A Gathering of Gallery Walls

gallerywallquote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know.  I JUST said I wouldn’t be doing as many decorating posts and would focus on the spiritual… blah, blah, blah.  I can’t help myself.

I helped my friend do a gorgeous gallery wall in her baby girl’s nursery, and now I have gallery walls on the brain.  I will be doing one soon in my front room and have been accumulating my favorites from Pinterest.  I just had to share.

I will also share the gallery wall I did with my friend when I can get over there to take some photos!

Here are my favorites!  Just click on the image to visit the site of origin.


I love this design from Design Sponge.  I have always been drawn to maps and love how the rest of the gallery wall centers around the large map.  Also, that couch and coffee table are making me want to ditch my current couch and coffee table!


Curbly has tons of photos of wall-to-wall gallery walls.  Just click on the photo above to see more.  While I love this so much (especially with all of the white), I don’t think I have the artistic sensibilities to pull it off.  What do you think?

Gallery wall
Real Simple teaches us how to arrange artwork on this site.  I really like the idea of a gallery wall corner like this one.  I have a corner between my kitchen and staircase that has been bare since we moved in.  I’m considering something like this for that area.

gallery-wall-in-living-room
I think this is my favorite of all, featured on Emily Henderson’s site.  I love everything about it.  I am always drawn to design that features black and white with pops of color.  This is so beautiful and makes me want a royal blue velvet couch immediately.


A Beautiful Mess is one of my favorite blogs, and when I saw this post about installing a gallery wall, I knew I had hit the jackpot.  I had already been thinking about painting my walls grey and amazingly had bought a lime green couch for my entry room.  I will use all of these gallery walls for inspiration, but this will be the one I use most.

_____________________________________________

What do you think?  Do you like any of these?  Which is your favorite?  Have you installed a gallery wall in your house?  Did you have a plan or just wing it?

I will keep you posted on the progress of my gallery wall.  Hopefully it happens this year.  If not, maybe it can be a New Year’s project!

(Follow my “Gallery” board on Pinterest HERE!)

sig
Missed any posts? Here are the most recent:
What I Gather About Disciplined Children
Dear Juan

 

Or get more decorating inspiration here:

Gathering Ideas for a Shabby Chic Bedroom

A Gathering of Goodwill Finds:  Kitchen and Dining Edition

A Gathering of Links XVI

links It’s that time again! I have been saving up all of my favorite links to share with you, and as usual, some of them are fantastic. But first… some updates on life in the Rennard house…..

Our church, Gathering, has had morning prayer every day this week from 6-7. It has been so amazing to gather with friends and pray while we watch the sun rise. I think I have always known in the back of my mind how powerful consistent early morning prayer can be, but this is the first time I have experienced it in such a profound way. Sitting in my living room, surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ, ushering in a new day with prayer and consecration felt sacred and holy.

I started back to work at the preschool last week. Isabel goes with me and LOVES her class. I love being able to peek in her room and see her interacting with the other kids. Ava has had a great first three weeks and joined the school choir. Her passion seems to be music, and this excites me. After years of struggling through violin practices and lessons, she has turned a corner and can MAKE MUSIC! Violin is a difficult instrument and she still has a long way to go, but as my mom says, “Once they realize they can make music, everything changes.” We are over a month into our wheat-free diet and going strong. Here is some first day of school cuteness for you:

firstday firstday2 Let’s get to some links! My most popular post from the last two weeks is: Dear Dad, Letter 1.

That doesn’t include my posts that gets lots of hits from Pinterest.  These are:

A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

Gathering Ideas for a Shabby Chic Bedroom

Gathering for a Shabby Chic Baby Shower

My favorite links, in no particular order:

Spiritual Inspiration:

From A Deeper Story, There Are No Trophies Here

11 of the Greatest Hymns in Church History at (in)Courage.  This is really cool.

On Truth, Specks, and the Blinding Goodness of  God at Narrow Paths to Higher Places

Over at Rachel Held Evans, What Would Jesus Do (With His Enemy)?

In Which I Will Become More Undignified from Sarah Bessey

At A Holy Experience, When You’re Ready to Wear Who You Really Are

You don’t hate me.  You hate my brand.  From Rachel Held Evans

From Tim Brister, From Strangers to Missionaries:  A Neighborhood Strategy for Mission

Food Love:

Broccoli Slaw at Smitten Kitchen

At A Beautiful Mess, It’s Smoothie Time!

How to be a Great Dinner Party Guest from Shauna Niequist.

Marriage and Parenting:

In Which I Beg Barbie’s Pardon from Sarah Bessey.

Worst End of Summer Mom Ever from Jen Hatmaker.  So funny.

How Mothers Are Made from Lisa-Jo Baker

From Addie Zierman, For the One Who Married Young

Home Love:

From Design Mom’s Living With Kids series, Living With Kids:  Emily Hart.  I love this home.

______________________________________________

So there you have it!  Grab a cup of coffee, sit outside on a summer afternoon and read some of these posts for inspiration.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!  Have a great weekend!

sig

 

Get new posts delivered directly to your inbox by following Rachael Gathers HERE!

Gathering Ideas for a Shabby Chic Bedroom

shabby-chic

When my niece Chelsea moved out, we moved Isabel back into Chelsea’s room.  Sadly, I had very little inspiration for decorating her room, so it has been neglected.  The walls are white, the furniture in desperate need of some TLC and there is no cohesiveness in the least.

Then, after helping to throw a Shabby Chic baby shower for my friend, I decided to take Isabel’s room in that direction.  She was already using the shabby chic comforter from Target and had the curtains and a few pillows to match.  I am enlisting the help of my very talented and artistic sister-in-law to help me finish the room.  When it is finished, I will share photos of the results.  For now, I will share with you some of my favorite pins from Pinterest that are giving me inspiration!  (Click on the pictures to be taken to the website or the pin for more information!)
Shabby Chic paint colors @ Home Design Ideas

I am loving this color combination.  I definitely kept this color palette in mind when I chose the paint color for her room.


The bed in this photo reminds me a little of Isabel’s bed.  I especially love the dust ruffle and chandelier in this photo.


I love everything about this room.  It is so soft and feminine.

All Things Shabby and Beautiful
I purchased a couple of old windows similar to this one to use in Isabel’s room.  I love how they used the fabric behind the window.  Marty is taking on this project and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Just did this project the other day. Will be putting a red rosette and red ribbon on the back for the Christmas season! Also, still looking for an old frame to put it in.
Here is another adorable idea for using an old window.  I think this would be pretty in any room with seasonal wreaths!

Fabric framed with old windows house-projects
I don’t love everything about this room. I mainly pinned it because I liked the use of the old windows and the chandelier.

I love the idea of this (scrapbook paper pack as wallpaper).
I know this is a nursery, but I love the block wall. I’m not sure I could handle and entire wall with so many prints, but I thought it would be cute as a small accent wall or even in a large window or frame.

Tea Party Table!
While this is an adorable idea for a party, I will probably make this garland of scrap fabrics for Isabel’s room. It is an inexpensive way to bring color and shabby chic fabrics to her room.

Which of these rooms is your favorite?  Are you a fan of shabby chic?  I would love any links to amazingly decorated shabby chic rooms while I’m in the process of redecorating!  You can follow my board, Little Girls, on Pinterest to pin these yourself!

Make sure to keep your eyes open for the final result!  Hopefully it will be done within a month or so.

Happy Monday to all!

sig Missed any posts? Here are the most recent:

A Gathering of Books:  June 2013

A Gathering Under the Trees

A Gathering of Links XIV

And you can follow me via e-mail subscription HERE!

A Gathering of Links XIV

links
First of all, I want to say thank you to all of my new readers and subscribers!  Welcome to Rachael Gathers.  I am so grateful for those of you who take time out of your week to visit my little corner of the Internet.  My goal is to gather ideas and experiences for our journey in the Kingdom of God.  I hope that will include spiritual inspiration, parenting and marriage encouragement, and fun ideas for making a house a home!

Each week or two I feature my Gathering of Links post.  I am an avid blog reader, so I take my favorite links from the recent week or two and feature them conveniently listed in one blog post.  It is my little gift to those of you who don’t have time to sift through the blogosphere daily like I do and link you up to my favorite posts.  I also include a little glimpse into what’s happening in the Rennard house.

Summer is in full swing at the Rennard house!  We have spent a couple of glorious days at the pool at my mom’s house.  Isabel isn’t a big fan of the pool yet, but we are working on it!  We celebrated Jimmie’s birthday and Father’s Day within one week!  Ava just left for a 10 day trip with my mom and stepfather.  The house is already eerily quiet.

This is my favorite photo from the last couple of weeks.  It captures Isabel, mid-spin.

IsabelSpin
Ah, to be three again!

My most popular link lately was Gathering for a Shabby Chic Baby Shower.  Thanks for all of the likes and shares!  I had more hits on the day I posted this than any post in RG history!

Now, let’s get to it!  This may be my favorite gathering of links yet!  There is SO MUCH great material here.  I hope you grab a cup of coffee or glass of iced tea, sit back, relax and enjoy some of these awesome links.

Spiritual Inspiration:

From A Deeper Church, Watching Our Language.  Discipleship is important…. so is friendship.

From A Deeper Story, Everything Must Go.  Yes and AMEN!  This rings to true in my life.  I am learning to let go of stuff….

Sex and the Path of Holiness at Rachel Held Evans.

From A Holy Experience, Why You Are Where You Are:  For Such a Time as Now.  Also, her post A Letter to the North American Church: Because It Is Time is so powerful.

The Perfect Shade of Greige from Jamie the very worst missionary.  This spoke to me.

From A Deeper Story, When It’s Time to Throw Out All of the Good Answers.

Parenting:

From A Holy Experience, a powerful look into what it means to show grace to our children.  What All Mamas (and us) Need to Thrive This Summer.

From Narrow Paths to Higher Places, A Mother’s Faith.  An all too familiar account of miscarriage, mourning and the questions that come along the way.  Moved me to tears, remembering my own pain.  Also, check out her series on Empowering Parents to Prevent Abuse.  All of it is great.  This link is to part 3.

From Lisa-Jo Baker, When Your Temper Scares You – some suggestions for defusing.

A hilarious look at Surviving Summer from Jen Hatmaker.

At A Deeper Family, I Don’t Want My Daughter to Hate Me.

Love and Marriage:

Over at Sarah Bessey, In Which [Love Looks Like] Spinning Our Own Yarn.  My dear goodness, this is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Food Love:

Red Pepper Shrimp Scampi from A Beautiful Mess.  I love all of these things.. how could I not love this recipe?

Watermelon Pico de Gallo from Pioneer Woman.  Yum.

House Love:

Part of Design Mom’s series, Living With Kids.  I love this home so much, I could move in  tomorrow.

Book Love:

From A Modern Mrs. Darcy, Reading is better when it’s done wine tasting style.  I love this concept.

______________________________________________________

Whew.  That’s a lot of links!  Please let me know what your favorites are from my list, or point me in the direction of some of your favorite blogs and/or posts from the past few weeks!  Maybe I will feature one next week!

sig

Missed any posts?  Here are some of the latest:

What I Gather About Friends Without Fathers

What I Gather About Movement

Also, you can get e-mail updates of new posts by clicking HERE!  Have a great weekend!

A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

door

Things have been a bit serious here at Rachael Gathers for a few weeks now.  I thought for a change of pace, I would share some of my favorite recipes when cooking for a crowd.

Almost two years ago, we started hosting a small group in our home.  One of the first weeks, I offered to serve dinner.  There was something really sacred about inviting people to my home and serving them a meal.  I never looked back, and have been cooking for anywhere from 8-25 people nearly every week for two years.

When I first began, I had NO IDEA what I was doing.  I could barely pull off meals for my own small family, much less a group of 15-20.  Thankfully, my crock pot and Pinterest came to the rescue!  I’m honestly not sure I could have pulled off so many meals without my two crock pots.  I have learned so much about not only cooking for large groups, but also about hospitality.  God has opened my heart as I have opened my home.  There’s simply no other way to put it.

So without further delay, I present my favorite recipes for a crowd.

1.  Shredded chicken tacos

This is my go-to meal when I’m in a hurry or out of inspiration.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit just how easy and foolproof this recipe is (and I must credit my friend Tasha for sharing it with me!).  Ready?

6-8 chicken breasts

1-2 jars of salsa (I prefer Herdez)

Yes, that’s it.  This makes the juiciest, most flavorful meat for tacos.  I dump the chicken and salsa in the crock pot and cook it on low for 8 hours or so.  Before I serve, I simply shred it with a fork.  You can drain the liquid if you prefer, but I like how juicy it is.  I typically plan on one chicken breast per two people.

2.  I LOVE this Crock Pot Minestrone soup from Skinny Taste.  I typically double the recipe.  I always have extra spinach, cooked Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese and cooked pasta for people to add in on their own.  It is delicious and healthy.

3. This Italian Chicken from Crock-a-doodle-do is tasty and I like that it incorporates vegetables.  I like to cut the chicken breasts into large chunks before I serve it.

4.  Slow Cooker Jambalaya from My Recipes has been a crowd favorite.  I typically make one crock pot with shrimp and one without for people who don’t love seafood.  It isn’t too spicy, which is great for kids, but forces me to have a large selection of hot sauces on hand.  With this recipe, I also recommend letting the rice cook longer than 30 minutes.  I typically let it cook closer to an hour.

5. Chicken Tortilla Soup from Miller Musings has been one of my most frequent dinners.  It is one of those meals you that you can dump everything in the crock pot and not worry about it again until 5 minutes before dinner.  I love that.  This soup has a great flavor and is delicious with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream on top.  I always double or triple the recipe to feed the crowd and have leftovers for the next day!

6. Crock Pot Ravioli Casserole from Becoming Betty is delicious.  It sort of reminds me of lasagna.  Again, I always double or triple the recipe.  This is typically served with a large salad and garlic bread.

7.  From Southern Plate, this is the recipe for Cheesy Chicken and Rice.  You have to love casseroles to love this recipe.  Everyone at my house always gobbles this up.  We actually had it Monday night!  It is just a classic chicken and rice recipe.  I have quadrupled this recipe before and had two giant crock pots full.

So there you have my favorite recipes to feed a crowd!

We also rely on go-to meals like hamburgers on the grill, chili in cool weather, spaghetti, sandwich night, and lasagna.  I normally have a big salad to help fill people up, offer something healthy, and make the main dish last for everyone.  I also use paper products so I can enjoy my company and not stress about clean-up.

You can find all of these recipes and many more crock recipes by following me on Pinterest.

_______________________________________________________

Do you ever cook for a crowd?  What are your go-to recipes?  Are there any crock-pot recipes you can suggest for me?  I’m sure our small group would be thrilled to have some new recipes added to the same old mix!

sig

Missed any recent posts?

What I Gather About Accusations

A Gathering of Links XII

Subscribe to Rachael Gathers here.

 

A Gathering of Links VIII

blog2-1

Have you subscribed to Rachael Gathers yet?  If not, please do so HERE.  You will get an e-mail updating you of new posts and can even read the blog right in your inbox!

This week the big focus on Rachael Gathers is the Helping Hands sponsorship program for orphans in Uganda.  If you aren’t quite sure about making the commitment to sponsor an orphan, let me just say it has made such a positive impact on our family and of course makes a tremendous impact in the life of a hungry child in Uganda.

Thanks to all of you, my most popular post this week was Gathering at a Garden.

There is lots happening in the Rennard house!  Jimmie has been focused on the community garden.  Our niece who lives with us is getting ready to move to New Jersey, but also just had a pretty serious car accident.  So we have been occupied with trying to sort out insurance issues while also getting her packed up.  Ava is ready for school to be out and Isabel is in a tap-dancing stage.

Here are my favorite links from this past week.  I hope you enjoy them!

Spiritual Insight and Inspiration:

From Guy at A Deeper Family, on sadness.

From Sarah Bessey.  Yes to this!

This inspired me…. over at Sarah Markley.

For the Home:

From A Beautiful Mess, I really love this gallery wall.

I absolutely love this home.  I think I could move in tomorrow and not change a thing… from Design Mom.

Marriage Talk:

Honest Talk About Marriage in the Middle of Life by Sarah Markley.

Food Love:

Over at Simple Bites… empanadas.  Because one of my earliest memories is making empanadas with a visitor from Colombia.

Just Because:

This video over at Design Mom is beautiful and moving.

Over at Oprah, the best novels of 2012.  Has anyone read any of these?

Instagram’s Envy Effect by Shauna Niequist

I will leave you with my favorite Instagrams from the week.  Have a fantastic week!

sig

 

 

IMG_2867
My Friday babysitting charge… so precious.
IMG_2869
Hanging out on the dining room table!
IMG_2870
Spring. Lovely.

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.

IMG_2607 IMG_2609 IMG_2610

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.

IMG_2605

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.

IMG_2612

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.

IMG_2643

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.

rg_quotes.png_Goodfriday

A Gathering of Goodwill Finds: Kitchen and Dining Edition

My posts lately have been a little heavy, so I wanted to share something fun with my readers that I’m passionate about:  Goodwill!  In 2012 I participated in Project XII, in which I committed to 12 months of not buying any new clothing or anything new to decorate my home.  I enjoyed the project so much and learned a lot, from shopping discipline to Goodwill hunting.  Today I want to share with you some of my favorite Goodwill finds for my kitchen and dining room.  Later I will share some of my favorite clothing finds and items for other areas of my house.

Just a little warning, my kitchen is the one area of my house where I allow myself to go crazy with color.  It doesn’t necessarily match, but it is filled with items I love and that make me smile.  That’s what decorating should be about, right?

IMG_2546

I’m not sure why I love this plate so much, but I do.  I have never in my life had a plate hanging on any surface of my wall… until I found this plate.  This plate got me into Wal-Mart looking at plate hangers.  Something about it makes me smile.  I bought it at Goodwill for $1 or so.  It is something cheerful to look at while I wash dishes.

Below is one of the bare walls in my kitchen where I have added pops of color.  The clock is from Ikea.  I had the idea to hang our paella pan, and Jimmie had the idea to put our magnetic spice jars on the pan.  I love the way it looks!  Then on day at Goodwill I found the sketch of the plants on a plant stand, already matted in the right colors and framed.  I was so excited.  It was less than $5.

IMG_2550

This is a close-up of the sketch:

IMG_2550-b

Below is a red chair I got at Goodwill for $5!  It is sturdy and bright and I love it.  My kitchen table seats four, so when my niece moved in with us, we were always dragging a desk chair into the kitchen.  This was a perfect solution.  I love the way it looks against this wall.  It is also a convenient place to sit when we are coming in or going outside to the backyard.

IMG_2548

Alert! If you don’t like the decor of the 70’s and chenille, avert your eyes. This is possibly one of my favorite finds ever at Goodwill. I had been looking for cute window valances for this window in my kitchen to no avail. When I saw these for $2, I snatched them up and have loved them every moment since. I also recently bought another set at a thrift store that I will be putting up for summer

IMG_2551

This isn’t technically a Goodwill find, but it is a thrift store find.  A couple years ago when I was visiting my friend Whitney, I saw a cute little box she stored her silverware in on her counter.  Ever since then I have had my eyes open for something similar.  When I found this for $1, I snatched it up.  I love having the napkins and silverware together.  It makes setting the table so quick and easy, especially when the girls want to help.  Also, shout out to my mom for the adorable Pyrex dishes she got for me.  We have nuts in one and dried cranberries in the other.  It helps our girls have healthy snacks on hand.

IMG_2553Last spring I went garage sale-ing with my friends Heidi and Tasha and all of our girls.  When I found this green utility shelf for $2, my gracious friends agreed to cram it into the car (along with a massive plastic slide and other finds).  So, again, this is not specifically Goodwill, but cheap nonetheless.  My mom gave me the fruit basket and the vintage mixing bowls.  I found the basket where I keep extra napkins at a garage sale.  The yellow Pyrex casserole dish is from my friend Linda.  I love having my cookbooks out and handy, even though I don’t use them much.  In my ideal world, my friends would come over and browse through them when they are at my house.  That never happens, but my mom does sometimes.  And she is my friend, so I guess that counts!

IMG_2555

 

Moving on to my dining room table…. last year I got really bored with my dining room table and wanted some kind of centerpiece that was very inexpensive and easy to move when we needed to use the table.  I have had this white tray for years and years and decided to search several Goodwills for glass pieces that matched my decor.  I thought I would have to go to a handful of stores before I would find the colors and shapes I wanted.  You can imagine my shock when I found ALL 5 at the first Goodwill I visited.  I really love the way this turned out.  I also love that it is portable when I need to use the table.

IMG_2557

 

This is a closer-up look of the glass pieces I found.  I especially love the two jars with lids.

IMG_2558

I am now a Goodwill convert.  This week I spent money on a new bunk bed for the girls’ room, bedding and sheets.  It felt so weird when I am so used to getting things at a steal of a price.  Anytime I need to decorate, Goodwill is my first stop.  I love the thrill of the hunt and the money that I don’t spend!

Which of my Goodwill/thrift-store finds is your favorite?  Do you shop at Goodwill, garage sales or thrift-stores?  What have been some of your favorite finds?  I would love for you to comment!  Also, if you haven’t subscribed to my blog, please do so by entering your e-mail address on the top right of my blog, just above my photo!  It will only be used to send you a link to new blog posts!  Thanks!

rg_quotes_goodwillkitchen

 

A Gathering of Cuba Photos

The months I spent living in Cuba were some of the best of my life.  Someday I hope to share more about our life in Cuba.  Today, though, I want to share some photos of the time I spent in Cuba in November of 2012.  In all of my trips to Cuba, I had never stayed with our close friends.  Pastor Lorenzo, his wife Zulema and their four children are like family to me and I really wanted the opportunity to spend some time with them, experiencing their everyday lives.  So, our family stayed in Havana for a week for the national convention and various business.  Jimmie left with the girls, and I stayed four extra days just to be able to spend time in their home.  These are the photos from the time I spent there.  I hope you enjoy these insights into Cuban life and take time to read the captions!

IMG_1145

This was taken a couple of days before Jimmie took the girls home.  Jimmie is with Dani, our pastor friend who also serves as a translator when we need one.  He has a machete and a coconut in his hand.  He had just cut it down from the tree behind them and used the machete to chop off the shell.  IMG_1288

I can’t remember the name of this man.  He is a neighbor of Lorenzo and Zulema and attends their church.  He uses their property to house his goats.  One of the goats belongs to Zulema as well.  Every morning he showed up at about 7 a.m. to take care of the goats and help Lorenzo with his work around the house.  At some point during the day, he left with four goats in hand to take them on a walk through the busy streets of their barrio.  It was quite a sight!

I love this photo for so many reasons.  He looks so Cuban to me.  Goats are hilarious creatures to me in general.  There are underwear hanging from the clothesline for all to see.  My towel that I used all week is hanging to dry on the right.  They also have YHVH = Jesus painted on their rusty pen for the animals.  As we always say, “Estámos en Cuba!”

IMG_1289

Meet Zulema.  I love this photo of her.  She has her broom made from dried-out, fallen limbs.  Each morning after the kids left for school, she brushed the leaves and debris off of her “patio.”  Her patio is the dirt you see behind her. IMG_1291

These are two beautiful and special children, Abdias and Sarai.  A generous pastor from North Carolina gave a laptop to Pastor Lorenzo.  The kids love playing games on it and spend a lot of their free time doing just that.   IMG_1292

Zulema is at work in her kitchen here.  The water is frequently shut off, so you never really know if water will come out of that faucet when you turn it on.  The bucket behind her stores water for such occasions.  Here she is rinsing rice before cooking it. IMG_1295

One of the reasons I love Cuba is because it is so GREEN!  The tropical climate makes for beautiful foliage and gorgeous flowers.  Here you see some plants Zulema planted to beautify their patio.  The bench on the left is very sad.  They utilize everything, though, and won’t throw it away.  Also notice the rocker in the background.   Over half of the plastic is gone on the seat of the chair.  Let me just tell you, it is not a comfortable seat! IMG_1300

Lorenzo has quite a bit of land.  He has had some help getting the tools and seed necessary to farm a little.  When I was there, they were just getting started.  He had some help from two men from his church.  I love this photo.  Cuban farmers work.  I don’t know of a more exhausting job than farming in the tropical sun.  I admire them so much.  They hope to grow enough food to share with hungry church members and some to sell, as well. IMG_1309

Here Lorenzo is showing me how he cuts off the bottom portion under the banana bunch so that all of the water and nutrients go to the developing bunch.  I had never really seen a banana tree and found this fascinating. IMG_1312

Lorenzo is explaining his plans for their land. IMG_1313

The goat-herder helps on the farm.  Here he is spraying pesticides of some sort.  I’m going to pretend they are organic.  One day he invited me to his apartment.  We arrived and he had some kind of drink for me.  It tasted like a dreamscicle.  It basically was, made with goat’s milk.   IMG_1316

Beautiful!  There are so many varieties of bananas in Cuba, I absolutely cannot keep track.  One thing I do know?  You cook the green ones, you eat the small yellow ones.  You haven’t truly tasted a banana until you’ve tasted one of those yellow beauties in the back. IMG_1321

This is a portion of the inside of their house.  I took this photo mainly to show the electrical situation going on in their home.  Yikes!  Thankfully Lorenzo knows what he is doing with electricity.  I did purchase some electrical boxes and light switches for them during my stay.  IMG_1329

Tomatoes with vinegar, oil and salt.  Enough said. IMG_1340

I’m not sure I could love these people any more.  Even though they have so little, they bless me so tremendously.  They offer their love freely and without expectation.  They welcome me as one of their own family members.  My only sadness is that they are so far away. IMG_1343

Zulema, the beauty that she is, standing outside of their home. IMG_1344

Lorenzo, locking up the house. IMG_1345

If you’d like to read more about what I learned from my time in Cuba, please check out my post Cuba Gathers.  I hope these photos give you a glimpse into the everyday life of some of Cuba’s finest people.  What do you think after looking at these photos?  Would you want to stay somewhere like this?  Have you ever visited a place drastically different from your home?  I would love to hear your feedback!

rg_logo_cubaphotos

Gathering Delight

DSC_5538-bwblog

Bedtime. Let me set the scene for you.  Dinner is over.  Hopefully dishes are done.  There may or may not have been arguments about a certain 9-year-old practicing violin.  There may or may not have been screaming about a certain 3-year-old not wanting to get out of the bath.  Homework is done, sometimes after much complaining.  Mom is tired.  Dad just wants to sit down.  After bathroom trips, teeth-brushing, picking out clothes for the next day, another bathroom trip, and searching for the perfect stuffed animal or book for the night, we tuck them in, say prayers or play our thank-you-God game, and lights are out.  Okay, okay.  There may or may not be a threat about what will happen if either of those girls gets up.

Currently Isabel is in a stage where she is testing my bedtime limits.  She shares a room with Ava, so many nights she keeps Ava up for an hour or more.  She sings, talks, gets up, hits Ava, tickles Ava, climbs into bed with Ava.  Now that she is potty-trained, she comes in our room, having to go potty.  Again.  She slams the closet door, plays with her toys.  She makes messes, then opens and closes her bedroom door just to see if we are outside.  She.  Tests.  My.  Patience.

Ava knows that Mom has enough drama at bedtime and is usually pretty good about staying in her bed.  She knows getting out of bed means grounding from her Kindle.

I hope I have set the stage adequately for the happenings of Thursday night past.  This particular night we tried to get the girls in bed early because Ava had ISTEP testing the next morning.  I had told Ava that the next day I would not be home when she got off the bus and she would walk to Tasha’s house.  She was nervous about it, but we talked it though.  Tasha’s house is only a block or two away and Ava walks and rides her bike there from time to time.

About 30 minutes later, Ava was in our room.  I didn’t look up.  I didn’t want to lose my temper or get into a discussion.  It had been settled.  Ava would go to Tasha’s.  Jimmie walked her back in her room and was in there for a long time.  When he came back in our room, the discussion went something like this.

Jimmie:  Ava is sobbing.  She wants to see you.  She is nervous about tomorrow.

Rachael:  She has walked to her house before.  She goes to Kristi’s house, that is even farther.  She is being dramatic.

Jimmie:  She said she had a dream that someone kidnapped her by the park.  She is scared.

Rachael: (still relatively unmoved) Jimmie, she is just looking for reasons not to go to sleep.  This isn’t a big deal at all.

Jimmie:  RACHAEL, YOUR DAUGHTER IS IN HER BEDROOM.  SOBBING.  TERRIFIED.  SHE WANTS TO TALK TO HER MOM.

I believe that often when Jimmie raises his voice, it is the Holy Spirit speaking through him.

I walk into the room.  My baby is looking up at me, tears streaming down her face.  She reaches up, wraps her arms around me and holds on for dear life.  She is scared.  I finally come to my senses.  I speak soothing words.  I make other arrangements.  We make up.  I hold her, hug her.  I speak of Jesus as our protector.  I speak of fear and how it has no place in us when we know Jesus.  I pray over her.  I stroke her hair and watch her in wonder as she sleeps easily, comforted by my words and her Jesus.  I am so overwhelmed with love for this child, I think I may burst.

I hear the voice, somewhere deep inside, speaking truth I have avoided.  This is your child.  Take delight in her.  She is wondrous.  She is not an inconvenience, she is a delight.  Find joy in her.  Speak gently.  Show her grace.  Be a soft place to fall.  I delight in you, my child.  Now delight in her.  Your child.

I don’t know when it happened.  I always have moments of delight in Ava.  She is so smart and confident.  She is caring and strong.  She leads, she loves.  She has PASSION.  My head knows this, but for a while now I have been so consumed with myself, my problems  and my struggles that my heart wasn’t in it.  It may have been that way for a week.  Maybe a month.  I pray it wasn’t longer than that.  I was so grateful that God woke me up Thursday past.  It is easy for me to take delight in the 3-year-old who hugs mama all the time, says the cutest things, cuddles and kisses.  I thank Jesus that He reminded me that I must wonder at Ava.  She is a glorious gift.  If I look, I can see Jesus in her.  I can see the beauty of creation.  I can see His love in the way she loves.  I am delighting in her again.

He delights in me, after all.  The Bible tells me so.  Even when I fall terribly short as a mom.  Even though I am willful and resistant to His prompting.  Even if I get up when I’m supposed to stay put.  Even though I make messes.  Even if I pretend I need something when He has given me everything I need to rest.  Even when I talk when He wants me to be quiet and still.  Even if I slam doors He has opened so I can see the light.  Even if I annoy and hinder my brothers and sisters on this journey with me.  Even if I’m afraid when there is nothing to fear.  Even if I cry even though He has assured me everything will be okay.  In spite of myself, He delights in me after all.

Do you delight in your children?  Do you ever consider that God takes delight in you?  What obstacles keep you from delighting in your children?  I would love to hear that I’m not alone in this struggle!  This wasn’t a mom-moment I am proud of, but I thank God for the lesson that followed.

rg_title_gatheringdelight

A Gathering of Links

blog2-1

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:

http://faithapostolic.us/2013/02/incense-beaten-small/

These are my favorites from A Holy Experience:

http://www.incourage.me/2013/02/the-1-thing-you-really-have-to-know-about-your-family.html

http://www.aholyexperience.com/?p=15182

http://www.aholyexperience.com/?p=15107

A Deeper Story was full of great stuff this week!

http://deeperstory.com/burn-the-heretics/

http://deeperstory.com/why-the-church-should-quiet-down/

http://deeperstory.com/why-i-respectfully-decline-feminism/

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

Have you heard of Kathy Escobar?  Love her blog.

http://kathyescobar.com/2013/02/18/three-things-about-one-word-church/

http://kathyescobar.com/2013/02/16/formation-friday-thirsty/

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:

http://www.yellowbirdyellowbeard.com/2013/02/tuesday-treasury_19.html

Baked french toast sticks?  Yum!

http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2013/02/baked-french-toast-sticks.html

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

http://www.designmom.com/2013/02/living-with-kids-erin-allan/

Weekend home projects?  Sign me up!

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/7348896/list/9-Ways-to-Make-Dreamworthy-Rooms—–in-a-Weekend/

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!

http://parasam.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/edit_efx_soemo.jpg

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!