Mixed Media Art {...from the studio...}

Some mixed media art, from my studio today...not yet finished, but she springs from such a deep place of brokenness and joy:

I accept the glory and grace I have been crowned with.

I have no righteousness of my own...I don't wear this crown because I keep the law of God.

The conclusion that I have it precisely because I have broken God's law is part of accepting the crown, see. The deep and profound revelation that I could never earn it...that I am a sinner...that I need His loving kindness and tender mercy as much or more than my prodigal sons or anyone else's prodigal daughter...

...this knowledge invites me to trust in His Finished Work...lets me wear forgiveness like a crown.

I am educated, cleaned up, churched, and living in a nice home by most standards...but that could never change the fact that on my best day my heart is trailer trash.

Yet...look at that crown!

I will lay it at His feet on that day. It is His, anyway. Christ's righteous reward, placed on my head - my heart bends in worship at the thought.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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A New Favorite

This week marks the first "official" day of summer. The summer solstice is June 21.

"No price can be set on the lavish summer;
June can be had by the poorest comer."
~James Russell Lowell

I can't believe it. No one who knows me well can believe it, either. Summer is now my favorite season.

I live an examined life, in the sense that I know things like what God is saying in this season of my life, that I strangely crave avocado when I rarely ate it a year ago, and what time of year is my favorite. I have always loved autumn best...until the last couple of years.

I think this is what changed my mind:

Long summer nights, driving with the top down, the Preacher and I listening to the rhythmic song of cicadas. Yes. That did it.

We miss our "Barbie Jeep" like we miss our kids sometimes...which is a LOT. (Our nest is now empty, which makes us long for the Barbie Jeep even more...). She gave up the ghost summer before last, may she rest in peace. It is our prayer and heart's desire to find another mint condition spam can. (The other loving nickname we gave to our red Geo Tracker with its tiny rag top.)

If you get the chance to buy one, grab it. It'll make you love summertime.

Between the sunflowers and my garden, the crickets chirping, and the birds singing...I am in love and over the moon about summer, in spite of our drippy southern humidity, which some deem to be that little taste of hell that makes you get religion.

Enjoy your summer, friends! Like another poet said, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date!"

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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This Belongs in My House...

You can find this sign for sale on Etsy, "Between You and Me Signs" by Tara on Etsy...if you do a search, you shall find.

If you know us well at all...if you know us even a little bit...you know this sign belongs in our home.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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That Still, Small Voice {Heed It}

That inner witness that all Christians have...the one that, sometimes without any words, comes as an impression or direction or conviction...

...it is a miracle.

The voice that reminds us to love our husband, to give a little extra tenderness to a friend, to respect authority...

...it is an other-worldly, incredible privilege that you, Christian, tend to treat as a commonplace thing.

...that inner witness that is grieved at selfishness, or disturbed by immodesty which always eventually becomes some form of immorality which New Covenant Gospel commands that we flee...that inner witness that twinges at gossip and disobedience...

...the voice of wisdom that used to cry out in the street, but now sounds more like the voice of our pastor or our mother...

...the ruminations of a renewing mind, that is all too slowly learning to comprehend what is the width and depth and height of the love of God...

...the conclusions of a sanctified thought life that decide that a God of all grace is a God worth knowing...

...and worth making known - which entails leadership, which entails the sacrifice - not of our money or our time as much as our preferences and personal freedoms and dearly held opinions and most cherished family relationships.

All these inner witnesses of all degrees and intensities, they are voiced and heard in the spirit of a Christian every day.

They are miraculous. They are what Christ died for us to have - our God, within! His voice, His ways, within!

Ignore them to your profound loss and harm. Hear God in your very midst...within...and you shall not be moved. A serene confidence leading to an incredibly rich lifestyle will be yours as a gift.

Today, if you hear His voice {and if you are His, you will} harden not your heart.

Grace and Peace,
Sheila Atchley

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When You've Lived Nine Lives in a Week

No one can know the week I have had...and I mean literally, no one can know.

Clergy confidentiality is alive and well.

I am fine with telling all my business, and each of my children have always understood and accepted our family's policy of transparency. Even the prodigals "get it"...they are okay with The Preacher and I keeping no secrets...we don't share details, but we don't keep secrets.

So if you want to know my business, just ask me.

But my family has another policy...the whole family. I am so proud (in that healthy-proud sort of way) that my family as a rule will not casually discuss other people, unless we are speaking well of them.

Like, seriously. We don't. We. Just. Don't.

Not because we are necessarily that holy. To tell you the truth, we simply take healthy pride in our service to the Bride. Honoring others is a fabulous lifestyle, one that works for us. God favors us because of it...not because we've earned His favor (no one but Christ has ever earned anything), but because it is His character and nature to honor those who love His bride enough to serve her...even behind closed doors, even in every day conversation.

If you haven't been living by the same culture of honor, I encourage you to try it. It is, if nothing else, just a lovely, low drama way to live.

There have been splashes of beauty, even in what has been a hellacious week...

...this boy...and this girl...our church's senior graduates...

....this day...

...business is good...

...meals like this...made from scratch...

...and this...I eat like this usually once every day, if not every meal. Don't be a hater. I am not a health food nazi...it's just so yummy!

...also once a day, most days...I promise it is so so good.

My Preacher cut a hole in his truck this week...

...which gave me great pause...

...but the man has mad skills...

...and can do anything g...

...and ain't nothin' hottern' that. Just sayin'. A lotta years of marriage, a little middle age spread, but he still makes me fan myself when he does any of the following: works with his hands - preaches - plays drums - plays with his grand babies - sings "hey, mamma rock me" to me.

...my peonies...

...and hydrangea...

Here's to a boatload of grace poured on my life this week, and even more hope for a much better week next week.

Glad this one's over, I won't lie.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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50th Anniversary

See those two kids up there? That's my parents, 50 years ago.

Tonight, my Preacher and I reserved an entire semi-private room of a restaurant, and treated the whole clan to dinner, to celebrate.

(chaperoning these kids to their own 50th anniversary celebration...)

Every member of the family came, all the way down to the littlest one:

I noticed during the course of the evening, as we laughed and ate and ate and ate...two complete strangers in the other room were observing. They even turned their chairs and leaned to be able to see everything!

When I made a little time to step out of our room to greet them, I noticed one lady had tears in her eyes.

She said, "I'm sorry to be so nosey, but your family is so special. We couldn't help but notice all the decorations, and the fact that those must be your parents and some of those young people must be your children. And those babies are beautiful."

The look in her eyes....well, I cannot quite explain it to you. Wistful, I think.

At that moment, my youngest son, who overheard our conversation, stepped out, put his arm around me, and said, "I am sure you wonder where I got my height. I am the tallest one in the room...and I am this beautiful woman's son. I got my height from the UPS man."


I expected the moment to be totally blown for these people...for the testimony of it all to be lost.

They. Ate. It. Up.

They thought my boy was the cutest thing they'd ever seen. They nearly rolled in the floor laughing.

Later, I saw them ask my daughter Sarah if they could hold my grand daughter! Who does that??! I was so tickled at these strangers and their longing to participate in the celebration. It truly did not offend me...it was the icing on the cupcake of a perfect night!

Sarah let them try to hold her...and of course, little Aidyn Esther howled in protest.

And my grandson practically had them eating out of his hand. Then my mother went out of our room to their table and showed them one of her gifts from the night...

...and we said goodbye to them as we left.

Yes. I have a goodly heritage.

Happy anniversary, mom and dad!

My family. Every relationship, intact and thriving, in spite of the tremendous strains that imperfect families experience.

Tonight was, for me, living a dream I have not earned and do not deserve.

My family. Trophies of grace, we are....and I can honestly say that even strangers can see something special there between us.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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The Beverage Station {Keeping House}

At the end of every year, I begin praying and meditating on what to name the following year. And every year, the year lives up to its name.

Just for the next little while, I am naming seasons within the year. This is a new practice, and one I don't expect to do a lot, but the leading of the Lord is clear, at least for the summer.

The year 2013 is my year of "Harvest". This summer season, is a season of Keeping House, in the context of my harvest.

It began, as all blessed things do, with the house of God.

My Preacher has never "dwelt in paneled houses while God's house suffers...". He has always made the building where our church gathers a priority, even above our own home, many times.

And I am so okay with that. Because My Father "makes it up to me" in beautiful ways.

Weeks and days and hours have been spent keeping house in the "house of God" recently. God has promised a "harvest" for everything we put our hand to this year, and into the next. We have a clear word.

But we have to be putting our hands TO something that is His Kingdom, not ours.
Then, "all these things" will be added. I am trusting God to bless my physical dwelling...my house...this summer. I am believing God will supply the means and the way to do some much needed home keeping here where the Preacher and I madly enjoy an empty nest...

That has a little something to do with coffee. See, we've upgraded to a Keurig Vue. Latest model, the V700.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. God loves His Preachers and their intrepid wives.

So I designed a Beverage Center...capital letters.

This is my first kitchen stop of the day, and the last at night. The whole family loves this spot.

Lemons and limes for water...peppermint sticks for hot chocolate...marshmallows too...fancy corkscrew, and a sparkling lemonade. Also raw sugar.

My juicer, for fresh orange juice, or making lemonade... and the Keurig Vue...which is the bomb dot com. It makes lattes, it froths the milk part. It makes hot cider, or iced tea or iced coffee or hot chocolate or Starbucks coffee. It dispenses anywhere from espresso size, to travel mug amounts, and you choose the temperature.

Now that we are no longer serving coffee to a daily crowd, the Preacher and I can afford (most of the time) to keep a stash of high-end K-cups (Vue cups) on hand.

The stash of coffees and teas and ciders and sugar substitute is in the drawer, at the Beverage Station. Help yourself. Have a glass of wine, too, if you are over 21.

One. Glass.

Mamma needs her grape juice, I ain't good at sharing. No, actually, the One Glass Rule is a personal boundary I keep, even privately. It's all anyone needs to enjoy with dinner.

Our mason jars (we drink our corn, here in Rocky Top. Just kidding.) and grand baby cups, my Mimi cup, our stemless and stemmed wine glasses, travel mugs, extra mugs, and our green dinner glasses, above the Beverage Center....again, capital B, capital C.

It's just a small thing, this Beverage Center, but it speaks to my season of home keeping as a special focus. It blesses my man, and makes our grown kids feel special, and it is that extra touch of hospitality that says, "We love it that you came here!"

And I actually do look forward to going to bed at night, because I know my Preacher will be making my coffee as soon as my eyes open, in the morning.

I also look forward to sharing with you all the ways I will be keeping house this summer. I am thinking God is going to open up His storehouse of blessing over this house...my house...because we make His house our first priority. We can't earn it, and don't deserve it...we just can't out-give Him.

Grace and Peace,
Sheila Atchley

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