If I Could Save Time In a Bottle...

Come on into my diningroom. Have a seat, because we still have a bit of leftover dinner.

You see above, our empty table. I took the photograph of it exactly as it sits - a modern day still life. That table was full, just an hour ago. That is a metaphor for what will one day be our whole nest. But for now....ah, for now, there are those few evenings in a week when syncronicity happens, and we are all home for dinner. Such was this evening. I had spent the better part of an afternoon making sausage and lentil soup, with a home made chicken stock as a base. Added to this was some easy to make bread, and a Caesar salad, home made dressing.

::perky little sniff::

EEEEE-yeah. It was a labor of love. Well received.

We ate, and we laughed. Somehow, the conversation landed on each of us remembering as many lines as we could from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. ("Come back, and I will taunt you a second time!" ) Our puppy begged for scraps, and daddy indulged him, as usual. A common, every day sight we were...just a family around the table.

But not-so-common. In coming years, it will be a sight that is not-so-every-day. They say you can't get back a moment, once it passes. But I believe, if you blog it, you can have it back again - just in a different way.

Gentle reader, you might yawn at the picture of our now-empty dinner table. You might wonder at a whole post about something so mundane. Can I tell you? It is imperative that you take some pictures of your own, and journal your ordinary life, because you are significant, and your family is unique in all the earth. If you share your link with me, I will visit. I'll read. Record the moments - it is the only way to get them back, when the day comes that your life is suddenly entirely unfamiliar, and nothing looks the same as it once was, those captured moments, digitally or otherwise frozen in time, will bless you.

This blog is an ecclectic mix of things spiritual and things common. I really do see sermons in stones - that is why my blog can run the gamut from Bible teaching, to thoughts on dinner, to a celebration of married love. I came to believe, early on in my adult life, that all of life is spiritual. There is nothing fragmented about me. I don't put ministry in one box, and having dinner with my family in another. All of it is God's life in me. I do not feel compelled to justify a single blog post with a Bible verse. A blog on dinner, and just dinner, delights the heart of God!

Jehovah Raphah has made me a whole person - He has caused me to understand that washing dishes can be worship, and the inspiration to write about washing dishes as worship is a ministry much to be envied. I feel blessed. My life counts, if I never went to a foreign land, or never strapped on another microphone, or stood behind another music stand or fancy podium to teach with my mouth....because teaching with my life is far more impactful and significant.

I cannot save time in a bottle. But I can save it in a blog. I appreciate each of you who visit me here, more than you know. Thank you for putting up with such an unpredictable writer as I.
Oh, family of mine! There never does seem to be enough time to do the things I want to do. And, just like the song says, I have looked around enough to know, ya'll are the ones I want to go through time with! If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do, is to spend every day till eternity passes....with each of you: my Tim, and Hannah, Sarah, Josiah, and Isaac.
But wait. Because of Jesus....the time will come when I get to do exactly that!

A Word Fitly Spoken

Who doesn't love the writings of A.W. Tozer? For your edification, I'm posting a few choice bits from that heart-afire...Tozer. "He being dead, yet speaketh!"

EXCERPT: “…the ministry is one of the most perilous of professions. The devil hates the Spirit-filled minister with an intensity second only to that which he feels for Christ Himself. The source of this hatred is not difficult to discover. An effective, Christ-like minister is a constant embarrassment to the devil, a threat to his dominion, a rebuttal of his best arguments and a dogged reminder of his coming overthrow. No wonder he hates him….”
Spiritual Warfare and Sin

To be entirely safe from the devil's snares the man of God must be completely obedient to the Word of the Lord. The driver on the highway is safe, not when he reads the signs but when he obeys them. ~A. W. Tozer - That Incredible Christian, 51.

Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Don't Suffer Shipwreck

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.... --1 Timothy 1:18-19

Yet the ministry is one of the most perilous of professions. The devil hates the Spirit-filled minister with an intensity second only to that which he feels for Christ Himself. The source of this hatred is not difficult to discover. An effective, Christ-like minister is a constant embarrassment to the devil, a threat to his dominion, a rebuttal of his best arguments and a dogged reminder of his coming overthrow. No wonder he hates him.

Satan knows that the downfall of a prophet of God is a strategic victory for him, so he rests not day or night devising hidden snares and deadfalls for the ministry. Perhaps a better figure would be the poison dart that only paralyzes its victim, for I think that Satan has little interest in killing the preacher outright. An ineffective, half-alive minister is a better advertisement for hell than a good man dead. So the preacher's dangers are likely to be spiritual rather than physical, though sometimes the enemy works through bodily weaknesses to get to the preacher's soul. ~A.W. Tozer - God Tells the Man Who Cares, 90-91.

Whenever the Lord brings Tim or Sheila Atchley to your mind, please do pray for us! We never want to be only "half-alive"... and there have been times and seasons where we have come perilously close!

Be Still And Know ~

Somehow, I always thought that life would slow down, the older my children got.

It hasn't. If anything, the pace has quickened. What once was the occasional Major Event, now comes at me in rapid-fire succession. Take, for example, the last one week alone. I celebrated a birthday - okay, that really is a once a year Event for me. My husband and I went out of town on a brief holiday. We celebrated an anniversary. I taught at a women's meeting. My one daughter got engaged. My other daughter had an unfortunate experience, hopefully a once in a lifetime experience - she is emotionally a bit battered, but she will quickly recover. We had guests on Tuesday. My husband left for Haiti Tuesday night to minister at a week long pastor's conference. My uncle (dear to me) was severely burned, just hours ago, and is in a Nevada hospital - prognosis unknown.

Packed into the over-stuffed suitcase of my days, are also the so-called "small stuff" - little things like home schooling my last one through high school, remembering the birthdays of friends, spending time with the people I care about, cooking for a small crowd every day, cleaning, laundry for six, and baking my once-a-year big batch of Cranberry-Orange Bread.

(Hannah, Sarah, am I lying?? ...my daughters read my blog...)

It's all just another "day in the life of"...another week at the ranch....another chapter in the saga. This is our new "normal". I'm actually used to it; but sometimes, I do admit, to feeling tired to my very bones.

Now, more than ever, I need stillness. I was stunned to discover that the Hebrew word for still, as used in Psalm 46:10, and the Hebrew name for "The Lord, our Healer", is the same word, perhaps a Hebraic homonym: Raphah.

I don't think that is an accident. It is not a slip of the Divine tongue. It is not word semantics. Stillness heals. Stillness is a Person.

Some of us have experienced such prolonged seasons of upheaval and so many years of crowded schedules, that we need a prolonged season of stillness. If God is leading you by still waters, dear one, trust me, it is because you need it. Follow His lead, and linger there. I envy you, in the holiest of ways. ::she says, as she smiles::

For now, I shall have to survive on small doses of outward stillness - while actively seeking to live in life-giving, mending, healing inner stillness. The stillness of a perpetually restored soul.

Be still (raphah) and know that I am God: to sink, relax, let drop, abandon, refrain, forsake, to let go, to be quiet, to show oneself slack...

I am the Lord that healeth (Raphah) thee: to heal, make whole...

Maybe....just maybe...to allow things to Be What They Are is medicinal. To sink down into stillness, to relax, to just drop it, can be the very Balm in Gilead we are longing for. Abandoning our "chariots and horses", refraining from asking Egypt to save us, forsaking our own understanding, unleashes healing and delivering power. To stop the endless talking, to let go, and allow ourselves to seem lazy in the eyes of get 'er done, graceless Christianity - might very well save our health. It will at the very least preserve our soul, and renew our strength.

I want my life to mirror the beauty of the Lord. Waters with little motion are the most reflective.

He Maintains My Soul...

"He leads me beside still waters..." a photo taken on our anniversary getaway.

I have been soaking in some old, familiar passages lately. They come to life for me, repeatedly, and bring me great hope and consolation. One of these familiar mainstays is Psalm 23:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I have been smitten by the phrase, "He restoreth my soul". The concept of stillness has been overtaking my thoughts these days - this whole idea of being still before God, and being still before my circumstances.

You cannot be still without a fully restored soul. A less-than-restored soul is a soul that frets, fears, fumes and flails about for a solution, and panics when no solution is in sight. An unrestored soul is anything BUT still.

You cannot restore your own soul. Such a dilemma...

I bring you good tidings - good news! GOD is fully committed to the full time job of soul restoration. If you look up that precious Hebrew word "restore", you will find a connotation that of "over and over again and again". In fact, I counted up the number of times, in the mere definition of the Hebrew word "restore", that the word "again" is utilized: twenty times.

Again and again and again and again and again and....you get the idea. God restores my soul as often as necessary. This "restoring my soul" thing is a Self-designated focus of the Lord of the universe. He considers it His ongoing, daily avocation...the thing He delights to do for me. This Lord is my shepherd....oh, I shall not want!

Over and over, every day, again and again, twenty times a day and more, the Lord wants to refresh and revive you. He will, time and again, pick up your disheveled soul, dust it off, and set it to rights. He longs to breathe new life into you - right now. And then again. And then again.

Oh saint, do you hear me?

It is his avocation (not by constraint, but willingly He shepherds you, dear one!) to cheer you, enliven you, prod and quicken your spirit. He enjoys rejuvenating you, invigorating you, healing and rebuilding you, and He considers it His good pleasure to do it over and over and again and again and again.

Consider yourself rebuilt and reinstated, oh crumbled soul! Be strengthened, twenty times over, by the very hand of the Good Shepherd.

He restoreth my soul!

We Said I Do ~ She Said Yes

Twenty-two years ago yesterday, Tim and I said "I do". We got to celebrate our 22nd anniversary in a very interesting way...22 years ago, her father and I said "I Do"...

22 years later, she said "...yes..."

Justin McConnell, and our daughter Hannah ~ engaged 11-08-2008!
Proud Papa...relieved Papa...(that Justin's a good man!)

We're blessed...

The LORD is My Righteousness

Such an appropriate old hymn, after the rousing grace-message my Tim preached on Sunday...

I Once Was a Stranger by Robert McCheyne (live link to Cyberhymnal)

(Jehovah Tsidkenu, the LORD my Righteousness)

I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.

Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!

Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This “watchword” shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.

Let My Birthweek Begin!

Gift card for a pedicure...God loves me silly.

Just call me Achsah. It'll make sense when you're finished reading.

Today's my birthday. Actually, its my birthweek, because I don't just have birthdays. God began giving me gracious gifts yesterday...the first one came in the form of a very tender conversation with my precious daughter Sarah. She quietly came into my room, where I was sitting by my little electric fireplace doing my typical Sunday morning Bible reading. What she said to me brought both a smile and a tear. It was bittersweet. She is so not in an easy season of life, but that girl of mine is willing to make the "tough calls" - she steps up to the plate every time, she leads when sometimes no one else will, and she has always ultimately chosen the fear of the Lord.

To have a daughter who will come and sit down and tell her mom, in detail, all that is going on in her heart? I am blessed among women...I do not deserve it, I have not earned it, but God has given me daughters who honor Him.

Then the Lord gave me a word from His Word to me - an intensely private and infinitely valuable word, one that brought me to more grateful tears. I think my make-up stayed on all of five minutes. It was gone BEFORE I even left for church yesterday.

Then, yesterday afternoon, my oldest son got a haircut. Just for his momma. Oh, outrageous joy! I was over the moon...stay tuned, because I intend to post a picture of this man, who with a haircut, is "GQ material" - fer shure.

Then I was lavished with love-gifts at church:

More love-gifts,I tenderly placed where I'd enjoy them every day:

I am now loaded with a personal, private stash of "narcotics for mothers" :

Then I had surf n' turf, cooked for me by friends...I believe I went home a full jeans-size larger. Once home from dinner, I came home to a berry cake made for me by my OTHER daughter, Hannah...she cleaned my bedroom and bath...got me a new book....and then a set of CD's on the life of Ruth Bell Graham.

...and best of all, each of my four children pitched in to get this:

Can you see it, in the back? Yup. A generous gift card to the local spa. Ohhhh, baby. This momma is now officially spoilt plumb rotten. Children, you do this to me every single year. Thank you....you know I adore each of your unique little selves. I love you so stinking much it hurts. Loving you will always hurt me more than it hurts you....HA! I love you with a ferocity that leaves me feeling helpless, and I will love you like this forever. Think about that.

And the day is not over. I have to leave...right now....to have lunch with my mother. My sons are hatching yet more birthday delights for me, to be revealed at some later time today. My husband cryptically keeps saying, "The day's just getting started...this day is far from over!"

So like Achsah...I have decided that "more" is an okay thing to ask for and to enjoy. "Father, you have given me so much. Give me also this other thing my heart asks of You!" This abundant, blessed, "more" kind of birthday is special beyond description.

"More" later...

And it came to pass, when Achsah came to her father...Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou? And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs. (Judges 1: 14, 15)