Random Firing of Neurons on New Year's Eve

It's a good think I can rock the sweatpants, because Mr. Baby (grandson) makes me not wanna get actually dressed. It is way too fun to loll about in sweatpants all day, with him laying on his back in my lap, and me talking "wotsa wotsa wittle baby talk to my cutie patootie Mr. Baby."

(Actually, I only hold him a little bit each day, I promise. I let his momma do the holdin'. But I do loll about in my sweatpants and speak in strange tongues...)

Yeah. He's kind of a big deal, and the "current family favorite".

But far be it from this Armchair Philosopher to let a single New Year's Eve go by without some ponderings. 2010 has been, by miles, the best year of my life.

2010 has been, by miles, the worst year of my life.

When you put those two extremes in the balances, and sit back and watch the scales do their thing, here is the result:

2010 has been the BEST YEAR EVER, BABY!!!!! There just ain't no if's and's or but's.

I will not take delight in ("glory in") my stuff. I will not take delight in my health and strength - gifts of sheer grace. I will not take delight in my education (oh, the books - big 'uns - I've read this year! Oh, the Scripture my soul has absorbed. Oh, the things I have learned to do and the concepts I've begun to understand, that I never knew as much about before!)
Yet, it all pales in comparison to Jesus.
I truly have to take delight in understanding and knowing God, whose plan for humanity was the grace and truth that came through Jesus Christ, and this plan was in place before the foundation of the world. The gospel is an everlasting gospel, did you know that? The good news will still be good news when we see Jesus face to face. "T'will be my theme in glory!"
The grace of God, this lavish good news, this epic Plan God made, will be the boast and the glory of heaven, for all eternity. Read your Book of Revelation. And to think...I am only beginning to know and understand it! What unmitigated delight.
A dear prophet friend of ours from across the pond called us yesterday. He said that God had given him a word for us, for 2011. The text was out of First Chronicles, chapter 17 ~

"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: "Who am I, O LORD God? And
what is my house, that You have brought me this far? "And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have regarded me according to the rank of a man of high degree, O LORD God.
What more can David say to You for the honor of Your servant? For You know Your servant. O LORD, for Your servant’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things."

Our friend read that Scripture to Tim, and said, "The Lord says 2011 is The Year of Yet More."

This word brought tears to my eyes, because it witnesses, it coincides perfectly with what the Lord
said to me two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago, I was rejoicing before Him, for the Springtime of the Soul I find myself in. For lo, the winter is indeed past. Do you know what the Holy Spirit said to me? He said:
"All these things that are to you as Springtime, they are but your tulips on your kitchen windowsill in late February, compared to what is just around the corner. All this joy is the mere hint of what is to come, not the whole of it. There is yet more."


Friends, I thank God for the gifts of the Spirit. I say to you, find a church where these gifts are welcome. We are meant to find comfort and encouragement and direction by a "now word" from the Lord. Paul said that by the prophetic word, we are able to wage war.
Thank God that there are still prophetic gifts in the church, and prophets as part of the 5-fold Ascension Gifts. Our across-the-pond friend operates in the office of prophet - using his gift to edify pastors all over the world.

Lastly, (and if you have read this far, bless you!) I will soon be blogging from a sunny, undisclosed location by late tomorrow, or the next day. I say "undisclosed location" because I'm a rock star.
Fear me.

No, actually I say it that way because it's just fun to be cryptic. But we are taking a vacation, seeing some beautiful, historic towns and architecture, walking the beach, and I'll be rockin' the bermuda shorts instead of the sweat pants.

Thank you, thank you, from my heart's bottom, for becoming a follower of this blog this year, for sticking and for staying. I have made precious friends this year, who I have yet to meet - thinking particularly of Susan and Faith, among others...

I propose a toast, to 2011 - it will be OUR year of "MORE!"

Your New Year, In One Word

Words have such power. They literally define moments, days, and lives. I remember, not so long ago, when our oldest son was beginning his downward spiritual spiral, I reached a turning point. Let me explain.

We Atchleys are name callers...in our happy moments and in moments of angst, we name. It is how we celebrate and how we cope. Words are the tools of our trade, they are all we know. So we called our son "foolish" and a "player" and yes, even a "goober".

When I had reached one of my lowest points, and was muttering and name calling, the Holy Spirit said to me, "Rename him." Not "rename him" as in call him Bob instead of Josiah. But rename him as in calling things which be not as though they were.

I cannot begin to tell you how hard that was. You see, he had more than earned the names we'd called him. It had always been a relief and a release, of sorts, for me to call a Spade, a Spade. I am known for that. It feels honest and right and even courageous to tell it like it is.

Religious spirits are the hardest ones to discern in ourselves. Easy to discern in others, hard to see in ourselves. The God of all Grace has a ministry of renaming. Gideon was a "mighty man of valor". Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Saul became Paul, and I too will be given a white stone with my new name on it, one day.

The God of all Grace leads us to tell it like it could be.

So, almost every time (I wish I could say "every time") when a name was on the tip of my tongue, when that son of mine tweaked me the hardest, between clenched teeth, I would sometimes literally groan out these words:

Wise! Pure in heart! Godly! My wise, Godly, pure in heart son.

The rest of my son's story is still waiting to be told, there may yet be some roller coaster rides before his story line levels out. Still - I can't wait to tell the rest of his story, because I am confident in the finished work of Christ. See, government rests on Immanuel's shoulders, not mine. I am free to be in happy relationship with my boy.

All because of grace. All because of saving, sanctifying, amazing naming grace.

I named the year 2010 "Create". And "create" I have. Big masterpieces, like the atmosphere and design of a wedding...and tiny works of art like baby booties, big projects like a kitchen remodel (Tim the Tool Man and I), and smaller projects like a dining room repaint. Last year was the first time that I prayerfully sought God, and then "named" a whole year. It was so effective and so incredible that I am certain I will do this the rest of my life.

Soon, I'll share with you my name for 2011. In the meantime, what will you name the coming year? How will you re-name the circumstances and people in your life that have hurt you, and deeply at that?

God is the God of the New Name.

To Mothers of Babies...

"Life is inherently wearying. Seasons are inherently unbalanced. The sooner we accept this, the less disappointed we'll be. We're better off to abandon the false hope that, with enough money or time, we'll arrive at some ideal state of existence, a place unscathed by burdens and pressures and disappointments and trials. That place is heaven, and no amount of
jerry-rigging the borders on this fallen earth will conjure it here.

The real order of business while earth-bound is to choose, in season and out, what to weary ourselves with, who to weary ourselves for. It's to decide what part of our lives will be lopsided. The direction of our tilt. If our lives are always skewed toward something, and out of kilter in some way, then let's make the most of it and skew them toward the light.

Like the season of raising young children...while Jesus' followers bicker over the credentials for kingdom greatness, Jesus has a little child stand among them. The Kingdom belongs to (them). They have ready access to the kingdom life. (They) live under the rule and reign of God, without hesitation, default, pretence, avoidance. Without even thinking about it.

Your primary job...is to receive the kingdom through (them), and to imitate them in living under God's rule and reign...

Such living calls for a glorious lopsidedness. It calls for choosing the right weariness."

(excerpt from the book Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus in Every Season)

Now that I am finally a grandmommy, finally I am that "older woman", who through obedience to the seasons of my life, is qualified to teach younger women, I want to say something to the mommas...

Young mommy, you are wearying yourself on all the right things. As am I. I weary myself caring for people, too. And I remember when mine were babies. I promised myself I would never, ever forget, and I have kept that promise. Can I tell you? In Kingdom life, you will usually be weary, but if you are loving people (or babies) your weary tired will always be the good kind of tired.

Rest, beautiful mommy. Lay your head upon your pillow tonight, and gain strength to weary yourself again. God receives it as worship.

And if you know a young mommy of babies, please pass this link on to her. I pray it refreshes and encourages her spirit.

Was I Dreaming?

Was I dreaming yesterday afternoon...

...or did I really sit in a peaceful livingroom, just me by myself, rocking my grandson, on a White Christmas Day, watching snow fall, listening to Bing Crosby's "Adeste Fideles"?

...did I really wake up to this?

...and then this?

(little Timothy's "My First Christmas" hat and pj's, from yours truly...)

...did I actually hear that my oldest son has been promoted to Squad Leader?

...did my Main Squeeze really get me the one present I specifically asked for?

(A Fisher-Price Nativity Set) all my "babies" will play with this, every Christmas, at Mimi's house, forever and ever, Amen.

...and a necklace, with my grandson's birthstone, the back engraved with these words: "To The Most Beautiful Grandmother Ever"...was that me, or was I dreaming?

Did I really, really receive a big Jonathan Howe Original? Not a print...an original? Not a "little one"...a big one? Someone pinch me.

And did I really get all those emails and phone calls from friends, just to wish us "Merry Christmas"?
How many times on this blog have I said it? I am living a dream I do not deserve. After weathering the worst, vindication comes in the form of receiving His Best. He giveth more grace.

When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

The LORD has done great things for us, And we are glad.
(Psalm 126)

God Rest Ye Merry!

(my front door - come on in!)

I've always wanted to greet people I care about in this way at Christmas time: "God rest ye merry, my friend."

For many years, I never understood that old carol, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen". It originates all the way back to the middle ages, and was written in old English. In those days, "merry" didn't mean "happy" as it does now. In those days, "merry" meant "mighty". A great and powerful king was a "merry" king, and a great and terrible army was a "merry" army.

"Rest" didn't mean to put your feet up, nor did it mean that you took a nap. "Rest" meant, in old English, "to keep in a continual state of".

"God keep you in a continual state of might and strength, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day, to save us all from satan's power when we had gone astray.

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy! Comfort and joy! Oh tidings of comfort and joy!"

This Christmas, I've been smitten over and over with the simple statement of a great heavenly host. There...filling the heavens...Jehovah Sabaoth, Lord of the Hosts, sent His great host to break centuries and centuries of silence between God and men. God could have commissioned them to say anything. These ministers of His, this great, innumerable host, are as flames of fire, carrying out His Word, down to the smallest detail. They've declared war before, down throughout human history - lots of times.

Would this be that sort of message?

God could have instructed His hosts to give only the facts: "Messiah is here."

He could have sent a message of judgement.

God dropped a bomb, to be sure. He dropped a bomb that would forever make that field in Bethlehem the greatest, most utterly meaningful, most famous "ground zero" of all time. But it was an explosion of joy.

The Grace Message was finally detonated.

A blast of mercy, engulfing the planet. Into the black of the night, into the darkness of our human spirit, came the bright light of Good News. It was tidings of comfort and joy. Jehovah Sabaoth utilized His great host, He sent the mightiest, "merriest" troops in the universe to tell us, "YEAY!" and to promptly throw a party amongst the stars, in full view of a few shepherds.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, Peace....Goodwill....to men."



Let it sink in. Let those two words be the good news they were meant to be. Your very own tidings of comfort and joy.

Merry Christmas, dear ones. God rest ye merry...

How 'Bout YOU Do It?

Interesting experience, I had today. Navigating the crowded parking lots of Knoxville, I pushed my brimming grocery cart to my car, unloaded its contents, and turned to push it all the way back to the area where carts are Supposed To Be. I was feeling a bit virtuous about it. Then, I happened to spy a lone cart. This cart had been left, in the middle of the parking lot, smack dab behind someone's car. For that car to get out of its parking space, the driver would have to move that grocery cart (left by some other rude stranger) out of the way.

I shook my head slightly, and I'm pretty sure I made one of those "tsk tsk" sounds. "People these days."

...and walked right by.

Immediately, I realized that I was just as guilty as the person who left their cart standing in a rude place. I went back, just three steps, and got that cart, put it together with mine, and pushed both to the store. I had almost violated the number one law of love...okay, maybe number two law of love, but it's way up there:

If you notice that a job needs doing, you are the one to do it.

To walk past it, shaking your head at the thought of the other person who was supposed to do that job, is to BE the other person who was supposed to do that job. You just became "them".

If you see it needs done...do it. Don't walk past it, and get irritated with the person who didn't do it, if you won't do it either. That would be hypocrisy at its most deceptive.

Later that day, in another store, for extra measure, just to buffet my body and just to please the Lord, I also picked up some stray trash in the women's bathrooms, and took a moment to straighten merchandise that was plundered. Nothing obsessive compulsive...just small actions to drive home to my own heart and mind the idea that the person who sees the job undone is the one in the best position to do the dang job already.

What Do You See?

"And he looked up and said, "I see men like trees, walking."
Mark 8:24

If you are still under the law, you see "men as trees walking". You've experienced the touch of Jesus, maybe even come to a saving knowlege, but you are not seeing clearly. Yet you might go years - alas, decades, thinking that you see just fine.

Then, one day, you hear the gospel preached by a pastor-teacher who is walking in a New Covenant understanding, and you realize that "seeing men as trees walking" isn't the same as seeing Jesus clearly and centrally. You have not been seeing the world as you could and should.

Does this offend you?

Let Jesus put His hands on you again, afresh. The moment you see the God of all grace, the moment your focus is on the finished work of Christ and not on your performance, you finally see everyone else clearly, and through the eyes of love. In fact, through the lens of the gospel of grace, as taught in all the New Testament, everything in all of Scripture becomes clear.