We’re about to get some snow here in North Carolina, but my winter garden is ready for it. These pansies and violas are hardier than you think!

img_7960After seeing how hardy pansies and violas are around here (colorful blooms often popping through the snow), I decided to do something fun for the winter—a whole garden of them!

Cold weather means it’s garden dreaming time around here. Time to break out the seed catalogs, and a big piece of paper and crayons with Gracie, and imagine the possibilities. I’m so excited! I’m working on writing a Gardening 101 guide (especially for those who perhaps like me haven’t always had a green thumb!), and will be sharing our garden progress over @graciesgarden. Have you tried gardening? Interested in starting one? I’d love to hear!

img_7959My mom came in November (planting day was unseasonably warm!) to help us plant the winter garden. It was a ton of work, but I haven’t touched them since. Zero maintenance! : ) 

Here’s some Goal Gardening 101 for you. In order to grow something, the first steps are:

1. Pick good seeds. (Uncover your good goals here.)

2. Prepare your soil. (Break through the way you’ve always done things to get started on your goals.)

3. Get your hands dirty! That’s what we’re going to do together today with our goals! Ready?

Goals don’t happen just by thinking about them. You must make some decisions, get uncomfortable, and take action. But, there’s no need for perfect progress. What I’ve learned in the last six years of studying goal setting (and from being a personal trainer years ago) is that good things grow through imperfect progress. If you are reading this and already feel guilty for not having checked everything off your list so far this year, I have some encouragement for you: it’s okay. It’s not too late. You haven’t messed everything up. You are not behind. Little steps forward (with even a few steps backward along the way) add up!

img_6074Garden treasures from October – zinnias and cosmos.

I uncovered four goals for 2017, and I’m going to lay each one out for you along with my starting steps and some extra tips! If you read my Goal Setting Series, you’ll see I updated some of my goals with new steps and ideas. Good things grow over time, and with each step forward you take, the next steps become clearer.

Here is Goal 1 of 4!

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Goal 1: Read the whole Bible again. I did this once before, over the course of a year and a half. I didn’t use a fancy reading plan, I just looked at the number of pages in each book of the Bible, and divided them over the course of a year. I put the names of each book I was supposed to read during each particular week on my iCal calendar, and that’s how I stayed on track. It took me longer than I thought, but it was worth it! Every bit of my reading was worth it.

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Why? I want to grow my faith by going straight to the source—getting to know more about God Himself. I want to know more of the big picture of His story. I want my mind to be filled with light and truth, so I can live it.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: When I am filled with truth, I am also filled with PEACE. I don’t worry as much or feel fear about my circumstances. This helps everyone around me (my family, team, friends) to feel steadfast calm too. I’ll know more of God’s wisdom to be able to walk in the light. As my faith grows, I’ll be able to share the fruit of my faith with my children and others. There are endless positive effects this goal could have!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Lord willing, peaceful, more assured, and more mature in my faith.

Starting steps:  1. Open the Bible and look at the lengths of each book again. 2. Open my iCal and plot out what I could realistically read each week. —UPDATE: I got an email from a blog reader, and I took her suggestion—I chose the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan. I signed up for it using the YouVersion Bible App. I’m still adding it to my iCal for more accountability though! I made a whole new iCal calendar for my goals, and this has been so helpful! See below…

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3. Pray about having the diligence to complete my reading each week, not for the sake of completing it, but to grow closer to God. —DONE! 4. Use my monthly Tending List in my PowerSheets to track my progress and keep my goal in view at all times (I keep my Tending List out on my desk.).

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will, Lord willing, see the fruit of this goal in my life, and in turn in the lives of others.

Encouraging words: Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105 ESV

How I will celebrate at the end of 2017: I may not finish this by the end of this calendar year, but I will celebrate my progress by (UPDATED!) painting what I learned on a big canvas, and hanging it in our bedroom. I am excited thinking about painting the bigger picture and things that God taught me as I read! Whether I finish this by December 31st or not, I put this on my calendar to start on December 16th : ). Next step, get the canvas from Michaels with a 50% off coupon (which they almost-always have online!).

HOW I’M MAKING PROGRESS SO FAR: 1. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, you know that I’ve been listening to the audio version of the reading plan using the YouVersion Bible app on my phone. (I love the ESV and NLT translation audio.) This has been a little tricky with three kids to watch in the mornings, but if I don’t finish listening in the mornings, I listen in the car on the way to pick up Grace from preschool, or I listen later at my desk. I’ve also considered using a physical Bible to highlight what I’m learning in a more concrete way, but I’m keeping this simple for now. I can easily access the Bible on my phone. 2. Thanks to another blog reader, I joined this Facebook group that has helpful commentary on the Chronological reading plan. 3. I made a hashtag to share and stay accountable in my journey! #2017TheYearOfLight

I’d love to hear: are you reading through the Bible this year? How are you feeling about it? What plan are you following? Are you using a physical Bible, or digital? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

My second goal for 2017–run, and finally get back into weight training–is up next!

P.S. Want to start fresh with your faith, or grow deeper roots? I wrote this free Cultivating Faith Guide for you!

16 Show Comments
  1. Natalie

    Do you ever struggle with paying attention fully and not getting distracted when listening to the Bible? I’ve tried before but I always start thinking of something else and it becomes background noise. Any advice for keeping your attention in one place?

    • Lara

      Yes! I try to read along while I listen too. Another thing that helps me, is thinking about having to summarize what I’m learning for Grace. It makes me pay attention more to the narrative of the story. I hope that helps! : )

  2. Katie @ A Place to Dwell

    I love this, Lara! This year is the year I am deciding I will read the entire Bible, too! I have tried in the past and have not followed through, but I am so excited to dig in this year! I got a journaling Bible just for this purpose, so I could take notes and have a record of this sweet time of seeking Him fully at the end of the year. : ) I am going to celebrate in a way similar to you…by purchasing or creating something beautiful that highlights one of the most impactful truths of the year! 🙂

  3. Brittany

    Thank you for this, Lara! I am currently reading Revelation, then I plan to start back in the OT! I’m using my faithful physical Bible 🙂

  4. Jessica

    What a great goal! My husband and I are working on our Couples Goalsheets for 2017, and we both want to address our faith. Do you have any recommendations for a devotional book for couples?

    • Lara

      Yes! If you haven’t already downloaded it, get my free marriage guide here – http://laracasey.com/free-guides/#marriage – Has lots of recommendations and tips! : )

  5. Kyla Fetzner

    This is such a good goal, Lara! And such a great way to keep track of it 🙂

  6. Taylor Francis

    Thank you for being you! I am new to your blog and PowerSheets but have been gobbling up the honesty, intention, and authenticity I find here. This post seriously filled up my heart and encouraged me to press on in my goal of reading the Bible through 🙂 thank you!

  7. Catherine

    Thank you, Lara, for sharing your progress and your thought process. It’s really helpful. I am not reading through the whole Bible this year, but I did commit to memorizing 52 new Bible verses this year. I’m using a pretty set from DaySpring (www.dayspring.com/sadie-robertson-be-you-scripture-memory-cards). I keep it on my nightstand so I see it first thing/last thing daily. My son will be quizzing me weekly. 🙂

  8. Rose

    Hi Lara, Team Cultivate and my fellow gardeners…

    God is so good! After looking at Gracie’s magical 🙂 garden and reading your wonderful analogies involving planting and harvesting… the garden… (like mother like daughter)

    I am inspired to begin planting this summer. Floret flowers… be still my beating heart… I also have dreams of purchasing a Meyer’s Lemon Tree as well 🙂 Thank you for sharing them with us…

    I am reading the Bible in its entirety this year… because you shared the importance of accountability… I asked my son if he would like to join me … and
    drum roll please… he said Yes!

    Before we begin the day our goal is to read the words on my phone while the Chronological Bible app reads to us… Thank you for the audio suggestion…We are loving it!

    We have the YouVersion One Year Chronological Plan. My goal is to listen with my son in the morning and read my actual Bible at night. Prayerfully, I will plant and harvest freely the fruits of the spirit.

    Reading God’s Word and praying throughout my entire day (what a life changing suggestion…thank you) really changes the atmosphere and my spirit… I am finally living life intentionally in the Word! Philippians 4:6-7 says what is in my heart…”Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

    Praise Him! I thank God for you and the purpose and plan He has for your life.

    “If you will find your purpose you will recover your passion.” ~Pastor Steven Furtick

  9. Sarah Westphal

    Hey Lara,
    For strength training check out Noelle Tarr at coconutsandkettlebells.com or strongfromhome.com She offers a free weight training guide specifically for home using compound movements for every level of fitness (beginner to advanced.) It requires little equipment and she also shows how to do proper form on Instagram and her site.
    I also use an app called Interval Timer, which is like having a trainer right beside you moving you along between exercises. I have my timer set to: 4 exercises:1 min (work): 15 sec (rest). My home workouts went from taking me an hour to 20 minutes! I have 4 kids (ages 6 and under) and, like you, I don’t have time to waste but this important to do 🙂 Now that the app helps me along I don’t bail on working out anymore because it doesn’t take very long, but does so much!
    Thank you for all you do. Your work has brought immense encouragement and motivation to me over the last six years . It keeps getting better!
    Take care,
    Sarah

  10. etresia

    Hello…. My goal is also to read thru the Bible this year. After much research I finally come upon this app program. Its called the Bilbe project. Daily bible reading with contextual videos from the Bible project. It is great. read scripture.org They also have an app you can download with everyday reading and a video. Check it out.

  11. Sarah McCollum

    I am doing the Blue Letter chronological plan as well!! Cheering you on!! Xo

  12. Ashley Flores

    I am doing the Bible in 90 Days again, which I love! But I plan to do a chronological plan as well when I finish. I’ve started one before but I never finished it. Thanks for posting this. xoxo

  13. Carol

    I’m so glad you’re doing a gardening 101. I’d love to plant a few things, but am overwhelmed as to where to start our what to do. Thank you!

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