Happy August and Back to School Planning

I was thinking about y’all and remembering that August is a great time to plan for the new school year.  I have some ideas for you whether you homeschool or send those kiddos off.  Check it out on this post for some great ideas.  Happy August, y’all. xoxo

The Very Best Prayer for our Kids No Matter the Age

Praying for our kids

Sometimes we need to be reminded.  I have published this prayer before, but thought you might like the reminder.  I know I need reminders and you are probably not that different from me.

I love this reminder of a great prayer for our kids.  Good for all ages.  All stages.  It is one of those things over the years that I am growing in and learning more about.

Sometimes I make things more complicated than they need to be.  Prayer is one of those things.  What to pray for my kids?  Over the years I have read books, been to studies, downloaded calendars, all of which are good, but here is a prayer for you that is simple and lasts through all your days here on earth.

God, I pray that ________ would be all that You created them to be.

This prayer.  Simple.  Easy to remember at any age.  Helps me to loosen my grip on these kids and hand them back to their Maker, their Father, their King.  Covers all the bases.  All the years.  All the fears and worries.  Joys and good times.

Sometimes the simple is the SURSEE.  Do you have a special prayer that encourages you? 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




Mentoring Moment :: What Did You Do When Your Kids Compared or Used Unkind Words?

Mentoring Moments What Did you do when your kids talked unkindly or compared

What did you do when your kids compared or used unkind words with one another?

I just received a question like this, and as I was emailing this sweet mom back, I thought that maybe there might be others who would be encouraged if they heard this.  We need each other.  We need to talk about things like this. Here is the answer I gave her:

Hey gal,

  • You are the Best Mom for your kids

One thought to remember is you are the best mom for those precious kids the Lord gave you! I didn’t say perfect- but you are the best.  God picked you to be their mom and will give you wisdom and direction when you need it.  I think I always was second guessing myself and wondering if I had what it takes…you do! You have what it takes and More- you have Jesus!

  • Safe Place
One thing we tried to do is make our home a safe place for everyone, and we would  talk about that.  I would say,  “I want everyone to feel safe here and loved because God created each of you in  a special way.”   I would try to guard that- not letting unkindness or mean things go on and on.  Discipline when needed.  Separate when needed.  Always remembering if they were too tired or too hungry to obey.  It does make a difference.
  • Big Muscles

Kids need to use their big muscles every day, especially boys.  I would make sure they were active every day.  That meant I had to go out with them in the back yard and just chill or watch them play or read.  Whatever.  But I needed to be out there, too.  I wrote more on that here.

I think when they are using their big muscles and being physical for some parts of the day, some of the other issues disappear.

  • Rest Time is a Must

I also made them have a Rest Time every day.  It is hard to be kind and slow to anger all day long.  It is for you and me, and it is for them. They need separation and time to be by themselves.  Everyday.   At Rest Time, they didn’t have to go to sleep, but they had to be by themselves…reading on their bed.  No talking to me or to others during that time.  “This is what the Johnsons do,” is what I would tell them.

  • Verses that Teach

Now on to some verses.  A good verse I remember is this one.

Proverbs 12:18

 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

We would talk about how their words could be like swords or  they could bring healing.  Great imagery.
Another great group of verses that popped into my head were these:
Ephesians 4:29-32
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I would talk about the ability for their words to build up their brother.  And I would say, “Hey, we want our words to be building words not tearing down words.  That sounded like you were tearing down your brother. Let’s try that again.”  Or I would just prompt with the word “building” and not give a big lecture.
Or I would use verse 32 and say, “Hey- we need to be kind and compassionate to each other….what does that look like?  Can we practice that right now?”
  • Night Time Prayers
One big thing I did a bunch is pray through these verses at night when I tucked them in.  In the dark I would talk about things that I had seen that day and remind them of God’s truth.  A lot of the time I would just pray what I wanted them to do out loud- ha! 
“God, Help _____ to remember he is the older brother and he needs to build _______ up, even when ______ makes him mad.
 Help______ to be kind when _______ is driving him nuts.”  
Especially as they get older, at night in the dark, is a great time of sharing.
I hope this helps.  I did not do this perfectly.  I wish now that I would have memorized more verses. But God is faithful, and He will fill in the cracks.  Talk about about a Sursee!
Readers, do you have a special verse that you use with your kids when they compare or are unkind?  Do share, please.

Homeschooling Ideas That Work :: What We Listened to in the Car and at Home

Learning while you drive around

Whether you homeschool or not, I think you will be encouraged by this post.  I am going to share some of the stories/series/ tapes/CDs etc that we listened to over the years.  Whether or not you homeschool, I know you spend a bunch of time driving and sometimes it is nice to have stuff to listen to in the car.  It is a great time for learning.  I also used these during the day when the boys needed a break or I needed a break.

It is also been shown in research that reading comprehension goes up when a child learns to listen to a story and hears the structure of a story as they are told or read aloud.

Even when it is just Craig and I, we will listen to books on tape or podcasts.  So, read on for some Sursees and don’t forget, if you know a mom with children who might be encouraged by this information, would you please pass it on to them?  They will appreciate the Sursee.

 Jim Weiss is a wonderful storyteller.

What we listened to in the car with our kids

These audio cds are wonderful.  Weiss is a story teller and listening to him will transport you to another time and place.   We listened to these a bunch and the kids really enjoyed his style.  Using just his voice to tell the story, the adventure sprang to life.  He tells all kinds of historical stories, stories from the classics and mythology, and biblical stories believing,

“a story well told would ignite a love of learning in a listener.”

Love that!  I also loved his goal:

“Our goal then, as now, was to instill in children the lifelong love of great literature by telling the stories on a child’s level without altering the authors’ intent.”

Listening together as a family also gives your family a common vocabulary and fun shared experience, as well as, a literacy in the great books and classics.  You will also give your kids a desire and curiosity to read the whole book someday.

I used these as Sursees in the kids’ Easter baskets or in their stockings or for a birthday gift.  I would also  wrap one up before we went on a long car trip.  Here is the link to Greathall Productions.

Use the Library as a resource.

Before we went on a long car trip, I would make  a trip to the public library and check out some books on tape or CDs.  When the boys were little, the book came along with the cassette tape,  so they could read along and turn the page when the reader did.  I also made a few of these for the boys that they could listen to during their rest time.  These recordings would be a neat thing to ask grandparents or older siblings to do for younger children.

The library would also have unabridged versions of the classics  to listen to on a looong road trip for when the kids got older. We have fond memories of listening to The Lord Of the Rings or a Lemony Snicket book on our trips.  Now there is Audible where you can download a book through the service and listen.  Awesome!

The church library is also a valuable resource.  Ours was always well-stocked with tapes and later CDs.  Make friends with the librarian and ask them to order things that you have found online.  They like to hear about new ideas for the library.

We also found the Focus on the Family radio dramas were very well done.

One of osur favorite was The Chronicles of Narnia series.   Craig and I also liked the Father Gilbert series and the CS Lewis at War series found at the same place.

Sing and Learn is a great resource for all kinds of fun.

I love this website- Sing and Learn.  They were a resource that I found when I was homeschooling, but all of you are going to want to go over and peruse this site.  I especially love this series about the life of great composers .

.What I listened to in the car with the kids

They come as CDs to listen to and also DVDs to watch.  Great stuff.
One of our favorite sections of the website was the science section;  we would listen to these from Lyrical Life and Earth Science for fun, but learning was happening.  They also come with a coloring book.  We played these when the boys were a little older elementary age.What I listened to in the car

Diana Waring sang historical songs and had a series that let you listen to history.

What I listened to in the car

I had one or two of these with historical songs when we were studying different time periods.

These would be nice if you were studying this time period in history or your child was interested in this time period.  I am all for letting kids explore something they think is cool or interesting.

We also listened to GT and the Halo Express for scripture memory.

what we listened to in the car with the kids 2
I am so happy to say these cds  are still out there.  When the boys were little they were just in cassette tape form.  They are delightful stories with scripture tied to catchy tunes; these songs  are still floating around in my head.  So happy that they are still available for my someday grandkids.  I still have scripture memorized from these.

Just William is another hands down favorite of ours.

1 What I listened to in the car with the kids
These CDS are maybe for a little older…2nd grade and up.   You will so love these and their British humor.  William will become a favorite of your family.
Ok, that was long. I hope this encourages you to use that driving around time or that long vacation by car time to learn and listen.  Remember you can share your resources with other families which is what I did.  You can buy one and have a friend buy another and then trade
 Why don’t you share in the comments a book or series or audio that you love listening to with your family.  You will give everyone a little Sursee when you share.

Kids’ Artwork for Thanksgiving- A Must Have Decoration

Thanksgiving art by kids 2


I am dashing this off to you in hopes that you will take a moment to engage your kids and their artistic talents for a little Thanksgiving Art.  The point here is it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  Or supplies.  It doesn’t have to be Pinterest worthy.

Make some time this week or next to pick one, yes, I said ONE project to make with your kids for Thanksgiving.  And then be done.  Be satisfied.  Slow down and do the one thing.  Then save and enjoy the beauty of the piece when your kids are grown and gone.  These art projects are an awesome decoration for today and a stone of remembrance for you and your family tomorrow.

Here are some of our boys’ work.

Draw a picture of the first Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving art by kids

Write a paragraph about what you love about Thanksgiving and then decorate or illustrate.  They can dictate it to you when they are little or later they can write it out.

Check out a Fall craft book from the library and pick ONE craft to do.  I liked going to the Teacher Supply store in town and picking out a book to glean ideas.  You can get on Pinterest, but please don’t be overwhelmed or start the dreaded comparing game.  Just pick one idea this year.Thanksgiving art by kids 4

My only caution is that you make sure and DATE the artwork.  I didn’t sometimes, and that makes me sad!  Also make sure that you write down WHO did the artwork.  Forgot to do that sometimes, too!

So the Sursee for today.  Pick one art project.

Sit with your kids and enjoy the process.

Sign and date it.

Then Be thankful! No comparing with the Pinterest World.  Just be content and remember there are years to do all the projects you can dream up or find online.  Mozart died with symphonies in his head.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with and the art that will grace your house today and in the future.  Do tell.



Happiest of Mother’s Days

Thistles in Israel

Dear all,

Here is to you.  Happy Mother’s Day.   I am thankful that you take time out of your busy days to read what I write. To listen to what I say.  To look for the SURSEES in life with me.  Thanks, friends.

I pray that your Mother’s Day will find you thankful and hopeful and remembering that no Momma is perfect.

No Mommy gets it all right.

No Mama is doing everything, all the time.

No Mom has it all together.

But we are ALL held together in Him.  We can all trust Him to fill in the cracks of our mothering.  We can trust Him to love perfectly through us. We can know that He loves us and is cheering us on and picking us up when we fall down.

That is good news.  The Good News.  Thank you, Lord.  All of us Moms need to hear that today.

So today I encourage you to Do the Next Thing and trust Him with the rest.

Love well, those He has given to you.  Can you encourage another mom today to rest and remember these things?  What a great SURSEE to share this Mother’s Day.




Take a Picture on Mother’s Day and Make Sure That You Are In It

Here is Sursee Gal with her men on Easter Morning.  Joy!

I meant to get this post out for Easter, but decided to put writing off for the time that all the guys were home.  I was trying to practice what I preach about being in the moment and embracing the time and slowing down.  I do love Instagram and Facebook posts, blogging and Twitter, but sometimes I just want to slow down, be in the moment and not miss them.  I knew I would have time to write after they went back to their places and the home was quiet again.

Easter MorningSo now we are on to Mother’s Day.  I want to encourage you to do something.

Make sure that you take pictures on Mother’s Day.

We liked to take them in the front yard right before we headed out to church.  Or sometimes we would take a picture at church so we could all six be in it.

I do want to encourage you to make sure that you take a picture that you are in, Momma.  Sometimes I only got photos of the boys, and I wish now that I would have hopped into the photo.  I think we as moms tend to take a bunch of the pictures so make sure this year that you hop into some casual pictures with your family.  I also think you should take photos of the everyday.  The normal stuff.  Their rooms.  Your backyard.  Their favorite toys.  Reading to them.  Whatever it is that says, This is my family and this is what we do.

So gals,  I am giving you fair warning. Take those photos.  A photo of you with your darlings on Mother’s Day will be a SURSEE you will treasure.


Sursee Gal on the Phone

SurseeGal Podcast


Hey y’all.  I recently did another podcast with Heather at God Centered Mom.  We talked about all sorts of fun stuff…

  • Reading to your kids  and ideas for books and what your kids can do while you are reading. Love talking about this.
  • How to work with the feeling that everyone needs me all the time.  At the same time.
  • What to do when those feelings of anger pop up and sometimes come crashing out.

Go over and listen to us at GodCenteredMom.com.  Or you can go to Podcasts on your phone and listen.

I hope that listening to us encourages you that you really  are the best mom for your kids and that God picked you and no one else.

He Cleanses Our Conscience

I can remember sitting in the audience at Women’s ministry maybe 20 years ago, when Vickie Kraft shared these verses in Hebrews about Jesus:

  • How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  Hebrews 9:14 

  • Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Hebrews 10:22

I remember sitting in that chair and feeling freedom.  Wait?  He even takes care of my guilty conscience. Bam! Yes, M’am, He does.  What a gift.

I was reminded of these verses this morning when I was talking to a friend.  Moms this is a great truth to teach your children.

Gals, this is a great truth to remind each other.  His blood cleanses even our conscience.

Beautiful Lilac

Take a moment to ponder this at Easter.  Can you set aside a moment right now to thank Him for this great gift?

Oh, and let’s remind someone else of this SURSEE.  Could be just what they need to hear today.