My name is Susan Peck; I live in Maplewood, MO with my husband Mark, our 4 kids Avery (17), Jordan (16), Jeremy (14), and Samantha (11), and our 5-month-old Border Collie/Black Lab puppy, Loki. I’ve homeschooled our kids on a series of one-year contracts since Avery was little, but as they grow older, I can see my role shift from teaching to overseeing and managing their education. Our family attends Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in Maplewood where Mark is a Ruling Elder. I enjoy singing, reading, the Cardinals, Netflix, and of course chocolate.
Favorite Bible Verse:
“The Lord your God is with you, The Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. ” Zephaniah 3:17
This verse became very meaningful to me in early adulthood, as I began to better understand God’s unconditional love and grace, especially his boundless love for me. I had grown up not fully grasping the gospel message, instead considering good works to be the foundation of my faith. I didn’t want to disappoint God, so I worried a lot about whether I prayed enough or was good enough to merit his approval. But in my late high school and early college years, as I began to understand more of the Gospel message, these words became precious promises to me:
Decades later, this verse continues to bless me, providing peace and comfort when I’m distressed, and because I love to sing, it’s especially powerful to think of God singing over me.
My Favorite Recipe: French Toast Souffle’. I’ll never be mistaken for a world-class chef, but I really enjoy cooking, so choosing just one is difficult. I guess I’ll go with this family breakfast favorite.
My Favorite Restaurant: Mark and I have a special place in our hearts for Water Street in downtown Maplewood, which is just a three-minute walk from our house. Ever since the kids were old enough to be left alone at home, this has been our go-to place for a drink and an appetizer, and what we call “Water Street Therapy.”
I can only recall one time among dozens of therapy sessions when we did not leave feeling encouraged, hopeful, and closer to one another. We’re on a first name basis with the owners and staff, and we even get to order off-menu items (don’t tell me they do that for everyone, just let me cling to the idea that we’re special).
My Favorite Childhood/Adult Hero: As a child, I wanted to be just like my older brother Greg, who was smart, talented and well-liked. My world was shaken to its core in 1982 when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Over the next three years he battled through multiple trials and suffering, with doctors ultimately amputating the leg to save his life. I was deeply impacted by the way he lived through those incredible challenges, shaping my conviction that real heroes are people who make a difference in people’s lives, changing them for the better. Greg demonstrated strength of conviction and a willingness to ‘go against the grain’, yet with a gentle and humble spirit that was apparent to those around him.
Greg was declared free of cancer in 1990 after five years of remission; he went on to study at the MIT Media Lab, work for Texas Instruments (quickly climbing the technical ladder), and pursue a M.Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Then in 2003, at the age of 35, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. This battle lasted for 8 years, and in the end, the cancer took his “earthly” life. But through it all, he never gave in to despair. He spent his life loving, giving, learning, teaching, evangelizing, befriending, mentoring, and following the example of Christ.
I could say so much more about my childhood idol, who became my adult hero, and continues to inspire me today, but I’ll leave you with this: Greg was rich in gifts and talents, but rather than pursuing earthly greatness, he spent his life ministering to others. His empathy, love, and care for those he encountered day to day made him a real hero in a broken world.
Note: The beach picture was taken the summer before he passed away…the last trip we took with him.
My Favorite Date: It was the spring of 1997, and Mark and I had been dating for several months in my hometown of Dallas, TX. One Saturday, I planned a day-long creative date that took us to several locations in Fort Worth, including a visit to a museum designed by my father, who’s an architect. Later, when Mark decided to propose, he disguised it by “returning the favor” with a similar adventure in Dallas. I was ready for a fun-filled day, but I had no idea what I was in for.
Mark incorporated family and friends into each of the stops we made. He asked my sister to bring me to a favorite restaurant for breakfast, where Mark’s parents surprised us, and then we went roller-skating with his brothers and sisters. After a visit to see the Mustangs of Las Colinas, we arrived for lunch at one of our favorite Tex-Mex places only to find my parents already seated and waiting for us. After lunch, a tour of a nearby movie studio gave way to a scavenger hunt organized by my brother and his wife in the Dallas Public Library.
At each stop, I was given a piece of a 3-D puzzle my dad designed, each one giving a clue to the next adventure. When the time came for dinner, Mark said we were going to a cool new restaurant he’d found called “Café Amore:” this turned out to be his parents’ house, where we were greeted at the door by two of our best friends. Jay served as host and waiter, while his wife Tricia cooked a five-course meal. The food was exquisite, but I could hardly eat a bite, because I’d started to figure out that Something Was Up…
Finally, the amazing moment came: Mark took me into the living room, dropped to one knee, and asked me to marry him. I answered “yes” and burst into tears of joy. We barely had time to kiss before family and friends converged on the house to celebrate. Mark claims he hates surprises, but somehow he managed to overcome that in order to plan the best surprise of my life.
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