We get one shot at this life. We can waste it on things that are fleeting or we can GRAB THIS LIFE BY THE HORNS. This is not motivation. This is truth. If you’re reading this, you have breath. You have decisions in front of you. You can take huge leaps of faith to love, to give, and to spend yourself well or…. you fill in the blank.

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.

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What is that thing for you (and what has been holding you back from doing it)?

Need to get motivated, refresh your goals, or a get kick start? Catch the free replay of my one-hour Summer Goals webinar that will inspire and equip you. You’ll learn the top 10 keys to making good goals happen, practical tips, and ways to get–and stay—motivated. Best of all, this is grace-filled goal setting. No perfection, striving, or perfect track-record required. This powerful hour will help you focus on progress, not perfection.

And to encourage you in your summer goals and in making fruitful friendships, I have an amazing giveaway for you today. Are you ready for this?

Welcome to the Ultimate Fruitful Summer Giveaway! We brainstormed all the things we would want to have an intentional and joy-filled summer, and we’re giving all of these things away to one lucky winner. This summer prize bundle includes everything you see here including our NEW Fruitful Friendships Workbook, a fresh set of PowerSheets, our new Fruitful Summer encouragement postcards, and even a copy of my upcoming book!

Enter below…

fruitful summer giveaway

The lucky winner will be selected at random. U.S. entrants only as shipping costs are prohibitive on some of these things. (Thank you to all my international friends for understanding! I wish I had a plane to come deliver these items to you myself!). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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There is a magic about summer: the smell of blooming flowers in my garden, the taste of watermelon and fresh mint, the sound of kids playing in front yards and jumping through sprinklers, and the thrill of spotting fireflies as the sun goes down. Summer is nostalgic and refreshing because it’s a season of getting out there. It’s a season of connecting and community.

And it can be a season of loneliness.

We see the kids playing together, and we crave the same playful, free, joy-filled connection with our peers.

Are you feeling it?

I am. I feel a longing for new and deeper connections.

fruitful friendship lara caseyPhoto of me and my friend Randi by Amy Nicole.

But, there are some things in the way it seems.

I’m in a season of little “extra” time and full hands. I am craving deeper friendships, but I also relish my time with Ari and the kids. So, what’s a girl to do?

I’ve been praying and thinking a lot about this, and here’s what I believe is the answer (that has me really excited, hopeful, and relieved!):

It’s not about us.

There’s someone out there that needs your friendship, more than you need hers. There’s someone out there who needs your specific story to intersect with hers. It’s not about what we need; it’s about loving others as we have been loved. Fruitful friendship is born from a connection with the Father who makes truly good fruit grow.

nrp-olivia-SWfruitfulsummer-1110My friend Tori and I last summer. Photo by Olivia from Nancy Ray Photography.

Here’s a little truth from my upcoming book, Cultivate, that will shed some light on this for us:

cultivate-book-text-lara-casey

Good fruit is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). But here’s the thing we often miss: a life aimed at any one of these virtues will leave you chasing your tail because seeking to obtain the fruit of the Spirit isn’t the goal. Cultivating a meaningful life with God is the goal, and the fruit is the result. In order to live a truly fruitful life, we must seek God above all else. He is the Master Gardener who makes our lives fruitful.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. —Psalm 92:12–13

Think about your life and honestly evaluate how you are spending your time, energy, and focus. Are there areas of your life or activities that you know you need to let God heal, change, or strengthen to become fruitful?

Stepping outside of our comfort zones to build meaningful connections could change not only our lives but other people’s lives too. Fruitful relationships aren’t about us; they are about something bigger than we are. The fruit of community is God Himself.

Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. —Proverbs 11:25

–Pre-order your copy of Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (releases June 27!)

cultivate-book-text-lara-casey

Want to know where to start growing fruitful friendships? Sometimes it’s less about hosting a gathering, and more about digging into what we’re wrestling with below the surface right where we are. Gathering together is important, but there’s a more powerful step that we often miss: connecting to the author of close connection and fruitful friendship–God Himself. Maybe for you, that means praying to ask for His help, forgiving someone who may be hard to forgive, saying we’re sorry, saying thank you, or taking a leap of faith to love someone in ridiculous big bold ways. For me it means, little by little, choosing God over my fruitless ways: forgiveness over bitterness, hope over despair, and imperfect over perfect. It means letting go of the friendship guilt and embracing the season I’m in.

There’s so much freedom to be found in standing on the ground we’ve been given–mess and all. And in letting others stand with us.

Broken fences

In writing this to you and letting these thoughts sink in deep, I let go of what I thought friendship had to look like. I flipped the script (and you can too). While I can’t get together with friends often, I can go deep with them when I see them, and I can pray like I would want to be prayed for. This season won’t last forever, and I’m grateful for what it’s teaching me:

Skip the fluff.

Love people right where they are, with what you have. No one needs me to be the hero of their story–they just need Him. I can give that to people.

What about you? How are you feeling about your friendships? Are you in a season of transition or restlessness too? I’d love to hear from you, right where you are.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/pursuit31film

Join us this week for the third-annual Fruitful Summer series to learn how to embrace awkward and get out there to make meaningful connections. This five-day series is packed with free downloads and tips that just might surprise you! Sign up here and get the NEW Fruitful Friendships Workbook here.

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Writing this post makes me feel happy and sad all at the same time. As I was writing this, Jess gave me some encouragement: “So often we feel like we have to be one or the other–happy or sad, not in between. But “and”–the middle ground–is often more true.”

Yes! That’s where I am. This is sad and happy. Exciting and bittersweet.

We’re so happy that Sarah and Chris are expecting a baby this fall, and yet sad that our time with Sarah will be coming to an end soon. She has blessed our family immensely. The last year has been a dream (I rarely use that phrase but it fits here!) as we’ve welcomed Sarah into our family–and into the mess and fun of every day life here at the Isaacson house/Cultivate and Southern Weddings office.

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver10These two love Sarah so much!

I’m so happy for what’s ahead of Sarah (we got to hear the audio recording of the baby’s heartbeat this morning! Ah!!!) and I’m really grateful she’s not moving to another city. : ) Sarah has blessed our children, us, the ladies in this office, our neighbors, our friends–I could go on. What happens in this house is pretty unique, and Sarah has been a ray of light for all of us!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver3Celebrating Sarah’s birthday this year.

As you can see in these photographs, she’s pretty amazing. She works hard and loves God passionately. We trust that God will bring us another great fit for our family!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver7Please note Sarah’s tank top. ; )

We are looking for someone special, and perhaps that person is you! We are seeking a full-time caregiver and House/Office Manager, starting August 1st. Please apply if you meet ALL of these requirements. Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver8Oh sweet Sarah’s!

Who you’ll care for:

Almost-two-year-old boy (Joshua)
One-year old girl (Sarah)
Kindergartener girl (Grace)
A handful of fishies and a bevy of houseplants : )

We’re looking for:

Joyful Caregiver
Hard Worker and Self Starter
Health-Oriented(non-smoker, etc.) because this job takes a ton of energy!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver4Gracie loved decorating for Sarah’s birthday.

We need someone who can commit to two years with us. Must be able to start training August 1st. If you are applying from out-of-state (our previous three caregivers did this!), you must be able to relocate to the Chapel Hill, NC, area by August 1. The ladies in my office and I will gladly help you hunt for great living arrangements. We love this area!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver6Taking all the kids to the doc together!

Must be extremely organized, energetic (three kids will keep you on your toes!), joyful (we love to be silly), and experienced in childcare. A background in early childhood education is a plus. College graduates only. Must have own transportation (although you’ll use our minivan to cart the kiddos around!), and a clean driving record. In addition to caring for our three children while I work, you will also be responsible for managing this unique building we call our home and our office. There are not only three kiddos who look forward to meeting you, but lots of ladies too!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver1Another reason I love Sarah: she loves being silly with Grace and igniting her imagination!

I run a business with multiple employees from home, so I am here all day as well, and I’ll be transitioning to homeschooling Grace a couple days a week in the season ahead. (Please let me know in your application if you have experience with homeschool.) We will spend a lot of time together, caring for these children alongside each other. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with occasional date nights/Saturday hours (maybe 5-10 total per year).

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver2And now I’m getting teary-eyed. We love you, Sarah. 

Our faith is a cornerstone in our home. We are seeking a caregiver who can teach and reinforce Christian principles and lead by example. We are looking for someone who has very strong integrity, is calm under pressure, confident in their faith, and is willing to develop a passion for shaping our children’s hearts alongside us.

Please pray about this position and only reply if you meet ALL of these requirements. We’ve had four wonderful nannies over the last five years, and know the qualifications fit our family well. We will be doing several Skype interviews with potential candidates.

Please APPLY HERE by June 1st. This is a full-time salaried position. We will begin Skype interviews the first week of June. Please read through this post and the application thoroughly. Your attention to detail is part of the interview : ) We are praying for you as you apply!

P.S. If you know someone else who this would be a great fit for, please pass this post along. Thank you!

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Summer is full of possibilities: activities, adventures, outings, people to spend time with and places to go. We want our summers to be fun and meaningful, but where do we invest the little time and resources we have before we blink and school has started again?

You can plan your summer, or it can plan you.

But, here’s the thing: my favorite summer memories were simple: spending all day outside, playing in the sprinklers with my brother, telling stories on the porch, eating peaches and spotting fireflies as the sun went down. Think back to your childhood: what summer memories stand out to you? And more importantly–what did those experiences grow in you?

We sometimes think of summer as a time to let go and check out, but what if this is your season to check in and dig into what is most important to you?

If you’re ready to dig in, here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at our new Summer Goals Collection. We’ve been working on these new tools and resources for a year and we’re so happy to finally get these tools in hands across the world today!

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But, first, you should know this: you don’t need to buy any of these things to have an intentional summer–or an intentional life. They will help you do those things, but this post isn’t about selling you products. I hope, regardless of what tools you use or have, this post inspires you to get out there and do something about what matters to you–with what you have!

Okay, let’s dig in…

There’s nothing magical about January 1st. Why not start fresh with your goals today? Really. I’m actually asking you and I want to know your answer: why not today? What has been holding you back? (Let me know in the comments and I would love to personally encourage you right where you are.) Some truth: good goals are about cultivating what you’ve been given well–your time, resources, and relationships. Good goals are not about striving and doing something just because “everyone else” is doing it, or because you feel like you should. Let’s throw out the “should’s” for a minute and think about your unique assignment here on this earth. Have no idea what that is? Does it feel far away? I hear you. It’s really hard to hear the truth in all the noise and distractions. This is why I created these goal uncovering workbooks because I got tired of wasting my time lost in the noise. I wanted to direct my energy where it mattered.

Teal-Summer-PowerSheets

This first one isn’t new to our shop, but it might be new to you. PowerSheets help you uncover good goals and do something about them. We’re nearing the half-way point of the year, so it’s a perfect time to start a new set of undated six-month PowerSheets.

The Six-Month PowerSheets Workbooks are undated which means you can start as soon as you get them. Choose from Pink, White, or Teal, and we have gold foil Monthly Tab Stickers if you want to customize your tabs instead of writing the months in yourself. Join us in finishing the year strong with goals that are rooted in what’s important to you.

Fruitful-Friendship-Workbook

Over the past three years, I have loved walking through Fruitful Summer with you, encouraging you to cultivate meaningful friendships. Last year I shared that we were creating a Fruitful Summer magazine, and after dreaming and sketching, we decided to make a hybrid magazine + workbook. The NEW Fruitful Friendship Workbook is part inspiring (to help you think in a new way) and practical (to help you put it into practice). It will equip and encourage you to dig into community right where you are–no perfection or perfect track-record required.

The Fruitful Friendship Workbook is larger in size than our other goal guides (it’s the same height and width of the PowerSheets so you have lots of room to write!) and is thicker than our Couple’s and Parent’s Goal Guides too. This is going to be tucked in my bag all summer for reading and working through each page and prompt. Side note: this is a GREAT workbook to use in a small group or group of friends to do alongside each other. If any local folks want to join me and do this workbook together, let me know! Gather your friends, put a post up to invite new friends in your area–get out there and let’s come together to make meaningful friendships happen. Don’t wait for the invitation, though, friends–be the invitation. I’m excited!

Parents-Companion-Guide

The PowerSheets Goal Guide for Parents will also be tucked in my bag all summer. After receiving numerous requests about how to set good, grace-filled goals as a family–and wanting a guide like this for my own family–we made it! This guide is will help you uncover your goals and what matters to your family. What do you think of Grace’s drawing of each of our family members? Sarah apparently has purple hair. ; )

Couples-Companion-Guide

I don’t know about your gent, but Ari isn’t as into goal setting as I am. That’s code for: he’d rather do the dishes. But! He loved doing the PowerSheets Goal Guide for Couples with me–so much so that he has asked for several copies to give to work colleagues. We made it fun, easy (you could fill this out together in one sitting!), and impactful. This mini guide will help you uncover your shared goals and what matters to both of you. It’s great for married, dating, or engaged couples. Fill this little book out on a summer date night, on the porch one evening, all at once, or little by little.

Cultivate-Tank-Top

If last year’s Fruitful Summer product launch was any indicator, the new Cultivate What Matters Tanks will be a favorite! Our sizes are limited, so if you want to snag one, I recommend adding it to your cart quickly. This is the perfect tank for heading out on my morning walk with the kids or spending the afternoon in my garden.

Fruitful-Summer-Encouragement-Postcards

Craving connection this summer? I am. And I have a whole post coming next week about how to cultivate meaningful friendships. One easy way you can stay connected is through real mail. The Fruitful Summer Encouragement Postcard Set contain an assortment of 20 cards featuring fun summer sayings, fruity puns, and friendly messages. My personal favorite? You are the pineapple of my eye. And a tip: Pre-stamp these postcards when you get them (order stamps here) and you’ll be ready to pop them in the mail easily and quickly!

Take-The-Leap-Mini-Print

We brainstormed a long list of phrases for our newest Mini Print collection, and it was tough to narrow it down to just three! Our three newest mini prints look great tacked onto a bulletin board for extra encouragement or slipped into a card as a small gift for a friend. In addition to the Take the Leap Gold Foil Mini Print pictured above, we have the What If Today Gold Foil Mini Print (mine and Nicole’s favorite) and the Little by Little Gold Foil Mini Print.

Fruitful Summer Bundle

Okay, want one of everything? Me too! Our Fruitful Summer Bundle has everything you need to cultivate what matters this summer! Set meaningful summer goals and grow meaningful friendships this season with our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets Workbook in White, Fruitful Friendship Workbook, Fruitful Summer Postcard Set, and Take the Leap Mini Print. If you already have a set of PowerSheets, this is a great opportunity to get a discounted set in this bundle to give to a friend! Summer goal setting is better with a buddy. There are only 200 of these bundles available today, so get yours while they last.

Also, Write the Word is back in stock (!!!), but we think we will sell out again by the end of the day. Since we opened pre-orders, most of our stock has been reserved. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Get your Write the Word collection and summer goals goodies today.

write the word all seasons collection 2017

I’m excited to do summer with you, friends! Remember, this isn’t about products, it’s about purpose. None of these great tools matter unless you DO something with them. Don’t wait to get started planning an intentional second half of the year. Start today. Start now. An easy place to begin? Tell me in the comments what you most want to cultivate this summer and I’ll share my thoughts too. Words have power, friends. Taking a leap of faith to share our dreams and hopes gives us the courage to take the first step. I can’t wait to cheer you on!

P.S. Join me next week for a free live Summer Goals class where I’ll give you my best tips for an intentional summer. I can’t wait to see you there!

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It’s my favorite time of year, friends: garden planting time! I’ve had so much fun digging in this year–perhaps more than ever. Every year I make my garden plans to be sure I have room for everything I want to grow. But, then I let go and have fun! On-the-spot creativity and pairing what I think will look best and grow well together brings the garden to life.

Plans are important.
Forethought is vital.
But at some point you have to move from planning to planting.

Laying an intentional foundation can give way to freedom and creativity, and a different kind of joy if you are willing to let go. Letting go is hard, but that’s where the good stuff grows: in surrender. In believing in what you can’t yet see.

Forethought can give you a foundation on which to have the freedom to flourish. (That was a lot of “f”‘s, but I like it!)

Lara Casey May Goals4

We went to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market’s annual seedling giveaway on Saturday. Local farmers donate seedlings for kids to take home and the kids write a thank you note to the farmer who grew their seedling–isn’t that fun!? Grace picked out a pair of white sunflowers and a Sungold tomato.

Lara Casey May Goals7At our local Southern States buying Gracie’s favorite marigolds and we bought lots of dirt for a special secret project we’re working on with Gardeners.com! Stay tuned. : ) 

April was full of hard work and planning, and May is already shaping up to be a month of planting–taking action, digging in, taking risks, and cultivating what matters. Here’s a recap of April and my PowerSheets goals for May are below too.

My April PowerSheets progress:

– Celebrate Southern Weddings’ birthday. This was a sweet celebration week, but perhaps the very best celebration was when Lisa came to the office a couple weeks ago. We sat around the table together and shared memories and gratitude and lots and lots of tears as we prepared to say “farewell” to her after four amazing years. Thankfully she still lives right down the road though and her impact on our lives has deep roots that are here to stay. We love you so much, Lisa! Read more about Lisa’s farewell here.
– Lay a firm foundation for the budget. We made progress! Ari and I started setting up our EveryDollar budget over the weekend.
– Celebrate Passover (my favorite holiday!). Yes, this was wonderful. Ari led a great seder for about 40 people at church and my faith was built!
– Create a new frequent date night schedule. Thanks to my amazing friend Joslyn, we had a great date night last month. We hope to increase the frequency to once every two weeks.
– Prayerfully hire our new team members. This is still in progress, but great progress had been made.
– Plant our garden! Yes! You may have seen on Instagram stories last week that I have a “secret garden” project in the works. I’ll keep you posted here and here on the blog.
– Record the audiobook for Cultivate and prepare well for the launch ahead. This was so good, praise Him! What a wonderful experience. I’m so grateful!
– Prayerful spring product launch – Yes! Write the Word sold out much faster than we expected. A new shipment will be here in a few days, but I highly recommend reserving your copy here.
Team Summit prep: Yes! This has been the center of my focus the last couple weeks. I’d read books, written several presentations, and prayed so much over this week. Our team summit starts tomorrow and I am so excited to learn and grow alongside my team. Follow along on my IG stories this week.
– Host a meaningful Cultivating Faith webinar next week with Shanna Noel – Yes! Catch the replay here.
- Take my workouts to the next level. Yes – we finally got bikes, and I joined Ari for a class at his gym last week too.
- Lord willing, start leading our family group again. We are not leading a family group now–instead, another couple is taking the lead. I’m excited about this and grateful. With all the kids, it was a bit overambitious to think about leading anything new in this season.
- Pray impossible prayers and be open to new possibilities. This happened a little, and this is one of my biggest priorities for May.

Lara Casey May Goals1Those snapdragons totally surprised me. I planted them from seed (get them here) last summer and had no idea they would winter over and look so good now. What a treat!

My monthly PowerSheets goals for May:

Lara Casey May Goals3To help me wrap my brain around all the writing I have ahead this month, I wrote it all out on PostIt’s and added them to my PowerSheets.

– Plant the garden. We’re close to done here. I’m waiting to see how the pansies hold up in the heat over the next couple weeks. Once they start to fade, they’ll get replaced with lots of zinnias!
– Cultivate book launch prep. The book launches next month! (And typing that just gave me all the butterflies.) I’m nervous to release this book because I’m sharing parts of our story I’ve never shared before and I pray these pages help many people to cultivate what matters with Him. Pre-order Cultivate here. (Pre-ordering is so helpful to ensure retailers have enough books in stock on launch day. I am so grateful for the many friends who have already reserved their copies.)
– Create the budget with Ari. The next step is committing to our budget numbers and goals. We plan to make more progress this coming weekend while the babies nap.
– Lead a refreshing team summit. Hooray for the Team Summit starting tomorrow!
– Prayerfully launch summer products. I can’t wait to share them next week! The Summer Collection launches at 10 am EST on May 9th!
– Implement new team meeting structure. More on this to come after our Team Summit.
– Create a new date night plan.
(Goal I can’t share just yet, but I will in two weeks.)
- Pray impossible prayers and be open to new possibilities. This is one of my biggest priorities for May.

Lara Casey May Goals5Peonies and PJ’s in the community garden this morning.

May weekly goals:
– Sabbath – lifegiving weekends.
– Meaningful God connection with Ari. I’ve had this on my tending list all year, but I added “God” to this and it has already helped us so much. It’s not just about connecting; it’s about connecting in the Spirit. We had some great conversations this weekend about what God is growing in us.
Write the Word : ) This, my friends, is my solution to the afternoon Word refresh I’ve been craving! Yahoo!

May daily goals:
– Read my chronological Bible reading plan
– #RunLiftPraise
– Eat more raw foods.
– Be active in my work day. Nicole and I are giving a presentation on workplace fitness this week!
– Pray through my prayer journal.

Lara Casey May Goals2Grace and I have gotten on a Garden Answer video kick, and made a new fairy garden this weekend! I love it–and her. : )  

Your turn! I’d love to hear: Do you have goals for May? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to April’s winner, Alexandra Keen. Alexandra and I go to church together, so I’ll bring your goodies to you this weekend, friend! : ) 

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