Author: Lara

This is called a no-fluff intro. I don’t have an inspiring anecdote for you–I have something better: an honesty challenge. Ready? Fill in the blanks:

If I could hit the fast-forward button on something, it would be _____.

I wish I was better at _____ already.

I wish I was done with _____ already.

Maybe you’re feeling restless in an area of your life that’s not growing as fast as you’d like. Maybe you’re craving change–and you want it yesterday. Or maybe you want to know all the details of the path ahead before you take action on something that you’ve always wanted to do.

We don’t like imperfect starts or slow progress, do we?
We want perfect and finished right out of the gate.

Ready for some life-altering truth? All plants grow through the dirt, and so do we. The best things grow little-by-little over time.

lara casey garden it's okay to grow slowThe first zinnia of the season bloomed in the garden this week. This little plant is about the size of a popsicle stick right now, but it will be four-feet tall by July.

For example, if plant a zinnia seed and dump a bucket of water on it, can I expect a full-grown plant and flowers the next day? We create those kinds of unrealistic and unhealthy expectations in our own lives, don’t we? We chase after fast results, only to feel inadequate when they don’t happen.

Have you felt that?

We often think of slow growth as flawed growth, but the truth is that all good things grow slow–babies, fruit, relationships, and big dreams.

Here’s some encouragement for you from my upcoming book, Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life

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How will nurturing growth and embracing small bits of progress get you anywhere fast?

Maybe fast isn’t the goal.

Maybe cultivating an intentional life means aiming for what happens over time—like the richness of relationships—rather than getting to the finish line. When something matters to you, you don’t focus on how slow the journey is to get there; you keep moving forward because the path forward is worth it. The world says do more, grow fast, be big, use these tricks, analyze, do it like those people, get ahead. But that’s not how good things take root.

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New homeowners like trees labeled “fast growing” to fill in a space quickly. 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.

Maybe, despite everything everyone tells you, slow is richer than fast.

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

It’s okay to grow slow.

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Here are Three Reasons Why Slow Growth is More Powerful Than Fast (and three tips on how to harness the power of slow starting today!):

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What happens over time is better than “instant” results because:

1. When we only focus on the finish line–or on perfect outcomes–we miss all the life that happens along the way. We miss the good things growing right in front of us on the journey. And you know what else? We miss potentially better outcomes.

Grow slow tip: think back to some of the dreams and plans you had as a kid. What if you made a list of dreams and had to stick to that list, no matter what? What if you weren’t allowed to change your mind, change course, or consider new paths as you grew and explored the world–and your talents? If that was the case, I’d be a very unhappy geologist right now. And I likely wouldn’t have met Ari because I wouldn’t have become a personal trainer and worked at the gym where he first asked me for workout advice. I am so grateful my path didn’t follow a linear plan–it was more of a zig zag : ) Slow growth allows us to see better outcomes–and take action on them!

2. Slow growth allows us time to prepare, learn, and… grow! Little by little progress adds up and, in the wait, we are ripened and readied. Trust that what you want to cultivate matters enough to allow it to grow over time as you take small steps forward—and some big leaps along the way too. Your cultivated life matters enough to tend it like a garden and trust that the effort invested over time will add up.

Grow slow tip: When something feels hard because I feel like I don’t “know” enough or I feel like I’m not equipped for the task, I think of Moses. He didn’t feel capable of doing what God asked him to do, and you know what? He didn’t have to be! God helped him and He grew Moses’ character over time. He readied him along the way, not all at once. When you feel unprepared or like you’re not ready, celebrate. Maybe what’s ahead of you is a time of major growth. I often think to myself that the more incapable I feel, the more opportunities I have to grow my faith and put my trust in God’s strength–not my own.

3. Fast growth doesn’t last. Little by little, we learn to care for what we’ve been given. According to multiple studies, a majority of lottery winners end up going broke and filing for bankruptcy. They aren’t equipped to handle financial gain that fast.

Grow slow tip: Most of the time, what holds many of us back isn’t fear of failure, but rather, fear of success. But, here’s the thing: most success does not happen overnight. And you have permission to change your mind or change course along the way if that’s what God says to do. It’s unlikely that you’ll win the lottery–literally or figuratively–and that is a great thing! Instead, you get to go the path of real progress–the path of slow growth. Fast fixes didn’t heal my marriage, grow our company, cultivate my faith, or strengthen my bond with friends. Little-by-little progress added up, and it continues to!

Want more? You got it! Get my new (FREE!) It’s Okay to Grow Slow e-book by entering your email below. This 26-page e-book is full of practical encouragement from people who are cultivating intentional lives and embracing slow, right where they are. I can’t wait to hear your favorite tip!

Lara Casey It's Okay to Grow Slow

IT'S OKAY TO GROW SLOW

26 Pages of Advice and Encouragement on How to Embrace Little-by-Little Progress Versus Overnight Results

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Your turn! What have you been anxious about lately, and which tip above (or in the e-book) resonated with you the most? I love hearing your thoughts. I’ll send one of you to send a Cultivate Shop goodie box.

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What a year this has been. We adopted Sarah in February, experienced a lot of challenges, and I almost quit my business. It was a season of pruning, but good things grew from our hard season.

Our company and products have changed right along with us this year. And today is a big day! We officially switched our company name from Lara Casey Shop to Cultivate What Matters (here’s the story), and launched the 2017 PowerSheets.

Because of all we’ve been through together as a team, and in the walls of this home, these are the most simple, truth-filled, joyful products we’ve ever created.

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There are two options for you to choose from:

One-Year Dated Workbook – White cover with colored leaves that represent the four seasons. The One-Year has additional seasonal worksheets, is dated by month, and has two full pages of stickers.

Six-Month Undated Workbook – Three cover options: white, pink, or teal. We made these for the many people who find out about PowerSheets after the new year, or are finishing out a previous set.

Check out our frequently asked questions and visit our NEW SHOP for more.

If you are new to PowerSheets, they are like having a trusted guide. Imagine a coach who gives you a combination of grace and motivation. That’s this year’s PowerSheets. They will help you uncover purpose-filled goals and plan action steps to make what matters happen.

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Flowers from my garden above and the pen that Ari gave me for five-year anniversary.

The 2017 PowerSheets are for anyone—moms, students, creatives, entrepreneurs—who needs a grace-filled system that works! This is my sixth year using them myself, and our fourth year having them in the shop. Wow, they’ve changed so much since we started, and so have we! Join the tens of thousands of women who have changed their lives with PowerSheets and made what matters happen in their own lives.

2017-powersheets-cultivate-what-matters-4Those are my favorite jelly beans that the ladies I work with gave me for Boss’s Day this year : ) 

I hope you give these new 2017 PowerSheets a try, and that they help you grow what matters—what lasts. If you are a long-time PowerSheets user, you’ll open these pages to a whole lot of NEW.

A few of the many things that are new:

– Almost every page has been changed to reflect the changed heart of our company – more joy, more simple, more intentional, more fun!
– The tending list is perforated (Yay!)
– The One-Year workbook is smaller, more durable, and a full pound lighter
– New worksheets, new stickers, so much more!

ORDER HERE.

To celebrate our 2017 PowerSheets preorders, we’re launching the biggest giveaway we’ve ever hosted this year with our 2017 PowerSheets preorders! If you preorder your PowerSheets before November 15th, you’ll be entered to win one of our 10 prizes listed below! There are no extra steps; just purchase your PowerSheets before November 15th, and you’re automatically entered to win one of the following prizes:

  1. A free ticket to the Making Things Happen Conference in Chapel Hill, NC
  2. A goal-coaching call with me!
  3. A gift card from the Nancy Ray Shop
  4. Housecleaning and a copy of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Uninvited.
  5. FitBit
  6. $100 Amazon gift card
  7. A fresh bouquet from FarmGirl Flowers
  8. Meal delivery from Hello Fresh
  9. A one-hour massage
  10. Seed packets from Floret Flowers

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We chose these prizes to help you cultivate what matters in the coming year, and to thank you for being part of the Cultivate What Matters family with us!

Here’s our live reveal video for more details…

and our THANK YOU video with more about how our launch went and what we’re most grateful for!

Ahhhh!!! I’m so excited to cultivate what matters alongside you, friends!

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Well, this week’s post is a little different, but this week has been a little different, too.

Sunday night marks the start of the Jewish new year: Rosh Hashanah. In our house, we celebrate many of the Jewish holidays, as Jesus himself had likely done. We blow a shofar, or ram’s horn, (yes we have one stored away in our closet!). And, this isn’t a part of the Biblical holiday, but it’s a long-standing tradition to eat apples and honey to signify a sweet new year. Grace likes the horn blowing and apple + honey eating : )

This year, in particular, is perfect timing for me. And perhaps for you too.

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I shared this week that I have been feeling a shift. I thought the dust had settled from our year of change (having two babies, our adoption, wanting to quit my business earlier this year, and lots more), but it seems to keep settling. Even Sarah and the ladies in our office have noticed. We are feeling more like ourselves but changed. And the more the dust settles, Ari and I are seeing just how challenging this year really was. I’m still trying to make sense of the emotions we experienced.

And then Rosh Hashanah began to approach. And it got me thinking. Just as nothing is ever truly wrapped up at the end of a calendar year, I don’t feel like I have a perfect ending on this season. But, holidays and milestones can help us move forward because they make us pause.

Did you just feel that? A little pang of anxiety about the word, “pause.” Yes, I felt it too. It’s a good word, but it’s hard to do, isn’t it? We sometimes don’t want to face what’s waiting for us in the pause. And for me, I know the pause means more change. Good change. But, boy howdy there has been a lot of change this year.

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But, pausing is life-giving. Pausing invites the tangled ties of tension, fear, anxiety, and worries, to have space to unravel. It gives us margin to let the dust fully settle. And in that settling and stillness, something happens. We are finally able to see clearly. We can see where we are, in order to move to what’s next. Pausing helps us stop to ask, “Is this the direction I should be going, or should I set my foot on new ground?”

And that’s why we blow the shofar. It makes us all stop and listen.

The end of a year leaves me part sad to let go, and part really grateful for the fresh start ahead. But, there’s nothing magical about January 1st. Sundown on Sunday, whether you have a shofar or not, could indeed be the start of something new for you, too.

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So my first tip this week for making progress on what matters, little by little, is:

1. Pause. Even briefly. Let your dust settle a bit more, too. Let whatever you’ve been carrying settle in, and answer this question: How you are doing? I often fear answering this question. I’m afraid of burdening people, or being too much, or–even in times when I’m genuinely content and great–I sometimes fear discouraging people who aren’t feeling that way too. But, I know for sure that starting where we are allows us to move to what’s next… even if that means staying, abiding, or becoming more content in the wait for something. I want to know your real answer, and I’ll give you mine below too. Pause. Feel whatever it is. Give it words. How are you really doing?

2. Name your fear. In the same vein, what fear has been swimming in your heart lately? Often we fear success. The kind of success I fear is the bigger/more/doing it all kind. To me, right now, success means smaller, and yet more alive. My biggest fear is succeeding at things that don’t matter. What’s yours? There are no wrong answers here. Whatever it is, give it words. Get it out of your head and heart.

3. Press in. I loved my friend Jess’ “No Filter” newsletter this week about what to do when you aren’t feeling God. I said this exact phrase to Ari several times last weekend. He prayed over me, and I kept reminding myself that a lack of feeling doesn’t mean a lack of faith. This restlessness caused me to shake things up and lay all my feelings at God’s feet. It went something like this, “God, I feel like you are distant from me. I want to be close to you so much. I am here. I am willing. I want to know you more. Can you help me figure this out?” One of Jess’s tips is to reach out and tell someone if you’re feeling this way–like I did with Ari. If you don’t have an Ari, I’d love to be your listening ear, and I’d love to pray alongside you. Let me know in the comments if you are feeling this way.

4. Listen in. I didn’t know this radio interview was going to be live on air till five minutes beforehand (I am used to doing them pre-recorded), but it was refreshing to let go and recount some of the hardest parts of my story with Lynne. The hard things ended up bringing me the most joy. Beauty came from ashes.

5. Stop talking about it, and just do it. I love my friend Val’s post on creating a habit of prayer–particularly tip number 6. We often say, “I need to pray more.” Her advice: instead of saying you need to pray, just start praying right then and there.

6. Get it done, right then and there. No, I didn’t accidentally type the same tip twice. As we move into our busy season, we’re doing this with our work too. We’re trying something new: doing things in meetings. If we talk about emailing someone, we start writing the email during the meeting. Need to update out Instagram bio? Do it in the meeting. Need to write text for a video? Let’s do it together right then. Done, and done! We have re-titled our meetings “Team Doin’s.” If you don’t have a team and work solo, this still applies to you. Instead of writing everything down on a list to do later, do some of them. Up your efficiency, and skip the list.

7. What’s your one thing? On Facebook live this week, I asked what your one thing is that you’d like to grow over the next three months. I’d love to hear your answer. I’ll post mine below too. I always love reading your thoughts.

I just have seven things this week, so I’ll use the last three spots as simple reminders for both of us : )

8. Tell me how you are really doing. I’ll tell you too.

9. Name your fear—whatever it is. There are no wrong answers.

10. What’s your the one thing you want to grow over the next three months?

Here’s to our sweet new year, friends.

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P.S. I’m about to do my October PowerSheets (and Goal Refresh) live on Instagram stories. The ladies in my office are also doing theirs live on the shop account. Join us today!

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Hello, my name is Martha. I realized last night, that I’ve been spending more time trying to inspire, than being inspired. More time trying to give and do, than sitting at the Lord’s feet. This new season of life has felt lighter.

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I’ve been focused on cultivating love in my kids, my marriage, my team, good work, and in moments like these–belly laughs that my body hasn’t been able to feel in a long time, but …

I don’t have the perfect words here. There’s more than belly laughs. I’m craving holiness. A more settled, devoted, alive faith. And not just for me. For our whole family.

Maybe it’s the change of season. Or maybe it’s just time. I don’t have a plan or a checklist; just prayer and trust that the Lord will direct my steps.

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Here are this week’s 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters (In no particular order!)

1. Good things can come out of hard seasons. I shared yesterday on Facebook Live part of the news I’ve been wanting to share with you: we’re changing the name of our shop, and launching a community and goal encouragement site to go along with it. This is no small feat, and has been the result of huge prayer and change this year. I think about when people changed on the inside in the Bible, the Lord often gave them new names: Saul became Paul, Sarai became Sarah, Simon became Peter. It’s been a long time coming, and it was time for a new name that matched who we are, what we do, and what we hope for your life as well. I can’t wait to share it with you soon. (We are waiting on a confirmed launch date from our web developers—hoping for mid-October.) More details to come. Any guesses on the new name?

2. Shake up your to-do list. A tip for lingering to-do’s. Many times, I have a to-do on my list that is more of a to-decide. And those to-decides like to hang out on my list for a while until I shake things up. So, a tip: write your to-do’s as prayers. For example, we’re working on changing roles and titles in our company, and instead of writing “role changes” on my list, I switched it up and wrote, “Lord, what do you want the role changes to be?” Now, it’s lingering productively and prayerfully, instead of clogging up my brain space every time I look at my list. Prayer is an action step.

3. Make your move. You want to get inspired? Watch this. Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from the Katwe slums of Uganda stumbled into a chess program as a 9-year-old searching for food. Though she could neither read nor write, Phiona turned out to be a chess prodigy. Queen of Katwe was first a book written by local UNC journalism professor, Tim Crothers (Ari is an Associate Professor at UNC too : ). And now it’s is a feature film produced by Disney and ESPN Films about a dream and the drive to reach it. I haven’t been to a movie in years, but I plan on seeing this. It’s in theaters beginning September 30, 2016. The trailer has me inspired!

fullsizerender First crunch in the leaves.

4. Ask for a portion. Lisa’s wedding ceremony was one of the most meaningful I’ve been to. Emily shared this piece of marriage advice that stuck with her, and me—and no doubt many others.

5. Think small. The first three years of PowerSheets, I wrote a personal note with most orders. It took me days and days to write hundreds of notes, but it was always worth it. I loved praying over each name, imagining them recipient opening the package, and hoping that my words might encourage them. But, with more little people in my house and less time for work, I had to stop writing them. Yet, I deeply miss that connection. I’ve said many times over the last weeks, “How do we get back to small? To handwritten notes?” My friend Val launched her 2017 collection this week, and her post on launching small resonated with me.

6. Make it a great mail day. My friend Maghon sent Grace some Hooray Mail this month, and she has been loving it. Check out their Instagram to get a peek at what this great concept for kids is all about.

img_4936Pressing zinnia petals in a songbook for a project Grace and I are working on : ) 

7. Know that you are worthy of art.

8. Go from awkward to awesome. Photographer friends, this course is for you. No one has gotten Ari to smile like Gina has–the real smile I love when I know he is truly happy and relaxed. I often tell Gina that she’s my soul sister. She always knows how to calm me, call me up, and help me focus on what matters. And she’s a ridiculously gifted photographer and mentor to many.

9. Read the only review that matters: God’s. I don’t read my Amazon reviews, partly because my first book is so much of my (very vulnerable) personal story, but even more so for the good reviews. Opinions can shift our thinking away from truth—and make us believe we are something we may not actually be. I resonated so much with Jess’s post about her “Caesar salad” review.

10. Done is better than perfect. I don’t have a #10 : ) Happy weekend, friends!

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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!).

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In my live faith class this week, I talked about Matthew 6:19-34. When I look back at last year, the number one thing I wasted time on was worry. Anyone else? This week, I was challenged by worry this week in three areas, and here’s how God helped me:

– Leading the Cultivating Faith live class on Wednesday. I battled worry about not saying the right things or people not being encouraged. / God brought to mind Moses. Y’all know I love some Moses. Moses wasn’t perfect—and he felt inadequate—and yet God used him. Thinking about God helping Moses gave me courage. I’m grateful many of you were encouraged by my imperfect story.

– We sent our 2017 products to print, and for reasons outside of our control, found out we’ll have to pay a silly amount on money to get them shipped to us on time for holiday orders. / God helped me see the big picture gain, not the short-term loss: ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.’ – Matthew 6:19-20  Getting the new PowerSheets into people’s hands and hearts will, Lord willing, help them cultivate what matters. While it’s painful to lose such a great sum, I hope it will help many gain what matters.

– I have many things to write and complete for work, and worried about not having time to do them. / God gave me peace about making little by little progress: ‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?’ – Matthew 6:27  What needs to get done will get done. I had a great call with my book editor yesterday, and she encouraged me that we’re on the right path with Cultivate. Much writing ahead, but this whole journey of starting over, and making imperfect progress, has been worth it.

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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. I was so grateful to teach a live Cultivate Your Faith class on Wednesday. Get a FREE replay of the live class, and my new 10 Simple Keys to Cultivating Faith e-book here!

2. I’m giving away some of my favorite faith tools, books, and resources.

3. This post about the difference between knowing about God and really knowing him is great, and rings true for my life. The difference: real risk.

4. I can’t recommend Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge enough. I did it in 2013, scared out of my mind to stop shopping for three months, and was so blessed by it that I kept going for a whole year. It was life-changing.

5. My short Facebook live with Grace this week was all sorts of real life.

6. My co-worker and friend, Amber Housley, is hosting a live webinar next week about getting the most out of creative conferences like Making Things Happen (a few seats left till we sell out!), and the Inspired Retreat. Register for free here.

7. My friend Em (who makes the Simplified Planner that we love and use daily!), texted me this yesterday. I cannot get enough of this boy.

8. Thank you, Jess Connolly, for speaking truth once again.

9. Love this podcast interview on the Influence Network from Present Over Perfect author, Shauna Niequist. I’m listening to the audio version of her book while I work today, and loving it. Am I the only one who loves hearing authors read their own books?

10. And lastly, a giggle for you. My husband snuck into the office.

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

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