Getting a Little Squishy

I am getting old. Yes, I admit it.  I am getting a little squishy around the middle and not liking it.  One bit.

But, I am digging this season of life- the Empty Nest.  More time for things I choose.  Time with my sweet husband. The joy of relationships with adult children.  A quiet confidence in Who I am in Christ.  A faith built on years of seeing a faithful God.

But there is some Change going on, and I never have liked change. But change is always coming.

Like endless waves, washing in and pulling out.  Brown hair turning to Frosted.  Tight skin turning a little saggy-baggy.  A little more tired.  A few more wrinkles.  A little less limber.  Parts not working so well anymore.  Ahhh.

Even when the boys were young, I strained and stressed over change and the changing of their seasons.  Sometimes even missing the joy of the moment.  Babies-to toddlers-to preschoolers-to elementary….all the way to high school and off to college!  ChAnGe!

Craig would tell me, “Honey, this is the life!” when I would grumble and complain and fret about the little things or the seasons changing.  Those changes seemed like such BIG THINGS BACK THEN.  Now I see.

My body is changing, and there are things I can’t do as well as I used to do, like trying to stay up till 1:00 am and not be busted the next day.    But I know now that nothing good happens after midnight, just like my mom said to me, and  then I said to my kids.  Now though, I believe it!  (That is a great line, by the way, to tell your teenagers when you discuss curfew!)

I do trust Him more today and believe His promises better today.  I embrace the moments and slow down.  I see what matters and what to blow off.  I go back to the truth that I know.  Over and over again.

I am getting a “little squishy” as my friend coined the softening around the middle,  but I love being me.  At this age.  I have relationships that span decades of knowing.  And even in the knowing, they still love me.   Who wants to go back in time to 20 years old?  I love being me.  It was great then, believe me, but it is great now, too.

I love that I am about to celebrate 28 years of marriage.  To the same man.  And all that that means- the thrills and laughter and joys and the real knowing of someone after so many hours and days spent together.  Beauty.  I don’t want to go back to the beginning there.  This time is too rich.

So getting old is a bummer when the squishy starts and the period won’t stop.  The bladder doesn’t work as well and the skin is dry.  The bones get weak and the hearing gets fainter.

But the question for me is: Do I look at these things that are fading or at the beauty around me? Do I thank Him for all that He is working around me or do I look at me?  Am I asking Him to give me eyes to see all that He is doing around me or are my eyes sad about growing old?

Do I see the cardinal that comes every morning to my feeder- a bright flash of red at the window?cardinal

Am I enjoying the robin who hides in the tree outside my window, plump and ready for Spring?


Am I really seeing the Dogwoods outside the breakfast window, round balls about ready to pop open with creamy faces?

What about The College Boy who comes home to surprise me? Am I relishing that? Yes, I did, I am happy to report. (We caught up on Downton Abbey and ate homemade fried chicken.)

Am I relaxing with the moms who bring me three bunches of flowers and a meal to boot as we celebrate and discover what real hospitality looks like.IMG_2236

Do I take note of the friend who calls to laugh and talk?

 So many blessing in this season of life.  So much to see when my eyes get off of me and my squishy and onto the faithfulness of my God. 

 I am walking deeper and more fully than I ever have, and I am embracing this getting old. Really.

I am seeing what really matters and I am letting the rest go.  I am asking Jesus to help me depend on Him daily, desperately.

And I am loved.

Loved by a Jesus who wraps His arms around my squishy waist and looks me in the eyes and says,

Daughter, You Are Loved.

What are you seeing? How are you looking out at what God has given you? Today’s SURSEE  is to  See all that He is doing around you and receive your aging.  Let’s encourage each other in this, gals.  We need each other to say, Embrace. Enjoy. Live each season as the gift that He has given you.

Will you do that today?  Will you help me to remember to do that? xoxo

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18


Stop While It Is Still Fun :: A Homeschooling Tip That Works for All of Us

finish while it is still fun 2

Stop while it is still fun.

What do I mean by that?  I will start with a homeschool example, but since all moms homeschool, this advice is for all of us.

One morning  you are teaching away.   If  you get to a point in your day when the tears start or the attitude comes out, stop.  Take a break.  Go outside.   Everyone, you included.

Then start back on the math-writing-spelling lesson, whatever it is, the next day.  It is amazing what a little break will do.

I learned that if I stopped a learning activity or teaching time while it was still fun, things went a whole lot better the rest of the day.  I also learned that when we hit that wall, all of my threatening, cajoling and yelling wasn’t going to help get over that wall.  It just did not. 

 But, if I started fresh the next day, woo-hoo, we were all ready to go.  And usually, whatever the  impossible task was on the day before, today it was totally done in five minutes. No kidding.

 This works in all areas of our everyday lives.

Stop the birthday party while it is still fun.  Stop the field trip earlier rather than later.   Stop The Work/Chore time.   The errand running.  The Driving Lesson when they are teens.  The shopping trip for clothes.   The Whatever.  End while it is still fun.

And isn’t that also true of us personally?

We need to stop when we are having a frustrating time with our sewing machine or a recipe or a relationship. And we need to start afresh the next day or an hour later.

Going to bed on time is a great act of faith.  Believing tomorrow is a new day for us to finish whatever is an act of faith.

I know, I know.  Sometimes we have to push through adversity.  Push through hard times.  Finish what we start. I am not saying you QUIT and never finish.  I am saying that there are days when we need to put the activity aside and stop.  And start something new.  And the next day start it again.finish while it is still fun

So your SURSEE for today is a permission slip to stop while it is still fun.  Look your child in the eye and say we are going to finish this tomorrow. And then hug them and move on.  Or maybe, you need to go to bed early tonite as an act of faith.  Try this and let me know how it goes.

Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.

 Anne of Green Gables



Tips on Traveling with Your Kids :: Visiting Aging Relatives

Tips on Traveling with Your kids

Was talking with a friend the other day on the phone and got a great idea for Sursee Gal.

We were talking about her impending trip to see an ill  grandparent and what that was going to look like with her child in tow.  This year over Spring Break they needed to visit an aging parent- not Disney World.  She just wasn’t all that sure about the trip and what it would mean for her child.

 What would they do while they were visiting the grandparent who was not feeling well?  How to make it fun for the child was the topic of the day.

I immediately went into warp speed and started hurling ideas at her over the phone.  My friend, ever the sweetie, said, “You should write a SURSEE post about this!”

So here it is…hope these tips help you plan out your trip.  Your trip might or might not include visiting aging parents, but I think these tips will help all of you no matter what type of trip you are taking.

First idea is wrap small little SURSEES for the children that they get to open each day on your travels.

It can be small.  A doo-dah or fun activity type gift.  Maybe a little artsy-craftsy set that they can use to create.  Maybe a new book, we loved the Childhood of Famous Americans series.  Maybe a small Lego set or Playmobile set to build.  It doesn’t have to be much when it is wrapped up and tied with a bow.  The excitement is in the surprise.  I kept a box of little SURSEES that I could use when needed.  I picked up things over the year at the Dollar store or at Target and saved them for times like these.

One great SURSEE  that will last the whole trip is a Smash Book:

smash book fun


A Smash Book supplies many days of fun over the vacation.  When you stop at restaurants they can add doo-dahs from the restaurant, maybe even write a restaurant review for each place.  This is a great way to get your elementary or older kids writing.  Younger kids could dictate to you.  I firmly believe even a child who is too young to physically write should be given opportunities “to write out” his thoughts.  Let him dictate to you.

When you cross state lines, go into the visitor’s center and get some pamphlets and brochures to go into the smash book.  Another perk is these places have great, clean! bathrooms.  A must for travel.

Nature stuff can get smashed in the book, too.   I like how the smash book comes with a pen and glue stick. There are also things you can buy that add fun to the making of the smash book like these:Smash Book doo-dahs

Also, you can find little envelopes, arrow stickies and much, much more!  Find the Smash book supplies at Target, JoAnne’s or an office supply store.  All of these can be part of the SURSEE gifting over each day of the trip.

Books on tape are a great way to while away the hours in the car.

Listening to books on tape was one of my favorite parts of our road trips. I would go to the library and check out several books.  We laughed with Lemony Snicket, were inspired by the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and were tickled by Henry and Ribsey’s antics.  There are books to listen to for every age group.  You can find books on tape at your church library, Half Price Books and online.  The sky  is really the limit here!  This is also a fun thing to ask friends to share; call around and see what other families have on hand that you can borrow.

Daddy Dates and Mommy Time on the Vacay

If you are visiting a sick relative or an aging parent, divide and conquer.  Why can’t your kids go hang out with Dad while you sit and chat with an older relative?  Then switch.  Make sure and do something fun, fun, fun in the city you are visiting.   Take advantage of what that city has to offer.  Or look at your road trip and plan out some fun stops along the way.

Your kids can spend time with the older relative, too.  It is important for them to see that people age, and they as children,  can be such a blessing to their elders.  We call that the Circle of Life over here.  Maybe they could have some questions ready, that you all have discussed, to ask the grandparents or relatives,  and then write those conversations in their smash book.

Last Idea.  Buy a Disposable Camera.

One fun thing we did was buy each of the boys their own camera and let them just take pictures.  Didn’t worry about it.  No control here.  Sometime we even took their Beanie Baby and took pictures of the stuffed animal in location.  We have some pretty funny shots of Seaweed from several trips.

All in all, the success of this kind of vacay is in Your attitude, Mama.  You can make the Spring Break trip a memorable and fun time for all.  Do a little planning.  Talk through the time with your kids and hubby and get their ideas.  Wrap a few SURSEES, grab some books to read and listen to.   And most importantly, have FUN!

What do you do to make your car trips full of SURSEES?  Do tell.











books on tape

daddy dates mommy time

divide and conquer

restaurant reviews.


You Can Raise Great Boys: Use your Big Muscles

You can raise great boys


When the boys were little one of my mantras was:

Go Outside and Use Your Big Muscles.

I don’t remember where I got that, but it worked for me.   I think lots of times I used an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence!

When things got a little hectic inside, I sent them outside.

When I got a little hectic on the inside, I sent them outside.

When homeschool time was breaking down all around me, I sent them outside.

Use Your Big Muscles!

It was never too cold.

Or Too hot.  Or Too wet, that theycould not go outside.  Rain Play is awesome- as long as there is no lightning.

Cold snowy play- the best.

Use your big muscles when it is cold

Fun in the sun on a hot day- bring the hose.

Use your big musclesSometimes I would go outside  with them, too.  I would bring my handwork or a magazine and be out there with them.  Or sometimes, I brought nothing but my rattled brain and just sat.

And sat.

The kids liked it when I was out there because they could show me things they found in the backyard.  Or I could praise their basketball prowess or jumping or bike riding.  It settled the air.  Helped all of us to see things in a new way.  God’s creation has a way of doing that.

I also think this mantra is  great advice for you, Mom.

Use Your Big Muscles.

What have you done today, to use your big muscles? One friend I have says she is going to move every day.  She inspires me to  Do Something Everyday.  Like a walk around the block.  Some stretching on the floor.  A quick run.  A yoga DVD.

We need it.  Our kids need it.

A little side note.  I wanted to make sure and say I believe this is true for raising girls.  They need the outdoors and the Big Muscle Time, too.  I just didn’t have any of those around here, but my friends did and would second this advice.

So the next time the melt downs start in your house, use the great outdoors and get them outside and using those big muscles.  They will thank you for it.  It is a little SURSEE I learned along the way of raising boys.



Happy Thanksgiving :: Advice for this day

Dear friends,

Happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for you, reader.  I want to encourage you to do something special this Thanksgiving. Two things actually.  They don’t cost anything and take very little time, so no stressing.

1. Make sure you take some photos.  And make sure you are in one of them.


The whole crew


That year we also took a smaller family photo.

Where are Kevin and Garrett?

Where are Kevin and Garrett?

Two members of our family are missing. Oops, I just noticed, Ryan is gone, too.   I think they were playing football at the school field?  Too funny.

Make sure you get in one or two of the photos yourself.  You will be glad, and your kiddos will be glad one day.


Have to hold a baby on Thanksgiving!

So get in a picture.

2. And also, this Thanksgiving,  thank someone you love for being who they are.  Let them know you love them.  Say it.

I am thankful for you.  I love you.  You matter.  You inspire me, encourage me, make me laugh.  Just say it.

 That is the greatest SURSEE of all!  xoxo




Sursee Gal Live on a Podcast

Hey gals,

God Centered Mom Podcast

Her cool new button for her podcast

Guess what?  I was on a podcast recently, and I want you to go and listen to it.  My friend, Heather, at God centered mom interviewed me for her very first podcast.  Woo-Hoo!



The gals at Allume

She is an awesome friend and helper to me, teaching me how to tweet, blog and laugh.

She and I talked on her podcast about life and living and mom-hood.  Basically, we just talked about stuff you already know, but need to be reminded about.

Things like,

You are the best mom for your kid.  

Pray more and use less words.  

The days are long, but the years are short.

A friend who listened told me, “Leslie, I felt like y’all were sitting right there with me.  And it was so encouraging.  Loved all the reminders.”

We all need reminders.  The Israelites needed reminders.  Manna every morning to remember God was leading them and taking care of them.  Jesus repeats himself in his parables and teachings and reminds us to break bread and drink the wine in remembrance.  We are so forgetful.  So human.

I hope you will go over and listen and be reminded and encouraged.   Go back to the truth that you know is what my mentor always tells me.  

Here is the link again to the podcast.  Sursee Gal is live online!  Now that is A SURSEE worth sharing.  Share with another mom who just needs a word of encouragement today.



Empty Nest Update and A Sweet Friend Sharing her heart

Dear friends,
Today is Day 2 of Empty Nest and life is looking good.  Last week, not so good.  On Friday, after preparing and cleaning up lunch for # 4 son, I kind of lost it.  I mean really lost it.  Hot tears flowing down my cheeks, can’t talk, stuff running out of my nose, lost it.  Later that afternoon, Craig and I drove KJ to college.

A stuffed Suburban

I just kind of needed that moment- to see that it was all coming down to the end.  No more lunches.  No more being a mom with kids underfoot.  Ahhhhhh…. Now, I know that they come in and out.  In fact we brought one son home from Austin for a day visit when we drove back.   But I think that on Friday, it all just hit me- This is IT! THE END!

Will write more about that later, for sure.

So, needless to say, I am still processing all of this and jumping into empty nest and looking for the SURSEES I can find in that nest.

One exciting side note is I am participating in an awesome Blogging Bootcamp over at How They Blog with the Ninja master Kat Lee.  It is helping me so so much, and I can’t wait to share with you what I am learning and hear what you think about my goals, plans, etc.

So because I am kind of in school and because I just dropped off my baby at college and need some downtime, I thought I would share another friend’s What I Wish I Would Have Known journey. So get ready to meet Laura  McBride, my precious friend, who just dropped off her oldest at college.  She, like me, has a little bloody stump where her arm used to be, but let me tell you, she has great wisdom for you, no matter where you are in the journey.

Here is the letter she wrote to a “Kindergarten mom”.  Enjoy and please pass this SURSEE along to someone who might need to hear it.

As my days of being a mom at this school are drawing to a close, I have been thinking about what I have learned over the past 14 years. I remember what it felt like to have a first grader with two toddlers still at home. With the finish line in sight, I would like to pass on some truths I have learned.
First, it has been a great run. The only thing I would do differently is I would rest in God more and trust in my own strength less.  
Quality v. quantity time. Quantity wins every time. Don’t be afraid of silence or inaction. Just be. With them.
Laugh. Laugh a lot. Your kids are funny. Don’t take yourself too seriously either. You’re goofy too.
Talk less, listen more.
Have breakfast with your kids every morning. Yes, this means you will have to plan ahead and get up early. You can do this. 
Read the bible at breakfast every morning. We allowed an extra 20 minutes for this. Do it all the way through High School. You will have the opportunity to speak God’s word into their lives and great discussions always followed these readings.
When your kids are younger, read the Catherine Vos bible. I marked the date after every reading and any questions the kids asked.  I now have a “diary” of our readings (we read the Catherine Vos bible through 5 times) and discussions.
God has given each one of our children the charge of dominion rule. Tell them that God has a unique plan for their life. Help them to draw out 

the greatness that God has built into them by giving them a vision for how God will use them in this world. 

Your kids have everything it takes to be productive and successful citizens of this community. Believe in them.  Tell them you do.
Paraphrasing Aristotle: Excellence is an art won by training. We do not act rightly because we have virtue, rather we have virtue because we act rightly. An education involves not only the engagement of the mind but also the heart. Both are essential for authentic learning to occur.
We belong to that which we obey.
The family is foundational. This is God’s means of securing generational salvation and His way of influencing the culture. The one sure foundation for all of life is God’s holy word passed down through the family.
Be intentional: give your kids the best years of your life. Sacrifice your body, time and energy for your kids. Be willing to face conflict, tears, disappointments. Listen to their dreams and heart thoughts that spill over in the late evening hours.  You will never be sorry you did. They will become your best friends and you will indeed be a blessed woman.
Read the books your kids are reading.  You’ll learn and you can have great conversations with them about what they are learning.
Have some sort of reading program in your home.  Take advantage of this time when your kids are young.  Create a home environment that is quiet and calm.  Pile on the bed like puppies and let their heads rest on your shoulders while you read to them.  Books allow us to experience places and events which we would never otherwise know.  They make us more fully human by exposing us to circumstances and emotions we may never encounter.  They build a deep reservoir of wisdom and knowledge for our children to draw upon as they fulfill God’s calling on their lives.  Read Read Read.
Middle School is awful. Always has been, always will be. But one day the mean boys and girls will be awesome men and women. .
Don’t be afraid of asking or watching your kids work hard. They need to. Enough said.
The world doesn’t need one more star athlete. It needs men and women of sterling character. Focus on this. 
Your kids are masterpieces in the Father’s hands. They are not done yet. Not at 6, 10 or 14. For that matter not at 18 either. It will work out. I promise.
Don’t be afraid. Trust God.
Don’t compare your kids. Don’t put the millstone of “not enough” around their neck. They are:
God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
A new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10)
Loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)
Overtaken with blessing (Deuteronomy 28:2)
Thank you Laura for sharing your heart here on SURSEE. xoxo
My new college freshman!

When I am weak…

…He is strong!

I am feeling a little weak today.  A little weepy.  A little bit like a Freak Out waiting to happen.
And it did happen.
I Burst into tears today. Ugh. My dear friend just prayed for me.  Hand on me.  Peace washing over my heart, mind and strength.
She reminded me that maybe my faults, shortcomings, personality yucks were never going to change.  I might grow, but these areas where I struggle, they might never go away.  They are what the Lord uses to show me I need Him.  I can’t do it by myself.  When I am weak, He is strong.
Inside I rail against that idea that I will never fully change in this life.  But as I have thought about it, I can thank Him for this sursee.  This reminder that I need Him.  I can’t live this life without Him.
Yes.  I need you, Jesus.  Fill me up where I am lacking.  Change me. Remind me when I am weak that You are standing there ready to give me strength.  Show me that You are there, ready to fill me.  This weakness is a sursee because it reminds me again that You are there.
 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  II Corinthians 12:10

We Don’t Lose Things

We Don’t Lose Things is another one of my Mantras.  One that I find myself saying more often now that I am over a half-century old.

Oh, well.

It is a great thing to self-talk because really, you don’t lose things.  You may have misplaced it or put it down somewhere you can’t remember, but you really don’t lose things.

Why is this important?

Well, for one thing it saves hours.  Hours you spend looking over and under the same things you just looked over and under for the keys, phone, card, whatever.  Instead of looking, tell yourself, “You don’t lose things.” And stop looking.  It always turns up. Always.

Just found a phone in a drawer in my bedside table.  How did it get there? Not sure. But, it is found now.  Been lost for about a month.

Saying to yourself, “I don’t lose things”, also saves mind space.  Instead of wondering and rethinking and reliving what you have been doing since you lost the item, you are free to think about what is for supper, what is next on your to-do list, your scripture memory, etc.  Your mind is free, and you are free from the ball and chain of reliving your past 3 days.

It also saves you from going coo-coo crazy.  Instead of going round and round in warp speed about “Where could ‘it’ be?”, or “Why am I always losing things?”, and other unhelpful self-talk.

You then replace the negative tape with the powerful, “You don’t lose things.”

 And you wait.

 And soon- days, weeks, maybe even a year- the item turns up!

Albert Einstein said,” Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And we know We are Not Crazy.

This mantra also saves worry.

The check is somewhere- not in the hands of a burglar.
 The key is somewhere, not in the trash, headed to the dump.
The gift cards are somewhere.

I had lost my stack of gift cards for a year and then found them in a bag with some photo album supplies.  I had put them there when I was cleaning out a wallet for a trip and forgotten that they were in the bag with the memorabilia for said trip.

So remember the SURSEE for the Day is You Don’t Lose Things.


You have just misplaced it, and it will be found.

 Remember to say it outloud, “I Don’t Lose Things,” and then move on in your day and be ready to find it…whatever it is.

Disclaimer- While working on this blog, “I Lost” several things and soon found them hours or days later.

What my mentor gives me

She gives me real life.  Up close and personal.

Humor.  We laugh and laugh together.  About funny things and sometimes about serious things.

She makes me want to know Jesus more because she knows Jesus more.  I want to spend more time with Him after I spend time with her.

She gives me wisdom. Wisdom from His word that she has gleaned from walking with Him for many years.  Wisdom that she gathered from her time with Him that morning! New and old.  Both coming out.

Courage.  To do the right things.  The hard things.  To say no.  To say Yes, Yes!  To love.  To forgive.  To be real.  To not give up.

She reminds me of what I know is true.  And reminds me to go back to that truth.  Over and over.

She doesn’t try to change me.  But she does change me in that I want to pursue Jesus more after I spend time with her.

The Sursee I see in her is to be real.  To love Jesus and to spend time with Him.  Simple, yes.  And easy to pass on…

Are you a mentor to someone?  Are you passing simple Sursees on to someone?  Can you start today?