Wednesday, May 18, 2016


It's not easy when others seem to be growing faster than you are.  Accomplishing more than you're accomplishing.  Being entrusted with opportunities you wish you could have.

To be honest, sometimes I feel like one of these unripe berries growing right alongside these verdant, ripe, red and ready raspberries in a way that only seems to punctuate the difference between the two.

But I don't need to covet someone else's assignment.  I don't need to deviate from my own lane in envy of another's.  There's no point in lamenting where God has me, simply because my story may look a little less colorful than someone else's.  If someone else is readier for a particular assignment than I am, then who am I to despise where I am in the process?

Here's what I know: The boundary lines have fallen for ME in pleasant places, and surely I have a delightful inheritance. Someone else may be riper for a particular task than I am, but there's no room for contempt over where God has me, because He has assigned me according to His omniscience.  He has gifted me uniquely, and has chosen the right assignment for me to be accomplished in the right season. 

And the boundary lines have fallen for YOU in pleasant places, too.  And surely YOU have a delightful inheritance (Psalm 16:6).  Someone else may be riper and readier for a particular task than you are, but friend, there is no room for contempt over where God has you right now, because He has assigned YOU according to His omniscience.  He has gifted YOU uniquely, and He has chosen the right assignment for YOU to be accomplished in just the right season. 

Do not despise the day of small beginnings.  Vast vineyards start small. 

Much love,

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


"Nine bucks? For GRAPES?!?"

I face-palmed big time as I stared at the receipt. And maybe you've done it, too--grabbed a bag of grapes and tossed them into the cart with no regard of the price per pound, the weight, or the final cost. 

And the result that day was one very expensive snack for the kiddos. I seriously considered standing on the street corner, trying to sell those grapes for a buck a piece just to recoup at least some of my money. 
Proverbs 5 speaks of a woman who gives no thought to her ways.  She doesn't CONSIDER (palas, in Hebrew) what she is doing. The translation means to WEIGH IT OUT.  Like if she had weighed her decisions, she might have chosen differently.  Spoken differently.  Done differently.  A weight of what was at stake would have led to a calculation of the eventual cost, and I'm guessing she would have concluded it simply wasn't worth the high ticket price. 
I've gotta tell ya, I do not want to be this woman.  I want to give thought to my ways.  I want to consider.  I want to weigh it all out and decide whether or not I really want to pay for what I decide.  Do I really want the harvest of what I'm planting?  And have I even given that 5 minutes of thought? Scripture says her ways are crooked and she doesn't even know it!  I'll say it again, I don't want this to be my story!
I want to leave a different legacy than this.  I want to be calculating--and while I know that word holds such a negative connotation, suggesting that someone is a schemer, that's not what I long for at all.  I DO long to be a woman who considers, who CALCULATES the cost of her decisions.  I don't want to end up with a basket full of a whole lotta mess I never wanted, and a high bill to pay. 
Finances.  Words spoken.  Relationships.  Time spent.  Too often we do not consider our ways. 
Let us be people rich in consideration. Ones who give great thought to our ways. 
Jesus, let it be. 

imperfect. CHOSEN.

It was an ordinary day, just chillin' at the "Free Zoo" (aka Petco), looking at all the animals in their cages. I wasn't really looking to take anything home. Believe me. 
"Look at this one, Mama..." my daughter called over to me. "I think she only has one eye!" 
She was a tiny little Tuxedo Cat, rubbing up against the cold, confining bars of the crate. She looked up at me with longing eyes (well, EYE, I should say--it was just the one) and purred out what I'm sure was a plea for me to take her home with us. 
At least that's how I choose to remember it. 

As I filled out the paperwork to make her ours, the woman arranging the pet adoptions told me, "A lot of people have held her and thought about taking her, but nobody has been willing to actually choose her and take her home because she's missing an eye. Too many families have worried it might require surgeries or additional cost down the road."
Maybe that should've deterred me. It didn't. We brought that little kitten home, and she's become an honorary Nelson. She's actually sitting on my lap right now as I type this. 

I think of how imperfect I am, yet I'm chosen. Flawed deeply, but adopted. My Heavenly Father wanted me and took me in--and did so fully knowing that there WOULD be a cost. A great one. It would cost Him His Son to take me in. How was He not deterred by my failures? And how could He so treasure and regard me that He would call me His, considering the enormity of the cost?
But He did. 
I'm imperfect. So very imperfect. 

And yet perfectly loved. 
And you...You are His treasure. The one He calls beloved. 

You are seen. 

You are wanted. 
You are prized. 
Forget the ones that may have passed you by. Decided against you.  Considered your flaws too great a liability.  Concluded that maybe you weren't worth the gamble. 
He says you are beloved. 

So Be Loved.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015



If I asked 100 people to define that word, I'd probably get 100 different answers.

I've been picking apart a passage from Psalm 128 this week.  It speaks of the blessed who walk in His ways.  Of wives who are like "fruitful vines."

Fruitful.  "Parah," in Hebrew.  Meaning a flourishing woman.  A woman of increase. 


This is where my heartbeat quickens. 

I want to be a woman of increase. 

Not increase of possessions.  Seriously, I couldn't care less about that.  I don't need more things.   But how desperately I want to be a woman who flourishes, who yields INCREASE of the things that matter.

I want to increase the number of prayers spoken over Justin. The number of petitions I make on his behalf.  To ask for specific increases in his walk with Jesus.  Increase of faith.  Increase of his acknowledgment of Jesus.  Increase of opportunities to encourage those around him. 

I want to increase my children's knowledge of Scripture, thus increasing their knowledge of the very armor that covers them as they go out into the world.  I pray for increase in their assurance that they are more than conquerors through Jesus who loves them.  Increase in opportunities to shine their lights.  Increase in the impact they will make in this world as they pass through it. 

I want to bring increase of hope to friends who are hurting.  Increase of alleviating their heavy burdens with a timely word or action.  I want increase of understanding of circumstances I may never have had to encounter.  Increase of walking alongside.  Increase of being available. 

And I want to have the wisdom to sidestep anything that may instead lead to DECREASE.  Unhelpful words that do nothing but tear down.  Unwise spending that means we have less to invest in what is forever-lasting.  Wasted time that leads to wasted opportunities.  Decrease is such a tragedy when increase is a possibility. 

And yet we are called to decrease while HE increases (John 3:30).  So how do we reconcile the two?  Well, I believe that as we seek to be increasers, to be adders rather than detractors, we are making much of Jesus and less of ourselves.  We seek to increase, THAT HE MAY INCREASE AND WE MAY DECREASE. 

And I'm not alone in this desire to be an adder.  All around me, every day, I see women pursuing increase.  The lasting kind of increase.  The impactful kind of increase. 

Jesus, strengthen us to be fruitful women.  Flourishing women.  Women with their eyes fixed on the expanse of Your kingdom.

Make us women of increase. 

"The wise woman
builds her house
fortifies her house
restores her house
but with her own hands
the foolish one tears hers down."
Proverbs 14:1

"The house of the upright will
spread out
Proverbs 14:11


Monday, June 15, 2015


It's been four months.  Easily.

There's a corner we often pass on which a large gas station is to be built.  They demolished the one that used to be there, and have been preparing the land for building ever since. 

And preparing the land.

Aaaand preparing that land some more. 

We know they're out there doing something.  We see the large machines working the land nearly every day.

But that thing already.

Start doing something our eyes can see.  When we drive by, all we see is a plot of what we are sure is really, really, really ready land with nothing on it.  We're itching for them to pour the foundation, start on the framework.  Built that thing.

And yet they keep readying the land.

Maybe there's something to that.  Maybe it's kind of an important part of the process.

This is so where I am living these days--crying out for God to build in me something I can see.  And yet He seems pretty focused on this first-things-first, don't-cut-corners process of readying my heart...a process with which I get antsy.  To say I'm prone to impatience is an understatement.

Build something I can see, LORD. 

When God called David to royal position, David was still just a shepherd in a field.  A sheep-tender being readied. When He foreknew Joseph as the keeper of the grain, Joseph was marking the years off in pits and prisons. And yet His heart was being readied. 

I'm weary of the readying, God.  Please build something I can see.

Maybe you're there with me.  You feel a calling, a quickening of your heart to something.  But you're in the readying season.  And the readying season involves a whole lot of unspectacular, if you know what I mean.  You look around and don't see evidence of anything being BUILT.  You're just being prepared. 

And yet while it's a tough season, it is nothing short of a critical step in the process for anything that will last.  Shortcuts don't lead to sure things.  Fully prepared and level ground is the only place where a building can truly stand. 

Father, I know that the readying isn't for nothing.  It precedes building.  It comes before the "Ooh, look at that" season.  It just feels like you've been preparing my heart for years, and I'm eager for evidence of building. 

Yet not as we will, but as You will. 

Strengthen our hearts to say, "Take every single moment that You, in Your sovereignty, know needs to be taken to fully prepare my heart for whatever You, in Your sovereignty, see fit to build there." 

Monday, June 8, 2015


"Mama, my soup is too hot to eat," she announced with furrowed brow.

"Here's a little trick to help it cool down more quickly," I replied with a smile.  I picked up a spoon and began to stir the soup.

Immediately, steam began to rise from the bowl.

"You're making it worse!" she blurted.  Look at all that steam.  Stirring it is making it hotter!"

I tried to explain that what she was seeing was simply the trapped heat escaping, but the swirls of steam had her convinced that I was somehow heating her soup more.

That I was actually making it worse.

Moses thought his Father in Heaven was making things worse, too.  And, to be fair, it kind of looked like that was actually the case.  The Israelites were trapped.  Subject to cruel leaders.  Slaves forced to labor and toil under a ruthless regime.  And just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse, the LORD God instructed Moses to go to this cold-hearted Pharaoh and demand the release of the children of Israel. 

Moses' request was, of course, met with obstinate fury.  Not only did Pharaoh refuse to let God's people go, but he decided to turn up the heat on the Israelites.  And at Pharaoh's command, his leaders let the Israelites know how it was all going to go down:

"You know all those bricks you've been making with the straw we have provided?  Well, you're still going to make all those bricks, but now you are going to go gather your own straw with which to make those bricks!" 

The work got harder.  The slave drivers, more callous.  The tasks, more demanding.  Had God's assignment of Moses stirred the pot?  Did He make it worse?

"O LORD, why have you brought trouble upon Your people?" cried Moses.  "Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all." 

I can't say I don't understand Moses' cries.  I've been on his side of things.  I've been misled by what my eyes have seen, wondering if my Heavenly Father is somehow "making it worse."  And yet God wasn't merely interested in lightening the load of His children. 

His eyes were on their complete and total deliverance.

"Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh," promised the LORD.  "Because of My mighty hand, he WILL let them go; because of My mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.  I have heard the groaning of My people, and I have remembered My covenant with them.  I am the LORD, and will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.  I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and mighty acts.  I am the LORD."

And He did.

Our God isn't making it worse.

He is making a way. 

I don't know what other word could suffice. 
When our eyes tell us one thing,
give us strength to trust Your ways,
to remember Your heart for Your people. 
* Scripture: Exodus 5 and 6

Thursday, June 4, 2015


If you were watching a husband and wife endure multiple unsuccessful attempts to start a family, could you do so with a smile on your face? 

The other day my daughter and I were watching an old episode of "The Little Couple" from before they became parents.  In the episode, they were in the middle of their second attempt to transfer their embryos to their surrogate, not long after their first attempt had resulted in a miscarriage. 

I watched with mixed emotions as Jen and Bill hoped and desperately prayed that this second transfer would result in the start of their family. 

The thing is, I already knew it wasn't going to go that way.  That's the benefit of watching a 2011 episode in 2015. 

And so my heart was partially heavy for them, knowing that their fervent hopes for this procedure to be successful would soon be dashed.

But I also knew that this devastating disappointment would be the very thing that would point them down the path on which they would eventually adopt their two beautiful children.  And so even though I was watching this sweet couple face the heart-wrenching outcome of their efforts to start a family, I had this grin on my face thinking of the redemption that I knew awaited them:  A son, Will, whose story would begin in China, and their daughter Zoey, born in India.  As dark and disappointing as that season of loss was for Bill and Jen, their joy is great in this one. 

When we are in the hardest of days, the longest of seasons, the times that tear at our soul, we don't have the luxury of the big picture.  It's hidden from our eyes.  All we can see is that things are as we never would have chosen them to be. 

But we dwell in the safe hands of the One with the benefit of the big picture.  While we writhe in pain, He perceives the beauty that awaits. 

And so in the thick of it all, remember that Jesus wept over Lazarus' death, even though He knew full well that He would soon raise his friend.  He isn't unmoved by our suffering even when He knows the goodness and redemption that await us.  That is a kind of hope that is truly unmatched by anything else we can find in this world.

Thank You, Jesus.  For working all things together--even the things we would never voluntarily have chosen on the front end.  Thank You for exchanging beauty for our ashes.  You are El Roi, the God who sees.  Give us strength to cling to You.   


Tuesday, June 2, 2015


My Christmas present from my husband this year was a new floor.*
*A much-needed new floor.  The years had not been kind to the carpet that used to be there. 

We had left home a month prior with a dingy, threadbare carpet that was literally coming apart at the seams, and returned to something that shines like the top of the Chrysler building.  Cue the Hallelujah Chorus, y'all.  It really is fabulous.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that if there is even the tiniest speck of dirt on this gleaming, glorious floor, I can see it.  You can see it.  Your half-blind Great Aunt Edna can see it.  The floor shows everything.

Was there less dirt when we had a carpet?  Or was it just that we couldn't as easily see it?  How much was there that we didn't even know to try and remove?

Was it better when I couldn't see every blade of grass that hitchhiked in on someone's shoe, every stray crumb or dust bunny?  Was it better when I didn't know better?

No.  Because when it's visible to me, I can do something about getting rid of it.  And then it's clean.  Like, actually, really clean. 

Scripture is like that.  Yes, it guides and gives strength.  But it also shines a big ol' light on what needs our attention.

So it is better when we don't know better?  Is it somehow preferable to remain in that place where I'm unaware of my prideful ways and words?  Is it better if I'm not mindful of my worry, my laziness, or the prone-to-wander state of my soul?

The Word of God gets up in my business.  While Jesus knows all along what's in my heart, it becomes clearly visible to me when I allow Scripture to lay bare all that is truly going on within me. 

I want Matthew 8 and 14 to expose the "You of little faith" parts of my soul, reveal my needless worry, and remind me of my ever-so-worthy-of-my-trust Savior.

I need Proverbs 10 and 12 and 15 and 16 (okay, like all of Proverbs) to expose the weight of my words.  And if there are words that shouldn't be there, I want them flushed out from within and replaced with words flowing from a right heart.

I want 1 Kings 18 to prick my heart about ways in which I am trusting something else--anything else--for my help and salvation.  If anything but Jesus is on the throne for me, I want to know, so it can go. 

I truly want truth to transform me, and expose anything at all that requires my response.   

No, it wasn't better when I didn't know better.     

I want the floor that shows more.

Search me, God, and know my heart,
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Monday, June 1, 2015


I'm here to begin again. 

Words have eluded me for a long time.  I've wondered if I would ever again speak "worthy, not worthless words" (Jeremiah 15:19).  Seeing and communicating connections between my heart and His truth has always been one of my dearest passions, but the words simply haven't come. 

This has just been a long, silent season. 

And yet lately I have felt that maybe I have yet to say all there is to be said; Even, dare I say, that I might somehow yet be His mouthpiece. 

Father God, You give greater grace.  And good thing, because I sure do need it.  I know there's been a purpose in the quiet.  I know it.  So as I just take this first step back into all of this, let me acknowledge You first, understand Your Word, and recognize it all beautifully alive in the world around me.

In the strong name of Jesus,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I had the most precious, precious gift for a while.  A fleeting season, seven years long...and certainly some of the sweetest days of my entire life.  

And now it's over.  

When my son was a few months old, we prayerfully decided I wouldn't sign a contract to teach the following year...and the adventure began.  I was a (most-of-the-time) stay at home mom.  

It. Was. The. Hardest. And. The. Sweetest. And. The. Best. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Done.  

Those days are still so fresh in my mind.  Trev and I read books, went to music class, did finger painting on his high chair tray, sang songs, made shadows with flashlights, and played with many a "cah," as he used to call them.

And then I got pregnant.  

All of a sudden, his previously attentive mama was exhausted, desperate to find anything that sounded good to eat, and busy running back and forth to the doctor during a high-risk pregnancy.  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny became his new buddies...and, to be totally honest, my lifesavers on the hardest days.

Enter Liley, a little slice of Redemption Pie and a tremendous injection of joy into our family.  Now there were two little ones, and for a while it seemed they'd both be little...tiny, and here at home with me.

But before I knew it, Trev was off to Kindergarten, and Liley and I had our time alone.  And just like her brother, she went to music class, we read stories, ran errands, did puzzles, cooked together, and yes, kept up with our friends on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  

But when I was at home with Liley, there were a few pieces of the puzzle that weren't factors for me when Trevor was a baby:  An older sibling competing for time, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and putting on a Bible event.  I wanted to stay connected with friends and family, see what was going on with my mentors, and share my love for learning the Word and applying it to everyday life.  

But, y'all, I wish--desperately wish, even--I would have back-burnered some of that.  

Two weeks ago I packed two lunches and put BOTH of my children on a school bus bound for the elementary school they attend.  My pre-school days with my babies at home? They are over.  There was a little part of me that broke inside with a wave good-bye to the two little ones I thought would be little a little longer than reality allowed.  

I know my time with my children isn't over...I get that.  But a precious, PRECIOUS, can-never-get-it-back-again season in the life of our family IS.  It is!!!

When you have something like 2,555 days at home with your little ones, it is really, really easy to Facebook it away.  To Twitter it away.  To Instagram it away. To blog it away.  To TV it away.  To Event-Plan it away.  To CHECK OUT it away (Can I get a witness?)...

Believe me, I know. 

But before you know it, you're down to 817 days left until the last one goes off to Kindergarten, and then 260 days, and then 49 days.  

And then you're standing on the corner watching them drive away in a school bus while you're trying not to lose your stuff (that's the nicest way I know how to say that).

Be still with your babies today.  As one who wishes I could today, plunk down on the floor and play with your children.  Be purposeful.  Be intentional.  Put it all away and be totally, completely THERE.  Because, sure, you may still have several hundred, or even a thousand days left before you kids are off.

But these days...

Will become this day.
And these days...

Will become this day.

They weren't kidding when they say it goes by quickly.  

Make it count.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I won the "Worst Mom Ever" award this week.  Yup.

I was in car line at Liley's preschool yesterday and saw my little one waiting for me...wearing NOT what I'd dropped her off in.  I was puzzled.  A spill? An accident? Why would she have had to change?  I wondered.

"Hey, sweet girl--why are you wearing that shirt?" I asked as she pulled her school bag into the car and plunked down into her carseat.

"My teacher gave it to me.  Read the note."

Oooh.  There's a NOTE?

I nervously opened her folder and found the words awaiting me:

"Thea, We gave Liley a shirt since her dress was revealing too much."     

Aaaaaaaaand official New Low.  My daughter's PRESCHOOL sent me a note about her clothing being inappropriate.  What. The. Heck.

I'm not at all upset about their decision to cover her up, nor to send me a note about it.  Love her school, love her teachers. It was all frustration with myself.  I just *hate* being THAT MOM.  In my defense (yes, of course I feel the desperate need to explain myself!), it was the first time she'd worn the little sundress she was wearing, and she put it on herself, so I didn't notice that it actually does show a bit of her shoulders and back. I'd also sent her in with a sweater over her dress, but she said she got too warm at school, and ended up taking off the sweater. 

But still.  The fact that I had sent my baby to school in something deemed inappropriate?  It stung a little a LOT.

Later in the day I called and left a message for the teacher to apologize, but despite my valiant efforts to hold my stuff together, I ended up crying in the middle of the message.  So there's that.  Totally didn't even cry when I watched "The Notebook," but was a weepy mess on this call. Faaaantastic.

And I've spent the last 24 hours feeling like a really crappy mom.

To make it worse, I realized I forgot to send in her school picture proofs.  And the fundraiser packet.  Turns out when I set things in a special spot to be SURE I don't forget about them, I end up forgetting about them. 

And even though my son had his school folder neatly packed away in his backpack, I wanted to check something in the folder--and at 9am this morning I noticed the folder I'd pulled out of his backpack was still sitting on the kitchen table while my son sits at his desk at his school across town right now.

I am on one heck of a roll of parental awesomeness. 

On the way home from dropping my daughter off at school today (and ashamedly avoiding eye contact with the sweet car line ladies), my heart was heavy.  And for a moment I surrendered to the song playing in my car, the truth-drenched words a healing salve for my bruised Mama Heart:

I am found
I am Yours
I am loved
I'm made pure
I have life
I can breathe
I am healed
I am free

What a stark contrast to the lies I'd been chewing on all morning:

I am nothing
I am worthless
I am a bad mom
I am useless
I am a mess
I am flawed beyond help
I am nowhere near where I want to be

It's hard and humbling to feel like you've come up short in something that MATTERS SO MUCH to you.  Look, it doesn't bother me that I'm not much of an athlete, and I'm not rattled by the fact that I can't bake to save my life.  But it's because those things don't really matter to me.  But being a good mom?  There are few things that matter more to me.  

But I am found.
I am Yours, God.
I am loved.  Loved.  Even in my flawed state, richly loved!
I'm made pure.  Not perfect, but being sanctified every day.
I have life.  Gratitude!
I can breathe.  You grant me breath to try again!
I am healed.  I am not stuck in my brokenness!
I am free.  My flaws are not my fetters!

I need to be on my game better.  It serves my children when I am organized.  I have a long way to go.

But I am not a worthless mom.  I am who He says I am.  I am what He says I am.  I am not who I am going to be, but by His grace I'm not who I was.
Nor are you.  

Because the truth is, you are found.
You are His.
You are loved.
You're made pure.
You have life.
You can breathe.
You are healed.
You are free.  

Maybe it's a good day for you.  You're on your game.  None of your children will open their lunchboxes today to find you forgot to pack a juice box, you didn't have a knock-down, drag-out with any of your children this morning over what to wear, and all is right in your world.  

But maybe it's been a rough day.

Either are who He says you are.  You are what He says you are.  

Philippians 3:12-14