Do you know what it feels like to rely on your own strength?

Yep. It’s fleeting.
Frustrating.
Exhausting even.

I stood on this beach last week and my thoughts felt tangled as I tried to fix everything on my own. Worries. Fears. A mess of various thoughts.

Then Ari asked the kids, “Do you know who made this ocean?”

It was simple and it was powerful.

If God made this vast beautiful teeming-with-life body of water, surely my small challenges were easy. Light. A delight for Him to help me with, just as I delight in helping these three.

Something I’ve been chewing on lately: how these three fully rely on Ari and me. For direction, for food, for comfort, for safety, for love. And how often I fail to rely on my Father who gives me 1000x as much.

Taking care of my tangled thoughts and fears and worries was already done before I even asked.

Before my kids ask, I know they need food. Before they rub their eyes, I know they need rest. And before I put my feet in this sand, He knew I would need the simple reminder that God is big and I can LET GO.

These three had fun together on vacation last week!

Lord, in this new month of April, help me to rely on Your voice over the world. Your strength over mine. Your power over my total inability to calm my inner storms on my own. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you for loving us right where we are. And thank you for never giving up on us, even when we are a teeny weeny bit stubborn!

A look back at my March goal progress (read March’s goal post here!):

Monthy Goals:
— Pray + Praise! These two things keep me on track for the rest of life! I marked this as my top priority for March with one of my favorite Goal Setting Sticker Book stickers. — Yes! There was a lot of both that happened.
— Gardening 101 series + garden prep. I am waiting till the recommended time (after April 15th here in Chapel Hill) to plant the garden, but there’s a lot to prep in March—clearing out old plants, cleaning pots, and it’s time to replace the garden beds themselves. I discovered several critter colonies and most of them are falling apart now after the winter. I resisted replacing them before (as you know if you’ve read Cultivate), but they are not functional in places now. So, new cedar beds are in our future. — Yes! The garden has been cleared out, the Gardening 101 series has been a huge success (the giveaway ends Monday!), and new cedar garden beds from Gardener’s are waiting for me on my front steps. I can’t wait to dig in!
— Prayer journal date. — Yes!

Photo above by Gina!

— Celebrate 12 years of marriage! Our anniversary always falls on the weekend that the Making Things Happen Conference kicks off, so we’ll be celebrating with lots of friends at dinner that night.  — Well, the best friends in the world surprised us big time! Cards, balloons, a gorgeous bouquet from Rhi (!), and best of all, prayers for our next twelve years together. I love you all so much! What a blessing this was!

If you need encouragement in your marriage, download my free marriage guide that includes links to read our story. We’re two imperfect people who know for sure that grace is a real thing and that the impossible is possible.

— Lead our best-ever MTH conference. — We’re nine years into making Making Things Happen happen and it just keeps getting better! It was our best conference yet, and we have so many ideas for the fall conference to make it even more impactful. So grateful for this time and all the women who joined us!

Photo from MTH above of me and my friend Shunta by Rachel Coffey.

— Have a meaningful Purim and Passover. — Purim was great and Passover was not what I planned, but it was good in the end! We had come home from an exhausting travel marathon the night before and the kids were tired. Really tired. We showed up to a beautiful Passover meal that Ari was leading and I couldn’t keep the two little one’s quiet or still, so I took them home and put them in a bubble bath. It was needed quiet time for all three of us! Ari and Grace got a ride home and everyone was happy. : )
— 2019 project finalization. — Here’s where my April priority comes in. We got a lot of new products off to print in March, and now it’s time to cut some projects ahead. More in April…
— Onboard new team members. — Yes, we have welcomed two new team members and they got thrown right into the good stuff: MTH, a team summit, a big shoot, and more! Why do we wait 90 days to announce them? We want to fully equip each new team member and give them time to settle in before they do forward-facing tasks. This has been so helpful and much-appreciated on their end so they feel confident in their roles when they are announced. We can’t wait to introduce them in a few weeks!
— Spring Team Summit prep. — Yes! The Cultivate Team Summit this week was all about digging into our vision, our heartbeat, and cultivating what matters in our own lives so we can give the same to you.
— April Cultivated Calendar prep. — I missed a lot of this but I don’t feel bad about it. I did what mattered most!

Weekly goals:
— Strength training 2x/week — I did this twice and definitely got my strength workout in other ways the last two weeks (carrying kiddos while traveling, paddling a boat, biking a LOT!).
— Write + study He + Waw (Psalm 119) — Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’ve been outside after church instead of inside trying to stay warm. So, I’m scrapping this for this season to make room for garden time.
— Undistracted + cultivated homeschool — We missed a lot of school this month with travelling and spring break, but when we did school, it was great.
— Re-creation — Yes. Biking a lot in Watercolor was really helpful time to sort though my thoughts.
— Pray the Word — Yes, I prayed the Word several times.
— Finish implementing Traction — praising the Lord for this book and all we’ve learned over the last year! — Almost there! So close!
— 2 days “on” + vacation — I ended up having to work on my days “on” but we did complete our vacation.

Daily Goals:
— Chronological Bible reading — Yes!
— Soul care at night — A little. There were a lot of busy nights this month with MTH, our Summit, and shoot!
— Kiss Ari — Yes.
— Pray over the kids — Yes.
— Family worship — We realized that we would love for this to be the focus of future family trips. We’d love to take a trip with another believing family and make it more of a retreat to be with God together! It really doesn’t matter where we go as long as that’s the focus.

On to April! 

This week has been a turning point for me. A new season of letting go. Letting go of control to make room for life! What generally precedes a turning point for me isn’t hard work on my part or big events or great achievements or perfect timing or circumstances; it’s surrender. Weakness. Being broken down so God can build me back up again—new and different.

It was a perfect month for a goal refresh! Every three months in the PowerSheets, we refresh our goals, and I LOVE what I uncovered. Here’s a peek:

And here are my refreshed goals for the next three months. A certain little kindergartener helped me add the stickers!

These goals make me so excited and grateful! Next, I filled out my April Tending List to start bringing these goals to life…

April Monthly Goals:

— Choose less. A radical move to less so there’s room for life. As I wrote about last week, there are inevitable times of overload that will creep up in our lives. These times are not cause for guilt or worry; they are opportunities. I’ve found myself in one of those little-margin seasons and my top priority in April is pruning. Choosing less to make room for life!
— On that note, I’m reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality this month.
— Plant the garden.
— Decide on office space.
— Lead a prayerful summit and shoot. — I can already update you on this and tell you it was the best week! Lots of prayer, digging into our vision, and helping each other cultivate what matters so we can give the same to you.
— Lead a prayerful summer launch (coming April 24th!).

We loved our time together at the Carolina Inn this week!

April Weekly Goals—keeping it simple here!:

— Praise + rejoice!
— Prayer journal dates

April Daily Goals:

— Bible
— Pray over the kids
— Exercise hard

I already love this month of making room!

Seeing these kiddos using one of our new products at the shoot yesterday with Gina made me cry. You see, I don’t see these as just products, they are seeds. We are seed planters, sowing hope and joy and what lasts longer than us. So very grateful for this work we do and for this week of cultivated change.

Mark your planners: the new products release April 24th at 10 am ET!

Your turn! Do you have goals for April? 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 March’s winner, Tara Verrico!

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Spring is here, but maybe you’re not feeling so springy. Spring brings new growth and forward motion, but maybe you just want to put the brakes on and start fresh. (I’ve been feeling it, too!)

Maybe you’ve been feeling overloaded and stuck.

Stuck in the expectations of others.

Stuck under a mountain of to-dos.

Stuck knowing there has to be something more.

Photo by Gina Zeidler

I know this feeling well. And here’s where we cultivators get to flip the script! There’s no need for shame or guilt about being stuck or overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean you are flawed; it means you have an opportunity.

There are inevitable times of overload in our lives that are bound to creep up—times of change or transition or times where there’s simply too much to do and not enough time to do it (are you feeling that?). These are opportunities to shift. Opportunities to say yes to what matters, no to what doesn’t, and to let God do the heavy lifting.

The most powerful way that I get unstuck in these times is to do the complete opposite of what the rest of the world tells us to do (and the opposite of my natural instinct!):

Instead of working harder, I surrender.

Instead of trying to do it all, I do what matters and let go of the rest. 

Instead of relying on my own strength, I rely on His.

Sound impossible? I know how you feel!

Practically speaking, this means I do two things:

1. I pray. I simply ask God, “Will you help me to Your path for me? Help me get unstuck, Lord.” No fancy words or elaborate prayers needed. Just tell God how you are doing and where you need help.

2. I get right into the Word. Now, I know the Bible can feel overwhelming and you might be wanting to check out right now, but getting into the Word is a lot easier than we make it seem.

I prayed one morning for God to give me a simple way to connect with him, right in the thick of it, and He led me to write out the Word. It was hard for me to focus on even a few sentences of the Bible in times of overload, and I needed a way to put the train brakes on and slow down when the last thing I felt like I could do was slow down.

The Write the Word Journal was born out of my own personal need for perspective in the inevitable storms of life–to see them as refreshing showers instead of the downpours they felt like!

You can use your own paper to write the Word if you like too–no journal required. Just grab whatever paper is near you and give this a try!

There’s something that happens in our brains that travels right to our hearts when we write out the living Word of God. Again, use whatever paper you have for this if you want to give it a try.

(You’ll get a great list of scriptures to try in the comments at the end of this post!)

Each day in the Write the Word journal, there’s a selection of key verses to write out (the “write the Word” part!), along with space to write your thoughts, prayers, or anything else God places on your heart.

I’m sharing about the journals today because they have been a powerful tool in the lives of many of my friends and because they are finally all back in stock (SO many people have been waiting for this day!), and because we decided to put them on sale this week to help you get started writing the Word. (Read on for a discount code.)

I have loved seeing how you write the Word–and especially how you use the On My Heart pages. We have seen you use those pages to write out prayers, to journal daily thoughts, to get creative and illustrate your faith or dig deeper into the scripture you wrote out, to write notes to or about your children, and to give all of the distractions in your heart a place to become untangled.

Mostly, like me, you love soaking in the powerful truth of every bit of the Word you write out.

This allows me to slow down (it doesn’t take a vacation or a whole hour away–just a few minutes adds up!) and get unstuck. Every word of the Bible is powerful. Even writing one verse, something shifts in me. It’s like planting a seed. I think about the big picture instead of the day-to-day to-dos. I am reminded that I am not in control; He is. 

To my long-time Write the Word friends, have you ever flipped back through to see what prayers you were praying that have been answered? What things were laid on your heart then that have since come to fruition? I’d love to hear!

The Write the Word journals, and EVERYTHING in the shop, are 25% off from now until April 2nd–no code needed for the 25% off. If you spend $100 or more, use code HAPPYSPRING at checkout for free domestic shipping.

Here’s a peek at each journal and what’s inside:

Write the Word// Cultivate Faith contains a selection of scripture that is fundamental to faith, making this volume a perfect gift for someone who is new to their faith or looking to cultivate a fresh or renewed faith. If you are doing the journals in order, start here! This is by far our most popular journal and sells out quickly.

Write the Word// Cultivate Joy is filled with scriptures specifically selected to help you delight in the goodness of God. Perhaps you’re in a season of craving fresh joy. This volume is full of scriptures to help you celebrate the joy that’s yours in your faith.

Write the Word// Cultivate Gratitude is filled with scriptures specifically selected to help you grow in contentment through God’s promises and assurances to us. Full of scripture on thankfulness, this volume will help you get after grateful.

Write the Word// Cultivate Hope is filled with scriptures specifically selected to help you find God’s peace and assurance in seasons of waiting, challenge, or unknown.

Write the Word// Cultivate Renewal is filled with scriptures specifically selected for those who need a reminder of God’s promise to make all things new. Get still and reflect on His life-giving truth with this volume.

We designed these to be used as a full collection to take you through each season. Order your ALL SEASONS COLLECTION and get 25% off an already discounted full collection (no code needed)!

SHOP THE ENTIRE WRITE THE WORD COLLECTION HERE

The Write the Word journals (and everything else in the shop!) are 25% off from now until April 2nd. Plus, use code HAPPYSPRING at checkout for free domestic shipping on orders over $100.

Write the Word is for everyone. It’s for the busy mom, wife, young professional, business owner, and student. It’s for the seasoned Bible-reader and for those opening their Bibles for the very first time.

Here are some thoughts from long-time Write the Word friends!

Suddenly my mornings involve scripture, reflection, and prayer…without any difficulty! I can fit this into any morning and the longer I keep the streak going of writing the Word, the more excited I get to dive even deeper and work through each different journal in my different seasons of life. – Kay

My family gathers around the table after dinner and we each get out our own Write the Word journal. When we are done we share our verses and talk with our kids about what these verses mean. – Meredith

The Write The Word journals have been such a blessing in my daily life. I can not imagine my day without them! – Rachel

Here’s to letting God turn our challenges into opportunities and to getting unstuck!

Your turn: I’d love to hear! What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Bonus points if you share why. These verses you share might be a great starting point to try writing out yourself!

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Have you tried gardening? Interested in starting one?

Perhaps, like me, you haven’t always had a green thumb (I have killed a lot of plants in my life!). If that’s you, my annual Gardening 101 series just might get you growing this year.

Photo in Gracie’s Garden by Gina Zeidler

I’ve updated the popular series with new info and an exciting giveaway. I’m giving away a GARDEN! Yes, a real garden, complete with raised bed kit, lots of veggies, flowers, and everything you need to get started. How fun is that!?

Read part 1: The Story of an Unlikely Gardener
Read Part 2: Seeds, Supplies, Soil, and Sunlight
Read Part 3: Garden Plans

I’m excited for you! No green thumb required! 🙂

P.S. Mark your calendars—new products are coming to the shop April 24th!

 

 

UPDATED: Congratulations to the winners of the Garden Giveaway!

Deanna — Greenes 4′ x 4′ cedar raised bed kit (how cool is this!?)                                    Robin — A collection of best-selling Burpee vegetable seeds:
Tomato, Atlas F1
Tomato, Shimmer F1
Cucumber, Bragger
Zinnia Forecast
Sunflower, Sunray Yellow                                                                                                          Sarah — Gardener’s Supply Company tool set                                                                 Lindsey — Floret’s Cut Flower Garden book and seed collection                                  Rachel — Park Seed Profusion double-flowered zinnia seed collection                     Carrie — A Joyful Garden Planner from my friend, Amber! Amber was kind enough to donate this planner, and give you 25% your order with code “CULTIVATE” if you can’t wait for the giveaway results! The code is good through April 30.                                                Sheena — A signed copy of my book, Cultivate! 

 

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I’m going to take a wild guess that you and I have a few things in common.

We think differently.
We want to make the most of this life.
We’re cultivators.

A cultivator uncovers her own unique goal and path. Instead of looking to other people’s goals or social media feeds to define her own, she puts in the hard work of uncovering a path that fires her up.

A cultivator embraces little by little progress. She doesn’t believe in quick fixes or overnight results, and she knows it’s okay to grow slow.

A cultivator gets her hands dirty and takes action. Waiting can be good and a time of ripening, but she knows that sometimes it’s worth it to dig in right where she is with what she has.

A cultivator examines where she is in order to leap to what’s next. Instead of ignoring what isn’t working, she takes the time to intentionally evaluate and uncover the path forward.

A cultivator creates a long-term vision and gets after it. She refuses to keep going through the motions, doing the same things she’s always done. Instead, she steps forward into a new path.

A cultivator sets out on a purposeful path by uncovering cultivated goals. She’s tired of wandering aimlessly.

A cultivator finds joy in the journey instead of placing all her value in the finish line.

A cultivator doesn’t just embrace imperfect progress; she celebrates it. She’s tired of abandoning ship at the first bump in the road, and she knows that the best things in life grow slowly.

Whether you realize it or not, we just described YOU.

Ready to dig into March, fellow cultivator? Let’s do it!

February was a month of learning to trust—trusting in times of unknown, trusting in taking little steps forward without a finish line in sight, and trusting God’s crazy plans over mine!

Here’s a recap of my February progress and what I learned:

February Monthly Goals:
— First things first. My top priority for February was to spend more time with God than with the world. — This is a perpetual goal, but I did a lot of praying in February as I faced many unknowns. Some of those things are still unknown, but I have a peace and trust now in place of the worry that was there before I started praying and seeking His wisdom. Prayer changes things.
— Prayer journal date. — Done! I have a recurring task on my Things app that reminds me to prepare my prayer journal a few days before the new month.
— Prayerfully hire new team members. — I’m so grateful to share we’ve hired two new team members who start on Monday (we’ll be introducing them in the weeks to come!). We’re still hunting for two more though, including this one.
— Start seeds indoors + garden planning. — Yes! Seeds have been started and my Gardening 101 post and giveaway goes live soon! More to come here!


— Write the 2019 PowerSheets. — DONE! Eeeeee! So excited about this! We have some big changes coming, which always amazes me. Every year I can’t imagine making it better, but there’s a big process shift I wrote in this year that I hope you love as much as I do! 2019 PowerSheets will be on sale in October.
— 2017 corporate taxes completed. — Progress was made, but not done yet.
— Pray over the plan for books. — Done! I’m so so so grateful to have clarity and next steps in motion for all of the long-form projects we have had in mind. The other book may be developed for 2020, but the Gracie’s Garden book is hopefully coming your way next spring. Up next for me is writing the draft text and finding an illustrator by April!
— Set strength training plan + start. — I got this over-the-door contraption and I love it. More about this goal coming in my March goals below…
— Identify budget steps and goals. — I finally got unstuck here, and all it took was one intentional step forward that led to the next. Our budget is set and I added the Mint app to my phone. This month we’re focusing on praying together regularly about finding giving needs and meeting them. We started praying about this last week and it has already been fruitful.
— Cultivated Calendar prep. — I have been so grateful for this shift in how I prepare for meaningful celebrations and events. Get the free download at the Cultivated Calendar replay link and go through the process—so helpful!

Someone turned two this week! We now officially have two to-year-olds!

Weekly goals:
Write + study Gimel + Daleth (Psalms 119). — I only did this once this month because our Sunday afternoon times got taken up by other things.
2 Days “on.” – Yes!
Undistracted + cultivated homeschool. – Yes! This is us below doing some notebooking.
Re-creation. – Yes, we had some dance parties in the kitchen, spent lots of time outside, and we took several outings (trail walks and exploring Jordan Lake) that were a treat for everyone.
Read Traction with Emily. – Yes, we are on the last chapter and our whole team has worked hard implementing the Traction model in our company. I can’t recommend it enough!
Pray the Word. – Yes, there were several times I prayed for guidance and cried out to God using Bible verses as my prayers.

Daily Goals:
Chronological Bible reading. – I continue to love this daily reading time!
Soul care at night. This means spending time with my prayer journal, in the Word, preparing for the next day, or doing anything that doesn’t involve my phone. — This is an area I want to continue to improve.
Kiss Ari. — Yes! We went to our church’s marriage retreat in February and had several date nights as well.
SLEEP. — Another area I need to improve in (mainly going to bed earlier and turning my brain off.) Ari and I started reading Tim Keller’s Prayer which has been helpful to get my brain to unwind. Random fun fact: I used to live in the same apartment building as Tim Keller about 14 years ago and would often say hi him when we were both getting our mail. 🙂
Pray over kiddos + family worship. Family worship is new and something that I’m excited about. I watched a video series by Donald Whitney that inspired me to give it a try. So far so great! While the kids eat breakfast in the morning, I read them a super short Bible story, we say a prayer, and then we sing a song. That’s it! It takes 10 minutes and they are loving it. — Yes, morning Bible story reading has become a habit after a month and the kids love it. This is the book we’ve been reading from.

On to March!

March Monthly Goals:
Pray + Praise! These two things keep me on track for the rest of life! I marked this as my top priority for March with one of my favorite Goal Setting Sticker Book stickers.
Gardening 101 series + garden prep. I am waiting till the recommended time (after April 15th here in Chapel Hill) to plant the garden, but there’s a lot to prep in March—clearing out old plants, cleaning pots, and it’s time to replace the garden beds themselves. I discovered several critter colonies and most of them are falling apart now after the winter. I resisted replacing them before (as you know if you’ve read Cultivate), but they are not functional in places now. So, new cedar beds are in our future.
— Prayer journal date.
Celebrate 12 years of marriage! Our anniversary always falls on the weekend that the Making Things Happen conference kicks off, so we’ll be celebrating with lots of friends at dinner that night. Our vacation to Watercolor this month will be our time to celebrate with just the two of us while my mom babysits the kiddos one evening.
Lead our best-ever MTH conference. Friends, I cannot wait for this! We’re nine years into making Making Things Happen happen and it just keeps getting better! (I can’t wait to see many of you there!)
Have a meaningful Purim and Passover. I. Love. Passover! I love most of the Jewish holidays, but Passover is my favorite. The story of God delivering the Israelites from slavery and all the mess Moses and Aaron had to go through with Pharoah and the plagues… is it cheesy to say I just love the Bible!? I do! We’re having a Passover seder with our Bible study group on Easter Sunday, which is really special. There is so much meaning and symbolism in the seder that illuminates the power of the resurrection and God’s big picture plan for Jesus to be our Passover lamb. Ooooh it’s just so good!

Ari and the kids making traditional hamentaschen cookies for Purim yesterday (cookies in the shape of Haman’s hat). Grace is super into Purim and I’m so glad! The story of Esther is true “girl power”—God-led bravery!

2019 project finalization. This is exciting. As I mentioned in my updates above, I got clarity on future projects recently and we are working on many new things right now. Getting them all of to print in March is happening, Lord willing!
— Onboard new team members. 
— Spring Team Summit prep. Really looking forward to this in the first week of April! We meet about once a quarter, and I’m excited to have new team members joining us for a time of planting roots with our big picture vision.
— April Cultivated Calendar prep.

Weekly goals:
— Strength training 2x/week (using my new over-the-door contraption I mentioned earlier).
— Write + study He + Waw (Psalm 119)
— Undistracted + cultivated homeschool
— Re-creation
— Pray the Word
— Finish implementing Traction — praising the Lord for this book and all we’ve learned over the last year!
— 2 Days “on” + vacation

Daily Goals:
— Chronological Bible reading.
— Soul care at night.
— Kiss Ari.
— Pray over the kids
— Family worship.

Your turn! Do you have goals for March? 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 February’s winner, Vanessa Milner Eberbach!

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Maybe fast isn’t the goal.

Maybe cultivating an intentional life means aiming for what happens over time—like the richness of relationships—rather than getting to the finish line.

When something matters to you, you don’t focus on how slow the journey is to get there; you keep moving forward because the path forward is worth it.

The world says do more, grow fast, be big, use these tricks, analyze, do it like those people, get ahead. But that’s not how good things take root.

Maybe, despite what everyone tells you, slow is richer than fast.
Maybe a slower pace will help your roots stretch deep and wide.

It’s okay to grow slow.

– Excerpt from Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life

——

Get your copy today.

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