Sunday, December 30, 2012

Celebrating years...

This weekend, my husband and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. This particular last year has been our most of growth, I'd say. He is my best friend, and truly knows me better than anyone else on this earth. He doesn't have to ask what I like to eat, he knows; or what I want for a birthday or Christmas, because he knows me. He can buy clothes for me better than I can! He knows what pushes my buttons to make me angry and what to say to calm me down. Michael knows what makes me cry and what makes me laugh. But all that knowledge has not come without tears amongst the laughter. In our 11 years of marriage, we have experienced a lot of life together. To name just a few events:
  -Birth of 2 children (now ages 10 and 8)
  -Miscarriage in between those 2 children
  -Many job changes
  -from day one of marriage to now we have lived in 7 different places (apartments/houses). God has blessed us to give us a wonderful house now which we love and plan to be in for many years to come, unless He shows us other wise.
  -Death of 5 grandparents
  -Death of my mom
  -a major move from Florida to Ohio
  -financial struggles
  -Relational struggles
  -A great job for both of us this year (well, I've been at mine since 2011, but he got his this year)
  -A lot of God given blessings this year to spurr our marriage forward in growth and love
  - A new church family, which we have grown to love so deeply and are so glad God led us there this year.

IT was from those events that we experienced much grief and pain, but we have been so blessed to see so many beautiful qualities come from those times. We have also experienced:
  -Laugher til we cried
  -Understanding of another human being deeper than we ever knew could be the case
  -True grace and forgiveness
  -Physical connection only 2 united can experience
  -A best friend alongside for every experience, even when it was painfully hard to stick together
 -A true picture of what God has done for us
 -Change. And loving the other person as they change...both the good and the bad
 -Emotional ups and downs...sometimes daily, even hourly, especially as I have walked through this journey of grief and losing my mom.
 -The meaning of TRUE LOVE. One day perhaps I will write a more in depth blog, or even a book, about why I say we have discovered that meaning, but today is not that day.

God has taught me tremendous things through these 11 years, both about Michael, about myself, and about Him. I have been and am learning what He has called me to do in love.

21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

Submission here doesn't mean what some make it out to mean. It means respect. And I am learning all new definitions of respect. Respect means something to one and different to another. So I am learning to respect Michael is ways that mean respect to him. Is it always easy? Heck no. But God is diligently working in me. 
 He also says in 1 Corinthians: 
The Message (MSG)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

These qualities are so hard to do every single day, but in the last 11 years, and the last year especially, I have been learning more and more about them. Love is so pure, when acted out correctly. These words, written so many years ago, could not speak it any more clearly. 

So, happy 11 years to my husband! I do look forward to growing old together. 

Michael and Rachael McKinney, December 28, 2001

Michael and Rachael McKinney, October 5, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

From the heart of a runner

I have had all these silly running (literally) thoughts going through my mind lately, as I have experienced some funny things, and so I decided to share some running "funnies" or embarassing things...or just words in general. It is well known I love to run. I am not be your fastest, sexiest runner out there, but I have a passion for it like you may not find in some.
 You know you're a runner if.....
  -5 am in sleeping in
 -Port a potties are no longer the most disgusting thing
 -There's no shame in admitting using the bathroom on the side of the bike path
 - The brighter the better (in clothes, that is!  don't want to get hit on the road)
 -You own a bracelet with your ID on it because of your hobby
 -your idea of fun on a weekend is getting up at 4 am, waiting around 2 hours-no matter the weather-just to run a race and gain a PR or claim the medal or just because it's what you love
 - you have to say "Watch out for that skunk! or Look out for the deer just ahead" because it's so dark when you run, all the critters are out
 -You experience the most breathtaking sunrise, or sunset, in the most raw moment of nature
 -Spandex tights hold no shame in your wardrobe, no matter what size you are.
 - Your Christmas and birthday gift ideas usually include: Asics running socks, Nike Running shorts, Runners World recommended items.....and it never gets old
 -You know who Hal Higdon and Dean Karnazes are
 -Vacations are planned according to races
 -Your wardrobe is mostly shirts from races you've run
 -Clif bars and GU take up a part of your pantry
- The beat of your feet and heart is the beat of your drum ....the tempo of your run...and the song of  your day.

And the list goes on....

I love to run. I am not the fastest. I am never going to be a world record, or for that matter, even a race event-holder, but that's ok. running is my happy hour, my sanity. In a day full of chaos many times, running is my peace, my prayer time, my jump start, my passion. Running has many benefits, and to each runner it's a different one, I believe.  Depending on the season, my benefit changes. It's never ever been about weight loss or even about health for me. It's been my time to gain confidence, to laugh and smile and remember. It's been time for me to grieve. It's been time I've pounded out angry thoughts and words. Time for me pray. Time for me to breathe. Time for me to me! I love running. I've learned a lot about myself through the process. I've learned I'm capable of more than I ever thought possible. I've been able to create an event in memory of mom to benefit students because of my love of running. I've made some of the strongest friendships I have because of the connection of running. I even have a dream to one day write an article (or perhaps even for it to become something regular I could do) for a running magazine or website. Running isn't for everyone, and I know that. But I am often asked why I run, why I get up at ridiculous hours to do something like that...and hopefully this sheds some light on it. I wouldn't call it a talent of mine, by any means, but I would call it a gift. A gift from God. A blessing. And i am grateful to have discovered it. Until my next post, one day, one run at a time, I keep on keeping His grace.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A time of year for memories

Too much time has passed since the last blog post-and there is too much to capture in one blog. My thoughts are roaming all over the map, so I'll have to take some time this week to post a couple of different ones.
 Thanksgiving has come and gone and now Christmas season is well under way. What a difference a year can make. The saying goes that the worst year of grief is always the first year. While I still experience a lot of sad moments, the grief this season is very different from last- a testimony to what God has done in my life, as well as adding truth to the previous given statement. Last Christmas, I have to admit, I was in an ugly place. I didn't want to shop, didn't want to listen to the music, didn't want to decorate, just wanted to skip the entire holiday, even though I knew in my heart it wasn't what mom would want. This year, it's different. I have really enjoyed decorating my home.
 I have done baking again this year (which is one of my traditional holiday activities, one tradition my mom always did, which she carried from her mom, which I am now trying to pass on to my kids). I have to admit, I teared up a few times while baking and while baking one particular cookie mom used to always make, I really wish I could've called her because it just wasn't turning out like hers.  But it felt good to bake again. I laughed with the kids (in between their moments of arguing whose turn it was to add the ingredient!) . It's been fun
 I am enjoying shopping for the family.
Last night we went to our son's christmas school musical play, and it brought many memories. I will say it struck me deeply when one set of grandparents was there and my dad was there....without mom. Of course I know that, but there are times it just sticks out and pokes me and hurts. It lasted a moment for me, a private moment of words between me and God for how I missed my mom there, and then I moved on and enjoyed the program. I recalled my 3rd grade musical. At my school growing up, though it was a public school, we were still allowed to sing the traditional Christmas songs and even act out the Christmas nativity scene. That 3rd grade year, I held a part in the play, complete with a solo and a costume. The song was about the different animals in the barn that were there when Jesus was born. I was the "Red and White cow" (just follow me on this....). My song went like this: "I said the cow all white and red, I gave him my manger for his bed, I gave him my hay to pillow his head, I said the cow all white and red." My mom worked hours on my costume and she did an amazing job. It was truly white and red and complete with a head piece and tail. I went on for a few years to wear that as a halloween costume. My mom was a true seamstress ( a trait which i have most definitely NOT inherited!). Memories...they are everywhere, at this season especially.
 Last year I attended a grief group, which was a good experience for me. In the group, we talked about starting a "new" tradition after the loved one passed , to sort of be a way of remembering them at the season. Last year, I wasn't ready to really do that. This year, I went back to the baking-and baking mom's cookies. We celebrated every year on Christmas eve-opened all our presents Christmas eve. I went to the cemetary and took flowers on Christmas eve last year, and will likely do the same this year. Mom loved Christmas.
 She found joy in everything, even the years there was no money almost for buying gifts. My mom got excited to get a laundry hamper  or a trash can. She never asked for anything that wasn't practical. I want to return to that simplicity. There is so much at our finger tips all the time, somewhere along the way, I have to admit, I've lost some of that simplicity. My mom was full of lessons she didn't even know she was teaching....and still is.
 God has brought me far from where I was last year, and only He could do that. I am excited to celebrate His birth this year. We do celebrate, or have reason to , every day, but at this time of year, it's more in the forefront of the mind. And I have a smile on my face to know that my mom is celebrating in front, face to face  with Jesus this year.  here are a few pictures from the past for you to get a picture of what Christmas was like growing up, and what mom was like....
Mom, in her simplicity. She got a stuffed pig she collected pigs) and wanted her friend to see her with the gift so we took a photo to send her.
This was the year our heat went out at Christmas and we sat in the kitchen in our coats around the card table and oven open to open presents. Of course, mom was taking the pictures.
Mom opening pots....again, the practicality. And yes, that is me, also enjoying simplicity of earmuffs and gloves as a gift.
every year, we acted out the Christmas story. Here is me and my younger brother, playing Joseph and Mary, with baby Jesus. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Love for words and books

I spent Saturday afternoon helping my dad do some cleaning around his house. The house is full of memories-memories from my childhood and memories of my mom. I love going there-it's one of my favorite places to be. I love the peacefulness and the joy I have when I am there. It's a calm place for me, full of warmth and happiness. Sure, there were moments of stress growing up, but those are not the memories that surround me.
 As I cleaned, I came across many things. Items I know to be there, but items I love seeing nonetheless, because of the memories that come with them. As I've said before, we loved playing games growing up. One of my mom's favorite games was Scrabble. She was very good at it, too. Her scrabble game was on one of the shelves I dusted, and I spent a moment remembering (as I typically do when I am home). Mom would play Scrabble with several different people-Judy, Eleanor, Libby, Aunt Soni and Aunt Sandi, or even my brothers. (This was not one of the games I usually played with mom. ) My mother in law and mom would play sometimes , too. Anyway, mom had a love for words. She was really good at Scrabble and loved playing that game. She loved to write . There are drawers full of mom's writings- a lot of short stories she wrote growing up. Mom loved songs, too, as I've said before, and often times as she was cleaning up or teaching us Bible verses, she would make up a rhyme or a poem to go with the teachings in order to help us remember. Mom liked to write letters- I've really been thankful that I kept many little notes she wrote to me through the years. As we moved a year ago, I found a lot of those in a box and I have appreciated pulling those out and reading her words these days, and almost hearing her voice through those old cards. Mom loved to read. I remember mom many nights sitting out in the living room until the middle of the night reading a book because she couldn't put it down. For many years, mom was in charge of the church library, and she would take great care with those books-cataloging them, checking them, taping them if need be. Mom would read books to us all the time growing up-sometimes it was a chapter book while we drove on a trip. Sometimes it was a short story that had a point to it. Sometimes it was just a made up story she would tell to entertain us. She never lost her imagination...sometimes we, as adults, do, but mom never seemed to. That love of words has been passed on to me, and it is also being lived out through my daughter. In fact, both my brothers and my sister also grasped onto that love of books that mom seemingly passed onto each of us.
  Elizabeth (my daughter) spent a portion of Saturday afternoon (while I was cleaning) , going through the bookshelf at mom and dad's and choosing out books to read. Many of the books that I had when I was a child are still on those shelves, and hold great memories of mom (and sometimes dad) reading to me. Some of the books were by some of mom's favorite authors. And of course there are some classics as well that sit on the shelves.Elizabeth found a worn out book (actually, she found several) and asked if she could borrow them to read. One includes The Mouse and the Motorcycle, one of my childhood books. She also found some unknown  books which she also chose to borrow. She came to me and asked "Mommy, why are there so many old books here?" I smiled and replied " Because Nana loved to read, and she held onto her books from growing up and read them to us and then held onto them to read to her grandchildren...and she wore them out reading them over and over...." It was a special moment to share with my daughter.  My mom passed many things onto me through how she lived and loved and just one of those was a love for words and reading. One last memory to share and then I will share a few books I recommend. When mom was rediagnosed in 2009, somewhere in 2010 she brought a book to me to read. She said " This is a really great book, Rachael, and I'd like you to read it if you want. Then when you finish, there is a movie of the book coming out and I'd like to take you. But I will warn you, it is sad..,but good."
 Of course I took the book to read... A couple of months later we saw the movie together. That will be a forever memory for me. The book hit close to home for one thing, but even more so because it became something mom and I did together before cancer set in strong. That book is called the Last Song, by Nicolas Sparks. I would share how it ended but perhaps you  may want to read it and I do not want to spoil it. I will leave you with a list of some of my mom's and my favorite books.
    Anne of Green gables 
   The Last Song
   Safely home (by Randy Alcorn)
   The Bible 
   The Long Goodbye ( a journey of one woman's grief)
  Choosing to See (one of my personal favorites) 
 Marathon woman
  Your scars are beautiful to God

The list goes on and on, as mom loved many books, and I am continuing to grow my library. Life is continuing to move forward, one day at a time, but I still find mom in so many of the moments.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Carrying out a legacy

Last Saturday, October 13, 2012, we held the 2nd Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K, carrying on my mom's legacy to help others by using the funds raised for a scholarship in her memory.
 The week was full with details of picking up shirts, putting together bags for all the participants, marking the course, picking up signs, excitement building, hundreds of texts between me and my team (Alyssa and Kevin), and very little sleep, as my mind could not shut down very well. Most nights I would lie awake making lists in my mind and I would wake up early, unable to contain my thoughts and excitement.
 The day of the event, I was up at 3. The coffee on, I decided to take some moments to spend in prayer, dedicating the day and the event to God's glory. Then I pulled out pictures of mom and did a lot of remembering. Those were my time to be quiet and reflect and remember and pray before the chaos of the day kicked in. Those were moments I savored. I watched this video of my mom, almost feeling her there next to me. I missed her deeply, but I also felt such a peace in that as well. And an excitement, knowing that although she may roll her eyes at the attention, she would also love what we are doing.  And as always, she would be my biggest cheerleader, no doubt.                                                                                                                                          
 Around 4:30, I began packing up last minute stuff in the car and at 5, the rest of the house began waking up. at 6, we were out the door. I did a quick stop in at dad's to say goodmorning and grab some last minute things, and share a good hug, then it was off to the park to watch the day unfold in special ways.
 Volunteers met me and we began the event. The raffle table was set up, registration bags lined up and the time clock set up began. My husband began the set up of the sound.Many small details, many willing hands, many excited people. The finish line crew (AKA-Mike from the New Balance store of Dayton, one of my sponsors) showed up and set up our finish line, a fun component to our event. Soon the runners/walkers began showing up. Milling about, talking, doing their best to stay warm on a chilly October morning, the excitement was evident. At 9 am, all were lined up, prayer began the event and then the air horn went off....and the runners took off, and walkers also enjoyed the company of each other, all out for a good cause. Around the 18 minute mark, my first runner came in and slowly, they all trickled in, finishing the event. What a neat experience to be a part of! It was special to have so many people from all walks of life, and from different categories of my life-growing up, family, customers, church there to support this cause.
 61 came out for it, but over 90 were registered, doubling our participants from last year. We raised more money this year than last. We didn't have any bad snafus, but we learned a lot and want to do some things better. A dream is growing-to see the 5K grow bigger each year, but also and even more so, to watch the scholarship in memory of mom grow. We are excited and ideas are growing. God is good. Below are pictures from the event. It is really tough to put all the words that fill my heart into tangible explanations here in this blog. I love doing this event. I love feeling a dream planted and watching it grow. I love having my family be a part of what we are doing. I love seeing what God can do. He says "Ask, and you shall receive, seek and you shall find. Knock, and the door will be opened" And we have taken that verse and applied it to this scholarship, in memory of mom, to bless another student, and we hope for generations to come....We asked, and we watched a student recieve, and pray to do this in all the years to come. We sought, and we found ways to put on this event. And we knocked, and are watching all kinds of doors open. Glory be to Him. And we are going to keep asking, seeking, knocking---to grow this legacy.
Our family

Alyssa and Tony

My planning team

Good buddies

The CareSource Customers, out to support

The start line

My son, finishing in 32 minutes



More good buddies

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beauty from Ashes

There are defining moments in everyone's life. For me, I have had more than I ever would've expected by age 30. But life is often full of events we don't expect. Losing my mom at age 28 was definitly an event I never expected. But with a lot of faith, time, prayer, and trust in God, we have the ability to see the good that He promises He will bring of some of those unexpected life moments.  Beauty from Ashes.
Romans 8:28
The Message (MSG)
26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

This Friday, I had the privelege of seeing good come out of a really crappy life event. Losing my mom has been one of the ugliest events I ever walked through. Grief was a long journey for me and took me to some dark places. I am happy to be on the other side of those now. Saying goodbye was a long winter season for me. But in patience and perseverance, I have been able to see how God can use that for His good. As I said, Friday was one such moment. 
 As I have written before, last year, we started the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial Fund in memory of mom, and began a 5K in the process as a piece to raise funds for the scholarship fund. We had 45 participants last year. This year we are at nearly 80 with more still coming in. Last year we gave out the first Linda A. Ferguson Memorial Scholarship. On Friday, I was invited to attend a banquet for all scholarship donors and recipients at Cedarville University. My husband and I were able to attend this and meet last year's recipient, Elisabeth Ware. What a special, life defining moment that was for me. The scholarship awarded last year came to life in a new way. To hear what she is studying and how her future plans are unfolding was touching for me. And to have a piece in it. My heart is full and yet I am almost left speechless as my fingers fly across the keys trying to put into perspective what seeing the life of that scholarship was like for me.It brought on a flood of emotion for me.Remembering my mom in the way of having a scholarship in her memory, knowing how she'd love the girl who was the recipient last year. Missing my mom and wishing that she were here for it all, but also realizing that if I hadn't lost her, that scholarship wouldn't even exist right now. And seeing good come out of the bad situation was a life defining moment for me. Having my husband there with me was also well defining and special for me. The entire evening was so special. And Reflective as well. And also energizing as the 5K is less than a week away. I feel a new excitement in our goals. Seeing the product of what came out of last years efforts makes me want to push harder on this years. It brought on more dreams of what I want to see unfold in years to come.....good brought from the bad. Beauty from Ashes.
 I do not think I will ever say I am thankful I lost mom. I miss her with a deep heartache and tears more often than not still. But, I can now say I am thankful for all that God is teaching me  in the process, for the scholarship we are seeing come to life in carrying out her memory, and for some beautiful friends He has brought into my life through this connection of losing my mom: Courtney, Teresa, Angie, Jontae....
 He is able to bring beauty from ashes, good from bad. And I am seeing the proof of that. 
 Below are pictures of the banquet and pictures of the recipient. Also is our website included. Please check it out, pass it along. People can register/donate online. Thank you!

 Glory be to God who unfolds beautiful things from ugly situations. 
Me and Elisabeth, last years recipient

Me and My wonderful husband,Michael

My dad, Roger Ferguson, and Elisabeth

My wonderful mom, Linda A. Ferguson

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Fall has arrived here in Ohio, and it is a beautiful one. Today, my family and I took a day to drink in its beauty. The leaves were falling gently to the ground, creating some crinkle noises under our feet and gentle ripples in the creek next to us. The water rippled by quietly, and it was a pleasure to stand in stillness some moments and just breathe in the beauty of God's creation. We took a hike (about 2.5 miles), we enjoyed eachothers company, and then we finished off our fall morning with lunch at a local favorite-Youngs Jersey Dairy, where I enjoyed very much a cup of hot apple cider.
 It is good to escape to doing things like that. Hiking is an activity that brings me much joy. I love the nature. I love the peacefulness. I love God's creation. I love fall. It was good to get away briefly and be able to bring some quietness to the mind. Even though we chatted as we walked, it was still so peaceful.
 Fall is my favorite season for many reasons. I love the heat of summer, but as far as seasons go, Fall wins my heart. I love the colors of the leaves. I love the farmland, and watching it all be harvested. I love apple cider and football and wearing jeans and sweatshirts. Fall also holds some of my favorite memories of growing up. I suppose fall is just one reason why I chose the 5K to take place in October. Growing up, a favorite fall memory was riding in the combine with my dad. It was a busy time of year, so those were special moments with my dad. I also loved raking leaves with mom-that is something she and I did together frequently in the fall. We used to always make scarecrows growing up, too. We'd take some of dad's farm clothes and stuff them with straw and put it up outside on our lamp post. I loved making the scarecrows with mom. We had mom's chili on Friday nights after the football games. Now my husband makes the chili for our enjoyment. Now I get to make fall memories with my kids.This is our first fall owning a home. I wish mom could see it and enjoy it with us. I miss her very much when I recall the memories. But making new memories with my kids and telling them about mine is fun, too. We will rake leaves and jump in them, as I used to. We will carve pumpkins and put them out. We are already enjoying the apple cider and football, and of course my husband's chili. We haven't made our own scarecrow yet, but perhaps we will this year.
  there is a season for everything. Every time the seasons change, I am reminded of how God does that with our lives....changes them naturally. It is more painful for us, and we fight it more than nature does, but it is so similar. God allows seasons in our lives. Seasons of joy, seasons of pain, seasons of grief, seasons of remembering, seasons of laughter, seasons of tears, seasons of children growing and in each season, He is teaching us something new. Growing us, as we grow older. But it's up to me how I handle that and how I allow Him to mold me. One day at a time, I am learning to do this more and more. As seasons change, He is showing me new things. About myself. And about others. Our family is experiencing a season of new discoveries as we move into some better times. Through my grief season, we had some dark days. Now, we are making new memories and laughing more and rediscovering new peace. It's very exciting. One day at a time....
 I was 3 in this picture, with the scarecrow I built with mom
  pictures of us today, hiking.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Baker

Yet another favorite memory of mom that I've remembered recently is how much baking she did. I don't think there were many days I came home and there weren't fresh baked goods of some sort. Browines and  chocolate chip cookies were 2 of the most popular, of course. But there was also bachelor button cookies, crescents, no bake cookies, crazy cake, rhubarb cake/pie, and our family holiday favorite-futtimuhns ( a sweedish cookie, as my grandfather, mom's mom, was full sweedish). The list goes on, but it is something I remember being in our home almost always growing up.
  I am not a great cook (ask my family, they will agree, and that is ok!), but I do enjoy baking. It had been a long time since I'd done much baking. I'm not sure if it was because of time, or that I didn't want to eat it myself, or that it was a memory of mom hard to re-enact some moments, but I've been on a baking frenzy lately. I've been really enjoying those moments with my kids. Over the course of the last  3 weekends, we've made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, a few batches of brownies, and rice crispy treats. It has been a lot of fun, mixing and teaching and eating and enjoying moments with my children. It's also been good to return to doing something I really do enjoy, and had almost forgotten about.
Crazy cake was always my favorite cake growing up. Below is a recipe of it , and a picture of a cake mom baked me in high school (Snoopy, of course, as I've referred to in previous birthday posts).
  It is a chocolate cake, by the way.

3C flour                    3/4 c. oil
2 c sugar                    2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. cocoa               2 Tbsp. vinegar
 2 tsp. baking soda    1/4 tsp. salt

Mix together. Pour 2 C. water over all mixture and mix well. bake at 350 for almost one hour.

By the way, the 5K is moving along quite nicely. By next week the website will be up (for real!). We have just over 50 registered for the event, and I am hoping for 100 total when all is said and done. To the glory of God, we are building this scholarship one day at a time! This event is just a part of growing the foundation of Linda A. Ferguson, my mom....the baker (just one of her many talents).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Singer

My mom loved music. She was not a vocalist in the choir or an instrumentalist, but she always had a song on her lips. If you said a paragraph of words, she'd often start into song with one of the words from your paragraph. Sometimes they were songs she'd written or made up; sometimes they were silly songs you'd find on a children's cd; sometimes they were hymns of praise. It really just depended. I remember many road trips where (much to my dad's dismay) we'd be having sing a longs. I remember one particular trip-I was 5, and it is my first memory of a road trip. We went down to TX to visit my mom's parents. And about half the trip, we were singing. Songs like "I'm being swallowed by a boa-constricter", "There's a hole in my bucket", "One dark night", "Amazing Grace", "I have decided to follow Jesus"....there was a realm of songs on that trip. Maybe mom sang them sometimes to distract the normal sibling fights on a road trip; maybe she did them because she loved songs. But regardless of why, it's a beautiful memory I have of my mom, and likely one reason why I love music so much myself.
 My co worker, Tiffany, and I often come up with silly games to play in between customers to just laugh. One day she said, "Let's play a game. I'll say a word, you break out in song based on that word. Go. Foot. " And I broke out into the song "Footloose". It was quite humorous, especially because she thought she''d found a word for which I'd never come up with a song . I thought of my mom in that moment and how she had a song for every thing.  It is quite fitting that my mom's favorite Psalm in the Bible had to do with singing. And it fits for so many reasons. My mom was full of joy. She was always laughing or smiling. It was natural to see my mom smiling even when she was just doing simple tasks such as dishes or picking up toys. In fact, she even had songs to go along with those, to help us do them with good attitudes. She was so joyful and always praising God. Or singing to bring laughter. Here are thewords to her favorite Psalm. Pslam 96
      1-Sing to the Lord a new song. Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
     2-Sing to the Lord; praise His name; Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
     3-Publish his glorious deeds among the nations, tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

The Psalm goes on to talk about the heavens and the seas and the fields and the trees and the animals all  bringing forth a song in some way to "sing to the Lord". And that is what my mom was always doing.  My mom knew her time was drawing near and for her funeral she chose her own songs. The titles she chose were: "I know Whom I have Believed" and "God Hath Not Promised." Both have beautifully written lyrics that describe just a piece of what was in mom's heart.
The 5k in mom's memory is just one event in the scheme of what is the larger object: to raise funds for mom's scholarship.  It is exciting to watch it come together each day a little more. In light of mom being "The Singer" as my title goes today, we have a band this year for music, and I am so excited about that. It will be a new thing, so we'll see how it goes.
 Some may say that my blog is weird, and that I might be "stuck" in a need to always write about my mom. But this is just one of the simple ways to keep her memory alive. My mom was my hero, and I love remembering all these little things about her-they inspire me still. So I'll keep writing. And I'll keep the 5K going. And we'll grow her scholarship fund. One day at a time. In memory of the  most wonderful woman I've ever known: my mom.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Giver

My mom was a giver. All the time. Not every once in a while, but really always. She gave of her time to hundreds of people through acts of kindness in every way you can imagine. She gave her talents all the time by watching kids for next to nothing (in cost), by teaching sunday school at church for all of my lifetime, by baking for sick people or for someone who needed it. My mom spent hours praying for others. One memory I have is of us always having the widows over for Sunday lunch. There were a group of them, who were of course older, and whose husbands had passed. There was Grandma Murdoch (she was the closest to our family), Mrs. Duddleston (She was kind of the most crazy one, and her daughter happened to be my school principal), Mrs. Olsen (the most quiet one), Mrs. Richhard (the one who said the silliest things) , and Aunt Irma. Those women came over countless Sundays because my mom wanted to treat them with kindness, love, and a good meal. And of course we played games too. Games were always part of our household. There is a verse in James 1:27 that says visiting the widows in their trouble is true religion.(paraphrased of course). There could be more said on that, but what I'm trying to say is that my mom was always giving-to all ages. There was never a lot of money growing up, but mom always found a way to be giving. The last gift I ever got from my mom that I can recall is a beautiful heart necklace. I wear it almost every day and I get a lot of comments on it. It was not a costly gift, but it was one of the most meaningful. Maybe because it was the last;maybe because it displayed love in every aspect; maybe, and most likely, simply because it was a gift from her heart.
 I say all this to share partly about the 5K that I hold in her memory. It's approaching to happen in October (October 13 to be exact). Because of that, and planning that full force right now, my mom's desire to give constantly is often on my heart. When my mom died, a good friend of hers gave money to go to a scholarship fund, rather than giving flowers. It was a very generous gift, and a beautiful reflection of my mom and the part she played in this woman's life. When dad and I learned about this gift, we wanted to build on it, and we wanted to make the scholarship be available annually. The designation was to be for a nursing student, studying to be in the field of oncology (a cancer nurse.). A lot of people ask me, "was your mom a nurse?" The answer is no. My mom was a teacher. However, nurses played a huge part in my mom's life of course, in the last few years, and this was one simple way of giving back to nurses. (Thus prompting some of my thoughts on mom always giving). Mom did not like attention. She was the most humble person I have ever known. She did everything for God's glory and never ever wanted that to be given to her. She would probably roll her eyes over there being a scholarship in her name. However, in my efforts of wanting the scholarship to grow, and in a sense, keep mom's memory and efforts of always giving, alive, I started a 5K in her memory. We call it the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K. Last year, of course, was the first year for it. We had gorgeous weather and a beautiful turnout. (See my posts October 6 & 8,2011 to read more details). This year, as it approaches, it is growing rapidly. I am working on a website for it and will hopefully have that up by my next post so you can check it out. I have bigger dreams with it. It is going to be fantastic.I want my mom's legacy to keep on giving. I want to be a giver like my mom was. I have been missing her more deeply lately. But her memory is fully alive. Mom always supported my running-i've said that in previous posts more than once. 2 weeks after my mom died, I ran a half marathon. I had signed up for it months before, having no idea that it would fall on the heels of her death. It was a tough race to run, but i did it in memory of her. Just as we do this 5K in her memory. And even more so, for God's glory. May her memory stay vibrant through this, but as I said, even more so, may God receive bounds of glory and praise through it. And may more students be reached. Here are a few pictures from last year's.
Our family

My dad, finishing the 5K with a family friend.

A handful of the CareSource friends who came out for it last year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Grateful # 7

I have begun incorporating the idea of gratefulness with my kids at home as well. We have started a "Grateful box" which we keep on a shelf in our living room and each day we write something if not multiple things down.  It's really neat, actually, to watch them learn to do this a bit more each day. And to watch the attitudes change a little bit with it, too. sometime I'll record some of their thoughts, but today I want to share a few of my grateful bits over the last week.
  1. Today would've been my mom and dad's 41st wedding anniversary. As I remembered that, I thought about how grateful I am for what an example of amarriage they set for me. Granted, I have not nearly been the woman my mom was, but I am learning every day and hoping one day I can be seen as great of a wife as she was. They had a really amazing marriage. I loved watching their interactions, and recalling them makes me smile. Sure, they had their moments, but overall, their moments were more private and what we witnessed was love, gratefulness, sincerity and godly examples. I think I heard my dad say every night thank you to my mom for her meals, and I don't really recall ever hearing mom complain about her chores. I watched them laugh together. I watched them pray together. I watched them work through hard times together (though I didn't have as much understanding then as what I have now of how hard those times were.). I watched them interact. I watched mom serve. I watched dad provide. Sure they had their faults, but overall, they had a beautiful marriage. And today I was thinking about how lucky I am to have grown up under that. And to have that example.

 2 I am thankful for my friend, Chris. Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll choose one friend to share about. Friends mean a lot in my life, they play a huge part in my every day. That's a lot because part of my makeup is to be sociable. Today it's Chris. Chris is one of the most gracious, loving friends I have. She encourages me and also lovingly shares correction. We share life (well, let's be honest, right now, she lets me share my life mostly!) . We share faith. We share struggles and we share victories. Chris is a huge blessing in my life. There are  a handful of friends about whom I could write, but today I choose her. She is consistently available for me, night or day, for tears or for victory laughs. (again, let's be honest, it's more tears she gets from me!) . She would probably not be crazy about all the hype here I am making over her, but she deserves it. She has blessed my life by helping me move forward in some really new and neat ways.

 3. I am thankful for some of the neat, new ways my 5K event is beginning to shape up. I may have to write a whole separate blog about that. But for now, I will say that I am preparing for it to be a bigger, better event this year and I am really excited about some things. Today I found a website (Road ID...runners, this is a great resource site with lots of cool stuff), and they are going to supply my event with bibs for the runners for FREE! I am so excited to include them in my sponsorship and to step up the professionalism of the race a bit with that piece of equipment most 5k'ers really love to have afterwards. They are also giving me some other free things that will be very valuable.

4. I am thankful for my bed and my bathroom. Bear with me here...The last 2-3 days our plumbing has been on the fritz. One night we had to sleep elsewhere, and though we were grateful, I really missed being in my own home and my own bed. It's the little things sometimes. I also have realy missed the luxury we have come to know as a toilet. As they have worked on fixing things, we've had to rely on neighbors (Thank you, Wanty family!) for using their restroom. I am glad for that. Glad for good neighbors. But I will be even  more glad once we have our own bathroom up and working right again!

5. I am thankful for cool mornings. I love summer and I love the heat. But there is something totally refreshing and enjoyable about running in the morning at 4:30(ish) in 64 degrees. It's gorgeous.

And the list goes on, as I continue to learn to be grateful one day at a time. I am not always successful, but I am working on it every day. I close with a wedding picture of my mom and dad....I thank God for them so much.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Insecure...truth v. lies

I cross the paths of many people every day in my job. I hear many stories. Stories of successes and stories of sadness. Stories of brokenness and stories of healing. I have listened to joys expressed and I have hugged crying friends. It's a part of my job I really enjoy. But I suppose it's more rare to find me sharing my story with those, and that's really ok. It's part of why I write. In a blog of a close friend whom I follow ( she says "I write to understand as much as be understood." I love that quote. I think I do the same.
  What's really been on my heart lately is insecurity. It's a vicious battle. It's a battle many of us women fight. (I know men really fight it too, and I am certainly not discounting that, to those of you men who also read this.) But it's been an in my face battle lately, and it's not one which I openly talk about with many. So as crazy as this is, I choose to write about it here.
 I battle insecurity horribly. It's a really awful feeling to have. I have to fight constant thoughts of not being good enough or thoughts of people not likeing me for who I am. There are days this battle is a fierce one. This week happened to be not just one of those days, but several in a row.
  Many things can cause insecurities: weight gain, fights, job loss or job failure, words said, (words not said), mistakes made, moving and losing friends, changing jobs, etc, etc, etc..... the list goes on and on. I know what lies at the root of mine most of the time, and most of the time it is: LIES. Things I've seen or said or heard that I say to myself often enough that I believe that I'm not good enough. And I've had enough of it.
 I am fighting back. I've been told that at times I say things but don't follow through. Enough of that. I will overcome this battle, but I am not so silly as to think it will happen quickly. It's been years building.

Sometimes it's media telling me I'm not pretty enough or thin enough. (LIE). The TRUTH is this: 1 Samuel 16:7, "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. "

Sometimes it is  hurtful words I have heard. (LIES) The TRUTH  is this: God loves me for who I am. All the broken, all the sins and wrongs, all the yucky things. I am Redeemed. Colossians 1:14, "in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

Sometimes it's just failure (or how I view it) of time management. LIE. The TRUTH is this. Each day is new, each day I have a choice of how I spend my time. Do I do this perfectly every day? No. But the TRUTH is this: Prov. 16:3 "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established." Also, 1 Cor, 10:31 "Whatsoever ye do , whether it is eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God."

The list goes on and on, but those are just a few of the things I am working on replacing in my heart and mind. There are plenty of positive words said to me as well. But sad to say, insecurity rules those out sometimes. And it's time that ends. I know it will be a daily battle, but I am ready to squelch it and take back me:) the wonderful woman God has created me to be.

Now those are truths remembering. One day at a time.
 On that note, with music being something I love, I thought I'd include these lyrics to a song I absolutely love right now. It's Called "Do Everything" By Stephen Curtis Chapman. I wanted to post the video on here, but I'm not computer savvy, so the lyrics is the best you get. If you can listen to the song itself, it will bless you. But in the mean time, here are the words to it:

Your picking up toys on the living room floor for the 15th time today 
Matching up socks 
Sweeping up lost cheerios that got away 

You put a baby on your hip 
Color on your lips and head out the door 

While I may not know you, 
I bet I know you 
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all? 

Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long 
(chorus) As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you, 
Cause he made you, 
To do 
Every little thing that you do 
To bring a smile to His face 
Tell the story of grace 
With every move that you make 
And every little thing you do 

Maybe your that guy with the suit and tie 
Maybe your shirt says your name 

You may be hooking up mergers 
Cooking up burgers 
But at the end of the day 

Little stuff 
Big stuff 
In between stuff 
God sees it all the same 

While I may not know you 
I bet I know you 
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all? 
[ Lyrics from: ] 
Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long as (back to chorus)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Becoming Grateful, #6

I could write a myriad of thoughts today. I have a longer blog coming that is forming in my mind. But writing about that which I am grateful is overdue, and today I have just one thing I want to put on the list. And it's a big one. Ok....2 things, actually.

 1. My brother came home from Afghanistan today! It was so good to hear his voice again. He is my "little" brother, though he is much taller and stronger than I am. He is in the marines He has been deployed for 7 months, but today he arrived home safely. I am so proud of him. He is my little brother, but we have leaned on eachother alot over the last few years (ok, I probably leaned on him more than he did on me.)  I have missed talking to him while he's been away. So I am happy he's home (which is still miles away, but at least I can see him in skype or talk to him), and I am grateful he came home safely.

2. Our daughter turned 10 yesterday. I am now a parent of the double digits. Wow, where has time gone?! I am thankful for her every day. She and I are very similar so sometimes she can push my buttons like no other, but other times, she has the most calming words. Almost too grown up for her young age . She comforts me sometimes, which sholdn't be the case, but at times it is. She has a sensitive heart for others, and she feels deeply like I do. She is on a roller coaster of emotions these days as she grows up, but lucky for her, I understand that:)  She is a gift, one for which I am grateful every day. It was wonderful (and a bit unreal) to celebrate her 10th birthday. My, how I've learned alot in those years. I"m sure there'll be plenty more lessons on the way!

Stay tuned tomorrow to hear some more from the depths of my heart. Until then, I'm continuing to learn to be grateful one day at a time.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Grief and Gratefulness wrapped together

Sometimes my fingers fly across the keys with thoughts that are overflowing from my heart. Other times, there seems to be a mental block of sorts..difficulty finding the words that I want to use to express what's in my heart.
 It has been a long week for me, and one which I am sifting through my emotions a little each day. This week, our family experienced our first encounter with death since my mom passed away. Death is never an easy event to face, but it is as much a part of life as life itself. I have concluded it doesn't matter how old or how young the person is. It doesn't matter if the death is expected or unexpected. Going through saying goodbye to one you love is just not a fun experience.
 It took me a very long time to cme out of my grief fog. (Ask anyone who was with me through the whole process). But the last week I have had to keep myself from falling back into those emotions again. And that is something that not everyone has been able to understand...hence, I write.
 Michael's grandma passed away on Wednesday. This was something we were expecting, and she had a very long, good life. So in a lot of aspects, it can be said that it was her time and she is no longer suffering. However, a goodbye is still painful, no matter the case. As I sat and listened to them talk about funeral arrangements and flowers and funeral homes, I flashbacked in some serious ways and was very stuck inside my mind for a few days. Those details don't just go away, and this week they were revived. And communicating those emotions has been difficult. I feel the pain of a person grieving in all new ways....especially the pain of someone grieving the loss of their mom. I remembered sitting in the funeral parlor discussing all the flowers we were getting for mom's casket; I remembered discussing the the details of times and placement and what mom would be wearing. I remembered standing under the tent at the graveside, snowflakes falling, shivering almost, and my heels sinking into the mushy ground, saying one final goodbye to mom and choosing my rose from her spray of flowers to keep with me. I was sad to say goodbye to grandma; I felt like I was taken back in time somehow too. I'm not sure that every encounter with death will be like this, but being the first one since, it has been a greif experience I was not expecting. I have spent a lot of time reflecting, remembering, and finding joy in the midst of pain the last few days. I have been on quite a journey the last 2 years, but God has brought me so much closer to Him and so much further away from yucky places I once was. For that....that is my grateful thought the most for this week. I don't have to grieve every day, because I do have a hope like others do not. I do have a joy many do not. And though I still can be sad and cry over the emotions, I am very grateful....for how far God has brought me even in the last few months. So on a happy note to end what has been a more serious blog, I share some thoughts for which I have been very grateful this week:
  1. God bringing me out of the pit of despair of grief and yucky emotions to a newfound hope and joy that reaches a differnt level, every day, one day at a time.
  2. Learning new things about what I enjoy. In a silly quiz type thing I took this week (it was sort of an introspective type quiz) I recognzied just how much I love to write. I am tweaking it all the time. I write best when I am being the most real. But I love to write. And I love to run. ( I am working on organizing the 2nd 5K in memory of my mom to take place in October.) I love to read-it's rare, but I have a book and 2 magazines going right now because I have been enjoying that so much. And I love to laugh. And be with my family. I love to be outdoors.
  3. I am thankful for many a customer who have brought on many conversations and even many laughs. This week, I was blessed with a birthday gift from a group of some of my favorite traveling friends. I was quite surprised by this, and it really blessed me in the midst of a tough week, and none of them even knew it. I have been enjoying reading the magazine I got from them.
 4. My dad. In the midst of his busy life and work, called us up and invited us out to dinner last night, knowing michael was out of town.
 5. Our new church. We have not been there very long at all, and in the midst of the chaos of this week and trying to scramble for childcare, the pastor's wife came to the rescue and offered her services. Not only was that a huge help, but our kids have bonded with theirs, which is also a neat thing to watch happening. Then the pastor helped us find extra sitters for the other days. We are beginning to call it our new home.

Simple things, but big things. And finding these blessings hasn't always been easy this week. But God is always doing that, I just have to look. so, we keep pressing day at a time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Becoming grateful, #5

Here are just a handful of things for which I have thanked God for over the last week:
  1. My best friend ever, Karen. She got to come in last weekend and it was so wonderful to have her here!
 2. A new church. We have decided to try to find a new church home, and we've been visiting one now for the past 2 months. Last week the kids attended vacation bible school there and absolutely loved it. It was really neat to hear them coming home tellings us stories about what they'd learned. And the friend they made.
 3. Cards. It's the little things that make a big difference to me, but cards is one of them. I never get tired of them. Writing them or receiving them. I got some really nice ones for my birthday, and I smile when I read them.
 4. Coffee. I love coffee. Yes, it's my job. But I love it all around. It's one of my "comfort" foods. I love having a cup with a friend. I love having it in the morning. It helps me when I'm tired, and I enjoy it when I'm having a bad day, too. It's just something that is simple but I really enjoy. I've been doing coffee work now for 5 years and I don't think I'll ever get tired of drinking it.
 5. Laughter. The sound of it. How I feel when I have a really hard belly laugh. I love to laugh and I am trying to do it more. Laughter really is the best medicine.
 6. Speaking of medicine, I'm grateful for that, too. It cleared up my son's horrible reaction to poison ivy last week.
 7. Cake. It's not something in which I indulge often, but I really did on my birthday. I love cake.

One day, one small thing at a time, I am learning to be more grateful. As hard as it really can be sometimes, I do get to choose how I react. And I am striving to be more grateful.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My next thirty years...

Yesterday, I turned 30. Personally, I find age to be just a number. I hope I still feel that way when I turn 40. Leaving the decade of my 20s was not a dramatic thing for me, for the most part, but it certainly did cause some amount of reflection for me. In retrospect, I think the hardest thing for me about leaving my 20s into my 30s was the fact that I turned a "big" number, yet a "young" number still, without my mom. I really missed her a lot. I thought this birthday would be a lot easier. I'd already made it through my first birthday without her. But I feel like the idea of changing into a new decade without her was what made it difficult for me. However, that being said, it really was a very nice day for me. I have always loved birthdays. Birthdays were always a big deal growing up, and so for me,they still are.  When I woke up, as cheesy as this may sound, I said, "Happy birthday to me!" and I put on a big smile and decided I was going to enjoy my day.. And really, I did.
 I laughed hard throughout the day because I decided to be silly and laugh. (I worked hard, too. It was a busy Friday. But work and laughter can go together). I enjoyed hearing from a few old friends I hadn't talked to in a long while. And boy, did I eat delicious food. I enjoyed donuts, a cuban sandwich , a nice drink, and ribs....good food all day long. I received beautiful flowers from my husband, and some new running clothes. I really enjoyed the day. And the day was topped off with picking up our best friends at the airport!!!!!! That was a wonderful surprise and one I am cherishing all weekend long. And the weekend fun continues today , as my husband and I have decided to renew our vows. We've been married 10 1/2 years and we have been through a tremendous amount of life together already. We have decided to renew our commitment to each other, and I could not think of a better way to start my next thirty years. It was a beautiful, small ceremony. The weather was perfect. We stood under the trellis on which my mom's rose bush grows. The words were beautiful and our closest friends in the world, along with family, were all there. (minus my little brother and sister in law). We had a great time. It was emotional and beautiful and a great way to start my next decade. We then enjoyed great food and some fun outdoor games.
 There is a Tim McGraw song called "My Next Thirty Years" that has been playing over and over in my head all week long. Here are some of the lyrics:
I think I'll take a moment, celebrate my age
The ending of an era and the turning of a page
Now it's time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years

Hey my next thirty years I'm gonna have some fun
Try to forget about all the crazy things I've done
Maybe now I've conquered all my adolescent fears
And I'll do it better in my next thirty years

My next thirty years I'm gonna settle all the scores
Cry a little less, laugh a little more
Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear
Figure out just what I'm doing here
In my next thirty years

Oh my next thirty years, I'm gonna watch my weight
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers
Maybe I'll remember my next thirty years

My next thirty years will be the best years of my life
Raise a little family and hang out with my wife
Spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear
Make up for lost time here, in my next thirty years
In my next thirty years

In my next thirty years, I want to:
 -laugh more!
-Love my family in much stronger ways. Make them my priority.
-Use my "last thirty years" to impact the world for the next thirty years. I pray God can use my story of all I've been through in the last many years to impact lives for the future.
-Get my college degree as an occupational therapist. 
-Serve God.
-Write a book.
-Enjoy my motherhood and embrace my role as a wife in new ways. 

I have  more goals, but I'll leave it at that for now. It's been a beautiful weekend and I could not have asked for more. God is good and faithful -more than I could ever express. Having my best friend by my side today and having renewed my vows this weekend, is a small start of saying how good He is. Here's to my next thirty day at a time!