As Michael W. Smith Plays Softly In The Background

I’m in Nashville for a couple of days (not for the CMT awards, I promise), and yesterday afternoon I met Keely, Spence, Randy and Chris for coffee in downtown Franklin.

It was the first time I’d seen any of them since we were in Uganda, and I have to tell you: hanging out with them did my heart a world of good.

Because I enjoy All The Laughing.

I haven’t talked about the friendship side of the Compassion trip very much, mainly because it’s difficult to explain why I feel so connected to the people who were there. But there’s no question that part of the connection (now I’m feeling like a contestant on “The Bachelor” because I keep using the word “connection.” Next thing you know I’ll be using the word “amazing” repeatedly. And then I’ll be saying “amazing connection.” And then SOMEONE WILL HAVE TO MAKE ME STOP.) is just that we went through a very emotional experience in each other’s company. I think it’s normal to bond under those circumstances.

But there’s another part of it, too – for me at least.

Because what absolutely blew me away about the other people on the Uganda trip is how inspiring they are – and yet they’re completely unaware of it. They’re smart and creative and funny, and they love them some Jesus like nobody’s business. And because they’re all so totally humble, there was a freedom and an openness in all our conversations that sort of made me want to stand up and tap dance.

I think you’ll be relieved to know that I stifled that particular inclination.

And then to hear everyone talk about the creative outlets they love – songwriting, painting, worship leading, cooking, WHATEVER – well, I can’t even tell you how much it encouraged me.

The last day that we were in Africa, I sat on the balcony of the lodge where we were staying, I looked out at the Nile River, and I bawled my eyes out. I think we all have moments in our lives where it becomes crystal clear that ONLY GOD COULD HAVE DONE THIS THING, and that morning in Uganda was one of those times for me. Even in the midst of wrestling with the emotions that come from witnessing deeply profound poverty firsthand, I was completely overwhelmed by God’s grace. His mercy. His faithfulness.

And – even though I wasn’t expecting it at all – how He used all the people on our trip to show me more of who He is.

I will never get over that.

So last night, I sat at supper with Shaw-awn, Keely and Spence. And we talked about all the normal stuff: families and church and music and blogging and Compassion. We talked about the evil Ugandan stomach parasite that WOULD NOT LEAVE SHAUN AND ME ALONE AFTER THE TRIP, OH MY SWEET DIGESTIVE MISERY, and we talked about the carrot cake that we had for dessert that was really more like a doughnut dipped in butter and then covered with cream cheese icing.


And you know, I held it together really well at dinner, as I typically do in public settings. I held it together really well when we were having coffee yesterday afternoon, too. There was so much stuff I wanted to say, but I was scared that I’d go into the ugly cry, and really, nobody wants to see that.

So instead I had a little conversation with each of them in my head, and the very one-sided conversation went a little something like this: “You have no idea how much I love you. You have no idea how much you inspire me. You have no idea how profoundly grateful I am for the blessing of your friendship.”

That’s what I wanted to say.

And you know what?

I guess I just did.

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  1. BooMama! Next time you are in Nashville I would LOOOOOVE to meet you in Franklin for coffee!! I live about 15 minutes from Franklin.

    Too bad the Cottrells are in London or we could have had a little reunion!

    Blessings and enjoy your visit!!


  2. boomama,

    your continual revelations that you allow all of us to be part of are truly a blessing. i can totally identify with you in the fact that you were reluctant to speak the words out loud that the Lord had put upon your heart about everyone that He placed upon your path.

    thank you for being so open with your faith; you are bringing more and more to the Lord just because you are here today!

  3. Inspiration: You have received it. You are giving it. It’s definitely a GOD THING. I find it strange that I feel inspired, moved by your inspiration. I have that lump again. I get it every time I read about your trip. Strange because I don’t really know you or them, but we all know HIM. And now, I want to go inspire. See? Definitely a GOD THING.

  4. Girl, I don’t even know you, but I love you. And one of the big reasons I love you so much is that you let God use you in a way that might seem strange to many, but so right to those of us that read your blog. You minister to me everyday. God bless you…now go have that ugly cry, I feel like it too!!!

  5. Sometimes when I’m in the presence of people who inspire me, I can’t help myself, I bust out in tears. It’s not pretty either, my voice gets all high and squeaky and you really can’t understand what I’m saying. Next time I’ll just refer them to this post.

  6. You are simply precious, dear Sophie, and you inspire . . . me! Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  7. This is great and all, but I have a Very Important Question: can Boomama please go on her very own tour? Maybe of just the southern US states?

    And of course by Very Important Question, I meant Less Important Than Your Blog Topic Today. But still, my question was a close second.

  8. Beautiful. Your gentle, humble spirit always inspires me from this little space of the web.

    God Bless you!

  9. Those moments of “only God could do this” are the most amazing in life. I am so thankful He had Uganda in the plans for you. It is doing so much good–for all of the children, for your family & us crazy readers, and obviously for your sweet soul. Thank you SO much for sharing about your experience, because I know being able to read about it is also something “only God could do” for me.

    Oh, and I am a full supporter of the ugly cry. It makes the world go round.

  10. That was a very beautiful tribute to your friends. Just lovely :)

    And may I say that the image of you standing up and tap dancing in the midst of a conversation with one of them, well, that just made my day in a funny little way. Not that I’m sure you would be bad at tap dancing or anything but I just think tap dancing would be humerous in mid conversation…

    I don’t know why…

  11. Great post, and I have no doubt that they feel the very same way ’bout you!

    I just let Ben in on the little secret that I often have conversations with people in my head. He looked at me with that typical male fascinated with the female species kinda look.

    Enjoy your time in Music City!

  12. I went to Thailand two years ago with a group and I feel the same way about them. It is a connection I will never have with people who haven’t experienced that exact same heartbreak I had there.

    When you’re driving to the airport, wave! Or not to the airport…I have no idea where you live. Wave anyway. At the big building with the cross on it downtown. :)

  13. Thank you for being YOU, and for being as real as anyone can be on the internet!!

  14. Such nice thoughts for your friends.

  15. You know you provide that same kind of encouragement for many of us, right?

    God’s grace flows right out of those cracks in our jars.

  16. Thanks for letting us be a part of this journey you are on. This was, as usual, beautiful and sweet and funny all at the same time.

  17. I bet those people feel exactly the same way about you, Sophie. Those experiences bond you for a lifetime in a way you can’t really explain to other people.

    Just enjoy it, and enjoy God’s grace and provision for all of you. And thank you for sharing it with us!

  18. Oh, and where can I get some of that cake?

  19. See you made me get all verklempt and my chest hurts and I’m sitting at my desk trying not to cry, thank God no one else in this office. And you make me understand the kind of special person you are, how wonderful your relationship with God is, and so many other things that are inspirational to us internets every day. Oh yes MA’AM you DO!

    And I want to go to Africa, or someplace similar more every single day, because of you.

  20. I think you said it quite perfectly. God’s blessing just keep rolling in…

  21. You, by his grace, inspire. And you are like a river… all these good and amazing things flowing from God through you to us. He is using you for His own glory.
    May we be rivers, not ponds or lakes, for Him as well.

  22. Sophie, I feel so blessed by your authenticity and vulnerability (sorry, I’m not trying to channel Paula Abdul, really) in the wake of your trip to Uganda. We are all in this, and we are all responsible. While I’m not sponsoring a child from Compassion (yet :) ), we do a lot of giving to these types of missions because God’s money and treasure belongs to all His children.

    Thank you for doing just what you do, just how you do it. xxxooogretchen

  23. Elizabeth says:

    GREAT post, BooMama. You are just as gifted at writing the serious stuff as the funny stuff. You have the ability to be humorous while being profound at the same time. It may even qualify as juxtaposition (somebody please call my high school English teacher!).


  24. Wonderful tribute! It IS amazing (there’s that word) how God connects (again with the word) us to other believers. It’s so hard to explain how He knits us together in heart, particularly when we’ve experienced something so entirely monumental & life-changing together. It’s happened every time I’ve been on a mission trip.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

  25. Awww, Sophie!

    I wished I was in TN with my dear hubs, so I could physically be as close to you as I spiritually feel as close to you most days! ;)

  26. I have a blogging buddy who is now in Uganda adopting twins. She can’t post pictures, but I thought you might want the link to her blog. I know you’ve been missing being there. She shares her blog with all, so no problems sharing the link with you.

  27. Do you ever consider going back to Uganda?

  28. BooMama – Could I request that you put some kind of warning at the top of posts like this for those of us with mascara on? I now have little black streaks running all down my face. :)

    I am so touched and inspired by this post. Thank you so much for sharing.

  29. I am stinkin jealous right now. Really jealous! H

  30. Sophie,

    You have no idea how much I love you. You have no idea how much you inspire me. You have no idea how profoundly grateful I am for the blessing of your friendship.

    I guess that would just be a huge ditto!!!

    You make me smile, then you make me cry in a very good and healthy way.

    It was so GREAT to be with you yesterday, if only for a moment!


  31. I think there is nothing better than being around people who are in love with Jesus and who are awesome and humble at the same time. I have people like that in my life and I just want to bottle them up and sell them.
    My mom always talked about the bond that you develop with people that you go on mission trips with and how it is like no other. I hope to experience that one day! So glad ya’ll could have a reunion!!!

  32. Sort of reminds me of the Watermark song More than you’ll ever know where they sing,

    “Something about just being with you
    When I leave I feel like I’ve been with God
    and that’s the way it ought to be, yeah”

  33. So glad you got to spend time with them… that “connection” probably IS pretty amazing (nobody else can undersand exactly what you saw and went through like the ones who were actually experienced it with you) and I would imagine it would do a heart a whole lotta good to “re-connect.” Kinda like when you go to summer camp in high school and then find the same group of people there the next year–just, you know, on about a thousand times larger scale. :)

  34. That was so sweet and wonderful … I’m not sure why ~ because really, that was just you being you ~ but that touched me. And yeah for friends that make us grow and for people who love Jesus.

    (And, I’m a Nashville-ian/Franlin-ite and am tickled pink to know that you were here). :)

  35. And anyone who has had the priviledge of meeting you loves you. No doubt in my mind.

  36. “And friends are friends forever…
    If the Lord’s the Lord of them.
    And a friend will not say never…
    ’cause the welcome will not end.
    Though it’s hard to let you go…
    In the Father’s hands we know,
    that a lifetime’s not too long…
    to live as friends…”

    A Certain Someone sang that in my ear on our senior prom.

    That’s probably why I married him.

  37. This post touched me very deep down inside of myself. I went to Okinawa, Japan with my friend Rachel in 1997, haven’t seen her in 7 years, and feel the exact same way about her you described.

    Thank you.

  38. What a way to speak blessing and honor over the lives of your dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

    You’ve been on my mind and in my prayers all day.

    And the carrot cake? Can you bring some to CS????

  39. When I went on a two week trip to Kazakhstan, it was hard to explain to people back here how the team bonded with each other and with the kids there. I mean, after all, two weeks? I cannot explain, but I know you understand it. Blessings on you.

  40. I really feel a “connection” with you, Sophie. I feel that I could have written that post. Except that instead of a Uganda trip it was a bond made with some guys in a Volkswagen Van coming back from California. And instead of the Nile it was the Grand Canyon. And instead of carrot cake, it was a giant steak in Texas. And instead of ministry to (and by) wonderful little orphaned children, we met interesting characters in Vegas.
    So… I take it back.
    We have no “connection.”
    But you are still amazing.

  41. And that’s another reason why blogging is so great. There are many moments in life I encounter in which I don’t think I can utter a peep without shedding 15 pounds of salty tears so instead I nod my head up and down 33 times while trying to think of something that will stop the tears from falling. Anyway, that’s awesome that you can still connect (he he) in person with your amazing group! :)

  42. That was awesome Sophie! Sometimes our actions speak louder than our words. And, sometimes our words speak louder than our actions. I bet you covered it all.

    Thanks for sharing.

  43. It’s always nice to be able to tell a friend what they really mean to us. I’m so grateful for the friends in my life, old or new. God has placed each of them in my life for a season and I want to soak them up!

  44. Sometime… when you come to Franklin, you need to let some of us internets know. I know of several of us right here (in Franklin) who would love just to say HI… and share that piece of cake. (Sounded like J Alexander’s cake to me)

  45. I just want to thank you again for inspiring me to sponsor a child. :-)

  46. Thanks for letting us have a glimpse of what makes you tick. Friendships birthed on a mission field tend to be life altering, like the mission. There’s something about sharing moments of intense emotion that cement relationships and are part and parcel of the new direction God takes us at such times. God Bless all of you. You brought a fresh mission awareness to me.

  47. Thanks for sharing! I have enjoyed reading about all aspects from your experience in Africa.

  48. OK! besides the fact that I’m crying like a baby right now for your last paragraph, I want you to know here that I love you so much and am blessed to call you friend. You are such a bright spot in my day and always will be. I had more fun getting to know you and am “amazed” at the “connection” we all have. thanks for taking time to hang…by the way…you forgot to use the word of words as spoken by randy… aweSOME!

  49. Yea, you are awesome…don’t ever forget to tell the ones you love that you do….About the ugly cry, I am right with you! I had a moment like that when I ran in to Beth Moore at a restaurant. I absolutely lost it and you KNOW what she did. She wrapped me up in a big bear hug and said “oh you are so precious!” But, I did get to whisper in her ear what God had done through her teaching in my life. What a blessing…

  50. Hay Sophie! (OK… that was an accident. I meant to type “Hey” but I’m gonna leave it cuz maybe it will make you laugh.) : ) Where was I??? I’m so glad I finally clicked on the link to these posts! I had been wondering where the posts about Africa were b/c I knew you HAD to be doing some processing, but I didn’t realize they were just 2 clicks away! But I’m mostly SO GLAD you got to spend some time with your friends. It must have been so therapeutic. When I was in college (ummm… in 1993?) I went to Mexico for 2 months one summer and for much of the next year was dealing with the reverse-culture shock stuff. Because of that trip and some other things, I remember feeling like I didn’t fit in any culture anymore. I didn’t think the same way my English-only speaking friends/family did and I didn’t think like my Spanish speaking friends and I felt sort of lost. Thankfully I did have some other friends who had gone through similar experiences AND those lost feelings didn’t last forever. I eventually married another “between cultures” person (my MK hubby) and we’re adopting a little boy from Thailand (as in he’s coming to live with us and be our son!) this Fall so life is going to be turned upside-down for me again… But I know through it all God will give me – and you – the grace we need to keep going. Last thing on this ridiculously long comment – I loved what somebody said in a comment on your previous post. Quoting Beth that “Impression without expression leads to depression.” WOW. I know God wanted me to hear that. Some of us were BORN with words coming out of our mouths. Don’t keep it in, Sister. And when you don’t have anything funny to say, I don’t think it would be wrong to write about it on the main part of your blog. Cuz some people (like me before tonight!) might not ever get around to clicking over there and they might need to hear what your heart is thinking.
    : )