Using The Lord’s Prayer as a Pattern

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When I reflect on my life and progression as a follower of Jesus, few things show such marked growth as my prayer life.  I don’t say that to impress you, let me assure you.  My prayer life has highs and lows, lulls and progressions, and even shallowness and depth.

My parents taught me to pray by example.  They were a praying set.  One of my fondest memories of my dad is hearing him in the prayer room before church, praying in Spanish.  Now I often do the same.  My early prayers were typically selfish and short, but I imagine God was pleased that I was talking to him at all.  As I grew up, I prayed for longer periods of time, with a bit more consistency and more on the behalf of others.

In my teenage years, I heard a message on using The Lord’s Prayer as a pattern in our prayer lives.  My prayers have never been the same.

Just think about it, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  Jesus himself responds and says, “pray like this.”  Whatever follows the “like this” is pretty important in my book.  Jesus wasn’t asking us to recite word for word the prayer time after time.   He was giving us an important glimpse into the spiritual realm and how we should be spending our time in communication with God.

Here is my very brief take on using the Lord’s prayer as a pattern. (You can see Matthew 6 and Luke 11 to read the prayer in context.)  There is a lot of information on this topic in books and online if you’d like to know more.  I also have a printable guide to stick into your Bible.  If you’re interested, e-mail me at rachael@wearegathering.org

Our Father in heaven

We recognize we are talking to our heavenly father who loves us and wants what is best for us.

We acknowledge this and thank him.

Hallowed be your name

A time for worship and praise.

His name deserves to be glorified.

We enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

We align ourselves with the plan and purpose of God.

Not my will but yours be done.

Pray for God’s kingdom to come to our lives, our church, & our world.

We desire to glorify God by making disciples of all nations.

Give us this day our daily bread

A time to bring our requests before God.

Recognize he knows what we need before we even ask.

Our requests should align with the plan of God.

And forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors

Acknowledge any bitterness or anger we are harboring.

Forgive the person and pray for them.

Only then do we repent and ask for forgiveness.

We turn away from our sin toward God.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

Pray for the enemy to have no place in our lives.

Pray for God to empower us to walk in righteousness and holiness.

(Doxology) For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

We can end our prayer with worship and praise.

We ask all in the name of Jesus.

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There are a few components of the Lord’s prayer that are important to notice.  First, notice the pronouns.  Jesus used “our” and “us” instead of “my” and “me.”  We should not be selfish in our prayers!  Including others in every component of our prayer time allows others to benefit from our prayers.  I often pray on behalf of my family, my community, my church and the global church.

As I have matured a bit in my prayer life, I have recognized that most of this pattern in the Lord’s prayer is devoted to getting my heart right.  I used to spend so much time praying for my list of wants and needs.  Now, I spend the majority of my time in repentance, acknowledging that God is Lord of my life, and aligning my life with HIS purpose and will.  When I take the time to get my heart aligned with the plan of God, my requests naturally are in alignment with his will.  When I am in a flow of the Spirit during my prayer time, I don’t necessarily have to spend an hour giving God my list of requests.  I simply speak them in faith, believing that God knows what I need before I even ask.

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There are certainly other forms of prayer, some of which I will cover in a post next week.  However, the Lord’s Prayer is what I come back to time after time in my prayer life.  I pepper in meditation, journaling, intercession, common prayers, and praying Scripture, but the majority of my prayer time follows this simple yet profound pattern.  Who, after all, is more qualified to teach us to pray than Jesus himself?

What about you?  Do you use the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern during your prayer time?  What other forms of prayer do you practice?  I would love your feedback!

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Dear Dad, Letter 2

Gathering Fashion Inspiration

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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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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.

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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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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A Gathering of Links XIV

What I Gather About Friends Without Fathers

Gathering for a Shabby Chic Baby Shower

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A Gathering of Links XIV

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Missed any posts?  Here are some of the latest:

What I Gather About Friends Without Fathers

What I Gather About Movement

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What I Gather About Movement

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The sun shines down on this open prairie.  The tall grass sways gently in the warm summer wind.

Our movements are slow.  Slower than my fast-paced mind wants to handle and slower than my hurried feet are used to walking.

He stands in front.  I am keenly aware of his presence, rightfully at the head.  We travel behind, dutifully, a line of obedient followers…. followers in every sense of the word.

He walks deliberately.  The placement of each footstep is carefully orchestrated.

I feel the pressure of the choice we must make with each passing moment.  Will we stay in step with him?

Or…

Will we cave into our innate desire to push ahead?

The thought crosses my mind that we all could make a faster path.  We could pass in front, going ahead of him.  We could make a new path to the right or the left.  None of us want to go back, but some moments even going backwards entices me more than the painstaking pace we walk now.

The words pass through my mind…. the kind of words I have learned not to ignore….. the words that speak life and light and direction…..

Alert to his movements.

We must be alert to his movements.  We must carefully and deliberately place our feet only in the steps he has already made ahead of us.

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To be alert to his movements, my senses must be heightened.  I must keep my eyes on him.  There are so many distractions in every direction.  My gaze must be fixed on him.

I must listen.  Perhaps he will give directions for navigating this terrain.  Perhaps I will miss his still, small voice if my ears are tuned to the noise and chaos surrounding me.

I must be patient.  He knows the pace I can handle, the pace that will cause me  to arrive at my destination at the proper time.  I must not go ahead, to the right or left, or especially backwards.  Perhaps a time will come to run.  Right now, I walk.

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Lord, let me be alert to your movements.  Where you lead, I will follow.  Let my pace be in perfect time with your footsteps ahead.  May my eyes be fixed on you and my ears tuned to your voice.  When you stop, I will stop.  When you give the directions to run, I will sprint with all that is within me.  When you warn of a stumbling block in my path, I will avoid it.  I have nothing to fear.  With the help of your Spirit inside of me, I will follow your directions and follow your lead.  No other path interests me.  No other leader will earn my trusting gaze.  No pace is too slow or too fast if you are before me.

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Don’t let me go a single step without your presence.  I am alert to your movements.

For love, I follow.

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. (Psalms 5:8)

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When was the last time you felt specific direction from God in regard to your movements?  Have you ever felt God asking you to speed up or slow down?  To look to Him for direction on your journey?

Love to all and have a blessed weekend!

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Missed any recent posts?  Here are the most popular from the last month?

A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

Gathering Self-Control

What I Gather About Accusations

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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 XIII

It is Monday and my links for you are late!  I know you will enjoy them equally, late or not!

But first…. Our weekend was busy with garden work, church, and a violin rehearsal and recital for Ava!  We were so proud of her.  She played beautifully from memorization.  All of the years of practicing and all of the money spent on lessons seemed worth it in that moment.  She is starting to make music with her instrument and her progress is a beautiful thing to witness.

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Her teacher has been a tremendous blessing to our family.  Ava has grown so much in her love for violin, willingness to practice, and overall sound of her playing.

Now, let’s get to it!  Here are my favorite links from the past week!

First of all, my most popular post from the last week was What I Gather About Accusations.  My approach in dealing with offenses has changed since I read this story differently.  Thank you to everyone for sharing the link to the post and for your feedback.  Hearing your feedback makes blogging worthwhile!

Spiritual Inspiration:

Sarah Bessey, In which you’re a pioneer.  On that note, why not check out the song Pionner by Rick Pino.  It moves me to tears every time I hear it.

At See Preston Blog, When I have made altars of sand in want of stone.  Beautiful and challenging.

From Nish Weiseth, A note for those in the valley.

Book Love:

From Simple Mom, What I’m reading this summer.

From Sarah Bessey, In which I have a (not so) serious problem.  I can so relate to this.

For Moms:

Playing from Sarah Markley.  This resonated with me.  I need to loosen up and play more.

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I just finished my first book on my summer reading list!  At the end of June, I will review the books I have read for all of you Rachael Gathers readers who love to read books!

I also want to say a huge THANK YOU to the very thoughtful Rachael Gathers reader who sent all three Call the Midwife books!  I won’t mention you by name, but please know that was such a happy surprise for me!  It really made my day.

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While I am thanking readers, I also got a really cool surprise in the mail a couple of months ago!  This little handmade purse (which Ava has claimed as her own!) was knitted with red yarn and recycled Target bags!  How cool is that idea?  I had never heard of this idea and was quite impressed at the ingenuity.

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I’m convinced I have the best readers anywhere, not just because two of you surprised me, but because so many of you inspire, challenge and encourage me.  Thank you!

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A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

What I Gather About Accusations

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