I Finally Found God

This was written at the request of The Relevant Christian magazine–I suspect it will form some of what I might say in one place or another… In the meantime, here it is.

found

My name is Les Ferguson, Jr.

That may not mean much to you and that’s ok. In fact, you may have no idea who I am or where I have been. Any news stories you might have seen have long left the airwaves…

And I am good with that.

There was a time not so long ago when my name didn’t mean much to me either. I longed to drown my memories, to forget my existence, and to somehow alleviate my all-encompassing pain.

At this point, frankly, I am somewhat weary of the notoriety of my story—I am weary of some of the things that have become an ingrained part of my new identity. I am weary of the heartache of the past that will always be a part of my present and future.

My name is Les Ferguson, Jr.
I am a preacher’s kid.
The world of church work has been a part of my life since almost as long as I can remember.
I grew up in church.
I came of age in church.
Much of my identity and self-worth has long been tied up in church and service to her. Even when I wanted to be far away, she was always close by, an ever-present attraction or irritant, depending on the circumstances.

My name is Les Ferguson, Jr.
I used to be a preacher and that is a story we are getting to.

In fact, I started preaching for a little country church at the age of 15. It was a predominately African-American church. I say predominately, because there was one skinny white kid who preached there on Sunday mornings. Yes, that was me.

I owe that little group of folks a lot, but that’s a part of my story we will not delve into today…

My name is Les Ferguson, Jr.
I went to Magnolia Bible College and studied to be a preacher. My time at school was divided by a six-year hitch in the US Navy. After the Navy, I began work as a youth minister in Vicksburg, MS and also went back to school. In time, I began a full-time preaching ministry in Laurel, MS and later in Gulfport, MS.

I’d like to think I did good work during some of those years. Certainly I grew as a speaker/ communicator. More importantly, I grew as a theologian and minister. And as compassionate as I’d like to think I was, I had lessons yet to learn that would prove to be the fight of my life…

My name is Les Ferguson, Jr.
I used to be a preacher and then I found myself being one again.

In some ways, it would be easier if I could tell you I suffered a moral lapse or made some huge mistake that necessitated a ministry time out. It would be easier to say I cheated with my time. Or maybe I swindled some sweet elderly lady out of her life’s savings or insurance. It would be so less painful to tell you I embezzled church funds or got caught up in some aspect of illegal drug use. It would be far simpler to just acknowledge some degree of depression or a mental breakdown.

It would be easier and I wish I could, but I can’t.

My name is Les Ferguson, Jr. and the time between having been a preacher and becoming one again was a long hard battle of lost and rediscovered faith.

Preachers are not supposed to lose their faith. Standing all alone atop our pedestal of supposed super spirituality, we are thought to be invincible to the failure of doubt. At least until we aren’t and by then, there is little you can say to stop it.

When faith departs, there isn’t a single religious cliché that will fix anything—not WWJD (What would Jesus Do) and not FROG (Fully Rely On God). And faking it till you make it isn’t a viable option either.

And then there was scripture.

Comparing my story to the story of Job wasn’t comforting; it was obscene. And Romans 8:28 enraged me—there was nothing good about the murder of a wife and son.

And so faith departed. It didn’t happen all at once, but I felt it trickle away and was powerless to stop it.

I am not sure I wanted to.

I suppose I should clarify what I mean by losing faith. In my case, I never quit believing in God. I never doubted His existence. I never doubted His presence in this world. In fact, that knowledge and belief in Him fueled my doubt like pouring gasoline on an already raging fire.

When I say I lost my faith, what I mean is losing my trust, hope, and belief in a God who loved and cared for me. I knew He cared for others. I saw the evidence in a thousand places in a thousand times. I heard the happy praise. I saw the exponential joy. I felt the faith of others as a living, breathing, tangible thing…

I get giving God credit for the good things we experience in life. I really do. But every time I heard someone speak of what God had done for them–curing their illness, getting them a new job, buying them a new house, or making their headache go away… I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs both literally and metaphorically the immortal words of Esau, “Do you only have one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” (Genesis 27:38 HCSB)

The next phrase in that verse says, “And Esau wept loudly.”

So did I.
So did I.

And in my tears, rage, and bitterness, I cried with an impotence hard to imagine…

What about me?
What about me, God?
Don’t I count too? 
Why doesn’t my family matter as much as his stupid toothache or her goofy issues?
Why God, why?
Why can’t I be blessed like all the rest around me?
What did I do wrong?
How did I fail you?
What about me?

In those words are the pain of every hurting, broken, questioner who has wondered where God is and why He hasn’t made a difference so desperately wanted and needed.

In the dark despair of tragedy, in the grip of a destructive evil, those were my words.
They were given birth the day my family was ripped from me.
I angrily thought them the day I was forced to pick out two caskets.
I mouthed those words relentlessly as I stood in a day long receiving line.
I cried those words as the funeral message was preached.
I sobbed those words quietly at night as I tried to comfort a five-year demanding to see his grave-bound mother…

Eventually those words took on a life of their own. In my bitterness and despair–in a dry and weary land–there was no comfort, no solace, no balm of Gilead to soothe my spirit, to ease in even some small way the despair that had taken root in my soul.

In that fertile ground of pain and sorrow grew the sure knowledge that God—real and alive—cared nothing for me. I couldn’t trust Him. There were no bargains to be made; no deals to be had.

Hope was gone and I was alone.
Raw.
Bleeding.
And desperate for something to ease the pain…

In my heartache and anger, I eventually found God.
Not all at once.
But slowly and surely, as life became more than just my pain, God started showing up.

Here’s where the story gets real.

The former preacher, the guy with two theology degrees and a lifetime of ministry, finally found God.

Not the God who blesses America (even though He does).
Not the prosperity God who delivers wealth to those who contribute (to whatever cause or bank account needing funding).
Not the God we keep all locked up in a box (church, traditions, understanding) of our own making (although He can dwell there too if He so chooses).
Not the God we bargain with and cut deals for (even though I am sure He is interested).

Instead, I found God.
The God who created everything.
The God who wants nothing more than relationship with His creation.
The God who offers grace, mercy, and love.
The God who redeems our brokenness and changes our story.

For me, the redemption of my story was everything. To use my pain to bless others means my family did not die in vain.

And thus, the grace of God has proven to be overwhelming.

I am preaching again and this time I share a message of grace I have experienced; a message of grace I am compelled to share with others.

My faith is secure.

It took awhile, but I finally found God on His terms and not mine…

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Madison/ Ridgeland, MS.

A Philosophy of Preaching

I am a political animal. There was a time, when I would have jumped into politics with both feet given the right opportunity and financial wherewithal. In fact, had I met the eligibility requirements for Warren county, I would have mounted a campaign for state congress this past fall.

I have some strong beliefs and find myself having to exercise some restraint—particularly on my Facebook wall and even here.
I am probably best described as a radical conservative. I whole-heartedly believe the liberal progressive direction some would take us in is a damaging the Republic.

I am a veteran of the US Navy. I love my country. I spent six years of my life serving her in a military capacity. I am proud of that service—and grateful for the opportunity I had to do so.

But the truth is, nations rise and nations fall. There is a very real probability that this great nation will one day go the way of other great nations and civilizations before her. May that day be ever far off.

However, I have a more pressing agenda.

As such, I’d really rather Desperately Wanting To Believe Again be about things that matter more, long-term.
Like eternity.

Sharing with you my struggles helps me find the right eternal perspective and hopefully encourages others as well.

In the meantime, I have submitted my name for three different preaching jobs. Some days, I lack the confidence necessary to believe I am a viable candidate for any of them. Not looking for words of encouragement here, so please don’t think it necessary to try.

But, here’s why I sometimes struggle with the idea of preaching once more on a regular basis… There are moments when I am not sure where I fit in the theological framework of my tradition. The tragedy my family has faced fundamentally rewired my thinking.

I have long been willing to explore and rethink (or reimagine, as good friend Patrick Mead might say) the things that have defined my religious place before God. I have not been afraid to come to the same conclusion. I have not been afraid to come to a new conclusion. I have not been afraid to leave it (whatever it might be) in the realm of questions of which I have no sure or easy answers.

Please know I am not talking about the identity, divinity, or authority of God or even scripture. I am not talking about anything salvational in nature.

If the truth could be any stranger, it probably would be. Here’s mine: I am mostly neither left or right on the grand theological scale. The word moderate wouldn’t be a very good description either.

Maybe the best way to describe my positioning on the theological continuum is basic or fundamental.
A fundamental Christian. And by fundamental, I mean one who has no choice but to explore hard, deep questions of the soul.

My concern is so very less about this position or that stance. It isn’t about shaking the status quo. It isn’t about playing devil’s advocate. It isn’t about challenging old traditions. It isn’t about fostering new traditions. It’s not really about making people think or somehow wrestle with old or new viewpoints.

I am a basic, fundamental Christian who wrestles, struggles, questions, worries, fears, and wonders. I can’t afford, in this context, to be a political animal playing church politics of any kind. I don’t have room in my life for arguments and debate.

Once I might have, but now I am consumed with fundamental thoughts…
Does God really truly love me?
In the midst of the worst life has to offer, can God be trusted?
Does God really care?
Am I really important?
Does my life matter?

Can you see how those questions are so very fundamental? If I am going to love God and keep His commandments, if I am going to love others in a God-honoring way, then I need to know those answers in every permutation they can be known in.

I suspect I am not alone.

Churches are full of folks who need to hear someone who has been through a fire say with real life conviction: I may not have all of the theological answers about every possible question, but I can say, without any doubt at all, Jesus loves me, this I know.

I may rage at what feels like God’s absence.
I may not understand how He works in every situation.
I may not grasp where He is during every moment.
But Jesus loves me, this I know.

How’s that for a preaching philosophy?

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36, NIV)

Thanks for reading,
Les Ferguson, Jr.

From Victim to Surviver to Thriver

In the immediate confusion and struggle of the events of October 10, 2011, I had no idea what to do from one moment to the next. I will ever be thankful for the people who were there giving guidance and support. I am particularly grateful for the friendship, compassion, and expertise of Bubba Lang and his staff at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Homes.

We had a history together that predates those horrible events. After hurricane Katrina, Bubba allowed the church to use one of their chapels for worship services for about a year and a half while our new building was being constructed. In a crazy turn of events, we had sold our building and then two days before Katrina roared ashore, signed a contract to build a new building.

But unfortunately, everything changed including the projected costs as a result of storm recovery and rebuilding.

With a building project on hold and no building of our own, we were served well by Bubba and his staff. They made a difficult situation much easier than it could have been otherwise.

Even after being in our new church building, us “old timers” remembered those funeral chapel months with gratitude and humor. (After all, how many preachers get to preach in a place where people are dying to get into? Yeah, I know, it’s a groaner of a joke.)

But then the unthinkable happened. I found myself at the same chapel we had used all those months for Sunday worship trying to figure out what to do for a funeral service.

My friend Bubba was as compassionate and caring as anybody could have been. A business that provided a necessary service was more like a ministry and Bubba was the High Priest. I remember sitting there answering questions and carrying out what I think were lucid sounding conversations.

I also remember my breaking point that day. When directed to the casket show room and tasked with picking out two coffins, I reacted in anger. I balked, refused, and with a heavy heart, left the room. I still have no idea who made that final decision.

Immediately after, I remember being driven to the cemetery where we took possession of donated grave spots. I remember feeling how strange, unnatural, and horrible the whole process was.

I remember…

The horror of it all is still so very present.
And borrowing the words of a commenter on a another blog I read, I am doing my very best—determined—to make the transition from victim to survivor to thriver.

In many ways I already have made that transition.

And yet, the simple truth is that consequences often expand exponentially. With that expansion, which I often refer to as the ripple effects, comes a whole laundry list of unanswered questions, guilt, and anguish.

In those last minutes, what did they feel?
How terrified were they?
Did Cole understand what was happening?
Where was God?

Where was God?

Fair or not, with that question, at least for me, came a loss of trust, a loss of place, and a loss of friends.

Consequences.
And hard ones at that.
Consequences I still struggle with.

However, I remain very determined to face every one of them head on. Sadly, they don’t often have easy answers. They sometimes reoccur. And likely, it may very well take a long time to turn them around.

From victim to surviver to thriver. That’s my onward and upward journey.
Occasionally it feels like the proverbial one step forward and two steps backward.
But such is life for many.

Thanks for reading.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Waiters

So yesterday I spoke at the Discover Rally. I am thankful to my lifetime buddy, John Dobbs, for inviting and giving me the opportunity.

I doubt if anybody needed to hear the message more than me.

The majority of the sermon came directly out of a chapter called Forlorn and Forgotten, written for my book-in-progress. It is about Hagar and Ishmael, but mostly Hagar. She is a highly sympathetic character and deserving of our attention to her story.

As far as the book chapter goes and the edited version for a sermon, I needed to write those things as a part of my journey, a part of my recovery, and a part of my new walk of faith. And as much as I needed to write them, I needed even more to say those words out loud with others as a witness.

The reality is quite simple: I needed to believe them then… I need to believe them today.

And I do.

Honestly?
Some days it is harder than others to do so.
Some days the pain is closer to the surface.
Some days the frustration is much to high for comfort and ease of belief.

But on most other days, life is good.
Really good.
On those days, pain is buried pretty deep and finds it so much harder to reach the surface.
On those days, I find ready laughter, abundant joy, and much to live and hope for.

And I do.

Truthfully?
Those are the kind of days when I need to believe even more.
Those are the kind of days my focus on God needs to be much clearer.
Those are the days I need to be most aware that my blessings come from God…

Why?

Because those are the days I am most tempted to rely on my own strength and ability.
Those are the days I am tempted the most to fall prey to the world’s ideas of rugged individualism versus the idea of patiently waiting on the Lord.

No, I am not normally patient.
The idea of sitting still and waiting is foreign to me.
I don’t like to wait.

A long time ago Queen sang,

Adventure seeker on an empty street
Just an alley creeper light on his feet
A young fighter screaming with no time for doubt
With the pain and anger can’t see a way out
It ain’t much I’m asking, I heard him say
Gotta find me a future move out of my way
I want it all I want it all I want it all and I want it now
I want it all I want it all I want it all and I want it now

That could be my anthem song because I do want it all.
And yes, I am tired of waiting. I want it now.

Please?

In the meantime, I am trying to learn how to believe and live the waiting of Lamentations.

I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:17-26 NIV)

Waiting is easier in the company of other waiters.

Anybody else need to learn how to wait?

Impatiently yours,

Les Ferguson, Jr.

The Sovereign Beginning

Nine months.

It’s been almost nine months of writing, crying, and healing.
Nine months of the occasional scab being ripped off.

Nine of months of wondering.
Of being angry.
Of asking questions.
Of wanting answers.
Of glimmering hope

Nine months of struggle and happiness, sadness and joy all juxtaposed together.

After nine months of writing under my belt, I am in a different place than where I began. I have more vivid dreams and aspirations. At the same time, the disappointments and anger are still larger than life should want them to be.

And patience? No, I have little to nopatience with this process.

And yet…
And yet.

Here I am.
Not where I want to be in some regards, but ecstatically happy in many others.
And headed I hope toward a place of peace, trust, and opportunity.

Here’s the post that started this blog journey… With blessings to all who might read again or for the first time…

Sovereign in the mountain air
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm

Sovereign in my greatest joy
In my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arm
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

Sovereign in the mountain
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm

Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

I love this song.
I hate this song.
I love Chris Tomlin.
I hate Chris Tomlin.

To say I am a conflicted man is a such cliched statement.
Cliched or not, it’s true.

Please understand, what you will read in the pages and chapters of whatever this will ultimately become won’t be for the faint of heart. It won’t be for those whose faith is comfortable or complacent. It may very well be too much for those who cannot handle unvarnished truth and pain.

One page may be raw emotion. Another story may be bittersweet memories of what was lost forever. And still another entry may be rage against the God I believe in… the God whom I have lost my faith, hope, and trust in.

That’s why I both love and hate Chris Tomlin’s song Sovereign.

In your everlasting arm
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

I want to believe that so badly.
I desperately need to believe again.

And yet.
And yet…

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Wise Counsel

For many years I had people come to my office for counseling. I was never much a counselor of note. I had no specific training or expertise. There was nothing special about my technique.

The only qualification I had was a couple of theology degrees and years of experience loving people at their worst and enjoying them at their best. That and having to learn how to listen, something I struggle with even now.

Please know there is a lot of distance between worst and best behaviors and problems. Not to mention the varied and sometimes crazy and embarrassing topics and subjects you might be asked to shed some light on.

I wasn’t always the most sympathetic listener. More than once I wanted to look at whomever was gracing me with their presence and say something along the lines of “You are wasting my time and yours with this? You need to get a life. At least let me give you a swift kick in the backside for a reality check.”

  • Believe me. I didn’t want to know about your ED meds. I didn’t want to know about how you finally came to the decision to talk to your doctor. I didn’t want to know how they helped you. (Not kidding about this, I promise)
  • Believe me. I could not fix her. If I could have, I’d probably have started with you. But I could not fix you. At least I couldn’t do it and avoid jail at the same time.

Maybe you are laughing; maybe you are not. But, surrounded by the four walls of my office, I have heard some weird and wacky stuff.

Which leads me to believe all of us have a certain capacity for the weird and wacky. But then I digress.

I find myself these days on the other side of the desk wrestling with emotions and frustration I’d rather not. And no, I haven’t embarrassed myself with something weird or wacky.

Yet.

Knock on wood…

Earlier this week a counselor told me I needed to be easier on myself, I needed to have more patience with where I’ve been and where I am going. I get that. I have always been harder on myself than anybody else would be.

At the same time, I think that would be much easier to do if it wasn’t so open-ended. If I knew I just had to be patient for another month or two, that I could do.

So.

How do you let go and trust?  How do you just live in the moment?

Those are things I want to do, but I am not wired to do them easily.

Jesus teaches us not to worry, but that is easier said than done.

I guess I am like the guy who once told Jesus, “I believe. Help me with my unbelief.”

Except my words would be, “I trust you God. Help me where my trust has faded.”

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Life Goes On?

Life goes on.

I don’t particularly like those words.

I have said them.
To others.
To myself.
I have said them lots and lots of times.

I know them to be true.
Short of a cataclysmic world ending life-as-we-know-it event or the second coming and the end of time, life goes on.

Life goes on.
The sun rises.
The sun sets.
Days and weeks go by.
Months pass.
Seasons change.
Life goes on.

Two years later, I am well aware of the simple fact that life goes on.

Yes, life goes on.
The sun rises.
The sun sets.
Days and weeks go by.
Months pass.
Seasons change.
Life goes on.

But what about when it doesn’t?
What about when it doesn’t?

What about when the phone rings and the worse news you could ever imagine is heard?
What about when the doctor delivers devastating words no one ever wants to hear?
What about that frozen moment in time in which everything near and dear is completely undone?

What about then?
What about then?

I have written about it before and do so here again. I will never ever get the image of the coroner coming to give me the worst news possible out of my mind. It is an exquisitely painful freeze frame seared into my consciousness.

I remember time slowing down.
I remember the chief-of-police talking–his voice sounded like he was underwater.
I remember this uncharacteristic and extremely loud roaring in my ears.
I remember seeing faces of people who were normally as familiar as the back of my hand–their looks of horror rendered them unrecognizable–although now, I can pick them out of the full color video loop that now plays unerringly.

What about then?
What about then?

Life goes on?
In moments like those, it feels as if life has ended.

I well remember being offended that others got to keep living their lives without the fundamental changes I was experiencing.

Yes, life goes on.
But if you are wondering, let me help you understand: hearing those words is hardly comforting.

Life goes on is actually a pretty fatalistic view of life.
It’s the kind of phrase that goes with a shrug of the shoulders and can sound as if devoid of all hope.
It’s a phrase that makes it seem as if what really matters somehow doesn’t.

To the ears of those for whom life has come to a shuddering stutter-step stop, life goes on lacks the compassion so desperately needed.

Be patient with us (whomever or wherever we might be).
Hopefully we’ll get there one day…

Thank you for reading, sharing, and commenting…

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Two

October 10, 2013.
Not today.
But Thursday.
This Thursday.
Not tomorrow.
Not Wednesday.
Thursday.

It’s coming quickly.
More quickly than we want.
We would like to fast forward past it.
Better yet, skipping it completely seems like a splendid idea.

But no matter how badly we want to avoid it, it’s coming like gangbusters and will continue to do so until time is no more.

With everyday of every calendar.
With every new moon of every month.
With every change of every season, it comes around again and again.

For most folks, October 10th is just another fall day.
The sun will rise.
The day will run it’s course.
And a new day will take its place.

This year it is on a Thursday.
A prelude to a three day weekend.
The boys have various things planned or hoped for.
We need to get in another load of firewood.
Life goes on.

This October 10th means two years.

Two.

Two years.
Two long years.
Two short years.
Two heartbreaking years.
Two years of pain.

Two.

Two years.
Two years of happiness.
Two years of joy.
Two years we could not have ever imagined.

Two years of new life and living.
Two years of new experiences.
Two years of new relationships.
Two years of new challenges.
Two years of new adventures.

Two.

Two years of struggle.
Two years of triumph.

Two.

Two years of wondrous healing.
Two years of still desperately needing to be healed.

Two.

Two years seems like an achingly long time with more to come.
Two years is an eternity.

Two years have passed in an incredible blur.
Two years gone and it seems like the past was a dream life barely remembered.

Two.

Such a paradox.
Such is life.

Two years ago this coming Thursday, October 10, 2011, one life ended and another began.

What do you do with an anniversary like this?
What do you do with a yearly reminder of the most hurtful, pain-filled day in your life and the life of your children?

Two years and an ocean-full of tears.
Two years and a heavy heart.
Two years…

This Thursday we remember.
Not that we ever forget.
But this Thursday we remember.

We remember, honor, and give thanks.
We give thanks for the lives we lived and those we lost.
We give thanks for the new lives we live and the new love we’ve found.

And we endeavor.
We endeavor to live life fully.
We endeavor to embrace every day.
We endeavor to face the future while never forgetting the past.

Two.

We remember.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Scalped

Move over, Alexander.
In fact, you need to move way down to the other end of the bench.
In the next state.
There is no room for you here.
All this space is mine.
Yesterday I claimed it for a very long time.

I wasn’t trying to rhyme, but I am good.
Really good.
And yet, I digress.

You do know Alexander, don’t you? I bet you have worn his name a time or two. Or maybe three or four.

Somedays, I think I own the title, rights, and everything else pertaining to Alexander.

Dear old Alexander…

He is actually a fictional character created by Judith Viorst in her amazing little book entitled Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This story is from a child’s perspective which is kind of on the mark since he is a child. If you haven’t read this book, you are missing a treat

Yesterday, I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
It has extended itself in one particular way into this day.

When I was young, I loved reading Westerns. I liked the Westerns where the good guys were fighting off the bad guys–including the additional storyline of a band of blood thirsty Apache Indians. Yes, I was a Louis L’Amour fan.

Today, I am officially afraid of being scalped.
Again.
Seriously.

Scalped.
And by scalped, I do not mean a bad haircut.

Scalped.

Yesterday morning started out ok. I was able to register Casey for a fall soccer league. In fact, the best and brightest part of the day was seeing his face light up with unabashed joy over a new pair of soccer cleats, shinguards, and a ball. We start practice tonight.

At any rate, after the online registration and and getting Casey on the bus, I began looking for my soccer coaching stash from years gone by. At one time or another, I coached all the other boys in soccer.

My search took me to the dreaded basement. The basement. The basement where Cole’s treasures are stored. And against my better judgment I opened those footlockers… and the tears began. They turned into a screaming match with God, only He didn’t scream back. My heart hurt most of the day. Everything was colored by pain. Even though my life is so much better than it could be… Even though my life is amazingly full and happy… The thought of all the ensuing years to come before I see my son again is daunting to say the least.

For the rest of the day I tried to function and live in the moment. I guess for the most part I did.
But it felt an awful lot like I was under water.
Slow.
Sluggish.
And hard to breath.

Thus went the day.
By evening, my equilibrium was better.
My outlook on life was much improved.
And Alexander? I was just about ready to cede back to him complete ownership of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
At least up until the moment I got scalped.

Did I say scalped?
Why yes, yes I did.

Scalped.
Not by a tomahawk.
But scalped nonetheless.

I was going up the spiral staircase to tuck Casey in for the night when I had the bright idea of tossing some clothes from the stairs to a basket below. In a moment completely bereft of any common sense, I leaned over the stair case to do so… and right into the spinning blades of a ceiling fan spinning on the highest speed.

Scalped!

Did you know head wounds bleed profusely?
Did you know gashes in the skull are painful?
Kids, don’t try this from home, take it from me instead.

Yes, a bad day got worse.
And quickly.

My head hurt then and it still hurts now.
But that pain will pass.
That wound will heal.
And I will eventually forget about how stupid I feel.
But my heart?
That pain will not completely go away until it is my turn to step across the great divide.

Until that day comes…
Blessings to you and yours,

Les Ferguson, Jr.

A Pensive Persistent Melancholy

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up… To more than I can be.
Josh Groban

Today, I am a little sad. Not the kind of sad that looks like the beginnings of some deep dark depression, but sad nonetheless. Maybe a pensive persistent melancholy is a better way to describe how I feel today.

Moving back to Vicksburg was about coming home. About coming back to the place that was so much of a tether, at least in my mind.

I was going to be grounded here.
Being surrounded by old friends, old surroundings, and familiar haunts was going to make this a safe place–providing a security I wanted and needed.

I am so glad I came back. I am glad Becki was here. I am grateful for the sense of being important and loved she gives me. She is a constant source of strength and encouragement. She has made this house we live in a home for all of our boys. Truly we rise up and call her blessed. That this town is a safe secure place is largely due to her.

But today, I am a little sad, a kind of pensive persistent melancholy.
Mourning a little bit.
Grieving just a tad.

Mostly today, it is about me.
The loss of me.
The loss of purpose.
The loss of friends, circles, and fellowships.

Don’ get me wrong. I am not without friends. I have a group of buddies scattered about–mostly in the South–and we communicate as a group every single day of the week and have for years thanks to the internet. Preachers mostly. We are all save one connected by the now defunct Magnolia Bible College. Most of these guys I have known since I was 18 and three of them from an even younger age.

Those guys are my friends and brothers (one of them is my little brother), and I love them unequivocally–even the one whose politics are way outside anything I can understand and appreciate.

But today, I am a little sad. Once again, a pensive persistent melancholy, if you will.
Rebuilding a shattered life was going to be easier here.
At least until I figured out it was going to be hard anywhere.

Life has a funny way of moving on.
People change.
Life happens.
Time rolls on.
And relationships have to be nurtured in order to be sustained.

In the meantime, please understand it is not nearly as dreary as it may sound.
I know good things are coming.
I know they are. I believe that with all my heart.
I do, however, get very frustrated when God’s timing is not in line with my I-want-it-now perspective.

So.

Here’s to new friends and new situations…
Here’s to moving forward and growing stronger…
Here’s to building a new life on stronger foundations…
Here’s to God as the cornerstone and architect!

Today, I am a little bit sad and yet very determined to face the challenges of a great new adventure with the God who raises us up.

How about you?

Les Ferguson, Jr.