Suzanne's Second Estate

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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blog Responsibly

Based on interviews with veteran bloggers Justin Taylor and Carolyn McCulley, "Blog Responsibly" examines the potential pitfalls of blogging from a believer's perspective: carelessness, gossip, dissension. Justin and Carolyn offer advice for blogging with integrity.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Importance of Hair

I found these quotes in a book about hairstyles of the 1940s.

"Today every woman that's worth her salt is working some job. If she isn't working in a defense plant or an office, then she's devoting every free moment to volunteer work to help the war effort. She wants to look feminine and attractive, but at the same time she wants to look smart and efficient on the job." (Circa 1943)

And my favorite:

"Yes, her very life, her home, the man she will marry, often depends on the art of bringing fresh loveliness to her hair." (Circa 1942)

No pressure.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Missing Out?

Today I received six e-mails from teen girls regarding "Missing Out?" the article I wrote for Brio magazine about home schooling.

The subhead (which is not included in the online version) reads:

Whether you're entering the world of home schooling or you've been doing it for years, you may feel as though you're missing something. Find out how to turn these common complaints into advantages!

Common complaints include: "I have no social life," "I'm missing out on academic opportunities" and "How can I be 'salt and light'?" I drew the complaints from my own experiences home schooling, but evidently they struck a chord with modern home schooling teens.

Molly from Colorado Springs wrote:

Thank you so much for the article "Missing Out?" I really liked how it made the point that home-schoolers don't lack social development. I am home-schooled and sometimes feel that people don't appreciate parents that take the effort to home-school their kids. I also enjoyed the sentence at the beginning of the article, "In elementary school, it may have been cool to tell friends that you had school in your pajamas, but the joke's old." People ask me all the time if I do school in my pajamas! Thanks again!

Kelsey from Minnesota wrote:

I am 16 years old, in 11th grade and have been home-schooled my entire life. It's hard a lot of times. People have such a stereotypical view of home-schoolers. And we have that kind of view of ourselves sometimes, too. But your article was very good. I think it will help home-schoolers see they don't have to fit into a certain mold. They can just be themselves, reach the goals they want to and participate in things just like anybody else. And I think it helps non-home schoolers to see some of the things we struggle with so they can understand us a little more. Thanks so much for the encouraging words and advice!

I loved being home-schooled, so writing about it in an encouraging way was easy. Upon learning of my educational background, people have often said in shock, "YOU were home schooled?!" Yes I was. When understood and used correctly, home education can be a gift.

Monday, August 21, 2006

In the Park

I just got back from Rocky Mountain National Park. (Here I'm standing next to the Continental Divide.) In the next few days I will be blogging about the wonderful visit I had with my parents. We took a trip up Pike's Peak on the cog railway. We visited my mom's childhood home in Drake. And we revisited the places in Rocky Mountain National Park where my parents met and fell in love. I felt like a pampered only child and cherished the quality time I got to spend with Mom and Dad.

Last night I got to fillet my own trout at the Sundeck Restaurant in Estes Park.

Today we retraced Mom and Dad's steps as they met at Trailridge Gift Shop, lived at cabins in Grand Lake and hiked to Lulu City. This is the picnic table where my mom first met my dad's parents when they drove through for a visit. My dad's parents were camping, and they ate breakfast here.

More great stories coming soon to a blog near you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rocky Mountain National Park

My parents are coming to visit for a week. They arrive in Denver tonight. My mom has been out once to see me since I moved here six years ago, but this will be Dad's first time since the move. I'm excited to show them around.

One activity on our intinerary is to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, where my parents met. My dad, a college kid from Columbus, Ohio, applied months in advance for summer employment at the park. My mom, from Parker, Colorado, ended up there last-minute after a broken engagement. They met at a Bible study, and the rest is history. I have never visited this historical (and beautiful) park, so I'm excited to make the trek with Mom and Dad. We'll probably do some hiking, too. (My dad's an "outdoor guy.")

Monday, August 14, 2006


I'm a piler.

My room is ordinarily cluttered with various stacks of papers, books and CDs. It all makes sense to me; I know exactly which pile contains which items. There's a method to the madness, that is.

This weekend I eliminated the piles. I filed nine months worth of bank statements, paid bills, hand-outs, magazines and coupons. I did this because: A) My parents are visiting this week and they need a place to sleep (the piles were on the bed); B) Sveta's parents were coming over yesterday for lunch and a tour.

Though I'm still getting used to it, I like the way my room looks without the piles. Still, I don't know that I can entirely give up my piling ways. Piles represent things I want to give attention to. If I actually file the book in the shelf, chances are I won't read it. If it's lying next to me on the bed, however, it stands a much better chance.

I heard at a writer's conference that all writers are pilers. I don't know if this is true. Any pilers out there?

[photo is of my one remaining pile]

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Interviews: Adam Smouse

I missed a Friday interview when I was out of town last week, but I trust this one was worth the wait. I interviewed 24-year-old Adam Smouse of Portland, Ore. a little over a year ago. Adam’s words impacted me deeply. His is a story of transformation.

On February 22, 2004, as Adam was driving home from college group, an unidentified motorist slammed into the left rear side of his jeep. The impact flipped the jeep multiple times. Adam managed to crawl out of the vehicle, but the impact had shattered every bone in his face. From the article I wrote for Breakaway magazine:

The left side of Adam’s face took the hardest hit, crushing his cheekbone and nose and splitting his skull all the way to the brain, leaving it loose like a flip top.

Adam lost his left eye, and underwent extensive reconstructive surgery on his face. Adam shared with me the intense pain of dealing with the loss of his identity and the peace of accepting God’s plan.

What has been your greatest challenge?

“The single most difficult thing is the fact that I hate the way I look. I wasn’t aware of how I looked for three of four days [after the accident]. They kept me so sedated, that it was the last thing on my mind. I remember the first time I looked in the mirror. There was a ton of swelling. Stitches covered my face. A feeding tube was stitched into my nose. The hardest thing is accepting myself the way I am.”

How did the accident change you?

“The last couple of years I’ve struggled with vanity. I got a lot of attention for the way I looked. I’m a musician, so I got a lot of attention from girls. It went to my head. When the accident happened, I felt like God was pointing right at it. It was blaringly obvious to me. I didn’t have that. I couldn’t be confident in the way I looked. I couldn’t walk around with my head high because I was dressed nice and my hair was cool.

I went through some serious depression. I stayed in my house for almost three months. I did not want anyone to see me, and I couldn’t accept the way I looked. It’s still extremely hard. But God has given me peace. The first time I looked in the mirror even though I was shocked and horrified, I felt like God was holding me, and saying, “It’s OK. It’s not the end of the world. You are alive. I kept you alive. And I’m going to see you through this.”

What was it like when you returned to work?

“I was really scared. As a server, I have to talk to people I don’t know. Just having people look at me is really unnerving. Or having to explain to people when they get up the courage to ask. Being out in public has been an incredibly slow process.”

How has the accident changed the way you view others?

“It’s been a lesson in realizing that the outside doesn’t matter. You hear it all the time. Whatever. It never really meant anything to me. But now that it directly affects me, I realize that it’s true. God doesn’t look at the outside; He looks on the inside. That has taken on a whole new meaning for me in the way I treat people. God’s given me compassion and a thirst to really get to know people.”

How has this experience impacted you?

“This is the worst and best thing that ever happened to me. It has changed my life. My friends say I’m a completely different person. God has given me a quietness of spirit and a deeper thirst for him. If I never told anyone about what God has done in my life, I think it would be tragic. He’s done something so great for me.”

This spring, Adam is attending the Contemporary Music Center. In the future he hopes to release a CD of original songs. “I want to sing about the things that God has taught me.”

When Adam was in the hospital, he read the book of Job. “A verse that struck me was Job 13:15,” he says. “ ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’ He’s upheld me. And as long as I’m breathing, I’m going to trust Him in the best way that I know how.”

Adam is a talented musician. Check out his music at

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Walk in the Park

Sunday night I took a walk with Mom, Anna and Ben. We walked up the hill by my parents' house and through a local park. Ben looks like he's scolding me in this picture.

The Girls

I like this picture of my mom and sister-in-law, Anna.


A nice prospect of the town.

Mystery Woods

This wooded area in Stewart Park reminded me of the movie "Flight of the Navigator." I love that movie.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Raising World-Changers

Back in March, I wrote a post about my interview with Dr. Robin Johnson. Dr. Johnson traveled with my Children's HopeChest team to Russia last summer. You can read Robin's story in the article "Heart of a World Changer."

Not only was I inspired by Robin's passion for the world—specifically orphans—but I was also challenged by her example as a parent. Robin says:

"Even among good Christians, there's a concept that it's all about their children—caring for their needs, making sure they're happy, making sure they're getting educated. Kids are learning, It's all about me. We're hoping to instill in our children that it is about God and His vision and whether we're being woven into the tapestry of His purposes."


Christ and Politics

I have recently been considering what a Christian's responsibility should be in politics. Besides exercising my right to vote and trying to stay moderately informed on the issues, I find myself feeling apathetic regarding most aspects of politics. Not only is the subject overwhelming, but the Bible doesn't provide a lot of direct guidance on the topic. Pray for your leaders. God sets up authorities. Seek first the kingdom of God. If anything, there seems to be a passivity in the commands regarding government (not righteousness).

Last week, Between Two Worlds featured a post regarding Greg Boyd and his profile in the New York Times. The article praised Boyd for opposing the conservative politics of most evangelical Christians. Boyd's series, "The Cross & the Sword," created such controversy that 1,000 people left his church.

Adam Omelianchuk, who heard Boyd's messages in person, provides an articulate overview of the series. Making a distinction between the Kingdom of God and earthly kingdoms, he says:

The Christian must understand that the kingdom of God operates differently in that it does NOT seek power over people, but that it seeks “power-under” those that we might even consider enemies. The kingdom of God operates by way of the cross, and since Jesus teaches us that we find greatness through servitude we should not grasp for power and lord it over others. The kingdom of God aims at transformation of the heart before the conformity of behavior and ascribes unsurpassable worth to those who are not worthy. Those that live in the kingdom of God give it their first allegiance before any kingdom of this world, and fight their battles not against flesh and blood (the liberals, evolutionists, ACLU) but against the powers and principalities that influence things for evil.

This is just a small part of a complex discussion regarding how Christians should conduct themselves in government. I'm open to thoughts.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ben's New Smile

A little cheesy, but oh so cute!

My nephew Benjamin is a big boy!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Bouquet

When the time came for the throwing of the bouquet, we single ladies lined up for the time-honored tradition. As you can see, my odds were pretty good!

The first throw hit the ceiling and imediately hit the floor.

The second throw came right at me, but fell short. I lunged forward to pick it up. (Oh the shame!)

The good news is that the photographer snapped a picture of me and Jess. That was special. Plus, I ended up with a gorgeous bouquet.

You Got Me All Tied Up in Knots

Jess was my best friend in high school. She and I are very different. She loves to hike, while I'm more of an "indoor girl." But we had a spiritual connection that allowed us to have great conversations. Sometime during college, the movie "That Thing You Do" came out. Jess would often sign her e-mails..."I'm lovin' you lots and lots."

Blue Angels

My high school friend Jess got married today. We arrived in Seattle early. Seafair was going on, so we got to watch the Blue Angels fly!


Last night I went to see my sister Bekah played Chava in "Fiddler on the Roof." She played the part beautifully and made me cry. I have been in "Fiddler on the Roof" twice. The first time, I was 14 and played the part of a village daughter on this same stage. Tradition!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Evangelist

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When I attended the New Attitude conference in May, I was challenged to hold tightly to the truth of the gospel. One aspect of that calling is evangelism. I would consider myself "the clumsy evangelist." I seem to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. The Lord encouraged me through a chat with Eric Simmons, the singles pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

As I listened to Eric share his passion for evangelism, his words resonated. I have often found myself frustrated with sharing Christ because the outcome never seems to be what I hope for. Eric helped me confront an ugly truth in myself: While I hope for a decision for the sake of the person I am witnessing to, I perhaps desire it more for my own satisfaction. Instead of being willing to simply play my part in God's plan, I try to control the situation.

Eric offered dead-on biblical perspective. "God loves this person infinitely more than you ever could," he said. Read more of Eric's words of wisdom in this week's Boundless article, "The Impatient Evangelist." I hope Eric's words will encourage you as much as they encouraged me as you converse with people who don't know Christ but desperately need Him.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Easy Summer Fashion

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My friend Danielle is currently running a fabulously fun "Easy Summer Fashion" feature on her blog. Yes, it's girly; but for my girly friends, check it out!
(Photo: from Blueprint Magazine)