A Day of Sunflowers...

Just this morning, the first sunflower of the Atchley garden fully opened its bright, beautiful face. The timing could not have been more appropriate. In the language of flowers, the sunflower means, "I am proud of you!"

...and today is my identical twin daughters' 21st birthday. Their dad and I could not be more proud.

Happy Birthday, beautiful women!

Better Late Than Never...

I hate that I've been late entering the blogosphere. My reasons are good - number one being the fact that the computer I had was a used one, and constantly crashed. And the computer before that. And the computer before that. Fact is, until recently, I never had a computer that could have enabled me to blog. This one seems to work well now, and for that I am most grateful.

But the possibilities inherent in a blog are still being explored. In that sense, it is NOT too late, and so I've begun...

A couple weeks ago, I finished the book "Blog - Understanding the Information Reformation" by Hugh Hewitt. This book will inspire you to blog! The internet has truly become the Great Equalizer in terms of anyone, anywhere, getting their thoughts out there. But you do have to be quite good to even garner a single comment, much less continue blogging to anyone but your three best friends. Still, if I never got a single comment, I would continue to blog because it frees my thoughts. I have to "write it" before I know what I think about "it", whatever "it" might be.

And I am intensely grateful for the comments I receive. Every blogger lives for them! Yes, if these virtual pages are worthy of your time and brief attention, please do tell others to come visit me. I'll do my best to send them away blessed and encouraged, or at the very least, with some food for thought. Or a snack of an idea.

Choice bits from Hewitt's book:

"The blogosphere is evolving at an incredibly rapid pace, and a lot of the best mindspace is being claimed, but there remains incredible opportunity among the hundreds of millions who have yet to figure out that there is a better way to gain information than watching the tube."

"...None of us have time to understand everything, so we have to trust surrogates. People don't trust the old media with anything like the old level of confidence. "

"Change isn't coming. It is here. Information is being absorbed in new and startlingly different ways, from new, and until recently, unknown sources."

"...information is an essential element of freedom."

"From the 'big bang' of blogging, fifty thousand new virtual newspapers had been born, for that's what an "updated daily" blog is: a newspaper with one editor, and as many sources as he or she cares to link to."

"Anyone who wants a say can have it. Attention to that "say" must be earned."

"The genius lies not so much in the bloggers themselves, but in the transparent system they have created. In an era of polarized debate, the truth has never been more available. Thank the guys in the pajamas. And read them."

"(a blog is)...an agent of persuasion or dissemination."

"The blogosphere has been noticed by forward thinking people of faith!"

"Writers write for the same reasons today as they did in Homer's age. Blogging is just a new means of transmitting that writing, one that bypasses completely all editors."

"If you are a leader, then you ought to be blogging, and the folks you lead ought to be reading that blog. Every day, if possible. Most days, if not."

"Morning coffee will be shared by spouses not over the paper, but over the laptop."

"Fear or enthusiasm" (about blogging) "really doesn't matter. The blogosphere is a fact as real as a brick, and even though bricks can be used to build houses or hospitals or be thrown through windows or at heads, the reality of bricks doesn't change."

"The advantage of blogging is that it will oblige you to live in the world of ideas and debates, and to do so at the modern pace."

Well, I take issue with the last quote. I don't think everyone who blogs is obliged to live in the world of ideas. I've seen too many blogs that are little more than the middle-aged equivelent of the pink diary. All about "myself, my kid, my angst, my life, and what-I-will-be-doing-next-month", and very little in terms of ideas can be found on them. While a certain amount of "me, myself, and I" detail is tolerable, and even desireable; for a blog to become a prosaic personal diary is a poor use of a powerful medium.

I'm a late arrival to blogging. I should have been doing this four years ago. I hope I can catch up.

A Garden Visitor

Tiger Swallowtail...
on a hanging basket in the butterfly garden. We've seen lots of these lately - floating, flying flowers!

A Perfect Sunday

Missing church is not a good idea. The Lord gives His people "Kodak Moments" sometimes. You cannot orchestrate exactly when heaven will come down and transform your time together into a life long memory. This is why it is so important to value and cherish corporate times of praise and worship and hearing the Word. God, periodically, sovereignly transforms those times into a "Kodak Moment" for the church family. In our case, yesterday, it was a literal Kodak Moment...digital cameras all over the building materialized as if from nowhere, as saints snapped photos of the unexpected.

A move of God will sneak up on you, no matter how diligently you pray and prepare for it. The Bible is full of the word "suddenly". Kodak moments from God! How can I miss a Sunday? I never know when something wonderful will happen...

....like yesterday.

A teenage girl in our church was born again, the week before, while she was away at church camp. When she testified of what took place in her life, pastor Tim asked her if she wanted to be baptized. (We keep extra towels, and sweat pants and T-shirts in various sizes for just that occasion - unexpected baptisms. The answer to the question, "What prevents me from being baptized?" should be, in any church, "Nothing...nothing at all. Let's do it now!")

And so it was.

Our youth pastor, Matt Bailey, doing the honors!

..."Behold, all things are made new!"

After church, Tim and I had a lovely family to our home for lunch. It felt like a celebratory feast, with a roast, potatoes, peas, mac-n-cheese, dinner rolls, corn, and peach cobbler to finish it all off. We lingered for some time, at the table, laughing and just savoring the years of friendship we've shared. The younger ones were in the next room, at the "kid's table", perfectly content and well behaved. I'm telling you, nothing was allowed to interfere with that God-kissed Sunday.

If it couldn't get any better, it did. After our guests went home, Tim and I had the house to ourselves, and we took a long, luxurious nap. I ended my day, ultimately, in my pajamas, reading glasses on the tip of my nose, reading a book, with the rythmic music of the cicadas, floating in through my open bedroom window, creating peaceful ambience.

Heaven. From beginning to end, our Sunday was blessed.

My Definition of Hospitality...

III John is a small epistle, one chapter, fourteen verses. In my personal journals, I have called it the "hospitality chapter". Easily one-third of it commends hospitality, followed by three or four verses describing how ambition is a force behind the lack of hospitality. "Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence...receiveth us not...neither doth he himself receive the brethren..."

The need for preeminence is always to be found behind the mentality that says, "Let someone else do the hospitality end of things." After all, at the very least, it puts our desire for ease and convenience as "preeminent" over and above the command of God to practice hospitality.

Tucked into the verses of III John, is the best definition of hospitality that I have found. I am sure this is written in a book somewhere, or has been taught by someone, but I have not read it or heard it.

..."whom, if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well."

To bring someone forward on their journey. The Godly-sort of journey. Sometimes pie and coffee and conversation are all that is necessary to bring someone forward. A night's stay and a good breakfast, followed by a brief prayer of blessing may be what another needs to bring them forward. Still yet, someone else might need a few hours of conversation, up into the night - long, laborsome, and patient dialogue in a safe place. And the result of all those hours of pouring out, may be but a half-step forward. So be it. Just bring 'em forward.

Then, there are the few, close friends, whose needs are simple: music and laughter. Please, just sit and play the guitar, sing a few songs, and let's laugh till we can't breathe. And they leave our home having been brought forward a country mile! Matter of fact, we all moved forward on this visit.

Come in! (Call first, if you can, so I can put the coffee on...) My prayer, till the day I leave this earth, will be that the time you spend here with me will somehow bring you forward in your Godly-sort of journey.

Be Still, My Soul...

The link between our emotions and our physical health is an established one. And science confirms it more and more with every passing year. "Stress", that ubiquitous, catch-all term, is the number one cause of illness in this country, when you consider the indirect causation, as well as direct. Mind-body connection has always fascinated me, mainly because Scripture speaks of it so clearly:

A sound heart is life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Prov. 14:30

For wrath kills a foolish man, and jealousy slays the simple one. Job 5:2

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Pr. 17:22

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Prov. 23:7

There are more scriptures than these...but neither of us have all day to be in front of this computer screen. It is more important now, than ever before, to walk in the peace of God. It is more important now, than ever before, to walk in faith-believing. After all, what we believe about a situation is what creates stress.

When we believe we are somehow the victim, we become jealous. When we believe that "this is too hard", it is. If we believe we are somehow in danger, our heart and our nervous system does not know the difference between the real and the perceived. I've a book on my shelf, entitled Deadly Emotions by Don Colbert, M.D.

Bits and Pieces:

"What one person may consider stressful, another person may not find stressful at all. One person may take planning a dinner party for 40 people...totally in stride, enjoying all aspects of the...process...another person may panic at the idea of giving an informal dinner party for six people. The difference in whether the event was stressful or not lies in the perception - it lies in what the individual believes....when it comes to stress, believing is the key."

"Fear, for example, triggers more than fourteen hundred known physical and chemical stress reactions and activates more than thirty different hormones and neurotransmitters."

"Stress occurs when our perceptions of events don't meet our expectations, and we don't manage our reaction to the disappointment."

"Researchers have directly and scientifically linked emotions to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diseases related to the immune system. Studies have also highly correlated emotions with infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases."

Lastly, here is a link to an interesting article connecting stress with a woman's health issues:


Caveat: though I cannot agree with solutions such as "reiki" and some of the other so-called relaxation techniques mentioned; nevertheless, the information regarding the impact our emotions have on our health is well explored in the above article.

Do whatever you have to do, to reach a place where you can say, "It is well with my soul!" It is my quest, and it will take work...emotional work. We have to "labor" to enter our rest. The results will be well worth the effort. We'll save ourselves a host of physical pains and ailments.

On This Day...

On this day, July 24, 1866, Tennessee became the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the U.S. Civil War.

There are many things I love about my state. I love that we are known as "The Volunteer State" because of the record number of Tennessee men volunteering their "lives and...sacred honor" during the war of 1812. These same men were also noted for an uncommon bravery serving under General Andrew Jackson ("Old Hickory", also a Tennesseean) in the Battle of New Orleans - a strategic US victory in the war of 1812.

But the thing I love the most is that my state was the last to leave the Union, during the Civil War, and was the first to return to it, after the war was over. Say what you will about the War of Northern Aggression, about revisionist history, about the "real reasons" for the Civil War. I have heard both sides of the whole thing. My point is, unity is vital to the success of any endeavor.

It is true that to make a lasting peace, you sometimes have to fight a temporary war. I've seen this played out on the level of personal relationships, as well as the affairs of nations. But it is always the job of the strong and wise to be the last to break relationship, and the first to restore it, when the conditions for peace are met.

Last in leaving. First in putting the country back together. I so love Tennessee.

A Couple Hours of "Margin"

If you have not yet read Richard Swenson's book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, please make some time to read it this summer. It could be the most important book you read this year.

Tim and I are hard workers, who often blur the lines between work and home. Ministry can tend to cross boundaries, and take over your life in places it shouldn't. There is an art to knowing which situations, people, and issues can be tended, or in fact should be tended, when we are trying to play checkers with our kids, or are out on a date, or even trying to finally go to bed at midnight. We do know how to say "no". We say no without guilt. And yet sometimes, the answer must be "yes." Since Tim can often be found legitimately working at the church building, or ministering during what should be considered our "down time", we snatch time for relaxation at what would be considered odd hours. Say, from 4 o'clock to 6 o'clock in the evening.

We terribly tempted fate yesterday. A big storm was brewing in our area, but we wanted to get out in the "Spam Can" - my name for the tiny Geo Tracker convertible we keep on hand for our jaunts to the mountains. After a long morning-into-afternoon spent tending to all the "must do's", Tim came home and peeled the vinyl top off of our little red car. We knew if the impending storm cut loose a moment too soon, we would be drenched. Somehow, that made it even more fun.

It was just two or three hours, not a minute more. But it was one of those brief interludes where time takes on an elastic quality - it had the effect of a whole day. Come with us, and see what "margin" can do for you!

The Spam Can!

Waiting for our Diet Cokes...

Crazy Convertible Hair...

Soup, Salad, Chips n' Salsa

Now Where To?

Ah yes, the lake...

See the storm coming? Time to head home!

It Is Everything, or Nothing At All

"He (God) never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, 'Be perfect,' He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder - in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (1952)

Pastor Tim

Isn't he the CUTEST???

Holy Spirit, Shower Upon Me...

At the beginning of the growing season, I splurged on a handy-dandy, six-setting nozzle for my water hose. Pardon me, as I must breathlessly, with flushed cheek, exclaim that it has changed my gardening life forever! I'll never again be without this fantastic accessory.

I have found that every setting is important. Each satisfying "click" of the end of the nozzle, with its descriptive label, has a distinct use in the garden.

Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden...

We are in a drought here in East Tennessee. And having thriving, well-watered gardens means a whole lot more than turning on a water hose, hooking your thumb on the opening for pressure-control, and "having at it". Various parts of the garden need various watering applications. Different plants need different watering technique. Sometimes the way a garden needs watering can be unique to the time of day. You don't want to throw water on everything in the heat of the afternoon sun.

And thus He waters me. Carefully. Thoughtfully. Thoroughly. Not too much (it runs off, not soaking my roots), not too little (I wither). Differently, each day. Sometimes a long drink. Other times, a quick, freshening mist. After all, He is the master-gardener, and I am His garden.

The other day, just for fun, I spun the dial on my handy-dandy, gidget-gadget water-nozzle-tool, and imagined each setting as a God-thing. What if....oh, what if....the Holy Spirit visited me, according to my need, and imparted to me:

a mist - ..."there went up a mist from the earth, refreshing the whole face of the ground..."

a shower - ...and there shall be showers of blessing....

a soaking - (in answer to prayer, ) "Gideon rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water."

a rinse - "wash me throughly from mine iniquity...

a bucket filler - "and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began speaking in tongues..."

a power wash (!) - "That he might sanctify and cleanse (the church) with the washing of water by the word..."

I went as far as my imagination dared, and still be within the boundaries of Biblical exegesis. I confess, watering my garden has never been a dull chore since!

A Reason-able God

Jas 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.

A fitting subtitle to my post would be "The Call to Prayer". I'm sure James 3:17 has been used by some Bible teacher, somewhere, as a text for prayer, but I've never heard it done. All true wisdom comes from God, because God-in-Christ is the personification of Wisdom. Wisdom is a Person. Each word that can be used to describe heavenly wisdom, is also a sure adjective for God, as sure as you could describe me as having green eyes, small hands, and no tattoos. "The Sheila that comes from Tennessee is first a brunette, green-eyed, small hands, without tattoos or an expensive car."

"But the God that comes from above is first pure..." oh, His name is Holy! The next phrase that stops me in mid-breath is "open to reason".

"Come, let us reason together says the Lord."

"Test Me in this."

"Seek, and you'll find."

The perfect wisdom of God trumps my weak human reasoning every time, but still...He has no desire for monologue with me. He wants dialogue. He wants me to come reason with Him. He is open to hear my thoughts and questions - and in fact, that is the first step towards the aligning of my mind to His. If I'll just pray. If I'll just reason with Him. If I'll just speak to him without ambiguity, or insincerity.

I've been reading (again) the book "The Kneeling Christian". This book is an old classic, written by "An Unknown Christian". You just HAVE to love that. Somebody wanted not one penny of royalties from a book that has probably sold a half million copies by now.

Choice Bits:

Much secret prayer means much public power.

If God were to answer the words we repeated on our knees this morning, should we know it? Should we recognize the answer?

Why, the wonder is not that we pray so little, but that we can ever get up from our knees if we realize our own need; the needs of our home and our loved ones; the needs of our pastor and the church; the needs of our city....

When we stand with Christ in glory, looking o'er life's finished story, the most amazing feature of that life as it is looked back upon will be its prayerlessness.

What is prayer? It is a sign of spiritual life. I should as soon expect life in a dead man, as spiritual life in a prayerless soul. Our spirituality and our fruitfulness are always in proportion to the reality of our prayers.

Life's Little (and not-so-little) Messes

As much as I'd like to believe that I am one who follows through on my every task and committment, when I read the fine print of my days, I see much left unfinished. At point of fact, I could write a book, all of it in fine print, about things I've left undone - let's don't even include things I've done! I've made messes, big and small, some as a result of my doing, others a result of leaving important things undone. All my messes require clean-up. So do all of yours.

A few weeks ago, I was patrolling the house before leaving for church. Everyone else had left, finally, so I was the last to dash out the door, and lock up. Since someone usually ends up coming home with us, I wanted to make sure, for about the third time, that various rooms were as charming and trash-free as I had left them the last time I had checked them, probably a mere half an hour before.

To my distinct displeasure, I found a plate with crumbleys all over it, a glass with a half inch of milk in the bottom, and...of all things....an empty soda bottle. Where did it all come from, and who did it, and how did it materialize so quickly? I fell upon the mess, as a warrior to the battle. "In the Zone" does not begin to describe me, when I am intent on straightening up things. I'll automatically pour out Tim's tea before he is through, and put the glass in the dishwasher. I'll sweep around the feet of my family, while I dust the coffee table with the other hand, and put a stray book away with my toes. Honestly, all this is mostly mindless, and done without the first complaint. Ask any of my kids. I do it without realizing I am "working". I am almost always "working", and since that is the case, it is rather nice that 99% of it is hard-wired into my psyche, and thus doesn't bother me. I couldn't "not do it" if I tried.

This particular morning, however, I heard myself grumbling out loud to myself. I said, "I am so tired of following behind people in this house, cleaning up their mess."

It was then I experienced one of God's "suddenlies". Suddenly, He spoke. When He speaks suddenly, it cuts through the static. It arrests my attention.

He said: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life."

No exaggeration, I hit my knees, right by the kitchen sink, and tears flowed in an instant. (How lovely to have been alone, just then, because I think I couldn't have NOT worshipped. Such divine wisdom, such understanding and love displayed to me could not have gone unacknowleged. I was late to church that day.)

I hadn't even realized that I'd been subconsciously toting a heavy load of "undone's" and "not-done-right's". I had left what I felt to be a few messes behind, figuratively speaking. I was in desperate need of a Father who loved me so much, He was willing to allow His goodness and mercy to come behind me and clean up. What is the mercy of God for, if it is not at the point of my need, the place of My Mess?

I wanted a God who was just that good, but I almost dared not believe it. That is a God too good to be true, in my graceless mind. A God so good to me, that sometimes He would not even punish me for an inadvertent mess. Surely His goodness and mercy would follow me, and simply clean it up. Oh, how many times has that happened, and I didn't even realize it? Just as not one member of my family would have realized that I cleaned up a mess for him or her that morning.

I certainly don't want to associate the beautiful, scandalous cross of Christ with a few breakfast crumbs. But facts are, the blood of Jesus covers it ALL - the large and the small messes. The cross is the only clean-up, the only solution. A mess is a mess is a mess, and small messes become life altering if left to accumulate.

Thank you, Jesus, for your goodness and mercy, following this mess called "Me"....all the days of my life. How I need You!

And What is YOUR Name?

"Behold, I have called thee by thy name, thou art Mine."

The surname Atchley is translated from the Old English Ac: meaning "oak", and Leah: "grove". An oak is the emblem of virtue and strength and resiliency. To ancient Christians, it also represented worship. The Atchley crest is the dragon, signifying patience in battle, leading to final victory.

My maiden name, Gilreath, is Scottish in origin. It means, "Servant of the King." Our crest is the dolphin. It is said that those who used the dolphin as a symbol had a fondness for music and that the emblem was one of charity and affection. "Aye, we are a lovin' bunch, the Gilreaths. An' a bunch of singin' fools."

My husband and I attended a Bible class, taught by a precious, learned, older man of God. This man was not at all the "airy fairy" type, yet he admonished us, "Find out what your name means, first name and last. It has prophetic significance." As fate would have it, before we had ever gotten into our car to attend this class, I had made up my mind that whatever I would be taught that day, I was going to put it into practical action. I was going to obey the Word spoken. I was tired of hearing, and not doing. There were other things expounded to us that day, and they too had to be acted upon. Finding out the meaning of our names was, by far, the easy part.

And so began my delight in Heraldry. I traced my husband's surname. I traced my maiden name, and found fresh evidence of my Scottish ancestry. Deeply Scottish ancestry. Whew. That explained alot about me, right there.

The joining of two people in marriage is the joining of two names under one. It isn't the elimination of my original name, but rather a blending of ancestry, DNA, and prophetic destiny under one person's name. With each marriage, as the family tree grows, the significance of both names are meant to come together. Ideally, marriage is to be the "best of both worlds", combined and bequeathed to the future offspring.

But for the Atchley-Gilreath combination, the blending isn't always automatic.

Instead of "rock, paper, scissors", my husband and I should figure out a way to play "Oak, dragon, dolphin" to settle disputes. We just can't figure out for the life of us what the rules would be. I guess dragon trumps everything. But then again, maybe dolphin lures dragon into the depths of the sea, and drowns him there.

On November 8th, 1986, the English boy married the Scottish lass, and both fought to be the boss of the other for several years. If we don't learn from history, it indeed repeats itself. In our case, we called an eventual truce. The English boy has learned not to be so overbearing, and the Scottish girl has learned that authority can be a Good Thing. Today finds us enjoying the "Pax Atchley-ia".

..."and the dolphin shall lay down with the dragon"... much as the lion will the lamb, someday.

I usually let the English win...temporarily...while muttering under my breath:

More Hours In My Day

(Daughter of Mine), forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Pr. 3

"Length of days AND long life"....this set me to thinking. Which is always either quite dangerous, or tiresome, or on a really good day, heady and exhilarating.

2008 is already more than half gone. And I have not accomplished, yet, some of what I wanted to accomplish by now. I don't want mere long life, I need length of DAYS. It could be a bit of a stretch, but maybe those two Proverbial phrases are not redundant. I've heard it taught that the Holy Spirit in Scripture is never redundant. Maybe "length of days" and "long life" are two separate but related blessings.

The whole world craves length of days. Everyone is in a hurry, seemingly unable to capture time, or use it to their advantage. To most, the days are not "long enough" to fit it all in. That is no small problem, no insignificant pain. Not being blessed with length of days means that worthy goals are left unrealized, because time runs out. It means that important relationships suffer irretrievably because of the rat race.

To the obedient, God promises not just long life, but length of days. Suddenly....we can breathe again. There is time again. He can accomplish this quiet miracle at any season of life, at any age; but the earlier we learn to simply obey Him without question, the more we can accomplish with our newly discovered, extra kairos time. Opportune time. Heck, He can even lengthen chronological, sweep-of-the-minute-and-hour-hand, clock time. He can hold back the sun for a day or a few moments. He can multiply our minutes. He can supernaturally stretch our resources. He can take our best effort, and create "effort squared". (I stole that notion from a dear friend, who plans to "grow old, squared". In other words, not just 7 X 2, but rather 7 X7. Not just old times two, but old times OLD AGAIN. Sassy old. Wise and eccentric old. I decided to join her "old squared" club. We'll grow old-squared together, I guess. Terrifying but hilarious thought, much like I imagine bungee-jumping to be.)

God can give us "effort squared". The outcome of "effort squared" equals far more than twice the amount of the effort. It equals results piled on results. It equals harvest-time, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. We can accomplish in a season the sort of ingathering that it would take others, less obedient to God, a lifetime to gather.

The sweetest part of this promise is not the long life. Or the length of days. To me, the sweetest part is the peace.

Thank You...Other Daughter??

If only you could smell them.

It had been a hard-but-good, hectic-but-productive weekend. Tim and I were having Sunday lunch with our guest speaker. A small crowd of Harvest Church members took up several tables, in various spots throughout "La Fiesta", the after-church lunch haunt. It is a tiny, thoroughly Mexican restaurant, complete with staff that speak very little English. Tim and I don't go there every Sunday, as we prefer to have people to our home for lunch. That way, no one is offended if we either cannot, or do not, retain a gigantic table, and attempt to sit with them.

After lunch, I wearily walked to my mini-van. I opened the driver's door (Tim and I drive separately on Sundays) and my first indication of a wonderful surprise floated through the air - the spicey sweet, unmistakeable perfume of....ROSES! There, on the passenger seat, were a dozen of the most heavily scented pink roses I had smelled in a long, long time. And a bar of expensive chocolate. Not melted. Someone had just done it!

I looked around everywhere. We were the last (by far) to leave the restaurant. I asked Tim about them. He hadn't done it, and he was just a tiny bit perturbed, for about a minute and a half, over the thought of my getting chocolate and flowers from a mystery person. Which, I must say, seeing one's husband's eyes narrow in momentary lover's jealousy, does spice up a girl's otherwise predictable Sunday.

No one has come forward. To be honest, I almost hope they never will. Whoever blessed me, they were hearing the Lord. I felt the love of the Father in it. There was healing in it. I am guessing it is a "twin thing", maybe. I think my Other Daughter could have done it. She and her sister often find themselves doing the same things, without even realizing it. One daughter got me a bouquet of "glads". The other had no idea, she was spending the night with a dear friend. She might be the one who, less than 24 hours later, also sprinkled my life and my day with fairy-daughter dust, and great joy. And roses and chocolate.

If it was you...Thank You, Daughter. Some mothers talk about being best friends with their daughters - I have consistent, enduring proof. You both bless me continually.

A Love for One's Garden Casts Out the Fear of Bees

I don’t have acres of lovely, planned, planted things. I have about twelve to sixteen feet of shrubs and flowers that I specifically chose, carefully laid out, arranged, and then planted by myself with nothing but a shovel. Then I mulched it all. It is my butterfly garden, and at its widest, it is only about six feet. But it is a twelve-to-sixteen, by six feet, undulating little patch of color and beauty. I designed it. Other than that, I have a strip of daylilies, some berry bushes, a patch of cherry tomatoes, a few tenderly nurtured hydrangea, and pots of “stuff” – an eclectic mix of everything from tomatoes to ferns, all in pots.

Compared to the gardens that belong to the “veryCALM” woman (please do follow her blog link – you’ll find it to your left, and it is top notch!), who tends to her acres of English-like gardens, and her meticulously restored 18th century home in upstate New York….compared to her, I don’t have a garden. Her gardens reflect such skill and artistry, and her writing is refreshing.

But a garden is not an issue of comparison, it is an issue of what you plant, and how hard you work to nurture it. If you have planned and purchased, arranged and planted growing things, even a few, and you tend to them with love and sweat – you have a garden, and you are a gardener.

You can’t know how I savor that concept. I sit and tell it to myself sometimes. “You are a….gardener. You….are….a….gardener.” For some reason, that fills me with wonder. It edifies me and gives me a firm sense that I am on the edge of accomplishing so much more, in this, the second half of my allotted portion of days.

I’ve collected only a few titles in life – all of them based on what I do, every day. All of them based on what others respond most to, in my life. These are the areas in which others will come to me with questions. No title is based on what I want to do, or based on what I wish I could do. I've not earned any titles by being in competition with anyone else, wanting whatever title they have. My various titles flow from who I am, at the core, in secret. And there are only a few of them. Mothers mother. Writers write. Gardeners garden. Bible teachers soak in God's word, and unconsciously "leak" it. Teachers teach. I’m not willing, right now, to call myself a “chef”…but I cook, every day, sometimes several times a day – and I create my own recipes. I’m changing. I’m growing. I am learning new stuff – hands-on, creative stuff. How glorious! Eventually, whatever I do “all the time”, with any reasonable sense of mastery, I can own the title to it.

I noticed something this morning, as I was out pulling weeds. The very thing that makes a butterfly garden attract the butterflies, is the very thing that attracts….the bees. All my life, I have been nervous around bees, and I have studiously avoided them. If one circles me when I am sunbathing, I’ve been known to go inside. But. My shrubs and flowers are covered in dozens of bees of varying species and sizes.

I found myself at ease with the whole lot of 'em. I…was….working…among…them. At peace. I found myself enjoying their sound. They would fly right over my head, in front of my face, and all around me, as they went from place to place. Even a few months ago, I would have suppressed a nervous squeal. Rather, I was inhaling the faint scent of crepe myrtle, pulling weeds around daisies, and thinking about how strong the fragrance of blue salvia is, when you brush by the leaves. (Oh how the bees love blue salvia!) I came to the conclusion that the fragrance comes from the fact that salvia is in that “sage” family of plants. It is a “sagey” smell.

Perfect (mature) love really does cast out fear. I love my butterfly garden, and truthfully, didn’t mind sharing the joy with the bees. I guess we’ll continue to work together out there until first frost.

It doesn’t make me a bee charmer YET, but it does make me (finally) a real gardener.

Summer Breeze - Makes Me Feel Fine

July seems a wonderful month to play Wynton Marsalis CD's nonstop. Languid trumpet-playing and sultry summer evenings are a match made in my version of heaven. July is the perfect month for consuming cool, crisp salads of every description. I can become a salad snob in July. Whereas the rest of the year, I am content with romaine lettuce and ranch dressing, the heat of July and August changes my palate. I begin the elusive search for cold vegetable Nirvana, experimenting with exotic salad sauces like cucumber wasabi or southwest caesar. I will concoct my own dressings of olive oil, a splash of wine, seasoned with just-harvested herbs, coarse salt, and fresh ground pepper. Toss something like that with butter-soft, cool-crunchy lettuces, walnuts, mandarin orange slices, and lots of feta cheese, and all you need is a grilled something-or-other to make a meal. Why am I telling all this? I am not one to be miserly with my bliss. A stunning salad, a July evening at home, and Marsalis' trumpet playing go together...I want the world to know.

Thank You, Daughter...

"I will rejoice, for He hath made me glad(s)!"

Four Little Minutes

"He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names..." Ps. 147: 4

By the time you read just a few blog entries, you may be convinced that I spend all my time outside. You'd be nearly absolutely right. For years, I've watched birds, the seasons, and the stars. The summer night sky is different from the night sky of any other season. Typically, this is why I don't take time to find anything but the Big Dipper. Maybe Orion's Belt. Stars never stay in place for long, and I get easily disoriented, from one week to the next, by all that moving-across-the-sky thing. The stars in spring are not in the same position as the stars of winter. Autumn has its own places for all the constellations. Fascinating!

This is all due to four little minutes. Now that the summer solstice has come and gone, the circling of stars around the pole of the earth takes four minutes less than a full 24 hours. Thus, the stars "rise" four minutes earlier every day, all summer long, than they did the day before. In a month's time, those four minutes a day add up to about two full hours. It is simple to memorize this little formula, and join me as a Suburban Stargazer: one month = 2 hours earlier. The whole star schedule is based on that simple equation.

And God calls each twinkling orb "by name". I used to believe those words meant that each star had a number and a name: "This is Theubia, star number 3,786,479, 002."

As far as we can tell, there are an infinite number of stars, and I am still confident that God knows the exact number of each one, in order, and has named each one, too. But that is not what "numbering the stars" means in the deepest sense.

When God numbered a star, He assigned it a particular place in the night sky, and He planned how big it should be and how hot it should burn and for how long. He gave it a name, a job to do, and a story to tell. If you don't believe a star has a story to tell, you must get hold of the writings of EW Bullinger and JA Seiss. They contended that the gospel is spelled out in the stars, and I believe it. Though stars can never tell us detailed, personal messages about our future, they are set in place to declare the glory of God, and have been used since the beginning of time as a gospel-record.

So the Father "numbers" the stars - assigning them a place in time and space, and giving them a message. Psalms 90:12 says this: So teach us to number our days that we may apply our heart to wisdom." In either case, whether stars or your life, the word "number" is the same Hebrew word, mahnah , meaning to ordain, appoint, or assign. As imitators of God, you and I are given the privilege and solemn responsibility to ordain - not stars, but our very own days. God has established a blueprint for our lives, laying out a path much like the path the stars follow. It is our job to discover that path, and assign our days accordingly.

I've heard it said that time is God's gift. It is His way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Ecclesiasties bears this out when it says there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A star has a name and a purpose. I have a name and a purpose. A star has a message to proclaim; my life has a story to tell.

My effectiveness in declaring my message is directly proportionate to my discerning my days properly - assigning a season and a purpose to them. What season of life am I in right now? What choices are appropriate to that season? What is God saying? Those are important questions. The overall message of my life is One Thing: the supremacy of Christ in all of life.

The ways and means I communicate that message will vary with the seasons of my life. Christ in the life of the child, Christ, the source of the joy of the blushing bride, Christ as the gentle support of the new mother, Christ, the giver of peace as the nest empties, Christ, who ordains exciting new exploits for the second half of life, Christ who carries the frail body of old age, and infuses it with a sparkling soul.

I know of a dear, elderly Mimi, who cannot remember her own son's name at times. But if you begin reciting the first few words of a chapter in the Psalms, she will commence to finishing it for you, word for word. Oh, the glory of His message in our lives, in every season! It is the veritable fulfillment of Philippians 2:15 ~ "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as star-lights in the world!"

Two Notes to Two Timothys...

"Study to show yourself approved unto God - a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." II Timothy 2:15

Consider...The Birds of the Air

"Walk softly, and carry a big stick."

"Pull up your big girl panties and deal with it."

"Get over it."

"Put up, or hush up."

"Only one person can feel sorry for you at any given time. Since you are already feeling sorry for yourself, you've reached your limit."

I live by each of those phrases, to some degree or another. I've either coined or repeated each one...often. Most times, I don't really mean it. Sometimes, I do mean it. Fiercely. I've been through just enough myself, that trials of the generic, every day-ish variety don't move me to fits of tears or spasms of compassion for anyone - least of all myself. Some say I have a prophetic edge to my personality, others think I am just missing a critical component of an otherwise thoroughly feminine DNA. Neither opinion frightens or flatters me. Things are what they are. And there I go again...being all pithy and Spartan.

Lately, however, I've been gripped by another phrase, timeless and alive:

" Yea, even the sparrow hath found an house...even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Ps. 84:3"

I'm a bird watcher. Not of consuming proportions, but I do spend a fair amount of time observing fowl in my own back yard. If there is a more relaxing way of passing an early morning or evening, I don't know what it is.

The sparrows who visit me are shy. Reticent. They are easily bullied from any and every feeder. By any and every sort of bird. A sparrow can be having dinner with his lady love, at a decorative feeder (read: "nice restaurant. great ambiance.") brimming with seed, and if a cardinal ambles up to the table, the sparrows take their leave without the first fuss. Every time, those sparrows will either fly away, or move to the ground, and commence to pecking up stray seed, embedded in dirt and grass.

My sparrows will not assert themselves. They won't join the other birds. They won't fight for their share of the bird seed. Without fail, my sparrows will place themselves on the outskirts of the action.

I love how the Lord made the observation, "Even the sparrow has found a home...". God didn't lead us to marvel that the friendly titmouse has found a nest. Or that the loudly talented mockingbird finally has a resting place. Or that the obnoxious grackle can finally land. We are led to feel gladness that the quiet little sparrow has found a home! And not just any home - even the very presence of the Lord. A sparrow is warmly welcomed, and given full access, smack dab between the wings of the cherubim.

How much MORE are we invited to partake of the presence and mercy of our God? Is it any coincidence that many hundreds of years after Psalms 84:3 was sung, the God-man Jesus Christ came and walked this earth, seeking and saving little guys in trees? Loving those on the outskirts? It it any coincidence that a sparrow was the acceptable temple offering of the poor and needy? It is any coincidence that Jesus said, "Fear ye not, therefore....you are of more value than many sparrows."

If I were to take a bird personality test, I'd probably be classified as a robin. Why, I'm not sure. But I know some people who would test out as "sparrows". And I try to be careful to seek them out, to approach them softly, and draw them out in conversation. I don't feel sorry for them, any more than they should feel sorry for themselves; but I do acknowlege and celebrate the differences of gifting and personality.

I love watching the sparrows, both the human-sparrows, and the bird-sparrows. Both have a beautifully unique song. Both are valuable to the Father. If I claim to have a heart like His, I'll find a soft spot there for those on the outskirts of our church-feeder. I certainly don't want to purposely hurt or offend or exclude one who makes her home between angel's wings.

The Beautiful 'Burbs

This blog celebrates ordinary church life, the seasons, and suburbia. While it is easy to imagine the seasons and even ordinary life as things to be celebrated, throwing a word-party for the concept of suburbia is simply weird. It is just not done. There are many lovely old tomes and new blogs written about country life, but a blog in praise of suburbia? I know the idea is strange.

I am a middle class, suburban woman - much like the vast majority of women in the United States. I do not live in a funky urban setting. I do not live on a grand estate, boasting acreage, a pristine, fish filled pond, and grazing horses. I don't live in a tiny shanty, voluntarily doing without electricity, with hives of bees and gravel roads spotted with horse and buggy. I have friends who fit each of the above descriptions, and I love each one.

I wish for neither scenario - urban or rural. Suburbia is home to me. I live in what is falsely called a "rancher". It has a large "yard", and sits on a paved cul-de-sac, at the end of a concrete driveway. I have a neighbor to the right, left, front, and behind. I have a mailbox that is exactly 38 steps from my front door. And I have no regrets. I hope to prove that one can be "cutting edge", politically aware, culturally compassionate, and entitled to wear black sunglasses without living in the city. Conversely, one can be wise and earthy, soulful, philosophical and skilled in home arts without the fences and livestock. I do boast an 8-foot privacy fence in my back yard, two poodles who smile at me, and a small ornamental pond stocked with absolutely startlingly huge fish. That comprises our fences and livestock.

Proud suburbanites, we are. We like our street lights, and we find a modicum of lawnmower noise and human contact strangely normal - even pleasing and enjoyable.

Christianity has its share of armchair apocalyptics who forecast coming calamities, prescribing "fleeing to the hills" and personal generators as the solution - as though living a quarter mile from your mailbox is better protection in the event a solar flare throws the super computers into an extended crash. Personally....we don't buy into it. Literally.

Firstly, that "flee to the hills" solution is far too expensive to be practical. We are more into using our very limited resources to tend people, than to spend resources tending fences and cows, as lovely as that life is, I'm sure. Nothing wrong with it. It can just be a bit over-celebrated, as compared to an ordinary home in the suburbs. Country living is not the only option for a well-lived, effective life. It is a good option, if it does not make you narrow, or consume your every last penny and hour. Anyone who can live that lovely rural lifestyle, and who voraciously shares it with others, is someone I'd want for a friend. Please do have me over for the weekend!

Secondly, we are of the opinion that electricity is here to stay. If it goes off, due to flood, fire, or vapor of smoke, they'll eventually get it turned back on. Not only that, but should sudden catastrophe befall (and we certainly believe its possible), we think our best contingency plan is a few good neighbors and a well paved road or two.

Yes, suburbia is under-rated. I think this is largely due to the idea that artists somehow need isolation and transcendent views to be creative. I find my writing inspiration right outside my bedroom window. The parade of life - human, and animal/vegetable/mineral - on my own street provides me with enough food for thought to pound out a page or two daily, artistically speaking.

I encounter the same blue skies, or sunsets, or cloud formations or majestic thunderstorms that a country woman does. It all exists for me here. Having no horses or acreage to tend leaves me more time to enjoy it. I'm just sayin'.

Besides, when I was a kid, a horse bit my little sister in the belly, and I've had a lowered opinion of them since.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places...Isaiah 32:18

Joy Cometh...

Ps 143:8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust...
By: Sheila

I think it was Thoreau who said that the two most beautiful words in the English language were "summer afternoon". Not to be contrary, but I am convinced they are "summer morning". Especially this summer. Three of my four children are grown - not yet moved out, but grown. They each have a good, full-time job. Each is doing what he or she wanted to do, in the area each wanted to gain experience. (One daughter is in fashion merchandising, her identical twin, small and feminine, is in construction - shooting for a contractor's license, and my oldest son is slowly mastering HVAC - "Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning").

So my summer mornings these days, are quite different than those of yore. While my youngest son sleeps in, I say goodbye to my pastor-husband as he leaves for the day...

....and suddenly I have the unimaginable luxury of a quiet morning. I putter. I dawdle. I try to think of just what exactly do I want for breakfast - a question I almost never have time to ponder any other time of year.

I have been one who has made the acquaintence of that "prophet in rough clothing" - the name C.H. Spurgeon coined for depression. Years ago, I dragged myself to my Bible, and again discovered Psalms 143. In fact, the year was 1997. I drank deeply from the truths of that Psalm, acknowleging before the Lord that mornings are the most wretched times for a woman struggling with depression. I pleaded with the Lord to "cause me to know" Him and His lovingkindness in those empty, hollow mornings. If He did not "cause me", if He did not initiate, I feared I would remain in that place of no-feeling, that place of no-motivation, that place of no-joy, forever.

..."And it came to pass in those days..." Everything comes to pass. No longer do I fear the valley. I now understand that I will always pass through every valley of the shadow I will ever encounter, even that of final death. I will never be there to stay. I know that now.

I've passed through several valleys since the Year of Psalm 143. I've received from the Prophet in Rough Clothing a few times. In fact, he just left me this late spring, after an unusually long visit. And I can clearly see that God has lavishly answered the prayers I prayed all the way back in 1997, when mornings were the worst, and I needed Him to force Himself upon me. I needed God to "cause me to know".

That is why the two most beautiful words in the English language are, to me, "summer morning....summer morning".

Just as Christ left the wilderness of testing, and quietly had some sort of breakfast, I too silently celebrate the Lord of the Morning, and the lovingkindness He has caused me to know. With a ripened tomato, fresh plucked and red on my windowsill, I create exactly what I'm craving. What an amazing luxury!

Joy cometh in the morning!

Why Pastors (and their wives?) Should Blog

I ran across this on what, in my opinion, is one of the best ministry websites out there, John Piper's http://www.desiringgod.org/. My husband does have a blog (see the link on the left, "Can You Embrace the Truth"), but I think the following could also apply to pastor's wives, no? See if you agree...

6 Reasons Pastors Should BlogMarch 31, 2008 By: Abraham Piper Category: Commentary

In this article I want to convince as many pastors as possible to sit down and start a blog today. If I can’t convince them, then I want to convince churchgoers to hound their pastor until he does.

OK, all that’s overstatement, perhaps. You can still be a good pastor and not blog.
However, here’s why I think it would be good for you and your congregation if you did.
Pastors should blog…

1. …to write.
If you’re a pastor, you probably already know the value writing has for thinking. Through writing, you delve into new ideas and new insights. If you strive to write well, you will at the same time be striving to think well.

Then when you share new ideas and new insights, readers can come along with you wherever your good writing and good thinking bring you.

There is no better way to simply and quickly share your writing than by maintaining a blog. And if you’re serious about your blog, it will help you not only in your thinking, but in your discipline as well, as people begin to regularly expect quality insight from you.

2. …to teach.

Most pastors I’ve run into love to talk. Many of them laugh at themselves about how long-winded they’re sometimes tempted to be. Enter Blog.

Here is where a pastor has an outlet for whatever he didn’t get to say on Sunday. Your blog is where you can pass on that perfect analogy you only just thought of; that hilarious yet meaningful story you couldn’t connect to your text no matter how hard you tried; that last point you skipped over even though you needed it to complete your 8-point acrostic sermon that almost spelled HUMILITY.

And more than just a catch-all for sermon spill-over, a blog is a perfect place for those 30-second nuggets of truth that come in your devotions or while you’re reading the newspaper. You may never write a full-fledged article about these brief insights or preach a whole sermon, but via your blog, your people can still learn from them just like you did.

3. …to recommend.

With every counseling session or after-service conversation, a pastor is recommending something. Sometimes it’s a book or a charity. Maybe it’s a bed-and-breakfast for that couple he can tell really needs to get away. And sometimes it’s simply Jesus.

With a blog, you can recommend something to hundreds of people instead of just a few. Some recommendations may be specific to certain people, but that seems like it would be rare. It’s more likely to be the case that if one man asks you whether you know of any good help for a pornography addiction, then dozens of other men out there also need to know, but aren’t asking.
Blog it.

Recommendation, however, is more than pointing people to helpful things. It’s a tone of voice, an overall aura that good blogs cultivate.

Blogs are not generally good places to be didactic. Rather, they’re ideal for suggesting and commending. I’ve learned, after I write, to go back and cut those lines that sound like commands or even overbearing suggestions, no matter how right they may be. Because if it’s true for my audience, it’s true for me, so why not word it in such a way that I’m the weak one, rather than them?

People want to know that their pastor knows he is an ordinary, imperfect human being. They want to know that you’re recommending things that have helped you in your own weakness. If you say, “When I struggled with weight-loss, I did such-and-such,” it will come across very differently than if you say, “Do such-and-such if you’re over-weight…”

If you use your blog to encourage people through suggesting and commending everything from local restaurants to Jesus Christ, it will complement the biblical authority that you rightly assume when you stand behind the pulpit.

4. …to interact.

There are a lot of ways for a pastor to keep his finger on the pulse of his people. A blog is by no means necessary in this regard. However, it does add a helpful new way to stay abreast of people’s opinions and questions.

Who knows what sermon series might arise after a pastor hears some surprising feedback about one of his 30-second-nuggets-of-truth?

5. …to develop an eye for what is meaningful.

For good or ill, most committed bloggers live with the constant question in their mind: Is this bloggable? This could become a neurosis, but I’ll put a positive spin on it: It nurtures a habit of looking for insight and wisdom and value in every situation, no matter how mundane.
If you live life looking for what is worthwhile in every little thing, you will see more of what God has to teach you. And the more he teaches you, the more you can teach others. As you begin to be inspired and to collect ideas, you will find that the new things you’ve seen and learned enrich far more of your life than just your blog.

6. …to be known.

This is where I see the greatest advantage for blogging pastors.
Your people hear you teach a lot; it’s probably the main way that most of them know you. You preach on Sundays, teach on Wednesdays, give messages at weddings, funerals, youth events, retreats, etc.

This is good—it’s your job. But it’s not all you are. Not that you need to be told this, but you are far more than your ideas. Ideas are a crucial part of your identity, but still just a part.
You’re a husband and a father. You’re some people’s friend and other people’s enemy. Maybe you love the Nittany Lions. Maybe you hate fruity salad. Maybe you struggle to pray. Maybe listening to the kids’ choir last weekend was—to your surprise—the most moving worship experience you’ve ever had.

These are the things that make you the man that leads your church. They’re the windows into your personality that perhaps stay shuttered when you’re teaching the Bible. Sometimes your people need to look in—not all the way in, and not into every room—but your people need some access to you as a person. A blog is one way to help them.

You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for your people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back. This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say. If you practice the kind of holiness that your people expect of you, then your life itself opened before them is good leadership—even when you fail.

For most of you, anything you post online will only be a small piece in the grand scheme of your pastoral leadership. But if you can maintain a blog that is both compelling and personal, it can be an important small piece.

It will give you access to your people’s minds and hearts in a unique way by giving them a chance to know you as a well-rounded person. You will no longer be only a preacher and a teacher, but also a guy who had a hard time putting together a swing-set for his kids last weekend. People will open up for you as you open up like this for them. Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your teaching and depth to your ministry,
* * *

Have We Become Jaded?

by: Sheila


Webster’s dictionary: made dull or insensitive by excess – cynically or pretentiously callous

If you’ve walked with the Lord any length of time, you may have been made dull by what feels like an excess of church gatherings. You may have found yourself insensitive to conferences promising to heal your marriage, or order your finances, much less conferences that tell you they intend to bring down some mighty move of God. You might feel a bit cynical towards endless prayer meetings calling out for revival, and all the Christian books that, in reality, are just so....so "Oprah".

If you’ve walked with the Lord any length of time, you’ve also developed somewhat of a thick skin towards all the would-be converts who “get saved”, and then dramatically depart some length of time later, taking a large chunk of your heart with them. If you and I are not careful, that protective, thick skin can become "pretentiously callous".


Webster’s dictionary: having calluses. Emotionally hardened.

Jaded. That’s what it is. Is it what we are? If so, it’s an ugly skin condition. If so, our jadedness can be reversed. We can become as little children again, fresh and baby skinned, and actually inherit the Kingdom instead of just read stuff about it. Nobody – I don’t care who you are – nobody is in more danger of becoming jaded, nobody has more chances to be hurt, to be rubbed the wrong way, and thus become a walking blister, and that walking blister become a walking, “pretentious callus”….nobody tends towards that danger MORE than a preacher’s wife.

But by grace I have, so far, avoided becoming jaded. Not because I am holy, but rather because I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t fun. And I’m too old not to have fun. Little children naturally want to have fun. So I feel it is high time I indulge in some holy regression.

You can’t know how fun it is to wait in agony of expectation for the next breath of God. It is like Christmas Eve, all the time. You can’t know how fun it is to imagine that, any day now, the next Billy Graham just might come to salvation….in my church. You can’t know how fun it is to be convinced that each person in my church family is destined, in Christ, to become a dazzling display of splendor – when you see Him, you will be LIKE Him. I can’t wait to see what you’ll look like. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be…” but my confident expectation on your behalf makes me exceedingly glad.

You can’t know how fun it is to actually believe that the next group of young people who gather to pray can spark a historic revival – just like that Welsh Revival, the name of which has long been capitalized in church history books, because it is considered as noteworthy, as much a history altering event as The Great Depression.

Besides, I have the promise of God that, for every thousand disappointments, the ONE promise of God is worth waiting and hoping for. It is worth confidently expecting. I am told that those who wait on the Lord are never made ashamed. God has a tendency to embarrass the jaded do-nothings, by suddenly showing up for those whose lamps are lit with holy hope. I plan on delighting myself in an excess of wedding cake and Dr. Pepper, while the Pretentiously Calloused Ones scramble for oil and matches in the cold dark night. Scrambling for oil and a match….THAT, my friend, would be no fun.

If you are all grown up and having no fun, please don’t take it personally if I hope so hard, and enjoy God so much, I seem to act like a little child in front of you. I'm not reacting to you per se….I’m simply choosing a different method of coping with the wait for God. I’ve chosen to have fun hoping! If you let it bother you to the point of wishing you could choke me, you are very near to the Kingdom of God. You may get so weary tolerating me that you decide, “If you can’t beat them, JOIN THEM.”

Come be glad with me. Come and hope again. Let God heal your big ol’ pretentious callus. Come and play. It is the only way to live responsibly.

Day's End

Ps 104:23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the

By: Sheila

This is twilight, as it looks here in my own little back-yard piece of earth. I find, the older I become, I am more and more comforted by reliable things like sunrise and sunset, the passing of seasons, a certain pair of shoes or comfortable pajamas....and chores. There is nothing like the feeling of a day well-spent, doing meaningful work. Summer brings its own routine: water, weed, and tend the garden in the morning. Pick tomatoes. Harvest basil. Carefully snip dead blossoms from my huge containers of petunias. Feed and water the many pots, clay and otherwise, of various blooming things like dwarf cannas, ferns, impatiens, and herbs. I am deeply satisfied when I begin my work early, and end it just as the sun is going down.

This is life, as God intended.

Evening....at my home. Come and sit on the back porch and watch the sunset. Another day's work is complete, my friend.