Flourish, all in one year! Talk about ambitious! 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 my own journey into spiritual freedom.  The week-day readings include Scriptures and prayers. It’s my hope that readers will grow through this series in their ability to rest in the Son’s embrace as they enter the beautiful heart of the Freedom Giver Himself.

Book one, Soul Scents: Awaken, (https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Scents-Spiritual-Journey-Embrace/dp/1522759689 ) invites readers to awaken to a more intimate, peaceful relationship with God.

Soul Scents: Rooted, (https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Scents-Spiritual-Journey-Embrace-ebook/dp/B01D3VL2I6 )the second book in the series, focus on rooting us in our identity in Christ and includes topics such as worthiness, spiritual battle, and destiny.


Book three, Soul Scents: Bloom, (https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Scents-Spiritual-Journey-Embrace-ebook/dp/B01HG55FAG) shows how we can bloom in His presence in sunshine and storm as His Spirit carries us through both joy and struggle, offering the love, strength, and wisdom we need.

Soul Scents: Flourish (https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Scents-Flourish-Spiritual-Journey-ebook/dp/B01N0S6R15 ) surprised me. When I began the series I didn’t know the Lord would ask me to write about my journey out of emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse in this final book. It’s really about finding the courage to let God lead us to the other side of deep wounding so we can live in greater joy and freedom.

What personal truths did you learn while writing this book, and how did they change your walk with Christ?

You know, I’m 51 years old. The Lord has been faithful to heal me incrementally. He never takes us faster than we are able to move as He brings us into greater light and truth. In the journey of releasing this series, He probed old issues where I’d already made progress, like people-pleasing and basing my identity in the wrong things, which the first two books deal with. Or like the struggle to trust Him when seasons of hardship last years, not months, like I write about in the third book. But it was the last book, Soul Scents: Flourish, that took me really deep.  He showed me where lie weeds twisted around the good plantings of my heart, choking abundant life. As I faced the deeper reality of my pain and abuse and stepped into greater truth, the tendrils of that vile weed uncurled. As God revealed how pain and abuse twisted my understanding of who He is and how He works, the distrust of His goodness (that I’ve secretly always struggled with) fell away.  The result was increased intimacy with Jesus and the deeper joy I prayed for but couldn’t find.

When you think of your readers, what are the hopes and prayers you have for them as they read this book?

For me life is all about discovering the wonder of relationship with our Creator. It’s more beautiful and joyful than I could have dreamed when I chose to follow Jesus as a seven-year-old. In my process of deepening intimacy with the Lord, I’m blown away by how full of grace He is and how committed He is to setting us free from the things that hold us back in our relationship with Him and our ability to live in the fullness of who He created us to be. That’s what I want for readers. Deepened intimacy. More freedom to love God, themselves, and others. Healing from the stuff that holds them back. A release into the greater fullness of who they are and who He meant them to be. Scripture says when we discover His love we’ll be blown away by the amazing things He will do in our lives (Ephesians 3:14-21). I’m praying that for my readers!

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it and why?

I don’t know that there is a subject I would avoid, but I find that I have low tolerance for graphic display of violence, abuse, psychotic episodes, etc. in movies and books. I used to think it was because I was too sensitive or na├»ve. Now I understand that evil is evil. My own abuse has been so deep, that I feel the evil in these portrayals.

Writing about real issues is who I am. But I think I’ll always need to do it in the context of God’s great grace and peace, whether in fiction or non-fiction (I wrote both). This is something I’m praying about because I know my specific calling is to write in a way that helps those held captive, whether from false teaching, abuse, or the after-effects of abuse, find Jesus, more healing, and greater freedom. But for some of us that journey has to be quite gentle.

Moving on from your book tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What strange writing habits do you have? Like standing on your head while you write with a pen between your teeth?

When writing Bloom and Flourish I often had 3-5 journals open on the desk in front of me. Does that count? In 2012 I was riding high, I’d just received my first traditional contract, was releasing a second book with my buddy, Kathleen E. Kovach, and was in negotiations for another. I’d just come out of years of hardship that interrupted my writing journey (which I talk about in Bloom), and thought my life as an author had truly begun. I was so excited! Then I had back-to-back car accidents resulting in concussive symptoms and whiplash. My doctor told me no reading or writing for a while. Even after he lifted the ban, if I read or wrote for very long I’d get strange symptoms in my head. If I didn’t stop, they would progress into symptoms throughout my body.

I had to really slow down. As I improved, I tried hard to work again, but it was like pushing a brick wall. Finally the LORD, my husband, and my prayer group all helped me understand that the LORD was inviting me into a season of healing. When I finally surrendered I spent a lot of time walking, talking to my flowers, and sitting on my deck with my journal. Then suddenly one day I knew HE wanted me to release the devotional series. As I wrote, it was incredible to realize what He’d taught me during my Sabbatical was what I needed to write. The words just poured out of me and He’d often send me to my journals to glean the wisdom and truth He gave me over those healing years between 2012 and 2015. I love how organic the process was, how my time of healing was really writing this series. I just didn’t know it.

Do you have a writing mentor, or another author who has inspired/encouraged you in some way?

There are more than I have time to write about! Of special note are Marlene Bagnull, who was the first professional to see my calling as a writer. She took a personal interest in me, which made a huge difference in my ability to persevere. Then Rachelle Gardner contracted me as a client. Her belief in me was a needed piece in my journey, and when she encouraged me to write my truth, it unlocked something within. I’m also forever grateful to Brandilyn Collins and to my prayer group. I don’t know if I’d have made it without their prayers and encouragement.

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

Honestly my greatest passion is Jesus and my life in Him, so all of my writing comes from that place.

Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were responsible to write your own epitaph for your tombstone, what would it say?

Ha ha! Hm . . . I think: She loved her God, her family, and helping captives find freedom

Anne is an insatiable romantic with a serious vintage aura in all she writes. Do you have fabulous love story in your family history that you could share with us in a few words? If not, what about your own?

I do! In fact it is the story seed for my latest contracted novella (details coming soon!). One time I was visiting a little family owned restaurant deep in the country near where I grew up in the foothills of the Ozarks. The proprietor was kind enough to come out and talk to us about the history of her building, which was originally a little country store and was the setting for the store in the old movie, “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

We commented to her that we hadn’t had French fries like she sold since my grandma, Eunice, died. Her gaze whipped to me. “You’re Aunt Eunice’s grand-daughter?” she said. Then she told me a story about my grandpa Curtis that I’d never heard.

Evidently her father’s dad died when he was very young, so at age eight or so he was already driving a wagon to try to help support his mother and sisters. The older boys picked on him, flicked him in the head, and generally mistreated him. She said one day he was in the wagon, crying, while an older boy was bothering him. My grandpa was also employed with this company and witnessed the incident. He was a big man, and he stalked over to the wagon and picked up the older boy by his overall straps! He told everyone watching that from that day forward anyone who picked on the little boy would answer to him. From that day forward nobody bothered the little boy. I started crying and so did the lady telling me this story. Isn’t that just like God to give me such a wonderful memory of my grandpa? I use parts of this story in the book releasing from Barbour Publishing in January of 2018, and my hero’s character arc grew from this starting point.

Erica and Gabrielle both write sweet historical romances. How does romance influence your own writing and if it doesn’t, what other elements influence your writing?

I’ll put it this way. I see life as an opportunity to be a part of the grand Love Story with Jesus, and if a novel doesn’t have some romantic elements, I just feel cheated!

And for some extra fun . . .

If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why?

Hmmm . . . Thor is pretty hot . . . but I’d rather be rescued by Aragorn from Lord of the Ring or Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. lol

If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

I started to say Juliet O’Hara from Psych because she’s just so cool and strong and beautiful and gets to fall in love. Then I thought of Sarah Walker from Chuck for the same reasons, but then again I wouldn’t want to discover dead bodies or be kidnapped by serial killers or have to shoot anyone. How about Queen Elizabeth from The Crown?

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

I sometimes wear my parent’s wedding band. It was given to me after they divorced. At one point I considered not keeping it because of painful memories, but the Lord reminded me that their union is where I began, and He wanted me here on this earth. He knew what my journey would be, and He’s been with me all the way. The ring is a symbol to me of God’s grand plan for my life.

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your book! J Please share something below:

Week One, Day One from Soul Scents: Flourish

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
~ Psalm 147:3 NLT

That night I lay naked before him, and his fingers traced the long, jagged marks. Then he kissed each one. “They are your battle scars,” my husband said. “Every one is beautiful.”
My stretch marks are intense.
Birthing four children in six and a half years was not kind to my body. With each pregnancy the marring lengthened. By the end of the last pregnancy some scars stretched tall, above my belly button. Lower on my abdomen it’s like a never ending layering and widening of the tracks. Some of the marks pucker even now, almost twenty years since this body held a child within.
My tummy is full of scars, but I rarely think about them.
Long ago my husband gave them value and beauty, for each shredding of my epidermis was part of something glorious and breathtaking. New birth. The making of someone new and treasured.
On a more recent night I sat outside in the dark, the breeze brushing my arms with goose bumps, and Someone else talked about my scars. Not the ones on my body, but the ones on my heart. The ones not everyone sees, but He does. “You are my partner and bride,” whispered my eternal Groom. “You bear many scars, but each is lovely to Me. I see no fault. I am highly pleased.”
To flourish with Christ is to reach the point in our relationship with Him where we’re secure enough to talk about the things we’d rather leave unspoken, to expose our wounds and scars and know there will be no rejection, no manipulation, no judgment.
Just new healing.
New freedom.
Flourishing is enjoying the comfortable companionship that comes from a confident relationship. Just as we understand we are safe in a healthy marriage or long-term friendship, we realize we’re safe and secure in this relationship with Jesus. It's okay to live life and talk about things, even if it means unpacking some of those bags and boxes that have been stacked in the basement where we've tried to ignore them. We can open them slowly knowing our companion is there and won't judge us for keeping the silly mementos or for leaking tears when a tender memory surfaces.
He is here now. He was there then. We’re safe in His arms, and it's all right to take a moment to process or to close the box and return later. If we choose to linger there with our exposed boxes, we don't have to explain it to Him or tell Him the story. He just wants to share the moment, reminding us He knows how much it hurt, how sometimes we still bleed, how part of our wounds have scabbed and some have scarred. He knows we don't like how the scars look and that we’re afraid people will mock us for them. He knows where we still carry anger, hidden even from ourselves.
His response is love. Pure. Without selfishness clouding His perspective. His plan is to help you and me heal as much as we can this side of heaven. He wants to take us through the pain so we are free from it.*
When I planned a four-book series culminating with Soul Scents: Flourish, I had no idea this would be our journey. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? The ever-deepening discovery of who Jesus is leads to ever-deepening trust in Him. And where there is trust, there is intimacy and authenticity. The good and bad together. The most sacred parts of ourselves vulnerable, yet safe, in His hands.
This journey we’re taking together is beautiful, my friend. It is the kind of walk where we invite only the few, the brave, the most trusted. It is an unveiling of the pain and scarring for the purpose of healing. As He heals our wounds, He also heals our misconceptions of who He is. And so the intimacy cycle continues. Deeper trust, purer love, greater intimacy—all these good things—follow the healing.
We flourish in freedom in Jesus, the only one whose selfless love is always trustworthy, always acting for our good. He never takes, demands, or uses us up. He gives. He helps. He empowers. This is the Jesus who stretched His arms on the cruel cross, who bore in His body the marks and scars of the world, who chose this. For us. To show us the way out of the world’s wounds and to invite us into relationship more whole and pure than we ever dreamed possible.
This Jesus tenderly caresses the scarred places and says, “I find no fault.”
My friend, our scars are victory marks. The places He has healed and is healing. He tends our wounds, loving our hearts to health and strength. He turns dead, black, lifeless places to pink, healthy, whole places. He cleanses angry places filled with puss. He cradles our heart in His hands until the emotional bruises heal.
It is from these scars He births new life.

Sweet Jesus, You say I am beautiful just as I am. Scars and all. Thank You for covering me with Your precious blood, wiping away the fault and failure. Thank You for fully and completely accepting me. All of me. Thank You for giving me the freedom to live as Your treasured bride, to flourish in the fullness of Your pure love. To accept myself in You. Help me to believe You truly love me this way. Without condition. Without condemnation.

*Special thanks to Carmen Barber whose private prayer time helped flesh out these thoughts and who then shared them with me as I fought to understand what God was doing with this book.


Jaime again. See what I mean? I absolutely loved this time with Paula and I hope you did too! She is willing to giveaway either the FULL SET OF DEVOTIONALS in e-copy form, or one of the devotionals in hard copy form. (Winner's choice). Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you all for inviting me here! You have a lovely blog and I've enjoyed connecting in this way!

  2. I was a little confused as to where to comment but I did on the rafflecopter. Thanks!

    1. I was confused at first too, but I love that people can enter the raffle even without leaving a comment! I'm glad you visited today. Good luck!

  3. I loved the review of the set of devotion books. Thank you for the giveaway. This is such a great blessing for one reader because of receiving all four books. wow so nice

    1. I'm thrilled to be able to donate the books! Good luck Tammy!

  4. I only see two entries, but I have followed her blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. for several years now. The thing I love most is that Paula shares her own struggles and victories in such an open, honest, and vulnerable way.

    1. Joni! The entries actually went in a raffle box above . . . I was confused at first two. Thank you for commenting.


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