A Gathering of Links XI

We are wrapping up a three-day weekend here in the Rennard house.  It was spent almost entirely at home, which brought much-needed relaxation and family time…. not to mention all of the spring cleaning and yard-work we finished!

I have been experimenting with my new camera and more with Photoshop.  The following photos are from the last week.  No editing was done other than cropping and making them sepia.  Can you tell I love my new camera? I have so much to learn, but am having such a great time in the process!

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We have blooms on our peony bushes as well! Peonies are my favorite flowers. My step-dad gave me three of his bushes two years ago. Last year I didn’t have any blooms. This year? Two. Our hope is that next year we will have an abundance of blooms. The two we have are gorgeous.

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Now, what you have been waiting for! My favorite links from this week!

My most popular post of the week was:

What I Gather About Myself as Mom – Thanks for all of the positive feedback.  I appreciate your honesty and the grace you show to me when I open myself up to you!

Spiritual Reflection:

Windbag speeches:  The Cruelty of Talking Too Much from Brian Zahnd

At A Deeper Story, When God Feels Like an Abusive Father

For Fun:

Because sometimes you just need satire in your life…. A Great Gatsby Book Report by a Kid Who Only Saw the Movie.

Book Love:

At Modern Mrs. Darcy, 2013 Summer Reading Guide.  You have to subscribe to the blog to download the reading guide, but it is so worth it!  I rely so heavily on book recommendations before reading anything new.  Having someone put together a list like this makes my reading life so much easier!

Food Love:

Because who doesn’t love Loaded Nachos?  From Pioneer Woman

Friends Who Blog:

My dear friend over at Becoming Whitney always makes me smile and motivates me to get crafty!

Jen at Girl in the Garage amazes me with her DIY projects!

Mindy’s words are beautiful and lead me closer to Jesus… at How to Mend a Broken Life (follow her on Pinterest, too!  Her boards are GORGEOUS!)

And finally…

I don’t usually recommend TV shows, but I just finished season 2 of Call the Midwife.  It is warm and touching and grapples with issues of motherhood, poverty, gender roles and service.  If you are going to watch anything this summer, watch this!  It is free on Netflix, can be watched for free on PBS online, or can be ordered on Amazon.  My understanding is that the show is based on the journals of a midwife in London in the 1950’s.  Her journals have been turned into a trilogy of books, so I will be reading the books soon!

What about you?  What have you been reading lately?  Have you watched any good TV shows or movies?  I would love to hear what is happening in your world.

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A Gathering of Links X

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I haven’t compiled a link list for a couple of weeks, so today you are getting the best of the best!

Thanks to all of you, my top posts from the last few weeks were…..

Langstons Gather

What I Gather about $5,200 and Braces and

What I Gather about Chelsea

I really love being able to share my heart and experiences with all of you, and I especially love the feedback I get from my posts.

Now, for the best of the best.

Spiritual Inspiration:

From Rachel Held Evans - Is God’s Presence Limited to Scripture? and Ask a Pentecostal

From Jen Hatmaker at A Deeper Story – Wherever it Rises

From Nish Weiseth – A Personal Revival

When Our Exceptions Cannot Be Our Rules at See Preston Blog

Friendship:

At A Deeper Story – The Friendship Divorce

Love and Marriage:

A must-read from Sarah Bessey.

Parenting:

You Are Not My Work of Art at A Deeper Story.

From  A Bowl Full of Lemons – Snack Ideas for Summer

I’m also excited to share a couple of books I’m currently reading.

Follow Me by David Platt.  If you haven’t read David Platt’s books, I would highly recommend them to you.  Also, find some of his sermons online!  He is a passionate and dynamic speaker.

I recently heard of Jonathan Martin and ordered his new book, Prototype.  There is also a lot of buzz about one of his recent sermons.  I am halfway through the sermon and now understand what all the buzz is about.  You can listen to his sermon, Obscurity, here along with many other sermons.

I will leave you with some of my favorite Instagrams from the last few weeks.

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What I Gather about Chelsea

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Becoming an aunt at age 11 has some advantages. Sadly, having nieces and nephews in my life now, while preoccupied with my own marriage, children, home and job, often means I don’t spend much time with them. Chelsea was a different story. I had always been the baby of the family, so when Chelsea was born, I was beyond thrilled to lavish my attention and affection on her. I mean, how cool is it to have a niece at age 11? We were always pretty close. I loved her from the start.

In November of 2011, Chelsea was coming back from a three-month stay with missionaries in Poland. She was 19 and not quite ready financially to get her own place, yet felt too old to move back into her parents’ house. Naturally, loving her the way I do, I offered her a room in our house. Thus began the 16 months of living with Chelsea.

On Sunday I am driving her across many states so she can start a life in Jersey City. It has been sad watching her pack and make plans for a life that won’t include me as much. I have grown accustomed to our chats, laughs, outings and fun. So today, in honor of Chelsea, I present to you….. WHAT I GATHER ABOUT CHELSEA.

1. Chelsea is fun. Maybe that sounds generic to you, but it means a lot to me. I take myself way too seriously most days and Chelsea has, well, helped me to lighten up. She is always smiling and laughing. There is no human on earth I would rather watch a funny movie or TV show with. She laughs from her heart, abandoning all self-awareness in whatever comedic moment is happening. Don’t underestimate this quality. I wish I had it. She brings genuine light and laughter to any situation. I would say this quality will serve her well in the harsh realities of life.

2. Chelsea is kind. I’m not turning a blind eye to her faults, people. She can be judgemental. Just ask her about our “red light” game sometime. However, I truly believe she has a kind and loving nature. I have witnessed this most when watching her interact with my children. Chelsea has lots of friends and social engagements, but when Ava or Isabel ask for one-on-one attention from her, she gives it freely. I have watched the way she whole-heartedly loves my kids and the kids at the preschool where she works. She doesn’t with-hold her love, but gives affection freely.

3. Chelsea listens. This one was a struggle for us. Chelsea came into our home with some questions and let me just say it, some issues. It hasn’t always been a smooth road for us, but once I recognized that my approach mattered in dealing with Chelsea, we crossed some pretty monumental barriers. When I approach Chelsea in love, she listens to what I have to say, even if she doesn’t agree with me. We have had so many long talks late into the night, discussing God’s plans for her future. Those talks, though not always easy, always left me feeling encouraged about her destination. Her path may not be the path I would have chosen, but I believe her destination will be the right one for her.

4. Chelsea dreams. Sometimes I have been the reality check for Chelsea with her big dreams, but I don’t ever want to stifle this part of her nature. If she is able to season her dreaming nature with responsibility and hard-work, there is no telling what dreams can come true for this girl. I think so often we are so full of reason that we talk ourselves out of the beauty of our dreams. Chelsea has huge hopes when it comes to her relationships, working in foreign places, seeing the beauty of the world and her walk with God. I believe this explains the spark in her eye and the joy that radiates from her. Her dreams are big and beautiful.

5. Chelsea loves God. I have never doubted this about Chelsea. This is a credit to her parents, her upbringing at a great church and to a God who is relentless in his pursuit of Chelsea. She has hit some rough spots along the way. She has had opportunities to lose faith and turn her back on God, but she never has. She has served in her church from a young age, and even now she is planning how she can serve in the church in Jersey City. I don’t know where Chelsea will end up (hopefully close to me!), but I believe with all my heart she will spend her life loving and serving God.

I will stop my list at 5 today. If I’m honest, there are days when I worry about Chelsea. I worry about her heading off to a big city on her own. I wonder if she has all of the tools she needs to thrive and make a life for herself. Yet, right now, when I look at this list, I feel peace flood my mind.

CHELSEA IS FUN
CHELSEA IS KIND
CHELSEA LISTENS
CHELSEA DREAMS
CHELSEA LOVES GOD

She will be the first to tell you she is not perfect, but I don’t know if she could be better equipped than she is with these five qualities. She often jokes that her time in our home should be teaching me how I DON’T want my girls to turn out. Really, though, I would be a proud mom if Ava and Isabel walk into their adulthood with the qualities Chelsea possesses.

So, Chelsea, know that you are loved by the Rennards. I wouldn’t trade this year and a half for anything. You have been like a sister to me a friend. You have opened yourself up to learn the lessons you were intended to learn while living here, and I have learned from you. You will be missed. Not the messes you leave everywhere you go, I won’t miss that. But I will miss your laughter, your sincerity, your big dreams and your love. Please know that you will always have our love and support and can always consider our house a second (or third) home.

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A Gathering of Links IX

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Happy Monday to you all!  It is a beautiful, warm, sunny day in central Indiana and I couldn’t be happier about it!  We have a lot going on in our world.  Friday we had a Mad Men themed going away party for my niece, which was a blast.  We had a huge turnout for the community garden workday last week.  Ava is taking ISTEP this week and Isabel is at a campground with my mom.  I am trying to soak in all the time I can with my niece before she (*tear) moves out.

I have lots of great links to share with you today, but first I want to share some exciting news….

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Agnes has a sponsor! A huge THANK YOU to the special family who will be making an impact on this precious girl’s life. I can’t thank you enough. I had hoped to have more sponsors by now, but I believe the seed has been planted and we will see more of these kids sponsored very soon! (If you are interested and missed our big promotion, please see this SPONSOR AN ORPHAN link)

Also, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the way all of you received my most popular post of the week, A (Re)Gathering of Faith.  It was my most popular post in the history of Rachael Gathers, thanks to all of your shares.  I was so moved by the comments and messages I received from so many of you responding to my story.  Sometimes I hesitate before I hit “publish” on personal stories, but the feedback from you reminded me that we all struggle and we can draw strength from the testimonies of one another.

So, let’s get to it!  Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and check out some of the best links from the WWW this week!

Spiritual Inspiration:

From Winn Collier, Revolutionary Shepherd.

At Mary DeMuth, Candace’s Crazy Beautiful Story of Healing.

From A Deeper Church, Not Just Bread, Not Just Wine.

From Narrow Paths to Higher Places, On Loving Well: A Stone’s Throw Pt. 1.

At A Holy Experience, 6 Books When You’re Looking for Change.

From Sarah Bessey, In Which We Need to Ask Questions that Have No Answers.

Food Love:

At A Cozy Kitchen, The Best Tabbouleh Salad.

For Laughs:

At It Just Gets Stranger, Dear Vague Facebook Status Poster.

And my very favorite post of the week, beautiful and challenging and straight from the Bible:

From Brian D. McLaren, a compilation of “one another’s” in the New Testament.

What have you been into this week?  I would love your comments about your favorite blogs, books, TV shows, movies or activities these days.  Have a blessed week!

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A Gathering of Links VIII

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Insight and Inspiration:

From Guy at A Deeper Family, on sadness.

From Sarah Bessey.  Yes to this!

This inspired me…. over at Sarah Markley.

For the Home:

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

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

Marriage Talk:

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

Food Love:

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

Just Because:

This video over at Design Mom is beautiful and moving.

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

Instagram’s Envy Effect by Shauna Niequist

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

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

A Gathering of Links VI

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

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

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

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

Easter Reflection:

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

From Melissa Greene at A Deeper Story, Easter Snow.

From Kathy Escobar, Easter Hope(less).

At A Deeper Story, The Red Balloon.

For Spiritual Inspiration:

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

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

From Sarah Markley, Kneeling in the Dirt.

Turning Hate Mail Into Origami from Rachel Held Evans.

Parenting:

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

On Marriage:

Addie at A Deeper Story:  Unequally Yoked.

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

Home Inspiration:

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

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

Food Love:

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

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

And…

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

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

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

 

A Gathering of Links IV

blog2-1I heard on Thursday that the temperature in Indiana a year ago this week reached 80 degrees.  It has been so, so cold here and all I want to do is hibernate until spring comes with its warmth.  Contributing to my blah mood was a week spent with a sick baby.

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She was so pitiful.  Thankfully, being holed up in the house, both unwilling and unable to leave, I at least had some good reading material.  I hope you enjoy my favorites from this past week or so.

My most popular post was Gathering Delight.  I truly appreciate all of the positive feedback in response to this post.  Let’s remember to be honest with each other about our shortcomings as parents.  We can draw from each other’s strength and stories to become the parents I know we can be.

My personal favorite post from my blog was A Gathering of Cuba Photos.  It took me back to a land I love.  Plus, I spent hours editing photos for the first time in Photoshop.  It’s a process, but one day I hope to have a clue what I’m doing!

Parenting:

From The Actual Pastor:  To Parents of Small Children… this made its way around the Internet this week!  I think so many parents of young children need to hear they are doing a good job.

From Luke at A Deeper Family.

Love:

From Sarah Bessey:  I love her “In which [love looks like]” posts.  The openness with which she speaks about her love for her husband and their journey is simply beautiful.

Spiritual Inspiration:

From A Holy Experience:  I love this idea of A Grace Garden for Easter.  What a fantastic way to create something beautiful with our kids to remind ourselves of the grace of God!

From Jen at A Deeper Family.  I love this post about being real with one another.

For Fun:

Design Mom’s Nigellissima.  I have been somewhat obsessed with Nigella for about ten years now.  I was thrilled to see that someone else has fallen in love with her.

At A Beautiful Mess… because who doesn’t love hummus?

If I were just a little more motivated to be crafty, I would make these salt dough eggs from Design Mom with the girls.

Please let me know if you like any of these links!  Also, what have been your favorite posts this week?  Are you reading anything worthwhile?  I would love to hear from you.

Finally, have you subscribed to my blog yet??  If not, please do!  Just enter your e-mail address where it says “Follow Rachael Gathers” above my picture on the top right of my blog.  You will receive a link to each new blog post.  Your e-mail address will not be used for any other purposes.  You can also follow Rachael Gathers in your favorite RSS feed using the RSS button at the top of my home page.  Next to that button you also have the opportunity to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.  Whew, that’s a lot!! Thanks and enjoy the last night of your weekend!