Author: Lara

The air is getting cooler, and I’m feeling it: I’m going to have to let go soon. The cold will take these blooms in a few short weeks, and I’ll begin dreaming again of next year’s garden. It has been a beautifully imperfect year in the garden. Nothing manicured. Lots of surprises. Like the time we planted rutabagas and up came horseradish. And the time when we found termites and had to remove all the wood chip. Lots of experiments, and things that never grew, and awkward little spaces. And yet this has been my favorite year. So much life in Gracie’s Garden — goldfinches, butterflies in seven colors, hummingbirds, bees, the neighbor’s sweet cat, Gracie eating tomatoes and throwing flower petals in the air, and a few green lizard spottings. It has been real good. And I always feel a little sad when the air cools. Nothing on this earth lasts forever, and yet what we grow here matters. I’m asking myself these questions:

What good could I do with this life I’ve been given, right where I am?

What can I cultivate that will grow long after I’m gone?

img_4850Picking flowers last night, after everyone went to bed.

106 days left in the year to use well, and grow good things. Lots to think on this weekend. In-progress thoughts from my garden. : )

Here are 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Make Dinnertime Matter. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would you choose? I’d love to hear your answers! Wait till you see what happens when these kids begin answering this question.  

2. Tell your story. I cried so much writing my story in Make It HappenI wrestled with God a lot about my past. I cried to Ari. I grieved. But here’s the miraculous thing about pain, tears, and grieving… in it, I healed. Although it didn’t feel so fun at the time, writing my story was one of the best gifts I’ve been given. Even if you have no interest in publishing a book, consider writing your story. Use a journal, your laptop, a voice recorder, scrap paper—anything. Writing your memories could change you, and allow you to sort through things that may be holding you back from moving forward. And if you do want to publish a book, I recommend Compel Training. Here’s a free ebook I contributed to that may help encourage you too: 7 Secrets You Need to Know as New Writer.

3. Let It Be. I haven’t submitted my writing for something before without being prompted to by someone else, and I was all sorts of nervous to do this for the first time. Last year’s Advent Devotional from Naptime Diaries (now Amen Paper Company) was life-changing for me. Many of the words still linger with me, specifically Becky Kiefe’s piece (part of which can be found here – “When Jesus Interrupts Your Cleaning“). I’m grateful to be included in the 2016 Advent Devotional this year. Preorders launched yesterday.

fullsizerender-8Last night with all the monkeys before bed. : ) 

4. Lose “Always” and “Never.” I shared a few sneak peeks from my upcoming e-book about marriage in Wednesday’s Facebook Live. A favorite tip that has helped us: eliminate always and never from your relationship vocabulary. Ari and I began practicing this after listening to a Tim Keller sermon years ago (that I can’t find the link to now), and it helped us communicate more lovingly and truthfully. As I was searching the inter-webs for that Tim Keller sermon, I happened on this great article from the Beating Fifty Percent site.

5. Choose Grace, Not Perfection. My friend Emily’s book, Grace Not Perfection, releases in one month. We used to own a consulting and branding company together, and one day, in the middle of a ver busy season for us, Emily said to me on the phone, “I want to hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” It was a lightbulb for both of us. We are going to create a Thunderclap to spread this message far and wide on release day. Join us.

6. Laugh. To everything there is a season. Coming out of a really hard season, I’ve noticed that I’ve been relishing the gift of laughter lately. You’ve probably noticed this, as I tend to include at least one funny video in each week’s post. Here’s your giggle for this week: This guy is a high school principal and oh my stars. Just watch. : )

7. Mark your planners. November 1 is PowerSheets launch day. Nicole and I had a flood of emails after last year (and still get them) from people who were really sad they didn’t get a PS Workbook. So, mark your planners, and we’ll be doing a livestream that day for you to follow along with our launch, and see the new products in action. This year’s PowerSheets are a new size (smaller!), new material, and every page of content has been made even more fun, meaningful, and powerful. Oh, they are so good! And yes, there are new stickers. I wish I could hand-deliver them to each of you specifically, dear friends. I’ve loved getting to know many of you here since I started this new blog series. Your comments and our conversations make my week.

img_4875Gracie found a ripe watermelon in the garden this morning! 

And these last three are words to tuck into your heart pocket, or write each of these on post-it notes for your desk so you start next week well!

8. Done is better than perfect. Get a free iPhone or desktop wallpaper of this, and many more here.

9. Busy is the enemy of peace. Busy takes us away from our purpose. Busy is not truly productive in the big picture. Busy means life’s joys and surprises can’t find a way into our lives because we’re moving too fast to see and experience them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to move so fast that I miss my life. More here.

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10. And I’ll keep reminding you, and myself:  It’s okay to grow slow. 

What are you most wanting to grow in your life right now? I believe in the power of words. Getting them out of our heads helps us take action and move forward. To encourage you to get your words out, I’ll choose a few of you to win a set of colorful inspiring desk cards. : ) I’ll share my thoughts in the comments too!

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P.S. I didn’t forget about the news I had planned to share with you, as promised in my last post. I thought we would be ready to share, but good things sometimes take extra time to grow : ) More to come.

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I often wonder if what I do everyday is helping others. Not in an “I don’t think I have purpose” way, but I genuinely don’t have the ability to know most times. After webinars (like this one and this one) or speaking, or even in writing my first book, people ask me, “How did it go?” My answer is always the same:

I don’t know. I hope it helped?

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You see, it’s not about me or what I think. I may never know if I’ve made an impact till I reach Heaven. That’s where faith comes in—believing in what we can’t yet see. Dreaming of the fruit that may grow long after we’re gone. Trusting and planting seeds anyway, no immediate tangible reward in sight. I’m an imperfect boss, wife, mom, friend, sister, and writer, and I can only hope that what I share will plant a good seed in your life–all by God’s grace because of my aforementioned imperfection. But, I want you to know that your comments on my last post encouraged me greatly to keep going, keep growing, and to cultivate what matters—what lasts, little by little. I may have written a post about taking the next step forward to encourage you, but you ended up encouraging me, friends!

Thank you. Sincerely, thank you.

I’ll be sharing about some of my own steps forward in the next post. Big changes are coming : ) And I don’t love statements like that unless they are potentially true for the reader as well. I pray these changes will, in fact, be big for you too!

img_4626Speaking of big… This girl is growing so fast! Out on our morning walk : ) 

Till then, here are 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Make it happen. Today is the final day to enter to win the Make It Happen Giveaway. We’re giving away 19 inspiring tools and books, including the first set of 2017 PowerSheets and our brand new sticker book. I’ve loved reading and replying to many of your comments on the post!

2. Bust a move. They were on vacation, ordered water, and just came out to dance. Right around 1:20 is when I couldn’t help but giggle out loud.

3. Encourage a student. We donated all the remaining 2016 PowerSheets from the shop (about 300 sets) to local UNC students. We’re hopeful they will encourage students to cultivate what matters in this season! Take a moment and encourage a student this week. It could make a huge impact. Just think about the encouragement you needed when you were in college.

fullsizerender-6My PowerSheets goals for September above. I talked about each goal in my weekly Facebook Live on Wednesday. I had a cute little assistant with me too : ) 

4. Write the Word. Write the Word orders now come with my NEW Cultivating Faith Mini Book. Grace kissed them all to add extra love to your packages. : ) Use the code FRESHFAITH to get 20% off your order, too.

5. Prioritize. How do I do it all? I don’t. Read my interview with Terra from Earn Spend Live about how I prioritize, and what our mornings are like here.

6. Become an Ambassador. When I was ten, my mom’s best friend was married to the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. Crazy, right? I spent time with them there when I was little, and his passion for his work made a life-long impression on me. Being an Ambassador was a multi-faceted role that allowed him to teach, lead, serve, and create community—all of which he did with grace and joy. Our shop Ambassador/Affiliate program is tiny in comparison, but I believe it can have a powerful impact on lives. I know many of you are passionate about sharing our mission to cultivate an intentional life with others. Our Affiliate Program equips you to do that, and you’ll get the first look at all the new products in our private Affiliate Facebook group soon. Join our team here.

7. Find your money! You guys. There are millions of dollars of unclaimed money (also known as “unclaimed property”) out there. We recently got a letter in the mail that looked rather spammy, stating that they found $756 that belonged to Ari, and they wanted to help us claim it. I almost tossed the letter, but I got curious. I did some research and, low and behold, there really was $756 that Ari was owed from a student loan thing forever ago! I bypassed the company who wanted a cut, and went straight to the California Treasurer’s office to claim the funds. The check came last week. It was real! My mom did it too and got her check. Bypass the middle men, and go straight to your state’s website to see if you have unclaimed funds. Start here and search by state (try every state you’ve ever lived in too—you never know). Let me know if you find something.

8. Start fresh. Last week, we talked about taking the next best step. We’re really good at this in January, right? Then, come February 1 … you know where this is going. I’ve been right there too, making progress on some goals then weeks later, getting bogged down by inner shame: I failed. I can’t do this. I am not enough. I messed up — all hope is lost! If you need encouragement for your next step, or the one after that, or need start over completely, I wrote this for you.

fullsizerenderAfter a year of not being able to go many places because of nap schedules and feedings, we finally have 1.5 hour windows every day. It may not seem like much, but it’s huge for us. We used our 1.5 on Sunday afternoon to take a walk in the woods near our house! It was wonderful! Little by little, we are getting out more :) 

9. Forgive. This is a weighty one, but I’m including it because it’s one of the biggest keys to making progress on what matters: grace. Grace—being forgiven of all my junk (and there was a lot of it) compelled me to forgive Ari for all the hurt in our marriage. And grace compelled him to do the same for me. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing our story of forgiveness as a part of Love God Greatly’s Forgiveness study. Since I’m not on social media on the weekends, I’m giving you the link now in case you want to click over and read it. : ) Join in here.

10. Don’t count the days, make the days count. Remember our code word from last week’s? Today’s code “word”is 113! 113 days left in this year to finish well, to let go, to dive in, to do less, to say no, to say yes, to embrace imperfect progress, to take the next best step—to choose what matters. A tip: define what matters to you by getting it out of your head. Leave a comment here with one thing that matters to you today, big or small. To encourage you to get your thoughts out and do something about then, I’ll give a couple of you our new Cultivate What Matters sticker books (releasing November 1). Tell me one thing that matters to you, big or small! I’ll leave my thoughts below too.

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P.S. It’s time to fly.

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The best things in life are cultivated little by little. Hello, friends! Welcome to my new weekly series. Each week, I’ll give you a quick update on life around these parts, and Ten Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters, little by little (with some fun ones thrown in too!).

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On Monday, life changed. The judge declared that our adoption is final! When we began the process three years ago (feeling terrified and excited, but more terrified), a friend offered us this advice: just take the next step forward. You can always change course, and the next step will reveal itself after that. Take it one by one. We found so much freedom in that. Whether it’s adopting a baby, growing a business, cultivating faith, or doing something you’ve always wanted to do, take the next best step forward. You have permission to change your mind along the way. But, maybe–just maybe–your little by little steps will lead you to something marvelous. For us, they led us to family.

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Oh, we love you, Sarah Celeste! See photos from her first six months with us here.

Need some help uncovering your next step? Here are 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Get unstuck. Let go of the fear and striving, uncover really good goals, and learn how to take action on what matters most to you. This week I shared my Top 10 Keys to Making What Matters Happen. Get the free replay and my new e-book here.

2. Cultivate fresh faith — no perfection required. Faith is taking a risk—believing in what you can’t yet see. Get my free Cultivating Faith e-book, and free live class here.

3. Stop working, start living. If you’ve been struggling with working long hours, try this tip. Set an alarm on your phone that says “Stop working, Start living” at the hour you want to stop. I did this for several months to break free of working longer hours and build better boundaries on my time. It helped!

4. Make it Happen. I asked my publisher permission, and they said yes! Here’s a free download of the first part of my book. I hope it encourages you!

5. Dance like no one is watching. This kid. Wait for the end. Oh my, I needed that giggle!

6. Come to Chapel Hill in October. If you want to get unstuck, I invite you to join me this October, in-person, for the Making Things Happen conference. Yesterday, we went live, to give you a look at what happens at Making Things Happen. See you there!

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7. Have coffee on me today! A friend surprised us this week with five heart balloons—one for each heart in our new family. I’m passing on the kindness, and have loaded this with $50. I’ve never done this before, and I hope several of you enjoy a cup of coffee with this today–or buy one for a friend! UPDATED: Y’all love your coffee, and I’m so glad! I added $25 more, but this may run out fast too! : ) UPDATED AGAIN: Thank you all for the sweet messages. I’m so glad you enjoyed the coffee and tea with friends. This was fun! Looks like it may all have been used so I’m removing the card link. We’ll do this again sometime soon! 

8. Get motivated with some great new products. I’m giving away the first set of 2017 PowerSheets, one of our NEW sticker books, ten sold-out Simplified Planners, my favorite colorful pens, and much more here.

9. Remember our code word : ) We have a new code word, me and you. The number of days left in the year is our “word” to cheer each other on. Today’s code word is 120! On Facebook live this week, I shared more about this, and I got a little choked up at the end. : )

10. Lastly, tell me what your one step forward is. What’s the one (maybe scary) step you are considering or are taking today to make what matters happen? Leave a comment here telling me what your step is, and I’ll give away some fun things from the shop to several of you. And know this: the best prize is taking that step. I’m excited to hear from you, and encourage you in the comments.

Here’s to making progress on what matters, little by little!

 

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P.S. It’s okay to grow slow.

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Last week, I sat in a team meeting where we went through our company PowerSheets. We talked about long-term goals and… I was stumped. I couldn’t think of any. I felt tense. I sat in bed with Ari that night and told him that I was frustrated for not being about to see or define the big picture for our company. So, he prayed over me, “God, help Lara uncover goals.” It was a simple prayer, and it broke through something in me. I realized that I’ve been feeling some fear about setting goals lately. Have you been feeling that too? The mere act of acknowledging my fears, and working through my PowerSheets to see the bigger picture, allowed me to move through them and I am so grateful! I uncovered good goals, and they’ve given all of us clarity, direction, and a whole lot of peace this week.

If you need a breakthrough too, I’ve created a FREE Top 10 Keys to Make What Matters Happen E-book that you can get by signing up here. Inside the guide, you’ll find a replay of my live Grace-Filled Goal Setting PowerSheets Webinar, my top tips for uncovering intentional goals and making little by little progress on them, and the first chapter of my book Make It HappenYes, it’s free, because I know what it’s like to feel stuck, and I want to equip you to make meaningful progress in your own lives.

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Save the date! Our 2017 PowerSheets Workbooks will go on sale on November 1st. Here’s a sneak peek above. I can’t wait to get these in your hands!

And now for something fun – The Make It Happen Giveaway!

Make It Happen Giveaway

Are you ready for this? We’re even giving away a set of our 2017 PowerSheets! Here’s what else is included:

*Winners! Please email Jess – Jess@LaraCaseyShop.com with your mailing address and she will get your goodies to you! :) Congrats, everyone!

1. 10 Emily Ley Academic Daily Simplified Planners in Gold Pineapple – These are sold out, but Emily has generously given us 10 planners to give to you! // Patricia Victa, Caroline Colby, Bekah Walters, Mackenzie Throne, Geales Goodwin, Bryanna Giesen, Aisha Lawrence, Melissa Sibert, Kathy Clark, Catherine G (emailed)
2. A copy of Make It Happen // Heidi Pearson
3. A set of my favorite Papermate Flair pens // Ann Thrash-Trumbo
4. A Make It Happen journal // Irma Colunga
5. A set of Desk Cards to brighten your desk // Tiara Cayetano
6. Set of three prints from the Lara Casey Shop // Emma Tufte
7. A bright red Make It Happen mug // Sara Quinnett 
8. A Make It Happen lunch box // Bethany Milinar
9. An advance copy of our 2017 PowerSheets Workbook – on sale November 1st! // Sara (emailed)
10. An advance copy of our NEW Cultivate What Matters sticker book (!!) // Melanie Carney 

There are lots of ways for you to enter, and we can’t wait to get some of my favorite resources in your hands!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are 19 prizes, which means 19 chances for you to win! Your odds are good. Giveaway ends September 9th. Winners will be announced on September 12th here on the blog, so be sure to come back and check to see if you won! Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) 

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The best things in life are cultivated little by little. Hello, friends! Welcome back to my new weekly series. Each week, I’ll give you a quick update on life around these parts, and Ten Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters, little by little (with some fun ones thrown in too!).

IMG_4051Zinnias we picked from the garden to press flowers for a special project Grace and I are doing!

My dad is on an airplane as I type this, headed here for his 81st birthday! We’re excited to spend the weekend with him. We’re also hosting family group at our house for the first time in a year since we had Josh. In this year of babies, we had to step away from leading our group, but Ari and I are ready and craving deeper connections in this new season. It’s been a challenging year for us, and we feel like we’re finally on the other side. We were created for seasons, and they don’t last forever for a reason. Each season we go through is meant to prepare, teach, or ready us for what’s next if we embrace where we are. It’s hard when you’re in the thick of the wait, or tension, or transition, to see the good happening, though, isn’t it? But, remember this: after winter, always comes spring.

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And now, for this week’s 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Have tea! The weather went from blazing hot to fall-esque this week here in Chapel Hill. It got us excited about tea weather. My favorite is Roastarama, Ari loves Raspberry Zinger, and Grace really loves this sugar cookie tea. Well, this year we decided to make tea time a little more silly with Mr. Squirrel and Tea Rex (as seen above). During tea time, we practiced asking each other questions, looking in each other’s eyes, and sitting to have conversation. This week’s questions: What was your favorite thing all week? and What is your favorite Pokemon? : ) Our tea party this week was one of our summer goals. We’ve just got two left to go: visit Walter’s cows and go the farmer’s market!

2. Let your hair down. I was teased for my frizzy red hair in middle school, and finally let my hair down a few weeks ago. Here’s my story of dealing with rejection.

3. Be your very own self. If you feel like there are a million voices telling you what to do, be, say, or who to care about, here’s some wisdom Jen Hatmaker shared on Wednesday. Side note: her books, 7 and Interrupted, caused significant change in my life.

4. Consider a new story. This has been on my mind so much this week as we’ve had hours and hours of team meetings. We broke out a new set of PowerSheets (which are days away from being sold out — we’ll release the 2017 editions in November), set really good goals, and got refreshed. My friend Jess Connolly has inspired me recently in embracing a new story for her business. She launched a new partnership, a new shop name, and a new collection this week. Check out Amen Paper Company and use code ANEWSTORY for 25% off. This print is my favorite.

5. Cultivate your faith — no perfection required. The Cultivate Your Faith Giveaway ends in 4 days! Get my free Cultivating Faith e-book and more here.

6. Look deeper than your to-do list. I started feeling some heart pain a few weeks ago. Here’s the story.

7. Think outside the box to make progress on your goals. When I read the Bible from start to finish a few years ago, I listened to this for 80% of my “reading.” The New Living Translation (NLT) audio version of the Bible is free, and it helped me make progress on something that really mattered to me!

8. A reminder: it’s okay to grow slow.

9. Join me next Wednesday! Mark your planners! I’m giving a (free) Grace-Filled Goal Setting webinar on Wednesday (August 31) at noon EST. If you can’t join us live, be sure to register for access to the replay and my new Grace-Filled Goal Setting e-book!

10. Savor life like a boss. We picked a cannonball watermelon from the garden this week and plan to eat it tonight for my dad’s birthday. In related news, this made me laugh out loud.

Here’s to making progress on what matters, little by little!

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P.S. Monday is a big day. Our last court hearing to finalize our adoption is happening at 5:30pm EST. Will you pray alongside us? I’m tearing up typing this.

This post contains affiliate links, which are 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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When I was in middle school, I was teased for my frizzy, curly red hair. With sound guidance from the early 90’s, I did what many girls did then: I permed it. You know what happened next. I came out of the salon with slightly-green, ammonia-scented, brittle, extra-frizzy hair. Add five years of braces, and being a natural introvert to the mix, and you have middle school memories that I locked away in the “do not disturb” compartment of life. The photos of this season are buried in my parents’ house somewhere.

Then Sanrio came out with the “The BFF book.” I remember the sting of rejection I felt when my name wasn’t written in a friend’s book. I started to think that something must be wrong with me. I determined to be liked. I became a people-pleaser, always seeking approval and validation from others.

In high school, I would go to the grocery store with my mom and look at the magazines at check-out. Most covers showed women with tan, perfectly smooth, freckle-free skin. I bought all the freckle-eraser creams, and lathered on the feelings of not being enough. I felt like I didn’t fit, and believed that, since I wasn’t perfect, I’d never be happy or loved.

As my friend Lysa says in her new book, Uninvited“Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me.”

Or not said.
Or assumed.
Or not written in a friendship book.

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Twenty years later, I got married in my hometown, and went through a painful divorce shortly after. More of my story here. I craved a new identity that couldn’t be shaken by circumstances, or what other people thought, or by the mistakes I would inevitably make along my path. As my friends Jess and Hayley say, I constantly felt like I was too much and never enough. I was deeply in debt, and got a job as a personal trainer at the local gym—-the gym where all those people in my hometown (who had come to my wedding) socialized. I didn’t have any other choices for work at the time though. I needed to make money to pay bills, and the only way forward was to step into what felt like the lions den. Instead of running from it, or trying to fix myself, I stepped right into the feelings of shame, isolation, and rejection.

In that same gym, months later, I met Ari. He didn’t judge me for my past or flinch when I told him about all the baggage I was carrying from the past; he just wanted to know me.

I learned something in that season. There was a way out of the constant cycle of living in lack, believing that I wasn’t ever going to measure up. I started seeking God more. In Christ, I’ve learned over time that I am invited. Always welcome. Always loved.

Something that has helped me is to think about what I know versus what I feel. Feelings aren’t the enemy, but many times they can lead us away from truth.
I may feel rejected at times, but I know Whose I am.
I may feel broken, but I know I’m whole in Him.
I may feel like my heart is a mess, but I know God transforms our messes into our message.
I may feel alone, isolated, and lonely at times, but I know that God never ever leaves me.
Leaning into knowing, instead of letting my feelings inform my worth, changes things.

Lysa posted recently about crushing the lies and lines we’ve believed. I woke up one day a few weeks ago and felt tired of fixing my hair. Always putting it up or straightening it. Hiding my frizz. My curls. My past pain.

So, I washed it and let it go that morning.

Grace played with my hair that night, wrapping my curls around her fingers, putting bows in my locks, and simply wanting to touch my hair. Something clicked. I woke up and let it go again. And again. Each day, I felt more free. But, it wasn’t about a hairstyle, it was about letting go of what years of feeling rejected had done to me. It was about finally expressing gratitude for the way God created me. If I wanted Grace to live loved, I was going to have to show her how, and live it myself. I had to come undone.

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Embracing my curls has been rather life-changing. Apparently I’m not alone in this desire to embrace what God has given us. It’s not about hair though; it’s about our hearts. I look in the mirror now, and I’m reminded to live loved, right where I am.

Rejection is going to happen. It happened to me just last week again and it stung. But, it reminded me to keep fighting to trust in what I know to be true. I am loved. You are too. More than we could ever imagine. Living from the place of knowing we are loved encourages others to do the same. It multiplies freedom.

More in my Facebook Live today.

Have you experienced rejection? How has that shaped you? I’d love to hear your story…

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Our marriage felt impossible to repair, so I tried fixing everything else. I would wake each morning thinking, What can I do, eat, or buy that will make me feel happy today?

– In the quest for a more organized life, I bought new pretty containers, planners, and pens.
– I loaded my shelves with books promising a formula for quick-fix happiness.
– Maybe getting fit would solve everything, so I purchased new running shoes and a gym membership.
– Perhaps more creativity would be the thing that brought me joy, so I got journals and craft supplies.
– When I felt emotionally drained, I reached to comfort food, social media, and shopping.
– I acquired new cookbooks, clothes, subscriptions, throw pillows, and plants.

Those poor plants. I’ve killed a lot of plants in my life.

But the most life-changing things in life aren’t things.

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God’s grace is real and it transforms our mess into rich growing ground.

To help you grow your faith, I’ve created a FREE Cultivating Faith E-book that you can get by signing up here. Inside, you’ll find a recording of my Cultivating Faith Live Webinar, where I share my story with you, my top 10 keys to rooted faith, Bible 101, and simple resources for growing a real relationship with God–no perfection required! You’ll also get free scripture cards to download, and much more. Yes, it’s FREE because this is what I needed back when I had no idea where to start. I hope it all encourages you. Feel free to share it with friends too!

And now for something I’m really excited about – The Cultivating Faith GIVEAWAY! Are you ready for this? Here’s what’s included:

*Winners! Please email Jess – Jess@LaraCaseyShop.com with your mailing address and she will get your goodies to you! : ) Congrats, everyone!

1. A 2017 Prayer Journal from Val Marie Paper // Amy Campbell
2. Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling Kit by Shanna Noel // Morgan Dinecola
3. An 8×10 print from the NapTime Diaries Shop (soon to be Amen Paper Company!) // Lauren Ashbaugh Wilt
4. A copy of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope // Andi Justice
5. A copy of Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst // Ivana Andrews
6. A canvas from Lindsay Letters Shop // Britany Nobles
7. The Proverbs Study from SheReadsTruth // Veronica Hummel
8. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis // Krystal Brown
9. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin // Lisa Burger
10. An NIV Journaling Bible // Amanda Griffin
11. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis // Jenny Jones
12. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones // Glenda De Hoyos
13. A copy of Make It Happen by yours truly :) // Jennifer Kay Casey
14. A full collection of Write The Word from the Lara Casey Shop // Michelle Graybeal
15. A copy of the In The Wait study by Holly Holt // Karen Cottrell

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One of my favorite items in the giveaway are our Write the Word journals. We made this quick video for you this week to show you how I use mine!

There are lots of ways for you to enter, and we can’t wait to get some of my favorite resources in your hands!
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There are 15 prizes, which means 15 chances for you to win! Your odds are good. Giveaway ends August 31st. Winners will be announced on September 1st here on the blog, so be sure to come back and check to see if you won! Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) 

 

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Hello, friends! I’m changing things up with these weekly posts. Ready? Each week, I’ll give you a quick update on life around these parts, and Ten Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters (with some fun ones thrown in too!).

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Josh is turning one this Saturday! What a year this has been, filled with the most change I’ve ever experienced, aside from the year Ari became a believer. His nickname is “bro” so we are having a little family Bro-B-Q with brotatochips and broday cake this weekend. His birthday was one of the best days of my life for so many reasons. Mostly because it taught me about God’s faithfulness. More here in our little family update. In related news, we have had a wonderful first few days with out new nanny, Sarah. You can read her blog, follow her on Instagram, and even see her wedding that we featured on Southern Weddings a couple years ago. We love her, and she loves these little monkeys!

And now, 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Learning new ways to cultivate relationships during this crazy season with two babies has been fruitful for me (and fun)! Check out the Fruitful Friendship series here on the blog this week:

Five Easy Ways to Grow Meaningful Friendships

How to Let Go of “Perfect”

How to Embrace Awkward

Three Ways to Simplify and Make Time for Friendships

Celebrate Friendship with Traditions

2. Who knew this frizzy hair would stir such conversation??? Thank you for the encouragement and tips, friends. I’m grateful. Signed, embracing the frizz.

3. If you are doubting the path you’re on, read this post from my friend Katie.

4. “Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others, and God.” Yes! My friend Lysa’s book, Uninvited, is a must-read. Lysa genuinely lives what she teaches. Case in point. This book is on the best-seller’s list on Amazon this week (along with this other great book I just started), for a reason. Get your copy, and catch the broadcast about rejection with her daughters tonight.

5. Prayer changes things. This new yearly prayer journal from Val Marie Paper has me excited. It even has a new section to pray about your goals for the month. I can’t wait to use mine alongside my PowerSheets for 2017 (which release November 1, by the way—mark your planners!).

6. Creatives, I highly recommend this writing course. Ashlyn is hilarious, wise, and knows her stuff. Register here, and use code MAKEITHAPPEN for $100 off. Side note: we featured Ashlyn’s wedding too : )

7. Join me next Wednesday for a free live class on how to start—or start fresh—with faith.

8. I got a Greetabl box in the mail from a friend, and was delighted. I then sent one to my mom to thank her for visiting us last week (and fixing up my whole garden!), one to my wonderful mother-in-love, and one to a friend. It was so easy, and I got to choose three photos from my phone to go with the card, which made it extra special. A great way to cultivate connection by surprising someone with a meaningful little piece of real mail.

9. On Facebook Live this week, we chatted about choosing faith over feelings, August goals (mine are here), new products, a new magazine, and LETTING GO. I really enjoy our weekly conversations.

10. Lastly, some encouragement: Email is just a bunch of decisions that need to be made. Make decisions. And go have a restful, intentional, connected-to-your-people weekend.

Making progress on what matters little by little,

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This post contains affiliate links, which are 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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Hi. [Insert nervous pause and deep breath.]

I get nervous when something has the potential to change people for the better—when something matters to me. And this matters to me. A lot.

I’m not an expert on faith, or trained in professional ministry, or a Bible scholar. I’m just a girl who has been radically changed in the last few years. If you’ve read Make It Happen or heard the story of our marriage, you are probably wondering how in the world our change happened.

From being on the verge of divorce with Ari and our marriage transforming, to the heart of our company changing, to our family growing in a way I never expected, I have learned that grace is a real thing. It’s not just “Christian talk.” It’s very real. Friends, the impossible is possible.

Grace changed everything.

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If you are reading this and have no idea what I mean, or feel frustrated not having felt His grace, or want it more than words–I rarely say this but–I know how you feel. For a long time I thought, “Maybe I’m not good enough, or reading my Bible enough, or mature enough as a Christian. Maybe I’ve been too bad. Maybe I’ve messed up too much. Maybe God just isn’t listening.” I felt like I didn’t get it and I never would.

Then God showed me, through a series of challenges, that faith is not about my ability to perform. I don’t have to be perfect to have it. I don’t have to fix everything or have all the answers.

I don’t have to have grown up in church (I didn’t), or have done all the right things (didn’t do that either), or have quiet time every day (mine is pretty loud!).

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That is why the “Good News” is good. We don’t deserve His grace and He gives it to us anyway.

– Maybe you have no idea where to even begin with faith, and it all feels overwhelming.

– Maybe you’ve been at this faith thing for years, but you feel like something is missing.

– Or maybe things are great, and you just want to keep the momentum going.

Wherever you are, I’ve decided to do something I would have wanted when I was brand new to all of this—and needing a fresh start. I’m hosting a live webinar about faith. Join me (invite your friends, small group, and co-workers too!) on Wednesday, August 17 at noon EST for a FREE Cultivating Faith Webinar. I’ll be sharing my story with you, my top 10 keys to rooted faith, Bible 101, and simple resources for growing a real relationship with God–no perfection required!

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My hope is that this hour we’ll spend together will give you clarity, and simple practical tools to help you cultivate a relationship with the real God of the Bible. Nothing else matters.

Click here to register.

The first 500 people to join will get live access (I hope you join me live so we can chat together!), and everyone who registers—whether you can join live or not–will get a replay link when it’s over. Even if you have something planned that hour, be sure to sign up. I’ll be sending you the replay and resources to your inbox right when we’re done!

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A quick tip: With my work, and three littles running under the same roof, one thing that has helped me get into the Bible is the simple act of writing the Word. You can try it yourself with your own journal, a scrap of paper, or get one of the Write the Word journals that I created for this purpose. Try starting with these verses. Really—give it a try right now, and see if the act of writing the Word, in your own messy handwriting, doesn’t change you. I get easily distracted, so literally writing God’s Word has been faith-transforming for me, and it only takes me a few moments to make a big impact on my faith. Little by little, word by word, your faith will grow. I’ll be talking more about writing the Word, and many more simple tips next Wednesday!

See you there!

How to Cultivate Your Faith Webinar

P.S. Save the date for August 31 for our PowerSheets webinar, too!

P.P.S. Enter to win a full collection of Write the Word journals by sharing this post and leaving a comment saying you did! : )

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Yay! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Fruitful Friendship series as much as I have! This is the final post of the series, but it’s just the beginning! We have the rest of summer (and our lives!) to keep letting go of perfect, embracing awkward, and making meaningful connections happen.

Learn how to make new traditions, celebrate each other, and cultivate community with these three easy tips, and much more in the FREE Guide linked at the bottom. Let’s do this!

1. Name your summer traditions.

Traditions help us cultivate connection through meaningful shared experiences. Whether it’s something you’ve done before, or a tradition you want to start, use the traditions printable available in the Fruitful Guide (linked at the end of this post) to make your traditions happen. Need some summer tradition ideas? Try making jam, picking berries, Taco Tuesday’s, a yearly getaway, a watermelon seed-spitting contest (that’s a real thing), camping (or camping in the living room like we did this summer), or simply eating dinner on the porch outside!

2. Celebrate what matters. 

Cultivate a deeper connection by celebrating what’s important to your friend. Simple, but powerful, ask your friend her favorite holidays, her birthday, family traditions, and about special milestones she’s looking forward to. Mark them on your calendar so you remember to ask about them, prepare a gift, or celebrate alongside her. Intentionally celebrating what’s important in her life will help grow your bond for years to come. And celebrate your friendship too—“friendiversaries” are the best!

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3. Shake on it! 

Grace and I have a not-so-secret handshake. It ends by pointing at the one we love (seen below in action!). We do it every night before she goes to sleep, and it makes both of us giggle every time! This little tradition connects us together, and makes her feel loved and special. Ari and I also have a handshake that we made up when we were dating. To this day, it still makes us laugh! And, last summer, we made up a handshake with the sisters in our small group, too. I’m laughing right now thinking about it! So, my final tip is to shake on it! Make up a handshake with friend, spouse, co-worker, or your kids.

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Photo by Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

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Get the entire Fruitful Summer Guide (FREE) in your inbox HERE! This guide is full of pages with our best tips on cultivating friendships, free downloads to help you make what matters happen, and wonderful wisdom from our amazing group of contributors.

Thank you so much for joining me for this series! Be sure to pin this post (or any in the series) to come back to next summer, and share this with your friends. You never know what connections it may spark!

P.S. We’re already thinking about Fruitful Summer for next year, and we want you in it! Submit your photos and stories for a chance to be featured in the 2017 magazine!

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