What Kind of Person?

It was one of those nights in the Rennard house.

Tempers were flaring.  Hormones were raging.  Frustrations were high.

My sweet 9-year-old was testing my limits.  Disobedience.  Disrespect.  Unkindness toward her little sister.  Temper.  Grunting, growling, stomping.  Talking back.

I stepped out of her bedroom, gave myself a few moments alone to catch my breath and calm down……

Mind racing.  Feelings of failure.  Inadequacy.  Fear of the future.  Disappointment.

Then it comes to me.

“Ava, what kind of person do you want to be?”  I say with tears in my eyes.

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This question opens up an honest dialogue.

Does she want to be like her parents?  Like all the members of her family who have devoted their lives to serving God?  Ultimately, does she want to be like Jesus?  Does she want to be someone who is transformed by the Holy Spirit and bears the fruit of the Spirit in her life?

OR….

Does she want to be ruled by her flesh?  Does she want to be selfish?  Does she want to be disrespectful and unkind?  Does she want to always get her way at the expense of everyone around her?  Does she want to harm those who she loves with her sharp words and unkind actions?

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Tears well up in her eyes.  She is processing, thinking, evaluating the question posed to her.  I hold her close, pray earnestly for her, reaffirm my love and acceptance of her, tell her I am blessed to be her mother.

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This question has been churning in my head for weeks.

Ava, what kind of person do you want to be?

I know what kind of person I want Ava to be.  I have my own hopes and dreams for her.  While I can train, teach and lead by example, the choice ultimately belongs to Ava.  Will she allow the Holy Spirit to transform her into someone who reflects the character of Christ?  Time will tell.

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Meanwhile, I hear the gentle voice of a loving Father ask me the question…..

“Rachael.  What kind of person do you want to be?”

Do you want to know me and respond to my voice?  Do you want to lay aside weights, sin and distraction in order to know me more?  Will you allow me to remove the pride from your heart?  Will you be someone who makes space in your heart and life for my lost sheep?  Will you reflect my character with your words and in your deeds?

OR……..

Will you put me on the back burner of your life, calling on me when it is convenient?  Will you elevate yourself at the expense of others?  Will you fall in step with the materialism around you?  Will you go where you want to go instead of where I lead?  Will you gossip and slander?  Will you exclude others so that you feel more included?  Will you always put yourself first?

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Will I allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into someone who reflects the character of Christ?  Time will tell.

sig Missed any posts? Here are the most recent:
Dear Dad, Letter 1

A Gathering of Links XV

What I’m Into, July 2013

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Dear Dad, (Letter 1)

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Dad,

You have been gone for half of my life now.  Some days this fact astounds me.  Other days, you are a stranger to me.  Don’t get me wrong.  You left a permanent imprint.  You left your mark in a profound way….

But your voice is faint and sometimes inaudible in my mind.  Your face is familiar only through photographs.  I don’t remember the subtleties of your expressions, the strangely beautiful shade of your eyes, your movements, your touch.

What I have is a permanent impression of a person who marked me with such force, the entire course of my life was altered.  I remember how you made me feel secure, even in the midst of such chaos.  I see shadows in my mind of afternoon naps with you on the couch and ever-so-faint remembrances of sitting on your lap when I was much too old to do so.

I am marked by your strength.  I sometimes wallow…. feeling so sorry that I only knew you for 16 years, wondering if I really knew you at all.  Then I recognize that in some ways, I knew you better than most.  I knew the Dad who was tried by fire and came out as gold.  I have no specific memories of you pre-cancer.  I’m sure that is sad for some to hear.  However, I have come to recognize that cancer was not our enemy.  Cancer was the fire through which you passed, allowing God to remove the impurities.

Cancer was the battle you fought that made you a warrior.  Cancer stripped you of any self-reliance and threw you into trust of a loving Savior.  You allowed the trial of cancer to show you what was truly important in life, and I would be living in denial to think that somehow I didn’t benefit from that realization.

You loved me fiercely.  I never doubted it for a moment.  Dad, you used your limited time with me so, so wisely.  You poured your heart and too-short life into introducing me to Jesus.  It was not an easy introduction.  I met the Jesus who walks us through the fire.  Dad, we both came out as gold.  What more could I have asked for?

Time?  Maybe.  And yet….. maybe all of that pressure on you, and therefore on me, is what allowed your imprint to be permanent on my person.  Lasting.  Never even fading for a moment.

I have the days when I long to hear your voice, feel your touch, seek your counsel, share with you in my joys, burden you with my heartaches, benefit from your wisdom, see your face.

But if not for cancer, if not for God transforming you through that fire, you wouldn’t have been the dad I knew.  I wouldn’t be me.  So I trust in the One who works all things together for good.  You taught me about him.  You taught me that lesson.  It is imprinted on my very being.

Love,

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A Gathering of Links XV

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I haven’t posted my favorite links for several weeks, so all of my favorites have been piling up. I hope you are able to take some time to read through some of these. I love them all, but I have put a * next to my very favorites in case you only have time to read a few.

Spiritual Inspiration:

Labels at A Deeper Story.

*From A Holy Experience, How to be Beautiful and Have a Beautiful Home Life.

At A Deeper Story, On Peace.

In Which I Climb a Metaphor from Sarah Bessey.

At A Deeper Story, Meet the Racists.

Just do yourself and read this over at A Holy Experience.

At A Deeper Story, The Day I Ate 6 Cheese Buns.

The Church:

Sunday Night Church by Jen Hatmaker.

*At A Deeper Church:  Church Words:  Preach.

From Rachael Held Evans, Why I Can’t Stay Angry.

Doing it Wrong at A Deeper Church.

Parenting:

A look at Girl Drama from A Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Food Love:

Simply the Best from Pioneer Woman.

Book Love:

*31 Noted Authors Pick Their Favorite Books at Real Simple.

Twaddle-free Books for Young Children from A Simple Mom.

Summer Survival:

*I can totally relate to An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving Summer from Narrow Paths to Higher Places.

Rachael Gathers:

My own most read post over the last month or so was I Gather a Prayer for Ruby.

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What about you?  Have you read anything funny, inspirational or informational lately?  I’d love you to comment with your favorite links!  Have a fantastic week!

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What I’m Into, July 2013

(This post is linked with Hopeful Leigh’s What I’m Into post.  Check it out here.)

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Books:

I had high hopes for July.  My June reading list was extensive and I hoped to continue that trend into July.  And then…. something happened.  I will share later.  Keep reading.

But I did succeed in reading a few books.  Here they are:

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Saturday by Ian McEwan was the best piece of fiction I have read in a long, long time.  Each night when I finished reading, I would marvel, sometimes to myself, sometimes to Jimmie, about the genius of this author.  The first chapter was a bit slow, and I must admit I nearly gave up on it.  I am so glad I persevered.  The entire novel takes place within a 24 hour time span in the life of one man.  It is insightful and surprising, sad and hopeful.  I am excited to read more of McEwan’s work.
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The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty was a solid summer read.  It kept my interest and was the kind of entertainment I relish during lazy summer days.  I will say that I thought the end dragged on a bit much.  It was interesting after reading Saturday reading this book, which covers a 50 year time span.
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 Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist was beautiful and moving.  This is storytelling at its finest.  I loved the heart I felt on each and every page.  God has been prodding me and challenging me in the area of hospitality for a couple of years now, and this book opened my eyes to the profound impact hospitality can have.  I earmarked so many pages with fantastic recipes.  I can’t wait to make some of them.  I have a feeling that I will re-read this book many times.

Television:

Remember when I said I had high hopes for the books I would read in July?  Well, television happened.  We got rid of cable and hadn’t been watching much, if any, television.  Then I had one of those nights when I just wanted to curl up in bed and watch something.

Enter Parenthood.

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Friends, let me just tell you, I finished all four seasons in the month of July.  I watched episodes on Netflix every night, late into the night.  I was hooked so fast and fell in love with the characters in a way that has only happened with a couple of other television series.

Blame my wimpy reading list on this show right here.  Then watch the first episode on Netflix.


Make fun all you want, but I own all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD.  I get in the mood to watch this series from time to time.  I finished season 7 in July.  It’s always a little sad saying goodbye to Lorelai and Rory, at least until next time I start the series over….

Funny story.  My mom saw the DVD’s at my house a few weeks ago.  I gave her season 1, not sure if she would get into it.  She called me a couple of days later, asking for all seven seasons.  She and my aunt  had spent lazy days at her camper, watching Gilmore Girls.  They fell in love with it.  How can you not?

Food:

As I announced a couple of months ago, I have given up sweets and soda for the rest of 2013.  It has been going really well.  I had a successful cheat day on July 4th (which is part of the plan).  I have had a little Nutella two times in two months.  I also have eaten some fruit pops that are very lightly sweetened, but only a handful of times.

Then about a month ago, Jimmie’s doctor recommended that he go on a wheat-free diet (based on the research in this book.)  We discussed it and decided to dive in.  We have eliminated nearly all wheat from our diet and most carbs.  We are working toward adhering to the paleo diet.  Basically, we eat high quality meats and eggs, tons of fresh, organic vegetables, some fruit and a small amount of dairy.

Jimmie and I have both lost weight and are learning day by day how to change our eating habits.  Here are a couple of things making our life easier right now:

1.  Nom Nom Paleo – This is a great website with lots of paleo recipes.  There are so many websites out there, but this is one my brother (who adheres strictly to the paleo diet) recommended.

2.  Eggs and feta.  I have never been a breakfast eater.  I am now making myself an egg scramble each morning with mushrooms, peppers, spinach, whatever veggies are around the house, and… FETA.  I have always loved Feta cheese but had never tried it in my eggs.  This has made me a breakfast convert.

3.  Trader Joe’s.  Trader Joe’s has long been my favorite grocery store.  Now, with their extensive offerings of gluten-free items, we can find affordable groceries that fit our wheat-free diet.  We go every Sunday evening, spend about $100 and are (mostly) set for the week.

4.  Noblesville Real Food Market.  My brother is part of this market, and provides us with organic produce and high quality meats.

5.  Live the Way’s Noblesville Community Garden Project.  My  husband has been working tirelessly to get this project off the ground and now we are (literally) enjoying the fruits of our labor.  We have been eating tons of fresh kale, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, beets, beet greens, turnips, peas, tomatoes and more.  It is so rewarding eating food I planted myself.

Other:

I’m also into the pool:

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And my new camera, along with the A Beautiful Mess app:

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I have a new love for downtown Indianapolis after our trip on the 4th of July:
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And I’m hopelessly in love with this newborn. Ah, Ruby: (read my prayer for her here)

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That’s about it for me!  I can’t believe Ava starts school tomorrow and I start work the following week.  It has been a great summer, full of fun, family and friends.  I am feeling blessed.

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What about you?:  What are you into?  I would love to hear about it.

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I Gather a Prayer for Ruby

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This baby.  Even minutes after delivery, she was perfect and beautiful, round and healthy (as you can see).  God only knows how many prayers were prayed for her during the last nine months…. and now she is here, making everyone giddy with joy and excitement.

A few months ago, when I began to pray for direction for my prayer for Ruby, I felt directed to the life and ministry of Samuel.  As I began to study and write the prayer, I felt the Holy Spirit moving right here at my computer.  I love the Massingale family dearly and believe in their ministry and role in the Kingdom of God.  I already know that Ruby is going to be a tremendous blessing to their family, an asset to their ministry team, and a force in the Kingdom of God.

This is my prayer for little Ruby.  I love you already.

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Dear Ruby,

May the prayers prayed for you be answered (I Samuel 1:20)

May you dwell in the presence of the Lord forever (I Samuel 1:22)

May you be on lend to the Lord as long as you live (I Samuel 1:28)

May you minister before the Lord from a young age  (I Samuel 2:18)

May you grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man (I Samuel 2:26)

May the Lord call to you until you answer (I Samuel 3)

May you dwell in the right place, waiting on the Lord to speak (I Samuel 3:9)

May you hear when the Lord speaks (I Samuel 3:10)

May none of your words fall to the ground (I Samuel 3:19)

May you be established as a prophetess of the Lord (I Samuel 3:20)

May the Lord reveal himself to you by his word (I Samuel 3:21)

May your life and words lead people to return to the Lord will all their hearts, put away foreign gods, direct their hearts to the Lord, and serve him only. (I Samuel 7:3)

May you never cease to cry out to God for others (I Samuel 7:8)

May the Lord answer when you cry out (I Samuel 7:9)

May you set up memorials when the Lord helps you (I Samuel 7:12)

May you always build an altar to the Lord (I Samuel 7:17)

May you see clearly with spiritual eyes (I Samuel 9:19)

May the hearts of people be changed after an encounter with you (I Samuel 10:9)

May you never defraud, oppress or take anything from those you are sent to serve (I Samuel 12:5)

May your words and your life say to people, “Do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.  Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and right way.  Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.” (I Samuel 12:20-24)

May you not judge on appearance, but see the heart as God sees the heart (I Samuel 16:7)

May you, through faith, conquer kingdoms, enforce justice, obtain promises, stop the mouths of lions, quench the power of fire, escape the edge of the sword, be made strong in weakness, be mighty in war, and put foreign armies to flight. (Hebrews 11:33-34)

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Gathering of Parental Confessions

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There’s something therapeutic about confession.  We all are guilty of trying to make ourselves appear better than we actually are.  Whether it is my portrayal of myself as wife, friend, mom, cook, housekeeper, employee or Christian, I want you to think I am better than I am.  I’m growing by leaps and bounds in this department.  I know that I find transparency in others so refreshing, so I am trying to become more honest and transparent about myself.

Therefore….. here are some (possibly sad, possibly comical) confessions about my life as a parent.

1. I pay my daughter to read.

In my defense, I got this idea from a friend.  Her daughter isn’t a huge fan of reading books, so they offered to pay her $5 to finish a challenging book.

A few weeks later, I found myself incredibly frustrated.  We take a weekly trip to our public library in the summer, and Ava always picks out a bag full of novels.  She then brings them home, where they sit until our next library trip.  The only thing that gets read are Archie comics.

(I may or may not have told her she will never be a smart person if all she reads are Archie comic books.)

So I offered her $3 for every library book she finished the rest of the summer.  She finished her first one the next day.

2.  I bribe and/or threaten my children.

Bedtime is a sacred time in our home.  Not actual bedtime, but the quiet that follows shortly thereafter.  There are no compromises when it comes to bedtime in the Rennard house.  Both of my girls know that we don’t mess around with this rule.  Ava knows that if she gets out of her bed, she will be grounded the following day.

When we moved Isabel out of her crib, we bribed her with M&M’s.  She knew if she stayed in her bed all night, she would get candy the next morning.  Don’t judge.

3.  I allow some lazy mornings.

Many mornings, I have to be up early for work or to get Ava on the bus.  On the mornings when Jimmie gets Ava on the bus or we have nowhere to go, I permit laziness.  This means I get up to get milk and a bowl of Cheerios/craisins for Isabel, then get back into bed.

I either sleep a bit longer, get my Bible reading done, or catch up on blogs.  I have been known to let her watch TV until 10 or so while I do this.

4.  I sometimes hide.

I recognize this sounds terrible, but I KNOW you moms out there can relate.  Sometimes the noise, demands, complaining and arguing get the best of me and I just need a moment of peace.  My favorite hiding places?

Bathtub.  I lock the door and let Jimmie be boss and referee for a while.

Bedroom.  I have been known, very occasionally, to take my dinner into my bedroom while I eat and watch TV alone.  Father/daughter time is important, right?

Shopping.  When I’m feeling really overwhelmed, I take a quiet trip alone to Goodwill or Target or somewhere where I can wander in peace.  This approach works wonders.

5.  I yell.

I never thought I would be the parent who yells.  With Isabel, yelling isn’t necessary.  She responds well to discipline in a normal tone most of the time.  Ava is a different story.  She seems to not hear anything I say until I have dramatically raised my decibel level.  I’m working on this one.

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I think five confessions is enough for today.

As parents, I think we need to permit ourselves imperfections without feeling like failures.  We have so many positive interactions each and every day with our kids.  We give so much of ourselves to make sure they are fed, clothed, healthy and happy.  It is so easy for me to overlook this fact and focus instead on the negative all the time.  I will continue in my attempts to grow and develop as a parent, but I also want to allow myself room to be human.  I want my kids to see my imperfections as well, so that they learn about grace, apologies, forgiveness and unconditional love.

What about you?  Don’t leave me alone here… what are your parental confessions?

Happy Monday!

sig I know it has been quiet around here lately. My daughter starts school next week, so you will see more posts starting then. Have you missed any posts? Here are the most recent:
What I Gather About Worship
Gathering to Heal
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What I Gather About Worship

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(Image Source)

Some of my earliest memories involve my child-like attempts at worship.  I have to believe the times I stood in front of our small church as a little girl and sang my heart out for Jesus must have been pleasing to God.  I imagine God feeling the way I feel when Isabel looks lovingly at me and tells me she loves me.

As with most spiritual disciplines, growth was necessary in my view and practice of worship.  For a very long time I had a very narrow view of what it meant to worship God.  That mindset involved showing up on Sunday and singing several songs with hands raised or while clapping.

Of course, I know that corporate worship is important and vital in our Christian walk.  We see examples throughout the Bible of God’s people coming together, unified for the purpose of exalting the one true God.  As a singer and worship leader myself, there is nothing quite like gathering with a group of people with one unified purpose in mind:  to bring glory to God.  We celebrate victories in song, proclaim joyfully the great God we serve, and rededicate ourselves as the unified body of Christ to his purpose.

Yet over the last five or six years, I have prayed, studied and sought after a greater understanding of worship.  There have been some key moments that have led me to the understanding I currently have.  I will share three with you today.

1.  My Life is a Vapor

Psalms 141 is a beautiful psalm of David.  In verse 2, we see the concept of our prayers going up before the Lord as incense and our lifted hands as a sacrifice before the Lord.  When I think about my life, I imagine a continual vapor rising up before the Lord.  Whether or not that vapor is pleasing to him depends on whether I am seeking to worship and honor God in my words and actions.  When I pray without ceasing, a pleasing vapor rises to the Lord.  When I take time out of my day to lift my hands in surrender, a pleasing aroma ascends to God.  When I demonstrate the love God has shown to me to others and carry out my purpose in the Kingdom, the vapor rises and is worship to the Lord.

2.  Freely, Wholeheartedly and Without Hesitation

I will never forget the Sunday these words came to me.  I was in the midst of a powerful time of worship and these three words came to my mind.  I have been forever changed.  To me, these three words represent the what, how and when of worship.  The “what” is freely.  Worship is giving everything.  I withhold nothing from an all-powerful God.  I am not guarded before a risen King.

Wholeheartedly is the “how” of worship.  The manner in which I worship much reflect the greatness of the God I worship.  Whatever I do, whether in my everyday life or in a church worship service, must be done with all of my heart.  I cannot be lukewarm in worship of a Savior who reigns as Lord of all.

Without hesitation is the “when” of worship.  I worship every time I am aware of the greatness of God, without pause.  If I see a glorious sunset, I don’t hesitate to thank and praise the God who created it.  When singing a song addressing the glory of God, I don’t hesitate to raise my hands in surrender to the God of which I sing.  When I see an opportunity to glorify God through my actions, I can’t hesitate to act in the moment.  When I have an opportunity to serve, I must decrease that he may increase…. without hesitation.

When my worship only takes place in a two-hour window on Sunday, it is shallow.  Some of my most profound times of worship have been in my kitchen or alone in my bedroom or beholding the grandeur of God’s creation.  A lifestyle of worship is a daily recognition and celebration of the greatness of God.  If we all lived this way every day, just imagine the depth and celebration that would take place when we do gather to worship together!

3.  Let Worship Be the Fuel for Mission’s Flame

These are the words of a profound Matt Redman song.

“Let worship be the fuel for mission’s flame.  

We’re going with a passion for your name.

We’re going for we care about your praise.

Send us out.

Let worship be the heart of mission’s aim.

To see the nations recognize your fame.

‘Til every tribe and tongue voices your praise.

Send us out.”

I first listened to the lyrics of this song while living in Cuba.  As you can imagine, it had tremendous significance to me at that point in my life.  The lyrics say it all.

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I am sad to admit that while I continually feel the call to be a true worshiper, I often ignore the call.  One of my favorite passages about worship talks about worshiping God in spirit and in truth, then goes on to say:

“the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23)

I imagine God looking down on his creation, seeking those whose life is a sweet-smelling vapor of worship… those who are worshiping freely, wholeheartedly and without hesitation…. those who carry out the Great Commission because they want to see every tribe and tongue proclaiming his glory…..

And I don’t want his gaze to pass me by and look to another.  When he is seeking worshipers, I want to be found proclaiming the glory and greatness of the God who called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light.  I want my actions to be worship to the Most High.  I want to be found rejoicing at the beauty and excellence of his creation.  I want to be found with words of thanksgiving and adoration on my lips.

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Have you worshiped God in some way today?  Have you marveled at his creation or had a grateful heart for the change he has made in your life?  Have you lifted your hands to him in surrender?  Will you sing out songs of praise to him?  When he is seeking for worshipers, will you be found among them?  My prayer today is one of repentance for the times I have failed and a re-dedication to be found among those worshiping in spirit and in truth.

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Gathering to Heal

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Sometimes all the pieces fall right into place.

Gathering was looking for opportunities to serve our community.  I saw a status update on Facebook about an organization called Young Lives.  I contacted the regional director who put me in touch with the Young Life director here in Noblesville.  He was fantastically energetic and passionate about reaching Noblesville students.  He told me more about Young Lives, their branch that tries to connect with and serve teenage moms.  We began to pray about getting involved.  Women from Gathering wanted to get on board.  We prayed and God put the right leader into place.  And now, only a handful of months later, we are starting a Young Lives club in Noblesville High School.

Like I said, sometimes God puts all the necessary pieces into place.

Each summer, pregnant teens or teenage moms involved with Young Lives have the opportunity to go to camp for a week.  The camp needed volunteers  to administer spa treatments for their spa day.  We were assured no experience was necessary, so I hopped in a car with Chellee and Tasha and drove nearly four hours to Michigan.

It isn’t very often I’m surrounded by so many selfless, caring, generous people.  I didn’t take it for granted.  We had lots of fun and laughed until we cried, but I was keenly aware that those people surrounding me were wholeheartedly about the Father’s business.  Theirs is the work of the Kingdom.  Many lead a weekly club for pregnant and teenage moms.  They are a constant, trusted friend in the lives of girls who face challenges and hurdles that would be hard for anyone to overcome.  These volunteers are the ones who pour their lives out to reach “the least of these”, demonstrating selfless love and always, always point these girls to a compassionate Savior.

And yet, I was so moved by the joy on the faces of these volunteers.  They give and give, but their reward is from above.  They have a joy that only Jesus can offer.  Their reward?  The satisfaction that comes ONLY with spending a life to bring glory to God and lead others to Him.  I could see how their love and commitment to these girls, combined with the work of the Holy Spirit is like a healing salve on deep wounds that these girls have endured.

And the girls?

Beautiful, each and every one, because they are loved and chosen by a King.  They come from all backgrounds, races, socioeconomic statuses, and cities.  They carry the weight of the world on their young shoulders, but for one week, they are free.  They bring their babies and their pregnant bellies, and are loved and pampered.  They laugh and play, make new friends, and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  I was able to talk with girls who were full of enthusiasm and hope, on their way to the healing that comes with that good news of Jesus Christ.

I am moved, recognizing that these girls chose life for their babies, when so many in their shoes have chosen abortion.  And I recognize the honor and privilege to serve God by serving girls who have made a selfless, loving choice when they could have chosen death.

I recognize that it was an honor to sit for hours, giving facials to girls who chose to take care of their babies instead of abandoning or aborting them.  What an honor to pamper the girls who sacrifice their youth and freedoms to take care of their precious children.

I recognize it is an honor to be part of an organization that shows Christ’s love in this way.  I am humbled and know deep down that this is the work of the Kingdom.  What more rewarding life could their be?

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Please pray for me and for the other women who are starting Young Lives at Noblesville High School.  We are praying for God to lead and guide us in this venture, and to teach us to serve in a selfless, Christ-like manner.  We want to provide love and support for girls in need of healing and hope.  We want to point them to Jesus in our word and deed.

Also, if you don’t know much about Young Life, I would highly recommend checking out their website.  They need volunteers from the community to keep things running smoothly and are always in need of donations to cover their expenses.  You can also learn more about Young Lives here.

If you live in the Noblesville area, you can contact the Noblesville Young Life director, Michael Redding, at michaelredding.younglife@gmail.com for more information.

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It has been quiet around here.  I am slowing down my pace in July, trying to spend more of my time with my girls before school starts.  I will get back to my normal posting pace this fall!  Thanks for understanding!

Miss any posts?  Here are the most recent:

Gathering Ideas for a Shabby-Chic Bedroom

A Gathering of Books:  June 2013

A Gathering Under the Trees

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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 Books: June 2013

RachaelReads
If you have known me long, you know how passionate I am about reading.  I go through reading spurts, but without fail, summer is my reading peak.  This summer is no exception.  We don’t have cable and rarely turn on the television.  I love to read late into the night, at the pool or during any free moments that open up.  I thought I would share with you what I have been reading this month and offer my take!
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The first book I finished up in June was Follow Me by David Platt. I have read Radical by David Platt and his follow-up, Radical Together. Both challenged me immensely. Follow Me flows in the same vein of the Radical books. The emphasis is on our mission as followers of Christ. As we see when Jesus first calls his first disciples, becoming fishers of men is the emphasis. David Platt opens our eyes and challenges us to step into our mission to share the gospel wherever we are.

For a reason I can’t exactly pinpoint, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the Radical books. Perhaps it was because of the commonalities to his previous books. If you haven’t read David Platt before, I would recommend starting with Radical or Radical Together (my favorite), then if you like those, move onto Follow Me. Radical is also a fantastic book to do as a small group series, perhaps the most life-impacting study I have done as a small group.  His video teaching sessions are a must if you decide to do this study.

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The next book I finished in June was Telex from Cuba.  With the extensive time I have spent in Cuba, I am fascinated with Cuban history and Cuban life.  This is historical fiction.  It is a fictional account based on life in eastern Cuba and in Havana during the revolution of the 1950’s.  I enjoyed this so much.  I can’t quite tell you what it is like reading about events that were happening at exactly the time my father was living in Havana as a teenager.  I feel connected to him in ways I never appreciated before.  But even if you aren’t a lover of Cuban history, I think you will find this novel enjoyable.

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I recently discovered Jonathan Martin on Rachel Held Evan’s blog post, Ask a Pentecostal.  I started listening to his sermons (which you can find here) and have been transformed by his storytelling and down-to-Earth approach to the Kingdom.  So, when I saw that he had a new book coming out, I ordered  Prototype immediately.  The book reminds me of his preaching.  He is a fantastic story-teller, and the book made me feel like I was sitting down having a conversation with a friend.  It got me thinking about how God perceives me in a way I have honestly never considered in my entire church-going life.  I gobbled the book up quickly and have been digesting it ever since.  (My boy on a bike moment?  Girl on a school bus…. looking out at God’s creation, sensing His love for me in a way I can never adequately describe.  Read the book and you will understand what those last sentences were about.)  Do yourself a favor and READ THIS!

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This book has quite a story behind it.  I have been a fan of Ken Follett since I read one of my favorite novels of all time, Pillars of the Earth.  I loved the follow-up, World Without End, almost as much.  A few years ago, he came out with part one of a three-part historical fiction series.  It was called Fall of Giants.  I am normally not at all captivated by world history (I’m a bit shamed to admit) and was skeptical about Fall of Giants taking place during World War I.  I read it anyway, and loved it almost as much as Pillars of the Earth.  I patiently waited for part two to come out (years later) and for over six months have waited for it to come out in paperback.  To my delight, I saw the book at my local library.  However, it was a 14 day rental and the book is over 900 pages.  I set a goal and started reading…..

I finished it in less than a week.  Basically, I read late into the night every night and spent a couple of days curled up in my bedroom with the book.  It did not disappoint.  Ken Follett writes epic, sweeping novels with believable, lovable characters.  I found myself intensely interested in World War II history, which is a miracle in of itself.  I highly recommend Ken Follett.  But I would start with Pillars of the Earth.

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I haven’t actually finished Havana Nocturne.  I started it a few nights ago, and decided to include it in my June reading list.  I don’t typically read non-fiction unless it is a Christian author.  This book has been in my bookcase for a couple of years now, though, and with my piqued interest in Cuban history, I thought it was a perfect choice for my next read.

Bible Study:

I try to never read anything at the expense of Bible study.  In my Bible in One Year app, I have been working my way through I and II Samuel, John and Acts, and continue to read through Psalms and Proverbs.  I was a little sad to finish the gospels, which are always life-altering, but Acts is a good reward.  I love reading about the early church.

Our small groups in Gathering are also doing a Bible study based entirely on the book of Malachi.

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What a study.  Our previous church offered Blemished as a small group study several times, and I always heard rave reviews of it.  For whatever reason, I was never able to go through the study, so I jumped at the opportunity to do it now.  I am facilitating the study at our weekly small group, which pushes me to dig a little deeper than perhaps I would otherwise.  This study forces me to look at what I offer God, my priorities and most of all, my motives.  It is eye-opening and tough and making an impact on my spiritual life.

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There you have it!  That’s what I have been reading in June.  Even though I have an iPad, I can’t seem to let go of holding an actual book.  Anyone else feel the same way?  What are you reading these days?  I would love any recommendations. Hopefully you will get another set of book reviews at the end of July!

sig Missed any posts? Here are the most recent:
A Gathering Under the Trees
A Gathering of Links XIV

You can also follow me HERE!