My Eyes Are Dry

cole 1  You may look at the title and think the reference is to my tears or lack thereof.

Don’t get your hopes up.

I still cry.
I still struggle.
I still wrestle with loss.

Last month’s five-year anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever was particularly hard.

Honestly? I am already dreading the 27th of this month. That is Cole’s birthday. He would have been twenty-seven. I miss him so.

There is a place in my heart that will always be just a bit raw over our losses. I grieve regularly for my children and their pain.

In some respects, I will always have unanswered questions–at least on this side of the vale.

Believe it or not, sometimes my questions have much less to do with tragedy and more with life itself.`

Scripture often affirms that which we may not always quite understand or comprehend.

In this case specifically, I am reminded of the following descriptions of King David:

But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”  1 Samuel 13:14

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

I read those verses and confess: I sometimes struggle to understand how this could be true.

David, a man after God’s own heart?

Obviously that sentiment is positively affirmed by scripture.  And just as obviously, I must accept it while I try to understand it.

When I look at David’s life, I see it through some dark and dirty lenses—my own as well as his.

He was a man of mistakes.  I am a man of mistakes. Some of David’s, like his affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband Uriah, are stupendously ugly.  I’d rather not have to confess all of my ugliness, but ugly I own in multiple shapes and fashions. When you look at David’s family it becomes readily apparent that he would have never won the Father of the Year award. In solidarity, I have made more than my fair share of parenting gaffes and blunders.

So while freely acknowledging the sometimes strident nature of his failures and sins, still God says he was a man after His own heart.

How? How could a man like David be afforded such a gracious epithet?

Better yet, how can I? How can you? Is there any real hope for those of us who own an error filled life?

Yes, there is hope. No matter how dark the day, no matter how messed up the occasion, there is hope. And the answer to how may not be as far off as you might suppose.

These are David’s words: Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”  (Psalm 16:1-2)

David recognized the one true source of protection—the only place of real refuge.  David understood that without God he was nothing. And David, in spite of his epic flaws and failures, longed most of all to know and be known by God.

Although not written during David’s time, I suspect David instinctively knew the truth of Keith Green’s song, “My Eyes Are Dry.”

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of Your Blood

May God soften my heart. May God soften yours. And in the softening may we be shaped, formed, and fashioned in such a way as to become a man, a woman after God’s own heart.

I long for the heart of God.

How about you?

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

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.

Doing the Maybe Dance

If you have woken up any day in the past couple of weeks and thought, I don’t recognize my world anymore, I completely understand…

Call me naïve.
Consider me sheltered.
And maybe even wonder if I have had my head in the sand…

But at the end of the day, I don’t recognize my world anymore.

I don’t understand how folks can be so full of hate that they shoot up churches. And it’s not like I haven’t personally experienced evil. To the contrary, I am well aware of how wicked and ugly people can be.

I don’t understand how and why folks can twist what is good and right into a perversion or caricature of what is intended.

I don’t understand how Christians can claim Christ and be hateful and spiteful—to each other and anybody else they find disagreement with.

So, if you are like me and hear yourself saying, I don’t recognize my world anymore

I get it.
In my best 80’s Valley Girl imitation, I so totally get it, dude! Or dude-ette. Whatever the case may be.

Up is down.
Down is up.
Right is wrong.
Wrong is right.

I don’t recognize my world anymore.

To some degree or in certain situations or circumstances, maybe I am naïve or sheltered. Maybe my head has been firmly entrenched in sand. I am not really prepared to argue it one way or another.

However I got here, I don’t recognize my world anymore. But since we are doing the maybe dance… Maybe that’s a good thing.

Because as it looks and feels today, Christianity is on the wrong side of culture.
Out of step.
Behind the times.
Old-fashioned.
Out of tune.
Or better yet, counter-culture.

Maybe we need to remember that because, well…

Maybe we have depended entirely too much on a government to provide the standard of what is good, right, and wholesome.

And maybe we have become entirely too comfortable with this world—too agreeable with a stance that doesn’t rock the boat or make some kind of a wave.

And maybe in all of our hand wringing when faced with the fact that the world’s values have never been that of the church, maybe we’ll remember we are here to share the eternal perspective of Jesus.

And maybe we have lost sight of the fact that this world is not our home.

And maybe we’ve forgotten that broken is broken and we are all broken in some form or fashion.

And in a maybe that might be the worst, maybe we have just simply loved ourselves more than others—and maybe in our own self-preoccupation, we have lost sight of that fact loving others isn’t always easy or pretty.

Finally, as we bring this maybe dance to a close, maybe we should quit saying maybe and remember the words of Jesus…

If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. (John 15:18–21 HCSB)

And then,

You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:11–14 HCSB)

Maybe?
No maybe to it.

Counter-culture.
Salt and light.
Love and hope.
Mercy and grace.
That’s our answer to a world we don’t understand anymore.

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.

WB or JPN?

Can you say neglected or neglectful?

That’s not a nice word in most contexts.

“I’ve neglected my children.”
“I’ve been neglectful toward my wife.”
“I’ve have been so busy, that I have neglected to pay the correct attention to my rather large and independently wealthy investment portfolio.”

Aren’t those great examples? Where I am concerned, none of them are true, but the last? Well, that’s a subtle bit of humor considering the state of my finances.

But the truth is simple. I have been neglecting my blog of late. But, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say.

I have a lot to say. I have a lot I could rant and rave about.
I could easily go all political and talk about our cancelled insurance policy and who is to blame for that.
I could spend some time moaning and groaning about fate and all the struggles we continue to face.
I could wax poetic about these dang allergies or whatever I have been afflicted with for weeks without end.

Wax poetic? No not really, but you get the picture.

You do, don’t you?

Yeah..

So maybe neglected or neglectful is not the right word when it comes to not writing on my blog over the last week or so.

Maybe the correct word is avoided or avoidance.

I have avoided writing for one reason in particular.

The WB syndrome.

WB is shorthand for those who have and greatly exercise their ability to be a whiny butt. When life is giving you lemons and are you sick and tired, as well as tired and sick of both making and drinking lemonade, there is a great temptation to give into being a complainer. Or in my Dad’s vernacular, a whiny butt.

Know any whiny butts?
I bet you do, especially the one that looks back at you in the mirror.

Even though my laments are valid, one of these days I suspect I’ll gaze back at some of this and think I was the biggest whiny butt ever.

If not that, then maybe my diagnosis will be a text book example of JPN.

Just Plain Nuts.

I hope you get the point that I am trying to laugh in spite of difficulty.
I am.

And I don’t mind laughing at myself either–so feel free to laugh with me.

In case I don’t get back on here before turkey day, Happy Thanksgiving!

More importantly, tomorrow would have been Cole’s 24th birthday.
I miss him greatly.
I’ll make no excuse for whining about that.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

The Twins

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29

Poor old Thomas.

He gets ridiculed for his doubt. How in the world could he not believe Jesus had risen from the dead?

But back in Thomas’ day and in mine as well, people died, they got buried, and short of divine intervention, that’s how they stayed, dead as a doorknob–at least in this present world.

And yet at the same time, we know Thomas was privy to the fact that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. He was aware of all the particulars on that spectacularly amazing day.

Still, how many other folks had managed to drag themselves back from the grave? How many other people took an abbreviated dirt nap before awakening themselves and arising to walk in this world again?

Zip.

Nada.

Zilch.

None.

Not a singe one.

Can you cut Thomas a little slack? Can you give him a little bit of wiggle room? I mean, all he had to go on was the testimony of his fellow disciples. And when you get down too it, they weren’t necessarily a stellar crowd.

Among them were poor fisherman, a political zealot, a betrayer, and a denier. None of them were scholars. Their qualifications, behaviors and attitudes sometimes left a lot to be desired. So before we jump on old Thomas, maybe we ought to ask ourselves if we would have believed under the same circumstances…

I suspect I would have been a twin to Thomas. I suspect that though I would have wanted to believe, I would have wrestled with confusion, stress, frustration, and well, whatever meager evidence my eyes could have seen.

The truth is, I am a lot like Thomas to this very day and what I would have wrestled with then, applies now.

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe in God. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Jesus. I believe in what Jesus did. I believe in what He is still doing in the lives of people everywhere. I believe Jesus is coming back to take home those who belong to Him.

I have faith.

But I also have doubt.

Some days it is hard to really believe God cares for me.

Some days I really struggle with the the idea God has my best interests at heart.

And almost every day I wonder if God’s timing will ever be on time for me.

I am a twin to Thomas the Doubter.

Or maybe his clone.

But even as I doubt, I believe.

I believe.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” (Khalil Gibran)

Come See Me This Weekend at Discover Rally!

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.

Fat Daddy

Frustration mounts.

You probably didn’t come here to get my take on the latest shenanigans coming out of our nation’s capital. I’ll probably just refrain at least in this format. I’ll give you a hint, though. I am a fan of the Revolution that began this country.

A big, big fan.
But I digress.

Frustration mounts.
I am surrounded by frustrated people.
And not just in the federal government.

We have a new mayor. The city paid the lawsuits as a result of his philandering. He was then caught taking a bribe by the FBI. He’s out and going to jail.

Our county government has problems also. Somebody may yet go to jail as well.
And then there is our school district.
If I told you, you would find it hard to believe.

Not only does frustration abound, craziness does too.

For a long time, I wanted to be a politician. But then I realized I would for the most part either have to be a liar, cheater, schemer, swindler, or manipulator… if not, then at the very best, I would be in a tiny small minority.

Yeah.
I am probably painting with an overly wide brush.
But you’d have to do the hard work of proving me wrong to change my mind.

At this point, I’d do better to just call them idiots and leave it at that.

Frustration mounts.
For many, it is a slowly seething pot that is about to reach it’s boiling point.

I could easily volunteer for president of the frustration club–at least for the branch that deals with the federal government.

While I am hopping mad at lots of stuff going on in this country, it’s politics and governance is not by far my biggest frustration.

Want to take a guess where or in whom my greatest frustration lies?
Hey God, my greatest frustration is you!

Far from intending anything disrespectful or blasphemous, I imagine God saying, “I know, son, I know…”
And yet frustration mounts.

I wrote the other day about hanging on.
It was good advice for me to hear.
Apparently, I still need the reminder.

But the truth is my patience is wearing thin.
And I am tired. Very tired.
I keep thinking about and asking myself how much longer will I be frustrated and stymied? How many more lessons do I have to learn until some of the old me can be comfortably a part of the new me? How long, God, how long?

Frustration mounts.
As a result, tonight, I am self-medicating.

Tonight I am writing with my drug of choice right beside me.
Yes, I did say drug, but it’s not what you think…

I am frustrated.
I am impatient.
I am weary.
But I am growing full and momentarily contented as the stack of fig newtons slowly dwindles away chased by a beautiful glass of cold, cold milk!

And I am smiling with a memory of my sweet Cole… I can clearly hear him say mischievously as the cookies are devoured… You fat, daddy. You fat.

Maybe so, son.
Maybe so.

Frustration mounts.
Relax and have a cookie.
Chances are, you can’t do much about it anyway!

(Somebody will probably have to remind me of this tomorrow…)

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Have You Forgiven?

Paul Buckman.

There is a part of me that hates hearing that name, seeing that name, or remembering that name.

I don’t know if I have completely forgiven him. I don’t know if I ever will be able to do such a difficult thing.

His evil actions have lifelong implications not just for me, but for my children. And if we are completely candid, his actions will have a multigenerational effect.

So what do we do with that?

I remember saying early on in this grief journey that I hated his whole family tree. That’s a little bit harsh, but I do have some righteous indignation for whomever in his family (or friends for that matter) who might have known of previous offenses and kept quiet.

All that being said, I have had to let so much of that go. As long as I continue to harbor bitterness and rage, he is still causing pain and heartache. For the most part, I have had to make peace with some things in order to find peace in new directions.

Have I forgiven Paul Buckman? Clearly he was an evil, wicked, sin-sick man. But what he did is in God’s hands.

I intend somehow to find the place in my heart to let him go completely. I need to. Not for him, he’s beyond anything I can think, feel, or do. I need to for me and for my family.

And based on that, maybe you too will find the words of my friend, Royce Ogle, to be important in your life as well. Thank you, Royce, for allowing me to share them here…

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just can’t forgive her (him)”? Maybe you have said that yourself. I might have said it myself. It’s a purely human response when someone has cause you pain, disappointment, or broken a trust. All of us have been violated in some way by another and have known the pain that ensues. That is true!

What is untrue is that you “can’t forgive” another, no matter how, and to what extent, you have been wronged. People who hold firmly to that position probably do not understand what forgiveness is and how to do it.

Many people, even many Christians, believe they only need to forgive those who ask for forgiveness, or those who apologize for a wrong. That is false. Forgiveness rests solely with you. If you will forgive another is completely your call, no other person is involved.

I don’t know how you have been wronged but you feel that something has been taken from you, an offence has been committed against you, and you deserve something…

To forgive someone is to release the offender from his debt, whatever it may be. The idea is that a compassionate lender tells the borrower he does not have to repay the balance of the loan. He is released from the debt.

To forgive someone is to release the resentment and bitterness you have stored up inside you. You visit there often and feel an emotional rush every time. To forgive another is to gather that garbage and throw it out.

To forgive someone is to treat the offender as if you have forgiven them. It means to sincerely desire the best for them, not the worst.

Forgiveness is a choice! But, it is not an emotional choice, it is an intellectual choice. If you wait ’til you “feel like it” you will never forgive someone who has wronged you. The reason you have decided to wait for an apology is that you want to “feel” better. The problem is you can’t “feel better” until after your forgive, not before. You must make a decision. You must tell yourself “I am tired of being bitter and resentful and I’m going to do the right thing and forgive“. Is it that easy? No, it isn’t easy but that’s the way to do it.

You see, all of your hateful thoughts, all of those things that fuel your hatred and disgust, make you more and more bitter, will not leave you unless you decide they have to go! You make the declaration to yourself “This moment I am forgiving _______ from every wrong against me. I will no longer harbor and encourage bad thoughts about him/her. I have set him/her free from the debt owed and I will experience peace where bitterness and resentment have lived.”

If you can’t seem to do this, start praying for the offender. You can’t pray for someone long and resent them at the same time. If you will to forgive soon your emotions will catch up to your thinking and you will experience peace instead of turmoil.
You don’t necessarily have to even tell the other person. In many cases the other person has gone on with life and has no idea you have been bitter for years. Maybe the person is deceased that you have had ill feelings about so long. Or, it might be an ex-spouse better left alone. You see, this forgiveness thing is all about you, not the other person.

Just try forgiveness. It is like a cool drink of water on a hot day, or a deep breath of fresh morning air. It’s so good for you. Bitterness and resentment can’t live in the same space with forgiveness.

I didn’t tell you that you must forgive others, Jesus did.

Thanks for reading–I love and appreciate each of you!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

No More Molesters

Yesterday was very productive. I wrote and sent a bio. I wrote and sent a book proposal to three different people. I asked another if He might be interested.

Now I wait. Very impatiently.

In the mean time, there is something I want to share…

In the aftermath of Cole’s molestation and multiple rapes, I was beside myself with guilt.

How could I have not known?
How could I have not seen?
Why didn’t I protect my child better?

Did I say guilt? Absolutely. I still find plenty of opportunities to beat myself up over my failures.

And then, after Karen and Cole were murdered, more guilt, more self-recrimination throbbed like a smashed thumbnail throughout my psyche and my soul.

This isn’t, by the way, about having you massage my guilt away or somehow make me feel less like a failure.

The truth is a bitter pill to swallow. When it counted most, I failed.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not wallowing in pity. There were plenty of signs for me to see–there was ample evidence to have helped me grasp what was going on. But, I have since learned that child molesters are very smart and controlling people. They are manipulators who groom both their victims and those around them. They play masterfully on our preconditioned desire to trust–especially when we are needing help.

When we looked at Paul Buckman, we saw a kindly, grandfatherly man who loved us, loved Cole, and wanted to help ease a burden. We were ecstatic. That’s exactly what we were supposed to see and feel.

I will always believe Paul Buckman could have been stopped–should have been stopped. So somehow, someway, we have to find a way to protect our children. Even in churches. Especially in churches. We cannot allow a fear of conflict to hinder us from saying or telling what needs to be said. Especially for our children.

The very place we want to trust the most is an easy playing field for the stalkers among us.

I’d like to introduce you to a couple of blogs–http://jimmyhinton.org and http://www.findingahealingplace.com. These are important. The writers know first hand what it means to live with a predator.

The first blog is written by a preacher (Jimmy Hinton) who was also a preacher’s son.
The second blog is written by a woman who was a preacher’s wife (Clara Hinton).
Was is the operative word.

Together, they lived with a preacher husband/ father who is now in jail for being a child molester. A predator who went undetected for over 40 years.

Can you imagine the horror?
And yet, even having lived through my own hell, I still have trouble imagining how much and how often our children are destroyed by this pervasive evil.

It’s way beyond time to say no more. I am looking forward to hearing more of Jimmy and Clara’s story–not because I revel in ugliness, but because we must wade through it in order to stop it!

Standing up for children is everybody’s business!

Can I get an Amen?

Les Ferguson, Jr.