Category Archives: Friendship

Home is Where My People Are

Wednesday Reads Wide512EEPMJmVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to have your hair stylist offer you a tissue while you sit in her chair – not because she’s hurting your scalp but because you’ve gotten so caught up in a book that the tears flow involuntarily. But ya’ll, I just couldn’t help myself!

Sophie Hudson’s new book Home is Where My People Are: The Roads that Lead Us to Where We Belong is funny, touching, and unexpectedly soul-stirring. Sophie takes the reader on a journey from a Mississippi childhood to adult life in Birmingham, Alabama. With a truly Southern flair, this memoir chronicles not just life’s eventful moments but highlights the people who walked the journey with her.

I loved this book for several reasons. First, I laughed – a lot! Sophie’s discussion of poor clothing choices sent me into giggles. As a 20-something in the 90’s, I can recall having every appalling outfit she describes in my closet. Even better is when Sophie shares stories of her first years as a teacher and the chaos and uncertainty she faced every day. O how I related!

One of my favorite chapters is “Seventeen Helpful Terms for the Formerly Wayward and/or Semi-prodigal Who Decides to Go to Church Again.” Those of us who have grown-up in church will so relate to these churchisms that the new Christian doesn’t really get. Her definitions of “hedge of protection,” “small group,” and “season” had me rolling my eyes and laughing in agreement.

Amidst the chuckles, there were several moments when I requested another tissue from my stylist. The book brims with tucked away sentences that bring the big truths of life into focus. The reality of each one brings to mind how that truth is evident in your own life. I’ve moved around a good bit (much like Sophie did) and left “my people” behind in another state. When she speaks of being vividly aware “of a profound feeling of familiarity – a confidence in being known by the people who belong to a place,” the tears flowed. I was overcome with an urge to pick up the phone and call those who truly “know” me yet still love me.

The ultimate tear-fest came when Sophie tells of the tragedy that befalls her tight-knit group of college friends. My heart hurt as if I was a part of those women. She has such a wonderful way of pulling you in a making you love “her people” too. The Kleenex will need to be your companion during this chapter.

Overall, Home is Where My People Are brought me joy. Its Southern style (there’s a million ya’lls) made me feel right at home. So grab yourself a sweet tea and enjoy a few moments meeting Sophie’s people and remembering your own. Happy reading, ya’ll!

amusement

Millenium Force Coaster at Cedar Point Park

Millenium Force Coaster at Cedar Point Park

noun – the provision or enjoyment of entertainment

As a student pastor’s wife, I was often called upon to answer life’s perplexing questions with confidence. If you are like me, you spend most of those conversations in a desperate inner prayer to God while simultaneously doling out life-altering advice.

A college student approached me one day with life-path questions. She was facing challenging questions: What will I be when I grow up? How do I get there? She’d been given two doors to walk through and both were good options.

In that instant I sent up a fervent mental prayer, and God gave me an answer that inspired this young lady. She later showed me where my quote was written down in her “Journal of Favorite Quotes”. But as I read my own quote, God redirected his guidance right back at me and reminded me that with Him, life’s choices are often like visiting an amusement park.

Basically, it’s the idea that when we go after our heart’s dreams — while consistently seeking God — He gives us a ticket to His Amusement Park. Ticket in hand, we walk through the gates with great hopes and inkling of trepidation, coupled with bubbling excitement. Unfortunately, after passing through the gates we often stand idly and contemplate. We look up to God and say, “Okay, which ride?”

We peer over longingly at our favorite roller coaster. With metal rails glistening in the brilliant sun, its peaks disappear among the wispy clouds of morning. The coaster promises adventure mixed with a little terror, some heart-pounding thrills, and a squeal of glee at its end.

Our hearts begin to play tug-of-war. “Is this really what God wants, or is this only my desires taking over?”  If we stand there too long, we can convince ourselves to do what is “expected”, the thing that is responsible and safe. Our desire to ride the roller coaster isn’t after all what God wants.  It’s dangerous (or at least it could be) and no one really thinks you can ride it anyway. Maybe we should just ride the carousel and call it a day. It’s relaxing and everyone likes to ride the carousel.  It’s safe and consistent.

So is our choice when following God’s dreams for us.

I’m a huge fan of amusement parks. There’s usually at least one ride that anyone can enjoy. I find that there are certain rides that I adore riding over and over. The fact is this: when we pursue God for our life’s purpose (our deeply rooted dreams that He gave us), He allows us to enter the park and begin choosing which rides to take. One is not necessarily better than the other, but one fills our hearts more than the other.

That roller coaster ( or The Tower of Terror at Disney MGM in my case) thrills my heart beyond imagination. I could ride if over and over again. It brings me joy — and terror, but it’s my favorite. It’s the ride on which I want to spend my life on — figuratively. Are there other rides that I could jump on? Sure, but that one ride – my life’s dream – is the one that I want to take.

So instead of standing just inside the gate wondering which ride to take, I run to the Tower of Terror, pay my dues by enduring the long line (because any dream is gonna take a lot of time and a ton of hard work), and then I ride.

That’s the beauty of dreaming with God. When you ramble through his amusement park, you choose which ride to take — which dream you will let God make a reality in your life. One ride is not better than the other, it’s just seeking God enough to know which one will make you the most joyful. And it’s not just a personal happiness, it’s a joy which strengthens you day by day because you are walking in God’s plan for your life.