I have been half-joking lately that my next book will be called, No. Alternate titles: The Year of No, All the Things God Has Told Me to Say No To, and my personal favorite, No, No, No. 😉

This has been a year of saying yes to the things that matter in the big picture and, inherent in choosing those things, is saying no to all the rest. No to doing it all. No to distractions and negative self-talk. No to worry. No to opportunities that would take me away from my family. No to doing the same things I’ve always done and getting the same results I’ve always gotten. Yes to cultivating the hearts in this home. Yes to doing the things I was put on this earth to do.

We loved apple picking in Morganton, NC, last month!

An excerpt from Cultivate that I keep coming back to and living out:

‘It’s simple gardening math: plants need space for roots to grow, and they need adequate nutrients. If you want them to flourish, then give them these things. Untangling our lives can feel more complicated, though. Relationships, expectations of others, deadlines, and dates press on us and feel impossible to unravel and unrush. So how do you do it? How do you know what to say no to when it all feels urgent? How do you simplify? A powerful fertilizer to nourish the things that truly matter in life is the word no. We often think of no as a scary and disconnecting word, but it has the power to be one of the most loving and connecting words you use. It’s okay to let go, not keep up, and not do it all. It’s okay to disappoint people in favor of growing what God has given you to grow. It’s okay to say no. We have only so much space, energy, and nutrients in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I do not thrive in an overcrowded life. Whether it’s too many dreams planted at once or too many social commitments, work projects, family activities, or unresolved conflicts, all those things take up space. When I try to do it all, nothing grows well.’

I had a life-shifting realization a couple weeks ago: perhaps I’m not just in a “season” of say no to make room for the things God has given me to cultivate. Perhaps, this is a lifelong commitment. Letting this thought take root has given me so much freedom to say no with joy and without regret. This commitment to “no” is where the good stuff is.

Happiness at the top of Grandfather Mountain!

So, you may be wondering…how can you say no when it’s so hard?

When your yes is crystal clear, it’s actually quite easy. Get clear on the yes, and you can’t help but choose it over all the rest.

Want a free printable to help you get there? Download the Intentional Life List and name your yes’s and no’s.

August was a month of getting clear on my yeses. A trip to the mountains—looking over the green valleys and expanse of God’s creation—put a lot in perspective for me, making my narrow worries seem so small. I came back ready for change, ready to make firm decisions to say yes to the things God has given me to grow.

In the Grandfather Mountain wildflowers with my favorite buddies!

August Monthly Goals Progress:

— Trust in the Lord. Over my own efforts and abilities and plans, my top priority is to trust the Lord with it all. / Yes, this was at the forefront of my thoughts as I waded through many unknowns and challenges in August. Trusting in His power over my own is a whole lot easier than feeling like I have to be in control all the time!
— Praise-ful night away with Ari. We are going “away” for one night—right down the road to a log cabin bed and breakfast. I am hopeful this is a time Ari and I can spend remembering God’s faithfulness and praising Him through our conversations. / What a fun adventure this was. We had a great time (loved eating at Vin Rouge as per Emily’s recommendation) and yet, after being away for less than 24 hours, we couldn’t wait to see the kids again!
— Cultivate my calendar. Rather than wait until right before the holidays to make meaningful plans, and to look ahead to 2019, I’m going to take a look now and cultivate my calendar. / Yes! This was simple and so helpful! I did this in 15 minutes from my phone. I went day by day through my iCal and wrote down action steps to prepare well for events and needs ahead—and some things I did right then and there! For example, I texted a babysitter for one event and made a gift list for another. I shifted some things around that didn’t work and made sure all of our ducks were in a row. 15 minutes of cultivating my calendar saved me so much time for the future! More below…
— Teach the Cultivate Your Calendar live workshop. This was one of the most popular webinars I did last year, and I’m excited to dive in again so we can all prepare well for the months ahead! / I highly recommend watching this replay—so many tips and aha moments from everyone who has taken this workshop! 
— Prepare well for the homeschool year! Wooooo! We’ve been doing a little homeschool here and there this summer, and it’s about to ramp up. Any other mom’s feeling the back-to-school crunch too? I had a great conversation over dinner last night with some wiser-than-me mamas and it was so refreshing. Their advice: You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be an expert. Little by little progress adds up. (Sound familiar?! 🙂 ) It was refreshing to be reminded of these truths as I prepare for the year ahead! / I may have a VERY EXCITING free download coming soon in regards to this one. I am feeling great about our year ahead!
— Record the Podcast. Yes! It’s happening! I’m a little scared typing this. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it! Any votes for the name of said podcast or for episodes you’d like to see included? I’d love to hear! / We have a name! (Thank you for all of your suggestions!) And I start recording in a few days! Ahhhh!!!! Can’t wait to share more soon. If you have suggestions on episode topics, I’d love to hear!

Teaching my buddy how to feed chickens at Spence’s Farm for his birthday!

— Celebrate Josh’s 3rd year + life! Josh is our rainbow baby (we had a miscarriage before we started our adoption process and simultaneously found out I was pregnant). His existence is a miracle and I want to intentionally take time to remember and praise God for this! / So much praise! It was simple and sweet to celebrate his birthday with friends at the farm and then in the mountains on his actual birthday to remember God’s goodness!
— Family praise-cation. I know, I know—I have a thing for making up new words with “praise” or “pray” in them to keep me focused on what matters! (Case in point: Pray-oritize. Verb. To prioritize through praying about what He wants on your to-do list!) We are taking a week-long trip to Boone and Asheville. We’re going to Tweetsie (Josh can’t wait to ride the train) and Grandfather Mountain (I have been wanting to go for two years!) and the Biltmore. I can’t wait! / This trip. It was my favorite vacation ever—and not because it was smooth and easy. We had our meltdowns (all of us!) and challenges, but what was so sweet about this trip was having the time and space to love each other through the challenges in new ways. Time was the biggest blessing. Time to talk. Time to feel all the emotions. Time to take deep breaths of mountain air. It was so good for us all.

August Weekly Goals:

— Pray on my knees. I’m feeling a need for some extra surrender this month. / Yes, there was a lot of surrender and prayer time.
— Praise with the kids. I’ve already started this—intentionally voicing praise for God’s blessings or answered prayers, instead of just thinking them to myself! / Yes! Progress here too.
— Write the Word Wednesday + Bible journaling. Every Wednesday, the kids and I do our Write the Word journals together. I’m adding Bible journaling to this so I spend time praying over Grace and writing notes to her in her Bible in prep for this new school year. / We did our Write the Word journals but I didn’t do much Bible journaling.

August Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion. / Yes! We are in Ezekiel.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos! / Hooray yes! I did strength training a few times and lots of mountain hikes and carrying kiddos!

On to September! 

September Monthly Goals:

— Seek Him. This is my top priority for September (and always!)—to seek the Lord in my days, moments, thoughts, actions, decisions, homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and in loving others well. Practically speaking, this means stopping to pray, to ask Him what He wants me to do, and reading His word every chance I get. I have an open Bible on my desk, an open Bible on my dining room table, and the front page of my phone has the YouVersion Bible app right where it’s easiest to click with my thumb. The easier you make it to read the Word, the less likely you’ll be to choose something else! 🙂
— Begin our cultivated homeschool year. More to come here soon!
— Record the podcast. 
— Prepare well for the 2019 PowerSheets launch
— Love Josh + Sarah and my parents well on our trip to Florida. I’m taking the two little ones to see my parents for a few days while Ari takes Grace to visit her cousins in Omaha—I’m praying for smooth travels all around and opportunities to love others well.
— Celebrate Rosh Hashana. Our kiddos love this new year celebration with apples and honey—and Ari blowing his shofar.
— Have a surrendered quarterly sabbath. Out of all the action steps I took from the Cultivated Calendar teachings, this is the one I’m most grateful for. Last fall, I looked ahead at my 2018 calendar and went ahead and blocked off 3 days once a quarter to take off. Instead of letting my calendar dictate my life, I made the intentional decision to block off these days ahead of time. This has been helpful!
— Prayerfully lead the 54th Making Things Happen ConferenceThe fall conference is sold out, and spring tickets will be on sale later this month. I can’t wait to see everyone soon!
— Savor September. Forever ago, I started a hashtag—#SavorSeptember—to help my mind and heart enjoy the change of season. I’m picking it back up again this month to slow my thoughts and praise Him at every turn!

September Weekly Goals:

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

Out on a prayer walk with my favorite sisters. Many of us have known each other for almost a decade. We’ve prayed together, studied the Word, enjoyed many a barbecue, and shared a lot of laughs over these years. It hit me as we were out walking together last weekend that these are my people. When I was in college, I would envision who my adult friends might be—the people who would be there consistently for years and years through ups and downs. I realized during this walk, that I’m in it. These (and more not pictured) are those people. I am grateful.

September Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos! 

Verses I’m loving for September:

‘Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit’ (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

A view from my first solo hike through Grandfather Mountain. It was hard and glorious, and so fun to see the kids and Ari cheering me on when I reached the end! (I have found a new passion in hiking! Any hikers out there?)

Your turn! What are your goals for September? 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 August’s winner, Cassie!

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Have you seen this meme going around?

Image from Kaylyn Van Driesum via Letterfolk

Life can feel this way, right? But! What if there was a way to slow down the crazy train and be present right here—and prepared for what’s ahead?

There is!

Get my best tips and tools for cultivating your schedule and celebrating people well along the way in this free workshop: How to Cultivate Your Calendar. Watch now below!

A little forethought goes a long way! I’d love to hear your favorite takeaway from the workshop! What stood out to you the most?

To help you get back to what matters and use your time well in the season ahead, visit the shop!

Get back to organized.
Get back to fun.
Get back to balance.
Get back to encouragement.
Get back to community.
Get back to motivated.
Get back to planting seeds of faith.

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What a month July was! It was filled with many significant work events (our quarterly team Summit and our 2019 product shoot) and… the Great Peach Harvest of 2018! We’ve had our Elberta peach tree for 7 years, and we’ve never had more than 1 – 2 peaches. Well, I’ve heard it said before ( 😉 ) that good things grow over time, little by little, and our peach tree wowed us this year with 100 peaches (yes, we were blown away!). We have eaten the best peaches we’ve ever had at nearly every meal for the last two weeks, and we’re using the last dozen to make peach ice cream tonight. July 2018 will be forever marked in our minds by this sweet display of God’s faithfulness! Between the peaches, blueberry picking and so much garden goodness (our giant pumpkin is… well, giant!), it was a great month filled with great people.

Here’s a recap of my goal progress from July and my August goals are below, too!

July Monthly Goals Progress:

— PEACE—bring the life of God to my family—it starts with me! “Peace” has been jumping out at me at every turn lately. In my Bible reading, in songs, in my prayers—everywhere. So, I’m listening and I started to study it a little. I found this definition that struck me: “Peace, or shalom, comes from aligning with His purposes and it comes from His presence.” This is my top priority this month—to trust Him and experience His peace as I let go. // Yes, God gave me so much peace through challenges in July. I am so grateful!
Book Club with God. I’m working this month to spend time by myself with God. // I did this once, and I count that as a win! 
— Team Summit with Your joy. Our team summit is coming next week! Eeeee!!! I can’t wait for us to all be together! // Oh my soul, this time together was powerful! We spent two days strategizing and thinking big picture. Most of all though, we spent time calling each other higher and helping each other own our unique gifts.
— Product shoot with Your joy. Our big fall product shoot is immediately after our summit! // Yes! We all worked so hard and it was worth it. Getting to spend three days with Gina and our amazing team and real-life PowerSheets users was… magic! Wait till you see the joy in these photos!
— Fully step into the Visionary role. In our company, we follow the Traction model. I’ve been making progress over the last quarter to fully step into the Visionary role, and this month I am working extra hard to solidify this. // This is something I am working tirelessly on and we are making progress! I won’t be fully in this role for another 6 months or so I don’t think, but great strides have been made. Progress, not perfection!
— Scatter joy in the Cultivate Book Club. Want to join us? It’s not too late! Get your book and sign up here. // I am looking forward to the live book club party next week!

Our shoot crew after three amazing days of creating images for you—the 2019 collection launches October 24th!

July Weekly Goals:

— Give the kids opportunities to experience Your Spirit, Lord. I love teaching our kids—and giving them opportunities to experience and discover Him on their own. This is very simple in practice. For instance, if I bring them to a garden, I don’t need to tell them what to do—they innately know how to explore and play! I can explore alongside them and be their guide to notice God’s faithfulness, but I’ve been trying to let go more here and see what they notice, too. This month, I’m focusing on bringing them to places and experiences where their hearts can discover Him—a garden, a sunrise, a creek, a bowl of berries we picked together, a stack of books. It’s a simple idea that I already see growing their hearts. // Yes! Progress here! So many of these little adventures and opportunities to notice His faithfulness happened in the garden. I’m seeing more and more how valuable that space is to their hearts.
— Build team members up in the Lord. Part of my Visionary role that I’d like to grow this month is to build up each individual team member and help her to thrive. I love the women I work alongside and have been shifting my role to be a mentor who trains up young leaders, instead of doing all the leading myself. // I had opportunities to pray with and for the team on many occasions and I am very grateful.
— Write the Word Wednesdays. I’ve been doing my own Write the Word journal each Wednesday morning while the kids do theirs (and sometimes color in mine like you saw above!). We break out the stickers and have fun all doing it together. Since Josh and Sarah are too little to write, they each do some scribbling, but there’s a good lesson even in sitting at the table to do a shared activity and talk about the Bible verse that Grace is writing. I have been working on helping Josh memorize the letters in his name and I help him trace them in his journal each week. There are lots of ways to get creative and keep it simple with little ones! // We missed this a couple times in July with the shoot and events, but it was so good the times we did it!

July Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion. // Yes! On track! I am still loving the audio version most days.
— Strength + Joy + Peace – This is my goal to strength train, and I phrased it this way because it motivates me to look at the big picture. I want to feel strength and joy in the journey. In making progress, I will feel peace knowing I am moving forward on taking care of the body God gave me so I can love my family well! (Tip: word your goals however they most motivate you!) // I FINALLY MADE PROGRESS HERE! Something connected for me in the way I worded this. Goals don’t have to make sense to the rest of the world, as long as they motivate you!
— Have FUN—joy in the Lord! Freedom in Christ brings joy and I want to use that freedom for good things this month! // A friend said the following words to me that just stuck: “Free people free people.” I have carried that with me since and it has reminded me to let go and give thanks!

Also in July, we celebrated Cultivators Appreciation Day— a holiday we created to celebrate our amazing Cultivate family! I got to surprise call customers, meet new friends (see below!) and talk to many of you live. What a joy to express our thanks!

On to August! 

August Monthly Goals:

— Trust in the Lord. Over my own efforts and abilities and plans, my top priority this month is to trust the Lord with it all.
— Praise-ful night away with Ari. We are going “away” for one night—right down the road to a log cabin bed and breakfast. I am hopeful this is a time Ari and I can spend remembering God’s faithfulness and praising Him through our conversations.
— Cultivate my calendar. Rather than wait till right before the holidays to make meaningful plans, and to look ahead to 2019, I’m going to take a look now and cultivate my calendar. Read on to join me for an hour-long workshop on how to cultivate your calendar too!


— Teach the Cultivate Your Calendar live workshop. This was one of the most popular webinars I did last year, and I’m excited to dive in again so we can all prepare well for the months ahead! Save the date for next Thursday at noon ET. (Save your seat here!)
— Prepare well for the homeschool year! Wooooo! It’s coming! We’ve been doing a little homeschool here and there this summer, and it’s about to ramp up. Any other mom’s feeling the back-to-school crunch too? I had a great conversation over dinner last night with some wiser-than-me mamas and it was so refreshing. Their advice: You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be an expert. Little by little progress adds up. (Sound familiar?! 🙂 ) It was refreshing to be reminded of these truths as I prepare for the year ahead!
— Record the Podcast. Yes! It’s happening! I’m a little scared typing this. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it! Any votes for the name of said podcast or for episodes you’d like to see included? I’d love to hear!
— Celebrate Josh’s 3rd year + life! I am so that mom, and already pulled out his baby album to tell him his birth story! His birthday is the 13th and we are having a little farm party with 3 of his friends and our family, but this goal is more about praising the Lord throughout the month for the gift of these years and for his life. Josh is our rainbow baby (we had a miscarriage before we started our adoption process and simultaneously found out I was pregnant). His existence is a miracle and I want to intentionally take time to remember and praise God for this!
— Family praise-cation. I know, I know—I have a thing for making up new words with “praise” or “pray” in them to keep me focused on what matters! (Case in point: Pray-oritize. Verb. To prioritize through praying about what He wants on your to-do list!) We are taking a week-long trip to Boone and Asheville. We’re going to Tweetsie (Josh can’t wait to ride the train) and Grandfather Mountain (I have been wanting to go for two years!) and the Biltmore. I can’t wait!

Shoot prep at my house. This photo makes me giggle—such an accurate depiction of life around here!

August Weekly Goals:

— Pray on my knees. I’m feeling a need for some extra surrender this month.
— Praise with the kids. I’ve already started this—intentionally voicing praise for God’s blessings or answered prayers, instead of just thinking them to myself!
— Write the Word Wednesday + Bible journaling. Every Wednesday, the kids and I do our Write the Word journals together. I’m adding Bible journaling to this so I spend time praying over Grace and writing notes to her in her Bible in prep for this new school year.

August Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos!

Verses I’m loving for August:

‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures…’ (Psalm 23:1-2).

‘In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.’ (Psalm 25:1).

‘Does a farmer plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds…’ (Isaiah 28:24-25).

Your turn! Do you have goals for August? 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 July’s winner, Bonnie!

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In 2009, I posted a blog entry answering a question I’d recently been emailed: “How do you make things happen?”

That blog post (“How to Make Things Happen“) started making waves. Those waves grew quickly into a movement of women who wanted to finally do the things they’d always wanted to do.

A friend suggested I take the ideas I had shared in that post on the road and teach them. Before I knew it, Emily LeyGina Zeidler and I were traveling all across the country doing the Making Things Happen Workshop!

MTH Spring 2017! Photo by Amy Nicole.

But, here’s where the story takes a turn.

I did all the things I wanted to do, too (at the time). I had a growing business. I was traveling and speaking and doing creative work. But, it came at a cost. I didn’t know how to balance it all, and lived firsthand that doing too much of (even) a good thing is too much. My marriage was falling apart. I was working 24/7 at the expense of everything else. My work became my worth. You can read the whole story in my book Make It Happen.

I couldn’t succeed on mere passion and gusto. I had to learn to make the right things happen. I began learning these truths:

Making things happen means knowing that you don’t have to do it all, be it all, or have it all.

Making things happen is about focusing on what MATTERS–on growing what lasts longer than you.

MTH2017_AmyNicolePhotography-391

Making things happen means learning to say NO to what is holding you back, and YES to your unique assignment–not someone else’s assignment.

Making things happen means making decisions that will get you to where you want to be when you’re 80 years old.

Making things happen means taking risks, taking action, and embracing tension.

Making things happen—the right things—changes everything.

As I began learning these truths and living them, the Making Things Happen movement did a 180-degree turn, too. We got off the road and turned the intensive into a two-day conference here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But, the biggest change of all was teaching attendees that last truth above — how to make the right things happen.

While everyone else keeps saying what they’ve always said—“Do more! Be more!”—here we are, nine years later (9 years!), teaching something entirely different: do less. Do what matters.

Need some of that in your life?

I want you to join me this September!

Meet the Fall 2018 Encouragement Crew! 

Who is MTH for? Here’s another way MTH is different from other conferences. You won’t be listening to a panel of speakers tell you how to do things; you’ll be led through a powerful process where YOU uncover good goals and make an action plan that fits your specific life and dreams. MTH is for everyone: love-at-home moms, corporate CEOs, students, retirees, creatives, non-creatives, and everyone in between. Whether you know what you want to make happen and need an action plan, or you need help uncovering good goals, MTH is for you. And all ages join us, from college freshmen to women in their 60’s who are ready for a new chapter in life! The unifying factor among our attendees is a desire to live intentionally and make the most of their time and gifts.

MTH is unlike any other conference. It’s like doing PowerSheets in person and meeting a group of women who think like you and will cheer you on in every step forward. Together, we uncover what matters to you and do something about it. Every time I lead this conference, I do the work right along with the attendees. And every time I’m changed. There’s no magic to it, but we have learned a lot over these nine years that helps women simplify and take action.

You might be a mother or wife who is struggling to balance family responsibilities. You might be a working professional trying to run with a big idea. Or you might be a small business owner burning the candle at both ends. (Or all of the above!) If you’re ready to use your potential on purpose, MTH is for you.

I love getting to know you at MTH! Photo by Carrie Joy Osborne

I want you to join me in Chapel Hill on September 24 and 25th for our 53rd experience! This is the only conference I’ll be speaking at in 2018. Many of you have told me you’d love to come. Take the leap. I’ve been doing this conference for nine years and I believe in the work we are doing. Your gifts have a purpose and they were meant to be used!

The early-bird rate ($1000 off) ends July 31—or until we sell out—and we’ve sold out every conference. Want to take a peek inside the conference? Take a look here. I can’t wait to see you there!

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? Now is your time to do the right things.

Don’t miss this: GET YOUR SEAT NOW!

How it feels when you finish day 2 of MTH (Meeta came all the way from India!)…

Photos by Rachel Coffey 

See you there!

P.S. We’re giving away one scholarship seat in memory of my long-time friend, Yvette Price, who embodied all that we teach at MTH. She was courageous in her battle with cancer and made what matters happen despite great challenges. In her honor, we’re grateful to give away one seat to either an alum or new attendee. This scholarship is for the full ticket price not including travel or accommodations. Enter below to win the Yvette Price Scholarship by July 31st! Note: If you are our lucky winner and have already purchased your ticket, we will issue you a full refund. Don’t miss your chance to purchase a ticket before we sell out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I’d love to hear from you: what do you want to make happen?

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Well, friends…

A lot has happened since I wrote to you 32 days ago! As I was writing my June goals post to you, the Southern Weddings announcement day was coming a few days later. I was admittedly nervous—I cried just about every day for two weeks (sometimes a few tears and sometimes a legit ugly cry!), partly in sadness but mostly in gratitude for the last decade. I was nervous, but also excited to share the news with you and be able to move forward past the unknown of, “How is this announcement going to go??”

The Southern Weddings transition occupied much of my heart and my prayers over the last year. While letting go of good things—especially things that have been a part of my life for so long—was bittersweet, we are all grateful to have stepped into a new chapter. I can share with you now, with even greater confidence than ever before, that pruning is good. At some points in our lives, we have to let go in order to grow.

But, pruning our lives can be hard, right? 

Even letting go of these peach buds on our tree felt like cutting off good fruit. But, we do it to make the other fruit sweeter. The tree can rest a little and not be spread so thin. It’s the same with our lives, right? When we let go of trying to do it all, we make room for the right things to grow well.

Here’s a recap of my goal progress from June and my July goals are below, too!

June Monthly Goals:

— The Lifegiving Parent Book Club with Ari. — We are four chapters in, and this book has blown me away! It has changed the way I look at parenting and our home. I have dogeared so many pages. A favorite quote of many: “You cannot teach your children what you don’t already know. Moses made that clear in the Shema: ‘These commandments that I give to you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children’ (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; emphasis added). You cannot impress on your children’s hearts what is not already on your own. …. You both are feeding them from the life of God that is in your own spirits…” A simple but profound truth. It’s not about checking things off a list as a parent; it’s about Whose I am first. It starts with me.

My three little loves “fishing” in the pond nearby—in their PJ’s no less! 🙂 

— Slow down. Trust in the Lord and seek Him. — Read more about this and all of my June goals here. There was so much progress made here, especially with the kids. I took them to a farm for a few days while Ari was out of town for work. We fished, picked berries, and ate tomatoes fresh off the vine.

My little buddy’s mind was blown during our stay at Vollmer Farm. This all-organic farm is a gem, especially for kids. We can’t wait to go back!

But, it’s not just this little magical trip that slowed me down— it has been the little moments that added up all month. It has been moments at the pond in the morning, taking the kids to the magical garden on our walks, noticing butterflies and bees on our zinnias, and finally doing something I’ve been wanting to do!

Trying something new lately—bringing my prayer journal on our morning walks to pray out loud with the kiddos.

It has been putting my head in the Word instead of in the world and praying out loud throughout the day when I’m tempted to complain out loud instead. It has been many little things that have added up to the big things. This is cultivating. Little by little, with many missteps along the way (and there have been many missteps!), life can grow in a new direction. I feel a new peace as we enter July.

— Celebrate Grace’s gift of music. After seeing her take to the piano so quickly, I spent some time in June intentionally exposing her heart to music—and something is growing inside her! We’ve listened to Debussy during morning time for the last few weeks, sung her VBS songs a million times over in the car (I love listening to her sing with joy!), and I’ve started to teach all the kids how to listen for different instruments in various types of music. It’s pretty simple. When music is playing, I ask, “What instruments do you hear?” I help them differentiate between them and we pretend to play them in the air. We’ve listened to everything from jazz to old musicals to bluegrass and Aaron Copland this week for the 4th of July. (I am especially grateful for our Echo—Alexa is our musical tour guide! :))

— Summer homeschool – We’re keeping things loose and just doing morning time together and some afternoons. I’m getting excited for the fall too. We’ve done a lot of learning “as we go” this summer—on the farm, in the garden, at the grocery store… I teach them everywhere!
— Mid-Year Goals Prep Week – What an energizing week this was. I loved doing live goal-coaching with you!
— The Cultivate Summer Book Club – Yes! I have loved going through each chapter alongside you.

June Weekly Goals:

Write the Word Wednesdays. — Still going strong here! I am loving this new weekly rhythm. I let the kids color in my Write the Word journal, too!

June Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion. (It’s a year-long plan but you can start today!) – So, we’re in Kings and it’s not my favorite reading. It’s bloody and there were so many bad kings. Having said that, though, I am learning so much about God’s heart and these chapters are convicting of my own sin!
— Exercise it out! – Does bouncing on the bouncy pillow count? : )

Also in June, I loved chatting about how I started my business and challenges along the way with Chrystal Evans Hurst!

On to July! We’re officially at the halfway point of the year! The quarterly Goal Refresh in the PowerSheets was, once again, right on time. Checking in on each area of my life gave me a clear picture of where I am, what has grown, and what I want to cultivate in the months ahead. My PowerSheets consistently help me simplify my focus!

July Monthly Goals:

— PEACE—bring the life of God to my family—it starts with me! “Peace” has been jumping out at me at every turn lately. In my Bible reading, in songs, in my prayers—everywhere. So, I’m listening and I started to study it a little. I found this definition that struck me: “Peace, or shalom, comes from aligning with His purposes and it comes from His presence.” This is my top priority this month—to trust Him and experience His peace as I let go.
Book Club with God. I’m working this month to spend time by myself with God.
— Team Summit with Your joy. Our team summit is coming next week! Eeeee!!! I can’t wait for us to all be together!
— Product shoot with Your joy. Our big fall product shoot is immediately after our summit!
— Fully step into the Visionary role. In our company, we follow the Traction model. I’ve been making progress over the last quarter to fully step into the Visionary role, and this month I am working extra hard to solidify this.
— Scatter joy in the Cultivate Book Club. Want to join us? It’s not too late! Get your book and sign up here.

Lots of happenings in July!

July Weekly Goals:

— Give the kids opportunities to experience Your Spirit, Lord. I love teaching our kids—and giving them opportunities to experience and discover Him on their own. This is very simple in practice. For instance, if I bring them to a garden, I don’t need to tell them what to do—they innately know how to explore and play! I can explore alongside them and be their guide to notice God’s faithfulness, but I’ve been trying to let go more here and see what they notice, too. This month, I’m focusing on bringing them to places and experiences where their hearts can discover Him—a garden, a sunrise, a creek, a bowl of berries we picked together, a stack of books. It’s a simple idea that I already see growing their hearts.
Build team members up in the Lord. Part of my Visionary role that I’d like to grow this month is to build up each individual team member and help her to thrive. I love the women I work alongside and have been shifting my role to be a mentor who trains up young leaders, instead of doing all the leading myself.
— Write the Word Wednesdays. I’ve been doing my own Write the Word journal each Wednesday morning while the kids do theirs (and sometimes color in mine like you saw above!). We break out the stickers and have fun all doing it together. Since Josh and Sarah are too little to write, they each do some scribbling, but there’s a good lesson even in sitting at the table to do a shared activity and talk about the Bible verse that Grace is writing. I have been working on helping Josh memorize the letters in his name and I help him trace them in his journal each week. There are lots of ways to get creative and keep it simple with little ones!

My July goals in my PowerSheets above. If you can’t tell, I love our stickers!!

July Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy + Peace – This is my goal to strength train, and I phrased it this way because it motivates me to look at the big picture. I want to feel strength and joy in the journey. In making progress, I will feel peace knowing I am moving forward on taking care of the body God gave me so I can love my family well! (Tip: word your goals however they most motivate you!)
— Have FUN—joy in the Lord! Freedom in Christ brings joy and I want to use that freedom for good things this month!

I love this of Grace and Sarah out on the bouncy pillow thing on the farm at 6 am!

Verses I’m loving for July:

‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you’ (Isaiah 26:3).

‘You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety’ (Psalm 4:7-8).

‘… redirect your heart and spread out your hands to Him in prayer’ (Job 11:13).

‘… to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace’ (Romans 8:6).

Perry’s Mill Pond—Hi, Grace!

Your turn! Do you have goals for July? 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 June’s winner, MacKenzie!

P.S. My first book, Make it Happen, and three other favorites are up to 25% off this week!

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