Two Years Ago

hearts on fireIt was two years ago that my friend and minister at Long Beach Church of Christ, Mark Hodges, called me. I was in my office at the church on a very normal day in North Louisiana. But in South Mississippi it wasn’t a normal day at all. Mark had the unfortunate duty of sharing with me the tragic news that would change so many lives.

I’ve known Les Ferguson, Jr since we were at Bible college. I was seventeen. Les’ dad was the minister for the church where several of my family members attended. So, Les Jr. wasn’t a stranger to me, exactly, but I was glad to meet him.  We became fast friends and have remained so over thirty-plus years. When Les and I were in our teens we never could have dreamed that we would both have sons, and lose sons.

Les’ wife, Karen, was perfect for him. She was sassy enough to handle his big talk, and supportive enough to be a source of strength for his ministry. She was a great mom to Kyle, Cole, Conner, extending even to their adopted son Casey. The tough love she demonstrated in caring for Cole, who had cerebral palsy was amazing.

No one could foresee the violence of this day two years ago. Even in retrospect, no one could have known what terror an elderly man from church (who turned out to be a monster) would bring to the Ferguson home. Murder is such a harsh and hateful word, but it is the only word to use.

When Mark called, I dropped everything I was doing. I let our elders know what had happened and with their blessing we drove down to the Coast. The scene was surreal … unbelievable. There was not an empty seat at the funeral for Karen and Cole at the Orange Grove Church of Christ.

So now for two years Les’ friends have tried to walk with him through his dark journey. We often feel helpless to say anything, and mostly just listen.  If you have been following his writings (HERE) you know that the pain may have grown less sharp, but it hasn’t gone away. It never will. He has now been through two seasons of birthdays, holidays, and special times without Karen and Cole.

I’m so happy for Les in other ways. He has married Becky, and she seems like she is just right for Les. She is down to earth, caring, and beautiful. There are four boys living under their roof these days … and I’m sure there are enough challenges to keep them hopping most of the time. Les is taking speaking engagements and is beginning to be used more and more, putting his talents to use where God needs him. Why don’t you invite him to your church soon … he has something to share that will matter to the saints and sinners wherever you are.

My heart is with Les, Kyle, Cole, Conner, and Casey. With Les’ parents and family … Karen’s parents and family. And with Becky as she walks with him through these seasons of grief.

Probably when I should just be quiet I can’t help but want to say something. Just a few thoughts for the family…

*I’m not sure how to do it, but there is a way to embrace the joys of today without ignoring the pain of yesterday.

*It is acceptable to smile and laugh today. That doesn’t mean that  the tears of yesterday are forgotten or no longer important.

*It is beneficial to focus forward and plan for the future. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never contemplate the past.

*There’s nothing wrong with wondering what it would be like to have Cole and Karen with you today. Just make sure not to overlook the hearts right in front of you and love them with all you’ve got.

*Sometimes we think we are honoring the lives of those we lost by our tears. But really we keep honoring Karen and Cole’s memories by living honorable lives.

Well, if any of that is unhelpful or unneeded, just toss it. My heart belongs to you guys today.

Thanks for reading,

john

 

 

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