Archive | May 2012

Enjoy today!

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This also makes me think of a couple of my fave Bible verses:  ” Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7 NASB


Susan Hollaway


Raspberry Patch

This is my raspberry patch and the berries look wonderful. I picked them just after I took the photo. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

The pursuit of truth is like picking raspberries: You miss a lot if you approach it from only one angle. Randal Marlin

Good advice for journalism and for berry picking.

Have a great day!


Phineas and Ferb In The Flesh…well…sort of…

This week, we are simply posting interesting pictures. Stay tuned for a new line up of posts…each from a different stage!

Boys with Phineas & Ferb

Our oldest was recently given a trip to Disney World from the Sunshine Foundation: Dreams for Kids. A highlight was meeting Phineas & Ferb. The oldest is clearly star-struck and couldn’t tear his eyes off them…not even for the picture. The youngest couldn’t believe he was finally meeting his best buds live!


The one underlying theme I heard during this past week of graduation ceremonies was this one word–GO.

And I understand the banner flung above those young heads. Yes . . . go, go, go. But I wanted to meet them at the door and say . . . ‘You know what? Consider staying!!

While, in you eagerness to GO–STAY in the word.
In your eagerness to move on, or move out–STAY close to HIM
In the world’s push to move up–STAY grounded.
When the forces of the unholy shout come over here–STAY firm.

Never be ashamed to STAY . . . and in your staying . . GO make a difference.

Play On

There are things only you can do,

and you are alive to do them.

In the great orchestra we call life,

you have an instrument and a song,

and you owe it to God to play them both sublimely.

-Max Lucado

Several years ago I bought a card with this saying on it. The card still sits on a shelf in my kitchen as a reminder to me. This spring the card was reprinted and I bought all the store had to give to our graduates. I love the saying for them and for me. The inside of the card simply reads Play on.

No matter where you are this graduation season, Play on.


Graduations galore!

As I think about the theme graduation, many things flit through my head. It amazes me how quickly time passes.    I have a niece who graduated college this year, and my daughter will graduate from high school in only two years.  How can that be?  What’s really astonishing is that I graduated from high school … ahem…32 years ago.  Again, how can that be?  My mind still feels young –my body, however, sometimes protesteth. defines graduation as this:

1. a. Conferral or receipt of an academic degree or diploma marking completion of studies.

    b. A ceremony at which degrees or diplomas are conferred; a commencement.

2.a. A division or interval on a graduated scale.

    b. A mark indicating the boundary of such an interval.

3. An arrangement in or a division into stages or degrees.

I remember definitions 1(a) and (b).  I have vivid memories of my high school graduation.  I remember how I felt led to ask if I could offer the Benediction at our graduation ceremony. This was a big deal because I used to be quite shy.  So much so, that I was scared to even ask our senior class sponsor if I could do it.  I managed to get the courage to get up in front of everyone and pray for our class.  I cried during my prayer and I was so embarrassed. But I knew it was something I was supposed to do and I have no regrets about it.   The drastic haircut I got shortly before graduation is another matter.  But it’s only hair and it does grow back…..albeit slowly.

Here’s where definition #3 comes into play.  Life.  Although I’ve learned much in my years of  K-12 study, I think I’ve learned even more in the years following.  I worked at the phone company for 9 years. I was an EMT for about 8 years, most of that time on a volunteer basis.  And I was a legal assistant for 3 years before quitting to be a stay-at-home mom, raise, and home-school our daughter.

The most important lessons of all are the ones in which God orchestrates.  As we move through the stages of life, we learn life lessons that hopefully make us wiser.  And you may not be under the rule and thumb of your parents anymore, but there’s still discipline.  God’s Word says in Proverbs 12:1 that “Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge; but he who hates correction is stupid.”  Well, that’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it?

It just goes to show that you’re never too old to learn something new.  And while the lessons and knowledge of this world — whether it be in writing or other areas of your life — are important, true success is not what the world thinks you’ve accomplished.  It’s really all about how you’ve grown in Christ., because that growth affects how and what you do in everything else.

We may have “graduations galore” in our lifetime, but the one that will supersede them all will be the one when we stand before Christ and He hopefully says, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  That’s going to be a graduation to behold.  So as I strive to be a better Christian, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and writer, I ask God to help me grow into the person He wants me to be.  Learn the lessons He wants me to learn.  And praise Him with each new graduation He guides me through.

May you be blessed with whatever graduation God has you going through right now.

Susan Hollaway


Graduation, dreams and student loans

My high school graduation day

Graduation season is my favorite time of year.

I devour the special section of the newspaper, looking at all the beautiful senior pictures and reading every single graduate’s plans for the futures. Their bright-eyed optimism inspires me. As long as small-town high schools keep turning out these fine men and women, there is hope for our country.

Savor this time, graduates. At this pinnacle, you can look back on a goal accomplished and look forward to unlimited possibilities. Your dreams are fresh and alive. You know you have something to contribute that the world has never seen before.

You are absolutely right!

But before we get carried away shooting for the stars, let’s talk about something you won’t hear inside a crowded gymnasium any Sunday afternoon: Debt.

The trend is very troubling about how much debt college students are amassing. Some student debt is necessary to earn a better living, but the average of $20,000 is a lot for the average 20-something to pay down. It is possible to graduate without debt – I did it – and here are my suggestions.

Don’t go to college. Since kindergarten, you’ve been told you must go to college to get a good job. It’s not true in this technological era. Look seriously at trade and technical schools. Who do you think is earning a better living – a skilled mechanic or a literature major? The trade fields also have the advantage that they cannot be outsourced and you have more opportunities to go into business for yourself.

Don’t get in a hurry. Think about taking a lighter class load so you can hold a job and pay for school as you go. I recently worked with an intern who took six years to get through college. He’ll graduate with less than $2,000 due on loans. He’s also more mature, has more experience and is a step ahead of other graduates.

Don’t work. Outside of the farm, I did not work in high school. Speech contests and FFA events were my “job” and I approached them diligently to earn scholarship money. Good grades and well-rounded activities are still the best route to earning scholarships.

Don’t lose your scholarship. It may only be $250 a semester, but over the course of your education, that adds up to $2,000 of free money that you will not have to borrow or pay interest on. That scholarship will yield a return for years. So will good grades, for that matter.

Don’t listen to your teachers. Unless your goal is to be a history professor, you won’t get good career advice from a history professor. They teach and inspire and light the flame of knowledge, but the world of academia is not where most us make our living. Pay attention to your parents and those working in your chosen field. Health insurance, mortgage payments and the price of gas will affect your quality of life just as much as whatever minor you choose.

Don’t forget your other dreams. A career is only part of your life, and probably not the part that will make you happiest. Do you want to raise a family? Buy a house? Go hunting every weekend? Volunteer in missions? Student loans will require you to keep working, even at a job you don’t like, and limit other options for years to come.

Don’t buy the hype about big-name schools. Employers are looking at credit reports before hiring. Going to community college for two years or living at home and graduating with little debt could make you a more attractive job candidate than someone who went to that certain school and is tugging a mountain of debt behind them.

Don’t pay interest on your dreams. Make your dreams work for you.

Cue the “Pomp and Circumstance.” Congratulations to the Class of 2012! May you always be as full of hope and free of debt as you are today.


~ Susan

Graduation – A Life Long Process

Graduation is only a concept.  In real life every day you graduate.  Graduation is a process that goes on  until the last day of your life.  If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.  ~Arie Pencovici

Graduation Day at the University of Windsor. Me with my parents.

This week we are writing about “graduation”. Graduating from something is quite an accomplishment – sitting through a ceremony and maintaining consciousness is also an accomplishment. All kidding aside, it felt good to walk across the stage and then to enter in a new phase of life. And really, the education did not stop when those four years of university came to close.

In my first career job at Ross Roy Communications, not only did I learn about the world of marketing—much more than I was ever taught in

Ross Roy Reunion

Me at a recent Ross Roy Communications reunion. A wonderful group of people.

a classroom—but also about team dynamics, people and myself. I worked there nearly five years, and though more time has passed than I’d like to admit, I often refer back to my learning experiences there.

After working for one year, I married the most wonderful man. I’ve learned marriage itself requires time and effort, as does anything that’s worth pursuing. We’ve taken time

My Family

to understand each other and what it takes to make this partnership work. When I became a mom, a whole new world unfolded before me. And due to my kids’ health issues I learned things that I never dreamed of, such as, how to change a gastronomy tube, cauterize a stoma, or how to read those hospital monitors with strange lines and numbers.

A couple of years ago, I started to take steps to learn how to write a novel. That process is much more complicated and time intensive than I expected, but it has been an amazing journey so far. I’ve expanded my mind and met many wonderful friends. Nothing published yet. I still have a manuscript under review by a publisher and editor…and just waiting…

I don’t actually use an antique fountain pen to write my novel…although that does sound romantic…

and writing some more. I have to admit, it was hard picking up an entirely new skill set and feeling like a complete novice all over again, but the process has give me much joy.

Another thing I’ve learned in life, it is one thing to be educated and another thing entirely to become wise. The book of Proverbs is a fascinating book dedicated to the instruction of wisdom and how it will perserve your life if you pursuit it. I know I haven’t always been wise, but to learn from mistakes hopefully sends me in the right direction!

What have you learned once your school days ended?


Did you ever try to skip a rock across the water? You hunt for just the right flat-surfaced rock, hold your mouth just so, throw it at just the right angle, and then count how many times it bounces before sinking.

Well . . . my rocks never skipped . . . they plunked. Every time!!

But while the champion skipper was busy looking for the next perfect rock, so he could count at least one more skip than the last pitch . . . my ‘plunk’ made dimples on the face of the water that spread and made more dimples, and they spread . . . . and you get the picture.

Sara was right . . . this whole writing thing should be a journey . . . not a race.

And remember that even a ‘plunk’ may reach farther than we can even imagine.

I don’t want to get so busy looking for the next perfect stone to’pitch that I overlook the pebbles that will make a difference.

Race or Journey?

Last week I ran into a lady I’ve been in several Bible studies with. We were talking about books we’ve read lately and she mentioned she needed to get to the library and check out my book. MY BOOK IN THE LIBRARY? I wish! Later I realized I should have told her to call me is she found it there!

Writing is a long, long process. It’s a journey not a race. The longer you write the more you realize what it takes to get a book published.

Did you know. . .

*Thousands of stories are submitted each year and something like 4%  get published?

*Many published authors have 4-7 books they wrote BEFORE they got their first contract?

*Many authors have enough rejection letters to paper room?

*When we go to our ACFW conference in September there will be over 700 writers–each with their own story and desire to see it in print.

Writing is a daunting journey. Often the voice of doubt screams louder than any other voice. It is also a blessed journey. The joy that comes with creating and finishing your own story is unbelievable!

I believe writing is like any other journey God puts us on. It’s not a fast finish, it’s not always beautiful and it’s rarely easy–but it’s ALWAYS worth it!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

Enjoy your journey!