Debby Hudson Posts

The person on the other end of the phone speaks in rapid-fire words running all together that I’m not sure who I’ve called. It doesn’t matter if it’s the pizza place, the hair salon or doctor’s office the words are all smushed together:


It’s said in a way you feel the only acceptable response is, “Sure”. {sigh}

Being put on hold may mean music playing in your ear or it may mean silence. Both are a disconnect from the person you wish to speak to.

In music, there is a symbol sometimes call a hold sign. Its musical name is fermata. It’s also called a pause.

When we push the pause button on our music player the music stops. When we say we’re going to pause for a moment we stop what we’re doing. Much like putting someone on hold, conversation or action stops.

In music, however, the pause sign means to hold on. The note may indicate to hold it for one beat but with the hold sign over it you keep your eyes on the conductor and hold the note as long as he or she indicates. In music, pause doesn’t mean stop.

The fermata can also be placed over a rest sign. During the rest, everything stops. If the whole orchestra has a rest sign with a fermata all music will cease until the conductor signals to begin. You are holding on to the rest.

Rather than the pause symbol indicating a cease of something it actually means a continuation. But here’s the key: our eyes must be on the director.

What I enjoyed most about playing in the school and church band was that we all had different parts that worked beautifully when played together AND when we followed the conductor. My eyes darted back and forth from the music to the band master’s wand waving through the air.

I may have misinterpreted the real meaning of the pause. But if I follow the One who holds all time he will lead me in the rhythms of grace.

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday in a weekly free-writing word-prompting group of writers.


faith Five-Minute Friday

The first thing that grabbed me was Jeff saying, “If they had started preaching the bible to me when I first came in this Center I would not have heard or listened to anything they said. But first, they fed me.”


First, they fed me. His words grabbed my heart.


I’ve never felt that kind of hunger. My grumbles are because it’s been 4 hours since my last meal, not the kind of hunger that stretches for days. I know it’s not the case with every man who comes to us. But if it’s only one, yes, feed him. How could we think for a moment about telling someone ‘Jesus loves you’ if we aren’t seeing to their basic needs.



A Man May Be Down But He’s Never Out

Heart to God – Hand to Man

Sharing is Caring

Need Knows No Season


Everyone likes a catchy phrase, a slogan that speaks to the cause. The Salvation Army has had several over the years. At Christmas the signs over the red kettles read Sharing is Caring or Need Knows No Season. The money collected in the red kettles serve the local community providing toys and food for families in need.


In our area of work with men struggling for a new start A Man May Be Down but He’s Never Out is a reminder to us and them that no life is beyond redemption.


I’ve always favored Heart to God – Hand to Man only today we’d be more specific and say to all people. It doesn’t have the same poetic ring but our hand extends to all.

The programs of The Salvation Army are born of need.


A Salvation Army Captain in San Francisco wanted to provide Christmas dinner for 1000 people in need. But how could he fund this?

My brother-in-law and nephew play their horns each year at a kettle stand in Panama City, Florida.

Remembering his time as a sailor living in Liverpool, England Capt. McFee thought of large pots place on the docks to collect money for those in need. If it worked there, surely it would work in San Francisco and it did!


He placed a brass urn at the Oakland ferry landing with a sign that read “Keep the Pot Boiling”. The year was 1891. One hundred twenty-seven years later these red kettles continue to be filled to serve the needs in their communities.

Doughnuts served to servicemen in WWI led to a continuing relationship with Veteran’s services.

A hurricane that devastated Galveston, TX in 1900 was the beginning of the Army’s disaster relief program. We are welcomed as first-responders and often the first on the scene of disasters because we have units all across the country. This Army mobilizes quickly.

Today the question our leader in the south has been asking all of us is Why? What is the why to what we do?

This was the why for William Booth:

“Some men’s ambition is art. Some men’s ambition is fame. Some men’s ambition is gold. My ambition is the souls of men.”

May that continue to be the why not just for The Salvation Army but for every believer.

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:35-40 NLT 



faith Salvation Army

Our son-in-law was planning a surprise Mother’s Day getaway for our daughter. He let our granddaughter in on the secret. I imagine there were plenty of smiles and knowing looks between them leading up to the reveal.

A few days before Mother’s Day, our grandaughter sweetly said to her mama, “I wish I could spend more time with you on Mother’s Day. But I hope you have a good time in Charleston.” OOPS!

The secret was out!

The 10-year old felt awful having spoiled the surprise. Our daughter assured her it was okay. It was an accident.

Surprises make fun secrets. We like being part of the buildup. We anticipate the smiles and joys. It’s a lot like opening a beautifully wrapped gift.

Those are the good secrets. But there are ones that are harder to carry yet we can’t seem to let them out.

Working in our community of people who struggle with addiction and other issues we have a different take on secrets. We remind them and ourselves: we’re as sick as our secrets.

Things we regret. Things done against us. Past acts. Desires we can’t seem to change. Too many carry the weight of secrets that can burden us with shame and even depression.

These are the secrets that need to be told, often to a professional.

God gives grace to things revealed in his light. His mercy covers us and his love chases after us.

He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell—saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. Psalm 103:3-5 MSG

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday weekly word prompt.


faith Five-Minute Friday grace


She has been called the “Army Mother” but she was no stay at home mom. To be accurate, we must credit Catherine Booth with being the co-founder of The Salvation Army. She and William had 8 children, two of whom later became Generals of The Salvation Army.

Her desire to serve the marginalized was as passionate as her husband William’s. Catherine was also keenly interested in the problems of alcoholism and was a supporter of England’s Temperance Society. This drew the ire and demonstrations from alcohol distributors but didn’t change their views. A member of the Salvation Army church agrees to abstain from the use of alcohol as do all their Officers.


Inspired by revivalist, Phoebe Palmer, and encouraged by her husband William, Catherine wrote a pamphlet titled  Female Ministry: Woman’s Right to Preach the Gospel (1859)


After the birth of their fourth child, Catherine asked if she could have “a word” in one of their church meetings. William announced she would speak that night. It was the beginning of a vibrant speaking ministry for her.


The Booths strong held beliefs of reaching the disenfranchised took action. They went into people’s homes to help them make a new start, particularly those struggling with alcoholism. Catherine also fought for the safeguarding of females as she lobbied Queen Victoria and helped establish the Parliamentary Bill for the protection of girls.


In 1879, a woman officer moved to America with her mom and converted an old factory into a meeting place. Lt. Eliza Shirley, along with her parents, held the first open-air service in Philadelphia to a substantial crowd.


At the news of the successful meetings, General Booth sent George Railton and seven ‘hallelujah lassies’ to begin the official work of the Army in the United States. In a letter to Catherine Booth, Railton wrote: “Those English may stick to their men as hard as they like, but I am certain it is the women who are going to burst up the world, especially the American women.”

The volunteer spirit during WWII was high.

Later, the Booth’s seventh child, Evangeline, became Commander of the Army’s work in America. This time there was a literal battle being fought and Evangeline knew The Salvation Army needed to support the military troops in WWI. She borrowed money to fund the operations overseas.


The Salvation Army officer in charge of the work in France asked Booth to send women. This came as a surprise but she trusted her officers and sent over a group of lassies.


When the women arrived they realized the troops had need for some home comfort cooking and with little supplies, they managed to fry some doughnuts. It didn’t take long for these Doughnut Girls to realize this bit of fried dough did more for the men’s psyche than their bellies.

It’s no wonder that one of William Booth’s most famous quotes is “Some of my best men are women.”

Today’s Army is no different with women serving in leadership roles and holding ordination as Officers.

“You are not here in the world for yourself. You have been sent here for others. The world is waiting for you!”                                                                                         Catherine Booth



faith Salvation Army

Photo by Mike Marquez on Unsplash

I bought the bottle of juice because I’m trying to include healthier options in our refrigerator. The combination of flavors was one of my favorites and it was a thicker blend more like a smoothy.

Not until I’d drank several servings did I look at the ingredient list. I’m sure I heard some sort of music of doom when I saw it: 28% sugar

So shoot me because I didn’t care.

These days you can’t go into a restaurant without reading the calories of each item. Whose idea was it to include things I didn’t want to know?

When you know better you do better. At least that’s the hope. And, yes, I have made different menu choices because of this added information.

At times, I’ve also avoided digging deeper for information because I didn’t want the accountability. Or, I don’t want to invest more emotionally.

We have choices. We can be the ostrich with its head in the sand oblivious to what is going on around us. OR, we can be informed. The danger is, information might make you care. And caring is tiring and burdensome. To paraphrase Mother Teresa, care anyway.

What do you choose?

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday


Five-Minute Friday

Google Images

Before we go much further in who the Salvation Army I need to give you a primer on our language. Every group, organization, and company have their own insider speak. We know the meaning behind AA, PTA, and AAA. Chuch folks know PK means preacher’s kid. So it is in The Salvation Army.

But first, why are we even called an Army?

When William Booth first left the traditional church to reach the poor and destitute he formed what was called the Christian Mission. Upon reading a printer’s proof of their 1878 report Booth noticed the words “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army”. He crossed out the words volunteer army and wrote Salvation Army.

Our folklore tells a version of this story where it was Booth who was dictating a letter in which he described themselves as a volunteer army. Upon hearing this, his son Bramwell said Volunteer! I’m no volunteer. I’m a regular!” At this point, his father instructed the secretary to strike out volunteer army and write Salvation Army.

From then on, this new Army used a military model with its own flag, hymns, and terminology. Booth and his followers were fighting against sin. They also fought against poverty and homelessness. The Salvation Army is still fighting this war today.

Though this model was set in the late 1800’s it is still followed today. These are the words we speak and continue to translate to others. We still wear the uniform that is frequently mistaken as a pilot. I’ve also been asked if I worked on a  cruise ship.

red indicates Officer/ordained clergy
blue indicates Soldier – church member


Officer – Ordained clergy (They are distinguished from members by the red epaulets on their uniform)

Soldier – church member

*Officers are also designated by rank with Lt., Capt. And Major signifying years of service. Lt. Colonel, Colonel, Commissioner are all reserved for specific leadership roles. There is one General which is chosen by election. And yes, we’ve elected women Generals.

Corps – the local church

Songbook – hymnal

Songsters – choir

ARC – Adult Rehabilitation Center

Quarters – parsonage or house for ordained clergy. Officers are transferred with the average stay being about 3-4 years. We live in homes owned by The Salvation Army. These homes are completely furnished. It makes moving easier. It’s good financial practice. And, hopefully, it helps us keep “things” in perspective.

Written in the early days of the Army, this song is still being sung in Salvation Army gatherings around the world today. Consider this an invitation to join us in the fight for right and opposing the wrong. May we all be valiant and strong for the sake of salvation.

Come, join our Army, to battle we go,
Jesus will help us to conquer the foe;
Fighting for right and opposing the wrong,
The Salvation Army is marching along.
Marching along, marching along,
The Salvation Army is marching along;
Soldiers of Jesus, be valiant and strong;
The Salvation Army is marching along.

faith Music Salvation Army

At the start of my sixth-grade year, my parents were sent to Fayetteville, Arkansas to open the Salvation Army work there. Today, it might be called a church plant. But, as my father told me again and again, we (the Salvation Army) are more than a church.


I was in the school office with mom while she was getting me enrolled. The secretary was gathering basic information including what daddy did and what church we attended. When mom answered Salvation Army for church the secretary corrected her by saying “that’s not a church”.


I’m not sure if mom was able to convince the woman that, yes, it’s our church. But daddy was right, it’s more than a church.


Like the school secretary, you probably didn’t know it was a church either. I’d be surprised if you did.

When asked what the Salvation Army does or is the most common responses are: a thrift store, soup kitchen/homeless shelter. Some say they help people or they do good things.


Those are true. But, as you’re about to discover in this overview – we’re more!


For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:35-36


Started in London, England in 1865 by a Methodist minister, William Booth wanted a church that would serve the least and the lost. He’d had enough of churches who required members to pay for their pews or congregations who made the poor sit in the back or worse, not welcomed them at all.

1930’s Open Air service

William Booth saw a need for the saving grace of Jesus in places other churches of that day ignored.  This was his calling.


Stories of the early days of ministry include street corner preaching by Booth and his followers They weren’t immune from having food hurled at them while he preached and others sang.


From the earliest days in the Salvation Army, women’s voices were heard preaching the good news of Jesus. The founder’s wife, Catherine, was in every way a partner to her husband. He considered her to be a better preacher than himself. After his death, she became the international leader.


It was also Booth who engineered the idea to put new words to the bar tunes. He knew the familiar melodies would draw their attention. He adapted their methods to reach the heart of people. He is credited with saying, “Why should the devil have all the good tunes.”


This was not a status quote group. They didn’t look like other churches as they donned uniforms for their fight against sin and they didn’t sound like a traditional choir as brass horns bellowed, bass drums beat and tambourines trilled to the songs.


This is just the beginning of the Army’s mission. We are 153 years old and it feels like we’re still just getting started.

This month I’m writing about the Salvation Army – the mission and who they are. In the meantime, here are a few links you may be interested in for more in-depth information:




faith Salvation Army

The last time you said something was a miracle you probably said it tongue in cheek. A package arrives from the Post Office unbroken and on time and you say, “It’s a Christmas miracle!”


Then there are the stories of the friend of a friend who was diagnosed with cancer but when they went in for tests before surgery there was no evidence of cancer at all. Someone calls it a miracle and you want to believe it.


Some people seem to see miracles all around. Then there are people like me, who are skeptical of the easy claims.


When Jesus performed miracles he left no doubt. Water that instantly became wine. A man dead for 4 days called out of the tomb alive. The lame immediately got up and walked. In a time with only word of mouth to tell these stories, word traveled quickly. Jesus was a man of miracles. Crowds loved it, religious leaders not so much.


Are miracles happening today? How do we identify them?


My interpretation of these amazing transformations has changed. I have not been witness to an immediate healing. Much as I’ve prayed, I haven’t seen a parent healed from diabetes or dementia. I’ve not seen loved ones who wanted to be parents be blessed with a pregnancy.


The miracles I see are so ordinary they go unnoticed to all but a few. They don’t fit the definition of the word but I am choosing to see grace and redemption as everyday miracles.

Worship and arts center at Camp Keystone, Florida

Last weekend was our annual retreat. We gathered with other ARC’s from around FL for a weekend of sports, music, Bible teaching, more food and far too little sleep.


Our group was led by a man who lost his chance to play college baseball when his addiction was greater than his talent. Today he’s over 3 years clean and sober and is a leader of others.


We handed the keys to one of the vans to another man who was lost in his addiction complicated by his shame over who he was. It was a difficult struggle as he found his identity in Christ as a gay man and now celebrates 4 years of sobriety. He’s the manager of one of our top producing Family Stores. He attends our weekly chapel services and another example of redemption and grace.


On the sidelines of a volleyball game, Jack enveloped me in his strong arms as he said: “thank you for everything“. He graduated earlier this year and left the next day to clear up legal problems from his past. He turned himself in on outstanding charges in another state and found himself serving 30 days in jail. Then he left to yet another state prepared to do the same thing. He had a letter from his counselor from our ARC. When the judge read the letter he dismissed the charges and told Jack to go back where these people are and keep doing what you’re doing. YES! That’s a miracle! These are MIRACLES! 


There is a lot the Salvation Army does that goes unnoticed. One of those areas of service is in the Adult Rehabilitation Centers. (ARC) That has been our specific area of ministry for the last 14 years. We are in the business of miracles.


Join me throughout the month of May as I’ll be writing about The Salvation Army: who they are, what they do and how it all started. Let me know if you have specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer.



faith grace recovery Salvation Army

“There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there.
Barbara Brown Taylor

I am slowly reading another Barbara Brown Taylor book. Slowly, because she has a tendency to over-explain her surroundings but mostly because her words require some deeper consideration.

Her ideas about the dark are the opposite of mine. Taylor confesses to not having the same spiritual ideas about darkness because she wasn’t raised in a family of faith. She wasn’t taught that darkness was akin to danger and even sin.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of her observations but I’m inclined to want to go where she is taking me: into a place where dark is also part of God’s creation.
When I was 10 I got to move to the bedroom above our garage. It was the only room on that level. I felt so grown up there by myself but I was also scared. The window was next to the branches of the tall tree that ran up the side of our house. At night, the Oklahoma winds would blow and the branches would scratch against the screen. The shadows looked larger than the twigs themselves. At night, in the dark, it was scary.
Darkness was a place to steer clear of. When we describe a movie as dark we mean it’s not a happy movie. We say it as a way of warning.
Crime ramps up under the cover of darkness. More accidents happen in the dark. Navigating your way through a darkened house often results in stubbed toes or worse.
One of the plagues of Egypt was a “darkness so thick you can feel it”. Exodus 10:21 NLT
I don’t know where this journey in Learning to Walk in the Dark will take me. But I’m eager to expand my thoughts on the concept. I don’t want to limit God to light nor do I want to limit myself.
As much as I prefer walking and driving in the light, I miss seeing an inky black sky that enables the stars to shine brightly. Perhaps this is where we start: by looking for the light that shines through the dark.
“here is the testimony of faith: darkness is not dark to God; 
the night is as bright as the day.” Barbara Brown Taylor





Photo by Eleonora Patricola on Unsplash

I was in my Rav4 at the stop sign at the end of our street. I waited for the car coming from my left to pass. As they got to the intersection, they turned.  Had I known they were turning I could have made my left turn. A turn signal would have been nice.

In Driver’s Education class they taught us about the right of way and the importance of signals. They even briefed us on hand signals should the electronic ones in our car not be operational.

Signals are nice. They are like an advance warning. When the tea kettle starts to hiss I know it’s the right time to take it off the burner and pour my cup of tea.

Turn signals are especially helpful. I try to be good about using mine but I’m not 100%.

In the flat terrain that is most of Florida, there are no reasons for road signs indicating blind curves. When we travel through the North Carolina mountains each August there are plenty of road signs alerting us to a winding road. Those signs remind us to slow down. To keep our eyes on the road. Don’t be distracted.

If only the signs for life were more obvious.

It seems as though God trusts us too much. I’d like a sign that doesn’t just show a curving road but one that details the specifics.

BLIND TURN AHEAD: Slow down as you round the unexpected illness. The road is a little bumpy but you’ll be fine.

Something like that would be as welcome as road construction finally coming to an end on I95. (I can dream can’t I?)

It seems construction on our roads down here will never end. People won’t be any better at using their turn signals and the most we’ll get in a road sign is a squiggly line.

The answer isn’t in expecting others to do something but in how I respond. (This is never my favorite answer.)

It seems in all of these traffic scenarios the key is to slow down. Pay attention to those around you. Communicate clearly (signals).

I think these will serve me well in all of life.

Five-Minute Friday