Author: <span class="vcard">Debby Hudson</span>

photo by dhudson_creative on Unsplash

On one of our cross-country road trips, we ended up on a red dirt road in nowhere Arizona without a sign in sight. Why would there be a road sign when what we were driving on barely qualified as a road?

Our children were young. It was long before GPS or cell-phones. As we drove slowly on this very rocky road, hoping to see some sign of civilization my mind was going through possibilities. Since our trip was taking us from South Florida to Washington State we’d taken a large cooler to economize on snacks and stops. The thing that kept me from panic mode was the thought that if we had to spend the night in our minivan in this deserted place we would have water. If we had water, we’d be okay.
Most of us have been on this kind of road in a figurative sense. Life brings unexpected detours. The signposts seem to have disappeared. It’s a dry and lonely place.  On the outside, things appear normal. We keep showing up and going through the motions while inside we’re blinking back tears and looking for a flicker of hope. This isn’t where we want to be. We’re screaming for a way out and out now!
He prepares a table for me in the midst of the wilderness.
I’d written these words down without a reference. I thought it was a Message paraphrase from the Psalms but all my searching with BibleGateway and Google yielded nothing from the Bible. It could easily be a reference to God’s provision to the Israelites when they were in the desert. Faced with a long, hard journey, with nothing but the unknown, God met their needs. He met them in the wilderness with food, a table right there in the midst of the wilderness.
Nothing feels as if it’s enough when you’re hurting. You ask for prayers and do your best to believe in its power but how long, o Lord, how long must I plead with you? Don’t you hear me? Are you listening? We know the aches of the heart. We know the soft places where hard words have struck.
In the midst of this wilderness, He prepares a table. A table of friends….a table of grace. It’s not the answer we want but somewhere we have to trust He is giving us what we need today. Tomorrow he will provide for us again. And the next day and the next. It often won’t feel like enough but don’t give up hope. Gather up your friends, keep moving forward and know that God cares.
On that Arizona road, the only way out was to keep driving. We’d gone too far to turn back. We had to keep going forward so we continued on this rocky road with hope it would lead us out of the wilderness and back to life. We made it because we weren’t alone. Even in silence, our hope was greater when shared together.

faith hope

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
C.S. Lewis
photo by debbyHudson, creative
Behind my loud laugh and strong demeanor, there is a quiet voice inside of me. It has been there since I was a child and it whispers these words:
     “You’re not quite enough.”
It manifested itself in contradictory ways. I wasn’t afraid to run for class office in 6th grade but instead, I ran for secretary because class president sounded too big.
I gladly accepted the task of drawing large posters for a regional youth retreat but had trouble accepting compliments because the drawings weren’t my original ideas.
As an adult, it shows up in my internal dialogue that sounds like this:
     You take good photographs but you’re not as good as _____ or ________. 
     You’re not a writer/artist because you write/paint/draw. You’re only a writer/artist if you’re recognized as one. And the opinions of friends and family don’t count.
I’ve always been able to point to others who do something better as if life is a competition.
Humility was taught as thinking less of yourself not of yourself less as C.S. Lewis said. In our family, praise was earned and doled out carefully.
It’s not all bad, right? Doesn’t the bible tell us to put others first? Isn’t sacrifice and being a servant the Christian way? And women…..we’ve gotten an extra dose of that message, right?
There is something inside of me that wants to be let out. I want to find a way to release myself from the chains that keep me from becoming more. I am fearful of failing and equally fearful of success. What if I discover my best is mediocre? What if I excel and pride takes over?
Those are the wrong questions.
Instead, we should ask. ‘What if I never try’? Who decides what’s enough? Who determines my value?’
I’m working to get past the approval I think is needed to affirm my ability. It’s not easy. I still hear that voice telling me I don’t measure up. But that’s not the voice of the One who made me.
God decided we are enough when he called us His children. Jesus tells us He cares more about us than the nature he created. God didn’t give us gifts to be measured but to be used to honor him.
So write your poems and songs. Cook a fabulous meal for friends and family. Or burn the french toast but determine to try again. Delete 15 of the 16 photos you took because you’re developing your eye for composition. Discover you aren’t the lead singer but bust out in song on karaoke night.
Dance as if your only audience is God because he’s the only audience who matters.



faith grace

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

For the last 25 years where we live hasn’t been our decision. Our denomination transfers its clergy. They decide when and where. The moving usually takes place in June but which June? This year or next? How long we stay is never a guarantee, never known.

We gave this over to faith that even though the decisions of man are imperfect, God will use it for His good.

We are in our last appointment. Our next move is into retirement. The location has been decided by us, our retirement home purchased and occupied by renters.

I am living in the in-between stages of what is and what is to come. We’re looking at boxes of stuff we’ve moved too many times. We’re remembering people and places, happy and sad. I am trying to choose wisely where I will live mentally and emotionally from now until then.

One place I’ve chosen not to live is in regret. I have plenty. If asked if I’d change anything in my life I’d say yes. There are decisions I’ve made I would readily change if I could. I could use a few “do-overs”. What I can do is decide not to allow space for regret in my life.

Regret is a thief. It steals joy and peace. It hangs heavy like steel gray clouds rumbling full of thunder. When I see storm warnings, I can shift my thoughts to the assurances of God’s grace and forgiveness. I choose to walk in hope.

Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! Psalm 131:3


Writing on the word prompt: regret with Five-Minute Friday.


faith Five-Minute Friday hope Salvation Army

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

“If being ordained meant being set apart from them, then I did not want to be ordained anymore. I wanted to be human. I wanted to spit food and let snot run down my chin. I wanted to confess being as lost and found as anyone else without caring that my underwear showed through my wet clothes.”  

Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith


There are things most church folks keep hidden. We pretend our marriages are healthy, our children are making the right choices and that we have quiet time with God every day. We pretend to be part of the right political party for our denomination, to read the right books and know the right bands.


Growing up in the church I have pretended a lot. When my husband and I became ordained and entered full-time ministry I kept pretending. I didn’t talk with church members about the books I read, movies we went to or music I liked. When one talked about their favorite praise and worship band, I didn’t reveal that I don’t like the sameness of Christian music.


There’s nothing wrong the fiction books I read or the movies we see and music I listen to. But I was sure some members of our congregation wouldn’t approve so I kept the charade of piety.


My family is loud with stories and opinions but quiet about things that matter.


When my parents’ marriage was falling apart no one told us. At Christmas break they moved us to a new town, leaving the only life we’d known, not telling us why or what was next. They were experts at hiding what we needed most.


When you’re loud and talkative and laugh a lot, people can be easily fooled into thinking you’re an open book. Loudness is the best thing to hide behind.

The words of Barbara Brown Taylor stopped me cold. I read them again and then one more time. Although she was writing about leaving her calling as an Episcopal priest, I know those words because I live them too.


Even when you show parts of yourself, people think the title, pastor, minister, reverend, etc. takes away marital strife, depression, anxiety, or problems of any kind. Conversely, they think you are a biblical encyclopedia and have deep unwavering faith.


We decide a lot about a person based on their title or outward personality. Dr. gives an elevated status of education. Clerk marks them as ordinary. An introvert can seem awkward but behind the titles and outward signs are stories left untold.


Age is bringing an unwrapping for me. An acknowledgment of who I am without apologies. I don’t need to defend my reading choices or taste in music. Like Taylor, “I want to be human”. I want to be seen as the flawed, searching woman I am, clinging to God’s grace every day.


Perhaps more than an unwrapping it’s bringing an understanding and acceptance. I am Gods beloved. Every piece I think I’ve hidden is known to him and still, his love chases after me all the days of my life.



faith grace

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I’m not sure when this happened.

One minute the image in the mirror staring back at me bore all the marks of youth. Makeup was minimum and moisturizer wasn’t yet needed for a complexion that leaned toward oily for years.

We tanned without the fear of sun damage. SPF was just an odd jumble of letters.

Today I put a lotion on the mysterious red splotches that randomly appear on my face. The dermatologist gave them a name but all I wanted was the remedy.

That’s followed by moisturizer because in the most unexpected turn of events my skin is dry. And there are lines! On my face! And some unattractive, weird squiggles on the inside of my upper arms.

My hair is blonder than it’s ever been but that’s only because the new strands are white. I’m not sure why this surprises me but it does. I’m old. And doing my best not to look it.

Okay. I’m not really doing my best. I don’t exercise like I should and my diet could use a few changes. The reality is I’m trying to camouflage my age. Isn’t that what we do? Hide what’s real for the version we want others to see.

The beauty regimen I’m leaning toward today is one of wholeness and acceptance. Accepting the lines and squiggles as marks of a life well lived. Living in wholeness as I allow God to continue to reshape who I am.

This is a more challenging beauty routine than finding the perfect shade of lipstick. This one requires honesty, not hiding behind a shade called ripe raspberry.

I’m not laying down my mascara wand. I’m not going to stop using the color that looks oh so natural on my head. But I am not going to allow numbers to determine my beauty.

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.            Proverbs 31:31 the Message

Five-Minute Friday

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash
I put a baggie of dirt on the table in front of us as I tell them we’re going to put dirt on one of the pages in the bible. “Is anyone uncomfortable with this? I won’t require you to do something you’re not comfortable with.” One asks the reason and nods his assent.
I’m sitting with a small group of men who are part of a larger community of men in residential recovery. We are beginning a Lenten journey together. I’ve collected softcover bibles for them to use in our 6-week pilgrimage. We read aloud the scripture passages for the week. They share openly their reflections on the words. One asks if it’s okay to question God. Another asks if this portion was chosen with him in mind.
We talk about ashes being symbolic with grief. A few of them remember ashes being placed on their forehead by Priests. We talk about people in the Old Testament covering themselves with ashes in their time of mourning. The dirt is symbolizing ashes.
One man says the pages are made of trees and trees grow in dirt. He makes this connection easily. Another notices how the dirt isn’t sticking to the pages but is still covering his hands.
These aren’t any of the things I was going to bring up. They are far ahead of me in deeper understanding and seeing analogies literally in the palm of their hand.
We wander off topic a little but is anything off topic when you’re talking about the grace of God?
Pete confesses how confusing Catechism was for him and how can he know God’s will? I said I can tell you God’s will for you. It was bold, I know. But it was such a revelation for me at one time. His blue eyes focused on mine as he said, “You can?”
I recited Micah 6:8 and said God’s will for all of us is to live this way. With integrity, loving him above all else and loving others.
Is it that simple?” Pete asked? Yes, only the words are easier than living it out.
We have spent an hour discovering beauty under the dirt. One has noticed they all opened their Bibles to different places. A few felt the pages they opened to were just for them. One pronounces Psalms with a P but he had no hesitation to read God’s word.
We have felt the dirt and like ashes, they smudge our hands with the darkness of the earth. Then we rejoice in God’s cleansing grace.



I was on my own when navigating what being a teenager in the 70s looked like. Well, not exactly on my own. I had Seventeen magazine to guide me. It was my primer for hairstyles, makeup, and teenage fashion. I didn’t have an older sister to teach me how to fix my hair or apply mascara.

The ‘70s was the generation of cool. Cool was defined in television shows like the Monkees and The Partridge Family, and in the pages of the few teen magazines available. In those early days of adolescence, being a cool teenage girl meant wearing skirts a few inches above the knee, bell bottom jeans, and platform shoes. Cool was anything denim. It was the natural look with long hair, brown shades of eyeshadow, and a few sweeps of mascara.

What we didn’t want was to look like our parents. Moms wore knee-length dresses, low heeled pumps, and a scant amount of makeup. Not cool.

My mama’s style was never going to be mine. She chose comfort over fashion where I tried to combine the two—and still do. She had baby fine hair that barely sustained her weekly set from the beauty salon. My hair was thick and coarse and defied her ability to control it. Noxzema kept her skin clear and smooth but did nothing to help my oily complexion. I never saw Mama wear earrings or makeup; everything about her look was minimal. We were alike in spirit but nothing was the same about our preferences in fashion and beauty.

Change brought new styles of fashion and beauty, and the magazines were there to continue guiding my way. When I outgrew Seventeen magazine, Glamour took over with its hair and makeup tips and my favorite “Do’s & Don’ts” column. We had Farrah Fawcett bangs and “feathers” in the ‘70s; Dorothy Hamill’s bob in the ‘80s; and Jennifer Anniston’s haircut from “Friends” in the ‘90s.

I modeled my outward appearance on these go-to guides from my teen years through the early years of motherhood. My jeans were always the right wash, and my skirts were the right length.

What I couldn’t find was the confidence in which to wear me. I could wear the right clothes; my hair could be a fashionable cut. And sometimes that was enough to be the armor needed to cover my insecurities and fears.

Even today, I measure my insufficiencies rather than honoring who God made me. The sag at my jawline bothers me, and perhaps I wouldn’t be opposed to a little “tucking” if I had the resources.

Today’s cover models fool me with their natural looks. I’ve been tricked into patterning myself after them only to discover the moisturizer the ads tout aren’t miracle creams.

I’ve found a better pattern from which to cut my own cloth.

To continue reading, please hop over to The Perennial Gen. Thank you!



family grace

We know why.

We live in a broken world, a fallen world.

Our gun laws are too lenient, not enforced enough.

Mental health care is lacking.

Money going to gun lobbyist and not mental health care.

We put individual rights over rights of our children.

Tell me anything you want as to the why but what remains is once AGAIN we are mourning the loss of children.

This time it is playing out in our backyard, in a community considered the safest in our county, in an A-rated school. Collectively, all of these schools are in our community, our country.

I watched the local coverage of breaking news with a numbness of disbelief. The tears came a day later and now my anger is at the surface. Does the why even matter anymore when it takes more than two hands to count the numbers of our children being shot down in their schools?

It’s the what that we argue and fight about. It’s in doing something more than ‘thoughts and prayers’ that will make a difference but we’d rather have a debate. We’d rather wave our amendment while our children are waiving their lives.

Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I don’t understand our fascination with guns. What I really don’t understand is that, again, we seem to be choosing guns over children and teachers, over sons and daughters and fathers and coaches and friends.

Alyssa Alhadeff

Martin Anguiano

Scott Beige

Nicholas Dworet

Aaron Feis

Jamie Guttenberg

Chris Hixon

Luke Hoyer

Cara Loughran

Gina Montalto

Joaquin Oliver

Alaina Petty

Meadow Pollack

Helena Ramsay

Alex Schachter

Carmen Schentrup

Peter Wang

We know the why. What are we willing to change? What are we going to do?

family Five-Minute Friday hope

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I have two vivid images of Granny’s bible. The first is of her sitting in the worn upholstered swivel rocker on the bare wood floors in her small living room. I could see her from the only bedroom in the duplex that had once been a large old home. I could see Granny sitting with the bible on the arm of the chair as she read from that bible morning after morning.

The second picture of that bible that is secured in my mind is of it sitting on the right of her bedroom vanity. It usually set atop her Sunday School book and other reading material from church. Once I put my brush on top of the Bible only to be quickly corrected that nothing was ever to be placed on top of a Bible. This was not a scared book but THE sacred book, God’s own word breathed on the pages.
This week I’m going to lead a small group in making a mess of the Bible. We are going to put dirt on one of the pages and draw on others. Granny would not approve.
This doesn’t come easy for me. I’ve made sure to secure old bibles that have been discarded and some with print so small none of us could read. It’s not making it much easier.
We are going to risk leaving the comfortable for something that is a bit of a calculated mess. It will be part of our journey through Lent.
Already I can see the parallels between this small act and the great one Jesus lived. Our making a mess of things and He creating beauty from our dust.
We feel safe in our traditions and rules. Faith doesn’t grow in safety. 
In our Lenten journey this year, we’ll read selected scripture, contemplate their meaning to us personally and share in group discussion. We’ll measure how we feel about marking up a book we’ve been taught to hold as holy.
We’ll open our minds when prompted to “Make a map of the Bible as if it were Neverland”. We’ll be vulnerable with one another as we struggle to say our dreams and our fears.
Word Made Art: Lent looks cooperative in its slim soft cover with the bold print. It’s less than 75 pages and doesn’t convey the threat that lies within. The threat of breaking out of our dusty traditions and finding where the real Holy is.
That is what this journey is about: finding the Holy that comes from Jesus to live in us.
Today we tarnish his words with our sin. But even as we make a mess of our lives He comes with grace to cover us and make us new.
As we make a mess of these old books, may we remember they are only vessels. They are pulp and ink. These books carry the message but they themselves are not the message.
There is a fresh touch awaiting us. There is beauty to be found in the mess.




an indoor bathroom

not one but two

hot water at the turn of the tap



grocery shelves lined with 6 kinds of bread

3 kinds of pears

5 kinds of apples

bagged to fill our pantry

our bellies



to choose







Privilege to fail

to disagree

to vote

to win and to lose


Privilege to forgive and be forgiven

Privilege to be loved unconditionally

by a Savior who gave up his


on a cross

for us

All of us

Privileged to be part of his Kingdom.


faith Five-Minute Friday