Archive | July 2014

Back on Tuesdays

I’m making my return to blogging on Tuesdays after a trial with Saturday blogging. The reason for the switch? Life.

Yes, life was happening and my regular schedule and rhythm that I hold so dear had changed. So I adapted. I made a change here. I made a change there. All in the hopes of keeping life’s great juggling act in balance and keeping all the proverbial ‘balls in the air.’

To be truthful, I am a creature of habit. I don’t love change. I would be happy to have each day a little more routine, a little more predictable. But that’s not reality for anyone…maybe for a season, but certainly not for the long haul.

I guess over the years I’ve learned to embrace change-to see life as a great adventure. And when I know something is coming that looks like a challenge, I’m learning (ever learning) to trust God.

Does trusting God during periods of change mean that everything will go smoothly? Many times, situations have worked out even better than I could have expected. Yet, sometimes those transitions have been like hitting speed bumps at 100 miles per hour. Ouch! But God has proved faithful by giving us strength and peace until we reached calm once more. God has never promised that we would have a problem-free life but He does promise to be to be with us through hard times and gives us hope. (See John 16:33)

In this life, there are many curves in the road…and pot holes, too. But I am glad there is one person who is always, always consistent. Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

Glad I can count on Him.

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

How well do you handle change?




The Noise of Silence

road 2 we like!






You’ve been there!

The day  is over. The only sound you hear is the clock ticking. You’re bone weary  and you can’t keep your eyes open because you were up late the night before.

Nothing scheduled tomorrow.


Then your head hits the pillow.

And instead of blessed quietness…

You can’t remember if you turned the coffee pot off–or locked the door.

What did your hubby mean when he said the new recipe was “okay’?

Why didn’t ______answer your text? Did you say something wrong…again?

You really shouldn’t have volunteered to______.  You don’t even like to__________.

Will you ever learn to say ‘no’?

What will you have for supper tomorrow night? Are you sure you have all the ingredients?

Oh, shoot! There is something scheduled tomorrow. You signed up to take a meal to______. Was there a list of special dietary needs with the sign-up sheet?

Hubby needs white shirt for tomorrow. Does it need pressing?

And on, and on, and on it goes.

If only one could ‘mute’ the noise that invades the silence of our lives.

I’m on a real kick here!!  BE STILL!  Is  much easier said than done.

Anyone identify?



The most important thing

It’s not being a wife.

It’s not being a soul winner and seeing lots of people saved.

It’s not being the most morally pure person on my block.

It’s not being a mother to the motherless.

It’s not studying the Bible.

It’s not earning enough money so I can retire to go on mission trips and volunteer.

It’s not taking a stand on cultural issues.

It’s only one thing.

Love the Lord.

The single most important thing that I am called to do. Love the Lord with all my heart. I’ve been convicted that anything else that matters will follow if I get this most important thing right.

This song by Matt Redman gets my heart pumping and helps me see how every heart beat really can beat with the most important thing.

Blessings to you this Monday, friends!

~ Susan

What a Difference a Voice Can Make

I love to read.

I would rather read a book than do just about anything else.

Especially housework.

Since art camp ended last week, I figured I had about three weeks to get everything done that I need to before starting back to school. My list is long. Everything from getting the laundry caught up (like that ever happens in this family) to painting my kitchen and dining room. The problem is I’d rather read a book. Then I realized I could download an audiobook onto my phone and have a book read to me. Perfect solution, right? I know people who do this all they time. They love listening to books on tape. Win-win, I figured.

So I bought an iTunes card and my son put it on my account (because he remembers the password stuff). Then I started browsing through my favorite authors. I learned one thing real quickly. Christian fiction audiobooks cost a whole lot more than secular books. I kept looking and finally found one that wasn’t too costly. I’d already read the book so I knew it was a good story that I really enjoyed. As I started working I mentally listed all the chores I could get done while having a book read to me. Win-win, right?

I have now learned a good lesson as a writer AND as a human. Tone of voice can pretty much make or break any conversation. It took about five chapters before I realized the heroine of the story wasn’t the villain. The reader spit her lines out, made her whiney, and created a very non-likable heroine. I’d read the story before so I kept wondering WHERE my heroine was. I remember liking her, rooting for her, wanting her to get the guy. This time, I just wanted her to go home.

It’s Friday and I’m still not finished with this audiobook. I read the book myself in a few hours–probably stayed up half the night reading it. Now I’ve learned how nice it is to NOT have someone reading to me! Silence is bliss.

After reading this book myself, I’d have given it 4-5 stars. Today, I’d give it 2 at best. The reason it failed? The reader’s tone.

And that is where the lesson is for me. Silence is bliss when the tone of my voice isn’t very pleasant. When my words are only going to be sharp or whiney, everyone would probably enjoy my silence. It doesn’t matter how the story was written, it’s all about how someone perceives your tone. In talking and especially with all the technology out there.

Is it possible that tone of voice speaks louder than any words?

What a lesson for me to be reminded of!

Enjoy your weekend,


And He went away…to a quiet place

road 2 we like!Lately I’ve been thinking again of how many times in Scripture we are told that Jesus withdrew from the crowds, and went to be alone with the Father.

I don’t have crowds in my life–at least not people crowds. But a horde of other things crowd my mind. Some of them are there because I’ve invited them–you know who they are–past failures, what if’s and if only’s. Others come uninvited and most unwelcome, and they are all related.  And you know what?  I don’t particularly like this kind of  reunion.

We had major storm damage at our house several weeks ago. Now, after a prolonged issue with the insurance, we are finally able to get it fixed. The construction crew came on Tuesday.  I had a book due Tuesday and still had chapters to finish, and editing to get done before zipping it off to Chicago and my editor.

Last Friday I moved to the basement of hubby’s sister’s house. Hubby chose to stay home to oversee the construction fix…but I didn’t want my computer in all the dust and confusion and knew I’d not get anything accomplished. And while I do miss him…this ‘quiet place’ has been like a warning shot over the heads of my ‘crowd’.

I’ve gotten an incredible amount of writing done. Most of all, I’ve had a great time allowing Jesus to do the inviting to our party. Sometimes it’s just the two of us–other times I’ve welcomed guests like grace, and mercy, and forgiveness. And the family they’ve brought has called for celebration and thanksgiving.

They say Susanna Wesley would throw her apron over her head to escape to a ‘quiet place’. And I know I won’t always be able to get this far from home to enjoy mine. But yet, if  Jesus found it needful and important enough to record it for us–should we not also seek such a place.

Where do you go to escape the crowds?

There is a place of quiet rest….


Truth Reminders

In 2009, I kept a daily prayer journal. While going through a difficult and confusing situation, I wrote down a list of facts to help keep my focus on what was true. I’ve referred to that list many, many times since then.

And wouldn’t you know, I pulled it out this weekend.

I share it to help me nail down these truths once again and just in case it might help you, too.

  1. God is in control.
  2. God is good, loving and eternal.
  3. God’s word is true; my emotions are real but temporal.
  4. This is not how it will always be.
  5. There is coming a day when all will be made right.
  6. God can see the future and I cannot.
  7. In the darkest times, God is most at work.
  8. God has given generously; look at all He has done and I deserve none of it.

What truths are on your list of reminders?

~ Susan

Movie Rewind: Saving Mr. Banks

Yesterday, my husband and I got a lot of things accomplished so we decided to relax and rent a movie. One movie we heard a lot Saving Mr. Banks - the movieabout, but didn’t get a chance to see over the Christmas break when it was released, was Saving Mr. Banks.

I was looking for a drama that was neither a romance, nor involved death or guns. Believe me, that was easier said than done! And this movie fit the bill perfectly.

The story is set in 1961 when Walt Disney pulls out all stops to fulfill a promise he made to his daughter 20 years prior. That promise was to turn the novel, Mary Poppins, into a movie. But for 20 years, author P.L. Travers, refused to allow her beloved characters get mauled by the Hollywood machine. However, she finds herself in financial trouble since she stopped producing books and the royalties from her previous works nearly run out. That’s when her agent convinces her to at least travel to California to meet with Disney’s team.

Mrs. Travers, as she insists on being called, arrives in the U.S. prepared to be disappointed. Her demeanor is sharp, disagreeable, snippy, and unmovable. She creates many over-the-top demands in order for her to release the rights to Disney, including the prohibition of animation and that the colour red is not used at all in the movie.

Cleverly woven throughout the movie is the childhood of the Australian-born, English author. Mrs. Travers, born Helen Goff, had a devoted father who struggled with alcohol and with maintaining employment as a banker. Her Aunt Ellie, who comes to help the family, is the inspiration for Mary Poppins. Through these flashbacks we learn why the author longed to protect her characters so much.

As a huge Mary Poppins fan, I was very intrigued with the back story of the creation of this a classic film. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson performed their roles as Walt Disney and P.L. Travers very convincingly. The fashion and the props brought the viewers right back to the 60’s. Snippets of the songs and lines used in the actual film, Mary Poppins, satisfied this fan. It was a touching film and the theme of forgiveness gave the story depth.

Although it is a Disney film, the nature of the story was more suited for an adult audience and would not be all that interesting to younger children.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch this one in the theater, I recommend this for renting!

Cherie Gagnon

– Cherie

What movies-in theater or rental-have you seen this summer?

Art Camp 2014

Other than the week we go on vacation, my favorite part of summer is the week we spend doing Art in the Barn. This was the second year for my dear friend, Beth, and me to put this together. One perfect barn, thirty students, three helpers, four days, nine projects, one art show. We had a wonderful group of students who worked hard and created some great works of art.

Mary, our host of the week, always has cute signs around.

Mary, our host of the week, always has cute signs around.

We couldn't do art camp without these helpers! Tiana, Grace, and Annie do a great job wherever we need them.

We couldn’t do art camp without these helpers! Tiana, Grace, and Annie do a great job wherever we need them.

Who wouldn't love splattering paint in the manner of Jackson Pollock? The students loved this project!

Who wouldn’t love splattering paint in the manner of Jackson Pollock? The students loved this project!

Someday, I'd love to see some of Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures. For now, I'll be happy with these made from melted plastic.

Someday, I’d love to see some of Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures. For now, I’ll be happy with these made from melted plastic.


My favorite project of the week! Clay tiles in the style of Georgia O'Keefe. These were BEAUTIFUL!

My favorite project of the week! Clay tiles in the style of Georgia O’Keefe. These were BEAUTIFUL!

Amazed? Me too!

Amazed? Me too!

This one is Isaac's! He isn't a huge fan of every project, but he liked this one.

This one is Isaac’s! He isn’t a huge fan of every project, but he liked this one.

It never fails when I’m teaching that sometime within the first twenty minutes of teaching a new project, I get a huge feeling of defeat. I start questioning the level of the project and my own teaching abilities. And then, suddenly students start finishing and I am simply amazed!

Already we’re thinking of ideas for next summer. It’s a busy week but so worth it when we see the pride the kids take in their masterpiece!

Thanks for letting me share!


Good looking corn

The corn has never looked as good on the Fourth of July as it did this year. And I have that on the authority of some pretty old old-timers.

corn 2

Corn crop

Driving home from visiting my family this weekend, the sunset over the green fields was so breath-taking, I just had to stop the car and take pictures. And play with some camera settings on my new phone.

corn 1

Is this heaven? No, it’s Missouri.

SusieMiresHow are the crops looking out your way?
~ Susan

Spoken Words

Happy 4th of July!

All week-long I’ve been thinking of what to write since my blog day falls on the 4th. I had a few ideas and some seemed like good possibilities dealing with our freedom and the privilege it is to live in the U.S.A.

Then our weekly newspaper came on Wednesday and I flipped to the obituaries. Morbid? If you live in a small community it’s good to know that information. There’s a good chance you will know someone or know their family so knowing saves awkward moments later on.

On Wednesday, the name I recognized was my third and fourth grade teacher. My grade school years were spent at a small rural school where each teacher taught two classes. Mrs. Thompson was my teacher for those two years. She was strict. She didn’t smile a lot. She was a good teacher and she had a part in growing me.

In May I attended the funeral of a man from that community. Mrs. Thompson was there and I had a huge desire to go and talk to her. She really hadn’t changed much (isn’t it strange how the teachers we thought were SO old when we were little really weren’t that old?). When I told her who I was she said with a straight face and in the tone I so well-remembered, “I know who you are.” I wasn’t sure what that meant! As we talked about my family and a few memories I finally told her what I felt pressing on me to say. I thanked her for teaching, for sharing her life with me, for being a part of my life as I grew up, and caring enough to see that I learned. She inspired me and touched my life. For the first time in our whole conversation, she looked at me with a smile and thanked me for telling her. She said it meant a lot to hear those words.

It can be so easy to ignore those promptings to express our heartfelt appreciation. The moment doesn’t always feel right or we’re in a hurry. But as I read her name in bold print I was thankful for that prompting. It’s easy to assume people know we appreciate them and what they do. It costs us nothing to tell someone how they’ve touched our lives and who knows what those words will mean to them.

So, this isn’t a Fourth of July post and there’s no recipes for your picnic. But maybe today you’ll see someone who has touched your life in some way and you’ll tell them. You’ll be glad you did!

Enjoy this holiday weekend!