The best things in life are cultivated little by little. Hello, friends! Welcome back to my new weekly series. Each week, I’ll give you a quick update on life around these parts, and Ten Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters, little by little (with some fun ones thrown in too!).

IMG_4051Zinnias we picked from the garden to press flowers for a special project Grace and I are doing!

My dad is on an airplane as I type this, headed here for his 81st birthday! We’re excited to spend the weekend with him. We’re also hosting family group at our house for the first time in a year since we had Josh. In this year of babies, we had to step away from leading our group, but Ari and I are ready and craving deeper connections in this new season. It’s been a challenging year for us, and we feel like we’re finally on the other side. We were created for seasons, and they don’t last forever for a reason. Each season we go through is meant to prepare, teach, or ready us for what’s next if we embrace where we are. It’s hard when you’re in the thick of the wait, or tension, or transition, to see the good happening, though, isn’t it? But, remember this: after winter, always comes spring.

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And now, for this week’s 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Have tea! The weather went from blazing hot to fall-esque this week here in Chapel Hill. It got us excited about tea weather. My favorite is Roastarama, Ari loves Raspberry Zinger, and Grace really loves this sugar cookie tea. Well, this year we decided to make tea time a little more silly with Mr. Squirrel and Tea Rex (as seen above). During tea time, we practiced asking each other questions, looking in each other’s eyes, and sitting to have conversation. This week’s questions: What was your favorite thing all week? and What is your favorite Pokemon? : ) Our tea party this week was one of our summer goals. We’ve just got two left to go: visit Walter’s cows and go the farmer’s market!

2. Let your hair down. I was teased for my frizzy red hair in middle school, and finally let my hair down a few weeks ago. Here’s my story of dealing with rejection.

3. Be your very own self. If you feel like there are a million voices telling you what to do, be, say, or who to care about, here’s some wisdom Jen Hatmaker shared on Wednesday. Side note: her books, 7 and Interrupted, caused significant change in my life.

4. Consider a new story. This has been on my mind so much this week as we’ve had hours and hours of team meetings. We broke out a new set of PowerSheets (which are days away from being sold out — we’ll release the 2017 editions in November), set really good goals, and got refreshed. My friend Jess Connolly has inspired me recently in embracing a new story for her business. She launched a new partnership, a new shop name, and a new collection this week. Check out Amen Paper Company and use code ANEWSTORY for 25% off. This print is my favorite.

5. Cultivate your faith — no perfection required. The Cultivate Your Faith Giveaway ends in 4 days! Get my free Cultivating Faith e-book and more here.

6. Look deeper than your to-do list. I started feeling some heart pain a few weeks ago. Here’s the story.

7. Think outside the box to make progress on your goals. When I read the Bible from start to finish a few years ago, I listened to this for 80% of my “reading.” The New Living Translation (NLT) audio version of the Bible is free, and it helped me make progress on something that really mattered to me!

8. A reminder: it’s okay to grow slow.

9. Join me next Wednesday! Mark your planners! I’m giving a (free) Grace-Filled Goal Setting webinar on Wednesday (August 31) at noon EST. If you can’t join us live, be sure to register for access to the replay and my new Grace-Filled Goal Setting e-book that will release next week!

10. Savor life like a boss. We picked a cannonball watermelon from the garden this week and plan to eat it tonight for my dad’s birthday. In related news, this made me laugh out loud.

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

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P.S. August 31st is the last day to use the discount code CULTIVATEFAITH for 20% off your Write The Word orders. Now’s a great time to stock up for the upcoming birthdays or holidays. Each volume has different scriptures, and you can start in any volume you like!

P.P.S. Monday is a big day. Our last court hearing to finalize our adoption is happening at 5:30pm EST. Will you pray alongside us? I’m tearing up typing this.

This post contains affiliate links, which are no extra cost to you, but if you make a purchase using one of these links, we send our commissions to the Love One Another project : )

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When I was in middle school, I was teased for my frizzy, curly red hair. With sound guidance from the early 90’s, I did what many girls did then: I permed it. You know what happened next. I came out of the salon with slightly-green, ammonia-scented, brittle, extra-frizzy hair. Add five years of braces, and being a natural introvert to the mix, and you have middle school memories that I locked away in the “do not disturb” compartment of life. The photos of this season are buried in my parents’ house somewhere.

Then Sanrio came out with the “The BFF book.” I remember the sting of rejection I felt when my name wasn’t written in a friend’s book. I started to think that something must be wrong with me. I determined to be liked. I became a people-pleaser, always seeking approval and validation from others.

In high school, I would go to the grocery store with my mom and look at the magazines at check-out. Most covers showed women with tan, perfectly smooth, freckle-free skin. I bought all the freckle-eraser creams, and lathered on the feelings of not being enough. I felt like I didn’t fit, and believed that, since I wasn’t perfect, I’d never be happy or loved.

As my friend Lysa says in her new book, Uninvited“Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me.”

Or not said.
Or assumed.
Or not written in a friendship book.

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Twenty years later, I got married in my hometown, and went through a painful divorce shortly after. More of my story here. I craved a new identity that couldn’t be shaken by circumstances, or what other people thought, or by the mistakes I would inevitably make along my path. As my friends Jess and Hayley say, I constantly felt like I was too much and never enough. I was deeply in debt, and got a job as a personal trainer at the local gym—-the gym where all those people in my hometown (who had come to my wedding) socialized. I didn’t have any other choices for work at the time though. I needed to make money to pay bills, and the only way forward was to step into what felt like the lions den. Instead of running from it, or trying to fix myself, I stepped right into the feelings of shame, isolation, and rejection.

In that same gym, months later, I met Ari. He didn’t judge me for my past or flinch when I told him about all the baggage I was carrying from the past; he just wanted to know me.

I learned something in that season. There was a way out of the constant cycle of living in lack, believing that I wasn’t ever going to measure up. I started seeking God more. In Christ, I’ve learned over time that I am invited. Always welcome. Always loved.

Something that has helped me is to think about what I know versus what I feel. Feelings aren’t the enemy, but many times they can lead us away from truth.
I may feel rejected at times, but I know Whose I am.
I may feel broken, but I know I’m whole in Him.
I may feel like my heart is a mess, but I know God transforms our messes into our message.
I may feel alone, isolated, and lonely at times, but I know that God never ever leaves me.
Leaning into knowing, instead of letting my feelings inform my worth, changes things.

Lysa posted recently about crushing the lies and lines we’ve believed. I woke up one day a few weeks ago and felt tired of fixing my hair. Always putting it up or straightening it. Hiding my frizz. My curls. My past pain.

So, I washed it and let it go that morning.

Grace played with my hair that night, wrapping my curls around her fingers, putting bows in my locks, and simply wanting to touch my hair. Something clicked. I woke up and let it go again. And again. Each day, I felt more free. But, it wasn’t about a hairstyle, it was about letting go of what years of feeling rejected had done to me. It was about finally expressing gratitude for the way God created me. If I wanted Grace to live loved, I was going to have to show her how, and live it myself. I had to come undone.

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Embracing my curls has been rather life-changing. Apparently I’m not alone in this desire to embrace what God has given us. It’s not about hair though; it’s about our hearts. I look in the mirror now, and I’m reminded to live loved, right where I am.

Rejection is going to happen. It happened to me just last week again and it stung. But, it reminded me to keep fighting to trust in what I know to be true. I am loved. You are too. More than we could ever imagine. Living from the place of knowing we are loved encourages others to do the same. It multiplies freedom.

More in my Facebook Live today.

Have you experienced rejection? How has that shaped you? I’d love to hear your story…

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The best things in life are cultivated little by little. Hello, friends! Welcome back to my new weekly series. Each week, I’ll give you a quick update on life around these parts, and Ten Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters, little by little (with some fun ones thrown in too!).

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

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

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

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

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And now, for this week’s 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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P.S. Use code CULTIVATEFAITH for 20% off the Write the Word journals!

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Our marriage felt impossible to repair, so I tried fixing everything else. I would wake each morning thinking, What can I do, eat, or buy that will make me feel happy today?

– In the quest for a more organized life, I bought new pretty containers, planners, and pens.
– I loaded my shelves with books promising a formula for quick-fix happiness.
– Maybe getting fit would solve everything, so I purchased new running shoes and a gym membership.
– Perhaps more creativity would be the thing that brought me joy, so I got journals and craft supplies.
– When I felt emotionally drained, I reached to comfort food, social media, and shopping.
– I acquired new cookbooks, clothes, subscriptions, throw pillows, and plants.

Those poor plants. I’ve killed a lot of plants in my life.

But the most life-changing things in life aren’t things.

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God’s grace is real and it transforms our mess into rich growing ground.

To help you grow your faith, I’ve created a FREE Cultivating Faith E-book that you can get by signing up here. Inside, you’ll find a recording of my Cultivating Faith Live Webinar, where I share my story with you, my top 10 keys to rooted faith, Bible 101, and simple resources for growing a real relationship with God–no perfection required! You’ll also get free scripture cards to download, and much more. Yes, it’s FREE because this is what I needed back when I had no idea where to start. I hope it all encourages you. Feel free to share it with friends too!

And now for something I’m really excited about – The Cultivating Faith GIVEAWAY! Are you ready for this? Here’s what’s included:

1. A 2017 Prayer Journal from Val Marie Paper
2. Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling Kit by Shanna Noel
3. An 8×10 print from the NapTime Diaries Shop (soon to be Amen Paper Company!)
4. A copy of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope
5. A copy of Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
6. A canvas from Lindsay Letters Shop
7. The Proverbs Study from SheReadsTruth
8. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
9. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
10. An NIV Journaling Bible
11. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
12. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
13. A copy of Make It Happen by yours truly :)
14. A full collection of Write The Word from the Lara Casey Shop
15. A copy of the In The Wait study by Holly Holt

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One of my favorite items in the giveaway are our Write the Word journals. We made this quick video for you this week to show you how I use mine!

You can save 20% on all volumes of Write the Word with code CULTIVATEFAITH.

There are lots of ways for you to enter, and we can’t wait to get some of my favorite resources in your hands!
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There are 15 prizes, which means 15 chances for you to win! Your odds are good. Giveaway ends August 31st. Winners will be announced on September 1st here on the blog, so be sure to come back and check to see if you won! Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) 

 

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Hello, friends! I’m changing things up with these weekly posts. Ready? Each week, I’ll give you a quick update on life around these parts, and Ten Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters (with some fun ones thrown in too!).

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Josh is turning one this Saturday! What a year this has been, filled with the most change I’ve ever experienced, aside from the year Ari became a believer. His nickname is “bro” so we are having a little family Bro-B-Q with brotatochips and broday cake this weekend. His birthday was one of the best days of my life for so many reasons. Mostly because it taught me about God’s faithfulness. More here in our little family update. In related news, we have had a wonderful first few days with out new nanny, Sarah. You can read her blog, follow her on Instagram, and even see her wedding that we featured on Southern Weddings a couple years ago. We love her, and she loves these little monkeys!

And now, 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Learning new ways to cultivate relationships during this crazy season with two babies has been fruitful for me (and fun)! Check out the Fruitful Friendship series here on the blog this week:

Five Easy Ways to Grow Meaningful Friendships

How to Let Go of “Perfect”

How to Embrace Awkward

Three Ways to Simplify and Make Time for Friendships

Celebrate Friendship with Traditions

2. Who knew this frizzy hair would stir such conversation??? Thank you for the encouragement and tips, friends. I’m grateful. Signed, embracing the frizz.

3. If you are doubting the path you’re on, read this post from my friend Katie.

4. “Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others, and God.” Yes! My friend Lysa’s book, Uninvited, is a must-read. Lysa genuinely lives what she teaches. Case in point. This book is on the best-seller’s list on Amazon this week (along with this other great book I just started), for a reason. Get your copy, and catch the broadcast about rejection with her daughters tonight.

5. Prayer changes things. This new yearly prayer journal from Val Marie Paper has me excited. It even has a new section to pray about your goals for the month. I can’t wait to use mine alongside my PowerSheets for 2017 (which release November 1, by the way—mark your planners!).

6. Creatives, I highly recommend this writing course. Ashlyn is hilarious, wise, and knows her stuff. Register here, and use code MAKEITHAPPEN for $100 off. Side note: we featured Ashlyn’s wedding too : )

7. Join me next Wednesday for a free live class on how to start—or start fresh—with faith.

8. I got a Greetabl box in the mail from a friend, and was delighted. I then sent one to my mom to thank her for visiting us last week (and fixing up my whole garden!), one to my wonderful mother-in-love, and one to a friend. It was so easy, and I got to choose three photos from my phone to go with the card, which made it extra special. A great way to cultivate connection by surprising someone with a meaningful little piece of real mail.

9. On Facebook Live this week, we chatted about choosing faith over feelings, August goals (mine are here), new products, a new magazine, and LETTING GO. I really enjoy our weekly conversations.

10. Lastly, some encouragement: Email is just a bunch of decisions that need to be made. Make decisions. And go have a restful, intentional, connected-to-your-people weekend.

Making progress on what matters little by little,

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This post contains affiliate links, which are no extra cost to you, but if you make a purchase using one of these links, we send our commissions to the Love One Another project : )

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Hi. [Insert nervous pause and deep breath.]

I get nervous when something has the potential to change people for the better—when something matters to me. And this matters to me. A lot.

I’m not an expert on faith, or trained in professional ministry, or a Bible scholar. I’m just a girl who has been radically changed in the last few years. If you’ve read Make It Happen or heard the story of our marriage, you are probably wondering how in the world our change happened.

From being on the verge of divorce with Ari and our marriage transforming, to the heart of our company changing, to our family growing in a way I never expected, I have learned that grace is a real thing. It’s not just “Christian talk.” It’s very real. Friends, the impossible is possible.

Grace changed everything.

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If you are reading this and have no idea what I mean, or feel frustrated not having felt His grace, or want it more than words–I rarely say this but–I know how you feel. For a long time I thought, “Maybe I’m not good enough, or reading my Bible enough, or mature enough as a Christian. Maybe I’ve been too bad. Maybe I’ve messed up too much. Maybe God just isn’t listening.” I felt like I didn’t get it and I never would.

Then God showed me, through a series of challenges, that faith is not about my ability to perform. I don’t have to be perfect to have it. I don’t have to fix everything or have all the answers.

I don’t have to have grown up in church (I didn’t), or have done all the right things (didn’t do that either), or have quiet time every day (mine is pretty loud!).

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That is why the “Good News” is good. We don’t deserve His grace and He gives it to us anyway.

– Maybe you have no idea where to even begin with faith, and it all feels overwhelming.

– Maybe you’ve been at this faith thing for years, but you feel like something is missing.

– Or maybe things are great, and you just want to keep the momentum going.

Wherever you are, I’ve decided to do something I would have wanted when I was brand new to all of this—and needing a fresh start. I’m hosting a live webinar about faith. Join me (invite your friends, small group, and co-workers too!) on Wednesday, August 17 at noon EST for a FREE Cultivating Faith Webinar. I’ll be sharing my story with you, my top 10 keys to rooted faith, Bible 101, and simple resources for growing a real relationship with God–no perfection required!

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My hope is that this hour we’ll spend together will give you clarity, and simple practical tools to help you cultivate a relationship with the real God of the Bible. Nothing else matters.

Click here to register.

The first 500 people to join will get live access (I hope you join me live so we can chat together!), and everyone who registers—whether you can join live or not–will get a replay link when it’s over. Even if you have something planned that hour, be sure to sign up. I’ll be sending you the replay and resources to your inbox right when we’re done!

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A quick tip: With my work, and three littles running under the same roof, one thing that has helped me get into the Bible is the simple act of writing the Word. You can try it yourself with your own journal, a scrap of paper, or get one of the Write the Word journals that I created for this purpose. Try starting with these verses. Really—give it a try right now, and see if the act of writing the Word, in your own messy handwriting, doesn’t change you. I get easily distracted, so literally writing God’s Word has been faith-transforming for me, and it only takes me a few moments to make a big impact on my faith. Little by little, word by word, your faith will grow. I’ll be talking more about writing the Word, and many more simple tips next Wednesday!

See you there!

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P.S. Save the date for August 31 for our PowerSheets webinar, too!

P.P.S. Enter to win a full collection of Write the Word journals by sharing this post and leaving a comment saying you did! : )

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Yay! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Fruitful Friendship series as much as I have! This is the final post of the series, but it’s just the beginning! We have the rest of summer (and our lives!) to keep letting go of perfect, embracing awkward, and making meaningful connections happen.

Learn how to make new traditions, celebrate each other, and cultivate community with these three easy tips, and much more in the FREE Guide linked at the bottom. Let’s do this!

1. Name your summer traditions.

Traditions help us cultivate connection through meaningful shared experiences. Whether it’s something you’ve done before, or a tradition you want to start, use the traditions printable available in the Fruitful Guide (linked at the end of this post) to make your traditions happen. Need some summer tradition ideas? Try making jam, picking berries, Taco Tuesday’s, a yearly getaway, a watermelon seed-spitting contest (that’s a real thing), camping (or camping in the living room like we did this summer), or simply eating dinner on the porch outside!

2. Celebrate what matters. 

Cultivate a deeper connection by celebrating what’s important to your friend. Simple, but powerful, ask your friend her favorite holidays, her birthday, family traditions, and about special milestones she’s looking forward to. Mark them on your calendar so you remember to ask about them, prepare a gift, or celebrate alongside her. Intentionally celebrating what’s important in her life will help grow your bond for years to come. And celebrate your friendship too—“friendiversaries” are the best!

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3. Shake on it! 

Grace and I have a not-so-secret handshake. It ends by pointing at the one we love (seen below in action!). We do it every night before she goes to sleep, and it makes both of us giggle every time! This little tradition connects us together, and makes her feel loved and special. Ari and I also have a handshake that we made up when we were dating. To this day, it still makes us laugh! And, last summer, we made up a handshake with the sisters in our small group, too. I’m laughing right now thinking about it! So, my final tip is to shake on it! Make up a handshake with friend, spouse, co-worker, or your kids.

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Photo by Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

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Get the entire Fruitful Summer Guide (FREE) in your inbox HERE! This guide is full of pages with our best tips on cultivating friendships, free downloads to help you make what matters happen, and wonderful wisdom from our amazing group of contributors.

Thank you so much for joining me for this series! Be sure to pin this post (or any in the series) to come back to next summer, and share this with your friends. You never know what connections it may spark!

P.S. We’re already thinking about Fruitful Summer for next year, and we want you in it! Submit your photos and stories for a chance to be featured in the 2017 magazine!

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A few weeks ago, Grace taught me a lesson about embracing “awkward.” Every morning, we take a walk through the retirement community near our house. One morning, after chatting with a sweet lady we’ve known for four years, Grace said, “Mom, we don’t know her name!”

Well, um…

Yes, you are right, Grace.

I never asked.

After knowing her for four years—knowing all about her husband’s health challenges, and even what she eats for breakfast on Sunday mornings (blueberry pancakes), it seemed a little awkward to ask her name.

The next morning, I decided to embrace awkward anyways. her name is Shirley, and I’m so glad I asked. The next weekend, Grace and I decided to surprise Shirley by delivering some “Berry Good” homemade jam. Listen to what happened after that!

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Fruitful friendships grow not because we don’t experience fear, but because breaking ground on meaningful relationships becomes more important than our fear. Taking big leaps of faith, embracing the awkward (lots of awkward!), and putting yourself out there to do life with others can change everything.

It’s worth stepping into the hard stuff—and stepping in again and again.

Fruitful friendships are worth embracing awkward for. Fruitful friendships allow us to celebrate our imperfections together.

Fruitful friendship is possible. Here are my three tips to embrace awkward:

1. Become a Master of Awkward.

What if awkward pauses in a conversation are actually invitations for a deeper friendship? Waiting 1-2 seconds longer than normal to reply and “fill the silence” may allow the other person to open up, and to know you are really listening. Practice the art of the pause, and let the pauses be filled with listening. It may feel awkward at first, but it’s the greatest gift we can give to others! When you try this, just keep thinking to yourself, “I am becoming a Master of Awkward!”

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2. Ask a second question.

You can practice this starting today, and it just might change your relationships forever. It did for me! Don’t stop at, “How are you?” Invite the other person to open up by asking a second question. The power of the second question is that it helps take the conversation deeper. Two of my favorite second questions:

How did that make you feel?

Tell me more about that.

Use our Fruitful Conversation Starters to help with this! Each set features 24 of our tried and true conversation starters on the front, ranging from thought-inspiring to laugh-inducing, and a fun fruit on the reverse!

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3. Ask for help.

This is a hard one, isn’t it!? But, remember that fruit grows when we tend to it, water it, and work the hard ground. Dig in! Asking for help in friendships—whether it’s advice, prayer, or a recipe—lets the other person know you value them, and beleive they can solve a problem for you. Turn this around on yourself: How would you feel if a friend asked for help? I would feel honored, and it would help me to know they trust me. Fruitful friendships are built on trust.

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Photo by Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

This is my real-life friend, Tori! She joins our neighborhood walks almost every morning, where we get to practice all we’ve learned in this Fruitful Friendship series—asking second questions, embracing awkward, and listening well. We’re not perfect, and we don’t have to be. We’re growing a fruitful friendship, no perfection required. I’m so grateful for you, Tori!

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Sign up to receive the entire Fruitful Guide in your inbox! This guide is full of pages with our best tips on cultivating friendships, free downloads to help you make what matters happen, and wonderful wisdom from our amazing group of contributors.Stay tuned for the rest of my Fruitful Friendship tips coming the blog soon! Up next, how to tend to your friendships little by little! 

P.S. We want your help in putting together next year’s magazine. Submit your photos and stories for a chance to be featured in the 2017 magazine!

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Maybe your well-laid summer plans went sour, or you didn’t started on any of your goals or that summer bucket list you made with the kids. Guess what?

That’s okay! Welcome back to Part 2 of our Fruitful Friendship series! Be sure to check out five easy ways to grow meaningful friendships.

Your summer doesn’t need to be perfect to be meaningful, and you don’t need to be perfect either. I often feel like everyone has it all together but me. But, it’s not true. Don’t let comparison feed you the lie that you aren’t exactly where you’re supposed to be. As my friend Emily says, “Grace, not perfection.”

Here are Three Easy Ways to Let Go of Perfect! Much more to come in the next three posts too. Let’s do this!

1. Embrace the mess.

Your summer (or any season of your life for that matter!) doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful. Throw your expectations out the window—and keep that window open. Rather than trying to stick to the perfect plan and feeling guilty when it doesn’t go exactly as you expected, make this a grace-filled season and embrace the unexpected. Fill in the blank:

I’m letting go of ______ in order to have a fruitful season!

What’s more important: a perfect life, or a fruitful life?

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2. Define what a “fruitful” season means to you.

Whether it’s full of family time, date nights with your significant other, friend adventures, starting a new project or hobby, or embracing simplicity, write out what it means to you. Chances are, your fruitful season vision does not include mass amounts of time spent stressing over social media numbers, or striving to get ahead at the expense of what matters most. When you take time to visualize where you want to go, it helps simplify your life. You learn how to prioritize your daily decisions based on that vision. A favorite verse: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish…’ (Proverbs 29:18).

BONUS STEP: Define one focal word for the season that helps you focus on progress, not perfection. (I’d love to hear your word in the comments!)

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You can download a great printable in the FREE PDF linked at the bottom of this post. Place it somewhere where you will see it often–your refrigerator, on your desk, or on your bathroom mirror!

3. Make room.

My arms and calendar are packed from sun up to sun down, but I also know I can waste a lot of time on distractions throughout the day. So, say yes to what matters and a firm no to all the rest. The simple act of writing out the things you are saying yes to and what you are saying no to can help give you your time back. Say no to the distractions, and yes to things that will help you live out your fruitful season—and life! It starts with writing them out, seeing the time-suckers for what they are. This helps me see let go of perfect by intentionally choosing life-giving things to fill my time with!

What’s on your yes and no lists this season?

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Photo by Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

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Sign up to receive the entire Fruitful Guide in your inbox! This guide is full of pages with our best tips on cultivating friendships, free downloads to help you make what matters happen, and wonderful wisdom from our amazing group of contributors.

Stay tuned for the rest of my Fruitful Friendship tips coming in the next post! Up next, how to embrace awkward

P.S. We want your help in putting together next year’s magazine. Submit your photos and stories for a chance to be featured in the 2017 magazine!

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The blueberry patch near our house has been here for over thirty years, and these bushes keep making sweet fruit. Our friend, Wanda, tends to them little by little, and keeps them well-pruned.

If Wanda let the bushes grow grow grow, the fruit wouldn’t get as sweet. The nutrients would be spread thin.

Are you feeling that way lately? Are your relationships in need of revival?

We learned how to embrace awkward, and now we’re going to learn how to tend to relationships little by little, and simplify our time. When we do, sweeter fruit is going to grow.

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1. Lean In To the Power of Little By Little.

Little by little, you learned how to do what you do, whether it’s a creative skill, motherhood, or your vocation. Little by little, peaches ripen on trees. Little by little, ingredients are added into a bowl to make cake batter. It’s the same with our friendships and marriages. Little by little, meaningful relationships are cultivated. One small seed planted today can grow into a towering tree years from now. The little by little adds up. If we strive for overnight results, we might miss the good fruit that waits for us in the process—the growing part.

What one little itsy bitsy seed can you plant today in a friendship?

Maybe it’s as simple as asking a second question, or finally reaching out to set up that coffee date you keep talking about, or sending a quick text message to ask, “How are you today?”

Deeper friendships don’t have to come from huge acts of affection, but by constant little by little tending. Take little by little action today!

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2. Prune to Make It Sweeter.

We cannot do it all and do life well. Let that settle in your heart for a moment. We cannot do it all and do it all well, but we can choose a few things and grow them intentionally. Choose one area of your life to prune. Maybe it’s your schedule, your finances, your closet, or your inbox that feels overgrown. Read my blog post on simplifying for some inspiration, and write down ONE thing you are going to let go of, simplify, or cut to make room for what matters.

Simplify your focus with PowerSheets, simplify your home with my friend Emily’s Simplicity Challenge, simplify your spending with Nancy’s Contentment Challenge, tackle your inbox with Unroll.Me, and decide if you need to prune your social media accounts (I quit Periscope and Snapchat earlier this summer!)

3. Dig Under the Surface.

Vulnerability changes things. But, in order for vulnerability to happen, there rst has to be a foundation of trust. What do you think? How have you grown to trust friends in the past or how would you build trust now? Whatever your answer is, do those things for others. For me, that means listening well, praying for my friends, admitting my mistakes (and that I’m not perfect!), being willing to share my struggles, and being curious about the other person’s heart. It means being willing to take risks and ask meaningful questions. Dig under the surface and ask others what you would want them to ask you.

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Get the entire Fruitful Summer Guide (FREE) in your inbox HERE! This guide is full of pages with our best tips on cultivating friendships, free downloads to help you make what matters happen, and wonderful wisdom from our amazing group of contributors.

P.S. We’re already thinking about Fruitful Summer for next year, and we want you in it! Submit your photos and stories for a chance to be featured in the 2017 magazine!

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Stay tuned for my final Fruitful Friendship tips! Three easy ways to celebrate friendships!

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