On Mushrooms and Men {...thoughts on leadership...}

There's an aspect of leadership that mirrors a mushroom.

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                                                                                                   (my own photography)

Mushrooms have the ability to take an otherwise toxic substance, and turn it into a food source. 

May I just make the observation that jealousy is toxic?  That bitterness is toxic?  That a lack of honor is especially toxic in this culture?  As a leader, particularly a spiritual leader, you will find yourself pouring your heart, time, tears, and years into people who quite suddenly and mysteriously will begin to treat you as a peer.  And what is more, they not only stop appreciating the investments made into them, they start subtly undermining your efforts and downplaying your decades of service and experience.  They move on to the next new noun:  the next "shiny" person, place, thing, or idea.

This happens either because a) They want to be the leader, and have become competitive and jealous, or b)  You said or did something that did not please them.  You went off-script...their script.  Somewhere things reached a point when you had to lead and had to say something true that offended them.

And, just like that, all your input, your time, your track record will mean very little anymore.  Welcome to leadership, friend.  You can count on it.

People are that fickle.

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And mushrooms are more closely related to humans than plants, in their DNA structure!  

You, too, as a leader, can actually thrive in a toxic atmosphere of petty "stuff".  You can turn all of it into food for thought through your study of Scripture.  You can metabolize it into messages that carry a yoke-breaking anointing.  You can feed off of the negativity...when you have to...when it seems that's all there is, all around you...and you can transform it into productivity and praise.  

To a true leader, opposition is fuel.  It isn't our favorite fuel, it isn't what we'd pick for ourselves in the cafeteria line, but when it is served up...

...we sure can eat it for breakfast.  Like a boss.

 

Fresh Off The Easel {...thoughts behind “Go Lightly”...}

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“Go Lightly” - 11x14” acrylic and acrylic gouache on canvas. Available, with FREE SHIPPING if you grab it before I can properly photograph it and post it to my shop.  (Post edit:  this piece has sold.  Thank you.)

Thoughts behind this abstract original:

So much to love about the above Aldous Huxley quote. As a woman who is older and (hopefully) wiser, one of the top 3 things I'd want to impart to all women of all ages:  the ability to  lighten up. I believe you’re better off to take only 2 things in life seriously:  Scripture and your own example to others.

Everything else, including your own negative feelings, could be carried lightly and let go.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light..." (Eph. 5:8)

Live as CHILDREN. Children of light. If you’ll allow me an obvious poetic license, to be “light in the Lord” doesn’t have to mean just “daylight-light”.  It could also mean “light-as-a-bubble-light”. That's a play on words, of course. But it could preach, teach, and write a whole book, and I give it to you as my gift.

Children play. I think the most significant characteristic of a child is their un-selfconscious play.  

We are coming into some precious holidays. Go play. Live as children-of-light. Because life is so heavy, and deep sadness is so real, you absolutely must let your heart be light.

I swoon with happiness over this thought:  now I am light in the Lord.  Not weighed down.  Not oppressed.  Not heavy.  I'm light in the Lord.  Free-floating-flying-feet-dancing-light!

 

"Because" {...Join Me in Italy in 2018...and create your own "but God" story...}

   

 

 

When you choose a lifestyle of encouraging yourself in the Lord {as opposed to encouraging yourself in "your own dreams"}, when you choose a lifestyle of investing your gifts, when you choose a lifestyle of waiting on the Lord, a  "qavah" kind of lifestyle, {to wait on the Lord means to "gather" with Him, and the only way to truly gather with Him is to be gathered with His body}...

 

...when you do those three things sincerely, without a hidden agenda, you end up in places you should never be able to be.  You end up meeting people you would otherwise have never met.  You end up breaking bread with leaders you "should not" be breaking bread with.  Because

A (wo)man’s gift makes room for her and brings her before the great.
— Proverbs 18:16

I am more clear than ever on my mission these days.  I am here to mobilize an army of middle age women whose metric is grace, an army of middle age women who celebrate for no real reason...simply because we've made it this far.  If that is you, if you are middle age, or someday hope to be, or even if you used to be...I know you.  

I know you, and it is time for you to invest in your gifts.  You do that by first investing your gifts in the service of someone else's encouragement.  And then, you invest in your gifts by making time to...well...do something that seems like a frivolous investment in your gifts.

 

In other words, it is time for you to play.  Because

The heaven, even the highest heaven, is the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children...
— Psalms 115:16

The earth He has given to the children, and you and I are His children...His daughters.  Thus, if you haven't yet heard the Lord tell you to "go play", please allow me to introduce you to an aspect of the Father Heart of God that you haven't yet considered.  

What father has never said "Go play, daughter." ?  Our human fathers may have said that to us to get us out of their hair, but our heavenly Papa says that to us because He loves to put nations under our feet!  And He can put nations under your feet, under the guise of play, if He wants to.  He's God.  

Asking the Lord for "the nations" doesn't have to always feel hard.  Because

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom; and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
— 1 Corinthians 1:25

The "foolishness" of God is wiser than human wisdom.  God-play is more educated than our PHD, richer than our sweat-equity, more effective than our most serious effort.  

I can testify to the power of God's "foolishness":  If you knew me, you'd know that there is no thought more foolish than  Sheila Atchley in Paris, France ...

or NOW,  Sheila Atchley in Bellagio, Italy

But God.  I am so glad for the foolishness of God.  God-at-play through me can accomplish more in one day than a whole lifetime of Sheila-at-work through God.  {All those years I spent trying to "create myself", trying to establish myself, trying to establish a righteousness of my own, "in His name"...}  I'd never in my life be able to go to both France and Italy...but God.  

So, yeah.  I'm headed to Italy in October of next year.  And part of me is scared to death.  The other part of me is locked and loaded, and ready to see God do miracles in Bellagio in the lives of some women.  I am ready to speak, and like Peter in the book of Acts, watch Holy Spirit fall on open-handed girlfriends.

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Won't you come with me?  That's right.  You just got invited.  You didn't have to hope for the invitation, or wait for the invitation, or jockey to position yourself for the invitation, or be insincere in any way.  {Which is good, because you can't reverse-engineer sincerity...that is a core message of mine when it comes to building an online platform;  but that is another class for another day.}  

Sure, there's a cost involved.  Or rather...there's an investment involved.  But girlfriend...my God is able.  He can make a way where there seems to be no way.  Ask me how I know.  For now, there's just a deposit to be made (at the invitation link above).  If the Lord is tugging at your heart at all...can I tell you... just do it.  Invest in your gifts.

Go play.

 

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I can't believe I am about to say what I am about to say:

I hope to see you in Italy next year!  Ciao!  

Fall in East Tennessee

The Preacher and I are preparing to take a few days off and retreat to a cabin in Townsend...right on the river.  It is slated to rain at least a little bit every single day, and I’m not a bit mad about that.

 

Because clouds and a little bit of rain go very well with books, a wood burning fireplace, a hot tub right over the river, and leaves that have turned lipstick-kissed-red.   I hope to get some writing done, in between naps and hand holding and long drives through swirling, floating, falling leaves.

 

We seem to be in the middle of an unbelievably intense and busy season.  Yesterday, we took two hours...just two hours...to take a drive and chase a few autumn colors.

 

 

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I know that fall is beautiful, wherever you are.  And I actually hope that you believe, with all your heart, that where you are is the most beautiful place to be, as this year winds to a close. 

 

I sure do believe that’s true for me.   East Tennessee, you do this to me every November.  

 

 

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I'm So Glad You Are Here

 

I'm very moved and stirred in my heart that you are here in this brand-new space with me, at the launch of many brand-new things, both in my personal life and in my business.  

First, and obviously, this website.  I mean, seriously.  Isn't it so fresh?  So updated?  So much more "me"?  It is a much better reflection of who I am, and the new place I find myself in my creative business.

Welcome.

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Speaking of initiative, the second new thing I'm delighted to announce, is the Nov. 20th launch of my second online class "The Women of Advent":

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, I am partnering with the gorgeous and prolific  Jeanne Oliver and would love it if you could join me over on her creative network!  Jeanne is one of my very sweetest friends, and collaborating with her is always a joy.  I believe that no artist is an island, and no woman is either, for that matter.  We need to collaborate to be successful. 

The course is only $48 for 4 weeks of both soul-stirring devotional content, and 4 weeks of technique-rich art instruction, centered around my book "The Women of Advent" (available here at Amazon.com).  

This course was created with you in mind.  It is a fresh take on the season of Advent!  We will focus on slowing down and savoring the season, and take some time to make some art.  We will paint and sketch the faces of the beautiful women found in the old testament genealogy of Jesus, as we imagine them to have been.

Here is one of the promotional trailers:

There is so much more ahead in 2018 - most of it I can't even talk about yet, but it is amazing.  

Let me tell you:  God's favorite thing is to come along and awaken and energize middle aged women into their next purpose,  and sequel-destiny.  If that's you - if you are, or someday want to be, a middle aged woman who is one of the few who isn't self-focused, jaded, or depressed...you are in the right place.  

If you are, or someday hope to become, a middle aged woman who is creatively alive, present, joyful, sensual (in all the best ways - living embodied and in all your senses), and a woman who walks in friendship with God...girlfriend.  You are in the right place.

Let's do this new thing together.  Many of you have hung out with me for a lot of years.

The best is yet to come.