Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflections on Our First Christmas

Tonight I'm wrapped up in a blanket with some hot apple cider. Nate is playing the Wii and our washing machine is working on our post-trip laundry. Nate and I are only three-fourths through our Christmas Travel Blitzkrieg (Once we're home for good, I'll write a nice, long post about our December!), but I can't help but feel a little reflective tonight.

For those of you who may not know, I am nostalgic and somewhat sentimental. I love taking trips down memory lane, especially when it comes to Nate. I remember the first time I saw Nate, the way the snow fell on the night he asked me to be his girlfriend, and the words he spoke to me on the night he asked me to be his wife. I love firsts and even more so, I love remembering firsts. My downfall, however, comes when I put undue pressure on particular experiences, experiences such as our first Christmas.

Due to certain situations, I knew this would not be an ideal Christmas, but in my mind I did picture us having a few more ornaments on our tree. I knew we would be busy, but I did think we would be able to get enough sleep to be rested during our traveling. I knew I was being exposed to a few more germs than usual due to working with hundreds of kids, but I was hopeful we'd stay healthy through the holidays.

But here we are with exactly two ornaments adorning our tree, slightly exhausted, and fighting off colds. An ideal first Christmas? Maybe not. But as I opened my eyes on Christmas morning, I rolled over and put my arm around my husband. And in that moment God reminded me of His goodness. He is good. I am blessed. And I'll choose to reflect on that for a while.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Directions

(Yes, that is a Glee reference.)

I've always had a very wide variety of interests which has proved to be both a blessing and a challenge. I love learning about different topics and using a multitude of avenues to connect with others, but I've had a difficult time finding a career direction. In college I often compared it to when I was young and spun in circles with my arms out. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who did that! :-) I loved feeling the centripetal force and seeing my surroundings blur. I even liked the dizziness that came after I stopped. However, in the past few years I've felt like I've been stuck spinning when I'd rather be walking forward. I finally feel like God has brought me to stillness by putting His hands on my shoulders and pointing me in a new direction.

My temporary job as an administrative assistant began at the end of September and was slated to last three to four weeks. Two and a half months later, this position officially ended last Friday. The people I worked with were phenomenal, and I was blessed to have a temp job to fill my time of unemployment. But I can now happily say I am employed!

I applied for a youth development position through AmeriCorps a couple of months ago. I didn't hear anything for quite some time, so I thought that was another dead end. However, in a whirlwind that only God could orchestrate, I received a phone call at 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving; I interviewed with the organization the day after and was offered the position at the end of the interview. My first day is tomorrow! I am still not exactly sure what I'll be doing on a day-to-day basis, but I'll get to work with the youth on academics, athletics, and overall relationship skills. It will be a challenging learning experience that I'm very excited about.

While I still have a long way to go in figuring out what God has in store for my life, I'm looking forward to taking a step in His direction.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

25. Grace

The plan was to post this on Thanksgiving Day, but due to the busyness of being with family and lack of internet access, I didn't get it done. Hopefully you will show me grace in my tardiness (and in the cleverness of that pun. ;-)

It's difficult to express just how thankful we are for grace, as it shapes who we are and why live in the manner we do. As an act of love from God the Father, Jesus died on the cross in order to save us from punishment we deserve due to our daily wrongdoings. Jesus rose from the dead so that we may experience overwhelming, consuming, sweet grace. Though we cannot earn our salvation, we are able to freely receive God's perfect gift. I love how Titus 3:5-7 explains God's forgiveness.
[H]e saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Grace has taken a deeper meaning since Nate and I married. Though it's only been a few months, I've had to not only show a little more grace but also receive it from Nate much more often than usual. I'm so thankful the Holy Spirit gives us the power to show the love and forgiveness He first showed us. Check out Colossians 3:13 for what God has to say about that.

My name, Anne, means One of Grace. When I was young, I did everything I could to be graceful--as in being as elegant and non-clumsy as possible. In the last few years, however, the Lord showed me a different goal concerning my name. Instead of being concerned with my external appearance, I now strive to be a person who shows grace, even when the world says it's not needed. While I often fail, I would love to leave a legacy of prayer and forgiveness. I pray you have experienced this grace and that it is continually changing who you are and how you are living today.

Since it's now officially Christmas season, here is one of my
favorite Christmas songs that also happens to tie in nicely. :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

24. Family

All 9 members of my family gathered in one place for the first time tonight--thus the reason this post is 10 minutes past midnight. It was so beautiful to celebrate my brother Andrew's new engagement to Lisa, to see Andrew and Lisa meet Lydia for the first time, and to join these people we love so much in conversation. We get to do the same thing on the Summers side on Friday! We will celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, but we remember the blessing of being together with family tonight.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

23. Unexpected Beauty

Today was a long day due to some discouraging monotony at work, but God opened my eyes to a few sights that made me stop and smile.

Due to the winter-esque temperatures, I walked indoors as long as possible today. The skywalks take a little longer, but the warmth is completely worth it. While I was flying through the hallways in my effort to make it to my desk on time, I noticed a man sitting halfway-hidden in a corner. To be honest, I initially thought he looked a little suspicious, so I took another look. To my great delight I saw an open Bible on his lap and his head bowed in prayer. I smiled as I wondered what he was studying this morning and I couldn't help but think of man who prayed away from the crowd in Luke 18:9-14. Oh, and I did get to work on time. :-)

Unfortunately I had gotten bogged down again by the end of the day, but God grabbed my attention in one of my favorite ways. I work in an window-walled office building, but typically I see the east side of the building. However, I was walking to the west side when I was greeted by a burning red sunset. It was beautiful. And again I remembered God's majesty and sovereignty.

I'm so thankful our Lord offers these unexpected examples of beauty as a way to remind us that He is here; He is in control; He is good.

Yes, I know this is Chicago, but it's the thought
that counts, right? Thanks, Google Images!

Monday, November 22, 2010

22. Water

I was drinking a glass of water the other day when I realized how blessed I am to be holding this glass of clean, clear, treated and filtered drinking water. I'm fortunate enough to live in a community where water is only a few steps and twist of a knob away from hitting my lips almost anywhere I go, and I'm guessing since you're reading this, you probably are, too.

I did a few minutes of research and found according to, about one billion people on the planet don't have the convenience of clean, safe drinking water. This lacking necessity causes many problems such as fatal health complications and violent actions over the scarce water supply. Poverty-stricken areas around the globe cope with this daily, yet I've noticed it can be such an afterthought for me.

So eat your turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Really, do! We know that every good and perfect gift is from above, and we should enjoy what we're given by God. But when you take a drink of that glass of water (milk, lemonade, cider, etc.) take a moment to reflect about what you've been given, and how that affects the way you live.

For more information on clean water organizations and ways you can get involved, check out The Water Project or Living Water International.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

21. Memory

I remember getting a glass bottle of Mountain Dew with Grandpa E when I was four years old. I remember the day I got my braces on (July 18...quite a traumatic day for this almost 13-year-old). I remember my dad telling me that my Grandpa H had passed away. I remember getting the Explorer stuck in the snow for the first time. I remember the excitement of moving to college melting into fear the moment I saw the orange water tower and realized what I was doing. I remember seeing Nate for the first time (while dating someone else ;-). I remember when he asked me to be his girlfriend. I remember when he asked me to be his wife and the day that promise became true commitment.

Memory absolutely fascinates me. Can you imagine meeting someone only to not remember him or her the next day? Or repeatedly attempting an ineffective solution because you couldn't remember that it didn't work last time? I'm so thankful that God allows our minds to store memories of people, experiences, and lessons learned. While we all have memories we wish we could forget, I'm thankful we're able to learn from remembering our former mistakes or the mistakes of others. I'm thankful for remembering the people I love and why I love them. And I'm thankful for remembering the word of the Lord and the ways He has always been faithful.

Related? Not at all. But this song has been in my head while I've been writing this post. :-)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

20. Washers and Dryers

Laundry is one household chore I typically enjoy, much to my husband's delight. There's just something about the smell of detergent and fabric softener and the warmth of clothes coming out of the dryer that seems like a reward every time a load is completed. For some reason, I even find folding laundry relaxing. During college I acquired somewhat of a reputation for my distinctive folding style (I learned from the prestigious School of Momma Jan) and my quirky desire for all of my clothing to be folded in a certain way. That being said, I would dread the thought of washing clothes if I did not have a washer and dryer at my disposal. Despite my frequent battles with our stackable washer/dryer, I am reminded weekly (or twice weekly!) of how thankful I am for this type of technology.

We're coming down to the last few days of this Thanksgiving project, but there is still plenty of time for you readers to chime in. Feel free to write a comment about something for which you are thankful! Today is a laundry day in the Summers household, and I need to put my last load in the dryer. Enjoy your Sabbath tomorrow!

Friday, November 19, 2010

19. Scripture

Anne and I were just talking about how much of a blessing it is to have Scripture and the arena in which to enjoy studying it. We were both blessed with great relationships in college at Northwestern, and a lot of those came from Bible studies we were involved in. We've experienced much of the same since being in moving away from college. I really love being able to dig in to God's Word, like I did last night, with a bunch of men who I know love it at least as much as I do. At the same time, it's every bit as powerful when we take the time to meditate upon Scripture in solitude. We know that "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16) He's the author! God's word is reliable, it is relevant, and it is revealing of God's justice, grace, power, and splendor. In the US, where we can buy any number of English translations (between the two of us, we have 8 different translations in our home...yikes!) it is easy to take the Bible for granted. This is especially true when considering the number of people groups who do not have a translation of the Bible in their own language, much less have different versions. We are so grateful that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in this way.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

18. Touch

A fist pound. A high five. A slap on the butt.

Shaking hands. Chest bumping.

A hug. A kiss. A caress of the cheek.

Cuddling on the couch. Holding hands. Nuzzling noses.

A pat on the back. A reassuring squeeze of the shoulder.

Leaning against his chest. Laying his head on her shoulder.

Expressing without saying a word.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

17. Conversation

While I've mentioned my love of words in previous posts, good conversation is one of my favorite means of using language. Wednesdays are date nights for Nate and me, and we try to fill these nights with activities that encourage connecting through conversation. I love how dialogue leads to spurring on new ideas, learning, and gaining a better understanding of the person with whom you're speaking. I am thankful that God created each of us uniquely, yet conversation can bridge the differences and reveal new depths of creation and the Creator.
Hmm...this got a little deeper than I thought it would. Basically conversation is on the list because we find it to be engaging and we genuinely enjoy it. Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

16. This Guy

On November 16, 2007, Nate and I attended the semi-finals of NC/DC...together. While we weren't technically dating yet, this was the first time we had been together on campus. For better or worse, when a guy and a girl hang out together at a college like Northwestern, other students automatically assume there must be interest. Three years ago, those assumptions were completely true, and my interest in him and my love for him haven't stopped growing ever since.

Back then I did not know him well, but I was so intrigued by the way everything he did seemed genuine. I can now attest that he is the most sincere man I have ever met. Though he would much rather listen (a skill I hope rubs off on me), I treasure his words. When he affirms me, I know his words are rooted in truth. I know this partly because that's the kind of person he is and partly because he may be the world's worst liar. :-) Just as in our dating relationship and engagement, Nate consistently seeks to love me sacrificially as Christ loves the Church and laid His life down for her.

He makes me laugh when I think I'd rather be mad. He holds me when I'm broken. He listens when I rant. He reminds me when I doubt. He loves me when I wouldn't. I am so grateful. I love you, sweetie!

Monday, November 15, 2010

15. Laughter

It doesn't take much. Whenever I encounter a quick-witted comment from my brother, a ridiculous gesture from my hubs, the start of a giggle from my BFF, or when our niece does anything, I can't help but laugh. It seems every relationship I am in can be defined in some manner by the laughter we share. I love simply cuddling on the couch with Nate and making each other laugh. Family dinners are never complete until all of us are caught up in raucous laughter. My former college roommates and I often laugh so hard that we cry and clutch our sides before we calm down. I'm not one to pass on good, serious conversation, but I consider finding humor in life one of God's most gracious blessings.

Blogging World, meet my best friend Krystal. She is one of the best
laughers I know, and though she hates this picture, it shows
just how beautiful a full blown fit of laughter can be!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

14. Proper Grammar

**This one's for you, Nathan!**

In honor of my brother, I'd like to express both his and my gratitude for the use of proper grammar. My mother fostered our grammarian tendencies by consistently urging us kids to look up words in the dictionary, and my love for the English language has only grown over time. The muscles in my back may physically tense up when I see others misuse there native tongue, but my heart becomes happy when I come across a well-placed hyphen or when I see the correct use of a comma, admittedly a difficult thing to do. I fully acknowledge that others do not share my fascination with the rules of language, but I would be remiss to ignore my appreciation for grammar during this Thanksgiving season.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

13. Nieces

Although we've only had a niece for two months, we have loved every minute of it. We had the pleasure of spending the afternoon shopping and hanging out with Lydia while Nathan and Tara enjoyed some baby-free time together. While our struggle with getting the car seat unlocked from its station and our inability to unfold the stroller reaffirmed that we aren't ready to be parents, who wouldn't be absolutely enamored with this little one?

Friday, November 12, 2010

12. Modern Transportation

I sometimes have a love/hate relationship with technology and progress, but we are very thankful today for automobiles, specifically our little Pontiac. Without modern transportation, it would have taken well over a day to make the trip to see our niece. But today "Penny the Pontiac" (as in Moneypenny, the James Bond character) carried us safely to see that beautiful little girl (and her wonderful parents) in just a few hours. Can you guess what we're going to be thankful for tomorrow? :-)

Can you see the resemblance? :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

11. Veterans

In honor of Veterans' Day, we'd like to share our thankfulness for those who have faithfully served in our country's military. Nate and I have family (or nearly family) members who have served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These men are a just a small sample of the millions of men and women who have given their service to the United States.

To all veterans, and to our veterans Grandpa Hagen, Grandpa Summers, Uncle Andy, Uncle Bob, Uncle Tom, Joben, and Kelly, thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10. Northwestern

Nate and I are not shy in sharing our love of our alma mater. While we've had our share of frustrations with the institution (as all students have at one time or another), tonight's experience reminded me of why we feel Northwestern is a special place. The Lady Raiders played in town, and Nate and I were excited to support the team and connect with other alumni. We saw some spectacular basketball, but more importantly we got to have a little taste of our college community for a few hours. We are thankful, indeed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

9. Ibuprofen

This is not exactly profound, but I have grown increasingly grateful for this part of modern medicine during the last 5 years (aka since moving away from home). I'd much rather solve headache issues through the services of my dad, but until I get over my fear of seeing a different chiropractor, I am thankful for ibuprofen, especially because it helped salvage my day today!

Monday, November 8, 2010

8. Opportunities

This is Nate writing; I thought I would take a stab at this one today. The past few years I've been a bit frustrated with the work I've been doing. I had been working for Principal Financial Group, which is a great, ethical company. The responsibilities I had been given in the positions I was in, however, didn't allow me to use the knowledge I'd gained in college, nor did they provide the challenge I was looking for. I seemed to constantly need to remind myself of a verse I'd gone back to many times: "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men..." (Colossians 3:23). I prayed that God would give me the strength be faithful to that command in that season, but asked that he would eventually give me the opportunity to have a more positive and mentally rigorous work experience.

Today I reported to work at a new company for my first day. I have the opportunity to work on Piper Jaffray's Public Finance team. There will be a lot to learn, but I'm grateful to be using my mind again in an area that interests me. I can happily say I'm excited to go to work tomorrow!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

7. Music

**Update: The link is now working!**

Music has been a significant part of both of our lives. I have a more classical background in piano, and Nate taught himself how to play the acoustic guitar in college and continues to play in the worship band at our church. I love how music can be used to express personal emotion, to connect with others, to lift a heavy mood, and to praise God. Since getting connected in our church, we've also rediscovered the blessing of seeing how God has gifted fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Here is a little sampling of original music written, performed, and produced by our friends.

Samantha and Scott Gratton - We Will Be

You can still listen to more of Scott's music by clicking here or here. :-)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

6. Rest

I'm coming in just under the wire for today's post, but we thought it would appropriate for today's thankfulness post to feature rest. After a wonderful yet grueling September/October schedule, we are reveling in a weekend with no plans. While we both have a tendency to over commit, this weekend of relaxation is a great reminder of why God commands us to rest. I encourage you to let tonight's extra hour be a great start to your Sabbath. My husband just put freshly washed sheets on the bed, so I'm going to enjoy some rest right now! Thanks be to God. :-)

Thanks for the photo, Google Images!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Test in Perseverance and Gratitude

On the first of November, I had a facebook friend suggest that we post something we are thankful for everyday in November until Thanksgiving. I love the concept, but I thought this may be the better venue. As it is already November 5, I'll start with 5 today and will do my best to post daily until Thanksgiving Day! If there are any of you reading out there, please feel free to write things you are thankful for in the comment section.

1. Autumn
Football. Apple Cider. Sweatshirts and jeans. Changing leaves. Seeing deer in the fields. God was gracious in providing this beautiful transition into winter, and it seems this fall has been especially pleasant.

2. Ice Cream
Nate and I are currently eating a bowl as we brainstorm. I don't think I need to explain why this made the list. :-)

3. Heat
in all it's forms...furnaces, warm showers, fireplaces, automatic car starters, etc. (Yes, this Dutch household has turned on the heat. My husband loves me!) We realize more and more how grateful we are for warmth as it becomes an outdoor scarcity.

4. Friends Who Have Been There
Nate and I have been blessed by many deep friendships. Some live further away and some are at different points in their lives, but we are thankful for the way we are able to stay connected. These men and women know how to love in a way that spans distance and differences and have seen us through laughter, tears, and growth.

5. Friends Who Are Here Now
A woman I greatly admire once told me that while college friendships seem irreplaceable, God brings people into your life for whatever season you are living. We have most definitely seen this to be true as we leave Northwestern. These relationships may be fresh, but we are thankful to have new friends with whom to walk.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live
your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith
as you
were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

Colossians 2:6-7

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Season without Wind

Lately I've been reminded of a common Christian simile: God is like the wind; you can't see Him but you can feel Him. I will start by saying this analogy works on many levels, and I often am reminded of God's presence through creation. I cannot help but think of the Spirit when I feel a gentle breeze kiss my face, the kind that makes you close your eyes and breathe deeply. I will be upfront, however, and say that there are days where there is no wind.

Knowing where I live and where I attended college, I know that previous statement is difficult to believe, but I have a storehouse of lifeguarding memories to affirm it. There are days when the sun beats down mercilessly causing the temperature to rise to unmatched levels while the notorious Iowa humidity dares you to breathe. On these days, the pool was especially busy, for obvious reasons, but the laughter of children quickly assumed a mocking tone when their splashing came just short of bringing brief relief to the skin on my legs, the skin that revealed its anger with me through its deep red hue. As much as I wanted to get off my chair and take shelter in the shade/water/anywhere but my chair, I had to stay. Sweat unceasingly poured down my face, into my eyes, off my chair, but there was no wind to cool me down. I sometimes looked at the horizon as if my pleading eyes could see the wind coming (for any moms out there, I promise I still paid attention to the kids), but guess what? I couldn't see it. I couldn't see relief coming to my aid.

And so it is with faith. There are days when His gentle breeze makes me stop and breathe deeply. There are days when His forceful, convicting gusts remind me of His presence so much that I wish He would stop. And there are days when I can't feel anything. Days when I look to the horizon and hope and pray Ican see Him coming to the rescue, but I can't see anything changing. And it is during these days that I just wish I could feel the presence of God.

I rest in the fact that I am not alone in this experience.

Psalm 22:1-5
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Henri Nouwen, one of my favorite theologians, explores this subject far better than me, so I'll sum things up with this quote from Reaching Out:
"The intimacy with God in our earthly existence will always remain an intimacy that transcends human intimacy and is experienced in a faithful waiting on him who came but is still to come."
While the sun is still beating down, I will cling to faithfully waiting on him who came but is still to come.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Attempt to Catch Up

I'm only seven posts into this blog and I am already weeks behind! Life has been a little crazy lately, but we're getting caught up in most of the other areas of daily living. Hopefully we can do the same catching up with you. I have an hour to burn in a coffee shop, so I'll see how much ground I can cover. On a side note, and this may sound odd coming from a non-coffee drinker, but I am convinced that there are few things better than writing in a coffee shop. Ok...back to catching up.

Three weeks ago, Nate and I had the opportunity to nudge each out of our comfort zones. It began on Friday night with a trip to Nate's high school alma mater, as in the high school 15 miles down the road from my in the high school I learned to strongly dislike (especially during volleyball season :-) from age 14-18. As predicted, it was slightly odd being surrounded by fans in red instead of maroon, but I must admit it was very cool to see how their community rallies around football. Plus the Falcons came away with a dominating homecoming win, so got to see some quality football, as well.

After spending some quality time with Mom and Dad Summers, we woke up early the next day (Yes, well before the sun on a Saturday, which means it must have been very important) to drive to Iowa City to watch the Hawkeyes! I may or may not have been crazy excited for this game. Although I've been a lifelong Iowa fan, this was my first trip to Kinnick which explains part of the excitement. The rest of my excitement was comprised of one part seeing my family and one part seeing Nate wear an Iowa shirt. Doesn't he look great in black and gold? :-)

Nate is a very loyal Michigan fan, so this was a very generous act on his part. I'm guessing there will come a day when I'll have to return the favor, but for right now I'm just enjoying that picture. :-) Despite the rain and chilly temperatures, we had a great time watching the Hawkeyes soundly beat Ball State (the university where my brother and his girlfriend both work), enjoying the generosity of Iowa season ticket holders, and hanging out with Andrew, Lisa, and my parents. Nate was a great sport about the whole day. Hopefully he will do the same today, as Iowa plays Michigan. This may be the most stressful day of our marriage to date. :-) Here's a little sampling from the day.

In the time after this weekend trip, life gets a little fuzzy in my memory. While I am still searching for a permanent job, I started working as a temporary administrative assistant on the Monday after we got home from Iowa City. It is such a blessing to have a multiple week temporary position while I continue the search, but my life was reduced to this: wake up, go to work, come home, study for the LSAT, go to bed, repeat. I think there was food thrown in there, as well, but if it wasn't part of an argument or a logic game, I don't remember a lot. :-)

Two weeks ago we were able to celebrate the marriage of new friends. Scott and Samantha's wedding was so beautiful and so much fun! Plus it was a great reason to stop studying for a few hours. We spent the majority of our time with Drew and Andi. We've always known we had a lot in common, but the wedding revealed new depths of this truth. :-)

Well, if you're still reading this, I appreciate it. I didn't mean for things to get so long! But I suppose covering 3 weeks in one post is a little much, huh? I promise to write more about my job, the LSAT, etc, but my time is up! I now get to go to go see my precious niece (and her family). Priorities! :-)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Flying into Skylights

Last week I encountered a dragonfly trying to fly through a skylight. We've all seen something similar: an insect or animal trapped by a devious, clear obstacle even though there is a seemingly obvious way to escape. In this case, the skylight is part of the roof over our apartment building's outdoor stairway. The dragonfly needed only to fly down the short roof line and she would've been free to go wherever she wanted. However, upon returning from some errands, I noticed she had lost her battle and was now lifelessly staring out the skylight. For some reason, this everyday event stuck with me, so for those of you still reading this, be prepared for a little soul searching.

We, as logical, intelligent, perspective-claiming human beings, see this dragonfly and wonder why she keeps flying full force into the window instead of navigating herself toward freedom, but I wonder how often we are the ones doing the futile flying. We see what we think we want and we move to fulfill that desire by the shortest route possible. Yet we fail, time and time again. We either can't see or refuse to admit that we may have to fly down to fly up. We either can't trust or refuse to let go to let the One with eternal perspective guide us toward true freedom.

Last week I met with my second temp agency in hope of ending my season of unemployment. Inevitably, as is their responsibility, they asked me the question I've dreaded answering for the last four years: "So what is it you'd like to do?" By this time, I have decent answer to give; however, it is still far easier to explain what I do not want to do:
1. I do not want to work in a call center. (Sorry, Nate. Your skills surpass mine. :-)
2. I do not want to waste the talents I've been given.
3. I do not want to be that dragonfly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Proud Introduction

Coming in at 7 lbs. 4.9 oz and standing a whopping 18.5 inches tall, please give it up for my practically perfect niece, Miss Lydia Sue!

Her peaceful beauty is currently stealing the hearts of family and friends across the country, but don't be fooled! This precious little one loves exploring how her facial muscles work and surprising herself with the adorable coos and cries she is able to produce.

At three days old, she is highly skilled in nuzzling, eating, sleeping, making her parents giggle at the end result of her eating, and causing hearts to melt. She loves to be held close and is most comfortable with her tiny, wrinkly hands touching her face.

Her parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunt are all completely enthralled--so much so that they are completely unable to contain the kind of consuming excitement and pride that may prompt a slightly ridiculous, albeit completely genuine blog post.

Love you, my lovely, little Lydia. We can't wait to see you again!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Lovely Labor Day Weekend

Happy Labor Day! For the first time in 8 years, I haven't had some type of sport practice (Thank you, high school volleyball and college golf), for the first time in four years, I haven't been in class on Labor Day (Thank you, Northwestern), and for the first time in two years, I haven't had to say goodbye to Nate (Thank you, long-distance relationship)! While it would have been even sweeter if I could have a job to take a break from, it was wonderful nonetheless.

On Friday night, we went to an I-Cubs game with two couples we've been getting to know from our church. The weekend started off on the right foot with a Cubs win, fireworks, sharing ice cream cake at our place afterward followed by a lively board game.

We're accumulating quite a few of ballpark pictures...I'm a fan

Good game, good company, and a good I-Cubs win

Saturday was the official start of the college football season, a day we celebrated by sleeping in and lazily making our way to the living room to watch the games. Nate bravely battled the antenna in order watch his beloved Wolverines on ABC. After a solid 20 minutes and a slightly torn up living room, we were getting ABC with only the occasional glitch. However, he lost the war when ABC chose to broadcast the K-State game instead. He settled for keeping an eye on the Game Cast and the Michigan win. (Unfortunately, my Hawkeyes were on the Big 10 Network, but I'll take our win, too.)

We also have officially been married for 2 months, which means another piece of wedding cake! Friday was technically the 3rd, but who's counting.

For the few that care, I am wearing an Iowa shirt to properly balance this picture. :-)

On Sunday, my parents came down to join us for church, lunch, and a bike ride to celebrate the beautiful weather. On Monday, Nate's parents came down to see us, as well! They brought a few odds and ends including our coffee table and grill (which Nate is very excited about).

Other weekend highlights:
- The start of crisp, fall weather which translates into not running the a/c and sleeping in a cool apartment
- Both of us feeling like mildly proficient and cost-effective grocery shoppers after capitalizing on some "hot deals"
- No going into labor on Labor Day, as hoped, but our niece should be here soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

a tribute

Last Tuesday I went home to both mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Clint McMartin. Though it seems there are no words to describe this loss, it still seems most worthy of words.

I've written poems and personal narratives, newspaper features and numerous research papers. I've written monologues, debate arguments, restaurant reviews and writing critiques. I've written reflections and ridiculously corny rhymes, but I don't know how to write this.

I don't know how to clearly communicate what it means to lose a man that I admittedly did not know well, but knew well enough to know he was one of the good guys. I don't know how to persuade you to believe that Clint had a God-given talent of teaching and coaching and that he was using his gifts to do great things. I can't tell you the story of all the young men and women in whose lives he made a difference, though I can tell you my brother is a better man for being Clint's friend. I don't know how to express that while I still can't help but think this whole situation is wildly unfair, I am still in awe of how God is using this to His glory. I don't know how to write a tribute, so I'll settle for another form of writing with which I'm familiar: a thank you note.

Thank you, Clint, for living a life that so clearly expressed the love you had for your Savior, your family, and those around you.

Thank you, McMartin family, for handling this tragedy with grace and for using your loss as an opportunity to share your faith with the many who mourn with you.

Thank you, Father, for being sovereign over us all and for giving us Your comfort and peace despite the confusing and painful nature of Clint's death. Thank you for the promise that for those who believe, this is not the end, but only the beginning.

Isaiah 55:8-11
'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,'
declares the LORD.
'As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.'

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Quick Update and the Weekend Run-Down

Now the key to blogging is to keep writing...and I've slipped up a bit in that department! But I'll try to remedy this. The newest Summers household has been settling into a routine which is a welcome change of pace after so many changes in the last few months. Nate is staying busy in Marketer Services (aka job security!), and I'm getting more and more used to not having him around for the majority of the day. I keep sending out applications and going to the occasional interview, so something has to show up soon...right? ;-) God has been very good in giving me a certain amount of peace throughout the last few weeks. I'm still not a huge fan of sitting still, but it's getting better. In fact, while there is still a longer list of things I will NOT miss, I have figured out a list of things that I WILL miss after I'm employed. Here's a little taste:
1. Being completely rested
2. Writing contemplatively whenever I'd like
3. Wearing gym shorts
4. Going to a movie with a friend at 11:25 a.m. and only paying $6 because it's the first showing of the day (Who knew?)
5. Being able to say "Yes, I'm free" whenever someone asks if I'm available to do something

Other than the job situation, we've been enjoying our time at home. For the last 2 years or so, one of us (usually Nate, bless him) would make a weekend trip to visit the other every 2-4 weeks. The visits were wonderful, but the travelling took its toll. Now we've been able to spend the majority or all of the last 4 weekends at home, and we're loving it! We're in a wonderful place to begin our marriage as we're still close to family and have many friends, old and new, that we're able to see on a regular basis. What a blessing!

Case in point, last weekend. On Friday, we went miniature golfing with Rachael and Scott, a lovely friend from my days of NW Women's Golf and her husband. All four of us took the competition very seriously (please insert a mental picture of all of us reading our putts...I didn't bring my camera). Although our friendly competition may have held up the other putt-putt golfers, we had a great time with it. On Saturday we met up with my parents for lunch to celebrate my birthday, and the celebration continued that night with Jeff and Chelsea, another fabulous Northwestern couple with whom Nate and I are close. We had them over for dinner and a rousing game of Bananagrams. (For those gamers out there, you must check this out. It may just be my new favorite.) Sunday was filled with church, relaxation, and again meeting with friends for an outdoor concert and fireworks at the mall. All of this activity made it a little difficult to return to the work routine on Monday, but we still see it as well worth it.

I'll be sure to bring my camera on our upcoming adventures which will include meeting our niece! Hopefully she chooses to make her appearance soon. Be blessed this week!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thoughts on Unemployment and Tuesdays

Today is Tuesday. And lately I haven't really been a big fan of Tuesdays. On Mondays I'm still coming off the high of relaxing with my wonderful hubby all weekend. On Wednesdays I get to look forward to date night, Thursdays are Bible study nights, and Friday is the start to the weekend. But Tuesday has been the black hole in my weekly routine. There just isn't much to do. Of course there is the typical laundry, washing dishes, grocery shopping, and LSAT prep (yes, Nathan, you read correctly), but these don't exactly light my motivation fire nor do they come with a deadline, a seemingly mandatory component of helping me accomplish anything.

If there is anyone reading this who doesn't know me that well, I've always had a lot to do and a lot of groups in which to participate. My mother can attest to my ridiculous schedule even as a middle schooler, and my college schedule was more of the same. I was constantly meeting with different people and working on different projects until the veryedge of the deadline. I loved it! Now God has, quite forcibly, put me a place where I must not only slow down but to all but stop. And I don't like it very much. While I've always had a tendency to be a calm person, I struggle with being still. So while Nate is at work, I sit at home the stillness...and I fight it with all the vigor of toddler who just got her favorite toy taken away.

Yet our God is sovereign and omnipotent..and ridiculously persistent. So here I sit on a Tuesday, still waiting for that that job offer to come, still waiting for Nate to come home. But today I'm starting to recognize that while I'm still waiting for work, I can work at being still. While Nate and I were a long-distance couple, I clung to Psalm 37:3-7, and I'm still slowly learning this truth:
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Starting Life as the Summers

We are officially Mr. and Mrs. Summers! And we are officially starting life as residents of West Des Moines. After our relaxing honeymoon in Riviera Maya Cancun, Nate resumed his position in Marketer Services at Principal Financial Group and I resumed my position at the computer searching for jobs. While I'm still searching, we know God has been faithful so far, and He will continue to be faithful in providing a job for me, as well. In His timing!

Our first month of marriage has been filled with settling our apartment, celebrating the beautiful wedding of my lifelong friend Christine and her husband Brandon, helping my parents and my brother and sister-in-law celebrate 34 and 6 years of marriage, respectively, getting together with both old and new friends living in the Des Moines area, and relaxing with the Summers family at Lake Ponderosa. It's been a busy time, but we're thoroughly enjoying being married. Though it hasn't been too long, we have learned a few things such as: how to make the words 'adjust' and 'compromise' a regular part of our vocabulary and actions, I am not a natural water skier, Nate's seemingly unflappable calmness is a good influence on me, our oven runs approximately 50 degrees hotter than it says, Sunday afternoons when neither of us has to leave are the best, and we love living together in our marriage covenant. God is good.

There are a few more lessons in there somewhere, but that's what comes to mind for now! Thanks for checking in with us. Love to you all.