The Depths of my Despair

My days are bleak and lonely, no joy exists within,

 Troubles in abundance, led me to this place I’m in!

Feeling sorrow and despair, unworthy and a mess,

 I hear laughter all around me, ambition and success!

 

But what of me, or where I am?    Who can relieve me of this pain?

 Even those who love me, can’t lift me up again!

What can I do, where can I go?  No way out can I see,

 Engulfed in growing anxiousness and insecurity!

 

O Lord above, please help me, if you can hear this prayer!

 I cry out in my brokenness of sorrow and despair!

Can you give me hope again?  Bring purpose to my life?

 Can peace and joy reign in my heart, overcoming all my strife?

 

Why should you care about me, Lord?  Undeserving soul, I am!

 And yet, you know my every deed…..and still, reach out your hand!

I feel my heart already stirred, and reach out, your hand to grasp,

 A desire so strong within me, I feel that hope at last!

 

There’s new strength born within my heart; it wasn’t there before!

 The tears are welling in my eyes, as my pain comes to the fore!

And Lord, I sense you know my pain, and it all, I share with you,

 Releasing my great burden, is what I need to do!

 

Exhausted, yet exhilarated, peace soothes my very soul,

 Understanding my emotions, moving upwards now my goal!

O Lord, my God, I thank you, for what you’ve done for me,

 Lifted me from the depths of despair, shown me love and set me free!

 

Onwards and Upwards………..

The Path Less Travelled

Lately we have had some gorgeous weather. With this weather comes the opportunity to get outdoors; for some, this is a stroll down the park, or a visit to the beach. For my family, it is getting out into the countryside, getting off the beaten track to see what we can discover.
Don’t get me wrong, visiting the more populated places like Ben Nevis, or The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye is nice, but there is something about getting off the populated routes, finding beautiful hidden Lochs or valleys, reaching those lesser visited summits, carrying a tent on your back and pitching up in the middle of nowhere, or taking a picnic and spending a day by the river with no one else around.
The peace and beauty in these places really brings home to you Gods creation, and the Joy of seeing things most people don’t is very much worth the extra effort.
Over the last few days we have made a few of these trips. I have had plenty of time to reflect on Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
This is a well known verse by many, and most people recognise it to be talking of salvation, of how before we knew Jesus, we were all on the Broad way to death, but there is more to it than that.
Notice how Jesus describes the Narrow gate, Narrow is the gate and difficult the path which leads to life.
Difficult…
I like to think of this as the path less travelled.
Above this post is a photo I took on one of our walks. In this image there are two paths, one is clearly defined, easy to walk, flat and clearly well used, the other is off to the left, look closely and you can see it, it is darker, hard to see, overgrown,lumpy and worst of all, it goes uphill.
Walking that first path is easy, you can do it in shorts and sandals with no problem, the second requires a little more preparation and effort, as a minimum you would want good shoes, and a pair of trousers.
For some just looking at that path and thinking of the extra effort and preparation it would take is enough to keep them off of it. For others it may look scary and intimidate them, but if you knew that at the end of that path, was the only water source in 100 miles, you would not hesitate to prepare for and undertake that journey.
If you are going hiking and wild camping, you need to prepare a lot more than if you are going for a picnic. If you are going for a picnic, you need to prepare a lot more than if you are going for a stroll in the park. The amount of preparation needed isdirectly in relation to where you are planning to go, directly in relation to your journey and destination.
Why do we prepare?
It is because we plan to reach our goal. Whether it’s the park at the end of the street, the river three miles up the track, or the mountain top via an overnight camp by the glacial lake, we prepare for our journey so we can see it through, if we didn’t prepare we would give up, turn back or in some cases get badly hurt or die.
We prepare because we anticipate the destination, the Joy it will bring to us, because we desire to see that beautiful view, or relax by the river bend while we eat with our family; because we want the joy, peace, and happiness we will get from reaching the journeys end.
In the same way we should be preparing for the journey we are on now, we are travelling a difficult path, one filled with pitfalls and snares, one which is contrary to the world we live in today; but are we really prepared for this journey?
Preparation for this journey comes from the changes Jesus makes in each of us, as we spend more time in His word, in prayer, in fellowship, in submission and accountability to each other as believers, in contemplation of His words; then we grow and mature in understanding and perseverance, in love and patience, and much more besides.
So do we see the following traits increasingly in our lives?
Patience, Peace, Love, Joy, Kindness, Gentleness, Self Control.
The closer we get to Jesus, and the more we mature in understanding, the more we should be seeing these things in the individual moments of our daily lives.
Do we regularly recognise the undeserved gift we have in Jesus? Are we traumatised again and again by our Gods mercy for us?
Do we daily dwell on Jesus’ Life, His words, His example, His death, and of course, His resurrection?
Do we speak to God, not just in the morning or evening, or at meal times, but moment by moment, seeking guidance in the little things as well as the big?
Is God constantly on our minds?
If you answered NO to a number of the above, can I plead with you now, go to your pastor, seek out a good Christian friend, find a good Bible study group, be a seeker and dwell on Jesus.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Jesus waits for you….
If you answered yes to a number of the above, can I ask that you make yourself available, do as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”
Be an Imitator of Jesus and Paul, follow their examples, make disciples, invest time into others, share Jesus, be willing to speak to those who seek, encourage those who are new to the faith, Bible study with fellow disciples and pray together.
Be in each others lives….
God Bless
Nick

Fixed Upon Jesus

We all have trials in our lives, and these trials come in many forms; the lack of a job, the lack of money, fear of others, fear of being judged, assorted illnesses, and many others besides.  When we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another.

I don’t know about anyone else, but certainly, at times, I have felt like I am overwhelmed and drowning, it seems like the world around me is trying to keep me from peace, to keep me in turmoil.  I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at this, Satan certainly doesn’t want us focused on Jesus, does he?

When these trials come upon me I try to think about the apostles; they were men, and just like the rest of us, they failed, they made mistakes, they were controlled by fear and disbelief, and had to strive hard in times of difficulty.
Often, I ponder upon Matthew 14, particularly on Peter, on how he did what would be considered impossible today, walking on the water to meet with Jesus, on how he then floundered in fear, sinking into the very same waters that a moment ago he was walking on.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
– Matthew 14:28-30

I compare this to my own walk, in faith I go where Jesus commands me to go, I begin well, trusting fully in Him, walking on the water like it is solid ground; but inevitably something distracts me, moving my focus off Jesus and on to the world around me.  That is when fear, or stress, or worry, begins to set in; that is when I begin to flounder and flail and the solid ground beneath me suddenly becomes a great sea, seeking to swallow me whole.  I could easily give 100’s of examples of these times in my own life, but I know, that you know, exactly what I am talking about.

I have said above that when we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another. But that is not entirely true is it?
During these trying times, we often forget about the times of peace and strength we experience in Jesus.  The times we feel invincible and that through Jesus we can do anything.  We forget that on the sea of Galilee Jesus calmed the storm; we often lack in faith. (Mark 4:35-40)

We forget that Jesus leads us by still waters, that He lies us down in green pastures, that His rod and staff are our comfort.  (The rod which keeps the enemy at bay, and the staff which is used to guide us away from danger) We forget that He, is our shepherd and protector, that He is our peace. (Psalm 23)

We forget our need for Him!

It too often seems that it is only when we are drowning that we remember this need and like Peter did, we call out to Him, “Lord, save me!” it is then that without fail we find He is right there, reaching out with an open hand, just as He was with Peter.

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
– Matthew 14:31
Immediately! Isn’t that incredible?  Jesus is immediately there, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Sometimes we may not understand our trials, but we should understand, that through them all Jesus is always by our side. Remember that He supplies our strength and peace, just as He did for Peter, helping him back to the boat.
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
– Matthew 14:32
As disciples we should be striving to keep our focus on Jesus; the reason we flounder, the reason we are drowning, is because we have taken our eyes off Him, we have wandered and forgotten our need for Him.  But it is only in failing, then in recognising we need Him, that we get the perseverance and discipline to keep holding on to Jesus.  It is in failing to hold on to Him and then returning to Him again and again that our faith is increased, as our faith increases, so does our love, joy and peace.
It is when we call out to Jesus that He restores us to the green pastures, brings us back to the still waters, brings back the peace in our lives, even though the trial may still be upon us, we find renewed love for Jesus, and extra strength, perseverance and peace to face it.

We should remember that if we have failed, or are failing, it does not mean we are not loved!  Jesus’ love for us does not depend on us, it is all dependent on Him; Jesus will never let us down and through our failures He shows us His perfection.  He increases our trust in Him so that the next time, we are stronger, we persevere longer, we trust more.

This is increased faith and increased faith equals increased peace in our lives.
This is Jesus taking us and leading us through the process of sanctification, growing and maturing and transforming us. Reminding us who He is.  When we have failed to keep our gaze on Jesus, then returned it back to Him, we remember and recognise who He is.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
– Matthew 14:33

Beauty for Ashes

The most amazing thing has happened to me in the last month that truly shows how God makes beauty out of ashes!! A series of events took me down a path I never saw coming…

A short background for those of you I haven’t met yet in our PCF family. My sister was killed in Feb 2017. The heart wrenching part is that it was at the hands of her son, my nephew Nathan. He and his brother were taken by their father at the age of 10 and 11. They lived on the streets and in drug houses as their father was Bi-polar and on drugs. He became a drug lord and was on America’s Most Wanted FBI List. It wasn’t until he was finally caught that the boys were returned to Debra. She would drive the streets at all hours of the night and down the darkest allies, through the worst neighborhoods and spoke to some scary looking gangs. By the time they were returned they were 15 and 17 year old strong men. Nathan had been in and out of trouble and jail for violent things but Debra was always there to plead his case. She was highly intelligent in financial matters and basically bought him out of trouble. She was mourning the little boys she lost and over compensated Nathan because she felt so much guilt for not finding them. He was diagnosed with different mental illnesses as well. He lived with her and she did everything for him. She loved him with a love I didn’t understand at all. He was mean and controlling and down right scary at times. He was this 36 year old man who ended the life of the only one that would ever have his back without question!
That series of events starts here…
I got an email from the Arizona Prison Rehabilitation Center .. that simply said Nathan had requested contact and to call or email his Prison Caseworker. I was shocked.
I immediately spoke to my husband Keith as I felt panic rush through me and he has always been able to bring me down from the clouds and calm me. He basically said either call or email and take the mystery out of it. So I called but was only able to speak to a general information desk. The man on the phone did say that a request for contact was for many reasons but the main two was the family of the prisoner can be interviewed as part of an appeals process or the prisoner wants closure i.e. forgiveness. Either way I had to email the caseworker to get answers.
By this time I just wanted to ignore it all together, however God had a different plan.
Day by day I would fight the urge to even think about it and day by day God made it harder and harder. I once again told Keith I didn’t want to forgive or help in any appeals so I don’t know why I should respond. We decided I needed my pastors council so I emailed Vijay to set up our video chat.
This is where it gets good ….
The video chat was my morning and Vijay’s afternoon. After we had the chit chat of catching up I began explaining the details of the most recent events as we have spoken before about this tragedy. He told me the most profound thing .. he said, Susan you need to forgive him – not to condone his behavior but to let God have the opportunity to heal you AND him through you!! He said I need to give up the need to punish him and when I do God can use that door of opportunity to shower him with grace and mercy!
Wow .. I just went from I can’t, won’t, never will, forgive him or help him to forgiveness and witnessing!
That night I stayed on my knees quite a while. I told God I heard His message and I know it is truth but I still had that part of me that was protesting and feeling like I somehow was betraying my family! I prayed for understanding. I prayed for strength. The next day I sent out an email but all I could say was … Why?
I sat most of that day feeling emotionally drained. My mind played over each scenario and was baffled as to why me.. why now?
Then it hit me ….
That love I mentioned earlier that I didn’t understand .. it was about to become understandable.
I realized if she was sitting next to me she would be pleading with me to forgive him. What kind of crazy was that? Why would she love someone who blamed her for every evil he had done and then killed her in such a violent and heartless way?
As clear as day I heard in my spirit … The same way I love you while you killed me!!
I just sat there in shock!
What I didn’t mention earlier was I asked God to send me a sheep fleece ..
“.. look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”
Judges 6:37
My sister did what was done for her. She loved the purest unconditional love she could humanly give!
Her life mattered. I suddenly began to recall the times I would rock Nathan to sleep and his silly grin when he would cheat at Go Fish. God allowed me to see him as He does … one of His lost children. God also helped me remember the innocence that was lost and the dysfunction of his youth. I started seeing him as my troubled nephew not a cold killer.
The next day I received a reply to my email. I opened it and it explained that he just wanted contact for closure. I did reply stating that I would be willing to communicate via written letters or emails with him but let the record show I believe he is exactly where he needs to be and I would never advocate for his release. If he would still like to communicate after that understanding is conveyed then so be it. As of today I haven’t heard back but I feel certain that I will.
God took a heart wrenching tragedy and provided an avenue for healing. He spoke through Vijay to my broken heart and allowed me to come to terms with my sisters death.
He moistened my wool fleece…

Transforming Grace

Sitting at my desk doing my studies, I have a wonderful view out of my window. From there I can see over the farmers fields where the crops are growing to some of the foothills of the Cairngorms and in particular the north face of Morven, an 872 meters tall hill.
It is now June and there are still a few small spots of snow clinging to this particular hill. Watching the process of the snow melting off these slopes over the past few months has got me to thinking about our lives before Jesus, our lives in Jesus and how they are transformed by Jesus.
In deep winter everything up here is covered in snow, much like our old lives covered in sin; everything under the snow is lifeless, in seed or root form with the potential for abundant life but lacking in something, also like our lives before we met Jesus; yet once we come to know Jesus and accept His gift into our hearts, Jesus begins to work on our sins and help us bring them into the light and put them away.
This is very similar to the way the seasons work – winter moving into spring, the sun melting away the snow a piece at a time, the seeds and roots beginning to bloom into life where the snow has melted away, exposing them to the light. Sometimes this is a rapid process and sometimes it is slower but increasingly it does happen; in the same way, for the true believer this process happens to you too, the light of Jesus exposing your sins and melting them away, freeing you and growing you into something beautiful. Like the snow on Morven in spring, clinging on until the summer sun finally melts it all away; Sin also clings on in our lives until we finally meet with Jesus face to face and enter into our eternal summer.
1 John 1:6, 8-10 says:
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. ” (v6)
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. ” (v8-10)
This was written by John to believers. Yes, you are still a sinner, I am still a sinner, we are all still sinners.
This is really important because it defines how we think about ourselves. If we begin to think we have no sin, or we can sin no more we will begin to think we are better than the rest of humanity, we will begin to see nothing wrong with telling lies, cheating, stealing or worse.
We will continue to sin.
We are still sinners BUT Jesus works in us to change us, melting away our sins one by one to transform us and change us. We continue to have the capacity to sin and we do still sin, but this shouldn’t make us want to give up and continue sinning, rather it should make us desire to be less sinful. Jesus died on the cross for your sins, past, present and future; Jesus rose again to put those sins to death and gave us hope; hope of eternal life, a life free from sin.  This is not a life we have yet reached; we are in the spring.
As the sun melts away the snow on Morven a little at a time, so too are we also being transformed.  Bit by bit sin is being replaced, in the place where sin was we see new and beautiful desires grow and bloom from those seeds and roots which were once buried by sin.  We increasingly become more like Jesus!
Galatians 5:13, 16-17, 22-25 says:
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. ” (V13)
Serve!
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (v16-17)
In the Spirit!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (v22-25)
And see the Fruits!
As we see the sins in our lives decrease, we should also see the fruits in our lives increase.  The fact you are alive and reading this is a testimony to Gods grace and mercy.  He has still got work for you to do, work he has designed specifically for you.  Therefore we should all be striving towards the goal of perfection, knowing that only through Jesus will we ever attain it.
This process can be compared to the work done in spring by the farmers; it is hard work, ploughing the fields, sowing the seeds, tending the crops and patiently waiting whilst the crops grow.  It takes time, a lot of effort and discipline, but the growth itself doesn’t come from the farmers efforts.

Like the farmers we need to plough and prepare our hearts, weed out sin and tend the seeds of the fruits of the spirit. But it is God alone who provides the growth.  We need to put in time, effort, and be disciplined as we work to pursue Gods heart.  We need to be continually removing existing sin from our lives, striving every day to be a little more like Jesus, not to sit back, complacent, believing we have done enough or have now arrived.  Our hearts desire should be to be like Him, exhibiting Him increasingly in our daily lives.

1 John 3:2 says:
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
This refers to our transformation; when Jesus returns or we go home to be with Him, it is then that we will move from the spring of our walk (where we work, strive and during which we increasingly become more like Jesus) into the summer. That is when we become as He is, sinless for eternity, not because we have worked for it but because He gifts it to us.  That is when we will hear the words that should be the greatest desire of all our hearts. “Well done good and faithful servant”
So as the snow melts and disappears from Morven and as life grows and blossoms leading into the summer what I see is a mirror; a reflection of the hope that we have in Jesus, an image of how our lives transition over time from the cold winter of sin, to the warm spring of new hope and life, eventually to the promise of an unstained, fully bloomed and beautiful summer of eternal and sinless perfection.

The Study of Beauty

One of my favourite places growing up was the Manchester Art Gallery. In there you’ll find a quote plastered on the wall in large print by the man who started it, Thomas Horsfall, saying:

 

“If we have a strong love of beauty, the most beautiful things we see become a part of ourselves.”

 

The quote comes from a paper called The Study of Beauty, where Horsfall talks about his ideas on the moral and educational role of art in society. The essence of his argument was this; seeing, experiencing and valuing beautiful things on the outside can make us more beautiful on the inside.

 

We live in a world where the ugly is easy to find and sometimes hard to tear your eyes away from. Sometimes we may not even want to, such is the state of our hearts. Proverbs 12:27 says:

 

“Whoever seeks good finds favour,

But evil comes to one who searches for it.”

 

Once, when I was coming out of a valley in my life, I decided to make a list of things that might bring me some enjoyment, a list of things to do that might lift my countenance. I thought about the time I visited Fyvie Castle. We were in the big hall where there’s a grand piano in front of big majestic window and a stranger sat down and started to play. I have absolutely no idea what the song was called. But as he played the notes I stopped in my tracks and couldn’t move an inch whilst the music washed over me. For a moment, I was captivated by something for the purest reason: because it was beautiful, and I could not help but stop and absorb that beauty until the moment had passed.

 

God makes beautiful things, and because we are made in His likeness, we need beauty in our lives. It is a very part of us and without it our lives can become a canvas full of grey scenes; a lost sailor in a coracle drifting between islands, surrounded by lonely rocks who give nothing and receive nothing. God brings light and beauty to the landscapes of our lives and we should pursue and chase such things without ever giving up.

Where Our Hope Is

Several times a day I take time to think about our Lord and what He has done for me, I often get to thinking about the cross, about what it means.

The cross is the symbol of our faith, it’s often found at the altar or head of a church building, on walls in people’s homes or even around the necks of many believers; but what does this symbol mean?

Around Easter time we often hear the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, how he went to the cross of his own choice, willingly enduring the pain, humiliation, flogging and punishment of a criminal whilst being completely innocent, the only sinless man to have ever lived; and often we get so focused on this part of the story we can overlook the most important aspect of this!

It is not in the death of Jesus that our hope lies, it is in his resurrection.

It is not in His ministry before he went to the cross, it is in the LIFE of Jesus after the cross.

You see the cross is EMPTY.

Jesus is no longer there.

Let’s put aside for a moment all of Jesus ministry, put aside everything He did before the cross, put aside the teachings and theology.  Instead pause for a few moments to think about this simple aspect.

Jesus Died

But He is not DEAD

If Jesus had gone to the cross and paid the price for sin, if Jesus had taken all the punishment owed to us and then stayed dead where would our hope lie?

He would still be dead, and we would still die too.

No, He rose again.

He didn’t just take our punishment, He then went on to conquer death so that we too could rise and be with Him, to give us a sure hope in a future we never had, in an eternal life with Him; to show us He loves us and wants us to be with Him.

This should be our focus.

Lately we have been going through a series on the Parables and are often thinking about discipleship, how to be one and the cost of discipleship to us.  To fully appreciate the cost of being a disciple, to fully understand how to be a disciple, we need to be eternity focused and not earthly focused.

Our pastor Vijay recently spoke briefly about the rich young ruler, this man was earthly focused, and his love for the earthly treasures he possessed had clouded his sight. In the eternal scheme of things this life is but a brief moment, if your sight and heart are focused on eternity then earthly treasures should not compare.  This is the challenge we all face as disciples as the world continually works against us, tempting us to shift our focus from eternity to this life, to move our hearts away from Jesus and on to earthly treasures.

But Jesus didn’t just rise and go away, He didn’t leave us to flounder along alone or try and follow in our own strength, No, He rose and gave us the Holy Spirit, He rose and gave us promises, He rose and gave us help and strength, He rose and gave us each other.

Let’s be clear about this, despite all our weaknesses and sins and failures, Jesus WANTS us, Jesus LOVES us, and WE need Him; that’s why He has done such an incredible thing when we ourselves cannot.

That is why Jesus came.  That is why Jesus Died.  And that is why Jesus rose again.

Set your sight and focus in the right place.  Set them on the Risen Jesus.

Luke 24:5-6 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

Jesus Rose!  The Cross is EMPTY!

A Citizen of Heaven

Doing immigration applications are not for faint of heart.

One needs to be diligent and detailed and having a little bit of OCD doesn’t hurt! However, I am none of those. That list writer and detailed OCD person is my new husband Keith and he’s there in Scotland!
I have had to sit and explain my life to people I will probably never meet or even speak to. They want to know everything good and bad. Our fate relies on the person who just so happens to get our application that day. We have one shot to get this right and it all depends on me! Yikes … that is a lot of pressure.
The more I read and re-read this application I am forced to see my life through a strangers eyes.
What I discovered about my life has been very sobering. One can see the times in my life that God was no where to be seen … so I thought.
The days of being a nursing student and having my son on a Thursday and in class the following Monday taking finals.
The times I worked two jobs because Christmas was close and even though we were not really a Santa type of family, my children needed something to open on Christmas day.
Church was always part of their upbringing but I didn’t value the time with God outside of that!
Then it hit me…. God provided everything we needed. I took so much for granted. Was that child like faith or was it just trying to pay Paul by robbing Peter?
Who knows but one thing I did notice. I was not alone. I began to see God’s hand in everything I did (or survived) but yet he remained faithful when I wasn’t! I began to see my awakening. Where my faith started to become my life and mountains were moved. I was fully invested in my Father and He in me. Then like a spear through my heart I got severe pneumonia and that was when Keith and I met in this group for alternative treatments for illnesses.  I had just been diagnosed and was told I had two years max without a double lung transplant. Five years with one. Well those of you who know me … haha.. know I wasn’t taking that to bed!! Nope .. not me! I wasn’t about to let that have any bearing on MY life.  I leaned into our God and I came off all oxygen and steriods and pain meds and the many seizure meds. Keith and I were just great friends then and he would talk to me and encourage me for hours.
God had much bigger plans for me than I had for myself!! All I had to do was get out of his way!!
I still hate the dumb immigration process but every time I get fearful he is faithful to remind me…. Be still and no that I am your God! Psalm 46:10

I belong to God

A short introduction
My name is Susan Webster. My husband Keith and I call PCF our church home. We were just married on April 7th 2018 in a beautiful garden setting in Arizona at sunset. The pastor performed a covenant wedding ceremony and we promised all of our days to God and one another. Perfect day!
Sounds lovely doesn’t it? And the actual wedding did go like that, however, behind the scenes there was a spiritual battle going on and we knew it! It started a couple months before we left Aberdeen to fly to my home in Arizona to get married. We sat one night after Vijay mentioned being grateful and really listed all God has done for us. I guess you could say we counted our blessings one by one. I know this sounds a little mental but I swear I could feel a change in the environment around me. I prayed a little longer that night.
The next days that followed were a jumbled emotional mess. We fought about stupid things and our stress level with immigration paper work to get my spousal visa, planning a wedding from the UK over video chat, even the death of a friend who did not know God and the humanist funeral that still haunts us. I kept hearing my momma say, “If the devils trying to get you child that means God has ya!”
I was on edge before we got on our flight anyway because it was 10 hours..and I didn’t feel good. By the time we arrived and in the car toward home I had lost my voice and had a raging chest infection…. oh wait it gets better … I had a severe seizure and injured my right foot. It was now twice the size of my other one…. I still needed to wear heels on the day after that!!!

The wedding day was perfect as everyone met my new handsome man in a Kilt. Okay they called it a skirt but … hahaha just joking.

We decided to leave the hotel resort after that one night so I could go to urgent care. As she was giving me antibiotics and wraps my foot and hearing about our crazy wedding week … we get a call that Keith’s step dad was taken by ambulance to the hospital across from where we were, having a stroke! I looked at Keith and he asked, “Are you serious… what is going on?”
We walked in the ER and found him. He was going to be okay. I left the room so he could stay with his mom and found a chapel on the way to the cafe to get coffee. I was waiting on my son in law so I went in.
At this point … I was done! I cried my eyes out and shook my fist and said,”Bring it on!” Then all I could do at that point was ..
like the song says…. I don’t want to think I may never understand how my broken heart was part of your plan…I… like a child fall to my knees and all that comes to me is … Thy Will Be Done! {Hillary Scott}

The rest of the arranged family honeymoon … went pretty uneventful as we travel from Phoenix area to Tombstone Arizona stopping along the way in Tucson just visiting family and ended up with everyone following us and having a blast!!

After Keith got back to Scotland without me as I must get my spousal visa first, we reflected over the craziness and chaos and looked for the lesson we were meant to learn and we have decided that we had just survived a true test of our commitment to God and to each other. We have relied on God’s good graces for so long that when things got tough we felt the spirit of doubt and fear try to penetrate something that already belongs to God … our faith.

We continue to battle but now we know … this too shall pass … keep the faith..

Susan Webster ….💝

His Plan Continues

I have a friend who recently went to the doctor for a diagnosis on some symptoms she’d been experiencing. Over-emotional, mood swings, changes in weight and total lack of appetite amongst many others. After a series of tests all coming back negative, the doctors gave her their diagnosis: stress. My friend works long hours in a high-stress work environment and had recently been disappointed by an upsetting end to a long term relationship. The emotional distress of the break up combined with the big demands being made of her in other areas of her life have led her to feeling dismayed.

If you flick through a couple of dictionaries they’ll describe the word dismay like this: a sudden or complete loss of courage, utter disheartenment, sudden disillusionment, agitation of mind, a strong feeling of fear or worry, or a ‘sadness that is caused by something unpleasant and unexpected’.

The hebrew word translated as dismayed in the book of Joshua is ‘chathath’ (pronounced khaw-thath’) and it means ‘prostrate’ or to ‘break down’. In Joshua 7:6 the Israelites are taken aback by their defeat at the hands of the men of Ai who they were confident they would have victory over. The Word tells us that “the hearts of the people melted and became as water”. Joshua “fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening” and points his finger at the Lord, saying, “why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us?” (Joshua 7:7).

Convinced that his calling from the Lord to lead the Israelites to the promised land meant no obstacles, Joshua faces a crisis of faith. He literally breaks down before the Lord and questions why he began his quest in the first place, if God doesn’t have his back.

How does God respond? He says to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?” And if we look back to chapter one of Joshua, we see that God saw this coming. In 1:9 God says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God told Joshua not to be dismayed because he knew he would be. In his great foreknowledge he saw the trials Joshua would come up against and wanted him to know that even during the darkest of times, when it seems all your hope was vanity, that even there the Lord is still walking with you. And when we break down and even our bodies show the signs of our heartbreak, we can know that just like Joshua we have a God who says to us “Be not dismayed”. Take heart also that after this ordeal, Joshua and the Israelites defeat the people of Ai with the Lord’s help. Even when our plans for ourselves are lost, God’s plan for us continues.