I am so honored to post this podcast! Listen in as Greg Hoyte shares his story with us. (Greg is next to his sister in the above picture.)
You will be fascinated by Greg’s story. He shares his journey from his childhood in Guyana, South America to Brooklyn, New York. He moved to New York when he was 14 years old after his parents worked in the US for years to earn enough money for the kids to join them. Initially excited and feeling like a dream came true, he found himself caught up in the violence of the Brooklyn streets as a teenager, filled with fear and rage and thinking there was no way out. But God showed up and provided a way. Looking back Greg can see that God never left him. This is a story of family, immigration, violence, fear, grace and hope. This is an American story.
As he talked, I just sat listening, fascinated. He “puts skin on” so many things we talk about today – immigration, violence, public education in American cities, gangs, family, friendship, God, faith, race, respect, discipline, the American dream, fear, hope.
Greg lives in Wisconsin now with his beautiful wife Amy and their three amazing kids.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. -Psalm 23:4
Oh y’all… This one is so good!! I cried a little during our conversation. I know that probably comes as no surprise to you. This is a HOLY conversation about parenting a child with special needs. I am speaking with my friend, Carrie Strachan. She has four beautiful children and her son Matthew has Down Syndrome. He is 20 years old now. This will bless you if you have a child with special needs no doubt but also if you don’t. Because Carrie is a blessing. She is wise and kind and thoughtful. She is my friend through Holy Yoga and I was mentioning to another friend from Holy Yoga that we were recording a podcast and that friend said, “Don’t you love her? Don’t you just want to crawl up on the couch with her and have her talk to you and make you feel like everything is going to be alright?” Uh…yes. So consider yourself curled up on the couch with us, listening and sharing and drinking coffee and feeling less alone. That’s my hope…that you will feel a part of this conversation among friends.
Moms…we see you…we feel you. When we talk about living out a greater calling on your life, there is no greater calling than that of being a mom. I know some days it really feels like drudgery. I can’t tell you how often I think, “Why do these people need to eat again?” My mom gave me a magnet once that says, “Who are these people and why are they calling me mom?” Honestly, it’s just so ordinary and routine and downright boring at times.
But God. He is so in this. And if you let Him in, the results, the outcome of all your years of hard work…the kids grown…you grown…your marriage grown…it’s just downright spectacular. Amazing.
This motherhood thing never ends, it doesn’t matter how old your kids are. In addition to parenting, we are usually trying to figure out all the other tough stuff including marriage, career, and faith life. Or if you are like me you might still be trying to figure out how to do laundry well and what’s for dinner. Half the time we are just wondering, “Is everyone going to turn out alright? Am I even all right? Who put me in charge?”
I’ve heard it said that our kids pick us. I don’t think that necessarily but I do trust that God picks us. He specifically gives us the children who need us and who we need. Our children force us to lean into God because we don’t have all the answers. And there He is. Loving us. Transforming us.
He loves our children more than we do. They were His first. He knows every hair on their head and He calls them good. Every single unique child, born to change the world. Isn’t it miraculous?
I’m grateful for this conversation. I hope you will listen in and be encouraged!
It’s interesting. I just posted that I won’t be able to post that often and here I am posting.
Something came up.
A lot of things actually.
A lot of pain in the world and death and destruction.
There is a lot to talk about and a lot of people are talking and writing and spouting off what they think and politicizing tragedy. I’m not going to do that.
I’m interested in people’s hearts and souls and stories.
My best friend from childhood’s brother passed away yesterday. They lived across the street from us all the years I lived at home (18 years). He was a big presence. He was a state champion wrestler and a football player. Mostly I remember him as a musician. He was in a band in high school and I remember when we were young, he played everything by ear. I can visualize him sitting down at the piano and just playing something he heard on the radio. I also remember walking into their house and hearing the drums being played in the basement. It was loud.
We looked up to him. He was 3 years older than us and so cool. He didn’t care about being cool which made him that much cooler. He was a really, really kind soul.
I had a lot of drama in high school. Much of it created by me. I remember him telling me one time, “Sue, you have to ignore what other people think and say. Just be yourself.” That meant a lot to me of course because I needed to hear it. I cared (care?) too much what people think. I want everyone to like me and it was way worse in high school. I’m learning. But he was just himself. Always.
Yesterday when I heard he passed I cried. We hadn’t talked in years and like I say, he was my best friend’s brother so he was like a side story to my friendship with her really. I mean, to him, I was just his little sister’s friend. I’m sure much of the time, super annoying. What I realize now is that often it’s those people on the periphery that affect us. God works in the margins, amen?
Also, when he was around, he became the main event. Honestly, he had charisma and charm and talent and kindness and the coolness just oozed out of him.
I didn’t know a house filled with live music being played except for theirs until now – my husband plays the guitar and my kids have all played at one time or another. Music is a big part of our household now. Thinking back on this makes me realize how much we are all part of each other’s stories. How much we can affect someone with a kind word, some music, a song. I have no doubt he affected many.
It was fitting last night that I was at the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony while they honored great songwriters and musicians. I thought of him and his love of music. Music brings people together. It’s a balm for weary souls.
I don’t know much about his life after high school except the updates I received from his sister. From the outpouring yesterday, I know he had a family and friends who loved him deeply. I do know he still played and sang. And that brings me comfort.
There are a million memories of neighborhood shenanigans but the memory that will stick with me forever happened just about a year (or two?) ago. We were at his father’s funeral. He went up and sang a song for his dad. He played the guitar and sang, “Why Me Lord?” Afterwards I went up to him to say how great it was and he was humble as ever, he said, “I hope it was what he wanted. He asked me to sing that one for him.”