Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Third Time's the Charm

I am in the calm between wedding #2 (to Caid Ferguson) and wedding #3 (to Caid Ferguson). I am trying to collect enough thoughts to make this third one even better--but is that possible? Here is wedding #1:

wedding #1 Dos:

1. Know what your main goal is and let everything else go
2. Pinterest! It works everywhere
3. Make it kid friendly--we really like kids
3. If you can pull off a wedding in another country using only public transportation, you rock
4. Put your personal touch on things that can be prepared on things in advance, like invites and programs--not last minute decor
5. Make sure to have lots of amazing people to help out early and stay late, because you always need it

wedding #1 Don'ts:

1. Forget to have a wedding rehearsal
2. Get upset at anyone for any reason--broken relationships are worse than anything "wrong" with your wedding
3. Have many different parts to your wedding that everyone needs to participate in--they like doing their own thing
4. Forget to pack for the honeymoon last minute/grab your stuff right as you leave
5. Be afraid to ask people to lead/head things up directly

And wedding #2 was amazing as well 

Wedding #2 Dos: 
1. Invite everyone--they won't all show up
2. Use the internet! So many ideas and free templates to steal from.
3. Do as much as possible beforehand 
4. Know you won't get to talk to everyone who comes as much/as deeply as you want to (face it--weddings are not for good heart-to-heart convos) 
5. A Father/daughter dance--one of my favorite things ever! 
6. Plan/get people to lead fun dances EVERYONE can do--Limbo, chicken dance, Cha cha slide, Cupid Shuffle, Twist...
7. Pinata. Enough said. 

Wedding #2 Don'ts:
1. Stress the small stuff. And in the end, it is all small stuff
2. Forget to practice putting on the rings
3. Forget to be nice to your husband and make sure he gets fed
4. Get the Cotton Candy Machine without the extra guard thing 
5. Have old sparklers that don't end up working

What impressed me the most about getting married (well, aside from making the biggest decision of my life) was the impressions it gave others. I will never forget little Iasmim in Brazil, who lives at the trash dump, staring at me, frozen, with a look that could not be satisfied: I was beautiful, and she didn't have much beauty in her life. It was as if seeing me was giving her something. The Living Stones children reaching out to touch me, to be next to me, to be a part of this wedding "show."

And that is what it is. We put on a show to remember, establish, and confirm this inanimate decision of giving our hearts and lives to another person. We invite those we care about to be a part of it. We invite children to show them what it looks like. I remember my cousins getting married. Every wedding created a longing in me, an excitement--when will it be my turn to be the star? To be the beautiful one everyone stands up for when she comes down the aisle? When will I have a man looking at me like THAT--committing his lifelong devotion to me? 
I received the best RSVP from one of my kids, who is no longer a kid: "it's time to see my friend live out the example she bestowed upon me when I was just 10 years old, and for that I thank you, that you preached about it so many times. It's one thing to tell someone to do the right thing, but to actually live it out exactly how God planed is a blessing to me and I am truly grateful..... now GO TIE THAT KNOT!"
I had told her it was possible to wait on God and do the married thing right...that it was worth it--and then she watched it happen (finally, TEN years later). I saw one of the little boys who came to our wedding at church later. He couldn't stop looking at me. In his eyes I read, "That was the bride! The star! And she is here...and so...normal." 
They are watching. They are figuring things out. And from their perceptions of what works and doesn't work, they will make the decisions that will shape their lives. Geez, that is the scary beautiful part about working with kids. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Four Months Married

So happy:). Caid makes me see stars. 
So four months married and 8 godchildren--our family is growing fast--how fantastic!
The main thing that is happening in our lives is What I learned from my First wedding, and getting ready for my second and third wedding. I have made my own bouquet and am almost done with garland. Still have to figure out the aisle runner. 
The most exciting thing that has happened this month is Being commissioned as Missionaries and the special amazing donation/blessing that came with that. 
Something really personally soul-searching was Mr. Gothard Issues, and I am enjoying my lists and projects as we begin Lent: Reading the Gospels in parallel, Chronological order.
As I look at Caid and we celebrate four months of being together, I resist the urge to sigh and say, "We have arrived!" Because that is how it feels--but hey--I am totally open to the idea of it getting even better. I thank the Lord for this Godly man and best friend that I get to hang out with all the time. And he is hot. gee. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Ugly Truth About Representing Someone Else

When I sold cookies and wore a green vest, I represented the Girl Scouts. My friend puts up his gang sign and represents the Westside. When I put on a shirt that had “Abercrombe and Fitch” written across it, my father said, “You represent THAT?”

I made the scariest, hardest, best decision when I was eight. I decided to give my life to Jesus and represent Him. The ugly truth about representing someone else is that you don’t know everything about them. There are always things you don’t know.
I went to Brazil and represented America—they thought all Americans laughed a lot. I’ve been ashamed to be called a Christian before. Not because of Christ, but because of what the person spitting out the word ‘Christian’ had been through. I didn’t want to represent THAT to them. The ugly truth about representing someone else is that you aren’t them, and so sometimes you are going to get it wrong.

When I was homeschool and enrolled in ATI (IBLP, Bill Gothard’s program) and I wore a navy skirt and white shirt, I represented ATI. And I was told how to represent them well. I worked really hard on the sparkly eyes. The figurehead of the ministry is Bill Gothard. The ugly truth about representing someone else is that you only show part of the picture. Figureheads help people personalize an idea, an organization, a ministry—it can also set people up for destruction.

A scandal within the ministry can destroy the figurehead, even if they have nothing to do with it. Captain going down with the ship. And a scandal with the figurehead can bring down the whole ministry. Should this happen isn’t the question—the reality is that it will happen.
When I became coordinator of Living Stones, I realized that for many people, I would be the “face” of the ministry. That scared me because I know that “but for the grace of God,” that affair, that scandal, that embarrassing fallout would be me. It wouldn’t be just about me, it would be about all I represented: Living Stones, my family, my Jesus.

The ugly truth about representing someone else is that you are responsible for their actions, and they are held responsible for yours. Christians all over the world represent Christ and have destroyed His reputation by their actions. Many pastors have represented their church and then destroyed it through their actions. Bill Gothard represents IBLP and many are out to destroy the whole ministry because of his alleged actions.
The ugly truth about representing someone else is that it doesn’t matter if it is true or not—the general perception that people gather of the representation will affect the outcome and their response: and you can’t control that.

The allegations against Mr. Gothard made me question my involvement with ATI, IBLP, and Mr. Gothard as well. I had to look back and ask some hard questions about his teachings, memories I had in the program, and of myself personally. If it was true, what did that mean to me? If it was false, what did that mean to me? The ugly truth about representing someone else is that if people forget you are just a representation; trouble, misunderstanding, and hurt are bound to follow.
Bill Gothard packaged and presented many Biblical truths well. But some people forgot it was just a package, and not an invention. IBLP is not Bill Gothard. Bill Gothard is not God, not the Bible, not all those other people I met through the program. He is an imperfect representation, and when he, or my parents, or pastor, or mentors fail me or fail at representing what they stand for—I have to understand that it happens—but it doesn’t change what they represented.
The truth is that we all represent someone/something. Some we choose (our job, our religion), and some are chosen for us (our family, our ethnicity). Representing these things is hard and scary and beautiful and one of the things that gives meaning to our lives. But we also have to understand the responsibility and boundaries that come with representing someone else.

We are imperfect representations, and when we fail, we need grace to get back up and try again, without blaming what we represent, or finding something new to represent. And when others fail, we need grace to forgive and heal and know that God will give justice, and it was a person—not what they represented. 
For more information: World Magazine 
This link has links to most all of the main information: The Way Forward
Most of the information you will read is very full of hatred and blame. Some of it is pain caused from very real sin, and some of it is lashing out because it is easier than letting go. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014


This snowy Sunday morning Caid and I were commissioned as missionaries by World Renewal International and our church, Horizon Central.
(Steve Turner, Gary Wright, and Dave Kosobucki) 
The whole thing was such a blessing and meaningful, as I sniffed tears at all God has been doing and will do in our lives. And then, at the end, Gary Wright was pleased to announce that a donor had given a sizeable amount to us as missionaries--we were, and are, overwhelmed. God can do whatever He wants, whenever. It will provide for many new opportunities.
(Jeff and Lindsay Turner, who are on furlough from Brazil)
We thank everyone who has been a part of our journey to this point--what a great adventure. Caid and I wrote out our experiences and callings while prayerfully contemplating and preparing for this commissioning. 
Caid and Rachel Ferguson's Story
I (Rachel) was raised in a Christian family.  At age 8, I would call a number to hear a Bible story (through Child Evangelism Fellowship). At the end, they offered to tell you more about Jesus at another number, but I couldn’t write fast enough. I told my mom, “I want to be saved, but I don’t know the number!”
I (Caid) was born in Jamaica, and my father died before I turned one. My mother worked hard and was able to bring me to America when I was six. With my mother working two jobs, my sisters helped raise me. Mr. Maitland, a relative, picked me up for church every Sunday. One time on the ride home, I fell asleep, and he returned to church with me still tucked in the back. He kindly took me home in his car, without being upset. There on the radio, it shared the gospel once more, and this time, I bowed my head and gave my life to Jesus.
My (Rachel) parents sat me down on the couch and explained that Jesus, who was God, came to earth and lived a perfect life and then died, taking and paying for all my sins (Romans 3:23), and then rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15: 3-4). I am saved by grace (Eph. 2:8) through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20).
I (Caid) felt God’s calling at the same time that I was saved: to use my life to serve Jesus however He would have me. I consider that to be my calling to ministry, and have known that I would follow Jesus wherever He leads. Throughout grade, middle, and high school, I went to public school and worked hard to be a light to my friends. I invited them to church and was known as “preacher man.”
My (Rachel) life has been a journey of getting to know Jesus personally. I was baptized when I was 8, and rededicated my life to God at summer camp at age 11. I started teaching Sunday school with my mother when I was 12, but it was when I was 14 and working at an inner city VBS that I really realized that I could make a difference, and that a difference needed to be made. My calling to work with children came naturally; as it was something I loved and was good at.
During college, I (Caid) ministered in junior church, leading the music and teaching. I also worked part time as a Gymnastics coach. Through these things, and living with my young nieces and nephews, I felt called to minister to children and show them how to know Jesus just as someone showed me. When I went to Brazil, I taught music at a school and basketball to impoverished children. All of these experiences showed me that I want to teach children in a multicultural setting.
When I (Rachel) graduated, I lived a year at a juvenile home, and knew that I had been given so much because God was preparing me to give to those who didn’t have. I then worked at a youth center for 6 years. At age 16, I went on a mission’s trip to Brazil with our church youth group. I enjoyed my time there, but it wasn’t until I returned home that I realized I had changed—Brazil refused to leave my head and my heart. At a fall conference, during a time of prayer and repentance, I excused myself to cry in the bathroom and clearly heard God impressing the words upon me, “Brazil is yours.”
While at college, I (Caid) realized that I had a talent for languages and took every opportunity to learn more Spanish. God impressed upon me the desire to teach and preach in Spanish, and gave me a love for the Hispanic people. I am Jamaican, black, and speak English and Spanish. My wife is American, white, and speaks English and Portuguese. We are both active and artistic, and love sports, music, and the arts. I am excited to see what God has for us together.
I (Rachel) have been serving God in Brazil since 2004, teaching English and working with impoverished children. The ministry in Brazil is focused on church planting, and after working within ministries all my life, I saw clearly that God has chosen to do His work through the local church, and I was captivated by the simple idea of Living Stones: helping churches start a ministry to the neediest children in their community. I still work with children, and feel that calling, but now I am seeing the multiplication factor of training others to reach even more.
Currently, I (Caid) am finishing my degree in Urban Leadership at Crossroads Bible College, and getting training/practice teaching through my local church and an academic program called Supercamp. We are also looking into getting ESL certified, to be fully prepared for wherever God calls us. My wife and I are Co-coordinating Living Stones, raising awareness and funds for the children in Brazil, and have plans to lead a mission’s trip to Brazil in October. I am called to serve churches and children all over the Americas to enable them to minister and share Jesus in their community/abroad.
Caid has broadened my (Rachel) vision from Brazil to all of Latin America, and I am enjoying being close to my family for some time while working with local churches in the USA to help their children get involved with helping children abroad. I feel that I am called to serve churches and children all over the Americas to enable them to minister to the neediest children in their community/abroad.