On Being Ignored

It is a rainy day as I sit and write. I wish I was doing this at the table in the cool of the house, coffee cup close at hand. (Really loving this new pecan praline flavor)

Unfortunately, that is, at this moment, a wildly self-indulgent fantasy.

Instead, the surroundings in which I write are far from conducive. At this moment, there are four of us sitting in the waiting room of an MEA urgent care clinic.

Two adults and two sick kids. The sound of violent expulsion of all ingested food matter has reverberated through our home for days.

Did I say days?

Yes, days. It has been a round robin of sickness. Only one kid out of four has not been ill. I sure hope he stays healthy. I am not at all willing to entertain the idea of another round… As if I get a choice.

At least in the lethargy of kids sickness, there is an excuse for ignoring all requests, questions, etc.

I hate to be ignored.
Hate is a strong word that does not quite describe how badly it irritates me to be ignored.

I hate to be ignored!

The youngest among us has the aggravating habit of ignoring what is being said to him. To give him credit, he is sick and sometimes he is super self absorbed in whatever he is doing–he hears and sees nothing going on around him. He wouldn’t hear a bomb if it went off beside him. But at other times, he doesn’t want to hear or doesn’t like what is being said… And he will turn his head and pretend to not hear.

Can you say immediate transformation into mad dad?
Yeah.

I unfortunately don’t have much patience for being ignored in any circumstances.

In my last post, I asked God to give us some redeeming knowledge of You we can touch and hold on to when it feels as if we’ve been abandoned.

Or ignored.

I have never been the person who prayed and demanded God to change or undo something I had done. When I was up to my eyeballs in debt, I didn’t ask God to manipulate the accounts so that suddenly they showed zero. Instead, I prayed for God to help me be a better steward, to change my attitudes, and where possible, to mitigate the pain my family might feel as a result of my personal stupidity or mismanagement.

And in those kinds of circumstances, even though the situation might feel hopeless, I never felt abandoned or ignored. I always felt as if God pointed me in a new direction or helped me see something to bring relief.

In the here and now, I am not so sure I feel abandoned. But ignored? Yes, I feel like I am worshipping the kind of God Elijah taunted on Mt. Carmel. One who is too busy, or asleep, or on a far journey.

Ignored.

Can God not see all of the ripple effects that never seem to end?
Can God not see or hear the pain of my children?
Can God not see all the difficulties inherent in trying to build/ start an entirely new career–new life out of the ashes?

I know He can.
So I am left wondering why I am not as worthy of His love, protection, and guidance than the other guy? (That is how it feels…)

Why God, do you ignore?

I am not yet ready to quit believing in God. Not even a possibility. And in the discomfort of questioning and wondering without answers, I am trying hard (patient I am not) to sing, believe, and act out the words of John Waller’s song, I Am Waiting, even as I am ignored

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb7TSGptd3Y

Have you ever felt ignored?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Father

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:9b-10 NIV)

Father.

I love my father. He has been an amazing source of strength my entire life. He helped shape and guide me, taught me to think. He gave me permission to color outside the lines. My father’s qualities have given me so much of my concept of God.

Father.

I rarely feel as good of a father to my children as Dad has been to me.

Still I try. Most of the time I make a real effort to be self-aware of my tendency to be selfish, to be so caught up in my own dreams, fears, struggles, and difficulties that my children take an unintended backseat.

Sometimes I catch those failures before they become an issue. Sometimes I have to be reminded, giving me a chance to tweak unneeded behavior or attitude.

I have made lots of mistakes. There are more to come. I suspect if graded, I failed early attempts at Parenthood 101-118. Just ask Kyle. He has lots of horror stories I am sure.

If I could offer a self-diagnosis, I suspect most of my parenting inadequacies were easily treatable by simply deciding to grow up. I have joked in the past that Kyle raised me more than I raised him.

Father.

I love being a father. Yet sometimes I am impatient. Sometimes I am hard-headed. I will not listen to rap. And if you want to talk like a democrat, well then tolerance can only get you so far.

Just kidding.
Sort of.

Father.

There are so many things I wish I could have done differently with all my boys. Hindsight as they say… Well, you know the old adage.

I would like to imagine that I am being harder on myself than is warranted. Too hard or not, I am thankful God is the great redeemer. I have to trust my failures will be redeemed as well.

Father.

I don’t blame God for the evil done by men. Each of us has the capacity for both good and bad. Most of us chose some or both during the course of our lives. And some of us are completely consumed by whatever evil impulse drives us… The end result is innocent people usually pay a heavy, heavy toll.

Father.

Knowledge and feelings are often in conflict. What I know about God can sometimes be contradicted by what I feel. I know God sacrificed His own Son for our salvation. How God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit worked all that out beforehand is a mystery to me. How exactly God interacts with His creation now in the daily existence of our lives baffles me still.

Father.

I wish you could figure out how to protect the innocent in the here and now. Help us understand when it feels as if You failed to be the protective father who cares for his children; give us some redeeming knowledge of You we can touch and hold on to when it feels as if we’ve been abandoned.

In the meantime, evil lurks, pain looms large, and questions abound. And some of us struggle with our faith particularly when we call out Father and all we hear in return is booming, echoing silence

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:24 NIV)

Help me; help us see the mystery that is You….

Les Ferguson, Jr.

An Interview With Drew Marshall–Canada’s Most Listened To Spiritual Talk Show

I hate with a passion the events that changed the course of my life.

I despise the pain I have seen in friends and family–self included–as a result.

At times, the despair has been completely overwhelming.

My faith has wavered on the shakiest of shaky ground.

And yet, we still remain.

Standing.

Sometimes on legs as weak as a new born calf.

Sometimes with strength that surprises me.

And sometimes, the standing is only because I am being propped up with the power of others. (Thank you, Becki and family for the strength you so willing lend)

I may not ever run. But I will limp just as hard and fast as I can in building a new life, a new faith, and a new (pardon the pun) walk with God.

Many of you–in your encouragement to write and press forward–are great supporters. Some of you are old friends, some of you are new friends, and some of you I may never meet in person. But I am thankful all the same.

I love writing and speaking. I am  working hard at improving my craft and finding new opportunities. I will not wallow in self-pity or despair. It is a new day, and I intend to live it to the fullest.

I’m so thankful God allows anger, dissent and argument. He’s good like that..

Aren’t you glad he puts up with you too?

In the meantime, for those who are interested, I am posting the audio to my interview with Drew Marshall: Drew Marshall interview 4-6-13

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

Yours,

Les Ferguson, Jr.

The Story of Job Brings Cold Hard Comfort That Isn’t…

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:1-12 NIV)

If I never heard myself referred to as a modern day Job again, I could die a happy man.

Trust me when I say, nobody wants to be a Job.

Nobody.
Ever.
Guaranteed.

A long time ago I had a friend who used to say, sure the early bird gets the worm, but who wants to be the worm? And he was right

The story of Job is not comforting in the least. It is scary, terrifying, horrifying, sickening… I am sure you get the picture.

Even though at the end of the story, Job was given a new family, a new life, I can hardly get past all the horror he endured in the process. That includes the bad advice of his friends. The minute they opened their mouths, Job’s situation became much worse.

The admission of my struggle to understand how God operates in this world, in our lives is not hard to understand why. Anybody who reads this blog knows I wrestle to understand why He failed to stop what I recognize as the evil work of Satan.
Wouldn’t you?

On the other hand, I understand creation is broken. The Apostle Paul says it groans in eager anticipation/ expectation of being renewed. I get that mankind has free will. In the brokenness of our world, we can and do choose what is wicked, wrong, and hurtful.

The human monster who wrought destruction in our lives? I have no doubt in the simple fact he most likely had horror visited into his life by another sin scarred wicked man.

It is bad enough to wrestle with those things, but then Job’s story adds another whole dimension.

If you read the scripture above, you might draw some difficult conclusions. Not only did God fail to protect, He actually removed Job’s protection and suggested Satan have a go at him.

What does that tell me?
Are you ready for this?

I don’t know!

And therein lies so much of the struggle.
One of my new blog friends makes a persuasive argument that God neither causes (which I want to agree with) or permits evil. It is simply a product of the created–you and me.

I have long held that bad things happen because we live in a broken, it-desperately-needs-redeeming world (and if the story of Job didn’t exist, I might still hold that belief albeit not quite so tightly as before). I shudder now at all the times I offered such a belief as an answer to suffering and heartache. Who needs or wants such cold, unhelpful pseudo comfort?

But Job?
Job turns my neat theology as upside down as any tragedy that leaves us gasping.

God pointed Job out and gave Satan the opportunity. In my little theological world, that is both cause and permission.

If all I had to deal with was the question of why my family/ ministry wasn’t worth the protecting/saving hand of God, that would be one thing.

But Job?
I may never understand. And while I wrestle and struggle with my understanding of God’s nature, I am beginning to believe the only way to ever have peace is wrapped up in the concept of mystery.

I want answers now, but I may have to settle with a mystery to be revealed later.

It’s not what I want, but it may be just what I get.

What do you think about the idea of mystery?

The next post will hopefully frame my anger and frustration in a way you will have no trouble understanding.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing the struggle.

Yours,
Les Ferguson, Jr.

Interview Quick Note

I am almost finished with a new post on Job. Kind of letting it percolate like a good pot of coffee… Which reminds to go grab another cup before the coffee monsters around here make it all disappear.

It is a beautiful Saturday in Vicksburg and we will shortly leave to hear Becki’s mom play with her old time music band on the old courthouse square.

It’s a quick trip into town and back.

Why so quick? Because, I am scheduled to have a live interview on the Drew Marshall show at 1:00PM central time. You can hear it as it happens live streaming at www.drewmarshall.ca

Thanks for all the likes, subscriptions, and sharing. Oh, please, please share!

New post coming soon!

I hope your day is super fantastic!

Les

When God Takes Your Headache Away… And Not Mine!

Sometimes I really enjoy Facebook. The day before yesterday, I looked at my wall and laughed out loud at two different posts. That is a pretty common experience for me.

The day before that, however, was easily a different story.

I quickly grow weary of all the God posts. God is taking care of this, handling that, working through this, and fixing that.

That and This. This and That. With a snap of the divine fingers… With a wave of the heavenly hand… Headaches went away. Marriages were rebuilt. School grades went up, etc. Everything you can imagine is fixed, cured, and restored.

Who couldn’t love a God like that?

But the biggest irritant was this story of a really bad day… I woke up late, had trouble starting the car, took too long at lunch because my sandwich was made wrong, phone battery dies, and at the end of the day, the foot massager wouldn’t work.

I understand how frustrating those things could be. But worse was the way, God supposedly explained the whys and wherefores of what was really going on…

God let this person oversleep because He was battling the death angel at his bedside.
The car wouldn’t start because God was protecting him from a drunk driver coming down the road.
The lunch time sandwich had to be remade because it was first made by a sick person and God knew he couldn’t afford to miss any work.
The phone battery dying? God was protecting him from having a conversation with someone who would bear false witness about it.
And finally, God made the foot massager fail because it had a short in it. Had it shorted out, he would have spent the night in the dark with no power…

Does God really work that way? This morning I missed having my normal breakfast. I had to run out of the house carrying an apple and a banana. It finally dawned on me… God made one of the boys sick so I would have to pick him up at school. By making this child feel bad, He made it possible for me to eat a breakfast that could not make me gain any more weight!

It was a divinely orchestrated weight loss plan instituted by God Himself all for my benefit!

How does that sound to you?

I am really being serious here.

Why your headache and not mine?

Seriously. Whose fault is it that your phone battery died? Is there a battery angel that normally makes sure your phone gets mystically plugged in?

When you post things like that, when you speak them to others, what is the message we are supposed to get? God is looking out for you even in the minutiae of your life? Your prayers for protection and guidance are answered because you are some how holier or more righteous?

I am not trying to be snarky. It is not my intent to tear your faith down in the process of rebuilding mine. But, attributing everything in your life as the mysterious work of the mysterious hand of God… that makes me feel like crap–like somehow I am less important, less valuable than you.

Believe me please. I’d love for God to deal with some of the crud in my life. I am far beyond just being weary of the ripple effects put into play by the monster who invaded our lives.

You may think we are happy, happy, happy–and we are to a large extent. We are moving forward–but there are times it is painfully slow. I want to trust God, but I am constantly dumbfounded by the fact that there is so much still to work through, so much God could and should do.

So.
When He gets through taking away your headache, would you mind terribly much if He spent some time working on mine?

Where’s the BC Powders when you need them most?

In my next post, I plan to talk about Job a bit and maybe share my biggest anger with God.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Dirty Laundry? Everybody Likes To Know!

Dirty laundry.
With four boys in the house, we get a whole new load every time the lights go off and we head to bed.
It never seems to end.

There is dirty laundry and then there is dirty laundry..

Oh, yeah…

When it is not ours to wash, fold, and put away, we like hearing about the dirty laundry of others.

I see it in my own blog. When I write hard, raw stuff telling the salacious details of the walking, living nightmare that invaded our lives, so many more people read. It’s as if the world lives for hearing or vicariously walking through the ugly others are forced to know.

Sometimes I think we just like to rubberneck at the train wrecks others experience; other times, it’s almost like we are somehow safe when it is happening to others.

Until we are not.

Until the evening news invades our lives…

Don’t think that by writing this, I am somehow above it all. The truth is I am not. I am a rubber necker by nature too.

Dirty Laundry takes many forms. In some cases it can happen to us; in other circumstances, it is the accumulation of our own choices, decisions, and actions.

Several weeks ago, my almost 16 year old asked Becki and me why we never married all those years ago. He already knew about my broken heart and emotional breakdown. He was aware of my decision to join the US Navy in a last ditch effort to gain some direction and discipline.

But then he heard what happened in the year leading up to joining the military, information his older brothers had never heard.

….Dad (me) spent a year working as a male dancer/ stripper in a “ladies club.”

My poor son, like many of you at this moment, was absolutely speechless, horrified, and somehow fascinated by this secret life he had never heard of before.

Some of you even now are trying to imagine/ not imagine what that was like. And like him, you are wondering how this preacher’s son could have sunk to such a low.

Maybe you are embarrassed for my parents at this blatant display of dirty laundry.
Or worse, you are shocked by my admission and possibly feeling sorry for the potential humiliation Becki may yet endure…

But the truth is, both my parents and Becki are laughing pretty hard right about now. They along with my oldest son, who is in on the joke, are amazed at how gullible my almost 16 year old is…

Even funnier, he doesn’t read what I write and is still chomping at the bit to ask his grandfather about this sordid time in my life.

So be honest. I also had you there for just the briefest of moments, didn’t I? For just a short while, you were prepared to believe some really dirty laundry.

Go ahead and laugh at yourself. It’s almost as funny as the idea of me being a dancer in a strip club.

Almost, but not quite. I couldn’t dance my way out of a wet paper bag, much less some village people outfit!

The moral of the story? Am I just trying to drum up new readers and keep the old readers engaged?

No. Not really. The truth is the title will grab some attention and the stats might show a higher number of readers than would a sappy happy, happy, happy post.

Instead, the moral of the story is really quite simple. Whether the dirty laundry is self-inflicted or the result of the evening news invading someone’s life (I am proud of that phrase), there is always great pain and heartache involved.

The next time you are tempted to rubberneck (and judge), remember, you are gazing in on what might be the most horrifying event a person could ever experience.

Dirty Laundry.

You are welcome to share mine as long as you are willing to wash a load or two with me.

Aren’t you glad God isn’t scared off by dirty laundry? Tomorrow or the next day, I will share some of my ongoing dirty laundry in my struggle back to faith.

Thank you for reading, commenting, liking, subscribing, and sharing.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Yuck! Bitter Rotten Spoiled Nasty Creme-Filled Chocolate!

Forest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

He may have been a fictional character who lives on in reruns and DVD, but his philosophical approach is dead on.

A box of chocolates almost always has a few pieces that aren’t what you expect. You may think you have figured out which ones have all the good caramel filling, but then you misjudge and you get one with some kind of nasty tasting creme…

Life is often like that. Some of us cruise through life and all we ever get from the box is the best pieces of candy. But then some of us end up biting into the really bad stuff.

That is where I have been in many ways. I was given what feels and tastes like the worst piece of candy ever.

I promise you… You never want the kind of chocolate served up to my family on that fateful day.

You might be tempted to turn my analogy on its head and say it’s still chocolate. 

But consider this, sometimes you live and it is a living hell… Not good chocolate after all.

Bitter, rotten, spoiled, nasty, creme-filled chocolate, no matter how it is served, isn’t appetizing. Not yesterday. Not today. Not tomorrow.

There is no way to dress it up.

Personally, I am sick and tired of bad chocolate. I never want to place a piece of raspberry orange coconut creme filled nastiness in my mouth again. Unfortunately, chances are, it will eventually show up once more.

In the meantime, I am thankful for the good pieces that have come my way.

But it does leave me with a question. If it is wrong to question, ask and wonder why God didn’t keep those bad things from happening, should I then believe the good that is happening now is from God?

As you ponder that question, two things of interest…

Some have asked for the recipe for the Strawberry Lemonade cake Becki made for Easter dinner. It is posted below. If you make it, save a piece for me!

And last, my next post is going to be about my time working at a male strip club… Is there a punch line? You will have to read to know!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Strawberry Lemonade

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INGREDIENTS:

  1. One box of strawberry cake mix (plus oil, water and eggs as directed on box)
  2. 8 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened to room temp.)
  3. 1 packet (0.23oz.) of Kool-Aid Lemonade
  4. Yellow food coloring gel (as desired for color)
  5. 2 cups Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
  6. 8 oz. Cool Whip Topping
  7. Fresh strawberries to garnish.

 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Make cake according to box and bake in 2- 9 inch round cake pans as directed.  Turn finished cakes over on cake racks and allow to cool completely.
  2. Cream together cream cheese, lemonade and yellow food coloring until smooth.
  3. Mix marshmallow creme in and then mix in Cool Whip until completely smooth.  Refrigerate until cake is cooled and cut.
  4. Cut each cake layer in half.
  5. Alternating layers of cake with layers of filling, assemble cake.  End with layer of filling.
  6. Top with sliced strawberries.
  7. Refrigerate and serve chilled.