The Best Christmas Gift { marriage...}

{my preacher loves this, and said it took the words right out of his mouth...}

Can I put on my Preacher's Wife hat for a minute? I don't do that all the time, here. But if you will indulge me, I hope to share some perspective with you.

It's Christmas, and we are all trying to create a sense of peace and homey-loveliness.

What is it that gives a home that "homey" feeling? What makes a home an actual haven? We can say "a home should be a haven"...we can make sweet signs, calling our home a haven...

But if the grace of God isn't evident, if the people who live there aren't cared for properly within the walls of that home, if legitimate authority isn't honored there (oh, that is a big one!)...

...there will be no tangible, sweet peace there.

Because it isn't about a home's architectural style
And it isn't about the decor.
It isn't the color of your paint...
Or the quality of your home's materials.

It isn't about the view outside your window,
Or your square footage.
It isn't {even} the art that adorns your walls...
Or whether you're country or urban or suburban.

Honestly? A home is a haven when the one woman loves the one man and the one man adores the one woman. A home is a haven when authority is acknowledged, and honor flows upwards and downwards easily. In short? A home is a haven when no one wants to leave, and there is a sense of peace.

And all those things begin with a marriage filled with honest respect and secret passion....void of belittling sarcasm and unbelieving cynicism.

To borrow from the great F. Scott Fitzgerald, when two people love each other like that, that is the beginning of everything.

Angels sing over that home.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

The End of a Blessed 2013 {...a review of the last couple of months}

I am down with a horrible flu. It went from a bad cold, that lingered for a month, into a flu, complete with 102+ fever! I have taken some medicine to bring my temperature down, and I want to use this little window of time (between uncontrollable napping) to be grateful for all that has transpired since I began my October {31 Days of Celebrating Middle Age} project.

The Preacher and I had the joy of bringing our daughters, their husbands, and our grandbabies to our old family vacation spot...

Then we celebrated my birthday...

{two of my most cherished gifts - both the grandbabies and the sketches by son-in-love Jonathan Howe}

Decorated (late) for the fall...

Celebrated my wedding anniversary with my Best Beloved...

{We didn't write on the barn...this is a close up of a photograph-encaustic art piece that I created from one of The Preacher's camera shots from that day!}

Had a successful fall launch of my new jewelry and bag designs, as well as a successful local art show...

Celebrated Thanksgiving at my daughter Sarah's home {beautiful table setting, no?}

Went out the next day to get three Christmas trees...

Took some of the family to our local Fantasy of Trees, benefitting East Tennessee Children's Hospital (money well spent, if you have ever had a child in the hospital, as we have...twice).

Then, we took each grand baby out by himself and herself to ride the Christmas Train and have lunch...

Enjoyed a Christmas play by our church's drama group...

(Sorry for the blurry pictures...)

And was so blessed this week to receive a Christmas card from an art client I had done a commission for, at my first art show, way back this past spring, in Atlanta...

Somehow, I managed to be sick through almost all these pictures and events. Yet I still count myself blessed and highly favored...

(I know, right? "DUH!" Of course I am!)

I would appreciate prayers for healing - my immune system must be exhausted from the busy 2013 year! And I pray health and good tidings of comfort and joy to each of you, my friends.

{our 2013 Christmas mantel, with its 10 stockings}

{a beautiful nativity...hand made for me this year by a friend}

Have a merry, merry Christmas!

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

An Advent Gift

Tonight, as rain drummed the roof, there was a knock on my front door. To my blessed astonishment, someone had arrived to deliver a gift...

...a hand made nativity. A hand made manger. A babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

I keep staring at it. Gripped yet again/again/again by the miracle that is Grace.

God rest me merry...

...I wonder what other wonders he has in store for me, between now and the end of the year?

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Yes...This. {Underlined Bits}

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Gratitude For Some Things Being Different {30 Days of Gratitude, In the Middle, FOR the Middle}

This post is a reach. I know that. But sickness can make one speak in strange tongues. "30 Days of Gratitude"...yeah. The reading has been most edifying the last couple of days...


Shooting a flare up into the sky tonight. No matter where you are in the world right now, if you see my signal, make your way towards it.

Bring cold medicine. And if you happen to find my voice, bring it with you, if you don't mind.

I've lost it.

My poor Preacher is slowly going crazy, what with the mandatory Vow of Silence in this house. We are going into our 6th day of me not being able to talk. I swear, today the strain is showing on his face. It's like he has aged ten years in one week.
He is relational, big time. Our lives sort of revolve around the spoken word, and our conversations are always rich and easy and done out loud.

Sick. Of. Whispering.

Can't wait for Thanksgiving tomorrow! The family will all be gathering at my daughter Sarah's house tomorrow - adorable granddaughter pictures will be forthcoming. This Thanksgiving year will be different in two - no, three - ways:

My youngest son will be unable to be there for the first time, ever. He will be working. This makes me proud and happy. Truly. He is beginning to make it all on his own! Both he and his brother are working hard and making it with no help from us other than the occasional momma's home cooking.

As it should be. Much, much to be thankful for. We are loving being empty nesters. An empty nest, when accompanied by sweet and full relationships with all fledglings, speaks of a job done right. Nests are supposed to empty. It's good and natural.

Such grace.

The second thing: Hannah, Justin and our monkey will be with Justin's family this year. Again...makes me proud and happy. The McConnells are a fine clan - my daughter married so well.

The third way that everything will be different? If I don't get my voice back very soon, my own special brand of humor will be missing from the event.

What will the family do???

Pray, friends. Pray big.

This simply cannot be allowed to happen.

Do you see that flare in the sky?

Gratitude for Stuff and Things {Ramblings of a Writer Down With the Flu}

So the goal was 30 posts on gratitude, in 30 days.

Then, The Wretched Plague set in. So I need a break from deep thoughts, because my thoughts don't go deep right now. I have no voice, and an elephant is sitting on my chest. My favorite pants have no pockets, and I had no Kleenex until this morning. Just thought I'd share.

But I still feel gratitude, from my messy bun to my desperate-looking toes (sadly in need of a pedicure. Self-care is not my strong skill set...that is why I teach it.)

A small-business-owner, and new-ish friend of mine hosted an open house "Meet The Artist" night in her home last weekend....for me. I was overwhelmed, right there. But add to that the turn out on a rainy Friday night - and the fact that I sold several of my originals, sold out of some jewelry pieces, and was able to share God's favor in the Gospel with some women I had never met until that night... can I not be grateful? I looked around at the faces, as I spoke on the unearned favor of God, and I saw tears in the eyes of several women - all of them professionals...nurses, small business owners, even an engineer...

New design that sold, and more orders placed....

She sold, and four more of her must be created, soon as I can move my body into the studio...

This one sold and I was almost sad....because I wear it often, and always get compliments.

"Brave, Bold, and Beautiful" may or may not have sold. Today is the deadline. She may still be available!

This bag style sold out. I am working on another run, but I don't think I can source this beautiful tapestry and get more made before Christmas. All my bags have lavender sachets sewn between the outer tapestry and inner lining. All come with a personalized, stamped leather strap...inspiring words like "blessed" and "grace" and "loved" stamped discreetly above the rivets...all come with a metal ring, ready to receive a piece of my artisan bag jewelry...

Sorry. I truly am not trying to sell you here on my blog. I have a website for that. It's just that I honestly get excited over the work of my hands. I am passionate about my art and designs. If I weren't, I should not be offering them. Life's too short to just pimp your need to feel geeked-up over what you have to offer.

I am so geeked.

And grateful.

Add to that....this:

I know. You want me to stop bragging and get on with my bad self.

(this girl is also still available....truly, my original art is almost sold out. Email me if you want her...she is a 5x5 canvas original)

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...