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?

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 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?

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

Saturday Sursee :: Hide your Laptop in a Padded Envelope

Hey friends,

Check this out.  Here is a great way to carry your laptop around and hide it from spying eyes.  computer-cover

My friend is using a really fun graphic padded envelope from Target to carry her laptop to work.  Shhhh. Don’t tell.

Now when she leaves her computer on a desk or it is sitting in the front seat of her cute little car, no one knows that it is a computer.  It is perfectly camouflaged.

The double Sursee of this idea is that when the envelope gets old, she uses it to mail something.

Super easy Sursee- a two-fer.  You are welcome.

 

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?

 

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.

 

 

 

One way to to Tackle your Fears- Get a Makeover

makeup gals

I just noticed that I look like I have long hair as Crystal’s long tresses are colored like mine! Ha Ha!

 

Ok, raise your hand if you get a little nervous when you walk by the make-up counter…

I always think I am the only one in the room who is not quite sure how to put on the shadow or line the lid.  But, I think, I am not alone.  I have now been twice to Sephora to do a little mini-eye makeover.  Once with my daughter-in-law and once with a friend.  It was super fun and a great way to tackle a little fear minion in me.

The gals at the store are super friendly and approachable and are great teachers.  Our teacher let us try the products, answered the million questions asked and even wrote down how she did it for me so I could go back over the notes later.  I know a little nerdy, but the first time, after I got home, slept and woke up, I had forgotten everything!  This second time around I came home prepared with my handy notes.

How does this help me tackle my fears?  Well, I see how fearful I get with makeup, I see how that bleeds into other areas- this lack of confidence.  The doubts and fears of an unsure spirit spill over into all areas.

At the makeup counter, I gained courage with each swish  of color and realized I am not the only one who doesn’t know how to tightline or use the brushy brush.  Just like in other areas…I am not the only one who doesn’t understand or know.  It’s ok not to know and to ask for help.

Something I struggle with is making mistakes. I learned that a  little makeup remover around the edges of my eyes cleans those mistakes up and I am good to go.  Or I make another stab at the lid with the lighter color and it is solved.  Just like in life.

I make mistakes or don’t really know what I am doing sometimes. I am reaching out to try new things and find it a little scary.  I make the mistake and  I offer my confession, receive God’s grace, and I am good to go.

When I swish on the color in life and make a little mistake, the Lord is there to clean up the messy edges.  He is ok with that. He knows the color is going to go on a little too strong sometimes. He is patient and a loving teacher.  Ahhhh.  Grace.  Love it.  Making the choice to go in and do the makeover has given me a little more oomph for the next time I face something I fear. I know that sounds silly, but it is true.I also love my new look!  What is your favorite place to learn new makeup tricks?  Or better, when was the last time you popped in for a makeover? Might be time to face those fears and try a new look.  No Fear.

xoxo

12 Sursees I Discovered When I Visited a Friend

I love traveling and visiting friends in other places. It helps me to stay fresh. It mixes things up for me and helps me think new thoughts and it just plain encourages me.  Oh, the Sursees I See!

I get new recipes.

New decorating tricks.

New ways to think about Jesus.

But, the best part of visiting a friend is the after, when I get home, and I put into practice some of the hospitality tricks I learned, or try the decorating tips I saw, or I  just take a different spin in my day.

My other favoritest thing is now, when I picture my friend in her home, I can really see her in my mind.  I see her  standing at her kitchen sink, and now I know what that looks like.  Or I see her in my mind, sitting down at her dining room table reading her scripture with her big, white mug full of her morning coffee.

Ter and Les

I recently visited my friend, Terri.  I have known her since college days.  She remembers me asking her after a YL meeting to sit down on a bench on the UT campus and tell me her whole life story.  I remember thinking I wanted to get to know that gal with the red hair.  I saw something in her that I wanted to know and know.  She did not disappoint.  We are coming up on 34+ years of friendship with some ebb and flow in there when we had our kids and were so, so busy.  There is still much to know.

I thought of you reader when I was out there. I thought, I need photos of all the goodies in this gal’s home to share with my readers.  So here is a tour of my weekend.  Here are the SURSEES  I found to delight you.

New recipes and ways to eat

roasted veggies

She roasted veggies for our dinner, and I loved the combo she used.

Red Onion + Green Beans + Sliced Mushrooms + Asparagus + Olive Oil + S&P

Bake at 375 till the veggies look good and done in a roasting pan.  Around 20 minutes.  Yummy.  Easy.

Pretty Dish Below A Soap Dispenser

Soap dish and soap

 

She had cool soap dispensers in the bathrooms with little dishes under them.  I am putting fun soap on my list. She also had some of her soap in an old mason jars with the pump top you can find at Target.  Making something useful beautiful = Sursee time.

Glass Canisters to Show Off What I am Storing

glass canisters

I love that my sugar packets or granola bars can become a decorating item.  I love the way it looks and how it helps keep things tidy.

Little Pitchers Collected and Displayed and Really Used

white pitcher collection

Terri collect these and also really uses them. She sets out a pitcher each night when she closes up her kitchen and then fills it in the morning with her Half and Half.  Love that little Sursee.

Little creamer

She also writes beautifully and she named her blog after these White Pitchers…go check her out .  You will love her writing style and the things she thinks and writes about; they are a feast for the eyes and the soul.

Loving Cups

loving cup collection

Yes.  Loving these.  All by themselves.  Loads of stories in these.  I also have a friend who uses her Loving Cup to store silverware on her buffet line.  Brilliant.

Small cloche with a scene

cloche

Terri had several of these, but this was my favorite.  Sitting on a little shelf in the bathroom.  Nice.

Porch swing with a twist

porch swing

I sat on this extra deep swing and chatted with Terri on a beautiful April afternoon.  Heaven.  Want one.  I guess I need a covered porch first.

 

Urns on a silver tray

urns

I love how Terri displayed the things she loved.  I don’t have any urns. But now I want some!  I loved the little globe nestled into the urn in the back.

Lamp Love

I love lamps and all the color and texture and light they add to the room.  Terri had a bunch; everywhere I looked there was a lamp or a pair, lighting up the corner or the table or the hall.  Thought you might like to see them.

Lamp 4

 lamp 3 lamp 5 lamp in hallway Lamp sursee Lamps 2

A Great Way to Display Loads of Photos

cute way to hang loads of pics

I love this on so many levels.  First it was fun to look at all of her pics.  Second, I want one of these so I can hang loads of pics in one fell swoop. Beauty! She even used cute clothes pins. AHHH>

A Great Way to Display Kids’ ArtHow to hang kids' art

Teri just bought frames from Target and framed pieces of her kids’ art.  She took samples and snippets and placed them on a unifying background color.   Love how she smushed all the frames together to make one gigantic art piece.  Memories and snippets of great art- how awesome is that?

Paint Color Ideas

Island paint color

Check out this gorgeous blue on her island. She used to have a black base and wanted to add some blue-

Loverly.  When I am thinking about painting, it always helps me to see it live and in person in a friend’s house.  The pumpkin color in my den- My friend, Lisa.  The Silver sage in the bathroom-saw in Restoration Hardware.  I love this Sherwin Williams Moody Blue, and it just might show up in the great remodel of 2016.

What do you learn when you go visit a friend?  She doesn’t have to be far away- maybe she lives across town or across the street.  We can learn from one another.   What hints do you come home with and put into practice?

Do share, I would love to hear. And oh, may I come visit you?  I would love to see your digs, too.  xoxo

 

Embrace the Family God Created You To Be

embrace the family GOd created you to be

One thing that helped me embrace my family was to take time to reflect on how God created me and my husband.  What were we like and what did we like?  Take the time to discover this and then Embrace the creative way God made you.

Do you love music?  Then sing!

embrace the family 4

Did He create you or your husband to love running? Then run all the races and time your kids with a stopwatch in the front yard.

Does little Billy or Susie or you love nature?  Then camp and hike and be outside.

embrace the family 5

Are you artistic?  Then go to art museums and spend a fortune on art supplies.

Do you like to create?  Then invest in Legos and blocks. Build and tear down and build some more.  Or buy sewing supplies and fabric and yarn and popsicle sticks and craft kits and C R E A T E .

Is Johnny or Jenny competitve? Then collect and  play all the  boardgames there are and enjoy winning and losing.

Do you love gardening?  Then grow beans and corn and tomatoes and get dirt between your fingers and toes.

 

embrace the family 2

God did not create you to C O M P A R E. No, sir.

Comparison is the thief of all joy!  Don’t look at other families or their kids and wonder and wish….

Embrace who you are.  Embrace those kids you have.  Embrace the Family you were created to be.  Talk about this with your husband.  Dream a little.  Talk about this with your friends and get some good ideas.  Talk about it with the Lord and gain His wisdom and insight.  Be the Family He wants for you.

I would often say, We are the Johnsons and Johnsons __________________ , and I would fill in the blank.  For example, The Johnsons play the piano and love music.   So we invested in years of piano and listened to music all the time at home and in the car.  That was our gig.

Or, The Johnsons are helpers and we share the work around the house.  Each of the boys had a chore chart and started helping around the house at a young age.

It doesn’t matter what goes in the blank, but it does matter that it isn’t blank.

What is your gig? Or you sweet spot? DO IT!

Today, E M B R A C E the way God created your family to look and work:  the Gifts, the Talents, the Quirks and the Fun!  The Sursee is to discover how He created you and your family and then R U N with it. Embrace it.  For more on this subject of embracing, go read my post about Embracing the children God gave you

Embrace

These photos are from the giant tree swing in Red River that sadly, is no more.  What fun it was to swing out and feel like you were flying…