Worship Is My Wings {...the only way to take flight in the middle...}

So I'm not even going to begin with a lame apology.

The facts being what they are, I couldn't not take some time off from podcasting and blogging and even life coaching.

It is what happens when your youngest son swears in as a Marine recruit.

It is what happens when you are preparing for a juried art show.

It is what happens when your mother has a cancer scare {praise God, she is in the clear, now!}

It is what happens when your church has three guest speakers and two weddings in the space of about six weeks.

It is what happens when you get addicted to canning produce from your garden.

It is what happens when you have to cancel a beach vacation.

It is what happens when your heart is breaking right in half, because people can be so foolish and unseeing and uncaring concerning the very heart of God.

It is what happens when life presses in fiercely, and you cannot in good conscience escape to hard liquor or pills or even (too many) crack sticks.

But I have been working very, very hard, and very, very long hours.  This has not been "a break".  This has been survival - taking time off from things I love a lot, to tend to things I love with all my heart.

I have finished my first two clay sculptures.  Here is the one I was working on today:

She is based on my "In The Middle" series of paintings, and last year's  31 Days Project, which was a full-on party I threw for no reason, for all us girls "in the middle".

She reads, "The beauty of youth and the wisdom of age met in the middle and gave her wings to fly..."

Now, I want you to sit down, right here, right now.  Here's a cup of coffee.  Here's a lap blanket.

We need to talk.

I have seen credit given for a woman suddenly finding her wings to so many things/ideas/persons.  I have heard women say "art" saved them.  I have heard women say that going into a multi level marketing business saved them.  I have heard them ascribe credit to motherhood, a man, a divorce, and eating gluten free.  (And obviously, not all those things are bad...)

In the interests of contributing to the conversation, I want to tell you that I too have found my wings - smack dab in midlife.  I have been experiencing what it means to soar above.  Can I tell you what has given me wings?  In spite of all kinds of sorrow, overwhelming responsibilities, and in spite of my every failure, can I tell you where these wings of mine have come from?

Worship is my wings.

Not art.  Not finding out who God has called me to be, now that my children are grown (though that has been amazing).  Not the empty nest, no matter how much I have come to enjoy that.  Not even grandchildren.

{...did I really just say that...}

Back to this sculpture.  I finished her up, just today.  I painted out her arms and hands, and put the words down the front of her dress.  As I was adding the doodles with my trusty Uniball (which you could not pry from my cold, dead hands...I have discovered THE PEN that will write over ANYthing) I was listening to this:

About two minutes in, I had to put that beloved Uniball down.  Tears were streaming, for no real reason.  I closed my eyes, and lifted both hands, and just took off in the spirit.

I flew.

Every burden lifted.

Totally refreshed, in a matter of moments.

I soared high above the mundane.

I soaked in the love of God.

I almost physically felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit being poured out on me, starting at the top of my head, dripping down past my shoulders, covering me with passion and purpose.

"Let us become more aware of Your presence....Let us experience the glory of Your goodness..."


When I finally opened my eyes, arms raised, this is what I was eye to eye with:

Powerful moment.  I can't begin to tell you.

Art has not given me wings.  Rather, art is a tool I use to express the worship of the God  who has given me wings.

As she and I were eye to eye, her posture mirroring mine, I suddenly realized where every. single. thing. I create comes from.  I think I knew it already, in my head.

But after today, I know deeply and truly, I know in my heart...

...worship is my wings.

Timothy's First Week of School {Home Educating the Next Generation Has Begun...}

My heart can't take all the sweetness...

I have always known that the final analysis of my home education career - the final word on any success -  would come in the form of whether my children chose to home educate their children, even if only for a year or two.

Here is a brief peek into a moment in the little life of The Preacher's namesake.  His momma (our daughter) is taking him through a 5 minute phonics lesson.

 Doin' school.

 At home.

He's killin' it, y'all. Homeboy is so, so smart. And he lives next door (our daughter and her husband bought the house two years ago). And I have a little secret I'm carrying around about the house next door to THAT house - which also happens to be the house across the cul-de-sac from The Preacher and me.

 Suffice it to say...well...we just may end up with the urban counterpart to Walton's Mountain.

 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. I am living a dream I have not earned, and do not deserve. Grace, grace, and more grace. I hope your summer rocks, friends.  I am wrapping up my summer "Bucket List" and I have to tell you...we pretty much hit the high points.

It's been sweet.

Parables From The Garden {...He makes dead things alive again...}

I just returned home from a church conference yesterday.

And I just shot the picture above.  Just this morning.  
And I have something important to tell you about it, if you will indulge me by reading on.

Late, late last night, after unpacking, then promptly picking, snapping, stringing, blanching and freezing over a quart of green beans that were screaming at me from my neglected garden...

...I was watering said garden to the soothing sounds of cicadas. 

I gave all the raised beds a good drink,
then shuffled in my pajamas, blissfully barefooted, over to the many containers,
beginning with two large galvanized buckets of carrots.  

Then I turned my water hose onto 
the vintage Radio Flyer red wagon and the vintage wooden trug, both filled with lantana -
about the only thing that can sit in a container in full sun, and take these hot, humid southern summers.  

Then the containers of zinnias.

Then the shady area, where only impatiens grows in the
various and quirky containers in which I have planted them.

Interesting name:  "impatiens".

I looked at my antique typewriter - a gift from my neighbor - expecting to take in
the joy I always feel when I think of planting flowers in that unexpected space.

 {The typewriter was already in this shape when I lovingly gave it a new home and a new purpose -  
outside, in my shade garden.  Take heart, fellow antique typewriter lovers - I would never take a mint machine and plop it outside.}

Those impatiens were dead.

I'm telling you, from my vantage point, there was nothing left.  In fact, I had to squint in the barely-lit darkness to even see if there was anything...anything at all in the carriage of that typewriter, 
which before I went out of town
was lush with coral-colored petals and green leaves.

Nothing.  There was nothing but dried up sticks and stems.  I even walked
over, and bent low to investigate by the light of the twinkle lights in
the trees overhead...

...with the thought of setting the hose down, and pulling out the whole plant.   
But I was too tired.

For some strange, unknowable reason, I watered anyway.

I remember thinking to myself, "Why am I doing this?  I must be out of my mind."

As I was sleeping, overnight, I heard rain.  This morning, I did my usual - I went
outside to sip coffee and peruse the gardens.

I stepped off the back deck, turned left, and screeched to a halt, my mouth hanging open.

I ran back inside to grab my camera.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me, in that moment.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;  So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.…"

Dear one, the Lord has sent you here today...
He has sent you to me, and me to you,
to tell you this:

That which seemeth to be dead, will spring to life in one night, when God says, "Live!"

Keep planting.  Keep watering.  And trust that His Word will fall from heaven and succeed.

Scripturally, His Word is both seed and rain.  Both metaphors
are widely used by the Holy Spirit to help us understand the power of 
everything God has spoken.

Hear Ecclesiastes:

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Things unseen and deeply planted always spring up in
 ways we do not understand, and cannot predict.  

"And Jesus was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows-- how, he himself does not know."   (Mark 4:27)

Take heart.  Have patience...don't be "impatiens".  

God is in the business of making things alive again.

What The Heck Is A Life Coach? {Episode 7 of my podcast, "Art and Life - Well Designed"}

I have been taking a very brief blogging hiatus, but am still creating podcasts.  I hope you enjoy!

Show notes are here

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Freedom On The 4th

Enjoy my latest podcast, on this beautiful, low humidity, soft southern 4th of July summer afternoon. We will soon be on our way to some friends' house, along with kids and grandkids, to cook ribs and swim and feast and feast and feast.  It is so nice to be loved and invited, since we are tired and still recovering from the Preacher's trip to Haiti.

Food, fun, family, freedom, and friendship.

I wish the same kind of joy for you today!

It is all about freedom...

This Grace Message

I am sitting here, right here, right now, watching it. I had to snap a picture.

And I could not resist pointing out to you...

...she's preaching grace. She's preaching radical grace.

She's preaching the same stuff my Preacher was preaching clear back in 2008 and 2009. The same stuff that some thought scandalous, yet now the message is covering this earth.

Grace has gone mainstream - just like we said it would. No longer regarded a hokey doctrine, espoused only by a few "pastors of small churches", even Beth Moore is publishing and emphasizing the fact that the law has been made obsolete, it is now all about the message of the Finished Work of Christ.

Deal with it.

There is no power over sin like the grace of God...and I quote Beth, "The very thing our mothers would not have wanted us to know, because they were afraid it would give us license to sin, is the very thing we need..."

We are no longer under the supervision of the law, beloved. "You are not under law, but under grace."

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

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