It’s my favorite time of year, friends: garden planting time! I’ve had so much fun digging in this year–perhaps more than ever. Every year I make my garden plans to be sure I have room for everything I want to grow. But, then I let go and have fun! On-the-spot creativity and pairing what I think will look best and grow well together brings the garden to life.

Plans are important.
Forethought is vital.
But at some point you have to move from planning to planting.

Laying an intentional foundation can give way to freedom and creativity, and a different kind of joy if you are willing to let go. Letting go is hard, but that’s where the good stuff grows: in surrender. In believing in what you can’t yet see.

Forethought can give you a foundation on which to have the freedom to flourish. (That was a lot of “f”‘s, but I like it!)

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We went to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market’s annual seedling giveaway on Saturday. Local farmers donate seedlings for kids to take home and the kids write a thank you note to the farmer who grew their seedling–isn’t that fun!? Grace picked out a pair of white sunflowers and a Sungold tomato.

Lara Casey May Goals7At our local Southern States buying Gracie’s favorite marigolds and we bought lots of dirt for a special secret project we’re working on with Gardeners.com! Stay tuned. : ) 

April was full of hard work and planning, and May is already shaping up to be a month of planting–taking action, digging in, taking risks, and cultivating what matters. Here’s a recap of April and my PowerSheets goals for May are below too.

My April PowerSheets progress:

– Celebrate Southern Weddings’ birthday. This was a sweet celebration week, but perhaps the very best celebration was when Lisa came to the office a couple weeks ago. We sat around the table together and shared memories and gratitude and lots and lots of tears as we prepared to say “farewell” to her after four amazing years. Thankfully she still lives right down the road though and her impact on our lives has deep roots that are here to stay. We love you so much, Lisa! Read more about Lisa’s farewell here.
– Lay a firm foundation for the budget. We made progress! Ari and I started setting up our EveryDollar budget over the weekend.
– Celebrate Passover (my favorite holiday!). Yes, this was wonderful. Ari led a great seder for about 40 people at church and my faith was built!
– Create a new frequent date night schedule. Thanks to my amazing friend Joslyn, we had a great date night last month. We hope to increase the frequency to once every two weeks.
– Prayerfully hire our new team members. This is still in progress, but great progress had been made.
– Plant our garden! Yes! You may have seen on Instagram stories last week that I have a “secret garden” project in the works. I’ll keep you posted here and here on the blog.
– Record the audiobook for Cultivate and prepare well for the launch ahead. This was so good, praise Him! What a wonderful experience. I’m so grateful!
– Prayerful spring product launch – Yes! Write the Word sold out much faster than we expected. A new shipment will be here in a few days, but I highly recommend reserving your copy here.
Team Summit prep: Yes! This has been the center of my focus the last couple weeks. I’d read books, written several presentations, and prayed so much over this week. Our team summit starts tomorrow and I am so excited to learn and grow alongside my team. Follow along on my IG stories this week.
– Host a meaningful Cultivating Faith webinar next week with Shanna Noel – Yes! Catch the replay here.
– Take my workouts to the next level. Yes – we finally got bikes, and I joined Ari for a class at his gym last week too.
– Lord willing, start leading our family group again. We are not leading a family group now–instead, another couple is taking the lead. I’m excited about this and grateful. With all the kids, it was a bit overambitious to think about leading anything new in this season.
– Pray impossible prayers and be open to new possibilities. This happened a little, and this is one of my biggest priorities for May.

Lara Casey May Goals1Those snapdragons totally surprised me. I planted them from seed (get them here) last summer and had no idea they would winter over and look so good now. What a treat!

My monthly PowerSheets goals for May:

Lara Casey May Goals3To help me wrap my brain around all the writing I have ahead this month, I wrote it all out on PostIt’s and added them to my PowerSheets.

– Plant the garden. We’re close to done here. I’m waiting to see how the pansies hold up in the heat over the next couple weeks. Once they start to fade, they’ll get replaced with lots of zinnias!
– Cultivate book launch prep. The book launches next month! (And typing that just gave me all the butterflies.) I’m nervous to release this book because I’m sharing parts of our story I’ve never shared before and I pray these pages help many people to cultivate what matters with Him. Pre-order Cultivate here. (Pre-ordering is so helpful to ensure retailers have enough books in stock on launch day. I am so grateful for the many friends who have already reserved their copies.)
– Create the budget with Ari. The next step is committing to our budget numbers and goals. We plan to make more progress this coming weekend while the babies nap.
– Lead a refreshing team summit. Hooray for the Team Summit starting tomorrow!
– Prayerfully launch summer products. I can’t wait to share them next week! The Summer Collection launches at 10 am EST on May 9th!
– Implement new team meeting structure. More on this to come after our Team Summit.
– Create a new date night plan.
(Goal I can’t share just yet, but I will in two weeks.)
– Pray impossible prayers and be open to new possibilities. This is one of my biggest priorities for May.

Lara Casey May Goals5Peonies and PJ’s in the community garden this morning.

May weekly goals:
– Sabbath – lifegiving weekends.
– Meaningful God connection with Ari. I’ve had this on my tending list all year, but I added “God” to this and it has already helped us so much. It’s not just about connecting; it’s about connecting in the Spirit. We had some great conversations this weekend about what God is growing in us.
Write the Word : ) This, my friends, is my solution to the afternoon Word refresh I’ve been craving! Yahoo!

May daily goals:
– Read my chronological Bible reading plan
– #RunLiftPraise
– Eat more raw foods.
– Be active in my work day. Nicole and I are giving a presentation on workplace fitness this week!
– Pray through my prayer journal.

Lara Casey May Goals2Grace and I have gotten on a Garden Answer video kick, and made a new fairy garden this weekend! I love it–and her. : )  

Your turn! I’d love to hear: Do you have goals for May? 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 April’s winner, Alexandra Keen. Alexandra and I go to church together, so I’ll bring your goodies to you this weekend, friend! : ) 

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What a week, friends! So much is happening here behind the scenes with products launching soon, babies being announced (!), shoots, team retreat prep, and I recorded the audiobook for Cultivate. Giving voice to these pages was a gift. I laughed, I cried, and at one point I broke out into song. I couldn’t help it. I am so grateful for the imperfect journey of the last two years and for His transforming grace in our lives. I can’t wait to share the printed version and the audio with you on June 27th! You can see the book film and preorder here.

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Blooms from the garden that we picked for a shoot last week. I love them all so much!

A few things for your weekend and to help you make little by little progress on what matters:

1. Grow fresh faith. I loved the Cultivate Fresh Faith webinar with Shanna Noel! In leading this webinar alongside her, I learned so much! Do you need a fresh start (or a first start) with faith? Have you tried Bible journaling? Do you feel lost on how to dig into the Bible? Watch the free replay here where I share my 10 Keys to Cultivating Fresh Faith, with lots of inspiration from Shanna along the way.

2. Play in the dirt. I shared some tips for Gardening with Kids on the City Mom’s blog here.

3. Build a house next to your BFF. Okay, this is not so realistic, but fun to dream about. Have you heard of Bestie Row?

4. Make what matters happen. My friend Emily shared a great peek into the Making Things Happen experience with lots of great takeaways that will encourage you right where you are.

5. Refresh your goals. We got the new shipment of PowerSheets in stock a lot earlier than expected, which I know a lot of you are excited about! If you just got your PowerSheets, here are some great tips on what to do next. I’m excited for you!

6. Fall in love. We’ve been chatting about these 36 questions here in the office. Have you tried them? My favorite part is the idea of staring into the other person’s eyes for four minutes at the end!

7. Come visit! I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which is part of what’s called “The Triangle” of cities: Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham. If you ever come visit, Emily posted a great Durham city guide this week. I also just love her blog in general (not just because I’ve worked alongside her for 8 years!) and read it weekly. Highly recommend.

8. Say hi. Where are you from? I’d love to get to know you more here.

9. Write the Word. We sold out of the new Write the Word collections a lot faster than expected. But, the great news is that we will have another small batch of journals in two weeks. I highly recommend reserving yours here. Our next shipment after that won’t come till late summer. We have been blown away by the response to the new collection and I’m so grateful to see so many getting directly into the Word with these new journals!

10. Grow your garden. I’m about to dig in over the next couple weeks, planting our spring and summer garden. Read my Gardening 101 series here, and join me LIVE on Facebook this coming Wednesday, April 26th, at noon EST where I’ll be sharing lots of Gardening 101 tips and answering your questions. Mark your planners–I hope to see you on Wednesday!

Till then, have a great weekend and a great start to the new week ahead, friends!

Grateful for you,

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With my small business and three littles running under the same roof, my “quiet time” each day is pretty loud! I prayed one morning for God to give me a deep and simple way to connect with Him, right in the thick of it, and the Write the Word journal was born.

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The Write the Word journal is unique. Each day, you’ll get a selection of key verses to write out, along with space to write your thoughts, prayers, or anything else God places on your heart. These journals were created with the big picture of God’s story in mind, helping to point you to places in the Bible that will help you to know His heart in direct and deeper ways.

My hope is that you dig into the larger context of each scripture as you Write the Word, reading the surrounding verses and chapters. We chose each selection of scripture to point you to the big picture, not to make you feel good for a moment. God’s Word is rich, and it will transform you. That’s why I LOVE these journals–you get directly into the Word.

write the word all seasons collection 2017

We sold out of the previous Write the Word journals in December, and have been working on this new collection for almost two years! Remember back when I mentioned some exciting new products we really wanted to release, but intentionally decided at the time to grow slow? I was talking about this collection, and I’m so grateful we chose to wait till this very week to share them. The wait has been worth it!

Our FIVE NEW EDITIONS (!!!) were created as a collection to walk you through foundations of faith and various seasons of life, right where you are.

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Write the Word // Cultivate Faith contains a selection of scripture that is fundamental to faith, making this volume a perfect gift for someone who is new to their faith or looking to cultivate a fresh or renewed faith. If you are doing the journals in order, start here!

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

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

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

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

write the word inside liners 2017Look at those inside liners! : ) : ) : ) 

How to Write the Word:

Have fun! Color outside the lines with these special journals. Bedazzle them, use your Cultivate What Matters stickers in them (I love doing this!), paint in them, make a mess—whatever helps you dig in and fall in love with the Word. The paper is thick and wonderful!

Do these pages however you like: in order or in your own order, daily, weekly, or however works best for you.

Use a great Bible translation like the NIV (New International Version) or ESV (English Standard Version). I love using a physical Bible, but I often use the digital translations on the YouVersion Bible app and BibleGateway.com, too.

Very important to cultivating true faith: read the verses surrounding each selection of scripture to gather context and meaning.

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Get creative with the “Today is…” section on each page! You can write, Today is April 12th, Today is AWESOME, Today is sunny, or Today is the day I get to see my best friend! That space is yours to play with.

You’ll also see a place to write what you’re grateful for. Today, I am grateful for YOU. Thank you for taking this Write the Word journey with me.

And new to these volumes is a special space to write a focal word for the day. I love this section so much! It helps me to hold onto a focal truth for the day.

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We designed these to be used as a full collection to take you through each season. Order your All Seasons Collection HERE and get 10% off with the full collection (no code needed)!

SHOP THE ENTIRE SPRING FAITH COLLECTION HERE

I am excited to see how God reveals His heart to us as we write, memorize, and celebrate His life-giving Word together!

P.S. Join me for a free Cultivate Your Faith live webinar with Illustrated Faith founder, Shanna Noel!

 

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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.

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Then God showed me that faith is not about my ability to perform. I don’t have to be perfect to have it. 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!).

The “Good News” is really good. We don’t deserve His grace and He gives it to us freely.

– 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.

IMG_9287Bible journaling beautifulness from my friend and coworker Amber!

Wherever you are, join me for a live broadcast about cultivating fresh faith with Illustrated Faith founder, Shanna Noel. Join us (invite your friends, small group, and co-workers too!) on April 12th at 12 pm EST for a FREE Cultivating Faith Webinar. Shanna and I will be talking about cultivating faith, Bible journaling, how writing the Word can transform your faith, and how to dig into the Bible in fresh ways. I’ll also be revealing the NEW collection of Write the Word journals live on camera with you. I can’t wait for you to see all five (!!!) of them! If you’re clicking over to the post after the live broadcast or can’t make it at noon, register and you’ll be able to catch the free replay here too when we’re done!

P.S. Want to win one of the first full sets of the new Write the Word journals? Simply register for the webinar and leave a comment here telling me your favorite Bible verse or story. I’ll leave my answer in the comments too. And I’ll announce the winner during the live broadcast on Wednesday. HOORAY!!!

P.P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts here.

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Hello, friends! Wow, what a month! March was packed and refreshing at the same time. A conference, a big trip, a book completed, and there are peach buds on my tree, y’all. It survived the snow! I am so grateful for all that happened in March. Here’s a recap and my PowerSheets goals for April.

Lara Casey PowerSheets Goals March 20171 I love when Gina comes to photograph us. She gets Grace to laugh every time!

My monthly PowerSheets goals for March:

– Finish my final book edits. YES!!! I sent in my book endorsements and two final edits yesterday. It goes to print tomorrow! I am crying typing this. My word for April is “Hallelujah” because I am so grateful for this and much more. Today we shared all the details about how you can join the book launch team here.
– Prepare prayerfully for MTH and our family vacation at the end of the month. MTH was the best yet and our vacation was also refreshing. Read more about our trip here and here for thoughts on how we changed what “vacation” means to us.

unspecifiedI look like such a weirdo here, but all this joy is REAL. This was my 51st time leading the MTH Conference and it couldn’t have been better. I love you, friends! Photo by Amy Nicole.

– Celebrate our 11 year wedding anniversary well. The traditional gift is steel (these materials always make me giggle!), so I’m considering either these collar stays stamped with Ari’s favorite Bible verses or getting us family bikes. Well, we did celebrate, but I did not get Ari a gift yet. We wanted to see what it was like to rent bikes on our vacation and test out a bike trailer for the kids. It was great! I’m in research mode now to find the best prices and options to somehow get three kiddos to ride along with me.

Lara Casey PowerSheets Goals March 20177We loved our time in Watercolor last week. I even met a PowerSheets user on the plane which was so fun!

– Finish 2016 taxes. Yes. We had a funny thing happen while we were working on them. We’ve used TurboTax for the last ten years for our personal taxes. Ari got to the final screen and the refund amount said $6,394,128.00! We laughed and Ari fixed the error, but it was a good and needed laugh in the middle of what can sometimes be a stressful experience.
– Hire our new team member/s! This is in progress and we expect to hire two new team members this month. Please pray alongside me that we make wise and thorough decisions. We’ve had so many wonderful applicants.
– Blog posts:
1. Release my book cover and film. YES! Hooray! Read all about it here.
2. Build and blog my “Cultivated Calendar.” This one is getting moved to April! But, I did share my curly hair story here.
3. Parts two and three of my Gardening 101 series. YES! Double hooray! There are over 700 comments on the series – WOW. Here’s the final Gardening 101 post. The giveaway winner is Sandra. Congrats, Sandra! 
– Celebrate Sarah’s birthday. She turned one on February 26th, but with the sickness in our house, we moved the celebration to this coming weekend. Yes! Here’s the recap of her celebration
– Celebrate Purim. Yes. Hamentaschen and the book of Esther were enjoyed by all!

Lara Casey PowerSheets Goals March 20179I love this of Josh and me that Gina took! My little buddy.

– Begin afternoon Word refresh times: Amen Paper Company Lent study + memorize good words for goal number 3 by putting the verses on index cards this month. I hope to do this for a few minutes each afternoon to close my work day. This did not happen, once again. I did make progress on the scripture memorization thanks to a blog reader who suggested I add verses to my to-do app on my phone. But, the additional Bible studies and devotionals had to get nixed. I commited to too much. I already have my morning Bible reading time (which is going well) but I would be grateful for another time before I take over watching the kiddos at night and Ari comes home. Working on this.

Lara Casey PowerSheets Goals March 20176

– Take the next steps in garden planning, and decide on garden structures (we need a bench) and a final garden plan. I’m in a bit of a happy bind here — my winter garden still looks great! So, I have no motivation to remove anything right now to plant new things. These pansies and violas won’t last in the strong heat of summer, but they are so happy right now. I may have to move some of them to make room for my seedlings and then direct sow the rest come early summer. I haven’t decided yet. The other option is to make a whole new garden in the back of our house. This may happen!

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– Make changes now to switch to my homeschool work schedule starting in the early summer. I haven’t started on this, but I have come to realize it’s just not the right time yet. 
– Spring cleaning! YES! I cleared things out, including the ladies’ office. I shared a before shot in Instagram a couple weeks ago. After photo coming soon. And huge thanks to our amazing caregiver and friend Sarah for helping out in the office and for doing all sorts of things to bless all of us while I was away last week!

Lara Casey PowerSheets Goals March 20172 I love this girl.

March weekly goals:
– Sabbath – lifegiving weekends. Yes. 
– Meaningful connection with Ari. Yes. Our two date nights on vacation were deeply refreshing.
– Pray through my prayer journal. I left it at home during our vacation, and I missed it. I’m excited to fill it out for April tonight.

March daily goals:
– Read my chronological Bible reading plan. Yes! I’m almost to day 100. The first part of Judges was not my favorite and I had a hard time paying attention, but I prayed for God to give me focus and He has. I’m in the middle of Samson’s story right now, which is hard not to pay attention to!
– #RunLiftPraise Yes. At-home workouts continue and the weather is alllllmost at the point where I can get out in the mornings to walk (or bike soon!) with the kids. 
– Eat more raw foods. Yes.
– Be active in my work day. Yes, and it’s a collective goal in our office to be more active this month, especially with so much computer work to do.

Now, on to April!

FullSizeRenderOut in the garden today.

My monthly PowerSheets goals for April:

— Celebrate Southern Weddings’ birthday. I launched the first issue of Southern Weddings on April 1st nine years ago! As part of my yearly goal to live a year of radical gratitude and praise, I’m celebrating His faithfulness this week in all that has happened in those nine years. Celebrate along with us here.
– Lay a firm foundation for the budget. Lots to say here, but I have 10 minutes to finish this post before I have two babies in my arms for the afternoon. In sum, I’m working on creating a new family budget using EveryDollar. I feel resolved here and excited.
– Celebrate Passover (my favorite holiday!). We are hosting our annual (except last year because we had a newborn) Passover dinner at church next week. Ari does such a great job leading this from a messianic Jewish perspective. It always builds my faith.
– Create a new frequent date night schedule. We realized on our trip that we need to prioritize this in our budget and our schedules. As a benefit of working on the Southern Weddings/Cultivate team, we pay for monthly date nights for each team member. In the seasons that Ari and I have been in with kiddos, we haven’t been able to do them ourselves on a regular basis. But, I finally finished nursing last month (hooray!) so we can more easily make this happen now. My first step is finding and interviewing trusted babysitters. I’ve already started this process.
– Prayerfully hire our new team members.
– Plant our garden! As mentioned above, I’m not exactly sure how to do this yet, but I’ll keep you posted here.
– Record the audiobook for Cultivate and prepare well for the launch ahead.
– Prayerful spring product launch (the new Write the Word collection is SO BEAUTIFUL! I can’t wait to show you next week!) and team retreat prep.
– Blog posts: Cultivated Calendar, Spring product release, Cultivating Faith, and many more.
– Host a meaningful Cultivating Faith webinar next week with Shanna Noel (register here!)
– Take my workouts to the next level. We got so much exercise on our trip last week from biking everywhere, and I really benefitted from it. Time to up my workouts this month in intensity!
– Lord willing, start leading our family group again. Our family group is splitting into three to have more intimate groups, and we’re going to be leading a group on Saturday mornings so we can both be there. For the last few months, I’ve had to stay home with sleeping kiddos while Ari goes by himself. Not ideal, but we knew this would just be for a season. I used those nights to write in my prayer journal, but I have been craving fellowship!
– Pray impossible prayers and be open to new possibilities. This kept coming to me over and over on our vacation. Being away from our normal environment was so good to reset my brain and help me think outside of our normal routines and rhythms. I felt the Lord telling me to pray more boldly and so I have started that. One of those prayers was answered on Monday night and it was a BIG one! The story is miraculous and I can’t share all the details, but I’ll tell you that we are now in contact with our birthmom.

And all the tears came like a flood again as I typed that.

God is good. He is real. He is mighty. And He is listening to those prayers you think go unheard–the prayers you’ve prayed for what feels like forever. He is listening!

Lara Casey PowerSheets Goals March 20175My guys. Doesn’t Josh look like a little Ari with red hair? : ) 

April weekly goals:
– Sabbath – lifegiving weekends.
– Meaningful connection with Ari.
– Pray through my prayer journal.

April daily goals:
– Read my chronological Bible reading plan
– #RunLiftPraise
– Eat more raw foods.
– Be active in my work day.
– (A new one this month!) Practice my four essentials that I uncovered during the Making Things Happen Conference: humility, integrity, physical exercise — running with the Lord, and living in awe of His essential grace.

Your turn! I’d love to hear: Do you have goals for April? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to March’s winner, Leslie MP. Leslie, send me your info here and I’ll get your goodies to you!

Lara Casey PowerSheets Goals March 20178Oh, Gina, I love these photographs so much!

P.S. What do you want to see more of here on the blog? Take our quick survey and be entered to win a shopping spree from the Cultivate Shop. Everyone who takes the survey will get a discount code to the shop, too! : )

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