Suzanne's Second Estate

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

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Happy as Clams

This past fall I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam and Hannah K. of Montesano, Wash., about clam-digging in the Northwest. I was absolutely thrilled with the amazing photos by Rika Manabe. She captured the fun and excitement of this distinctively Northwest activity.

When I was a teen, Sam and Hannah's parents, John and Jill, took my brother clam-digging. I was the grateful beneficiary of many delicious clam dinners thanks to my brother's efforts. "Happy as Clams" appears in the April issue of Clubhouse Jr.
When a clam pulls its neck from the surface or starts to dig, it leaves a little hole in the sand. Sometimes a clam squirts water out of the hole. "One time a clam squirted me in the eye!" Sam says.

Hannah doesn't dig her own clams, but she helps her dad. Because the family digs in the surf instead of dry sand, someone has to watch for incoming waves. Hannah does this job. She has to pay careful attention so she doesn't get wet. "One time I almost got knocked over by a wave!" she says.

This story isn't available online, but if you would like a copy of the magazine in which the article appears, let me know.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bruce's Pics

It never hurts to have your own personal photographer along!

Who else gets the opportunity for a re-do of senior pics?!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fox Run Park

On Sunday, Bruce and I took a little "photographic expedition" to Fox Run Park in North Colorado Springs. Here are a few of the photos I took.

Bruce has a sweet camera.

One of my favorites.

New shoes.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wisconsin Grilled Cheese

Last night I spent some time with a friend (who will remain unnamed) from Wisconsin. The weather has been sunny and mild, so we took advantage of the extra hours of light and took a walk. Afterward, my friend offered to make me a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. She used extra-sharp cheddar from a dairy in her hometown. I looked at the sandwiches and said, "Whoa!" I'm not used to such thick slices. "We don't mess around in Wisconsin," she said.

As the sandwiches were cooking, we mourned the fact that we had no tomato soup to go with it. Finally, I said, "Should I just run out and get some?" No "real" grocery stores were nearby, so we called 7-11 to see if they carried it. Two minutes later I was hopping out of my car and walking through the 7-11 door. I was immediately greeted by the man behind the counter. "You're the tomato soup lady!" Busted.

He pointed out my choices, and I soon returned to Mel...unnamed friend's residence with two cans of the precious commodity. We shared a wonderful dinner and laughed over our addiction and the fact that I evidently look like the "type" that would go into a 7-11 in search of tomato soup. All I can say is if you're ever in Wisconsin...ask for grilled cheese.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hi There!

The other night I was at Starbucks and was startled by this tract I found lying on the condiment station. Nothing says "God loved you enough to sacrifice His Son" like...the Grim Reaper! Although the tract did its work of attracting my attention, I was disturbed by its macabre imagery. Let alone the fact that "Hi There!" seemed a ridiculous message to accompany the image. I flipped through the tract for about a minute to determine whether it was, in fact, "Christian," and was satisfied after glimpsing some passages from Romans in the back.

Here's the description I found online:
An illustrated general gospel 'Chick tract' presenting a strong message about a construction worker who is suddenly cut down in death and finds out too late that he's in hell with no escape. This is a 'cartoon' style tract written and drawn by Jack Chick.

Now if you read Scripture and understand the destiny of the lost, it's scary. But using the Grim Reaper as the poster child for a loving Savior seems wrong. My reaction to that tract was repulsion, an emotion I would prefer non-believers NOT associate with my Lord. What might be a better image and story line? Perhaps modernized biblical stories could be effective. The prodigal son, for example. Or Paul on the road to Damascus. Even the Philippian jailor. None of these repentant sinners was "suddenly cut down in death." Jesus didn't use fear to draw people to God's plan of Salvation, and I don't think His followers should either.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Matt and Anna!

That's right. My brother and sister-in-law were born on the same day (two years apart), which also happens to be the first day of Spring. It may have been when I learned that my college friend Anna shared a birthday with my brother, that I first thought they should meet. I remember Matt saying to my dad before he married Anna: "It's weird. You know. We'll share all the same holidays! Our birthday, our anniversary..." At that point, my dad broke in: "Well, your mother and I share our anniversary." Oh, so I guess it's just the birthday.

I had a college professor who had the same birthday as her husband. She said they planned a special day off each year to celebrate together. I've often told that story to Anna. But I suppose sometimes it's a bummer to have to share your birthday with anyone — even the person you love most. So let me say:

Happy Birthday, Matt! You're awesome, and I love seeing God work in your life and use your many talents. I'm glad you're my brother, and I'm so proud of you!


Happy Birthday, Anna! You have been a faithful friend and dear sister. You live each day with Jesus in mind, and your love for Him reflects on your home. You are a wonderful mother. I love you!

Sunday, March 18, 2007


My nephew Ben.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Last year I learned that I am 1/8 Irish. So I can officially wear those buttons that say, "Kiss Me, I'm Irish." Today I chose to celebrate by dressing up and running the St. Patrick's Day 5K in downtown Colorado Springs with my friend (and former housemate) Krishana. My goal was to run the entire race, which I did thanks to Krishana's encouragement. Here's an excerpt I wrote of my last running experience, which took place in August 2005 (scroll down):
That's when it happened. "Hhhaaa-hhhaaa, Hhhaaa-hhhaa." It sounded like Darth Vader was behind me. The owner of the strange breathing technique tailed me for a couple minutes, making me increasingly nervous. Finally I slowed to let her pass. Bad idea. As I slowed, I became more aware of the burn in my legs, the blister forming on my right foot and the uncomfortable feeling in my side. Suddenly each little obstacle discouraged me. A slight hill, the intensity of the sun, running on gravel — every hinderance made me conclude I couldn't keep running.

Between miles 3 and 5, I stopped to walk four times. At first I was miffed by my lack of endurance and determination. As Nike slogans danced through my head, I reworded them: "Just DON'T do it" and "Defeat is ALWAYS an option." I suffered the humiliation of old ladies and 12-year-olds passing me. Then I remembered the saying, "To thine ownself be true." Being true to myself was admitting that I'm not a top-notch runner. Being true to myself was being willing to walk (and enjoying it) when I couldn't run. Being true to myself was feeling satisfaction not for setting a new record but for finishing the race.

Such was the case today. If Krishana hadn't been beside me, I certainly would have stopped to walk. But I didn't. I finished in 387th place out of 642 female runners with a time of 32:31. A very respectable time, and the second best I've received in a 5K.

Jared also ran the race, carrying this Stick Horse, and finished in 29:12. I heard someone call out, "That Stick Horse is cheating." We all know this is untrue. Stick Horses never cheat.

Friday, March 16, 2007

From Rock to Beaches

The first movie that ever made me cry was Beaches. I watched it at a Jr. High slumber party. And when Bette Middler sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" over sweeping cinematography of an ocean sunset, I wept. Up until that point, I had been dubbed "the rock" by my family for never crying at movies (not even when Old Yeller died). But something about the story of Cece Bloom and Hillary Whitney, young girls who met at the coast and forged an unlikely but enduring friendship, resonated with me. Every girl longs to have a best friend.

A few years ago, my friend Heidi and I were driving downtown for coffee and (this is embarrassing to admit) listening to the Delilah Show. "Wind Beneath My Wings" began playing, and Heidi and I began talking about how much we loved Beaches. Soon Heidi turned her little green bug around, and we headed to the video store. The guy behind the counter gave us a knowing smile and didn't charge us. "Just have it back by tomorrow."

Last night, I was flipping channels and came across Beaches, playing on the Oxygen channel. Like so many times before, I was sucked into its magic. It didn't matter that Bette Middler and Barbara Hershey wore 80s-style clothing and used the library instead of the Internet. The story was still fresh — and still made me cry. I think this film speaks of the community the Lord desires women to have. While, unfortunately, it relies on negative male stereotypes to emphasize Cece and Hillary's close relationship, the film reveals the preciousness of friendship. And that's why I consider Beaches one of my favorite movies. I'm sure I will watch it again before too long. And I will cry.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The First Annual Horsey Awards

Last night was an historic evening. The first annual Horsey Awards took place at Paravicini's Italian Restaurant in Old Colorado City. In October, my improv group, Stick Horses in Pants, sponsored a room at the Pulpit Rock Church Harvest Festival. Participants had to ride one of our stick horses through a track that included jousting, roping and a cactus slalom. We won the award for best room and a gift certificate to Paravicini's.

Jared had the idea to make the special evening a night of encouragement, for which each of us would prepare a special award for another Horse. We drew the names in Secret Santa fashion and began planning. Last night we dressed "to the nines" and headed downtown.

The food was incredible! I ordered the special, which was a breaded veal cutlet on fettucine alfredo with broccoli. After the salad arrived, the award's ceremony commenced. The awards were all creative. Some were funny. Some rhymed. Awards included a Nalgene bottle for Kate (the cool under pressure award), a bamboo stalk for Dianne (the planted firmly in Christ and giving oxygen to others award), my little ponies for me (the best mane and striving for excellence in the ring award) and an "Oscar" — as in the grouch — for Jared (the most encouraging leadership award). After receiving his or her award, each person was required to give an acceptance speech. Most were short and sweet. A few provoked the cut-off music (provided by Jeremy).

Hunter received the best Russian accent award from Jeremy.

Elisa received the good listener award (bunny ears) and Mrs. Butterworth's syrup.

I presented Toby the "On Time, All the Time" award for great comic timing and on-time attendance.

We had an amazing evening with dinner, dessert and coffee. But the best part was honoring each other. I am deeply thankful for this improv group that is more than a group. These people are my brothers and sisters and God continues to use them in my life in incredible ways. We plan to hold the Horsey Awards annually.


Ochuk presents "Attack of the Christian T-shirts."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Musical Delight

Several of you are aware of my under-developed musical tastes. I don't own an iPod. The CD player in my car hasn't worked for almost a year. And I play music in my house about once a week. I know some of you find this shocking. Occasionally, however, I stumble upon something that I find musically delightful. This is one of those times. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Girls

Another fun picture from last weekend. Bekah and I look like giants next to Mom. It's the heels.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Thoughts on Sabbath

I have been considering the idea of establishing a Sabbath for several months now. Honestly, I'm fearful about giving up the time. Because I do not believe that Christians under the new covenant are obligated to keep the Sabbath, observing it would be an exercise in slowing down and experiencing God more deeply. My pastor Jonathan pointed out that God established the Sabbath for Israel after He brought them out of Egypt—a place where they were forced to labor daily. It was as if He said: "My relationship with you is not dependent on what you do." That's a truth that is often lost in the busyness of my own life.

I appreciated an entry on Justin Buzzard's blog on his family's Sabbath-keeping. He writes:
Two months ago my wife and I began keeping a weekly Sabbath. For the last two months our work lives have shutdown at sundown on Friday. From the setting of the sun on Friday until the setting of the sun on Saturday, our family unplugs, puts work aside, and enjoys 24 hours of play, rest, laughter, and praise.

Implementing this Friday sundown shutdown is proving to be one of the most radical and rewarding decisions I've ever made. I'm now experiencing a rhythm to my life that I've never known before. I'm entering my work week with more energy and enthusiasm than before. I'm working harder and resting/playing harder than ever before. The vast value of the Sabbath, a value that I'm just beginning to explore and experience, is now slowly seeping into and refreshing my walk with God, my marriage, and my ministry.

Maybe I can establish a mini-Sabbath and work up to a full day. That will take some trust. Then again, it seems that's what Sabbath is about.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Awkward Dating: Part 3

Third and final awkward dating video performed by Stick Horses in Pants and produced by Boundless. Woe to the female who reads in this heavily to a casual get-together. When my sister Sarah watched this video, she actually exclaimed, "Oh no!"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Common Law Church

I've recently been considering the purpose of church membership. My first membership experience, which happened during college, left a bad taste in my mouth. From today's Boundless article "Common Law Church":
I taught fourth-grade Sunday school at the church for two years. Because the church had thousands of members, the only person who really knew me was the Sunday school superintendent, who met with me monthly. At the end of my service, I graduated from college and moved away. I called the church and explained that I would no longer be a member due to geographic location.

Though I've lived in Colorado for six years, my parents continue to receive mail from this church. After repeated attempts to dis-member myself, I finally gave up. As a result, I viewed membership as an exercise, involving the signing of a doctrinal statement and indelible induction into a database.

Consequently, I was leery of becoming a member at my new church. Because I committed at the level of a member (attended regularly, led a small group, tithed), I didn't see a reason to sign a piece of paper and make it official. After talking with Pastor Mark Dever at New Attitude, I am reconsidering my position. Is it possible that committing to church without that final, binding step of formal membership is a bit like a common law marriage? What does the Body of Christ lose in this scenario? How is my attitude toward the church affected?

The article leaves these questions hanging, but I hope Dever's extreme stance that membership is a biblical mandate will provoke thought. Do you think he has grounds for his conclusion? Are there spiritual benefits only membership can offer? Why is this idea so appealing to our generation?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ben Makes Noises

Ben isn't saying many words yet, but he makes very accurate animal noises.

I'm Gonna Get Out!

Helene, Charity and Nickie talk about leaving their lives as taxi dancers.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Boys

Ben and I discovered lots of fun games.

Aaron loves to smile!

I love my brother and sister-in-law. So I feel a little guilty that I mainly visit to see my nephews. But looking at these cute faces, can you blame me? Benjamin is 20 months and so smart and athletic! Aaron is 3 months and coos and smiles and makes you feel so special and loved. (Most of the time. He was tired when I first held him yesterday, and I had to experience that sad moment when a baby's face wrinkles up just before a heart-wrenching wail.) He recovered, though, and I got some precious smiles out of him this morning.

The boys may be the initial attraction, but I had a wonderful time with my brother and Anna, too. They are good parents, and I love seeing them in action.

The Making of Helene

Halfway to Helene: Bekah did her hair before heading to the theater.

Saturday night I saw my beautiful and talented sister play Helene in "Sweet Charity." Bekah blew me away with her portrayal of a character who is very unlike herself. Helene, one of Charity's friends, is a taxi dancer and the ultimate bad girl — and my lovely sister is not. Playing the role stretched Bekah's acting abilities, but she pulled it off. I'll post a video soon, so you can see her in action!

The finished product!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Oxygen, Old Friends and Omlettes

I'm posting from overcast Aberdeen, Washington. I love breathing the air here. Oxygen is a beautiful thing.

Yesterday I had one of the best experiences I've had guest speaking for a journalism class at Multnomah. It was a small feature writing class, but the three students were incredibly attentive, smiled a lot and took notes. I thought that perhaps my communication skills had improved until my friend Rachel reminded me that this was a freshman class. I usually speak to juniors and seniors who are so over the whole college experience. Freshmen are so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They dutifully took the magazines I offered, which made me feel even better.

After class, I gave Rachel a tour of the journalism house where I'd spent many happy hours as a college student. I showed her the picture of my newspaper staff. "Ah, the Suzy bangs," she said, giggling.

"What?" I asked.

"The Suzy bangs," she repeated. "You had that long hair and straight-across bangs forever." (Rachel is a family friend I've known since I was 15.) "It was kind of home school."

Oh, the truth hurts. A little.

Anyway, a great first day in the Northwest. Pocahontas, the play my sister directed, was fantastic, and I got to meet blog friend Michael. A great day all around. And my little breakfast advertisement paid off. Dad made me a delicious omlette this morning.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Good, Bad and Funny

I bring you a hodgepodge of things on this first day of March. Enjoy!

I thoroughly enjoyed Jenny Schroedel's article "Telling Secrets" on Boundless today. She writes this beautiful statement about secret-telling:
When we begin to tell our secrets, we invite those around us to share their own. As the conversation deepens, two souls lean towards each other and each feels less alone.

Speaking of beautiful things, I highly recommend Amazing Grace. This film is the story of 18th Century abolitionist William Wilberforce. It follows his journey from his conversion at age 25 to his extraordinary efforts in parliament to abolish the slave trade in England. The film is incredibly well-done. Albert Finney (who I will always know as Daddy Warbucks) turns in an especially strong performance as John Newton, the writer of the hymn Amazing Grace. The International Justice Mission is leading The Amazing Change campaign inspired by the film.

Don't see Babel. I know it was nominated for seven Academy Awards (and won best original score), but sometimes that's a good indicator that a film will not be a joy to watch. The movie was slow, crude and had few redeeming qualities. If you don't believe me, read the Plugged In review.

Ending on a happy note, my friend Jared tells a humorous story about getting in shape.