Our Wheat-free, Almost Paleo Diet

When my husband came home from the doctor a few months ago and told me his doctor recommend a wheat-free diet, my heart momentarily sunk.  I have a long, complicated relationship with food.  While I have never had terrible eating habits, my motivation for eating healthy food was mostly so that I could indulge in whatever I wanted later on.  When I heard wheat-free, I immediately started thinking of all the things I couldn’t eat if we chose this nutritional path.

Then I started some research.  Diabetes runs in my husband’s family, and he has been on medicine for “pre-diabetes” for quite some time.  His doctor assured him that cutting all wheat from his diet would lead to weight loss and getting rid of the medicine.  Our doctor himself is on a wheat-free diet.

I won’t go into the science of why many scientists and doctors are recommending the diet, but our doctor recommends the book Wheat Belly as a starting place.

I also happen to have a brother who adheres to the Paleo diet and sings the praises of the health benefits he has experienced.  Paleo goes a few steps beyond eating wheat-free.  Again, I won’t go into the science of it, but you can read more about it here.

Our family has landed somewhere in the middle.  We are eating a strictly wheat-free diet, and are getting closer to a strictly Paleo diet, although we occasionally consume rice, potatoes, corn, and dairy.  For us, the changes have been drastic.  I try not to focus on numbers, but in about  6 weeks, I have lost 13 pounds.  I feel more energetic overall and feel better about the foods I am putting into my body.  We attempt to eat the highest quality foods possible, buying mostly organic and buying high-quality meats from the Noblesville Real Food Market.  We have cut out nearly all processed foods and very rarely eat out.

If I were a food blogger, I would have fantastic photos to share with you of the kinds of meals we eat.  A food blogger I am not.  However, I will share with you what a typical weeks looks like for us, just to get you thinking.

*Please note that nearly all of the ingredients should be organic and high-quality.  Also, these are not recipes, but merely examples of a meal plan.

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Egg Muffins
Monday:

Breakfast:  Egg muffins (made on Sunday) with organic eggs, chicken sausage, mushrooms, onion, and green pepper

Lunch:  Chicken sausage hash (same that I used in egg muffins), organic red pepper slices, fruit salad

Dinner:  Large spinach/baby green salad with artichoke hearts, heart of palm, tomato, cucumber, mushroom, feta cheese, kalamata olives, red/green peppers, onion, and protein of choice (shredded chicken, chicken sausage, pastrami, bacon, etc.)

Tuesday:

Breakfast:  Pre-made egg muffins

Lunch:  Pastrami wrapped red peppers, mixed nuts, Greek yogurt, cucumber slices

Dinner:  Broiled tuna steaks, sweet potato oven-fries

Wednesday:  

Breakfast:  Last of the egg muffins

Lunch:  Large bowl of tomato salad with feta, basil, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper

Dinner:  Oven-fried chicken (breaded with almond meal, corn meal, and spices), pumpkin sautéed in pork lard, spices and maple syrup

Chickenedited pumpedited Oven-fried chicken and sautéed pumpkin

Thursday:

Breakfast:  Egg scramble with ham, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions and feta.

Lunch:  Avocado topped with bacon, berries

Dinner:  Chicken sausage (cut into chunks), sautéed with lots of red and green peppers, onion and spices.  sautéed kale, spinach and beet greens as a side.

Friday:

Breakfast:  Chorizo hash with potatoes and onion, fried egg served on top

Lunch:  Canned tuna mixed with olive tapenade, served on gluten-free crackers, pear

Dinner:  Ground pork meatballs with marinara, roasted broccoli, salad

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Please remember that I am by no means an expert.  I am just getting started and am learning as I go and I do not strictly adhere to the Paleo diet.  My favorite Paleo blog is Nom Nom Paleo.  Do yourself the favor and download the Nom Nom Paleo app for iPad if you have one.  It is the best food app I have ever seen, with detailed shopping lists, easy to follow recipes and huge photos of the food.  There are also so many great blogs, books and recipes if you are interested in learning more about this lifestyle.

I am really thrilled with the transformation in our eating habits.  I no longer crave carbs (although I emotionally crave ice-cream from time to time!) and am eating more fresh produce than I ever have.  Our entire family is losing weight and feeling better.  I’m even adjusting the way I feed my guests when we have company.  I am learning that if my body is truly a temple of the Holy Spirit, it is my responsibility to take care of its every component.

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What about you?  Have you heard much about the Paleo or wheat-free lifestyle?  Would it be hard for you to make this kind of change?  Do you have any tips for this wheat-free/Paleo beginner?  I would love your feedback!  If you want a more detailed recipe from the foods mentioned above, just comment and I will get back to you.

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What Kind of Person?

Dear Dad, Letter 1

A Gathering of Links XV

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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.

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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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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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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:
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Gathering to Heal
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A Gathering Under the Trees

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I have this character flaw that sometimes can be a blessing.  I am a perfectionist, at least in some areas of my life.  In college, I had panic attacks frequently and wouldn’t settle for anything less than an A.  This characteristic turns from being useful to being a flaw when I simply don’t do something because I can’t do it perfectly.

Every year I want to have a picnic on or around June 21st to celebrate the longest days of the year.  Every year we don’t do it because in my mind, our picnic must be perfect.  I need a beautiful tablecloth, my Longaberger picnic basket filled with cloth napkins, beautifully packaged gourmet food, real silverware, candles and perfectly dressed attendees.  Sound ridiculous?

Sadly, this kind of perfectionism keeps me from doing so many things in my life.  Some days I leave my house messy because I don’t have three hours to make it perfect.  I don’t start a book if I know I won’t finish it within a few days.  I want to learn more about photography, but don’t consider myself artistic enough to ever be a professional.  I don’t cook a meal because I know it won’t be as good as the meals Jimmie makes.  On and on it goes.

Last Thursday I came face to face with this character flaw.  Ava was leaving the following morning for a 9-day trip with my mom.  I told her we would go on a picnic that night so we could spend some quality time together.  As usual, life happened and I didn’t get to pack the perfect picnic basket.  So, instead of postponing like I normally would have, we went to Marsh, picked up a bunch of random food, and headed to Forest Park with an old blanket, grocery sacks, and paper plates.

It was divine.

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We had Pringles, stuffed peppers and garlic mushrooms from the Olive bar, summer sausage with cheese and crackers, baked potato salad from the deli, and iced tea and coconut water. Weird? Yes. But we ate to our heart’s content.

Ava talked about what she was looking forward to most on her trip. She played at the playground while I read under the giant evergreen. In those moments, it didn’t matter that I didn’t have my beautiful tablecloth or gourmet food. All that mattered was that we were with our little girl.

As I snapped a few photos, I realized that I have learned something from my new camera. I used to think there were certain moments that were photo-worthy…. birthdays, special outings, holidays and momentous occasions. My camera has taught me that special moments take place in the mundane events of my everyday life. It didn’t matter to me that the picnic wasn’t something that wasn’t magazine worthy. I wanted to capture it anyway. My standards of perfection too frequently limit me from embracing each and every moment as a gift from God. Instead of waiting for perfection, I instead want to find the beauty in my everyday life. I want to be quick to say, “YES!” when an opportunity comes my way, not worrying about living up to some unrealistic standard that no-one holds me to except for myself.

I will be quick to see the beauty when sitting under a tree, leaned against my husband, reading a book. I will relish in the joyous laughter of my daughter on the monkey bars. I will pause and notice the way the evening light streams through the trees. I will see God in it all and I will be thankful.

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Do you struggle with the need to be perfect?  Does it keep you from living your life to the fullest?  What are some of the most mundane details of your life that you find inspiring or beautiful?

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I Gather a Letter of Love (Happy Birthday, Jimmie)

Dear Jimmie,

Today is your birthday.  You are 32 and I realize that I have spent over half of my life loving you.  I can’t remember the exact moment I fell in love, but I remember whispering to a friend at such a young age, “I will marry him.”

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The road hasn’t been easy.  Not by any means.  You comforted me through the greatest loss I faced at 16.  You patiently waited while I searched for something or someone to fill up that hole in my heart.  Had I only paid attention from the start, I would have realized that your unselfish love always pointed me to the only one who could fill that void.

We were too young.  Of course we were.  And yet I knew, I knew, I KNEW… God had sent you into my life.  He sent me into yours.  I had lost the man I loved all of my childhood, and God sent you to me early…. a precious gift.  I would never trade even one of those early years.  Married at 19 simply means we have had more years to love each other.

I haven’t forgotten.  The day you forgave… instantly… my transgressions with a gracious embrace that turned me toward the light and freedom of love.  That is who you are.  One who forgives.

The rocky road we walked, recognizing that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.

We had weaknesses, let’s not forget.

And then we had the kind of new beginning that only a resurrected Savior can offer.  You loved me through those times and I will never forget.   You chose me over and over again, demonstrating the kind of love that has no boundaries, made possible only by your continual choice to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit.

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I witnessed as you and I propelled, as the minister prophesied…. propelled into a ministry that was more terrifying and rewarding than I ever could have imagined.  We walked those dusty streets in the tropical sun, and were reborn again.  Reborn into a purpose beyond anything we could ask or think.  I watched you transform into an empty, willing vessel.  And I was proud.

Despite your youth, you proclaimed the gospel, stood for justice and mercy, held your ground, and poured yourself into people and purpose.  Your compassion and love for humanity poured from you, in prayers, lifestyle and conversation.

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I will never forget what it felt like to be united for a common purpose in a strange land that somehow felt like home…. away from everything and everyone familiar, we walked hand-in-hand through the new terrain. Our marriage and our love were reborn and we have never been the same.

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Some people have us all wrong, thinking I am strong because I communicate more.  Or thinking I am the forgiving one because I put on a smile in the midst of heartbreak and anger.

But you…. you exude strength.  You are filled with the strength that comes only from having an unquestionable purpose.  You work and pray and work and pray to see the Kingdom come.  You forgive freely, praying earnestly for your enemies.  You are so filled with the love of God that it spills out into all aspects of your life.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

When I interject my name in the place of “love” in this passage from Corinthians, I feel like a liar.  When I interject your name, Jimmie, I feel like I am accurately describing so many aspects of your personality.  You have loved me patiently, in spite of my irritability and stubbornness.  You are kind to all.  On and on it goes.  You endure all things.  Your love never ends.

You are the human face of God’s love in my life.  You love me enough to call me out on my nonsense.  You love me enough to make space for my gifts and callings.  You love me enough to forgive, time and time again, no matter how great or small the offense.  You love me enough to pull me up when I’m sinking.  You love me enough to point me to Jesus…. every time.

rachael

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I have never gushed about you in public like this.  I know you prefer to fly under the radar.  I know you never want people to see you, only Jesus.  But today you are 32 and I celebrate you.  I honor you.  And I can only hope to love you the way you love all.

Happy Birthday.

Yours,

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A Gathering of Links XII

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It’s that time again!  I love linking you up to my favorite posts of the week and this week there are a LOT!  First, some highlights from my week…

We had a relaxing three-day weekend, spent mostly at home.

Some exciting things are on the horizon for Gathering!

Ava had her last day of school and is home for the summer!

A long-time friend was married, seemed incredibly happy and had a gorgeous wedding.  Here we are, getting ready to leave for the celebration:

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We actually planted at the community garden!  All of my husband’s hard work is finally paying off.  The garden is looking fantastic and we are all eager to taste the (literal) fruits of our labor!

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Now let’s get to it and link you up!

My most read post of the week was Gathering Self-Control (and an announcement).  Thanks for all of the positive feedback!  We now have at least 10 adults committing to all or part of this challenge.  Day 1 down.  Lots to go.

Marriage and Family:

On Loving Well from Narrow Paths to Higher Places.  I can’t tell you how much this post resonated with me.  My love language is also acts of service, and I found myself relating to so much of what she discussed, especially after having just written What I Gather About Myself as Mom!  Love this post!

At A Holy Experience, When strong mamas feel quite weak.  This was so insightful.

From Lisa-Jo Baker, How to Fall in Love.  Again.  Because we all must choose to fall in love over and over again.

Spiritual Reflection:

At A Deeper Story, Lessons from a Fundamental Baptist on Memorial Day.  I enjoyed this perspective.

Food Love:

Info about the paleo diet at Simple Mom.  Our family is attempting to transition to a more paleo-friendly diet and I found this really helpful.

Fried pickles at A Beautiful Mess, because who doesn’t love fried pickles??

Also at A Beautiful Mess, Three Super Healthy Salads.  Because months and months of no sweets = new food choices necessary.

For Fun:

I’m going to make these Washi Wildflowers from Girl in the Garage with Ava.  They are so cheerful and I love that they won’t ever wilt.

So.  Funny.  From Jen Hatmaker, Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.  This made me laugh out loud.  Truly.

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So there you have it!  Those were my favorite blog posts from the week.  What are you reading these days?  Have you discovered any new blogs I need to check out?  I would love to hear from you.  I hope your weekend was fantastic and that the coming week is full of sunshine and joy!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to Rachael Gathers and get posts delivered right to your inbox!  You can do that HERE!

 

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Gathering at a Garden

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My husband has been working tirelessly to get a community garden off the ground in our city.  He is a recent convert to gardening, but has been a huge proponent of initiatives to develop community as long as I can remember.  His passion and vision are contagious, and he has been rewarded for his efforts with grants and a lot of community support.

A few weeks ago, when it felt like winter would never end, he was talking about his anticipation to get out and work in the garden.  His comments were met with hesitation and overall lack of enthusiasm on my part.  I was all for the garden IN THEORY, but have never been the outdoorsy type and have killed basically every living thing I have ever planted in the ground.  Then my husband said something that made me laugh.

“There’s something inherent in all of us that wants to get our hands in the soil and work the land.  God put it there.”

I know, I know.  I shouldn’t have laughed, but I did.  I wasn’t buying it, not for a moment.  Yet, in an effort to show my support for my husband and the IDEA of a community garden, I volunteered to go out and help on a beautiful spring day.

It seems like I have been saying this a lot on my blog lately…. but…. my husband was right.

I loved being out there.  I spent about four hours digging trenches, preparing to lay cement blocks for raised beds.  The whole family was there, along with some lovely people who are helping in the endeavor.  Isabel ran around, picking up rocks and running through the open fields.  Ava worked and worked HARD.  As we dug the trenches, she pulled up the heavy sod.  For hours.  That child has some drive in her. (Where did she get THAT?)  Jimmie and his dad laid out the garden plots.  We found worms, got some sun, and made some serious headway.

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Jimmie and his dad, laying out the lines for the beds.
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 Ava, carrying a heavy clump of sod.  This girl loves to be outside and works hard.
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 Isabel and Ava, working with David.  Those girls love their Pa-Pa.
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I enjoyed it so much that I tagged along again last weekend.  This time, we evened out the trenches to lay the cement blocks.  I measured, added soil where needed, dug out more where needed, tamped, carried 35 pound cement blocks and got a substantial sunburn.  I still don’t regret it, even after days of sore muscles and sunburn.

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I loved meeting Audrey.  She is a master gardener and did a fantastic job getting the blocks level!
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Our friends Matt and Thomas, working on gluing the blocks with Jimmie.  It was funny seeing them in this context. 
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We met some really friendly and hard-working people out there!  I hope to see more of them this spring and summer.IMG_2822
My brother Michael, tamping the ground to make it level.

There’s just something about being outside.  I have neglected God’s creation for too long, preferring instead the luxuries of climate controlled houses and ever-present technological “connectedness.”  I trade a nice, long walk through trails for TV time.  Instead of eating meals outdoors in wide, open spaces, we huddle around our kitchen table.  In place of spending time on our front porch in the evenings, meeting neighbors, we hole up in our individual rooms, doing our own thing.  Instead of appreciating the beauty of God’s creation, I surround myself with the not-so-impressive creation of man.

I’ve had enough.  Something is awakening inside me.  Even as I read scripture, I am noticing just how much of ALL THE AMAZING THINGS happened outside.  I see Jesus calling his disciples while they are fishing.  I see a pretty special sermon happening on a hill.  I read some of the most powerful moments of prayer in the life of Jesus taking place in a desert or in a garden.  I see miracles happening while on the sea.

So while I may never be a master gardener or have the green thumb of my mother, I am making an effort this season to not only get outside with my girls more, but to spent a substantial amount of time at the community garden… tilling soil, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting….. making connections with people in my community….. and getting in touch with my Creator and his creation.

How do you make the most of the outdoors?  What are your favorite outdoor activities?  Do you garden?  Do you feel more connected to God when you are outside?  Tell me your stories!

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