Suzanne's Second Estate

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Little Pumpkin

My nephew, Ben, dressed up for a harvest party. By far the cutest pumpkin around!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Hitchhiker

Yesterday I played a small role in my friend Alicia's independent short film "The Hitchhiker." Based on the story of the prodigal son, the film follows Peter as he leaves his family behind to pursue pleasure and success at any cost. I played Meg, Peter's assistant and girlfriend, and my role involved slapping him in the face (which I had to do six or seven times). The part of Peter was played by fellow Stick Horse, Jared, and it was painful for me (and him) to slap him repeatedly. After one particularly realistic slap, he gave me a reassuring hug — as if to remind me that we were still friends, despite my sudden violence. Too bad for him, he didn't have a stunt double. You can watch a trailer of "The Hitchhiker" here.

Stick Horse Track

Friday night the Stick Horses sponsored a room at our church's Harvest Party. This event brings in many from the community, and it was a good time. Our room was a stick horse obstacle course. Participants had to ride one of our stick horses through a track that included jousting, roping and a cactus slalom. The kids loved it, and many returned again and again. My favorite kids (I know you're not supposed to have favorites), were the ones dressed like cowboys who had their own stick horses. As you can imagine, they felt like they owned the room and shared a special connection with us.

In the past, the Stick Horses have provided entertainment for the group with the best room. This year we're hoping we win the prize and just get to enjoy a nice dinner.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Snow Day

Today my neighbors Becky and Barb and I braved the blizzard to make a snowman. I only lasted out there for about 20 minutes. I'm a wimp. But the short time outdoors was lots of fun.

Modeling the latest in winter fashion.

Becky standing next to the finished product, Smudgette.



Yesterday the National Weather Service upgraded our blizzard watch to a blizzard warning.

Last night at improv practice, Toby, the native Coloradoan, was mocking the woman who had cancelled his next day's class for this reason. As a group we discussed why people feel the need to buy milk and bread and beans when they may get snowed in for a day or two. Why not ice cream, s'mores or pizza? About half the group believed the snow would fizzle (it's happened before), and we'd awake to a light dusting.

Instead we awoke to this. I'll bet Toby's wishing he'd gotten those beans now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Love Story

This afternoon I saw a screening of "The Nativity Story." The film will appear in theaters December 1. Apart from the wise men arriving at the stable in Bethlehem, the film stuck very closely to the biblical account. New Line Cinemas went out of its way, casting relative unknowns from all over the world to play the characters of Luke 1 and 2. Without the distractions found in many biblical films — British accents, fair-skinned/blue-eyed actors, famous voiceovers — I was transported into the story.

What I found most compelling about the film was how it developed the humanity of Mary and Joseph. It considered Mary's disappointment in an arranged marriage and Joseph's heartache at learning his betrothed had been unfaithful. It followed the couple's journey from respect to trust — and ultimately love — as they united in the daunting task of raising the Son of God. I was moved by the story of two ordinary individuals who made extraordinary sacrifices.

"The Nativity Story" will be a highlight of this holiday movie season. Pray that it will touch many hearts. "Everyone has a gift," the shepherd says. This film will remind you of yours.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Can You Fly?

Tonya and I can. Today we went to Six Flags Elitch Gardens and plummeted 150 feet on the bungie jump ride. Wheeeee!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Picky Daters

In his article, "Brother, You're Like a Six," Scott Croft imagines the personal ad of an average single Christian female:

"SCF (single Christian female) seeks SCM (single Christian male) to submit to in everything as to the Lord, to respect, to serve, to follow and to be led by in discipleship and ministry, to trust as spiritual leader of the home, and to serve Christ with for the next several decades or until Jesus comes back. SCM must possess total confidence (but can't be cocky and must trust SCF's opinion in all things); must be devastatingly handsome but have no idea that he is; must be exquisite interpersonal communicator who enjoys nothing more than long, conversations about the relationship; must understand SCF completely; and must otherwise fit description of how SCF thought 'The One' would be since SCF started thinking about it at age 11."

I had to laugh at his accuracy (though slightly exaggerated). Croft goes on to challenge the worldy notion that attraction should be the thing that draws people together. He writes:

The practical problem with letting "attraction" lead the way in finding a spouse is not profound: It doesn't work. If everyone demanded that their quirky, secular notions of attractiveness or chemistry be perfectly fulfilled before they would agree to marry a person, no one would marry.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My First Podcast

I recently co-hosted an Adventures in Odyssey podcast.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

True Confessions of the Mechanically Challenged

Sveta freezing

This morning I woke up and I felt like I was in episode of "Little House on the Prairie." I could fairly see my breath in the chill. I looked at the thermostat: a decidedly chilly 54 degrees. I turned up the heat, but no familiar clicking on of the furnace.

A co-worker suggested my pilot light was most likely out and informed me that the local utilities company will relight it for free. So I came home and waited. And presently a very nice utilities company representative arrived. Here's where the story gets embarassing. After checking the furnace and finding no apparent problem, he looked in the thermostat box. "You'll want to turn this switch from 'off' to 'heat,'" he said matter-of-factly. Ahem. Yeah. I knew that.

Flipping that switch was the trick. I have heat again. And I provided a humorous moment for the nice utilities guy. It's a win-win.

the box

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Second Chances

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful scare.
It happened in New Mexico,
And followed me from there.

My Mac was a mighty writin' tool,
Its systems true and sure.
Until I turned it on that day,
No picture to procure.

The Mac guys at my office said,
"The hard drive — all is lost.
Your last hope is the Apple Store.
Their experts help no-cost."

And so I drove to Littleton,
Through pounding, driving snow.
I thought that every hope was gone,
but little did I know...

That Adam at the genius bar,
Would pull out all his tricks
And with a simple reinstall
My Powerbook would fix.

And so my hard drive's good as new,
Each program reinstalled,
with Entourage, and Firefox, too,
I-Photo, and Word,
My articles, my music and photographs—
my Mac's problems are solved.

Moral of the story: Back up your computer files. You may not get a second chance.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Back from Glorieta

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I just returned from the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference. I got to meet many of our wonderful writers and hear Florence Littauer speak, which were both highlights. After five hours of driving, I'm tired. And strangely enough, I got homesick — even though I was only gone for four days. I don't know if it was leaving behind my teenage housemate, or the fact that my Stick Horses were having all kinds of fun without me (The Horses gave workshops at the Inspire Drama Conference this weekend, and I hear they were a big hit), but I got that feeling I used to get as a teen when I was stuck at summer camp and wanted to go home.

I'm home now, and the conference was profitable. I met with many talented writers who have fresh ideas for our mags. I didn't end up going back to Santa Fe, though. I think it's something best done with a friend. As Jared said last night when I "bored called" him, "Maybe the Stick Horses could get a gig down there." Horses in Santa Fe — what could be better?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Santa Fe

"Newsies" is one of my all-time favorite movies. In the film, a young Christian Bale plays Jack Kelly, leader of a group of New York City newsboys in 1899. When Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise the distribution price one-tenth of a cent per paper, the newsboys organize a strike.

The resulting tale is chock full of spirit and bravery and singing-dancing boys. Jack, who goes by "Cowboy," tells everyone his parents are out West, building a home for him, when really he is an orphan. In a particularly gripping scene (aren't they all when people burst spontaneously into song?), Jack sings of the home he dreams of:

Santa Fe,
Are you there?
Do you swear you won't forget me?
If I found you would you let me come and stay?
I ain't gettin' any younger.
And before my dyin' day.
I want space, not just air.
Let 'em laugh in my face, I don't care.
Save a place. I'll be there.
In Santa Fe.

That song has been running through my mind incessantly since I arrived at the Glorieta Writers Conference yesterday. As you may have guessed, Glorieta is located near Santa Fe.

Tonight a group of us went into town and ate at the chic Coyote Cafe, which serves authentic Southwestern cuisine. (And where, I now realize, they have a celebrity chef.) The food was incredible (I had Salmon with a fancy salsa), and the company was even better. (Editors have very strange conversations involving semi-colons and modifiers.)

As I walked the streets of Santa Fe, gazing at the distinctive adobe buildings, I understood the attraction for a cowboy spirit like Jack Kelly. In fact, I really wanted to spontaneously burst into song. Instead, I asked the woman walking next to me if she had seen "Newsies." She hadn't. How I wish one of my fanatical sisters could have been walking next to me. Never mind. I had arrived.

I want space, not just air. Let 'em laugh in my face, I don't care. Save a place. I'll be there — in Santa Fe.

P.S. I intended to write a blog about the conference but got a little distracted by my Christian Bale moment. I'll bring you more on Glorieta soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I haven't posted a picture of my nephew, Ben, for a while. This is awfully cute, don't you think?

Monday, October 09, 2006

From Mecca to Calvary

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In his article, "From Mecca to Calvary," Thabiti M. Anyabwile recounts his spiritual journey from nominal Christianity to zealous Islam to agnosticism and back to the Cross. I highly recommend the whole article, but I found this portion of Thabiti's story particularly compelling. Speaking of a life devoted to Islam, he writes:

This was my life for the remainder of undergraduate school and a year or so after graduation. But gradually, almost imperceptibly at first, I noticed that I was growing more and more hollow. Cold really. The zeal once fueled by anger began to wane. Once I adjusted to all the rituals and outward observances of Islam, I then grew more aware of my interior life.

Awareness of the emptiness of my own heart grew crystal clear for me after a water cooler conversation with some co-workers.

We were engrossed in a conversation about people we admired and respected. Folks were listing the usual suspects: mothers, fathers, great leaders and so on. But surprisingly, one of my co-workers said, with all seriousness, "I can't think of a more righteous person than Thabiti." I tried to pooh-pooh her statement with some light, dismissive response of my own. But she countered, "I'm dead serious. Of all the men I know, you are easily the most righteous. You don't curse. You don't drink. You treat your wife so well." And on she went.

While she was correct in her observations — I didn't curse or drink any more, and I tried to treat my wife Kristie well — her conclusion was extremely flawed. What she observed was outward behavior; what she couldn't see was my heart. But I could, and the thing was as brittle, dry and empty as it could be. The label "righteous" fell into all of that deep emptiness, rattling occasionally as it plummeted and banged against the hull of my heart. One thing I knew: I was not righteous, not in any essential sense.

This article reminds me of the words found in Romans 1:18-21:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Praise be to a God who rescues people from futile thinking and foolish hearts!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Heart Improv

And this is why. This picture was taken at last night's practice. How can you not have a good time with these people?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


As if on cue, I just received this 3-D image of my friend Jenn's daughter, due in November. Amazing.

3-D Fetal Technology Striking Fear

I found this on Justin Taylor's blog and had to pass it on.

"Incredibly dangerous." Those are the words one scientist has used to describe 3-D fetal technology that enables us to view babies within the womb. The incredible danger comes from the fact that this will lead people to believe that these are human persons who should not be killed.

Justin sites this article, in which, after having to concede that babies in the womb look and act like infants, scientists compare their brains to an orange sliced in half — a statement that is clearly damage control. The article reports:

Julia Millington, of the Pro-Life Alliance, said it was irrelevant whether someone looking at the images fully understood the science behind it or not. She said people responded to the humanity of the images rather than the science behind them.

This technology is "incredibly dangerous?" For whom? Not the babies.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I'm Officially Old

ars technica reports e-mail is out of style with teens. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, "teenagers preferred new technology, like instant messaging or text messaging, for talking to friends and use e-mail to communicate with 'old people.'"


A report on teen Internet habits conducted by Pew Internet & American life confirms it. The report found 87 percent of teenagers in the US now use the Internet, and many of them prefer instant messaging to e-mail.

According the report, "Teens who participated in focus groups for this study said that they view e-mail as something you use to talk to 'old people,' institutions, or to send complex instructions to large groups. When it comes to casual written conversation, particularly when talking with friends, online instant messaging is the clearly the mode of choice for today's online teens."

As a result, colleges are reeling, trying to discover new ways to communicate with students after finally getting the e-mail thing down.

For some schools, the correct answer is: set up a MySpace page. After all, there's nothing hipper for students than being "friends" with your college registrar or school principal. The intriguing thing about this method of reaching students is that it's most often not "instant" at all; students receive messages when they log in or they visit the school's MySpace pages—the equivalent of using e-mail and a Web portal.

The kiss of death are these words from The Mercury News: "For those of you who have just figured out how to zap spam or manage your inbox, prepare for the bad news: E-mail is, like, so yesterday."

Sad but true.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Beautiful Bekah

I love this picture of my little sis Bekah.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Friday night we had a birthday party for Sveta's sister Sarah. We baked a cake and played Twister. That game is hard when you're not a kid!