Friday, January 28, 2011


When my children were babies, they loved to hold lemons and oranges--As long as I zested a little bit of the skin off first.

Because an orange or a lemon is far more fragrant when a little bit of the skin has been grated away. It releases the wonderful scent of the fruit. My kids used to kick their little legs in delight of the wonderful smells. If I handed them an unzested fruit, they would quickly lose interest. But with a few swipes of the zester, I couldn't pry it out of their hands!

But it takes a rough encounter with the grater to remove some of the exterior and release what's inside.

We are the aroma of Christ. And isn't it amazing how the Holy Spirit in us is often more evident when our exteriors--the stuff of us--is sanded away by testing and trials? Our difficult circumstances buff away at us until our "us" is less evident and the aroma of Christ is undeniable.

And so we can rejoice in hardships. For though they grate away at us, we know the stuff of Christ is released.

Walk in the way of love,
just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up
as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:2

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Think miracles don't still happen?

Just ask Duane Miller. He was just a pastor who came down with a sore throat one Sunday morning and lost his voice.

For three years!

He wasn't completely inaudible. He just sounded like he had the worst case of laryngitis ever. And because his voice was so difficult to hear, he had to resign as Pastor. So all of a sudden, Duane found himself jobless. He thought about writing, but nobody would publish him if he couldn't speak to promote his work. All kinds of jobs were immediately ruled out because of his voice (or lack thereof), so his wife had to return to work for some income.

Duane's Sunday School class kept asking him to teach, and they said they could set him up with an ultra-sensitive microphone to do so. And since they said they didn't mind his raspy voice nor having to strain to understand him, he finally agreed.

He was to preach on the next lesson in a curriculum that had been put in place years before, which was Psalm 103:1-4:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, all that is within me, bless His name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits--
He forgives all my sins,
He heals all my diseases,
He redeems my life from the pit
and crowns me with love and compassion.

When he was well into his raspy rendition of a sermon, he began reading this passage of Scripture. And as you'll hear, his voice is fully restored as he reads of the One who forgives sin and heals disease. And by the way, that Sunday when Duane's voice was restored was three years to the week from when he lost it.

Our God is still Jehovah Rapha (our healer). He still makes a way! That's not just a thing of the past, not just the way He worked in Biblical times. He still does miracles.

Hear it with your own ears. When you get to the page, click to play "The Moment." Trust me, it's well worth the two minutes of your time!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Facebook has an app called "On this day, God wants you to know..." to which a few of my FB friends have subscribed, so their little daily affirmations show up in my news feed from time to time.

And I have to be honest, it's a bit of a head-scratcher.

"On this day God wants you to know that if you could see with the eyes of God, this world would be filled with goodness. Goodness is within you and every living being. Let your goodness shine."


Or my personal favorite, the one where God wanted us to know a quote by Albert Einstein.


I'm not saying God can't use these words in some way to those who read them. I just can't help but think that if we want to know what God wants us to know today, we can know it. But it's not through some Facebook app--it's by simply opening up the Word of God (something that, I can say from personal experience, is lost on many, many, many a believer--it was lost on me for years).

What if you were to read a Proverb a day for a month? By the end of the month, you will have read through all of Proverbs. What if you were to read 5 Psalms a day (Just multiply the day of the month times 5 and then read 5 chapters)? You will have read through all of the Psalms in 30 days. For example, on February 7th, you'd read Proverbs 7, and Psalms 35-39. On February 20th, you'd read Proverbs 20, and Psalms 100-104.

And then we would know what God wants us to know on

Day 4: Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He answers him from His holy Heaven with the saving power of His right hand (Ps. 20:4). And Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you (Prov. 4:6).

and Day 14: I am always with You, God; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:23-24, 26). And He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge (Prov. 14:26).

and Day 21: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love (Ps. 103:8). And There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD (Prov. 21:30).

God can absolutely reveal truth through a daily devotion. But I think there's a fine line there, and we have to be careful to substitute warm and fuzzy (even spiritual) daily affirmations for the Word of God as our spiritual food--especially if there is no tie-in to Scripture. If we have time to read one of these, it's not much more time to just read a passage of Scripture.

So on this day, God wants you to know...
He speaks through His Word. And He wants us to read it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I'm semi-addicted to home improvement shows. The whole "Before-and-After-reveal-thing" is so much fun to watch!

But it's funny to think that that hideous "Before" room was once someone's "After." At one point that peach flowered wallpaper was someone's dream of how beautiful their bathroom could be. And that tacky carpet was, at some point, chosen on purpose. Hard to believe, but true!

Before and After. And then "After" eventually becomes "Before." And on it goes.

Think back a decade to where you were in your relationship with Christ. Probably more real and more intimate than it had been in years prior, right? Your faith was stronger and your love for Him more real. Probably had the "After"-esque look. That's how it was for me, too. Ten years ago I was further along in knowing God than I had been before.

But fast-forward to today--and I realize that back then I had no idea what the LORD intended to reveal about Himself. My understanding of His love was small compared to now. My knowledge of the Word was comparitively small.

But even now, I'm not an "After." Because I have yet to love Him. I have yet to understand. I have yet to believe that He is able. I have yet to trust Him. I have yet to see His glory. And no matter what we know of Him, we will always still have a tremendous way to go in knowing Him and loving Him more.

What an amazing God. He loves us too much to leave us as "Befores" and wants to continually grow us to be more like Himself!

in the grace and knowledge
of our LORD Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Last night we were wrapping up at small group and I was in a conversation with a friend when little Ailey ran up and exclaimed, "Mommy! Let's do Ring Around the Rosey!" I told her I was going to finish my conversation and then I would do it.

But I forgot.

When we got home from small group we went through our bedtime routine--pajamas, brushing teeth, Family Prayer Time, and then my husband took our son to read Reddy Fox while I took Ailey to read her story. We opened up The Jesus Storybook Bible (love this, by the way) to the story of the disciples arguing over who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And in the midst of their arguing, some young children approached Jesus. Upon seeing this, the disciples tried to send the little ones away, but Jesus did not refuse them.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them," He said. Jesus welcomed them. He did not turn them away.

This is the picture that accompanied this story:

Now, I don't know if Jesus actually played a raucous round of Ring Around the Rosey with the children that day. All I know is that He didn't turn them away.

I'll be honest--I felt a little convicted!

I know it's important for children to learn to wait their turn, as I asked my daughter to do last night. But I also know that yesterday was just, in general, one of those days when my son and my daughter were on the back burner while I tried to cram in a bazillion things into a few short hours. And honestly, taking a moment to play Ring Around the Rosey with my child would have been more valuable than any other thing I did all day long.

Just yesterday I wrote these words to a friend: "I want to serve my LORD! But I know it may be more simple, more pure, more right-there-in-front-of-me than I realize." If the Kingdom of Heaven is for such as these little children, then it IS right in front of me, grabbing onto my pant leg, asking for another glass of milk, blowing sweet kisses to me and trying to drag out bedtime. And it makes absolute sense that

loving on
playing with
listening to
praying for

my children has everything to do with Kingdom work.

His Kingdom is theirs. And more than anything else you or I can invest time in or accomplish, there is great worth in pointing our little ones toward Him.

P.S. When we finished reading her story, I scooped Aila up out of bed for a "better-late-than-never" round of Ring Around the Rosey. And it was, by far, the best thing I did all day. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It was another day that, by the end of the day, nothing would be the same again. And I didn't even know it.

In May 2007 I sat down and journaled these words:

"I am so praying that we'll be pregnant soon. It took so long to happen the second time, and there is no child in our arms after all of that. I just feel so ready for another child. Ever since Trevor was just a few months old, I felt ready for our family to grow again. But now a year and a miscarriage later, we're no closer. But I'm praying that I'll get pregnant in June. I know it can't happen before then, so that is my prayer. We're just ready to be a family of four. LORD, I pray this baby will come in your time, but I pray You'll remember my longing and consider my hope to have children who are close together. I thank you for Trevor and for my son in Heaven as well, and I thank you for my future child. We pray for a healthy baby--a strong heartbeat at every ultrasound, feeling those delightful kicks and squirms signifying life. I want that so much, LORD. I try so hard to be a good mom--you know I want to glorify You in this and have never taken this lightly. I PRAY I'll be healthfully pregnant soon."

I found this journal the other day, and as I glanced at the date I wrote these words, I smiled.

Because that day is the very day I became pregnant.
Hallelujah. Hallelujah to the One who made a way.

Just because I didn't know God was doing something didn't mean He wasn't up to something of great magnificence, that He wasn't actually up to establishing something that would bring Him glory. And just because I thought it couldn't happen before June didn't mean that God wasn't going to make a way for it to be even sooner than I could have imagined.

36 weeks later, after months of hearing her heartbeat and feeling those delightful kicks and squirms signifying life, I held my beautiful one in my arms.
Hallelujah to my Heavenly Father for another day that changed everything.

So if you find yourself wondering when it's going to turn around, consider that our God is not limited by our perceptions of time. Because if you have, as I have, established some window of time before which we assume God cannot work, or after which we assume His activity in our lives would be too late, that does not mean He is subject to your timetable or mine. How blessed we are that He is not so confined, but works according to His perfect purposes.

Many were the plans in my heart--yours, too? But the LORD's purpose prevailed.(Psalm 19:21)--in my circumstances and in yours as well.

Monday, January 17, 2011


11 years ago today.
I walked down that little corridor between Gate B23 and a Boston-bound airplane, absolutely mindful that nothing would be the same. I was moving three time zones away based on a call of faith--stepping out on "nothing" and praying like crazy I was gonna land on something.

If you know me well, you know I was a California girl with absolutely zero plans to be anything but. I loved my hometown. Was born there. Assumed I'd die there. And figured that anything worth anything that would happen in my life would happen there! I had just graduated from college and was preparing to begin a credential program. But in the fall of 1999, it began to pop up. Everywhere. Like, ridiculously everywhere.


Go to Boston.

I had never been to Boston. I knew nobody in Boston. I knew nothing of Boston other than what I'd seen in movies. You know, "Pahk the cah by the shahks in the hahbah." That was really all I had to go on.

Boston? Really?

So I began researching Boston. Rent was way high. I began looking for jobs, but the school year had already begun--I knew I couldn't wait until the following school year to begin working! My car had a lot of miles on it, and would have 3,000 more if I drove it out there.

This wasn't making sense.

So I began to tell God every reason this wasn't going to work. I really made my three-point case that would surely let God know why this didn't make a whole lot of sense.

1. Where would I live? I can't afford anything out there!

2. What will I do for a job?

3. How will I get around? No wheels!

"Three strikes, you're out, God. This just won't work," is the conclusion I had reached. But He seemed to persist.

Go to Boston.

I wore myself out trying to figure out how it was going to work. I couldn't make it work! And it only served to totally stress me out. On top of that, I had to keep this whole Boston thing under wraps. People were gonna think I was out of my mind.

And He spoke again:

Be still.

After praying a lot I felt led to do a sort of "fast." No phone. No TV. No internet. No pursuing. No striving. No trying to figure this one out on my own one minute longer.

Stillness. Quiet. Peace.

It was an amazing week. I prayed and spent a lot of time in the Word. I quieted my heart before God rather than yelling all the reasons this didn't make sense. I listened.

When the week was up, I turned on the computer. First, I found an email from a distant friend who wrote, "I have been praying for you like crazy this week. God is going to use you in ways you and I can't even imagine." My friend Skye had no idea what I was up to, what was going on. But she had felt compelled to pray for me that week--the very week I too was fasting and praying. Next, I pulled up a search engine and I typed in just one word:


I didn't know where else to begin. But on Page One of the results, I saw "Boston Nanny Agency," and clicked on it.

"Our nannies are well-compensated. You can choose live-in or live-out. Many families provide a separate car for their nanny."

A house? Check.

A car? Check.

A paycheck? Check.

It was as if I told the LORD about all the mountains in the way while He was getting ready to MOVE THEM.

All of this, combined with the counsel of several wise, Godly people who also prayerfully discerned that the LORD was leading me, led to the night when I hugged the ones I love the most and boarded a plane to Boston.

It didn't make a lot of sense at the time, but there was so much peace, so much confirmation. I was hired the week I moved out there, and got plugged into a great church. Four months after moving to Boston, I was at church when a young man walked up and began talking to the person next to me. I just looked at him. I couldn't not. But then I didn't think anything more about that. In July, now six months after arriving in Boston, I saw a very handsome young man on a church rafting trip. And, although very out of character for me, I walked right up to him and said, "Hi--I'm Thea!" And he told me his name was Justin, but that we had met before. That's when I realized he was the one I'd seen at church that day.

I married him the next July. And the life I live now--my husband, my babies, my faith--none of it would be what it is, had the LORD not called me to go where He led--and had I not gone. I do not glory in this--I was THE least likely girl on the planet to do what I did. I know my God made a way. I know my God moved mountains. I know He positioned the least likely girl for His purposes.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase" (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)--As I said before, I remember feeling like I was stepping out on nothing and praying it would be alright. We walk by faith, not by sight. And not only was it alright (and wonderful and scary and faith-stretching), it was "immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20)!

If the LORD has called you to follow but it doesn't make sense, keep praying. And feel free to list off every mountain you believe stands in the way. But remember to take a break from declaring every reason you think it won't work to watch and see how He makes a way.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I want to be on a California-bound plane this summer.

I am missing my family tremendously. Yes, I have been blessed to get to see them as much as I have. But we have always been very close, it is extremely difficult to be away. Like three time zones away.

And so every single day--at least once a day--I watch for low airfare. I wait expectantly because I know that soon, those rates will drop. After many, many a flight, I know the drill. There's a pattern and I know what to watch for.

And so I watch and wait. I know it'll happen--it's just a matter of when.

But I'm a little convicted. What else am I watchful about? Perhaps not enough.

Sure, I'm watching the plane fares like a hawk. Because I know that if I don't, they could drop one day, and I could miss it.

But the LORD is up to all sorts of things that, should I neglect to be on the lookout, I could fail to see.

Because isn't it true that in the times when we are watchful and expectant, it seems God is up to all kinds of things? When in reality, He is always at work. Makes me wonder what I'm missing but not watching, expecting to see Him moving.

Are you watching, waiting, expecting? Or are you bound to miss something?

You are my strength--I watch for You.
You, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely.
Psalm 59:9-10

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


About a week ago, it seemed my heart was restless--unquieted, I guess. And the LORD kept pressing the words


into my heart.

Aaaaand then life came to a sudden standstill.

Our weather situation here has been insane!!! It snowed Sunday night, and not since--but the roads are treacherous due to the ice on the road, no above-freezing temps in sight, and a state that is unprepared for such conditions.

We rejoiced over Snow Day #1--A day to be home, nowhere to go! It was glorious. We snuggled with the kids, ran around in the snow, and had a blast. At one point I was sitting next to a roaring fire, aware that for the first time in a long time, I had nowhere I had to be (or could be, for that matter).

When they announced Snow Day #2, we were just amazed that now we were up to two days off! More relaxing, more family time, more eating yummy warm comfort foods, more not-getting-to-go-to-Zumba-ing (this isn't good for my waistline)...

And then they announced Snow Day #3. And I could feel my anxiety begin to creep up. After all, everything I do to contribute financially to our family requires that I be there to be paid--and no work, no pay. Not to mention the idea of not even being able to go anywhere. I've always told my husband I'll move anywhere, as long as I'm within like 15 minutes of a Target store. It's not even that I just love Target so much (okay, I do love it) but it's just that I love civilization that much! I know my husband would be totally happy living on the side of a mountain, cozied up to a warm fire, completely content that the nearest grocery store is a 40-minute drive away and charging $5.39 for a gallon of milk (this I know because this is how he was living when I met him--then I married him and we promptly moved within 3 minutes of a Target. Ah, civilization).

I digress. But I knew that this increasing antsiness over not being able to leave the house was more than your classic case of Cabin Fever. I knew it was a reflection of the condition of my heart!

I was worried about not working.


I was stressed to be down to our last container of milk and just a few more slices of bread, and no way to get to the grocery store.


I was frankly feeling ready to go and do.


Both internally, and externally, He was calling to BE STILL. And for some crazy reason, it was not easy! How I went from delighting in not having to be anywhere to beginning to panic over not getting to go anywhere, I do not know--but it truly does mirror my frantic heart these days!

And maybe you can relate. You might not be snowed in right now, but maybe you feel circumstancially forced to be still. Maybe your heart is antsy. Maybe you are frustrated that you can do nothing but wait on the LORD.

These lyrics keep running through my mind:

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, oh restless heart of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
and let the noise and clamor cease

What if today could be about delighting in the stillness--not refusing it, but just drinking it in? We're going to have moments today when worry will try to creep in. But by His grace we're enable to cease all of our strivings and just plain know that He is God.

Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God

I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth.

Lyrics: "Be Still and Know" Steven Curtis Chapman

Saturday, January 8, 2011


On Tuesday I subbed for my husband's students...

...and froze in his chilly classroom.

So when I got a call to sub again on Friday, I made sure to make one slight change to my attire, and it made all the difference in the world:

I wore layers.

Each one of those layers contributed to a totally different outcome: Toasty warm and cozy this time!

Colossians 3:12 calls us to clothe ourselves with


Each one of those layers matters. Because without compassion, our hearts grow cold. And when we leave off the layer of gentleness, the same thing happens.

And then over all these virtues we are to put on an overcoat of LOVE, which binds them together in perfect unity (v. 14).

To keep our hearts from growing cold?

Dress in layers.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Not only is this the 200th post on this blog, but the first of 2011. Aaaa--pressure! I wish I could write something profound or funny or at least worth a glance and a moment of your time...

But I think I just want to say I hope I bring glory to God. In all things. In all ways. I hope my life is a fragrant offering. I hope I am making something lasting of the days He gives me. I hope I am making dents. I hope I am speaking truth. I hope I am pointing to Him.

And I hope it's happening through this blog.

If I have actually written 199 posts (woah!!) before this one, I hope they have been purposeful and full of truth. I hope they have been worthy, not worthless words (Jeremiah 15:19)! I hope that they have been what He intended them to be when He pressed them into my heart and poured them out of my typing fingers. Anything I've written has been fleshed out in me--words of encouragement or conviction--if I have written it, it's because I have needed to learn it myself. But I pray they've not just been for me but words of truth for others as well.

Love and blessings to you in 2011! Thanks for reading!