Ashes

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As I sit here, from Heaven’s view

Watching you weep among the ashes?

I wish you could see, what I see

The other life that crashes

~~~

Don’t think that you’re the only one,

That’s wandering through destruction;

That I’ve no plan to take it all

And begin the reconstruction…

~~~

Just like I’ve done so many times,

I’ll take all you have been through

And build a life that honors Me

Your hopes and dreams renew

~~~

I’ll carve from despair and discouragement,

Weakness, loss, and pain,

Doors of delight and deliverance,

Meaning and priceless gain.

~~~

Then with your humbled thankfulness,

I’ll build one final door

And you will lead—countless others through

To salvation forevermore

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Surrendering A Dream For A God Sized More

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Oh, the agony and the ecstasy of surrendering a dream!

I’ve learned so much about dreams.

They don’t “just happen” for one thing. They are often years and years of long hours (Twelve years to be exact!) and many hours of very hard work.

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They are a gift from God, yes.

But…

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They must always be held loosely, ready to be surrendered if He asks us to.

And He does ask.

(Sometimes.)

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I’ve learned that not everyone will rejoice in your dream.

No.

Some will, but some will look on your dream with envy, and even hatred. People close. People you trusted. Seems unthinkable. I know. But it’s real. Sadly real.

They want your dream to fail and when it succeeds instead? Their bitter anger is quite a shock.

It’s part of the cost. (The agony part.) And you need to know it happens.

Though you will try hard to prevent it, you cannot control another’s heart-choices.

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People will marvel at what you’ve done; at what you and God have accomplished.

(You and God will know the real truth.)

It was mostly HIM!

You just got to go along for the wild ride.

You know His Truth, “…apart from Him, you can do nothing.”

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The compliments will be nice.

Life affirming!

You will get to know yourself in a new way you never could have, apart from your dream coming true that is.

A dream will test you. It will test your gifts, your strength, your love of God. (Oh, yes!) That, too.

There will be tears.

Dreams have MUCH joy. But also (at times) much sorrow.

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You may discover (like me) that this dream everyone believes “fits you so perfectly” doesn’t really “fit you” the way you thought it might—once hoped it would.

No, not at all.

Someday, someone might challenge you to, “Ask for more.”

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And in your heart of hearts? You know there is much MORE God has for you. He has created you for His plan and for His purpose, for His Kingdom.

People will think you’re crazy! Say you’re crazy. (And you will think you’re a little bit crazy, too, sometimes.)

To surrender so much? To just walk away? To lay all these lesser things, these lesser dreams, down?

It will hurt.

But His Voice that is calling to you on the inside where only you can hear is saying,

“There is more… trust Me.”

And so you walk away.

You refuse to fight, quarreling in some sleazy courtroom over nickels and dimes.

Many will say, “You are wrong. Totally crazy! Get an attorney! Fight for what is legally yours! Right is right, after all. Demand your rights!”

But, here’s the thing.

First, the word of God says quite clearly, one believer is not to take another believer to court. [1 Cor. 6:11 Cor. 6:1
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6 1 Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?

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] That’s a BIG problem if you’re trying to live out what you say you believe.

Second, I knew in my heart. I was longing for something more than this “little dream” could provide. I had been feeling that something was missing. A big something.

I was longing for more than mere money. I wanted purpose. Eternal purpose. Intangibles, with eternal significance.

So, my choice seemed clear to me.

I released my smaller dream believing for God’s MORE.

I let The Takers in my life, TAKE.

Without a war.

It wasn’t easy! It certainly wasn’t painless! You may be so Christ-like you could walk away from your half of a six-figure business, but me? I struggled BIG time, for a LONG-time!

But again, if we really believe what we read in our Bibles, then I knew there would be far-reaching eternal consequences to everyone’s choices.

I will come face-to-face with Jesus someday and answer for mine alone.

I will leave others to answer for theirs.

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So I made mine. I laid down this dream-come-true.

(Sigh.)

ONCE UPON A TIME… I had a little book shop.

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The loveliest little shop.

The sweetest, dreamiest, little shop.

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(Everyone said so.)

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But I laid it all down.

I gave up ALL those heavy weights for A God-Sized-MORE.

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“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.  And whoever does not carry their cross and FOLLOW ME cannot be my disciple… In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”         Luke 14:25-27, 33-35Luke 14:25-27, 33-35
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25 Now great multitudes were going with him. He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 33 So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple. 34 Salt is good, but if the salt becomes flat and tasteless, with what do you season it? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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Thank you Abba for teaching me againNOTHING this world has to give matters more, satisfies me more… than Your smile.

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It was my great honor to serve you Siskiyou County. Thank you for your support and patronage, your friendship, and most of all, your love!

God bless you all, Martha “Molly” woundresser.com

Bring Back The Wonder

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“… bring me back LORD, where I first started. I always found my answers there.”

—line from song, title unknown

It was a glorious spring day.

All soft warm sunshine; breezes wafting up from the river.

We were at a private ranch. Somewhere I had previously not visited and even today, could not give you directions to, or explain how I got there.

My memories of that day are selective. But what I do remember? Those I recall here with perfect clarity:

There was this large open field that had to be crossed from where we parked the car, to get to our ultimate destination, which of course was the river. It was to be my day of baptism, and I was nervous. I grew up in church but the idea of baptism? Of me being put under that water? It had always made me very uncomfortable.

In the little church on the corner where I began, there was this tank in the wall, with a large opening to the auditorium down below. You accessed it from a small hidden doorway in the back—narrow stairs leading up to it. The thing always gave me the creeps. I cannot tell you why. I don’t know. I only know that people always seemed to go down into that water extremely apprehensive, and come up spitting and sputtering, and gasping for air if not actually choking.

I wanted no part of it… or baptism. Not if I had to endure that dreaded tank!

Imagine then my dismay when years later, having “come back” to the Church after ten prodigal-years, I find myself in a church I enjoy, but with exactly the same kind of (you got it) tank-in-the-wall! Each Sunday the pastor would invite any of us who had not been baptized to become so. He would stress the imperative of “following Jesus publicly,” and every Sunday I would secretly in my heart say:  “I’m sorry God—I can’t. I just can’t!

I tell you all of this to relate my heart’s absolute knowing of this thing called—the grace of God.

I know you probably hear those words constantly these days.

(Too much—if you ask me.)

Those words have become so commonly bandied about, I think they have lost much of their uniqueness, and wonder.

And it is such a wondrous thing… His grace.

So there I am squirming in church each Sunday. Wanting with all my heart to obey this command to be baptized… yet caught in the grip of this unreasoning fear that will not let me go! Inwardly tormented with a guilty disappointment, that kept me good and trapped between what I wanted to do, and what I dreaded doing.

Oh, but this sweet and knowing grace. This Grace that knows, the who, and where, and why, of each of us. This grace that feels all our shame and embarrassment at our own fears and failing, yet hears our earnest heart speaking its inner longings, and so He quietly goes to work on our behalf.

The month was February, foggy and cold in our valley. All baptisms must be indoors, and in that dreaded tank… which to my wonder and immense relief has suddenly sprung a leak!

All baptisms cancelled until it can be fixed.

(Oh, thank you God!)

The church called for the repair men confident it will be soon fixed.

March comes and the list of people to be baptized is growing longer and longer.

April comes, and goes, but they can’t find the illusive leak. Indeed, every time they fill that tank it leaks water everywhere, and they have to drain it and start all over again.

Now, it was about this time that my guilt and my fear were in locked mortal hand-to-hand-combat. I am happy to tell you obedience and love finally conquered doubt… but the fear and dread remained.

Each Sunday my heart “threw down” with the dreaded tank in the wall.

“I can do this. I can do this.” I whispered to my childhood’s nemesis. “I will do this Jesus. I will.

(Ah, but He knew.)

Knew my fear was pounding me week after week in these secret battles—and winning.

May finally arrived. May! When the valley becomes all sunshine-warmth, and sweet-smelling showers of pink and white blossoms in the peach and almond orchards. May… when the list of those to be baptized has grown to such prodigious proportions that a new decision is finally reached… we shall all go to the river!

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And so, His kind and marvelous grace has brought me here, to this field, walking toward a new and entirely unknown experience… one that is to become one of the most wondrous of my life!

The air is warm, the water only three feet deep, and is crystal clear; flowing slow and lazy. The riverbank is small and narrow; so far out in the country not many people came. Instead our group is few in number and intimate (for the girl who also has a deep fear of public speaking) and so only has to “testify” to a few smiling and accepting faces.

We didn’t have to fall backwards into that horrid tank (as in my childhood’s dreading) but simply get on our knees and fall forward, into that clear sweet water called the Stanislaus River.

I remember I came up out of that river feeling clean—and wondrously free.stanislaus-river

I could see my dad beaming at me from that small group on that tiny wedge of beach, and I could feel my Heavenly Father’s arms wrapped snuggly around my heart, hugging the stuffins’ out of me.

It was all such wondrous grace!

And, for the first time, I knew. This intimate personal love and understanding of God for me—all by myself—with all my fears, faults, and failings.

Such is His Grace!

My heart soaring, I just could not go back home that day as if something ordinary had occurred.

So I headed to the park down the street.

I climbed into a swing, full of all that childlike wonder, and I soared—the way I used to do when I really was a child!

Grace, such a wondrous thing! The intimate and tender love that He has for each of us. Truly, it gives the heart wings as if it really could fly!

I think C. S. Lewis must have been thinking of the wonder of God’s grace when he wrote:

And that is enough to raise your thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride… Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.”  

― C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

 

Part III ~ The Choice To Worship

Two-Masters

 

You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other.

You can’t worship God and Money both.

Matthew 6:24Matthew 6:24
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24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.

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 The Message

Our Lord referred to this tyranny of things when He said to His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

…There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the life. Because it is so natural it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is; but its outworkings are tragic. We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends. But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God — The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

Note To My Darling Caterpillar,

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Sweet-Heart…

Impossible?

(For you, yes.)

Only a Powerful Creator-King can give you wings.

But, there is more…

(Much more.)

These wings will take you higher than you’ve ever been before, and you shall see, far and wide…

You shall have eyes with heaven’s perspective.

Wings are an awesome gift but that gift comes with tremendous responsibilities.

Your prayers for wings meant more (much more). You needed new eyes to see as heaven does; new ears to hear their cries; a new heart to understand their hearts.

(…all this takes place in dark tight places.)

These are the treasures of darkness.

If you will  believe.

If you will trust.

If this is still your prayer Caterpillar?

Consider it done!

Come.

 

WORDS TO HIDE IN YOUR HEART

I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places…

Isaiah 45:3Isaiah 45:3
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3 and I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I, Yahweh, who call you by your name, even the God of Israel.

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Note To My Dream-Maker,

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Okay, I asked boldly.

I am waiting outside the door in my mind, my heart has labeled: IMPOSSIBLE.

I look at who I want to be, and then I look at what I am. And my heart whispers, “Impossible.”

I look at where I want to go and then I look at where I am. And my mind shouts, “Impossible!”

Reader? Have you ever been there?

Maybe you’re there right now.

Maybe you’re standing at a threshold of a door that looms so big, so huge, so beyond anything you think your tiny little self can pull off, and you’re saying to yourself once again, “What were you thinking?!!”

Everywhere you look…

Every voice in your head…

In every corner of your heart…

All you can see or hear is the word: IMPOSSIBLE!

With your feet frozen to the floor and your eyes locked on your door, are you wishing you had asked for something a whole lot smaller than (gulp!) wings?

A Caterpillar’s Prayer:

“Do for me what only You can do.”

THE DREAM-MAKER’S PROMISE:

“For with God nothing will be impossible.”  Luke 1:37Luke 1:37
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37 For everything spoken by God is possible.”

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Notes To My Caterpillar: Within

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I AM here—within.

Speaking.

Always speaking to the ones who have ears to hear; to those who have feet that are willing to obey My word.

Yes, I am hard to hear.

You must get still.

You must shut off the noise.

You must meet Me in silence.

(Something you run from.)

You are terrified of the silence and so you fill your ears with endless noise!

Truly Caterpillar, I am never silent…

I am always speaking to the ones who have ears to hear…

Heart’s stilled in silence, to receive.

I am Your King Caterpillar! Your Dream-Maker! Each and every day you may be received by Me. You are welcomed to an audience with Your King, but you do not set the protocol, I do.

Come humble; penitent.

Come confident; praising.

Come for cleansing, thanking… then, listen.

After all of this, then… then, ask boldly!

Your King Above All Kings,

The Dream-Maker

 

REMEMBER YOUR PRAYER…

…help me!

WORDS TO REMEMBER:

So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.  Hebrews 4:16Hebrews 4:16
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16 Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.

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 The Living Bible

Notes To My Caterpillar: Focus

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Where those eyes of yours focus?

That is where you will go.

The choice is yours each and every day.

What are you looking at?

No… really think about this… what are you primarily focused on? The answer to that question will answer many of the questions you’ve been asking Me.

You accuse Me of silence.

Where are your eyes focused?

On Me?

(We both know the answer to that one!)

When you choose to focus on the darkness; when you choose to follow that path for your feet… you wonder that The Light chooses silence?

My silence is the only thing that gets that focus of yours back where it belongs… on Me.

Seek Me with your whole heart Caterpillar… you will find Me.

I am right where I have always been…

Your Instructor and Teacher,

The Dream-Maker

 

REMEMBER YOUR PRAYER…

Breathe on these dry bones?

WORDS TO REMEMBER:

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.       Matthew 6:6Matthew 6:6
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6 But you, when you pray, enter into your inner chamber, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

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The Message

 

 

 

Notes To My Caterpillar: Remember To Whom You Speak

There are limits Caterpillar…

Yes, “Love endures all things…” but—there are limits.

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Remember to Whom you speak.

My love for you is limitless.

My patience—is not.

Not with insolence.

Not with stiff-necked rebellion.

My word says, “Be angry, BUT…”

Anger is part of dealing with your grief and loss. Your anger with others, and now finally, your anger with Me. I allow the honest outpouring of grief, frustration, and loss. Venting those things can be healthy. Facing where you really are, is much more preferable to Me, than a posturing-puppet-pretending-piety…

(You know those guys make Me puke!)

Nevertheless, remember to Whom you speak Caterpillar.

You address a King who can slay legions with a glance from the fire in His eyes.

Holiness is not optional.

Your Adonai ~ El Shaddai,

The Dream-Maker

 

REMEMBER WHEN YOU PRAYED…

Speak LORD, your servant is listening?

WORDS TO REMEMBER:

“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.
    I should never have opened my mouth!
I’ve talked too much, way too much.
    I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

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3 Then Job answered Yahweh, 4 “Behold, I am of small account. What shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 I have spoken once, and I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”

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The Message

Notes To My Caterpillar: Remember With Me

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My Dearest Caterpillar,

Remember when you first asked Me to take you up to the clouds?

“…rainbows height.” you prayed.

Remember?

You looked at yourself (judging correctly) that you did not have what it takes for skimming rainbows.

Remember?

You cried. You begged Me, “…to make you something new.”

Remember?

And so, I listened to your prayers…

I said, “This caterpillar seeks and searches for Me, with all its heart. Yes, a weakling frail and small, today… Ahhhh, but with so much potential!

I said, “This caterpillar has found favor with Me, for I have sworn by Myself, that I would be found by every searching heart!”

I said, “I must hearken to this caterpillar’s prayers!”

You bound Me by My promise little worm… and so we began this journey, to transform you… to give you wings.

The prayer was yours.

But, the process? The procedures? The place?

Those are Mine!

Your Undaunted Designer,

The Dream-Maker

 

REMEMBER YOUR PRAYER…

Abba, change me!

WORDS TO REMEMBER:

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

Jeremiah 29:12-14Jeremiah 29:12-14
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12 You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says Yahweh, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, says Yahweh; and I will bring you again to the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive.

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The Message