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.

How to Cultivate Your Faith

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!

How to Cultivate Your Faith Webinar

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!

Shirley Jam

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!

FruitfulSummerSubmit-01

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