The Merge Lane

We have been in our new home and city a couple of weeks. There are many differences between northern Florida and South Florida. Some things I miss like more palm trees than pine and the familiarity of place.

What I don’t miss from South Florida is the traffic. It gets more and more crowded which makes commuters tense. We haven’t experienced that here too much but what we have noticed is the merge lanes are very short. You have to decide quickly to get in there. Hesitation can result in a backup or worse.

In some ways, retirement is like the short merge lane. One day you have the keys no one else has, the title and power and literally, the next day, you don’t. We have both been okay with that. It has felt freeing to us.

Yet, there is some hesitation as to which lane we will merge. For now, there are many projects to keep us busy. The yard was more weeds than grass and Henry is already in competition to have ours as lush as the neighbor across the street.

I’m still cleaning out things that just don’t seem to work in this house.

my favorite chair in a quiet corner

One area I’ve decided needs to merge is my blog. As we’ve transitioned out of full time ministry the focus isn’t on recovery though there will always be lessons to share from that community.

For a couple of years I’ve been wondering how to merge what feels like my two lives: ministry / maker. I created a Facebook page where I’ve shared my artistic endeavors but it felt like a split personality.

I will be merging Living In Graceland to a new blog that will encompass all of who I am. It will have sections where I’ll share the creative side as well as the personal parts of life that connect us.

To unify things by name it will simply be called Debby Hudson Creative. I have dreams for this new blog with a main one being connecting to others. That is emerging as one of my purposes. It’s always been, I’m just recognizing how meaningful it is to me.

There are three areas where I hope we can connect: Eat, where I’ll share stories about me in the kitchen which my husband calls ‘Misadventures with Debby’, some recipes, and definitely some laughs.

Make will be where I share a variety of artwork along with some tutorials. 

Breathe is where we get personal and share life, even the messy life; especially the messy life because it is messy. My theme for the blog is “Embracing Imperfection”. Yes, Yes, and Yes!

It will still be a place of grace because we are living in the grace-land of God’s mercy.

Five-Minute Friday {Celebrate}


“Celebrate”, she said.

“Today?” I thought.

Really, it’s not been a great week. I’ve tossed and turned carrying burdens of friends, feeling uncertainty in decisions that don’t have to be made now except for my lack of patience. I’ve been angered by injustice to others and disappointed in much, including myself. We haven’t even seen blue skies in the Sunshine State in two days and the forecast is for more storms.


Wait, I see a sliver of blue in the sky out back. There is a small part in the clouds. For now. The rains will come again but now there is blue so yes, let’s celebrate now!

Let’s celebrate when the sun peaks out and when the rains pour down.

Let’s celebrate when the answers don’t come or the answer is no.

Let’s celebrate when it doesn’t go my way, when another sleepless night comes and when you feel forgotten. Let’s celebrate in the middle of the mess.

I can’t celebrate without gratitude and gratitude is what I need now. A heart that is thankful for umbrellas and taking risks and knowing that God knows my need.

Let’s celebrate for friends who share their burdens and friends who ask for prayer and friends you’ve never met on this side of the screen and leave you words of encouragement and truth.

Let’s celebrate every day a God who sees inside our mess and calls us His own.

Linking up with a free-writing mob of bloggers in a weekly writing prompt hosted by Kate. Stop over and be part of the conversation.



Dream big or…….

Believe in Dreams

It all started with that review. The one I wrote about a few weeks ago. The one about goals and me not having any and then me realizing that wasn’t a good thing and I should probably have at least one goal. A simple question has turned my thinking and dreaming upside down. Or at least sideways.

I am not a dreamer. Not much at night and less for daydreaming. I am practical. My thoughts are based in reality, not in the what if’s. I’m not always much fun.

Reality is getting closer these days as we start to consider the next part of our lives is approaching: retirement.

Our organization has mandatory retirement for its clergy (we are both clergy) and Hudson-man hits that age in less than 4 years. We have considered where we will retire and we go to the Zillow site and save places we like. I think about all the things I won’t do when we retire. This is how I daydream.

Back to that review….it woke me up from this daydream where I never wear pantyhose or high heels again, travel where and when we want, and never give a second thought to the length of my hair and wear earrings anytime I want. It woke me up to the thought of, ‘what will I do?’

In the children-at-home years I was the planner. In the years since, life has been more, fluid sounds nice. It looks like it’s time to plan again.

I say this with shaky confidence and a fragile resolve, but, I want to push forward with blogging. I am considering a self-hosted blog because all the good bloggers say that’s what you do. I’m participating more in blog groups like this one and interacting more in our Facebook groups than I have in the past. I’ve decided to submit some articles to other sites and do what I can to grow this blog and hone my craft of communicating through writing.

It isn’t easy and it isn’t comfortable. Honestly, it’s scary and risky because I’m risking being liked. Yesterday, I nearly decided to forget it. (Fortunately, I realized making a decision with a head cold and full of medications wasn’t a good idea.)

So this is where I am. Dreaming. Dreaming this blog will grow into community and grow in connection and grow in bringing light to a dark world and that my words will offer hope and grace and, mostly, that they aren’t my words as much as they are words filled with God’s love, God’s grace, God’s light. Dreaming it will be for His glory. Dreaming this place will be His Grace-land.

Dream big and cry out, “I believe, help my unbelief!”

I’m open to your counsel and input and hope you’ll share from your experience.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung again for the next to last week in our online discussion of the book, On Being a Writer. Thank you for bearing with me during this brief departure from the regular content on this blog.

The fear of connection and risking it anyway

The minute I walked through the market area, just outside of doors for the main session of the conference, I knew I was out-of-place. I was use to youth leader events  where we all wore jeans and Chuck Taylor’s or Catalyst where the hipsters are and the men far out number the women. I found myself with a group of mostly women, most the age of my daughter, wearing flowy skirts, big earrings and boots. Boots! I mean so. many. boots.

It’s just external. But it made me shrink back into the doubts I had.

The leaders were telling us to sit at a different table for each main session to get to know people. How do you get to know someone over one meal? That’s small talk. That’s not getting to know anyone.

It was agonizing. The common bond of writing seemed absent to me. Or maybe it was just me, my childhood fears of being the new girl. Again.

typewriter key type

It would be out of my comfort zone. I knew that. I also knew I had to go. I had to go to a blogger conference and just see.

I like having a place to spill these words that are too many to contain inside and I needed to see what this looks like in a bigger context. This whole blogging community and how could I grow and, yes, I just needed to take this risk.


If you saw me in my place you’d never guess the insecurities I have in new places. If you saw me with our employees or the men living in the residence, you’d think me a happy extrovert holding the confidence of a mature, strong person. You would be wrong.

Awards night

Awards night  sobriety awards



It’s hard enough to muster the courage to say I’m a writer. I’ve known only one version of me and this new thing that isn’t so new….confuses me. I find myself wanting to grow in this craft, to see if there’s something there others will connect with but……the reaching out?

Can’t I just reach out in words, behind the security of the screen? If I can’t see you, you can’t see me, right? Except these words reveal what I carefully try to hide.

I say I’m determined this time. To submit articles to other sites, to engage in groups like this one and engage more with others. I even responded to being part of Sarah Bessey’s launch team for her new book.

(Big breath here.) One day, I’m certain this is the path I should follow. To see what might be the next chapter in life. And the next day, I’m just as certain it’s folly.

Today’s sermon preparation was about start. I thought it was for them, the ones in the chapel seats, not me. The last story was about a prophet telling King Ahab  that God was going to give the army of the opposition over to him. The King asked, “but who will do this?” The prophet replied, “Tis is what the Lord says: ‘The young officer of the provincial commander will do it.”

And then Ahab asked the real question on his mind: “And who will start the battle?” The prophet said, “You will!”

Maybe this is the start. Show me Lord Jesus. Calm the shifting tide inside me. Make firm your foundation, make clear your path.

Linking up with Kate Motaung as we work through a group discussion of the book, On Being a Writer. 

Goals? Me?

around the lake in North Carolina

I don’t know what I expected but I didn’t expect this.

It was our five-year review. At least I guess it’s a five-year thing. They’ve happened somewhat randomly throughout our 20+ years as Salvation Army pastors.

This review skipped the basics, the stuff that tells you how you’re doing or the perception of how you’re doing and went straight to the goals. As in, ‘what are three goals you have?’

I sat silent.

He didn’t want to hear what I was thinking. That Hudson is just shy of 4 years from retirement and my goal is to get through and get out. How’s that for goals?

Finally, a few things were scratched out…I mentioned a certification one of our counselors has encouraged me to get and we talked about that and a possibility of schooling for an advanced certification in addictions counseling.

It all sounded good and met the needs of the review. Whew, that was close!

Then I got an email inquiring about checking on my credits and what would be needed to finish a degree and reality set in and I realized this goal thing was serious.

And one standard review woke me up from my comfortable coasting. It woke me to the reality of what’s next? What is that thing that will always be there when I’m not required to do this or that?

Those thoughts swirled through my mind for days as I needed to peel off layers of expectations, perceptions and obligations. I need to find the basics that make me want to learn and share.

Then I wrote this email:

“As I have thought about our conversation, talked to Henry (who seems to know me better than I know myself) and let these things settle in my heart, I think my real desire, is indeed, communicating; communicating a story of grace and hope and the beauty of God.”

And then I shared it with three friends because to say it makes it real and, hopefully, makes me accountable. But to say it here? I’m taking a deep breath now.

My heart isn’t with the certification for addictions counseling even though I could make money doing that in retirement. My real desire is to tell stories; through words (written and spoken) and or pictures, (photo’s or art).

I’m not sure how it will look right now but I’m looking around to find out. It’s not an obvious thing or easily quantified in our standardized goals but I feel settled about it. In the way that I’m not questioning it or wishy-washy. I don’t have a goal to write a book or be a commercial success but to hone the talents I’ve been given to continue to learn and grow and share God’s story of grace. 

There is a lot of unknown. But this unknown has me excited for the possibilities God has ahead.

The first person I shared this with has this on her Facebook status today. Maybe it’s not just for me but for you too.

no fear
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10


Details, details

I took the full view of her in, barely seeing the wedding dress as her radiant smile stole the show.

Yes, it was lovely, white, some kind of satiny material, but it was my niece I was seeing, not the details.

That’s me. For an artist, I miss a lot of the fine points. Instead, I take in the nuance of the moment, the atmosphere of the room.

Paul Kathryn_batchWatermark

blurred flowers

Kathryn bouquet soft Edit_batchWatermark

candid bridesmaids framed cropped

Don’t ask me the color of someone’s eyes, even a good friend, because unless they’re brilliant blue or magical brown I won’t have any idea. But ask me if they have a smile that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room or if they find laughter as easily as some see a speck of lint on a sweater and I’ll know that.

When I hold the camera to my eye, that’s what I’m hoping to find, to capture, are those details.

The niece sad, somewhat casually in that expected tone, “aunt Debby, you always have your camera so you’ll be taking pictures too.” She had a photographer for her wedding, a family friend who wouldn’t feel the least bit threatened or put upon with me off to the side snapping away. And I wouldn’t feel pressure being the primary photographer which gave me greater access.

I stood at the side and didn’t have to give directions. As family, I walked in the room where the bride and her attendants were getting ready with barely a notice of my presence. That’s the best.

Hannah photobomb sq framed

parents of the bride

parents of the bride

funny expression

Madisons Kathryn_batchWatermark

reception kiss

Daniel dancing

This is what I would photograph always: smiles and laughter, expressions of newlyweds and little boys invited to dance with the grownups.

There is One who knows the details. How could he not, he created our very being. Like I know our daughters crooked pinky fingers and our sons toes are long like mine, God know the external and internal of our lives. The miracle is, He loves us anyway.

“Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t worry! You are more valuable to him than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 Living Bible


Linking up in a discussion group ‘On Being a Writer’ over at Kate Motaung’s place. Stop by.

Five-Minute Friday {find}

I have lost




and my patience.

No matter how organized I want and appear to be, things are lost. The day swallows up my best intentions and this house continues to hide what is often in plain sight.

Typically, I am the one to find whatever is being looked for at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s a man thing, a husband thing, or just a my husband thing but why, for the love, can’t he see what is in the refrigerator?

We take turns rescuing each other that way because I can never find anything in the garage. hmmmm


What I’ve been looking for most these days are words. They aren’t coming freely and the ones that come aren’t feeling sure and alive. This usually means it’s time to examine myself. Am  I feeling sure in what matters and alive to what is in front of me?

Am I investing time in truths that restore and sharpen my faith?

I have felt complacency creeping around the edges as I wrestle with comparison and truth.

My value is not found in the words I write, or don’t write.

I will never find myself in accomplishments but only in God’s gracious love.




Five-Minute Friday {dream}

Linking up over at Kate Motaung place with a group of word-hungry bloggers for this 5-minute frenzy of free writing. Everyone is welcome to this party! Today’s prompt is dream.

Deerfield beach




His aren’t your ordinary, run of the mill, dreams. No, his are Indiana Jones adventures or James Bond-style feats. If he wakes in the middle of a particularly exciting dream, he can go back to sleep and continue it, changing the course if he decides.

I guess it should come as no surprise, that even in dreams, we are not alike.

Nope, not even close.


More times than not, my dreams aren’t remembered. I’d say I don’t dream much but science tells us we all dream, every night. But we don’t always remember our dream. That’s me.

My dreams are ordinary dreams. Most often I’m working out issues of the day. But there have been a few….

I’m a common sense, matter-of-fact, practical kind of girl. The kind who takes things as they are and tries not to make too much of things. Especially dreams. (I have been known to over think things. Just a time or two 😉

There have been a few times where I believed God used dreams to comfort me, to give me peace. And one very important time, the dream was to prepare us.

Maybe it’s the dreams we have in the light of day that are the most important. These are the dreams that become goals and plans and action. The dreams that turn wishes into work. And sometimes, this knowledge is the very thing that keeps them dreams.



Five-Minute Friday {world}

Joining the weekly Five-Minute Friday blog party for the free-writing frenzy that commences when our hostess, Kate, gives us the prompt and the GO!

In less than 3 weeks we will be flying to London, England for a celebration. A big, huge, world-wide scale kind of celebration for something like a birthday party for The Salvation Army.

We’ll be gathering with thousands from around the world to celebrate 150 years of service for this international organization.

SA pins  Hudsons old pins



SA crest stained glass

Its beginnings were in London, where the international headquarters remain. It’s reach extends far beyond to 126 countries today. Its mission varies depending on need but its message is ever the same: Christ for the Whole Wide World

Our founder, William Booth, wrote these words, the first verse of seven that is often referred to as the Founder’s Song.

O boundless salvation! deep ocean of love,
O fullness of mercy, Christ brought from above,
The whole world redeeming, so rich and so free,
Now flowing for all men, now flowing for all men,
Now flowing for all men, come, roll over me!

The world was his vision because he knew God came not for a select group, but for the world.

How thankful we are to have faith in this God who sees all people as his children.

“He told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. 19 Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations,[a] baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Matthew 28:18-20 TLB

What I Learned {May}

This month felt a little harder to find things learned more than reminded. A symptom of getting old? Of course not! 😉

Here goes:

I love photo apps and have far too many which may be why I tend to circulate them when my memory gets too full. This month I discovered three new ones:

Project Life: this is for all of you scrapbookers. Scrapbooking got too time and cost intensive for me and I didn’t have a place to leave the mess spread out while I worked on pages so I gave that up for my preferred, photo books. This app is the one I’ve used least but offers a mobile version of scrapbooking. FREE

Little Moments: if you like photo challenges on Instagram this one is perfect. It’s put out by the popular fatmumslim and includes a calendar with photo prompts listed and will automatically add that hashtag to your photo. It also includes filters, fun symbol and text overlays and is just fun to use. FREE

Little Moments app for photo prompt "starts with S"

Little Moments app for photo prompt “starts with S”

RD Magic: by Rhonna Designs this includes a good variety of filters, bokeh, light leaks, edges, blur, textures and more. It isn’t free but for all in can do it’s worth its $1.99

RDmagic app

RDmagic app

New Etsy shop: Joyful Papery The link will take you to their website to get a look at their lovely hand lettering and watercolor illustrations. Just lovely!

We took my favorite kind of vacation – a STAYcation! Aren’t they just the best? The bed and bath are the most comfortable anywhere and you can’t beat the privacy 😉 We took the week to visit new and favorite places in our area. We learned more about a fascinating place in the middle of Key Biscayne called Stiltsville when we discovered Bill Baggs Cape Florida. This is a beautiful state park with free tours in the lighthouse. You can find more photo’s and information on this post.



Mother’s Day comes right behind my birthday which found me missing my kids and family. The collision of emotions culminated on Mother’s Day when I felt lonely with kids who live away and a mama who is far away in miles and further away in her dementia. I was reminded of how others step in and call us family and how it can come from the most unlikely when I was showered with cards and hugs from the men in the residential program where we minister. They are teachers of great grace.




I have finally learned that not feeling inspired to write is okay. And when you aren’t inspired, you shouldn’t write. Giving yourself grace can be the hardest lesson to learn.

Link up with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky and share what you learned in May.