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