Start Your Day Doing the Hard Things // Flip-Flop Your Day

Start your day doing the hard things.

I have a huge Sursee for you today.  I heard this idea recently from two people.  First from my husband and then yesterday from a dear friend.

Flip your day.  Start with the hard things first.

The conversation with Craig went like this.  He told me he recently learned that most leaders do the hard things first. They get the hard stuff  over with at work, first thing-like the difficult conversation, the task that has been dogging them or whatever they have been dreading.  They dig into the hard things first in the business day. Then you have the rest of the day to tackle the other things. And the energy.  And the courage.

For me, the hard thing is my writing. I mean, I love it, but it takes brain power, and I was always putting it off till later. Till I got all the other stuff done.

The errands,

the cooking,

the housework,

the phone calls,

the to-do list that is endless.

So Craig planted a seed and next, cue up the conversation I had with my friend yesterday.

“When do you write, Leslie?” she asks.

“Ummm. Well, whenever I can squeeze it in. I don’t, uhh, have a specific time.”

My friend then proceeds to tell me I need one. And she has found that mornings are her productive time. And she uses that morning time for her writing.   She said she had flipped her day and started off with her writing. Then she added in the other things later in the day.

Shazaaaaam! I think I have heard this recently from sweet Craig.  And it sounds good to me.  I need to write early, in the morning. Everyday.  Of course, you can guess, that writing is one of my New Year’s Resolutions.  Even my word for 2016 is WRITE, but I am not putting it first.

I am putting my writing after everything else.  I think, When I get my stuff done, then I can write.   

But not today.  I am writing first. And cleaning bathrooms later. Reading later.  Meeting for coffee later.

I am doing the hard things first.  Saving the other things for later. I am flip-flopping, and it feels good.

Join me?  What hard things have you been putting off and need to flip-flop and put first?   Tell me about it in the comments.  Or talk with your gal pal and encourage her to do a flip-flop. xoxo

Sursee Gal Needs to Read

Why i am putting read a book on my to-do list everyday

Y’all know that I love goals.  I like making them.  Talking about them.  Asking you about yours and sometimes even making goals for you! Haha.

But I discovered this year whilst making my 2016 Goals, that I make the same goal almost every year.  But I never reach it.

It is: Read More Books.

It is a little discouraging to see that year after year I write that down as a goal, and yet,  I do not give myself permission to read or see it as important in the day to day to pursue.

I think I figured out why the stack of books on my night stand grows and why I never get around to opening up the top book.

Somehow, I feel like reading for pleasure is something I can’t really do.  It feels like it is a splurge or an extra for the end of the day.  Only worthy of vacation hours, not everyday of the week hours.

I have friends who tell me they sit down in the middle of the day and read, and I get a little nervous.  “Is that ok?,” I wonder, and sometimes even ask for more details about how they do that like it is really complicated stuff.

I am trying to see this love for reading as part of what makes me tick and something that is needed.  I tend to do all the other things on my to-do list  and leave the reading and crafting to the ends of the day when I run out of time and energy.

So this year, I have put it on my goals and in my everyday To-do List that I keep in my little journal.  So far I have been doing well. Today after a busy day, I came home and lay down and read for 30 minutes. Ahhhh. Did that ever feel good.

May I encourage you to put reading or whatever it is that is life-giving to you at the top of your to-do list?  Can you see that as just as important as all the other to-dos?  I think the Sursees that bring us life are too important to write down and never do. Is there a self-care goal that keeps going to the bottom of the list? Let’s bring it to the top and keep it there.

Take some time today and figure out what it is that brings you unexpected joy and move it to the top.  I would love to hear from you what your Sursee is.  It encourages me to enjoy and pursue mine when I hear about yours.

Scripture Journal :: One Way I Battle the Negs



Scripture Journal 2

Yesterday I wrote about an idea for a Scripture Journal that has helped me spend time with the Lord when I feel out of sorts or just need an easy way to get into the Word of God.  Today I want to share some of the verses I use in the journal to battle when my mind starts talking crazy.  You know those lies and negative self-talky stuff that starts happening.  Battling the Negs. Ugh.

To start with, I believe that God’s word is powerful and life changing and so meditating on it and memorizing it and going back to it really changes me and my thought patterns. In Hebrews 4:12 it says that the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  

This tells me that God’s word can help me discern what is truth and what is a lie. Yay!

So how do I battle negative self-talk?  Here goes.

  1. I start with remembering who God is when I am battling negative self-talk. I do this in the morning because scripture has that pattern.

Psalm 92:1-2 It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O most High, to proclaim you love in the morning and faithfulness at night.

Psalm 90:14 O satisfy us in the morning with thy lovingkindness, that we may sing of joy and be glad all our days.

2. Find verses that name your identity and describe who you are.  Meditate on your identity In Christ. Good, good medicine.  You find your own scripture, what speaks to you, gal.  Here is one that I have written down since I love singing…

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

3. Next, I remember that it is a battle for my mind.  A battle, gals.

Ephesians 6:10-17 says  10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I need armor and protection. Put on, take up– these are action words.  I see in this verse that this  putting on the armor helps me stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  I also need to protect my mind and thought life through meditating on the Word and my salvation or identity.  See it again here:

taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Our sword is the word of God. Awesome.

4.  We are active in this process.

II Corinthians 10:5   We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Do you see in this verse we are destroying speculations.  We are taking every thought captive; those negative thoughts, that is what we need to capture.

5.  I can’t be lazy.

I Peter 1:13  Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I am to prepare my mind for action.  Not going to be lazy and let any and all thoughts in.  I am to be fixing my hope on GRACE and Jesus.  Yes.

 6. Next I see this little pattern. Don’t be anxious+Pray+Be Thankful= Peace of God guarding my HEART and my Mind.

Philippians 4:6,7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

One of my mentors this past summer, flat out told me I worried too much. She reminded me of this verse and told me the Hebrew word for Guard is like the word for a sentinel on the top of a castle wall, walking back and forth, back and forth.  Constantly guarding.  Guarding my Heart.  And my mind.  I need that!

And lastly I read a little further in Philippians and see that:

 6.  I am to replace my thoughts with His thoughts.  

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8,9

I love thinking about this verse and thinking of things in my life that I know are true, honorable, right pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, worthy of praise.  Those are the things on which I am to fix my mind.  Remember too, gals, we don’t have to go it alone.  We depend on Him to help us, guide us.  We need Him- can’t do this without Him. And He is faithful to walk through this life with us. Amen.

So those are  a few of the verses that I use to battle that cray-cray  negative thinking in my head.  And the verses are written down in my Scripture Journal.  Do you have a verse you go to when you start that talk? Have you found a journal to start writing the verses that speak life to you?  Do tell. xo

My Little Scripture Journal




I received a message from a reader asking me what verses do I put in my Scripture Journal that I mentioned on the God Centered Mom Podcast.  Specifically, she asked for verses that help battle negative self-talk.

So let’s go backwards.  My Scripture Journal or I might have called it notebook, is something I started using to hold all the verses I wanted to remember.  These  are verses that I wanted to memorize or verses that spoke to me.  You know ones  that really minister and give life, but sometimes you can’t remember exactly where they are in the Bible. I now write those verses down in this little journal.  It can be any little journal that you have lying around.  I know you have one:  you received it as a gift or saw it in Target and bought it and you are saving it because it is too cute to use.

Well, I have the use for it, gal.  No more saving.  That little Surseee of a Journal can become your truth fighter; your reminder of who you are in Jesus. Your little go-to when the day starts and you are slow. and can’t figure . out. What to read?

Do you ever feel like that?
I do.   I am too tired, too sad, too whatever to even figure out where to read in the Bible, so I grab my Scripture Journal and voila! It is all there.  It is not great quotes or worldly wisdom, although I do have files for great quotes. ( You knew I did, right?)

The Scripture Journal is my little go-to for those mornings I described above and let me tell you, it works.  God’s word does not return void when I read it, and as I go through the verses,  I am encouraged, given life.

Reminded of who I am in Christ and my identity as a daughter of the King.  I’m forgiven. Free. Loved.  Bought with a price.

I am also reminded of what I need to think on–Things that are good and right and beautiful.

I also am encouraged about God’s faithfulness.  But I stray.

The Scripture Journal is for you to fill in.  I can’t tell you what to put in yours…  What speaks to you right now?  What is the Holy Spirit trying to tell You?  What have you been learning or moved by when you read the Bible.  Those verses are what goes in Your journal.

A Scripture Journal is also a great gift/SURSEE for a graduate or a new mom.  You could write a few of your favorite verses in there to start them off.  How lovely is that? Your handwriting and your verses.

Hope this idea of a place to save verses helps you.  Hope it helps you get in the Word in an active way. Tomorrow I will talk about some verses that help me to specifically battle that negative self-talk.

Do you have a favorite verse you would include in your journal?  Do tell.



How to make authentic friendships with your kids in tow

how to make authentic friends

I was on the God Centered Mom podcast recently talking about friendships and wanted to write a little more about some of the things I did when my kids were younger in the area of friendship with other women.

As I was talking with Heather, a flood of memories came back about how I connected with other women when my kids were young.  I think I needed women’s friendships and was looking for ways to live life with other gals.  One way I made meaningful authentic friendships was to invite people into what I was already doing.

Sports? With four boys you know I was involved in sports.  I would bring cooked hotdogs/buns/chips and a camping table and serve a quick meal to the families of the ball players.  Not so hard, really.  I had to feed my troop; I might as well feed others.  And hot dogs were an easy go-to.  I would grill at home and then wrap in foil and put in a cooler to keep warm.  I learned to embrace the sporting event and see that as a place to make relationships, instead of dreading the time sitting in lawn chairs in the heat.  It took a little while I might add, to figure that out.

In the summer we had a membership to a neighborhood pool, and I would invite friends to come swim with us.  Scheduled around lunch, we would swim for a few hours, eat lunch and then everyone would go home ready for a long afternoon nap.  When my kids were babies, they would nap in the shade in the pack-n-play.  Lots of good conversations happened around that pool.

Sometimes I would do things without my kids.  I had night time events where I would make a gal’s dinner and we would have a speaker or work on crafts.  Have a girl’s night once a month at your house.  Serve easy snacks and have a topic to discuss or watch a chick flick or talk about what you are cooking.  Make the time for girlfriends.  You will find that you will be rich in relationships when you are done.

I would invite friends over for a casual lunch and let the kids play in the backyard and then sometimes let the younger ones nap while the older ones played and the moms visited.

For a weekend night, we would invite another family over to eat an easy pizza supper and then lay kids down on pallets while the adults visited or watched a movie.

I tried to get involved in women’s ministry and have that morning be a time of conversations and teaching.  Good for the soul.  Look around the circle of your group and pick one gal to call later that week and connect with her.  Make intentional choices- cast that net.  It is worth it to step out and reach out.  We are all wanting connection. You be the one to do it.

Through my homeschooling circle, I signed up for all kinds of fun field trips and would enjoy the fellowship that happened over a quick lunch after.  I remember going to the What-A-Burger by the airport and the boys loving watching the planes take off and land while I got in some quick conversation with the mom before the whole thing fell apart.

I mentioned on the podcast that I had to embrace the chaos and not expect everything to go perfectly.  That worked better when I thought through our schedule and made sure no one was hungry or in need of a nap during a time with friends.

I met friends at some of the cool parks in town and was always ready to explore new outdoor spaces.  Lots of good conversation can happen around the swing-set and climbing forts.  I always tried to remember water and wipes and snicky-snacks or made a quick lunch that we ate there.

I also piled the kids in the car and would go visit friends who lived in another city.  The picture above is when I drove a few hours to have the life-giving love and conversation of a dear friend. What a gang of kids!  Those were good times.  The fun of lots of kids running around and deep and long conversions with a friend who lived on the other side of the state was worth all the hassle of packing up all my people and driving.

I used to have a day a week when I would set these play/field trip/ friend times so that it worked with my schedule.  It was a fun day to look forward to all week.

As you can see, I like to schedule. I feel like that helps me to make connections.  If that is not your forte, hang out with someone who has that strength and let her plan for you. I have several friends who tell me all the time, “If it were not for you, I would never do anything fun!”  Well, alright then.  Find those gals who plan and link up with them.

I also scheduled in time to call or write friends.  I had to schedule it.  Back in the day, it was expensive and you had to call on the off hours when it was cheaper.  Now, I text a friend to find a good time we can both talk.  Ahh,  so much easier.  But I still schedule those phone calls into my week.  And I write a lot of letters.  What is more fun than getting some snail mail?

As your kids get older, pick moms in your kids classes to be intentional with and get to know.  You will be surprised at the relationships you will gain, such a treasure trove.  In each of my boy’s classes I have dear, dear friends that I met and grew to love because I was intentional in serving with them at school, calling them, hanging with them at the basketball games and having them over to eat.  I also organized fun activities with the boys and their friends as they got older and would invite other parents to join us- a trip to the swimming hole in Ft Worth, A Senior Ski trip with the whole class, trips to check out colleges, TV watching binges- hello LOST watching group, after game pizza and ice-cream parties. The list goes on.

Another way to have authentic friendship in the midst of the crazy is through a mentor.  She can listen, encourage and laugh with you.  She also can give you ideas of ways she spent time with others when she was younger.  She will often be able to meet you where you are and be more flexible than someone your age.  I had mentors that would come stay with the boys while I went to get my hair cut and we would have a good visit on the front end.  A mentor will be a life-giving gal who can breathe energy and new ideas into those days that seem impossible.  I know mine have done that and still do!!

Hope some of these Friendship Sursees help you figure out how to make connections with other women.  Would you share ways that you connect with others or find the time for friendship? We all need a little help and imagination in this area.  I would love to hear from you…. xoxo




Craving Authentic Friendships :: Sursee Gal on the God Centered Mom Podcast

attracting an audience

Happy New Year!  What better way to start out 2016 than talking about friendships and connecting and mentoring and parties and hospitality and trusting in our great big GOD! The above picture is a fun Sursee Party we had for my friend Heather when she was pregnant with her fourth boy! A pink parade!


Heather MacFadyen


Heather is over at the God Centered Mom and had me on her podcast segment called, ” That’s Me,” and we discussed friendship and hospitality and other fun stuff.  I hope you will be encouraged by it.  Heather is so real and funny and easy to talk with- she makes even me sound good!  Heather talks with a young mom, Libby, and me and weaves our conversations together seamlessly.  Pass this podcast on if you know a young mom who needs a little encouragement.

Go listen to the podcast on Heather’s site or listen here.  Would love to hear what you think or what ways you creatively practice hospitality and connect with friends.




Christmas Sursees :: Tidings of Great Joy!

Christmas SurseesHey y’all…

Long time no talkie.  Life has been busy around here as I am sure it has been at your house.  How is it going as you prepare for Christmas? For me, it has been a good few weeks  as I have been reading through The Chronological Bible and been reminded of whose I am and why I am here, all intertwined with the good news of Jesus coming as a baby.

Sometimes I get a little discouraged as I feel the press of the to-do list, and I feel like the story of the Baby in the manger slips away.  I beat myself up about preparing my heart and wonder why I can’t relax this Christmas?  Why didn’t I get ready earlier? Why am I so busy? Am I missing the preparation that everyone else is doing??

Then I had this thought that  preparing for advent is really just coming to the story of Jesus’ birth with fresh eyes.  Seeing the story anew.  I think the Lord delights in showing us new ways to see the simple. It is not so much about what I am doing, but how I am resting and remembering.

Recently I was reading Romans 15:12 and right there in the middle of Romans was a reminder of the baby coming in the manger. Silent Night, Holy Night.

And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring,

the one who will arise to rule over the nations,

the Gentiles will hope in him.

And then verse 13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hope. Joy. Peace.Trust. Overflow. Power. What words of Comfort and Joy.

Hope is used three times.  I am thinking I need that H*O*P*E this day.  You?

Pondering these verses  is preparing my heart for Advent, for the birth, reminding me about the GOOD NEWS of Emmanuel with us and TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY.

Will you join me this day and sit with your feet propped up by your beautiful tree and remember the HOPE that Jesus brings?  That is the most wonderful Sursee of all.


Sursee Gal Goes Ital :: Cappuccino Love


Cappucino Love

Let’s get one thing straight right now, the Italians love their coffee…espresso, cappuccino, caffe, you name it.  They take breaks and drink coffee in the middle of the afternoon.  And it is an art form, this coffee thing.  One of my favorite memories is of the mom, the grandma and the bambina getting their afternoon cappuccino.  The mom kept feeding the baby in the stroller little spoonfuls of the frothy cream from her cup.  That sweet baby licked the foamy goodness off her upper lip with determination; training starts early!

I love cappuccinos and was ordering them left and right at the B&Bs we stayed in or at a sidewalk cafe when Craig ordered an espresso.

Cappucino 6

Loved the chocolate sprinkles!


cappucino 11

An especially welcome cuppa because it was cold and rainy outside.

At one of our B&Bs I learned the secret of the milk frother and made this little beauty myself.  More on a later Sursee Gal about the fun and workings of the Milk Frother.cappucino 8

Even at the simplest little albergo or B&B they would offer a cappuccino, so I took them up on the offer.  Here are a few that I sucked down sampled while in Italy.

cappucino 9

Gorgeousness!! This was by far the most artistic one I received.


Cappucino 10

This one had Lots of FROTH- lasted all the way to last drop.


On our last two nights, we stayed at a mod Italian hotel right by the train station with our friends.  It was so awesome to walk out of the train station and right up to our lodging.  This place had a fancy cappuccino machine that allowed me to push a button and make my last cups of yumminess.

cappuciono 1


Loved watching it perform its beauty and add the little shot of espresso, right at the very.very.end.


Cappuccino 5



Cappucino 3


More to come on the Moka pot we bought and the things we learned about creama and tamping and frothing, demi spoons and the art of coffee.  Sursees! for you.  Ciao!

Sursee Gal Goes Ital :: Door Knockers

title door knockers


I saw so many gorgeous door knockers while I was in Italy.  The doors were magnificent- big. wooden. carved.   And then, like the icing on a cake, were these gorgeous knockers.  All different.  So many styles. shapes.  I saw a few repeats, but mostly they were all unique.

Door Knocker 1

I wondered if anyone uses them.  Really. Does anyone pick it up and knock, knock , knock?  I was so intrigued with them.  So curious.  What was behind the door?


Right now I am experiencing extreme jet lag.  We have been home around four days and it is the middle of the night in Italy, and I think my bed is calling me. So I will say Ciao, Ciao and leave you with these wonderful Sursees for a door. door knocker 3 door knocker 4 door knocker 5 door knocker 6 door knocker 7 door knocker 9





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.