Hi, friends! Welcome back to my weekly series about making progress on what matters, little by little—along with a few links I think you might enjoy. In case you missed them, here are week oneweek twoweek threeweek four, and week five!

If you were sitting with me here on my couch, here’s what I’d tell you: This has been a week of heart pruning and choosing slow. I’ve had to call Ari every day at work to have him pray with me about Grace. She’s having a rough time with this transition, being out of her normal routine, and missing her buddy, Rhiannon. And all she sees is me taking care of the babies constantly (we’re without childcare this week and next till Sarah starts—she is wonderful, btw, and I can’t wait for you to meet her!). And I’m having a hard time missing Rhiannon, too. When you spend all day with someone, five days a week—more time than you spend with your husband—you feel an emptiness when the person is gone. Thankfully, she’s coming back to see us after her trip to Greece in a couple weeks before she officially moves!

And getting anything done with two babies has been near-impossible. Writing this post is happening only because my wonderful mother-in-law is here watching the babies and Grace is doing a sticker book : ) Working moms of the world and moms in general… hugs. Big hugs. This job is the hardest.

So, this week, I’m learning to choose slow. And “slow” isn’t bad. Slow is margin. Slow is intentional. Slow is stillness in the storm. Slow means trusting God more than my own imperfect efforts. Slow is simplified. Good things grow slow—little by little, over time.

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I turned in my draft of Cultivate last Friday. I am happy with the first few chapters and can’t wait to dig back in when I have someone here to watch the babies! : )

How do you stay motivated? I shared more in this week’s Facebook Live.

Last week, I talked about how it had been a refining week for business decisions, and we decided to surrender to slow. And I’m so grateful for that decision. God’s plan does not look like the rest of the world’s success.

Last Sunday, we enjoyed our Team BBQ.

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Thanks to some sweet friends who offered to keep the babies, Ari and I were able to have a date with Grace last weekend, too.

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We took her to Fearrington Village to get ice cream for lunch and visit the cows, chickens, and goats. It’s a pretty magical place!

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Then, I hosted Grace and her sweet friend Carter for dinosaur cookie decorating…

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We used this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen since I still can’t eat eggs, soy, or dairy with Josh’s protein sensitivities—and this mama really wanted a cookie!

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We’ve been doing some suburban foraging for breakfast all week long, and it has been so fun! There’s this great fig tree that is loaded with sweet fruit. Josh and Grace eat about 12 on our morning walks. And Ari’s mom is here visiting us this week and has loved them too.

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We also visited our friend John’s garden yesterday morning and the little redheads loved munching on his Sweet 100’s! (Hi John!)

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My friend Jane has a pretty remarkable story. One big glorious announcement.

What to do when you don’t know where to start.

I love this from my friend Hannah. Stories like this light my heart up!

This journal for kids is a favorite in our house.

Prayers for your husband and marriage from my friend Natalie.

My friend Em is about to launch a great resource for small business owners called Playbook. More here.

My mom writes a cooking column for the local paper, and this recipe for Basil Pistachio cookies is one of my favorites!

PowerSheets Sale
Sunday is the very last day to grab the PowerSheets and Gold-Foil Make It Happen Binder bundle for only $30 (Be sure to choose the Bundle with Make It Happen Binder // Gold Foil for the sale price to show up!) I asked on Instagram if any of you would be interested in a Facebook Live class on how to dig into your PowerSheets for the remainder of the year, and you responded with a resounding yes. We’re working through details of that, and we’ll announce it soon. In the meantime, go ahead and order your PowerSheets so you’ll be ready to dive in with us.

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My friend Jess wrote a great guide for fall. Get it here! My three words for fall: Word, Clear, and Nurture.

And in case you need a laugh like I did this week, Ari and I were in bed reading the Bible the other night and this is what the Tree of Life translation says in Genesis about when Rebekah saw her future husband for the first time: “Rebekah also lifted up her eyes and saw Isaac. Then she fell off her camel.” (Genesis‬ ‭24:64‬ ‭TLV‬‬) It makes me giggle every time!

This weekend we’re hosting friends for dinner on Saturday night (which means 4pm in our land with two babies’ bedtimes), and we’re having a pool date with friends on Sunday afternoon. And I’m craving time with Ari. It’s been a crazy week for us trying to keep up with everyone in the house… and laundry. With three kids, laundry is an event. We need some time together to talk about God and just be. What are you looking forward to this weekend? Next week, Ari is off work and we’re having a “staycation.” My prayer is that we use the week together to soak in the Word, and I’m hoping Ari will join me on my Facebook Live on Wednesday!

 

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P.S. Happy birthday weekend to Nicole! (July 31st was also Joshua’s due date last year, but he decided to wait an extra 13 days to make his appearance.) I am SO grateful for you, N!!!

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GrowSlow

Let me tell you about the last 24 hours. We have a new line of products that are designed, ready to print, and I love them SO much–I know they will change people’s lives. But yesterday we chose not to order them. I prayed so hard and felt God clearly telling me to not do things like the rest of the world. To surrender to slow. And I’m so grateful for that decision. I am not a numbers person, and I don’t have a business degree (music theatre BFA). I’ve run this business for over ten years, and I have learned a thing or two, but let me tell you this: God’s plan does not look like the rest of the world’s success.

The world says do more, grow fast, be big, use these tricks, analyze, do it like those people, get ahead. But, Jesus didn’t have Instagram or a megaphone. He had two feet and truth, and He sat around dinner tables and talked one-on-one with people.

New homeowners like trees labeled “fast growing” to fill in a space quickly, or provide shade to reduce the cooling bill. But fast growing trees don’t have deep enough roots to last through storms and drought. Good things grow, and take root, little by little. And pruning helps plants be more fruitful.

Maybe–despite everything everyone tells you–fast isn’t the goal.

Maybe less is okay.

Maybe a slower pace will help your roots stretch deep and wide.

It’s okay to grow slow. 

More here.

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Hi, friends! Welcome back to my new weekly series about making progress on what matters, little by little—along with a few links I think you might enjoy. In case you missed them, here are week oneweek twoweek three, and week four.

Oh what a week this has been! I’ve been writing, and loving it for the first time in a long while. Getting grounded last week was needed. Today is my first draft deadline, which feels a wee bit scary to type. I have a long way to go, but God is big and He can do impossible things. My prayer this week has been, Lord frustrate my words. If they aren’t what you want–what’s true–frustrate them. Don’t let me teach something lukewarm or popular. Please Father let me teach life-giving truth. The words are coming. I’m grateful for your prayers!

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It has been a refining week trying to make business decisions. I don’t often talk about business decisions here because I fear what I share will be alienating, or irrelevant. But, I hope this encourages someone… Most of my decisions are pretty clear cut most days: Is this going to honor God or not? Does this align with scripture or not? But, sometimes, I have to completely step out on faith and put my foot on the bevel of the shovel with no growing plants in sight. Decoded: We have designed some powerful and purposeful new products that we believe will help change lives, but we don’t have the cash sitting in the bank to buy them all. I’m a Dave Ramsey fan, so no loans or dipping into the emergency fund allowed. So, lots of adjusting happened over the last 48 hours, lots and lots of prayer, wise counsel, asking many friends to pray, and hopefully some decisions today.

Today is also Rhiannon’s last day with us. Here’s my letter to her, and to the Nannies of the World. Insert all the emotions.

Dear Nannies of the World Lara Casey

My friend, Rachel’s, mom went to be with the Lord unexpectedly this week. Please read this.

This week, I can’t stop thinking about eternal impact. About how our seemingly small actions influence our children and everyone we know. Opening our homes. Seeking to understand. Writing and saying life-giving words. Putting someone else first–really doing it. Sending that email to encourage her. Choosing to ask a second question instead of keeping conversation surface-level. Praying for friends in the way you’d want to be prayed for: Passionately. Generously. Fervently. No perfect words required. Perfect words don’t matter–your surrendered heart does. Spending our time on genuinely good things. Rejoicing in our weakness. And swimming in grace in the many many many times we mess it all up. We don’t have to be perfect to change generations. The times I mess up, get to say I’m sorry, or tell Grace about how I’m struggling and trying to rely on God in my weakness, those are gifts. Imperfection is a gift because it gives way to grace. More here.

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In this week’s Facebook Live, I talked about planning an intentional life versus planting one. Which one are you doing lately? (Be sure to listen all the way to the end for how you can win one of 10 set of PowerSheets.)

Have you told yourself that it’s too late to start fresh? Have you decided that since July is almost over, you might as well wait until 2017 to make progress on your goals? There is nothing special about January 1st. You can cultivate what matters right now, little by little.

Don’t tell yourself that you’ve missed your chance.

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We have only a few hundred sets of PowerSheets left for this year. If you’re new here, hi and welcome! : ) PowerSheets are an intentional Goal Planner. These are our undated, six-month sets, so you can start the minute you get them. And right now, while supplies last, bundling your PowerSheets with our Make It Happen Binder saves you $25. Get yours here. (We’ve also had a lot of people buy this bundle for friends over the last 24 hours.)

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I’m considering doing a Facebook Live class on PowerSheets. Tell me what you need coaching on, and I’ll do it.

My friend Jeff got a drone. His photographs inspired me this week. We are so small in this world, and God is so very big.

Mistakes happen, like when MailChimp decided to name all 25,000 of our newsletter friends <<Test First Name>>. When the email came through, I let out a big sigh and a pirate-like “argh!” But, progress not perfection! (P.S. You can get these awesome love notes below for $6 here.)

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Grace running through the community garden in her PJ’s this week on our morning walk…

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I love exploring with her. I mean, look at these sunflowers!!!

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Our homework after last week’s sermon at church was to get together with someone of a different race, and seek to understand. I was so grateful for the time I spent with my sisters, Carla and Kristy (Sarah below loving being with Kristy). I’m sharing this to pass the same fruitful homework on to you. Like we’ve been practicing in Fruitful Summer, ask questions that are far below the surface, practice asking second questions, embrace awkward, and seek to understand your friend’s fears and pains. I hope I can continue this “homework” for my whole lifetime.

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Another little tidbit from the last week at church that I had to pass on (I may have cheered when it was said!): Get off Facebook. Get your face in The BookYes!

Download this week’s Fruitful Summer guide to learn how to make new traditions, celebrate each other, and cultivate community. Plus, my fast and easy Summer Jam recipe, my secret handshake with Grace, and so much more.

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I love this clothing line for kids from my friend Hayley. Wildly Co. designs, produces, screen prints, and packages ethically made kids clothes in the USA.

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We picked blueberries with friends on Wednesday morning before work. “Mrs. Wanda” loves seeing Gracie, and we love seeing her! I still want to buy the blueberry patch (crazy, I know!), and plan to ask Wanda about it again hopefully next Wednesday. She and her husband are moving to take care of their son’s little girls, so someone needs to keep this place going!

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This week, for Southern Weddings’ Fruitful Summer, I wrote about how to celebrate marriage in the thick of it, and offered lots of advice for marriage alongside Amber.

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Read the recap and download the whole series here.

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This lady has been with Southern Weddings for 7 years, and our company is all the better for it. I love you, Em!

Susan’s wedding last weekend was amazing. Such an inspiration! See my previous post for more. And Josh was pretty dapper in his cute little bow tie…

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This video. A mom in Kentucky tried to punish her son by making him mow lawns for free. But he loved doing it, and enlisted his two brothers and cousin. Now, they’re going door to door to cut more lawns and clean up the community—and they’re still doing it for free. It’s just so awesome. Watch here.

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I was saving this canvas above for one of my 2016 goal celebrations, but Gracie asked realllllly nicely, and it’s hard to turn down nice manners. Our goal is to draw 100 smiley faces on it by the end of summer.

This post from Unveiled Wife on how to have a passion-filled marriage is good stuff. #3 is glue that keeps us together every day, despite inevitable challenges, disagreements, and anything that comes our way.

Josh has five teeth now! I can’t believe he’ll be one on August 13th! And this hair…

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I sincerely wish I could go to Influence Conference in Minneapolis. Travel is out for us though with these babies and me still nursing. But, please go for me!! Tickets are still available here. So many humble, wise women are speaking—Rach Kincaid, Moriah Sunde, Retha Nichole, Gina Zeidler, and Joy Eggerichs Reed. (Someone find Gina, and give her a hug for me while you’re there!)

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What are y’all doing this weekend?

I realized something last Saturday. Even with good things planned on our calendars, it’s the in-between that I often relish more. The hours and moments between the big events are where life happens. We’re planning to have a special date afternoon with Grace (thanks to some very generous friends coming to watch the babies), and we’re hosting the ladies and gents from my office for our annual Team BBQ. I’m excited about these things, for whatever God has for us in the in-between, and for the chance to dig in to another Sabbath. Next week, Ari’s mom is coming to visit and I’m nanny-less for a couple weeks, so Sabbath will be needed! : )

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have a favorite blog post, product, or piece of encouragement that keeps you making little by little progress? Let me know!

Okay, off to savor this last afternoon with Rhiannon and, Lord willing, write more words. I’m thinking of you, wherever you are as you read this, and praying you feel encouraged. If you need some extra love, here’s a little song from a very little Gracie…

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P.S. After the littles go to sleep tonight, I’m hoping Ari and I can watch my friend, Lysa, speak live at 8:30pm EST. You can watch her for free tonight, too, by downloading the First 5 app at First5.org (I love this app)!

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Dear Nannies of the World,

I want you to know a few things.

Some people may pass your job off as insignificant. Temporary. Something college graduates do for a little while to make money. Or a job taken by people who don’t know what they want to do with their lives. And maybe you are only nannying for a summer, or to make money for school, and maybe it is temporary.

But, your job, dear friend, is big.

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You have something that most people don’t: direct shaping influence.

You may be watching our children, but our children are watching you.

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When Susan put a dollar on the kitchen counter with a note saying, “I accidentally spilled some of your spinach,” in that seemingly small action, Grace saw integrity. When she would leave after long days of nannying to volunteer at the women’s shelter most evenings, Grace saw humble service. When she prayed for Grace and taught her about God’s love, little seeds of faith were planted. And last weekend, when Susan married Donal, and they shared their very first kiss on their wedding day, Grace saw a holy, pure marriage. She saw true joy.

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When Meredith cared for me when I was sick and unable to get out of bed (cleaning up my throw up despite me insisting that she let me do it), Grace saw sacrifice and love in action. When Meredith’s kind words and compassion poured out on others, it poured right onto Grace’s little heart too. When Beau proposed to Meredith, and washed her feet, Grace was watching. She saw him serve and love her. And when they married, Grace stood up next to them as their flower girl and saw a God at work once more.

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And oh Rhiannon. Today is her last day with us before she goes off to YoungLife ministry. In these two years, she has done far more than take care of our children. She’s prayed oceans of prayers over our family, and not just talked about her faith–she’s walked it. She dove into the mess of everyday life with us–the thousands of diapers, tantrums, and big emotions (mine included). Everything has been a teachable moment. Everything.

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Walking up the stairs to preschool became a counting steps game. Going to the grocery store with Grace became a time to practice connecting with others through hellos and genuinely asking how people are doing. Fred at Trader Joes is one of Grace’s best buds. Play dates were times to learn how to be a friend. Neighborhood walks were times to explore and celebrate all that God creates. Car rides were opportunities to stop on the way home to offer our homeless friend Neal food and water. And meltdowns were moments to learn about grace, prayer, and God’s goodness. There’s so much more. I could write books about the day-to-day ministry that Rhiannon has grown in our home.

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But, the event that stands out most was adopting Sarah. When we said our crazy YES to adoption in the first place, Rhiannon was the first to pray over us. When we matched with a birth mom, Rhiannon cried tears of joy right alongside me. In the weeks of unknown, as we prepared for our two week trip to adopt Sarah, she kept scripture and prayer as a constant in this house. And when we all travelled together as a family, not knowing if we would bring Sarah home with us for sure, Rhiannon was there. When Sarah’s birthmom said goodbye and handed her to us. When I sobbed feeling inadequate as a mother, holding two babies, unable to feed them. When none of us had slept more than an hour. Rhiannon kept pouring out grace. In the throw-up, baby poop, meltdowns, and so much. There’s just too much to name.

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But you know what? I’m really not telling you about Rhiannon. Or Susan. Or Meredith. I’m telling you about a powerful God at work in them who continues to change us. This hasn’t been a temporary, insignificant, mundane job any of these women–it has been their calling for a season. They have shown us Jesus.

And that. Is. Not. Small.

Rhiannon’s actions–not just her words–have shaped Grace, Josh, Sarah, Ari, the ladies who work here in this house alongside me, and me. We’ve laughed, cried, prayed, and she’s become my closest friend in this season.

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Nannies of the world, you’re not just shaping children; you’re shaping mothers. As a mother, to not only trust someone to watch your kids, but to trust them to teach your kids… well, that is a gift unlike any other.

I am a better mother because of these women. Women who knew this was much more than a “job.” When Grace would have meltdowns, a text from Rhiannon in the other room, telling me she was praying and encouraging me… those were seeds planted. Every time she listened to me, allowing me to confide in her and ask for spiritual guidance, she listened with grace and without judgement. Seeds planted. In the countless times she left a note of prayer on my desk or surprised me with flowers on particularly hard days… seeds planted.

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Nannies of the world, you are Cultivators. You have the opportunity to plant seeds directly into hearts, and grow the future generations–and mothers.

Whether your job is for a short season, or for two beautiful messy grace-filled wonderful years like it has been for Rhiannon, know that it matters.

Your job is everything.

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Please share this post with your nanny friends. I hope it encourages you!

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Hi, friends! Welcome back to my new weekly series about making progress on what matters, little by little—along with a few links I think you might enjoy. In case you missed them, here are week oneweek two, and week three.

I’ve taken this week off of social media to get grounded. After the events last week, I felt a strong pull to disconnect from social media and deeply connect with God. Listen in below for more…

In this time of drawing close to God’s truth, words for my book are finally coming. I am very grateful. A little snippet I’ll share with you here:

Redeeming the Dirt

When I was asked to speak at a Christian women’s conference for the first time a few years ago, a woman told me that she was shocked and wondered why they chose me. She knew that in the early days of my marriage, when I started growing my business, my soil was filled with jagged rocks. What she didn’t know, and what I’d never imagined happening, was that same soil being transformed and infused with new life. Like rich compost, the best soil is filled with transformed remnants of the past. In the same way, your mess can become your message.

My new release date is tentatively May 23, 2017. It seems like a long way away, but not in book land. Lots has to happen between now and then! I hope to turn in this first draft next Friday, the 22nd. I would be so grateful for your continued prayers.

A few things to share—with lots of photos since I haven’t been on social media this week! First, proof of my daughter’s career aspirations. Olympic ribbon dancing, here we come.

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So, gospel music has always been my favorite. I love this playlist right now. Do you love gospel too? I always love hearing people’s favorite songs. My friends Ed and Beverly from church recorded an album and it’s SO GOOD. On nights I was leading Bible Bunch last year, Ed would be in the studio recording. It’s a joy to see the fruit of what God created through him!

Little progress is still progress. Love this encouragement for new moms (and all of us!).

Ari and I have been reading this book, and loving it.

Grace has been helping me write this week : )

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Put on that swimsuit.

Favorite holidays in our house: Passover (Ari and I love the meaning, Grace loves the parsley), Thanksgiving, and Cow Appreciation Day. Grace and Rhiannon made their cow outfits with sticky felt, and I particularly love the heart patch on Grace’s chest : )

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I read very few newsletters, but my friend Lauren is wise. If you are a small business owner, I recommend signing up and reading her weekly tips.

My friend Jen from Unveiled Wife writes another newsletter I love.

We tried to take a family photo last Friday. Josh loves his little sister, and was very curious about her tongue.

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And then I told him not to pull on his sweet sister’s tongue.

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I love this kid. Even when he’s crying, my heart is so grateful for him. (I should submit this to Reasons My Son is Crying, a hilarious collection of true stories that will make you giggle. Here’s a favorite.)

Our friend Lauren Taylor is in NYC with her husband for the summer, and she sent Grace the coolest gift: a book of New York landmarks and pictures of the two of them at each of them! Isn’t this great?

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Learn how to dig in to the power of “little by little,” simplify your life, and dig under the surface for deeper relationships in this week’s Fruitful Summer Guide. I loved writing this–and living out these tips has helped me so much!

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I’d love to have you in the next Fruitful Summer Guide that comes out next Wednesday! What are your favorite traditions with friends? Tell me here.

These two make my day every day.

I love her blog.

I love our Fruitful Summer photos from Olivia of Nancy Ray Photography. We all had fun, but I think Grace had the most fun!

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Engaged friends, get this planner. It has a whole section on marriage and solid planning advice.

We spent last Saturday morning at the blueberry patch. I had Josh in a carrier, and Ari decided to just hold Sarah.

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I think they both enjoyed it : )

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We pulled the turnips and rutabagas from the garden. They were so good! My favorite mashed turnip recipe:

  • Peel and cut a big bowl of turnips into chunks (we had one large rutabaga mixed into ours too)
  • Boil them in chicken broth till they soften
  • Sauté a chopped onion with olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper
  • Combine it all in the food processor (or Ninja in our case, since we don’t have a food processor)
  • Bake for 30 minutes at about 350

We grew these from seeds that a patient of my dad had given him. I’m considering planting a fall crop too, they were so good. This is a Thanksgiving favorite, but was delightful in the heat of July as well!

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2017 PowerSheets are going to the printer next week, along with new products for both the Southern Weddings Shop and Lara Casey Shop. Our little Design Assistant had a hard time containing his excitement this week!

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We’ve celebrated a lot in the office this past week – Laura Kashner’s birthday, and Lisa and Kristin‘s work anniversaries. Up next is a certain orange-lover’s birthday on July 31st. If you want to send something orange for her, here’s our P.O. Box : ) PO Box 9090, Chapel Hill, NC 27515.

My friend Emily sent me one of her new academic Simplified Planners that starts in August, and I love it. I filled out important dates this week to get it set up. I love that Romans 12:12 is on Ari’s birthday.

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We are making little by little progress on our Summer Goals (my July Goals are here) and summer fun list (below). Get a Summer Goals list for free here.

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Marissa and Emily knocked it out of the park in this week’s FREE Fruitful Summer Newlywed Guide. Even if you aren’t a newlywed, or married at all, read this one. The list of twists on adulting is excellent! And be sure to sign up to get next week’s Guide. You’ll get a letter from me about how to celebrate marriage in the thick of it, and lots of great advice for marriage.

Scripture on Goals.

I use this website every day to look things up.

Josh is on the move this week, and getting into everything, so we had to do a little furniture re-arranging to close off the living room…

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Our friend Carla came to hang with the littles yesterday and enjoyed “Fort Joshua” too : ) Josh to escape the barricades below…

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We are often asked if we plan on releasing new editions of Write the Word. I’m excited to share that YES we are, and I made the final edits on the covers with Nicole today. They are wonderful! There are five new editions releasing for 2017 — on sale November 1st.

Now, I know you aren’t supposed to use a Bumbo on a bed, but listen in. This was Ari feeling super proud for handling all three kids by himself while I went to the grocery store. They are watching Praise Baby, and no one is crying. He did good : )

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On Wednesday night, after putting Josh to sleep, I came out of his room to a quiet house. I called Ari to see where he was. “We took a walk. We’ll be back in about ten minutes.” Grace came bounding in the door shortly after: “Mom! We found POKEMON!” Ari also succeeded this week in being captivated by the Pokemon phenomenon. I decided to join them last night and it was pretty hilarious…

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Below: “Mom, you’re stepping on him!!”

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Oops! Well, he is pretty cute : ) Gracie is too.

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We’ve got a big weekend ahead. Our first nanny from when Grace was a baby, “Miss Sue,” is getting married tomorrow! Her soon-to-be-husband is a real Irishman and we think the world of him. They met while doing mission work in Ireland together. We can’t wait to celebrate with them! Grace is most excited for cake : ) Aren’t they lovely together? Photo by my friend Emily.

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And lastly, a little Sarah love for you. She is a miracle. We’re waiting on one more report from our social worker, one more court hearing, and then we will be finalized.

Sarah from lara casey on Vimeo.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have a favorite blog post, product, or piece of encouragement that keeps you making little by little progress? Let me know!

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which is no extra cost to you, but if you make a purchase using one of these links, we send our commissions to the Love One Another project : )

 

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