Monday, August 29, 2011

SINCE QUITTER:1-Month Edition

It's been a month since the Quitter Conference. How has "the rubber met the road" in the past 30 days?

* Did the hustle! Gotta say, that phrase makes me think of a disco ball and a catchy 70's tune. Yep, I hustled at 5am nearly every morning. Actually, my hustle is typically more of a 6am hustle. And every now and then it's a 6:30 one. Okay, it's usually a 6:30 one. But at least I'm up before anyone else and able to work without taking time away from Justin and my babies.

* Wrote 12 (hopefully quality) blog posts.

* Logged ideas on Evernote, which is an awesome free online notebook. Great idea-capturing system!

* Spoke at 2 events, and prepared for each as those it was my one shot ever to communicate truth. Sought not perfection, but excellence as an offering to the God who put those things on my heart in the first place.

* Did the "Reverse Superman" after said events. It was tough--it almost physically hurt to do it. But God! He is faithful and will continue to make a way.

* Used Evernote to make a list of what I've done that I've loved. Eye-opening! The connections were amazing, and when I looked at it all, it was so evident that God has been weaving this calling throughout my life in the coolest ways!

* Tutored 5 times a week and sought excellence in every session. If I can't be faithful in this, why should I ask God for more?

* Scheduled reminders to be sent to me via Future Me. Come to think of it, one of my "Future Me" emails should be arriving within a few days to kick me in the butt. Looking forward to it.

* Set a "fake deadline." As of Saturday afternoon, there's nothing on the books for which to prepare. But I've set up a pretend deadline for preparing another teaching, as though I'll have an opportunity to share it.

* CRIED! Seriously. I won't lie, this month has been hard! To hustle every single day and not necessarily see any measurable impact? Pretty tough. But it's also been drenched in peace. I know I am being a faithful steward of the gifts, passions, talents and words God has given.

* Revived my Twitter account and am trying to figure it all out. I am soaking up what others have to offer. Pretty incredible insights, encouragement, and hilarious commentaries!

* Sought to encourage other Quitter Conference Alumni. Awesome community!

* Began to pray toward the possibility of Dream Year, She Speaks Conference, another Quitter Conference...What's next? Who knows. Some of the possibilities are terrifying in the best possible way, because they would be tremendously faith-stretching, but we don't know if they're necessarily ones for me to pursue. So we're praying.

* Spoken Galatians 6:9--aloud--on a number of occasions. "Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

* Did NOT hustle on Sundays. I very intentionally took a day of rest. Sure, I could work 7 days a week. But I am trusting God to make 6 days of "hustle" stretch to cover a 7-day week.

Up next: More hustle. A time audit (which never happened this month). And I also want to make a list of what I've done that I have NOT loved, because I think it will be every bit as insightful as listing what I've done that I HAVE loved. Also: I need some shower crayons. I actually did have some great ideas in the shower but forgot them by the time I lathered, rinsed, and repeated. Needed some shower crayons to write them down so I wouldn't forget them! Does Evernote make a shower edition???

So that's where I am! Any Quitter Conference buddies out there? How has the past month "since Quitter" looked for you?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Given the second half of this sentence, how would you fill in this blank?

"____________ , for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."

If you knew with 100% certainty that God was getting ready to do AMAZING things among you, what would you do today?

Would you pray?
Would you prepare?
Would you posture your heart accordingly?

Joshua knew God was about to move--that He was gearing up to do "amazing things" which in the Hebrew language meant that God was about to

do wonders
do monstrous things (love that!)
do things too difficult
do things that seemed hard
do miracles

And so he said, "________________, for tomorrow the LORD is going to (do wonders, do monstrous things, do things too difficult, do things that seemed hard, do miracles) amazing things among you."

So in light of all that comes after that blank, what should fill it in?


Dedicate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD is going to do amazing things among you.
Set yourselves apart, for tomorrow the LORD is going to do amazing things among you.
Keep yourselves clean, for tomorrow the LORD is going to do amazing things among you.
Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD is going to do amazing things among you.
And my favorite: Manifest His holiness, for tomorrow the LORD is going to do amazing things among you.

Because tomorrow the LORD is going to do wondrous miracles among us, because He is going to do things that seemed to difficult and too hard among us, because He is going to do monstrous things among us (Hallelujah!), that means today is the day of consecration. It means now is the time of setting ourselves apart, cleaning and purifying our hearts. It means this is the day of dedication.

In light of what God is going to do tomorrow, what are we going to do today?

What needs to look different than it does? What time needs to be spent, what words need to be said, what things need to be fled?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I was a loyal customer of Dish Network for 7 years. But my relationship with them didn't really get much attention from them until it ended.

Same with Georgia Natural Gas. And Sprint. And BJ's Wholesale Club. And Progressive Auto Insurance.

The moment I'd moved on to I-can-get-a-better-deal-elsewhere greener pastures, I was suddenly their valued customer with whom they wanted to reunite.

But I never really got much applause for staying, or for my commitment of several years.

Take a look at any array of magazines at the check-out line. The fanfare and attention begins when a marriage disintegrates--not when it goes the distance.

I think there should be fanfare for staying.

70 years ago today, my grandparents married and started a lifetime of love--a rich legacy for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They had nearly 65 years together as husband and wife; My sweet, sweet grandpa passed away on July 4, 2006. They were the most tremendously precious and in-love couple I've ever known. But since the stayers seem to garnish far less attention, and the ones who go the distance sometimes seem to fly under the radar, I just want to take a moment to applaud their life and celebrate their staying. The fruit of their life together was something that many of us continue to enjoy today. We walk in our inheritance of love and faithfulness because they stayed.

Love--and applause--for my sweet Nana, and for my grandpa, who I know is waiting to cup my face in his hands again one day in Heaven.

Friday, August 19, 2011


"I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." ~Martin Luther

Okay, that's math that just doesn't make sense.

Or does it?

I've been preparing for an event that's coming up tonight. I've gotten up early, stayed up late, and given it my all.

But by Wednesday afternoon of this week, I was still feeling anxious and overwhelmed, so I opted out of small group time to get in a solid two hours of preparation. I knew that meant I could run through my teaching four times and feel well-prepared.

But my heart needed preparation more than my mind. I knew it. And so with a two-hour block available to me, I spent almost the entire first hour not practicing. I was, however, preparing in the most important way:

I worshipped. I opened up my Bible. I prayed.

And then I practiced. And something in me knew God was stretching those two run-throughs much further than I could have made four run-throughs stretch.

Maybe when we think of tithing, our mind immediately goes to offerings of money. What about offerings of time? Even on our busiest days, what else should beckon us more than the preparation of our hearts? It seems counterintuitive, but what if sitting at the feet of Jesus is the single most productive thing you could do all day?

I know this passage in Malachi is probably talking about money--but what if we considered these "tithes and offerings" mentioned as offerings of time? Read this through with TIME in mind:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me. But you ask, 'How do we rob You?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 'Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops and the vines of your fields will not cast off their fruit,' says the LORD Almighty. 'Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty."

Malachi 3:7-11

What if the blessing is fruit that comes from time spent worshipping, praying, and consuming the Word of God? What if God preventing pests from devouring our crops is a picture of Him protecting our time for the remainder of the day? What if we are called blessed and dwell in a delightful land because we offered up the first of our day to Him?

LORD, a tithe of time is a tough offering, mainly because we've gotten too busy. But we know You operate under a totally different economy. Remind us that You can make 23 hours of our day stretch way further than we could possibly stretch all 24 on our own. We can SAFELY offer up to You the first fruit of our day and trust You for the outcome.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


"I'm not ready," I said wide-eyed to the woman who was about to draw blood. I'd managed to make it to age 10 before ever having to give up any of the precious red stuff flowing through my veins.

I told her I needed to lie down first.

And then that I thought I'd do better sitting up.

Or....maybe we should try the whole lying-down again.

"She's ready," my stepmom finally insisted. Crying, flailing, and a lot of drama ensued. And at the end of it all, the vilest of nurses held a vial of my blood.

I don't know that I would've ever been "ready" for that.

Twenty years later, I was "Not ready" again. It was January 1st, and my maternity leave was ending. The following day, January 2nd, the day I'd known was coming, I would return to work after being home for my son's first three months. It felt really, really not right to not be home with him. I remember that night so vividly: I rocked him, nursed him, placed him in the bassinet and then climbed into bed and sobbed like I hadn't before, nor since, as an adult. And the next morning, God was good; He strengthened me and there were mercies for the work I was called to finish. But four months later when I received a job contract for the following year, I didn't sign it. I came home, and have been home ever since.

But I'm here again in this heart-rending place called "Not ready." And this time it's August 15th that draws near--the day I've known for a while now would be another "Not ready" day. That's the day when I will begin really, really sharing my son with a world that I'm praying will receive him with grace. It's the day when he will enter an environment that might not welcome the truth we've sown into him. It's the day when I pray he finds favor with those outside our family and group of friends. It's the day I hope he will encounter people who see great worth in the way God has uniquely made him. It's the day when I'll hope we prepared him sufficiently with truth, manners, compassion, more truth, and even a bit of knowledge.

I really don't feel ready. But I don't know that I could find a date on any calendar that I finally would feel ready. I want more time, more chances, more opportunities, more laughs, more talks--more battles, even! I came home to be home with him. My heart hurts knowing that a chapter of that is coming to a close.

I'm not ready. But ready or not, here it comes.

God, You are my Abba Father, my Daddy. Not only do you fully understand what my heart feels now, but the great measure of love I feel for that boy is so small compared to the love You have for Him, and that gives me great peace. I do not want to worry--I am commanded to trust You and so I am needing You to strengthen me to trust You. He will be out from under our protection more than he ever has been, but I KNOW he will never be out from under Yours. You have given him a desire for people to come to know Jesus as their Savior, so although that truth may be unwelcome, I know You have placed light in dark places. Let his light shine so that people may see his good works and praise his Father in Heaven. Please use that boy for Your glory! Please let all the seeds of truth take root in him! Please let his life bear lots of fruit--the kind that lasts! Please protect his body, protect his heart, and protect him from any who would even consider doing him harm. Cover his steps with peace, and lend weight to what He does in Your name! Thank You for creating him and for entrusting him to us. The only fitting thing is for us to offer him back up to You.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This week I read a "Miss Manners" letter written by a woman fed up with her in-laws for coming over for dinner, and then asking for a large helping of what was served to take home to their dog. Not table scraps, mind you, but a Tupperware-sized helping of the good stuff. As in, "Can we please have a slab of that prime rib to take home to our pooch?" type of thing.

I can see why the woman was upset. I love my dog, too--but Jack gets regular old dog food, or an occasional table scrap. We're not tossing him lobster tails or filling his bowl with caviar. It just seems like there's something a little off about taking home the richest of fare for the family pet.

But there's something more than a little off about throwing table scraps to a far worthier God.

Reading this letter in the paper was timely because I recently finished reading the chapter in Crazy Love entitled "Serving Leftovers to a Holy God" -- a chapter that has really challenged me to consider the ways in which I'm insisting on bringing the best to the LORD, and the ways in which I'm tossing Him a few table scraps now and then. And it's been a humbling little exercise.

Even as I've entered/tagged/organized clothes for a consignment sale (from which I will profit) this week, I've found myself thinking, "Whatever doesn't sell can go to the Clothesline event at the church." Ugh--it hurts my heart just to type these words because I hate that I thought them! Yes, the money I earn from the sale will go to buy the next round of clothes for my children--nothing wrong with that. But there's something about that thought process that just screams "You are planning to give the lesser things. You're planning to give the leftovers."

This week has felt overwhelming, time-wise. If I can just get through the next 9 days, I'm golden. But it has also really challenged the amount of time I have sat down strictly to worship and spend time with God. 3 minutes reading a Psalm just doesn't cut it for me anymore, but that's what the past week has been like. And it bothers me to my core that out of a 24-hour day, He's getting like 3 minutes of my undivided attention. That's unacceptable. It's like tossing Him table scraps.

It's also this way when we look at how much money we expect to have left over at the end of the month before writing out the tithe check. But in Malachi you never hear God say He anything about "leftovers." Instead, He uses the word "firstfruits."

I think sometimes the concept of "firstfruits" is a little too foreign to us. We give out of our excess--whatever remains at the end of what we ourselves have consumed is what we're willing to share. But that's not especially impressive to a watching God:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in their large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, "I tell you the truth, this poor woman has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of her wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."
Mark 12:41-44

LORD, I am convicted when I consider some of the ways in which I'm tossing You a bone just to appease my guilt rather than bringing the very best to You because I am so in love with You. Please give me a deep, insatiable love for You that compels me to bring my very best to You--time, talents, offerings, all of it. Forgive me for all the times You've gotten my leftovers.

* In what ways are you currently experiencing the battle between firstfruits and leftovers?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Yesterday we were at a birthday party where our friend Scott was introduced to the children's toy known as Chinese Finger Locks.

He put his fingers in, and a look of surprise spread across his face when he realized he really, really couldn't get them out.

"You have to push in!" we told him through our laughter. He looked a little bewildered that we were advising him to push his fingers in even further when it seemed there was already a death-grip on his pointer fingers.

Pulling out even harder would make a lot more sense. Pushing in surely seemed counterintuitive. But although our advice didn't seem right, he tried it--and it actually worked.

I feel like the God I serve says some pretty counterintuitive things in His Word. He said He could make 90% of our income stretch way better than we could stretch 100%. He said that the least on earth would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. He said we should love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and go an additional mile with someone who demands we walk a mile with them. He said the woman who had only a few pennies but gave them all had given far more than the wealthy who seemingly gave more. He said he wasn't nearly as interested in what was seen as He was with what is unseen. He said we shouldn't bother storing up treasures in a place where we may potentially live 90 or even 100 years. He said not to worry about your next meal. He said to seek His Kingdom before any other earthly pursuit.

To people who live in a culture that finds these commands highly counterintuitive, these words just don't make a lot of sense. And so often people find themselves just pull, pull, pulling even harder.

But oddly enough, His words work. Every time. 100% of the time. All the time. Strange as they sound, they work.

Are you struggling with any of God's commands in the belief that they are counterintuitive? Do you find yourself pulling harder to make it work, or are you pushing into Him?

* Special thanks to Scott for letting me share his Chinese Finger Locks fiasco!


My dad is a published author. I'm glad at least one of us is!

He was one of the contributors on a book called "It All Changed in an Instant," a book all about "six word memoirs." Basically, people sent in their six words that most succinctly summed up their lives, or a major part of it. And they had to encapsulate their experiences in no more than six words:

"Found tumor. Removed kidney. Turned four."

"Unplanned, but perfect: Heather, Hannah, Haley."

"Hated seventh grade. Now teaching it."

"The Fruit Loop among the Cheerios."

"Dealt bad cards. Played them well."

"Goth girl. White dog. Lint roller."

"Learned more from poverty than wealth."

"I saw the Red Sox win."

"Wish I could bubblewrap my son."

"Author of so many unwritten books."

"I'm more Clark Kent than Superman." *That one's my dad's. :)

So if you only had six words, what would yours say?

"Found a husband 3,000 miles away."

"Childhood full of love and laughter."

"Still get giggles with best friend."

"Lost a son. Gained a daughter."

"Almost wrecked my life. BUT GOD."

"My life is marked with redemption."

"Justin. Trev. Ailey. Each worth wait."

"Want to make much of God."

Your turn. You've got six words. Go!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


3:09am. A huge clap of thunder boomed, jarring my babies out of their sleep.

And my hands were on their heads when it happened.

I happened to be in their room praying over them in that very moment. The heavy rains woke me, and when I wake in the night, my go-to place is their room to put my hands on their heads and pray, pray, pray.

And then suddenly, *BOOM.* They both sat up quickly, looking terrified. But they seemed comforted that I was already right there.

Because usually I'm down the hall, asleep in my own bed. That's the norm. They'll call for me, and I'll book it down the hall to get to them. But I'm not typically already right there, with my hands on their heads.

And I think it's also where we assume God is when a storm hits--down some hall, until summoned. Sometimes it feels like when things fall apart, we think we need to call for Him, disturbing His slumber while He rushes down the hall to tend to us. Oh, maybe we believe He'll come running--but we think He has to, because we think He's elsewhere when we call.

But what if we believed in the presence of God? What kind of peace could we have if we recognized that His hand is on us before the storm even hits? What if we knew for sure that He is near, not only when we call out for Him, but even before we do?

By the time we hear the boom of thunder, He has already has His loving hands on us.

The LORD is near to all who call on Him,

to all who call on Him in truth.

Psalm 145:18

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Have you ever wanted to be able to send yourself an email in the future? Now you can. How cool is that?

Recently I heard about a site called that will send you an email you write to yourself. And you choose the delivery date--it can be a week out, a month out, a year out, twenty years out! And what I love (love, love) about it is that I have not received one spam-ish email from them at all. You don't have to sign up or provide info or anything, other than providing the address to which the email should be sent. It's a pet peeve of mine to sign up for something online and then get a lot of emails I do not want, so this is a big deal to me!

And so I'm using it to speak truth to the Future Thea Nelson--The girl who in a month will be tempted to let up on using what God has given her, and will need Galatians 6:9 to kick her in the butt. The girl who in 3 months might forget who she is in Christ, and why that should affect her day-to-day. The girl who in 6 months might forget the worth of spending time with God daily. The girl who in a year might have forgotten the pit from which she has been freed, and how bad it was in there, and how sweet freedom is in Christ.

Yes, I sent myself each of these.

So what truth does the Future You need to read? That you've made a commitment that time was never intended to dissolve? That the days of bringing up children may be trying, but are more than worth it in terms of long-term Kingdom impact? That those words you're tempted to believe again are simply lies you need to refuse? That the mountain-top high you experienced may not be your day-to-day but was still absolutely real, and worth remembering? That all these sacrifices in the name of debt reduction will be worth it, and not to give up? That the job the Future You holds is an answer to prayer and a provision from God?

Does the Future You need a challenge?
A word of hope?
A reminder of truth?

Go over to and speak some truth to the Future You. The "3-Weeks-From-Now" You or the "5-Months From Now" You or the "One-Year-From-Now" You will thank you for it! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011


"Do not lock your knees," our wedding coordinator told our wedding party at the rehearsal. And again the morning of the wedding. And again just before the ceremony.

She'd seen too many bridesmaids and groomsmen topple over from keeping their knees locked.

The key is to keep a slight bend in your knees. Basically, have the opposite of Barbie legs.

Have you ever tried to stand a Barbie up? She falls right over. Sure, her legs look a whole lot cuter in her little sundresses than mine do. But no worries--I've got a huge one-up on her:

My knees can bend. And bending knees keep you from falling.

When I think of people who are too clothed in pride to say they are sorry, I picture Barbie legs. When I see someone refuse to make the first move toward reconciliation, I picture Barbie legs. When I encounter a person who digs his heels in, or who doesn't seem to think she needs to do anything to bend or grow, I picture Barbie legs.

Because on the surface, they may look great. But their destiny is a fall.

Are you in a situation where you're both wrong and you're both right, but you're only able to see your rightness and their wrongness? When was the last time you apologized to someone when it was due? Have you ever been described as stubborn?

We can hold on and not give an inch, and we may look great for doing so; others may even applaud our tenacity. We can refuse someone a "sorry" that's due, and give off the perception that if we didn't admit fault, we must be innocent. We can refuse to go first, because we think that's what weak people will do.

And with those unbending knees, you might just look great. But if looking awesome in your unbending Barbie legs is your pursuit, then standing tall is not your destiny. A fall is your destiny.

Pride precedes disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility precedes honor.

Proverbs 18:12

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2

A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

Proverbs 29:23

So forget having perfect-looking Barbie legs. Go first. Admit fault. Say the "sorry." Make the first move. Bend your knee in humility. You won't look small for doing so.

You'll look small if you don't.