Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Friday, April 28, 2006

Venti Blessings

My friend Krishana wrote this excellent article for Boundless about learning to receive God's blessings. I am especially fond of the fact that it takes place in one of my favorite places.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I've always had a little hair envy. My brother, Matt, and sister Bekah have red hair. Bekah has that gorgeous shade that can't come from a bottle. For the past six months I have volunteered as a hair model at a local salon to allow new stylists to practice their techniques. So yesterday when I had the opportunity to add a more dramatic color to my hair, I chose mahogany.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blog Buddies

I was in Delaware this weekend for a writers conference. The conference was great, but last night was definitely my favorite part of the weekend. My friend Danielle, whom I'd met only through this blog, drove down from Baltimore to meet me for dinner. We ate at local Newark spot called the Home Grown. The food was amazing (I had penne with vodka sauce, which I'd seen offered in several local places) and there was some great live music which made it feel like a true local experience. After dinner, we headed over to Starbucks to talk some more.

We talked about how our friends (and her husband) thought it was odd that we were getting together after only knowing each other through our blogs. But I am so glad we did! We had so many connections and things in common, including both having lived in York, PA, for a significant portion of our lives, both being oldest home schooled children, both loving writing and print media. We even knew many of the same people. By the end of the evening, I was not surprised when Danielle began talking about something that I had also experienced. I only wish we lived closer! Still, it amazes me how God orchestrates events to bring people into your life in unusual ways. I really needed to hear a few of the things Danielle said last night. I consider the fact that God allowed us to meet in this way a very special kind of blessing.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Alternative

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about my faith over the past few days. Christianity. It’s called faith for a reason. Paul said, “We live by faith, not by sight.” A hard thing to do in this complicated world. I’ve been rereading a book by James W. Sire called “The Universe Next Door.” This passage I found especially apropos:

In the late nineteenth century Stephen Crane captured our plight as we in the late twentieth century face the universe.

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist.”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.”

How different this is from the words of the ancient psalmist who looked around himself and up to God and wrote:

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8)

There is a world of difference between the world views of these two poems. Indeed, they propose alternative universes. Yet both poems reverberate in the minds and souls of people today. Many who stand with Stephen Crane have more than a memory of the psalmist’s great and glorious assurance of God’s hand in the cosmos and his love for his people. They long for what they no longer can truly accept. The gap left by the loss of a center to life is like the chasm in the heart of a child whose father has died. How those who no longer believe in God wish something could fill this void!

And many who yet stand with the psalmist and whose faith in the Lord God is vital and brimming still feel the tug of Crane’s poem. Yes, that is exactly how it is to lose God. Yes, that is just what those who do not have faith in the infinite-personal Lord of the Universe must feel – alienation, loneliness, even despair.

We recall the struggles of faith in our nineteenth-century forebearers and know that for many faith was the loser. As Tennyson wrote in response to the death of his close friend,

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last – far off – at last, to all
and every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream; but what am I?
A infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light;
And with no language but a cry.

With Tennyson faith eventually won out, but the struggle was years in being resolved.

("The Universe Next Door," James W. Sire, pp. 13-15)

I recently told a friend I could never leave Jesus. The alternative is too shabby. I want more. I want a hope and a future. I want a personal relationship with an infinite God. I want a true, high calling. I want Christ.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Go Ahead. Laugh Your Pants Off!

This is one of my all-time favorite photos of my improv troupe, Stick Horses in Pants. For those of you in the area, we will be performing at the Broadmoor Hotel in the Broadmoor theater tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The show is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I Dream in Adult

I’ve heard it said that a true test of whether or not a person is fluent in a language is whether or not they dream in that language. For example, if I had achieved fluency in Spanish, I might have a dream about me and Jorge alimentar elefantes manís at the circo. (in case you’re wondering, George and I would be feeding elephants peanuts at the circus.)

I didn’t sleep extremely well last night, and I dreamed a lot of dreams. The topics of these dreams included: discussing theology with a friend (you know who you are), discussing current world events with another friend (you also know who you are) and grappling with various relational and faith issues. I woke up kind of drained with a strong sense that my dreams had been — well, boring. Snoozers, you might even say. That’s when it hit me: I dream in adult! I don’t feel like anything significant has changed since I turned 28. But even my dreams betray that my life experience has indeed grown. Gone are the dreams of saving the day with Mr. T and the A-Team, being chased in a circle by a lion (that was my childhood reoccurring nightmare) or practicing survival skills as one of the Boxcar Children. It makes me a little sad.

I do occasionally have very strange or surreal dreams that keep me entertained for days just trying to figure out what they mean. Sometimes the people in the dreams make jokes that stick with me (and those come from my own mind — I crack myself up). And there’s always the insightful dream that seemingly uncovers some subconscious thought or feeling.

After last night, I would be OK if I didn’t dream in adult for a long time. It’s hard enough to be an adult without the added boredom of dreaming like one. Bring on the Mexican food!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sorrow and Compassion

Today I sat in the food court of the mall at lunchtime and watched people (one of my favorite pastimes). As I sat there, a group of punks walked by — one of them a beautiful girl, her head half shaved, eyes masked in black eyeliner, lip ring protruding from her lower lip. I watched her sullen face, wondering what made her sad or angry...or was that fear behind her eyes? My gaze turned to an older man, in his late 60s, sitting alone. No ring on his finger. He held an auto magazine, but he stared off into space. At the very next table, sat a teen boy with acne. He wore an oversized letterman jacket — perhaps his one claim to "coolness." Under the jacket he wore the same choir uniform as several dozen other teens who sat in clumps laughing and chattering. But he sat alone, facing away from them, head down, concentrating on his chicken sandwich.

As I imagined what the stories of these three people might be, I suddenly felt sad. And to think this emotion came from observing a cross-section of society at a mall in the most privileged country in the world. Things get worse when you consider the plight of the human race — the orphan problem in Russia, the AIDS problem in Africa, world hunger, disease. The amount of sorrow and suffering that humanity is experiencing at any given moment is completely overwhelming.

A friend and I were talking about this very thing this weekend. She shared that she often struggles with taking on the problems and pain of others. When she sees someone she perceives to be in pain, she will often think about it all day. Her words reminded me of something Amy Carmichael said. Amy, a missionary to India in the early 1900s, rescued little girls from temple prostitution. Though her work was effective, she could not save every little girl. She wrote:

"There were days when the sky turned black for me because of what I heard and knew was true . . . Sometimes it was as if I saw the Lord Jesus Christ kneeling alone, as He knelt long ago under the olive trees . . . And the only thing that one who cared could do, was to go softly and kneel down beside Him, so that He would not be alone in His sorrow over the little children."

This thought is so freeing. Jesus feels the pain of every human. He understands it more than I. My responsibility is to mourn with Him. He is the One who has the power to heal hearts and restore life. Lord, give me compassion for those who hurt.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Celebrating Kelsey

My friend Kelsey's birthday was two days after mine, so we celebrated Saturday night. From left to right: Blaze, Clint, Kelsey, me, Tonya, Michael. We got to meet Kelsey's dad who was visiting from Indiana and good times were had by all.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Today I Turn 28

I can hardly believe it. In two years my parents will have a daughter who's 30! I have had one of the best birthdays on record! It was kicked off Saturday by the best karaoke party ever, followed by a ski getaway yesterday and culminating today with cards, calls and birthday wishes galore. Take a look at the delicious ice cream cake that my boss Jesse provided! (Notice there was only room for one initial. "S as in 'Super Suz,'" I quipped.)

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on the year. My 27th year was an eventful one that included many firsts. I:

  • Took ballroom dance lessons for the first time. Learned tango, waltz, swing and salsa.
  • Jumped from a plane at 10,000 feet tandem with friend Anthony (definitely a first).
  • Embarked on writing a proposal for my first book about young adults and the church.
  • Became an aunt for the first time to nephew, Ben (OK, I really didn't have much to do with that).
  • Traveled overseas for the first time, spending a week in Russia.
  • Bought my first house.
  • Got my first cavity.
  • Spoke at my first writer’s conference.

Just a list.

The things that have truly impacted me have been the amazing relationships I've developed this year. God has used so many people in my life to challenge and encourage me, and to show me more clearly who He is. I suppose that is the wonderful thing about getting older. Yes, I said wonderful. As you mature and add life experiences, you come to see more clearly who Jesus is and how God orchestrates your life in such tender and intricate ways.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says: "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." That has been the song of my life this year. And each year I live my eternity with my Savior is that much closer. Soli Deo Gloria. To God be the glory!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Saving Jake

I don't often write fiction, but Brio, Focus' magazine for teen girls, published one of my works this month. Feel free to check it out:"Saving Jake."

Fun Times Had by All

We celebrated my birthday Saturday night with, what else, some good old-fashioned karaoke. My housemate and friend Krish succeeded in turning my downstairs into a karaoke lounge and many of my guests embraced their alter-egos of Whitney, Sinatra and Elvis. To catch a glimpse of all the fun, visit my blankeffect photo page.

Even though my true birthday isn't until Thursday, I felt celebrated. My friends pulled out their best renditions of Beatles hits, country, showtunes and the crooners. Brownies were enjoyed by all (I still have an entire pan left!). And when the karaoke machine got hot and decided it was done, our karaoke dissolved into an impromptu version of bad talk radio. When all was said and done it was 2 a.m. when the last singer left (3 a.m. with the time change). I fell into bed very happy and thankful to have such special friends.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ethos - 3.31.06

OK, so tonight's Ethos wasn't quite as controversial as expected, but speaker Tony Jones mentioned a blog entry I posted on myspace last night as part of his introduction! (Further proving the power and connectivity of the blogosphere.)

Anyway, I really appreciated what Tony had to say (and I'm not just saying that because I suspect he's reading this entry). He talked about symbols in culture and what they mean. Using the story of Jesus answering the Pharisee's question about the Roman tax (Matthew 22:16-22), Tony pointed out how when asked a yes-or-no question, Jesus chose a third option. He actually went further than a simple yes or no by asking them whose image (imago) was on the coin. To those who knew the Scriptures this was significant because not only did Jesus give his brilliant answer - "Give to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God's," - by bringing up the image issue, He went deeper to say that because everyone is created in God's image, ultimately everything is God's. Wow. Jesus = smart.

As Christians it seems we're obsessed with yes-or-no answers. We want everything to be in black and white. But Jesus didn't operate that way. Tony went on to explain that Jesus humanized people. He cut beneath the labels to a person's value as a human being. I love that! Tony gave a great illustration about "American Idol" and de-humanization. Ryan Seachrist came out being the Christ figure. (That's a whole other blog, but ask me about it if you're interested.) But the point was that glimpses of Christ are sprinkled throughout culture (culture = the mechanism by which humans process their experiences and ascribe them with meaning) and serve as excellent starting points for meaningful conversations if we go beyond yes and no.

Ethos - 3.30.06

Posted on Myspace on 3.30.06:

Tonight Carmen, Melissa and I attended the first night of "Ethos: a Dialogue of Faith and Culture" up at Colorado Christian University. It was awesome! We heard a rather dry lecture specifying the differences between fundamentalism and authoritarianism (both are very bad).

I was most intrigued by what Brit Barry Taylor had to say in his lecture "Faith and Film." He talked about how our culture is all about mystery (i.e. 17 versions of "Law and Order," "CSI," "Lost," etc.) and enchantment. How that desire people have can be an open door to thinking about the spiritual. He pointed out how all five of this year's Oscar-nominated films dealt with moral issues: "Goodnight and Good Luck," "Crash," "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote" and "Munich." I hadn't thought about it, but what he was saying was that pop culture is thinking about morality. And perhaps a key role as Christians is for us to use culture as a starting point for meaningful dialogue. I'll write more on this later. Food for thought, though.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night as it's supposed to be rather controversial. Hooray. I love controversy.