Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dear Future Self...

For the past five years, I've had the tradition of writing a letter to my future self (5 years in the future). That said, this year was then the first year I got to read what I wrote to my 'future self.'
Think back five years...
"Dear future self...I hope you, when you read this, have risked everything to love someone else. To give it all away. I hope you are married or close to it. I want kids, family, roots--somewhere I can call home and bring others into to rest and be refreshed.
Today my deaf boy fell asleep with my arm around him. he learned up against me looking for something--and he found it. I want to be that kind of person. Brazil or the USA? I hope you have this a little more settled--but always with the door open. I hope you are open to life, that you are giving yourself. I hope you are taking care of mom and dad.
I hope you are living simply and can fit all your possessions in 5 trunks. I hope you can say "if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now." I hope you can see real fruit of the past 5 years and are not in a self-consuming relationship, but one that is free and giving. May you have a community around you where you realize you are not alone in creating a world you want to live in, a world that makes God smile. Keep going--you aren't old yet!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Advice to Someone Getting Married

Not that I am an expert (9+ months at it), but I went to a wedding and thought of all the things I wanted them to know. So what else to do but post it?

1. Enjoy each other. And this goes so much deeper than sex. Let it be a party when it is an evening of just you and him. From now on: you + him = fun
2. Put marriage on your “to do” list. Right under “time with God” which should be right at the top. Because you spend time with God (your most important relationship) and then you spend time/invest in your husband (your second most important relationship). Everything else comes later. Even kids. Because what your kids need most is your priorities set properly.
3. Have an "Argument Process"
Something happens
I blame him (in my head), he blames me (in his head)
It builds and explodes
We take turns explaining our blaming
We remember (and say) we love the other
We sort it out (Why are we feeling hurt? why blaming? what responsibilities weren't done? what decisions/actions need to be made? )
We remember the other person is an amazing person (They didn't set out to hurt me, they still love me, they are all I need/want)
We remember that after God, this is my most treasured, valued relationship and I will do whatever it takes to make it beautiful and growing
(Remember that make-up sex is a real thing)
4. Talk until you understand where he is coming from—and that it isn’t that he is against you. Coming from two different families means coming from two different cultures—no matter how similar you think you are.
5. Make sure that he is fed and sexed regularly. The only other thing he really needs is to have you happy and content. So spend the rest of the time making sure you get what you need for you to be happy and content.
6. Don’t feel bad about letting go of other relationships. It isn’t worth putting your marriage at risk. And especially the first year, while you are forming and cementing your relationship, you might find that you don’t have a lot of time for friends/family. The ones who love you and are worth keeping will understand. (Deut.24:5 to reinforce this idea)
7. Learn together. How to do everything. How to make the best life you will ever have—together. Start traditions. Make a bucket list together. Set goals together. Write a marriage mission statement.
8. When all else fails (or just because), think of 3 things you are grateful for about him. Extra credit for telling him what they are.
9. Learn each other. There is an amazing soul standing next to you, and you don’t know them yet—not all of them. There is always more.
10. It is okay to not be as productive as you were when single. Being single you have a lot more time to give to others. Now you are giving it to him. That is good, healthy, and fine. Outside ministry will still happen, and will look a little different. And that is as it should be.
11. If you are stressed and things are hard, it is a clue your spouse is probably feeling that too: time to give extra grace.

Bad Bible Examples

I sat in church the other day and thought, are there any good examples of couples in the Bible? Like—Couples I would actually WANT their relationship?
·         Adam and Eve—who wants a son that kills another one? That is some kind of dysfunctional
·         Noah and his wife—after the flood, he became a drunk
·         Abraham and Sarah—lies, lies, “sleep with my maid,” lies
·         Isaac and Rebekah—each one take your favorite kid…
·         Jacob and Rachel and Leah—yeah, that list is a couple too long
·         Judah and Tamar—please, sleep with your daughter-in-law
·         Moses and Zipporah—he left his family behind while he did the whole “Lead my people” thing, and then his family was prejudice because she was “dark.” Nope.
·         Joshua and…did he marry?
·         Samson and Delilah—wait, that wasn’t even his wife. She got burned. Literally.
·         Ruth and Boaz—uh, don’t want my first husband dying so I can find an old nice guy
·         David and which one? Don’t say Bathsheba. Micah—now there is some drama
·         Solomon…Song of Solomon…again, about 999 too many involved in that relationship
·         Esther and the king and the rest of his harem—no.
·         Ezekiel and what’s her name—oh yeah, the one who died for an example to Isreal. And he couldn’t even cry about it. That one really gets me mad.
·         Hosea and I forgot her name—the one who cheated again.
·         Joseph and Mary—having God’s son and everyone thinking I was a whore? Not my calling
·         Any of the apostles and their wives: don’t want to become a widow
·         Ananias and Sapphira—die together-ish, right?
·         Paul and…oh yeah, his advice was to stay single.
My mother did remind of me of Priscilla and Aquila (which one is the girl?) that was also mentioned here: http://dtjsoft.com/the-biblical-model-for-the-marriage-relationship/  Okay—so maybe one example. But really, how many examples can I think of in real life? (five—the answer is five)
This says to me that marriage is hard, and most of the people who invest in their marriage do that and little else—not too many great stories about them. All the above people did a lot of great stuff (well, most of them), stuff that goes down in history. And most of them—at the cost of their family—or at least their marriage relationship.  
I heard a missionary story about this couple who did great things together. He was killed because of it, a martyr, and their daughter wasn’t sent to school until she was 11, suffering along with the other orphans they were helping—meaning because they shared what they had, their daughter only received one meal a day. Would I have done the same? Been a great missionary, but let my daughter suffer?

How does Luke 14: 26 (“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple”) work—which seems to have been interpreted through the years—especially by missionaries—that their work there is above their family and their marriage? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mid-year Report from the Living Stones Coordinators

Getting married to Caid was the best decision I’ve made since giving my life to Jesus (Youtube: “Caid and Rachel Ferguson’s wedding”). Although, it meant ending the living in Brazil chapter of my life and beginning a new and unknown chapter. My heart trembled that day I left 280 little faces that had touched, and continue to touch, my life. Slowly, one step at a time, God is showing us the plans He has. In March, we were commissioned as missionaries. In October, we will be leading a mission’s trip to Brazil. Next May, Caid graduates from Bible college and we are praying about longer international commitments (Youtube: “Caid and Rachel Ferguson”).

It has been difficult to be away from the precious children of Living Stones. Being removed from the field—planning parties, events, and decision making process has been challenging. But it has been incredible to see the growth (a new program in Belem!) and how God always provides (new leadership at the dump and Guadalajara). It has been amazing to work side-by-side with my husband, raising funds for Brazil and dreaming together, meeting and connecting people from all over, and building relationships with individuals and churches. It is learning to trust God and let go of what I never could control, knowing that He loves these children even more than I do.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nine Months Married

I got out of the car to head into church last Sunday and Caid said, "I feel like you are dousing me with a bucket of water anytime I say anything about having a baby. You are being pessimistic."


I am. 
And baby talk has been creeping in more and more and I fight more and more every time. 
Do I want to be a mom?
Reasons? There are always reasons. Student loans, Caid finishing college, unsure what happens next…
Kid phase of life is just so…permanent.

But I don’t want to be controlling. I don’t want to be pessimistic. I want to be a “Yes” person. Embrace life and trust.

Supercamp was incredible. Standing side by side, working with Caid in a professional/growing job, and then collapsing into bed each night to pray for everyone we’d just met…it was deepening and intimate to grow together in this way.

We have enjoyed relaxing more this past week (after working 7am-11pm in Florida, most anything is relaxing), and thinking about/reflecting on what God has been doing in our lives. Just look at Caid’s list of accomplishments since last June:
  • ·         Graduated with Associates degree
  • ·         Written many songs
  • ·         Triple hernia surgery
  • ·         Knee surgery
  • ·         Painted the inside of a house
  • ·         Spent 3 months on a foreign field
  • ·         Taught and led a school musical
  • ·         Taught and led sports ministries
  • ·         3 weddings
  • ·         Honeymoon on a beach
  • ·         Adjusted to move/jobs/inlaws/marriage
  • ·         Extensive tutoring
  • ·         Christmas in Connecticut
  • ·         San Diego/Disney trip
  • ·         Two training internships with Supercamp
  • ·         Two jobs: Cornerstone associates and Supercamp
  • ·         Straight A average and on schedule to get Bachelor’s degree May 2015
  • ·         Paid off almost $20,000 in student loans
  • ·         Commissioned as a missionary
  • ·         Leading a missions trip to Brazil in October

We were able to go to the State fair this week. It was funny, because the last time we had gone to the fair was in 2011, when my sister loudly exclaimed, “So you are having a summer fling thing? Rachel isn’t good at flings.” 
At the State Fair in 2011
At the State Fair in 2014 (same turtle shell thing)