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

My favorite spot in the garden right now. 

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

So, here I am.

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

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

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

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

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

Pressing flowers from the garden with Grace this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These two : ) 

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

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

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

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

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

Our Elberta peach tree : ) 

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

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

And here are my monthly PowerSheets goals for July:

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

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

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

Your turn! I’d love to hear: Do you have goals for July? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to June’s winner, Nia Baucke!

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

I believe that small intentional decisions add up.

I believe good things can grow out of hard things.

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

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

lara casey cultivate book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cultivate book butterflies

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

Chapter 8: Dandelions and savoring the harvest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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‘I oftentimes forget. I forget the good that has happened in my life and focus on what’s hard or undone. I forget that I don’t have to be perfect, and I try do it all. I forget the big picture and instead find myself focused on the narrow list of what feels urgent today.

I forget the way home.

In the thick of it, I want to hold something in my hands that brings me right back to what matters.

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I want Grace, Josh, and Sarah to know the way home, long after Ari and I are gone. There’s a pit in my stomach thinking about it because I love them so much, and I don’t want to imagine not being with them. But the truth is I’m going to leave this earth one day. Ari will too. It’s a hard truth to hold in my hands, but it’s potentially the most life-giving seed we can plant, friend. It’s the seed of legacy.

I want to cultivate truth in my children. I want to equip them to plant their own gardens in this world and learn how to thrive God’s way. I want to cultivate a life that is focused on growing what will last longer than I will—not what seems exciting or enticing right this second.’ – from Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life

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Bible journaling with Grace

Bible journaling with Grace

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The Cultivate sticker book

The Cultivate sticker book

She Reads Truth Bible

She Reads Truth Bible

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Painting in the Bible!

Painting in the Bible!

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She Reads Truth Bible

She Reads Truth Bible

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Photo by Grace : )

Photo by Grace : )

So, I began doing something that has been surprisingly easy and impactful: Bible journaling with Grace. Now, let me tell you that the whole idea of Bible journaling seemed too scrapbook-y for me. I tried scrapbooking and I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t keep up with it. So, when I saw people posting photos of their colorful Bible pages, I was hesitant. Until I had a life-changing conversation with Illustrated Faith founder, Shanna Noel. She talked about Bible journaling as a way to connect with the Word and worship God with art. She talked about it as a way to plant seeds of legacy.

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It all clicked. This was something Grace and I could do together. Our creative brains could run wild in the pages of the life-giving Word! I gave it a try one night. Grace was instantly hooked and so was I.

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I have gotten a ton of questions this week about Bible journaling with Grace and how we do it.

Here are a few tips and resources!
– We use the She Reads Truth Bible, which I LOVE. It’s beautifully crafted, thoughtfully designed, and it has great wide margins on pure white paper–a great canvas for Bible journaling!
– We also have a bunch of Illustrated Faith supplies from Dayspring and we use stickers from the Cultivate What Matters sticker book too.
– Having shared those things though, you can use anything! We sometimes just use crayons : )

Lara Casey Blog Bible Journaling with Kids32Photo by Grace : ) 

We have done it like this so far:
– We start simple. We pick a verse and highlight it. I ask Grace if there’s a verse she wants to do (she might recall a song she learned in Bible class at church or a story we read at bedtime that week) or sometimes I pick one that I highlighted from my own Bible reading that morning.
– I read the verse a few times and talk about what it means in words she can understand. Sometimes we talk about the history behind the verse, and sometimes we talk about life application.
– Then I ask her what “pictures” come to mind when she thinks about the verse so we can begin thinking of what do draw, paint, or put on the page.
– We draw or make those pictures on the page. I really try to follow her lead here with what we create together.
– Lastly, we write either what we’re grateful for that day or comments about the verse and what it means to us. One of us writes the date and that’s it!

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– Sometimes I write a little love note to Grace in the margins too. (There’s much more about that in my upcoming book!)
– We leave the pages we journaled open on the kitchen counter to see the next day till we do a new one. We have a stand for our Bible in the kitchen. The one we have isn’t available anymore, but I found this one as a suggestion for you to try.
– An essential tip: make it easy to get your supplies out at the drop of a hat. We have an Illustrated Faith bag in one of the kitchen cabinets that we can easily bring out and easily toss all the supplies back into when we’re done.

Bible journaling with Grace has helped us have meaningful conversations about the Bible while engaging her full attention with a creative activity. One of the best benefits for me, besides having good conversation about God and closeness with Grace, is letting a smaller portion of scripture really sink in. I end up memorizing most of what we journal.

When Grace is older, I’ll give this Bible to her as a gift–as a way to always remember the way Home.

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I hope this post has encouraged you to give this a try–whether with kids or yourself. Have you considered Bible journaling? I’d love to hear from you!

To help you get started, I have a great giveaway for you today! Win a She Reads Truth Bible, a copy of my upcoming book, Cultivate (releases June 27th!), a Cultivate What Matters sticker book, Illustrated Faith supplies from Dayspring, and one of our SOLD OUT Write the Word journals (we will have more in stock in August!). Enter below:

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. DaySpring just sent me a coupon code for Illustrated Faith supplies just for you! Get $10 off any $30 purchase plus free shipping with code LARA10 at checkout. The code is good now through this Friday 6/23. : ) 

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UPDATED: The 2017 PowerSheets are SOLD OUT! I’m so excited for all of you who will be getting your first set. We’ll be devoting the month of July to helping you dig into them, so stay tuned to the Cultivate Instagram feed for lots of tips and resources coming up.

Want to know one of my top life tips?

Ask questions and be open to unexpected answers.

Think about it. How did you learn about the things you love most? You asked questions. You sought answers. When we stop asking questions, we stop growing. I love the questions you all have been asking me lately.

The top three questions I get asked:

1. How do you begin to figure out what your goals/passions are?
2. How do you overcome the fear of failing in your goals?
3. How do you stay motivated?

I created the PowerSheets goal planner because I kept asking those questions too. They are my safe space to get messy and dream and pray get outside of my comfort zone. They are the place I uncover goals that motivate me, how I prioritize, and how I take action.

Lara Casey June PowerSheets mid year goal settingMy goals and progress for June so far.

And that fear of failing? It doesn’t magically go away. Even better: your good goals become more important than your fear.

Lara Casey PowerSheets goals midyearAfter I did my mid-year goal refresh in my PowerSheets, I put my refreshed quarterly goals up on my bulletin board so I always see my priorities.

This might be crazy, but in an attempt to help a whole lot of people finally do the things they have always wanted to do–whether in motherhood, business, marriage, a career, or in cultivating what you have right where you are–I have a surprise for you:

The six-month undated PowerSheets are on SALE for $25! (regularly $40)

As of me typing this, we are already sold out of Teal, but we have a few Pink and White left. Once these are gone, this is it until the 2018 release! I shared my goal progress from the last six months on Facebook live today and answered some great questions. Listen in…

It’s time.
Time to do the things that have been burning on your heart.
Time to dig in, right where you are with what you have
July 1 could be your January 1, my friend.

Get yours now.

PowerSheets Goal Planner 6 month sets

I’m excited for you!

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Hi, friends! I had grand plans to write an inspiring intro for you today about how it’s time for mid-year goals and how the mid-point of the year is such a great opportunity for reflection and redirection. But, it’s time for me to close up shop and get the kids in bed soon, so here are some fun and helpful links for your week ahead. I hope you enjoy them! : )

IMG_0815.JPGA little peek at our office on this quiet Friday afternoon. : ) 

1. Get the first 43 pages of my upcoming book, Cultivate, for free! Thank you all so much for the flood of encouragement about this sneak peek. I can’t wait to share the entire book with the world on June 27th! Download the first 43 pages for free here. Enjoy!

2. Find hope in waiting seasons. I had my first guest post on the blog last week, and it was a powerful one! 

3. It’s okay to grow slow. Read my 3 reasons why slow growth is more powerful than fast–and get the new It’s Okay to Grow Slow e-book!

4. Listen in, kiddos (and parents). Grace and Ari have been listening to a fun podcast for kids called, Wow in the World. Highly recommend! Another one to listen to? I did one of my favorite podcast interviews ever last month.

5. Don’t just sit there. I have gotten so many great questions this week about my standing desk and stepper, so I made a page for you with all the details. I have LOVED the messages I’ve been getting from friends with pics of them on their pink steppers!

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5. Cultivate your prayer life. So many of you have asked about my prayer journal. I love it so much! It’s from ValMariePaper.com.

7. Get growing! It’s not too late to start a garden–no green thumb required. Start here. I have my first-ever garden tour coming to the blog next Wednesday!

8. Climb to the summit. (Ha! I couldn’t come up with a better lead-in to this one!) We had our fourth-annual team summit a couple months ago, and it was awesome! See the photographs and get a peek into what we did on SouthernWeddings.com.

9. Embrace the mess. I chatted with Natalie Brenner last week about motherhood and how I face challenges. Read our interview here.

10. If it matters to you, cultivate it. Did you know that I have three free e-books on the homepage of LaraCasey.com? Get your Marriage, Faith and Goals e-books for free here!

Happy weekend, friends! I’m so grateful for you!

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