I Gather a Prayer for Claire


My dear friend Tasha recently gave birth to a perfect baby girl.  When I say perfect, I’m not exaggerating.  We joke that the Mexican blood in her gives her the most gorgeous complexion that my pasty babies never had a chance of achieving.  I was blessed to be at the hospital during the majority of Tasha’s labor and during the delivery.  She didn’t seem thrilled with my suggestion of being IN the delivery room (how dare she?), so I excitedly waited… and waited…. and waited in the waiting room.  I passed much of the time with Tasha’s Mexican grandmother, who also happens to be a spiritual inspiration.  We passed the time talking in both English and Spanish, discussing everything from her family to Cuba to God and the church.  Mostly, though, she prayed.  I could hear her nearly constant prayers for Tasha, her whispers of “Jesus” throughout the labor and delivery.  It was beautiful to witness.  I felt like I was on holy ground in that waiting room.

In the early morning hours, God led me to a scripture in Psalms.

The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. (Psalms 118:27)

That is how I felt during those early morning hours.  Even though I wasn’t in the room, I felt like God’s light was shining on us in that hospital.  I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the joyous miracle of life.  The occasion reminded me that joy truly does come in the morning, even after a long, dark night.  Claire was born.  She is perfect and I will always think of her as a light sent by God.

So, instead of showering her with blankets or clothes or bottles, I choose now to shower her with my love and with a prayer of blessing.  This prayer is for you, Claire.

Dear little Claire (or OB as I like to call you),

Your entrance into this world came like a blazing ray of light into what had been a dark time for some.  You truly are a gift of God.  You  bring light and life and joy to your family and everyone who surrounds you. This is my prayer for you.

May the light of God’s face shine upon you. (Psalms 4:6)

May the Lord alone light your lamp and light up any darkness that comes your way. (Psalms 18:28)

May the Lord be your light and salvation, coming to your rescue in every way. (Psalms 27:1)

May you ever walk before God in the light of life. (Psalms 56:13)

May his word be the lamp unto your feet and the light unto your path. (Psalms 119:105)

When you fall, may you quickly arise, having the Lord as your light. (Micah 7:8)

May you be a light to this world, a city set on a hill, hidden to none. (Matthew 5:14)

When others look at your light, may they always see the glory of your Father. (Matthew 5:16)

May you be wholly bright. (Luke 11:36)

May you help many others turn from darkness to light. (Acts 26:18)

May your light be a guide to the spiritually blind. (Romans 2:19)

May you never be unequally yoked with darkness. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

May you walk in the light, having fellowship with believers, bring cleansed from all sin. (I John 1:7)

May you always love your brothers and sisters in God’s kingdom. (I John 2:10)

And finally, dear Claire, …May you be blameless and innocent, a child of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as a light in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ we may be proud that we did not run in vain or labor in vain… (Philippians 2:15-16)

Lots of love,




What I Gather About Understanding God


Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words (Daniel 10:12)

Each week we open our home for a gathering of friends sharing food and participating in Bible study.  This past week as we discussed the book of Daniel, we began to contemplate what it was about Daniel that made him the one chosen by God for such an extraordinary purpose.  I was led to Daniel 10:12 and was elated to find an answer to our question, although inevitably one question leads to more questions when studying God’s word.  Could it be that Daniel’s desire to understand the things of God, combined with his posture of humility were the elements that attracted God to Daniel?  (see my friend Mindy’s beautiful post about humility here)

Since this discussion on Thursday, God has been reminding me of some lessons He spoke to my heart several years back.  While I in no way believe that we can ever understand the depth, magnitude and complexities of God, I do believe that He is searching for people who desire to understand Him more.  I believe He wants to reveal Himself to us in profound, life-altering ways.  He has mercifully done this for me time after time.

In my early twenties I was dealing with some residual grief due to the loss of my father at 16.  I remember one day praying, or rather casting blame on God for taking my dad away from me too soon.  From somewhere deep within, I heard words along these lines….

How will you know Me as comforter if you do not grieve?

Woah.  I put that on the back-burner, not sure I could handle the implication of that statement.  As I walked on this journey a little longer with God, I found Him asking me similar questions.

How will you know Me as Provider if you never have to trust?

How will you know Me as Peace-speaker if you never face turmoil?

Then came the big one.

Would you know Me as Father the way you do if your earthly father still lived?

As far back as I remember I have said the prayer….. “God, I want to know You.”  I have whispered it in the dead of the night.  I have cried it out through sobs of broken-ness. I have shouted it in desperation.  I have sung it out with all that is within me.  I have declared it with joyful expectation.

Could it be that all along God has heard my prayer and has responded by revealing Himself through trials?  Could it be that I must be willing to endure, endure, endure before I will ever truly begin to grasp the greatness of God?  To truly understand Him as healer, must I face sickness?  Sure, I may believe He can heal.  I may have faith and know that is an aspect of His character.  But isn’t it revealed to me in a deeper way when He heals me or someone close to me?  To understand Him as Savior, don’t I need salvation?  To understand Him as Light, I surely must face darkness.

Looking at my life in this light lessens the fear of the unknown.  It gives purpose to the pain.  For what better reward is there than knowing Him more?  Can any of us ever be a Daniel without seeking to understand?  Can I ever fulfill my purpose in His kingdom if I don’t have a posture of humility, ready and willing to endure what comes my way…. knowing it may lead me even a little closer to Jesus?  God, I want to know You.  I want to know You as healer, deliverer, provider, savior, strength, light, comforter, guide, peace-speaker, FATHER… even if that desire takes me on a road of tests and trials.  Perhaps that road will be the very path that leads me to becoming an instrument like Daniel, through which Your glory is revealed to the nations.  Even if it doesn’t, knowing You a little more is enough reason to walk that road.

What about you?  Has there been a time in your life God has revealed Himself in a powerful way as a result of difficulty?  Would you trade that experience?  In what other ways do you seek to understand God?  As always I would love to get a conversation started with you!

A Gathering of Links


There is an ice storm of sorts in Indianapolis right now.  I hear sheets of ice beating against the screen of my bedroom window.  My big girl shouted with glee at the news of a 2-hour delay tomorrow morning.  As for me, there is nothing I would rather do than curl up in my comfy chair and read, read, read.  Here are links to my favorite blog posts from the last week or so.

Are you looking for spiritual inspiration or something that will make you think outside the box?  The first handful of links address spiritual matters and the church.

First up is a post by my brother about worship:


These are my favorites from A Holy Experience:




A Deeper Story was full of great stuff this week!




http://deeperstory.com/blooming_normal/ (This especially struck a chord with me…)

Have you heard of Kathy Escobar?  Love her blog.



Who can resist beautiful coffee table books?

Coffee Table Books: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/7452527/list/Guest-Picks–20-Coffee-Table-Books-for-Style-Lovers/

This post just glows of springtime beauty:


Baked french toast sticks?  Yum!


I love the curves of this home.  I could be very happy here:


Weekend home projects?  Sign me up!


Last but not least…. I am (a very-early-beginner-so-don’t-judge-me) learning how to take better photos and edit them.  I use Camera+ on my iPhone to take the photos and am using Snapseed to edit them.  This blog tutorial of Camera+ is incredibly thorough and informative.  Check it out if you want a camera that out-shines your basic iPhone camera!


I would love to hear what blog posts you loved this week!  Also let me know if you read and love any of these I recommend today!

Gathering Labels


I can’t remember the exact day I was first labeled choleric.  It was sometime in my late teenage years.  According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of a choleric personality:

“The choleric temperament is fundamentally ambitious and leader-like. They have a lot of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to install it in others. They are task oriented people and are focused on getting a job done efficiently; their motto is usually “do it now.” They can dominate people of other temperaments with their strong wills, especially phlegmatic types, and can become dictatorial or tyrannical. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be in charge of everything and are good at planning, as they often can immediately see a practical solution to a problem. However, they can quickly fall into deep depression or moodiness when failures or setbacks befall them.”

Let’s be fair here.  I have some of these characteristics and have since I was a child.  I was bossy at times and certainly could be mean (I had friends who kept a “Rachael” doll at home they beat up to get back at me for the way I treated them…).  I liked to get my way.  I often became the default leader. And I must admit, when I first took a personality test and fit myself into a nice, neat box, I felt comforted.  There is something liberating about someone else telling you who and what you are, especially in such neat terms.  I had a list in front of me of my strengths and weaknesses.  I had leaders in my life cheerleading the results.  “Yes!  Rachael, that’s totally YOU!”  I found that the label of choleric began to define who I was to outsiders.  Gradually, that label began to define myself in my own mind.  In certain situations, I asked myself what a choleric would do and proceeded accordingly.  I took the lead in relationships, frequently justifying my aggression by reminding myself my actions and responses were simply a result of my GOD-given personality type.

Then a few years ago I had a conversation that stopped me in my  tracks.  During a conversation with my best friends from middle school, one of them looked at me and said, “okay MOM!”  I was taken aback and asked what that comment was about.  She brought up a fact I had long since forgotten.  In middle school, my friends referred to me as “mom”.  I asked them about it and they reminded me that I was always trying to take care of everyone around me.

This innocent reminder started me on a journey of self-reflection and questioning God about my identity in Him.  I won’t bore you with all the details of that journey.  I will tell you what I have gathered about myself as a result of that journey.

1. I am a caregiver.  This doesn’t fit into the neat little box of choleric, but it is me.  My love language is acts of service.  If I love you, I’m most likely going to cook for you.  Or I’m going to offer to babysit for you.  Or tutor you.  Or help you organize your closet or house.  I’m going to pray for you because I CARE.  I’m going to love your children and invest in them.  I’m going to call you when I know you’re struggling.  Not because I’m awesome like that.  I’m going to care for you because God made me a care-giver and it comes naturally to me.  Always has.

2. While I have some characteristics of a choleric personality, I don’t have them all. I like to lead.  Sometimes.  I am often just as content to support the one in charge.  And I’m socially awkward.  Whoever heard of a socially awkward choleric?  I am shy at first.  It takes me awhile to warm up.  Where do these characteristics fit into that choleric box?

3. Many of my choleric attributes were a result of necessity.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was 9 and battled it until he died when I was 16.  That kind of upheaval and uncertainty led me to try to control anything and everything I could…. but only because the thing I wanted to control most was truly out of my control.  Most of my choleric personality characteristics emerged from a childhood of turmoil and uncertainty.

I said all of that to say this:  Our identity rests in God and God alone.  I believe in utilizing the strengths God has given me, but ultimately I am not the label that anyone else has tacked onto my shirt.  Who I am in God simply does not fit into a little box on a personality profile.  When I try to fit into that little box, I limit who God wants me to be in His kingdom.  I will find myself resisting the hands that are trying to mold and shape me.  I will make excuses for my bad behavior based on the weaknesses I believe I possess.

Instead, I want to open myself up to the possibilities of who I am in God and who I CAN be in Him.  I want to move with the gentle prodding of His Spirit, entering new territories and wading into deeper, unknown waters.  I don’t want my course to be charted by my narrow thinking and preconceived ideas about who I am and who others have told me I am.  I want to be a Moses, speaking boldly to a Pharoah in spite of his fears and comfort zones.  Or I want to be a Paul, changing direction on a road to Damascus when God spoke.  Most of all, I want to be like Jesus, speaking mercy to the condemned, faith to the doubting, and life to the dead.  I want to be the Jesus version of Rachael, whatever that means for the season I find myself in.

Do you have labels?  Have labels ever held you back?  Do you find yourself labeling your spouse, your children?  What does GOD say about who you are?  I would love your feedback!

What I Gather About Feeling Too Much


Once there was a day I felt too much.  On that day, I told a trusted friend, “Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel so much.”  The next morning, I saw a link to my favorite blogger’s new blog post.  Her link to it read “If you’ve ever wished you didn’t “feel” things so much, I wrote this for you (and me):”

I’m not going to lie.  I stared at it for a while.  I didn’t read it right away.  I even sent a text to my friend, telling her I was a little afraid to read it.  Why was I surprised?  The God who has the hairs of my head numbered had surely heard the lament of my heart.  He surely knew the depth of my grief at the death of Namuda.  Why should I not expect a direct response from Him, comforting me, answering me, showing me He cared?  This is the same Jesus who spoke the promise and blessing, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  (How I wish I had been on the mountain that day….)

I took a deep breath and accepted the response for what it was: a gift from God.  I read it with an open mind and heart, weeping at the depth of His love for me.  His willingness to show up in that moment, like a knight on a white horse in the moment of my distress, will be a gift I carry with me to my grave and beyond.

If you have ever wished you didn’t feel so much, please take the few moments to read this beautiful blog, sent to me from my loving Savior via one of His loving servants.


Now I am trying to feel the full range of human emotion.  God at times asks me to carry a heavy load for starving children, for Cubans in despair, for the fatherless and for those who hurt.  I carry it gladly, knowing it keeps me on the kingdom path and closer to my Father’s heart.  Yet, I am learning to embrace the joy that my Savior also offers in the laughter of my Isabel, the strength of my Ava, the passion of my Jimmie, the weekly gathering of friends in my home, the beauty of creation….

Do you ever wish you didn’t feel so much?  Do you find  yourself attempting to numb pain instead of feeling it?  How do you find joy in your everyday life?  Has God ever been your comforter in a profound way?  As always, I would love to hear from you.

A Gathering of Blogs


Happy Friday to all!  I hope your Valentine’s Day was full of love, whether it came from a spouse, significant other, a friend, family, or the author of love Himself.

On Rachael Gathers I will from time to time share my favorite blog posts from the previous week or two.  First, though, I want to share links to the blogs I read regularly, in no particular order.

www.abowlfulloflemons.net This is a blog all about organization.  I am currently participating in her 14 week organizational challenge, which has been fantastic for my poor, neglected home. I love her beautiful, detailed photos of her perfectly organized home.

www.deeperstory.com This is a collaboration of Christian bloggers tackling some of life’s hardest issues.  Some posts are beautiful, some are challenging, some are controversial.  Just about all of them make me think.

www.becomingwhitney.com Becoming Whitney is a blog about the life of one of my best friends, Whitney Gothra.  She blogs about her life as a newlywed, DIY projects, transforming her house into a home, crafting and her life as a follower of Jesus.  She is as precious and lovable in her blog as she is in person.  She glows.

www.thepioneerwoman.com Who doesn’t know about The Pioneer Woman?!?!  I have been a fan of her recipes and her show for a while now, but just recently began following her blog.  LOVE IT!  Plus, every recipe of hers I have ever made has been fantastic.

www.faithapostolic.us/blog This is my brother’s new blog.  He is the pastor of a fantastic church where I attended most of my life!  He is a man after God’s own heart, full of wisdom and passionate about making disciples of all nations.  I’m excited to read more of what he has to say!

www.girlinthegarage.net My friend Jen blogs about projects she does around her home.  I love getting a glimpse into her home and her life, especially since she moved away and I rarely see her!

www.jenhatmaker.com I wish Jen would update her blog more, because when she does it is hilarious or challenging or deep or fun or a wide array of adjectives.  She is a gifted writer and author of many of my favorite books.

www.sarahbessey.com Sarah has written some of the most beautiful things I have ever read.  Her writing speaks to me.  She writes about her journey as a Christian.  She is poetic and prophetic, often addressing exactly what I am facing at exactly the right moment.  I may not always agree with everything she says, but she is arguably my favorite spiritual blogger out there.

A couple of days ago I asked some friends to recommend their favorite blogs for my RSS feed.  I will be checking these out soon and thought I would pass them along to my readers as well:










What about you?  What are your favorite blogs?  I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and thanks to all of you who are giving this new blogger a chance!

Ava’s Gathering of Knots (Happy Love Day!)

I would love to say I’m that kind of mom who oozes creativity and the overflow blesses my kids with glorious craft-time, hand-made clothing, and delightful decorations for each and every holiday.  Alas, I am not that mom.  I go all out decorating for Christmas, mainly because it is the one and only time of year my poor children get to see something seasonal and new in our home.  Otherwise, you will never see a heart in February, eggs at Easter or fall wreaths on our door.  We don’t do crafts.  That’s what art class is for, right?  Even so, when I saw a pin on Pinterest, it led me to some adorable home-made valentines.  I couldn’t resist.  Ava had all kinds of friendship bracelet string left from Christmas gifts.  So we got busy.  This was our end result:


My husband printed out the adorable little saying.  We cut around it with decorative scissors and glued them to a heart cut out of construction paper.  We then added holes with a hole punch and threaded the bracelets through.


I must say, I ended up braiding a lot of the bracelets for Ava, mainly because we underestimated the amount of time the project would take and were running out of time.  She helped every step of the way, though.


Ava added an initial bead to each bracelet and wrote each classmate’s name on the back.  All in all, it was a fun project and most importantly, gave me an opportunity to spend some time with my daughter doing the kind of thing she loves to do, even if I don’t!  Plus, Valentine’s Day is a holiday I can get behind.  What’s not to love about love?  Here is a link to the original post I saw from the blog Dandee: A Happily Crafted Life (don’t compare too much!):


Have you ever attempted home-made valentines with your kids?  Did you give out valentines as a kid?  Do you still?  I would love to hear your feedback!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Gathering Courage for Lent


I am blessed to work with a kind-hearted, God-loving and FUN woman.  She also happens to be Catholic and we enjoy our daily talks about God, what it means to serve Him and how to stay positive when challenges come our way.  We also share another passion: chocolate.

I know, I know.  Lots of people say they love chocolate and sweets.  I choose to believe that my love beats yours, hands down.  My chocolate-loving ways have evolved over time.  Once upon a time I enjoyed chocolate.  Then I began craving it.  Now, it is nearing obsession level and I must confess…. My name is Rachael and I am an addict.  Naturally, when my co-worker told me she was giving up sweets for Lent, I felt betrayed.  I mean, she was my partner in crime, eating cookies meant for the kids at snack-time and pilfering M&Ms from the “potty reward” jar.  Me?  Give up chocolate and sweets?  She must have been crazy.

She planted a seed.  It grew.  I took a good hard look at myself and realized I have a problem.  If gaining ten pounds since fall wasn’t a good enough indication, all I had to do was look in the eyes of my ever-so-loving husband who frequently makes sweet-tooth craving runs for me after the kids are in bed.  So last night, while slurping my cookies and cream shake, I made the decision.  This non-Catholic would give up sweets for Lent.

The idea behind Lent is similar to the Protestant practice of fasting.  It is a time of self-denial leading up to the recognition and celebration of Easter.  It begins on Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) and ends, for many, on Good Friday.  Lent is approximately 40 days, parallelling the period of time Jesus fasted in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.  Sounds great, right?

Funny thing is, the moment after I decided to participate in this 40 day fast, I told myself I would cheat on Valentine’s Day.  Then I proceeded to tell two other friends I was doing it, but cheating on Valentine’s Day.  It IS Valentine’s Day after all and what is Valentine’s Day without chocolate?  Thankfully, my loving Savior knocked me over the head with the metaphorical 2×4 and pointed out my tendency to MAKE EXCUSES and my LACK OF DISCIPLINE. When we take a hard look at our lives, aren’t those always the two things that keep us from reaching our life goals?

I want to work out -> I don’t have time.  I am lazy.  It is cold outside.

I want to be a better parent -> My kids are disrespectful.  I never have any time to myself.  Someone else can teach them about Jesus.

I want to eat healthy -> Healthy food is expensive. Spinach doesn’t taste as good as chocolate. I don’t like to cook. My body is craving carbs.

I want to pray -> Time just got away from me today. I would rather watch TV. I’m mad at God.

I want to study God’s word -> Deuteronomy is hard to get through. I’m tired. My kids take all my time.

I want to forgive -> They really hurt me. I’m still mad. They deserve to pay.

I want to give up sweets to show some discipline in my life, dedicate myself more to God, identify with His suffering in a small way -> Valentine’s Day is coming up.  Giving up something else would be easier. I will physically go through sugar withdrawals.  I won’t be able to feed the bitter things in my life something physically sweet in a useless attempt to mask my pain when I should be running to God in the first place.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?  I so easily talk myself out of what is good for me, settling for less than what God wants for me.  I so often fail to recognize that the scripture I have heard my whole life is actually TRUE:  “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

So, tomorrow I start Lent.  I will not be cheating on Valentine’s Day.  I’m glad to be on this journey with my friend as well.  As my co-worker said to me today, “Misery loves company”. Using my power of persuasion, I have also successfully talked my husband and another friend (both enablers of my addiction!) to join me.  What about you?  Have you ever given something up for Lent?  Did you just finish a Daniel fast?  In what ways are you disciplined? In what ways do you lack discipline?  I would love to hear from you.

What I Gather from the Death of Namuda

My dear friend Linda is an inspiration to me.  Linda has always been an example of faithfulness and dedication to the Lord, but the recent events of her life have been the true inspiration.  Around the time of her 60th birthday, she felt called by God to be an ambassador for starving, sick and abandoned children at an orphanage in Uganda.  Linda hasn’t looked back, carrying the weight of such a monumental task with grace and a seemingly never-ending well of love for the poor, hungry and fatherless.  Our family decided to sponsor one of the orphans and our daughter Ava chose little Namuda.  She was the youngest of the available orphans for sponsorship at only 3, and something about her pulled at Ava’s heartstrings.


We sent our monthly donation, prayed for her, saw her photo and hand-print made from Ugandan dirt on our refrigerator every day.  And then, just like that, after returning from a trip to Uganda, Linda told me with teary eyes and a broken heart that Namuda had died. I learned from Linda that it is not uncommon.  The orphanage loses approximately one orphan a week to hunger, AIDS, various other illnesses and even to kidnapping for child sex-trafficking from time to time.  The news broke my heart and set me on a path of self-reflection and running into the arms of my Savior for answers to life’s hardest questions.  Here is what I gather…

1. The Someone Must Be Me.  We are all guilty.  We think quietly or even say out loud, “Someone should do something about that!”  I couldn’t get past the feeling that these orphans are dying on my watch.  If I have the ability to support Linda, promote the cause, find sponsors myself, give more myself and, more importantly, if I feel GOD has brought this cause across my path for a purpose, I am the someone who must do something.

2. Her Life Matters.  I don’t know if anyone other than our family and Linda cried for Namuda.  I don’t know if she had a funeral where people celebrated her too-short life.  I do believe, however, that God had a plan for her life.  I believe she could have been the nurse who daily cared for the needs of the children at that orphanage.  I believe she could have been an encourager of the broken-hearted.  I believe she could have told the hopeless the message of a loving Savior and Father of all.  I will not forget her because she matters.

3. There is Hope. In the midst of my grief, one night I was praying with Ava before bed.  She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and asked if we could pray for Namuda.  An overwhelming peace of God came over me as I looked in her 9-year-old eyes, with tears streaming down my face and said with confidence, “Ava, Namuda no longer needs our prayers.  When Namuda was on this earth, she suffered.  She had no parents.  Her belly hurt because she didn’t have enough to eat.  She could have been terribly sick and in a lot of pain.  But now, Ava, Namuda is in the arms of her heavenly Father.  Now, Ava, Namuda never has to feel sorrow or pain or hunger.  She is with the One who loves her so much He died for her.  She doesn’t need our prayers anymore…”

Now, meet Eseza.


Our family joyfully sponsors Eseza now.  I see strength and beauty in her eyes.  We pray for her with more fervor.  Ava has a box marked “Eseza” and just in the past few weeks has saved close to $15 to add to our regular monthly contributions.  I am working more vigorously and passionately to support Linda and spread the word about the Helping Hands Project.  I know Eseza matters to God.  I have high hopes for her and hope to meet her in person one day. Until then, I will take the lessons God has softly spoken to me about her death and run.

If you are interested in learning more about Hope Refuge Schools and the sponsorship program, please check out our official non-profit, Live the Way, or contact me.