About the Author

Sheila Atchley is an artist-author and a fire-kindler to women “in the middle.” She works with paintbrush and pen from a home studio in Knoxville, Tennessee where her husband, Tim, is senior pastor of Harvest Church. Sheila passionately believes that if she encourages the women, she encourages the world.

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things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. Oh, Sheila, how this it home. I have a son and daughter and I pray each night they will “return to the fold” as the saying goes. And while I envy those families that worship together, I see more and more who don’t. This was so beautifully written and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing.

    • It’s one of the tenderest places in my whole heart, when I see mothers and sons worshipping together. I cry every time. And I wait. Thank you.

  2. My heart goes out to you, Sheila, and weeps for you and with you. We have an estranged relationship with our prodigal son. It’s been a number of years since we’ve talked on the phone and even longer since we’ve seen him. All I can do is pray because it’ll take a miracle for our son to come back to the Lord…come back to us.

  3. So good! My boys both have been saved but only one of them walks with the lord. He and his family have started coming to church together with me and his brother and his family. This is answered prayer. I pray for you and your sons. God bless you!

  4. Sheila, thank you for sharing your story with others. Having “known” and followed you for years, I know how difficult this season has been for you. Praying they will return to what they know is true.

    I also have sons not walking with the Lord. My prayer is always that they will return to him. I have had to learn to leave them in his hands and not fret. In the mean time, I take joy in the third son who plays piano in his church and points everyone he knows to Jesus. Yesterday, I went to his church to hear my granddaughter sing in her Christmas program. My son sat next to me with his family. My heart was overjoyed.

    Keep the faith, dear Sheila. I know you will.

  5. Beautiful message. I’m so glad you are ready to receive them and reconcile when they are ready. I had to leave home to heal from spiritual, physical, and emotional abuse in my family and now my earthly father says he has no time for me and he is a Preacher. Thank you for showing true love to your children. May God bless and keep you

    • Oh Ariel. That should ~never~ be. I’m sorry. And my prayer is that when my boys come home to the heart of the Father, that I not be an “elder brother”: I cannot legislate what their return “should” look like.

      Much love to your hurting heart.

  6. And so we wait in Hope! Stunning words ever , from a weeping mom to the warrior mom standing on the truth of the gospel. Thank you for these beautifully painful prophetic words.
    -together we stand

  7. Thankyou for sharing your heart which meets with mine also for my two adult children who have now walked away from their Savior. HOPE thank Jesus we still have Hope.. and he hears our deep groaning heart and He WILL answer ✝️
    Do not be anxious, but in everything give Thanks. REJOICE He is working for us ‼️

  8. Shiela, your writing is always so courageous. And honest. I’m not a mother, so I can’t begin to understand this pain. I do have close family members who I pray for and bleed for. And hope for. Always, there is hope. Blessings, my friend.

  9. Your story really touched me… I am so sorry that you are experiencing this same pain and I am praying for you. Two of our son’s have walked away from the Lord and seemingly away from me and their dad, for the most part. It truly is heartbreaking and tough to cope with. On my knees in prayer and hope for all who share this pain.

  10. Sheila,

    Praying for you sweet sister. May God soften & change the hearts of yours & other boys & girls not walking with the Lord. May He bring them back to the fold.

    Abba Father, Hear the pleas of all the parents awaiting their prodigal sons & daughters. Heal their weary hearts & souls. Give them a sense of peace & comfort knowing they will eventually come back to you. In Jesus Name AMEN

    Blessings 🙂

  11. Beth, this means the world. If these words can accomplish anything, simply prayers like this for each prodigal…these prayers will avail MUCH. Perhaps this will be the year we see a mighty harvest of sons and daughters coming home to the heart of the Father. Thank you.

    • Dear Kimmie – no, you are not. My DM’s are swamped. We are in this together. Have a merry Christmas in spite of the fact that all is not as God would have it to be. I pray this is your year of the prodigal’s return.

  12. Your story, told so powerfully, each word striking the bullseye, was such a gift. You capture the spirit of the “in the middle” no like one I’ve read. Thanking God for you this morning. Praying for your wonderful boys, too.

    • Your words are being massaged into my heart by the Holy Spirit, Nichole! Thank you.

      And ooooh yes, my boys are wonderful. They are rascals and one stays mad at me, but I adore them both and they are wonderful.

  13. So beautifully written. So raw and true. Sheila has a way to get to the heart of the matter and therefore affects the heart of those who read. A child, no matter how old, is always our child. And, just as when they were little, we mother’s can not truly rest until we know they are safely home. Their heart safely in the salvation of the Lord. Thank you for allowing her voice to grace your pages. She offers hope and trust in Him to all women who pray and wait for their own Prodigal to come home.

  14. Shelia your reminder that we don’t travel alone on this road is a blessing. When we feel as if there is no hope, that prayers go unanswered and with each special occasion and no contact our heart bleeds some more we need to remind ourselves God feels the same pain of rejection, loss of relationship from his children. In the story of the prodigal son no where does it say the father chased after or tried to fix the sons situation. We all have ways, in which we have to find a way to continue to live life even with a limp. God is saving our tears in a bottle and he will wipe them all away. This broken hearted Mama/Mya (Grandma) does not expect it will ever change. We have all been given free choice. They will need to return to God before their hearts will return to us. I lost a beautiful sheltie during covid to cancer she was only 8. God since has given me a new sweet sheltie to love. Every night I sit in her bed and she puts her head against my chest and sighs and gives me a hug. I feel God gives me a hug through her every night and says “my daugher you are so loved and you are worthy of love” The Lord gives me comfort, blessings and love and for that I am grateful. May all of you that are broken hearted know you are worthy of love and are loved by our heavenly Father.

    • What. a. beautiful. response.

      I’m almost wondering if your name is Kim? Because I had this very conversation with a Kim and her husband, last night as we dined with friends. We spoke about walking with a limp. We spoke at length on grief.

      Your description of your Sheltie brings lots of emotions up for me. We lost our teacup poodle during Covid. He had been ours for over 12 years – almost unheard of for the breed. We haven’t gotten another, but OH what a gift our animals are!

      Thank you for taking time to respond.

      • Thank you for taking the time and care to respond. It is appreciated more than you know. You will find comfort in your gift of written word. Continue to shine a light in the darkness. Your ability to express thought and be vulnerable will bless others. The birth of blessing others often comes through our own pain. In losing Shyloh and not belonging to her for enough years I have found a way to try a navigate others through grief and pet loss. As you have seen the grief is also in losing people that are still very much alive. Maybe some day you can open your heart to another furry companion. They don’t replace but our hearts do expand to love another one. hugs Sue