Happy November, friends! What a wonderful month this is here in Chapel Hill!

The leaves have turned the colors of a blazing sunset. The air smells of fireplace coziness. Our pansies are planted for the winter. And my focus has turned to preparing well for meaningful experiences ahead and the new year. Keeping a gentle eye on the number of days remaining in 2018 (59 as of writing this to you) has motivated me to get the right things done. A lot can happen in fifty-nine days, and a little intentional forethought goes a long way!

October was a month I’ll never forget. It was a month of learning to trust. We took a family trip to the farm a few days before the 2019 PowerSheets launch, which normally would have felt like terrible timing, but it was just right. I ended up getting an out-of-nowhere fever that had me in bed for most of our trip, but in retrospect I know it was a gift. The Lord knew I needed rest and to tangibly feel His power being made perfect in my weakness. Surrender is a sweet thing (Dear self, remember this always!). October, you were good for our souls!

My October Monthly Goals Progress:

— Throw off everything that hinders me and aim my arrows at doing life the way He wants me to. / This looked like trusting in His power over my own. There were significant walls placed in front of us in October with work and family, and He broke down every one in His perfect timing and unexpected ways. I am still a little speechless about it all!
— Enter into the most wonderful season of service and joy with our team and the good work He has blessed us with! / The 2019 PowerSheets are here and we have had a lot of fun as a team, feeling fired up about our work and mission! It has been a joy to serve you and so many women over the last two weeks.
— Share why I have the hope I have. / I loved this goal! Yes, I was thankful to share on several occasions.
— Bring the life of God to our children, which starts with us flourishing in faith. / Sally Clarkson shared something this week that stuck with me: “Little girls need to see big faith.” The little girls and boy in this house got to see that this month, and I hope those seeds take root. They saw and heard us pray through hard things, rejoice and praise in good things, and ask for forgiveness when we messed up. It was a good month of growing in faith for all of us.
— Get into a rhythm with homeschool. / Yes! Aside from a couple of missed days from sicknesses, we made good progress this month. I am SO grateful for this. The Cultivated Homeschool Planner has been a game changer for me.

Fun at Vollmer Farm with the kiddos!

October Weekly Goals:

— Take care of our temples of the Holy Spirit. Ari expressed wanting to grow in balance and wellness, and I want to teach our kiddos healthy habits too. We’ve already started cooking lessons with the kiddos, including knife skills for Grace so she can prepare fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. Here’s a great video we watched to learn the basics! / Yes! Progress here on all fronts. Little by little steps add up!
— Pray for a *few* friends. / I was not as diligent about this as I had envisioned I would be. I prayed for friends, but I think I would have done this more if I would have had my PowerSheets by my bed on the weekends to simply remember. Good lesson learned so I can adjust for future progress—and no goal guilt needed. : ) When you don’t make progress on a goal as you’d like, simply examine why and redirect for next time!
— All of them. / Yes! (Read my October goals post for more about this goal.) This was lived out on several occasions, namely our trip to the Farm! Even though I was sick for most of it, we really had a wonderful time making memories together. I hope to do this every year in October if the Lord allows us to. It was magical and simple retreat for us all. (Look up Vollmer Farm on AirBnB!)
— Believing a miracle happened in our lives and acting like it! Ari and I are not the same people we were several years ago. The heart and life change we’ve experienced is significant, but this fact is easy to forget in day-to-day life. I do not want to forget this. A miracle happened in our lives and remembering this spurs me forward to share the hope we have. His grace is a real thing and it changes everything! / Yes! Even something as simple as looking at old photographs together leaves us in awe of how much we have changed in the last 12+ years. Because of this, we have greater faith that more transformation can happen—in our lives and yours too!

They all LOVED the corn pit!

October Daily Goals:

— Bathe in the Word. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on YouVersion. / Yes! We’re so close to finishing the Bible! Yahoo!!!
— Seek Him in all things instead of doing them my way or without asking Him first. / This will always be a practice to keep, but I was especially grateful for the reminder to focus on this in October.
— Praise + joy! Working out with praise on my lips and joy in my soul! / Yes! There was a LOT of praise in October! I’ve already ramped up the working out part this month though—I slowed down a bit being sick.
— Speak restorative words. / Yes, and I found that the most restorative words are, as always, His. Several times I shared a scripture with someone and simply let it be—without adding any of my words too. The Word is powerful on its own!

Now to November! 

November Monthly Goals:

— God + goals – study it, live it, give it! This is my top priority for November. Oh, this goal has me so fired up, friends! More to come on this one!
— Retreat to pray. In order to do anything well this month, I know it will take time in prayer to listen. He turns worries into worship!
— Prayer-led podcast recording. I lost my voice for a good part of October, but I’m feeling better now and ready to record. The podcast will launch in December!

I asked Grace if she would like to write the encouraging words in my PowerSheets this month and this is what she wrote: “1 thing is good and that is God.” No better reminder! 🙂 

Weekly Goals:

— Make decisions from my identity. For example, I want to be a woman who has a life-giving home and a flourishing homeschool. So, what kind of decisions would I make as a person who wants those things? It’s a simple mind-shift that has changed several of my decisions this week.
— Gentleness and wonder with the kids. This includes a flourishing homeschool and intentionally planning simple experiences (like crunching in the fall leaves!) and holiday celebrations that leave them in awe of Him. I don’t have to manufacture or plan anything elaborate. I simply lead them to where they might experience wonder and let go!

Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on YouVersion.
— Workout + worship. Now that the weather is turning colder, we have not been able to walk as much outside in the mornings. It’s tricky sometimes to workout at home with three kiddos, but when I turn it into a praise party, we all get into it! (I may need to make a new workout playlist to accompany this goal—any suggestions?)

The pansies are in and the garden feels magical again—and it smells like a slice of Heaven!

Verses I’m loving for November:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

My help doesn’t come from things or accolades or being organized or money or anything you can see with your eyes—it comes from the God who made the stars. He’s ready to help you make what matters happen this month, too!

Your turn! What are your goals for November? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to October’s winner, Lindsay!

P.S. Do you know those hurried days between Christmas and New Years when everyone scrambles to set goals? We don’t do that around here! Instead of microwaving your goals like the rest of the world, let’s slow cook them. Join me December 3-7 for PowerSheets Prep Week! I’ll walk you step-by-step through the PowerSheets Prep Work and Goal Action Plan pages to prepare well for 2019. I even have a brand-new five-part video series that will debut that week, just for you. Get your PowerSheets ordered now so you get them in plenty of time, and mark your calendar for a week of preparing well with us!

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You are the most wonderful women! We have seen tangible proof of that over the last 48 hours since our 2019 PowerSheets Collection Launch—which I will tell you all about shortly (what a crazy couple of days it has been!).

But first, let’s rewind.

The last few months in our work have not been the easiest at times. We all have challenging seasons and times of transition, but we often don’t talk about them because they can be hard to weather ourselves, much less share with others. But, this story is His, and it’s good! We prayerfully let go of Southern Weddings earlier this year—a decision He wanted us to make—but it was an adjustment for us financially. (This is where a flood of memories from the last months rushes to my mind.) But! Oh, there’s a wonderful plot twist here. Here’s what I know for sure: God went before us. He wanted me listening to Him more than ever, waiting on Him, and taking Him at His Word. He wanted our small team to rely on His strength, not our own. He wanted us to choose peace over striving, and what lasts over what doesn’t.

More than anything, He wanted me to trust. Not for earthly certainty or security – just Him. Refining seasons are the most fruitful—not in the ways the world can see but in the everlasting fabric of souls.

He has gone before us and He has gone before you too.

I had to give you a peek into the deeper reason for my joy this week: I know more than ever that He is certain. And I have tangibly felt His love through many of you. Thank you for your prayers and love and support. You have linked arms with us and cheered us on every step of the way—even as Instagram shut us down from all the activity on Wednesday! (The uptick in activity made them think we were robots! Crazy, right?) But, thanks to YOU we are back up… at least for now. We have no explanation, no correspondence from them, and we can’t get anyone on the phone at Instagram, so we are praying it doesn’t happen again!) We can’t really help it—this goal getting party is just getting started! 🙂

Together, we’re about to grow some wonderful things across the world.

Because of you, something far better than a product launch happened this week. We have a not-so-secret dream: to see you live out what lasts—and encourage everyone around you to do the same.

This week, that dream started to take root.

The 2019 PowerSheets are HERE and we are excited for you! Our new “Oh Happy Day” boxes have started shipping out all over the world (to all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, many military bases (thank you for your service!) and 65 countries). Our shipping team is working so hard getting orders out the door—thank you in advance for your patience as they get through them as fast as they can. I wish I could hop into every box and give you a hug and a high five and hear all about what you are cultivating in the year ahead!

These boxes may appear to be filled with new products, but we know a deeper truth: they’re also filled with hope. In hitting “purchase” this week, you chose courage—courage to start fresh. Courage to dream. Courage to change. Courage to cultivate what you hold dear to you.

There are only nine women in our office, but together, with you, we make one strong (and fun!) team.

You are a community of women that see challenges as opportunities.
You walk the walk my friends—you lifted us up this week and it changed everything.
You think big picture and take small steps.
You are generous.
You are encouraging.
You are capable.
You are passionate.
You are ready!

You, my friends, are Cultivators. And we’re so grateful to be on this team alongside you to help every woman know she can think differently. She doesn’t have to do it all. She can walk her unique path and use her gifts to love others well. She can cultivate what matters, right where she is, with what she has.

You are marvelous, and the best is yet to come.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of our favorite moments from launch day and what’s ahead.

Six of us work here in Chapel Hill, NC, and the other ladies are in various states—Texas, Georgia, and Missouri! We do most of our meetings and launches on video calls. We kicked off the day taking care of last-minute to-dos and then we had a time of prayer for our launch. Each team member then dove into her role for the day—with you in mind! Our goal: serve you well, one by one, with joy! For us, even if someone doesn’t purchase our products, we hope the experience of visiting our site or interacting will open her eyes to think differently and live out what lasts, right where she is.

What we each did on launch day:

Kaylee was the master of all things website, shipping, and fulfillment. She was also in charge of hitting the “go live” button for the shop at 10 am (no pressure)! 🙂
Emily spent the day on LiveChat answering your questions and was our Chief of Snacks!
Jess managed social media and replied to all of you via direct messages and comments—she was a busy bee.
Marissa spent her whole day chatting with you on LiveChat and on social channels, too.
Ashlea was our customer delight leader, focused on serving each and every one of you in our ZenDesk inbox!
Jordan helped Ashlea with customer delight and handled email replies.
Casey created all the beautiful graphics we shared with you online and made adjustments throughout the day.
Julie was our reporting wizard, keeping the whole team up to date on what was happening in the shop!
Amber was with us all day, cheering us on, and helped us solve any challenges that came up!

Our highlights from launch day:

Ashlea: My favorite part of launch day was hearing all of the excitement from our community about their 2019 collection order! We had so many fun emails from y’all, full of excitement, about which color Zipper Pouch or PowerSheets cover you chose. I can’t wait for those happy shipping boxes to arrive front doors all over the world!

Jess: Launch Day can feel like the culmination of all our hard work (and work hard we do!), but we like to think of it differently. October 24th serves as the starting point–not the finish line–for our community. Yes, we are excited for PowerSheets getting into your hands, but what fires us up even more is when you start to use them to uncover your best goals and actually do something about them! We truly believe the best is yet to come, and we can’t wait to watch it unfold in the lives of Cultivators around the world in 2019!

Julie: Hearing your personal stories was the highlight of my first Launch Day! You are why we do what we do! I have to admit that I shed a few joyful tears on my drive home thinking about the woman who used PowerSheets to navigate a severe illness, the teen girl who saved up all year to pay for her teal PowerSheets (#teamteal), and the two mamas who placed orders while in active labor. Needless to say, yesterday was the best day.

Kaylee: Driving over a set of PowerSheets to test the quality of the tabs was the best part of the day for me! Spoiler alert: they look brand new even after rolling over them with a minivan!

Casey: Hearing from all of our AMAZING friends during our Facebook and Instagram lives! I LOVE getting to hear stories from our community of how PowerSheets have helped them overcome fears and uncover their purpose! Secondary highlights: attempting to dress my dog, Muggsy, in Cultivate swag and being on video chat with our entire team all day long!

Marissa: You know it’s a great Launch Day when you have so many moments to choose from that it’s difficult to pick a favorite! But chatting on LiveChat with so many new friends takes the cake. And my girl above summarizes it well—it was an “Incredible” Launch!

Emily: I was replying to direct messages in the Cultivate inbox, and my favorite part was seeing all of the stories from friends come through, sharing about their orders or their many years using PowerSheets—made me so grateful for both our longtime and first-time users!

Kristin: We have friends who so strongly believe in PowerSheets that they ordered in between contractions from their hospital beds! That is amazing! And now we have two sweet new #PowerSheetsBabies.

Jordan: Celebrating with all of you has been my favorite part of Launch Day! Watching you all get excited about all the things you’ve accomplished and all the things you will do in 2019 makes me so excited! I LOVE cheering you on! Plus, today included lots of confetti, popcorn, and happy dancing—some of my favorite things!

My favorite part? Hearing your stories. You are the most wonderful women and I am blessed to do this life alongside you! So many of you shared your stories of transformation on launch day and I had to break out the tissues I was so overcome by the Lord’s goodness. I also greatly enjoyed the moment Kaylee made the confetti cannon go off in my office and the two amazing mamas in our community who were ordering PowerSheets while in active labor—well, that’s just amazing!

Friends, thank you! Your kindness and enthusiasm have meant the world to us this week as we continue to do this work. This is just the beginning for all of us—I can’t wait to do 2019 with you!

Shop the 2019 PowerSheets Collection now and mark your calendar for PowerSheets prep week, starting December 3rd!

Your turn! What did you choose from the shop this week? What cover are you going with? (I’m going with Multi and either a teal or yellow pouch!)

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If you were here right now with me, we’d likely be out in my garden. I’d ask how you are doing—how you are really doing—and I might not be able to help my curiosity as we picked zinnias together: I’d want to know what makes you come alive.

What makes you tick? What do you most want to cultivate in your life? What are the things you’ve always wanted to do?

I’d listen intently. I love hearing what’s really there. Seeing women come undone in order to come alive—throwing off everything that hinders them to live out their unique purpose—makes me want to dance!

If you felt any fear about sharing your path here and the bumps in the road, I’d tell you what I know to be true: I’m not perfect. And my path here hasn’t been perfect either. But! I am not the same person I used to be—it is crazy to think of!—and I’m so grateful God isn’t done with me yet. I know for sure that we humans have an infinite capacity for change—anything is possible. In every season of life, we can cultivate what truly matters.

Over the last seven years, I have used PowerSheets in every conceivable season: ones of joy, when life was unfolding smoothly and everything seemed on track. Ones of sadness, fear, loss, and challenge, when I’ve put just the simplest goals on my Tending Lists and celebrated even the smallest progress as a blessing.

I’ve had the honor of watching women do the same alongside me, and here is what I can say: wherever you find yourself today, and wherever you picture yourself in 2019, this new collection is for YOU, right where you are.

You’ll uncover purpose-filled goals and make an action plan you can’t wait to get started on! PowerSheets are perfect for anyone—moms, students, creatives, entrepreneurs—who needs a grace-filled system that works. This is the most impactful workbook yet. There are three intentional sections inside:

—PowerSheets Prep Work: The first 34 pages help you uncover your unique goals for your season of life and what matters most to you
—Intentional Action Plans: Step-by-step action plan pages help you look for threads and themes in your Prep Work. You’ll turn your goal ideas into “good goals,” with specific starting steps
—Monthly Tending Pages: Tending pages help you live out your goals and action plans each month!

You’ll LOVE what’s inside:
12 months of goal-setting worksheets to help you make your goals a reality.
Trusted goal coaching on every page so you stay motivated and on track.
Seasonal worksheets to refresh and refocus your goals each season.
Exclusive access to a free library of downloadable Wildcard pages to help you customize your goals, including a meal planner, finance tracker, reading list, monthly calendar, budget, and more.
“Threads” section to help you simplify your focus and goals for the year.
Inspiring design, including a page of our signature goal-setting stickers!

Now through midnight TONIGHT you’ll get free domestic shipping when you spend over $100 in the Cultivate Shop. NO CODE NEEDED. You can purchase your One-Year PowerSheets Goal Planner and accessories separately, or get your One-Year PowerSheets Goal Planner and accessories all together in the Best Year Yet Bundle. (You’ll love the new Goal Setting Sticker Book and Zipper Pouch—both are in the bundle!)

The 2019 PowerSheets help you cultivate your unique goals, but what gets me most excited is that they help you cultivate your relationships with those who matter most to you. Setting good goals–cultivated goals–can have a ripple effect on your family, your children, your friends, your coworkers. This is why I do this work—to change a culture! 

Thank you—more than ever—for encouraging us and praying for us throughout the last year as we’ve grown these new intentional tools for you. The little-by-little has added up, and we’re so grateful to celebrate this new beginning with you! We do what we do FOR you and BECAUSE of you. There may be only nine women in our office, but together–with you and ladies all over the world–we make one strong team!

Order your 2019 PowerSheets One-Year Goal Planner here.

Have questions? See my live broadcast here!

If you’re new here, welcome to the Cultivate family! I am so grateful to be on this journey with you!

Before using PowerSheets I was scattered in my goals, and now I am focused and motivated to get the job done! —Madison

PowerSheets have helped me to organize and prepare, think deeply about my goals and ask myself questions of reflection. —Kimmie

I am nearing the second year of using PowerSheets and I’m so hooked. I am a dreamer and type B unconventionally organized (I stopped calling myself disorganized!) person. I’ve really struggled with moving steadily towards my goals, and found that anything super detailed and rigid didn’t fit me for longer than about a day. ok, an hour. haha. I have often fallen into discouragement and distraction and give up on my big goals and daily habits. PowerSheets have allowed me to embrace step by step progress, while still allowing me the flexibility to make it exactly what fits me! Equally helpful for me has been the PowerSheets community and the Cultivate Team- it’s all the encouragement and celebration you need. I never feel alone. I’m so grateful for all the Cultivate Team does to help women win at the most important things! —Sandy

Powersheets have changed the entire course and trajectory of my life. I have always struggled to be disciplined and focused, especially on the little goals and daily habits that build confidence and make my days more positive, and my journey with PowerSheets has helped me overcome that. I’ve been able to commit to the little by little progress and small action steps it takes to make big things happen. Powersheets gets me excited about my goals and dreams and feeds my inner organization nerd! I recommend them to everyone I meet. I honestly don’t know how a woman can go through life NOT using Powersheets! I am eternally grateful to Lara Casey and Cultivate What Matters. —Nicole

L-O-V-I-N-G my #PowerSheets Goal Planner! Starting this year on the right foot! —Kay

These PowerSheets are by far, the best thing I’ve invested in! I finally feel like I’m on the right path to sorting out my goals. No longer am I just trying to figure it out. This planner made dig deep — from the very beginning. So deep, that I actually cried. I looked forward to every exercise. I did exactly as I was encouraged — I took my time and remembered that I’m not being judged. I have raved about this book to everyone I know. It’s just a must have. Thank you guys for creating something so powerful! I love this book so much!!!!!! —Jenn

I absolutely love the One Year Powersheets; I found them to be so helpful with how big I dream & the goals I set for myself, going back each month and breaking things down and helping to keep me on track. I also really love the different seasonal sections, which allows for a thoughtful reassessment. If you put in the work, take the time each month to reflect & full out the workbook, you’ll see results 🙂 I look forward to doing my Powersheets each month! —Rebecca

Seeing progress and keeping track of my goals has been a game changer. PowerSheets have changed my life in the best way. —Tawnya

Get your 2019 PowerSheets One-Year Goal Planner today.

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Friends, this is a big month! The 2019 PowerSheets collection launches in 20 days (yahoo!!), we have two new websites coming, my podcast launches, etc., etc. Those things reflect months of prayer and hard work, but they are not the reason this is a big month.

This month is big because I’m seeing small things that have added up to the big things.

A lot of life feels like it happens to us, doesn’t it? There is little we can do about many of our circumstances in various seasons of life. But. But! Sometimes the small decisions that we can make are the ones that count the most. Are you ready for this? Did you know we make an average of 35,000 decisions a day? Those decisions, big and small, all have arrows attached to them, pointing us in one direction or another.

Photo by the amazing and wonderful Gina Z!

This month, I’m choosing to throw off everything that hinders me, and I’m aiming my decision arrows at doing life the way He wants me to. It has been the small things—little daily decisions made over time—that are adding up to the big things. With small but intentional decisions in our family routines, fueling the bodies and souls in this home, where I’m spending my time (and where I’m not, like social media for the most part), and the way I do everyday life with the Lord, I’m seeing fruit.

These changes and decisions haven’t come overnight, though; fruitful things often start long before the month we’re in—perhaps even years ago.

Take Big Rita, for instance. We let Big Rita, our giant pumpkin, loose from her vine a few days ago. Do you know how many years we tried to grow a giant pumpkin—or any pumpkin at all for that matter? Seven. Seven years, people! Year one: squirrels. Year two: yep, Nutty the Squirrel does it again. Year three: our baby pumpkin was run over by a car. Year four: too much rain. Year five: too much heat. Year six: I just don’t even know. Year seven: We switched seed varieties, and I got some advice from a wise farmer friend. Over these seven years of waiting and patience and waiting some more, the Lord was teaching us a beautiful lesson: all things (and life change) come in His perfect timing. We didn’t grow a giant pumpkin overnight—it grew us over the last seven years. She came right on time. (I even took her to MTH!)

Here’s a look back at September and what’s ahead this month…

Harvesting our purple potatoes was like a treasure hunt!

Between unexpectedly traveling home to Gulf Breeze, going under contract on our new space (totally unexpected—totally God—and too long of a story for this little blog post!), and officially starting the new homeschool year, September was full and good. There was a lot of praying and seeking Him.

My September Monthly Goals Progress:

— Seek Him. / Yes. As mentioned above. Having the Bible open all the time has helped me do this more than ever.
— Begin our cultivated homeschool year. / Yes! I also released my free downloadable Cultivated Homeschool Planner.
— Record the podcast. / Progress here! The intro has been recorded, podcast cover art has been designed, a name has been chosen, episode topics outlined, an editor has been hired, and now all I have to do is record content starting this week.
Prepare well for the 2019 PowerSheets launch. / In progress! We released the new covers yesterday!
— Love Josh + Sarah and my parents well on our trip to Florida. / We canceled this trip last-minute with hurricane Florence headed our way, then re-booked it last-minute again to escape the storm with the kids. It was a needed and refreshing trip!

Watching the sunrise on the beach with my buddies. : ) 

— Celebrate Rosh Hashana. / Yes! Apples and honey all around!
— Have a surrendered quarterly sabbath. / Yes! Out of all the action steps I took from the Cultivated Calendar teachings, this is the one I’m most grateful for. Last fall, I looked ahead at my 2018 calendar and went ahead and blocked off 3 days once a quarter to take off. Instead of letting my calendar dictate my life, I made the intentional decision to block off these days ahead of time. This has been helpful!
— Savor September. / Yes, and I am so grateful for my PowerSheets for reminding me of this goal. I had several moments with the kids that are etched in my brain now from stopping to savor them and give thanks to the God who make them happen.

— Prayerfully lead the 54th Making Things Happen Conference/ This was the highlight of my year. I have yet to post about it because it’s hard to put a life-changing experience into adequate words. It was incredible. All praise to Him! I love these ladies above! Photo by the delightful Rachel Coffey.

September Weekly Goals:

— Praise! / Yes! My weekly goal was simply to praise Him. In song, dancing around with the kiddos, on hikes, in conversation, in art, in words, in prayer—in as many ways as I could muster!

September Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. / I finished the Old Testament!!! My heart did cartwheels finishing Malachi and I actually felt sad about it. Then, I remembered I can read it again next year! I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy / Progress was made here despite a neck injury that has been a little tricky. This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos!

Now to October! 

October Monthly Goals:

— Throw off everything that hinders me and aim my arrows at doing life the way He wants me to. I’ll report back next month on what exactly this looked like for me! I want to walk the walk before I talk about it.
— Enter into the most wonderful season of service and joy with our team and the good work He has blessed us with!
— Share why I have the hope I have.
— Bring the life of God to our children, which starts with us flourishing in faith.
— Get into a rhythm with homeschool. The Cultivated Homeschool Planner has been a game changer for me. We have our plans, now it’s time to get into a consistent rhythm, try them out, and adjust as needed. So far, so great!

My quarterly PowerSheets goal refresh was right on time this week!

October Weekly Goals:

— Take care of our temples of the Holy Spirit. Ari expressed wanting to grow in balance and wellness, and I want to teach our kiddos healthy habits too—all with the aim of honoring the Lord and loving others well. We’ve already started cooking lessons with the kiddos, including knife skills for Grace so she can prepare fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. Here’s a great video we watched to learn the basics!
— Pray for a *few* friends. As I was praying and asking God what He wanted me to work on this month, He kept nudging me to be in deeper prayer for just a few close friends instead of praying lightly for a lot of friends. I will pray for whomever He tells me to, but I also love this challenge to pour my heart out for friends in need more than usual this month.
— All of them. I encourage you to word goals however they make the most sense to you—don’t worry about making them clear to everyone else. Case in point: this goal! “All of them” for me means a deeper commitment to cultivating the hearts in this home more than ever—and to celebrate the fruit we are already seeing.
— Believing a miracle happened in our lives and acting like it! Let me just go ahead and get this goal in motion right here and now. Friends, Ari and I are not the same people we were several years ago. The heart and life change we’ve experienced is significant, but this fact is easy to forget in day-to-day life. I do not want to forget this. A miracle happened in our lives and remembering this spurs me forward to share the hope we have. His grace is a real thing and it changes everything!

October Daily Goals:

— Bathe in the Word. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on YouVersion.
— Seek Him in all things instead of doing them my way or without asking Him first.
— Praise + joy! Working out with praise on my lips and joy in my soul!
— Speak restorative words. The idea of speaking restorative words came from a marriage class that Ari and I have been going through with our church. I want to practice this with everyone I meet! The words we share have the potential to change lives. 🙂

I love October!

Verses I’m loving for October:

Hebrews 12:1-3 has my heart right now, specifically the words “throw off everything that hinders.”

And this one… ‘Agree with God and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from His mouth, and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows. What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways’ (Job 22:21-29).

My little buddy learning rock, paper, scissors from one of our good friends at a wedding we had the joy of attending last week! These little moments in life are the best!

Your turn! What are your goals for October? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to September’s winner, Meghann! Bonus giveaway: Take a guess at how much Big Rita weighs and whoever gets the closest will win some of our new shop products that launch on October 24th!

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Long before our first day of homeschool, when I was still in the preparation stages, I was asked what curriculum we were using, what my best tips were, and even to speak at homeschool conventions. This felt a little like being asked to teach others how to ride a bike before I ever touched one myself. 🙂

I understand why friends asked me these well-meaning questions, though—I asked those same questions of others myself!

There are so many unknowns when you begin this journey. How do I do this? What do I do exactly? What if I mess up and don’t do enough? Where do I even START!? There are a million ways to do school (the challenge), and you get to do what’s best for your unique and wonderful child (the blessing).

While I’m no homeschool expert, I am deeply passionate about cultivating what matters—and a huge part of that for us is growing the hearts we’ve been entrusted with. Moving into our second year of homeschooling, I have learned a few things, but I’m still—and likely always will be—the student here.

I haven’t shared much about our homeschooling journey for the reasons above, and because this has been a really special and sacred time for just Grace and me. I’ve shared so much of my life online, and this has been a sweet experience for just the two of us. Here are some basics of how we do it, though:

We homeschool because… Simply because God led us here. Our reason for homeschooling might be easier to explain, perhaps, if I had a strong schooling philosophy that leaned toward homeschool, or if I were homeschooled myself, or if there were no great schools in the area. None of these things are true though! The honest answer is God made it clear to us with every little step forward that this would be our path for Grace. Through conversations with friends, being around other homeschool families, little nudges and opened doors… it just fit. Much like our journey to adoption, homeschool was not on our radar for life, but we’re so glad He planted us here. There are so many ways to grow our children’s hearts well, whether that’s a wonderful public school education (my path!), private school (Ari’s path), homeschool, charter school, boarding school, unschool, or circus school (technically I was required to take clowning in college so this is a real thing, people!).

I don’t do it all. Grace goes to a “homeschool school” two days a week where she does history, social studies, and science, and I work with her for the other two days. Friday she does piano lessons and gets to play with her siblings and just have fun being a kiddo.

We don’t use a formal curriculum. I’m using recommendations for each subject from close friends whom I trust. Kindergarten was our year to build foundations, learning how to learn together. If I had to put us in a category, I’d say we’re Charlotte-Mason-ish with a side of Grace-likes-workbooks. My favorite resources: My friend, Lara, has been a wonderful resource and encourager. I also love Read Aloud Revival. Her book, The Read Aloud Family, is awesome. I have modeled our year after some of the Ambleside Online suggestions. We use our Write the Word for Kids to practice handwriting and as a fun way to get into the Bible. There are a few of blogs I occasionally read too, but my very favorite resources have been in-person relationships. We are in a weekly Bible study with three other couples, two of which are long-time homeschool families—one even runs a homeschool school. My friend, Natascha, runs a homeschool school, too. Many of our church friends homeschool. The list goes on. The Lord built this community around us, and we are grateful.

School this week with my buddies. : ) 

We finally have a school name! It took us our entire first year to come up with a school name that fit. Trying to create a name that embodied our school and also looked good on a future transcript felt like trying to name a child! Our final decision? Thanks to Ari’s suggestion, we chose C.C. Austin Day School. Cecil Clyde Austin was my grandfather, who I have written about many times. He greatly impacted my faith, and Joshua even has “Cecil” as a middle name. We often tell stories about him to our kids, flip through his old Bibles, and I probably mention his name at least once a week. Our school name makes us think of his humility and passion for the Lord. We love it! Now, onto our mascot, chosen by Grace: a unicorn, naturally!

We do morning time. A resource I’ve enjoyed for this is Pam Barnhill’s website.

We take it day by day, week by week, and we plan to take it year by year. Right now, this is where God wants us. We’re open to whatever He wants for each child in the future.

Homeschool is challenging and wonderful all at once. Our journey so far has been, to put it mildly, spiritually refining. It’s the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve done. And some days, it’s totally overwhelming!

To help me—and you—I have a little surprise!

Feeling overwhelmed by homeschool planning? I can relate! When I began our homeschool adventure, I prayed, researched, and readied myself as much as I could—but the most helpful thing I did was start each day with open hands. More than growing Grace’s mind, I wanted to cultivate her heart. I needed a simple system to stay focused on our big picture goals while getting the day-to-day learning done, too.

I created The Cultivated Homeschool Planner (a free download!) to help me get organized and focused on what matters most in our homeschool—and I’m excited to share it with you, too!

It is possible to set intentional goals and tend to them little by little with this customizable planner. No matter your method of schooling—or if your homeschool terms are six weeks long, three month periods, or traditional “semester” lengths, you can customize this planner to meet your needs. *I had mine printed and bound at a local printer which was significantly less expensive than FedEx Kinkos, and much better quality. I had them size mine down to 7.5 x 10. Printing on a home printer and using a three-ring binder is a great option, too!


I hope you enjoy this free download as much as I do!

Your turn! Do you homeschool? Considering it, but not sure where to start? Have tips or favorite resources for newbies? Feel free to share below!

P.S. 2019 PowerSheets are coming in 24 days! Yahoo!!!

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