August is the New January

August is the new January.

Are you with me?  Does August bring a spring to your step as you think about new possibilities and starting over as summer comes to a blistering halt and the first puff of Fall comes?

I remember when Craig and I were first married and working with the high school kids at our church, we chaperoned a Labor Day getaway to the Frio River.  That Saturday night a storm blew in and cooled us off and blew the last vestiges of summer away.  What a weekend.  What a great start to Fall!

I feel the freshness of a new year in August with back to school sales and the starting of the school year.  New Bible studies begin, classes start everywhere as people come back from mountain retreats and lake house porches to start a new year.  Kids have grown up over the summer and enter new grades and life begins with a new rhythm, leaving the lazy dog days of summer behind.

Fall brings new smells and  the promise of new beginnings.  Something about those back to school sales and rows and rows of supplies all standing like little soldiers in the aisles of Target make me happy and ready to go!

Sometimes I like to call August  the new January.  As you know I love New Year”s Resolutions, but I am not always the best at keeping them.  But I do like making them.  This year my main resolution was to Rest and Receive, and I think I have been doing a pretty good job of that.  I finished up my year commitment on staff in Ministry to Women at my church and have had a pretty free July and August.  We have spent sometime in the mountains, and I have enjoyed sweet time with our grown kids.  I’ve been doodling and journaling and thinking and praying about all the ideas He has put on my heart.

We are now a little more than halfway through 2017, but I feel like it is a new year with new beginnings.   What kind of beginnings are you thinking and dreaming about?  Do you feel it in the air like me?

Maybe you are going to take a new class.  I am thinking about taking this class.  Doesn’t that look fun?  Wanna join me?

Maybe you are going to start a new Bible study or small group.  Maybe you are heading out on the adventure of homeschooling or another year of the same old, but your kids are entering a new era—a new school- a fresh middle school- the first of high school- or could it be sending your first off to college?

I think it is nice to take this time to check on our goals or dreams.  What kind of adventures do you want for the second half of 2017?

Where do you want to grow?

What did you say you were going to be doing back in January and how are you doing with that goal?

Can you find a friend and share with them where you are and where you want to be?  Accountability does wonders for keeping those dreams alive.

I am thinking through all sorts of plans, schemes and dreams.  It feels fresh and new right now, and I embrace it all.  A time for looking for Sursees.

A new school year, a new beginning for us all.  Share what you are about to start or where you want to grow here in the comments or with your people. Here’s to August being the new January! xoxo

What Makes You Feel Whole?


Just read a little article about different creators and what inspires them and teaches them and keeps them going.  One gal listed six things that she relies on to make her feel whole.

Kids. Love. Business. Health. Travel. Spirituality.

Hmm.  What would I write down if someone asked me that question?  What makes me feel whole?

Just off the top of my head I would say:

Knowing and being known by Jesus.

 Reading and hearing God’s Word.

Being out in God’s Creation.

Loving and being loved by Craig and the boys.

Loving and being loved by Family and Friends.


and if I get to say seven—Music- singing, playing and listening!

So what would your list be?  What things do you touch every day to help you stay whole?  What a good practice to think through this question and then make sure you are touching these things each day.  Your Sursee is to make a list for yourself and tell someone about it.

I would love to hear in the comments below.  Inspire me.


The Summer is a great time to CREATE

FLowers from ELlen


I love being around creative people.  All of us are creative in some form or fashion.  Creativity looks different on everybody, but everybody is creative.

I know this is true because God is creative.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

And we are created in His image.

 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Genesis 1:26

I want women to embrace this.  I want you to become fully alive doing the thing that makes your heart sing.

But you might ask, how do I know what makes my heart sing?

Maybe you could sit down with a big piece of white paper and brainstorm everything that makes you Happy.  Don’t leave anything off or think anything is too silly.  Write it all down and start seeing how God made you to add color, zest and life to your little corner of the world.

In the garden God told us we get to bring order and subdue the earth-

 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.Genesis 1:28.  

You get to bring your creative juices to the little corner of the earth where you live.

Your little garden is not going to look like anyone else’s. But whatever you bring to your garden- it is good.

Do your thing today.  This summer.

Hanging out with creative people helps me to get my creative on. We need each other.  We need to see God working out of each other.  It inspires me.

This weekend I listened to a friend sing in a venue downtown.Helene Cronin

Helene Cronin is the reason we showed up.  Go listen to her here.  For three hours we listened to her and two other musicians sing and play and tell stories in song.  It was wonderful and helped  release something inside of me that was trying to get out.  When I see or hear someone create and be the creative person God designed them to be, it makes me want to create and sing and dance.  It releases something inside of me and it feels Free and Wonderful and Rich and how I think God wants me to live- with no fear.

So what can you do this summer to release and create?  Maybe you need to go back to that chalkboard or whiteboard or a piece of paper and figure out what your jam is. How do you work? What makes your heart sing?

Write it down, then you need to do it.  Surround yourself with people who are also doing the creative thing.  Ask them what makes their heart sing, and it will encourage you to tune your heart and get some serious singing going on.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the fullest.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Creative endeavors help us to live abundantly.

Remember it is not just the simple things like painting or singing.  It could be that, but maybe it is gardening, cooking, running, teaching, sewing or reading a book.

Maybe you organize or love people well by listening or you like having people over.

Whatever it is, embrace it and be the gal fully that God created you to be.  No one can be you.  God made you to fill in the cracks in this world and to bring a little more of Him into the world to reach the people with whom you are connecting.

So what is your creative jam? Can you dive in this summer?  Do share as it encourages us all to sing the songs God gave us to sing. xo

Sursee Gal In Ital :: The Mysterious Word, Allora



One of the things we noticed as we were walking down narrow streets or sitting on trains or in a crowd of people in a piazza was the frequent use of the word, Allora.  Before we left for our trip, Craig and I had bought a fun set of two CDS that taught us Italian through songs. We had fun preparing and were actually  able to speak a few things while there.  But this word, allora, I kept hearing and did not know what they were saying or what it meant.

Kids said it.  Women, arm in arm shopping, said it.  I heard it when people talked on the phone or ordered their lunch. I was so curious, allora.


Marketplace in San Gimignano

When I would ask someone at our various B&Bs or agriturismos where we stayed to define the word, they had a hard time explaining just exactly what it meant, like there wasn’t an English equivalent.

Allora bubbles

When I looked online, it was described as a “mysterious word you hear a lot in Italy” or an “Intriguing word”, or a “toss away word”.  I thought it did sound very mysterious and well, Italian.  I wanted to know how to use it correctly.

One article defined it by saying Allora  is used in many,many ways. It can be loosely translated as “then”,”so”, “therefore”. 
Our Italian friends in Milan explained that it is a connecting word, a word you use when you are thinking and hemming and hawing and filling the space of a conversation. Oh, I thought. It is like when we say, you know, or like or UMMM…  But it is so much more beautiful.
Allora is a beautiful way to give yourself room to think.  Craig and I decided, allora, that we would learn to insert it in our conversations, allora, so we would come back all Italian.  What, allora, do you think about that? Allora.

Sursee Gal Goes Ital!


Sursee Gal goes Ital


Dear friends,

I am just back from a wonderful month in Italia!  I am hoping to share with you some of my adventures, thoughts, and Sursees that I saw and heard.  I wish I could share with you what I smelled and TASTED!  Oh my!  Ciao, Bella!  Such yumminess….hopefully, I will find the recipes for some of the dishes we had and be able to make them and then share with you.

I decided to not write while I was abroad and instead,  watch and listen and absorb.  I took loads of pictures and wrote down thoughts, and I was always thinking about you and wishing you were with me.

I read this neat article while there about how this writer likes to connect the dots for her readers. I think that I had an “aha moment” and recognized that is what I like doing, too.

As a writer, my job is to pay attention to the world around and within me and then to write what I see. My dad calls it connecting the dots. It’s actually the job of every artist and maybe, one could argue, every human.             – Emily P Freeman

I like the idea of connecting dots and writing what I see.  I realized that I do that, too.  I see stuff and want to share it, teach it, connect it to someone.  So for the next few weeks, I will be connecting dots and writing about my travels in Italy.  The textures, sounds, foods, flowers, people, trains.  All of it.

Textures in ParmaBell Tower in ParmaDoor in Parma

 Sursee Gal Goes Ital!  One of my goals is to show you the small surprises in life, the Sursees, that bring joy and how these small moments lead us to give thanks and remember that we are children of a good God.

Are you ready to go abroad?

Sabbatical Sursees :: The Italian Adventure

A note from Sursee Gal

Dear friend,

A good friend recommended that I write a little note to tell you what I will be doing the next month.  I will not be blogging.  Even writing that makes me feel a little anxious.  Am I the real deal if I take time off?

Yes, I think so, and here is what I will be doing.

I will be in Italy with Craig, Sabbatical Dad. AKA Sursee Guy.

We will be:  Living.  Eating. Walking. Praying. Napping.  Being.  Drinking in God’s beauty and goodness.

Taking a break from computers, Instagram, blogging.

I want to try to be present and with Craig.  A good friend emailed me and said,

”Don’t worry about what you are missing,  Celebrate what you are experiencing.”

Ahh, good friends.  They know you. The above is so true for me. There is nothing worse than being one place and wishing you were another place.

She also encouraged me to take less photos with my camera and let my “eyes and heart remember”.  I have already thought about that, and we are going to have a little contest.  I get to take as many pictures as I want to every day, but, at the end of the day, we have to cull through them and delete down to 10 photos…ack. Can I do it?  I think so.  I have even thought of culling down to my top 5!  How many pictures do I really need? How many do you want to really see when I get back.  300? or 150? Hahah.

I am not going to get all twisted and never check email or texts or take an IG photo.  I am going to try to unplug and BE more.  I am bringing a new journal and my favorite pen to write everyday.

I want to blog everyday and let you see all that I am seeing, but I understand that I can’t do that in real time.  Can you wait till November to see and hear all the details?

In October a whole slew of bloggers try a 31Days where they blog everyday on a topic and practice the discipline of writing every, every day. No skipping days.  I have heard that it brings out new stuff you have swirling around in you and is a great experience.  But I am not going to do that this October.

My friend, Jacki at The Jesse Tree Project told me her great idea for 31Days.  She is going to write every day and not post it.  I think that is what I will do.  Then I will have loads of good stuff when I get back.  It will be a good discipline for me to sit and write every, every day. Thanks for the great tip, gal.

Terri over at White Pitchers is writing about the tending of our souls.  If you haven’t read her musings yet, I recommend checking in with her this next month.  She is a beautiful wordsmith and paints gorgeous pictures with her eloquent prose. Please check her out in October as she explores making white space for our souls.

I think that is all.  I am excited to see what the Lord is going to do in our lives.  I will be checking in on IG so follow me over there if you are not already-  @SurseeGal

Ciao and xoxo


Sabbatical Sursees :: The Beginning

Fall flowers Sabbatical Sursees

Long ago when I first learned about blogs, I followed the cutest gal who wrote so beautifully and honestly; I felt like I knew her.   One of her adventures that she wrote about was when she and her husband decided to go live in Italy for a time, to give him a break from the long, long  years of working.  I can’t remember how many years that was, but I am pretty sure it was less than 15.  I can remember reading that to my husband and our response was, “What the heck! You’ve been working way longer than that.  We are the ones that need a Sabbatical.”

Thus the seed was planted for a break, a sabbatical of sorts.

Over the years we sought counsel from good friends and business associates.  We prayed and had many, many conversations on our walks and drives and during meals.  Every year it was a New Year’s Resolution, until one year when we brought it up as this new idea, a dear friend pointed out that we had talked about Craig switching jobs for years.

Uh,oh. Busted.

So this year was different.  We, in earnest, started planning and scheming for our Sabbatical and in August the deal was done and IT began.  Goodbyes were said.  The art from the office walls was taken down and desks cleaned out.  I remember on his last day, after I kissed him on his way out the door, I had a panicky feeling in my gut.  “What are we doing?” I thought.  Then I remembered that The Lord was in control, and we were not doing something rash and foolish.

One issue that popped up though.  We didn’t really know what to call this break of sorts. Craig has not retired. He resigned and is redesigning, taking a break.  We think of our break like a Reset for this second half of our life.  A Sabbatical of Sorts, really for both of us.  I looked up the definition of a Sabbatical and found this:

a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year.

I liked the idea that a Sabbatical was for study or travel, both of which we hope to do.

Fall Hollyhocks

Another definition is:

any extended period of leave from one’s customary work especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.

Yes, we are taking an extended leave from Craig working full time to rest and reset.  I love this word picture of acquiring new skills or training.  

One more entry in the dictionary included the reference to Leviticus 25:2-7:

a year during which the land was to be left uncultivated, debts annulled, etc, supposed to be observed every seventh year by the ancient Israelites.  

Or this reference found in Exodus 23:10:

 they were told to let the land in the seventh year rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave, the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

So we decided to call this time period our Sabbatical; it will be a time where we reset our lives and spend some time resting.  We will let some fields lie fallow.  Acquire some new skills. Travel! Learn.

As we face the second half of our life, we wanted to really look at all we are doing and make sure we are doing what God has called us to do.

We are letting go of the security of a paycheck and wanting to rely on the Lord’s provision.  We are wanting to trust God in the big and small things, together.

We are on an adventure. A new twist to our lives.  We are asking God to lead us, to guide us and are listening to hear His direction. What do we need to let go of, release?  What to hold onto?

We are rethinking everything.  Everything is on the table.  Do we keep our newspaper subscription?   We are cleaning out our house and garage.  Using up, saying no, not buying, choosing wisely in all areas.  It has been exciting, scary and an adventure all rolled into one.  Ye Olde Budget is back in play and it is good to see where the money goes.  What do I really need?  What do I think I need?

We bought a ginormous white board and scribble our planning sessions on it.  It is super helpful to us to see all the possibilities written out big and then see the connections.  We brainstorm and eliminate and elaborate- then take action.

Fall road

Simple.  That is one word we keep coming back to during this Sabbatical Season.  A simple plan.  A simple vacation. A simple wardrobe, garage, meal.

Sweet.  Another word I would use to describe this time with Craig.  Like being newlyweds, really.  To slow down and rest together is sweet.

Intentional.  Thinking through this next half of life and resetting what we think it should look like.

Join me on this adventure?  I will be writing about it on and off,  from my Sabbatical Haircut to our Italian Adventure- Sursees Galore!  I hope it inspires you to do a reset in your life wherever you are.  Isn’t that what God is calling us all to when He says:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30



What Summer Looks Like At Sursee Gal’s House


Fairy Pool

Ahhh, July 29th, the smack dab middle of summah?  Well, I am going to pretend it is. Ha ha.

I feel like this summer has flown by on the wings of a wedding and down a red jeep ride on the mountains and then slid smack into a week of laying on my couch.

What? That is not what I was planning back on Memorial Day. But, oh the plans of the Lord are ‘oft different than what I make. And oh, how great and grand they are.  Weeks full of friendships and fun. Weeks full of family and saying, ” I do” and celebrating and oh, the dancing.  Weeks full of resting and reading.  A week full of doubt and worry here and there. Oh yes, I do that, too. And then I wake up and remember that He has picked me to do His work, and I get back at it.  Work that doesn’t seem important in the big scheme of things, but is.  Work where I can’t see the end results.  Wait, isn’t that all of life?  Why is that so hard for me to grasp?

When the kids were little, I was always wondering what it would be like for them to be a little older and I would have a little more time and now, here I am.  They are older and I have more time and what to do with it?

I want to learn to lean into and live the days I have. Why is that so hard in every season?  And it seems like just when I figure out how to do it, the season changes. The life changes.

Ah change, you are my nemesis. I want to learn to lean into change and EMBRACE it.  Embrace is a good word.  It feels cozy and warm and like something I want to do.

 Lord, help me learn how to embrace the change in a cozy, warm way, instead of fighting it and running from it and holding up my fists to it.  Open my hands, Lord. They are grasping, gripping and I want open hands that receive and thank, but I need you to do that. 

So that is my prayer as I stand on the edge of July and look forward into August.

Lord, Help me to EMBRACE the days you give me, with all of the plans and people and see all the CHANGE as your good gift.

A little Sursee thinking for you. What change do you resist? Do tell.


My Summertime Goal :: 20 Minutes Everyday


My summertime goal

A Summertime goal for me is 20 Minutes Everday.

20 Minutes of reading,

of memorizing the Word,

of writing,

of walking,

of playing the piano,

of cleaning out,

of stretching or lifting weights,

of gardening.

20 minutes everyday adds up.  Over a two days, a week, a month.

20 minutes everyday is doable.

20 minutes fits me this summer.

I can do 20 minutes everyday.

If I just do 20 minutes, then I will see results this summer. A SURSEE for sure.

What about you?  What are you going to do for 20 minutes everyday  this summer?  Do tell.  It encourages me to hear how you will use your 20 Minutes?




Stop Wearing Pants That Don’t Fit

Stop wearing pants that don't fit

Right now, I want you to stop wearing those pants you don’t like.  You know the ones that are too tight, too loose, too short, too long.  The ones you have had for years, and they look like it, but you don’t have another pair of white pants, so you keep them and really don’t feel great in them.

I am writing this as I sit in my white pants.  The ones that are ages old and look it.  Not a cool kind of retro look old– a saggy baggy kind of old.  I feel a little frumpy in them.

While we are at it, let’s talk about bras, too.  I  bought new bras today.  Ugh-mo. Needed them.  Needed her to measure and tell me what my real bra size should be.  I was so offfffff!

Have you been measured and  bought a new bra recently?   If you can’t remember, then sistah, you need to go get measured and buy a new bra!  Stop wearing bras that don’t fit.

I thought of you when I was standing in the dressing room.  I know I needed a little push to buy the bra.  And the new pants.  Do YOU?  I am giving you permission to stop wearing pants you don’t like.  Or that shirt.  Or the dress that just doesn’t do it anymore. Or bras that are too old or don’t fit.

Get rid of those clothes in your closet and only keep what you love.  There are so many blog posts and articles about Capsule Closets or 10 Piece Wardrobes,  and I think there is something to these ideas.  Get rid of stuff in your closet that you just don’t like and is taking up room.   Ask a friend to help you.  Ask your husband.  Clean out and only wear what you LOVE.  Ahhh.

Let’s purge our closet at the start of summer and be free!  A clean closet will be a little Sursee for you and your summer.  Be brave and tell me how you did!