What I Gather About…. Here

 

Five Minute Friday

Today’s 5 Minute Friday prompt is HERE.  To participate, check out Lisa-Jo Baker’s page here.  How we do it?  Set a timer for 5 minutes and write… no over-thinking or editing.  This is what I gather about here.

(GO)

When I think about our here, I think about the there that got us here.  Those months spent in the tropical sun, fighting with mosquitoes and fire ants.  Figuring out how to stay cool and keep our girl safe.

I think about meetings making decisions that were way too big for us to make and the threat of being followed.  That there, in Cuba, is what I think about.

I think about the late nights with no TV or entertainment, when we were forced to talk well into the night, find our joy in simply being in each other’s company.  I think about how we were forced to grow spiritually together, in order to be able to help those we were sent to help.  I think about the heat, the challenges of living without conveniences, the long walks on dusty roads, the table games for entertainment.  I think of meeting person after person who didn’t speak our language, either verbally or culturally.

That there is what got us here.  That was the preparation for this rocky road we have walked, hand in hand.  The there, getting to know you and lean on you and learn you is what got me here.  And here we are, with wide spaces in front of us.  We are here because of the there and for that I will always be grateful.

Maybe one day our here will be in the tropical sun again.  For now, my heart is at rest, here with you by my side.  I have learned, because of the there, that my here is wherever you are.

(STOP)

A Gathering of Goodwill Finds: Dress Edition

Anyone who knows me well knows my obsession addiction love for Goodwill.  A few weeks ago I posted some of my favorite Goodwill finds for my kitchen and got a lot of positive feedback.  So this week I thought I would share with you some of my favorite dresses from Goodwill.

I practically live in dresses.  In the winter I pair them with sweaters and boots.  In the summer they are perfect with sandals and help me stay cool in the summer heat.  The dresses in this post aren’t my only dresses purchased at Goodwill, they are just a handful of my favorites that aren’t stored away.  I would also like to mention that all of these dresses were purchased for either $6.99 on a normal day or (most of them) for $3.49 of half-off day.  No wonder I have issues shopping at normal stores these days!

IMG_2760This is one of those great little black dresses.  It’s comfortable and I especially love the buttons.  I have dressed it up with leopard print heels.  I have worn it to everything from funerals to church services to conferences.  I tried to find a comparable price if this had been purchased new, but the company, LAYERS clothing doesn’t have a website that I can find.

IMG_2762This is a navy Tommy Bahama dress, which would retail around $90-$100 new.  It has been in storage and is need of some ironing, but the quality is obviously high.  I love this dress for summer.  I have paired it with short-sleeved cardigans of many colors… yellow, white, red, red striped, etc.  It is so versatile.  I am a recent convert to navy.  When I was a teenager someone told me blue wasn’t my color, so I didn’t wear blue or navy for a long time.  Now I love it and have a lot of navy in my closet.

IMG_2764This is one of my favorite go-to dresses.  It is a Tommy Hilfiger dress, and would retail well over $50.  The fit and length are perfect.  It has pockets, which I love and obviously can be worn with anything.

IMG_2766This is one of my all-time favorite finds at Goodwill.  I bought it for my niece, but took it back after noticing she never wore it.  It is a Free People crocheted dress.  Similar Free People dresses retail anywhere from $100-$300.  This is a really fun dress to wear to parties (obviously with something underneath) and I have also dressed it up a lot with red heels.  I love it because it is so unique.  I have received more compliments on this dress than any other item of clothing in my closet.

IMG_2768The detail is gorgeous and my iPhone photos don’t do it justice!

IMG_2769I love the Indy Goodwills because they get tons of new items straight from local Targets.  This is a Merona dress from Target.  It still had tags on it and was originally about $30.  I love maxi dresses.  To me, nothing is more comfortable than a long maxi dress.  I don’t wear purple much, but really liked this print.  I think I will get a lot of use out of it this summer.

IMG_2771This is another denim dress from Isaac Mizrahi for Target.  I can’t emphasize enough how cute this dress is on a body!  It is so flattering and I love the collar.  My niece Chelsea wanted this for herself, but I selfishly claimed it as my own.  I have already worn it with a cute coral sweater and brown sandals.  This would retail at Target for about $35-$40.

IMG_2773This dress is in serious need of ironing!  It is one of my favorite dresses for lots of reasons.  I love the comfy t-shirt material at the top.  The color is my all-time favorite, hands down.  The fit is perfect and I can’t wait to wear it out this summer!  It is from Gap and would retail around $50.  I would say my $3.50 was a steal!

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I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of my favorite dresses from Goodwill. How about you? Do you shop at Goodwill? Does it gross you out buying used clothing? What are some of your best finds? Which of these dresses in my post is your favorite? I would love your feedback!

Have you subscribed to Rachael Gathers?  If not, you can subscribe here.  Thanks for supporting my blog!

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A Gathering of Links VI

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It has been two weeks since my last gathering of links post, so this one may be a little longer than usual!

It amazes me how much things can change in such a short time.  Two weeks ago we got about a foot of snow here in Indiana.  Today I spent the day working with my family in the community garden, in a t-shirt, in 70 degree weather.  I even have a mild sunburn to show for it!  It is just another demonstration of God and the mysterious ways He works.  He makes all things new, sometimes in ways that are beyond anything we could ask or think.

Thanks to all my fabulous readers, my most popular post in the last two weeks was A Good Friday Gathering.  My favorite post was the one that poured from my heart… What I Gather About the Walk to Golgotha.

Here are some of my favorite posts from some of my favorite bloggers.  Why not grab a cup of coffee, sit out on your deck, and enjoy some evening reading?  You won’t regret it with these links!

Easter Reflection:

From Jen Hatmaker, A Broken Hallelujah.  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

From Melissa Greene at A Deeper Story, Easter Snow.

From Kathy Escobar, Easter Hope(less).

At A Deeper Story, The Red Balloon.

For Spiritual Inspiration:

From Mary DeMuth, The Enoughness of Enough.  I can so relate to this post.

Interesting perspective on the gay marriage debate at A Deeper Story.

From Sarah Markley, Kneeling in the Dirt.

Turning Hate Mail Into Origami from Rachel Held Evans.

Parenting:

Lisa-Jo Baker’s On Letting Our Girls Be Ourselves.

On Marriage:

Addie at A Deeper Story:  Unequally Yoked.

The Case for Not Marrying Young from Leigh at A Deeper Family.  What a great perspective!

Home Inspiration:

I love the bright colors in this featured home from Design Mom.

I love this tray from Jen at Girl in the Garage.

Food Love:

Anyone love making granola as much as me?  Check out this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen.

At A Beautiful Mess, mini pineapple upside down cakes.  YUM!

And…

Such helpful iPhoneography tips from A Simple Mom.  Loved this!

Was anyone else able to enjoy the beautiful weather today?  What have you been reading and loving lately?  I would love to hear from you!

Finally, if you haven’t subscribed to my blog, would you take just a moment to subscribe?  Just enter your e-mail address at the top of my page where it says “Follow Rachael Gathers” – Thanks and I hope the start to your week is fantastic!!

 

What I Gather About…. After

 

Five Minute Friday

I have been reading Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday posts for several weeks now, and just this week got the guts to participate.  Basically, she gives you a word, you write for five minutes, then link up on her website.  Today’s word is AFTER.  Feel free to check out her site here and participate with me!

(START)

My mind instantly races to the “after” of all the bad moments of my life.

After he died.

After the mess my marriage was in.

After I made that huge mistake.

On and on.  I wonder now why my mind goes there.  I think I have always had an easier time with the guilt-part of my faith.  The self-reflection while looking in the mirror of the Word of God, as says the book of James.

I have had a much harder time with the joy-part of my faith.  My celebrations are few and far between, always interrupted by recognizing my flaws and wanting God to CHANGE ME, PLEASE.

Yet I know there is are so many joyful afters.  I just have to make my mind work harder to see them.

After I met Jesus.

After I healed.

After my wedding.

After my bundle of Ava.

After my sweet Isabel.

After I learned to live in community.

After I took that step of faith.

After God gave me the answers I was searching for.

After I gave up  trying to reach perfection.

Wow.  Writing out the positive afters was actually easier than writing out the negative ones.  Maybe that’s a clue for us all…. we can find the joy and reason to celebrate if we simply LOOK.

(STOP)

A Gathering of Bible Study Methods

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I was a young teenager the night my parents came into the guest room.  Our company was staying in my room, so I was moved to the guest room for a few days.  I don’t know why they came in or why I pretended to be asleep, but I heard them proudly comment about the open Bible on the nightstand next to my bed.

I grew up believing it was important to read the Bible every day, and so being the good little pastor’s daughter I was, that’s what I tried to do.  Many nights I would read one scripture, filling my quota for the day.  Other times I would read a chapter or two.  While I realize that kind of Bible reading was simply a chore to be accomplished, I am so thankful for parents and a church who instilled in me the desire to read God’s word.  I am thankful for that, because down the road reading the Bible turned from being  a drudgery into being a delight.

Today, my Bible study is somewhat sporatic.  I read nearly every day, but how deep I get into study depends on many factors, including my mood, the time I have, how hungry I feel for God’s Word, and how interesting the material I am studying is to me at the moment.  I was blessed to be exposed to several great study methods at my last church, and have picked up a few study methods on my own.  I want to share those with you.

1.  Journaling  – For this method, I would highly recommend Jen Hatmaker’s book, A Modern Girls’ Guide to Bible Study.  She gives lots of great tips and gets the reader motivated and equipped to dive in, all while being hilarious and relating to her readers.  I love journaling in general, so this method works well for me.  Armed with a great study Bible, and anything from commentaries to dictionaries to history books… this method allows me to study at my own pace, researching and journaling the historical context and cross references.  It also allows me to journal how a specific verse or passage makes me feel and how I can apply it to my life.  I have formally been through the book of James and Ephesians using this method, and have informally journaled through other passages and scriptures.  If you love to journal, give this method a try.

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2.  Read Through the Bible in a Year -  I have started and failed this method many times!  This is not my preferred method of study, because typically you are reading quickly through a large quantity of scriptures each day.  I like to reflect when I read, and I often find myself hurrying through the day’s reading just to get it done.  However, I have committed to reading through my Bible this year using the Bible in One Year app for my iPhone, and so far… I love it.  The app makes it so easy, giving me a selection from the Old Testament, the New Testament and either Psalms or Proverbs each day.  Yes, I need to supplement my daily readings with in-depth study, but I am excited to see my daily progress, reading the Bible as one whole story.  I know I can make it!!

3.  Small Group Bible Study - Our home small group has been working our way through the Chronological Guide to the Bible for over a year now!  Each week we read and discuss whatever happens next chronologically.  It has taken a lot of time, but I love that everyone in our groups is reading through the same part of the Bible at the same time.  I gain so much knowledge from the insights of others.  There is also a Chronological Study Bible that goes along with the book.  I don’t have the study Bible, but some people do, and seem to like it.  We are only in Ezekiel, so this has been a huge undertaking.  It will be exciting at the end to say we have basically discussed the entire Bible!

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4. The Message – Last fall, I realized that I had to be more intentional about teaching and training my children about the Bible.  I had too often skirted my responsibility in that area and hoped the church would take up the slack.  I hadn’t quite decided the approach to take, so one night, I picked up The Message Bible and began reading Matthew 1:1 with my 8-year-old.  What happened surprised even me-of-little-faith.  She was intrigued.  I was intrigued.  The language is simple and easy for her to understand.  The Message reads as a story and Ava ate it up!  When we have our Bible time, I stop to ask questions.  I let her ask as many questions as she has.  We talk about Biblical history and the meanings behind the words of Jesus.  She is like a sponge, soaking up all the goodness and power of the life of Jesus.  I am learning as well, and feel I am doing my job, pouring my Biblical knowledge into my child.  Now… if only we could be a little more consistent (such is the story of my life!).  If you have school-age children, I encourage you to quiet down, sit down with your kids, and simply read The Message with them.   I think you will be amazed how the life and words of Jesus come to life.

5. Inductive Bible Study – Dear readers, I have saved my favorite for last.  I was introduced to Kay Arthur and her inductive method of Bible study at my last church and I am so grateful!  I skipped the how-to book that teaches the method and jumped right in to a study of Ezra, learning as I went along.  This is the kind of study for me, my friends!  I am talking about colored pencils, color-coding repetitive words, color-coded keys of keywords… I am talking about 30 minutes (at least), six days a week, diving into the Word of God, making lists and charts and let me just say, IT IS SO MUCH FUN!  Of course, not everyone likes it.  The homework-style, follow-these-instructions-exactly appeals to my personality and my need for order.  Plus, at the end, I felt such a sense of accomplishment, feeling like an expert in whatever book I was studying. I am amazed at what Kay Arthur’s guides bring out in scripture that I may never have seen without her help.  She has guides for nearly every book of the Bible.  I would start with Matthew.  I am in the middle of it now, and it has been amazing.

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These are some study methods that have worked well for me, but of course there are so many other options!  I do have one word of advice, a lesson that I learned the hard way.  Don’t let your study be a chore.  Give yourself a break if you go through a season when you don’t crack your Bible.  Let go of the guilt and turn to God.  Find delight in Him.  I go through seasons of Bible study, but when I hunger and thirst for God, when I long for His presence in my life, the Bible study naturally follows.  So no guilt.  Just turn to Jesus and see what happens!

What about you?  What methods of Bible study are your favorites?  Have you tried any of the methods I have mentioned?  I would love to hear your experiences!  Do any of these methods sound like something you may try?

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A Good Friday Gathering

One of my favorite moments in the life of Jesus is the Last Supper.  I am amazed reading about the conversations, the washing of the disciples’ feet, the broken bread and wine poured out.  This year was the first week in my life that I ever reflected each day of Holy Week on the last week of Jesus’ life. It was profound and moving and I am so thankful for the friends, bloggers and scripture that led me to such reflection.

In our Noblesville Gathering, we have so many leaders who weekly open their homes, prepare and study to facilitate small groups or teach, cook for the masses and give sacrificially.  I wanted to do something special for those leaders this Easter season, and the idea for a Good Friday communion dinner was born.

I enlisted the help of my mom with the food and got busy with the preparations.  I found various white dishes at Goodwill, ironed tablecloths, bought and arranged simple flowers, made simple place cards, arranged a variety of white candles and made a few sides and a salad.  It was an act of love for many of those who serve alongside my family week in and week out.

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I watched as Jimmie prepared the unleavened bread.  I felt like I was witnessing a holy moment, the loving preparation of the bread to be broken in honor of Jesus and his broken body.

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We ate our salads and Jimmie began to talk about the significance of the bread and the wine.  He described how we “do this in remembrance of Him” in a way that is more than just mimicking the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper.  We pour ourselves out for others the way the blood of Jesus was poured out for all humanity.  Our bodies are broken and sacrificed for others the way that the body of Jesus was broken and bruised.  This is honoring the meaning behind the Last Supper beyond eating bread and drinking wine.  This is what we do in remembrance of Jesus.

We passed the wine and grape juice.  We passed the unleavened bread, breaking a piece off and passing it along.  We prayed.  We cried.  We drank the wine and ate the bread, both remembering Calvary and committing to serve the lost, broken, lonely and hurting.

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My grandmother was to my left, my mom to her left.  My daughter was to my right, sitting between mom and dad.  Four generations together, three of them women who have loved Jesus, served others and dedicated themselves to the cause of Christ… one who is learning to do the same.  As I cried and prayed, drank and ate, she did the same.  My arm held her close.  She heard my prayers, felt my tears on her hair.  It was beautiful and powerful and holy.  It was what remembering is all about and I will not forget.

As we finished, my mom and I brought out the meal.  We passed plates, served each other heaping spoonfuls of beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, corn and rolls.  We laughed and talked, a community breaking bread for a common purpose.

After we cleared plates, while we were still sitting at the table, my dear friend Heidi began to pass around small pieces of black fabric.  She reminded us of the scripture of the veil of the temple being rent, top to bottom when Christ died.  She told us many believe that veil was three inches thick and possibly 30×60 feet.  She talked about the priests of the Old Testament being the only ones to have access to the presence of God.  She reminded us that while we often may feel far from God, the veil has been rent and we have access to him.  She reminded us that even when God is quiet, he is with us.  She asked that we pray and that when we felt led, we tear our fabric, representing our barrier from God being destroyed.  She asked that we keep those two pieces in our Bibles as a reminder of our access to God.

The room grew loud with the prayers.  I sobbed, wanting to break down into a puddle on the floor, while also wanting to shout victoriously.  Such is the message of the cross.  I had chills and felt the power of God when I began to hear the sound… the loud sound of that fabric being torn at our table.

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I am so thankful for all of those who came and participated in an evening that was such a blessing to my family.  I am thankful for friends, not only the ones who were at that dinner, but all of them, who live their lives with me…. who love me unconditionally… who stretch me and support me…. who are figuring it out with me…. who love Jesus passionately with me…. who give sacrificially with me…. who aren’t afraid to remember….. and most importantly, who aren’t afraid to take up their cross and do this in remembrance of me.

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