I Will Glorify God By Enjoying Him Forever...

To understand anything, you must begin with God Himself. His ideas put the ideas of others into their proper context, and His wisdom trumps all. And so, to grasp the concept of "love"....you have to begin with God, who is love.

I could chapter-and-verse this blog entry. I could approach it all from a very scholarly bent, but I'm too tired. The hour is late, and Sunday morning comes early. I absolutely have to finish this post before the eleven o'clock news, because I am feeling quite sure my energies will vanish in a matter of a half an hour.

So. To sum it all up....love is all about delight. God delights in His creation. He delights in you!

I've been brushing up on my Augustinian doctrine lately, and let me tell you, the man had it going on. He taught that you and I cannot possess full knowlege of anything until we love it. And we do not love it until we delight in it.

Delight is both the cause and the effect of real love. In fact, Augustine said, "There is no enjoyment where there is no love." And, "Who can know how good a thing is if he does not enjoy it?"

Dear reader, God is good, and God is love. Therefore, He is the very essence of contemplative delight. He delights in you and I with a full, contemplated knowlege of precisely what we are like. In the words of the contemporary worship song we sing often at Harvest Church:

"...You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same! You are amazing, God!"

Love begins and ends in enjoyment. That's how we can conceivably give our body to be burned, and have no love. It is possible to go through the motions of martyrdom, and miss the whole point of relationship with God and man: which is to simply enjoy them both, God supremely so. We are patient and kind and not easily provoked, we are not jealous with those in whom we take unbridled delight.

Who and what do you enjoy? Who delights you? What delights you? There you will find your heart.

Amplify It!

From the time I was a young girl, I have loved and savored the Amplified Bible. And from the time I knew what the Amplified Version was, I have loved and savored Hebrews 13:5 ~

He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, ][I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

Could it be more clear? Is He ever going to not be there when I call? Will I find that He has stepped away, even if for but a moment? A spllllllllit second? (...the first draft, I wrote "spit second" - and that is almost the same amount of chronological time...)

He will not! He will not! He will not! Assuredly not. He cannot in any degree back down, step away, or be slack in his immediate nearness and complete committment to my soul restoration. He is fully available, forever at work but never "busy", having all the time in this world and the next for me, as though I were His favorite and only child. Every day. Every moment. God Himself.

Yeah, you could say I'm pretty secure. I am possessed of Security Amplified. Security squared...or cubed...or something. All I know, is I can rest.

Chapter IV, In Which God Laughs, (having something to do with Pink Hair...)

You'll forgive me, if I've been reading Winnie-the-Pooh, by AA Milne. If I had a shrink, who knew Children's Literature, it would come Highly Recommended for stress. Alas, I haven't a shrink - but I myself know Children's Lit'rature. I read and laugh, and laugh and read, and find myself reflected in the antics of Piglet, Pooh, Owl, and yes, even sometimes Eeyore.

All the chapters begin much like the title of this blog: chapter thus-and-so, in which Tigger comes to the forest and has Breakfast...

Breakfast, with a capital "B". One must capitalize certain words, when writing about stuffed animals, or else it simply ceases to be Funny.

I was at Wal-Mart Superstore yesterday. "It was a blustery day", and that is not a plagearism of AA Milne's Own Words...though they are his. Ahem. Anyways, picture rain...and more rain....and more rain. A cold rain. A windy rain. I was in the consequential Bad Mood because of it. I had to slosh about my end of town in my rain gear and stretchy pants. Used to being Rather Fashionable, I was having a no good, terribly bad day. I had much to purchase in way of provisions, feeling exhausted for No Good Reason, and had no one to help...

...and so I was grumbley.

I happened to spy a woman in Wal-Mart who was Fashionably Dressed. I, who never feel a pang of envy, wondered what that hot spot was in my chest....could it....could it be....no, it couldn't be. Not I. But there she was - red knit dress peeking out from underneath the perfect trench coat, with the belt wrapped about the waist and tied "just so"; her brunette hair was wound into an elegant chignon (all that rain, you see, what's a Raven-Haired Barbie to do with her voluptuous mane?) and she wore high heeled, black boots. She was perfection, stepping smartly down the toilet paper aisle.

I sniffed at her obvious inexperience with Weather Reports, and hurried on.

It was then I saw the lady with the Pink Hair. Gentle reader, her hair really is a decided shade of brownish pink. But the pink is unmistakeable. You'd do a double-take, too, trust me. And she always wears a pink wool coat. Bubble gum pink.

I say "always", because I would wager that, in the last three winters, I have spied this woman more than a dozen times - in that same pink wool coat, with her pinky-brown long hair. Its a freakish thing, really, for one to always be spotting a woman with Pink Hair, wearing a Pink Coat. It can fray the nerves, actually. I blinked hard, and looked again. Yes. It was her. Again.

I grumbled to myself, "That woman must alllllways be out shopping. I mean, every time I see her, she is out shopping....Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, the shoe store...does she have a job?"

It was then, the Epiphany happened. A still, small, logical voice from deep within said, "I say, aren't you out shopping, whenever you see her out shopping?" Then, I looked straight down at my feet.

Pink rain boots.

I certainly looked just as hilarious, with my grumpy disposition and pink rubber boots. I laughed out loud, and had a Much Better Day.

How quick I can be to judge...

Celebrating Early...

Our dining room at Christmas

I’m starting Christmas early.

It’s so out of character. I was the one who always wondered at anyone who decorated before Thanksgiving. In my mind, Christmas should not begin until after Thanksgiving…don’t let my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) be obscured by Santa and reindeer…or even a nativity scene. Let Christmas have its own time, and let “Harvest Thanksgiving” have its own time.

Noooot this year. I’ve found myself playing Christmas music, and I am going to begin decorating today. (Well, if I can feel better – I’ve caught Tim’s germs – plus we have a basketball jamboree today with our boys, who are playing in a league this winter.) If I can gather energies, I will be decking the halls late into the night, tonight. We don’t decorate the tree itself until the night of Thanksgiving, or the day after….but that tree will be up, lights twinkling, and all other holiday home decorations will be out by mid-week, and Christmas music will be gently wafting into the kitchen, and down through the hallway, and into each bedroom.

I rarely analyze myself – I just go with “it”, whatever “it” is. I live intuitively, and that is far different from living impulsively. It is deeper, and more poetic. I feel around in my soul, and what is found there, I don't analyze….I just go with it. I do not trust myself, per se, but I do trust the strong and vibrant life of Christ in me. I'm not characterized by censoring my every thought or deed.

But this one needed analyzing. In 22 years of marriage, I’ve never rushed Christmas. Why this year? It was then I realized…

This will be the last Christmas with just us six….together. Yeah, Justin will still be here among us – often, if not all the time. But he does go home at night. And he is forever welcome - truly a part of the family.
Something inside me – the deep that calls to deep – is urging me to linger around the manger and the tree this year. Once May gets here (yes….May!) things will never be the same. She won’t come home for summer break, as other girls often do. She will drop by, this summer. She won’t be home for Christmas next year…she will visit on Christmas day. Then she’ll have to visit his family. By then, she'll belong to them too. I will have another son, they an only daughter. That's how this thing called "Godly marriage" works. What is his will be hers, what is hers will be his.

That’s the reality. And it both breaks my heart and thrills my soul, because my Hannah is marrying a man of God, and that is what every mother dreams of for her daughter. This blessing, I will wallow in. I will talk about it, revel in it, and rejoice.

So I am asking you ahead of time to please bear with me as I start the roller coaster ride of “time-between-now-and-May”. Bear with me as I hum carols and bake cookies and clean house like a woman possessed with the notion that time is running out.

I Bequeath...

I own close to 60 cookbooks. And you know what? That ain't nothin'. I have read of women owning hundreds. I suppose, if I were to collect anything other than antique books, it'd be antique cookbooks. Ahem. (Same difference, I know...)

There are a select few in my present collection which I hope that my daughters will fight over when I am dead. I'll look on, from heaven's portals, with immense satisfaction in their wisdom to identify the best of the best. I mean, they are free to split the whole lot of them down the middle, draw straws, play "paper, rock, scissors", but there are some of my cookbooks that are worthy of a good row...a "sissy fight".

"Hearth and Home" by Karey Swan

This one wins "Best All Around". I have gathered more inspiration from its pages than any other cookbook, because it is far more than a cookbook, really. I don't think it is in print any longer, so if you can get your hands on one, you are blessed.

"Nigella Express" by Nigella Lawson

I turn to this one, time and again, when I want ideas for food that cooks fast, that is not fast food, and decidedly is not the typical quick-cook recipe. You won't find many cans of "cream of mushroom soup" in these recipes! Lots of fresh ingredients.

"Make Your Own Convenience Foods" by Don and Joan German
This one wins the "Most Interesting" category. I promise, you'll read it for fun. It is out of print, but you should be able to find it on a website such as http://www.alibris.com/

"From My Sister's Kitchen", and "Better Homes and Gardens"

These two tie for "Most Sentimental". They are my church's very own cookbook "From My Sister's Kitchen" - and the tried and true, red-checked "Better Homes and Gardens" - both are compilations of family style recipes, basic and good for you. Both are great "first cookbooks".

"Return to Sunday Dinner" by Russell Cronkite
This one wins the "Best Appliance Cookbook" category. I realize, I could have placed one of the half-dozen crock-pot cookbooks I have in this category. But I want us to think outside the box. A pressure cooker is the way to have healthy food FAST. (Ya gotta open a lotta cans and boxes make some of those crock pot recipes!) You can take basic foods such as brown rice, beans of any sort, meats, vegetables, and with the guidance from this book, have an amazing meal in a half an hour - with ingredients in it you can control and pronounce. My pressure cooker is electric.
::big Barney Fife SNIFFFF:: Eeee-yup. God equips His daughter.

Last, but not least:

This one gets my vote, because it combines into one beautifully photographed book, three concepts that are very dear to me: Sundays, and hospitality, and slowing down enough to enjoy friends and family. If you are sane, you'll never cook a-one of these recipes for an after-church Sunday crowd. They are not simple enough, by and large, and just don't work for Sunday Hospitality, Atchley-Style. We keep it wwwwway simpler. But this is a gorgeous book, and you won't regret buying it. I pull this one out when I am in the mood to linger over the preparations, create a beautiful table, and a memorable meal. I also display it in my kitchen.

Daughters, take note. When your momma is with Jesus, these are the books you want to snatch each other bald over...
"Cooking Under Pressure" by Lorna Sass

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!