This month, I decided I needed a fresh start. I put on the train brakes and I declared August, “Intentional August.” Read all about Intentional August here (and be sure to sign up for my next newsletter that comes out on September 2).

lara casey savor september 11
We took a wonderful family vacation last week to Beaches in Jamaica. So grateful for that time with my little family.

August has been good. Re-focusing has been needed. But, when you start to peel back layers to get to your heart, more layers appear. When you start clearing the clutter of life, the water starts to turn crystal blue and start to see there is so much to explore at the bottom. I am still not where I’d like to be. My plate is still full. A huge travel schedule looms ahead of me and I wonder, “How did I get here?” Emily, Gina, Natalie and I have a group text string every day to encourage each other and ask for prayer throughout the day. Yesterday, we were all in the same place – overwhelmed with “good” things. And it hit me - too much good is still too much.

Welcome to my slightly scattered post. I am just writing this as the thoughts come because my heart feels like it’s going to overflow today. Thanks in advance for listening…

As I’ve worked hard to be more intentional — to live on purpose — God is teaching me and showing me things and a lot of it is challenging. You see, we all keep going and going, building and growing, reaching for the “next” and the “best” and even “better.” And you know what? We see some dreams realized and then it’s off to seek more more and more. We are never content because our culture tells us to keep pushing for the next level. I do think we should press forward and make big things happen, but the RIGHT things. A thought to challenge your heart today: maybe what the world tells you is “great” is actually very small in the big picture. Maybe there is a better goal.

I press on toward the goal
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Maybe I am the only one who sees and feels this, but there has to come a point where you make a decision to say NO to something… even something good. It’s relatively easy to say no to things you don’t want, right? But, when lots of “good” things happen at once, things can get a little cray-zay in the decision-making department. It starts to get really hard to say no. Lots of “good” can knock on your door all at once and suddenly it’s completely and totally overwhelming. Like if all of your best friends showed up at your door at once and you only had 10 minutes to spend with all of them. You would be able to have little conversations with a few and maybe a hug or two, but 10 minutes of great conversation with ONE friend would have likely been so much sweeter and more meaningful.

lara casey savor september 111111
Our sweet class coloring together : ) Can you spot Grace?

Teaching Sunday School has been teaching me this lesson. We have between 10-15 two-year-olds each week. If I try to focus on the class as a whole, I leave feeling scattered and like I haven’t affected any of those little hearts. But, when I intentionally spend quality time with just a few sweet littles, I feel God working. I see eyes light up and the tiny conversations I have with them fill me to the brim with gratitude. We can change people’s lives when we slow down to focus on what’s right in front of us, one thing at a time.

And, so… the word “savor” keeps coming to the front of my mind. Savor: to enjoy something completely. Life moves so fast. People pass through our days so quickly. And, as much as I try — and oh do I try — I cannot be everything for everyone. I try so hard because I want everyone I meet to feel valued and taken care of. I want people to feel God’s love and grace. And yet I fail time and time again. I cannot please everyone, but I’m learning that I can savor time with a few and make it very meaningful. The same goes for sunsets and summer fireflies, ice cream and a cool breeze. I could enjoy them all at once, but focusing on savoring just one is so much sweeter and fills my soul to overflowing… which pours right back onto others.

lara casey savor september 111
This is when I told her she was going to meet Elmo!

My September calendar is jam-packed, as I’m sure many of yours are too. There is one week where I have three speaking engagements within 48 hours (!!!), two of them out-of-state. (Side note: I’d LOVE to meet many of you at the Influence Conference, Americasmart VOWS, the Magazine Association of the Southeast’s Gala, and at the local ISES NC meeting.) Oh, and this is magazine layout month. For those of you that may not know, Nicole and I do all the magazine layout for Southern Weddings : ) I could list more, but I am choosing to focus on how I can make the most of what I have in front of me and how I can be GRATEFUL for all of it. One of the things I’m so grateful for is the live webinar that Emily Ley and I are doing on September 12th. We’ll be talking about small-is-the-new-big business, authentic branding and LIFE – how we balance our time and (through many mistakes and challenges) how we’ve tried to make what matters happen over the years. Early-bird ends this Friday.

I want to savor this next month, so I am deeming it #SavorSeptember. I want to savor the things that get trampled by my multitasking: the Word, prayer, Grace singing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in the shower, friendships that I don’t make enough time for, my amazing sweet husband, the feeling of fall rolling in, the smell of the tomato leaves in my garden and the roses by our fence that I haven’t stopped to smell in forever. I want to savor this life God has given me so I can reflect gratitude right back to Him and pour love out onto others.

I want to be still and savor even the tiniest moments. Each moment is a gift. Each breath. And many times, God meets me there in the tiny moments. This post has been ringing in my heart all month.

“But there are moments in between life’s obligations when we are in the presence of our loved ones that can be made sacred.”

I love this and yet I and starting to long for more than moments.

lara casey savor september 1111
Great Day Plate from Emily

And so, I come to the biggest thing on my heart lately: Grace. I have prayed all year about homeschooling Grace when she gets to pre-school age. It’s been on my heart for so long. In order to do that, I would need the time. And in order to get the time, that means I need to start saying no — even to good things.

And this is where I stop. I just don’t know how to do that. I don’t have a plan yet or any clue as to how a new balance of work + homeschooling (or even another baby or an adopted child in the future) might come to life, but I trust that God has a great plan. A very good one.

He has made far bigger things happen in my life.

lara casey savor september 1
Grace on the beach last week. She didn’t want to let go of the balloons someone gave her, so we tied them to her sand toys : )

In the spirit of Intentional August and “done is better than perfect,” I leave you with this simple thought to close this imperfect spur-of-the-moment post:

When you give Him everything, you will lack nothing.

Here’s to trying my best, thought I expect to fail a hundred times over, to savor what He has given me: the big business milestones, shower songs and little moments in between. Right after I hit “publish” on this post, I’m stopping to set myself up for success and get focused on what matters as I fill out my September PowerSheets. I hope you will join me for #SavorSeptember, friends. I look forward to being inspired by you.

Show Comments (40)
  1. Katie O'Keefe

    Lara, I love this and I am so excited for September. Life is crazy in the fall and focusing on what matters most and saying no to even the good stuff is so important. It reminds me of Bob Goff’s Thursday Quit Day…may introduce that back into my life next month. :-)

    As far as homeschooling, I was home schooled my entire life. My parents used a wonderful Christian curriculum, and the “classes” were recorded on interactive DVD’s allowing my mom to not have to be present the whole time, but jump in when she wanted or needed to give me a test. It was easy for her and so instrumental in my life to grow up learning the Bible while getting a solid education. Would love to share more info with you if you have any questions and I’m sure my mom could give you a few hints on how to make it all happen with ease. Like I said, my brother and I loved it…and the family never felt any stress about it because of they way it was all set up. Let me know if you have any questions at all!

  2. Brittany Sweat

    such a good reminder! I watched that video of the old man who wrote the lyrics for his deceased why.. all i could think about was savoring every moment with my family and friends and being intentional. Life is too short.

  3. Joy

    Sweet Lara, I feel your struggle.. With life being filled to the brim and it all being joyful but then that moment cones where it is too much, and even the joy seems overwhelming… God allows us to say no! I have had to learn how to do that. And more often than not I still say yes. I pray for your life to be filled with just enough sugar, and for the sweetness to not be overwhelming. The point of joy is to slow us down! Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts and vacation photos. I showed the photo of your little Grace learning she was going to meet Elmo to my husband and he got so excited to have our own little baby someday.. seeing her smile lightened both of our hearts!

  4. Kathleen Atkins

    Oh. this is such a wonderful post and absolutely perfect for me today! Thank you Lara, for sharing this. I really needed this! “be still” and “savor” are nearly strangers to me right now, I’m moving so fast and in so many directions. I feel like I’m always in front of those 10 friends and only have 30 seconds to say hi to each of them before I move to the next pressing item on the list! Thank you thank you for sharing!

  5. Linda

    Beautiful. Savor September. I think I can do that… or can I?? I do know I’m entirely ready to enjoy moments instead of rushing to the next big thing. I’m with you, Lara! God has it all ready for us right now. Let’s roll :)

  6. Megan Minns

    Love this. Feeling a similar struggle (though in a different phase of life) and trying to find the way to balance it all and still devote myself to each project and relationship fully. Looking forward to Savor September knowing the crazy changes that lie ahead in all areas of my life. Thank you for your constant encouragement and motivation. Looking forward to the September webinar as well as meeting you in person in October!

  7. Tabitha

    Goodness gracious! Lara! Your open heart is so beautiful! I’m learning to change my prayer to say “please Lord let me be content in every situation, not just in getting what I want.” God knows far more of what’s best for me than I do and I need to take comfort in that. Thank you again for all your beautiful, honest, inspiring words. You have a faithful reader in me!

    • Emily

      Thank you for sharing your prayer focus! This really hit home.

  8. Mary-Kate McClure

    Thank you for sharing what it looks like to be a woman after God’s heart! You’re desire to surrender to the beauty that He has for us is so encouraging! In this season I am trying to rememeber that it is a daily decision and Hids mercies are new every morning! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Megan

    I love, love, love this post, but the thing that jumps out at me is that you say you don’t know how to make time to homeschool Grace…. being a discouraged perfectionist, I tend to plan and then give up when things stop going according to plan. Something that I’ve learned now that we’re actually enrolled in school (our state doesn’t have “home school” – I’m a church school teacher working at home with just my kids): we’re just expected to work for between an hour and two hours a day (at this age; it gets longer and more involved as they get older). And because so much of what preschoolers, kindergarteners and first graders learn is sort of arbitrary as far as planning and grading goes, it’s MUCH easier to be intentional with schooling tasks IN THE MIDST OF REAL LIFE. If you (or Ari or anyone else who is taking care of her!) can spend an hour or two total a day with Gracie – intentionally learning math concepts, letters, Bible stories, science facts, taking her to the library, even going to a music time or gymboree experience, WHATEVER – for however many days a year your state requires home/church schoolers to show attendance, then you’re totally capable of homeschooling. In our state, ALL you have to show is attendance; for our specific school, we need to show planning/records of subjects dealt with, report cards (I just blogged about how hard that was for me to handle with a first grader, agh), and attendance. I’ve got curriculum goals as well as day goals (We started as soon as we could in June because we’re taking time off for newbebe in October… it’s made our year sort of tight), and I spend time each week and month checking to see what we’re really accomplishing and where I want to pick up the pace or slack off. My ideal version of home school and what actually works with my kids’ personalities, our house size, our finances, and our family schedule DO NOT LINE UP THE WAY I WANT THEM TO, but we’re homeschooling, and we’re making progress with learning, and I’m making progress personally and spiritually. ……. Wow, that was way longer than I meant for it to be, but I hope it encouraged your sweet, planner heart. haha xoxoxoxo

  10. Roo Ciambriello // NEON FRESH

    So timely, and I have a similar story. I work from home, have three little girls and a husband with long working hours, and I made the decision to homeschool my eldest for kindergarten this year.

    I’m pretty sure we made the decision and I puked, haha, but everything you’re saying is so true.

    I wrote a blog post on it and I link a really interesting article about more doctors choosing to homeschool – you might find it to be relevant. :) Thanks for writing this, Lara!

    http://neonfresh.com/when-the-bell-tolls

    • Emily

      Kind of squealed when I saw one of my favorite bloggers (Rooooooo, I’m talkin’ to you) commenting on another favorite blogger’s post. I love the internet.

  11. Julia Mary

    Your spur of the moment posts are always encouraging and filled with so much truth! Homeschooling is well worth it and a decision I have yet to hear someone say they regreted… and I know a lot of homeschoolers :) Praying God opens doors wide open for that to happen for you and your sweet girl. He is so good Lara! xo

  12. Nicole

    As I’ve mentioned before, I just started homeschooling. And as you well know, if God is in it, He will make it happen. And bless it all the way. I’m doing Priscilla Shirer’s study, Gideon: Your Weakness, God’s Strength, and in it, she talks about how God whittles down seemingly good and beneficial things to get us to focus on the BEST things, as few as they may be. You’re right. We are programmed to want more. God has been placing ‘less is better’ on my heart big time lately, so your posts are right where He has me. If homeschooling is His plan for your family, you’ll find peace in your prayers and decisions… but you know that. Blessings and peace, Lara! Let she who gives so much, receive. :)

  13. Tonya Booth

    Thank you so much for your inspiration…love the Savor September Theme…praying for clear direction for you and your family. As a mother of three grown children, time does pass quickly enjoy the journey.

  14. Liz Rotz

    I want to savor September with you! I have plans this weekend to get through some work I’ve been putting off and I’m determined to make it happen and take baby steps towards making my life easier, cleaner, clearer, and simpler. Thanks for this wonderful post! Love you!

  15. Alana

    Oh Lara! What a wonderful post! After a crazy couple days and a crazy month, sometimes it is important to be reminded to savor life and the small moments that make life so good! It is so easy to get swept away in the craziness and lose sight of what is important.

    I completely understand your thoughts on homeschool…it is a huge decision! I went back and forth on wether or not to send Lilly to preschool (she did so well yesterday with her first day!) but we finally made the decision to go with preschool…after all the fog of worry, and fear, and what ifs past, we went with the same preschool my sister went to years ago, a school with just a few children per class, focused on God…ultimately Lilly made the decision after visiting several times and she didn’t want to leave! You will know in your heart, with the help of God, the right decision : )

  16. Alisha

    This reminds me of a recent sermon from our pastor … we are often distracted by “good” things and never reach the greatness meant for us. As mature Christians this is especially true. The “bad” is easier to identify as you progress in your walk. It’s rarely “bad” things that distract us from God’s purpose in our lives as we are living for him. The “good” things are deceptive, though, and can pull you away even easier. I loved what our pastor said on this in regards to being overwhelmed. When you have your hands full with life, you don’t have the option to reach down and help someone, pat a friend on the back or lend a hand to a stranger. That is why it is important to keep a hand free … always ready for the greatness and our true purpose here: to love and serve.

    It is so hard to distinguish the good from the great – when to say yes and when to say no. In my own life, I pray for clarity and direction and listen in my stillness. Saying no to something good allows you to be ready for something GREAT!

    On another note, my little guy is three and adores “school.” I never considered homeschool myself (even with a graduate degree in education). As another mom said, you’ll know in your heart what feels right when the time comes. We do part-time and still keep one-two days weekly open for just “us.”

    xo
    -A

  17. Em

    Just have to jump in with my (admittedly biased) opinion, as the daughter of a preschool director: there are some amazing preschools out there!! I think a great (or a poor) experience can be had either way :)

    • Lara

      Can your amazing mom move to Chapel Hill and start a school?? : )

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  19. Jennifer Skinner

    What I’m savoring in September:

    - the last of my Summer harvest in our lovely organic and GMO free garden (so proud of what my beloved and I were able to do this year with our garden, I want to savor every last bit of it)

    - nurturing and tending to the young plants in our Fall garden (there is something so beautiful, peaceful and awe-inspiring about growing your own food and sharing your bounty with friends and family)

    - more quality time with my beloved, tending to our vegetable garden, planting some fall flowers and savoring the beautiful Fall weather we are blessed with in North Carolina

    - quality time helping my son and his new wife who just purchased their first home. It’s a fixer-upper and they are eyeball deep in home renovations and totally overwhelmed. I couldn’t be more proud of him and can’t wait to help them in any way I can while they navigate this overwhelming journey of home ownership!

    I don’t have any advice on “homeschooling” but I will keep you in my prayers. I know the decisions you face aren’t easy.

    Love and light and cheers to savoring September!

    Hugs.

    Jenn

  20. Emily

    Oh me, oh my, Lara. You always know just what to say, even in your random posts!

    I feel like I’m in such a funny place.I read blogs and interact with people all day that are busy, go go go, so much on their plate. And then I look up at my world that feels so small and sometimes lonely now that I’ve moved away from home and if I’m being honest with myself, I’m jealous. I want that feeling of juggling things and having people rely on you and having so much to get done.

    And then, then I remember that our society glorifies busy and that I’m just buying into that. I remember that I have a beautiful, full life, that just fills up even more each day. And I remember that He loves us all, no matter our workloads, and that if I trust in His plan it will all balance out.

    Praying for you today, Lara. I feel so blessed to have crossed paths with you.

  21. Emily steffen

    Oh man! This is so good! I’ve had this on my heart for a long time……to savor and cherish and choose my time and my success according to where The Lord wants me. Gosh is it hard…..but for me silence is so good. An hour of complete silence a week gets down into the nitty gritty and allows my heart to be teachable and greatday for where I am! Love this post Lara! God is good!

  22. Vicki Karg

    Thanks Lara, I really needed to hear this today – God used you to speak to my heart that we must savour the moment. So true! Looking forward to hearing more of #SavorSeptember and to joining in! I so loved #IntentionalAugust … keep up the good work :)

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  26. Teresa

    Hi Lara,

    I work full-time and my daughter will be three this month. I’ve tried to homeschool her for 6 months now and she always enjoys our class. This year I’m going to start with a formal teaching plan. It isn’t easy since I’m back to school myself while working full time. But I believe God will help me and we will have a fruitful year. From the past I learned that if I have a plan and get everything ready, it’ll be easy for me to teach. With a teaching plan I also can be sure that she is learning the full spectrum of knowledge. I used the “The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers (Little Blessings Line)” for our devotional time she loves and looks forward to it everyday!

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  31. Monique (the elevator girl)

    Just wanted to let you know that I have been sharing your goal making steps with others and it has had a exciting welcome!
    Firstly, I shared them in my support group for those with addicted loved ones. It’s a Christ focused 12 step program, and as we discussed step 4 (to make a personal inventory) it occurred to me that YOUR first handful of steps was an effective AND gentle way for someone who has an addicted loved one to make a personal inventory. It worked wonderfully for me after all.
    Secondly, my husband, my addicted loved one, also enjoyed working through the steps. After hitting rock bottom in his life and our marriage this year, he has rededicated himself to God, me, and our family. We’ve been together for 20 years and I never would have thought he’d have such a positive experience looking honestly at his life and setting goals that would enrich his life and help him achieve something better.

    Thanks again, lovely Lara, for sharing your testimony and knowledge. ♥

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  35. Whitney

    Lara, it was so great to talk to you on Saturday. Thank you so much for saying hello. Two things: 1) you inspired some magic with your talk on Friday. Everyone buzzed about what you stood for, and how your story touched them. Way to rock it! 2) This impact you are making on this world, all for the glory of the next…it is AWESOME. Your determination to honor God, and your continued delight in Him gives us all courage. I am so grateful!

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  37. India

    I love your website.I typed “balance” in the search engine and this post popped up, something that I REALLY need. Thank you! <3