Over the last 15 years, I had the distinct privilege of interacting with Sarah Hutson, at our church, in several capacities. We were both involved in our last church Christmas play, we both attended the Aspiring Writers’ Forum and I often spoke with her when she was working the tech on Sunday mornings. She placed a high priority on people and relationships and her bright smile and laughter will be missed by many.
Her Son, Gavin, has grown up with and been a good friend of both my boys. Sarah, as a single mother has done a remarkable job of raising him. He has always impressed me with his genuine interest in others, his polite manners and his ability to interact on an adult level. Sarah’s legacy of faith, love and relationship will certainly continue through Gavin.
During the Christmas play, Sarah was in charge of wardrobe and juggled the task of outfitting a very large cast of characters with dignity and elegance. She kept herself focused on her portion of our church’s mission to reach out to our local community. In the AWF, her touching writings were heartwarming stories that beautifully blended wit, wisdom and very often comedy. One way or another she always seemed to leave us in tears. Her passing is no exception. She will be greatly missed. May God’s peace and blessings be with her extended family.
Love, Douglas Thompson
On behalf of The Thompson family
(Douglas, Traci, Skyler, Dylan and Kaycee)
I first met Sarah when Coleene and I launched the Aspiring Writers’ Forum in August of 2008. She, along with Chris and Barbara Harwood, manned the table beside us assembling people interested in working on the Christmas play. Her infectious smile greeted us when we arrived early Sunday mornings. We both were happy when she signed up to join us for our nascent Christian writers’ group.
We came to love her writing style which contained compassion along with a good dose of humor. She happily wrote about her foibles and how the Lord showed her how He loved her when people paid for her Starbucks and when she matched foster children with parents. Her voice came through clearly when we decided to undertake a Kingdom Assignment as a group. She wanted the funds raised to help local children and voted with many others to use the money to support CVCC children in going to Hume Lake the next summer.
As time passed, work kept Sarah from joining us on Wednesday nights. But she had a ready smile when I greeted her on Sunday mornings, usually when she was manning the booth in the back. We both knew we battled life-threatening illnesses, but neither of us chose to discuss that boring subject. Instead we spoke of writing and encouraged one another despite how our individual battles distracted us from committing words to paper.
So in 2017 it surprised both of us when we started being hospitalized at the same time on the same floor. Sometimes our paths crossed at Fontana’s Kaiser, more often we saw each other at Ontario’s Kaiser. We would poke our heads into each other’s room as we walked the hallways as inpatients. More happily, our paths crossed when we stopped for appointments or pharmacy runs. We both battled our way through into the New Year and 2018 hoping for a healthier year to follow. We spoke a couple times during the fights, offering each other encouragement to battle on.
When I learned that Sarah’s health was deteriorating, I wanted to stop in and visit her. My appointments left me exhausted and unable to follow through. I wish I would have pushed myself harder to try. The Thursday Sarah was taken to the ER for the last time, I was with my friend Gayle and we prayed fervently together. However, the Lord had a plan to take Sarah home that day. I cried but knew that she was now with our Savior. No more illness, no more pain. In the days since, I still watch for her when I am at Ontario Kaiser. I must remind myself that she is in a far better place now. I hope to see her smile again when the Lord decides it is my time to join Him.
Lots of Love, Linda Boutin
In the very beginning Aspiring Writers’ Forum or A.W.F. as we like to call ourselves, formed a bond amongst the members who transformed the table on Wednesday nights, sharing our thoughts in written word, our days in anecdotal stories and our hopes in words and imagined dreams of the glory and grace surrounding us. Our friend, Sarah Hutson sat amongst us in those first couple of years. With a genuine wit, she always made us laugh.
When I think of Sarah, I think of a spunky, young, single mom, with a huge heart for her family, her job, and especially her son, Gavin. She possessed many talents involving theater art, something she thought she might pursue as a career, but God led her down another path, one she also succeeded in, encompassing both her intellect, her loving spirit and “family.” Employed as social worker, specifically, she walked children and hopeful couples through the foster and adoption process, a gift of patience, insight and long hours, she saw the fruition of many hopes and dreams.
Sarah did all this fighting cancer, fighting for her own life, her own future but in that she trusted God wholeheartedly, as she herself proclaimed her adoption into God’s family.
In early summer, God gave me an impromptu way to serve Sarah, and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to give her a ride home from church one warm Sunday afternoon. We talked a lot and it wasn’t idle chit-chat. I asked her a few questions I just wanted to know. I felt comfortable enough around her to inquire and she shared in transparency, she shared humbly, she shared with her hopes and dreams still attached. My heart swelled in thankfulness for this dear, strong woman, my friend, who in her frail and painful state, encouraged me, made me laugh and believe even more that God’s plans are good and that light shines in and through the darkness. As I pulled up to her house, I held her hand and we prayed together, one last time.
In those first few months of AWF, we did a crazy thing. (Somehow, I think Sarah helped move this idea forward). Putting together stories of unique perspectives from the Christmas Story, an Advent book came together. A collaborative effort, Sarah contributed three stories. I chose to share one of them here, “The Shepherdess.” I am reminded of my friend, a shepherdess in her own way, leading lost little lambs to forever families, telling cheerful and funny stories while waiting and watching in darkness over those things she loved so dearly. Thank you Sarah, for pointing out the glorious lights in heaven with your shining courageous Spirit and for inspiring us all with your faithful, unrelenting hope in a Greater Shepherd who comforts us now in our tears and our memories.
In love and gratitude, Coleene VanTilburg
From “Christmas Inspirations” published in 2010 by the Aspiring Writers’ Forum
Angels, that’s what she heard. That’s what awakened Deborah and her family. Even her unborn child seemed alert and moving. At first, she thought she was dreaming, but when she looked around she saw other shepherds waking from their huddled groups and staring at the sky. A sky alive with color and movement that swirled together to form heavenly figures. The sky filled with the messengers of heaven. The air itself crackled around Deborah and an unseen force drew her and her loved ones to their feet.
“Be not afraid,” the angels said. “Unto you a Savior is born, go and worship Him.”
“We are mere shepherds, the lowest of the village,” Deborah said to her husband. “Why would a Savior be born for us? What right do we have to worship at His feet?”
Her husband drew her close, “I too am afraid; but they have told us to go to the Child and bear witness of His birth. I do not understand why we have been chosen, but I will obey.”
The call of the angels overcame the fears of her mind, and they began to walk toward Bethlehem. Her hesitant, doubtful steps began to hasten. Those around her seemed to be walking faster as well; some even began to run. She moved quickly through the streets, and her husband reached out to help steady her. When he took her hand, she was surprised to find him shaking. And when she looked into his eyes, she found them filled with love.
They were told to follow the star, but they were led by something deep in their souls. They filled the dark, silent streets, searching for the newborn King. She wondered why the whole town was not awake to see the Savior, and she realized that the first glimpse of this precious Gift was meant for them.
She expected to find the Child in a fine inn or a wealthy home, some place suitable for a king. Instead she found a young mother and proud father holding a Child wrapped in rough swaddling cloths. They huddled together in an old stable on the outskirts of town. Deborah knew they had found what they were looking for. The brightest star in the sky shone down on the stable, like a beacon in the night guiding a lost ship safely home. She felt her unborn child move and she rubbed her stomach lovingly. It was then that she realized this young girl’s Child was born to save her children. He was born to save the world, now and for all the generations to come. The weight of that realization brought her to her knees, and she wept with tears of joy.
In the dark of the night, the Light of the World was born and the most humble amongst them became this miracle’s witness.
Sarah in Peace
When I first met Sarah, Carl and I were replacing her bedroom door and repairing her bedroom window. She always had a radiant way of expressing her day. It was a pleasure to be near her. I saw her when she was in our first years of the Aspiring Writers’ Forum and when we did the Advent book. I saw her with a smile every Sunday doing the sound board and often during church activities. I would see her when we were at Kaiser when I was visiting Linda. She will be dearly missed.
Sarah and I weren’t in AWF at the same time, so I didn’t get to experience her words like some of the others did. But, I have plenty of fond memories with Sarah outside of writing. I first got to know her through the wedding ministry at church. Her mom, Barbara, is the church wedding coordinator so the “regular team” for a few years was comprised of Barbara, Chris, Sarah, her son Gavin, my mom, my dad, and myself. Not many people have an ability with words and visuals, but Sarah was one of those blessed people who could do both. Her eye for color coordination, balance, and detail helped make many brides’ dream day become a reality. She was dedicated to this creativity and perfection not only with weddings, but also as the lead lighting technician for Sunday morning for as long as I can remember. I had countless Sunday’s working with her, she on lights and me on media. She taught me so much about technical details.
We understood each other. We talked about our shared interests in science fiction tv shows, YA novels, plus size fashion, and Pinterest. I even sat with her during a chemo treatment and taught her how to crochet to help pass the time.
Through her health issues and constant pain, her faith always remained strong. She didn’t let cancer get in the way of her being Sarah. She was a fighter. Not only against cancer, but she fought for her son. She worked hard to provide for Gavin and guide him to be the man he has become and lead him to be a lover of Christ. She fought for every single foster kid she came in contact with, helping them live the lives they deserved and protecting them from things that kids should never have to go through.
Sarah will be missed, and I pray for her mom and her son to have comfort, but oh, what joy, for her body to be at rest and to dance before her Savior.
Sarah came back a couple times to AWF a few years ago, and I remember a poem she shared took my breath away for its depth and powerful emotion. But I knew her better from working alongside her for a couple years in the tech booth running media (the easy job of advancing slides) for Sunday morning services. She was a whiz at the lights controls, which remain a mystery to me, owing to her years of experience in theater production. Some mornings we were drawn to stand and sing passionately with eyes closed and hands raised (peeking of course, to make sure everything continued to run properly). Other times we got silly, like when we sang “Our God and Our King.” When we got to the line “When Jesus returns on a white horse He’ll ride,” we leaned toward each other and belted it out with an extra country twang. Sarah was funny and brilliant and deeply caring. I am grateful to have known her for a short time this side of heaven, and look forward to some laughs with her on the other side.