Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve

I promised the kids (in Caid's family, this means anywhere from 4-14 people) pancakes for Christmas morning. They got all excited today, until I reminded them over a bowl of cereal it was still Christmas EVE.
What an incredible year. Amazing. And more to come. So this is what they meant when they said growing up was like getting on a fast train that never stops...
Here is us, and here is what we have planned:
Man, my hair was long. Here is Living Stones. Here is this year:
For those of you who prefer reading, here is a quick review:
November 2013: Got married
December 2013: Home for Christmas
January 2014: Job hunting
February: first Valentine’s day
March: Commissioned as missionaries, married in Indy and Connecticut
April: SC training in Cali
May: Caid had knee surgery
June: Trek for Transportation
July: Teaching at USF Tampa
August: State Fair summer fun
September: 9 godchildren!
October: Brazil
November: Baby Ferguson in June 2015

We have had the sweetest first year of marriage, representing Living Stones to the USA churches, and working with different clients who have special needs. It has been wonderful to live so close to family and be able to travel to Connecticut, Cali, Florida, and back to Brazil. Caid is graduating (on the president’s list) with his degree (Urban Leadership) early 2015. Rachel is growing a baby, and we are planning to move to Brazil the end of March 2015. Caid will teach music and work  with sports and Living Stones. Rachel will be writing and networking when not having a baby In June.

We are working on raising $10,000 for airfare, birthing expenses, and basic relocation costs. AMAZING UPDATE: almost $7,000 has come in!
We are also asking for a small group of faithful monthly supporters, who feel called to minister with us. We need $1,000 more a month for basic living costs.
AMAZING UPDATE: $500 monthly has been promised!
Please let us know if you would like us to come and share about Brazil and what God is doing to your small group or church!

More information about us in Brazil: 
Living Stones blog:
Rachel’s blog:

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sequence of Not Believing

It starts with a doubt: overhearing the older kid say there is no Santa. You turn away, but the doubt clings, just a little. Then it turns into a question--a question that becomes real when you voice it. Then begins your fact finding: conversations, books, internet, hearsay...Who knows what sources can be trusted? And then comes some kind of conclusion. It might be an answer to your question. Maybe you just settle for a vague idea.
We are a generation of skeptics. It is cool to question: it is mandatory to question. Innocence is labeled laziness: you must do your duty to become cynical. If you can't BE the next big thing, you had better be mocking it.
I've been told I see sunshine and rainbows too much because I ignore the clouds and rain. I believe we have much more power than that: I believe I can stand in the clouds and rain and remember the sunshine and rainbows--and CHOOSE the sunshine and rainbows. And I don't think this makes me weak: I believe it is one of my strengths.
Bill Cosby: from classic to trash it in seconds. Doubt in my head. I asked my husband, "Do you think he did it? that that's the kind of person he was the whole time?" I recently read a beautiful blog by Ann Voskamp about when she had seen abuse happen and was just shrugged off here. The statistics of rape allegations around the world actually being prosecuted are so low--what is wrong with us? Why would I doubt these women? But then again...I am a woman. And I know our tools of manipulation...

While I was wondering about Cosby's character, my husband was thinking different thoughts, "My mother warned me my whole life about women like that." Do I stand with women simply because they are women? Do I just want Cosby to be the Cosby I always thought he was? I don't know. I don't know if I will ever know the true facts. It just touches on so many important issues:
* The low rate of prosecuted rape allegations
* Who do I trust, really?
* How do you know when someone is lying?
* What makes it a "Big Enough Issue" to really care about?

From 13 Months married to 3 months pregnant

So I did tell Caid after the first year we could stop celebrating "month-a-versaries." Now we are celebrating "moving out of the first trimester." Because it was really pretty horrible.

I felt old. I felt grumpy. I could smell everything and wanted nothing. And exhausted. So exhausted that I didn't even appreciate sleeping. And the worst part? Life just wasn't fun anymore: it was all hard work. It is really hard when you don't enjoy anything. I love people and projects and work and life...but not anymore. I just ended up laying in bed until I fell asleep.
I used to wonder about this "hormone change" people would talk about. The other day my husband said, "I miss you." As I was about to ask him why, I hadn't gone anywhere--I realized that I missed myself. I missed enjoying life. I missed my creativity and drive and if that wasn't me anymore--who the heck am I? Hormone changes are scary because it makes you question your whole identity: If I am not the same as I always used to be--then who am I?
This past week I survived my first day since Brazil (end of October) without a nap. But it made me hope for glimpses of my second trimester, which everyone says is "almost like normal." Saturday we had a ladies missions meeting. Probably why God invented church--or at least missions--to remind us it is not all about us. I was thinking in my head how much WORK it all was when I finally got caught up in the Christmas song "The virgin sings her lulluby: the babe, the son of Mary."
I teared up. All the complaining I've been doing about being pregnant--just now realized I was pregnant around Christmas. And I am not a virgin, but since I was for 31 years, and only a non-virgin for a little over one year--I still relate. Mary was pregnant for the first time; and so am I. Silly as it sounds, I understood Christmas better in that moment, in a way I couldn't' before. And next year, holding my child, I will understand on an even deeper level. How blessed I am!

Once You Ask..

A recent conversation with my sister yielded this insight: “Once you ask people for money, you give them permission to judge you.”
And whether this is right or not, this is true. And I am entering a world I shunned for a long time. The first four years I served as a missionary, I did not call myself a missionary, and I didn’t ask for funds (aside from close family members). I came home part of every year and worked to pay for most of my expenses.
Then a friend asked me, “Do you not feel worthy to be called a missionary? How is this going to work for your future?” I sat down and put together my first budget, and let people know my needs. I lived off of less than half the USA poverty level. I lived simply, and often waited to purchase items, but didn’t lack any needs. It wasn’t until 2012 that I realized I was WORTH my hire.
I was a trained professional who was logging in 60-80 hour work weeks because I loved and believed in what I was doing: and I was doing a really good job. And I didn’t need to feel guilty about asking people to support me. In what I had chosen to do, it simply wasn’t a paid position—but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a needed position, or a valid position.

I also realized that just as I needed funds to continue, people needed opportunities to give. This is quite a concept. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am: becoming a missionary family. Asking people for money to help us live (and give birth) in Brazil. It is a big, scary step. It is inviting a lot of eyes, ears, and opinions into my life that I’d rather ignore. But it is also opening up to share an incredible adventure with others—the one that I believe God has called us (and prepared us) to do.