The Making Things Happen Conference began in 2009 after I posted a blog entry answering a question I’d been emailed. I was running Southern Weddings magazine, doing brand consulting, and producing high-end weddings (wow, how life has changed since then!), and the woman who emailed wanted to know, “How do you make things happen, Lara?”

At the time, having your own “creative business” was not commonplace. In fact, it was in many ways, looked down upon to step outside the bounds of the corporate world to pave your own path. If you didn’t have formal training in something, how could you pursue it as a career?

Making Things Happen

I fought these thoughts: How could I lead a team when I had no experience? How could I publish a magazine without a degree in journalism or business? How could I succeed on mere passion and gusto?

The truth is, I couldn’t. But, I’ll get to that part of the story in a minute.

I replied to the woman and asked her if it would be okay if I blogged my answer so others could be encouraged too. As soon as I hit publish on the post “How to Make Things Happen,” my life changed forever. Dozens of comments poured in. Emails. Texts. Calls. This post had struck a chord with people who were tired of feeling stuck. That first post grew quickly into a movement. A friend suggested I take these ideas on the road and teach them to people.

Emily Ley above at the very first Making Things Happen intensive in Watercolor, Florida, in 2009

Emily Ley, Gina Zeidler and I traveled all across the country doing the Making Things Happen Intensive together. We visited dozens of cities and made friends that are still strong to this day. It was an exciting time of helping people break down barriers and to do the things they’d always wanted to do.

Above: on tour in Atlanta in 2011

But, here’s where the story takes a turn.

I did all the things I wanted to do (at the time). I had a growing business. I was traveling and speaking and doing creative work. But, it came at a cost. I didn’t know how to balance it all. Even doing too much of a good thing is too much. My marriage was falling apart. I was working 24/7 at the expense of everything else. My work became my worth. You can read the whole story in my book, Make It Happen.

I couldn’t succeed on mere passion and gusto. I had to learn to make the right things happen. I began learning these truths:

Making things happen means knowing that you don’t have to do it all, be it all, or have it all.

Making things happen is about focusing on what MATTERS–on growing what lasts longer than you.

 

 

Making things happen means learning to say NO to what is holding you back, and YES to your unique assignment–not someone else’s assignment.

Making things happen means making decisions that will get you to where you want to be when you’re 80 years old.

Making things happen means taking risks, taking action, and embracing tension.

Making things happen – the right things – changes everything.

The 2015 Making Things Happen Conference where I first met my farmer-florist friend Erin Benzakein.

As I began learning these truths and living them, the Making Things Happen movement did an 180-degree turn too. We got off the road and turned the intensive into a two-day conference here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But, the biggest change of all was teaching attendees to make the right things happen.

Everyone else was saying, “Do more! Be more!” And you know what? That was wearing everyone out. We began teaching something entirely different: do less. Do what matters.

Our 1000+ alumni have made dreams come to life, launched new businesses, left behind unfulfilling habits, transformed marriages and families, and helped thousands of other women live on purpose too. And it was out of this conference and my annual Goal Setting Series that an editor approached me about writing my first book, Make It Happen. This work was resonating with people. It was different.

The MTH Encouragement Crew!

Who is MTH for? This is where MTH is different from other conferences. You won’t be listening to a panel of speakers tell you how to do things; you’ll be led through a powerful process where YOU uncover good goals and make an action plan that fits your specific life and dreams. MTH is for everyone: love-at-home moms, corporate CEO’s, students, creatives, non-creatives, and everyone in between have joined us over the last nine years. Whether you know what you want to make happen and need an action plan, or you need help uncovering good goals, MTH is for you. And all ages join us: from college freshmen to women in their 60’s who are ready for a new chapter in life. The unifying factor is a desire to live intentionally and make the most of your time and gifts.

MTH is unlike any other conference. It’s like doing PowerSheets in person and meeting a group of women who think like you and will cheer you on in every step forward. Together, we uncover what matters to you and do something about it. Every time I lead this conference, I do the work right along with the attendees. And every time I’m changed. There’s no magic to it, but we have learned a lot over these nine years to help women simplify and take action. You might be a mother or wife who is struggling to balance family responsibilities. You might be a working professional trying to run with a big idea. Or you might be a small business owner burning the candle at both ends. (Or all of the above!) If you’re ready to use your potential on purpose, MTH is for you.

The March 2017 Conference at the Carolina Inn

I want you to join me in Chapel Hill on March 19 and 20th for our 52nd experience! This is the only conference I’ll be speaking at in 2018. Many of you have told me you’d love to go. Take the leap. I’ve been doing this conference for nine years and I believe in the work we are doing. Your gifts have a purpose and they were meant to be used!

The early-bird rate ($1000 off) ends December 31—or till we sell out—and we’ve sold out every conference. Since we are not doing a conference this coming fall (we’re launching the 10th-anniversary issue of Southern Weddings in November!), we fully expect to sell out for March.

Want to take a peek inside the conference? Take a look here. I can’t wait to see you there! GET YOUR SEAT NOW.

I’d love to hear from you: what do you want to make happen?

Yvette above at MTH 2015, doing what she did best: sharing her heart and passion for the good of others!

P.S. We’re giving away one scholarship seat in memory my long-time friend, Yvette Price, who embodied all that we teach at MTH. She was courageous in her battle with cancer and made what matters happen despite great challenges. She grew what would last longer than her: a whole lot of love and joy in the lives of others. In her honor, we’re excited to give away one seat to either an alum or new attendee. This scholarship is for the full ticket price not including travel or accommodations. Enter below to win the Yvette Price Scholarship by July 31st!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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We are a small team of nine women who run both Cultivate What Matters and Southern Weddings. Half of us work in our main office here in North Carolina, and the other half work remotely from their home states of Tenessee, Florida, Virginia, and Georgia.

Over the last two years, we’ve grown from five employees to nine. We’ve spent close to a hundred hours (not an exaggeration) interviewing, sifting through resumes, and meeting candidates from all over the world in these last 24 months. With such a tight knit company culture of women who wear many hats, finding new team members is something we have done with great thoroughness and care.

We spent all of 2015 interviewing for a new marketing and customer delight roles. After sifting through hundreds of applicants, we hired Amber and Jess. We then spent the first part of 2017 seeking two additional people to add to our team in brand new roles. We had over 300 applicants and hired Kaylee and another amazing woman who we will introduce you to soon. Lastly, I personally spent the months of May and June interviewing dozens of women from all over the country for a challenging role to fill. We ended up hiring the last candidate we interviewed! I see why larger companies have recruiters and entire departments for hiring because this has taken up a significant amount of time on my end. But, it has been worth it. I love these ladies and the work we have been entrusted with!

All this to say, I’ve done a lot of interviewing (not just in the last two years) and kept thinking to myself (and I mean this in the kindest way!), “How do people not know these things!?” Well, now you will! 🙂 The following tips are a compilation of my own advice, tips from my team, and I even asked Ari, who helps interview new residents and fellows for UNC, what he thought. He said these tips were spot-on and I have to give him credit for number 8!

Here are our top ten tips for interviewing well, in whatever job arena you might be considering:

1. Number one: be a great fit for the role. This sounds like a no-brainer kind of tip, but we very quickly knocked out a couple hundred applicants in both business job searches by looking to see if the basic requirements of the job roles–which we very intentionally specified–were a match to the applicant’s experience. There is something to be said for being passionate about a potential role that you are willing to learn and work extra hard to catch up to what’s needed, but you increase your chances of getting hired by being a great match in the first place. For example, before Lisa got hired as an editor for Southern Weddings, she reached out to us while she was still in college to see what classes or training she could get to be a great fit for our team, should a job opening become available.  (There wasn’t one in sight at the time!) She followed through and got the training we suggested, and when an opening became available, she was equipped–and hired.

2. Always send prompt follow-up emails after interviews to express your thanks and to share key points about what you enjoyed, or how that conversation helped you to see that you are a great fit for the role. If you are able, and it’s appropriate for your situation (it always is on our team!), send a handwritten note in the mail as well. When I was in college, we were taught to bring the note with us with a pre-stamped addressed envelope, write the note the moment we left (in the parking lot!), and drop it in the nearest mailbox.

3. Express your passion for the role and clearly let the employer know many times over how much you are willing to work hard for the role.

4. Writing matters. Great written communication is essential for any role that requires communication. Even for our caregiver role, this was extremely important to me. Because we are often communicating during the day through text message, it is helpful to have someone who knows how to express themselves well and accurately in words. Written communication that is spell and grammar-checked is so important to showing professionalism. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

5. Have your social media profiles updated with current information, and keep in mind that we look at it all. If someone’s profile is public, we learn a lot about them by checking to see who they follow on social media and how they communicate with others in that space. It’s also a great tool to see what someone loves and learn about their personality!

6. Be mindful of the submission time for your application and correspondence. If you are submitting to a small business, for example, don’t send your cover letter email at 1:00 am. Also, this is a subtle tip, but being the first person to apply for a job isn’t a necessary or helpful strategy (at least on our team isn’t). Take your time within the given application window to be sure you have submitted a thorough and honest application.

7. If you get declined for a role, write a prompt note of thanks. You never know where that connection will lead in the future! For example, Jess got declined for a job with us several years ago and sent me a handwritten note of gratitude after. We ended up hiring her for something different months later. Gracious replies build relationships. And there have been times that someone wasn’t a great fit for a role with us, but I referred them to other great employers.

8. Humility is your best asset. Confidence coupled with humility–the ability to say, “I don’t know it all, but I’m willing to learn and work hard,” is vital.

9. Do your research. Know the products and mission of the company so you can express your knowledge and genuine interest in furthering the mission of the business. Know the names (and correct spelling) of all the people who are in the interview process. Get to know the interviewer(s) (if possible) through social media beforehand to help with any small talk. Do your research in terms of who you are speaking with. Know their background and what role they play in the business. This can help you point out your experiences that might resonate best with that interviewer. Thoroughness and attention to detail are skills employers want.

10. Ask great questions! Come prepared to an interview with thoughtful and prepared questions that show interest and engagement. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. The employer wants to get to know you, but it’s also important to know if they are a good fit for you and vice versa. Practice and think of potential questions that might be asked and how your responses can best reflect the values held by the company. Think of things that you could not find out anywhere else but in an interview: what team members love about the job, what challenges they think you might face in the job, and if they have any reservations about you as a candidate you may be able to address.

A bonus tip: Body language plays a role in the hiring process–make it work in your favor. Take a look at this great Ted Talk for more. Kaylee told us after we hired her that she stopped at the parking lot down the road from our office to “power pose” before her interview. I think it helped! 🙂

Photos by Ally and Bobby and Olivia from Nancy Ray Photography

You also might like: How to Build a Great Team and Set Goals Together

P.S. We’re excited to announce: WE’RE HIRING!

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I have been looking forward to sharing this post for months! We talk a lot about embracing slow growth and little-by-little progress in life here on the blog, but, I’ve had to be extra patient as the literal plants in my garden grew this season.

As I shared in my new book, Cultivate, I am an unlikely gardener because I have often caught myself seeking instant results. This gardening thing didn’t come naturally to me, but as God changed me from the inside out, I began to love the process of planting, tending, and watching things grow over time. Truly good things grow over time, not all at once.

There is an in-between stage in the garden that feels a little awkward. There are plants that I’m not sure are weeds or actual plants yet. There are some things that grew quickly, and many things that are taking their time. It’s awkward!

But, there is life happening in the in-between. In what feels undone and imperfect, good things are still growing, even when you can’t see it or feel it.

That said, I’m excited to give you a mid-year tour of Gracie’s Garden today, along with a fun garden makeover reveal. Huge thanks to my friend, Michael from Little Arrow Films, for taking my scraps of homemade video and turning them into this special tour. Michael, you are the bee’s knees!

Ready? Welcome to my garden…

Gracie’s Garden Tour with Lara Casey from lara casey on Vimeo.

One of my PowerSheets goals for 2017 is to cultivate a life-giving home. We have a unique home life here on a day-to-day basis, as my office (with five employees) lives here too. We love this building we call our home and our office, and we make the most of every little bit of space–including the garden.

Photos of the main garden area (you’ll notice I love sleeping bees 🙂 ):

My rule of thumb is that if there’s dirt, something gets planted in it. We started out with just a few pots of herbs. As I wrote about in my new book, Cultivate, this grew over time to over forty feet of raised bed space and lots of pockets of flowers in various places.

As Grace has grown, she has taken to climbing trees, playing with sticks, and loving the outdoors as I did as a kid. We don’t have an official backyard, so I have been dreaming of a space where she can play and explore without fear of cars coming in and out of the driveway–a space to play and let her imagination to run wild.

There was this awkward space between our bedroom and our garage that basically turned into a weed patch. We tried planting things back here for a few years, but the voles and other critters ate most of it for dinner. We looked into extending our back deck in this space, but that was not a priority in our budget. So, I had to get creative. I’m so grateful and excited to share what it looks like now and how I did it. We often call Grace’s Fairy Garden the “Secret Garden” because I’ve had it under wraps for so long as we let things grow!

BEFORE (and some progress pics):

The space: The lowest cost option to make this space more usable was to pull the (many) weeds, put down some thick landscaping fabric, and fill the area with local river rocks. We pulled out one of the ligustrum hedges because they are really just too big for this little space. We didn’t build this house, and we’ve been told that the landscaping was done in a way to fill the space quickly with fast-growing trees and shrubs. This is a metaphor for life, my friends! Fast doesn’t last, and in our case, fast growing trees don’t survive in small spaces where their roots don’t have enough space to flourish. So, we took one out to make some room. We left the others though for the sole reason that they are home to two families of birds! : ) We have a family of house sparrows in one tree and a pair of cardinals in another. We love sharing this space with them!

AFTER:

Containers: The round containers are the Large Viva Matte Self-Watering Rolling Planters and the Small Viva Matte Self-Watering Rolling Planters from Gardeners.com. Josh thinks they are fun to ride in too!

The trough planters are the Terrazza Trough Planters. What I love most about them is that they are long-lasting safe plastic (I love cedar raised beds but we had some signs of termites back here so plastic was the best choice!) and they are self-watering (which means they have a huge water reservoir in the bottom that you fill). Because I needed longer-than-normal planters for this space, I used the Terrazza Trough Extension Kit to connect several planters together. Ari helped me put these together and it was pretty easy. And then there are the hanging baskets! I have never done hanging planters before because our summers are so hot and I feared the plants would die in a day. But, I was really excited to discover the Viva Matte Self-Watering Hanging Baskets because they are also self-watering. My hanging planters look great and stay watered longer!

The fountain: Oh the Copper Lotus Cascading Fountain! This really made the space come to life. The sound of water in the back (and outside our bedroom door) is pretty wonderful. We have two active bird nests in the back (house sparrows and cardinals), and I love that they get fresh water from the garden fountain too. It came with a darker green base, but I gave it a quick coat of white waterproof spray paint, and it matches perfectly now. I love this fountain, and so do Grace’s fairies!

Yellow bench: is the Amalfi bench from Grandin Road.

Fairy garden pieces: Grace’s Fairy Garden trough is from Greenes Fence Company. This cedar planter was so easy to put together and it’s the perfect height for her. The fairies and accessories have come from a variety of places: Amazon, Big Lots, Michaels, and several are gifts from friends. My favorites are the little windmill and barn!

Irrigation: Water, water, water! In these summer months, consistent watering is so important. I’m out in the garden almost every day, but it can be tricky to thoroughly water everything when you have two little ones under two! So, I invested in the Snip ‘N Drip Soaker System and Waterease Timer and Moisture Sensor. I have it installed on the main garden beds and I love it. I do some extra watering on hot days, or in spots that the soaker hose doesn’t reach as well, but it has been great.

Plants and seeds: I planted most of the garden from seed, with a few starts and plants mixed in! Here are a few of my favorite sources. Burpee: The Strawberry Popcorn, peppers, and several of the zinnias are from Burpee seeds. Floret Flower Seeds My favorite source for unique zinnia seeds, gleam salmon nasturtium, and bulbs. Botanical Interests: I picked up a variety of nasturtium seeds from them this year and love them! Park Seed: This South-Carolina-based company makes me so happy! I love their flowers. I chose the Profusion Double Flowered Zinnia Collection, Hidden Dragon Zinnia, Lemon Sorbet Collection, Lucky Lemon Glow Lantana, Confetti Pineapple Punch, and the Fruit Cocktail Mix from Park’s amazing collection this year. Many of these are sold out on their site for the season, but mark them on your list for next year. I also have the stainless steel potting scoop from Park and LOVE it. It’s huge in size and functional for a variety of tasks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mid-year garden tour! The crazy thing is that most things have more than doubled in size since we recorded this tour just a few weeks ago. Needless to say, there will be another garden tour episode coming soon!

Your turn! Do you have a garden? What do you love to grow? Does gardening scare the daylights out of you like it did me at first? I’d love to hear from you–and I’ll give signed copies of my new book to three of you who share your thoughts!

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Special thanks to Gardeners.com and Park Seed for gifting me several of the items above in thanks for the traffic they received from my Gardening 101 series. I have been a loyal customer of both companies for years and was delighted to know that many of you readers started gardens with these great resources! 

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June was a big month around here. We released my new book, Cultivate, and I’m so grateful. But, I have to tell you that, ever since the release last Tuesday, I’ve been mulling over some new thoughts.

My favorite spot in the garden right now. 

I’m still processing all of this, but yesterday, EmilyAmber, and Kristin encouraged me to share what feels undone and imperfect–to share my journey in the in-between.

So, here I am.

For the last five years (five years), I’ve had a book deadline looming. I began writing Make it Happen in October 2013. A few weeks after Make it Happen released, we started talking about book two, which was originally titled Move Forward … until life moved forward in a completely new direction. For the last five years, my daily life and thoughts have been shaped by the rhythm of surrendering my story to be told in words and living out what became these two books.

This has been a time of sometimes-fast growth–in great ways and stretching ways. It’s a funny thing to constantly be crystallizing thoughts and lessons as you’re in the middle of learning them. It causes you to really let the lessons sink in, and that causes change. Heart change. Life change. Lots of change that I am grateful for! So much has happened, and I sit here feeling the need to stop–even just for a moment to let the changes of the last years–and the last week even–sink in a little deeper.

In the last week since the launch, I haven’t known what to say. (Besides “thank you!”)

Or what to feel. (It’s a weird thing to know there are many people reading your vulnerable thoughts all at the same time. I don’t have perfect words to describe this feeling — it’s an honor and it’s weird! 🙂 )

Or what to give or share or teach. (If you have been reading Cultivate in the last week, it’s like you are hearing me talk to you for several hours already, so I don’t want to crowd your thoughts! I love the lessons I have shared in those pages and I want to give you space and time to let them take root.)

Pressing flowers from the garden with Grace this week.

In the last week, as I’ve taken a step back from social media and teaching, I see my life being cultivated in deeper ways than ever. I feel a new story is happening.

A few favorite photographs from June: picking blueberries at Wanda’s (she was so happy when I brought her a book with her story inside!), pressing flowers from the garden, my dear friends Kristy and Ruth who came to babysit the kids during the Cultivate book launch party, and my friend Renee came to visit with her sweet family.

The roots of my faith have begun reaching deeper–and this has happened in unexpected ways. We’ve experienced some spiritual warfare in our marriage lately. We haven’t had any fights or anything like that (in fact we’ve had some really great date nights lately!), but Ari and I have both had dreams about the days when our marriage was a mess. These dreams have been a strong reminder to us both to put on our armor and double down on our faith together.

My desire to cultivate good things in the hearts of my children is constantly on my mind and I’ve found a new joy with each of them in the last weeks–specifically this week.

I have found a new confidence in leading my team that has come from vulnerability and learning to steward well what the Lord has entrusted me with.

And this last week, in particular, has shown me what it means to trust God’s power to make something grow where there seemed to be nothing. Problems that had no solution in sight and felt impossible to solve, were solved in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I don’t share this without specific details to be cryptic, but there have been so many instances, that it would take me a dozen more paragraphs to name them. God can make the impossible happen.

I know all of these thoughts may seem scattered, but I believe something is happening in my heart. I’ve been deep in the garden, in the dirt, in the thick of pruning and tending and sowing and growing, and now I’m starting to step away and see what He grew.

And stepping back to see the big picture motivates me to get into the dirt and dig in even more.

Thank you for letting me share my heart with you. I’ll keep you posted as I continue to let these new thoughts unravel. I’m grateful for this little space and the gift of words shared with friends.

These two : ) 

Here’s a closer look at what’s been happening around here this last month and what’s ahead. My goal progress from June (and my July goals are below as well):

– Prayerfully and praisefully release Cultivate. Yes. After 2.5 years, Cultivate is here. I’m so grateful that this little book is out in the world and in the hands of women across the world. I pray so much that it encourages you! A few fun things and related links:

– Delilah chose Cultivate as her July book club pick. So fun!
– I shared about Gardening in White Pants on Proverbs 31 (and they are giving copies of the book away!)
– I chatted with Leah from Faithzette about how living an intentional life isn’t about following a set of rules.
– Here are 10 Reasons to Embrace the Season You’re In from my article on Crosswalk.com

Huge thanks to many friends who have shared about the book and how it is encouraging you. I am so grateful!

– Pray impossible prayers and be open. Yes, I made this a priority and, as referenced above, I saw God move so much more. It’s not that God moved more because of my prayers, but I noticed Him more because of a deeper awareness and connection with Him.
– Steward our budget well and passionately. I don’t feel 100% solid here yet, but Ari and I had a conversation about our long-term goals and set some things in motion. Our main goal right now is to work hard to pay off our mortgage in similar ways to what Emily is doing.
– Hire our new caregiver. Yes! This happened on Monday morning and we are incredibly grateful. After interviewing dozens of women from all across the country, the Lord led us to choose the very last person we interviewed… who just happened to be literally across the world during our FaceTime call on Sunday morning. After a couple long emails and a ten-minute chat, we knew she was the one — which really means that after close to a hundred hours of interviewing, discussing, and praying over candidates, it was made clear that she was a perfect fit. Pretty amazing.
– Write a homeschool “starting” plan. I haven’t written anything official yet, but I did make major progress here. I had long conversations with four wise homeschooling women and filled pages and pages with notes. I feel so much more peace about what’s ahead!
– Grow closer to our family group. We weren’t able to meet in June — summer is tough with lots of people out of town, but we did see several family group brothers and sisters at other events which was wonderful. We are getting together as a group this Saturday here at our house.
– Solidify new team roles and rhythms. Yes. We took a three-hour chunk of time to create out Company Operating Manual and have made significant progress here. We are even introducing you to one of our new team members on Monday! Stay tuned here.

Our Elberta peach tree : ) 

June weekly goals:
– Bible journaling with Grace. – Yes! This has been fun and fruitful. Here are my tips on Bible journaling with kids.
– Writing in the margins of the Bible to Grace. (More about this in Chapter 10 of Cultivate. : ) ) – Yes, and I hope to write her a note tonight after she goes to sleep too.
– Love others as I have been loved–lavishly! – I can’t take credit for this one. There have been many situations in the last month in which I felt the Holy Spirit leading my reactions to challenges that arose, and in relying on Him, I was able to love others in ways I couldn’t have without His help.
– Stretch my perceived limits to grow strength and endurance in my fitness. Yes, I have chosen one day each week to really push my limits in exercise and I am grateful for how that hard work is making me feel. I don’t love doing it each time, but I’m grateful after… and I know the little steps now will add up in the big picture.

June daily goals: – Yes to all of these. I have made progress and love these daily goals!
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal!
– #RunLiftPraise
– Eat more raw foods.
– Stay active in my work days —see how I do it here!
– Share why I have the hope I have
– Praise Him!

And here are my monthly PowerSheets goals for July:

– Pray impossible prayers and be open
– Register our homeschool and write a “starting” plan
– Sing – because I’m grateful (This goal scares me a little, but I’m gonna give it a whirl!)
– Teach with His wisdom (focusing on helping friends use their PowerSheets well this month to prepare well for a great second half of the year!)
– Steward our time and finances well and passionately
– Prepare for the fall (for the homeschool transition and our Write the Word and 2018 PowerSheets releases coming soon). August is typically the month where the looming back-to-school transition makes everyone feel like they must finish one million projects. I am not going to do that, so I am diligently working to prepare well now.
– Prune my time (for the above)
– Enjoy the garden and praise the Master Gardener

June weekly goals:
– Worship the Lord in our date nights
– Stretch my perceived limits to grow strength and endurance in my fitness
– Read Traction
– Read What’s Best Next
– Read Teaching from Rest. (I may not finish all three of these books, but I want to make some good progress because I strongly desire to learn the teachings in these pages!)

June daily goals:
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal!
– #RunLiftPraise
– Delight our children
– Stay active in my work days —see how I do it here!
– Praise Him out loud!

Your turn! I’d love to hear: Do you have goals for July? 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 June’s winner, Nia Baucke!

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Friends, today is the day! After writing (and re-writing) for over two and a half years, getting on my knees a thousand times to beg God for the words He wanted me to write, and so much life change and refining, Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life, has finally bloomed. This has been a journey of surrender and trust–more than any other time in my life. I’m grateful for so many of you who have prayed me through this journey. My prayer is that this little book will help you cultivate what matters, right where you are.

I believe that small intentional decisions add up.

I believe good things can grow out of hard things.

And I believe new life can come from what feels lifeless.

As I wrote in Cultivate, “New life starts with a tiny seed, which must let go of its shell to sprout. There is power—energy, ability, great potential—hiding in each one. The magic is already inside. You just have to cultivate it.”

lara casey cultivate book

Order your copy here in paperback, digital, or audio book. I was so grateful to record the audiobook in my own voice. Cultivate also includes a 10-week study guide in the paperback version and materials for small groups. I wrote this book hoping it would encourage meaningful conversations and connections with friends!

lara casey cultivate book 2

And now for something extra special: the Cultivate photo album. Here’s a peek into the journey of this book and our garden, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy these photographs as much as I did in putting them together for you.

Chapter 1: The orchid, Grampa Cecil, the garden covered in snow as I started writing this book, our perfectly imperfect peaches and a few peeks at Grace in the garden over the years.

Garden Company: The company we keep in the garden: Hootie, the butterflies, Grace looking out the window at the “magical trio,” and… the hornworms.

Chapter 2: Seeds sprouting and letting go of their outer shell, running a business from my house, and our Elberta peaches.

Be the Bees: Our lemon tree adventures! The day the first Meyer lemon tree box arrived, “being the bees” and pollinating the trees with a paintbrush, and enjoying some lemonade.

Chapter 3: Garden dreaming through the years and Ari making new garden beds after our season of loss.

All the Plants I’ve Killed: Our multitasking tree.

Chapter 4: Trying to dig old roots out and having to get an ATV to help us, and tilling up the hard ground of winter.

Mama Bird Knows Best: Baby birds in our front door wreath.

Chapter 5: Planting new seeds in faith, and finding out some surprising news.

U-Pick Memories: Blueberry picking at Wanda’s. I actually went to Wanda’s this weekend with Ari and the kids and brought her a book–she was so surprised and excited!

Chapter 6: Growing in the wait – our memorable garden meal with Kristin, waiting for Joshua (Ari and my mom helping with the garden), writing the Word with Grace while we waited, Joshua arrives, and six months later Sarah arrives!

Metamorphosis: A butterfly in the garden–transformed in the dark and given a new life with wings!

Cultivate book butterflies

Chapter 7: The thick of it – our refining season fighting anxiety and hard emotions, and trying to write this book. We captured photos of the happy moments, trying to cultivate what mattered in the middle of what felt like a mess underneath. Good things grew out of that refining season!

Chapter 8: Dandelions and savoring the harvest.

Heirloom Plants: My Great-Grandmother Irene’s Jonquils.

Chapter 9: Walter, the community God grew around us, adventures in the “magical garden” at the retirement community, and our dear silver-haired friends.

Celebration: Gracie’s marigold celebrations and making our bean tee-pee!

Garden Markers: Marking our plants with the names of special friends and family.

Chapter 10: Preserving fruit and memories, our pressed flower project, and a photo of my grandparents.

The Day I Thought I Would Lose the Garden: The day we discovered some unwelcome garden company.

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A New Season: Embracing the frost of winter and a collection of photos from our new season!

Thank you again to the many friends who have encouraged me on this journey–I’m celebrating you and praising Him for you today too! Order your copy of Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life and grab sharable quotes, graphics, and screensavers from the book here.

 

 

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