Suzanne's Second Estate

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

Friday, September 29, 2006

Marry Her? What?

I recently went to see "The Last Kiss," starring Zach Braff of "Garden State" fame. I was disappointed. Not only by the excessive (and unnecessary) sexual content and profanity, but because of the film's message that marriage is nothing more than a dull hardship to be endured when you've fallen in love. Not only is this perspective cynical (although understandable in today's divorce-ridden society), but it is also unbiblical.

This week's Boundless article "Marry Her? But What About that Girl over There?" is my answer to the film. (I did not come up with the title, by the way.) I hope it will generate some thought as to the effects of media on our perceptions of important issues like marriage and family.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Northwest Tour

If all goes as planned, the Stick Horses in Pants will be taking a Northwest tour December 1-4. We will be giving a show in Vancouver, Wash., Friday Dec. 1. The following day we'll perform in Hoquiam, Wash., as we help the city welcome Santa. And December 3 (Mom's birthday!) is looking good for a Seattle show (we're still looking for a venue). If you're a Northwesterner, come out for some comedy with a kick!

Beware of the Movie Popcorn

Who needs horror movies. article "Fright Night: Attack of the Giant Movie Snacks!" is enough to give you nightmares. I had heard rumors of the horrific calorie content of movie theater popcorn, but I had tried to ignore them. Ignorance is bliss. But this article brought home again the unhealthy nature of movie snacks.

That large tub of popcorn has been growing for years. Now they even offer a free refill if 20 cups of popcorn isn't enough. (I have to admit, when the first "Lord of the Rings" movie came out, my family and I shared that large tub and got the refill. Evidently, the urge to cram our bodies with several days' worth of calories and fat is primarily psychological.

Susan Burke, eDiets’ chief nutritionist, explains this movie of the week — inspired by a true story — as a force of habit. According to Susan, people associate popcorn and candy with movies and may feel deprived without it, even if they just came from dinner. “Movie popcorn is full of hydrogenated fat and salt and can add more than a thousand calories to your daily intake,” explains Susan, who recommends you ask yourself, “Do you buy popcorn because you're hungry or because it's the movies?”

Because it's the movies, of course! But take a look at these frightening stats:

  • Small Buttered (7 cups), 630 calories, 50g fat (Unbuttered: 400 cal, 27g fat)
  • Medium Buttered (16 cups), 1,220 calories, 97g fat (Unbuttered: 900 cal, 60g fat)
  • Large Buttered (20 cups), 1,640 calories, 126g fat (Unbuttered: 1,160 cal, 77g fat)

If you're a movie popcorn junkie, don't lose heart. When I'm dying for a snack, I usually get the "Ultimate Movie Meal" (a steal at $4.75.) It's a reduced amount of popcorn (probably 2 cups), a kiddie drink and a fun-sized candy. It's still a splurge, but the caloric damage is considerably less.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Young, Restless and Reformed

This past May, I attended the New Attitude single's conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The theme of the conference was "Embrace a Humble Orthodoxy." Speakers challenged us to "rediscover what has always been true." This emphasis on doctrine and biblical truth empassioned me in a way I had not experienced since college. During the conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with pastors Mark Dever and Joshua Harris. Their unflinching commitment to the Gospel impressed me.

These two Christian leaders, along with John Piper, Al Mohler and C.J. Mahaney, were featured in this month's Christianity Today cover story. The article, "Young, Restless and Reformed" by Collin Hansen, explains the resurgence of Calvinism among those under 30. The following Joshua Harris quote captures the heart behind the hype:

The theological depth attracted Harris. "Once you're exposed to [doctrine]," he said, "you see the richness in it for your own soul, and you're ruined for anything else."

He notices the same attraction among his cohorts. "I just think there's such a hunger for the transcendent and for a God who is not just sitting around waiting for us to show up so that the party can get started."

I relate to this desire to know a powerful God. In my experience, doctrine feeds my faith and motivates me to follow Christ more devotedly. The Calvinist/Arminian debate seems destined to endure, but no matter which camp you find yourself in, I believe the craving for doctrine and truth is a very positive step for our generation. What do you think?

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Simple Things

There are several reasons my blog posts have diminished over the past few weeks.

  1. I have been blogging for the Boundless Line. Look for my more contemplative posts there.
  2. I am in the final stretch of a two-week deadline period at work.
  3. I have been cooking dinner, cleaning house and completing other ordinary tasks that impede on blogging.

Item three particularly has been a healthy development for me. I used to have an engagement every evening but Thursday. This made me feel like I was always behind and couldn't get enough done on the weekends. In fact, I would actually feel guilty on the weekend for sleeping in or spending time with friends because of all the other things I should be doing.

A contributing factor to my return to the mundane is my new housemate. When I invited her to live with me, I made a commitment to myself and the Lord that I would be available to her. Right now that means picking her up from work most nights at 9. When we get back to the house, we have a routine. I clean the kitchen and prepare the coffee for the next morning (the auto setting is a beautiful thing); she sits at the bar and tells me about her day. I've had roommates before, but since college my living situations have been fairly autonomous. We live at the same house but go our separate ways. Occasionally our "home time" overlapped, resulting in conversations. With Sveta it's different. She is a daily part of my life. I like that.

So forgive my lapses in blogging...but understand that I am probably folding laundry or making a salad or giving someone a hug. Simple things that bring great joy.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." —Ecclesiates 9:10

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Dressing up is fun. Even when you're a grown-up.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Quotable Kids

[Jenna Boyd in Feb. 2006, with brother, Cayden. © Chris Hatcher / Photorazzi]

My interviews with children are a constant source of joy in my life. Their tender hearts, disarming honesty and surprising wisdom is a delight. Sometimes the most colorful and beautiful bits don't make the article. Today I've assembled some of my favorite quotes from interviews over the past few years. Enjoy!

“If you score high enough on your 9th-grade test you can go to university — which is like college — but otherwise you’re going to become something like a hot dog seller. If I was an orphan, it would be really hard to score well on my reading because of my dyslexia, and I might become a person who makes quilts. That’s really unfair because you should have a choice of what you want to be.”

—Nick Johnson, 10, contemplating what his life might be like if he were Russian Orphan

“My whole life I thought I was a Christian because I believed in God, and I knew about Him. But I had never really accepted Him in my heart. My pastors kept talking about how knowing about God was not enough. You really needed to accept Him and try to live for him every day. I knew I had not done that.”

—Actress Jenna Boyd, 12, reflecting on what brought her to the decision to follow Christ at age 11

“They actually taught me how to head dance. I had head choreography. People would be like, ‘Wow! Where did you learn those head moves?’ “

—Broadway actor and singer Nicholas Jonas, 12, on playing Chip the teacup in “Beauty and the Beast”

“I share the Lord with my friend Joey. He’s not saved. I keep praying for him. I’m not going to give up until he gets saved. I just love Joey. I love him, and I want him to go to heaven.”

—Singer Joseph Fortune, 6, sharing his heart for evangelism

“Being an animal, you have to develop a character that you barely know how to do. I have to be a human and a bear at the same time. I have these growls and a deep scratchy voice. I added a wobble to my walk.”

—Levi Larson, 12, on the difficulties of playing a bear in “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”

“I don’t really know how it works, but somehow I just kinda start hanging out with someone. Like I say something and they like what I said, I guess, and we just start hangin’ out, ya know?”

—Actor Luke Benward, 11, on making friends

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Young Adults Leaving the Church

In an ongoing discussion about young adults leaving Christianity, the Barna Research Group reports this week that "despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twentysomethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years." The report states that six out of 10 twentysomethings involved in a church during their teens fail to actively pursue Christ into their early adult years. Not only are twentysomethings vacating the church, the report states, they are also not returning. I find this trend, as well as the attitude behind it, disturbing:

Loyalty to congregations is one of the casualties of young adulthood: twentysomethings were nearly 70% more likely than older adults to strongly assert that if they “cannot find a local church that will help them become more like Christ, then they will find people and groups that will, and connect with them instead of a local church.” They are also significantly less likely to believe that “a person’s faith in God is meant to be developed by involvement in a local church.”

While churches may be partially to blame for failing to retain young adults, young adults themselves are also guilty. Jesus loves the church. Ephesians 5 informs us that Christ intimately loves and cares for the church; He has chosen her as His bride — His partner. ("This is a great mystery," Paul says.) Spiritual gifts are meant to be exercised to strengthen the church (1 Corinthians 14). Abandoning the church equates to divorcing Christ. This statement may sound inflammatory, but the privatization of faith — the idea that I can be a Christ follower free from the accountability of a body of believers — is not a biblical concept. And the fallout is evident.

Recognizing the damage has already been done in the current twentysomething generation, David Kinnaman, the director of the research, suggests focusing efforts on teens. Speaking of strategies churches need to employ, he says:

Another shift, is to develop teenagers’ ability to think and process the complexities of life from a biblical viewpoint. This is not so much about having the right head knowledge as it is about helping teens respond to situations and decisions in light of God’s principles for life.

Perhaps it's not too late for twentysomethings to do the same. And passing through the doors of the church is the first step.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What a Trooper

Last night some friends and I made a special delivery. My friend Mike is obsessed with Storm Troopers. He collects them, pines over them, talks about them and even has dreams about them. For the best birthday gift ever, we got him this cardboard Storm Trooper at Amazon. Last night we delivered it (in pouring rain). As you can see, Mike was very excited about the whole thing. I'm wondering what other things you can get as cardboard stand-ups. Mr. Darcy, perhaps? Wouldn't that be great for the entertainment room? Indeed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hello, Audrey!

I was at the mall today and was deligted to see that the Gap's fall line is inspired by Audrey Hepburn. I, along with millions of other women, have always been fascinated by the enchanting actress who seemed as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.

The ad reads: the key to classic, timeless style: the Audrey Pant. Now, if only the pant could inspire me to be the woman.

On a related note, I highly recommend "The Audrey Hepburn Story." It tells the tale of a truly amazing woman.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Force of Grace

I just read this moving column by Mike S. Adams. Adams chronicles the life of his friend Jimmy Duke—a man who went from atheist to believer to outspoken witness during the final year of his life. Filled with too many coincidences to be coincidental, this story showcases Christ's unstoppable grace.

HT: Justin Taylor

The Line

Boundless' blog, The Line, debuted this week. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Picture of Passion

I was really sad yesterday to hear that “The Crocodile Hunter,” Steve Irwin, had died. He was the kind of guy that was passionate enough to be considered a little loony while at the same time admirable. I am not alone in my feelings of loss. USA Today reports an outpouring of worldwide condolences similar to that seen at the passing of Princess Diana.

Aside from the khaki shirt, the “crikey” and the deranged antics, Steve Irwin changed the face of wildlife conservation. The article reports that 14 years ago, before Irwin's international success, there were only two nationally televised wildlife programs on the air. Now there are 29. His passion for animals raised awareness and inspired people to value and protect endangered species.

It makes me think about the difference passion can make. I mean, I’m not a crocodile lover (and I’m certainly not fond of snakes), but I was truly saddened to hear that this passionate individual was gone. It could be the fact that he was such a likeable pop culture icon. But I think it’s also the fact that he was a person who stood for something. His excitement for what he loved was contagious.

I want to be that same kind of person. Someone who will be remembered for having a passion—maybe even being a little loony. That is the legacy of the Croc Hunter. I'm gonna miss that guy.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Cog Railway

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to pen these words while standing atop Pike's Peak. My parents and I took a little inspiration for ourselves on our recent trip up the mountain on the Pike's Peak Cog Railway.

This was my third time on the Cog Railway. I took a friend up three years ago, and last year my sister and I made the trip. I love it every time. Riding up the mountain is relaxing and offers some spectacular views and fascinating history along the way.

I took this picture of Mom and Dad on the train. The trip up takes about an hour and a half.

We saw some big horn sheep, which was pretty exciting. The weather was great right until we reached the top. Then a thick fog rolled in. But we saw some great views on the way up.

Because of the weather, we spent most of our time at the top inside (they give you 30 minutes with a stiff warning that you will be left behind if you don't return to the train at the designated time). Here's Dad and I holding our souvenir cups. (Dad, I noticed you conveniently forgot yours at my house.) If you haven't ridden the Cog Railway, I highly recommend it. It's open until around Thanksgiving when snow shuts it down for the season.