No Judgments, Just Jesus

Elise Susnik

Short Bio: Hello! My name’s Elise and I’m the new/old youth director at Immanuel. While I “semi-retired” from the role in 2018 after spending 7 years leading the group, I’m so excited to be back again after a 5 year break. I really love exploring complicated and interesting topics with our teens, helping them figure out how to listen and when to speak, how to take action and when to step back and rest. When I’m not “directing” our church’s youth, you can find me helping my husband run our aquaponic farm, taking care of our animals, homesteading, and homeschooling our two children (I swear, you don’t have to homeschool in order to be in leadership at this church!). 

Education: I attended Hamline University and have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Communications, with a near-miss of a minor in Religion. I also have a graduate certificate in editing from the University of Chicago, which is endlessly amusing to me given my penchant for playing fast and loose with grammar rules.

Favorite Books: Literally anything by C.S. Lewis (though The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity top the list) and many of Barbara Kingsolver’s works. I also enjoy the classics from Jane Austen for their subtlety and wit. Mostly, though, I read a lot of essays, scientific studies, and current event/opinion journalism. And then there are the homesteading blogs…

Favorite Movies: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Secondhand Lions, The Nativity (it’s my Christmas movie go-to), and in a surprise twist, Hacksaw Ridge. 

Favorite TV Shows: I don’t have a chance to watch much, but I’m enjoying The Chosen. And New Girl makes me snort-laugh.

Favorite Activities: Spending time with my family, spending time in nature, hiking, singing along to good music, camping, working on our farm, feeding people I love (and anyone nearby at meal time), reading, and learning new skills. Also, pretending I know how to knit. 

Favorite Musicians: Needtobreathe, For King and Country, Cochran & Co., JJ Heller, AJR, Imagine Dragons, Mat Kearney. 

Favorite Sports: I was the MVP of my high school track team (pole vaulting and sprinting) and a varsity swimmer. I can’t say I currently play or follow any sports, though.  

Favorite Foods: Strong coffee, dark chocolate, garlic pesto knots made with fresh basil from our greenhouse, gouda, apples, BBQ chicken/pork/etc.

Personality Type: INFJ

Influences: Jesus (obviously), George Mueller, C.S. Lewis, Katie Davis, Doris Janzen, my parents… the list goes on!

James Lipton’s Ten Questions:

1. What is your favorite word? Ohhh, that’s a hard one. I REALLY like words. Can I choose a suffix instead? I add “-ish” to words on a regular basis.

2. What is your least favorite word? Any variation on the words that denigrate others. Words are meant to share ideas and connect people- when you use ugly words to diminish others, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll stop listening immediately.

3. What turns you on? Kindness. Humor and intelligence are also valuable, but kindness is always the most important factor.

4. What turns you off? Self-centeredness. No one can ever fully avoid causing harm to others, but when people don’t even try to think about how their actions impact their fellow earth-dwellers? Yuck.

5. What is your favorite curse word? I don’t have any at the moment, given the constant proximity of “small ears” in my life. I mostly make unintelligible angry noises as necessary.

6. What sound or noise do you love? The breeze in the trees. Bird song. Waves. Children’s laughter. Stringed instruments.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?  Whining. We often joke in my house that while I’ve learned multiple languages, “Whinese” isn’t one of them.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Maybe politician? I mean, I would absolutely hate the job, but I would love the opportunity to bypass partisanship and actually get help to the people who need it.

9. What profession would you not like to attempt? I cannot think of a worse job than being a public school bus driver. I really dislike driving, so the responsibility, noise, and turning radii would do me in before my first shift ended. God bless them, they have the hardest job I can possibly think of. 

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  “Well done, good and faithful servant.”