And The Winner Is...

I wrote down every person who commented - and wrote them down again if they tweeted or Facebooked about Sheila Atchley Designs...

...and the winner is...

Rays of Sunshine!

Please email your mailing address to me privately, and I will get your bag and cuff out to you right away!

Thank you, EVERYONE, for tweeting and Facebooking, thank you for supporting me and for having fun with this.  I want to do more (and better) giveaways in the future - sometimes in collaboration with other businesswomen and artists and shop owners - sometimes a bag or painting of my own.  So "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

And don't forget that my leather cuffs are available in my shop...and soon I'll have a few one-of-a-kind bags available there, too.

Now Offering Prints (on select originals) - and Beta Giveaway Reminder!

For the first time, I am offering prints of select originals...please stay tuned as to which ones!

But to get started, here is a brand new original I've entitled "Beautiful Moments" ~

This is a 10x10 mixed media board canvas, rendered in acrylics, ink, oil pastel, and charcoal, on a ~gorgeous~ background of vintage papers.  The watermark is only there in the photos, and obviously is not on the canvas.  One of the vintage papers I used, is a genuine circa 1940's letter that dropped out of an old art book I bought at the antique store. I am so excited about that letter, love how it peeks through the paint, and so thrilled to use it - the original letter - in this painting!  There are also other antique book pages and vintage papers.  The quote says, " a woman's life, as in any work of art, it is the moments that are beautiful...".

(Original quote - I retain rights on all art.)

close-up of a partial watch - alluding to those "Beautiful Moments" of which a woman's life is made...

 ...right hand side of painting...

another perspective...

I am so blessed and excited to get to offer PRINTS of this "Beautiful Moments" original.  Of course, the original will also be available in my shop as well.  And again, stay tuned as to which originals (among the few I have left - I need to get busy painting more) will be offered as prints.  

Don't forget to read about my Beta Launch Giveaway here, and leave a comment to be entered to win the bag and cuff...and if you tweet and/or Facebook about Sheila Atchley Designs, come back and leave me another comment - you'll be entered twice!  This is your last day to enter...because...


Final Numbers Are In...

...and after all scholarships and a grant, after doing all we can do, we are still several thousand short of needed funds for the first year of college.  How will it happen?  What will God do?  I have no idea.  But I trust Him.

Please agree with me in prayer that God would make a way where there seems to be no way.

Pray with me that I sell lots of art.

This Gospel of Grace

...available in my shop...

This gospel of grace is so not new.  I remember how that some, upon hearing The Preacher preach on the doctrines of grace with the same emphasis as Paul the Apostle preached them (mostly reading the epistles from the pulpit!)...they actually thought he was preaching something out-of-balance and newish.

It was so sad to me, but I was not surprised or upset.  Most, in this generation of Churchianity, have heard little Biblical, New Testament Gospel.  Truly, it is the performance-based Christian who is an unwitting member of the Cult of the Contemporary.  Many a modern-day legalist thinks that just because a dead guy is a dead guy, that makes him a "classic", and his writing a more legitimate source of food for the soul.

Back up, and learn your church history.  Or read Paul's writings instead of Finney or Wesley or even Owen or Chambers, or some rabbi born in 1962.  I know, right?  Novel idea. 

Just as, in Scripture, grace preceded the law (and later superceded it), so it is also in eras and streams of thought in the Christian faith A.D.  The doctrines of grace are foundational, they have always preceded a spiritual awakening; and excellent treatises on the Finished Work of Christ pre-date the writings of many a  dead moralist.

But in direct contrast to what I just said, I am going to share my latest "underlined bit"...from the writings of Charles Spurgeon.  Even though he joins the ranks of the Dead Guys, he was no moralist.  He was unimpressed with any man obsessed with his own sanctification and self improvement.  Spurgeon was Gospel obsessed...

...but he, though long since dead, is perilously close to being a contemporary source. Still, his sources streamed from far more original founts - the Pauline epistles and the writings of the early church fathers.

For your epic enjoyment:

"He hath commanded his covenant forever." 

 The Lord's people delight in the covenant itself. It is an unfailing source of consolation to them so often as the Holy Spirit leads them into its banqueting house and waves its banner of love. They delight to contemplate the antiquity of that covenant, remembering that before the day-star knew its place, or planets ran their round, the interests of the saints were made secure in Christ Jesus

It is peculiarly pleasing to them to remember the sureness of the covenant, while meditating upon "the sure mercies of David." They delight to celebrate it as "signed, and sealed, and ratified, in all things ordered well." It often makes their hearts dilate with joy to think of its immutability, as a covenant which neither time nor eternity, life nor death, shall ever be able to violate--a covenant as old as eternity and as everlasting as the Rock of ages. 

They rejoice also to feast upon the fulness of this covenant, for they see in it all things provided for them. God is their portion, Christ their companion, the Spirit their Comforter, earth their lodge, and heaven their home. They see in it an inheritance reserved and entailed to every soul possessing an interest in its ancient and eternal deed of gift. Their eyes sparkled when they saw it as a treasure-trove in the Bible; but oh! how their souls were gladdened when they saw in the last will and testament of their divine kinsman, that it was bequeathed to them! 

More especially it is the pleasure of God's people to contemplate the graciousness of this covenant. They see that the law was made void because it was a covenant of works and depended upon merit, but this they perceive to be enduring because grace is the basis, grace the condition, grace the strain, grace the bulwark, grace the foundation, grace the topstone. The covenant is a treasury of wealth, a granary of food, a fountain of life, a store-house of salvation, a charter of peace, and a haven of joy.

A Little Slice of Americana...

...East Tennessee style!  I shot this at a music store, a few miles from my house, and this music store has been around for generations.  It is iconic in my area.  If you ever come visit me, I will cook you the best BBQ you ever tasted, and take you to see the Bull on the Roof.  (And the amazing vintage guitars, banjos, mandolins, and on and on...)

Oh, and don't forget my Beta Launch Giveaway!

(the bag and cuff I'll be giving away this Friday!)

Leave me a comment here.  If you tweet or Facebook about it, please come back and leave another comment - you'll be entered twice!

Thanks to all who've entered so far.  You are helping me get started in what has so far been a hilariously happy (and brand new) art career, and a right fine season of life!

Time With A Friend

Met a good friend for breakfast this morning...and then we....

Oh yeah.  We did.  And I discovered that, when I shoot left handed (unlike this particular picture)...

I'm a Lights Out Layla.

Beta Launch Giveaway!

Michael Hyatt's post on permanent beta, just this past Monday, has had a profound effect on me this week.  As a result, I am going to do a Beta Launch Giveaway.

When a company launches its Beta Project, they know it is imperfect.  The whole idea is to launch the product "as is" and get the customer's feedback.  Now...particularly in technology, quite often the customer still pays for the product, even in its beta state!  The price is reduced, but customers willingly pay to be part of the project, and to get to use the product.

I've been working on my own line of bags, cuffs, and altered couture - not just art!  I have a basic design for a bag in mind - I want it to be smaller, reversible, and to always have an inspiring word embroidered  somewhere on the bag - sometimes very inconspicuously, sometimes boldly.

My vision is to help women live well-defined lives...artfully and context of the Gospel.  

Typically, under the old "wait until it's perfect" mindset, I would tweak until I thought it was perfect - which isn't a bad idea in this context;  however, I have a perfectly-imperfect, very use-able bag and a beautiful leather cuff, both of which would be wasted just because I am still tweaking the design!

I hate waste.

So, after mulling over Hyatt's thoughts on beta all week long, I thought, "Why not do a Beta Giveaway?"

I will give you my very, very, very first bag, and my very, very second cuff (first one went to daughter Hannah) - and you use and wear and give me feedback as to how I can improve the design.  Tell me how it wears for you and what you might like for me to do better.

Go ahead.  I can take it.

Here is the cuff:

...this is a narrow leather cuff, in a medium size, trimmed in a rich mustard gold embroidery - stamped with the word "LOVED"   Who doesn't need to be reminded of that?  If you have a tiny wrist (as I do), it fits like a bangle.  If you have an average or large wrist, it will fit close - more like a cuff should.  But I like how it looks on me!  I wore this out to breakfast with the Preacher just this morning, and got a compliment on it!

Here is the bag:

Upholstery grade vintage-style fabric outside...

...ticking on the inside, a cell phone pocket (fits all Smart Phones), and a hand-embroidered label, just to whisper to you about the key to - not just a beautiful eternity - but also the key to a beautiful day...

It is you see it with the embroidered pocket on the outside...

...and the vintage-style fabric on the inside.

Now I know three things about this bag:  1.  It is a bit too floppy to suit me.  I will have to tweak that - using something to make the sides stiffer.  2.  I think it needs another interior pocket (or exterior, depending on which side you prefer facing out) and 3.  There are tiny flaws, here and there.  But overall, this is a super cute bag, and is use-able.  I still love the shape and the size and the drop of the bag (distance from your shoulder to the start of the bag, when the bag's straps are on your shoulder.  Perfect drop!).  I know I am on the right track.

Hey - even if you only enjoy it for two days, you enjoyed it for free.  If you decide it isn't right for you, you could pass it along to a daughter or granddaughter.  Just please give me some feedback!

If you would like to participate in my Beta Launch, here's what I need you to do:

1.  Please follow me here on my blog - click "join this site" on the button you'll see in the right hand sidebar.  

2.  Leave a comment, telling me that, once you receive your gifts, you'll let me know how these items wear for you.  I truly want the feedback! 

3.  If you either:  A.  "like" Sheila Atchley Designs on Facebook, or B.  share the link to this post on Facebook (click on the Facebook link in my sidebar) or C. tweet about my website ( I will enter you twice.  Just please come back and leave a second comment, letting me know that you did either A. or B. or C. and your second comment will be your second entry!

That's it!  I will draw a name in one week - Friday, one week from today.  If only one person enters, you win!  That won't hurt my feelings.  I just love to give.

Even if you are local (which lots of you who read my blog are!) I still want to mail your prizes to you, USPS, because I need for you to get the full experience - design, packaging, everything - and give me honest feedback on how special your package made you feel.  This is an important aspect of developing my business.  (Did I really just call it that??)

Whew.  I am so Beta right now.  Nothing is perfect.

If I succeed, you succeed with me.  If I fail, just don't let me fail alone.

I could never design anything I would not wear myself in an East Tennessee Second.  Imperfect as they may be, I.  Love.  These.

Faith Can't Be Bought...

But the mixed media canvas entitled "Faith" has sold...

...and will bless its new home in Australia!  Post edit:  make that the UK.  Keeping up with my globe trotting girl Ursula is a full time job.  ::grin::

More Beta - Stocking the Shop

Purchased a teaching DVD, invested in some equipment.  I am teaching myself a new skill set this summer:

This is my very, very, very  first cuff.  Full of flaws. Very Beta (see previous blog post).

But somehow, probably because it is flawed, it is beautiful to me.  And beautiful enough that my daughter Hannah coveted it mightily, so I gave it to her.

Both my hands are bruised.  I thonked the junk out of first one, and then the other, using the mallet to pierce the leather.  I am telling you, I raised my mallet high...I wound up big time, and brought it down hard.

Mother of a Black Bear.  That hurt.

Hannah laughed so hard, she spit her Dr. Pepper.

I'll be working on making more for my shop.

Heaven help and heal and protect my hands.  Prayers appreciated, friends...

I'm In Permanent Beta Launch - Till Heaven

(mixed media art-in-progress..."Suspended in Grace"...with four being the number of Creativity...and the amount of children I have had to release to God and His unfathomable riches of Grace!) 

Love Michael Hyatt's post today on living with Permanent Beta.  This is when you find an acceptable level of imperfection, and you roll with it anyhow. (That's my succinct paraphrase, and I think it's great.)

My Spiritual Gift is "Roll With It".  You won't find it in Scripture, not in those exact words, nor will you find it on any Spiritual Gift Test.  But I promise, my gift is Roll With It.

Not so long ago, however, my gift was more akin to "Wait Until It's Perfect".  The crazy thing is, nothing ever was.  Perfect.

Thank God He imparted the gift of Roll With It to me.  If He hadn't, very little would be getting done, except what I could do to please and bless myself. I wouldn't be actively mentoring other women, creating art and selling it, and we wouldn't even attempt college with our youngest. That situation is wildly imperfect, we have no college fund whatsoever, and he is undeserving.

But we Roll With It.  What God says, we do, even when it is BigBig, even when we don't seem to have the resources, even when we can't do it perfectly the first time.

The big revelation (truly) for me was - and I didn't begin to really get it until I began naming my years, beginning with "Create" -  that you always tweak as you go.  I once knew a man, Godblesshim, who for years was hung up on pride.  He worried that The Preacher was prideful, worried about the pride of teenage boys, and prayed endlessly for humility - especially that others who were doing Big Things would Stay Humble.  He was the pride police, and of course, you aren't supposed to walk in pride.

So you sit and do little-to-nothing in the area of your true calling and passion, wearing pride turned inside-out like a reversible coat.  We all know that pride is what keeps you sitting there until you are no longer proud.  And the worst pride of all is to be certain of your own humility.  Might be best to shed that deceptively-protective layer and stand up and do something imperfectly.  By the way - be proud that you did.

Then you simply face the Tweaking Process.  Someone is going to correct/critique/tell you how you must improve.

Hug them, when they do.  I did...just last week - and they weren't just correcting my spelling or my grammar.

And I received correction a few weeks before that.  If no one is critiquing you, you aren't out in front.  (And if you are the one always critiquing...well...I've got sad news.  You aren't out in front either.  But I'll take your criticism on advisement.)

Does that mean I must embrace all correction?  Nah.  Only when it is for the Greater Good.  Only when it does not compromise the Finished Work of Christ in my life.  When it gets petty or personal, I toss it like year-old mascara.

Friend, it's all in the Tweak.  Life is one big 80 year Tweak.  Get over yourself, and move on.  If you make a mistake, own it and fix it.  I promise the juju of the universe is not moved when we screw things up.  You were born wrong, and you'll be wrong again before dinner.

All my life I thought I had God's stamp of approval because my life wasn't going badly. Now I was faced with the fear that it might actually be the opposite. What if my life was going so beautifully because I wasn't chasing after God?

- Jennie Allen, Anything

Faith Is...

Faith is the substance of things hoped for...

 ...the evidence of things not yet seen.

And so we keep moving forward.

Small Is The New Big

(I took this via Instagram, about a month ago...a sweet church out in the country, here in East TN)

I love small churches, when they love big.  Like my church does.

I love small church buildings, when they hint of history and good, simple, sturdy architecture.  So much more beautiful than these huge monoliths I call "airport churches" know...when signs hang from the ceilings directing you down which wing is what terminal...I mean destination...I mean classroom or bathroom you need.  As though you should never absolutely have to ask a person.

I got such great news this week!  In fact, the news is so good, I dare not share it until all details are properly tended.  But can I just hint?

Over.  The.  Dang.  Top.

I hope to be able to share soon!

Kairos Time, When It's Difficult

I've heard many definitions for "Kairos" time...that Greek word for the sort of time that is held suspended as a "time between times"...moments when the veil between earth and heaven  is very, very thin.  Some actually call these moments "portals" in time.  Some experience Kairos as the ability to be completely absorbed in the creative...absorbed, and time doesn't feel like ordinary Chronos "tick tock of the clock" time, but is transcended into something otherworldly.

I've experienced breathlessly beautiful Kairos moments...and God-kissed days...stunning in their loveliness, and brevity.

And I have had a huge, whole day of Kairos time, today.  It has been a Kairos day, and it felt stressful and painful and peaceful and prayerful.

Painful and stressful, but the heavens were opened in a special way...I could feel myself praying into the future.  Leaning into the pain of today, transforming it into prophetic prayer.  I take a huge risk with a very small liberty, but I tell you this, for sure:  There are those times - those Kairos times, when access to heaven is instant and effective.  Sometimes they are achingly beautiful, sometimes they come at a price.

My definition of Kairos is exactly this:  a moment or day when past, present, and future collide.  A moment or day that has all the elements of past, present, and even prophetic whispers of the future, all wrapped up and colliding into one moment, one event, or the sequence of events in a day.  My daughters' weddings were very Kairos.  Time seemed to suspend itself, and my heart heard their giggle as small girls, beheld the beauty of them as brides, and saw the faintest hints of the smiles of grandchildren not even conceived yet.  All of it beautifully collided.  Kairos.

But sometimes Kairos feels like spiritual warfare.

That was today.

As I was in the spirit today...gratefully, completely submerged in bathwater and Holy Spirit, I was praying over our situation, praying into the future - which is what you do in a kairos moment, when past, present, and future collide and the veil between them all is so thin.  The Lord very clearly whispered to me:

"I make beautiful things.  It's all I know. It's what I do.  All this? All the pain?  Look at it this way, Beautiful One" (...yes, He called me that...) "Close one eye, and let the other see through the lens of faith...."

"There's your life.  There's your son's life.'s there in my Collide-oscope.  When it all crashes together, the pieces seem to fall apart, past, present and future churning in full view, know this:   I'm at work in the collision, making art of your life.  Turn your perspective around and around, and breathe into the future all the hope and grace and glory you've come to know.  Lean into the pain, and pray into the pain.  The picture will keep changing,as you turn and turn and turn your perspective - adjusting it to look like grace.  The eye of faith - my Collide-oscope - will rearrange it all until it is as beautiful as anything you've ever seen or could have created all by yourself.  I'm here.  I am with you.  I am very near."

He knows what He is making, here in my home.  He makes beautiful things out of the darnedest things.

Life, here at The Cottage?  My family?  We are the darnedest.  We really are.


Me and Little Britches (last winter)

Have I ever told you that being a grandmother is just about life's greatest pleasure? Especially when you get to be the "Mimi" who belongs to "Poppy", and share the great joy and responsibility of grand-parenting together. Tim and I are totally diggin' the role of grandparents.

We are nearing the official countdown...our granddaughter will make her appearance towards the end of July, and you know I will assault  bless you with many pictures!

Can't wait!

When Children Are Grown...

That's my Preacher, up there, on the right.  That's me on the left.  We're fixin' to fly...together...

I realize this is "The Boomerang Generation" - the generation of grown children who, usually through no fault of their own, end up leaving home only to return.  The Preacher and I are living that story ourselves right now.  So are several other families in our church, and people I know all over this country - they, too, have grown children who have returned home for a season.

This is happening in our generation, right now, in numbers that rival The Great Depression.  And my son-in-law has a Master's degree...and works two slackers here!  (Well, the nineteen year old is sometimes another story...)

I say make the most of it.  The grown children living with us are a delight.  I say if your grown children are anything but a delight, politely ask them to live elsewhere.  Assist them in finding a rental with another couple in their same situation (if they are married) or with a young friend.

Point is...when children are is your time now.  Reconvene.  Reconnect.  Recharge.  Make the very most of it, whether your nest is full of boomerang children, or as empty as can be.  After all, both scenarios come with their pros and cons.  It will be your perspective and your focus and your choices that make it "your time now".

So go on, love-butterflies.  Fly.  It's a beautiful day to be together!

(Psssst...this print will be available in the shop!)


I slipped the surly bonds of house and chores today.  I escaped.  I went on a hunt for beauty and inspiration, and this is what I captured for us ~

I might could have shot this in my own back yard...but hunting and shooting on Rich Mountain road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was way funner.

I'm pretty sure this will become a 12x12 print, and go up in the shop.

My Tribe of Creative Women

I belong to a powerful tribe of creative women. Some are outside my church, most are in my church. But we try to make time to be creative together, to learn from each other, and support one another in any and all creative endeavors.

 Some are creative in Children's Ministry, others in Worship Ministry, some are singers, some songwriters, musicians of all stripes...I have young women friends who are gifted dancers, budding professional photographers, and others who are so geared towards the scientific that they dissect mice on their kitchen table...for relaxation and fun.  (Yes, a young friend of mine is majoring in forensic pathology at MTSU, and she dissects things when she is feeling inspired.  Do not picture an awkward, geekish girl.  This girl is stunningly, model-beautiful, with a great personality! And I have found the perfect gift for her, though I won't say what that is, here...)

....other of my women friends are gifted in gardening and sewing and frying chicken (my ambition is to be a "Miss Mary" someday), some wield a mean crochet needle, others can knit you a car cozy in an afternoon....some are budding entrepreneurs (if you would like to start your own business, email my good friend Maria Kear, and she can help you get started doing what she does), some create through cooking and baking, others turn out beautiful blogs (I have to admit, I have encouraged several to begin their own blog - and they've done it!)  some of my women friends simply create tranquil, happy grace-filled home atmospheres that draw their children, husband, and friends happily back to their home over and over and over again.

Creativity is vital to our emotional well being.

I belong to a powerful tribe of passionately creative women.

This is part of a small gift that one of my Creative Women Friends gave me yesterday..a tiled canvas, with my business logo on it, propped on an easel, and a beautifully fragranced body scrub (left of the tiny easel).  There was also a painter's apron with my logo beautifully placed on the front.  She hand made each gift.  It was the most welcome and pleasant surprise.  I took it as a word from the Lord, that I should keep pressing onward and upward with my own creative endeavors.

A "Gahw-geous" Day in East Tennessee is...there are no words. Mid-seventies, sunshine, breezes, beyond gorgeous. So I am making this:

Here is my recipe, (very loosely stated) from my blog post in 2010 entitled "Summer Flavors and Fragrances"...

 Hope you can find time to make it. It is a little time consuming, but so very worth it.

 Looking back over the "Summer Flavors and Fragrances" post, I miss my clothesline. ::sniff::

 Ever since the Great Storm of April 2011 (when we were without power for a couple of days, and our house ended up packed with something like six guests, besides immediate family, which is a lot all by itself - after the storm blew through and took out power, so it's not like anyone came over seeking light and air conditioning - and people were playing board games by candlelight and a Korean man was playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on our piano, surrounded by tealight candles, and I was reading my Kindle with a Brookstone headlamp on my head)

...yeah... I haven't had a clothesline since then...

 What was I posting about? I forgot.

New Canvas

Finished this sweet little thing last night. I was inspired by both the need for more faith in my current situation, and the reward of faith in my life, up to this point! (Faith in the Finished Work of Christ, as opposed to faith in my own self sufficiency...) God has done great things for The Preacher and I - and now, we trust Him for college tuition!

She, and the amazing story behind her, is going up in the shop!