Your {Simple Yet Powerful} Playsheet is Ready...

As promised, I prepared you a "Tolerations Playsheet".

 And she is deceptively simple.

Because science confirms that the head and heart and hand are intricately connected, and it is hugely important to write things down.  One powerful thought:  you cannot write something down, while thinking about something else.

To journal, write, or otherwise document with your own hand what your thoughts are, requires that you begin to process your life on a deep level.  Try it.  Trust me.

To get your own PDF file that you can print, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and sit down in a quiet place with, simply email me with the word "Playsheet" in the subject line, and include your email address.  I will send your very own coaching playsheet, at no charge.  Yours will look slightly very different than the one you see below...below is the beta version, but it will give you an idea.

Now, onto the coaching...

Here are your instructions:

~ Identify your top three tolerations.  Make sure that if you are living with a huge toleration      (explanation here) that you are completely honest with yourself, and list that at the very top.  Then, simply identify two more...the two that bother you the most.  You are writing these "top three" down in order to bring them into your conscious are  "putting them on your radar screen" so to speak.  They may actually be SO huge that you will not be able to address them quickly or easily.  That is okay.  You will be surprised how much your mind and heart will begin to search for wisdom and solutions, all on their own, simply by observing fact and calling it what it is:  a toleration.

~Next, list three tolerations that will cost you nothing to address.  This is for the "quick win"...and trust me, you need and want a quick win, because the first and last lists are going to kick your butt.  You will eliminate these tolerations within the week.

~Last, identify three tolerations that by nature mean that you will have to initiate a conversation with someone you live with...not one of your friends.  These last three "requiring a conversation" tolerances may be much the same as your first three (the three that must stop "NOW").  Or, your tolerances that require a conversation may be completely different from your three biggest ones listed at the top of your playsheet.

It's your life, it is your time to think and be compassionately honest with yourself.  (I don't believe in being brutally honest with yourself - but that is another coaching moment for another day...)

Fact is, many of our tolerations DO involve family members.  Friends?  Not so much.  Most of us don't live with friends - unless you are single and sharing a space with room mates.  If so, think of them as family.   Something about them may qualify as an unnecessary tolerance that "requires a conversation".  Otherwise, with friends, I recommend patience, unless the behavior of a friend is crossing important boundaries.

But those we live with, family or otherwise, can present us with challenges that we sometimes learn to tolerate.  Notice I did not say "challenges that we choose to be patient with"...that is different.  No, I am talking about things we are tolerating that we should not be tolerating - both for our own sake, and the other person's sake.  It blesses no one when one person is tolerating another person.

Think with me:  is there someone in your everyday life, whose behavior has caused you to come up with elaborate coping mechanisms?  You may really have to print your sheet out and take time to ponder, because this is a "live" one - as they say in the coaching industry.

Why?  Because often our coping strategies become so engrained, we don't even notice them anymore.  For example:  an adult, unemployed child comes home, obviously in a bad mood, and you automatically begin either trying to deflect his mood, or isolate yourself elsewhere in your own house, or eat a whole pan of brownies.  (That may or may not be autobiographical in nature...)

Girlfriend, it is time for a conversation.

We all have a few tolerances that require a calm, well-thought-out conversation with a family member who we love dearly.  I promise you are not the only one.  You must:  1.  think through what you need to say, and 2.  schedule these conversations, also within one week.

The only rule for that last list:  that you request no more than fifteen minutes of anyone's time, to discuss the issue.  Word of counsel:  the more emotional the subject, the more public your discussion needs to be.  For example, if you are addressing an emotionally touchy topic, you carefully plan what needs to be said, you request 15 minutes of the loved one's time at a coffee shop, and you lovingly, peacefully speak your peace, and then get feedback.  This keeps both of you on task, as neutral as possible, on target, and taking no unnecessary emotional side roads.

You are guaranteed to at least be well on your way to a breakthrough in 15 minutes flat, if not experiencing full-on breakthrough in 15 minutes.  It can be done, and in fact is done all the time.

Again, if you'd like a playsheet that you can sit down with, think, sip coffee, and have a "come to Jesus meeting" with yourself, just email me with the word "Playsheet" in the subject line, and include your email address, so I can send you the PDF I developed.

What Are You Tolerating {...that you shouldn't be...}

Tell me what it is you are tolerating, right now this minute.

Did you know that almost everyone has at least a hundred ( "tolerations" active in their life at any given time?  It is no wonder we feel anxious, stressed, and experience aches and pains in our physical bodies.  

"Tolerations" are what life coaches call all those things you put up with...walls that need painting, closets that need purging, clutter on the tables, flower beds that need weeding, and cars that need maintenance.  (That list may or may not be autobiographical in nature...)

I am not talking about areas of your life where you need to develop patience, as in a husband who isn't romantic enough, or a child with an annoying habit.  Develop patience.  Train your child.

No, I am talking about the distractions...the draining annoyances...the pebbles in your shoes that are telling you that you should just stop...remove your shoes...and get rid of the pebbles.  

Your level of satisfaction in life...even your ability to attend to the things of God without distraction, is directly related to the number of things you are tolerating.

Sure, you could go swimming in your jeans in an emergency...but every time you swim?   That'd just be annoying.

That is what life lived with tolerations is like:  swimming in your jeans.  How does it feel?  Are you relaxed?  Do you feel free?

Some tolerations are huge.  So huge, we have no business tolerating them on any level.  Some examples would be:  having no church home, carrying a mortgage that you cannot afford, an unemployed adult child living at home paying no rent, disrespect from said adult child (or any child), emotional or physical abuse from a spouse.

The huge tolerations are no-brainers...any woman in her right mind knows she needs to put a stop to those things, somehow.   But the big tolerations are often very, very hard to reduce and eliminate.

However.   You must eliminate them.

Other, more minor tolerations will still hinder those we love from receiving our best, and they keep us from accomplishing our goals with the ease that ought to be characteristic of a Christ-follower.  Ask yourself how much of a "peaceful, non-anxious presence" do you have?  If no one has ever told you that they feel peaceful when they are around do not have a strong, obvious, non-anxious presence about you.  Time to take step one in cultivating an atmosphere-shifting, serene, non-anxious presence (it is your gift to others), by eliminating your own tolerations.

I am currently developing a fun-sheet (as opposed to "worksheet") to help you identify the tolerations in your life, and even come up with a short-term game plan to address them.

Go ahead.  Don't wait for the playsheet, and don't wait for me to coach you (though I would be glad to, if you want to make an appointment.  You can reserve a spot by clicking here). 

Do this:  Eliminate two smallish-yet-draining tolerations in your life by Monday.  Sew that button back on.  Clean your car.

You won't believe how much lighter you  feel.  I promise.  

Journaling Questions:

What is my "huge" toleration?  What is one thing I have no business tolerating, but have been tolerating?

Why am I tolerating it?

What am I afraid of?

Pray over the things you discover...

Post edit:

The FREE "Tolerances Playsheet" is now available!  All you need to do is drop me a line and request the worksheet (I call it a "playsheet"), leaving me your email address.  I will promptly send you the PDF!  As simple as this playsheet is, I think you will find it insightful...I added one exercise at the bottom that will really make you think.

{Warning:  the following post is a bit more melancholy than what you are used to hearing out of me.  I almost shared these thoughts with you, a little over a year ago.  But I deleted the whole post, fearing it was just too sad.  Tonight, I bravely hit "publish", remembering my commitment to "Write Hard and Clear About What Hurts"...}


I am reminded of an old '70's song tonight - a song that has spoken to me profoundly for about three or four years now. It isn't a "Christian" song. It is a life experience song. A raw and honest and vulnerable song.

Forgive the drama, but every time I hear it, I cry. Sometimes, depending on what has happened in my recent history, I ugly-cry.

Tonight, I ugly-cried. There may or may not have been hiccuping.

But even on a great day, there are always at least tears in my eyes whenever I hear this song. Every. Dang. Time. I am not sure of the story behind the lyrics, but like all really good art (and UNlike Scripture), it lends itself to my own personal interpretation.

I've lived the Landslide. There was a time, many years ago, when I might have seen my reflection in a snow-covered hill...strong...invincible...solid. I built my life around my children, educating them at home, pouring calling and purpose and destiny into them at every opportunity.

I would never have consciously admitted it, but I thought I could insure their outcome with the currency of my own passion for Christ. The child in my heart wanted to believe in happily ever after, and that prodigals only happened to other people.

It's no secret. My sons took their spiritual inheritance and treated it as worse than insignificant.


My world really did crumble. Because I had placed my well-being in something other than In Christ Alone.

A common midlife miscalculation. A sudden riptide that threatened my till-then firm footing. I doubted whether I could really handle the changing seasons of my life.

I held tight to that mis-placed hope, but the winds of change were gale-force and unrelenting for about the space of three years, and I was afraid.  I was so afraid of the human condition called "failure".

One day...I simply let go. Open-palmed and falling forward, God's grace became the only hope I had.

Losing myself in the ensuing landslide was a severe mercy, and a wonderful, bountiful dealing for my soul.

I hope the day comes when, every time my sons hear the hymn "In Christ Alone", they think of me and get misty-eyed...

...and I hope that every time my boys hear "Landslide" they think of me...worship God for His Great Love for them...

...and do the ugly-cry.


I took my love and took it down

I climbed a mountain and I turned around

And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills

Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?

Can the child within my heart rise above?

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changing

'Cause I've built my life around you

But time makes you bolder

Even children get older

And I'm getting older too

Well, I've been afraid of changing

'Cause I've built my life around you

But time makes you bolder

Even children get older

And I'm getting older too

Oh, I'm getting older too

I take my love, take it down

I climb a mountain and turn around

And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills

Will the landslide bring you down

And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills

Will the landslide bring you down, oh, oh

The landslide bring you down

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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

Building An Altar of Gratitude {...and lifting up my soul...}

I hope this well-encourages your soul.  The Preacher and I "slipped the surly bonds" of chores and work and phones for a couple of hours today.

I just wanted to share a few of the images with you.  {The song is "Lift Up My Soul" by Judah and the Lions}

Moments before we decided to make the drive back home, I plunged my hands into the river, cold and elbow-deep, for the perfect, flat rocks.  I wanted to build a tiny altar - to memorialize our recent Resurrection Sunday, for spending the day with the whole family...parents and prodigals and children and their spouses and grandchildren...all of us trophies of grace...and it was perfect in its imperfection.  We without doubt were living a dream we did not earn and do not deserve.

Oh, this life...this life in Christ...

I needed to thank God for all His goodness to me...

Multiple Social Media Identities {Can We Raise Awareness?}

{Thank you in advance for grace...this is a re-post from my archives - one that I will be bringing out periodically this year, all year long.  It has gotten amazing response, with at least two other "selves" deleted that I know about.  Raising awareness of this important issue...please do share across all your social media platforms, and include, if you will, the hashtag #onlyoneme.  Many thanks...}

{Girls and moms, please feel free to click on, and save the above image, pin it to Pinterest, and share it across your social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Vine.}

I am 47 years old. I am a pastor's wife. I have pudge around my middle-aged middle.

Three strikes against me, you'd think, when it comes to all these super cool, super cute highschool and college girls....three strikes, so you'd think I'd be out. But I'm in!

For whatever reason, y'all like me.

That may be because I adore you.

I do. I haven't met a young girl but what I didn't feel the urge to coach or mother her into her identity in Christ. I told my last girl I mentored, straight up, "I love you, and I am here to grab you by your arm, and DRAG you as FAST AS YOU CAN RUN to meet up with your destiny, because you are behind the time of your development!"

And that's what we did.

I have a new burden about others of you. I want those of you with more than one social media identity (on Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, or even Facebook) I want you to delete every other identity/account you have, and keep only the one you wouldn't mind your daddy or momma to see.

Will the "real you" please stand up?

Can you stand up courageously, by declaring to your entire social media platform that there is #onlyoneme. Ask all your friends: Will the real you please #standup ?

If you are REALLY brave, let everyone who follows you know that you have #deletedmyotherselves

If you have only one social media identity, across all platforms, and your parents are welcome to see most of what is there...please speak up, and challenge your peers to the same policy.

Why? Because these multiple technology personalities are hurting your friends. Like...really damaging them, psychologically and emotionally. When I was your age,I lied about who I was calling on that phone that was tethered to the wall in the family kitchen. A very low tech,low investment lie.

Today, you guys can lie elaborately, and with a single deleting swipe of a finger,an entire false persona can be an instant.

Join me, if you will, in starting a movement. A bold move towards a genuine honest undisguised YOU. Delete those other "selves" if you are one of the many who has them:

{again, please feel free to share the above, square #onlyoneme collage banner. Share the hashtag and banner across all your social media platforms.}

Join me, girls, and let's create a movement of young women who are willing to be genuinely and conspicuously THEMSELVES.

Please share this post with your highschool and college age girlfriends - leave me a comment below if you are ready to join me in starting a movement.




Our New Raised Garden Beds {Oh Happy Day} our Saturday began thusly:

Going big AND going home.  Why does it have to be EITHER "go big" OR "go home"?  I think home is the place to shine.  This was the topsoil delivery truck for Operation Raised Bed Gardening.

...about mid-day.  Thank heaven for sons-in-love.  Even skinny-ish ones.  These men beasted it yesterday. the sun sank in the western sky, just last night.

The Preacher was as achey and tired as a man could be today - and Sundays are not his day off.  So many thanks to my father, Harry Gilreath, for the amazing message on "An Increase of Faith".  It was such a practical word for business owners, mommas, daddies, employees, even kids.  I think everyone came away feeling so blessed.

And as the sun sinks low in that western sky tonight, this Preacher's Wife is planning her vegetable plantings with an enthusiasm that is almost violent.

So.  So.  Excited.

If Today Was "Backwards Day" {calling bad good, being backassward and thinking it's OK}

Being backassward is dangerous...but let's imagine....

If today was Backwards Day, I would take all my middle-aged angst and offense, and in one glorious moment of narcissism I would use it as my excuse to say, "Ah, the hell with it. I am going to "break free" of the confining venues of church and Sundays and sermons and leadership and grow flowers."

What woman wouldn't rather do that, right?

If today was Backwards Day, I would be okay with hurting little children and all my girlfriends, and chalk it up to the fact that they just don't understand.

If today was Backwards Day, I would run right back to the law for my righteousness.

If today was Backwards Day, I would burn bridges with my own flesh and blood because they hurt me first.

If today was Backwards Day, I would be so needy of my grown children's approval, I would sell out my convictions.

If today was Backwards Day, I would back off, back down, lay back and coast because that's what the next generation wants to see....sheer jaded unenthusiasm.

If today was Backwards Day, I would love bunnies and puppies and mountains more than people. Bunnies and mountains don't have opinions that alter My Reality.

If today was Backwards Day, I would travel and buy a boat and build a barn for my Nubian goats, while giving less of my money and none of my time so that Haitian pastors can have four block walls and a few chickens.

If today was Backwards Day, I would get my chainsaw and sever important relationships and think I was all badass and brave for doing it. I would even find a morbid sense of "healing" in it.

If today was Backwards Day, I would question leadership while being completely unwilling to shoulder responsibility and lead. I would also shoot at leaders via Facebook.

If today was Backwards Day, I would think that all my friends need to show they care about me, not me show that I care about all my friends.

If today was Backwards Day, I would hate country music.

{just wanted to see if you were still with me...}

If today was Backwards Day, I would make reckless, self centered choices, and think that a few poetic lines on my blog can justify my reasoning. I might call my choice "do it, duck, and run"....yeah, that sounds Christlike, right?

Oh wait, being conformed to His image is neither here nor there, when it's all about me and my fragile faith.

If today was Backwards Day, I would feel no obligation to explain myself. Am I my brother's keeper?

That pretty much covers it. Anybody for declaring tomorrow the Official Backwards Day?

Thought not. If you think that'd just be'd be right.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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