Archive | March 2013

Easter in That Little Country Church

If I could I would spend every Easter Sunday in the country church I grew up in.

I don’t often linger on the past or wish for what use to be. I’m happy to see things moving forward and I try to embrace change.

Except at Easter. On this most special day, I long to return to my childhood church. A quaint white building miles from any town. It wasn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but the people were special, the preaching was amazing, the music beautiful and the worship real.

We arrived before sunrise dressed in our best. Music filled the building until the sun’s rays warmed the sanctuary. Our pastor preached and even a child knew what Christ had done. Afterward we’d go to the basement where the men prepared pancakes and sausage. No one was in a hurry because it was so early in the day. I can still hear the chatter and laughter bouncing off those walls and that yellow concrete floor.

Easter is still my favorite Sunday, but in the days leading up to it my mind is flooded with memories. And every year I wish that I could spend one more Easter Sunday in that most special church.

Happy Easter,


If I could accompany you across Kansas…

I would…prove to you that she (yes, Kansas has a gender) is not the flat bosomed lady most think her to be.

I would take you through tiny towns tucked into her Flint Hills…towns where their citizens would recognize you as a stranger…but welcome you anyway. Prairie towns, like Cassoday, where cowboys still park their pickup trucks pulling horse trailers at the local filling station and go inside to eat Norma’s biscuits and gravy before heading into the hills for their day’s work…where motorcycles fill the tiny streets the first Sunday of every month from March to November, swelling the population of under 100 to well into the thousands for those few short hours.

I would invite you to our town which was the last stop before heading west on the Santa  Fe Trail. We would eat breakfast at the Saddle Rock Cafe, lunch at the one-time last dwelling before leaving to head west, that has been restored and now houses a fun little eatery and comes complete with the period-dressed hosts who can regale you with the history of the area…and we would have dinner at the Hays House, the oldest continuously run restaurant  west of the Mississippi.

I would take you through the back roads, deep into the hills, to the church we attend in tiny Parkerville.  Just a dot on the map, what most people would call a ghost town, yet harbors a sweet little Baptist church, and even sweeter people who come over hill and dale to worship every Sunday. The drive is breath-taking when the hills are green. One must drive slowly over the rocky roads, but to top a hill and look over a valley one would never dream existed, would make the slow-going worth your while. Even now, when the hills are brown and snow covered, one can imagine crusty loaves of frosting covered sweet bread rising from the warmth of Kansas earth ovens.

I may never get the opportunity to experience a Kansas sunset with a naysayer…..or stand with them in awe of the towering thunderheads backlit by lightning  and pray for the rain so badly needed. And they may never experience the scent of rain soaked prairie in answer to that prayer.

I may never persuade anyone to drive her backroads, or to stay long enough to experience the whisper of prairie grasses and cedars on a quiet summer’s eve, accompanied by the yipping of coyotes and lowing of cattle. I may never convince  a traveler that Kansas is more than heat, horrific storms, and long stretches of highways across flat land.

But if I could…I would.


road 2 we like!

If I Could Meet Any Public Figure…

About 15 years ago one of my sister-in-laws posed the question, “If you could meet any public figure, living or dead, (excluding Jesus), who would you choose?”

I still think about that question and I have a hard time narrowing it down to one. But I’d like to share a little about a person who made my short list…George Müller. I had heard

George Muller

George Muller (1805-1898)

some of his story while I was in university, but it was a Veggie Tales video that made him a known figure to my family.Mr. Müller was a nineteenth century man who ran orphanages in Bristol, England and cared for over 10,000 children and youth in his lifetime. He also established 117 schools which educated over 120,000 poor children. What made Müller so unique is that he never asked anyone for anything and yet the children in his care were well-educated and well-dress. Many left his programs to be gainfully employed, contributing members of society.

George Muller Orphanages

One of George Muller’s orphanages in Bristol, England.

How did he do it without public fundraising campaigns? He simply asked God and provisions were always there. One well documented story happened when he had no food to feed the children breakfast. Müller had the children get ready anyways and while they sat at the bare table, he thanked the Lord for what He was about to provide. Almost immediately, a knock sounded upon the door and a baker had bread for the children, followed by a milkman who offered milk since his cart broke down in front of the orphanage.

About two years ago, my husband and I were given charge of the kitchen at a local church that provides hot meals for anyone who needs one. We were so excited and determined that the beef stew we were making would be amazing. So we rifled through the pantry and found produce and seasonings to add to the large pots beef. As we gave the stew one final stir before putting the pots in the oven, we looked at each other and said, “We need mushrooms.”

Literally, two minutes later there was a bang on the kitchen door. To our great surprise, there was a truck load of organic mushrooms donated to the church. Seriously.

That may not seem like a big deal…a truckload of mushrooms. But it was to us. And we started laughing about how much this reminded us of the Veggie Tale story about George Müller.

If God is faithful in little things, can we not trust for the big things in life?

Cherie GagnonCherie

If I could play the banjo…..

Don’t you like to daydream? We’re doing that this week, asking “If I could…”

If I could….. play the banjo.

I would…. put together a little act. We would travel around and put on shows that were silly and fun. Like Pickin’ and Grinnin’, only class things up a bit. We’d tell jokes, a few corny ones, and long stories that were more about the telling than the punch line. I’d make fun of myself to help people not take themselves so seriously.

If I could play the banjo, I’d play happy music that would make people tap their toes and forget about their troubles for awhile.

Because if you’re playing the banjo, you can wear pearl snap shirts and cowgirl bling every day of the week and nobody thinks you’re putting on airs.

with baxterbI mentioned a few weeks ago that the organization I work for was preparing to host cowboy poet Baxter Black in an event. I was touched by how humble and down to earth he was in person. Everyone in the room was laughing at his high-energy act. Here’s a picture with Baxter and the Board of Directors. We’d spent months planning and worrying over the event and I love how here, we’re all grinning.

If I could play the banjo…. I would pluck out a tune and put a smile on your face.


You can see more pictures here and on Facebook.

In the Garden of Life Friends…

make the flowers.

You read that right. I didn’t make a mistake. Right now in my garden of life, my friends and family are making the flowers.042

Two weeks from tonight, the school my boys attend will be hosting their annual fundraising banquet and I’m in charge of decorating. For almost a year I’ve been thinking of ideas to go along with the ‘Fine Arts’ theme. We finally decided on making the flowers for the centerpieces. In true ‘Sara-fashion’, what started out as “two or three” flowers per table has now grown to a beautiful bouquet of eight flowers on each table. How many tables? Eighty. EIGHTY.

There are some wonderful ladies who have volunteered to help with this monstrous task. They have spent a few Saturdays working on this project and have taken supplies home to make flowers in their free time.

041This week has been Spring Break and my list was long for all I wanted to accomplish. I’ve had a couple of friends, a cousin and my mom offer to come and help on different days and we’ve accomplished so much. Lots of laughing, talking and of course, flower making!

The ideas are coming together and I’m getting excited to see the finished result.  Hopefully in two or three weeks I’ll have pictures to show you of not only the centerpieces but also the amazing artwork the elementary classes have done to decorate the walls for that night!

Friends really are the flowers in the garden of life, but what a blessing it has been to have them help me make the flowers this time!

Happy Friday,


Why I No Longer Curl My Eyelashes

Lincoln 2013 137Fine-textured hair equals thin eyelashes.  At least with me. Add not very long and light in color, and well, you can understand why in my younger years I was tempted (ahem, vain) enough to curl my eyelashes.

And I did. Until the dreaded day when my lashes got caught in the curler and they ripped out. Completely. Every single one. On one eye. Did you know that you can actually hear eyelashes being ripped out when it’s done  in great number?  It’s sort of  like ripping off a band-aid–quick, but not painless.

Hindsight truly is 20-20. When you’re looking in the mirror at one completely bald eyelid–thin, short, and  light in color on the other one looks pretty good. And just in case you’re wondering, it does take quite a while for eyelashes to grow back. Too long in my humble opinion.

I was so embarrassed. The one consolation was…by not being able to wear any eye makeup or mascara, the bald eye lid wasn’t quite as noticeable since my lashed lid was thin, short, and light in color. At least that’s what I told myself.

Surely, it was a freak accident. I mean, it couldn’t happen again. Could it?  That’s what I thought. I was wrong.  Lincoln 2013 136To this day, when I see eyelash curlers in the makeup aisle, I shudder.

I’m no quitter, but when it comes to eyelash curlers… I quit!  Once was bad enough, twice was ridiculous.  Believe me, when my daughter started wearing makeup, I used my experience as a teachable moment.  My husband has thick, long eyelashes, and fortunately, my daughter inherited some of his eyelash genes.

Are you a die-hard curly eyelash girl? Still want those gently sweeping, curled eyelashes without using a curler? Take heart. Believe it or not,  there’s instructions on the internet on how to curl your eyelashes with just your hands. Less dangerous? Maybe.  But I’m a busy wife, homeschooling mom, writer, and clean offices part-time. I do not have time to push my eyelashes up for three minutes at a time, then repeat two to four times until I get the desired curled effect. I don’t even have time to glue on fake eyelashes, much less spend up to twelve minutes  curling my own.

Of course, you could try the spoon method. You read correctly.  Spoon.  If rubbing your eyes can actually cause a person’s retina to detach, I hate to think what I could do with a spoon if it slipped. Remember I ripped out my eyelashes with a “supposedly safe” eyelash curler designed to do the job. Spoon method? No thanks.

I actually read an eyelash tip once that said to never wear brightly colored mascara like turquoise or magenta when going  to a business meeting. Really? Someone has to be told that?  But then, who am I to judge? I ripped out my eyelashes for cryin’ out loud. (Why does Luke 6:37* echo in my mind?)

No matter how alluring the makeup and mascara ads might be, turn the page! Change the channel! Embrace your own eyelashes. Thank God for them.  At least they’re still attached to your eyelids.

May you see God’s beauty all around you… with or without curled eyelashes.

Susan Hollaway


* Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Spring itch…

Though not normally given to allergies…I have developed my usual case of spring itch.  The symptoms–a deep desire to rearrange furniture and paint walls.  Since our wee cottage doesn’t lend itself to many workable furniture rearrangements…paint seemed to be the quickest cure.

Simple? One would think. I only wanted a soft white. Thanks to Pinterest, I went to the paint store loaded with ideas.

Do you have any idea how many colors are listed in the white section? There were pink/whites/…blue/whites….green/whites….yellow/whites.  And all with very enticing names.  I happen to love the names of paint, but bright white didn’t quite do it…and when the others ranges from blush to Santa Fe Trail…well

I came home, looked at my neutral gold walls…and scratched the itch.

I am, however, going to paint some furniture and tear out some cupboards.

Today is the first day of Spring, and it is sunny and fairly warm. The forecast for the next four days, however, includes rain/snow mix, and much colder temps.

Earth will birth spring when it is ready…and my spring itch will once again erupt.  White probably wasn’t the wisest choice after all.

Perhaps a watery blue would be nice. 


road 2 we like!

Spring and I are so not BFFs

While many wax eloquently about Spring being a season of new life and hope, I think Spring is more like a woman going through *those* changes (For those offended by that metaphor, you are clearly under 40).

Standing in the RainOnce March hits, we all start getting the itch for warmer weather. And it does arrive—for a day and then back to bitter cold. One weekend we are wearing our light jackets and the next weekend we are hauling out our winter boots again. The beauty of a crisp, white snow cover melts to make mud slides while the rain creates worm-speckled sidewalks. And don’t start me on the allergens. All in one day, we could have sun, cloud, snow and rain.


Oh, Spring, this emotional roller coaster is too much!!

But since all season were designed by our Creator, I should find the silver lining in those rain clouds…or are they snow clouds? So here are a few good things about Spring;

  1. Easter Celebration – a beautiful reminder of the cornerstone of the Christian faith; Jesus’ death and resurrection
  2. Easter Traditions – my family observes traditions from father’s Romanian heritage which includes the ever-popular egg breaking contest (click here to read more from a previous post)
  3. The days start to lengthen
  4. Spring Break with the kids
  5. The Avon catalogue with it’s cute spring fashions, accessories and décor
  6. It DOES eventually get warm

So, Spring might not be so bad after all. Could we become BFFs? Probably not, but maybe we could go out for a coffee sometime.

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

So what about you? Do you love Spring? Or could you just fast-forward to summer?

Happy birthday to us!

stageIt ‘s been a year since the curtain went up on Pages From Stages blog. We were all rather nervous about how it would go. The first post said:

This is a blog, as well as a drama where our stories will intersect. As with any good play, there is sure to be laughter and some tears. We do have a few drama queens around here, so just about anything can happen.

It’s proven true! I know I had no idea how fun it would be to write with my friends each week and to make new friends through our readers. 

We’ve said it before, but can’t say enough how much it means for each of you to take the time to read and share here. Happy Birthday!


Deborah Vogts


Deb Raney

The six of us became acquainted through writing conferences and my favorite – Called To Write — is coming up April 4-6 in Pittsburg, Kan. Deb Raney will be teaching and Ramona Tucker, publisher with Oak Tara will be leading workshops. Other speakers include our own Julane Hiebert and Deborah Vogts. 

At just $80, this is an incredible bargain if you’re interested in writing – fiction, devotions, memoir, poetry, blogging.  Get the registration form here.

 If you’ve never been to a writers’ conference, this is the place to start. If you’re an old pro, this is the place to get recharged and rediscover why you’re on this stage.

Susie Headshot 2I hope to see you there!


It’s not easy being—Last

I have spent the last ten days with my mother. She is 94. She has lost her husband, a son in law, eight out of nine of her brothers and sisters in law. All of her close friends are gone as are many of her neighbors and most of the members of her Sunday school class.
We mourn, rightly so, when we lose someone close to us. We often turn to someone in our life who is older and wiser for support.
I have watched my mom this week, thought about the many people to whom she has said good bye. I think it must be very hard, when everyone else has gone ahead.

It’s not easy –  being last.

Kathy Gronau