Identical Twins {My Daughters}

On this day, 26 years ago, my adventure into motherhood began in earnest. I had discovered only two weeks before that I was expecting no, not one big...big...big baby, but two babies.


Dude. When the doctor informed us, the Preacher and I (he wasn't a Preacher then...well he was, but not for a living) nearly fainted.  We didn't even have a stroller for one at the time.

In two weeks time, we went from not having enough for one baby, to having more than enough for two. God so provided, through family and church family (and strangers who happened to hear our story!), over and above what we could ever have done on our own.

And 4 in the wee hours, on July 31st, 1987, my water broke. I woke up The (later-to-become) Preacher and we called the doctor, prayed, and made our way to the hospital.

 How can I ever, ever forget that drive? We were both completely...and very uncharacteristically...silent. Though we knew our lives were about to forever change, the silence wasn't a pensive silence - it was the tangible peace of God. Honestly, I have never felt it quite that way since that morning, as we drove in the humid, soft, southern-summer darkness. I remember thinking what a beautiful night-breaking-into-dawn it was.

We were such babies ourselves, looking back. The Preacher had hair. Big hair. I had big hair. It was the 80's. We were kids, having two kids.

These daughters of ours have been the joy and blessing of our lives. We worked so hard to love them and teach them and give them those proverbial roots and wings. We made so many mistakes...especially me...but all of it is to be expected, and none of it matters, because mistakes are what sinners make.   We all have to get over ourselves and our raising, don't we?  Move.  On. 

We taught our daughters about the grace of God - it covers our mistakes, and so do they.  Our girls have always honored us well and truly.

Happy Birthday, Hannah and Sarah! You are treasured beyond description.

Smartphone App Review - Hair Makeover

My daughter Hannah discovered a fun smartphone app called "Hair Makeover". She snapped my picture, and then proceeded to send me lots of new 'do ideas!

To give you an idea, if you haven't met me, this is my hair...{well, it is also a shameless grandson brag, but you'll grant grace? Thank you...}

Now. Hair makeover magic...behold!

What do you think? ::cough::

Or this:

This is closer. Too dark, but closer.

What do you think of this:

Call me crazy, but I love this color. Not so much the style...this style is too twenty-something-long for my forty-something face. I can do side buns, but not long, long braids.


Actually, most of my girlfriends loved this one. But my hair would never look this way unless I flatironed the heck out of it every. single. day.

I should have been suspicious when the next photo text was quite some time later:

Meet The Preacher. In a manner of speaking.

I have no idea what app she used for this!

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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

Legitimate Authority {Leadership 101}

It has been four years to the week from the point in time which a controlling spirit tried to take out the church where my husband serves as senior pastor.

I call it a controlling spirit, and I am being nice. That is a restrained assessment.

God delivered us, and I can honestly say we are insanely blessed. Not even lying. Anyone who knows us intimately will agree.

Back to what we learned, four years ago. And I can speak of it freely now because...well, because it's been four years. Our church is in a healthy place, with no "controlling spirit" issues.

Perfect time to address issues of control and manipulation, and how it always guns for a legitimate leader.

Manipulation always starts out by assuring a leader that it has that leader's best interests at heart. But give it time. When you cross opinions with a spirit of control in a serious way, things get stiff and ugly. Only the strongest, most legitimate leaders are left standing after an attack of manipulation and control.

The weird thing? The spirit of control always plays the control card. It accuses a leader of being controlling. Always. Bank on it.

Please get this down, and get it down quickly. This is for your good:

All legitimate leadership is strong, decisive leadership.

I know, I know. History shows us that all controlling tyrants were/are also strong, decisive leaders.

Therefore all strong decisive leaders are controllers and tyrants?

A cat has four legs, and a dog has four legs, therefore a cat is a dog? Come on, now.

Friends, let me do something I have not done on this blog in a long time: let me tell you what I sense God is about to do next. We are about to see God show His support of legitimate leadership in amazing, obvious ways. Those who come under the covering of legitimate leadership will be quite blessed.

Why is this?

Because a covering...covers. ::cough::

I am sorry to seem like I am pointing out the obvious, but a covering is far more profound than most Christians know. The enemy of your soul has a goal: to "rain down upon you" all kinds of obstruction and destruction. Being under proper covering keeps some things from hitting you upside the head, that would otherwise hit you upside the head.

I hear some say, "God is my covering." Sorry...but you are not the exception to all Divine Order. You simply are not. God has ordained leadership...He has set human beings in positions of spiritual authority.

Now...before you freak out because of all your bad past experiences, just remember:

A cat is not a dog.

The difference between illegitimate spiritual authority and legitimate spiritual authority lies entirely in two things: track record and motive.

There is no perfect leadership, but the church has been blessed with some leaders who serve the flock of God willingly, and from a motive of the glory of God. And they have a long track record of faithfulness, instead of a string of broken significant relationships.

If you have a leader like that in your that seeks God's glory, preaches an undiluted Gospel of Grace, and has a record of, do not walk, run under his covering. Place yourself there with great joy.

You will be....covered.

That, in days ahead, will be worth everything to you.

I have more to say, but ye canst not bear-eth it now-eth.

Nah...just kidding! I have more to say, but I will make that another post for another day. I have stirred up enough trouble for one evening.


Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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

Our Son Josiah {on a TV morning show...}

It was a local television morning show...we were so excited, and proud of our boy's musical gifts...

YouTube Video

Josiah is also branching out, taking gigs in other cities. He has a regular show in a Cincinatti Ohio casino. He also does weddings and private parties, as well as playing venues all over our city of Knoxville.

To book him (or just tell him that his momma sent you by to say hi...please do, it would be hilarious) you can find him here, as his personal web page is still being built...

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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

She{ila} Art, and the Inspiration Behind the Art...

 "Beloved, now we are the sons and daughters of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be..."
(I John 3:2)

This piece is a charcoal, willow stick, and pastel sketch on 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper.  My initial inspiration was thinking of all the beautiful young women in my life who were graduating from high school and college, this past spring.  As I put the finishing touches on it, my thoughts went much, much deeper.

Not one of us (hopefully) is the same person we were 5 years ago. And it also "doth not yet appear what we shall be." One thing is certain: change. Transition is the only constant in life.

As women, we very much need safe places to become who we shall be. I will go so far as to say we desperately need safe relationships, in which the calling we are growing into, is as cherished and encouraged as all the things we have been in the past.

That is hard to find. Many women don't feel comfortable with change at all, anywhere, much less in you their friend. Maybe they have always known you one a stay-at-home mom, for example. And then, during one life-summer-season, you "suddenly" sprout colorful wings, and begin to exhibit signs of becoming an artist.

This is no silly midlife reinvention of a life you had been unhappy with before.  Rather, it is you gently "becoming"...enlarging into another part of yourself that has been there, all along.

Some of your friends - and even family members - who were perfectly fine with the Stay-At-Home-Mom, may not feel comfortable with the Artist you are becoming.

What's worse...some women may want to get close to you, so they can copy you.

Imitation is healthy, and very different from "copying".  A woman might imitate you because she sincerely admires you.  This is perfectly fine, and that woman can be a perfectly safe and true friend. Another might copy you because she is competitive by nature.  She wants to be your friend, but she can't help herself...when she learns your heart's desires and direction, she then will attempt to one-up you. 

Or there are those who just generally draw from you in ways that only benefit them.  However nice a woman like that can be to your face, she is not a safe friend.  That sort of woman is safe as a friendly, casual association, but not as a supportive friend.  

Precious and few friends are those beautiful ones with whom we are safe "becoming". You would do well to find them.

 If I begin to enlarge, to "become", and I speak of starting an art business, these true ones are not going to suddenly try to one-up me do the same. Rather, they will mirror back to me how very substantial and beautiful my gifts are beginning to be, and give me gift cards to art supply stores, and recommend top shelf resources to me, as I surf this interminable learning curve.  I am so very blessed with beautiful, safe, true friends.  I am safe in becoming the person who "it doth not yet appear" what I shall be.

It goes without saying that I must be a safe person, and affirm their "Becoming" as well...

Nurturing and celebrating and valuing those of us who are becoming, who are in the transition that is an inevitable part of being a woman...

...celebrating "Becoming" is part and parcel of being in the Christian Community of Women...we exhibit ourselves at our best and most winsome when our friends in Titanic Transition are loved and helped along to becoming the most beautiful version of themselves, yet to date!

Support for Becoming. Because when women become...things change.

This original is 12x12, and is available either right here, or in my etsy shop.

Original or Print Option

If you decide to get the print, you will need an 8x8 frame, and they are a bit difficult to find.  (12x12 frames can be found at either Hobby Lobby, or here.  Since the 12x12 is an original, you will want to leave the glass out, when you frame it.  If you want the original, or your print, to come already framed for you, contact me and we can arrange it, and I will invoice you the new price. )

Your new 8x8 print would look lovely in this, very inexpensive frame...

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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

My Favorite {Country} Song

Ah. If you knew me.

Some of you do know me. You know that I love country music...yeah...I'm that kind of southern girl. My first love has been, will always be, the great old hymns of the faith. But when I need a break from my own intensity {which is often} I crank up the country tunes.

Which brings me to my all-time fav-or-ite country tune. If you knew me...this song is exactly me and my Preacher. Just substitute a little red Geo Tracker for the jeep (in this so-sweet music video).

 And as for the Preacher's truck...this is exactly how we roll. Windows down, and my fingers playing with his crew cut on the back of his head. Even the dog! We have a teacup poodle who always rode with us in our little Tracker. We'd go to the mountains, the Preacher and I, and let him out. (Can't do that anymore...he has gotten old, bless his tiny heart!) He was way too little to swim in the creek, but we always had so much fun taking that little poodle with us - sometimes just Tim and the puppy, sometimes just me and the puppy, sometimes both of us...and the puppy.

Enjoy. This is the kind of music that untangles your soul.

SHOP SALE {America, The Beautiful}

I don't do sales in my shop...I don't have to. I sell something every week, sometimes a lot of something's or a big something. And what hasn't sold yet, is happily displayed in my house, or my daughters' homes. I don't make what I don't love!

So a sale is rare, and it is really a sale, and usually only 24 hours in duration.

In honor of July 4th, every purchase over $20 is 40% off! All you have to do, is first purchase over $20 of items, then enter this code in the coupon code box at checkout:


Enjoy, and join me in thanking God for this nation, and praying for its future...

{sale expires on July 5th}

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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

Painting Through My Playlist {...a new series...}

Today, inexplicably, I knew had to be the day. The day I would surf the learning curve and post my first art video.

No, wait. I do not surf my learning curves. My learning curves are straight-up, 90-degree angles. I NASA-launch my learning angles. Unfortunately, I sometimes take the Preacher with me...a willing, if not weary participant in the adventure that is my art business. The following represents 10 hours of my time, with about 5 hours of his mixed in - with lots of, "Oops-sorry-babe-my-bad's" mixed in. He was good about it, working a couple of hours in the early evening, taking a "break" to visit a friend in the hospital, then coming home to edit and mess up and start over and finally upload to YouTube at 1 o'clock this morning.

Then, to get up at 6:30 to be ready for an early morning meeting.

My Boo is the bomb.

I send this out into the world with a prayer...that someone, somewhere would find renewed hope, and faith in Christ Jesus. Truly, He has made beautiful things from the dust of my life...