Suzanne's Second Estate

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Celebrity Sighting

Today at lunch, I stopped by Whole Foods to visit my friend Sarah who works in the floral department. When I arrived the place was buzzing. "John Voight the actor is here," Sarah said. I asked her who that was. "Angelina Jolie's dad," she clarified. Sure enough, as I checked out with my lunch, I saw John walking out with a young woman I assume was his wife and his 3-year-old daughter. He wore a Nike jogging suit, no sunglasses and was very tall. Evidently he lives in Castle Rock and appreciates organic food. I left the store minutes later and spotted him returning the empty cart to the store. I thought that was a very normal thing for a Hollywood star to do.

My Evangelistic Checklist

My friend Dave Barshinger wrote a great article about evangelism that appeared in this week's Boundless. Dave is my brother's childhood best friend. He and his wife, Allison, and son, Levi, live in Dallas, Texas. In his article, "My Evangelistic Checklist," Dave explores what an evangelical's true motivation for evangelism should be. He writes:

What is evangelism? It is first seeing ourselves as we truly are — resistant, self-centered sinners who, if it weren't for the grace of God, would always choose the feast of evil. Then it's seeing the rich work God has done in us: We have encountered true love. And it's seeing people as they are — they're just like me.

Evangelism is something I struggle with. It's something I desire to do, but I often find it scary and awkward. Dave's article reminded me of the point of evangelism: introducing the world to God's great love. When I am reminded of the way God has lavished His love on me through Christ, sharing that love with others is a natural response.

Give Dave's article a read. I trust it will be as much of an encouragement to you as it was to me.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Horsin' Around

Last night my improv group, Stick Horses in Pants, took these photos to display in our marquee at the Broadmoor Hotel where we'll have two free shows this Saturday (7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.). My friend Clint took the pictures.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Ben!

We celebrated my nephew Benjamin's first birthday on Sunday. Ben loved the spice cake my sister Bekah made. Mmmm.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sunshine in Seattle

Saturday I had breakfast in Seattle with high school friends Christy, Casey and Calvin. I met Calvin and Christy at a 50s sock hop youth group event when I was 15. Christy and I became good friends. She had a big impact on my spiritual life. Christy loved Jesus, and she was great at depending on Him in all circumstances. Watching her steady faith strengthened mine.

After breakfast, Calvin, Casey and I walked to the end of a dock on Lake Washington to take in the view. I like this picture.

In the afternoon, my sister Bekah and I - along with Sarah, one of my former housemates who now lives in Seattle - sat out on the deck at Ray's Seafood House. We enjoyed watching the sailboats and kayaks on the Puget Sound framed by the Olympic mountain range. This was one of the most beautiful days I've spent in Seattle. Being with friends made it even more special.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Tale of God's Grace

I read a great article on Boundless today. Written by Mia Wales, "Redeeming the Taylor Tragedy" recounts the events of April 26, 2006, in which four Taylor University students and a staff member were killed in a car accident. Dealing with issues of God's sovereignty and grief, the article tells an incredible story of God's Grace. Mia writes:

Time stopped at Taylor University. Classes were canceled for days. Assignments were put on hold. The eerie silence in the dining commons at lunch that afternoon screamed of the shock and pain that everyone felt. Everyone was mourning. Clusters of people were gathered all over the campus, some praying and singing, others weeping together.

I was torn between which funeral to attend, since many of them fell on the same weekend, but I chose Whitney's. Though I hadn't known Whitney well, I knew and loved Carly and wanted to support the Cerak family during their time of loss.

I don't remember a whole lot of what was said at the funeral, but I do remember the Ceraks. They showed no bitterness or resentment towards God, but praised him for his sovereignty and thanked him for the brief time they had with Whitney. Their faith and reliance on Christ astounded me and I was humbled wondering if my own faith was that strong.

I am constantly reminded of the sufficiency of God's grace for those who trust in Him. In the face of great tragedy, those who find their hope in Christ testify to His great power. I hope this article will remind you of our powerful God.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


This is how I feel.

Rocked can mean two things. The first meaning is to astound, shock, shake, stun. The second meaning is to sway, hold, cuddle. One is a shaking out of security; the other is the state of it.

Over the past month or so, God has been rocking my world. He has been shaking me out of my complacency (sometimes with a painful jolt) and challenging some comfortable assumptions. I don't like this feeling. It's confusing and frightening and threatening. Especially threatening. I've grown into a person who I like over the past 28 years. I'm comfortable with that person. And now God would have me do more? Or worse, something completely different?

When one realizes that one is being "rocked," one (being me) has two choices. I can hold tightly to the way things have always been, and when the quake is over clean up the mess and go back to normal. Or, I can just let go pummeled by debris. (OK, this analogy breaks down a little at this point.) But, no. Assuming that I will not die, I can give into the quake and let the rocking drop me where it may - perhaps somewhere completely new.

This, to me, often feels unsurvivable...that the walls around me will collapse - but for one thing. He who rocks my world also rocks me. In those moments of sheer terror in letting go, I discover that I am in His arms. He provides peace and refuge...sanctuary for a tired, yet restless, soul. And as he rocks, my breathing slows and I begin to hear His heartbeat. I am reminded that all is well. Because as much as He shakes up my world, He will not let me go.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart." -Isaiah 40:11

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ben at the Beach

My nephew is so adorable. Look at his teeth!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I've been Tussied!

Once upon a time (about four years ago), my friend Ashley was shopping at Wal-Mart when she discovered the cheapest deodorant on the planet. The deodorant came in a bright red and white container, smelled faintly like bug spray and cost a mere 99 cents. Ashley wondered about the person who would claim Tussy as her deodorant of choice.

At the time, I lived with three girls with whom I also worked: Sarah, Johanna and Krishana. Ashley, also from work, was an honorary member of our house. Shortly after Ashley told us about Tussy, sticks and tubs of it began to mysteriously appear in odd places: on windowsills, nestled in shower caddies, stashed in glove compartments. I would even occasionally receive one through interoffice mail. There were only a handful of Tussy products, but they circulated quickly as we developed sneakier and sneakier ways to pass them off.

A classic Tussy moment was the time Krish successfully stowed a stick in Johanna’s luggage when she went to Europe. We ended up with a fantastic picture of Tussy in front of the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps Tussy loved Johanna best, for when she got married last year in Nebraska, Tussy attended the event. Among wedding snapshots was a photo of bride and groom Tussy at the altar. In fact, every Tussy product ended up in Nebraska. And then we forgot.

Two weeks ago, Johanna and her husband Paul were in town for a visit. Sarah and Ashley have moved away, but Johanna, Krish and I were able to spend some time together and reminisce about our delightful days at the “Old Ranch House.” Johanna even came into work that Monday to say hello to former co-workers. After she left, Krish summoned me over to her cubicle. “Look what was in my mail slot,” she said, holding up a familiar red and white cylinder.

“You’ve been Tussied!” I exclaimed. Krish had already e-mailed Sarah and Ashley and received a response back from Sarah. The message contained a line drawing of the U.S. and a picture of the “Tussy Tub.” Her message said: “I love that we are in Arkansas, Colorado and Washington and Tussy continues to strengthen the bond of our friendship! Together we cover half of the continental U.S. Pretty impressive!!”

I walked back to my cubicle grinning. Yep, Johanna had pulled a good one. Krish never saw it coming. I walked over to the coffee pot to replenish my cup, and there among the creamers and sugar I found…you guessed it. I’d been Tussied. And I really didn’t mind.

Seeing Stripes

I have a lot of stuff. And I really don't need more...least of all a pencil sharpener (I don't even own a traditional pencil). But when I saw this display at Borders, I was inexplicably drawn to it. Suddenly it seemed necessary that I have a new address book, an art box, a pencil case and a variety of other whimsical items (whimsical only because they were striped). It's funny how something as simple as an aesthetically pleasing pattern can promise happiness.

I refrained from purchasing something stripy that I didn't need. But I did not leave the store entirely unscathed. I purchased a book on writing — a more justified use of my funds. (It's my career after all!) Not nearly as fun, however. Who knows. I may return to the scene of the crime...or, if any of my friends need gift ideas. :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Actively Waiting

I've held off writing about "singleness." There's just such a stigma attached to the term. Out of pride, I like to separate myself from the rest of the single's scene or at least challenge the stereotypes. This article, "Single While Active," remained in a computer file for more than a year before I submitted it to Boundless.

M. Scott Peck said:

"There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”

So for those of you who are single (or were once single), I hope the vulnerability of this article serves that end.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Ripped-Off Post (but a good one)

OK, so I completely ripped this entry off of Justin Taylor's "Between Two Worlds." But I found it so challenging and encouraging, I wanted to pass it on to those of you who don't read Justin's blog (but should!).

J. I. Packer, writing about the idea of "communion with God," then and now:

". . . whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not. The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it. When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God. Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour. We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters. Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us. But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God."

Packer, A Quest for Godliness, p. 215

This goes along with what I've been thinking about, concerning idolatry of the function and fruits of Christianity. The fact that we have been given a direct line to God is remarkable, and yet we become fixated on "Christian conduct" and "techniques of Christian service." I needed to be reminded of a basic truth — that today I am invited to commune with the God of the Universe. That is a great thing!

Monday, June 12, 2006


Tonight a few friends and I met together for prayer. I have to admit prayer is a challenge for me. I'm ashamed to think about how often I just go through the motions and don't really think about Who I'm talking to or what I'm saying. My best prayer times are in the car. But often those prayers are scattered and stream of consciousness. Perhaps that's what overwhelms me about prayer. If you start...where do you stop? I pray for friends which leads to family members which leads to leaders, government, missionaries...and suddenly the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I'm afraid I'm going to miss something.

And then there is that "let's make a deal" tendency. I know Abraham reasoned with God over the city of Sodom...but is that really what prayer is about? Trying to say the right words to get what you want? The Lord's Prayer, which is the example Jesus gave, seems to leave a lot of stuff out...friends, family members, leaders, government, missionaries. It begins with praise and progresses to invitation, daily need, confession, defense, rescue and praise. One of the first lines expresses a wish for God's sovereignty, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." And perhaps therein lies the key.

I liked what Lauren Winner had to say about prayer at a writer's conference I attended. She described it in these terms: Imagine God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are already in constant conversation, as Scripture says they are. Prayer is entering in to what They are already talking about. Wow. Prayer is an invitation into a divine discussion.

When I look at it that way, I don't have to worry about forgetting to pray for something important or spending too much time praying for something not as important. Prayer is simply taking time to join the conversation and listening to discover what is being said. At times there may be a call to reason with God or be like the persistent widow. Other times, I can simply say, "Your will be done. Oh, and what part would you have me play?"

We know that prayer is powerful and effective. I have felt its effects. The very fact that it reminds us of Who is control, makes it a healthy exercise of faith. Not to mention the fact that we are invited to "draw near to the throne of grace with confidence." This is a privilege that should not be ignored. God invites us into the discussion as we invite Him to carry out His will in our lives.

So Happy!

My nephew, Ben, enjoyed his first trip to the beach. He'll turn 1 on June 24.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Unconventional Mercy

My friend Hunter brought up an interesting point regarding my previous post on compassion. He states:

I agree that Christians should "lead the way" when it comes to mercy missions but I don't see it as a wise use of time to refocus efforts in the US on HIV/AIDS patients. True, thousands of people are diagnosed with this disease every year but for thousands of years people have been diagnosed and died from various cancers such as leukemia. Where is the cry to take care of these people? Where are the ribbon walks and vast amounts of TV coverage for these diseases?

Personally, I find it hard to have compassion on Americans who contract a disease that is 99% preventable. That's not to say that I don't -- but I'd rather focus my efforts on those who don't know why they are suffering from the diseases they do.

While I appreciate Hunter's observation that there are many sick people who deserve compassion, I still understand Kay Warren's calling. She focuses on those with AIDS because they live, and die, with a stigma. AIDS sufferers often are not given the same compassion by society as those who contract unpreventable diseases.

This makes me take a serious look at this you-deserve-what-you-got attitude Christians are tempted to have when it comes to mercy. While people with leukemia and cancer (400,000 Americans die of smoking-related cancer each year — also preventable — while only 20,000 die of AIDS) clearly deserve the same compassion Christ calls us to extend to all suffering people, who are we to decide which illnesses are deserving of compassion and which are not? Many people who develop cancer are dying in their sins as much as those who contract AIDS through a homosexual relationship or unprotected sex.

What is our calling then? Does faith in Christ demand that we extend love and mercy to all sick people or only to those who seemingly did not "earn" their disease? I suspect the former. In Jesus' time, He healed many people who society was convinced had earned their disease. A perfect example is found in John 9:30-36, where Jesus heals the blind man. When the blind man testifies to the miracle Christ has done, the people respond in judgment:

Blind man: “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.

People: "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind."

Blind man: "If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

People: “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!”

And they threw him out. Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

Blind man: “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

Clearly, the people's judgment was a little off. In fact, they overlooked a person who was sincerely seeking to know God. When we extend mercy and compassion to all hurting people, as Jesus did, we avoid making the wrong call.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


As someone woefully uncompassionate, I found Kay Warren's commentary on AIDS and Christianity challenging. I only wish it were longer, as she wasn't able to fully get to the meat of the issue. I appreciated her call for Christians to not turn the other way. Warren says:

Horrific and startling images confront each of us daily through newspapers, televisions, and eyewitness accounts of those suffering from AIDS. You can do what I did for years — choose to ignore it all because it was too painful — or you can become disturbed — seriously, dangerously disturbed — so disturbed that you are compelled to do something.

Christians are just as guilty as non-Christians of wanting to look the other way when it comes to the problems confronting our world, the topics that make us uncomfortable. But we need to be seriously disturbed about homelessness, child prostitution, rape, poverty, injustice, and HIV/AIDS.

Yes, Christians do need to be shaken up about these issues. Suffering people are truly the "least of these" Jesus spoke of. Our response to painful human problems will communicate to the world what kind of Jesus we serve.

Check out the Saddleback Church HIV/AIDS initiative.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Great Lengths

I found this article humorous about moms who didn't want to give birth on 6-6-06. An excerpt:

In New York, "people are canceling left and right because of what today represents," said Liza Washington, an administrative assistant at Children's Hospital of the New York-Presbyterian Medical Center. More than a dozen deliveries were postponed because of 666, which is said to be the "Number of the Beast" in the Bible's book of Revelation.

I wasn't even aware of the date until my young friend Sveta mentioned it yesterday. "If I were a crazy person, I'd pick 6-6-06 to do something crazy," she said. She had a point. I didn't think about it too much after that.

Something weird did happen today, though. I was watching TV in my basement earlier this evening and I kept hearing a scratching noise on the window. I finally pulled the shade up to look into my deep window well, and I came face to face with...a baby bunny. It had fallen through the grate into the well, and had no way of getting out. I quickly ran upstairs and asked my housemate help me with the rescue effort. We pulled out the screen and managed to coax the little guy (and he was little) into a paper sack. Then I took him upstairs and let him go in the front yard. It was rather exciting. The sad part of the story is that I discovered another bunny who evidently met with the same fate — probably last spring — and was not so lucky. I'm a country girl. I took care of it.

Anyway, happy 6.6.06! I'll leave you with this: "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. —Psalm 23:6

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Speak Up!

Several months ago, I received an e-mail from “Children’s Writer,” a newsletter of writing trends published by the Institute of Children’s Literature. The e-mail presented an upcoming article dealing with writing about teen sexuality and asked editors to respond. I was busy when I received the first e-mail and deleted it. A few weeks later another e-mail reached my box with the same request.

I decided to at least read the article even though I don’t write primarily for teens. As I read I became troubled. The article advocated writing about sex in graphic terms for teens because it was “realistic.” I was particularly upset by the statement of one author: “I want to break stereotypes by creating sexually active females who aren’t destroyed by the experience.” I decided to go ahead and write a response even though teen sexuality isn’t exactly my arena.

A few days ago I received an e-mail from one of our Clubhouse writers, thanking me for my comments on the topic. “I really appreciated hearing a Christian voice in this newsletter. So often when I have read it lately, there have been articles praising authors and books that present homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle for teens. Thanks for taking the truly progressive, forward-thinking stance. Sometimes as Christians we can feel like the ‘lone voice crying in the wilderness,’ so it's good to hear an echo once in a while!”

I was surprised to hear that my comments had been used. I saw a copy of the newsletter today. Apparently I was the only person to decry the view on sex this article advocated. My entire response appeared as the bulk of a sidebar titled: “Some Stereotypes Shouldn’t Be Broken.” Here is an excerpt:

Young Adult (YA) novels are leveling the field on which studs and loose girls, straight and gay play. Stereotypes may not hold up anymore, although Focus on the Family Associate Editor Suzanne Hadley believes some should. “It seems irresponsible to create sexually active females who aren’t destroyed by the experience, when statistics prove otherwise. Three million American teens contract STDs each year, and leading research indicates that teen sex contributes to depression a decreased sex drive in marriage, and sterility.”

Hadley asks, “Why not explore the more countercultural, yet emotionally and physically healthy, stance of abstinence, hailed in the Rolling Stone article “The Young and the Sexless” (June 2005) as ‘revolutionary.’ Recent studies suggest that more than 50 percent of high schoolers are abstinent, so it’s not naïve to promote virginity as a strong choice.”

While other editors and authors similarly argue both sides of the debate, all seem to agree with Hadley that “YA publishers and authors should approach the subject of sex with equal amounts of realism and responsibility.”

I nearly didn’t write this response because I was busy and I assumed someone else would respond. I nearly missed a chance to speak up for God's way. Don't miss an opportunity to use your voice. You never know who may be listening.

[Warning: The Rolling Stone article is excellent but contains some profanity.]