Long Time, No Blog

Oh, y’all.

It has been a sweet forever, hasn’t it?

I have been working like crazy to finish the book, and finding writing time can be a tricky proposition considering that I spend the bulk of my weekdays listening to teenage girls talk about The Bachelor and what they want their dorm rooms to look like and that time they, like, got, like, so embarrassed when they were, like, trying to, like, TALK TO THAT, LIKE, BOY, OHMYGOSH.”

Seriously. Someday I’m going to just transcribe a week’s worth of conversations from work (the ones that aren’t confidential, of course) and call it I Couldn’t Make This Up and then see if someone wants to publish it. Or maybe I’ll just make it a series of blog posts. Because have mercy those girls are entertaining.

Anyway, on top of work stuff, Alex has started lacrosse practice, and I don’t really even know what lacrosse is but I know they practice a lot. Thankfully we’re in a practice carpool a couple of nights a week, but to all of you people who have three or four kids playing sports and basically spend every afternoon running practice shuttle, I would just like to say KUDOS TO YOU. You are heroes among us.

And that is all a very ramble-y way trying to tell you that I finished the book last Tuesday night. Since then I have taken a lot of naps. I have cooked a few meals. I have started to catch up on TV. I have watched a movie. I am about to start reading a new book. And I have wondered what in the world has gotten into Mr. Carson and considered telling him that maybe he needs to cook some food himself as opposed to making passive-aggressive comments to Mrs. Hughes, BUT MAYBE THAT’S JUST ME.

I should get edits back in the next couple of days, which means I’ll be back in deadline mode again, but by next week life will be back to almost-normal. I loved writing the book so much and can’t wait to be able to talk to y’all about the specifics of it, but until it comes out I am going to be the happiest homebody you ever did see. I very deliberately kept my speaking schedule to a minimum this spring; I enjoy it, but I want to soak up time with my family and enjoy my last semester with my senior girls. Plus, I am ready to sit in a folding chair at some spring sporting events with a large Chick-fil-A lemonade in the cupholder, amen. No kidding: the writing stuff is fun, but there is nothing better than sitting at a soccer / baseball / softball / lacrosse (granted, it’s new to us, but I’m optimistic since we tend to like all the sports) game and yelling my fool head off for some young’uns – whether those young’uns belong to us or to friends. It is quite possibly my favorite thing in all of life.

Can y’all tell I’ve been looking forward to spring sports? No kidding – they’ve been my light at the end of the tunnel. Well, spring sports and sleep. Sleep has been a very big, very glorious light.

So needless to say, this past weekend was delightful. There was lots of good family time, and there was the Bruno Mars part of the halftime show, which seemed to trigger an 8th grade part of me that liked to learn dance routines. Because no kidding: I sort of want to learn this one. And maybe participate in some sort of dance-off. It was like MC Hammer meets Michael Jackson meets Paula Abdul in that video where she danced with MC Scat Kat – yet somehow it was still very much its own thing. Glorious, Mr. Mars.

Today I actually drove to my hometown and spoke to the girls in my niece’s senior class. I felt super old just knowing that Melissa is four months away from graduation, but I loved being with her and her friends. My sister-in-law Rose and Martha were there, too, and it was just a sweet time all the way around.

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

The trip was so quick that I didn’t even get to see my parents, but I did get to go to lunch with my cousin Paige, so it was still a big family day.

I like those days.

I feel like I have a thousand things I want to mention (new pants from Old Navy that I like, my friend Anne’s book, my newfound commitment to lip color, my new music faves, the hair dryer that has changed my life, etc.), but I probably need to ease back into the blogging before I start throwing lots of lists at you. However, I do want to be sure to share this song since it is all kinds of gorgeous (I mentioned it on Facebook last week, and I’m still listening to it like crazy) and really it’ll just help you relax before you go to sleep.

Happy Monday, y’all. It sure is good to see you again!

Exciting News About People Who Have Actually Finished Writing Their Books

    Hi. I’m still writing away here in Birmingham. I actually went to a hotel this past weekend so that I could hunker down and put on head phones and write with no distractions, so that was helpful and productive and good and etc. I still have a few more chapters to go, though, so I certainly won’t refuse your prayers. I can already tell that this book is going to be a little trickier editing-wise than the other two, but I am kind of looking forward to that since I am a nerd and all.

    And since I still have a little ways to go with Giddy Up, Eunice, I wanted to be sure to tell y’all about a few ALREADY FINISHED books (fancy!), mainly because I think they are special and will enrich your lives in wonderful ways.

    1. Bronner by Sherri Burgess

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    If you live in the southeast and listen to The Rick and Bubba Show, you probably remember when Rick and Sherri Burgess’ son Bronner drowned eight years ago. He was two at the time, and the way Rick and Sherri ministered to others in the midst of their grief was astounding, really – one of those things that could only be explained by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Sherri has spent the last seven years writing down what the Lord has taught her as she’s walked through what many people would call “worst nightmare” circumstances. The result of that writing is Sherri’s new book, Bronner, and y’all, it is stunning. If you’ve ever wrestled with grief and loss – or if you’ve struggled to understand how a good God allows suffering – I really do believe that this book will minister to you. Sherri is a deep thinker, and this is not a fast read. Honestly, I don’t know of a recent book more saturated with Scripture. Sherri is a woman who has clung to the Lord in the darkest of nights and found him so very faithful; this book will stay with you long after you finish reading the final page.

    2. Voyage to the Star Kingdom by Anne Riley, illustrated by Amy Grimes

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    My friend Anne and I taught in side-by-side classrooms for about five years. She’s a fiction writer, and I’m, well, NOT, but we talked about a whole lot of nerdy writing things during our years as teacher neighbors. Anne actually has a new young adult fiction book coming out in February, but in the meantime she and her cousin Amy have created the most beautiful children’s book to support a family that is loved by so many. This particular family has three beautiful girls, and about a year and a half ago, the youngest two girls were diagnosed with Batten Disease. Anne explains the girls’ prognosis in a blog post she wrote a couple of months ago, and when Anne heard that the girls aren’t expected to live past the age of 10, she prayed that God would give her a way to help this precious family.

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    That prayer resulted in Voyage to the Star Kingdom, and it. will. lay. you. out. Such an incredible picture of God’s loving, healing, providential care for His children. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story is actually a great way to talk to kids about Big Topics like illness and death and heaven. The book is a true labor of love. All profits from Voyage go to a trust fund for the family.

    3. I Once Was Blind (Dating), But Now I See: My Midsadventures in Dating, Waiting, and Stumbling into Love by Stephanie Rische

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    I will wholeheartedly admit that I am a little partial to Stephanie Rische, and that is because she was my editor on my first two books. It’s a vulnerable thing to put your words in someone else’s hands and say, “Okay. Make all of this better,” but Steph has always been a safe place. Both books are infinitely better thanks to her loving care, and I have to quit talking about that or I’ll start to cry. ANYWAY, I am so thrilled to tell you that Stephanie has just published her first book, and it is DELIGHTFUL. In the the most tender, funny, and honest ways, Stephanie chronicles her adventures as a single girl, and she does so in way that points to God at every step along the road. There’s a whole lot of substance here and loads of perspective about how God sometimes does His very best work when He doesn’t give us what we think we want. This is a story of expectation, disappointment, surrender, and contentment. I think you’ll love it.

    Happy Tuesday, everybody – hope y’all are doing great!

Don’t Give Up On Me

So the deal is that I’m about two weeks away from my deadline for book #3, and while I still have a ways to go, I AM IN THE HOME STRETCH. I am so much farther along than I was even two weeks ago, but I’m also still a little bit like Dory in Finding Nemo.

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Plus, I go back to work tomorrow after two weeks off, so there will definitely be some adjustment there in terms of carving out writing time. I’m hoping to make the most of staying home for about 14 nights in a row, and then I have every intention of getting back to a normal schedule again. I’ve been writing this book since the early part of the summer, and since reading time and TV time are the things that take the biggest hits when I’m in book mode, I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE TV AND THE BOOKS.

I’m still watching Downton tonight, though. And we watched Sherlock Friday night. Some things just can’t wait. And hopefully the blog pace will pick up as life gets back to normal; y’all have been mighty patient, and I am grateful.

Here are a few things in the interest of playing catch-up.

1) If you love Birmingham like I love Birmingham, you for sure need a Picture Birmingham 2016 calendar. They’re only $10 right now. All of the gorgeous photos were taken by the talented Rachel Callahan, and all profits from calendar sales benefit The WellHouse, a local organization that rescues and rehabilitates women out of sex trafficking – all in Jesus’ name.

2) CeCe Winans singing “Blessed Assurance” is rivaling the JT / Chris Stapleton video in terms of how many times I’ve played it.

I am also a little bit in love with CeCe’s dress and shoes.

3) My sister gave my office a 90-minute makeover when she was here Christmas, and it pretty much changed my life. You can’t see the desk and whatnot from this picture, but you can see why she made such an impact on the sofa side of the room.

When Sister was here last week I said, "Hey. I still haven't hung anything on my office walls. IT'S BEEN A YEAR. Can you help?" So we walked back to my office, gathered up prints and paintings that I love a lot, and Sister put together a grouping of some of my favorites over the sofa. She hung a mirror from Martha on another wall and added a big print from the house where we grew up to the top of my storage thingie. Then I remembered some fabric that I bought last year, and y'all, my sister made curtains using straight pins and Scotch tape. No lie. They changed the whole room, and she just pinned and taped until she was satisfied that no rough edges were showing. The whole process cost zero dollars, took 90 minutes, and totally transformed the room. Thanks, Sister! I'm never leaving, which I guess is good since I have a book to finish. So bye. 😊

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

4) What do you even say about this except STOP IT, AMERICA? :-)

Hot dog-flavored Pringles. Available exclusively at Walgreens. THIS IS A REAL THING.

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

5) If you like to listen to instrumental music when you write / read / study / journal, you should definitely check out The Reveille, Vol. 2 by Austin Stone Worship. It has been my go-to the last week or so – recommended by a friend on Twitter – and it’s GORGEOUS.

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6) Did y’all see or read anything good over the holidays? I’m making a list for after this book is finished, with watching Making a Murderer and reading The Short Drop at the top of my lists – plus catching up on Serial episodes.

7) Stay tuned for a podcast – hopefully very soon!

I hope y’all had the merriest Christmas and the happiest new year!

Love,
Me

Joy Of Every Longing Heart

Yesterday we drove to Mississippi to celebrate an early Christmas with the Hudson side of the family, and we had more fun! Just so much fun! You just can’t believe how much fun!

That was Martha-speak, for those of you who are unfamiliar with my mother-in-law’s preference for saying things in threes.

We made Martha promise that she wouldn’t cook a meal for us while we were there – there’s just no good reason for her to wear herself out trying to pull together a meal for seven people – so we drove straight to her house, picked her up, and after a lengthy debate about whether Outback (“the Outbacks”) or O’Charley’s would be better, we ended up at O’Charley’s because Outback was closed. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to eat at a restaurant that is in fact open for lunch, and if you can’t have Outback’s cheese fries, then O’Charley’s yeast rolls and honey butter are a pretty good alternative.

(Insert tiny sad trombone because NO ROLLS FOR ME.)

(I don’t know if anything makes you question your gluten-free commitment quite like a piping hot yeast roll.)

We’d been at the restaurant about fifteen minutes when we ordered our food. I was getting some sort of Large Salad Product, and when the waitress asked me what dressing I’d like, I said, “I think I’d like Ranch.” And then she looked at me like she had THE WORST news and said, “I’m really sorry, but we haven’t had any Ranch dressing in, like, three days.”

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

Honestly, I wanted to run over to the Walmart and buy some for her.

Then she said, “And I think we might have Lite Ranch, but it’s probably nasty.”

WELL, SIGN ME UP!

I opted for blue cheese despite the fact that the Lite Ranch sounded oh-so-tempting, and even though it took about four hours for us to get our food (slight exaggeration) (it really only took two hours) (oh, I kid, it actually took about 45 minutes) (and our server really was as sweet as she could be), we had a good time visiting and catching up and etc. Martha ordered the chicken tenders platter, and when our server put Martha’s food in front of her, David, his brother, Scott, and I all said, “OH MY WORD THE PORTIONS!” And then Martha said, “I’m not the one who said it! I didn’t say it! Did everybody notice that I didn’t say it?”

She was totally thinking it, though. You could tell by how big her eyes got when she saw all of that food.

It was just so much food!

After lunch we went back to Martha’s house, where I took some really subpar pictures of her Christmas decorations.

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Seriously. It all looked so pretty, and I love Martha’s Christmas china, which is a gorgeous discontinued pattern. It’s a shame that I really stunk it up on the photography.

I did manage to get a picture of these three people, though.

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And I would just like to point out that it was pretty much last year when the young’uns looked like this.

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Sometimes I feel like time is mean.

One of the gifts we gave Martha this year was a faux-suede and shearling sweater coat, and I think it may have been my favorite in terms of Martha’s reaction and her pure delight at how cute it was when she put it on. I always enjoy when Martha chronicles what she can wear with whatever we give her, and this year she immediately launched into what pants would look cute with the jacket.

“I can wear my dark gray pants! Or my light gray pants! Or my even lighter gray pants! Or my navy or my brown or my black! Because you know I have plenty of black pants! And my jeans! You know I have some jeans! Wouldn’t this be perfectly darlin’ with my jeans?!”

We all made sure to affirm all of Martha’s pants / jeans options. It seemed like the right thing to do.

So. We had the best time in Mississippi, and now we’re back here in Birmingham. Which reminds me. Earlier today Alex and I went to the grocery story to get, oh, 492 things, and while we were unloading our cart at the check-out, someone sneezed so loudly – it was more of a holler-sneeze, really – that the entire store got completely quiet for about five seconds. In the middle of the stone cold quiet one of the managers walked by me and whispered, “What WAS that?”

And about the the time that I said, “I think it was a sneeze,” somebody at the front of the store said, “Well, Helen! Bless you! MY GOODNESS, HELEN!” I don’t know if Helen got in some pepper or if she just got caught unawares by the sneeze of a lifetime, but I can tell you for sure that when Alex realized that the loud KA-BOOM-ish noise he’d heard was a sneeze, he laughed for about the next 20 minutes. So did the guy bagging our groceries. So did our cashier. It was like none of us could recover from the shock of it all, so we just giggled uncontrollably.

I don’t even know why I told you that. But I’m pretty sure that “Helen! Bless you!” will be a favorite catchphrase from here on out.

I’m also pretty sure Alex is going to re-tell that whole sneeze experience one or fourteen times this week. We’ll have family with us until the weekend, and after that I am going into hibernation for the next two weeks while I hopefully wrap up book #3.

I wouldn’t turn down prayers for that last thing, by the way.

I hope y’all have a wonderful Christmas with the people you love most. And if you’re dealing with something difficult this Christmas – and I would imagine that many of us are – then I really do pray that you feel the Lord’s peace and comfort so near to you throughout the holidays. I mentioned this on the podcast, but this year I’ve sung “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” and thought about the expectancy surrounding Jesus’ birth – and I’ve also felt such a deep longing for His return as our triumphant Savior King.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

“But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” – Malachi 4:2

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 56

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Well, welcome to our Christmas hodgepodge.

In this episode Melanie and I talk about Christmas preparations, Christmas menus, the A&M quarterback situation, my favorite way to cook steaks, Mel’s upcoming trip to the AT&T store, a couple of apps that I’m enjoying, writing software, and our favorite Christmas songs.

We also talk briefly about the rumor that Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry are ALLEGEDLY dating in real life.

This could change everything, y’all.

I’m not doing any links this time because we don’t really talk about any products or websites or anything like that. Remember, the word for the day was “hodgepodge;” this episode really is a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing. However, it’s over an hour of nothing, so hopefully that counts for something.

See what I did there?

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here on the blog.




Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

And many thanks to Travis for being such a great sport. His “In the First Light” is my FAVORITE Christmas song this year.

Hope y’all enjoy this episode – and Merry Christmas, everybody!

You’re The Meaning Of My Life, You’re The Inspiration

For the longest time I didn’t consider myself a creative person. In fact, as recently as five years ago I would have told you that I wasn’t creative even a little bit. In retrospect I think what I really meant was that I’m not a crafty person. And believe me: I’m REALLY NOT a crafty person. In fact, I can’t think of a quicker way to send myself into a mental / emotional / lo, even spiritual spiral than standing in a room with about eight other people and then hearing someone say, “Okay, everyone – tonight we’re going to have a three-hour group crafting session, so to get started, go ahead and grab the big bucket and pick out the 25 buttons that you like the most!”

Tell you what: let’s don’t and say we did.

Or, come to think of it: let’s just don’t. Period. The end.

Now, though, I think that everybody is creative. It may show up in different ways and in different areas of our lives, but we all create something (plus, you know, we’re made in the image of our Creator, so there’s that). And over the last few years, I’ve paid more attention to what inspires my creative side. In the past I don’t know that I’ve even been terribly aware of feeling inspired – I might have just told you that I really liked this or that or the other thing – but around the time that I started working on my first book, I realized that certain music, certain performances, even certain colors made me want to do better and work harder as a writer.

I know. I can’t even believe I wrote that last sentence. The apathetic 23 year-old that I used to be is absolutely mortified and wants you to know that she still doesn’t care about anything other than The Real World and Popeye’s Fried Chicken.

So. Because I’ve been thinking about all of this inspiration stuff (and also leadership, but that’s another topic for another time) way too much lately, here’s a not-at-all exhaustive list of some things that really inspired me in 2015. They’re in no particular order. And I probably mentioned some of these things as they happened, but maybe putting all of them in one convenient spot will transform this very boring blog post into a go-to inspirational resource. Or maybe not. But at least I’ll have all these things in one place and won’t have to click around the interwebs nearly as much.

1) A January sunset

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January was something else, y’all. Mama went in the hospital the day before Home is Where My People Are unexpectedly released two weeks early, and the combination of those two things – plus a big pile of new book vulnerability – left me feeling like a basket case only not really that stable. It was the weirdest thing, trying to manage that early book release while camping out in Mama’s hospital room for four days and nights, and by the time I got back to Birmingham, I was as exhausted as I’ve ever been. This sunset was a reset button for me, the thing that reminded me to keep on keepin’ on because it was all gonna be okay. That being said, if you ever offer me a million dollars to re-live all the emotions of January 2015, you can rest assured that NO. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

2) Wes Hampton – “Because He Lives”

Our friend Wes is crazy talented. I rarely get to see or hear him perform, though, because I mostly just see him being a husband to Andrea and a daddy to his awesome boys. So when I saw this video right after Easter, it LAID ME OUT. Encouraged me like crazy. Reminded me how powerful it is when our gifts are an offering.

Because He Lives Easter Special from Church of the Highlands on Vimeo.

3) Jen Hatmaker at Trinity UMC

I don’t have a video or a link. I just know that Jen spoke here in Birmingham back in April, and she talked about how, when we were growing up, most churches either knowingly or unknowingly depended on a model of “Believe / Belong / Behave.” Then she asserted that in our current culture, a more effective model might be “Belong / Believe / Become.” Her words struck me like a lightning bolt. Since I work with teenagers, I spend almost every single day trying to connect with kids, and Jen’s words reminded me to meet them where they are and love them right there.

4) Garth Brooks at the BJCC

I wrote all about the Garth Brooks concert right here. HE WAS THE ABSOLUTE BEST.

5) My favorite Pen & Paint print

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This print hangs in my office, and it has been with me every step of the way with this latest round of writing. The colors, the lettering, the words – every single bit of it speaks to me. One of my all-time favorite things.

6) SEC Storied: Shaq & Dale

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I just happened to see this documentary one night when I was flipping around on the remote, and MY GOODNESS. What great lessons about loyalty, influence, and the power of relationships. I was relationally weary when I watched this – last spring was a doozy, y’all – so I cried a lot as I watched. But I’ll tell you what: it put some spring back in my relational step, and it reminded me how important it is to love our people well.

7) One Wild Life: Soul – Gungor

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Without a doubt this is my favorite studio album of 2015. In some really weird ways the themes of this album cross over with what I hope the big ideas of the new book will be (imagine that! actual themes!), so this music totally spurred me on with writing. Perfect words at the perfect time.

8) Live from the Woods at Fontanel – NEEDTOBREATHE

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This is my favorite live album ever. EVER. IN MY WHOLE LIFE. I have listened to it so much that Alex hears the opening lines of “Wanted Man” and says, “Really, Mama? AGAIN?” And I say, “Yes. Again. And again and again and again.” It is SENSATIONAL, and it makes me so grateful for the gift of music. This album is such a happy place for me.

9) Chef’s Table – Netflix

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Somewhere on social media I read a recommendation for this series, and since it was summertime and I needed a break from writing and I’m forever fascinated by the kind of creativity that’s specific to chefs, I decided to watch. I was hooked within five minutes of the first episode. IT. IS. FASCINATING. It’s also absolutely gorgeous. I’ve since seen all six episodes, and while I identified with some chefs more than others (and as you’d probably imagine, there’s a pretty wide range of world views represented), I so appreciated the commitment that the chefs have to the work they were clearly made to do. The music is also full-on dreamy.

10) Justin Timberlake & Chris Stapleton at the CMAs


I know that I linked to this performance a few weeks ago, but y’all, I bet I have watched it 100 times. You can read my initial reaction on Instagram, and my down-the-road reaction is that mainstream entertainment hasn’t given us anything better this year than this unexpected duo. My favorite part is at the very end – because not one person on that stage is hogging the spotlight or seeking any glory for themselves. Everybody on that stage is looking at someone else, applauding someone else, pointing at someone else, encouraging at someone else. I’m more convinced than ever that this is the very best way to live.

11) Flash – Rachel Anne Ridge

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The stories in this book are sweet, they’re tender, they’re funny, and they’re thoughtful. When I started the book that I expected to relate to Rachel’s efforts to take care of Flash, but sure enough, I related to the donkey. Flash and I have way more in common than I expected. I loved all the practical takeaways, too, and there are certain phrases that I’ve thought about again and again.

Merry Christmas, y’all!