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…

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 ….💝