it's been a good day. the weather was beautiful, almost spring-like (dare i even think that?!), i laughed a good deal with friends at work. no complaints whatsoever.

then tonight, just before unplugging, i hopped on yahoo chat to talk to my sister-in-law for a moment, and before the kids went to bed, she sent me two audio files of the kids screaming, 'hi aunt suzi!'

i really am the luckiest girl in the world...

missing my paris...

i could really use a walk in the jarden du Luxembourg today...


you, darkness

everyone always thinks me a heretic when they find out that i am not a huge fan of light. i was very excited to originally find out that my new office at the church would be windowless. and, to be honest, i was a little disappointed to discover that my actual new office has not one, but two windows! {disclaimer: given that there are those who desperately wanted windows and did not get them, this is in no way a complaint of any sort.}

but, after reading this poem, i think rilke would have understood me...
you, darkness
by ranier maria rilke

you darkness, that i come from
i love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.

but the darkness pulls in everything-
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! -
powers and people-

and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.

i have faith in nights.
good night, my friends.


The Visitor

it may be a bit early in the year, but after tonight, i am fairly certain that i've found my favorite movie of 2009*.

erynne, alicia & i had wanted to watch rachel getting married, as an oscar weekend version of our semi-regular movie nights. but, alas, it was not out yet, so we had to go with something else. 'something else' turned out to be the visitor, a movie i had heard about first from a kindling's muse podcast from 2008's sundance festival, so, since nothing else especially appealed, we went with that.

in my estimation, it was brilliance. it was a perfect reminder that regardless of our current situation, if we are open and willing, there are connections and community to be found, even in the most unlikely of places. a simple common interest can be the beginning of a friendship that could change your life forever, if you are open and paying attention.

we all need reminders like the visitor. we need to remember to keep our eyes open.

*viewed in 2009


an evening in paris

tonight my good friend alicia and i went to a cooking class at a local grocery store. the title of the class was an evening in paris. how could we refuse such a title? we arrived at 7pm and listened as our chef, kelly hughes, laid out an overview of the evening.

first up was the salad, frisee aux lardons. now, i like salad. but to be honest, i didn't have a great deal of hope given what the promo had said about the salad... but wow, was i wrong. the salad was, perhaps because i had such low expectations, the best part of the meal for me!

next was my very favorite thing to eat when i am actually in paris, steak frites. the chef had some great tips about tying the meat (so oddly shaped pieces look the same as the rest), and pan searing. also, she showed us how to make a tarragon aioli to go with the dish. i had absolutely no idea that making mayonnaise could be so easy! and the piece de resistence of any dish with the word 'frites' in it, the hand cut, glorious french fries. i cannot tell you how good the whole thing was. both alicia and i were full before we were done, but, fortunately, we soldiered on, and none of this delicious food went to waste!

for dessert, my favorite indulgence of all time, creme brulee. there was a problem with the temperature of the oven, and so it wasn't as good as one may have hoped, but seriously, bad creme brulee is better than no creme brulee!

i took pictures of both of our creme brulees, and there were some very distinct markings on the tops of each of ours. we wondered if perhaps the 'brulee' part was a bit like reading tea leaves, and whatever design shows up in your burnt sugar would have some sort of meaning.

alicia's creme brulee clearly looks like the letter 'Z', which i think means that she has sleep in her future. at first i thought that mine looked like a happy face, but upon closer inspection, it looks like mine is a pair of shoes! o happy day!

all in all, it was a very fun evening with a good friend. thanx for the idea and for sharing this with me, alicia! let's go to paris again soon...



i am super tired tonight. and i tried... i REALLY tried to go to bed without writing this, but the questions are killing me.

watching LOST 24 hours after the rest of my world is leaving me dumbfounded and in awe after these emotions have worn off on most everyone else. and the questions... there are always more questions...

is penny dead?
where is desmond?
how did a handcuffed sayid end up on the airplane, and who is the agent with him?
how did hurley hear about the flight?
what happened to the airplane?
where are sun & sayid?
frank?! frank is the pilot of the one plane flying over the right coordinates?!
what happened to aaron, and why did kate decide to go back?
what's with hurley's guitar?
was it charlie's ghost who got him on the plane and did he ask for the guitar?
when did jin become a member of the dharma initiative?
why did eloise hawking not look surprised when desmond told her about her son?
will the light flashes/time changes stop on the island now?
will john come back to life or will jack see his ghost walking the island in his dad's shoes?
what shoes will jack's dad's ghost now wear on the island?
is there some sort of significance to christian's black and white shoes?

i may be a tad obsessed...

hi, my name is suzi...

courtesy of my friend @ennmartin.


would you rather...?

years of youth ministry have made me pretty adept at asking these kinds of questions.

would you rather...
...eat steak or chicken?
...go skiing or to the beach?
...be deaf or blind?
...go to New York City or Paris?

you get the picture.

there is another 'rather' game that i play far too often. the i would rather be... game. sadly, this game does nothing but foster the discontent that i too often fight daily anyway. it's actually not even a really fun game, as more often than not, it only leads to dwelling on what i do not have.

i would rather be...
...in paris.
...in our new offices.
...spending time with angie/megan/nicky/jayden/family, etc.
...reading a new book.

again, you get the picture.

none of these things is bad. and with the exception of the last one, all of them are possible, on some level, with some planning and forethought. the problem, however, is when one spends so much time focusing on what they don't have, where they aren't, who they are not around, that they ignore the life happening right in front of them. this is something i am always in danger of doing.

ignoring my life in favor of what i would rather be doing.

i need daily/hourly/minutely reminders to pay attention to my life. to remember that just because the situation isn't the ideal one i have dreamt of, it is no less important.

pay attention...


perfect love

given the day it was yesterday, i suppose it is only natural that love be the thing on my mind. and given myself, it is equally natural that it not be in the same manner as most everyone else.

the thing most prevalent on my mind is how poorly that i love God. like every other christian, i am quick to say that i love God, no hesitation. but when i actually look at my life, without the voiceover of proclaimed love, i fear that one would have some serious difficulty drawing that conclusion.

Jesus was pretty clear, when asked what the greatest commandment was, when he said, "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ the second is this: ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) these are the compulsories, the basics that we must accomplish before we can move on to the other things. what boggles my mind is how, when it is all so clear, we humans so often try to move on to loving others, before we master what is clearly laid out for us as the basics.

this has been my struggle.

then, in a brilliant moment of divine 'coincidence', just before i fell sleep last night, i picked up walter brueggemann's book, prayers for a priviledged people, and read the entry entitled perfectly love. i am not sure anything could more perfectly encapsulate how i am feeling.
we pray, as often as we meet,
that we might "perfectly love you."
indeed, we have been commanded from the beginning,
to love you with all our hearts and
all our souls and
all our minds and
all our strength.

we have pledged to love,
pledged in our prayers and in our baptism,
in our confirmations and with our best resolve.

but we confess...
we love you imperfectly;
we love you with a divided heart,
with a thousand other loves
that are more compelling,
with reservation and qualification,
and passion witheld and
devotion impaired.

we do not now come to pretend before you,
but to confess that we do not,
as we are,
love you perfectly;
we do not keep your commands;
we do not order our lives by your purpose;
we do not tilt toward you as our deepest affection.

but we would...
we would love you more perfectly,
by the taste of bread become your flesh,
by the swallow of wine become your blood,
by the praise of our lips and beyond our usual reasoning,
by the commandments that are not burden but joy to us,
by embracing your passion for neighbors,
by your ways of justice and peace and mercy,
by honoring the world you have made
and all creatures great and small,
by self-care that knows you as our creator.

lead us past our shabby compromises
and our cheap devotion;
lead us into singleness of vision
and purity of heart,
that we may will one thing,
and answer back in love to your great love to us.

free us from idolatries,
and our habits of recalcitrance,
tender our hearts,
gentle our lips,
open our hands,
that we may turn toward you fully
toward your world unguardedly.

let us bask in your freedom
to be fully yours, and
so trusting fully our own.
we pray through the Lord Jesus who loved you
singularly, perfectly, fully--to the end.


the day is over...

the clock on my computer says 10:58 pm right now. i'll have to trust that it is true, as the clock in my bedroom has some other number on it... a number designed to shock me awake when the annoying noise that comes out of it at 5am. don't ask me why, but this cheap manipulation works daily on my sleep-riddled brain. if nothing else, i am thrown awake as my mind tries to do the computations necessary to see how much longer i could sleep...

perhaps i would enjoy mornings if the first thing i tried to do wasn't math.

all this to say, the day is over. in less than six hours i need to wake up to catch a bus to go across town to the office. they say that soon this will change, and i will once again have my pleasant 20 minute walk to the church back. i am trying hard not to believe it, as if the date changes, i am unsure i will be able to handle it with much, if any, grace.

even though i very well know the bible's standpoint on trials, how they are perseverance and character builders for starters, tonight i will admit that i want it all to go away.

so, as i shut down my netbook and start the long process of falling asleep, i will be thankful that the wisdom of God does not allow the growth-inducing trials in my life to cease merely because i want them too. i will be thankful that God is more concerned with my character development than he is my comfort.
...we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. {Romans 5:3-5}


what can you do?

my favorite saturday night thing to do is to have my friends alicia & erynne over. these 'movie nights' usually begin with one of us going through my not small DVD collection to narrow it down to three choices. then from the three choices, we pick one, and that is our movie du nuit.

tonight, an unusual thing happened...we watched a something that none of us had seen before. tonight's movie was water. set in india in 1938, the movie starts with an eight-year old girl, Chuyia, who is married to a man 50 years older than her. the man dies, and Chuyia is sent to live with other widows, most of whom are closer to a century old than to Chuyia's eight years.

to go to heaven at the end of their lives, these women must live chaste, pure, ascetic lives... even if their husbands died while they were still children. when her father asked her about her wedding, young Chuyia didn't even remember being married, then suddenly she was thrown into a world of shaven heads, colorless clothing and exile among other widows.

i won't give the plot away, because if you haven't seen the movie, do so. but what i will say, is that this movie, along with recently reading a thousand splendid suns, as well as the reading and research provided by the international justice mission, has opened my eyes to so many of the injustices that women all over the world have to face every day... things that i and most of my friends, have never had to worry or even think about. things, that if i'm honest, i don't really want to think about, because they are uncomfortable, and i would prefer to live in a world where these things did not exist.

but they do exist, and turning a blind eye to known injustice is a coward's way out. we cannot all go to thailand to rescue young girls from a life of forced prostitution, or to kenya to help put an end to female genital mutilation, but we who have so much need to not do anything, simply because we cannot do everything.

what can you do?


book review: House of Dark Shadows

When you are 15-years old and your parents decide to move, it’s bad enough. It gets worse if you are an amateur film maker and you move from LA to a small town in the middle of nowhere. But unfortunately, for Xander King, the move is just the beginning…

House of Dark Shadows, the first in the Dreamhouse Kings series, brings you along with the King family as they move to Pinedale. For Xander, the move itself is bad enough. Then, the family finds the ‘perfect’ house, a large, Victorian-era home, hidden from the rest of the world by the trees that surround it. The fact that voices seem to come from all over the house, family members mysteriously appear in different rooms than they were seen moments ago and Xander experiences an unshakeable uneasiness, leave him unsure whether this house is a nightmare, or a filmmaker’s dream.

While the book started off a little slowly, it wasn’t long before I couldn’t put it down. In my opinion, it is the best kind of suspense…keeping you wanting more, while still allowing you to sleep! One caveat, however: when you finally turn the last page of House of Dark Shadows, you will, indeed, feel strangely compelled to pick up book two...



there are certain bonuses to reading and discussing the same book in both of my small groups.

my 'grown-up' small group has only been meeting since the fall, and from the outset, we chose francis chan's crazy love as our springboard. then, in my 'adult' small group {so named when we stopped being a young adult small group, and, with a vote, became adults}, when we finished wild goose chase, a majority chose this as our next book.

one definite bonus of two groups studying the same book is that i have more than one opportunity to think through all of the super-challenging things that mr. chan has packed into his book. it's too easy, when we study a book like this, to do the reading minutes before we meet to discuss, and rush through things that need time and space to ponder if we are to give them their due.

the chapter we discussed tonight was called, 'when you are in love', and the basis is that we don't need to try harder to love God and not sin, but rather, when we learn to love God, when we ask God to help us love him more, to want to want him even when we don't, we will love him more, and in essence, sin less. something that goes completely against the 'do it yourself' mentality that we are brought up with. surely, if i can do it myself, it would mean more than if God had to help me.

how utterly messed up.

our conversation made me think of how much i love when my niece megan and nephew nicky take the time to draw me pictures. i give them the paper, the crayons. in essence, these things i already own. they become priceless to me, though, when these little pieces of my heart take their time, and create something just for me.

{a portrait of me, drawn by nicky a few years ago.
it still has a place of honor on my refrigerator.}

i need to remember that God is less concerned with all of my big plans and ideas, and more wants me to want to sit down with him daily, crayons in hand, and make something just for him. something only i can make him, when i slow down, and stop trying to be the rock star i spend too much time thinking i need to be.

all this reminds me of a spiritual blessing given to henri nouwen by a spiritual mentor:
may all your expectations be frustrated.
may all your plans be thwarted.
may all your desires be withered into nothingness.
that you may experience the powerlessness and the poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
this, my friends, is my prayer for you all tonight.

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