I love the word Lavish

When I taught high school English, I repeated over and over to my students, you need to use Strong Verbs in your writing.  We would count them and underline them to show how they make a difference.  In the editing process the weak verbs are tossed out and the strong verbs hustle in.  These hefty verbs we call strong verbs paint a picture and allow the reader to  enter your imagination and see what you see.

The Bible is full of strong verbs.  This morning I am thinking about this word:

lavished.

It has so much richness to it.  In the dictionary it means:

bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon..

or this

cover something thickly or liberally with.

 I think of the medieval court and the brocade, satin and pearl festooned dresses of the ladies in waiting.  Or I imagine the full bounty of a Tuscan table groaning under the weight of cheeses and meats and freshly baked breads set on a crisp, white linen tablecloth.  So many images dance across my imagination.

I spotted this word in the book of Ephesians this morning:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.
Ephesians 1:7,8

I love that we get to experience God lavishing His grace on us.  I want to roll around in that today.  This is what I want to think about and use to replace the lies rolling around in my head.

He lavishes us with His grace.

Recently a friend texted me after I won something,

So So So exciting to witness Jesus lavishing his love on you through this experience.

I loved that she used the word LAVISHING.  Felt like a little wink from the Lord to me.

Let’s remind each other of this truth today.  He lavishes us with His grace.  A great Sursee for us all.  Let’s roll around in the grace He lavishes on us and then lavish others with it. I need the reminders, you?

What I Keep Asking

As I am studying the book of Ephesians, I ask the Lord for a verse. A verse to rest my mind on and stay my thoughts. I feel like sometimes I am going a little crazy and so I think, I need a verse.

I read in other’s writings how the Lord gives them a verse during a season, and I think, I want that, too.

So as I dance around in Ephesians and make my little verse cards printed in colorful Flair pens with doodles and scrolls, and I keep asking for a verse. A verse that would center and hold me during this season of change and transition. These are two words that I fight and run from. Not really my cup of tea to change…or transition.

As I meet with my mentor this week and write down the encouragement I receive, I write down what she says.

Start at the right place.

We keep talking and she asks me what was that verse I shared with her last month?  The one that really encouraged me.   I look it up because of course it has flown out of my head.

“Oh, it’s Ephesians 1:17.”

And I write the words down in my notebook.

Start at the right place
Ephesians 1:17

All of a sudden there it is- I see it in my own handwriting, right under my nose. As if God had written it for me. And I feel a deep sense of His presence and love for me. Something I have been asking for and praying into, He answers.

So this is what I keep asking. Straight from Ephesians 1:17.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

 

It is all right there.  Ask Him.  He will give.  Not more things, but a spirit of wisdom… a spirit of revelation.  WHY?  So you and I can know him better.

Isn’t that what I have been asking him for?  Yes, it is.

Is this what you might be asking for?  Do  you want to know him better and wonder how to do that?  I do.  And I see in Ephesians 1:17 all I need to do is, Keep Asking.  Keep Asking.  Keep Asking. He will give.  He will give.  He will give.

Let’s ask together.  That would encourage me.  How about you?

Sursee Gal’s Test Kitchen // Best Advice for Getting Dinner on the Table is to Start at Breakfast

 

Ahh, the dinner hour approaches, but before that comes the bewitching 5:00 O’CLOCK HOUR that was oh, so chaotic at times here.  Not always my best hour as a mom.  I had been good so long, all day in fact and then that dreaded hand hit the five on the face of my kitchen clock, and ugh, it all fell apart. Everyone was hungry, hangry and at the end of their rope.  Me, included. What to do?

I was thinking about this hour the other day as an Empty Nester, because some things never change.  I felt it all: the hangry thoughts about dinner and no idea where the time had gone.  The Five o’clock hour is still hard around here, especially when I have no idea what is for dinner. How does it sneak up on me?

I  have some advice for this little problem.  Advice that I remembered the other day and decided I needed to share it here and also remind myself!

Start Cooking Dinner at Breakfast.

What?  What are you talking about Sursee Gal?  I can’t start dinner in the morning, can I?

What I mean is,  start in the morning thinking about what you want to have for dinner.  Then the dinner hour won’t sneak up on you. You know the way it sneaks up on you- all of a sudden it is  5:00 o’clock,  and you have no idea what you are going to cook for dinner.  And the kids are hungry, and you are, too.  And there are no tortilla chips in the pantry to snack on…

I encourage you to Start at Breakfast, think about what you are having later, much later for dinner.  And take the baby steps to get things rolling that way.

You start in the morning. With something.  Maybe it is only the thought of “What AM I making for tonite?” or “Maybe, I need to go to the store to get the ingredients. Do I have a tomato sauce?”  True story:  Just the other day around 5 pm, I called four neighbors asking to borrow a can of tomato sauce. On the last call, I found the lucky winner. Maybe If I had looked in the pantry that morning before I set out the door, I would have known I did not have the can of tomato sauce that I needed for my yummy meat loaf.

Starting in the morning was especially helpful when the kids were young and under foot.  I learned that I needed to chop a little here and there.  Take the meat out to defrost.  Make sure I had the tomato paste needed for the sauce or not, so then I could work it in to get some at the store.  Or borrow from a neighbor.   Maybe I got the crockpot out at breakfast and plopped that pork in, revving up for some divine pulled-pork tacos later.

If  I waited til 5:00, dinner wasn’t going to happen.  I was tired and would reach for the unhealthy, the processed, the easy.

But, if I started in the morning, with at least a thought about what was going to be happening later,  I could prepare in chunks and break the process down.

I am also a firm believer in meal planning.

So every week I made a menu schedule and stuck to it- a little fudging allowed.

I would schedule in nights of left-overs when there was a game or a practice, and I would use the same schedule each week:
Chicken on Monday–
Pasta on Tuesday–
Burgers on Wednesday–
Leftovers on Thursday–
Pizza night on Friday.

Or some such pattern.  The pattern doesn’t really matter.  What mattered is, I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel each week.  I could use my go-to recipes for each category, but mostly I repeated.  The less decisions  I had to make, the more I cooked.  And I do love cooking- the chopping, the boiling, the  sautéing- it is all very therapeutic for me.  It is time to think and dream and memorize and reflect.

But it all started at breakfast.  Mostly.  Ok, a little.  But that little bit, that little defrost or checking the pantry or setting out ingredients was a life saver for me.  Have you tried this?  Does it help you? What does it look like for you to start cooking dinner at breakfast? I would love to hear.

xo

 

New Year’s Resolution Thinking

New Year's Resolution

I love New Year’s Resolutions.  Do I keep them? Well, maybe. Kind of.

This year when I was searching for 2016’s Resolutions, I discovered something terrible–

I make the same New Year’s Resolutions.  Every year.  And I never keep them because they go outta sight, outta mind, around February 1st.

I write them in different notebooks every year, in a rush to get them down and set.  Then I set that very same notebook down and can’t find it/remember where it is/ lose it.  Ack.  I am a mostly organized person so this drives me crazy.

One year I talked a friend into doing this Setting Goals System on Steroids curriculum.  Not the real name…will protect that company.  We ordered our pages and set our goals after hours of pinning interest boards and listing our good, bad and ugly to prepare for the monthly inventory.  This notebook was intense.  It had each week of the month sectioned off into tiny little squares where you had to put an X if you had completed that days specific goals.  So really 5 x 5 Xs.  Oh, my.  I gave up after about a month. I just couldn’t keep up.

Now I appreciate what she was trying to do. You have to review your goals.  They need to be measurable, etc.  And you have to basically remember from day to day what those goals are.

Ha.  I realized on Dec 24th this past year that I can’t even remember what my Word was for 2016.  Then my sweet daughter-in-law pointed out my cute chalkboard with the word WRITE on it.  “Isn’t that your word, Leslie?”, she gently asks.

“Oh, yes, I think it is,” as I hang my head in shame because it was sitting right there at my sink.  All Year.

Remembering is important when you are trying to keep a goal. Pretty basic.  So how do you remember?  I think one way is write it down.  In a book that you keep all those type things in. And then maybe you write it down in your To-Do list every day.  And maybe you tell people, because maybe they will remember and keep you accountable.  That is what I am counting on for 2017.

Having Time to do your new goal is also super important! I realized that I don’t carve out time to do my goals.  I write the same goal down and then don’t adjust my schedule to help me keep that goal. For example, I noticed in December when I started this process I found several notebooks.  Each notebook represented a year of goals and I saw that I wrote down “Read More” each year.

But did I actually read more? Well kind of, but not like I would have liked to.  I realized that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is also the definition of insanity. I know that I am not insane.  But obviously in this area, I am insane.

So in 2017 I have been working on this goal setting a little differently.  I decided that I needed to actually  schedule a time each day to read.  It was going to take a little work on my part.

I like to read at night.

I like to go to bed at the same time each night. We decided 10:00 pm was a good time to turn out the lights.

It takes me about 20 min to get ready for bed.

I realized I just puttered around each night up until said bedtime and then rushed to get into bed, but then there would be no time to read.  SO- A lightbulb flashed, and I came up with this brilliant idea.

I would start getting ready for bed at 9:00 pm.  Everything would stop at 9:00, no matter what I was working on, and I would get ready for bed.  Then I would have 30–40 minutes each night to read and also accomplish 10:00 pm lights out.

Brilliant!

And guess what? It is working!

Some nights it is super hard to not do one more thing- one more email.  One more text or check on something or throw something in the laundry or do one more to-do because you know, “it won’t take long.”

Now I put it all down because I have a SURSEE waiting.  30-40 minutes to READ.  Yippeeeeeeee!

But, it is work. It takes saying no. Now you might be thinking, hello? That is not that hard to figure out, but for me?  Well, it was a little hard.  The idea that I had to say no to somethings, to say yes to, reading, that was a hard concept.  I think I can keep packing the stuff in on top of other stuff and get it all done.  But my end of the year realization was, I had spent another year trying this stacking and packing, and it didn’t accomplish my reading goal.

This year is different.  I am getting ready for bed a little earlier and letting somethings go at night.  And I finished my first book of 2017 two nights ago.

What about you?  What New Year’s resolutions are you making and what are you letting go of or changing in order to accomplish your goals? Do tell.

#RestandReceive is also going well.  I am practicing resting in His word and His truth and receiving so much goodness. This “Read More” goal is also a subset of the Rest and Receive.  I have a few more resolutions that I will spill out over the next few weeks.  Sursees Galore. Plus I will share with you some of the books that I am enjoying as a result of carving out time.  Cheers to you whether you make goals or not.

xo

How to Pray for the Ones You Love

flowers for friends

Hey gals,

Wanted to share a little Sursee here today about prayer.  One thing I have learned from others is that praying actual scripture is a great way to pray for someone.  I was reminded of this  as I was praying for one of our sons, and I thought, ” I will just pray Ephesians 3:14-21 for him.”

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

When I woke up today, I thought I need to share this Sursee with y’all.  Maybe someone out there might be encouraged by this.  This is why we need girlfriends and conversation and community. When we share what we are learning or discovering or trying in our lives, we spark ideas in one another.  You tell me something you are learning, and it spurs me on to love and good deeds.  Then I share something I am learning to encourage you.   Yay! for girlfriends.

So here is your Sursee for today: Use Scripture to pray for your kids.

I even made a printable so you could print it out and put it in your scripture journal or send in a card to a friend or tape to your mirror.  The possibilities are endless.

Here is to praying through scripture.  Cheers!

The Serenity Prayer :: A Sursee for Today

monarch-butterfly
Happy November, dear friends.
My heart needed this, this morning.  Maybe yours, too?
xo

 

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

What Makes You Feel Whole?

taos-tin-works

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.

Creating.

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.

 

3 Things I Learned at Weddings this Summer

Wedding sursees

Summer is for brides and weddings, and I have been learning a thing or two at the ones I have attended this summer.  Indoors and outdoors, Texas and Alabama, big cities and small towns.  Hot nights, dancing on the dance floor, frothy white dresses with lace and sparkles and sage-green chiffon, like Grecian gowns flowing in the southern breeze- all memories of joy and celebration and a few new things to noodle.

Recently I had a vision of why God uses a wedding to begin and end the Bible.  We were seated in a field in Alabama, down the hill from a barn, with our paper fans trying to get a smudge of air to blow on our necks.   The attendants and moms and grandma had all made their way down to the front with the groom standing still with his attendants.  As the violin started playing Be Thou My Vision, the double doors of the barn slid open and there she stood with her dad, the beautiful bride, a vision of sweetness and purity and joy.  Absolute joy!  My breath caught and I teared up as the holiness of the moment grabbed me, and I wanted to worship.  The  vision was so beautiful,  so absolutely pure and holy;  I had a small taste of what it is going to be like when Jesus comes for His church and the wedding celebration begins. Wow!

As she gracefully walked down the hill with her daddy, I turned to see the groom who was also overtaken by the beauty of his bride and the serious holiness of the moment.  I was overtaken with joy and happiness for this precious couple.  What a moment.  It is etched on my eyeballs and on my soul.  A beautiful picture of things to come for us as believers.  . Worship. Celebrate.

Next up I heard a charge.  I sat in a wedding venue out in the country and watched the beautiful bride, giddy with delight, almost run down the aisle in her frothy confection of a dress to her sweetie who was about to bust open with a  big ‘ole smile. Again my heart was so full of joy!  Young love.  The sun was setting, bringing a golden haze to the room and the faces, and the pastor called on all the bridesmaids and groomsmen to take a charge.

“You are not just pretty decoration for this bride and groom, you have something to do.”

The pastor reminded the attendants that they had a job to do that extended forward into the future for their friends.  A very special charge to hold that darling couple, their friends or sibling, accountable to the love they were pledging that day.  To do all they could in their power to help that marriage and not harm it.

It was sobering to me. How many weddings had I been in?  I lost count a long time ago.  I began to think of the weddings I have stood up in and I wondered how I could reach out to those couples today to say,

“I am here. I am willing to hold you to the vow you made. I am here in sickness and in health.”

We need each other- the community of believers- to help us through this thing we call life and marriage.   How can I reach out over miles and in real life to remind couples that I am here and that their marriage matters to a watching world?  Good things to ponder.

So in these weddings I have attended, I have had a vision and a charge.  The last thing I have learned is the importance of marking the wedding with a Celebration.

At the end of one wedding ceremony, the pastor invited us all to join the family for the wedding feast and celebration.  Yes, sign me up.  Celebrating to me includes feasting and  dancing. We are talking about the life-giving, hands in the air, feel the beat dancing.  And the best thing is, everyone can do this kind of dancing.  No special skills needed.  I think there is going to be loads of dancing and singing in Heaven and we should all dance a little more here.  You?

A vision of things to come as seen in a beautiful bride on a hot summer night, a charge to love those in community with us and a reminder that we all need to celebrate and dance a little more.  Perfect ways to end this month and go into the last days of summer.  Oh, and I have one more wedding in August.  Can’t wait!  What Sursees are waiting there?  I’ll be looking, will you?

 

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

Two Words that Help any Conversation

be curious

In our society today, we are not very civil in our conversations.  If I have a different idea or opinion from you, I shudder to express it.  We struggle listening and hearing what the other is saying.

A friend shared with me the other day what another friend shared with her about how to handle a difficult conversation using two words.

Now you don’t actually use these words, you think them in your head.   When someone is dumping their diatribe on you or expressing an opinion that might not match yours you think:

BE CURIOUS

What,  you might ask, do I mean?   When you are in a conversation, I want you to remember to BE CURIOUS.  When I am curious or even say, “Tell me more about that”, my face doesn’t look shocked or anguished or mad-mad.  Instead I have an open, questioning, friendly look on my face.

When we are curious, we are open to listening and finding out more.  We aren’t usually trying to think of what we are going to say to rebut the argument or thought.

When we are curious, our faces say, tell me more.  We think of questions to ask and we lean into the conversation.

I am trying this now when I get into a difficult conversation where I might not agree or where I don’t know what to say.

I think, Be Curious, Leslie.

I think just those two words make all the difference in how I listen and respond.

I also see how this could help when talking to our kids.

Be Curious, Mom.  Be Curious, Dad.  

Your teenager has all kinds of ideas in his head  and when we have the look of curiosity on our face, I think more words will be spoken and conversations will happen.  The mantra, Be Curious helps me to listen well.

So where can you be curious today?  With whom do you need to adopt a look of curiosity on your face and remind yourself in your head to

Be Curious.

Do tell.