I just want to talk a little about Sophie Hudson's latest book today. In case you haven't heard or aren't familiar with her, this is her second book. It's called, "Home Is Where My People Are." Her first book is titled, "A Little Salty to Cut The Sweet," and it's a great book, too.
But this second book is all about family. And friends.
But mostly about family.
It's about traditions and connections and friendships and faith.
It's a lot about faith.
I've bought 9 copies of this book already and given 8 of them away. Updated to add: I kid you not...this just happened: my little sister just texted me to let me know that her Amazon order just came in. I was thinking, "what did she order and why should I care?" And THEN she sent me a picture of Sophie's book. :) So I told her about Sophie's first book, and she hasn't read that and now she is so excited!
Listen, I highly recommend this book. I was drawn into it, and could not put it down. Sophie's family...her hometown, her friends, her community...was everything I ever wanted growing up, but never had.
I've written before about how I was raised an Air Force Brat. We moved all the time and never lived near any family. I never got to grow up in a town where I was familiar with streets or neighbors. I never stayed with my grandparents. I never got to go to the same church for my whole life. I never had the life-long friends that Sophie talks about in her book...but I always wanted to.
All of the stuff that she talks about...I never had any of that...but it's like I always knew I wanted it.
How is that even possible...to want a life that you don't even know about?
But I did.
I wanted the stability Sophie wrote about in this book...because my life was never stable.
I had a great life, don't get me wrong. I had two parents who loved me and my siblings, and they loved each other. We never had the fear that they would get a divorce. I never personally ever even heard them fight or argue. They were Christians, who raised us the best way they knew how...and taught us the importance of not only living by faith, but walking in it as well. They showed us that a relationship with Jesus was way more important than church membership or religion.
But it was hard for me to feel connected at school, any school, or at church. Or anywhere else for that matter...because I was ALWAYS the new kid, and, because of that, my stomach stayed tied up in knots.
My Mom made such an effort to make each place we lived feel like home. We had our same "things," you know...pictures, lamps, the couch...she just arranged them differently in each home. But, even with that, everything was always...different.
It was hard to have those really deep friendships that Sophie talks about in this book, because before you knew it...we'd be gone. Or our friends would be. As we got older, letting friends into those deep places that require trust, making memories that last forever...there just wasn't time for that. It took so much effort to open up...and then we were gone. This military life...not a lot of permanence.
I think that is why I tried so hard to create a sense of family and tradition and community for my own children. We lived in the same place for 15 years, raising our children in their early, formative years in the same small town. They were able to go to the same schools as the sibling before them, one right after the other. We went to the same church. We were finally able to develop deep and meaningful friendships, and we raised our children with friends who shared similar values. I never wanted to leave that place.
But, Jim was transferred, and we had to move just before Holly started college...and Logan started 10th grade. And 5 years later, Jim was transferred again, and we moved before Clark started 10th grade. I think they would say that both moves were hard...but good.
Hard, because I lost the network and the connections and the atmosphere of "home" that I had worked so hard to create. I lost the sense of comfort and community. I lost the "village" that I counted on to pick up my children when I couldn't; who sent their husbands to jump-off my car when it stalled in the middle of the street...on a school morning...when Jim was out-of-town; who cooked meals for us after we had babies...who prayed for us in the hard times...who cheered with us in the good times...who held us up and walked with us through the valleys of uncertainty after Clark was born...and who loved and accepted Joshua, and supported us as we raised him.
And, good, because the things that God taught Sophie...He taught me as well, just in a different way. I learned that, altho family and friends are wonderful and necessary, my first loyalty is to Jesus...and I should seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). Because I was always the "new kid," I learned to seek out the new kids...at school, church, work, etc. I tend to gravitate toward the ones who look like they feel a little left-out (Hebrews 13:2). I learned that when things around me are chaotic and uncertain, "He is my constant source of stability." (Isaiah 33:6) I learned that even if everything around me changes, God never will (James 1:17).
And I learned that wherever I go, God goes before me, preparing the way...and He goes with me, so that I am never alone.
"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down the gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:2-3