When one woman chooses to cultivate what matters, do you know what happens?
Let me tell you about April (the month, not a person 🙂 ).
I decided to make room.
I didn’t know exactly what making room would look like; I just knew I needed it! I sometimes felt emotionally overwhelmed. Too much to process. Not enough space to sort it all out, or help the little hearts in this home do the same.
But, making room would require a radical shift, right? I thought the radical shift would be my schedule. My schedule did change in some ways, but what changed the most in April was me.
Let me set the scene for you: April was full. From training two new team members, to leading our team summit, to our summer product shoot, to podcast interviews and live webinars, interviewing potential candidates, homeschool, family fun, and right into our summer launch at the end of the month, it all could have been too much.
At times it was a lot. But in the midst of it, something started to change…
This may sound funny at first, but I started thinking about thinking.
How what we tell ourselves about our circumstances or situations or people or ourselves informs our actions.
Here’s what I discovered:
Thoughts > Emotions > Actions > Results
Our thoughts about any given circumstance influence our hearts, which results in emotions.
Our emotions directly inform our actions.
And our actions inform our results—our future.
If I could chase down my thoughts, perhaps I could expose the holes in my thinking that were causing me to feel overwhelmed, even in the times my schedule was just fine!
It sounds simple in theory, and, well… it is. The challenging part is having the courage to stop and get curious about our feelings long enough to see where they come from–and let ourselves feel them first in order to do something with them.
What was I telling myself (thinking) about each situation that led to my emotions?
And this led to the golden question that changed my life: Were my thoughts facts or stories?
Truth or lies?
Because there is no half-truth. It’s either truth or not.
(A great book that talks about Stories vs. Facts: Crucial Conversations. Kaylee, Emily, and I just completed the two-day training today too and it was AWESOME!)
I started noticing when lies crept into my head and heart that were directly influencing my emotions and therefore my actions:I’m not good at xyz. I feel like so-and-so doesn’t like me. I’ll never xyz, etc., etc.
These thoughts suck the life out of me (you too?) and can leave me emotionally drained and overwhelmed. I had often blamed circumstances, but it was more what I thought about my circumstances.
Making room isn’t about empty space; it’s about intentional truth-filled space. This kind of space has given my heart and soul room to flourish!
In choosing less noise, less distractions, less control, less believing every thought that entered my mind, the truth finally got a word in! Day by day, decision by decision, it has continued to add up even when it seemed like it never would.
Over the last five weeks, I have wasted far much less time and emotional energy fighting battles that were all about stories I was telling myself. Replacing time lost in comparison, fear and narrow thinking—THIS has given me so much time and heart-space back.
If I just focus on the weeds in my garden, I miss the garden itself.
If I focus on stories instead of facts, fear instead of faith, I miss my life.
I saw in April how believing the truth brought near-immediate joy. And my joy sets off a domino effect in those around me. I saw how wasting emotional energy believing stories I’ve told myself about people or circumstances can distract me from cultivating what matters. And I’m just getting started!
My sweet boy bringing me handfuls of sunshine. If you have read Cultivate, you know dandelions are extra special to me!
I had two “thinking choices” in April:
Choice 1: “My schedule is too full and it’s impossible for anything to be cut or changed. If I do, everything will fall apart! This is impossible! Life is chaotic! Nothing will ever change and I feel hopeless. I will do nothing because I can’t.”
Choice 2: “My schedule is full and I can make some decisions to change it—even if they are hard! I can say yes or no. I may disappoint people and some things may not get done. But, I am hopeful that the hard decisions I make will be worth it. And there are many circumstances I cannot change, but I can change how I think about them. I can pray through them and let God’s truth illuminate the path forward. I am taking the first step to ignite this change, even if I don’t know what the second step will be yet. I’m stepping out on faith to make room!”
I chose option 2. And then I chose it again. And again. And I got up the next day and chose it again. And when Option 1 would try to creep back up, I chased it away again. And now I’m here in May and life is, in fact, different in many ways. Was it easy? No. I’m still learning! Changing our thinking is like trying to untangle a necklace chain. If you just yank it and pull it real quick, hoping for instant results, you’ll end up worse than when you started. Take it slowly and intentionally, and little by little you will untangle that mess.
There is great value in small things done over time.
What about you? What have you been telling yourself lately about a circumstance or relationship or challenge? Is it truth or a story you’ve told yourself about that situation?
My encouragement for you this month: Tell yourself the truth.
Plant it. Plant it everywhere!
Tend it. Tend it often. Nurture it. Enjoy it.
And consistently pull the weeds around it.
In Cultivate, I confront 10 common lies we believe (sometimes unknowingly). Life is too short and too valuable to waste it telling ourselves (or listening to) lies about who we are, or what we can or cannot do. Let’s expose them and bring them into the light where we can do something about them!
As you read each one, mark in your mind which stands out to you the most:
Lie 1: I have to do it all.
Truth: I can’t do it all and do it well.
Cultivators pay attention to what matters.
Lie 2: I have to be perfect.
Truth: It’s in the imperfect that things grow.
Cultivators dig into the season they’re in.
Lie 3: My life needs to look like everyone else’s.
Truth: I have a life to grow that is as unique as I am.
Cultivators think big picture to uncover their unique path.
Lie 4: It’s impossible to start fresh or move forward.
Truth: I can move forward by digging in and breaking up the lies.
Cultivators nourish their soil with truth and let God redeem their dirt.
Lie 5: I have to know all the details of the path ahead.
Truth: Forethought is important, but faith is essential.
Cultivators have faith, believing in what they can’t yet see.
Lie 6: Waiting is not good or productive.
Truth: Waiting is a time of ripening.
Cultivators ripen in the wait.
Lie 7: Small steps don’t make a difference.
Truth: Little-by-little progress adds up.
Cultivators tend to what matters, embracing little-by-little progress.
Lie 8: I will be content when I have it all.
Truth: I will be content when I live grateful.
Cultivators intentionally savor the fruit.
Lie 9: I can do life by myself.
Truth: I need meaningful relationships.
Cultivators embrace awkward and grow in community.
Lie 10: The past isn’t valuable; it’s all about the future.
Truth: Remembering God’s faithfulness helps us cultivate a meaningful legacy.
Cultivators preserve what matters for future seasons, and future generations.
I’d love to hear from you! Which lie and which truth stood out to you the most?
It’s hard work to let go and make room for the truth to flourish. To turn down the noise to even be able to hear it. But it will be worth it. Fighting fear or negative self-talk will help you make room for new things to grow!
This month, I’m keeping this thought-chasing going, and I’m inviting you to join me.
Lord, help us make room. Help us choose less to make room for life. Help us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:10). Help us to let go so we can hear Your life-giving truth and walk by faith this month and always. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
And now, a look back at my April goal progress (read April’s goal post here):
— Choose less. A radical move to less so there’s room for life. As I wrote about here, there are inevitable times of overload that will creep up in our lives. These times are not cause for guilt or worry; they are opportunities. I’ve found myself in one of those little-margin seasons and my top priority in April is pruning. Choosing less to make room for life! — Well, as you can see above. Yes. Progress has been made here. The photo below was taken a few days before our summer launch.
— Read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality — Yes! I am half-way through and excited to finish in May. This book has been so instrumental in me changing my thinking!
— Plant the garden. — Yes! We finished planting this weekend! Hooray!!!
— Decide on office space. — No movement here, but we have bigger fish to fry right now and there has been no clear leading from the Lord here yet. I’ll wait on Him.
— Lead a prayerful summit and shoot. — It was the best week! Lots of prayer, digging into our vision, and helping each other cultivate what matters so we can give the same to you.
— Lead a prayerful summer launch. — What a JOY this has been! See a recap of the launch here.
Our new Write the Word for Kids journal is here!!! See any familiar faces above? : )
April Weekly Goals:
— Praise + rejoice! — Yes! I practiced this often as a way to chase my thoughts and bring them back to Him!
— Prayer journal dates — Yes.
April Daily Goals:
— Bible — Yes!
— Pray over the kids — Yes!
— Exercise hard — Yes!
Also in April, I taught two live webinars that you can see for free:
On to May!
May brings warmer weather and I am soaking up the garden and the back porch! My encouraging words this month are: Walk by faith in the Spirit. I’m stretching myself to pray big and a lot and to beleive in the “impossible!”
These goals make me so excited and grateful!
May Monthly Goals:
— Be a Woman of the Word instead of the world
— Set our summer homeschool plan
— Finish and implement Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
— Q2 rocks prayer time (we call our quarterly work goals “rocks”)
— Prayer journal date
— Start Write the Word Wednesdays (I know this should be a Weekly goal. I messed up and wrote it in the monthly section—ah well!)
We enjoyed a round of Twister the day before our summer launch. It all came down to Grace and Kaylee. Grace won! : )
May Weekly Goals:
— Praise! with the kiddos. At first, I just wrote “Praise!” but after reading back through my Quarterly Goal Refresh, I realized I needed to tend this area with the kiddos too. I LOVE MY POWERSHEETS!!!
— Worship + church in the garden
— Celebrate others!
May Daily Goals:
— Pray over the kids
— Exercise hard
I already love this month!
Your turn! Do you have goals for May? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to April’s winner, Bess!