Monday, April 30, 2012


My son is getting married.  Someday.  And "someday" is going to be here sooner than I think.

Last week I subbed in an English class that has been reading Romeo and Juliet.  The homework assignment that night was for the students to write out the type of qualities they hope for in their future spouse.  Then they had to predict what their parents would say they want in a future spouse for their son or daughter.

As I passed out the homework assignment, I chuckled and said, "I bet my son could fill this out--and he's only six."

Not because he's some prodigy who can do high school English.  But because I already talk to him about the type of woman I hope he marries, and the type of husband I want him to be.  By the time he has a girl in mind for whom to purchase a ring, he will know my heart on the matter.  And I pray he will take it to heart.

These are some of the conversations we're having now:

* You get to practice how you'll treat your wife one day in the way you treat Mommy and Liley.  If you don't plan on treating your wife poorly, then don't treat us poorly.  We are your training field.  Practice now treating Mommy and your sister with kindness, so that treating your wife with love and consideration one day will just be the natural extension of what you've practiced all along.

* Read your Bible.  I want you to attract the heart of a young lady who LOVES that you read your Bible--and that you do what it says. 

* Watch what Daddy does.  You have been BLESSED to have the example you have in him.  Of course nobody's perfect--but he's getting it right.  He is an awesome husband and father.  Follow in his footsteps.  

* Have a teachable heart.  Please, please do not be stubborn--that will never serve you well long-term. I promise.  Own up to your brokenness, selfishness, and your need for the LORD to refine you where it's needed.

* Say you're sorry.  Not saying you are sorry when it's necessary will be a snare to your feet.  Humble yourself when you've been out of line.  Ask for forgiveness, and be willing to give it.

* Be a gentleman.  Open doors.  Use your finest manners.  Tell her she looks lovely.  Bring her a flower.  Seriously, this stuff still really works.  

* If she doesn't love Jesus, she is not an option for you.  Period.  You are a follower of Christ.  Pursue another follower of Christ, or no one at all.

* She must LOVE you, Trev.  I hope she makes you laugh until your sides hurt.  I hope she's considerate of others.  I hope she wants to be a mom who builds into her children for the long-term.  But more than anything, I hope you choose a girl who loves Jesus and loves you. 

I'm having these conversations with him now, because time is flying by.  This covered-in-green-finger-paint little guy has become this:

  And it won't be nearly long enough before he goes on a first date.  And then another.  And eventually he will have his last first date.  And then that tiny hand I held will take another hand in marriage.

So I'm starting the conversation early.  


Sunday, April 29, 2012


"Oh my gosh--that is so embarrassing!" my best friend Kelly and I used to say whenever "she" raised her hand during worship time.

We couldn't believe our fellow church member was so demonstrative in her worship.  After all, we grew up in a pretty conservative church.  And this was 20 years ago.  Even her one-raised-hand was one gutsy move in that environment; that sort of thing just didn't really "happen."  If you really, really wanted to get down with your bad self, you clapped to the beat.  And usually ON the beat, not that super-edgy-off-the-beat kind of clapping.

And yet so many years later, a lot has changed in my own personal worship.  I find that my body wants to reflect the posture of my heart.  Not every time, not every song, not every prayer.  But more than I feel comfortable doing so. 

I want to be able to lift my hands sometimes, but I feel reserved in doing so.  Probably because, at my church, the majority don't raise theirs.  And there's a tremendous pull in me to just simply...well, blend.  I'm not exactly looking to stick out like a sore thumb.  And so--even in my expressions of worship--I just want to go with the flow and not attract attention.  

But I can't help thinking of King David who, in 2 Samuel 6, got a shall I say....Pentecostal-errific in his worship.

When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the tent David had prepared for it, Scripture says he leaped and danced before the LORD with all his might.

I'm sure that was quite the scene.  We're talking *way* beyond the one raised hand or clapping on the off-beat.  Maybe even jazz hands were involved.

Well, his wife was watching all of this from a window above, and she was mortified by David's undignified worship.  Once she had a moment alone with him, she chastised him and rebuked his actions. 

"That was before the LORD who chose me and appointed me," King David replied, "and I will celebrate before the LORD.  I will become even more undignified than this, and will be humiliated in my own eyes."

King David was unapologetic about his response of worship.  Even when it made others uncomfortable.  Even when those closest to him didn't get it.  He simply said his actions were before--and FOR--the God who had chosen him and appointed him, and he would willingly become more undignified, more humiliated, if that's what a response of worship warranted.

I wish I was even half as bold in my own worship.  No, I've never felt compelled to leap before the LORD, nor dance with all my might (although that is a pretty funny mental image).  But there are times I want to respond MORE with my body.  Sometimes I want both hands stretched upward.  Sometimes I want to kneel.  Sometimes I want to sit and let His love fall on me.  

But instead, I usually just stand.  Dignified.  A well-behaved worshipper.

LORD God, our worship is for YOU, and You alone.  It is not for others--not even the ones with whom we share a sanctuary.  Keep our eyes so totally fixed on YOU, Jesus, that we cannot help but respond in whatever way You lead, no matter how it may look.  Let us be more undignified, more humiliated, if You might be lifted up in such an offering. 

* For a humorous take on hand-raising in worship, click *HERE* to check out this post from Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like.  Makes me laugh every time--and now when I'm in worship I picture myself holding a pound cake--or a watermelon!  :D


Friday, April 27, 2012


Yesterday I witnessed a blatant act of inconsideration.  My daughter and I were eating lunch at the food court in the CNN building, and the table beside ours was occupied by several high school age girls.  I didn't notice them leave, but I did notice the enormous pile of trash they left behind.  And then I noticed a dejected CNN employee approach the table and begin to clear off the hamburger wrappers, half-eaten cartons of fries, and slurped-down soda cups. 

"Did those girls really just leave all that trash for someone else to clean up?" I asked the woman.

"Happens all the time," she replied as she wiped down the table.  

I wasn't okay with that.  I made a lesson of it with my daughter, and the two of us made sure we left our table spotless.  

Fast forward to today.  

Today I wanted to be inconsiderate.

Not because I wanted to actually be inconsiderate;  I just felt momentarily inconvenienced by the thought of doing the considerate thing.  And so I wanted to do the thing that would have been inconsiderate.

I picked up an item at the grocery store, and then found a better price on a similar item at the opposite end of the store.  I was a little stick-a-fork-in-me-I'm-done at the end of that grocery run, and the other end of the store seemed a million miles away.  I reeeeally wanted to just stick the first item on some random shelf and head to the checkout lanes. 

And then I remembered the inconsideration of those girls yesterday.  
And I thought of that worker at CNN who had to clear away what they should have.  

I knew if I didn't put that item away, someone would have to.  Someone else would have to pick up that displaced item and return it to its rightful place.

I know that wouldn't have been the end of the world--but to me, it just would have felt like an inconsiderate thing to do.

Because CONSIDERation means considering others instead of just yourself.  And, in stark contrast, inCONSIDERation means refusing to consider what your actions will mean to others.  

So what does consideration look like?  It's getting up with the baby so your spouse can rest.  Inconsiderate is pretending you don't hear the baby so your spouse will have to get up.  They're every bit as tired as you are. 

Consideration means letting someone else have the best parking spot (why is this one SO hard for me?) because a mom with five kids or an older gentleman whose legs aren't working as well anymore might need it more than I do.  Inconsideration is not even thinking someone else might be needing that close spot. 

Consideration is rooted in humility--and inconsideration, in pride. 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, 
but in humility CONSIDER others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.

* What does consideration look like for you in all your comings and goings today?


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There are some favors I just can't return.  

Recently a friend with like 5,000 followers on Twitter tweeted, "You need to follow @theanelson - She'll encourage your heart with her insights!" 

I sent out a tweet later that day encouraging my followers--all 192 of them--to follow her.

It felt like an insignificant gesture.  She gave me a shout-out to 5,000.  I gave her a shout-out to 192.

What if I patted myself on the back for my super-generous gesture of putting her name in front of fewer than 200 people?  In light of what she did, my offering was pretty inconsequential.  

But we do that with God.  All. The. Time.

Hey, God--no need to thank me for sending that $20 check to Africa to feed that family that one time.  I know that was pretty big of me.  I know I totally have Your applause over that one.

Hey God, I know I rocked that blog post on forgiveness.  I know I got a big heavenly standing ovation for that one.  I know it was a pretty big gift for You to get from me, and You are welcome, by the way!


We make much of our offerings to a God who has provided every bite we've eaten, every dollar we've earned, every good thing we have, and--most importantly--every ounce of forgiveness we so desperately need.  

If I do a great job as a wife and a mom, it's a comparatively small offering in return.  An appropriate and important offering, but--in comparison--a small one.

If I put on an event that has people worshiping that night and picking up their Bibles the next day, I still haven't done anything greater than has already been done for me.  

Even if I spend a lifetime declaring the goodness of God and making much of Him, it will be a comparatively small response to the One who lost all, that I might have great gain.  

It was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.  
Psalm 126:2-3


Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I'm elsewhere today--guest posting over at Royal Daughter Designs. Click *HERE* to head over there and read about my personal challenge to live a little less "online" and a little more present and serving these ones God has entrusted to me.

*Special thanks to Amanda, my talented blog designer and friend, for allowing me to share!

Monday, April 16, 2012


There are 3 days a year that strike fear in this Mama's heart:

1. Day Three of Christmas Vacation.
2. Day Three of Spring Break.
3. Aaaand Day Three of Summer Vacation.

Why so difficult? Mainly because it's tough on my child. The novelty of *no school* has worn off a bit, and things begin to unravel. He's been used to a certain routine of getting up and heading out to a different world (called Kindergarten) for 8 hours every day, and now he's at home. All day. All the live-long day.

Where his sister takes his stuff.
Where mom tells him to go make his bed.
Where his day isn't quite so ordered.

So the fights happen. My kids are sweet but MAN can they throw down when they get on each others' nerves! You'd think one was a Red Sox fan and the other a Yankees fan (ugh, it hurts just saying it)...

And the rebellion kicks in.

And the house is messier with more people in it.

It's just a tough time of transition. For the kids. And, yes, for Mom and Dad, too.

But within a few days, we've got a new routine going. The fights subside a bit, and we know when it's time to break free from the house and go do something.

And we relish sleeping in late and snuggling together.

And we love going for evening drives as a family.

And after those first few crazy days, we are so glad

so thankful

so delighted

to be together as a family.

Heavenly Father, as the school year is winding down and the end of school approaches, I want to pray specifically for the transition into summer for our family and for the families of these dear readers. It's a challenge to come together when we've been apart--but how sweet it is to have those days of togetherness. Give us an extra measure of grace, patience, and wisdom in knowing how to handle the flare-ups and even the moments of defiance. And let these days with our precious babies be so very sweet. We love You, LORD.

* Do you ever go through the First-Days-of-Break Battles? What's been your favorite way to ease through the transition?


Sunday, April 15, 2012


I never owned a pair of Guess Jeans.

(Large sigh. Cue the violins for me and my first-world problems.)

My parents couldn't justify spending $58 (twenty years ago, mind you) for one pair of jeans. That just didn't seem like wise stewardship to them.

But to me it was like Stewar
dship, Shmewardship! I was all of 10 years old, and really, I just wanted what I wanted! And that was an excessively pricey pair of jeans with a triangle on the tush, just like everyone else had! Hey, the heart wants what it wants. And the tables have turned now. My Kindergarten-age son has informed me he's the only one without a pair of Skechers. And although I can't swing the $54 for the pair he really, really, really wants, the former 10 year old Thea sympathizes a little with the 6 year old him. Not enough to buy those shoes, but still. ;D

I must be honest, though. Why do I feel like I haven't fully outgrown this?

My "wanter" was way off then, but at times I think it's broken still. I want things that will inevitably end up in a yard sale 5 years from now. I want scenarios that are all kinds of wrong. I desire things that should have no room in my heart whatsoever.

And just as my parents held their ground about those jeans and just as I'll hold mine about those shoes, my LOVING AND GOOD Heavenly Father says no. Again and again. As many times as I need to hear it.

Keep saying NO, Lor
d. Tell us NO when we want things that have no part in Your perfect plans for us. Strengthen us to understand that when you say NO, You have a mighty good reason--one that is ultimately for Your glory and our good. Fix our "wanters" to want what You want for us!

Your plans are not to deprive us, but to give us a hope and a future. THANK YOU that every NO you say is motivated by Your crazy-big love for us.


Thursday, April 5, 2012


I stole from the offering plate.

I wish I could say it never happened, or maybe that it only happened once and I learned my lesson.

But I've done it several times.

People don't even know that what they thought they were giving to the Lord, I have taken for myself.

And maybe I'm not the only one. Maybe your hand has been in the offering plate, too.

Oh, I'm not talking about offerings of dollars and cents, but offerings of praise.

You know the drill--Someone pays you a compliment, and instead of acknowledging the Lord and passing it along quickly to Him, you wear it around for awhile. Maybe a little too long.

Now, I want to be clear--I haven't taken these things because I want to be up on some pedestal. I'm not some diva who needs to be celebrated. I've stolen His praise because it's made me feel like I'm simply okay.

I've dressed myself in His praise not for my own elevation--but for my validation.

I've worn the accolades meant for Him because I've thought they would give me worth--and that perhaps I'm not worth much without them. But the garments of His glory don't fit me, and were never meant to. I'm like a child parading around in her mother's clothes, only I'll never grow into them.

And I shouldn't even struggle with this. I was raised in a home full of love. But the world outside that safe home has been cold outside, and I've been wounded. I've believed those who have said I'm not worth much. And so I've dipped my hands into His praises and taken them for my own.

Isaiah 42:8 says "I am the LORD, that is My name! I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols."

And so I'm learning. He's been reminding me that His love for me compelled Him to the cross. That's what defines me. I have worth because He said so. He doesn't want me pursuing the praises of man as my source of validation--He is my validation.

But it's more than that. He wants me to get my hands off His glory for my own good. It's like He's been saying, "Thea, My praise in your hands is like a hot potato. If you pass it along quickly to Me, you'll be kept safe. But if you hold My praise too long, it will burn you."

I would never dream of reaching into the offering plate and church and taking money out. But I've had to learn that grabbing at His glory will undo me.

Psalm 29:1 says "Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name." It's not just what I'm commanded to do, it's what I really want to do.

I'm learning to get my hands out of the offering plate and let His praise be His praise.



The other morning I got stopped at a red light beside the airport. I turned to see a plane at the start of the runway and felt a huge nudge in my heart. I felt the Holy Spirit saying, "Watch."

And so I did.

I watched the plane begin to pick up speed. More and more. And by the end of the long, long runway, the plane had finally built up the speed and momentum to take off.

And there was the lesson. A plane has never taken off at the beginning of the runway.

Why do I expect it to be any different in my own life?

Why am I caught off guard when my kids don't fall in line the first time I teach them a lesson?

Why does that credit card statement still have that ugly number on it when we've thrown every possible penny at that account?

Why do I bum hard when I'm still in the same size jeans even after working out/eating well for a whole entire week?

Why am I nearly pulling my hair out when my very first event isn't coming together as easily as I would like?

I'll tell you why. I have no momentum. Not yet, anyway.

After a recent moment of high frustration in developing this event coming up, my husband said to me, "Just think of anyone you know who did anything important. Did it happen easily for them? No. Did things come together on their first try? Nope. They faced rejection. Things didn't go the way they thought. They weren't sure anything was ever going to come of all their efforts. Why should it be any different with this?"

Point taken. And interestingly enough, that conversation took place the same day I watched that plane take off. From the END of the runway, mind you. Not the beginning.

Father, I will keep trying to be faithful every single day. This week that looks like working to find a location. But I truly need YOUR power to bring about what I totally believe originated with YOU. I will be a good steward in Your strength, but I ask for Your power and providence to bring about the MOMENTUM I lack at this point. Thank you for ordering my steps to watch that plane take off that morning--not the moment it hit the runway, but at the end of it.

I lift up anyone reading this who needs some momentum in their lives right now. Let Your Holy Spirit confirm in their hearts what THEY can do this week, then strengthen them to do it. But God, please come through in doing what ONLY You can do to give momentum to Your sons and daughters who just want to see Your name lifted up. In the able and mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Galatians 6:9
(Have this one memorized yet?)