When You are Having Fun…

So I am doing this thing called a fitness bootcamp. It is killing me but like they say, no pain, no gain. And maybe I am gaining some muscle, but I am losing some weight too. In the meantime, I hurt. I hurt a lot.

But that’s a good thing in its own way.

Our kids are all doing well. Michael graduated from High School last week. Conner finished his Freshman year at that school up north. Max is going into the 10th grade and Casey into the 5th. And little Jude is a complete joy (thanks Kyle & Karissa–you do good work)!

Time flies when you are having fun.

And we are.

I find myself here at my blog for the first time in a long while. This blog has more often been about pain than anything else. And I still have pain. I will hurt for our losses until that day when all is made new again.

But I am here today and looking at my life in complete astonishment. I still haven’t finished the book I am working on–and the next is already percolating in my head. I find myself busier than I have ever been with life and kids and church and life. Did I say life?

Yes I did.

Life is wonderful.
Life is breathtaking.
And I am blessed by family, by church family, by opportunities, and by the good graces of God.

So why am I here today?

It isn’t to whine or moan.
It isn’t to weep and wail.
It isn’t to complain.

Why am I here today?

To say thank you.

To say thank you to my wife, to my family, to my church family, to my friends, to my encouragers, to my awesome God.

Thank you. Life is beautiful today. It may turn ugly tomorrow, the rain may fall and the rivers may rise, but today I am grateful, at peace, and so very thankful.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.
Let Israel say, “His faithful love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say, “His faithful love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,“His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1-4 HCSB)

The Stuff of Life

It’s been like ten days.

Ten days since I did anything on this blog other than answer a few comments.

As much time and energy as I have put into this thing… At one point, being on the outside and looking in, you’d probably think the guy writing all this (me) didn’t have much of a life.

But I do.
I find myself busier than ever.

We are working hard in this rodeo they call real estate. Sometimes I feel more like the clown than I do the successful bull rider. But then again, it really doesn’t matter as long as I have the bull by the horns.

Yes, it’s a bad cliché. I have to own that one.

But truthfully? We are busy with the process of living. Instead of just reacting to life, we are grabbing the horns as hard as we can.

I want to live.
Not just exist.
I want to live.

So we work this real estate gig.
I write and seek places to speak and share.
Occasionally, I apply for a different kind of job.

But, we are busy.
In North Little Rock this Sunday.
The week after in Monroe, La.
Then the Tulsa workshop where I am blessed to speak three times.
And then the last Sunday of March we will be in Ridgeland, MS.

Did I mention I am writing? Yes! I wish I was working on book stuff, but I am staying busy trying to get lessons and sermons situated and done.

The book stuff will come–and it does in bits and spurts. The big deal with that situation is finding an editor who can work with me (translated: doesn’t cost an arm and a leg–I can afford a toe, but who’s counting?).

In the meantime, I want to live.
Not just exist.
I want to live.

My struggles with the difficulties of this world can be exacerbating at times–and that on a good day.

But, I want to live.
Not just exist.
I want to live.
And so, my focus can’t be on all the stuff and things that tend take up our time and attention.
Sure, some of it can be important and may have a needed bearing on where we go and what we do.

But not life.
No sir.
No ma’am.

I want to live.
Not just exist.
I want to live.
And to do that, it is all about relationships.

God, my family, friends, neighbors, co-workers… And even the guy at the Tamale shop next door.

Relationships are the stuff of life.

I want to live.
Not just exist.
I want to live.

My relationships are all a work in progress.
But I am working.
Forgive the mini-sermon, but you should be working on your relationships too. You never know when the time to do so will be no more!

Thanks for being in a relationship with me–even if it is just through the words of this blog. You have blessed me greatly.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Forgiving again…

The last time I wrote here—a little over a week ago, I said these words: Paul Buckman? I may have to wrestle with this over and over again, but today, I forgive you.

I wonder how many who read this the first time around caught the word today.

I.

We like to think forgiveness means forgetting. And often it should. A slight or slur forgiven four years earlier ought to soon become something of little consequence and certainly not an event or circumstance to be trotted back out again and again.

In the great biblical chapter of love (1 Corinthians 13, NIV), Paul says love… keeps no record of wrongs.
And in that sense, forgiveness, love, and forgetfulness all become intertwined.

Forgiving Paul Buckman can never mean forgetting.
There is no way short of a full frontal lobotomy to ever forget the events of October 10, 2011.
Not on this side of eternity.
And maybe not ever.

From my perspective, heaven’s promise to wipe away all tears does not mean all past heartaches will be forgotten. However, I believe it does mean the sting, pain, and hurt will all be taken away.

So, as I said before, forgiving Paul Buckman can never mean forgetting.
The consequences, fall out, and ripple effects are ever before us.
There are empty places at the table.
There are tears for the missing.
There are hurts at key moments and significant events with the absence of those who have gone on before.

Indeed, every time a little seven year old boy says, I miss my mom, there is no way to forget.

Forgiveness does not always mean forgetting.
Somethings just cannot be done.

So what then?
How do you forgive that which utterly destroys?
How do you forgive an obscenity that most cannot even imagine?
How do you forgive a nightmare scenario that becomes reality?
How do you forgive a life altering event that cannot possibly be forgotten?

How?

And maybe that is your question too.
Maybe you have never and will never experience anything like our family tragedy.
Maybe.

But maybe just maybe you still know the pain of unfairness.
Maybe you have known what it felt like to be treated unkindly and condescendingly.
Maybe you have experienced insult and slander.
Maybe you have experienced harsh attitudes and harsher actions from someone who was supposed to love you.

Maybe.

What then?
How do you forgive when you cannot forget.

Letting something go is a cliched concept that is easier said than done.

Instead, the key for me is today.

Paul Buckman? I may have to wrestle with this over and over again, but today, I forgive you.
Today, I choose forgiveness instead of bitterness.
Today, I choose peace and tranquility.
Today, I choose life instead of the despair of anger and rage.
Today, I choose to live.

I cannot ever forget the horror that invaded our lives.
But I can choose to live a life of love.

Once more, the Apostle Paul says, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I choose love with the hope and perseverance it brings.

Today, I choose to forgive.
I choose to live.
I choose love.

How about you? What will you choose?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

So Dang Good-Looking? :)

So. What’s happening in your little world?

Me? Life continues. And I am glad.

Conner is driving now. Casey is blossoming. Michael is getting ever closer to his drivers license—Can you understand when I say I am insurance poor? Max is going to be our ladies man. Kyle is in nursing school.

Becki is working harder than anybody I know to build a real estate business all while being an amazing wife and mother. She wears me out just watching her.

And me? I am working this real estate gig as hard as I know how. I am trying to write. And I have applied for more jobs than you can shake a stick at. Government jobs. Retail jobs. Preaching jobs. Laborer jobs.

I have not had much luck in the job market. Most of the time they say I am over qualified. Personally, I think I am so dang good-looking that I intimidate potential employers.

You believe that, don’t you?

I have had a phone interview with a preacher search committee for a church really close to home. I have a great hope that I’ll get asked for a follow-up interview.

My preaching calendar was so empty for several months, but suddenly there are lots of speaking opportunities—every Sunday in January is scheduled. I am speaking twice thus far in February—one of them is at a Saturday seminar on Child Abuse in Somerset, PA. No traveling involved—it will be done via Skype.

For the most part, my message is one of hope in the midst of doubt; triumph in the thrall of pain. If I can help your church organization, I’d love to do so. Ministry is in my blood and preaching is my passion.

http://lesfergusonjrt.com/speaking

Yes, life continues. Change occurs. Difficulties arise. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. And sometimes it can be life affirming.

That doesn’t mean the bad somehow wasn’t or isn’t painful. To the contrary.

And yet?

I will go to my grave with unanswered questions, yes. But I will also go to my grave determined to not be consumed by them.

I will go to my grave as the recipient of more beauty and grace than I could ever deserve. I will one day die very happy to have lived this life.

And that my friends is the state of my life at this moment in time.

I am so glad I get to share it with you.

Before I go, take a look at this link for my latest post on Wineskins…

http://wineskins.org/article/holy-ground-2/

Be a blessing; be blessed!

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.