Sunday, February 25, 2018

Day 55 of 365. The Holiest version of "Because, I said so!"

We are just over a week into the season of Lent. I won't elaborate on my 2018 Lent journey at the moment other than to say... Everyday I'm surprised that Lent is so long. Every single day I think, "40 days God? Really? That's fine for Jesus and well...just Jesus, but I'm no Jesus. I can't do this." 

 But I'm pretty sure that's the point.

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As usual I find myself reading (and falling behind in) several different Bible studies. We all know that I suffer super hard from FOMO (fear of missing out) and that struggle permeates every part of my life. Anyway, I'm reading the usual Chronological Bible where we find ourselves smack in the middle of the wilderness and the Levitical law, but I'm also reading Exodus with the She Reads Truth folks. Since the setting is the same it is not as confusing as reading through 2 different plans can sometimes be. In fact, the deeper discussion of Exodus provided by SRT has really helped me appreciate and enjoy Leviticus in a way that I DID NOT expect.

Because let's be real Leviticus is tough. It's a whole lot of "You must not..." peppered with some pretty graphic descriptions of all things unclean.

However, the commentary provided by the girls at SRT and by Iva May and Co. this year have really drawn my heart towards appreciating God's love and protection through these laws.

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I try to put myself in the Isrealites shoes (er sandals...ha) every time I read the books of Exodus and Leviticus. Does anyone else do this? I try to imagine what it's like to be rescued from 400 years of slavery and then led out into the difficult and scary wilderness with none of the comforts of home. These particular people had been living as Egyptians their entire lives. God was a character in a story that had been passed down for many years, but not a part of their day to day lives. They did not trust this character because they didn't know him.

They were reintroduced to their (very personal) God when He heard their cries and remembered His covenant with their great grandpa Abraham. This year I spent a lot of time thinking over the use of the word "remember" in this passage. "Did God really forget his people?" Seems like a legit question and caused me to think more about the word remember. Remember is the opposite of Forget, but is not always a response to forgetting. We can remember regularly do something without first forgetting it. So God (as usual) remembered His covenant with Israel and came to the rescue. He came to the rescue in a very big way. He could have rescued them quickly and easily and without much fuss, but he needed to remind His people (and the Egyptians) that we was more than just a character in their traditions and stories. He was the Lord their God.

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Once God does this miraculous reintroduction of Himself in Exodus, He teaches these former slaves how to become a nation. He gives them order and a focus and a whole bunch of laws. He wanted His people to be set apart from the nations around them. To look differently and act differently and worship differently than the people of Egypt behind them and the people of Canaan in front of them. His laws provided protection from disease and from each other. His laws made a way for all people rich or poor to be able to live in community and worship the Lord.

And since He knew the people would question every law that seemed a little cray cray, He punctuated each command with "I am the Lord your God."

I love this characteristic of God's personality. He knows His people better than we know ourselves. He knew they would say "But God, that seems a little extreme, why must we do it that way?" And so he when ahead and gave them answer.

Basically the most Holy version of "Because. I. Said. So." 

I. Am. The. Lord. Your. God.  (That's why.)




Monday, January 29, 2018

Day 17 (or 29) of 365. Getting Distracted writing about Distractions

It is Day 17 of 2018 and Day 6 of Snow Day Craziness.

I tried to think of a new exciting term like the weatherman uses such as "Snowmageddon" or "Icepocolypse" but I am just not as creative as Action News 5, I guess. However, a "world coming to an end" type of name is exactly what we need by day 6 of this thing. We have enjoyed our laziness and snow fun as much as Southerners with no proper clothing can, and now we are just completely stir crazy. So crazy, in fact, that I have resorted to some form of homeschooling today to remain somewhat sane. Thankfully the kids think it is a fun new game to do work at home and are actually excited about it. At least for today.

As much as I REALLY don't enjoy the idea of a snow day because of all the pressure on moms to make it memorable. (Sledding, and snow angels, and pretty pictures, and snowmen, and snow cream, and hot chocolate.... and that lasts about 20 minutes.) I have really enjoyed the slower rhythm. We barely had time to get back into the busy-ness of school after Christmas Break and here we are again, sleeping late and spending lots of time as a family.





Our nights at home have been particularly slow. Just as most people in my life stage, we have a busy weekly schedule with all of the kid's extracurricular activities, homework, and church activities. We rarely have a lazy night at home, much less 6 in a row. It has been nice. Sweet. Just what this homebody needed.

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I laughed when I read in Genesis today as I thought about my kids and all the sibling bonding they have had in the last week. We read today that Joseph sends his brothers (the same ones who sold him as a slave 20 years ago, but he forgave them because Joseph has mastered forgiveness in way that most of us can only dream and that would likely earn him a gold medal in forgiving.... sorry I've got Olympics on the brain.) back home to get their father Jacob. He gives them lots of wagons loaded with food and money and clothes and animals and sends them on the journey back to Canaan. But as they are leaving he tells them.

"Don't argue on the way."

Jacob has not forgotten about how nasty sibling rivalry can be. He knows his brothers (and all siblings) have a tendency to argue. Perhaps he has even seen this kind of "brotherly love" happening with his own boys, Manasseh and Ephraim. Parents just know. They always know.

Truth is we all need to be reminded not to get distracted and argue with our brothers along the way. God has given us all a command and a life with which to carry out His purpose, and He just wants us all to stop arguing and focus on the road ahead.

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I did it again. Started a blog post and never finished it. Mommy brain + almost 40 brain = I get distracted super easily.  The struggle is indeed very real. So thankful for the gentle re-reminder to stay focused as I stumbled upon this half written thought today. I think I'll go ahead and post it on the off chance I will need this reminder again.... like tomorrow.



Sunday, January 7, 2018

Day 7 of 365. In the Beginning of 2018

It is Sunday. The 7th day of the year. I have been successfully reading my Bible and studying and journaling and praying for an entire week.

It is important to point out this accomplishment because, while I am a huge Bible nerd and love reading and discussing it so much, I am also an even bigger procrastinator and all around lazy human. I often get behind in my reading and have to play catch up. And when I say often, I mean at least once a week.

This is a tough truth for me to swallow because it seems really strange for someone who just confessed to being a full out Bible nerd to have such a problem with reading it daily. My mind and heart sincerely desire to hear from the Lord everyday, my body really really loves to sleep that extra 30 minutes or my eyes really want to scroll through Instagram or watch one more episode of the crown on Netflix. This is a struggle we all face everyday although I think some of my friends struggle less with slothfulness than I do.

I'm reminded that this is a universal struggle right out of the gate in Genesis when we see our girl Eve struggle with the same problem of listening to her body instead of God (we all know the dangers of shopping on an empty stomach) and making a decision based on what she sees right in front of her. (Raise your hand if you are still grabbing chocolate from the Christmas stocking stash every time you walk by even though you told yourself you were not eating sweets during the month of January.... No? So it's just me then.)

Genesis. Y'all, I am ate up with Genesis. God's entire plan for the world is laid out right there. He doesn't leave anything out. He is pretty specific about what he wants and tells His people over and over and even using visual aids to make it easy for those folks to understand. And Y'all, the people are not spectacular. They are Flawed. Super flawed. And they waste no time jumping into sin. You can almost hear God sigh and say "really? already, guys? I mean we JUST named the animals and I was JUST getting used to our afternoon walks. Sigh. Ok. Here is how we will fix this...." (paraphrased).

And it happens again and again. But God forgives and still provides because He is good and He loves us even though we can't seem to say "No" to the snake, put down the chocolate covered cherries, turn off Netflix, or wake up 30 minutes earlier to spend time with Him. He still loves us.

How do we know that He still loves us and still has a plan? Because we read it in God's word. Faith comes through hearing the Word of God.  As I was reading this week about our girl Eve, this thought came to mind....

Eve's knowledge was secondhand and that cost her. What a gigantic commercial for reading the Bible. We can't allow our only knowledge of God to come from someone else in the form of christian books and blogs and sermons and podcasts. Those are great, but we first need to get it straight from the horses mouth.... er rather the mouth of the God of the universe. There that sounds more respectful. But you know what I mean.  Lets not be caught with a handful of apple because we weren't exactly sure what God said concerning His love for us.

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So tomorrow is Monday again. We made it through the first few days back at school. We are slowly easing into 2018. Like I said, I really only accomplished reading the Bible and getting kids to their correct schools before the bell rang. Hoping I can do the waking up earlier and resisting the chocolate this next week. But I'll settle for just one of those. I can't set the bar too high, you know. It is only January.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Weirdly Enthusiastic Book Review

Have I mentioned that I'm a Bible nerd?
Like for real. A total geek.
It's fine. Whatever. I've always been kind of a dork so at least this is a more purposeful use of my dorkiness.

Now hear me out. I'm not saying I'm super Holy. Nope. As much as I would like to say that I'm basically an angel on Earth, I think my family would all be willing to testify that is definitely not the case. I just really really like the Bible.

Maybe it's because it is the divine word of God or maybe it is just because I have only read a handful of books in my life (Sorry Mrs Jubb.) and this is the only one I have ever read more than once.

By the way... I have never understood people that read books multiple times. People like my husband and daughter. That seems like a lot of work when you already know how it is going to end. My daughter has read the entire Harry Potter series twice. She is 11. I'm fairly sure the only books that I had even read cover to cover at that age were Ramona Quimby Age 8 and a few Baby Sitters Club books. But I am not even completely confident that I read every page of those.

So the point is... I have never been a veracious reader.

However, that changed 4 years ago when I joined a Chronological Bible Study at a friend's house. As a group we read through the entire Bible in one year and met weekly to discuss it. This was a game changer for me.



I have spent my entire life in Church. Daughter of a deacon and Sunday school teacher. I attended children's church, children's choir, youth group, youth choir, youth leadership council (not sure really what this was but we met every month), and went on several mission trips. In college I was a part of BSU and attended a local church regularly. My background was pretty solid. I became a Christian at age 9 and new all of the popular Bible stories by heart. I even had a few verses memorized back in the day, but usually could only manage to pull out John 3:16 if ever put on the spot.

I was not a stranger to God's Word. But I NEVER had the expectation to read that thing as one gigantic story. No way. That was not the purpose of the Bible, I thought. You were just supposed to carry it around and pull out different topical verses  and stories when they fit a certain situation. I honestly thought it was more of a collection of short stories that were used independently of each other.

I was pretty clear on Genesis and maybe Exodus and the Gospels, but everything else felt random. Especially the Minor Prophets. Who in the world ever read those? Nahum? Habakkuk? Haggai? I don't remember a single youth retreat sermon preached from those scriptures. Are they even in English?

I feel I need to point out here that I do not feel like it was a problem with my Christian role models or leaders that caused me to be so clueless about the Bible. It just happened. And if I am being honest it probably had more to do with my heart. You see, I was a classic goody goody and chronic rule follower. I would venture to say that I may have considered myself SO good that I didn't need the Bible. I felt like I had a pretty good handle on God's will for my life and didn't need to read Nahum to shed any more light on the subject.

So as I mentioned I joined a group that was studying the Bible chronologically using a reading plan and corresponding devotional written by Iva May. Her 365 day devotion helped me stick to the reading schedule necessary to finish the entire Bible in a year. Fast forward 4 years and I can't stop won't stop. Reading the Bible as the complete story that it is completely changed my faith. Or should I say strengthen it. I wasn't really able to truly believe in salvation through Jesus that is laid out in the New Testament until I understood the reason for atonement explained repeatedly in the Old Testament.

There is so much more I could say and probably will from time to time. This year I'm committing to leading a new group of women at our church that I am so excited about and challenging myself in some other ways that include journaling and speaking. It is going to be fun.... in a absolutely nerdy kind of way.

It really is an amazing story. One that never gets old and I never get tired of reading.

So if you haven't read it for yourself, consider this a 5 star book review on Amazon or Good Reads from someone who doesn't read books, and try if for yourself.

www.chronologicalbibleteaching.com



I got this beautiful She Reads Truth Bible for Christmas. I love it and I am serious when I say beautiful! Also it has lots of maps and extras for me to geek out about including a completely new font created just for this! So basically I get to obsess about Scripture and Typography which is as good as it gets in my book.
www.shopshereadstruth.com/collections/she-reads-truth-bible

Our church is also reading through the Bible in a year and has put out an online reading plan.
www.kwbc.org/rgwt/




Monday, January 1, 2018

Deep thoughts as the ball drops

It's December 31st and I'm sitting in my favorite spot on the couch under a cozy blanket and staring at a Christmas tree that is way past its prime. I think about what a great few months it has been. I enjoyed this holiday season so much which is exactly what we all needed after such a crazy year.

I purposely didn't put a lot of pressure on myself this holiday season. After listening to several podcasts on keeping things simple I was deteremined to do just that. My heart always longs for simple. Im not always good at it because we live in a world and in a time when simple is so difficult and not at all exciting. Nevertheless, I persisted and attempted a stress free minimalist Christmas holiday.

I didn't worry that on December 22nd we still didn't have a single wrapped Christmas present under the tree. I chose not to panic when we only managed to bake and give away half the number of gingerbread cookies than we did last year.  I went minimal on the teacher gifts this year, concentrating only on the main school teachers and asking God to forgive me for drawing a line before any of the specialty teachers and coaches and just really great friends. I kept my cool when we missed a day or too of our family advent devotionals and when the flu struck our house in mid December, I decided it was time to catch up on our favorite season movies. I even introduced myself and my 11 year old to the wonderful world of Hallmark movies!







Miraculously it worked. Slowing down and focusing on what was most important for our family and letting other things "just happen" if there was time, gave us room to breathe and anticipate the Advent of Christmas.

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I'm not one to get caught up in New Year's Resolutions. Not exactly. I mean I have tried the whole "no eating sugar" or "giving up Coke" or "exercise everyday" resolutions in the past but they all seem to fall flat with no real motivation behind them and I end up forgetting it all by February 1st.

However, this year on the heels of a not-so-easy year but a wonderful holiday season, I find myself with the desire to begin 2018 with a little more purpose. Not a list of goals, but with a guiding principle for the year. I hear of people picking a word of the year and I always think that is something they can use for a great motivating hashtag. Even as I roll my eyes at the concept, the word intentional keeps flooding my mind.

Be intentional.

That is what my heart keeps telling me. God has been highlighting all of the ways I coast through life out of habit and it is so very convicting.

I want to be more intentional with my free time. Spending less time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram and choosing to spend my minutes/hours/days with a purpose.

I want to be more intentional with my health, specifically my eating. No more mindless snacking and choosing foods based on proximity and ease. (AKA I need to intentionally try to choose water over Coke. And salad over cheese burgers. The bar is set pretty low here.)

I want to be more intentional with my spiritual growth. Allowing plenty of time for reading and studying the Bible and for praying expectant and specific prayers.

I want to be more intentional with my relationships. As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.

I want to be intentionally creative. Whatever that means. Whatever form that takes. I just want to spend some time creating this year because it has been far too long.

So I guess Intentional is officially my "word of 2018". It feels so much better than a resolution. I can't really fail. It's not really that kind of goal. It's just a direction I want to take for the next year. It seems like a good direction for the year of 40.

Don't you think?






Saturday, November 18, 2017

On your mark...Get set...Ho, Ho, Ho.

He's home. The prodigal husband has come home.

Wait. Prodigal suggests he was acting inappropriately while he was away... I pretty sure that was not the case, because A) he was at an engineer conference and B) because he is awesome. The point is he is home and I am clearly tired.

I know I have mentioned it before, but single mothers have my sincere respect. Good grief. I am not cut out for any of that business. But none of that matters now because he is, at this very moment, snoring next to me and I couldn't be happier.

I should be sleeping, but knowing that I am not the only responsible adult in the house has me very energized. Also, I have developed a unwise habit while he was away of watching 80s and 90s movies late at night to match my moods. You know, "When Harry Met Sally" for a laugh. "Step Mom" for a good cry and "You've Got Mail" for a "This is Us" emotional palate cleanser.

Wait... Don't tell Mr Awesome, I was supposed to wait and watch "This is Us" with him. Oops.

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I was just looking at my calendar (Paper calendar if you are wondering. I am not a digital calendar person. I'm barely a calendar person) and was gearing up for the weekend plans when I discovered next week is Thanksgiving.

Were you guys aware of this? That is just crazy. Did we skip some days in November or is it a leap year or something? I mean I haven't even had a pumpkin spice anything yet. Wait... the leap year thing makes no sense. Did I mention I was tired?

So now I am frantically trying to plan out the season. I want to plan it so hopefully it won't feel like an out of control roller coaster. I don't want to wake up New Years Day and wonder what happened to my favorite time of year.

So first.... I'm looking at Pinterest recipes. We are having a crock pot thanksgiving this year due to my parents move and home renovations and lack of working oven. It should be fun and I do love a good theme. Let me know if you have any good thanksgiving themed recipes. Personally, I'm pretty excited to try cooking this turkey breast in the crock pot. I may never go back.

http://www.recipetineats.com/juicy-slow-cooker-turkey-breast/



As soon as Thanksgiving is over the real Christmas season begins. I need a plan to do all the things I want with my family and none of the things I don't want. The Lazy Genius (my spirit animal) is doing a series on surviving the Holidays and it is....well... genius. She suggests identifying the 3 musts of the season and scheduling them first to make sure they don't get lost in the shuffle.

http://www.thelazygeniuscollective.com/lazy/holidaygameplan

So I'm making that list now.

What are your musts?

Here are a few of mine....
Friday Night Movie Night.... Give me all the Christmas Movies from White Christmas to Christmas Vacation. "You serious, Clark?".... Yes. Yes I am.

Snowden Progressive Dinner.... Our old neighborhood has a progressive style dinner every December and it is my most favorite event of the year. I plan all Christmas activities around this one night. We moved away from this awesome little midtown street 6 years ago and somehow we get invited back to the dinner every year. Probably because they know we would show up whether we got an invitation or not.

Starry Nights.... This is a family favorite. The kids love to wear their pjs while we ride through Shelby Farms "ooo-ing" and "ahh-ing" at the lights. A must for sure.

Advent and Jesse Tree.... We are not good at family devotions, but we some how rally for advent each year. I love the focus. I love my wooden pallet Jesse Tree that Steve made and I love the ornaments that I quickly drew on plain watercolor paper. Most of all, I love seeing the entire story of God's plan laid out in such a beautifully visual way.

These are my top Christmas activity picks. So many other things come to mind, but these definitely have to happen for my holiday season to feel complete.

Dear Reader, (singular) what's on your must list?






Thursday, October 26, 2017

Don't mind me, I'm just in the pantry with the Halloween candy.

I sat down to update my blog (Blog? What's a blog?) for the first time in months. When I finally cracked open my lap top the first thing that popped up was an entry I started last month and never finished, which is shocking considering the inspired topic. Obviously, I have been suffering from lack of motivation for quite some time and this brilliant manuscript is proof....I mean it really is a wonder I haven't published a book or become a motivational speaker.

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I want to write, but writing is hard.

I want to clean my house, but cleaning is hard.

I want to eat healthy, but eating healthy is hard.

I want to exercise regularly, but exercising is hard.

I want to run, but running is really hard.

I want to wake up early for quiet time, but waking up early is impossible.

I want to be patient with kids, but being patient is hard.

I want to lose 10 lbs, but losing weight is hard.

I want to make better use of my time, but organization is hard.

I want to be a good mother, but mothering is just hard.


Do you know what's not hard?

Watching Netflix.

Eating cookies.

Making brownies. Seriously, why has God given me the ability to make delicious brownies with ease?

Falling asleep while trying to read.

Ignoring laundry.

Wasting time on social media.

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I'll give you a minute to catch your breath after reading such a masterpiece. I knew that I had been in a funk recently, but reading my own incomplete thoughts shed a bright new light on this funk. It is real and has been hanging around for a while... perhaps the better part of a year.

"2017 has really kicked me in the butt." I said to my husband as I started the long "get ready for bed" process.

(Incidentally, only MY "get ready for bed" process is time consuming. My husband somehow just decides to go to bed and then simply gets. in. the. bed. With exactly zero pomp and circumstance. I kind of hate him for it.)

"Yeah," he mumbles as his eyes are closing, "it has not been the easiest year."

And that really sums it up.

2017 hasn't been particularly horrific or disastrous for the Summy family. Actually, there have been some very high points during the year (summer vacations and camps and, most recently, DISNEY...more on that later I'm sure), but all in all it has been a year of work. We have pushed through this year with our heads down and our sleeves rolled up and doing the real work of living life as a family. I wrote about a few of the "less than fun" things on this blog and there were other things just a little too private to share.

If I scan back through my social media feeds I find 2017 has been a little less Instagram and Facebook worthy. Not as many cute and polished pics of us doing fun hashtag filled activities as a family... #nofilter #choose901 #tooblessedtobestressed #timeslowdown. (BTW. Time please DO NOT slow down, because all I need is for grocery store runs and carpools and dinner clean up and homework to last longer to officially push me over the edge. Anyway I digress. again.) It's not that there were no good moments. They were just simple every day life moments that rarely get a mention on social media.

Still, as we stumble into fall and approach the holiday season -- my most favorite time of year -- I can look back and be proud of how we have trudged through the weeds as a family and are coming out on the other side stronger and with some great stories. This has been a year a growth and transition with lots of happy memories peppered with difficult new beginnings, sad goodbyes, tiresome sickness, pressing responsibilities, learning our limits, facing our fears, and experiencing grace. We will look back on this year and smile as see all the ways God was using us, teaching us, and changing us.

We made it to October 26th, y'all. The air is cooler. There are pumpkins on the front steps and I have 3 bags of Halloween candy in my pantry that no one knows about except me....and now the internet. I'm excited to enjoy the next 2 festive months and treat them as the closing ceremonies of the 2017 Summy Games! I may even hand out superlative medals as a new traditions....hmm... let me think a minute on that one.

Let me leave you with a visual of the mixed emotions we have felt this year. This little piece of Disney magic brings me such joy every time I look at it.




FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
September 2016
Having flaxseed stuck in my teeth is not a problem I ever wanted to have. This is why I don't do healthy eating. #ipreferdonuts