Life is a little crazy right now. There is so much going on in the Hudgins household. About five weeks ago, I lost my job at GSI Commerce. Around that same time, my mother-in-law was admitted to the intensive care unit at a hospital in South Dakota. Because of these two central events, our lives have been a virtual whirlwind for the last month. This new season has proven to be challenging, rewarding, stretching and truly exhausting. I find myself feeling overwhelmed emotionally, mentally and physically at times these days.

Yesterday, Charlotte, Joshua and I were returning home from our most recent excursion to Sioux Falls. During the first hour or so of the trip, I felt really, really heavy. There were multiple reasons for this. Obviously, Charlotte’s mom’s health situation is heavy in and of itself. However, I was also thinking through some relational struggles I am walking through, my job (or lack thereof) situation and several other generally heavy subjects as well. However, through all of that “feeling,” I found myself longing for something that I don’t think is coming: a return to normality.

I was longing for a return to the rhythm of life that I had come to know and enjoy over the last several years. That rhythm centered much on the schedule I had with my job and the dependability of the paycheck that came with it. Neither of those exists now. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that, when a new job comes onto the scene, things are going to look significantly different than what I had before. I think my Father has something new in mind, something that will involve creative living and require complete dependence on Him.

Ultimately, what I think I was feeling yesterday was the tension between what I knew, what is now and what is coming. I think I am almost done grieving what was. I am learning to live in God’s flow of life in the now while allowing Him to realign priorities. I am waiting in full expectant anticipation for what He has in store. 

Oh, How He Loves You and Me…

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

God is my Father. I know this. I have known this for a really long time. I’ve known it ever since I can remember, honestly. However, it is only recently that I have really come to know that He is my Father. More importantly, it is only in the last few months that I have come to really feel my Father’s love.

I’m reading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, thanks to my buddy, Josh. I am only about forty pages in, but it is already speaking to me. One of the more poignant parts for me thus far has been the author’s discussion of the four bystanders in Rembrandt’s painting of the return of the lost son. During that discussion, he talks about how he himself had largely been a bystander, even while he was encouraging others to embrace the Father. Wow, can I relate to that… I have been a “leader” for a long time. It is part of who God made me to be. However, to this point, I have been a bystander trying to point others to an experience that I had not even gone through. I would speak of the Father’s love, but I did not get it personally. I was one of the bystanders, watching the son be embraced graciously and lovingly by the Father. I was content to watch without getting to close myself. I was content to know about God’s love and point others to it but not really feel it and let it impact me.

Last fall, I went through a Wounded Heart session at Valleybrook (our church). A typical Wounded Heart night would begin with worship through music, testimonies and teaching. Then, we would break into small groups to walk deeper into the healing process. During one of our worship times, I found myself unable to sing. We sang a couple of songs that focused on how God loves us, one of them being “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan. I just couldn’t sing them. When it came down to it, I didn’t believe what I was being asked to sing. I didn’t really believe that God loved me. Now, this is for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I have always felt like God’s love was conditional, depending on my performance.

During our small group meeting that night, I shared with my guys how I couldn’t sing those songs. I think part of me expected them to give me kudos for being honest and not singing something I didn’t really believe. While honesty was always appreciated in that group, I was surprised to be confronted by a couple of the guys and encouraged to sing the songs anyway. And, their encouragement was right on. They wanted me to sing the songs because they are true, regardless of how I feel about them. So, the next week, I did that.

During that same period of a few days, God also showed me how I had let the imperfections of my earthly father taint how I saw my heavenly Father. I had elevated my earthly Dad to a spot that he could not live up to, and in fact he was not meant to live up to. Of course, my Dad is imperfect! And God is my perfect Father, without flaw and bounding in love. Through making myself sing those songs and realizing that God is my perfect Father, something clicked in me. I cannot explain it other than to say that I could honestly feel God’s love for the first time. I could honestly see Him as my Father for the first time. Life has not been the same since. Now, on a daily basis, God sends me little reminders that He loves me. I have had days in which I have listened to “How He Loves” several times in a row, because the truth in that song now affects me very deeply.

I’ve gotten that God is Creator for a long time. I’ve known Him as Sovereign, as Savior and so many other aspects of who He is. But I can honestly say that knowing Him in these ways has not compared to knowing Him as my loving Father, who is always worthy of trust and is always looking out for me. Just like the prodigal son coming home to his father, I can always find home, safety and provision in Him. I am no longer a bystander, keeping God at a distance. I gladly accept His embrace.

The last couple of weeks have been a little interesting. During the last few days of my adventure in Ethiopia, my belly started revolting against me. It really wasn’t that bad until I stepped onto the plane for the trip home. Yeah, that’s right… super yucky belly just as I am embarking on a day of travel. Good stuff! Anyway, I was sick for the first few days after getting back and I worked from home. Not exactly a smooth transition back to normal life!

I started feeling significantly better toward the end of that week and my family and I were off to celebrate the internationally renowned King Turkey Day in Worthington, Minnesota. I think I probably ought to have stayed home, simply for the stability that would have afforded me. I was not myself the whole weekend and I made poor choices with my food and my time.

I’ve really been pretty “off” all this week as well. Yesterday, in fact, I fell into a little bit of depression and all I wanted to do when I got home from work was lay down. Thankfully, I have a loving, truth-telling wife who would not allow me to stay where I was. I ended up going to the gym and running a couple of miles. After Charlotte returned from work, we had a very good conversation about my state of mind and heart.

She is not blind and she has clearly seen that I have been off. After calling out some of the patterns that she saw in me, I shared with her some of the things I’d been thinking about through the day. I won’t get into the details here, but it was cathartic to talk to her about it and get this yuckiness out in the open.

The timing of all this is perfect. God has invited me to go through the Wounded Heart program at Valleybrook Church this fall. While the group is loosely based on Wounded Heart by Dan Allender, which is primarily focused on healing from sexual abuse, it has evolved in recent years to focusing simply on healing from wounds of the past. I am entering this process with a little (or a lot of) fear and trepidation as I know it will be painful, but I also know that it will be good and I will be freer at the end of this program.

As I look back on the recent events of my life and the way I’ve been feeling, I’m seeing this all as preparation for what God is going to do through Wounded Heart in the coming weeks. God is looking out for me and priming my mind and heart, stirring up truth that I have wrestled with, showing me what lives in me that shouldn’t, all to prepare me for the freedom he has in store for me.

Update on My Trip to Ethiopia

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Well, I’ve been back in Eau Claire for over a week now. Other than bringing back a little stomach bug, I came home safe and sound. To say that my week in Addis was good would be a tremendous understatement. It was more and better than I imagined. God met me in a variety of ways and I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to be in Addis, see the things I saw and meet the people I met. I could not help feeling, time and again, that I was privileged throughout the week. I found myself involved in conversations regarding things and with people that made me think, “Who am I that I get to be a part of this?”

My objectives for this trip were the following:
1. Gain a deeper understanding of the culture and people of the city of Addis Ababa
2. Gain a deeper understanding of how God is already at work in community development in Addis

I feel confident that both of these objectives were more than met. I walked away from Addis with a deeper sense of the infiltration of God’s kingdom in that city and a deeper understanding of my purpose and role in that infiltration. However, I know that I am only beginning to scratch the surface.

Over the next few days, I aim to spend some time processes all the information and experiences that I accumulated while in Addis. Eventually, I would like to put together an analysis document that describes what is happening and the ideas I have on how to get involved. If you are interested in accessing this or if you have any questions, please send me an email at

The Truth About Mr. T

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

When I was a kid, I saw “Rocky 3” in the theater. For those of you who don’t remember, the movie portrayed the confrontation between the hero, Rocky Balboa, and a new challenger for his title, Clubber Lang. Clubber Lang was intimidating… he was thick and muscular, had a mohawk and talked major trash. He was a scary dude. For those of you who don’t know, the character of “Clubber Lang” was played by Mr. T, the 80s icon. I was pretty much in awe of Mr. T in that movie and I became a fan of his when he was on the A*Team… for all you young’ins out there, the A*Team was a very popular action “drama” on NBC in the 80s.

I had the chance to meet Mr. T back in 1994. I was working at a book store in a strip mall in Virginia Beach when I saw him walk across the parking lot and go into the store next to us. I determined that I had to meet him, so I walked out our front door and waited for him to leave the other store. When he came out, I shook his hand and we exhanged some pleasantries and then he was on his way. As it turned out, he was in the area to work with a charity and he seemed like a really nice guy.

However, there was something about that interaction that really stood out to me… Mr. T is REALLY short.Seriously, I couldn’t believe how short he was… He was still pretty thick, but he was kind of a runt, to be honest (if for some reason Mr. T ends up reading this, my apologies, I don’t want to be “dead meat”…).

Now, my point here is not to tear Mr. T down. Not at all… like I said, he seemed like a nice guy who was up to some good things. My point is this: when confronted face to face, he was not nearly as awe-striking and intimidating. The reality of his stature and his persona, when witnessed in person, was not consistent with the image that was portrayed of him in the 80s.

I think that phenomenon happens a lot in real life. Things can seem a lot bigger and scarier in our perceptions of them than they really are. I know that there have been plenty of times for me personally in which I am facing an obstacle of some sort and my perception of the size of the obstacle does not match up with reality. I think that a lot of the challenges and obstacles we are afraid to tackle are a lot like Mr. T. They may be intimidating at a distance, but as soon as we determine to meet them head on, we find out that they are not nearly as big as we thought.

The Source of Freedom

Posted: June 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m reading through Exodus right now. Pretty crazy stuff going on in there… plagues, staffs turning into snakes, frogs, flies, blood… Thankfully, the elements of this book that a Westerner like me might consider “weird” have  not distracted me from some major themes that keep arising from the text. The two major themes I keep seeing over and over are the power and the goodness of God. These themes were evident once again this morning when I read Exodus 13.

In verse 3, Moses writes, “This is a day to remember forever—the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the Lord has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand.” The people of Israel had just been set free from Egyptian slavery. God had done miraculous things to make it happen. They were free for the first time in 400 years. This freedom came because of God’s power and goodness.

For a lot of my friends and me, the idea of God liberating us from captivity sounds all too familiar. In my church, there is story after story of people being set free from bondage, whether it is slavery to a particular sin or to old wounds that resided deeply in the corners of our hearts. I can certainly relate to this as God has been setting me free in so many ways over the past several years. Certainly, there are parts of my heart and psyche that still reside in Egypt, but God is still working.

The key in this for me this morning, the thing that jumped off of the page, was very simple. Here is the verse mentioned above with a little added emphasis: “This is a day to remember forever—the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today THE LORD has brought you out by the power of HIS mighty hand.” He is the liberator. He is the heart changer. He is the one who can set us free and heal us on the deepest levels. For me, it can be easy to forget. I can look back on where I was enslaved and see the freedom I have now and begin to take credit for it, as if I led my own personal revolution and freed myself. No… nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that the freedom that I have attained has been provided by HIM, by the power of HIS MIGHTY HAND.

Greater things…

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

This morning, my friend Chris tweeted the following lyrics: Greater things are still to come, greater things are still to be done in this city. These words are from a song we have sang quite a bit at our church here in Eau Claire over the last couple of years. Chris’ reminder of the truth in those words has me all stirred up this morning.

Indeed, greater things are still to come… God is not done and he is not silent. He has much that he wants to do in you, me and the world. How exciting! How motivating! The God of the Universe is actively working in us to make us all that we can be and to affect major change in his world. All we have to do is cooperate… and nothing will stop his work… not poverty, not sin, not the gates of Hell.