Posted by: Susannah | December 25, 2012

Missing The Manger

This evening I went to two Christmas Eve services. I thought the first one was lame until I attended the second. One had hardly any carols, the other, too many. The first had a band that rearranged everything until there was barely a modicum of the familiar, the second a choir that testified to why some traditions really should fade. Both had sermons when they should have had homilies, both intentionally focused on anything but Luke 2, both delivered by pastors who were the only ones truly enthusiastic about the out-of-the-box message they had chosen to present this year. I heard six points on Jesus as the horn of David, then three about Simeon and Anna. I heard nothing about the shepherds, the angels, the wise men – shockingly, not even about Mary or Joseph. In the latter service, I’m not sure there was even more than a passing mention of Jesus.

It is not surprising then that moment God chose to speak to me was half way home, on a road I travel almost every other day. Tonight, between service one and service two, it began to snow – not the fickle flurries of earlier this season, but true snow. Snow that said ‘Watch me, I am here to stay. Smile. Twirl around. Get ready for something that is finally not fleeting, that you will at last see accumulate, that you will crunch and fluff through by the time you get home.’ In thirty-six Christmas Eves, I can barely remember a handful that were graced with snow.

As I drove home, I was not cynical, but simply sad and unfulfilled, longing for the Christmas Eve service I had anticipated, faced with the knowledge that it would be another year until I could experience that which I was currently mourning. There are no reruns on Christmas Eve. You can’t TiVo it to be replayed at your convenience. December 26th inexorably arrives, whether we have stopped to appreciate December 24th and 25th or not.

By this time it had begun to stick not just to grass but to roads. Everything was covered in a white blanket. As I drove past a field I knew to be dead and brown, I marveled at how a coating of snow suddenly made everything new. And then it hit me, when we are washed as white as snow, the same thing happens to us.

I’ve always looked at “white as snow” as something of a spiritual paint chip. Look, you used to be “Sinful Scarlet,” but we’ve covered it up with a coat of “White As Snow.” But now I think I’ll look at it as though it says, “Your sins have been washed as white as snow, arriving and covering everything dead with a blanket of beauty.” Just as I look at that muddy field and see only sparkling whiteness, so must God look at me and see only Jesus. He hasn’t taken my sin and whitewashed it. He’s placed Himself in front of the eyes of the Father, and His glory shines pure and bright, making everything look holy once more. And that’s cause for a Merry Christmas indeed.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

Posted by: Susannah | January 26, 2012

A Smile Is Like A Simile

A Smile Is Like A Simile

A smile says I’m happy
A smile says I understand you
A smile says we are sharing an inside joke
A smile says I want to improve your day
A smile says I enjoy who I am when you’re around

A smile is like having someone says these things to you…

Across a room
In the midst of a crowd

Inches from your face
Without a word

Posted by: Susannah | December 5, 2011

Writing Prompt

This is based on one of the writing prompts from the daily writing challenge. “Describe the beach to someone who has never been there – without using any of the following words: water, sand, sun, ocean, sea” – I decided to up the ante and not use any visual cues.


Close your eyes. Now imagine yourself sitting down upon the ground, your legs crossed under you. As you meet the surface, it yields all around you and molds itself to your shape. It is warm, almost painfully hot on top. No trees or buildings have provided it with shade. It is an open plain as far as you can imagine, and it has been collecting rays of warmth all day. Curl your fingers and toes beneath its soft, granular surface. Feel the coolness below, like another world, hidden beneath a shifting surface. Feel the instability all around you. Do you sense the temporal nature of the coastline? Can you feel the way it is sculpted and molded a little each day by the shifting winds and tides?

Open your ears. Do you hear the frenetic calls of the birds? Little birds, huge birds, with voices matching in size. Soaring birds in the air, flocking and jockeying for position as they hunt the land for scattered food. Fast-running birds, making tiny tracks along the foamy edge where land meets waves, searching for bugs and the tiniest of creatures that hide there in the ever-changing border of the shallows.

Wake up your less-relied-upon senses. Concentrate on the breeze that cools and teases you as it blows in from the other side of the world. Feel the moisture that weights down the air. Lick your parched lips, stripped raw by the heat and wind. Taste the salt as it settles on your tongue.

Hold very still, and feel the subtle push and pull, as the waves tease and taunt the shore before hurrying out once more. Feel the longing, as the Earth herself groans against the siren call of the Moon.

Posted by: Susannah | December 4, 2011

Book Simile

A good book is like…

…a cup of cocoa, warming you from the inside out.

…a spring bulb, waiting to reveal its secrets.

…a heady drug, distracting you from life when you need an escape.

…a favorite song, haunting your thoughts long after you put it down.

…a new lover, tempting you to close the door and ignore the world.

…an old friend, always ready to pick up exactly where you left off.

Posted by: Susannah | November 2, 2011



I awoke, panicked, from a nightmare last night. I don’t remember what the danger was, but my heart was beating so fast, like it was locked in a race with a cheetah. And the force of the pounding was so hard, I felt like the next beat would surely jump it right out of my chest.

I told myself over and over, “Calm down, it was only a dream. Calm down, you are safe. Calm down, all will be well.” It did not work; my mind was convinced, but my body wouldn’t listen. I tried picturing a peaceful scene; I envisioned flowers, meadows, the seaside. Nothing, nothing would stop my racing heart from trying to leap outside my body.

Finally, inspiration struck. I returned to my vision of the ocean. I reached out to capture the waves in my mind. I watched them as they rolled onto the shore. I followed them as they slid back out to sea. Slowly, slowly, bit by bit, I tied them to my racing heart and labored lungs.

Breathe in, I told myself, and watch the water engulf the sand. Breathe out, now, and watch the foam get pulled back whence it came. Breathe, beat, breathe, beat. In and out, swell and recede.

I watched the water break to a higher and higher line on the sand; I saw it quench the sun-parched beach, as the still night air began to quench my thirst for oxygen. I gazed upon each wave as it surrendered itself back to the depths, rippled by tiny obstacles along the way. In concert, I felt the breath leave my lungs, tripping a bit on its way back out.

And then at last, my breath, my heart, the water itself became as smooth as glass.

Posted by: Susannah | November 1, 2011


For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a frantic race of encouragement and camaraderie designed to help turn those “I’ve always wanted to write a novel” dreams into reality. The emphasis is on quantity over quality, with the end goal being a 50,000 word rough draft by the end of the month. That’s 175 pages in 30 days, people. Whoa.

I’ve kicked around the novel idea off and on over the years, and the creative writing class I just took had me thinking about it once again. I had forgotten all about NaNoWriMo, and I bumped into it 4 days ago. That just doesn’t seem like enough time to prepare. All is not lost, however. Vicki has challenged me to write for at least 10 minutes each day in November, with the agreement that she will do the same. I will post some of my efforts here throughout the month.

Get out there and write!

Posted by: Susannah | August 29, 2011

Melting Pot Moments

My sister and I went to The Melting Pot tonight for an end-of-summer sister dinner celebration. Missing our brother, we penned some fondue-inspired musings for him. Bon appetit!


There one was a man from Peru
Who had sadly not heard of haiku
So, shaking his head, he wrote a limerick instead
About his love of chocolate fondue


Cheesy, gooey, warm
Isles dipt in a molten sea
Heaven in a pot


How can I dip thee? Let me count the ways
In cheese, chocolate, oil, or broth
Thus, for all my remaining days
To your splendor I humbly pledge my troth
You welcome fruit and bread and meat
Into your steamy depths
Where rapturously they die
My soul stands vanquished in defeat
As silken chocolate steals the breaths
Of one unworthy as I


Posted by: Susannah | August 27, 2011

Of Spiders and Men

Greetings from Glen Spey, NY, a town which shares its name with a single malt whiskey distillery that sits along the Spey river valley in Scotland – not a bad claim to fame, really.

I’m here with a group of friends from my former life at IBM. We’ve been planning this lakehouse getaway for months, and wouldn’t you know but there’s a hurricane on the way. (Last year we drove through a snowstorm to meet for our Christmas party.) Being a hearty and determined lot, we came up anyway, though we know we’ll be cutting the visit a day short.

Despite the eye of Irene being a mere 200 miles away, it’s surprisingly calm and still here. We’ve been taking advantage of the sunshine in between the bands of rain, daring to go on the lake in between downpours.

As I sit here on the dock, I am watching an industrious spider tend and repair her web. I have the advantage of a perspective that she does not. I know that destructive winds and rains will be here tonight, and I wonder if even a single strand of that web will endure to see the daylight tomorrow. Yet my eight-legged friend spins on, not a care in the world, save catching supper.

So I ask myself, do I go through life the same way – building empires on the eve of destruction? Do I labor at things that will be gone in the blink of an eye?

Posted by: Susannah | August 20, 2011

The Filter of Possibilities

I never intended this to be a true blog, with regularly posted entries. It has always just been Susannah’s filing cabinet on the web. Lately, however, I feel more inspired to write and less concerned about the implicit pseudo-commitment to my hypothetical audience – of which there are probably fewer than a half dozen in the world.

I mused about this to my sister, and she suggested that I wake up each day and look for something bloggable – that life is just waiting to be observed with intentional eyes, I guess.

She and I were shopping with a good friend today, and we stumbled upon these charming earrings in Lucky Brand Jeans. I don’t have pierced ears, but I fell in love with these little suckers. They were on clearance, and so I convinced myself that I can transform them into not one, but two, adorable necklaces.

So here we go, world. You and I are going to start looking under the surface of everyday things, seeing not the reality but the potential.

Posted by: Susannah | February 4, 2009

Why Short Final?

When I’m flying, it all comes together on short final, a few hundred feet from touching down on the runway. No matter how long I’ve been in the air or where I’ve been that day, I know my journey is about to end – I will soon be home. All the physics of airspeed and altitude that I’ve focused on to get to that point just fade away, and for a magical moment I stop thinking and just feel my way back to the ground.

As a follower of Christ, I think we should treat each day of life the same way. It doesn’t matter if God returns in splendor tomorrow or we fade away humanly at the end of a long – or short – life; in either case, we are almost home.

This blog is a celebration of what it means to live in the here and now. It’s about the moment where we put away the mathematics of life and exist simply in the reflection of the journey and the anticipation of being home.



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